« ForrigeFortsett »
amendments; which were read, and referred to a Committee of the Whole. Mr. Newton, from the Committee of Commerce and Manusactures, to whom was referred the petition of Robert S. Borough and Stephen Hopkins, made an unfavorable report thereon.— Ordered to lie on the table. Mr. Wright, from the Committee on Military Affairs, reported a bill for the establishment of an Ordnance Department; which was twice read, and referred to a Committee of the Whole. The bill to incorporate the Trustees of Washington College was read a third time. Mr. McKee objected to the bill, because it granted to the institution incorporated all the powers possessed by other corporate bodies, and that the corporation was without limitation. This provision might vest in the corporation the power of creating and putting in motion bank capital to any extent. He knew by experience that laws had passed Legislatures vesting powers not understood at the time of their passage. He, therefore, objected to the latitude of expression in the bill, and moved to recommit it to a select committee for amendment. Mr. Lewis said the committee had paid considerable attention to this subject, and he should be unwilling to recommit it; yet, although it was not usual to limit the existence of such corporations, or the amount of property they may hold, if the House had a disposition to make it more specific, he had no objection to it. The bill was recommitted. The House proceeded to consider the report of the Committee of the Whole on the following resolution: “Resolved, That it is expedient to make provision by law for the payment of the following descriptions of claims, to wit: 1. Loan office certificates; 2. Indents of interest on public debt; 3. Final settlement certificates; 4. Commissioners’ certificates; 5. Army certificates; 6. Credits given in lieu of army certificates cancelled; 7. Credits for the pay of the army for which no certificates were issued; 8. Invalid pensions; 9. Lost or destroyed certificates—notwithstanding any statute of limitation to the contrary, under such restrictions as shall insure payment only to the original claimant, his heirs, executors, or administrators.” The resolution was agreed to, and referred to the Committee of Claims to bring in a bill pursuant thereto. Another resolution to instruct the Committee of Claims to inquire into the merit of Revolutionary Claims, was also agreed to ; and sundry reports on such petitions were recommitted to the Committee of Claims. The bill for the organization of a corps of artificers, passed through a Committee of the Whole, was amended, and ordered to be engrossed for a third reading. A message from the Senate informed the House that the Senate having taken into consideration the report of the Joint Committee of Conference, on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses upon the amendments proposed by the Senate to the bill “concerning the Naval Establishment,” have
agreed to the amendments proposed by the said Committee of Conference to the amendments proposed by the Senate to the bill, and have modified the said bill accordingly, and ask the concurrence of this House in the said modifiCathon.
Mr. Bacon, after some remarks on the subject of the petition of George Blagden and others, praying compensation for work done on the public buildings, offered the following resolution: Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause to be laid before this House an account, in detail, of all sums now due, and to whom, for labor, materials, and other services of every nature and kind whatsoever, which have heretofore been furnished and performed towards erecting and repairing the Capitol and the President's House, or for procuring furniture for the same; also, whether any, and what, compensations are now allowed for the service of superintending those objects, and the nature of those services. Mr. StANFord opposed the resolution, as not couched in respectful terms to the Executive, because it supposed that he had sanctioned contracts or expenses not authorized by law. He had rather it had been in form of an inquiry whether there was any deficit in former appropriations to these objects, or in some form which did not imply a violation of law, &c. Mr. Bacon had no objection to any amendment the House should think proper to make. The fact was known, from the petitions of the individuals concerned, that money was due for work, and the only source from which the House could obtain information on the subject was through the Executive. The resolution was agreed to, and Mr. Bacon
and Mr. Piper appointed a committee to present
it to the President. FRENCH SPOLIATIONS.
Mr. Pitkin said, that he held in his hand a statement and representation, on oath, of Captain Samuel Chew, of New Haven, in the State of Connecticut, which he would beg leave to present to the House. Captain Chew states, that he was supercargo on board the brig Thames, and on the 19th of January, 1812, sailed from St. Ubes, bound to New Haven, with a cargo of salt and fruit; that on the 2d of July following, the brig was taken possession of by a French squadron, consisting of two frigates of forty-four guns each, and a sloop of war of sixteen guns, under the command of Commodore Forretin, and that he was told by the officer boarding him, that the brig would be burnt the next morning. That the officers of the squadron informed him that they sailed from Nantes on the 8th of January. That on board the French vessels were the crews of the ship Asia, from Philadelphia, bound to Lisbon, and of the brig Gershom, of Duxbury, last from Boston, bound to Oporto, both laden with corn and flour. That the officers of the squadron informed him, that, on the 17th and 23d of January, they had captured and burnt the ship Asia
and brig Gershom. He also states, that he inquired of the Commodore the reasons of burning them, and was informed by him, that he had orders from the Government to burn all American vessels sailing to or from an enemy’s port. That, on the 3d of February, the Commodore put on board of the Thames the captains and crews of the vessels burnt, being thirty-seven in number, to be landed in the first port, and that, on the 16th day of July, he landed them at St. Bartholomews. Captain Chew states, likewise, that when the Commodore released the Thames, he gave him a document or writing, subscribed with his own hand, and written in the French language, and which is annexed to his statement. This document contains a list of names of the men composing the crews of the vessels captured; it also states, that they were captured on voyages from Philadelphia and Boston to Lisbon, laden with grain and flour, by the division under the command of Monsieur Forretin, Member of the Le. gion of Honor, and that they were captured in pursuance of the instructions of the Minister of Marine and the Colonies. Mr. P. said, that this statement, with the origimal document annexed, in the French language, and under the hand of the Commodore of the squadron, had been forwarded here, for the information of the Government; that the character of Captain Chew was such as to entitle him to full credit wherever he was known. Believing, therefore, as he did, in the truth of these statements, and that the document annexed is genuine, he thought it his duty to present it to the House for their information. The House, after hearing them read, can dispose of them by referring them to the Secretary of State, or otherwise, as they may think proper. The papers presented by Mr. Pitkin having been read— Mr. McKim moved that they lie on the table until time should be afforded for the arrival of those persons in the United States, whose testimony might confirm the facts stated. o Mr. Pitkin also wished them to lie on the table, that they might be examined by gentlemen, and receive that attention to which the impor. tance of their contents might entitle them. The papers were accordingly ordered to lie on the table. The House spent some time in Committee of the Whole on the bill to amend the patent laws. About the usual hour of adjournment, the Committee rose, reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.
WEdNesday, March 25.
Mr. Gholson, from the Committee of Claims, presented a bill for the relief of William Hubbell; which was read, and committed to a Committee of the Whole to-morrow.
An engrossed bill for the organization of a corps of artificers, was read the third time, and passed.
The House proceeded to consider the message
from the Senate notifying their agreement to the amendments proposed by the joint committee of conference to the amendments of the Senate to the bill “concerning the Naval Establishment:” Whereupon, Resolved, That this House doth recede from their disagreement to the said amendments of the Senate; agree to the amendments proposed by the joint committee of conference; and that the said bill be modified accordingly. Mr. WRight, being very desirous of calling up his bill on the subject of seamen, on motion of Mr. D. R. Williams, the unfinished business of yesterday was ordered to lie on the table. And the House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole on the bill for the protection, recovery, and indemnification of American seamen. Mr. W. spoke nearly two hours in support of the bill; when the Committee rose, reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.
REVISION OF THE PENAL CODE. Mr. MilNor submitted the following resolution : “Resolved, That the Attorney General of the United States be directed to examine and report to this House whether the penal code of the United States requires any, and, if any, what, alterations, amendments, and additions, to render the same less sanguinary and more efficient.” Mr. M. begged leave to state two or three objects which he should consider as coming within the range of the Attorney General’s inquiries under this resolution. It had been found by the experience of gentlemen conversant with the criminal code, that in many instances crimes, made such by the laws of the United States, are not defined with sufficient precision. With respect to the jurisdiction of maritime crimes and offences, in the district which he represented, several difficulties had occurred; for instance, in the case of a mortal blow given at sea and death, on shore, and vice versa, there was no place pointed out by the laws of the United States for trial. For the common case of assault and battery on the high seas, there was no court vested with jurisdiction to try the offence. Jurisdiction, it was true, was constantly assumed by the courts, ea necessitate rei; but it was highly proper that there should be sonne legislative provision placing this beyond doubt. There was a doubt, under the act relative to scuttling vessels for the purpose of defrauding the underwriters, whether an act of fraud thus committed on a company would fall within the provisions of the law, which speaks of persons; both cases were unquestionably intended to be embraced by it: so, in the case of an owner directing a captain to sink a vessel with a view to defraud the underwriters; it was doubted whether such captain was indictable. The whole phraseology of this law was so extremely obscure, that it was necessary it should be made more distinct. Another very serious object with me, said Mr. M., is the consideration of the question whether the punishments inflicted by the laws of the United States in a variety of cases ought not to be accommodated to the prevailing sentiments of the people, as expressed by the Legislatures of the several States in regard to punishments. In almost all the States within a few years past an amelioration had taken place in the penal laws, lessening the number of crimes punishable with death; in Pennsylvania only one was punishable with death, and a law for abolishing that one had been recommended to the early attention of the next Legislature. Mr. M. spoke of the disadvantages of sanguinary punishment; not the least of which was, that as the evidence must be very strong indeed to produce conviction, the object of punishment was frequently defeated from the impulse of humanity, &c. Another subject requiring attention. Mr. M. said, was the doctrine of challenge. The right of challenge of persons indicted for penal offences was in some States more extended than in others, not being uniform. This inequality arose from inadvertence on the part of the Legislature, and required remedy. Another object he had in view was to provide for cases not already provided for by law. Without going to others, he would advert to one such : that there was no law, in the opinion of the legal authorities, by which perjury or false swearing in procuring the necessary proofs, preparatory to clearance at the custom-house, were punishable. There were various other obvious defects in the laws; and it appeared to him there could be no better, mode of remedy than laying the subject officially before the Attorney General, who, between this time and the next session, would have ample time to make up a satisfactory report. The House then agreed to consider the resolution. There appeared to be no difference in sentiment in the House on the object of the mover, viz: a revision of the penal code—as to the propriety of which there seemed to be a general concurrence of opinion. Some difference arose as to the mode of accomplishing this object. Mr. Lacock moved to strike out of the resolution the words "the Attorney General of the United States be directed,” and insert the words “a committee be appointed,” so as to devolve the duty of making the necessary revision on a committee of this House. This motion was supported by Messrs. Lacock, Macox, Newton, McKim, and BLAckledge. and opposed by Messrs. SMille, MilNor, BAcon, FindLEY, Mitchill, and WRight. The supporters of the amendment said that to call on the Attorney General for his opinion of the expediency of a measure would be undignified ; that this was a fair subject for the exercise of the powers of this House, and one to the investigation of the expediency of which professional knowledge was not necessary, though it might be useful in framing the details of a bill; that to refer in this unqualified manner to an Executive officer was surrendering the Representative privileges, and blending together departments of the Government which ought to be forever kept distinct. On the other hand, it was said that the experience and legal talent of the Attorney General must emi
MARch, 1812. -- _Revision of the Penal Code. - - H. or R.
nently fit him for the contemplated revision; that his report was merely to be for the information, not the guidance, of the House; that a similar course had been adopted in several State Governments; and a precedent was shown at the second session of the First Congress of the United States in which a similar course had been taken. The motion to amend was negatived—yeas 36, nays 63. Mr. Roberts said that he did not know that the House had the power to compel the Attorney General to make such a report, unless their requisition assumed the form of law ; otherwise, the application to the Attorney General should be made through the Executive, who had the power to require the opinion of the Attorney General. As there was at least some difficulty about this business, he moved that the resolution lie on the table, to give time for further consideration of it. Motion lost—ayes 27. Mr. Little moved to strike out the words “Attorney General,” and insert “President of the United States;” who might, he said, officially require the proper report from the law officer of the United States.—Motion negatived. The question on the whole resolution was then taken, on suggestion of Mr. Roberts (whose objections were to the mode and not the principle) by yeas and nays, and carried—yeas 65, nays 45, as follows: YEAs—William Anderson, Stevenson Archer, Ezekiel Bacon, Harmanus Bleecker, James Breckenridge, Elijah Brigham, John C. Calhoun, Epaphroditus Champion, Martin Chittenden, Lewis Condict, William Crawford, William Ely, James Emott, William Findley, James Fisk, Asa Fitch, Meshack Franklin, Thomas Gholson, Thomas R. Gold, Charles Goldsborough, Peterson Goodwyn, Aylett Hawes, Jacob Hufty, John M. Hyneman, Richard Jackson, jun., Lyman Law, Joseph Lewis, jun., Robert Le Roy Livingston, George C. Maxwell, Arunah Metcalf, James Milnor, Samuel L. Mitchill, Jeremiah Morrow, Jonathan 0. Moseley, Hugh Nelson, Thomas Newbold, Stephen Ormsby, Timothy Pitkin, jun., Peter B. Porter, Josiah Quincy, William Reed, William M. Richardson, Henry M. Ridgely, Ebenezer Sage, Ebenezer, Seaver, John Sevier, Adam Seybert, Daniel Sheffey, John Smilie, Geo. Smith, Richard Stanford, Philip Stuart, Silas Stow, William Strong, Lewis B. Sturges, Samuel Taggart, Benjamin Tallmadge, Charles Turner, jun., Laban Wheaton, Leonard White, Robert Whitehill, William Widgery, Thomas Wilson, Richard Winn, and Robert Wright. Nars—Willis Alston, junior, David Bard, William W. Bibb, William Blackledge, Adam Boyd, Robert Brown, William A. Burwell, William Butler, Langdon Cheves, Matthew Clay, Roger Davis, John Dawson, Joseph Desha, Samuel Dinsmoor, Elias Earle, Isaiah L. Green, Felix Grundy, Bolling Hall, Obed Hall, John A. Harper, Richard M. Johnson, Joseph Kent, William R. King, Abner Lacock, Joseph Lefever, Peter Little, William Lowndes. Aaron Lyle, Nathaniel Macon, William McCoy, Alexander McKim, Anthony New, Thomas Newton, Israel Pickens, William Piper, James Pleasants, jun., Benjamin Pond, John Rhea, Jonathan Roberts, William Rodman, Samuel Shaw, John Smith, John Taliaferro, George M. Troup, and David R. Williams.
THURsday, March 26.
A message from the Senate informed the House that the Senate have passed the bill “relinquishing to the Corporation of the city of New Orleans the use and possession of a lot in the said city.” with amendments. The Senate have passed a bill “to incorporate Moses Austin, John Rice Jones, Henry Austin, and others, into a company, by the name of the Louisiana Lead Company;” to which amendment and bill they desire the concurrence of this House. Mr. RhEA presented certain documents and papers relating to a robbery, committed by a party of Creeks, within the limits of the Cherokee country, of certain articles of produce to a large amount in value, belonging to certain citizens of the State of Tennessee, which the said citizens had intended to convey down the waters of the Alabama to market.—Referred to the Secretary at War. Mr. Lewis reported the bill to incorporate the Trustees of Washington College, with amendments. The House proceeded to consider them; but, on suggestion of Mr. Williams, that they would be too imperfectly understood on the first reading, to be acted upon immediately, the bill was ordered to lie on the table. Mr. WRight, from the committee of conference on the Quartermaster’s bill, reported the result of the conference; which was agreed to. So that this bill has at length passed both Houses of Congress. The bill to authorize the Secretary at War to exchange lands with the Ursuline Nuns, of the City of New Orleans, was read a third time. Mr. D. R. Williams opposed its passage, and Mr. DAwson warmly-supported it. Mr. McKim moved to postpone it; but the motion was negatived. Mr. MAcon expressed an opinion that all business not absolutely indispensable in relation to Orleans should be postponed until the new State should be represented on the floor of this House. With a view to try the sense of the House on this point, he moved an indefinite postponement of the bill. On the first count, there were forty-eight for, forty-seven against the motion; on a second count being-desired, from a misapprehension of the question by some gentlemen, there were fifty-four against postponement, forty-one for it., The bill was then passed—ayes 54. The House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, on the bill from the Senate for the amendment of the patent laws of the United States. After considerable debate on the details of the bill, the Committee rose and reported that they had made further progress in the consideration of the bill, and obtained leave to sit again.
Mr. SEAver presented certain resolutions of the Legislature of Massachusetts, representing the ability of that State to furnish certain articles of supply for the use of the Indian tribes and for public service. Mr. S. moved that they lie on the table. * f
Mr. Newton suggested the propriety of a reference of the subject to the Committee on Indian affairs.
Mr. SEAver assented.
Mr. MoRRow, in the absence of the chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs, observed that these resolutions were predicated on a letter from the Secretary of War, addressed to the Committee on Indian Affairs, but on which they had not conceived it within their province to act. He had understood that the chairman (Mr. McKEE) had proposed to refer it to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures.
Mr. Newton varied his motion, so as to refer the resolution to the Secretary at War, that he might be apprized of the capacity of the United States to furnish the articles necessary for Indian supply. Whilst up, said he, I will observe that the letter of the Secretary at War was not referred to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures; and I thank God that it was not.
The reference to the Secretary at War was then agreed to. y
Mr. Morrow, from the Committee on the Public Lands, to whom was referred the bill from the Senate “for the establishment of a General Land Office in the Department of the Treasury,” reported the same, with amendments; which were read, and, together with the bill, committed to a Committee of the Whole to-morrow.
Mr. Newton, from the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures, presented a bill to establish a new District Court in the State of New York; which was read twice, and committed to a Committee of the Whole on Thursday next.
A message from the Senate informed the House that the Senate have passed a bill “for the relief of the officers and soldiers who served in the late campaign on the Wabash,” with amendments. The Senate have also passed a bill “to authorize the President of the United States to ascertain and designate certain boundaries;” to which
amendments and bill they desire the concurrence of this House. The bill reviving the act respecting the mode of obtaining pensions, passed through a Committee of the Whole, and was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading. The bill for the relief of William Hubbell passed through a Committee of the Whole, and was, after considerable discussion, ordered to be engrossed for a third reading. n motion of Mr. WRight, the Committee of the Whole were discharged from the further consideration of the hill to amend the militia laws of the District of Columbia, and the same was recommitted to the committee who reported it. Mr. MoReow offered the following resolution, observing that the report of the land commissioners had been forwarded, but he understood that it was so voluminous that it would not be transscribed in time to be laid before Congress at their present session; that, in consequence of some of their decisions, there would be some difficulty as to the surveys, &c.; and, in relation to the other part of his resolution, that it was understood certain unauthorized persons had taken possession of some lead mines belonging to the United States, respecting whom it would be proper some steps should be taken: Resolved, That the Committee of Public Lands be instructed to inquire whether any and what provisions are necessary to be made by law for adjusting and settling claims to lands, and for surveying lands, claims to which have been confirmed by the land commissioners in the District of Louisiana; and also what provision ought to be made respecting the lead mines the property of the United States in the said Territory; and that the said committee have leave to report by bill or otherwise.
The resolution was adopted without opposition.
IMPORTATION OF BRITISH GOODS.
Mr. SEYBERT presented the petition of sundry persons in Philadelphia, stating that they are regular . merchants, and that, previous to the proclamation of November, 1810, they had ordered certain British goods, which they pray permission to import. Mr. S. moved to refer this petition to the committee to whom similar petitions have been referred.
Mr. RhEA objected to the reference of the petition, because, he said, it was holding out a vain hope, inducing the petitioners to believe that Congress would grant the prayer of their petitions, which he believed there was not a majority disposed to do. If gentlemen were anxious to accomplish the object these various petitioners have in view, why did they not lay on the table a resolution for repealing the non-intercourse law, which it was desired by these petitioners to have remitted in relation to them 7 This would be meeting the question in a proper manner.
Mr. Seybert expressed his confidence that this petition would be permitted to take the same course as other petitions. He could not conceive why the gentleman should have thought proper to object to the reference of this petition, when
he had this morning let others of the same tenor pass without objection. It was strange indeed that the gentleman should particularly wish to prevent his constituents from receiving the same attention that others had done. As to the en
couragement of a vain hope, &c., the gentleman
would find on his file a bill embracing such cases as that of the petitioners, which was some time ago reported by the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures; and, as it would no doubt soon be acted on, the gentleman would then have an opportunity to make his objections to the principle. Mr. RhEA wished it to be understood that he had no intention to debar any persons from the right of petitioning, but merely to prevent the encouragement of a delusive hope, which he did not believe would be realized, of the relaxation of the law in favor of these persons. The petition was referred. PUBLIC ARMORIES. Mr. WRight, from the Military Committee, to whom was referred the petition praying for the erection of a manufactory of arms at Louisville, Kentucky, reported that in the opinion of the committee it is inexpedient at present to erect a manufactory of arms at Louisville or elsewhere. The following letter from the Secretary at War accompanied the report: WAR DEPARTMENT, March 12, 1812. SIR : I have the honor to state, in answer to your letter of the 7th instant, that the public armories at Springfield and Harper's Ferry, are in operation and well conducted; that, in the year 1811, they yielded 22,020 stand of arms, viz: at Springfield 12,020, at Harper's Ferry 10,000. Orders have recently been given to increase the number of armorers, and it is presumed the manufacture at those places may be gradually extended to afford 30,000 stands of arms annually, beyond which it is considered inexpedient to extend those establishments. A site was purchased and buildings erected for an armory at Rocky Mount
(South Carolina) in the year 1803; but from the diffi
culty in obtaining suitable workmen, and various other considerations, those buildings were converted into arsenals and store-houses, for the safe-keeping of such arms and munitions as exigencies may require in that part of the country. The arms delivered on private contract, in the year ending 30th September, 1811, amounted to 11,801, which is far short of the number contracted for, but, from the improved state of private manufactures, a greater number may be calculated on in future. Should additional means be thought necessary to meet the views of the Legislature in arming the whole body of the militia, the purchase of one or more sites, and the erection of new arsenals and armories, will be considered the most eligible and expeditious mode of accomplishing this object. I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant, W. EUSTIS. Hon. R. WRight, Chairman.
The question on the adoption of the report produced some discussion. Messrs. Macon, Rhea, and Williams, opposed the report; and Messrs. Wright, Stow, and Nelson, supported it. On the one hand, the expediency, if not the necessity, of having an armory in the Western country was