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of trade with the several States was altogether a secondary object suggested by and adopted in connexion with the other. If the power necessary to this system of improvement is included under either branch of this grant, I should suppose that it was the first, rather than the second. The pretension to it, however, under that branch, has never been set up. In support of the claim under the second, no reason has been assigned which appears to have the least weight."

Such is a brief history of the origin, progress, and consequences of a system, which, for more than thirty years after the adoption of the constitution, was unknown. The greatest embarrassment upon the subject, consists in the departure which has taken place from the early construetion of the constitution, and the precedents which are found in the legislation of Congress in later years. President Jackson, in his veio of the Wabash river bill, declares, that "to inherent embarrassments have been added others, from the course of our legislation concerning it.” In his vetoes on the Maysville road bill, the Rockville road bill, the Wabash river bill, and other bills of like character, he reversed the precedents which existed prior to that time on the subject of internal improvements. When our experience, observation, and reflection, have convinced us that a legislative precedent is either unwise or unconstitutional, it should not be followed.

No express grant of this power is found in the constitution. Its advocates have differed among themselves as to the source from which it is derived, as an incident. In the progress of the discussions upon this subject, the power to regulate commerce seems now to be chiefly relied upon, especially in reference to the improvement of harbors and rivers.

In relation to the regulation of commerce, the language of the grant in the constitution is, “ Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” That “to regulate commerce," does not mean to make a road, or dig a canal, or clear out a river, or deepen a harbor, would seem to be obvious to the common understanding. To "regulate," admits or affirms the pre-existence of the thing to be regulated. In this case, it pre-supposes the existence of commerce, and of course the means by which, and the channels through which, commerce is carried on.

It confers no 'creative power; it only assumes control over that which may have been brought into existence through other agencies, such as State legislation, and the industry and enterprize of individuals. If the delinition of the word “regulate” is to include the provision of means to carry on commerce, then have Congress not only power to deepen harbors, clear out rivers, dig canals, and make roads, but also to build ships, railroad cars, and other vehicles, all of which are necessary to commerce. There is no middle ground. If the power to regulate can be legitimately construed into a power to create or facilitate, then not only the bays and harbors, but the roads and canals, and all the means of transporting merchandise among the several States, are put at the disposition of Congress.

This power to regulate commerce was construed and exercised immediately after the adoption of the constitution, and has been exercised to the present day, by prescribing general rules by which cominerce should be conducted. With foreign nations it has been regulated by treaties, defining the rights of citizens and subjects, as well as by acts of Congress, imposing duties and restrictions, embracing vessels, seamen, cargoes, and passengers. It has been regulated among the States by acts of Congress, relating to the coasting trade and the vessels employed therein, and for the better security of passengers in vessels propelled by steam, and by the removal of all restrictions upon internal trade. It has been regulated with the Indian tribes by our intercourse laws, prescribing the manner in which it shall be carried on. Thus each branch of this grant of power was exercised soon after the adoption of the constitution, and has continued to be exercised to the present day. If a more extended construction be adopted, it is impossible for the human mind to fix on a limit to the exercise of the power, other than the will and discretion of Congress.

It sweeps into the vortex of national power and jurisdiction, not only harbors and inlets, rivers and little streams, but canals, turnpikes, and railroads, every species of improvement which can facilitate or create trade and intercourse “ with foreign nations, among the several States and with the Indian tribes."

Should any great object of improvement exist in our widely extended country which cannot be effected by tonnage duties, levied by the States, with the concurrence of Congress, it is safer and wiser to apply to the States, in the mode prescribed by the constitution, for an amendment of that instrument, whereby the powers of the general government may be enlarged, with such limitations and restrictions as experience has shown to be proper, than to assume and exercise a power which has not been granted or which may be regarded as doubtful in the opinion of a large portion of our constituents. This course has been recommended successively by Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson, and I fully concur with them in opinion. If an enlargement of power should be deemed proper, it will unquestionably be granted by the States, if otherwise, it will be with held; and in either case their decision should be final. In the mean time I deem it proper to add, that the investigation of this subject has impressed me more stiongly than ever with the solemn conviction, that the usefulness and permaDency of this government, and the happiness of the millions over whom it spreads its protection, will be best promoted by carefully abstaining from the exercise of all powers not clearly granted by the constituiion. .

JAMES K. POLK. WASHINGTON, December 15, 1847.

2

AN ACT to provide for continuing a certain public work in the Territory of Wisconsin,

and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That a sum of money be, and the same is hereby, appropriatel, to be paid out of any unappropriated money in the treasury, sufficient for the following purposes, viz:

For the harbor at Milwaukie, six thousand dollars.

For the continuation of the breakwater structure at Burlington, on Lake Champlain, six thousand dollars.

For the continuation of the breakwater structure at Plattsburg, on Lake Champlain, six thousand dollars.

For the repairs and working of the steam dredge, on Lake Champlain, five thousand dollars.

For the improvement of the harbor at Port Ontario, on Lake Ontario, three thousand dollars.

For the improvement of the harbor at Oswego, on Lake Ontario, ten thousand dollars.

For the improvement of Big Sodus bay, on Lake Ontario, four thousand dollars.

For the improvement of the harbor at the mouth of Genesee river, on Lake Ontario, six thousand dollars.

For the improvement of the Oak Orchard harbor, State of New York, three thousand dollars.

For the construction of a dredge-boat for Lake Ontario, twelve thousand dollars.

For repairing the harbor at Buffalo, on Lake Erie, and the continuation of the sea-wall for the protection of the same, twentyfive thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Dunkirk, on Lake Erie, five thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Erie, on Lake Erie, twelve thousand dollars.

For improving Grand river harbor, on Lake Erie, three thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Cleveland, on Lake Erie, ten thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Sandusky city, on Lake Erie, six thousand dollars.

For the improving the river Raisin harbor, on Lake Erie, five thousand dollars.

For constructing a dredge-boat, to be used on Lake Erie, twelve thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at St. Joseph, on Lake Michigan, six thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Michigan City, on Lake Michigan, twelve thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Chicago, on Lake Michigan, eight thousand dollars.

For constructing a dredge-boat, to be used on Lake Michigan, twelve thousand dollars.

. For constructing a breakwater structure at Stamford Ledge, Maine, six thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Boston, seventeen thousand dollars.

For improving the harbor at Bridgeport, Connecticut, six thousand dollars.

For a survey and examination of the harbor at Newark, New Jersey, two thousand dollars.

For a survey and examination of the harbor at Providence, and Block island, Rhode Island, two thousand dollars.

For completing the Delaware breakwater, thirty thousand dollars. For improving the harbor at Baltimore city, ten thousand dollars. For a survey and examination of the harbor at Havre de Grace, Maryland, fifteen hundred dollars.

For improving Hog island channel, at Charleston city, South Carolina, ten thousand dollars.

For the improvement of Savannah harbor, and the naval anchorage near Fort Pulaski, twenty-five thousand dollars.

For a survey and examination of the harbor at Mobile, Alabama, four thousand dollars.

For continuing the public works, and removing the obstructions in the Hudson river, twenty-five thousand dollars.

For the improvement of the Ohio river, above the falls at Louisville, forty thousand dollars.

For the improvement of the Ohio river, below the falls at Louisville, and of the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas rivers, one hundred and fifty thousand dollars: Provided, That of this a sum, not to exceed twenty-five thousand dollars, may be applied to the improvement of the Mississippi river at St. Louis, in the discretion of the Secretary of War.

For removing the raft of Red river, and for the improvement of said river, twenty-five thousand dollars.

For repairs and preservation of harbor works heretofore constructed on the Atlantic coast, ten thousand dollars.

For the removal of obstructions to the navigation at the entrance of Newark harbor, New Jersey, ten thousand dollars.

JOHN W. DAVIS,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

G. M. DALLAS,

President of the Senate.

I certify that this act originated in the House of Representatives.

B. B. FRENCH, Clerk.

1790.-Chapter 43.

AN ACT declaring the assent of Congress to certain acts of the States of Maryland,

Georgia, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the consent of Congress .be, and is hereby, declared to the operation of the acts of the several States, hereinafter mentioned, so far as the same relate to the levying a duty on the tonnage of ships and vessels for the purposes therein mentioned, until the tenth day of January

next, that is to say: an act of the general assembly of the State • of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, at their session held

in January, one thousand seven hundred and ninety, entitled "An act to incorporate certain persons by the name of the River Machine Company, in the town of Providence, and for other purposes therein mentioned;" and also an act of the general assembly of the State of Maryland, at their session in April, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three, entitled "An act appointing wardens for the port of Baltimore town, in Baltimore county;" as, also, another act of the general assembly of the same State, passed at their session in November one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, entitled “ A supplement to the act entitled an act appointing war: dens for the port of Baltimore, in Baltimore county;” and also an act of the State of Georgia for levying and appropriating a duty on tonnage, for the purpose of clearing the river Savannah, and removing the wrecks and other obstructions therein.

Approved, August 11, 1790.

1791.-Chapter 3.

AN ACT to continue an act entitled "An act declaring the assent of Congress to certain

acts of the States of Maryland, Georgia, and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, so far as the same respects the States of Georgia and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act passed at the last session of Congress, entitled "An act declaring the assent of Congress to certain acts of the States of Maryland, Georgia, and Rhode Island and Providence plantations," shall be continued, and is hereby declared to be in full force, so far as the same respects the States of Georgia and Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, for the further term of one year, and from thence to the end of the next session of Congress, and no longer.

Approved, January 10, 1791.

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