"I began: 'Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and--'

" 'Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out  electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.'

"This was a sockdolager... I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

" 'Well, Colonel, it is hardly worth-while to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which  shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In  either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege  of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intended by it only to say that your understanding  of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be  honest ....But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be  held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.'

"I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any  Constitutional question.

"'No, Colonel, there's no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings in Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some suffers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?

"Well, my friend, I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should  give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if 
you had been there, you would have done just as I did.'

" 'It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the govment ought to have in the Treasury no more than  enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the  most dangerous power that can be intrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by tariff, which reaches every man in the  country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the  government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount  was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have  the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any thing and  everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a  wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress  has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the  public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of  Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief: There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had  shown their sympathy for the suffers by contributing each one week's pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of men in and around Washington who could have given 520,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The congressmen chose to keep their own money,  which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditable; and the people about Washington, (click here for page 3 of 5)