Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 101
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OF DEBATES W CONGRESS.
Dec. 30,1824.] Amendments lo the Constitution,—Niagara Sufferers.
[II. of R.
Louisiana; the effect of which would be that, in the final
vote for President of the United States in this House,
the members, instead of voting collectively by states,
should vote individually, as on any other question. Wish-
ing to bring such a measure into discussion, he moved
for the printing of all three amendments, (that of Mr.
McDoffib, that of Mr. Livingston, and his own,) giving
notice that he should move for the consideration of the
whole subject on Monday next.
Mr. STRONG'S amendment is in the following words:
" 1. The electors shall meet in their respective states,
and vote, by ballot, for President and Vice President,
one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the
same state with themselves; they shall name in their
ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct
ballots the person voted for as Vice President; and they
shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as Pre-
sident, and of all persons voted for as Vice President,
and of the - number of votes for each, which lists they
shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of
government of the United States, directed to the Presi-
dent of the Senate; the President of the Senate shall,
in the presence of the Senate and House ot Representa-
tives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then
be counted. The Person having (he greatest number of
votes for President, shall be the President, if such num-
ber be a majority of the whole number of electors ap-
pointed; and if no person have such majority, then,
from the persons having the highest numbers, not ex-
ceeding three, on the list of those voted for as Presi-
dent, the House of Representatives shall choose imme-
diately, by ballot, tile President. A quorum for this
purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number
of Representatives. Each Representative shall have
one vote only; and a majority of the Representatives
present and voting shall be necessary to a choice. And
if the House of Representatives shall not choose a Pre-
sident, whenever the right of choice shall devolve on
them, before the fourth of March next following, then
the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case
of the death or other constitutional disability of the Pre-
" 2. The person having the greatest number of votes
as Vice President shall be the Vice President, if such
number be a majority of the whole number of electors
appointed ; and if no person have a majoritj, then, from
the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall
choose the Vice President. A quorum for this purpose
shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Sena
tors, and a majority of the whole number shall be neces-
sary to a choice.
" 3. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the
office of President, shall be eligible to that ot V ice Pre-
sident of the United States."
Mr. MERCER, of Virginia, said that he rose, not to
oppose this motion, but to suggest that the period the
most inauspicious that could be devised tor seriously en-
tering upon this question, was the present session. He
was persuaded that no beneficial effect could be answer-
ed by taking it up. He believed, indeed, that nothing
could be more detrimental to the harmony of the session,
and to otbey interests, than now taking up this question.
Under this impression, be rose to say that, for one, he
should oppose the taking up this question on Monday
next, and he hoped the House would be of the same
opinion on that subject as himself.
The motion for printing- was then agreed to.
The House having resumed the consideration of (he
bill on this subject—
Mr. VANCE, of Ohio, then rose and said, that it was
with reluctance that he presented himself before the
House on this subject—and his doing so might perhaps
demand from him some apology to those gentlemen,
who, coming from the State where these claimants re-
sided, were more particularly connected, by their situa-
tion, with the present bill. But he had risen, because
he had had, in his own person, some opportunity of an
acquaintance with the facts of the case, and such was
their impression up n his own mind, that he felt confi-
dent there was not a man on that floor, let him come
from the North or the South, from the East or the West,
who, if he knew the sufferings of these claimants,
would not b« in favor of granting them relief. The as*
sertion might be thought a bold one, but he felt no he-
sitation in making it, and he now repeated that, had gen-
tlemen been eye witnesses to what was suffered on that
frontier, not one would refuse to relieve the sufferers.
On most subjects, he felt as much disposed to econo-
mise the public resources as any membet of this House ;
but he could -lever consent that, when he who had thrown
open his door to receive a suffering, perishing American
soldier, and in consequence of his hospitality he had had
his bouse burnt to the ground, asked compensation from
the American Government, he should be sent away un-
aided. Mr. V. said he felt his inadequacy to do justice
to the subject, or to his own feelings, and he well knew
that, after the able speeches which had been made in
opposition to the bill, from men of the first standing in
the country, whoever rose to advocate it, must expect
to row against a strong current. But if the arguments
of those gentlemen are not more specious than sound,
he was greatly mistaken.
He proceeded then to notice, in the first place, the
doctrine advanced by the gentleman from North Caroli-
na, (Mr. Williams,) as to the policy of allowingthese
claims. [Here Mr. V. quoted Mr. W's speech, as re-
ported in this paper; in that part of it which relates to
the freedom of a cit>zen in choosing his abode on the
frontier, and the comparative burdens of those on the
border and in the interior.] Now, sir, said Mr. V. I say
that this doctrine is more specious than solid. I hold a
doctrine which I think more connected with patriotism
and the best interests of our country, when I maintain
that the sufferings of the citizen on the frontier should
be made up to him by the rest ofhis countrymen.
The gentleman goes to the true ground, when he
speaks of the doctrine of retaliation. Gentlemen may
say what they will about national law, but the only true
grounds on which to decide this question are those of
self-preservation and retaliation. Mr. V. insisted, that
two parts of the speech of the gentleman from North
Carolina, wer . incompatible and contradic'Ory. [Here
he again quoted the report, in that part of it which re-
lates to tile devastations on the Chesapeake, where Mr.
Williams refers to the President's letter to Cochrane,
threatening* retaliation if the outrages are continued.)
Sir, that's the true doctrine—the only preservation of
any country. We have heard much of national law, and
we have abused the British from one end of the country
to the other, and tried to excuse ourselves; but, sir, war
is war; and where a commanding general goes in suc-
cessful pursuit of"an enemy, he is very apt to trample on
your fine theories of the iaw of nations, and inflict on
the enemy what injury he can. We have ourselves
done it, and to as great an extent as any nation in the
world, in proportion to our power.
The gentleman, in another part of his speech, has un-
dertaken to illustrate, his doctrine [Here Mr. V. quot-
ed that part of Mr. Williams' speech ] But, sir, has
the gentleman forgotten our federal character ? Is each
part of this country, and is each man in it to protect him-
self? Is such a doctrine as this preached to us by the
gentleman f Is the interior to be paid for marching to
defend the frontier? Sir, if that gentleman should march
from Norfolk todefend the most distant part of our fron-
tier, he would only be marching, in effect, to defend
himself. It is an acknowledged maxim, that it is better
to fight an enemy in your neighbor's ground than ort
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Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/55/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.