« ForrigeFortsett »
called the militia into the field, sir, as a direct consequence of your policy, was greatly increased; it was obviously the policy of Georgia, and her safety required that the war should be carried into the enemy’s country; but, when it was reasonable to expect that the President would authorize such necessary retaliatory measures, the Secretary of War, by letter of the 30th of May, 1793, before alluded to, informed the Governor of Georgia that, “from considerations of policy, at that critical period, relative to foreign powers, and the then pending treaty with the Northern Indians, it was deemed advisable to avoid, at that time, offensive expeditions into the Creek country.” If Georgia had been permitted to carry the war into the enemy's country, long ere the conclusion of that war those bold intruders would have been so severely chastised, as to have brought it to a speedy termination, and thereby have saved much expense and bloodshed, and given perfect security to the state. But the President exercised a controlling power, and your policy made it necessary that Georgia should bear the evils which resulted from a protraction of the war, and she submitted to the sacrifice. This submission courted that desolating tempest of savage depredation which laid waste the frontier settlements of Georgia. It, therefore, became imperiously the duty of the Governor of Georgia to continue the exercise of his constitutional powers in defence of that state. And now, when Georgia has submitted to the sacrifice, when she has shed her blood to subserve your policy, will you say that the militia, who were constitutionally in service—who were in service, in fact, under the control and direction of the President of the United States, and whose service your policy made absolutely indispensable, have no just claim upon you? It is impossible—you cannot By a letter addressed to a committee of this House in the year 180, Mr. Lincoln, then Attorney General of the United States, expressed an opinion that these claims were finally adjusted by the treaty of cession between Georgia and the United States; which opinion was founded upon a stipulation in that treaty, which bound the United States to pay to the state of Georgia one million two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, “as a consideration for the expenses incurred by that state (mark the expression') relative to the ceded territory;” for he viewed these militia claims as within the description of expenses referred to by that treaty. Yet he did not recollect, when acting as a commissioner on the part of the United States, on that occasion, whether the commissioners on the part of Georgia considered these claims as satisfied by the treaty; nor did he recollect what were the particular expenses referred to ; he could only state his impressions, which were, that these claims were finally adjusted by the treaty. Mr. Lincoln's construction and impressions were bottomed upon the erroneous supposition, that these claims originally formed a debt against the state of Georgia. Sir, Georgia never did acknowledge them as forming a debt against her, nor can any legislative act of the state be found which authorized the service; neither has Georgia ever, directly or indirectly, assumed to pay these claims. She always viewed them, and properly too, as originally forming a debt against the United States. In opposition to Mr. Lincoln's reasonings and mere impressions upon this subject, we have the solemn and positive declaration of two of the commissioners on the part of Georgia They say that “the militia services, which are the basis of the present application, were not at all contemplated as a part of the consideration referred to in the articles of cession.” Will you reject the evidence of the Georgia commissioners because of their supposed identity of interest with that state Why then admit the evidence of Mr. Lincoln, who stood in the same relation to the United States ? If you admit the evidence of Mr. Lincoln, you are bound to admit the evidence of the Georgia commissioners. If you admit the
evidence of Mr. Lincoln and the Georgia commissioners, you array the solemn and positive declaration of two highly respectable individuals against the reasonings and mere impressions of a single highly respectable person. Thus, admitting the evidence of each of those commissioners, the scale greatly preponderates in favor of the claimants, and the mind rests perfectly satisfied that these militia claims were not at all contemplated as a part of the consideration referred to in the treaty of cession. Is it asked, what then constituted the expenses referred to in the treaty of cession 2 If the fact is established, as I am sure it is, that these claims ought to have been paid by, and are now due from the United States, why ask such a question But, left a want of information upon this particular point should seem to furnish an objection to the admission of these claims, I will trouble the House with a very brief detail of some of the circumstances which induced perhaps the principal part of the expenses referred to. This, however, cannot be considered as important, because the expenses which grew out of the military arrangements made in defence of Georgia, were incurred by the United States; for, whether the Governor of Georgia, when arranging the detence of that state, acted under the authority and as the agent of the President, or as constitutional agent of the United States, the United States are bound to pay the expenses incurred, as, by the Constitution, the United States guaranties to each individual state protection against invasion. The expenses which were incurred by the military operations in defence of Georgia cannot, therefore, be viewed as within the des ription of expenses referred to in the treaty of cession, because they were not incurred by that state. This, however, is attempting to discuss again a point which is already too clear to admit of elucidation. In giving the promised detail, a critical statement of the items to the precise amount, will not, I presume, be expected at this time, under existing circumstances. In the year 1787, the Legislature of Georgia passed an act, directing the enlistment of fifteen hundred men, to be formed into two regiments, and authorized the Governor and Council of that state to raise two other regiments, to consist of s ven hundred and fifty volunteers each; the whole were to be officered and supplied in conformity to the requisitions of the act. 1 his act was to continue in force until peace with the Indians, who were then in hostile attitude, should be concluded and ratified by the Legislature. (I presume it is scarcely necessary to remini the House that this was prior to the adoption of the federal constitution by Georgia.) The troops brought into ser. vice by the operations of that act, received, individually, from the state of Georgia, in addition to their regular pay and supplies, as compensation for their service, large bounties of land within the present limits of that state. (See act of the 31st October, 1787, Laws of Georgia.) The pay and rations allowed to those troops was the same as allowed to the militia of the United States, when in actual service (See ac' of the 24th of December, 1789, Laws of Georgia.) By a rough estimate, I make this item, (supposing those troops to have served six months,) amount to the sum of $192,636 00 Which I have no doubt is far short of the proper amount.
The aggregate number of acres of land allotted to those troops is 1,981,240; this, estimated at half a crown an acre, which was the commutation price paid by Georgia to the claimants, produces the sum of 1,050,057 20
The sum of £3,000 was appropriated by the Legislature of Georgia for the purpose of clothing the troops, (see act of the 1st of February, 1788, Laws of Georgia,)
By two several acts of the Legislature of Georgia, the first passed on the 8th of De
Dec. 29, 1824.]
tember, 1793, and the second on the 22d of February, 1796, the sum of was appropriated for the purpose of extinguishing the Indian title to the territory within the limits of Georgia. Besides this, the state had been obliged to hold frequent treaties with the Indians, commencing in the year 1773, for the purpose of restoring and preserving peace, and fixing on temporary boundary lines. On the subject of Indian treaties, our own experience has been such as will enable us to form some tolerable timate of the immense expense the state of Georgia must have thus incurred: estimating the amount on this item, including presents to the Indians, with incidental expenses, it will be considered very moderate at $200,000 00
Making, in the aggregate, the sum of $1,491,187 20 These expenses come within the description of expenses referred to in the treaty of cession, because they were incurred by the state of Georgia; and these are the expenses referred to. We are informed by the report of the Secretary of War before alluded to, that, at the time when the service was performed, for which compensation is now asked, a hostile disposition pervaded the greater part of the Indian nations within the United States; that a serious war then existed between the Unied States and the numerous tribes of Indians in the country northwest of the Ohio, and that a predatory war was carried on between the territory southeast of the Ohio, (now the state of Tennessee,) and the Cherokee Nation of Indians, the expenses of which were principally defrayed by the United States. And that, at that time to, troops were kept in pay at the expense of the United States on the frontiers of South Carolina. Shall Georgia, alone, be considered as unworthy the notice and protection of the United States? Is she, alone, driven to the humiliating necessity of appealing, so repeatedly, on behalf of her citizens, to the justice, the magnanimity of the United States, and shall such appeal finally be in vain? or, do you conceive that the antiquity of these claims furnish an objection to their admission ? The neglect of the United States has made them stale. Will you reject the claims on the supposition that it is difficult, at this remote period, to investirite their merits clearly The evidence in support of the facts on which they are predicated, is strong and conclusive. But it will be said, perhaps, that many, anti, it may be, that most of the individual claimants are dead. Then, in the name of justice, I demand justice to their offspring. No, they are not all dead; many ove, the oppressed subjects of infirmity and extreme poverty. Too many live, witnesses of the injustice and ingratitude of that government, in defence of which they have so gallantly fought. But it may be that their claims are transferred to strangers. Would the existeace of such a fact discharge the United States from a strong moral and political obligation to pay these claims ? suresy not. Then why withhold, yet longer, from these claimants, what they had a right to receive at your hands, thirty years ago? How has Georgia deserved such treatment She has ever been devoted to the American Union, true to the American character: she tas gallantly defended the Union, long barred the approach of the infuriated savage to the interior states, while she received the death stroke of the Indian tomahawk in her own bosom. Her frontier has been deluged by the blood of her citizens, slaughtered in defending the United States: and still justice, sheer justice, is withheld from them. Once more she appeals, on behalf of her neglected, suffering citizens, to the just
feel humbled by the recollection, that it has been, heretofore, made to my country, repeatedly made, and made in vaun. In the name of the deceased soldier, I claim for the widow and orphan some small portion of the price of the blood of the husband and father. They are the children of sorrow and affliction—miserable subjects of squallid poverty—the destitute widows and orphans of deceased soldiers—even the decrepid soldier himself, who thus appealstoyour humanity, your sense of Justice. Then let not a cold, calculating, unfeeling policy dictate to you the rejection of so just a claim.
Mr. Dwight, of Massachusetts, denying all hostility to the claims of Georgia, which had just been so ably advocated by the member from that State, thought that it was nevertheless due to the gentleman from New York, (Mr. Taacy,) who was engaged in the discussion of a subject previously before the House, and which had, at his own motion, been suspended yesterday, to leave the subject of the Georgia claims until that discussion was finished—and, with this view, Mr. D. moved that the report of the Committee of Military Affairs, referred to in the gentleman's motion, be laid upon the table for the present.
Which motion was carried.
On motion of Mr. TitáCY, the House again resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the bill further to amend the act authorizing payment for property lost, captured, or destroyed by the enemy, in the late war with Great Britain, and for other purposes—Mr. CAMPBELL. of Ohio, in the Chair.
Mr. TRACY rose in reply to the speech of Mr. Bannoun, yesterday. He observed that it was not his intention to have entered further into the debate on this question, than he had already done on the present as well as at former sessions. He did hope that of those who theught with him on the subject of this bill, there would have been enough on every side to have sustained its cause. He was well aware that his situation, as the representative of the sufferers, detracted much from the weight of anything he could advance on the subject; but, as he found himself left alone to sustain this controversy, he could only regret that the task had fallen on one so very inadequate to do it justice.
Mr. T. then went into a consideration of the principles of national law, as they had been laid down by the gentleman from Virginia, with the most of whose positions he felt inclined to coincide. He did not think, he said, of maintaining that government was bound to pay for all losses suffered in a state of war—but only in the very case in which the gentleman from Virginia had admitted this obligation, viz: when the character of property was changed in consequence of military occupancy. He might, indeed, object to the gentleman's doctrines, that a government such as ours is not bound by the same rules as the ancient despotisms of Europe. But this was not necessary. He would meet the gentleman on his own ground. If Government changed the character of the property, and in consequence of this change, it was afterwards destroyed, the Government is bound to pay. On this ground he was willing to rest the claims of the Niagara sufferers. He here referred to the report of the committee printed at a former session on this subject, as containing evidence that the destruction was in consequence of the connection that government had with the property. He insisted that the sufferers were not bound to show that the destruction was on the allowed principles of civilized, warfare; and to sustain the title to indemnity by individuals who suffered loss, it was sufficient to show that it was caused by the public use of their property. He confessed himsel unable to discover, with any precision, what the
ore, the magnanimity of the American people; and in *aking this appeal, even I, (a very humble American,) Wol. I.-6
usages of civilized war were, as applied to this subject.
He understood the gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr.
ing to a certain extent. But, secondly, and principally,
whose crop had been slightly injured, would not call him a monster. The obligations of a Government were
of the same nature; and it was no reason why it should not relieve some of its citizens, whose sufferings had been the greatest, that it could not relieve all who had in any degree suffered. I hold, said Mr. T. that the imperfect obligation of which I have been speaking, is increased in proportion to the degree of connection of the property with the Government which induced the loss. Now, by referring to the history of the late war, every one will be convinced that, on the Niagara frontier, the connection of the country with the Government, by military occupation, existed to a far greater extent than on any other of the frontiers. The government, for its own purposes, having a general reference to the conducting of the war, concentrated in that district of country a large number of troops, whose presence and accommodation gave the whele frontier a military character. The gentleman from Virginia had said, that, if there existed no treaty stipulation respecting slaves, and the losers of them should come to Congress with a demand for indemnification, he should have opposed the deinand on the same ground that he opposed the present bill. Now, said Mr. T. I have to reply, first, that the case put by the gentleman does not arise, since there is a treaty stipulation with respect to slaves—(a stipulation by which I apprehend other claims to a great amount have been sacrificed)—but if it had arisen, the claim on this government for compensation for slaves carried off would be far from equal in strength to that of the Niagara sufferers for their buildings destroyed. A great difference exists as to the character of the property, the one being real, the other personal. An equally great difference respects the facility with which the two kinds of property might be protected. . There were other points in which they differed, which he would not stop to examine—but these were sufficient to show that the claim of those proposed to be benefited by the bill, was much stronger than that of persons who had lost their negroes. He presumed it was unnecessary for him to go into a long detail of facts to prove to the committee that the sufferings on the Niagara frontier had been of a most poignant, severe, and aggravated kind. Whoever had the least knowledge of the history of the war, could not entertain a doubt on that subject. So far as extent of human misery could go in giving validity to any claims, these were most abundantly established. The gentleman from North Carolina had, indeed, said, (he took no notes of his speech, but quoted from it as reported,) that he hod been credibly informed that that frontier had been, on the whole, rather benefitted than injured by being made, to the extent it was, the seat of war. Now, the gentleman might have been credibly so informed, but he could assure him not correctly. There could be na greater mistake than to say that that region had been benefitted by the war. If the gentleman gave the least credit to history, he could not but know that the reverse was true—that, instead of being benefitted, it had suf. fered the utmost injury and distress by the war. The gentleman had said, that great opportunities were enjoyed of making money there—that the highest prices were obtained for commodities, and large amounts of public money expended. He would not deny that, as to a certain portion of the country in the neighborhood of that which was the immediate scene of war, this, to a certain extent, might be true; but this fact, unhappily, increased instead of diminishing the suffering of these claimants. It was the highest aggravation of their sufferings. The highest prices were given for produce— but these persons were not agriculturists. Flour was, indeed, selling at forty dollars per barrel--but they raised none. Those of them who owned farms had their farms immediately on the border utterly wasted, All pursuits of agriculture were interrupted, and the dearer provisions were, the worse it was for them. They
had to buy--not to sell. There was, it is true, a great influx of public money---but they got little or none of it. The country farther back from the enemy might be enol-out they, instead of being enriched, were ruineti. But it had been objected, that it was not good policy to grant this indemnity: 1st, because it would diminish the ardor of our frontier citizens in defence of the country and of their own property. Mr. T. said, he would not insist that patriotism was a higher and a stronger motive than the love of property; but the very fact, that so many more persons presented claims on this Government, than ever got anything allowed them, was itself sufficient to prevent any thing like indifference or security. He fancied there were but few men on that frontier, or on any other, who would quietly suffer their houses to be burnt, that they might afterwards have an opportunity of coming to this House with a claim for indemnification. It had been urged, too, against the policy of the bill, that, if once its principle was allowed, the finances of the Government would be ruined. He saw no force in this argument. Should more resources be required from the nation for such an object, he believed that nobody would object more to paying for it, than to paying for the support of the army, the navy, or the fortifications. The same objections might be urged against the one as the other. The man in the interior might just as well say, I will not pay for the army; it is not needed; I will not pay for the navy—I have no concern in commerce; I will not pay for the fortifications— my farm is safe as to say, I will not pay for the losses on the frontier, because I do not live there. The right of remuneration was not, indeed, so completely recognized at present, as the demands of the army or navy; but were it once adopted as the settled policy, to pay for such losses, there would be no more difficulty in raising funds for this purpose than is now experienced for the army or navy. The argument, that payment for such losses would in. duce an enemy to make universal desolation of private property, in order to ruin the financial means of the Government, was equally unfounded. In addition to the fact, that the Government would make the indemnification after the war was closed, and when the revenue resources would justify, it might also be observed, that the motive which restrains an enemy from acts of wanton desolation, is not, that the loss by the citizen is not as distressing to the country as a loss by the Government, but the fear of retaliation, the abhorrence of the whole civilized world, and, he hoped, a proper sense of human rights, which civilization and christianity had produced, afforded the only protection against such outrages which a Government could rely upon. In lllustration that this principle of indemnification was not so altogether new as the gentleman had supposed, Mr. T. alluded to the fact, that the British Government had given to their Canadian subjects on the Niagara frontier, about $300,000, and had adopted other measures, by which a remuneration to the full extent of their losses was making. . He then proceeded to show why the claims of our citizens on this Government were much stronger than the Canadians were on theirs. In their case, there was no pretence of a perfect obligation; it was never pretended that the destruction of their pro. perty was occasioned by its occupation by the British ; they had spent millions to defend them, had not brought the war to their doors, and had ha no connexion with them, except for the purpose of defence. But, with our Government, the case was totally differ. ent. Is the obligation of this Government to our citizens, less, or its sympathies more cold, than the British Government, to its remote colonial subjects? Adverting to the debate of yesterday; Mr. T. quoted the observation of Mr. Bannoun, that if, by any act of the Government, individual property was withdrawn
from its pacific position, by the Government, or invested with a warlike character, the Government was bound to indemnify the owners for any loss they might sustain by that act. So far the gentleman from Virginia--- who had thus acknowledged, that if the pacific character, which personal and individual property has attached to it, is changed, there is created, on the part of the Government, a distinct obligation, which he called a perfect obligation—such a one as, between individuals under similar circumstances, could be enforced in a court of Justice. Now, I do firmly believe, said Mr. T. that the case of the Niagara claims is altogether sustainable upon this position of the gentleman from Virginia. That gentleman has come to the conclusion, indeed, that these claims do not come within his definition, but without any reference to the facts to see whether they do so or not. The proposition which I make is affirmative, that they do come within it, and I expected that the gentleman would have endeavored to show that they do not. But he did not do so. He seemed, after establishing his case of perfect right, to take it for granted that these cases had nothing to do with it, whereas, the circumstances of them do refer them to the very principle which the gentleman laid down. The true question for the House to determine, in regard to these claims, said Mr. T. is, was there any act of this Government, relating to the property destroyed, which induced a change of its pacific character, and clothed it with a warlike character, and did that change roduce its destruction ? If this change was thus ef}. it is a rule, prescribed by common sense and justice, admitted by the gentleman from Virginia himself, that the claimants ought to be indemnified. It is not for us to dive into the recesses of the human heart, to search for the motives which lead to that destruction of property. For, if there was a just cause for this destruction of property by the enemy, we ought not to advert to other transactions, in other times and places, to account for it. In regard to the general nature of the operations on the Niagara frontier, during the late war, Mr. T. proceeded to show, that they were such as to change the character of the whole of the property on that irontier, from a pacific to a belligerant character. The House ought to bear in mind always, that our military operations on that frontier were of an offensive character, because he thought that consideration placed these claims on ground to make the argument in their favor conclusive. Our troops were not carried there to protect the frontier from invasion by the enemy. That was not the purpose, nor the object of the collection of the troops there. If the Government had not, for its own purposes—wise ones, no doubt-chosen to make that border the theatre of war, there was no human probability that there would have arisen there any of the consequences which did actually occur. Of one fact in regard to this matter, there could be no doubt, namely, that the Government was, as a Government, totally destitute of any public property on that frontier. They had neither barracks, nor hospitals, nor arsenals, nor warehouses for the deposite of public property. Yet the Government chose to carry on offensive war from that frontier, by a continued series of invasions of the territory of the enemy. For all the purposes of hospitals, barracks to shelter the soldiers at all seasons of the year, depositories of public stores, &c. they had to rely on the É. of the inhabitants, which they made free and general use of. When these things were considered, Mr. T. said, that it would be discovered that the notoriety of this fact must have established, in the mind of the enemy, a positive
conviction, that the offensive movements on the part of our troops, were entirely dependent on the use of individual property, and that measures of defence against this warfare must include the destruction of that property. It was thus that the property on that frontier ac
quired a belligerant character. If the Government had had, as, in theory at least, it ought to have had, places for the protection of its property, and barracks to shelter its troops, whenever it carried on its military operations, and those places had been occupied, instead of the private buildings, by the troops and stores of the ar. my, then the destruction of the private buildings would have assumed a very different character. The policy of the Government, however, having made this ground the scene of war, without these ordinary appendages to a military frontier, the houses of individuals were made to serve the purposes of public buildings. What, Mr. T. asked, was the natural conclusion of the enemy from this state of things They reasoned to themselves, that, in destroying those buildings, thus used, they would not merely destitute that frontier, but protect their own territory. This was the unanswerable conclusion to which, upon the facts before them, military men would necessarily come. in this view of the subject, a character was given to the property thus occupied for offensive purposes, different from that which it would have borne, if occupied for defensive purposes only. If, for example, said Mr. T. the enemy had come to invade the city of New York, and we, for the defence of the city, had taken possession of private buildings, I should say that the right of the enemy to destroy those buildings would be very different from that which he held in regard to those buildings on the Niagara frontier, which our troops occupied for offensive purposes. M. T. here recurred to some of the testimony taken in regard to these claims, to shew that the facts existed in a degree even stronger than he had stated-exhibiting a state of things to Justify the destruction of property on the Niagara frontier not only for general causes, but for the particular cause of the justifiable presumption that the property occupied as barracks, &c. was the property of the United States, and the certaiuty that the property within those buildings, at least, was the property of the Government. Mr. T. here read extracts from the testimony of Gen. Porter, whose public reputation and standing in the country gave weight to whatever he said, to shew, that, so general was the occupation of private buildings by the authority of the United States, that he could not, upon reflection, recollect a single building on that frontier, fit for barracks, hospital, quarters, &c. which had not, at one period or other of the war, been principally or exclusively occupied for one or other of those purposes. There were many other witnesses to the same purpose, whom it would be impossible to discredit. Mr. T. particularly dwelt upon the fact disclosed by the testimony, that the people of Buffalo, through their committee of safety, had remonstrated with Gen. McClure in December, 1813, against his quartering troops in that village, expressly stating that, if he did so, they had reason to apprehend the destruction of their property as the consequence; to which General Mc, lure said, in reply, that he would pledge his honor that indemnity would be paid by the Government for any losses which might be sustained, &c. Mr. T. did not mean to attempt to sustain these claims on the ground of Gen. McClure's promise, but he quoted the fact to show conclusively, and to carry conviction to every mind, that there did exist a state of things there which left no doubt, either on the minds of the people or of our military commanders, that military occupation of the private property would, in all probability, subject it to destruction. Gen. McClure, whilst making the reply which any honorable man or patriot would do on such an occasion, insisted on taking possession of the buildings, which were, indeed, indispensable to the shelter of the force under his command. Not long after this, the enemy came. Mr. T. stated the circumstances of their coming, and the manner and time of their destroying the property. With regard to the motives of the enemy, gentlemen might