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stronger claim to the gratitude of his countrymen of this and future generations, by his vigorous, persevering, and successful exertions in the cause of Internal Improvement, and the encouragement of domestic industry. The appropriate appellation of the Father of the American System, which, as we remarked above, has been bestowed upon him by the country as a reward for these exertions, will remain like that of the Author of the Declaration of Independence, which Mr. Jefferson wished to have inscribed on his tomb-stone, a permanent and substantive distinction of the most honorable character, when the empty titles of the Old World, and even the official dignities of the New, will no longer be valued or even understood. The establishment of the American System was, in fact, neither more nor less than the completion of the great work of the emancipation of the country, which had been so happily commenced by the patriots of the Revolution. They secured to us the form of political independence; but the true sovereigns of a country,' as is well observed by one of our highest literary authorities, are those who determine its mind, its modes of thinking, its tastes, its principles.' While we neglected the developement of our resources, and looked to the mother country as the standard of opinion and usage in morals, politics, and all the departments of public and private economy, our national existence was a mere name, and for all substantial purposes, we were as much colonies as before. It is only by establishing at home our workshops in all the departments of useful and ornamental labor, and, especially, the literary and scientific institutions, which are the great laboratories of thought, that we have really become, or are fast becoming, an independent people. The statesman, who has had the honor of connecting his name with this change in the condition of the country, may justly be regarded as the second founder of our national independence.

The first of the two great divisions of this system, which seriously engaged the attention of the Government, was that of Internal Improvement; by which phrase, although it is, of course, susceptible of a much larger application, has been generally intended the construction of roads and canals, and the clearing away of obstructions in the channels of the water

The expediency of carrying into effect a system of measures of this description was early perceived by the Government, and has never been disputed by any person or party ;


it has also been pretty generally felt, that the business could not be left entirely to the States or to individuals, but that the co-operation of the General Government was, in many of its most iinportant parts, absolutely necessary. The principal question on this branch of the subject has therefore been, whether the Government might go on under the Constitution, as it now stands, and make such internal improvements as might appear expedient, or whether it was necessary, in the first place, to obtain an amendment, conferring a specific authority for this purpose. This may appear at first view a comparatively unimportant difference, but, considering the difficulty, and, in fact, impossibility of carrying through any amendment of much importance, and which affects a variety of interests, the question was the same under another form, as whether the General Government should or should not take any part in the work of Internal Improvement.

Mr. Jefferson, though strongly in favor of the general principle, inclined to the negative on the point of constitutional authority, and contemplated the necessity of an amendment. Mr. Madison's course was somewhat singular. In his message at the opening of the session of Congress of 1816—17, he particularly invited their attention to the expediency of exercising their existing powers, and, when necessary, of resorting to the prescribed mode of enlarging them, in order to effectuate a comprehensive system of roads and canals, such as will have the effect of drawing more closely together every part of our country by promoting intercourse and improvement, and by increasing the share of every part in the common stock of national prosperity. In pursuance of this recommendation, Congress, a short time before its adjournment, (on the motion of Mr. Calhoun) passed a bill, appropriating for purposes of Internal Improvement, the bonus which was to be paid to the General Government by the Bank of the United States, and sent it to the President for his signature on the last day but one of the session. A rumor was soon spread that Mr. Madison intended to return the bill to the House with his veto. Mr. Clay, on hearing this, immediately addressed to him a letter, in which he urged him not to reject the bill, but rather,—if he could not conscientiously sign it to leave the matter open to his successor, who was to be inaugurated on the following day. Mr. Madison,-in the discharge of what he no doubt believed a positive duty,returned the bill on the last day of his ad

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ministration, with a message, in which he stated his belief, that the General Government had not the constitutional power to make internal improvements. Whether he had changed his opinion subsequently to the opening of the session, or whether he had in some way reconciled in his own mind the tenor of his opening and closing messages, are points which we need not here examine. The course of his successor was, probably, somewhat influenced by these proceedings. It is understood, that Mr. Monroe had included in the draft of his inaugural speech, a strong and unqualified recommendation of internal improvements under the authority of the General Government; but that after reading Mr. Madison's message, he was induced, whether from deference to his authority or acquiescence in his reasoning, to modify what he had written, and present his views in the qualified form in which they appear in the published speech. In the interval between his inauguration and the opening of the next session of Congress, he had made up his mind, that the exercise of the power in question was not authorized by the Constitution, and declared in his message, that he should put his negative upon any bill that might be passed for this purpose. His opinions seem to have subsequently undergone another change. In a long and argumentative message, which he addressed to Congress in the session of 1824–5, he took the singular, and plainly untenable ground, that Congress could appropriate money for making internal improvements, but that the money so appropriated could only be expended under the direction of the State Governments. Mr. Monroe's course on this subject during his administration, though uncertain and vacillating, was, therefore, on the whole, unfavorable to the adoption by Congress of a system of Internal Improvement.

The friends of this great measure, like those of Spanish American Independence, were therefore compelled, in the first instance, to encounter the opposition of the Executive department of the Government, which represented at this time a party completely predominant through the whole country. In both cases, Mr. Clay was the principal champion, and had the honor in both of carrying his measures against this powerful counteracting influence. The general outline of the argument is, probably, fainiliar to most of our readers. It was admitted, on both sides, that the power was not specifically given by the Constitution, and also that Congress had, in addition to the

NO. 73.


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powers specifically given, the right of making all laws sary and proper for carrying these powers into effect question was, whether the making of internal impro and particularly the laying out of roads and canals exercise of power necessary and proper for carrying in any of the specific powers granted by the Constitutio Clay contended, that it was necessary and proper for into effect the power to establish post-offices and pos and also the power to raise armies and carry on war proposition seems, in fact, to be almost too plain for ar It was, however, asserted by the champions of the opinion, that though, perhaps, convenieni for these purp was not indispensably and absolutely necessary. The Goveroinent, instead of laying out new roads, might on mail to be carried over those which had been laid the States, and where there were none, it was natural pose that no mail was wanted. The clauses of the C. tion conferring power on the General Government, receive the strictest possible construction, and on such struction, it is evident, that the power now claimed is no deduced from them. Such was the logic of the par posed to improvement. The obvious and unanswerable to it was, that the language of the Constitution in all it is to receive neither a strict nor a latitudinarian, but a fi natural construction, and that the general clause allu above, when construed in this way, evidently authorize that are suitable and convenient for carrying into effe great objects of the Government, even though they m be indispensably necessary.

The objection was, therefore, entirely untenable. It a to have been suggested, under an honest conviction that a construction of the Constitution is essential to the preser of the liberty of the citizens. It was supposed, that the as tion by the General Government of a power in any way tionable, was a step towards consolidation, and one threatened the subversion of our free institutions. This of the subject is continually pressed upon the public min doubt with good intentions, but with very injurious ef The impression made by it has repeatedly been fatal to of acknowledged utility ; and has produced at times an a feverish excitement in particular sections of the country for example, at present in South Carolina. It seems to

involve an important error, the nature of which we shall attempt very briefly to indicate.

The General Government is, undoubtedly, a Government of limited powers, which are distinctly defined in the Constitution, and it is highly proper and expedient, that the various departments of the Government should keep themselves strictly within the line of their respective authorities, according to a fair and natural construction of the terms of the instrument. But we hold it to be quite apparent, that no assumption by the General Government of powers not granted by the Constitution, can be in any way dangerous to the liberty of the citizens or to the preservation of our institutions, for the plain reason, that the only powers of which the use or abuse can ever be dangerous to liberty, are directly and specifically granted. These are the powers of levying taxes, raising armies, and carrying on war. The purse and the sword are the only instruments that are wanted or 'can ever be employed for the accomplishment of any ambitious purpose. Having abandoned these to the discretion of the General Government, with what propriety can we apprehend danger from the exercise by that Government of the power of founding a University,-establishing a bank,-laying out a road, or building a bridge ? This would be about as reasonable, as if a lady, who had granted to one of her admirers the name and essential privileges of a husband, should afterwards consider it hazardous, on the score of delicacy, to accompany him on a journey, or take his arm in a public walk. Did Cæsar, Cromwell, or Bonaparte, subvert the institutions of their respective countries by establishing banks or laying out roads? We have no desire that these or any other powers should be exercised by the General Government, unless they are deducible from the Constitution by a fair and natural construction of its terms; but we say, that whether they are, or are not exercised by the Government, is a matter of perfect indifference to the liberty of the people. The abuse of powers acknowledged to be granted, and not the assumption of such as are doubtful, is the real source of danger. The clamor, which is occasionally raised about the encroachments of the Federal Government, too often serves, if it be not intended, to divert the public attention from the real existing evil of mal-administration. The truth is, that the Constitution gives, and was designed to give to the General Government, all the ordinary political powers that are not

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