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the illinois CANAL. Mr. COOK, of Illinois, moved the following: Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire whether any, and, if any, what, provision it will be proper or practicable to make to aid the state of Illinois in opening a canal to connect the waters of Lake Michigan and the Illinois river; and that said committee have leave to report by bill or otherwise. Mr. COOK, by way of explanation of his views in mov: ing this resolution, as it was rather out of the usual course to propose to refer such a subject to a select committee, made one or two suggestions. A year or two ago, he said, Congress passed a law granting to the state of Illinois certain privileges in relation to land through which the proposed canal is to pass. The state took all the necessary steps to avail herself of these privileges. But it was not likely that the state, from its ordinary means, could carry this measure into effect. Congress have given to the state of Illinois a certain proportion of the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands, for the encouragement of learning; and a portion of the public lands within the same state for the same purpose. if no better means should present themselves; if the Government of the United States should not consider this canal, in a national view, of so much importance as to construct it at its own cost, the state might be allowed to convert its School Lands into a fund for the pur pose of making the canal, and to apply the toll from the canal to the school purposes, thus merely changing the land into a canal stock, the profits of which to be applied to the same purpose as the land is to serve-ofen. couraging learning. There were a variety of views which Mr. C. said he could present to a committee on this subject, and to the House, upon a proper opportunity. This canal was really a national object, worthy of the employment of the national means. But, if this House should not consider it so, means to execute it might be placed at the disposal of the state by the measure which he had suggested. Mr. ALLEN, of Massachusetts, was opposed to the re. ference of the resolution to a select committee. He thought that it properly appertained to the Committee on toads and Canals, who were perfectly competent to dispose of it; and he moved, as an amendment, to substitute the Committee on Roads and Canals for the proposed select committee. Mr. COOK said, if he supposed the Committee on Roads and Canals could devote to this subject that attention which its importance, in the estimation of the people of Illinois, at least, demanded, he should have no objection to the reference of the subject to that standing committee. But, already, so many subjects had been referred to that committee as to preclude such an inquiry into this subject as he felt it to be his duty to ask from the House. Understanding, as he did, the various phases of this question, Mr. C. said, he should hope that a select committee, exclusively devoted to the subject, would present a more satisfactory view of it than the Committee on Roads and Canals could do, giving to other matters already before them the attention which they justly demanded. Feeling in the subject, as the represen: tative of Illinois, a special interest, he was desirous of presenting the subject as strongly to the House as it

Illinois Canal—Amendments to the Constitution.

[Dec. 30, 1824.

might be in his power to do, with the time and attention
which he could personally devote to it, were it referred
to a special committee.
Mr COCKE, of Tennessee, rose to inquire if the ca-
nal referred to in the resolution of the gentleman from
Illinois was the same for which land had been granted, at
a former session, to extend, if he recoll, cted rightly, a
mile on each side of the canal. He heard some gentle-
man near him say that, in his opinion, he was mistaken—
perhaps he was mistaken as to the canal intended; but
wished to know the fact.
Mr. COOK said this was the same canal. There had
been a reservation of a mile on each side of it, by the
United States; not for the purpose of making the canal,
but for its own purposes, to be sold after the canal should
be made. One object of inquiry for the committee was,
whether it was expedient to grant this rail square, on
each side of the proposed route of the canal, towards
defraying the expense of oaking it. If not, the inquiry
would then be, whether other means could be placed at
the disposal of the state, to execute the canals, &c.
Mr. CLARKE, of New York, observed, that there was
already a resolution lying on the table, which had refer-
ence to the subject of canals generally, and he was de-
sirous that that should be previously disposed of, as it
would virtually include the object of the present reso-
lution; and, under this persuasion, he moved to lay the
resolution of the gentleman from Illinois, for the present,
on the table.
Mr. MERCER, of Virginia, then rose, and observed,
that he considered the resolution of the gentleman from
Illinois a vary, reasonable one, and he thought that the
subject to which it alluded had never been exhibited as
it deserved. The Committee on Roads and Canals had
already much to do, and could not devote to this indivi-
dual subject as much time and attention as it deserved.
If the motion to lay the resolution on the table prevail-
ed, it would not be treating the resolution of the gentle-
man with the same fairness as had been shown towards
others of a similar kind, several of which had already
been offered, and all of them received a reference. He
thought it was not the proper course to defer this sub-
iect till the general proposition should receive its dis-
cussion; it was very possible that the committee of the
whole might reject that proposition (not as opposed to
its principle, but esteeming it not the wisest that the
case admitted of) and in the mean while much assistance
might be derived from the report of a select committee
on this subject, which would have a bearing on the ge-
neral discussion.
The question was then put on Mr. Allen's motion for
amendment, and carried—ayes 63, noes 57.
Thus the resolution was so modified as to refer the
subject to the Committee on Roads and Canals. The
question then recurring on the resolution as amended,
Mr. COOK, feeling extremely anxious that this sub-
ject should go to a select committee, and believing that.
on further reflection, the House might be induced to re-
consider the vote just taken upon the amendment, mov-
ed to lay the resolve on the table.
Which motion was agreed to, and the resolution order-
ed to lie on the table accordingly.

AMENDMENTS TO THE CONSTITUTION. Mr. STRONG, of New York, then rose, and said, it would be recollected by the House, that the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. McDuffie,) had given notice that, on Monday, the 3d of January, he would call up the amendment proposed by him at the last session, to the constitution of the United States, and that the gentleman from Louisiana, (Mr. Livingston,) had given notice that, when that amendment was taken up, he should call up an amendment to it, proposed by himself at the last session. Mr. Staoxu now wished to propose an amendment to the amendment of the gentleman from

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Louisiana; the effect of which would be that, in the final vote for President of the United States in this House, the members, instead of voting collectively by states, should vote individually, as on any other question. Wishing to bring such a measure into discussion, he moved for the printing of all three amendments, (that of Mr McDry Fre, that of Mr. Livingston, and his own,) giving notice that he should move for the consideration of the whole subject on Monday next. Mr. STRONG'S amendmeat is in the following words: “1. The electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote, by ballot, for President and Vice President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice President; and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate; the President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates, and the votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then, from the persons having the highest numbers, not exceeding three, on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. A quorum for this purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Representatives. Each Representative shall have one vote only; and a majority of the Representatives present and voting shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President, whenever the right of choice shall devolve on them, before the fourth of March next following, then the Vice President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. “2. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice President shall be the Vice President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed ; and if no person have a majority, then, from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice President. A quorum for this purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. “3. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President, shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.” Mr. MERCER, of Virginia, said that he rose, not to oppose this motion, but to suggest that the period the most inauspicious that could be devised for seriously entering upon this question, was the present session. He was persuaded that no beneficial effect could be answered by taking it up. He believed, indeed, that nothing could be more detrimental to the harmony of the session, and to other interests, than now taking up this question. Under this impression, he rose to say that, for one, he should oppose the taking up this question on Monday next, and he hoped the House would be of the same opinion on that subject as himself. The motion for printing was then agreed to.


The House having resumed the consideration of the

bill on this subject— Mr. VANCE, of Ohio, then rose and said, that it was with reluctance that he presented himself before the

who, coming from the State where these claimants resided, were more particularly connected, by their situa. tion, with the present bill. But he had risen, because he had had, in his own person, some opportunity of an acquaintance with the facts of the case, and such was their impression upon his own mind, that he felt confi. dent there was not a man on that floor, let him come from the North or the Scuth, from the East or the west, who, if he knew the sufferings of these claimants, would not be in favor of granting them relief. The as: sertion might be thought a bold one, but he felt no hesitation in making it, and he now repeated that, had gentlemen been eye witnesses to what was suffered on that frontier, not one would refuse to relieve the sufferers. On most subjects, he felt as much disposed to economise the public resources as any member of this House; but he could never consent that, when he who had thrown onen his door to receive a suffering, perishing Arnerican soldier, and in consequence of his hospitality he had had his house burnt to the ground, asked compensation from the American Government, he should be sent away unaided. Mr. V. said he felt his inadequacy to do justice to the subject, or to his own feelings, and he well knew that, after the able speeches which had been made in

opposition to the bill, from men of the first standing in

the country, whoever rose to advocate it, must expect to row against a strong current. But if the arguments of those gentlemen are not more specious than sound, he was greatly mistaken. He proceeded then to notice, in the first place, the doctrine advanced by the gentleman from North Caroli. na, (Mr. Williams,) as to the policy of allowing these claims. . [Here Mr. V. quoted Mr. wo speech, as reported in this paper; in that part of it which reja-es to the freedom of a citizen in choosing his abode on the frontier, and the comparative burdens of those on the border and in the interior.] Now, sir, said Mr. v. i say that this doctrine is more specious than solid. I hold a doctrine which I think more connected with patriotism and the best interests of our country, when I maintain that the sufferings of the citizen on the frontier should be made up to him by the rest of his countrymen. The gentleman goes to the true ground, when he speaks of the doctrine of retaliation. Gentlemen may say what they will about national law, but the only true grounds on which to decide this question are those of self-preservation and retaliation. Mr. V. insisted, that two parts of the speech of the gentleman from North Carolina, were incompatible and contradic'ory. [Here he again quoted the report, in that part of it which relates to the devastations on the Chesapeake, where Mr. WILLIAMs refers to the President’s letter to Cochrane, threatening retaliation if the outrages are continued.j Sir, that’s the true doctrine—the only preservation of any country. We have heard much of national law, and we have abused the British from one end of the country to the other, and tried to excuse ourselves; but, sir, war is war; and where a commanding general goes in successful pursuit of an enemy, he is very apt to trample on your fine theories of the law of nations, and inflict on the enemy what injury he can. We have ourselves done it, and to as great an extent as any nation in the world, in proportion to our power. The gentleman, in another part of his speech, has undertaken to illustrate his doctrine [Here Mr. v quot. ed that part of Mr. Williams' speech J But, sir, has the gentleman forgotten our federal charicter is each part of this country, and is each man in it to protect himself? Is such a doctrine as this preached to us by the gentleman : Is the interior to be paid for marching to defend the frontier Sir, if that gentleman should march from Norfolk to defend the most distant part of our frontier, he would only be marching, in effect, to defend

House on this subject—and his doing so might perhaps himself. It is an acknowledged maxim, that it is better demand from him some apology to those gentlemen," to fight an enemy in your neighbor's ground than on

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your own; and if the gentleman refuses to march to defend the frontier, when it is attacked by an enemy, he will soon find the frontier at his own door. The war which he refused to combat at a distance, will come home to his own threshold. On the gentleman's principles, how could we, (in Ohio and Michigan,) have ever discharged the debt which they incurred to Kentucky No, sir, we did not think in this manner when the war was in Michigan; our doctrine was, that the people of that territory were fighting our battles, and we went cheerfully to help them. Nor did the thought of their paying us for it, so much as enter our minds. Sir, the doctrine is fallacious, as much so as any that ever was advanced. Another position, assumed by the gentleman, is that which requires permanent occupancy of the property of an individual by the Government, in order to constitute a claim for indemnification. Sir, on that principle, not one sufferer in this Union, either by acts of the enemy, or of our own troops, would ever be indemnified. Yes, said Mr. V. there would still be one claim, (but he believed, even against that the Committee of Claims had reported, as occasioned by an unlawful act of the enemy)—he meant the case of that house on the River Raisin, which our unhappy fellow citizens did occupy until they were consumed by the flames by which it was destroyed. The next argument of the gentleman was, that the people on the frontier were not so much to be pitied as they would have it believed; that they have not suf. fered so very much—may, have rather been benefited by the war. Sir, I will say, that if that gentleman knew what was the true state of facts on the N. W. frontier generally, he would never have uttered such language. But, sir, he does not know it—the country does not know it--the country never will fully know it—the truth was withheld at the time from motives of policyand, except to eye witnesses, it can never be known. I might appeal to the first men of this nation for my truth when I say, that, while the American army was lying at the French Mills, three men out of five who had slept in one tent, were more than once drawn out in the morning dead, being literally frozen to death for want of covering. The gentleman from North Carolina lives, himself, in a mild climate; but if he had seen that army encamped in the midst of snow more than three feet deep, and not half clothed, he would talk and feel differently. Sir, it was as necessary to give that whole district a military character, (so far as admitting the troops into the private houses could do this) as it was to provide clothing or subsistence for your army; and the enemy had as much interest in the destruction of the houses, as in that of your magazines. And, if losses sustained under such circumstances, do not call upon us for relief, I do not know what does, or can. I will now say a few words on the subject of military occupation; and I contend, in the outset, that the deposition of General M’Clure is conclusive. Nor did the gentleman enforce the legal obligation which arises from it, in the way I think he ought to have done. What does General M'Clure say ? [Here Mr. V. quoted his deposition, in which the remonstrance of the people of Buffalo against occupying their houses is mentioned, together with his reply..] Now, sir, I admit, that it may be doubtful how far a commanding General can compromit the government under which he serves by any promise or pledge that it will pay for acts of injury he may think it necessary to do; but it seems to be agreed by writers on that subject, that he has very extensive powers in this respect. I put this case: Suppose the American army had been formed in the rear of Buffaloe; that, in the mean while, the British should attempt a landing there, having nothing between to shelter them from the American fire but the town; and suppose that, under such circumstances, the American commander had ordered every house in that town to be blown up,

damage good? Sir, there cannot be a question of it. [Mr. V, then quoted the opinion of Vattel, on the power of a military commander.] Here, sir, you find it held, that even for the act of a subaltern, an act which, as such, might be denied as being without sufficient authority, reparation must be made if demanded. In further evidence of what was the extent of suffer. ing on the frontier, Mr. V. said, that it was seriously recommended to Government by some of their ablest commanders, to remove the whole population from part of the frontier to the interior, and the support of them there at the public expense. Sir, this looks very little like that pleasant and prosperous condition in which the gentleman has represented these people to have been. We have heard, said Mr. V. in continuation, much from the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Barbour,) about perfect and imperfect obligation. But I appeal to that gentleman, himself, to say, whether there may not be some cases where an imperfect obligation is stronger and more perfect than perfection itself. Yes, sir, I repeat it—more perfect than perfection itself. I think, after the vote that gentleman gave in the case of Lafayette, he cannot deny this. Let me say to that gentleman, that, in the village of Buffalo, he might, on one day, have found a family well housed, well clothed, surrounded with every comfort of life, who, from its hospitallity in throwing open its doors to the American soldier, was the next day houseless and homeless, destitute of all things: if he had chanced, eight months afterwards, to be wandering on the flats of the Ohio, he might there see a family scarcely covered by a wretched hovel, in squalid poverty, one day shivering with ague, and the next consumed with raging fever: if his compassion should lead him to enter and inquire into their situation, he would hear them say, our father lived in plenty and comfort, on the Niagara frontier—he saw the American soldiery ready to perish—he opened his door to take them in-and for that we are here, ruined, and in wretchedness. Sir, the sufferings of the French, on their retreat from Moscow, present not too strong a pic. ture to convey a just idea of what was endured while the whole country on the Lakes was converted into one wide cantonment. Other districts suffered as well as Niagara, but none, by any means, in so great a degree. Had the gentleman seen an American regiment on that frontier drawn up on a frosty morning, and supporting arms while their limbs were chilled to the bone, standing, in their thin cotton dress, in snow two and three feet deep; had he seen these claimants opening their houses to receive men in immediate danger of perishing, (many of them did perish,) and afterwards turned out of house and home for doing it, he would not, he could not, deny that something ought to be done for their relief. I will not undertake to say how much, or in what way, but I do say that this House ought to do something. Sir, if we can get nothing from perfect obligation, we will accept it from imperfect, from charity if you please, but I do hope you will give it in some way. The gentleman has insinuated, that the inhabitants of the frontier are actuated wholly by a principle of selfishness; that, unless stimulated by a sense of interest, they will do nothing in their own defence, and will surrender up their property an easy prey to the enemy. But, sir, that gentleman surely did not consider the feelings of . the American people when he advanced such asentiment. If nothing had operated on their minds but selfishness, the army of the frontier could not have been kept together a single day. , No, sir, not a single day. There were our soldiers, lying naked and perishing on one bank of the Niagara river, while, directly opposite, they could see the British sentry parading backward and forward in a good comfortable watchcoat, and hear him cry out, cheerfully, “all's well.” They had only to cross en masse to the British side, to exchange a lodging on the

would not the Government be held liable to make the i ground, in thin cotton that admitted the rain, and, when

Dec. 30, 1824.]

the rain was over, froze upon their bodies, for warm clothing and good quarters. , Had selfishness been the ruling principle, where would have been your militia? Where would have been your regulars?—At their own homes, or over the British lines' Mr. V. observed, in conclusion, that he was sensible he had delayed the committee too long, and he should only add that, if gentlemen were displeased with the present bill, he hoped that they would not, on that account, abandon the measure entirely, but draw a new bill, that should be less objectionable, and if they felt alarmed lest establishing any general rule might endanger the ruin of the Treasury, let them guard against the danger by granting a limited and definite sum of compensation to the claimants. Mr. REYNOLIDS, of Tennessee, next rose, and observed, on rising, that it had not been his fortune to witness the scenes which had been so handsomely depicted by the gentleman from Ohio; yet he had feelings and principles, and though he did not attempt to urge his own opinions as arguments upon the House, he thought it proper to assign his reasons for voting in favor of the bill. Much complaint, said he, was made of the law of 1816, and we were told that, in that act, the House had gone beyond all principles of the law of nations; and on similar grounds, we are warned against the present bill because a similar one is not to be found in the codes of foreign nations. But, admitting such to be the fact, our own statute books furnish a sufficient precedent. Look said Mr. R. at the horses, the bridles, the saddles, for which we have paid in the West; look at the negroes for which we have provided indemnity in the South. Are we to stop here? Shall we not provide something for the case of these suffer. ing claimants in the North 2 We are told that the act of 1816 has impoverished the Treasury—but where, asked Mr. R. has the money gone? It was the People's money, and it has gone back to the People—it circulates at home. what injury has it done 2 is not the country as flourishing at this moment as any country on the globe 2 Look at the condition of the Treasury. Can we not, through the able management of that Department, boast of a balance of three millions? It was the object of the law of 1816, not to reward the services of the citizen it did not attempt that—but only to repair the losses he had endured in the service of his country. By carrying that law into effect, we shall hold out to the world that our country is grateful to those who serve her, and pities their distress. We shall enable the old warrior to say to his son: I have fought for a grateful country—go and do likewise. Those who suffered from the military occupation of their premises, during the war, were surely as much entitled to relief as those who lost a horse or negro. Here Mr. R. adverted to the evidence of the suffer. ings on the frontier as already placed before the committee—to whole villages occupied by our own troops, and by the burning of New Ark, exposed to the vengeance of an irritated and powerful enemy. Adverting to the letter of Secretary Armstrong authorizing that act, he said, let us not stand on names—he was the organ of the Government—the head of the War Department, and, as such, his letter authorized the burning of that village. Mr. R. said he had had the honor of participating in the passage of the act of 1816—for he had witnessed all the steps of this claim since its first introduction—he had heard his friend from Kentucky say, and with too much truth, that the privilege of those sufferers to present their claims to this House, would be a privilege to have their claims rejected. Sir, the event shewed that he had spoken like a prophet. We have lately done one act of justice to a foreigner—(an act in which I am Proud to say I had the honor and happiness of partici

Pating by my vote)—let us now do another to our own citizens.

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Mr. NEALE, of Mil. then rose, and said, that as he had been one who assented to the present bill, it might not be deemed an intrusion upon the time of the committee, to state some of the reasons that had governed him in doing so—and, as the law of nations had been frequently referred to by the gentlemen who were opposed to the bill, he asked to be permitted to read from an approved writer, what was the language of that law. [Mr. N. here quoted Vattel, to show, that where property was destroyed by a nation's own Government, or its order, “deliberately and with precaution,” as when houses are removed to erect a fortification, it must be paid for by the Government—as also what that writer says respecting injuries by an enemy, and debts of imperfect obligation.] This, Mr. N. observed, was national law, as recognized by European nations and here a distinction was made between injuries inflicted deliberately, and those by accident—the one created a perfect obligation on the Government for remuneration, the other appealed to the charity of the nation. By referring to the acts of 1816 and 17, it would clearly be perceived that the principle was established, viz: that if the Government occupied property, and made use of it for military purposes, and it was then destroyed, the United States must pay for it. Those acts created a perfect obligation. And was not this a just principle And if it were not enacted then, ought it not to be now whether the United States destroyed the property itself, or by its act caused the enemy to destroy it, was immaterial. Such a case does not come under that clause of Vattel, which refers to accident. The occupancy is a deliberate voluntary act, and the law of 1816 and 17 says, that the Government must pay for the loss in such case. The reason of the law is, as has been stated, that property, while possessing a private and pacific character, is not liable to injury by the enemy, according to the rules of civilized warfare, but, as soon as the Government gives it a public and belligerant character, it is. Now it is necessary that the motive of the enemy in the destruction of any particular portion of property should, in some way, be established. But the acts of 1816 and '17 do not allow that the fact of its public occupation by Government shall be presumed to be of sufficient proof of this intention or motive of the enemy, the present bill does allow this: it remedies, in this respect, the great defect of the former laws. If the occupancy and the destruction are proved, it is enough—the one is presumed to be the reason of the other. In many cases it would be impossible to prove the motive of an enemy in any other manner.

Before he sat down, Mr. N. said, he would endeavor to point out what was the error of those who were opposed to the bill. They hold, that continued occupation by the Government is necessary to give a belligerant character to private property; that the occupation must continue up to the moment of destruction. But his construction of the law of nations, on this point, was, that the belligerant character superinduced on private property, by its occupation for public and military purposes, may continue after its actual occupation ceases, and this for a greater or a shorter space of time, according to circumstances. He would illustrate this by one case—he might easily adduce a thousand. Suppose the forces of the enemy to be advancing—with a view to stop him, Government seizes upon a private building, which lies in his line of march, fills it with troops, and uses it as a point of annoyance, with such success as to interrupt his progress the enemy, perceiving this, makes a feint of marching in a quite different direction—succeeds in inducing our army to follow; and our army leaves the building: shortly after, the enemy suddenly counter marches— returns to the building which had proved such an obstacle in his way, and, reaching it before our troops, seizes and destroys it. He asked whe. ther the occupancy here continued up to the time of

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—destruction ? Certainly not. Yet was not the building destroyed solely on account of the warlike character occasioned by the occupancy? Assuredly. And was not the Government as much bound to pay for the building as if the occupation had continued . It would be easy to multiply examples. The true principle, then, was this: that, if the occupation by Government gave a pubIic character, and at any time during the continuance of that character, the property was destroyed, the Government is bound to indemnify the owner. The quo animo with which the enemy destroys, must be presumed fron the change of character in the thing destroyed. If you will not admit this, your law is illusive: it promises to pay if the quo animo is proved, but it refuses to receive the only proof the case admits of. Mr. BUCK, of Vermont, said, that he did not rise to debate the general principle of the bill, but to correct a material error in point of fact. The error was so important, that, when it was shown, it would appear that the advocates of the bill had been going wholly on an assumed state of the facts, which in reality had no existence. The gentleman who introduced the bill went so far as to say, that he rested the cause of the claimants on this one point, viz. that the reason of the destruction of property had been its occupation by the Government; and, having established the fact of such occupation, he seemed to conceive that the claim was made out. But, Mr. B. said, he had in his hand a document to show conclusively that the ravages of our frontier were not caus. ed by the occupancy by our army, but were inflicted entirely on a principle of retaliation, in consequence of the burning of Newark. This document was the proclamation of Gen. Prevost, the officer who commanded the British forces at the time, and who, he believed, directed, and in person superintended, the work of des. truction. [Here Mr. Buck quoted the proclamation, in strong terms denouncing the conduct of this Govern ment, and justifying the devastation of the Niagarafrontier.] thus it appears that we are not driven to presume the motive of the enemy; we have it in express terms, declared by himself. He should not attempt to discuss the subject at large—he thought such a representation of facts as was contained in the testimony, coming almost wholly from parties interested, was not to be put in competition with a public document such as that he had just quoted. This changed the state of the question. It was not now to be settled, whether this Government was bound, because its acts had changed the character of the property—but whether it was bound to remunerate the sufferers for injuries inflicted by the enemy on a principle of retaliation. On this discussion, Mr. B. said, he should not enter, but only ob. serve, that, if we admit that payment is to be made on the principle of retaliation, we, having been the beginners, by burning Newark, are of course bound to pay. Mr. STORRS, of New York, rose to call the attention of the House to what were really the facts of the case now before it, however perverted by the document which had just been quoted. It was true, he said, that, in that proclamation, the pretext for the devastation of the Niagara frontier was the destruction of Newark, but, in his judgment, it never was the real cause of it., Whoever looks to the situation of that frontier, and the history of the War with Great Britain to that period, must be satisfied that that document deserves no other char. acter than that of mere hyperbole. It was not issued until after the burning of the Niagara frontier, when it had become necessary to give to the civilized world some plausible pretext for such an act as burning that frontier. Mr. S. reviewed the facts which attended the destruction of Newark, &c. We had considered the Niagara frontier generally as a point from which the Canadian frontier could be most easily invaded. We had made the experiment, not without the loss of blood. The enemy had similar objects on the North Western

frontier. Our advances on the Niagara country were in some instances intended to create a diversion—to dis act the attention of the enemy, and turn him from the invasion of the frontier of Ohio, to the protection of his own territory. One great object of the invasion by us of the Niagara frontier, he had always understood, was to protect the frontiers of Ohio, and of the states west of it; and he had himself no doubt that one great object of the devastation of the Niagara frontier by the enemy, was to prevent its occupation as a military station, from which Canada might be invaded. when Newark was burnt, the British commander, who sought for a pretext for the destruction, thought he had found it in the burning of Newark; by availing himself of which, he could throw the odium of his conduct on the United States, whilst his real motive was very different from his avowed one. That, said Mr. S. was the real history of the proclamation, which was relied upon as an argument against the


claimants now before the House. Their object was to secure themselves from our incursions. They accomplished it: they did, by the devastation of the Niagara frontier, secure themselves, until a larger and better appointed force penetrated their frontier, &c. I did not rise to discuss the question now before the House, said Mr. S., but, since I am up, I may as well say a few words upon it. I think that the principle of the bill is carried too far; and had I been one of the committee who reported it, I would not have given my assent to it. But, if we vote to strike out the first section of the bill, being willing to legislate at all on the subject, we shall lose the opportunity of shaping it to our wishes. The question involved in this bill, Mr. S. remarked, had been called a question of perfect or imperfect obligation. That, he said, was not the question. The property of a citizen appears, by the usages of nations, to be exempted from destruction Ly an enemy, unless, by giving up his property to public use, he has converted it from a private to a public character. Now, when a citizen has given up his house for the public use, and it is destroyed by reason of such conversion, an obligation is created upon the Government to indemnify him for the loss-Mr. S. spoke not of the obligation of a bond, but of the moral obligation, arising from natural justice, which constitutes an obligation in the meaning of the law of nations. What is the obligation of the Government to the citizen who has given up his property for its use.” . It is this: you have converted his dwellinghouse into a public building—you have changed its character—to accommodate the public, you have destroyed its sanctity as a private building - you have rendered it liable to destruction—you have divested it of the char. acter which, by the law of nations, would have protectedit. What then is the Government bound to do? To say to the individualso circumstanced, As you have rendered up your property for our use, we are your insurers: After you have placed yourself out of the protection of the law of nations, you shall not suffer by having done so. This, said Mr. S. is what I call a perfect obli: gation–a perfect moral obligation. The question for indemnity for losses sustained under such circumstances, is a question, not of charity, but of absolute right: the whole of it turning on the principle that the party has, for your use, exposed his property to destruction lawfully by the enemy. It is unjust, morally, that one who has thus surrendered up, and exposed to destruction, his property, on account of the public, should himself suffer that loss thereby which the public ought to bear. When you take the property of a citizen for public use, during war, you become the insurer of it against every act of the enemy, lawful or unlawful, and for this reason: that, when he has once surrendered his house into your possession, it is no longer his dwelling house; the property then belongs to the public, and not to him. Now, said Mr. S. if there be any definition of perfect obligation, which does not include this, it is beyond my conception

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