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state, where the remainder of the salt springs will most probably be found, and as that part of the state, for about two thirds of its whole length, belongs to the United States, they are, therefore, fully impressed with the propriety of petitioning Congress for a grant of land of cach alternate section of unlocated land, ten miles in width, commencing at the centre of the south line of Michigan, running north to the straits of Mackinaw, for the purpose of de. fraying the expenses of constructing a road on said line ; for the same reasons, they recommend, that Congress be memorialized for a like grant of land of ten miles in width, commencing on the west side of Saginaw bay, taking each alternate section of unlocated land, and running west through the vicinity of the salt springs at Tittabawass:1 to Lake Michigan, for the like purpose of defraying the expenses of constructing a road on said line.
All of which the committee would respectfully submit, with the following preamble and resolution.
[See Proceedings of January 15, 1839.]
Detroit, 14th Jan'y, 1839. To the Honorable the President of the Senate :
In compliance with a resolution of the Senate of the 12th inst., requiring information on the subject of the loan to the Detroit and Pontiac railroad company, I beg leave to submit the following statements :
The stockholders of said company having expressed their assent and acceptance of the provisions of the aci relative to said loan, and filed a certificate thereof in manner and form as herein prescribed, and having executed in due form to the Auditor Gen. eral a mortgage on the railroad, together with bonds and mortgages on unincu!nbered real estate of the value of $242,540, appraised under oath by Gardner D. Williams, as the cash value thereof, and having also executed a bond to the treasurer of the state in the penal sum of $200,000, for the punctual and speedy expenditures of all moneys arising from the certificates of 'stock and the faithful redeeming of said certificates when and as soon as they shall become due, and punctually pay the interest on them. Having therefore considered the law fully complied with (excepting the lands, which I consider to be valued too high,) cer tificates of stock were, on the first day of May, 1837, to th amount of $100,000, signed and issued to said coinpany, payable at the Manhattan bank, New York, on the first Monday in July,
1858 ; but whether they have been sold or not, I have, as yet, not
(No. 5.) Report of the Committee on Internal Improvement,
relative to transportation of materials for building University.
The committee on internal improvements, to whom were referred a resolution of the board of regents of the university of the state of Michigan, asking the legislature to allow them to transport materials on the central railroad for constructing saiit university, toll free, &c., have instructed me to report adversely to the object of the resolution, for the reason that they decm the university fund more ample for its object than the fund for internal improvement, and therefore, would not tax the latter to increase the former ; and the committee are opposed to establishing a precedent for using said road toll free for any other purpose except that of constructing the road itself.
As to that part of the resolution relating to the travelling charges of the members of the board of regents of the university on said road, when going to attend the meetings of said board, your committee, in preference to granting the request, would recommend that the members of said board be paid their actual expenses incurred by means of attending those meetings, out of the university fund.
JAS. KINGSLEY, Chair man.
(No. 6.) Report of the Select Committee on abolishing impri
sonment for debt. The select committee to whom was referred so much of the Governor's message as respects imprisonment for debt, report:
That the subject referred to them has received at their hands the attentive consideration which its importance demands. It is a matier of surprise that an evil of such magnitude as indiscriminate punishment for debt should so long have disgraced the laws of almost all Christendom. While the enlightened philosophy and expanded philanthropy of the present age have been exerted in correcting other errors, this glaring wrong appears to have been almost entirely overlooked, and still remains a relic of former barbarism and cruelty. No reason can be assigned for this gross neglect but the prejudices in its favor, arising from long familiarity with the existence of the evil, and the fact that the unfortunate rarely possess friends. The period appears, however, at length to have arrived, at least in this favored land, when the sympathies of the community point to effective and immediate correction of the abuse.
It was the eloquent and benevolent remark of a distinguished Roman, “ that whatever concerned his fellow man was properly an interest of his." Such an observation should be always remembered and be practically applied. It embodies the spirit of pure republicarism and of liberal legislation. When exhibited in action, it will accomplish results worthy of " monuments more lasting than brass." There is no subject which its application will more directly suit than the imprisonment of unfortunate debtors. Misfortune is never a crime--it is the act of God and should injure no one. The wrong doer against soc'ety is neither entitled to, nor can he enlist the honest sympathies of our nature. Punishment should follow as a terror to oflenders and a praise to those who do well. Society can feel no interest save that of protection against injury in the just retribution due to crime. But to misfortune, which may come alike on all in the dispensations of providence, we should be ever interested to lend the compassionate car and helping hand. Its alleviation and succor is a peculiar social interest, for the welfare of all is bound up in the welfare of cach individual of the community. To do the greatest good to the greatest number, is the intent of our free institutions, and the principle thus asserted, necessarily involves a careful provision by legislation for the interests of every citizen. To recognize any distinction between poverty and wealth, save in just remedial enaciments for the relief of the former and restraint of the corrupting and exacting tendencies of the latter, is to favor the few at the expense of the many, to violate general right, and to shamefully disregard the principles alluded to. Much more monstrous is it to increase the woes of the needy, and to plunge such still deeper in misery : Yet, such is the obvious effect of imprisonment for debt, in all instances. Instead of lightening the burden of poverty by encouraging the struggles of its victim to release hio Sell from his weight of care and want,--the system of imprisonment for debt would fasten his load upon him and doom him to bear it in helpless despair to his dungeon and his grava. As there is no philanthropy, neither is there any reason or utility in such a policy. If it is adopted as a mode of assisting the creditor, it defeats the very end it proposes to attain ; since restraints of the liberty to exert himself to procure the means of payment, cannot contribute to the ability of the debtor to meet his er.gagements: Yea more, his embarrassments are thereby further increased, since the daily demands of life unsupplied to himself or family are added to his other necessities. Liberty, character, health and strength are thus affected ; and we might as well expect a man bound hand and foot to swim in deep waters as expect him to extricate himself from the abyss of insolvency by depriving him of the natural aids to secure independence. Imprisonment for debt is, therefore, most unreasonable. Its incompatibility with general utility is equally evident. The state as a political body has an immediate interest in the welfare of each of its members. An interruption of the healthy functions of the smallest fibre, muscle or nerve in the natural body, occasions more or less inconvenience to the whole; it is equally true in the body politic. More especially is it the case with a community such as ours, based upon an absolute recognition of the sovereignty of the whole people, and existing for the general benefit. Under other forms of government, where exclusive distinctions and privileges prevail
, ihis truth is not so perceivable. There the few rule and identify themselves more intimately with the well being of institutions framed directly for their exclusive benefit and aggrandizement. The many are there hewers of wood and drawers of water. Even then, however, it may be asserted that the convenience of the aristocracy is impaired by any abridgement of the labor of the people on which they are depenilent. How much stronger then is the connection in this republic between individual happiness, health and industry and the general prosperity. Every imprisoned debtor is rendered a drone, to be supported by a tax upon the general labor. His imprisonment, by lessening his own means of enjoyment, detracts from the general happiness; his loss of energy, health and character is so much taken from the general stock: And to what purpose ?
To none in the case of honest misfortune. If the unholy vindictiveness of the creditor should be gratified thereby, a positive evil is inflicted on the community in the encouragement of a state of feeling hostile to that principle of virtue which is the basis of all free institutions.
If then punishment for debt be neither philanthropic, reasonable or useful, why tolerate it any longer, why not effect its immediate abolition? It would seem that one common impulse onglit to actuate every civilized nation at once to extirpate it from its code of laws; yet but few have attempted it. A compromise has been
sought between right and wrong, between modern enlightenment and ancient prejudice, in this matter. By insolvent laws and systems of bankruptcy, an endeavor has been made to escape the irresistible conclusion that imprisonment for debt should be abolished. But these are meie palliatives and not correctives : they admit the evil, but do not destroy it. They are cven inefficient palliatives, for they are accompanied with costs and expenses, which those for whom they are intended are least able to bear, and their succour frequently arrives after all the rights they profess to protect have been invaded. Alter liberty, character, health and time have been wasted, they strip the oppressed and discharge bim from a prison a bankrupt in property and happiness,
They confound too all distinctions between virtue and vice, between fraud and honesty, between misfortune and crime. They admit the accidental ascendancy of wealth in its influence on public opinion and legislation, and weaken the defences of general right. No matter how fraudulently the debt may have been contracted, no matter how many tricks or evasions may have been practised to defeat the claim of the creditor, the dishonest fares as well under their provisions, provided he is compelled to surrender his ill gotten possessions, as the honest but destitute debtor. Your coinmittee do not mean by these remarks to undervalue these laws in their proper place, as measures of equal and prompt satisfaction to creditors, and of pecuniary relief to the debtor. They merely contend against their pretensions as substitutes for the measure now under consideration by them, the abolition of imprisonment for debt--and as apologies for the continuance of the present system. But it is often objected that restraint of the liberty of the debtor is a speedy mode of enforcing the claim of the creditor, and will obtain for him his rights when the fraud of the debtor would postpone, evade or deny them. This may be conceded and not affect the view now taken: for all that has been urged assumes as its basis the supposition of honesty on the part of the debtor. It is not pretended to recommend abolition of imprisonment in cases of fraud, but only properly to define and discriminate. In cases of fraud, the incarceration of the debtor should be for crime, and not for debt; for fraud is an offence against public justice as well as against private right. Things should be called by their right names when indicative of their character, and it is often by a confusion of terms as representatives of ideas that error usurps the place of truth and sits enthroned in her stead. It is not, in the opinion of your committee, impossible to define fraud with such precision as to class it among criminal offences for all practical purposes connected with the improvement in legislation now contemplated. A contrary supposition has arisen either from inattention to the subject in obedience to inveterate prejudice or a deliberate design to sustain the present