To suspend the Embargo.

House of Representatives, April 19, 1808.

Mr. QUINCY. The Constitution of the United States, as I understand it, has in every part reference to the nature of things and necessities of society. No portion of it was intended as a mere ground for the trial of technical skill, or of verbal ingenuity. The direct, express powers with which it invests Congress are always to be so construed as to enable the people to attain the end for which they were given. This is to be gathered from the nature of those powers, compared with the known exigencies of society, and the other provisions of the Constitution. If a question arise, as in this case, concerning the extent of incidental and implied powers vested in us by the Constitution, the instrument itself contains the criterion by which it is to be decided. We have authority to make "laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution" powers unquestionably vested. Reference must be had to the nature of these powers to know what is necessary and proper for their wise execution. When this necessity and propriety appear, the Constitution has enabled us to make the correspondent provisions. To the execution of many of the powers vested in us by the Constitution, a discretion is necessarily and properly incident; and when this appears from the nature of any particular power, it is certainly competent for us to provide, by law, that such discretion shall be exercised.

{456} Mr. KEY said, all the respective representatives of the people, of the states at large, and the sovereignty in a political capacity of each state, must concur to enact a law. An honorable gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. Campbell) admitted that the power to repeal must be coëxtensive with the power to make. If this be admitted, I will not fail to convince you that, in the manner in which this law is worded we cannot constitutionally assent to it. What does it propose? To give the President of the United States power to repeal an existing law now in force: -- upon what? Upon the happening of certain contingencies in Europe? No. But in those contingencies which they suppose in his judgment shall render it safe to repeal the law, a discretion is committed to him -- upon the happening of those events -- to suspend the law. It is that discretion to which I object. I do not say it will be improperly placed at all; but the power and discretion to judge of the safety of the United States, is a power legislative in its nature and effects, and as such, under the Constitution, cannot be exercised by one branch of the legislature. I pray gentlemen to note this distinction, that whenever the events happen, if the President exercise his judgment upon those events, and suspend the law, it is the exercise of a legislative power: the people, by the Constitution of the country, never meant to confide to any one man the power of legislating for it.