Patronage. -- During the Discussion of the Foreign Intercourse Bill.

House of Representatives, January 18, 1798.

Mr. GALLATIN said, he believed, upon the whole, our government was in a great degree pure. Patronage was not very extensive, nor had it any material effect upon the house, or any other part of the government; yet he could suppose our government to be liable to abuse in this way. By the nature of the government, the different powers were divided; the power of giving offices was placed in the executive -- an influence which neither of the other branches possessed; and if too large grants of money were made, it might give to that power an improper weight.

Our government, he said, was in its childhood and if patronage had any existence, it Could not, of course, be as yet alarming; but he desired gentlemen to look at all governments where this power was placed in the executive, and see if the greatest evil of the government was not the excessive influence of that department. Did net this corruption exist, in the government which was constituted most similar to ours, to such a degree as to have become a part of the system itself, and without which, it is said, the government could not go on? Was it not, therefore, prudent to keep a watchful eye in this respect?

He did not, however, speak against the power itself: it was necessary to be placed somewhere. The Constitution had fixed it in the executive. If the same power had been placed in the legislature, he believed they would have been more corrupt than the executive. He thought, therefore, the trust was wisely placed in the executive.

January 19, 1798.

On the same occasion, Mr. PINCKNEY said, all commercial regulations might as well be carried on by consuls as by ministers; and if any {440} differences should arise betwixt this country and any of the European governments, special envoys might be sent to settle them, as heretofore.

January 22, 1798.

Mr. BAYARD. It had been supposed, by gentlemen, that he might appoint an indefinite number of ministers; and were the house, in that case, he asked, blindly to appropriate for them? This question was predicated upon an abuse of power, whilst the Constitution supposed it would be executed with fidelity. Suppose he were to state the question in an Opposite light. Let it be imagined that this country has a misunderstanding with a foreign power, and that the executive should appoint a minister, but the house, in the plenitude of its power, should refuse an appropriation. What might be the consequence? Would not the house have contravened the Constitution by taking from the President the power which by it is placed in him? It certainly would. So that this supposition of the abuse of power would go to the destruction of all authority. The legislature was bound to appropriate for the salary of the chief justice of the United States; and though the President might appoint a chimney-sweeper to the office, they would still be bound. The Constitution had trusted the President, as well as it had trusted that house. Indeed, it was not conceivable that the house could act upon the subject of foreign ministers. Our interests with foreign countries came wholly under the jurisdiction of the executive. The duties of that house related to the internal affairs of the country; but what related to foreign countries and foreign agents was vested in the executive. The President was responsible for the manner in which this business was conducted. He was bound to communicate, from time to time, our situation with foreign powers; and if plans were carried on abroad for dividing or subjugating us, if he were not to make due communication of the design, he would be answerable for the neglect.