no right to make a blockade at New Orleans or Charleston
more than at Chicago
He also read from a speech of Daniel Webster, delivered in 1832, declaring that General Jackson
had no right to blockade Charleston
He said he approved these sentiments, uttered by these eminent statesmen, who were formerly regarded as sound, and thought the time would again come when it would not be thought treason to maintain them.
The resolution proceeds to approve the act of the President
enlisting men for three and five years. By what authority of the Constitution
and law has he done this?
The power is not in the Constitution
, nor granted by law. Therefore, it must be illegal and unconstitutional.
Again, the President
, by his own will, has added immensely to the army, whereas the Constitution
says Congress only have power to raise armies.
He has also added to the navy against the warrant of the Constitution
These acts are not defended on constitutional or legal grounds, and Mr. Breckenridge
pronounced them usurpations.
This resolution goes on to recite that the President
has suspended the writ of habeas corpus
, and proposes to ratify and make that valid.
We have a great deal to talk about rights — the rights of States, the rights of individuals, and some of them have been said to be shadowy and imaginary, but the right of every citizen to be arrested only by a warrant of law, and his right to have his body brought before a judicial authority, in order that the grounds of that arrest may be determined on, is a real right.
There can be no dispute about that.
It is the right of rights to all, high, low, rich, or poor.
It is especially the right of that class which his Excellency
, the President
, calls plain people.
It is a right, the respect for which is a measure of progress and civilization.
It is a right that has been struggled for, fought for, guarded by laws, and backed up in constitutions.
To have maintained it by arms, to have suffered for it, then to have it established on foundations so immutable that the authority of the sovereign could not shake it, is the chief glory of the British
people, from whom we derive it. In England
the legislative power alone can suspend that right.
The monarch of England
cannot suspend it. But the trans-Atlantic freemen seem to be eager to approve and ratify acts which a European monarch dare not perform.
It needs no legal argument to show that the President
dare not, cannot, suspend the writ of habeas corpus
. I content myself with referring to the fact, that it is classed among the legislative powers by the Constitution
And that article conferring powers on the President
touches not the question.
I may add that upon no occasion has it ever been asserted in Congress, so far as I recollect, that this power exists on the part of the executive.
On one occasion Mr. Jefferson
thought the time had arrived when the writ might be suspended, but he did not undertake to do it himself, and did not even recommend it. He submitted it to Congress, and, in the long debates which followed, there was not the least intimation that the power belonged to the executive.
I then point to the Constitution
and ask Senators
from what clause they deduce the right, by any fair construction of the instrument itself, what part confers the power on the President
Surely not that clause which enjoins him to take care of the Constitution
and the laws, and faithfully to execute them.
The most eminent commentators of the Constitution
declare it to be a legislative right.
The opinion of the present Chief-Justice
, which has never been answered, makes all further argument idle and superfluous; and one of the worst signs of the times is the manner in which that opinion has been received.
A subordinate military officer in Baltimore
arrests a private citizen and confines him in a fortress.
His friends get a writ of habeas corpus
, but it cannot be executed.
then gives an opinion, which is commended, not only by the profession of which he is so great an ornament, but by all thoughtful men in the country.
The newspapers of the country, and the men excited by violent passions, have denounced the Chief-Justice
, but have not answered his opinion.
There it stands, one of those productions which will add to his renown.
The abuse of the press, and the refusal to respect just authority, and the attempt to make that high judicial officer odious, will yet recoil on these men. I honor him for the courage with which he did his duty, as well as for the calm and temperate manner in which he performed it. I am glad he yet remains among us, a man so remarkable for his honored length of years, and his eminent public services, and for the rectitude of his private life, that he may be justly ranked among the most illustrious Americans
of our day. You propose to make this act of the President
valid without making a defence of it, either on legal or constitutional grounds?
What would be the effect?
In thus approving what the President
has done in the past, you invite him to do the like in the future, and the law of the country will lie prostrate at the feet of the executive, and in his discretion he may substitute the military power for judicial authority.
Again, Mr. President
, although there are few of us here who take the view of the Constitution
by this right which I am advocating to-day, I trust we will not, under any circumstances, fail to protest in temperate but manly language against what we consider a usurpation of the President
Let me call the attention of the Senate briefly to other acts against which I protest in the name of the Constitution
, and the people I represent.
You have practically martial law all over this land.
The houses of private citizens are searched without warrant of law. The right of the citizen to bear arms, is rendered nugatory by their being taken from him without judicial process, and upon mere suspicion.
Individuals are seized without legal warrant, and imprisoned.
The other day, since