Dec. 21, 1824.]

Gratitude to Lafayette.


man himself, that there was no occasion at this time to re-commit the bill. The objection of his friend on his right (Mr. Macon) went to the root of the bill ; for, Mr. H. said, he understood that gentleman to say that, though an individual might have spent his substance in the service of his country, and put his hand into his pocket and paid out money for its use, that money should not be refunded to him by the government. H. I shall be able to shew that General Lafayette has done, and that the adoption of the measure now proposed will be not only an act of justice to him, but a duty which we owe to ourselves. Mr. H. said he held in his hands documents which he had not intended to submit to the Senate, because he had already submitted them very generally to the private inspection of the members; but, called upon, as he now was, he felt it to be his duty to present them publicly to the Senate. Mr. H. then submitted a statement, founded on a document which had been received from France by a member of the Senate, from which it appeared that, when General La. fayette embarked for America, in 1777, he possessed an income of 146,000 francs, about $28,700—an income, which, it is well known, had been reduced by his losses and sacrifices in the cause of liberty throughout the world, to a very small sum. It also appeared, from the same document, that, during six years, from 1777 to 1783, the General had expended in the American service, 700,000 francs, equal to 140,000 dollars. Mr. H. adverted to further sacrifices which the General had made in the cause of Liberty, as established by this document; but the only fact in it to which he wished particularly to draw the attention of the Senate, was, that he sacrificed, more than forty years ago, one hundred and forty thousand dollars of his private fortune in the service of this country. And how was this sacrifice made 2 Under what circumstances 2

Was he one of our own citizens—one of those whose

All this, said Mr.

his favor would far exceed the amount which by this bill it is proposed to appropriate. But this, Mr. H. said, was not the ground on which he was disposed to rest the measure. He would appeal to higher and more generous considerations. It is not that an account is to be settled, but a debt of gratitude is to be acknowledged —a debt which can never be discharged, Mr. H. stated that there was an incident in the life of Gen. Lafayette, which was explained by the documents which he held in his hand, and which presented his conduct in such a delightful point of view, that he could not refrain from bringing it to the view of the Senate, though he should not found upon it any claim for remuneration for the sacrifices which the General had incurred on the occasion alluded to. It would be recollected that, in March, 1803, Congress made a grant of 11,520 acres of land to Gen. Lafayette. In the year following, he was authorized to locate his warrant on any vacant land in the territory of Orleans; and, on the 7th April, 1806, his agent in this country did locate a tract of 1000 acres vacant land adjoining the city of New Orleans. On the 3d March, 1807, Congress, without adverting to this location in behalf of the General, and indeed, wholly unconscious of the fact that it had been made, granted to the Corporation of the city of New Orleans a space of six hundred yards around the fortifications of the city, including a valuable portion of the very land which had been previously entered by the General. He was immediately informed of the fact; it was stated to him that his right to this land was unquestionable, and Mr. H. held in his hand a statement made by an eminent law. yer and jurist, now a member of the other House, showing that a legal opinion was forwarded, assuring the General that, in a contest with the city of New Orleans, he must succeed. Another document, which Mr. HAy NE had obtained from a different source, stated that the valhad eyen then been discovered, and that

tle of the lan lives and fortunes were necessarily exposed during the $50,000 o: been obtained for the General's title

vicissitudes of a contest for the right of self-government * to it. A

what was the conduct of Lafayette, on be.

No, sir, said Mr. H. no such thing. If he had been a na-ing informed of these facts He promptly, and without Gratitude to Lafayette.

tive American, and had lost his whole estate by the war, he would have incurred a misfortune to which all his fellow citizens were liable in common with himself. But he was in the enjoyment of rank and fortune in his own country, cheered by the smiles of his Sovereign, and rich in the treasures of domestic joy. And yet he tore himself away from his country and his home, to fight the battles of freedom in a foreign land, and to make common cause with a people to whom he owed no duty—a people then engaged in a contest considered almost hopeless. Nor was he satisfied with the devotion of his personal services. He equipped and armed a regiment at his own proper charge, and came here with a vessel

freighted with arms and munitions of war, which he dis

tributed gratuitously among your people. And it is a matter of record on the pages of your history, that he put shoes on the feet of your bare-foot and suffering soldiery. For these services he asked no recompense— he received none. He spent his fortune for you ; he shed his blood for you; and without acquiring any thing but a claim upon your gratitude, he impoverished him. self. And what, in recompense, has this government done for him? It was not until the year 1794, that they gave to him the full pay, without interest, which he was entitled to have r ceived twelve or tourteen years before. Did they then attempt to remunerate him for the *ervice, other than military, which the gallant General had rendered to the country No, sir. But, if an Amer. can citizen had put his hand into his pocket, equipped a regiment for the service of his country, clothed its nakedness, and put shoes upon their bleeding feet, would he not have been entitled to compensation for such expenditure Sir, if we were to resort to a calculation of pounds, shillings, and pence; if we were to draw up an account current with Gen. 1.afayette the balance in

hesitation, communicated to his agent “that he would “not consent ever, to inquire into the validity of his ti“tle; that he could not think of entering into litigation “with any public body in the United States; that the “property had been gratuitously bestowed upon him by “the United States, and it was with them to say what

“had been given;” and he accompanied these declara

tions by a positive direction to his agent to relinquish his entry and to make a location elsewhere. This has been done, and the certificate from the Land Office proves, that the land substituted for that which has been lost, is of very inconsiderable value. General Lafayette, however, did not stop here. He had been induced to dispose of a part of his interest in this land, to an Irish baronet, Sir Josiah Coghill. His contract with this gentleman created, of course, much embarrassment to him; but the General only considered that it might also embarrass the Government of the United States. He made an appeal to that gentleman, who, with a liberality worthy of all praise, agreed to relinquish his claims to the land in question, and accepted a claim on other lands in satisfaction for them. Lafayette stopped not even here: he was not satisfied while any thing remained to be done. I have myself, said Mr. H. seen and examined on file, in the Land Office, this deed of relinquishment, deposited there by General, Lafayette, himself, to secure the government from all future difficulty. It only remains for me, said Mr. H. to add, that, on a portion of the land thus generously relinquished, now stands a valuable part of the city of New Orleans, valued by gentle. men well acquainted with it, (according to estimates now before him) at from four to five hundred thousand dollars.

It is 2erfectly immaterial, said Mr. H. to inquire, whether some legal difficulty might not have existed in establishing the General's title. Nothing but a judicial Senate.]

[Dec. 21, 1824.

investigation could have settled the rights of the parties; and, as the General has relinquished his claim, and has never, at any time, claimed indemnity, that investigation would now be useless. But, the point on which he delighted to dwell, was the magnanimity, the refinement of feeling, the noble delicacy of sentiment, which prompted the General at once to abandon his claims, to refuse even to inquire into them,and, wholly regardless of his own interests, to look only to the interests of our country. But there are still grounds almost as strong as its equity and justice, said Mr. H. upon which this claim may be placed. According even to precedent, if precedents were consulted in such a case, the government would be bound to recompense the services of Lafayette. Do gentlemen doubt upon this point, I could refer to numerous instances of legislation upon the same principles on which this bill depends. Mr. H. here referred to several: to the act making compensation for the “sacrifices and services” of Baron Steuben; to that which appropriates, in the language of this bill, “an entire township of land” for a recompense to Arnold Henry Dohrman, for similar services; to the act making provision for the daughters of Count De Grasse; and to that providing for the widow of Alexander Hamilton. But (Mr. H. said,) he would not rely upon precedent for a justification of this measure. When the government of a nation consults the dictates of justice, and obeys the impulse of noble sentiments, it does what contributes to the glory and interest of the people. Neither was there any danger to be apprehended on the score of precedent, from the passage of this bill. Can this bill, said he, ever be drawn into precedent? Can such a case as Lafayette's ever again occur Can the nation be born again Can it assume a second childhood Can it ever be reduced to a state of such poverty as to require similar services 2 And, if this nation could be... shorn of its power; be reduced to extreme distres a second struggle for its independence; and, in the of its fortunes should be anxiously looking for succor, fif-arms, in men, and in money : and, at such a crisis, a foreign nobleman, bound by no ties to us, should make a crusade in our behalf; embark himself and his fortunes in our cause ; pour forth his treasures, shed his blood in our defence; and, whilst the scale of our destiny is in equipoise, throw himself into the balance; would you consider the example which you will set by this bill, as one which you ought not, in such a case, to follow 2 No, sir: the case before us is one of its own kind; it can never happen again; and if it could, the possibility of such a recurrence ought to constitute no objection to the pro

had been introduced, partly from a hope that it might induce the settlement of the beloved family in our coun. try. It would be a rich provision for the grandchildren of Lafayette. It was thought, moreover, it would add to the grace of the measure. Without being over much disposed to consult the opinions of Europe, it was important, as to its aspect abroad, that Congress should act upon this subject not only liberally, but gracefully. A thing of this sort, he might be allowed to add, to be well done, should be promptly done, and with unanimity. He intreated of gentlemen, therefore, who were favorable to the principle of the bill, to yield | the objections which they might feel to any part of the details, assuring them that much pains had been taken to adapt them to the prevailing sentiment of the members. There is still another consideration, which had influence on the minds of the committee, and which Mr. HAYNE considered as not the least important connected with this subject. It is, that the provision to be made, should not only be worthy of the distinguished person for whom it is intended, but that it should be worthy of the character of the nation---worthy of the American people. National character is national wealth; it gives a tone to the public sentiment and feeling, which add strength and energy to the country. Mr. H, was certainly not disposed to look abroad for a rule of conduct. He would not consult the mistaken opinion of foreign nations, when we had any great duty to perform. And yet it was highly desirable that we should always so act as to command the respect of the world. Now, what would be thought of us in Europe, if, after all that has passed, we should fail to make a generous and liberal

provision for our venerable guest ? We have, under cir

cumstances calculated to give to the event great eclat, invited him to our shores. We have received him with

the utmost enthusiasm. The people have every where

greeted him in the warmest terms of gratitade and af. fection. The attention of the civilized world has been

drawn to the event, as one even of national importance.

It is unfortunately too well known that the object of our affectionate attachment has spent his fortune in the service of mankind, and that we ourselves have received a large portion of the wealth which he has never hesitated freely to surrender in the holy cause of freedom. Now what will be thought of us in Europe, and, what is much more important, how will we deserve to be thought of, if we send back our venerable guest without any more substantial proof of our gratitude, than vague expressions of regard? We will be accused (and he knew not how it could be said unjustly) of pretending to sentiments which we did not feel, and with paying substan

posed measure.

As to the objection which had been urged by the honorable gentleman from Ohio, on the details of the bill, Mr. H. would only observe, that it was impossible, in a measure of this nature, to meet the views of every gentleman. The committee had found that, while great unanimity prevailed among the members as to the thing to be done, much difference of opinion existed as to the best manner ofdoing it. He could only conjure gentlemen, therefore, who concurred in the principle, to come prepared to surrender their peculiar views in relation to the details. Some gentlemen prefer a grant of money; others stock; and others land. The committee had taken great pains to give to their propositions a form which should be, as far as possible, acceptable to all. Stock was preferred to money, because, while it was equal in value, and was always convertible into money, even at a premium, it would furnish a secure and certain income, which would render the veteran comfortable in the evening of his days, and smooth his path to the grave; and, being the last of our debts to be redeemed, would remain upon record as a standing monument of the gratitude of a free people. The donation of land

tial services with unmeaning professions of esteem. Iły bringing Lafayette to the United States, we place him in a new and extraordinary situation in society. We have connected him with our history. You have made him a spectacle for the warld to gaze on. He cannot go back to France and become the private citizen he was when he left it. You have, by the universal homage of your hearts and tongues, made his house a shrine, to which every pilgrim of liberty, from every quarter of the world, will repair. At least, let him not, after this, want the means of giving welcome to the America's who, whenever they visit the shores of France, will repair, in crowds, to his hos itable mansion, to testify their veneration to the illustrious compatriot of their fathers. Lafayette will be a connecting link between the old world and the new. By your voluntary act you have placed him in this cztraordinary situation ; and, if, after all that has been done and said, we permit him to return home, without passing the bill on your table, we must suffer a loss of reputation at home and abroad, which time cannot repair. Mr. Hayne concluded, by regretting that he had been compelled to say even thus much on the subject. He knew that in this House, as in the


Dec. 21, 1824.]

nation, there existed but one feeling of gratitude and affection for Lafayette. He knew that the bill would pass with more than usual unanimity, but he considered gentlemen, who had scruples on the score of precedent, or who objected to the details of the plan, as entitled to the explanations, which he had attempted to give, of the views and opinions of the committee. Mr. MACON rose to disclaim the belief that Gen. Lafayette had ever furnished any document, or made to any person any intimation whatever, on the subject of the measure now before the Senate As for himself, Mr. M. said, he wished it to be understood that, in opposing this bill, he discharged what was to him a painful duty. His objection was not to the details, but to the principle of the bill, and the arguments of the gentleman had not satisfied him that the objection was not well founded. Not that he had any doubt of the truth of the statements which had been made by the gentleman from South Carolina. With respect to Europe, Mr. M. said that he had no doubt that all the respect which had been shown to General Lafayette here, was unpleasant to the rulers of that country. On this side of the water, all were glad to see him; even the tories who were yet living would be glad to see him. Among a nation of strangers to his person, General Lafayette could go no where in this country without meeting with friends. No hand, in any part of this country, touches his but he may feel the heart’s blood beat in its fingers. Mr. M. said he should regret it, if the South, when he goes there, should be behind any other part of the Union in their demonstrations of regard for this distinguished man. He did not believe they would be. Wherever he moves, among the mountains, or on the plains, he receives a heartfelt welcome. This, Mr. M. said, would sufficiently satisfy Europe, if any doubt remained on that point, what is the opinion which this country entertains of the services of Lafayette. Mr. BROWN said, that, in the suggestion which he had made about the creation of the stock, &c. it had been no part of his intention to embarrass this bill. Being assured, by some of the Senators, for whose opinion he had very great deference, that the bill dil not interfere with the prerogatives of the House of Representatives, to allow of a direct vote on its merits, he withdrew the motion for its recommitment, The bill was then ordered to be engrossed for a third reading. Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, entirely according in the suggestion of the gentleman from South Carolina, that whatever was done on this subject, if done, ought to be done quickly, noved that the bill should have its third reading this day. The engrossed bill making provision for General Lafayette was accordingly read a third time: and the question being stated on its passage— Mr. NOBLE, of Indiana, professing a due sense of the merits and claims of General Lafayette, said, that, nevertheless, to a bill shaped as this was, he could not give his sanction. If, for opposing it, the nation, or his constituents, thought proper to condemn him, he was persectly willing to abide their verdict. To show that he was so, he asked for the yeas and nays on the question of the passage of this bill. The yeas and nays were ordered accordingly, and were taken as follows: YEAS.–Messrs. Barbour, Bouligny, Branch, Chandlor, Clayton, Dickerson, Eaton, Jackson, Johnson, of Ky. Johnston, of Lou, Kelly, King, of Alab. King, of N. Y. Knight, Lanman, Lloyd, of Mass. Lloyd, of Maryland, Edwards, Elliott, Findlay, Gaillard, Hayne, Holmes, of Maine, Holmes, of Miss. Lowrie, M'Lean, Mills, Palmer, Parrott, Seymour, Smith, Talbot, Taylor, Thomas, Van JBuren, Van Dyke, Williams.

Gratitude to Lafayette.

NAYS.–Messrs. Barton, Bell, Brown, Cobb, Macon, Noble, Ruggies.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

sent to the House of Re

So the bill was passed and presentatives for concurrence. Mr. BARBOUR submitted the following, which was taken up and agreed to. “Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to cause to be communicated to the Senate, such information as he may possess (and which may be safely communicated) relative to the piracies referred to in his Message, and the means heretofore adopted by the Executive for their suppression; and that the President be also requested to state the additional means necessary and expedient to be enstrusted to the Executive for the suppression of the same.” After consideration of Executive business, The Senate adjourned.

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES-same DAY. Mr. RANDOLPH, from the Committee on the Services and Sacrifices of General Lafayette, reported a bill “concerning General Lafayette;” which was twice read and made the order of the day for to-day. [This bill corresponds with the bill yesterday reported in the Semate on the same subject, except that, instead of 200,000 dollars in stock of the United States, it proposes to give him the same amount in money, with the addition proposed by the Senate's bill, of an entire township of land.] After some reports of committees were made, and the usual morning business disposed ofMr. RANDOLPH moved that the orders of the day be dispensed with, in order to take up the bill concerning General Lafayette. Mr. BEECHER hoped the House would not consent to do so—but, the question not admitting debate, it was put, and carried by a large maority.

accordingly went into committee of the ill, Mr. MARKLEY in the chair; and :en read,

LL, of Ohio, rose, and said, that it might teous in any gentleman to oppose the a bill having such an object as that now be

passag fore the committee; yet, under present circumstances, brought in as that bill had been, suddenly upon the House, and called, as gentlemen were, to act upon it, without the opportunity of consultation, or a moment's reflection, he felt it to be his duty to oppose its farther

progress. This might, perhaps, be considered as his reproach; but he felt it to be his duty, and he must fearlessly discharge it. He could have wished that the gentleman who introduced the bill had cultivated a little more of the virtue patience. He did expect that, in presenting such a bill to this House, the merits and claims of the individual for whose benefit it was intended would have been stated, and the reasons which had induced the committee to fix upon this amount of compensation would have been disclosed. He was far from being insensible to the merits of that distinguished individual; and if, upon a deliberate statement of all the facts of his case, he should be convinced that his claims, even to such a large amount of remuneration, , were founded in justice, he would go as far as any member of the House in allowing them, and in voting an appropriation. Whatever might be thought of his present, conduct, Mr. C. declared that he was neither insensible to the services of General Lafayette, nor ungrateful for them; but he disapproved of the manner in which the bill had been attempted to be hurried through the House; and, though he might not succeed in preventing its passage, he should certainly, in this public manner, enter, for one, his protest against it. Mr. GAZLAY, of Ohio, said, that he, too, felt, it to be his duty to protest, in common with his colleague, against the passage of the bill, at least in its prisent form. No member of that House could be ignorant of the mul

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

titude of claims which, for these ten years past, had been continually presented to its notice for pensions for revolutionary services. The soldier of the Revolution, and he would add the American soldier, had been again and again at their door, asking compensation for services and sacrifices in the cause of his country. Was it sufficient that he should merely mention his claim 2 No-he must state and explain the grounds on which it was founded. Was it enough that he should do this once No-he had to do it again and again—he must do it twenty times over—there was no eye to pity him, no hand to relieve him. After waiting on this House for years, he often had to go away at last without reward, because he could not explain and prove the precise amount and extent of his services. Now, sir, said Mr. G. what I would not give to the poorest American soldier, I would not give to a king upon his throne, should he askit of me. The gentlemen who have the charge of this bill have pursued the wrong course in thus hastening the measure. There was another course which would better serve their object—which would unite all hearts and all hands: let the case be soberly and candidly set before the House: let the facts be explained—give gentlemen time to reflect and to deliberate, and he did not doubt they would do what was right in this matter. But, to the bill as now pressed upon the House, he could by no means consent, and he should therefore move to postpone the further consideration of it till Monday next. The question being taken on the motion to postpone, was lost—ayes 75, noes 94. Mr. STERLING, of Connecticut, then moved to amend the bill by striking out the second section, (which grants a section of land,) but the motion was lost by a considerable majority, only fifty-eight members rising in its favor. Mr. VANCE, of Ohio, then moved to in the bill to $150,000: but this motion a still larger majority; when Mr. GAZLAY moved to reduce the a dollars, on which question he demanded Nays, which were ordered. Mr. TRACY, of New York, then rose, and observed, that it must now be evident to all, that there existed in the House a difference of opinion as to the form of the measure proposed by the bill. To the measure itself, he was persuaded, no gentleman on that floor was opposed, and he presumed that the friends of the bill, as reported, would not think, under such circumstances, of pressing the bill through the House while the minds of members were in a state so unprepared to act with unison upon the subject. He confessed, that to himself it had appeared somewhat extraordinary, that a measure of this kind had been introduced and pressed with so much precipitancy; For his own part, he would not say that he was either in favor of the bill or opposed to it in its present form. He had deputed to no committee the right of graduating his feelings on this subject, nor would this House submit to have the measure of its gratitude dictated to it by any committee. It must have time to think and to act for itself. Such time had not been given. He would not say the amount was too large—others might think it was, and others, again, might consider it too small: opportunity must be allowed to gentlemen to express their views. No committee could gauge in a moment the feelings and sentiments of the House on such a subject, and he was oppos. ed to such precipitate legislation. Our judgment, said he, is to be consulted as well as our feelings—and, hop. ing that the friends of the bill would themselves be sensible of the impropriety of attempting thus to hurry it through the House, he should move to lay the bill upon the table. The question was taken on Mr. TrAcy’s motion, which was carried in the affirmative—ayes 93, noes 84. so the bill was laid upon the table. " *


le surn d by

,000 and


On motion of Mr. FLOYD, of Virginia, the House went again into committee of the whole on the bill “for occupying the mouth of Columbia river,” Mr. A. STEVENSON in the chair. The amendment offered yesterday by Mr. POINSETT, to insert, after the clause which empowers the President “to erect a fort on the Oregon river, in the region of tide water,” the following, viz: “ or at such other point as, after an accurate survey of the coast and adjoining country, shall be found most advantageous for the establishment of a military post,” was again read, and adopted; when the committee rose, and reported the bill as amended. In the House, Mr. BUCHANAN moved to strike out the 4th section, which is as follows: “That the President be, and he is hereby, directed to open a port of entry within the said territory, whenever he shall deem the public good may require it, and shall appoint such officers as may be necessary for the same; after which, the revenue laws of the United States shall extend to, and be in full force in said territory;” to which, (though on all other grounds highly approving it,) he objected, as interfering with the treaty with Great Britain. By that treaty, a free and open trade is guarantied, in common, to both powers, for a certain term of years, which is diametrically in opposition to the establishment of a port of entry, and the consequent demand of duties from British traders to the Oregon. Mr. GAZLAY thought that, as the treaty was the supreme law of the land, the establishment of a port of entry would only cause duties to be collected from other powers, the treaty stipulation protecting the trade of Great Britain from those duties. Mr. FLOYD explained. The gentleman would perceive, if he looked once more at the section, that the establishment of a port of entry was only to take place, when the President shall “deem that the public good may require it.” It did not interfere with the enjoyment of an equal trade by both parties, during the period stipulated by the treaty, but was intended to put our citizens, as early as possible, on an advantageous footing for the prosecution of commercial enterprise. Mr. TAYLOR, of N. Y. then rose, and moved to amend the bill by striking out the whole of the 5th section, [which empowers the President to appoint a Governor, Judges, &c. for the territory, and defines their powers, emoluments, &c.] He approved of that part of the bill which provides for the establishment of a mili. tary post, but he thought that the erecting of a territo. rial government was matter of high legislation, which the House should not put out of their own hands, without special and urgent reason. He saw no such reason in this case. A territorial government would not be wanted on the river Oregon for many years to come, and would be attended, at present, only with unnecessary expense. Mr. SMYTH, of Virginia, addressed the chair, and said, that he had intended to offer some amendments to the bill, which, that his object might be understood, he would now read to the committee.[These were to strike out all the sections except the second and last, and to amend the second, so as to authorize the President to occupy “the territory of the United States on the Northwest coast of America,” without giving it a name as one of the territories of the United States.]. It might, he said; be expected that he should explain why it was, that he, though chairman of the committee on that part of the President's message which relates to this subject, had not convened the committee. He thought it due to his friend and colleague, (Mr. Floyd) who certainly would have been appointed chairman had he been present, who had, with so much industry and ability, inves

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

tigated the subject, that he should take the lead in bringing it before the House, and that it should be decided on his bill and report, already in possession of the House. I have, (said Mr. S.) some remarks to make which may be now properly made, on the motion to strike out the 5th section of the bill. My colleague has shown the expediency of establishing a military post; but I differ with the gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. Trimble) as to the expediency of establishing a post at the mouth of Columbia river. The surrender of the post at that place, to our agent, at the close of the war, could not affect the right of either nation. The surrender was made in compliance with a stipulation of the treaty of peace, that all places taken by either party during the war, should be given up; but it left the question of right to the territory undecided. Great Britain has, at this moment, a military post on the Columbia river, which, under the convention, I presume, she has a right to retain until the expiration of the ten years. he spot whereon a British post is now situated, is a very improper one to select for placing one of ours. I therefore approved of the amendment offered by the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Poinsett.) But the principal question to be now settled is, Sball the plan of my colleague, to establish a territorial government, be adopted? or, Shall we adopt the proposition of the President, to. establish a military post only 2 This question ought to depend on the answer to be given to another. Do we contemplate the eventual establishment of a state government on the Northwest coast of America This depends on another question of importance, and worthy of serious consideration, to wit: Where shall the western limits of the United States be fixed I do not mean the limits of their territory, or the extent of their power. We may have establishments on distant shores; but where shall the limits of the states, the members of this confederacy, be fixed The institutions of nations should be adapted to their extent, and other circumstances. The federative system offers advantages for governing well an extensive nation ; but there is some liniit, beyond which it should not be extended. It will not be contended, that this system of government is adapted to include the whole earth, nor the whole continent of America; perhaps not even the whole of North America. There was evidently a limit to it, in the very nature of things. The representatives of the states and people, under this system, must meet together once a year for the purpose of legislation; and the confederacy might be so extended that this would be impossible. All the institutions of this country depend on the will of the people, and cannot exist a moment but by the approbation of a majority Our system may be properly extended to include all who have a mutual interest in remaining united ; but no further. Beyond this there is no bond of union sufficiently strong to keep the confederacy together. He conceived that this principle of union from mutual interest, might bind together all those who inhabit the waters of the Mississippi; as their products would seek one sea port; and that country would be bound to the Atlantic states, by commercial interests, and especially for naval protection. But I apprehend, that if this union included Mexico, it would be dissolved by mutual consent to-morrow. There would be no tie of mutual interest to hold us together. The exact point to which the confederacy might be extended for the mutual advantage of all, it might be difficult to ascertain. "Perhaps we may safely include one or twe tiers of states beyond the Mississippi; but, in my judgment, we ought not to extend our federative system further; and I would particularly recommend it to the gentlemen who represent the Atlantic states to consider the possible effects of a furthe extension, when the Western states shall become filled with people. There is another consideration to he taken into view. We have a considerable Indian population, which it is

not intended to exterminate. . We have a large popula. tion of another description, which it is not inten'ed to exterminate. These, on failure of other plans, might be renoved to the country beyond the limits of the states, and let the population of the states be homogeneous. On the whole, I think that, if aline is drawn far enough beyond the Mississippi, to include two tiers of states, it might be wise and proper to declare it unchangeable. Those beyond this line might be in alliance with us, or under our protection, and live under governments of their own, suited to their circumstances, but form no part of our confederacy. The effect of a too rapid increase of states, and bringing too much land into mar. ket, is already severely felt by the old states on the sea board, which are perpetually drained of the flower of their population. That must continue to be so, and the evil will increase the further we extend our limits. It we open, on the western coast, a fertile country, offering temptations to emigrants from among us—it will carry off many of our enterprizing and valuable people; the country will rapidly increase in population, until it will drop off and become a separate nation. All that was asked for by the President, was the sanction of Congress to the establishment of a military post. He did not ask for an appropriation of money, and it was not important whether it was made or not. The measure recommended by the President would be a proper one—possession would strengthen our claim in our negotiations with foreign powers. In our arrangement with Russia, we gave up all claim to the country north of 54 degrees 40 minutes. Perhaps we might have justly claimed as far as the 58th degree north. We have suc. ceeded to the claim of Spain, who held by the right of first discovery. Humboldt, who, when at $1exico, investigated the subject, speaking of the voyage of discovery the Spanish navigator ('erez made in 1774, he says, “On the 9th of August they anchored, the first of all the European Mavigators, in Nootka road, which they called the port of San Lorenzo, and which the illustrious Cook, four years afterwards, called King George's Sound.” He also tells us, that, in the following year, 1775, the Spanish navigator, Guadra, discovered the mouth of the Columbia river, and Mount Edgecumbe; and he adds, “I possess two very curious small maps, engraved in 1788, in the city of Mexico, which give the bearings of the coast from the 17th to the 58th degree of latitude, as they were discovered in the expedition of Guadra.” Sir, (said Mr. S.) let the post which we establish, be purely military; a navy yard might constitute a part of the establishment. So far I deem it wise and fit to go; but let not our citizens be invited to that country by grants of land, or the expectation of a state govern. ment being cstablished there. The question was then taken on striking out the fifth section of the bill, and carried. The question then recurring on the amendment offered by Mr. A. SMY THMr. FLOYD rose in reply to the remarks of that gentleman. He recapitulated some of the reasons before urged by him, against placing the numerous and mixed population on the Oregon river, under the control of a military commander. He appealed to the gentleman himself, (one of the most uniform republicans this country had ever seen,) whether it was possible that so many ships, with their crews, stopping, and refitting, &c. at the post to be established, involving the interest of a property afloat of ten millions, a mass of 1,600 or 2,000 traders, farmers, and fishermen, would, with propriety, be placed under the despotism of a military law He had all due confidence in the officers of our army; but he knew it was so easy to feel power and forget right, that he did not like to confide too much to them. So difficult was it for citizens to conform themselves to army regulations, &c. no American would submit long to be put under martial law. As to the danger of erecting

« ForrigeFortsett »