The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.
* . EDS ^ < m. OP THK tfl THE PROTEST AGAINST EXPUNGING. IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, MOXDAY, JANTJAHY 16, 1837. The Senate having under consideration the Resolution, moved by Mr. expunging from the Journal of Proceedings of the Senate, for March, 1834, a Resolution declaring the opinion of the Senate concerning the illegality of the removal of the public money from its lawful BENTON, for place of deposite, the Bank of the United States; and the Debate thereon having come to a close, and the question being about to be taken on agreeing Mr. to the said WEBSTER Resolution rose and addressed the Senate as follows : Mr. PRESIDENT: Upon the truth arid justice of the original resolution of the Senate, and upon the authority of the Senate to pass that resolution, I had an opportunity to express my opinions at a period, subsequent to the adoption of that resolution, when the protest of the President was before us. Those opinions remain altogether unchanged. And now, had the constitution secured the privilege of entering a PROTEST on the journal, I should not say one word on this occasion although, if what is now proposed shall be accomplished, I know not what would have been the value of such a provision, however formally or carefully it might have been inserted in the body of that instrument. But, as there is no such constitutional privilege, I can only effect my purpose by thus addressing the Senate and I rise, therefore, to make that PROTEST in this ; ; mariner, in the face of the Senate, and in the face of the country, which I cannot present in any other form. I in speak my own behalf, and in behalf of my col- we both speak as Senators from the State of Massachusetts, and, as such, we solemnly PROTEST against league ; whole proceeding. deny that Senators from other States have any power or authority to expunge any vote or votes which we have given here, and which we have recorded, agreethis We ably to the express provision of the constitution. have a high personal interest, and the State We whose we are, has also a high interest in the enof every part and parcel of the record preservation of our conduct as members of the Senate. representatives tire This record the constitution solemnly declares shall be kept ; but the resolution before the Senate declares that this record shall be expunged. Whether subterfuge and evasion, and, as it appears to us, the degrading mockery of drawing black lines upon the journal, shall or shall not leave our names and our votes legible, when this violation of the record shall have been completed, still the terms " to expunge," and the terms " to keep," when applied to a record, import ideas " to preexactly contradictory, as much so as the terms " to and the terms serve," destroy." A is expunged, is not a record which is more than a record which is destroyed can be a kept, any The part expunged is no record which is preserved. record which longer part of the record it has no longer a legal existence. It cannot be certified as a part of the pro; ceeding of the Senate for any purpose of proof or evidence. object of the provision in the constitution, as we think, most obviously is, that the proceedings of the Senate shall be preserved, in writing, not for the present The published only, because a copy of the not regular legal evidence but preservprinted journal only, not until is ; preserved, as other records are preserved, destroyed by time or accident. Every one must see that matters of the highest im- ed indefinitely ; till portance depend on the permanent preservation of the What but the journals journals of the two Houses. show that bills have been regularly passed into laws, through the several stages I What but the journal shows are members, or who is President, or Speaker, or What but the journal Secretary, or Clerk of the body 1 contains the proof, necessary for the justification of those who who act under our authority, and who, without the power of producing such proof, must stand as trespassers'! but the journals show who is appointed, and who or who is rejected by us, on the President's nomination What ; who convicted, in trials on impeachment'? Jn short, is there, at any time, any other regular and legal proof of any act done by the Senate than the journal acquitted, or itself! The serve idea, therefore, that the its journal only until alter, mutilate, or destroy bound to prepublished, and then may Senate is it is it at pleasure,, appears to us one of the most extraordinary sentiments ever advanced. We are deeply grateful to those friends who have shown, with so much clearness, that all the precedents relied on to justify or to excuse this proceeding, are either not to the purpose, or, from the times and circumstances at and under which they happened, are no way entitled to respect in a free Government, existing under a written constitution. But, for ourselves, we stand on the plain words of that constitution itself. A thousand precedents elsewhere made, whether ancient or modern, can neither rescind, nor control, nor explain away these words. The words are, that " each House shall KEEP a journal of its proceedings." interpretation, No and much no ingenuity, no specious can any fair or just reason- gloss, less ing reconcile the process of expunging with the plain meaning of these words, to the satisfaction of the com- mon sense and honest understanding of mankind. If the Senate may now expunge one part of the journal of a former session, it may, with equal authority, expunge another part, or the whole. It may expunge the entire record of any one session, or of all sessions. how any men can regard such a power, and its exercise at pleasure, as consistent with the injunction of the constitution. It can make no difference what is the completeness or incompleteness of the act of expunging, or by what means done whether by erasure, obliteration, or defacement if by defacement, as here proposed, whether one word or many words are written on the face of the record ; whether little ink or much ink is shed on the paper or whether some part, or the whole of the original written journal may yet by If the act done be an act to expossibility be traced. It seems to us inconceivable ; ; ; punge, to blot out, to obliterate, to erase the record, then the record is expunged, blotted out, obliterated, and erased. And mutilation and alteration violate the record as much as obliteration or erasure. ed, is A not the original record. record, subsequently alterIt no longer gives a just account of the proceedings of the Senate. It is no longer true. It is, in short, no journal of the real and actual proceedings of the Senate, such as the constitution says each The House shall keep. constitution, therefore, is, ment, violated by this proceeding in our deliberate judg- in the most plain and open manner. The constitution, moreover, provides that the yeas and shall, at the request of one-fifth of nays, on any question, This present, be entered on the journal. most manifestly, gives a personal right to those provision, members who may demand it, to the entry and preservathe members tion of their votes on the record of the proceedings of one day or one year only, but for all the body, not for time. There the yeas and nays are to stand, for ever, as of the manner in which permanent and lasting proof members have voted on great and important questions before them. But now * members, taken and thus entered on the journal, as by yeas and nays, matter of right, may still be expunged so that that, which it requires more than four-fifths of the Senators to prevent from being put on the journal, may, nevertheless, be struck off, and erased, the next moment, or at any period afterwards, by the will of a mere majority or, if this be it is insisted that the votes of ; ; not admitted, then the absurdity is adopted of maintaining, that this provision of the constitution is fulfilled by merely preserving the yeas and nays on the journal, after having expunged and obliterated the very resolution, or the very question on which they were given, and to which alone they refer leaving the yeas and nays thus a mere list of names, connected with no subject, no question, no ; We put to the impartial judgment of mankind, if this proceeding be not, in this respect also, directly and vote. it palpably inconsistent with the constitution. protest, in the most solemn manner, that other We Senators have no authority to deprive us of our personal rights, secured to us by the constitution, either by ex- punging, or obliterating, or mutilating, or defacing the record of our votes, duly entered by yeas and nays ; or by expunging and obliterating the resolutions or questions on which those votes were given and recorded. We have seen, with deep and sincere pain, the Legislatures of respectable States instructing the Senators of those States to vote for and support this violation of the journal of the Senate; and this pain is infinitely increased by our full belief, and entire conviction, that most, if not all these proceedings of States had their origin in prompt- ings from Washington that they have been urgently reand insisted on as being necessary to the accomquested plishment of the intended purpose and that it is nothing else but the influence and power of the Executive branch of this Government which has brought the Legislatures of so many of the free States of this Union to quit the ; ; sphere of their ordinary duties for the purpose of cooperating to accomplish a measure, in our judgment, so unconstitutional, so derogatory to the character of the Senate, and marked with so broad an impression of com- pliance with power. But this resolution is to pass. We it. expect That cause, which has been powerful enough to influence so many State Legislatures, will show itself powerful enough, especially with such aids, to secure the passage of the resolution here. We is make up our minds to behold the spectacle which to ensue. We scene collect ourselves is exhibited which, to look on, in if we silence, while did not regard it a as ruth- a sacred instrument, would appear to us elevated above the character of a contemptible less violation of to be little farce. This scene we and hundreds of American citizens, as many as may crowd into these lobbies and with what feelings I do not it also galleries, will behold shall behold, : undertake to say. But we PROTEST, we most solemnly PROTEST, against the substance and against the manner of this proceeding, its object, against tell you that you have against We its form, and against its effect. no right to mar or mutilate the record of our votes given here, and recorded according we tell you that you may as well to the constitution erase the yeas and nays on any other question or resolu; 7 questions and resolutions, as on this we tell you that you have just as much right to falsify the so altering it as to make us appear to have record, by tion, or on all ; voted on any question as we did not vote, as you have to erase a record, and make that page a blank, in which outvotes, as they were actually given and recorded, now stand. much The one proceeding, as it appears to us, a falsification of the record as the other. Having made this PROTEST, our duty is is as performed. We rescue our own names, character, and honor from all and whatever the wayward in this matter participation character of the times, the headlong and plunging spirit ; of party devotion, or the fear or the love of power, may have been able to bring about elsewhere, we desire to thank God that they have not, as yet, overcome the love of liberty, fidelity to true republican principles, and a sacred regard for the constitution, in that State whose soil was drenched, to a mire, by the first and best blood of the Revolution. Massachusetts, as yet, has not been conquered and while we have the honor to hold seats ; here as her Senators, we shall never consent to a sacrifice either of her rights, or our own we shall never fail to ; oppose what we regard as a plain and open violation of the constitution of the country and we should have thought ourselves wholly unworthy of her if we had not, with all the solemnity and earnestness in our power, PROTESTED against the adoption of the resolution now ; before the Senate. LOAN DEPT. ' SEP 192008 CD LD 21A-60w-10 '65 (F7763slO)476B General Library University of California Berkeley M *