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Adams Centinel Newspaper Archive: March 4, 1801 - Page 1

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Publication: Adams Centinel

Location: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

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   The Adams Centinel (Newspaper) - March 4, 1801, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania                        -TRTJTU, OUA GUIDS----THE PUULIC GOOD, OUR AlM.- DERATE O X THE Sedition Law. (Continued from cur MR. continuation. E are called on, S'r, f. r the reafons why this act {hoi Id now be continued. I -will give niv re a funs to oft freely. Whether they be the lame with thofe acluate the conduct of other gentlemen, I know not; but in my mind they cu-ieivc all consideration. 1 wifli to revive this law Sir, as a fhield for the liberty of ilie p'efs, and the freedom of opinion as a protection to mvfelf and to thole whom I have the happ'nefs and tfc-e honor to think ou public affairs, fhould -we at any future be'found by the imbecility or the mifLkes of any future administration in cuiin- try, to commence an oppofitiun againft it i not a factious, profligate and un- principled oppofuion, founded on ialfehocd and rnifreprcfeutarion, and catching at the pauiorrs and the pre- judices of the moment but a manly, dignified, candid and patriotic opnofiti- on, addreffed to the good i'enie and virtue of the nation, and rcfimg on the bafis of argument truth. Should that time evemrrive, as it may arrive though I earnefUy piay that it may nor, I to have this law which allows the truth to be given in evi- dence on indictments for libels I wifa to have this law as a fhield. When I am indicted rnyfelf, for calmly and candidly expofing the errors of govern- ment and jhe incapacity of thole who govern, I with to be enabled by this law, to go before a jury of my country, and fay that -what 1 have written is true. I to interpofe this between the freedom of difcuffion, and the overbearing; of that tyranni- cal fpirit, by which a certain political party ia this country is actuated that fpirit. which arrogating to itfelf to fpeak in the name of the people, like fanaticifm arrogating to itfcjf to fpe_tk in the name of God, s neither moderation, mercy nor jufiice rcgRids neither feeling, principle nor and fweeps down wirh relentlefs fuiy, all that dares its op- pofe its progrefs, or refifl its dominati- on. It is my knowledge of this fpirit, Sir, of its frantic cxceffcs, its unfeeling tyranny, and its intolerable revenge, that make me anxious to rail'e this one mound between fu'-y and public liberty; to put into the hands of free difcuffion, one fhield its darts. This fhield, I have Hide will, at length and perhaps very loon, be torn away; for the fpirit of which I fpeak, goaded by conlcious inferiority, jffimulated to roaclnefs, by the envy of fiiperior talents, reputa; ion and viituc, knows to brook no check upon iib rife, no cenfure upon its excefies but I will not fancTion my de.-.th by jny own voice. I will not yield one barrier to freedom. 2nd to the right of opinion, while I cm defend it. I re- gard this law as fuch a barrier fVebie perhaps, indeed, and incH'ec'tnal to check the progrefs uf that tyrannical fpirit which even now can fcatce jC- itrain its rage; but though feeble, vet dear to freedom, and never to he abandoned by freedom's And in order to keep up ihis hanicr to the laft, 1 fhall now, I may, for the continuation of tnat law, which mitigates the rigor of the common law in this rcfpeCt, and protects the liberty of the profs and of opinion, enabling that the truth may be given in evidence on indictments for l-.btls againfl the MR. CLAIBORNE SAID, that fpirit again ft which the geruienian 3aft up had fo loudly ex- claimed, and which he termed difaf- fcttion, was the fpirit at whole fhnre he had ever been tanoht to bow with reverence, and trufied nothing would ever be able to withdraw that high efteem. Ic is the voice of the a. voice terrible to thofe and thofe only, who are the authors and Cnpporters of and oppreffion. In ii> this the gentleman terms fana- but by whatever name the gcnt.eman choofes to call it, its power will neverihele's be unconquerable. It was this voice which liberated ihcfc {tarts from their former tranidtlamic fubjecrion, and will prevent chains being forged for our country, either by foreign or, ciomdtic tyrants. Having always oopofed. and being ever deter- mineci to oppole the bill'jn qnrftion, Mr. Claiborne thought it 'barely to expref.s ihat -determination. He fnould think it altogether unnecef- fary and improper to enter upon the couitUutionaJity of the qucltion, be- cauie ic had bsen 'fo ably and fully d iicu fled upon a former occafion, as riot to adimt of a new idea upon that point. Suffice it to lay he was firmly convinced that the law v.-3s unconfti'- tutional. But fo far as relates to the expediency, he rnuft be permitted to make a few remarks. it be remem- bered that eigjic years of the admini- ftiatiun of oUr prei'erit government palled over, and not an idea of the ne- ceffn y of a fedujon was ever hinted or felt. That truly great and valuable character wh'o was at the head of our government during thefe eight years would have dildained itsfupport. His character needed no fuch prop: if he had been attacked by the fhafrs of ca- lumny and detraction he would have oppoied it by integrity and virtue, and thofe barriers would ever have refvted trie force of the molt defigning. The conduct of tlie chief magiitraie of a free and independent nation will al- w.jys be expoled to investigation, and that inveUigation will fomerimes be attended with fome of calum- ny, how vin.ious and w wife foever the object of fcrutiny be. Bui how can a truly great charafter fuffer from weapons Io oiminutivc. The representatives of a nation thnt is free, and who will be free, ought Io pay confiderable to the wtll of the people. A genclernan wat furely rtv.f- laken when he laid, that hnt one or two fcar.es had evinced their avcrfion to this law. Mr. C. fa id ivs prefect recoilcclion brought to more Petitions had been uctived in ihe Huufe from the liatLS of New-York, Jci Icy, Pcnnfvl- vjp.sa, Virginia, Ktmuckv and Ten- neiu-e, thice of the Leu.fljr-.u-cs of which liad declared the law tmcunfti- tutional and injurious. And therefore it was an error when gentlemen ieduc- ed this great mafs of petitioners down to a icvy. JLnafmnch as he conceived this law an aft of meafurc that never could clecreafe the cucul-i- tion, but muft confidcrabiv increafc ii inafmuch as hc valued the privi- leges of the people and as he ronfi- upon every of the fuSject, tins law zs an abridgement of one of tiicir rnofb precious rights, he was de- termined to oppofe every avenue to its renewal. MR. GALLATIN, LIKE a gentleman who had before fpoken upon the fubjocl. little imagined the q-.iefbnn would have been brouohc tip fo ferioufiy as to came the warmth he had. heard. Pie fiinnofcd the report to sz a mere formal lubmifliyri of quclion to the Huufe as the fulfillment of their fuppr.fed duty. He would not enter into a view cf the conftitutional'ty of the qucfiion, lhat being; 10 fully underltood, fioni the exi en five difcuffion it underwent f from time to time, but Barely make a rernaiks on fell from feitlerr.au from South Carolina, (Mr. Ail who believed it to be unconstitutional, would in oft sffurecily vote agoinli: the report being received, but it did not fallow that gentlemen who th'ouoht differcnrly muft nccc'Xi- rily vote for it. He would not advert toihe manner in which th's law had been carried inroefFcft: if he were inclined to enter into a detail, he would rather merely advert to the cafes which had occurred under that law, and thus avoid any fuppofcd charge upon the adminiftratot s of ir. The law irlelf, he believed to contain evil qualities fufncient for animadvesfi- on, without extending fariher. Taking it upon the ground of expe- diency he really could perceive no weight whatever irr the arguments uf- cd in its recommendation, in any point ot view whatever; and as lo its be- coming a pennanent fyfrem, there wcte yet lefs arguments to fupport. For iuppofe the refolution fhotild be' aliogetljer rejected, the country would be in the fame fituation as it was before the law was parted. The government be fully as fecure in its reputa- tion as it was at that period. The government were never to be confider- td to he in danger during the nine years prior to> this law nothing lhat was {aid about ic tended to bring it into contempt for want of this law. He rrmftj therefore, conclude that ir was not neceilary to the fuppoit of the government, and he had never hcai d proof adduced of any ule the law had been in any inftanco whatever. Thofe believed no good effect had been produced, muft vote againfi the conti- nuance of it, as at leaft an ufcleis acl. Bcfides this he would fay that the circumftances under which this law was patted had altogether ceafed. He would call to the icc-jlleclion or" gentle- men who were members when the law paffed what were the motives urged in its favor what were the circum- ftances of the country at that period. There was then an apprehenfiun of danacr, and upon that alarm rhis bill brought in and fupporfed as a part of the fyftem of defence. Nor did it refb upon the opinion of that period, for it would be that a com- mittee was appointed to examine into propriety of confujering the peti- tions prcfented for the repeal of this b'll. 'J hat committee made a very lengthy report, in which the principal reafon urgtd why thought the aft ought not to be that the had not cealed, for being a meafure of defence, in preventing in- flammatory writings to fow difaffccli- on, and ncaccommodation being made, it would be proper to continue ir. This was thf fubftancc of arguments ufed laft ffflioa on a being made for us repeal why it fliould not then repealed. On this ground he had indulged a hope that gentlemen wruld have differed it ro die in filencc, and the more fo, because it hnd produc- ed, nor could produce nn pofiible good. What confiftency therefore there in the; arguments of gentlemen as a reafon for the continuance of the law, he would, leave them to 'pu'gc, for ic would be obferved that gentlemen did not all noiv pretend it to be neceflary as a Ivftem of defence. The rcafor; given wa? not to government from libeHous writings, but, on the contrary, the gen- tleman ,'Yom Soul '-Cjt.-olina Har- per j commended and fupporred its continuance as a limitation to the pow- eis of the government, or in other as a protection to himfelf from what he iuppoles thm be in tho powerof the goverrnenr. He fuppofcs that he might be induced to makelome rernaiks on the conduft of a future sd- miniftrition, and tin's iaw is to proret't him from what he denominates the verity of the common law. This idc a is built upon the (uppofuion that brrbre this pulled, we hn.l a comm m law. On the i'lbjca of the law, Galla- tin coiift-iied hirnfi-lf not vcrv well calculated to argue, but he Cwuld son- tend for V.'hatevcr migh't be the of fomr gL-ntlemen as ro its exific and its applicability to rhe crimes fpcc Mcd in this law, he would afk any ;ienrle- man to prove'wherein the pi aclioe our government had tecognized the principle. He would take upon hinil to fay that fmce the lirit of the government no procefs had been iffued, under vln's common law, for any libel agair.ft the government. Was not this, he afked, fufncient to the gentleman that he might reft fecure without the aid of this He furely can have nothing to fear. As t0 the commendation given to this law, as it is laid the truth may be given in evidence, the anfwer bad of- ten been that the law not only extended to facls bur to opinions; and that in relation to opinions, there could be no poifible criterion to judge of the truth or falfchood. To cvTnce the uncertainty ofdivifions formed on opi- nion, he menf ,ne the cafe of an argu- ment OH the flooding army. On Jna iide it was ro be a ftatiding army> ii men weie enliflet! for a teim of years by the government. On the other fide it was laid that nothing could con- Hmue a ftanr'ing army bur men euliff- for life into lervice. According lv> the different conilruclions, rhereforc of the thing, fo would it betaken; 'there can be no left or rule hv whvh to afccrUin tie Lruth of opinion: the different confbi uciions, perhaps, influ- enced by a party fpirit, will PiVc the dccifion. It was bccaufe he was afraid, in com- mon with the gentleman from Sourli Carolina, but his fear was from anorher lource; Mr. Galiatin afraid that our cm.rts and juries would have their judgments clouded by a party fpirit; he w.filed to encourage no prolecuti- ons whatever upon fuch equivocal grounds he feared rhe accefs of juf- tice would be rendered more beclouded arid inacccflible, and therefore lie would much rather the government fho.ild be expofed to remark', though fcverc, than to eflablifh a principle fo dangerous to the rights of the people. rl hough he acknowledged a difcuflion of tint, kind might produce fome dan- ger, yet he would rather fuffer rhat evil than to expofc the people to the mere opinions of a judge upon the pro- priety or impropriety of fadls, uncer- tain in their nature. Upon the whole he wifhed to avoid the irritation this law would moft pro- bably excite in the public mind. Whe- ther tl'e inifreprefentannn be more or lefs, (however, he could not flatter hirnfelf that the rnifreprclcutation, ia this enfirimed period of the public mind, would be lefs) lie could ice n.-> ufe in this law. It could be b'e to no deicription of pentlemen on 11 )or, nor could the lofs of it be unfa- vorable1, lie would therefore much rather leave it as it fcvind th va years ago? not in the ball apprchenfiyck. KWSPAPERl MEWSPAPKJRl   

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