« ForrigeFortsett »
It is intended to create an artificial harbor on the Delaware, adjoining the canal, for the reception and protection of vessels. The execution of the work has been placed under the superintendance of Judge Wright, an engineer justly celebrated, and who has already performed the most eminent services to his country, by the practical and successful part he has taken in the execution of the greatest works in America. Contracts for the entire excavation of the canal have been executed. The land and water works on the whole line have been secured, and the work actually commenced on the 15th of April, 1824. The excavation and embarkment, on the eastern division of the canal, amounts already to 714,930 cubic yards, and, on the western division, to 158,806, making, in the whole, 873,796 cubic yards. This is equal to about thirty-seven miles of a canal of the usual dimenSions. On the section No. 5, on the deep-cut, which is to be seventy feet deep, the excavation amounts to 668,704 cubic yards; and three of the sub-contracts are finished to the depth of twelve feet, in a style, it is said, which is not inferior to any work of the kind in Europe. In this portion of the canal, more earth will be removed from the same extent of surface, than has ever been done in any part of the world. The Delaware tide-lock, which is a hundred feet long, between the gates, and twenty-two feet wide, and containing 40,000 cubic feet of solid masonry, is already completed. During the last summer months, there were from 1000 to 1.00 men employed, and about 200 teams, and many machines, which were invented by one of the contractors, for the purpose of excavating the St. George's Meadow. The memorial presented by the Company, represents the available funds at 00,000 It is made as follows: New private subscriptions
$425,000 Supscriptions by the state of Penn
Do. by the state of Maryland 50,000
Do. by the state of Delaware 25,000
Old subscriptions, calculated at 100,000 —5–$700,000
The estimate of the whole expense, by the examining engineers, amounted to one million three hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The contracts for the whole line, however, have fallen above $100,000 under the estimate. This will leave about $550,000, say $600,000, for future subscriptions.
These are the circumstances under which the canal now presents itself, and I cannot but consider it of the highest concern, in a national light, that a second failure should not occur in the grand design of connecting the waters of the Delaware with the Chesapeake Bay, or that any unfortunate delay should take place in the prosecution of the work; it woull dishearten spirited individuals, and produce an unhappy effect on the contemplated improvements of the country. Nothing is now wanting to insure success, but a participation on the part of the General Government, which will create an entire confidence, that the undertaking will be agcomplished in a seasonable time; for, when the opinion is firmly established that no casualty can be expected to impede the progress of the work, there will be no difficulty in raising more funds by private subscriptions. That the work will be finished, at some time a rational doubt can no longer be entertained; still, it may be apprehended, by many, who otherwise would be induced to subscribe, that a dependence on private subscriptions would be too precarious, and that the work may again be suspended, and the stockholders deprived, longer than they could afford, of a return of any profits from their investments. To remove suspicions of this
kind, whether well or ill founded, it is exceedingly desirable that the General Government should countenance the measure, and thereby dispel all fears as to its speedy completion. This great national undertaking can be finished in two seasons, if nothing should obstruct the progress of the work. As to its magnitude and great importance to the nation, in a time of war, is is unnecessary to speak at large. As a military work, it will be equal to any fortification that has been erected, and on which so much money has been expended. The Atlantic coast is extensive, and, at many places, exposed to an enemy in possession of a strong naval force, and no improvement could be so well calculated to facilitate our military operations against an enemy, as an inland navigation, along and near the frontier, for the transportation of the army and heavy munitions of war, in safety, from place to place, and so expeditiously as to defeat the designs of the enemy. In the documents presented to Congress by the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal Company, it is stated that General Washington, in the Revolutionary war, often lamented the want of a navigable canal from the Chesapeake to the Delaware. The difficulties of transporting his supplies across the Isthmus are said to have been exceedingly great, and nothing was more distressing than the detention to which he was subjected, when he arrived in the Isthmus, on his march to the south, for the want of wagons to transport his stores and heavy artillery from one water to the ether. Had a water communication existed, a landing of the British at Welch's Point, previous to the battle of Brandywine, might, it is very probable, have been defeated ; and the same observation may apply to the predatory excursions of the enemy on the shores of the Chesapeake, and along the Susquehannah during the last war. The canal would also afford great facilities for the protection of this city. During the last war, the carriage of goods, tobacco, flour, cotton, and other bulky articles, across the Peninsula, made it necessary to use four distinct lines of transportation, at an expense of wagonage which has been estimated at 414,000 dollars in one year-about a third of the whole expense of the canal. As to its advantages to the country in times of peace, it is impossible to form any just estimate. The vessels which will be adapted to the canal can also pass through the Dismal Swamp canal, and will form a line of water communication that will embrace a wide and extended range of interests, from North Carolina to Trenton, on the Delaware, including the towns and landings on the rivers and waters of the state of North Carolina, emptying into the Albemarle and Pamptico Sounds; and, also, the numerous rivers of Virginia and Maryland, and the river Susquehannah, which empty into the Chesapeake Bay. And, at no distant day, it may be expected to form the central link of a grand inland navigation, of an immense extent, along and near the Atlantic coast. The position and variety of public advantages to be derived from the canal, are satisfactory that it is not to be an object exclusively belonging to one or a few states; and if money should be appropriated for the general purpose of internal improvements, to be distributed among the states according to the ratio of representation, it would not be fair that the parts allotted to Delaware or Maryland, should be expended on this canal. Many of the states would be more benefitted by the canal than Delaware, through which it principally passes. A system of internal improvements, which will operate advantageously to the General Government, and in a just proportion to the states, can be established; but. from the geography of the country, there are certain objects of improvement which more peculiarly concerra the United States, and these must be perfected princi
JAN. 14, 1825.]
pally by the Union at large; they cannot be embraced in any uniform system. Such cases are not numerous, but I think this is one of them. It is an object of a general character; it is truly national; it resembles the navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, in whose streams twelve or thirteen states are interested, and yet no one in a degree sufficient to induce it to undertake the perfection of the navigation of either of these rivers. The objects being considered of a national character, the General Government has commenced the performance of these great improvements, and, I believe, to the entire satisfaction of the nation. Besides, the canal is so constructed, that, if the General Government should hereafter wish it, the canal, by the simple operation of being cut deeper, may be made capable to admit the passage of large merchant vessels, or ships of war. I will not pretend to give any estimate of the probable profits to the stockholders; but, comparing it with other canals, which in their infancy yield handsome profits, and considering the extensive country, and numerous towns, and increasing trade, that will be connected with it immediately, and the far more extended range which it may embrace hereafter; when other contemplated canals in Jersey and other places shall have been made, it is not extravagant to put down the profits of the canal at a sum exceeding the legal rate of interest. The New York canals, as appears by the late message of the Governor of that state, have surpassed the expectations of their most zealous advocates. What, then, is asked of the General Government Nothing, in substance, but its good will. It is solicited merely to countenance this great undertaking in the manner proposed, by which, as a stockholder, it will lose nothing, but, in a national point of view, will reap many and important advantages. I have heard it mentioned in conversation, and it may be asked again, if the stock is likely to become lucrative, why do not the citizens of Pennsylvania, and of Philadelphia in particular, fill up the subscriptions 1 answer, in the first place, that it is not certain that they will not, if means cannot be obtained elsewhere. In the second place, I beg leave to inform the committee that the citizens of Philadelphia have invested about seven millions of dollars in public improvements, and it cannot be expected that they can undertake to complete every public work, although it may be profitable. Penn sylvania has constructed about 18,000 miles of turnpike roads, and made numerous and expensive bridges, and has improved the navigation of the Schuylkill, and is now embarked extensively in canalling. But this particular object, as I have already mentioned, is not exclusively a state object. The Legislature of Pennsylvania, and the citizens in their individual capacity, have done their share. Still, more may be expected from them to aid in the completion of this important work. Against bestowing the countenance of the Government in the manner proposed, there is no constitutional objection, upon any of the principles heretofore assumed as to the powers of the General Government On the subject of the Bank of the United States, it was insisted, on the one side, that the, General Government could not create a corporation; but no such power is claimed here, the corporation being created by competent state authorities. The improvements on the Ohio and Mississippi have commenced without any co-operation of the states, but, as respects this canal, the consent of the states has been given. There is nothing that can leave a doubt as to the powers of Congress to act on this occasion. It is embraced within the construction given to tic constitu tion by the President, in his communication respecting the Cumberland road.
And, as to the expediency of a Government becoming a stockholder in a corporation, experience has shewa that it is highly beneficial, and attended with no inconvenience. The practice of the states is full proof of this. In many instances, they encourage spirited individuals, by creating corporations, and subscribing as stockholders.
Pennsylvania has repeatedly subscribed for stock in banks, bridges, and state roads; the result has been useful to such improvements and advantageous to the State.
In my introductory remarks it has been one main object, to give a history of the proceedings concerning the canal, and in the conclusion of the little I have had to say, I come now to one consideration of the subject which I dread the most. It is the danger that amendments may be proposed, by even the friends of the general measure, to embrace other objects, and so to load the present bill as to cause a failure of the whole, without its being so designed. This has been the fate of the measure heretofore. I will, however, indulge the hope, that the public feeling which generally exists in favor of internal improvements, and the improved state of experience as to the practicability and utility of public works in this country, will induce honorable members to per
mit the question to be taken on this bill upon its own
merits, and not to expose it to any unnecessary risk. It is really distinguishable from any object that can be named, inasmuch as the work is partly executed, and as no further information is necessary, no State laws are to be obtained, and its national importance is so apparent that no one can deny it. If the General Government is seriously disposed to aid, in certain instances, the internal improvements of the country, no spot could be selected freer from objections, for a beginning. I think I have good reason to anticipate a favorable result in this respect from the laudable disposition that prevailed in Congress at the last session, when the bills to improve the navigation of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers were under discussion. No member, that I recollect, attempted to carry with those bills, other favorite objects of his own. They were fairly considered on their respective merits alone. The object of this bill, it is true, lies near those I reresent, but since I have had the honor of a seat here, I have been uniform in giving my support to the internal improvements of the country. I have, on no occasion, refused to vote for any measure of improvement, because it was not connected with something near home; and the same spirit appears to have animated the members generally, at the last session. I have been induced to make the remarks which I have done, respecting any amendments to connect the bill with other objects, although a little out of place, because I have understood that, in this way, this interesting project had often been defeated. in introducing this bill to the consideration of the committee, I have abstained from any remarks on the general subject of improving a country by canals, and will now only observe that, in very many instances, they have entirely changed the appearance of the country through which they pass, by giving to its interior parts, in a great degree, the advantages of coasts, and bringing the whole country into a sort of compactness that cannot be accomplished by any other means. . They conquer the inconveniences that naturally exist between the extreme parts of a nation, and, by the facilities which they always afford, they excite industry, in a most surprising manner. Our greatest difficulty is to begin, and that has been the case in most nations; and this seems strange to me, for, as soon as public works are executed they are considered the highest blessings that can be be bestowed on
a country, and the authors of them go down to posterity with more lasting glory than could be attained by any [JAN. 17, 1825.
H. of R. & Sen.] Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.—Imprisonment for Debt.
other public acts. The credit now depends on the actual execution, the science on the subject being so well known. Some imagine that the nation is too young. No opinion can be more fallacious. On this head, I was pleased with a remark of the Abbe de Pradt, on the Colonies. In speaking on the age of a nation, he says it does not depend on time, it is on the resources and population of the country—and I will add to his sensible remark, that it may depend also, in a degree, on the enterprising character of the people. Ten millions of people are capable of performing all the important interests of a nation. This ought not, on subjects of this description, to be considered a young nation. The New York works are a complete and satisfactory answer to any objections made in respect to the age of the nation. We have occular demonstration of the immense works that have been accomplished there in a period of seven or eight years; and I will ask, has any of the other concerns of the state or the nation been neglected on that account It is true, that state is in debt for nearly the whole expenditure—but would any man in the state give up the canal to be free of the debt? Not one. Now, the General Government can do the same things on a still greater scale ; and why should not the same results follow * In ten years, the whole face of this country might be changed. Gentlemen talk of the national debt—but what is a debt of eighty or ninety millions to such a country as this Had the system of internal improvements been commenced long ago, the value of the country might have been doubled at this day--nor would it have involved the sacrifice of any other interests, to promote internal improvements, as the example of New York, already quoted, has plainly demonstrated. I sincerely hope, Mr. Chairman, that we shall now make a beginning. I am well convinced the spirit of the nation is on this subject in advance of Congress—and I am equally persuaded that, if a beginning is to be made, no spot could be selected freer from ob. jections, than that in which the canal has been commenced, which it is the purpose of the present bill to aid. The committee reported the bill without amendment, and the question being on ordering it to be engrossed for a third reading, Mr. COCKE called for the Yeas and Nays on that question, which were taken as follows: YEAS.–Messrs. Adams, Alexander, of Tenn., Allen, of Tenn., Allison, Bartley, Beecher, Blair, Buckner, Cady, Call, Cambreleng, Campbell, of Ohio, Cassedy, Col. lins, Condict, Cook, Cushman, Durfee, Dwight, Ellis, Foot, of Con., Forsyth, Forward, Gatlin, Gurley, Harris, Hemphill, Herkimer, Holcombe, Ingham, Isaacs, Johnson, of Va., J. T. Johnson, F. Johnson, Kent, Kremer, Letcher, Little, Livingston, M Arthur, M'Kean, M'Lane, of Del, M'Lean, of Ohio, Mallary, Martindale, Matlack, Mercer, Miller, Mitchell, of Penn., Mitchell, of Md. Moore, of Ken. Neale, Newton, Owen, Patterson, of Penn. Patterson, of Ohio, Plumer, of Penn., Reynolds, Sandford, Scott, Sharpe, Sloane, Wm. Smith, Standefer, Sterling, J. Stephenson, Stewart, Storrs, Swan, Thomp. son, of Penn., Tomlinson, Udree, Vance, of Ohio, Van Rensselaer, Vinton, Warfield, Wayne, Webster, Whittlesey, James Wilson, Wilson, of Ohio, Wolf, Woods, Wright—86. NAYS.–Messrs. Alexander, of Va., Archer, P. P. Barbour, Bassett, Bradley, Buck, Burleigh, Campbell, of S.C. Carter, Carey, Clark, Cocke, Conner, Crafts, Craig, Crowninshield, Culpeper, Day, Dwinell, Eddy, Edwards, of N. C. Findlay, Floyd, Foote, of N. Y. Frost, Garrison, Gist, Govan, Hall, Hamilton, Harvey, Hayden, Herrick, Hobart, Hogeboom, Hooks, Jenkins, Kidder, Lathrop, Leftwich, Lincoln, Litchfield, Livermore, Locke, Long, Longfellow, M'Coy, M’Duffie, Mangum,
Marvin, Matson, Morgan, Nelson, O'Brien, Olin, Reed, Richards, Rose, Ross, Saunders, Sibley, Arthur Smith,
the engrossed bill “to abolish imprisonment for debt,” was again read; and, on the question “Shall this bill pass 2"
Mr. WAN DYKE, of Del. rose, and addressed the Senate as follows: Having been a member of the Committee charged with the consideration of this bill, I have candidly lent my aid to remove objections which applied to it as introduced by the gentleman who has been its zealous advocate. The project now presented is preferable to that which received the sanction of this honorable body at the last session; but it still presents difficulties that are, in my Judgment, insuperable. To abolish imprisonment for debt is the declared object of this bill; and to effect it we are urged to adopt and put in motion all the new machinery of this new system. New oaths, new trials, new proofs, and a strange commixture of law and equity, are the means to be used to accomplish this object. From the best consideration that have been able to give the subject, I cannot assent to such an experiment. The administration of Justice between creditor and debtor, as now practised, is plain and familiar: where this innovation may lead us, it may be difficult to state; but one thing is not to be disguised; the creditor will be met with new difficulties and accumulated expense in prosecuting a claim for a just debt. And whence do your obtain satisfactory evidence that it is necessary for the good of the nation, that such a system should be adopted From what quarter of the country have you received a memorial suggesting such a plan as that proposed by this bill? I have heard of none; and my own observation and experience, within the limited circle of a few states, induces a belief that the dreadful picture of oppression which has been drawn, in vivid colors, by the advocates of the measure, is a creature of the imagination, and has no existence in real life. I boldly say, the original is not found in the Middle States, and gentlemen, in whom I place confidence, assure me that it will be sought in vain in other states. As a legislator, I do not perceive the necessity for this measure. I apprehend serious difficulties in executing the plan, and therefore feel constrained to vote against it. I ask the Yeas and Nays, that I may record my vote in opposition to the bill.
Mr. TAZEw ELL said his objection to the bill was, that its object was not to abolish imprisonment for debt in all, but only in certain particular cases therein described; that the cases to which the bill was not intended to apply, were those of contract, in the suits for the enforcement of which contracts bail had been originally required. In all such cases, the writ of capias ad satisfaciendum might still issue, even if this bill became a law. Now, said Mr. T. very many cases of contract broken, might, and must, be prosecuted, in courts of chancery only ; and, according to the rules of proceeding in these courts, bail could not be required in any case therein instituted. The effect of the second section of the bill was, however, to prohibit the writ of capias ad satisfaciendum, and all other process under which the body of the debtor might be taken, in all cases of contract in which bail had not been originally required.— The provisions of the bill, therefore, were inconsistent with its object. The case of a lost bond was referred to as fully illustrative of this position. There could be no reason assigned why the debtor by bond which was not lost, might be imprisoned to satisfy the Judgment of
JAN. 17, 1825.]
a court of law rendered for the amount of his bond; and that the debtor, where bond was accidentally destroyed, should not be imprisoned to satisfy the decree of a court of equity for a like sum. In either case, the obligation upon the debtor, and the rights of the creditor, after the judgment at law, or the decree in equity, were the same, and the same means of enforcing these rights, and the performance of these duties, ought to be allowed in both. But, under this bill, a difference, said Mr. T. is created, for which I can see no good reason. Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, said, that he was called upon, in consequence of the objections made to the passage of the bill, by the two gentlemen, from Delaware and Virginia, to vindicate the measure under consideration. It had been said, that we had not brought forward any cases of hardship which proved the necessity of this measure. Is it necessary to detain the Senate with the search after, and the reading of the Jail records of the different states, or of the United States, to prove that he who has power in this respect will abuse it?— Human nature was too well known to require him to il. lustrate the principle, that equal and just laws were required to exercise the increase of inordinate passions.— The jail records of several states, at the last session, had been adduced and relied upon to prove the necessi. ty of this measure. The fact was established, and the fact can been established, that there are unreasonable and unjust creditors, as well as fraudulent debtors; the bill was intended to restrain the one and to detect.the other. The case of the debtor recorded in Holy writ, who was forgiven his whole debt, and the next moment put violent hands on his debtor, and cast him into prison, was recorded to illustrate the disposition of man, and to show what he has done and what he will always do, when vested with power. If the gentleman from Delaware had the patience of Job, that patience could be exhausted by a recital of cases in which the same cruel and unfeeling disposition was manifested, and by which the misery of thousands had been increased, without any corresponding benefit resulting from such a course. It has been said, likewise, that we had received no pe. titions from the people; that they appeared to be satisfied with the present system. . Mr. J. inquired, if, in the discharge of our various and important duties as members of this body, it was necessary to be stimulated and goaded on by petitions from our constituents? He thought not. He believed the people would think with him on that point. But, if we luok for the expression of public sentiment to respect it, he said, we have ample proof of the wishes of the people of the United States, on this interesting subject. At the last session, when a similar bill was adopted by this body, there was an expression of approbation from Maine to New-Orleans, from Boston to the Rocky Mountains, at least so far as we have an American population in that quarter. He would invite gentlemen to look at the public prints; and if that was any evidence of public feeling and pub. lic sentiment, and he believes' it was, there was some. thing like a universal approbation and congratulations throughout this vast republic at the mere prospect of passing such a measure. He invited gentlemen to look at the laws of Kentucky and North Carolina, which abofished imprisonment for debt. Were these communities less happy Were they in commotion because of such a measure ? He believed not, while thousands were saved from ruin by an unnecessary rigor in the collection of debts. He would venture to say, that, in those states, many sources of human misery had been dried up in consequence of it; and, the longer it existed, the more saered and revered would be its principles; the transactions of men would be based more upon honor and comnon honesty, than upon the right to pursue a fellow man like the tyger his prey.
to the communications of the Governors of Louisiana, South Carolina, the Society in Boston and New York, relative to this subject; and having looked at these expressions of public opinion, let gentlemen, opposed to this measure, console themselves that the 'voice of the eople has not called for it. The voice of the people is in its favor; and, sooner or later, he hoped that voice would be respected in every department of the government. The gentleman from Virginia had objected to the bill, because, in some cases at common law, the defend. ant might he held to bail, upon certain conditions; and, in the same class of cases, when pursued in chancery, the defendant could not be held to bail. Mr. J. said, he did not see any great force in the objection, because now the same practice universally existed, as he believed, in relation to proceedings at common law and in chancery. In many cases at common law, the party may be held to bail by the present system, yet, if he should be driven to chancery, he cannot hold the defendant to bail. If this was not the universal practice, he called on the distinguished member, who had acquired so much fame for his legal acquirements, to point out the state where a different practice prevailed, or where it prevailed in the United States’ courts. He believed no attempt would be made to correct his view of this subject. If he was correct, then it followed, as an inevitable conclusion, that the objection was common to the existing system of civil proceedings, as well as to this bill, and, therefore, was no objection at all. If a good objection, why did not the objector, in this case, attempt to amend and provide a remedy for the mischief? But no such attempt was made, and if made, he presumed, would not be sustained by either side of the Senate. Mr. J. called the attention of the Senate particularly to that part of the bill which preserved the writ of ne ereat, and authorized its use. It was a privilege given to a complainant in chancery to hold the defendant to bail, when he would make oath that he was about to leave the state in which he was sued, or upon stating the fact of his going beyond the jurisdiction of the court, by removing out of the United States. It is upon the very same principle that at common law we propose, by this bill, to hold the defendant to bail, and in no other case. Here, then, is that equality for which we contend. Mr. J. inquired of the Senate, if it was so that any measure of so much importance could ever pass without real objections 2 Those who contended for the abolition of imprisonment for debt, could not get as much as they wanted; those who opposed the principle, contended that we had gained too much. He did not doubt but what some real objections might be made to the bill, but he thought many more imaginary objections had been made than real ones. He inquired if there was a member of the body who would vote against a simple proposition to abolish imprisonment for debt? He pre: sumed none would give such a vote. Yet, when we had presented a system the most perfect that the wisdom of both parties could devise, could the members of this body vote against it, and return to their constituents, and say, although we approved the principle, yet we could not muster wisdom, knowledge, industry, and experience enough, to give this principle a living form, by passing a judicious law upon the subject.” He thought we could not say so, and satisfy our constituents. . Mr. VAN DYKE replied: It was not my intention, sir, said he, to enter at large into the discussion of the merits of this subject; nor shall I now do so; The few remarks which is submitted, were designed merely as an apology for requesting the Yeo and Nays on the final question, about to be taken. But, sir, it now becomes proper for me to say a few words in reply to the gentle; man from Kentucky. That gentleman, with his usual
Mr. J. called the attention of gentlemen to the propo- zeal, has argued as if the rejection of this bio by the Imprisonment for Debt.
sition, in Alabama, to abolish imprisonment for deht; VoI. I.-15
senate gave the creditor a power to imprison, at his will Senate.]
[JAN. 17, 1825.
and pleasure, an honest but unfortunate debtor. If that were the question, there would probably be no voice lifted up within these walls against the bill. No man would be more willing than myself to abolish imprisonment for debt, on such conditions, and under such provisions, as should oblige the debtor to make a full disclosure and surrender of his property for the use of his creditors. Such a provision prevails in most of the states, and relieves debtors under State Court process. Humanity would bind the creditor; honesty and justice would constrain the debtor to assent to this proposition. I am not one of those who would expect a poor man to pay his debts by going to prison; but I have seen enough of man to believe that, with many, who have the means, it requires something beyond persuasion to make them pay their debts. If, then, I am asked whether it is just that a creditor should confine the person of his debtor, who has committed no fraud, and is unable to pay I answer, No; such conduct would violate the common principles of humanity, and would justly fix a stigma on the character of him who should evince so merciless a disposition. But, if I am asked, whether, under the idea of relieving an honest debtor, I am willing to adopt this system, by which a creditor who has loaned his mo. ney to a dishonest man, who, disregarding his promise, refused to restore it, though he has ample means to repay—shall be embarrassed in prosecuting his claim—be put to unnecessary expense, and be involved in endless litigation with such debtor? I answer, No. Those moral rules and precepts to which allusion has just been made, have no application to such a case; nor would I lend to | such a debtor any facility to baffle his just creditor. But what does this bill require of every creditor against every debtor, before the debtor shall be put to the small inconvenience of giving ball, or, in plain language, entering into security, not for payment of the debt, but simply to appear and abide the judgment of the court – Read the first section—two oaths, in the first instance, must be taken by the creditor—first, he must swear to the amount of his debt; 2dly, that he has reason to believe the defendant intends to remove, &c. The first may generally be in the power of the plaintiff to do, satisfactorily; but the second is too indefinite, in my opinion, to be made the subject-matter of a solemn oath. Sir, I have a repugnance to the multiplication of oaths unnecessarily, in the administration of justice. They are traps for men's consciences, and have a tendency to lessen the reverence which ought every where to prevail, for that all-important and solemn obligation. What man, regarding his reputation, and possessing the delicate feelings of an honorable mind, would feel at liberty to take that oath, under the penalty which must immediately follow * Read the following lines: “on the return of the writ, the defendant may contest the allegations of the oath, in such form as the court may prescribe,” &c., The tables are now turned, and the plaintiff is immediately to be arraigned before the court by his debtor, for swearing to what the debtor says is untrue, and this issue is to be gravely tried before the court; and the plaintiff must then make out, by proof, that he had reason to believe, &c. If he fail to do so, the defendant triumphs in his discharge. Sir, it is mocking a creditor to invite him to enter the lists with a cunning, fraudulent debtor, on these terms. However strong the belief of the creditor, he would be unwilling to engage in such a contest; and the consequence would be, that the fraudulent debtor would escape from the suit without bail, and, at the end of it, laugh at the vexation of his creditor. This is the operation of a part of the machinery to be put in motion by the bill to abolish imprisonment for debt. Unless my optics deceive me, every part of the system will be found to operate against the just rights of creditors, and to involve them in litigation ‘and expense. Thus, by the fourth section, even after
judgment, if plaintiff shall make oath that he has ground
to believe defendant has fraudulently concealed his property, another denial by defendant produces another trial; and if plaintiff fails to prove the allegation to the satisfaction of the jury, he must pay costs. These remarks on two sections of the bill, will, I trust, illustrate the proposition which I advanced, that the bill is calculated to embarrass creditors unnecessarily, and to involve them in new scenes of litigation with their debtors; and subject creditors to expense and cost, unprecedented in any court of justice in this happy country. The objection stated by the honorable gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Tazewell,) appears not to have been fully understood by the gentleman from Kentucky, or, if understood by him, I think he has not given a satisfactory answer to it. The gentleman from Virginia has justly remarked, that many claims on contracts for money were of necessity to be prosecuted in a court of equity—but for which this bill makes no provision for bail or security for appearance in any stage of the proceeding, and yet takes away process against defendant’s person, after a final decree for payment of money, and thus leaves a creditor, suing in equity, without any means of compelling defendant to appear, or to pay the debt. This position is correct as the bill now stands, and, to remedy the evil, the complainant in equity must institute a new suit to obtain the writ ne eaceut. Here, again, is further evidence of vexation and expense to the creditor. The gentleman from Kentucky, instead of meeting this objection, says, that bail is not now required in a suit commenced in a court of equity. In this he is correct; the first process in such a court is a subpoena or summons to appear and answer; but, after final decree for payment of money, according to the British practice, which prevails in many of these states, the process issues first, in personam, by writ of attachment, for contempt, in not performing the decree; and when defendant is thus brought into court, the judge has it in his power to compel the defendant to do what, under circumstances, may appear reasonable, and agreeably to equity and good conscience. This attachment process is taken away by the second section of the bill, and it would seem incumbent on its friends to account satisfactorily for this incongruity in their system, and explain how a complainant in equity is to recover his just debt in those states where the existing course after decree is attachment for contempt, in not obeying the decree. Those views, sir, convince me that it will be unwise and inexpedient to disturb the relation between creditor and debtor, by such a system as that now proposed. A very short bill would, in my opinion, be sufficient to secure the personal liberty of honest debtors, who would surrender their property fairly to their creditors; such a bill I should cheerfully advocate: for that before you I cannot vote, with my present impressions of its injurious effects on society. The gentleman from Kentucky has boldly asked, whether, among the people at large there has been heard a dissenting voice since this measure was first moved in Congress 2 and whether all the newspapers have not advocated it in the strongest terms? I do not doubt that the public sentiment, if it could be obtained, would be in favor of discharging the honest debtor on the terms that I should propose. But I do not believe that one of a thousand of the people know any thing about the special provisions and complex machinery of this bill. As to the newspapers, sir, I shall never legislate at their bidding. I prize highly the liberty of the press ; its blessings are numerous and beyond calculation, and through the newspapers we derive many useful hints, and much valuable information upon all subjects; but I cannot take them as a standard for my judgment, standing as a Senator upon this floor. I concede, sir, to the honorable gentleman, that his side of this question, as inferred from the title of his bill, “to abolish imprisonment for debt,” may be the