The First Federal Congress Project
Documentary History of the First Federal Congress

[William Maclay]

 Wednesday, 15 July 1789 
Senate met. Mr. Carrol shewed impatience to be up first. he got up and spoke a considerable length of time the burthen of his discourse seemed to be want of power in the President and a desire of increasing it, great complaints of what he called the Atrocious assumption of power in the States. Many allusions to the power of the british kings, the king can do no Wrong, if anything improper is done, it should be the Ministers that should answer. How strangely this Man is changed. (The Collection bill was called for and read for the first time). now Elsworth rose with a most lengthy debate. The first Words that he said, were, in this case the Constitution is our only rule for we are sworn to Support it. but neither quoted it nor ever named it afterwards except as follows by allusion. He said I buy a Square Acre of land I buy the Trees. Waters & every thing belonging to it. the executive power belongs to the president. the removing of officers is a Tree on this Acre. the power of removing is therefore his, it is in him, it is no where else. thus we are under the necessity of ascertaining by implication where the power is, he called Docr. Johnson Thomas Aquinas, by implication too, & said things rather uncivil of some other of his opponents. most carefully did he avoid entering on the Subject of impeachment. after some time however he got fairly on new ground lamented the want of power in the President. asked did we ever quarrel with the power of the Crown of Great Britain? No, We contended with the power of the parliament. no one ever thought the power of the Crown too great. said he was growing infirm should die and should not see it, but the Government would fail for want of power in the President. he would have power as far as he would be seen in his Coach and Six,  WWe must extend the executive Arm. Mr. Lee Yesterday had said something about the Dutch. if we must have examples said he let Us draw them from the People Whom we used always to imitate, from the nation Who have made all others bow before them. and not from the dutch who are divided & factious. He said a Vast deal more but the above was all I minuted down at the time—  Mr. Izard rose and answered.  Mr. Butler rose and spoke. it was after 3 Mr. Lee rose said he had much to say, but would now only move and an adjournment. as it was late the House accordingly adjourned. I have seen more caballing and meeting of the Members in knots this day, than I ever observed before, as I came up Stairs Elsworth, Ames and Mr. Morris stood in a knot. up stairs soon after, Elsworth, Carrol & Strong got together, as soon as the house adjourned Carrol took Patterson aside. and there seemed a General hunt and Bustle, among the Members, I see plainly public speaking on this Subject is now lost Useless. and we may put the question when we please, it seems as if a Court party was forming, indeed I believe it was formed long ago.

Recommended citation: Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Columbia, S.C.: Model Editions Partnership, 2002). XML version based on the Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, ed. Charlene Bickford, et al. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1988) Vol. 9, pp. 104-117; 134-135; 445-449; 465-467; 483-489. http://adh.sc.edu [Accessed (supply date here)]

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