Page images



coscos RNING Foreig N MINIsTEns: 275

our great national compact was to the settled by a foreign minister ; neither did it enter my heart to conceive that the government of the United States was to receive Tessons from a Spaniard upon the extent of its constitutional powers. Yet, Sir, so it is. The Spanish Tminister has first chosen to construe into an order, what he was expressly told was not an order; and next to tell the secretary of state that this order is contrary to the spirit of the constitution and government of this country. I find however that there are even American citizens, who think, with this diplomatick expounder of our Haws, that the president in no case has the power to order a foreign minister to depart from our territories. I have myself always inclined to the opinion, that, for these cases of personal misconduct, the power of removal was given by the spirit of the constitution, though not perhaps by its letter. That he ought to possess it, is not in my mind a subject of doubt at all ; for considering the nature of a foreign minister's privileges, and the danger and urgency of the cases wherein men invested with that character most frequently abuse them, to deny the president the exercise of the only means which can control them, is to deny the nation itself the means of self defence at the most perilous extremities. It may be asked whether this argument would not apply, with equal force, to the cases in which I deny the president’s power to expel a foreign minister, and in which the bill does not propose to give it. To this, I answer, No. In every possible case, when a publick minister could be ordered home on account of national differences, congress must be in session, or must be sum

moned for the purpose. Such a state of things cannot suddenly arise. It is a measure never to be resorted to, unless with the settled determination of war; and its exercise never can be necessary for the president to the execution of his constitutional powers. But the personal misconduct of a minister may happen at any time, when congress is not in session as probably as when it is. It would certainly happen more freJuently in the former case than in the latter, if during the recess no power of restraint upon him could be used. These are offences, the detection of which would often be accidental, sudden, unexpected; calling for the instantaneous interposition of a vigorous arm to rescue the country from its danger. Suppose a conspiracy like that of Tarquin's ambassadors, or that of Catiline at Rome, like that of Bedmar at Venice, like that of Cellamare in France : To say that the president should have no weapon of defence within his reach, until congress should be assembled, would give the conspiring minister the power to execute at full leisure such orders as Cellamare received from Cardinal Alberoni, and enable him, before his hand could be arrested, to set fire to all the mines. It is therefore as clear to me, that the president ought to possess the power of expulsion for personal of fences, as that he ought not to possess the same power for causes of national controversy. And if the constitution by its silence has left it questionable, it seems to me incumbent upon congress to remove every shadow of doubt from the case. Among the other objections which I have heard alledged against any legislative act upon this subject, I shall now notice that which I consider as of the least real weight ; and that is, that other nations have not made it a subject of legislation. But other nations have made the exemption of foreign ministers from their civil jurisdiction a subject of legislation, as appears in Martens.” And with respect to the criminal jurisdictions in cases of common crimes, it is remarkable that the same Martens says the English, jor the want of an exfiress law upon the subject, have departed from the usages of all other nations in this particular, and made foreign ministers amenable to their criminal jurisdiction,t Now, Sir, if the English nation are thus charged with a deviation from the practice of all other civilized nations, because they have not made an express law for acceding to it, surely no exception can be taken against us for making precisely such a law as England is said to want. * The exemption of foreign ministers from the jurisdićtion of the state is regulated in Holland by the ordinances of the States General, of 11 August, 1676, and 9 Sept. 1679; and of the States of Holland of 8 Aug. 1659, 30 July and 14 Aug. 1681. See the “Groot Placaat Boek” under date of these years. In England, by act of parliament, 1o Ann, ch. 7. In Portugal, by ordinance of 1748. Martens' Summary, B. vii. ch.5, §. 3, n.b. + In the practice of the European nations we find, that in cases of private crimes committed by a minister, it is tho't commonly sufficient to demand his recal, Though in England the want of an exprest law seems to leave ministers without shelter from a criminal prosecution. In the case of state crimes, it is thought sufficient to seize his person, while the safety of the state is in danger, releasing and sending him home afterwards; even. this extremity is not commonly resorted to, if the danger is less imminent, and if it will admit the expedient of sending away the minister, or demanding his re

[ocr errors]

This law, therefore, instead of a mark of singularity, must be regarded as a test of conformity. Instead of throwing us into a corner with the solitary exception, it introduces us into the general circle of nations. It is not in sullen derogation, but in explicit affirmance of the general usage. It is no variation of our political compass; it is only the steady pointing of our needle to the real pole. But a still more conclusive answer to this objection is, that other nations have made no law upon this subject, because, conformably to their constitutions, the act of sending home a foreign minister is in all cases an executive act ; and of course an act requiring no legislative interposition. I have already shewn, Sir, that by our constitution, it must in some cases, be considered as a legislative act ; and hence arises a reason peculiar to ourselves for regulating the whole subject by legislative sanction : reserving to congress the power to exercise it when it becomes equivalent to a declaration of war, and leaving it in the hands of the president when it is upon our own principles an act purely executive. These, Sir, are the considerations deduced from the laws of nations and from our own constitution, upon which the bill was presented to the senate in its original shape ; the amendment reported by order of the committee is entirely in the spirit of the bill, and only specifies the precise mode in which the order for the removal of a criminal foreign minister shall be executed. This section may perhaps be deemed expedient even if it should be concluded that the abstract power is unquestionably wested in the president. For even if he has the power without the


legalized organs of carrying it into effect, as to all purposes of publick benefit, the case is the same as if he had it not. It is, on this supposition, one of those authorities which require an org.”.ick law to render it practical. Nor is this the only instance in which the constitution has left it in the discretion of congress to prescribe the manner of carrying its injunctions into effect. The very first law in your statute book is an example of the same description. The constitution had enjoined that all civil officers of the United States, and of the several states; should be sworn to its support, but had not particularized the manner of administering the oath ; and the first act of the first congress under our present constitution was to provide the necessary regulation. It may now perhaps be expected, Sir, that I should give some explanation of the more immediate circumstances in which the bill originated. And here, I am sensible that I tread upon delicate ground. So highly honourable and respectable is the office of a foreign minister, that to treat him with disrespect in common discourse, and still more in legislative deliberation, would be without excuse, were his own conduct altogether unexceptionable. Should the occasion ever happen that a foreign minister, by his own violation of all the common decencies of social intercourse towards the government to which he was accredited, should forfeit every right to perso

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

upon the government of my country. Within a few days after the

message of the president, at the commencement of the present session of congress was made publick, the Spanish minister addressed to the secretary of state a letter couched in terms which it cannot be necessary for me to particularize ; and containing, not only strictures of the most extraordinary nature upon all the parts of that message respecting Spain, but complaints no less extraordinary at what it did not contain. Consider this procedure in its real light Sir, and what is it ! A foreign minister takes to task the president of the United States, for the manner in which he has executed one of the most important funct tions enjoined upon him by the constitution. He not only charges him with misrepresentation in what he did say, but he presumes to dictate to him what he should have said. I forbear all comment upon this conduct, as it relates to the present chief magistrate. I ask you, Sir, and I intreat every member of this senate to ask himself, what is its tendency as it relates to our country : The constitution of the United States makes it one of the president's most solemn duties to communicate to congress correct information relating to the state of our publick affairs. In every possible case of disputes and controversies of right between the United States and any foreign nation, the minister of that nation must have an interest, and the strongest interest to give a gloss and colouring to the objects in litigation, opposite to the interest of our country. If, whenever the president of the United States, upon the high and solemn responsibility which weighs upon every act of his official duty, gives to

congress that account of our foreign relations, which is necessary to enable them to adapt their measures to the circumstances for the general welfare of the Union, if a foreign minister, under colour of his official privileges, is to contradict every part of his statements, to impeach the correctness of his facts, and to chide hing even for his omissions, to what an abyss of abasement is the first magistrate of this Union to be degraded ? The freedom which a Spanish minister, unreproved, can take to-day, a French minister would claim as a right to-morrow, and a British minister would exercise, without ceremony, the next day. A diplomatick censorship would be established over the supreme executive of this nation, and the president would not dare to exhibit to congress the statement of our national concerns, without previously submitting his message for approbation to a cabinet council of foreign ministers. Under the British constitution, the speeches of the sovcreign to his parliament are all settled in his privy council, and the royal lips are understood to give utterance only to the words of the minister. The reason of this is, that by the forms of their constitution the sovereign himself is above all responsibility, and the minister is the person accountable to the nation for the substance of the discourse, delivered by his master. In their practice, therefore, the speech is made by him on whom the responsibility rests. But if this new assumption of the Spanish minister is submitted to, our practice will be an improvement on the British theory, of a singular cast indeed ; for, while the responsibility will rest upon the president who delivers the message, its contents will be

dictated by persons, not only loosed from all responsibility to our country, but bound in allegiance, in zeal, in duty, to the very princes with whom we have to contend. The same control, which by this measure is attempted to be usurpcd over the acts of the president, will, at the next step, and by an easy transition, be extended to the legislature ; and instead of parcelling out the message among several committces for their consideration, we shall have to appoint committees upon every part of the message relating to any foreign power, to wait upon the minister of that power and inquire what it is the pleasure of his master that we should do. That such is the inevitable tendency, and the real intention of this proceeding will appear, not only from a due consideration of the act itself, but from a proper estimate of its avowed motive, and from the subsequent conduct of the same minister. He addressed this letter to the secretary of state, not for the purpose of asking any explanation, not for the purpose of giving any satisfaction, not for any of the usual and proper purposes of a diplomatick communication, but, as he himself declares, for our government to publish, with a view to counteract the statements of the president's message. It was a challenge to the president, to enter the lists of a pamphleteering war against him, for the instruction of the American people, and the amusement of foreign courts : and, having failed in this laudable project, he addresses, after the expiration of forty days, a circular letter to the other foreign minis. ters residing in the United States, with copies of his letter to the secretary of state, as if these foreign ministers were the regular umpires between him and our government. Not content however with this appeal, he authorizes them to give copies of his letters to ensure that publication with which our government had not gratified him ; and calls at once upon the American people, and upon the European courts, to decide between the firesident and him. Here too, Sir, I beg gentlemen to abstract the particular instance from the geneeral principle of this transaction. The same act which, under one set of circumstances, can only excite contempt, under another becomes formidable in the extreme. Of the newspaper appeal to the people, I say nothing. The people of this country are not so dull of understanding, or so depraved in vice, as to credit the assertions of a foreigner, bound by no tie of duty to them, the creature and agent of their adversary, in contradiction to those of their own of: ficer, answerable to them for his every word, and stationed at the post of their highest confidence. But the circular to the other foreign ministers, is a species of appeal hitherto unprecedented in the United States. And what is its object : the information of their courts ; that the governments of France and Great-Britain may learn from him the justice and generosity of his master. It is probable that both those nations, the ally and the enemy of Spain, have much better materials for estimating the justice and generosity of his Catholic majesty; but what have they to do in the case ? By an anonymous newspaper publication, the idiom of which discovers its origin, a precedent is alledged in justification of this extraordinary step, and the reciprocal communication of diplomatick Inemorials concerning the affairs of

Holland in the years 1786 and 1787, between the ministers of Great-Britain, France and Prussia, at the Hague, is gravely adduced as warranting this innovation of the Spanish minister here. The very reference to that time, place, and occasion would of itself be a sufficient indication of the intent at this time. In the years 1785 and 1787, the three powers I have just mentioned undertook, between them, not only to interfere in the internal government of Holland, but to regulate and control it according to a plan upon which they were endeavouring to agree. Their ministers therefore very naturally communicated to each other the memorials which they presented to the Dutch government. And what was the result : Two of those three powers fixed between themselves the doom of Holland; raised a tyrannical faction upon the ruins of that country's freedom, and marched the duke of Brunswick, at the head of thirty thousand men, into Amsterdam, to convince the Hollanders of the king of Prussia's justice and generosity. This, Sir, is the precedent, called to our recollection for the purpose of reconciling us to the humiliation of our condition. We are patiently to behold a Spanish minister, insulting the President of the United States, dictating to him his construction of our constitution ; calling upon other foreign ministers to countenance his presumption, and entrenching himself behind the example of another nation, once made the victim of a like usurpation. The resemblance is but too strong, and will, I hope, not be forgotten by us. If the constitutional powers of a Dutch Stadtholder were prescribed and moulded according to the Pleasure:

« PreviousContinue »