« ForrigeFortsett »
ing that, if anything unpleasant should grow out of what had passed, he might himself be referred to-he had endeavored to bring up the whole of what had occurred to his recollection; he had also had some conversation with other members of the committee, but had no reference to the minutes. He felt assured that there had existed a misapprehension in the exposition of the language of the gentleman from Virginia.
[The remarks of Mr. FLOYD were made in so low a tone of voice, that our reporter lost much of what was said; but the above is believed to be the substance of them.]
Here the conversation ceased.
OCCUPATION OF N. W. COAST.
The engrossed bill “To provide for occupying the Columbia or Oregon River,” was read a third time. Mr. WHIPPLE, with a view to the amendment of the bill, by striking out the third section, moved to recommit it; and accompanied his motion by some remarks on the impolicy of attempting the establishment of a Custom House, and the organization of a Territory, on the coast of the Pacific. Mr. FLOYD made some explanations in reply, and concluded them by a request, that the gentleman from New Hampshire would oblige him by withdrawing his motion. Mr. WHIPPLE repeated some of his reasons against the third section, but would not refuse the request of the gentleman, and therefore withdrew his motion. But it was renewed by Mr. COOK, of Illinois, who wished to press upon the House the question whether the establishment of the contemplated post, taking formal and effectual possession of that region of country, would not be viewed by England as an infraction of the Treaty of Ghent, by which it was agreed, that, although the country on the Oregon should remain open to both nations during ten years, (four of which are yet to come,) the rights of neither to the soil should thereby be prejudiced. The establishment of a territory would, of course, lead to an extinguishment of the Indian title, and a permanent taking possession of the country for our own. This he feared, as leading us into difficulties. He thought it would be better to recommit the bill. Mr. Cook replied to the views yesterday expressed by the gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. Thimble,) in relation to the operation of the Treaty, into which he went at some length, in confirmation of the view he had above taken. The question on recommitment was then put, and decided in the negative. And the question then recurring on the final passage of the bill, it was determined in the affirmative—Ayes 113, Noes 57. So the bill was passen. Its title was altered, at the suggestion of Mr. FLOYD, by omitting the words “Columbia or” before the word Orcgon, and then the bill was sent to the Senate.
Hous E OF REPRESENTATIVES–Dec. 27, 1824.
Mr. ELLIS, of Penn. submitted the following:
Resolved, That the Committee on the District of Columbia be instructed to inquire into the condition of the Jails of Washington and Alexandria, and the expediency of directing any repairs or improvements on those buildings, or reformation in the present systems of conducting those institutions, And, also, that the Committee on the District of Columbia be instructed to inquire into the expediency of erecting a Penitentiary house for the Ixistrict of Columbia in the city of Washington.
In support of this motion, Mr. Ellis wished very brief. ly to explain the object of his resolution. He said that, in all well governed communities, the means of repressing and punishing crimes, had been a subject of the first importance in their legislation; that the modes of punishment and reformation of offenders against the
laws, had long been an object of great solicitude among the most enlightened men of Europe. This subject had drawn to its consideration the first taleuts of modern times—I say, said he, the first talents, because I speak of such men as Howard and Baccaria So early as 1785, the labors of these great men were directed to this subject, and the best results have followed their exertions. About the same time, the Legislature of his native state engaged in the reformation of the penal code of Pennsylvania. In 1794, the Penitentiary system was adopted there; this system is well known and duly appreciated, not only in Pennsylvania, but in Europe—for reference to the Lexislature of this state, on this interesting subject, has been frequently made with high approbation, by the most respectable European writers on the subect. J The experiment made in Pennsylvania has led to the melioration of punishments in New York, and many other of the states. He stated that he had visited the gaol of this city, and that, from the observations he had made, he was satisfied that legislative interference was necessary. And he was persuaded, if gentlemen would take similar means to acquire information on the subject that he had, they would not differ materially from him in their conclusions. In the system adopted here under the laws of Congress, the debtor and criminal, the accused and the convicted, are all placed upon the same footing. Punishment and security amount to the same thing. In the whole system there is nothing but simple force and confinement: reformation of the convict forms no part of the system adopted here. No labor of the prisoners— but all is actual force and confinement. The object of all penitentiary punishments, is, at least, two-fold—punishment and reformation. Here, it would seem that the laws direct themselves but to one of these views, namely, punishment. He thought that, in this place, the seat of Government of the United States, concentrating the experience and intelligence possessed in all parts of the Union, that the legislation on this subject ought not to be behind that of the several states. Ferhaps the peculiar population of the District required a revision of the present system. It is a rapidly increasing population, and a portion of it is frequently a transient and passing one ; thrown loose from those obligations which men feel to bind them in their original and primary associations. He thought the Penitentiary system, as opposed to that adopted here, required no defence. Yet, if it did, it is then susceptible of every defence. But he did not deem the present as a proper occasion on which to make it. He could not believe that the people of this District were satisfied with the present modes of punishments adopted here. It is a system unworthy the authority of Congress. Every humane and enlightened visiter, who comes to remark upon the character of this place, and to carry away a report and portraiture of the city and the administration of the government of the United States, would say that reformation was necessary. To obtain this reformation was the object of the resolution which he had submitted. The Resolve was then agreed to. NIAGARA SUFFERERS. On motion of Mr. TRACY, the House went into committee of the whole, Mr. CAMPBELL, of Ohio, in the chair, on the bill “further to amend the act authorizing the payment for property lost, captured, or destroyed by the enemy, while in the military service of the United States, and for other purposes. Mr. WILLIAMS, of North Carolina, rose in opposition to the bill. If the applicants on the present occa
sion did not succeed, it would not be for the want of the aid of the gentleman from New York, (Mr.Tracy,) who
Dec. 27, 1824.]
had exhibited great vigilance and untiring perseverance in behalf of the claimants. In the report upon the subject, which the gentleman had laid before the House, he had undertaken to present something like a history of the legislation of Congress on the subject, which, though sufficiently minute in its details, was very erroneous in its conclusions. The report, Mr. W. said, set out with a declaration, that the act of 1817 was intended to ertend the provisions of the act of 1816. If the gentle. man had attended a little more minutely to the facts in the case, he could not possibly have arrived at this conclusion. That act was intended to restrain those provisions, instead of extending them. Mr. W. here reviewed the history of the amendatory act. In the course of execution of the act of 1816, the President, conceiving too wide a construction of it had been given or meditated, suspended the execution of the law, and, by his message of December 6, 1816, recommended to Congress a revision of the law. That message was referred to the Committee of Claims, who, on the 16th of the same month, made a report, condemning the principle of several of those decisions, and recommending a change of the provisions of the law, so as to make their repeti. tion impracticable, which was accordingly done by an amendatoly act. It appeared, therefore, to have been the object of the President, and of the Committee, to restrain the commissioner in his decisions. The claims which had been passed, and the allowances which were considered objectionable, were those to Mr. Carroll and Mr. Ringgold; those which the commissioner intended to have allowed, had the law not been changed, were the very claims for which the bill now under consideration Proposed to provide. It was the apprehension of
the intention of the act of 1817, that no occupancy, except such as was permanent, should give a claim for indemnification. This, and this alone, was the just and the proper rule. Any rule that went beyond thisipoint, Mr.W. pronounced to be extravagant, unreasonable, and destructive to the interests of the country. The principle of the gentleman from New York is, that, though the house should have been occupied on the first day of the war and destroyed on the last, the Government is bound to indemnify the sufferer, because the war is its own act. Sir, I not only deny this position, but I greatly doubt if the Government is answerable in any case. I know that, on this point, writers on national law differ in their opinions. But I hold it to be the sentiment of the best of these writers, that Government is not liable for any destruction of property by an enemy. The gentleman says, that the citizens on an exposed frontier are, or ought to be, the objects of peculiar protection to their Government. I question this. Sir, is not every citizen under this Government free ? Does he not choose for himself the place of his abode * Does he not know that, on a maritime frontier, especially, he will enjoy advantages peculiar to that situation—advantages of marked—advantages of easy and cheap transportation, which the citizens in the interior cannot possess And does he not know, on the other hand, that in case of the recurrence of a state of war, the frontier will, of course, be most exposed to danger; and if, in his opinion, the advantages to be enjoyed do not fully compensate the danger to be incurred, is he obliged to go there 2 The citizen in the interior is forced to march many miles to defend him, and also has to pay taxes for the same ob
ject—and would we compel him, after the war is over,
the allowance of these very claims that induced the Pre- to pay all his losses too Sir, the Government of a counsident to suspend the execution of the act, and Congress try ought to be Just, not only before a war, but during to change its provisions. From the view which the gen- the war, and after the war. If the citizen in the interior tleman from New York had taken in his report, it would must pay what he on the frontier suffered by the war, appear that Congress, in the act of 1816, intended to why ought not the citizen on the frontier to pay him of
provide for the payment for those buildings which had said, the al
been occupied as barracks. But, Mr. W. lowance to Mr. Carroll, was upon the ground that his buildings had been occupied by troops, and so was that
the interior for his expenses in coming to aid him It is a bad rule that will not work both ways. The gentleman from New York well knows that citizens on the frontier have commonly an active part in occasioning
of Mr. Ringgold; and yet these were the very allow- the wars of a country, (especially wars on a commercial
ances which Congress disapproved, and passed the act of 1817 to prevent the recurrence of. If the intention of the act of 1816 had been to allow such claims, the commissioner did nothing wrong—made no mistake— and there was no necessity of passing the subsequent act of 1817. That act provided that, on all claims over two hundred dollars, the commissioner should be restrained from giving any final award, and should only report the facts, and his opinion, to Congress. But, if the commissioner had made no improper allowances, why did the second act curtail his power It was evident, that, in making the allowances he did, he had departed from a right construction of the act of 1816, and the act of 1817 was passed to remedy the error. But, whatever doubt there might be as to the true meaning of the law of 16, should the bill now reported by the gentleman pass, he would, “by one fell swoop,” (to quote the gentleman's own language as applied by him to the Treasury,) destroy them all. (Here Mr. W. quoted the bill.) Now, I put it to the candor of the gentleman, whether, supposing a house to have been occu. Pied for a day for some military use, at the opening of the war, and to have been burnt by the enemy on the last day of the war, Government was bound to pay the loss? No, surely. It was never the intention of Congress that an occupation merely accidental and contingent should bring a house or building under the provisions of the act. I know, indeed, said Mr. W. that the occupation in the case of Carroll's and Ringgold’s buildlogs, was but temporary, and yet they were allowed by
the Commissioner; but the Committee of Claims decided - - be his patriotism; but, if he knows he is to receive no in
*gainst the allowance, as being contrary to law. It was
question,) and yet he tells us that if you do not give them special protection, they will be in danger of making terms with the enemy. Sir, let them do it—and then let them see whether their Government will not know how to punish such behaviour They call on Government just as if they had had no hand or part in bringing on the war—as if it were the doing of the interior exclusively—yet we all know, and so do they, that the reversc is true. It is in the nature of things impracticable, that a government should pay for every loss its citizens may sustain by a state of warfare. All such as are merely incidental must be borne by the sufferers. And, as the Government is not bound in equity to repay losses of this kind, so neither is it a dictate of sound policy that they should do so. Once adopt this practice, and you render yourselves assailable at once. Especially if you have an extensive seaboard, and a maritime foe, you invite him to aggression; you make it his policy to depredate ; you give him the strongest temptation to transfer the war from your person to your property ; you take from war every thing of a brave and noble character, and make it a mere game of burning and pillage. Surely this one consideration is enough to warn us against sanctioning such a bill as is now before the committee. Refuse to pay such losses, and what will be the effect The effect will be that the frontier citizen will do his utmost to defend himself and his property. You call in the aid of two passions instead of one. If a man is sure of being repaid for the devastations of the enemy, his only motive to resist them will
demnity, he will fight not only from patriotism, but from self interest. The gentleman cannot be so unacquainted with the nature of the human mind, as not to perceive the effect of bringing in such a principle to aid the arm of the citizen soldier. I must now say a few words on the doctrine of retaliation. The gentleman seems to think that the burning of Newark, by the American troops under McClure, was a wanton and improper act; and, in his report at a former session, he charges it on our Government, and maintains that the enemy had a right to retaliate. Sir, I deny his position in toto; I say, and I hope to prove, first, that the destruction of Newark was not a wanton act; and, secondly, that the enemy had not the least right to retaliate it. If the gentleman had directed his views a little farther on this subject, he would have been able to perceive and to trace the same predatory spirit which led to the devastation of the Niagara frontier, prevailing through both our wars with England. In the war of the Revolution, as well as through all the stages of our late contest, they were actuated by the same temper towards us. [In support of this position, Mr. W. went into a series of quotations from the history of both wars, referred to the conduct of the British army under Cornwallis, and when led by the traitor Arnold --to the burning of Falmouth, the ravaging of New Jersey, and the cruelties on board the Jersey prison ship, in which eleven thousand men were said to have perished. He then proceeded to the conduct of Admiral Cockburn at Frenchtown, Havre de Grace, Georgetown, Fredericktown, and Hampton, interposing comments as he proceeded, and arguing, from the whole, the prevalence of a mean, dastardly, malignant spirit of revenge and personal cruelty J Now, (said Mr. W.) put it to the gentleman from New York to say, after all this series of conduct, from February to May, 1813, whether the destruction of one village, eight months afterwards, could be considered as a wanton act of aggression ? No, sir—no; if the American army, instead of burning the village of Newark, had laid waste with fire and sword the whole Canadian frontier, they would have inflicted an act of retaliation well merited by the barbarities perpetrated at Hampton alone. But was this an act of our government? The Government disavowed the act the moment they heard of it. Was this an act of wanton destruction done for its own sake, and a parallel to the British murders and ravishings in the Chesapeake It was a purely military movement, necessary to the destruction of Fort George: deliberate notice was sent to the inhabitants, and time allowed them to remove their persons and effects. As a pretended retaliation for such an act, the enemy landed on the 19th, burnt Lewistown, Youngstown, Manchester, and even the little village of the Tuscarora Indians. No notice was given—no time for removal of goods, or even for personal escape; and so far was the injury from being confined even to all these villages, that the whole country was fired and laid waste; they burned, they ravaged every object they could reach; but I cannot preserve a due command of my feelings when I reflect on those scenes. Sir, we find the same thing from '76 to 1815, the same conduct, the same spirit; and, with facts like these within their knowledge, the Committee of Claims did right in denying, as I now deny, all right on the part of the enemy, to waste that fiontier on the principle of lawful retaliation, and the consequent right of the claimants on that ground. The law says that, in order to indemnity, it must be shown that the occupation of the property for military purposes was the cause of its destruction. Now, sir, let me put a case. Suppose the enemy in the Potomac, within cannon shot of this city; and suppose one of the houses here was occupied as a barrack for troops, and in a bombardment of the city with red hotballs, that house should with others be destroyed, would the owners have a just
claim, under the law, to be repaid its value? No, sir, the
Government would be bound to no such thing. It was not the occupation of the house as a barrack that caused it to be destroyed—the enemy was not to know of such occupation; the house was destroyed with others not so occupied; it was a casualty, and the sufferer must bear his loss. But the gentleman insists that if the Government is not bound to pay for such losses, we cannot claim to be independent. Sir, I have read to you, from the page of impartial history, some of the acts of pillage and cruelty perpetrated by the enemy in our Revolutionary war; were these losses over paid No, sir, the old Congress denied the right of the sufferers to indemnity, and invariably refused to grant any compensation whatever. Was our country, therefore, not independent Yet the gentleman says we must either pay such losses ourselves, or compel the enemy to pay them, or we are not independent. Sir, we suffered much under the British Orders in Council. Was compensation allowed in the treaty of Ghent 2 We suffered sorely under the Berlin and Milan decrees. Has compensation ever, to this day, been allowed for those losses 2 No, sir; and it is very questionable if the nation will go to war to obtain it. Will the gentleman, therefore, maintain that these States are not, at this day, independent? Sir, the thing is not done by any government, nor can the argument be sustained by an appeal to facts. The true rule is, that Government is bound to obtain such allowance, and to make such compensation, if it can be done conveniently. But would the gentleman say that, in order to get the allowance of one million, the whole nation must be plunged into war, at an expense of one hundred millions In such cases, the demand becomes a question of policy. It was a maxim (attributed, I believe, to Mr. Adams) at one time, in the mouth of every American, “millions for defence, but not a cent for tribute.” There is something of honor in such questions. What was the language of President Madison to Cockburn, when he commenced his ravages * Did the President say to him, “Admiral Cockburn, pray forbear; forbear, if you please; if not, we must pay our citizens for the injuries you may inflict.” No, sir; he said, “Forbear; if not, we will retaliate.” This, sir, is the only note for such an ear as Cockburn's—the dread of retali. ation is the only consideration which can hold such an enemy in check. The gentleman relies much on the merits and sufferings of the inhabitants of the Niagarafrontier. Sir, I have much regard for those inhabitants, and, though they are personally unknown to me, I am inclined to believe much of the representations in their favor which have been given by the gentleman from New York; but still,
I feel great doubt whether they were sufferers to any
thing like the extent they would have us to suppose. I do know that many, who send us the most heart-rendin
accounts of their calamities, placed themselves volunta. rily on the frontier for certain commercial purposes, and I have been very credibly informed that that frontier,
generally, received more benefit than injury from being
to the extent it was the seat of war. Sir, those people, many of them, could well afford to have their houses burnt, if they received, at such a rate, the public mone
which was then concentrated, and expended with the
most lavish profusion on that frontier. But on the subject of retaliation, the gentlemen would have us rely on the testimony of a certain British captain of artillery drivers. This gentleman affirms that, in his hearing, General Drummond declared that it was “beneath the British government” to waste the border on a principle of retaliation. Very delicate, indeed 1– But let us hear another of these delicate gentlemen. What does Admiral Cockburn tell us? That it was on this very principle that he was ordered to waste and burn and ravage on the Chesapeake. Which shall we believe? Sur, i'll believe neither. What is this but to call a culprit into court to swear off his own accusa
tion * Sir, any British officer will tell us that his government is not to blame—is never in the wrong. We can appreciate, very highly, the delicacy of these gentle men, especially after the scenes at Hampton, in which they made so chaste and honorable a figure; and, no doubt, if charged with those very transactions, they would not only say they were clear of the perpetration of these enormities, but, as I believe, would swear to it. I will believe none of them. I have long been in the habit of supposing that actions spoke louder than words. I ask not, I care not, how a man preaches, unless I know how he acts also; and I do know that the actions of these men were cruel, dastardly, vindictive, and every way abominable. On these grounds, Mr. Speaker, I am decidedly of opinion that this bill ought not to pass. If it does, it will not only make a destruction of your Treasury, but it will be an act without a parallel in the history of le. gislation. I will venture to assert that such a law is not to be found within the lids of any code among civilized nations. The gentleman, indeed, says the Emperor of Russia has made a similar allowance to his citizens— subjects I would say—he has no citizens; but the case is widely different from that before us. The damage for which Alexander made allowance was made by his own authority—the burning was his own act. But that for which we are called to empty the Treasury is the act of an enemy. If, indeed, these losses had been oc. casioned by the act of an American force, acting under legitimate authority, I should say, under my present impressions, pay the demand. But the case is widely dif. ferent. I was always opposed to the act of 1816—but when it had passed and became a law, the Committee of Claims, so far from impeding its operation, honestly endeavored to carry it into effect, not viewing the claim of the sufferers as a right which the government had been forced to allow, but as a claim of suffering fellowmen to whom relief had been extended as an act of compassion and charity. I am sensible, sir, that I have detained the House too fong; but I thought it was due to the House, to the committee over which I preside, to the gentleman who advocates the bill, and to myself, to state with frankness my reasons for opposing it. Mr. CAMBRELENG, of New York, said, that, however widely the gentleman from North Carolina differed from him, as to the justice of these claims, he was glad to find there was no difference of opinion as to the atrocious character of the enemy's conduct during the late war. It was impossible to forget the horrors of Hampton and Havre de Grace—the Vandalism here; or the massacre of our countrymen on the Raisin. These were acknowledged to be contrary to the usages of civilized war; and retribution for these losses was due from the enemy, and not from our own government. But the case now before the committee was of another character—one, as he thought, strictly within the rule laid down by the gentleman from North Carolina; that wherever, by military occupation, the property had acquired a mihtary character, it was rendered liable to destruction by the enemy; such he considered to be peculiarly the case on the Niagara frontier. But, on this subject he would quote an authority which could not be objected to-I Mr. C. then read the evidence of General Porter to establish the military character of the frontier generally throughout the war; the houses upon it being almost without exception occupied for public stores, arsenals, barracks, quarters, &c.] There were other depositions, - Mr. C. said, all in accordance with this, which it was unnecessary to detain the House by referring to. If ever there was a case of military occupation, this appeared to be completely so. If a-government was, in any case, bound to indemnify its citizens for losses, this certainly was one. Mr. C said he should not contend that government was bound to Indemnify its citizens for the va
'ue of all the towns and villages falling within the track of an invading army, nor for all the losses incidental to war; but he should contend that, as far as the ability of the nation extends, it ought to indemnify its citizens for losses occasioned by military occupation; and he did not doubt the ability of this nation to pay all such losses. With regard to the qu stion of retaliation, he differed with the gentleman from North Carolina. He had never before heard that the burning of Newark was on our part a measure of retaliation. . He had always thought that, as the villages on each side of the frontier were occupied by the troops of both nations—and as they could not remain on this frontier during the winter without the use of these villages-they were throughout the war at all times liable to destruction on both sides, as they were absolutely necessary, both to us and to the enemy. It was, he presumed, for that reason these villages were destroyed. The enemy had no such justification for other atrocities. It was doing injustice to our country to attribute the burning of Newark to a motive of retaliation. Whatever might be the usages of European nations, as to making indemnity for losses, he could not think these rules applicable to our condition—they were better designed for nations surrounded by warlike and powerful neighbors, liable to continual invasions, rendering indemnity almost out of the question, if not impracticable. Our condition was different. In looking forward to future wars, he had no apprehensions of invasion, if the Government persisted in the policy it was now pursuing. Indeed, if the same policy had been pursued at an earlier period, our country never would have been invaded. He could not think that any alarming principle would be established by the bill. Our future wars—the theatre of our future wars, would be carried far beyond our boundaries—they must be upon the ocean. Our country will never be again invaded. The spirit of invasion, and the record of our disgrace, perished together in the flame of Orleans. Mr. c. hoped the House would now accord to the sufferers by the late war, that relief which had been so long deferred. For seven years these claimants had applied in vain for retribution. In 1817, when a question was debated whether a commission should be established to liquidate these claims, or whether the claimants should be compelled to come by petition before this House, a distinguished member remarked, that the right of petition (in relation to those claims at least,) had become a privilege of having the petition rejected. This opinion was very much objected to by may members, but seven years of vain application to this House must satisfy every one of the justice of his remark. The House had been told there were advantages enjoyed by those residing in the neighborhood of war, Mr. C. said he had yet to learn what advantages could counter: balance the oppressions and pollutions incident to war * what advantage could indemnify the inhabitants of the Niagara frontier, for suffering, throughout the war the apprehensions of invasion by Christian and Sayage—who were at last abandoned to their fate, and subjected, in mid-winter, to all the horrors of war?, I hope, said Mr. c. we shall now administer relief. We have the ability to do so—and the claims are unquestionably just . If the details of the bill go beyond the rule of justice, let it be amended. Mr. C. then moved that the committee rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again. the Committee accordingly rose, reported progress, and obtained leave to sit again.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES-Drc. 28, 1824. INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT. Mr. STEwART, of Pennsylvania, said, that, at the last session, he had submitted a proposition, which had for its object the creation of a permanent fund for the
purposes of internal lmprovement; but, owing to the
press of other important business, it was not then disposed of. He now rose to renew that proposition. When we advert, said Mr. S. to the flourishing condition of our national finances, as exhibited by the President, in his late message to the House: When we look to the rapid increase of our wealth and resources—the growth of our population—the increase of our internal trade and commerce, and the vast extention of our territory—it must be admitted, he thought, that the period had arrived when it would be proper to appropriate, at least, a part of the ample revenues of the country to its internal improvement—connecting the distant parts of this widely extended republic: uniting and binding them together by the strong ties of interest and intercourse. Such a system, whether regarded in a commercial, political, or military point of view, was equally important, and he believed its adoption was alike demanded by national feeling and national interest. He could not better illustrate the importance of this subject, than by adopting the language of the great Father of his country, WashingtoN, who, more than forty years ago, when recommending the adoption of measures to facilitate an intercourse between the eastern and western states, used this emphatic language: “In my judgment, this is the best, if not the only cement that can bind us to. gether for a great length of time, and we shall be defi. cient in foresight and wisdom if we neglect it. Our interest is so much in unison with this measure, that nothing but that short sighted and ill-timed parsimony, and contracted way of thinking, which intermingle so much in our public councils, can counteract it.” To these wise and patriotic sentiments, he thought every liberal and enlightened statesman would cheerfully and cordially respond. Mr. S. then offered the following resolution: Resolved, That the Committee on Roads and Canals be instructed to report a bill pledging the proceeds of the sales of the Public Lands and the dividends of the United States' Bank Stock, as a permanent fund for the purposes of internal improvement, to be distributed among the several States according to the ratio of representation, and expended on objects to be designated by Congress within or bordering on the States respectively. The said fund, with the interest thereon accruing, to be vested, annually, in United States' or other productive Stocks, until the same shall be required to carry into effect the objects of its appropriation. On motion, this resolution was ordered to lie on the table, and be printed.
Discriminating credits on Duties.
Mr. THIMBLE, of Kentucky, rose to offer a resolution, couched in the usual form of an inquiry. It was predicated upon two reports made by the Secretary of the Treasury to the House. He had two objects in view—first, to discriminate between importations made by citizens of the United States, and all others; and, second, to procure a repeal of such laws as allow credits for duties bonded upon merchandise imported by aliens, or on foreign account. The discrimination was desira. ble for the sake of the statistical fact, as well as for other purposes; and he saw no reason why we should allow alien importers to bond their duties, on long credits, without interest, when it was well known our native merchants were seriously injured by this extension of the credit system in favor of foreigners. In the printed document, No. 13, the Secretary says:
Whatever motives there may be for allowing a credit for duties to our own citizens, no sufficient reason is perceived for continuing it to foreigners, who are not domiciliated in the republic. A discrimination, in this respect, between citizens of the United States and others, would tend to confine the commerce of the nation to its own citizens, and would aid in restraining the practice of shipping merchandise to this country, upon con
signment, for foreign account, which has hitherto been found to interfere with the interests of our own regular merchants.” This opinion, from the head of the Treasury Department, would require nothing to enforce it; and whatever objections might exist against the total abolition of the credit system, there qught to be no opposition to the abolition of so much of it as applies to aliens. It would appear, he said, from the two reports alluded to, that the duties on credit, as bonded in 1823, amounted to twenty-three and one half millions, in round numbers, and that the interest thereon, at six per centum per annum, if allowed, would amount, in round numbers, to $1,150,000. The total amount of imposts bonded for payments on credit, from 1789 up to 1823, was stated at 527 millions; which, upon the ratio of interest for the year 1823, (as before stated,) would give a grand total of $26,000,000. But, as the merchants pay no interest on these bonds, it might be considered as a donation of that amount. He had been told by intelligent merchants, one of whom was a member, that it would be safe to rate the importations made by aliens, and on foreign account, at one fourth part of the total amount, and, of course, that the Treasury had, in effect, been making advances, year after year, to alien importers, which, in the aggregate, amounted to six millions of dollars; a sum nearly equal to the whole amount disbursed in the payment of Revolutionary pensions. And thus it appears, that a corps of foreigners have been quartered upon the Treasury as pensioners, under the name and character of alien importers, while our own people are idle for want of business. We can easily find two of our own men ready to do the work of one; and we must needs pension foreigners to help us, and aid them in superseding our own native merchants in our commercial operations, and then allow them to pocket their pensions, and carry off the profits of the trade. He hoped the House would see this matter in its proper light, and that the resolution which he was about to send to the Clerk's table, would be read and passed. Mr. T. then submitted the following resolve: Resolved, That the Committee of Ways and Means be instructed to inquire whether any, and, if any, what, provision ought to be made by law to discriminate between importations made by citizens of the United States and others, and whether it is or is not expedient to repeal all laws allowing credits for duties upon merchandise imported by aliens, or on foreign account. The resolve was agreed to. Mr. BRECK, of Penn. moved to take up the resolution offered by him some days since, en the subject of the claims of the Marquis de Maison Rouge, with a view to its modification. The motion was carried—ayes 74. noes 37. Mr. BRECK modified the resolution by striking out the last clause, which inquires respecting orders given by the Executive for the defence of certain suits by the Attorney General of the United States. The question recurring on the resolution thus modified, calling simply for copies of any letters which may have been addressed by the claimants to the Executive— Mr. BRENT, of Lou, objected to it, as calling on the President for a private letter. Mr. BRECK explained, and contended that the letter was strictly of a public nature. All he wished was to have an authenticated copy of it laid before the committee. A private copy lay in his own desk, but this could not be received as evidence by a committee of this House. Mr. COCKE objected to the resolution as unhecessary, as the paper might be authenticated in another way, without calling on the President on the occasion. Mr. HEMPHILL suggested, as an amendment, to add the clause, “if, in his opinion, it shall not be improper to communicate the same " and in this form the resolution was adopted,