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sick and disabled. Congress under this power have suspended commerce entirely. Under the power to regulate' commerce with the Indian tribes, trading houses have been erected, and roads opened. Did any person ever object to these acts, (the one suspending commerce excepted) as transcending the constitutional powers of this government? For myself I can say I never heard of any such objection. This detail contains a practical construction of the word "regulate," and furnishes, moreover, a complete answer to the idea often repeated on this floor, that we can employ only such means as directly tend to execute the delegated powers; that we dare not without usurpation depart one step out of a direct line in moving towards our object.
I cannot subscribe to a doctrine which we have heard from a respectable source in the course of this discussion, that the consent of the states is necessary, to enable us to make roads and canals. If we have the power at all, it is the supreme power, which will execute itself, not only without such consent, but in opposition to the will of the states. The consent of the states certainly can give us no power where the constitution has not vested it, otherwise it might happen thắt we might do in one state what we could not do in another. The idea that the consent of the states is necessary, arises from blending two distinct subjects. If the exclusive jurisdiction over the roads and canals when constructed, should be desired by the United States, the states must first relinquish their jurisdiction. But this has no connexion with the act of making the roads and canals. You build custom houses without the consent of the states; but their territorial sovereignty over them is not lost; all crimes committed there, are cognizable by the state authorities. So it would be in relation to roads and canals made by your authority.
The honourable gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. Smith) has given us a detail of our finances, from which he infers, that however useful and proper, in itself, this measure may be, our means do not authorize the undertaking at this time. I will not now enter into the question, whether his inference is correct, though I incline to think that the honourable gentleman has given a picture of our resources too unfavourable. But I would rather retrench in other expenditures than permit this great object to be neglected. Reduce your army; introduce a system of rigid and well regulated economy, (not parsimony,) into the administration of your finances, instead of the waste and disorder which now prevail, and your means for effecting the purpose contemplated by this bill will be ample. Indeed, so important is this subject to the country, in my opinion, that rather than see it fail, I would consent to borrow money at eight per cent. or lay a tax on the country. The capacity of the people to pay taxes would be increased in proportion as the price of transportation of their products to market would be diminished; a result which must follow a well organized and liberal system of internal improvement.
On the discussion of this bill in the Senate, the following remarks were made by Mr. DAGGETT, of Connecticut.
He would point the attention of the senate to some of the objections in his mind to the bill. 1st. It is not authorised by the constitution; and, if it were, secondly, it is inexpedient. He should with much reluctance urge any objections arising out of the constitution, for he had long since learned that the constitution is made to change with the times. It was one thing yesterday—it is another to-day. It is to be enlarged as the nation increases in greatness and glory-it must yield to the pressing exigencies of the moment. He need not say there is no power in the constitution expressly authorising the congress to construct roads and canals, and to tax the people to defray the expense. No one asserts the existence of such power. There is not a word upon the face of the instrument on the subject, except that it is declared, art. 1, sec. 8, that “the congress shall have power to establish post offices and post roads." This, so far from authorising the establishment by congress of all roads, limits, if it bear at all on the point, the power to post roads only; otherwise it must be shown that an instrument which gives a special power over post roads, in terms, gives, by implication, a general power over all roads. Such absurdity should not be imputed to the wise men who framed this constitution. The reverse of all this is unquestionably true. By sound rules of interpretation, the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another. The constitution declares “ The congress shall have power to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities of the United States to constitute tribunals inferior to the supreme court-to provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions to exercise exclusive legislation over ten miles square, &c.” In the cases mentioned, is not the congress prohibited from providing for the punishment of counterfeiting private securities-from establishing tribunals superior to the supreme court-from calling forth the militia to garrison forts in time of peace and from exercising exclusive legislation over the city of Baltimore? Again: The states, at the adoption of the constitution, possessed the entire control over all the roads and canals within their respective limits. On this point there can be no doubt. Each state always has, and now does, exercise this power. Is it taken away by any express prohibition? Certainly not. Is it taken away by implication? Certainly not; unless the power is given to the congress in such manner as to preclude the exercise of it by the states, and for such an idea no one contends.
Is there a power in the general government over roads and canals, concurrent with the power of the states? If so, it may be asked, where are the limitations of these respective powers? Or have the congress a sovereign authority, and is that of the states subordinate? The constitution is silent on this subjectnot so, where concurrent powers may be exercised. For example, in the 10th section of article 1, it is provided that the states shall lay no imposts or duties on exports or imports except such as are absolutely necessary for executing their inspection laws--they may not keep troops or ships of war in time of peace, nor engage in war unless actually invaded. It is within the province of the national government to lay duties and imposts—to keep troops and ships of war, and especially to engage in war; yet these powers in the cases specified and with the limitations prescribed, are retained by the states, and may be exercised concurrently. In the 8th section of the 1st article, and in the 2d section of the 2d article, there are more striking examples of concurrent powers. To the congress, the power is given of calling forth the militia in the cases therein mentioned, and to the president the power of being their commander in chief when in actual service. There is also reserved to the states the power of appointing their officers and of training the militia. There may be some question as to the precise extent of the
powers of this government and of the states over the militia, but a concurrent power is manifestly established and attempted to be defined.
Mr. Daggett asked again, is this measure constitutional, because congress may provide for the “general welfare and common defence?” If so, then an enumeration of powers was wholly unnecessary, and is worse than useless; then there is no constitutional limit to the powers of this government, but the discretion of the legislature, and, in truth, such is now a very prevalent opinion, if a judgment is to be formed from the manner in which power is claimed and exercised. The instrument may be termed “the sacred charter of our liberties--our polar star,
,” and by many other pretty names, and at the same time be practically disregarded. Again, all those internal and municipal regulations of every description, which contribute to promote the strength and prosperity of the community, are provisions for the common defence and general welfare.” The congress, then, may construct and support roads, bridges, and canals; regulate manufactures and agriculture; establish schools, academies, and colleges; enact wise laws for the suppression of sin for the preservation of morals—for the punishment of all offenders, and thus assume all the powers of legislation. Then, indeed, our union would be strengthened, as
mentioned by a gentleman from Pennsylvania, our state authorities broken down, and our government consolidated.
Will the power in question be claimed by that part of the constitution which authorises congress to regulate commerce between the states? If so, to regulate commerce, means to promote, to facilitate, to secure it by all discreet measures, and the bill seems to have been framed in reference to such an exposition. Inspection laws are useful to promote commerce between states, and yet laws of this character have never been attempted by congress; on the contrary, the states have the power, by irresistible implication, of enacting inspection laws; and there is an express power given to congress " to revise and control them,” and this enumeration of that power strongly implies, that no other power over this subject is intended to be given.
It would be wise, in the opinion of many, that all promissory notes should be negotiable, to facilitate commerce; and undoubtedly the whole law on the subject of inland bills of exchange, is intimately connected with commerce; the buying and selling of slaves in one state, to be transported into another, is a portion of the commerce between states. Laws then may be made by congress to control all these subjects. It 'may deserve much consideration, whether such a broad construction is not in the face of the constitution, and especially of the 10th article of amendments, which is in these words~" The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prokibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
It is said, however, that appropriations have been made, and roads laid out by congress; and the Cuniberland road and others are mentioned. Congress may undoubtedly make roads through the lands of the United States, not within the jurisdiction of any state, and the Cumberland road was established probably as a post road. Be that as it may, precedents of such doubtful character, and of such modern date, will not weigh much. The constitution is not to be expounded by a single decision of the legislature. It would scarcely be admitted by a majority of the senate, that the sedition law, as it is termed, was authorised by the constitution, though it received the sanction of the judicial tribunals, as well as the legislature; nor is it clear that the act to repeal the judiciary law in 1803, would now be viewed as it was when passed.
It is further asserted, that these roads and canals are to be constructed, and the expenditure made, with the assent of the states, and thus the power of congress, if doubtful, is confirmed, and the bill in question is drawn with this aspect. Mr. Daggett said, on this point he would ask one question: Can money be appropriated by congress for an object over which it is not authorized to legislate, because the states assent? Or, in other words, can a law be made, with the consent of the states, which is not warranted by the constitution? By the constitution, the judicial power extends to all cases arising under the constitution, &c. Can congress, with the assent of the states, extend the judicial power to murders, felonies, and other offences committed in the states? Where would be found a judge rash enough to execute such a law? It is believed that the true doctrine is, that the constitution is the shield of
individual in the nation, and that its powers can neither be enlarged nor diminished by the states, except by amendments made in pursuance of its provisions.
It may be added, that neither of the presidents Washington or Adams, ever proposed a measure of this character. The present chief magistrate has suggested it in one or more of his messages, but always with doubts as to the propriety of an interference, without amendments to the constitution.
If, however, there were no objection arising from a want of constitutional authority, Mr. Daggett said, that, in his judgment, the project was inexpedient.
No details are provided. What is to be the amount of interest in these various projects? Are co-partnerships with states or individuals to be formed, and the profits divided? Or are boards of works to be established in all the states, with all the machinery of management incident to them to be superintended by congress? On all these points, and many others which might be suggested, the bill is silent; and the only answer we hear from the friends of the bill, to our enquiries, is, no details can be agreed on-should details be attempted, the bill would not be carried. Is this a sufficient answer? Before we proceed to grant away more than twelve millions of dollars, it is reasonable that the manner of expenditure should be pointed out.
The time also is not proper. A war has just terminated, leaving upon us a debt (with that which existed before) of one hundred and twenty millions of dollars. Our navigating and manufacturing interests are languishing, and no small portion of distress pervades many parts of our country. It is not then the prosperous moment to enter upon gigantic projects-it is not the time to expend millions on undefined objects.
It would be unwise, at any time, to pledge this great amount, and pledge it beyond the control of government in any exigency of affairs. We are now at peace-we may soon be at war. Yesterday a proposition to reduce the army was rejected; and a strong reason urged was, that our relations with a nation bordering on our territory were in a disturbed condition. We all have a painful recollection of the state of our pecuniary resources during the years 1813, 14 and 15. We have now a full treasury, and we speak of it as inexhaustible. No private or VOL. II.