On the Motion of Mr. Tazewell to strike out a
complimentary Reply to the French Republic.
Senate, January 6, 1796.
Mr. ELLSWORTH combated the resolution, as originally offered, as
unconstitutional. Nothing, he contended, could be found in the Constitution to
authorize either branch of the legislature to keep up any kind of
correspondence with a foreign nation. To Congress were given the powers of
legislation, and the right of declaring war. If authority beyond this is
assumed, however trifling the encroachment at first, where will it stop?
Mr. BUTLER. There was nothing in the Constitution, he contended, that could
prevent the legislature from expressing their sentiments. It was not au
executive act, but a mere complimentary reply to a complimentary presentation.
If this right was denied them, where would the principle stop? The Senate might
be made in time mere automata.