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JANUARY, 1808.

General Wilkinson.

H. OF R.

same breath strike at the independence and threat-that there are certain general powers vested in en the prostration of that power in our Constitú- Congress by the Constitution of the United States, tion which alone is capable of wresting the op. which would justify us in an act of this kind, and pressed from the fangs of the lawless spoiler. The particularly cited the general power of providing doctrine which has been here supported comes for the public defence and general welfare. Inwith a very ill grace from the person who has dependent as that gentleman may be, he undenounced "General Wilkinson for apprehending questionably means to be considered as a rea few traitors. In our anxiety to get at the man, publican; and I have always understood it to we have forgot our own power, and also have for- l be the republican doctrine that it is dangerous, got ihat we have already acted on one part of this improper, and anti-republican to contend that subject this session, by which proceedings a part these general provisions would authorize Conat least of this resolution is rendered a mere sur- gress to assume any powers not specially vested plusage. [Mr. T. then read an extract from the or necessarily incidental. Certainly the words Message of the President of the present session, are not without meaning. Congress has power to and an extract from the Journal, showing that so provide for the general defence and common welmuch of that Message as related to enterprises fare of the United States. How? By the exeragainst the public peace had been already referred cise of certain powers specially yested in them. to a committee.). This committee, if any could The gentleman might have found another genpossess it, certainly had the power to inquire and eral provision which would have answered his report the result. Was it an evidence of their purpose better: "Congress shall have power to want of that power, that the subject had been in make all laws which shall be necessary and this manner again introduced? The truth is, ' proper for carrying into execution the foregoing that proceeding did not contain a declaration of powers, and all other powers vested by this Conwar against General Wilkinson; it only touched stitution," &c. After a particular enumeration the subject generally; it was no denunciation, of the special powers vested in Congress, by the and therefore it was not strong enough.

Constitution, a general power is vested to pass all Mr. Elliot said he should be in favor of one laws necessary to carry into effect these precedpart of the motion of the gentleman from North ing delegations of power. If there be a deficiency Carolina, but not of the whole, and therefore in the powers of the Executive department to inshould call for a division of the question. It had stitute an inquiry into the conduct of a military not originally been his intention to take any part officer, we are competent to vest it with the in this debate, and he should not now do so, were necessary authority. But until we do exercise it not for ihe extraordinary exposition of the Con- that power, the power is with the President, to stitution, which had been presented to them by possess and exercise it, at his discretion, conformthe gentleman from Kentucky, in support of an ably to the existing laws. extraordinary, proposition indeed, take it all in But, not contented with telling us that this genall. It would be a miserable affectation in' me, eral power authorizes us to do anything we please, said Mr. E., to pretend to conceal the impression the gentleman says, that if we do think proper which has been long since made upon my mind to act or institute an inquiry on any subject; in relation to the officer who is the object of the that the moment we, by a majority of perhaps resolution under consideration ; but, whatever a single vote, have so determined, the nation may be my impressions, I wish nothing to be made is in motion, and who shall dare to resist the use of against him which is not perfectly Constitu- nation! I do contend that we cannot put the tional. The gentleman from Kentucky has told sovereignty of this nation in motion beyond the the House, and I hope he has told us true, that he orbit in which the Constitution has directed that stands bere upon independent ground, and as an we ourselves shall move; and this House can of independent man. I approve and admire such con- | itself do no act, except in cases particularly duct; but the gentleman's sentiments, yesterday described by the Constitution or as incidental to expressed, provedthat independent ground is not al- them. We can set the national will in motion ways Constitutional ground. The ideas expressed in cases of impeachment. The moment a maby that gentleman, I will venture to say, will not be jority of this House determines on the impeachsanctioned by the majority of this body, or by him- ment of a civil officer of the United States, that self upon mature reflection. He advanced some moment the national will is that such officer shall very broad and bold positions, and I will preface be impeached, because the Constitution has vested the remarks which I shall make by advancing one in this House the sole power, and we are the sole equally broad and bold, but much less liable to ob- movers of the nation on this subject; but the mojection than that which the gentleman has offered. ment we wander without the sphere of those pow. It is this: that the House of Representatives can ers specially vested-for I disclaim any general institute no inquiry into the public or private char- delegation of power by the Constitution farther acter or conduct of any officer or citizen of the than is necessary to carry into effect special powUnited States, in a case in which they can neither ers and incidental powers growing out of themimpeach, nor punish such officer or citizen ; except the moment we wander out of it, so far from our it be for the purpose of acquiring information to setting the national will in motion, that will is enable them to exercise their legislative functions. against us, and must and will overpower us. We This is a general Constitutional proposition. array ourselves against the will of the nation But the gentleman from Kentucky has told us and its sovereignty, the moment we exercise a

10th Con. Ist SESS.-46

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