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of Electors appointed; and if two persons have a greater number than one-third, then such person as may have

committee, when they went into an inquiry, as though the Congress, in passing that act, had not gone accord.

the greatest number ; and if no person have one-third of ling to the received law of nations, and as though some

the whole number of electors appointed, then from the persons having the highest number, not execeeding two, on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose, by ballot, and under such rules as they may agree on, the President. But, in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by States, the Representation of each state having one vote: a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President, whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day 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. “The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice President, shall be the Vice President, if such number be one-third of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if two persons have a greater number than one-third, then such person as may have the highest number; and if no person has one-third of the whole number of Electors appointed, then, from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice President: a quorum for the 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. “But no person constitutionally ineligible to the of. fice of President, shall be eligible to that of Vice President of the United States.” The resolution was twice read, and referred to the committee of the whole on the state of the Union, to whom other resolutions on the same subject have been referred. NIAGARA SUFFERERS. . . The House having again resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the bill “for the relief of certain persons who suffered by destruction of their property by the enemy, during the late war”Mr. ROSS then rose, and observed that it was not his intention to enter into a discussion of the abstract principle of the bill before the committee. If he understood the principle, as well of the bill as of the amendment now proposed, it did not differ materially from that of the bill of 1816, either in form or substance. He did not know that it would be a very profitable inquiry to go into the intentions of Congress in passing that act; but he believed, if such an investigation were made, it would appear that the intent of Congress was to furnish a rule for ascertaining the amount of damage that had been suffered by persons, whose private property had been taken for the use of the United States, and in such circumstances destroyed by the enemy, according to the laws of civilized warfare. The ninth section of that act, so often referred to in this debate, did not introduce into our legislation any new principle, i. e. any principle foreign to the acknowledged laws of nations. If he had rightly understood the gentleman from Vir ginia, (Mr. BAR boun,) who had favored the House with a learned and lucid argument on the point, he held that when the Government took any private building for a military use, and it was then destroyed by the enemy, with a view to benefit himself and to injure us, it was lawfully destroyed, according to the laws of war among civilized nations. Now, the act of 1816 said none other than this. It went upon this principle as taken for granted, and only directed how the debt, acknowledged to be due from Government to the suffer ers, should be ascertained as to its amount. Mr. R. said he thought that, in the previous part of the debate, gentlemen had departed far from the true subject before the Vol. I.-9

new rule had been then established. It was not so; and, he asked, if the principle of the act of 1816 was a correct one, how Congress could now withhold an extension of that same principle to all the cases justly included within its range If the Government, when it came out of the late war, flushed with glorious victory, their hearts exulting, and warm with lively gratitude towards those who had raised their country's name by land and on the ocean, could, without regard to nice lines of demarcation, recognize a great principle owned by all civilized nations, and, in accordance with it, had passed the act of 1816, he thought it did not become Congress, at this day, because they find that, in carrying that law into effect, they may chance to have a large sum of money to pay, to begin to quarrel with the law, or deny the principle on which it is founded. He saw no difference between the principle of the present bill and that of the act of 1816, except the proviso in the latter, that it shall be proved that the occupation of the buildings by the United States was the cause of their destruction by the enemy. The present bill assumed this from the two facts of the occupation and the destruction. It holds that, being occupied for military purposes, the buildings became the lawful subjects of military destruction. The omission of that proviso was no objection against the present bill. But it had been insisted by some gentlemen, that, in order to claim indemnification, the sufferers must show

that the occupation continued up to the time when their
buildings were destroyed. Agreed. But what is occu-
pation ? There is surely a legal constructive occupation
by the Government, so long as it is out of the power of
the owner to occupy the premises himself. This was
the doctrine, as applied to the concerns of individuals,
and the same rule equally applied to Government. Al.
though there might not, in fact, have been any of the
powder or stores, or any of the soldiers actually in the
building when it was destroyed, yet, if it had not been
returned oy the Government to its owner, it was still in
the occupation of the Government. As to the amend-
ment of the gentleman from Illinois, (Mr. Cook,) he did
not see that anything more would be gained by it than
was secured by that of the gentleman from New York,
(Mr. Stonhs.) The one says the premises shall be prov.
ed to have been abandoned in consequence of the ap-
proach of the enemy. The other says it must have been
in possession of the Government at, or a short time be-
fore, the period of its destruction. If either of these
states of things were proved, it would amount to a con-
structive possession by Government at the time of the
destruction—a case provided for by the bill.
Does this principle, asked Mr. Ross, vary from the act
of 1816 I apprehend not. Here Mr. R. referred to
the documents accompanying the report of the commit-
tee, and in particular to a letter of Mr. Secretary craw-
Fond to the Commissioner under that act, in which he
lays it down as a rule, that the occupation of houses and
buildings destroyed must continue up to the time of de-
struction. He argued to show that this must lefer to
private buildings, and that the occupation need not be
literal. Did it enter into the mind of any reasonable be-
ing so to interpret the law as to require, in order to es-
tablish a claim for indemnity, that the soldiers, who had
been quartered in the houses, must have remained and
been burnt under the ruins? He quoted the Secretary's
letter to shew that occupation, even for a single night, if
in presence of an enemy, amounted to the occupation
contemplated by the law. He could not, for his own
part, conceive low ingenuity itself could put a different
meaning on the law of 1816 than that which he had men-
tioned. And, if he was right, he did not see why Con-
gress should not, at this day, afford the same relief as

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they did in 1816 and 1817. That law had been in part acted on-by officers of the Government, and a part of the claims had been paid under it. Grant that experience had proven that the act had been poorly worded, and badly executed - was that a reason why Congress should now, from mere sordid and pecuniary motives, withhold payment from the residue of the claimants equally included within its provisions 2 Gentlemen in their private capacity would not act in this manner; and shall we, asked Mr. Ross, because this Hall contains upward of two hundred men, shelter ourselves from responsibility, and do what we should be ashamed of, each saying by way of apology, “It is not me, it is the Congress of the United States that has done it * No : let us rather act with boldness, under a due sense of what is our imperative duty. But the bill has been objected to as though it were for the benefit of the Niagara frontier alone. Sir, said Mr. R. when I heard this objection, I was astonished. I had supposed, from hearing and reading the bill, that it referred to all, without distinction, whose property had suffered in the same way. If it happened that there were more sufferers on this particular frontier than on any other, be it so : it is a thing Congress could not help : it is their misfortune, said Mr. R.—let it not be our gain. As to the extent of the occupation, it would be in the recollection of all who were conversant with the history of the late war, that the entire frontier, so early as 1812, was little else than a great cantonment. Both the regular army and militia made it their place of rendezvous. Buf. falo, especially, was the rallying point for our whole force. Now, it was notorious that the Government had provided no camp equipage. There were the troops exposed and sick, without quarters, and almost without covering; and, close by, was a town affording comfortable shelter. Would any man hesitate as to what was the duty of the American officers ? Were they to leave the troops under their command to perish in the open air, many of them sick, many wounded, and none properly clothed Surely not. The houses were taken possession of, and it was right they should be. They were our only camp, our only barracks, our only magazines; and, while in this constructive occupation by the Government of the United States, they were destroyed by the enemy. But, we are asked, how happensit that the destruction was indiscriminate and universal? that no selection was made—but all the buildings on the frontier laid waste Why, sir, it can hardly be expected that the enemy, when successfully invading a hostile country, should go into every house and inquire, Is this house occupied, or has it at any time been occupied, by the troops or munitions of the Government At such a moment it is held sufficient that the house is apparently in public use—it is destroyed without further ceremony. But because some have been destroyed wrongfully, is that a good reason why they should pay for none Suppose these houses had been built by the Government, and occasionally occupied by troops or by public stores, would there be any question or doubt that the Government would be bound to suffer the loss It would then be held that these buildings belonged to Government. But what difference did it make in the case who built the houses is the loss not to be borne by the Government because the Government did not build the house that was destroyed Suppose the United States had bought the houses, (no matter what their form or what their size— whether of stone or of wood, in the form of a castle, or of a dwelling house, or of a barn,) there would then be no question who was to bear the loss. But what difference does it make if the Government takes the houses, and uses them as it would if it had bought or had built them? They were used for a military purpose, and they were destroyed for a military end. They were burnt, that thereby we might be weakened and the enemy

might be proportionably strengthened. The fact of the

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destruction was enough—the presumption followed of course that this was the cause of the destruction. Gentlemen, however, maintained that the destruction was accomplished on a principle of retaliation. The evidence, however, all went to show that, not only was it the understanding of the American army, but of the British officers themselves, that the invasion and destruction of the frontier was on account of its occupation by the American forces. Here Mr. R. referred to the letter of Col. Chapin, the capitulation at Buffalo, &c. and argued from both, that it was the shelter given to the American army that occasioned the destruction of the houses. The gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. BuchaNAM,) had referred, yesterday, to the same event, and had contended that the burning of Buffalo was an outrage on the principles and usage of civilized warfare— that it was a wanton destruction of private property. But, said Mr. R., it appeared, from the conversation of Col. Chapin with the British Gen. Riall, that the cause assigned by him at the time was, that, when he entered the town, he found the houses occupied as barracks and magazines. Other testimony went to establish the same fact. Indeed it was perfectly notorious, that the Government had no other barracks or magazines for their army. Mr. R. referred also to the language of Gen. Prevost, at Quebec, as reported by Capt. Swazy, who had asked leave to lay waste the frontier, and had been told, in reply, that the British arms should never be stained by such an act of retaliation. He compared dates to show that, at this time, Prevost did not know of the ravaging of the Niagara frontier, and argued, from the dates and distances, that it was impossible he could have ordered it; although, afterwards, in his proclamation, he held out the idea that he had commanded it in 'retaliation for the burning of Newark, which he calls an “act of meanness and cruelty’” The proclamation was evidently, palpably, nothing more than a mere salvo to cover the infamy of an act which he had before condemned, as tarnishing the British arms. Mr. R. inferred, from the whole case, that the country had been wasted solely because it afforded a shelter to our army, and enabled it to act with effect against the forces on the other side. If so, ought not the House to go back to the principle of its own act of 1816, under which a part of these claims had already been paid Mr. R. concluded by assigning some reasons why he had felt himself bound to deliver his sentiments on this subject, conceiving that his course, on a former occasion, might otherwise have led to a false conclusion as to what were his principles in relation to the Niagara Claims. Mr. FARRELLY, of Pennsylvania, rose, and, in an argumentative speech of some length, advocated the bill. Conceiving that the dispute which had taken place, regarded rather the facts of the case than the principle on which the law should be framed, he proposed to inquire whether the property for which indemnification was claimed, was, or was not, a legitimate subject of destruction by the enemy. To determine this point, he argued, it ought to be remembered that the Niagara Frontier was the only point from which the Government proposed to make a descent upon the enemy's territory. It was here that, in 1812, an army had been collected and commanded by a gentleman, now an honorable member of this House, (Gen. SMyth,) and it was from this frontier, that, in the fall of that year, another honorable member (Gen. VAN RensselAER) had made a descent on the Canada lines. These facts were suffcient evidence that this was the place from which we intended our hostile operations to proceed : yet no barracks had been provided; no arsenals were built there; no accommodations were prepared for our troops. He asked whether, under such circumstances, it did not become the duty of a British military commander, if he had any regard for

the interest of his country, and his own military reputation, to destroy the only means of our army. He found

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that they depended for shelter' upon houses and other buildings which were private property. Now, he would farther ask, if the United States had built barracks and magazines, whether they would not have been lawful subjects of destruction? And if private houses were used instead, where was the difference as to the right? The enemy might infer, from what had happened in 1812, that the same thing would happen again in 1813, especially as no barracks had since been built; and, as he knew that it was impossible for troops, in the month of December, to remain in that climate without shelter, it was his duty as a commander to divest them of the only shelter they could obtain, which was in private houses. Gentlemen had said that it does not appear that the occupation was the motive for destruction; but, Mr. F. said, he would ask, does it appear that such was not the motive? We know that, when Buffalo was destroyed, there were 2500 men quartered there; and the enemy found that, by destroying one village, he could put it out of the power of our Government to maintain a single post—to keep a single soldier on all that line of frontier Was not this a sufficient motive 2 Some gentlemen seemed to disbelieve that these buildings were occupied for military purposes at all. But surely all the testimomy went that way; and if facts so well substantiated were to be overturned by mere supposition, and by a theoretical view of national law, he knew not what use there was in testimony, or how facts were ever to be ascertained. Other gentlemen had insisted that the burning of our frontier, being on a principle of retaliation, was contrary to the law of nations, and, therefore, the Government is not bound to pay. But Mr. F. denied the position, and he defied them to show, in any approved writer on intermational law, such a doctrine as that retaliation was unlawful. The reverse was true. All writers admit that, when retaliation is just, it may be practised as a means to prevent the repetition of injury. Though we admit that the burning of Newark was a barbarous act, yet the retaliation of it was lawful on the part of the enemy—it was only following the example we had set—and we had rendered the act lawful by our own unlawful conduct in the first place. When our Government commenced a system of destruction of property, it must have known that it incurred the risk of retaliation. It must have known that the burning of Newark rendered Buffalo unsafe; and, if Buffalo was afterwards destroyed, the Government had itself to blame for it. But, it had been argued by other gentlemen, that it would be very bad policy to pay for these acts of depredation, lest we should thereby induce the enemy to pursue such a course in future wars, with a view to weaken the Government by draining the Treasury. What! asked Mr. FAnnelly, are we to be deterred from doing what is in itself just by a principle of fear —fear of the enemy? Do we dread our enemies as if we had no means of retaRation in our power Sir, if the enemy do pursue such a system we have a remedy at hand. When they burn one town we will burn two—until, by a severe measure of retaliation, we compel them to quit their predatory system. We will meet them on their own ground; if they forsake the course of regular and civilized warfare, we will forsake it too for a time, till we drive them into it again. Sir, if we are afraid of the enemy's depredations, we ought never to go to war. Are we to shrink the moment he goes beyond a certain line, and fold our hands for fear .# our finances * No ; but meet him in every shape he chooses to assume. I do not now attempt to Justify the enemy in acts of wanton outrage. Far from it; but I never yet heard or met with an argument that satisfied me that the burning of those buildings was not an act of legitimate warfare. There was the whole power of the United States concentred, as it were, in a space of about 35 miles; the British force was 3,000 miles from its native country; and,

after reaching the American shores, had another thousand to traveiere it reached the scene of action. Ours, on the contrary, was close at home, with a country all powerful helind it What could render it necessary for us to destroy the beautiful village of Newark Ali our troops were on our own side of the line. Up to that time no effort had been made, on the part of the Canadas, to invade us, but every effort was made by us to invade them. Canada was acting only on the defensive, and there could be no plea of necessity for such an act. On our side there was nothing from the head of Lake Ontario to the outlet of Lake Erie, but the village of Buf. falo; nothing to excite either cupidity or malice. But the moment Newark was burnt, the destruction of our whole frontier was insured, the moment it should be in the power of the British to effect it. It was melancholy to contemplate such acts between those who claimed to be the only Christian nations of the world; but they have occurred, and we may now with propriety inquire and reason on the causes which produced them. Mr. MARTINDALE, of New York, then rose, and observed that he was opposed to the amendment, and should assign the reasons of his opposition lest they might be misunderstood. He was opposed to the present modification of the bill because it established an unjust distinction between the claimants, which was not founded in reason and the nature of things, and which, in his judgment, did not comport with the justice and tie magnanimity of the American Government. . The bill, even in its original form, established, if rigidly interpreted, some distinctions which he thought objectionable; but the amendments which had been proposed to it went to increase them. By the bill it was required to be shown that, when the buildings were destroyed, they were in the occupation of the United States, by orders of some officer of the United States. Now the fact was, that there had been, on that frontier, much occupation without any such order. The whole country was little else than a cantonment; the houses were made depots for military stores or barracks for troops, and their destruction was as really caused by this, when it happened without an order, as when it happened by an order. Other buildings had been destroyed in consequence of those immediately adjoining them having been thus occupied. The occupation of a building by the United States thus made it a nuisance to those near it, and he saw no reason which should induce the Government to provide relief for one sufferer and not for all. The facts, said Mr M. are before you; they are undisputed; the whole country suffered together: and shall the American Government make distinctions between sufferers who had no merit the one over the other, but endured a common calamity ? I had rather extend the bill than retrench or restrict it. Mr. M. insisted that there was no instance in history of such losses not being compensated by Government. What was the case at Newark No sooner did the British Government hear of its destruction, than they extended the liberal and the helping hand. The claim was just, and the conduct of the Government politic. It would be equally politic in us—nay, tenfold more so. It would strengthen the confidence of the people in their Government. But, do you, on the contrary, seek to alienate the affection and the trust of your citizens The very way to do so is, first to show yourselves weak, and then show yourselves unjust also. Mr. M. then recapitulated the facts of the case, as before stated, in debate, &c. As soon as the enemy had been irritated by the burning of Newark, the whole American force was withdrawn, and the frontier left defenceless. The Government ought to pay the claims, were it only as an act of penance for such an instance of folly. He protested against any investigation of the motives of the enemy-ridiculed the plea of the Treasury’s being in danger from the amount of the claims. What, asked Mr. M. is the Treasury of a free people? It is the wealth of the

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Niagara Sufferers.-Cadets at the Military Academy. [JAN. 4, 5, 1825.

whole nation, as its strength is the personal services of the whole nation. Does the payment of the people's money back to the people, to satisfy a just demand, weaken the nation ? It strengthensit. In answer to the argument of the impolicy of such a measure as this, on the score of its encouraging depredations in future, Mr. M. asked if the fact that the British Government had indemnified the sufferers at Newark, operated to encourage us to repeat such an act as the destruction of that beautiful village * Far from it. Respect for our own character—for the laws of civilized war—for the power of public opinion, were sufficient to restrain us. He thought that the indemnification of the sufferers, instead of rendering them slack in the defence of their property, would rather inspire them with a love for their country and their Government, which would lead them to defend both with increased ardor. As to what had been said against the payment of the claims, on the ground that the destruction was an act of retaliation, he admitted the fact, but could not perceive any force in the argument. Either the retaliation was just or unjust. If just, it surely increased the strength of the claim; because it was induced by an act of our own Government. If unjust, why did not the Government get compensation in the treaty of peace It had neglected to do this, and, therefore, was liable. It did get compensation for the slaves carried off: why not for these spoliations The Government is estopped, by its own act, from complaining of them as unlawful, if considered as retaliatory. He put a case, in answer to Mr. Bannoun’s observation, respecting a claim of the Governvernment for lost slaves, which Mr. B. said he should oppose if it had been offered. Suppose our Government had done the same thing, by carrying off the slaves of the enemy, as they did by carrying off our's, and then the losers should ask indemnity from the Government: would the gentleman from Virginia oppose such a claim? He suspected not. Mr. M. concluded with a strong declaration of his conviction of the justice of the claims generally. The question was then taken on Mr. COOK's amendment, (requiring it to be proved that the property had been abandoned in consequence of the approach of the enemy,) and decided in the negative. Mr. STORRS' amendment, (requiring it to be proved that the property was in occupation of the United States at, or shortly before, its destruction,) was carried— ayes 114. Mr. STORRS then moved a farther amendment, in the following words: “Unless the whole amount of such claims, so approved, shall exceed the sum of 350,000 dollars; and in case the whole amount of such claims, so approved, shall exceed the said sum of 350,000 dollars, then it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Department of War, to cause a list of all claims so approved to be transmitted to the Treasury Department, and the said claimants, respectively, shall be paid in such certificates only a rateable proportion, in common with the other claimants, of the said sum of 350,000 dollars.” The question being put, the amendment of Mr. STORRS was adopted—ayes 75, noes 73. Mr. FORSYTH then offered the following amendment: “...And be it further enacted, That the value of every slave ... into the public service during the late war, either as a boatman, wagoner, sailor, or laborer, and lost to the owner in consequence of his impressment, shall be paid to the owner out of any money in the Trea. sury, not otherwise appropriated: the circumstances of the loss and the value of the property to be proved by the owner, under such rules as shall be prescribed by the Secretary of the Department of War.” Mr. F. explained the amendment in a few observa

tions, correcting a misunderstanding respecting the provisions of the Treaty of Ghent, on the subject of indemnity for slaves carried off. . It included no provision for such as had been pressed into the public service. (He quoted the proceedings of Congress at a former session, on this subject, showing an attempt to have slaves used as boatmen and wagoners included, which had been proposed by Mr. MArn ANT, but without success.) The question being taken on this amendment, it passed in the negative, without a division. Mr. WRIGHT then, signifying that he had an amendment to propose, moved that the committee rise; it rose accordingly, and had leave to sit again.

IN SENATE–winneswax, JANuany 5, 1825.

Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, from the Committee on Military Affairs, asked leave for the committee to be discharged from the further consideration of the following resolution, offered by Mr. Macox, on the 20th ult. “Resolved, That the Committee on Military Affairs be instructed to inquire into the expediency of limiting the number of Cadets at the Military Academy at West Point, to the number of Members in the House of Representatives, and that the number to be admitted from each state and territory, respectively, shall be the same as that of the Representatives to which such state or territory shall be entitled; and that the brother of no person educated at the Academy shall be admitted, so long as there be other applicants, and that provision be made for admitting from the District of Columbia.” Mr. MACON regretted that the committee had disapproved of the proposition contained in the resolution. It was an object he had long had in contemplation, and had reserved for the close of the present administration. It had been his intention to offer it at the close of the last administration, but omitted it. It was alleged that the subject ought to be left to the discretion of the War Department; but he was opposed to leaving any thing, in which the whole nation was interested, to discretion, when it could be fixed by law. Favoritism would exist, as it had always existed, unless we attained greater perfection than had ever been attained, or could be expected. He would, therefore, in this matter, prevent favoritism, by withholding discretion, and establishing the rule on a fixed principle, by law. The nation contributed equally to the support of this institution, and he would distribute its benefits equally. He would even, if it were practicable, allot one Cadet to each particular Congressional district, so as to make the benefits of the institution as diffusive as possible. As to the rule, however, of having not more than one cadet from one family. he would like to modify that so far as to say, that, where the father had been killed in service, the rule should inot apply. Mr. M. said, he knew how difficult it was to resist a committee in this body, but he hoped the Senate would not sustain the committee in their unfavorable decision on the proposition. Mr. JOHNSON observed that the practice of the War Department in the appointment of Cadets was now, and j. for some time, been, substantially the same as that recommended by the resolution—that was, that the number admitted from each state was in proportion to its representation in Congress. So far, therefore, legislation, the Committee, at least a majority of them, thought was unnecessary. On the other feature of the proposition, that which regarded the aggregate number of the Cadets, the committee differed from the mover of the resolution. They did not deem it expedient to reduce the number of Cadets at present allowed by law. However, Mr.J. said, if the Senate agreed with the honorable mover, and disagreed with the committee, and would instruct the committee to bring in a bill conformable to the resolution, he for one would perform his part of the labor of preparing it with pleasure. He would, therefore, move.

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that, for the present, the subject be laid on the table, that it might be further considered.

This motion was agreed to, and the subject was ordered to lie on the table.


Mr. MERCER laid on the table the following resolves:

Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to lay before this House any information in his Department, which may serve to shew the actual value of such property as was occupied or supposed to have been occupied by the government of the United States and destroyed by the enemy during the late war.

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to lay before this House the amount paid as indemnity to the claimants for property destroyed during the late war in virtue of the act of April 9, 1816, and the subsequent acts amendatory of the same; also, the amountclaimed in virtue of the same, and yet unsatisfied.

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to lay before this House so much of the returns of the assessor under the late law imposing a direct tax, as shall embrace the assessment of the value of the lands and buildings situated on the Niagara frontier in the state of New York.

These resolutions gave rise to a conversation, in which Messrs. MERCER, LITTLE, DWIGHT, STORRS, TRACY, WILLIAMS, of North Carolina, FOOT, and INGHAM, took part; during which the first resolve underwent some modification to make it read as it now stands. There was no objection made to calling for the information; but it was doubted by the gentleman from New York, whether any valuable information on the subject was in the possession of the War Department; whether it could have any bearing on the bill; and, whether all the information, bearing on this subject, was not now to be found on the records of the War Departanent. In reply to which, Mr. MERCER said, that he had himself seen testimony in the War Department, which he considered to have an important bearing, to show which, he stated that he expected the testimony asked for by the first of these resolutions, would establish the fact, that the officer who commanded the troops at Buffalo, and signed the capitulation on that occasion, had received, as an indemnity for his loss of property on that occasion, six times the actual value of the property. No further objection, was made to the resolves, though Mr. TRACY took occasion to remark, that he had no idea that the papers called for would disclose any facts which could, in any manner, affect the general principles of the bill now pending in the House.

. In the end, the resolutions were severally agreed to,

rem. dissentiente.


The House then proceeded to the orders of the day, and again went into committee of the whole on the bill for the relief of the Niagara Sufferers, Mr. CAMPBELL, of Ohio, in the chair. Mr. WRIGHT moved to strike out the whole bill, and substitute therefor the following: “That any person, having a claim for a building destroyed by the enemy during the late war, under the ninth section of the act to which this is an amendment, and of the act to amend the same, passed the third of March, 18.7, which shall have been presented to the Commissioner of Claims, appointed under the act first aforesaid, at any time before the 10th of April, 1818, and which was not paid under said acts, nor finally rejected by said Commissioner, may, within nine months hereafter, present the same, with the evidence to support it, to the Third Auditor of the Treasury, for examination and adjustment; and, if he shall be satisfied the building or buildings for which damages are claimed, was, at the

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time of its destruction, occupied by order of any agent or officer of the United States, as a place of deposite for military or naval stores, or as barracks for the military forces of the United States, and that such destruction was the consequence of such occupation, he shall proceed to assess the damages, and certify the amount for payment, in the way pointed out in the act first above referred to, which shall be immediately paid out of any money in the Treasury, not otherwise appropriated: Provided, That, if the Auditor shall be satisfied the evidence before him is insufficient to enable him correctly to decide between the United States and the claimant, he may, on giving notice to the claimant, cause other evidence to be taken.” In support of the amendment, Mr. WRIGHT observed, that the question involved in the present bill presented itself to his mind in a point of view different from any which he had heard it stated during the present debate. A reference to the law of nations, as laid down by writers on that subject, would result only in this, that, on the question of a liability of a sovereign to make good the losses of his subjects during a state of warfare, those writers were undetermined—no rule was definitively settled, and the matter was left, in a great measure, discretionary with the sovereign to act as he felt himself able in the case. But the view entertained by Mr. W. avoided, he said, this whole inquiry. There was no need of settling the line of difference between a perfect and an imperfect obligation. He thought that the claims which were now the subject of consideration, might all be adjusted on principles and rules, settled, not by the writers on national law, but by the course of our own legislation, and he held that, when once our own acts had settled a rule, it was as binding on Congress as any decisions of civilians could be. If he understood the report of the committee who were appointed to investigate this subject in 1817, there was a great difference between it and the ground taken by some of the friends of the present bill; nay, there was an equally great difference between the ground they took and the bill itself. The gentlemen tell us the present bill is meant to carry into effect the act of 1816. So far, said Mr. W. I am willing to go. I believe, that at least some of these claimants have a right of indemnification; but when gentlemen depart both from the report and from the bill, and argue for principles foreign to both, I ask the committee to pause before it adopts them. The report rests the claim of these sufferers on two grounds : 1st, the testimony taken by the Commissioner under the act of 1816; and, 2d, the neglector inability of this House to carry that law into effect. My proposition is, to send the claims to an accounting officer of the Treasury. To this it is objected, that there are upwards of two hundred distinct claims, and that, after all the delay which has already happened, any further postponement amounts to a denial of justice. I admit that, were my proposal productive of delay, it would be liable to this objection, for a delay of justice may be carried so far as to amount to a denial of it. But the objection goes on an hypothesis far beyond this—it goes on a presumption that the accounting officer of the Treasury will decide against these claims under the law of 1816. Now, this, sir, in my apprehension, is a mere begging of the question. It is said, indeed, that the Third Auditor has already decided in accordance with the views of the Committee of Claims, against the sufferers. Sir, I deny the position. The Third Auditor never has decided, he never had power to decide, on any of these claims. It is true, indeed, that, by the act of 1817, certain duties of the Commissioner of Claims were transferred to him, but no authority was given him to decide on any of these claims; and Mr. W. was not prepared to say, beforehand, that a department of this Government would in all cases violate its duty. I am far, said Mr. W. from objecting to pay what I be

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