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the constitutionality and expediency of appropriations by Congress for the improvement of rivers, harbors, and navigable waters, but subject to the condition, and coming within the principle laid down by Mr. Monroe, and subsequently adopt. ed by General Jackson in his Maysville Road veto, that the appropriations should be for objects of general, not local-national, not state benefit.” The existence of the power consti. tuted no reason for its abuse ; nor was the fact that it might sometimes be abused a reason for denying its existence. He has voted for a number of such bills, and has not been driven from his assertion of the general principle by the disregard which he believes to have been manifested toward the claims of the Illinois River in his own state. He voted in favor of the River and Harbor Bill vetoed by the President during the first session of the twenty-ninth Congress, and he voted in favor of passing that bill into a law, “the objections of the President to the contrary notwithstanding.” He continued, as he had ever been, in favor of giving adequate protection to our commerce and navigation on all our navigable waters—the lakes and rivers as well as the ocean. Nor could he discover any thing in the Veto Message of the President to change his opinion. He had no complaint to make so far as the principles of the message related to the constitutional power of Congress to establish a general system of internal improvements. He was opposed to such a system, and had so avowed himself on ser. eral occasions. He approved of all the resolutions on the extent of this power imposed by General Jackson in his Mays. ville Road and Wabash River vetoes. He approved of the restrictions in the messages of Madison, Monroe, and Van Buren. He was not willing to go even as far as many of them went in favor of public works by the general government. There must, he thought, be some restriction, some limit to the power, else the Federal government would swallow up all the powers of the states. He agreed with the President that this was a government of limited powers, possessing none except those which were expressly granted, or were necessary to carry the enumerated powers into effect. He was willing to adopt this rule of construction on rivers and harbors, as well as banks, tariff, distribution, and all the other great measures of the day. He had, therefore, no fault to find with the rules of construction which the President had adopted. The principles of the message, in this respect, were sound and orthodox, But the difficulty under which Mr. Douglas labored was to reconcile these principles to the particular works enumerated in the bill. The President approved of a part and disapproved of the residue, and would be willing to sign the unexceptionable portion if separated from the objectionable items. These items the President had not designated, nor had he furnished any means by which the good could be distinguished from the evil. This was a point upon which there might be, and no doubt was, great variety of opinion. Works which one portion of the country might regard as most important, others might regard as the least useful. As the President had objected to a part, and not to the whole of the bill, Mr. Douglas thought it was due to the House that the objectionable items—those which, in the President's opinion, were so hostile to the principles of the Constitution and the security of our institutions, should have been pointed out. There were items in the bill to which Mr. Douglas had himself very strong objections, and which had caused his support of the bill to be given reluctantly. But he was not willing, on that account, to sacrifice the whole river and harbor interest. He had very little personal knowledge of the merits of the various harbors on the lakes and Atlantic which were provided for in the bill. He took them on the credit of the committee which reported it, and of the reports and estimates of the officers having them in charge. It had been the practice of the government, from the administration of Washington down, to encourage and sanction these harbor appropriations. He was not prepared to abandon that policy. He did not understand the President as abandoning it, but as being in favor of appropriations for harbors, light-houses, bays, and havens, where they were necessary for the protection of our commerce and shipping. Something, however, was said about a distinction between our foreign and internal commerce, to which Mr. Douglas could not subscribe. He did not believe in any such distinction. The power to regulate commerce with foreign countries and between the several states was conferred in the same clause of the Constitution. He also repudiated the distinctions about improving rivers above and below ports of entry. There was no reason for such distinction. If Congress had the right to improve the river at all, it had the right to do it above a port of entry or delivery as well as below. He also regretted the distinction attempted to be drawn in some quarters between salt and fresh water, and the ebbing and flowing of the tide. The question should be broadly and boldly met, whether Con. gress has the right, under the Constitution, to protect commerce on our navigable waters. If so, it must apply to all alike. The West would never submit to odious and unjust discriminations, which lavished millions on the sea-board, and excluded the lakes and rivers from all participation. They must all be placed on the same footing, and share alike in the favors and burdens of government.
He voted in favor of the Independent Treasury Bill, now the law of the land, contending that the two great leading and competing fiscal systems—a National Bank and an Independent Treasury—had been distinctly presented as an issue to the American people, whose verdict had been given in favor of the latter.
The views of Mr. Douglas on the subject of the naturalization laws were fully expressed during the last Congress, when certain resolutions of the General Assembly of the State of Massachu. setts for such amendments of these laws as would protect the bal. lot-box and the elective franchise from abuses and frauds were under consideration. We have recorded his judicial opinion in another page. He expressed in the House his willingness to go as far as any man could reasonably desire in the exercise of any constitutional privilege or power to correct frauds, not only upon the ballot-box, but on the naturalization laws, or any other laws of the United States. But, while he held it a matter of great importance to guard the ballot-box against corruption, he believed it equally important that Congress should refrain from the exercise of powers which by the Constitution were reserved to the states. He conceded to Congress the fullest power to establish naturalization laws, but he denied that naturalization included the power of voting. The privileges of naturalization and voting, he contended, were as entirely separate and distinct from each other as were the Federal and the state goy. ernments. Naturalization did confer the right of citizenship, and citizenship included the right of protection, the right to sue in the courts in time of war, the right to hold real estate, to
receive property by descent, to transmit it, together with various other rights. This was the extent of naturalization, as it existed in England previous to our separation from the mothercountry, and as it existed here before and at the adoption of the Constitution. The term was then distinctly understood. It was as clearly and accurately known by the framers of the Constitution as the term “ bankruptcy,” or “maritime jurisdiction," or any other legal term which was inserted in the Constitution; and when they gave to Congress power to establish a uniform system of naturalization,” they used the term both in the popular and legal sense which it bore at the time. This position would be found to be sustained by the debates of the Convention which framed the Constitution. It would be found that a proposition was distinctly brought forward in the Convention to establish uniform rules of voting, as well as a uniform system of naturalization and of bankruptcy. The Convention deliberately and fully discussed the subject, and finally settled it, as it now stood in the Constitution. They found that, the moment they entered on such a subject, innumerable inconsistencies and difficulties presented themselves, which it was impossible to reconcile or to remove, from the fact that the old thirteen states were each an independent commonwealth, having a constitution and laws of its own, and each prescribing the qualification of voters, according to its own pleasure, by enactments which were as various and as numerous as the states themselves. The result was now found in the second section of the first article of the Constitution, which declared that "the House of Representatives shall be composed of members chosen every second year by the people of the several states, and the electors in each state shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State Legislature.”
The question as to the qualifications for voting was thus remitted, or rather reserved, to the states, each being left to settle it according to its own views. That each independent state had a right, as such, to prescribe the qualifications of voters for its own Legislature, was a proposition so self-evident that it had never been questioned. Whenever the state had exercised this right, and had determined on what condition its citizens should vote for the most numerous branch of the State Legislature, the Constitution came in and declared that the same class of persons should be entitled to vote for members of Congress. Whatever the state laws were on the subject of suffrage, the Constitution adopted and confirmed them. Congress might alter the laws of naturalization, or might repeal them altogether; they might extend the period of probation to twenty-one years; they might, if they pleased, adopt the Native American creed, with all its narrowness, and bigotry, and selfishness, and injustice; but it never could reach the sacred right of suffrage: that was reserved to the states. This the states well understood; and they defied and derided all attempts of the Native American party to interfere with or control its exercise. He trusted that every such attempt by the abuse of the powers of Congress would meet with the rebuke which it merited. The principle was higher, and broader, and deeper, and of more vital character than any which he had seen embodied in an act of the national Legislature; to destroy it was to strike at the Constitution itself.
He declined to enter into a discussion of the question whether it would or would not be good policy to interfere with this right, supposing Congress to possess the power. It was one of those things which could best be determined by a regard to local interests and local circumstances. States situated two thousand miles from the Atlantic, with a sparse population, and that population almost exclusively agricultural, would naturally regard this matter in a very different light from those situated on the Atlantic sea-board ; and any rule constructed to suit the latter only, would not suit Indiana, Illinois, or Missouri. And the present state of the question showed how rightly the Convention had judged when they deterinined to leave the whole right of franchise to the exclusive control of the states alone, inasmuch as they could best adapt it to the condition and feelings of their people.
As to the alleged connection of frauds on the naturalization laws with the corruption of the ballot-box, Mr. Douglas insisted that such an inquiry would be inconsistent with the powers of the general government. If the inquiry should elicit frauds ever so gross, Congress could not act upon the inatter. “I would say to these Native American gentlemen,” he added, “ as I would to the Abolitionists, if you have grievances to com