Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/419

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389
First Congress.

action in regard to these nominations, by their advising and consenting to the appointments as proposed. This is the whole action usually taken on nominations, and seems to exhaust the authority over appointments vested in the Senate by the Constitution.

The reservation, however, in the present instance, that the Senate is not to be considered as sanctioning or recognizing the right of the Executive to do in the future what the Senate have approved of his doing in the cases before them, as explained in the report to which the resolution refers, imposes on me the necessity of this communication.

On referring to that report I confess to my surprise at finding myself apparently charged with a violation of the Constitution, although no foundation exists for the implication conveyed in the report. I feel sure, therefore, that neither the committee nor the Senate could have intended or sanctioned such a charge; but I could not in justice to myself fail to call your attention to the language employed. It is as follows:

. . . . The only difficulty presented to the committee is, that the date at which the officers nominated are to take rank is anterior to the last session of Congress.

The committee are of opinion that the Constitution contemplates that all officers appointed in the recess of Congress shall hold under such appointment only to the close of the next session of Congress, and that they should be renominated, if it is intended to retain them in their offices, to the Senate at its first session after their appointment. This has not been done in this case.

The Senate cannot but agree with me that the plain inference from these passages is that the Constitution has been violated by my having appointed these officers during the recess and retained them in office without nominating them to the Senate at its next session. It has thus become incumbent on me (while satisfied that neither the committee nor the Senate could have intended to make such an accusation) to repel any inference that might hereafter be drawn from my silence on the subject, by stating that not only had no appointments of these officers been made prior to the nominations on which the Senate has just acted, but that the fact of the necessity for the appointments reached the Executive only since the commencement of your present session, by communication received last month from the Trans-Mississippi Department.

Upon the point suggested in the close of the resolution, that the