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the committees, decided thereon, and sent us the bill. I did not myself take any note of the particular hour of this part of the transaction. The honorable member from Virginia (Mr. Leigh) says he consulted his watch at the time, and he knows that I had come from the conference, and was in my seat at a quarter past eleven. I have no reason to think that he is under any mistake on this particular. He says it so happened that he had occasion to take notice of the hour, and well remembers it. It could not well have been later than this, as any one will be satisfied who will look at our journals, public and executive, and see what a mass of business was despatched after I came from the committees, and before the adjournment of the Senate. Having made the report, sir, I had no doubt that both Houses would concur in the result of the conference, and looked every moment for the officer of the House bringing the Bill. He did not come, however, and I pretty soon learned that there was doubt whether the committee on the part of the House would report to the House the agreement of the conferees. At first, I did not at all credit this; but was confirmed by one communication after another, until I was obliged to think it true. Seeing that the bill was thus in danger of being lost, and intending at any rate that no blame should justly attach to the Senate, I immediately moved the following resolution :

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Resolved, That a message be sent to the honorable the House of Representatives respectfully to remind the House of the report of the committee of conference appointed on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the amendment of the House to the amendment of the Senate to the bill respecting the fortificating of the United States."

You recollect this resolution, sir, having, as I well remember, taken some part on the occasion.*

This resolution was promptly passed; the Secretary carried it to the House, and delivered it. What was done in the House on the receipt of this message now appears from the printed journal. I have no wish to comment on the proceedings there recordedall may read them, and each be able to form his own opinion. Suffice it to say that the House of Representatives, having then possession of the bill, chose to retain that possession, and never acted on the report of the committee. The bill, therefore, was lost. It was lost in the House of Representatives. It died there, and there its remains are to be found. No opportunity was given to the members of the House to decide whether they would agree to the report of the two committees or not. From a quarter past eleven, when the report was agreed to, until two or three o'clock in the morning, the House remained in session. If at any time there was not a quo

* Mr. King, of Alabama, was in the chair.

rum of members present, the attendance of a quorum, we are to presume, might have been commanded, as there was undoubtedly a great majority of the members still in the city.

But now, sir, there is one other transaction of the evening, which I feel bound to state, because I think it quite important, on several accounts, that it should be known.

A nomination was pending before the Senate for a Judge of the Supreme Court. In the course of the sitting, that nomination was called up, and, on motion, was indefinitely postponed. In other words, it was rejected; for an indefinite postponement is a rejection. The office, of course, remained vacant, and the nomination of another person to fill it became necessary. The President of the United States was then in the Capitol, as is usual on the evening of the last day of the session, in the chamber assigned to him, and with the heads of Departments around him. When nominations are rejected under these circumstances, it has been usual for the President immediately to transmit a new nomination to the Senate; otherwise the office must remain vacant till the next session, as the vacancy in such case has not happened in the recess of Congress. The vote of the Senate, indefinitely postponing this nomination, was carried to the President's room by the Secretary of the Senate. The President told the Secretary that it was more than an hour past 12 o'clock, and that he could receive no further communications from the Senate, and immediately after, as I have understood, left the Capitol. The Secretary brought back the paper containing the certified copy of the vote of the Senate, and endorsed thereon the substance of the President's answer, and also added that, according to his own watch, it was quarter past one o'clock.

There are two views, sir, in which this occurrence may well deserve to be noticed. One is a connection which it may perhaps have with the loss of the Fortification bill; the other is, its general importance, as introducing a new rule, or a new practice, respecting the intercourse between the President and the House of Congress on the last day of the session.

On the first point, I shall only observe that the fact of the President's having declined to receive this communication from the Senate, and of his having left the Capitol, was immediately known in the House of Representatives; that it was quite obvious that if he could not receive a communication from the Senate, neither could he receive a bill from the House of Representatives for his signature. It was equally obvious, that if, under these circumstances, the House of Representatives should agree to the report of the committee of conference, so that the bill should pass, it must, nevertheless, fail to become a law, for want of the President's signature; and that, in that case, the blame of losing the bill, on whomsoever else it might fall, could not be laid upon the Senate.

On the more general point, I must say, sir, that this decision of the President, not to hold communication with the Houses of Congress after 12 o'clock, on the 3d of March, is quite new. No such objection has ever been made before, by any President. No one of them has ever declined communicating with either House at any time during the continuance of its session on that day. All Presidents, heretofore, have left it with the Houses themselves to fix their hour of adjournment, and to bring their session, for the day, to a close, whenever they saw fit.

It is notorious, in point of fact, that nothing is more common than for both Houses to sit later than 12 o'clock, for the purpose of completing measures which are in the last stages of their progress. Amendments are proposed and agreed to, bills passed, enrolled bills signed by the presiding officers, and other important legislative acts performed, often at 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning. All this is very well known to gentlemen who have been for any considerable time members of Congress. And all Presidents have signed bills, and have also made nominations to the Senate, without objection as to time, whenever bills have been presented for signature, or whenever it became necessary to make nominations to the Senate, at any time during the session of the respective Houses on that day.

And all this, sir, I suppose to be perfectly right, correct, and legal. There is no clause of the Constitution, nor is there any law, which declares that the term of office of members of the House of Representatives shall expire at twelve o'clock at night on the 3d of March. They are to hold for two years, but the precise hour for the commencement of that term of two years is no where fixed by constitutional or legal provision. It has been established by usage and by inference, and very properly established, that, since the first Congress commenced its existence, on the first Wednesday in March, 1789, which happened to be the 4th day of the month, therefore, the 4th of March is the day of the commencement of each successive term, but no hour is fixed by law or practice. The true rule is, as I think, most undoubtedly, that the session holden on the last day constitutes the last day, for all legislative and legal purposes. While the session commenced on that day continues, the day itself continues, according to the established practice both of legislative and judicial bodies. This could not well be otherwise. If the precise moment of actual time were to settle such a matter, it would be material to ask, who shall settle the time? Shall it be done by public authority, or shall every man observe the tick of his own watch? If absolute time is to furnish a precise rule, the excess of a minute, it is obvious, would be as fatal as the excess of an hour. Sir, no bodies, judicial or legislative, have ever been so hypercritical, so astute to no purpose, so

much more nice than wise, as to govern themselves by any such ideas. The session for the day, at whatever hour it commences, or at whatever hour it breaks up, is the legislative day. Every thing has reference to the commencement of that diurnal session. For instance, this is the 14th day of January; we assembled here to-day at 12 o'clock; our journal is dated January 14th, and if we should remain here until 5 o'clock to-morrow morning, (and the Senate has sometimes sat so late,) our proceedings would still bear date of the 14th of January; they would be so stated upon the journal, and the journal is a record, and is a conclusive record, so far as respects the proceedings of the body.

It is so in judicial proceedings. If a man were on trial for his life, at a late hour on the last day allowed by law for the holding of the court, and the jury acquitted him, but happened to remain so long in deliberation that they did not bring in their verdict till after 12 o'clock, is it all to be held for nought, and the man to be tried over again? Are all verdicts, judgments, and orders of courts, null and void, if made after midnight, on the day which the law prescribes as the last day? It would be easy to show by authority, if authority could be wanted for a thing, the reason of which is so clear, that the day lasts while the daily session lasts. When the court or the legislative body adjourns for that day, the day is over, and not before.

I am told, indeed, sir, that it is true that, on this same 3d day of March last, not only were other things transacted, but that the bill for the repair of the Cumberland road, an important and much litigated measure, actually received the signature of our presiding officer after 12 o'clock, was then sent to the President, and signed by him. I do not affirm this, because I took no notice of the time, or do not remember it if I did; but I have heard the matter so stated.

I see no reason, sir, for the introduction of this new practice; no principle on which it can be justified, no necessity for it, no propriety in it. As yet, it has been applied only to the President's intercourse with the Senate. Certainly it is equally applicable to his intercourse with both Houses in legislative matters; and if it is to prevail hereafter, it is of much importance that it should be known.

The President of the United States, sir, has alluded to this loss of the Fortification bill in his message at the opening of the session, and he has alluded also, in the same message, to the rejection of the vote of the three millions. On the first point, that is, the loss of the whole bill, and the causes of that loss, this is his language:

"Much loss and inconvenience have been experienced in conse quence of the failure of the bill containing the ordinary appropriations for fortifications, which passed one branch of the National Legislature at the last session, but was lost in the other."

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If the President intended to say that the bill, having originated in the House of Representatives, passed the Senate, and was yet afterwards lost in the House of Representatives, he was entirely correct. But he has been altogether wrongly informed, if he intended to state, that the bill, having passed the House, was lost in the Senate. As I have already stated, the bill was lost in the House of Representatives. It drew its last breath there. That House never let go its hold on it after the report of the committees of conference. But it held it, it retained it, and of course, it died in its possession when the House adjourned. It is to be regretted that the President should have been misinformed in a matter of this kind, when the slightest reference to the journals of the two Houses would have exhibited the correct history of the transaction.

I recur again, Mr. President, to the proposed grant of the three millions, for the purpose of stating somewhat more distinctly the true grounds of objection to that grant.

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These grounds of objection were two: the first was, that no such appropriation had been recommended by the President, or any of the Departments. And what made this ground the stronger was, that the proposed grant was defended, so far as it was defended at all, upon an alleged necessity, growing out of our foreign relations. The foreign relations of the country are intrusted by the Constitution to the lead and management of the Executive Government. The President not only is supposed to be, but usually is, much better informed on these interesting subjects than the Houses of Congress. If there be a danger of rupture with a foreign State, he sees it soonest. All our ministers and agents abroad are but so many eyes, and ears, and organs, to communicate to him whatsoever occurs in foreign places, and to keep him well advised of all which may concern the interests of the United States. There is an especial propriety, therefore, that, in this branch of the public service, Congress should always be able to avail itself of the distinct opinions and recommendations of the President. The two Houses, and especially the House of Representatives, are the natural guardians of the People's money. They are to keep it sacred, and to use it discreetly. They are not at liberty to spend it where it is not needed, nor to offer it for any purpose till a reasonable occasion for the expenditure be shown. Now, in this case, I repeat, again, the President had sent us no recommendation for any such appropriation; no Department had recommended it; no estimate had contained it; in the whole history of the session, from the morning of the first day, down to 8 o'clock in the evening of the last day, not one syllable had been said to us, not one hint suggested, showing that the President deemed any such measure either necessary or proper. I state this strongly, sir, but I state it truly: I state the matter as it is; and I wish to draw the attention

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