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.