disguised, haunted the purlieus and stalked through the halls of the Capitol
; and numbers, hitherto in needy circumstances, suddenly found themselves rich.
The great majority, of course, were impervious to such influences; but the controlling and controllable minority were not. This was probably the first instance in which measures of vital consequence to the country were carried or defeated in Congress under the direct spur of pecuniary interest.
Political compromises, though they have been rendered unsavory by abuse, are a necessary incident of mixed or balanced governments — that is, of all but simple, unchecked despotisms.
Wherever liberty exists, there diversities of judgment will be developed; and, unless one will dominates over all others, a practical mean between widely differing convictions must sometimes be sought.
If, for example, a legislature is composed of two distinct bodies or houses, and they differ, as they occasionally will, with regard to the propriety or the amount of an appropriation required for a certain purpose, and neither is disposed to give way, a partial concession on either hand is often the most feasible mode of practical adjustment.
Where the object contemplated is novel, or non-essential to the general efficiency of the public service — such as the construction of a new railroad, canal, or other public work — the repugnance of either house should suffice entirely to defeat, or, at least, to postpone it; for neither branch has a right to exact from the other conformity with its views on a disputed point as the price of its own concurrence in measures essential to the existence of the Government
The attempt, therefore, of the Senate of February--March, 1849, to dictate to the House
, “You shall consent to such an organization of the territories as we prescribe, or we will defeat the Civil Appropriation
bill, and thus derange, if not arrest, the most vital machinery of the Government
,” was utterly unjustifiable.
Yet this should not blind us to the fact that differences of opinion are at times developed on questions of decided moment, where the rights of each party are equal, and where an ultimate concurrence in one common line of action is essential.
Without some deference to adverse convictions, no confederation of the insurgent colonies was attainable — no Union of the States could have been effected.
And where the Executive
is, by according him the veto, clothed with a limited power over the making of laws, it is inevitable that some deference to his views, his convictions, should be evinced by those who fashion and mature those laws.
Under this aspect, compromise in government is sometimes indispensable and laudable.
But what is known in State legislation as logrolling
is quite another matter.
A. has a bill, which he is intent on passing, but which has no intrinsic worth that commends it to his fellow-members.
But B., C., D., and the residue of the alphabet, have each his “little bill;” not, perhaps, specially obnoxious or objectionable, but such as could not be passed on its naked merits.
All alike must fail, unless carried by that reciprocity of support suggested by their common need and peril.