Duelling. -- On a Resolution for rendering all Persons concerned in a Duel incapable of holding an office under the General Government of the United States.

House of Representatives, December 31, 1803.

Mr. DAVIS said, if the house could be made sensible that the resolution embraced a subject on which it could not constitutionally act, {452} they would reject it. To him it was plain that, if the house pursued the object of the resolution, it led them on forbidden ground. In the first place, it took from the citizens a right which, by their Constitution, they had secured themselves, -- to wit, the right of free elections. Do what the resolution contemplates, and no man can hold a seat here who ever fought a duel, or gave or carried a challenge, although he may be the choice of the people. No such thing is said in the Constitution. The people, in that instrument, have already defined the disqualifications to office; that charter of their rights declares that no person who has been impeached and found guilty shall hold an office; and I contend that Congress cannot impeach a person for any offence done by him as an individual. Two things are requisite to ground an impeachment. First, the person must be an officer of the United States: secondly, he must have been guilty of some malfeasance in the discharge of the duties imposed on him by that office. If an individual who does not hold an office under the United States commits murder, I deny the right of Congress to impeach him. He is made amenable to the state laws. While we were busy in impeaching him, he might be executed by the statute laws of the states. My observations disclaim the right we have to act on it.

The resolution was negatived.