MARCH, 1796.]
Impressment of American Seamen.

[H. OP R. solution, he said, went to two objects: the first, tresses of sailors, he could see no reason for apthat of inquiry into the state of American sea pointing agents. Nor was he prepared to go into men, might be attained by an agent appointed by the question, until he was conscious there had the PRESIDENT; but so far as relates to obtaining been remissness in the Executive. relief, it is necessary for the Legislature to appoint Mr. Williams observed, that he was opposed an agent. To show that this distinction was a to the amendment, because it would not, in his good one, he said, there was now a proposition opinion, extend to the relief intended. But he made either to the House, or to the Committee did not suppose the Executive had been remiss in of Ways and Means, for the appointment of an duty, or any officer in the Government; or that official agent to go to Holland. This shows the the Minister in a late negotiation did not exert opinion of the Executive on the subject. Unless, himself to prevent the abuses complained of; but therefore, it was meant to prosecute the proposed finding every measure heretofore adopted inefinquiry by means of the Consuls, the amendment fectual, ought they not to point out some other must be rejected. It was not necessary to desig- mode? Whilst the evil exists

, let not, said he, nate the residence of agents ; indeed, it appeared our fellow-citizens languish under British cruelty matter of doubt whether they had power to ap- and oppression. The resolution, as reported in point an agent to reside in the British Colonies in its present state, contemplates the appointment of the West Indies. He should wish the terms to agents to reside in the most proper places, to rebe general, leaving the particular places of resi- ceive information, and pursue such measures as dence to be fixed upon afterwards. He wished, prudence shall- dictate. This method, said he, therefore, the words for appointing agents to be will be a guide to the President; and the will retained.

of the Legislature will be carried into execution ; Mr. Sedgwick said, he was yesterday prevented but if the amendment prevails, it will then leave from attending the House by indisposition. The the resolution upon such general principles as to subject struck his mind, he said, in several points afford no specific direction; will add nothing to of view which had not been noticed. He was the authorities which the PRESIDENT now possurprised why the business was undertaken in the sesses, nor give any new direction, and will way it was. No description of men, he said, were therefore leave the business exactly where it was more entitled to regard than seamen; but this did found. not reconcile the adoption of the subject in the Mr. S. Smith should not have risen again, had manner proposed. The Executive, he was of it not been for what had fallen from a member opinion, would consider itself as charged with from Massachusetts. That gentleman said we this business. An agent who is neither Consul had Consuls everywhere; but he believed they nor Minister, is an instrument unknown, an unde- had Consuls scarcely anywhere. He answered fined character-a character that would not be what had fallen from a member from Massachurecognised. It was impossible, he said, for any setts respecting the inquiry at the office of the two agents, one in Great Britain and the other in Secretary of State; members in that House, he the West Indies, to gain information of the suf- said, too frequently bottomed their arguments on ferings of seamen in different parts of the two the credit of the PRESIDENT; he believed no man countries

, particularly in Great Britain. He called had a higher value for him than he had ; but it upon gentlemen to say whether they had ever was enough for him that the unfortunate men heard of such a character as they were proposing whose cases they were considering needed relief, to create ? He said America had 'Consuls in every to join in bringing forward the present subject; part of the world; and if they have not, they por, in doing this, did he mean to reflect on the ought to have salaries for the business. Why Executive. He touched upon several arguments appoint agents, and what authority will they have? which he used yesterday, and concluded, by eitWere there, Mr. S. asked, any information before ing a number of hardships experienced by Ames the House of remissness of duty in the Execu- rican seamen from the cruelty of the British. tive? He was of opinion all due care had been Mr. Gilbert wished not to precipitate this mattaken for the protection and security of citizens ter until the necessary information could be got of the description alluded to. Had no inquiry from the Secretary of State. He wished the Combeen made of the Secretary of State on the submittee to rise. ject? It was well known that neutral nations Mr. Sedgwick explained, and mentioned five will always be exposed to injury whilst war ex- Consuls in England. isted. Insolence of office, he said, would serve to

Mr.SWANWICK explained the nature of the Conwiden breaches of this sort, and American citi-sular character, and said, though there were five zens speaking the same language with the Eng- in England, there were none at the sea ports lish, were more than others liable to injuries. where the British ships of war principally lay, Mr. S. noticed the different kinds of American viz: Portsmouth, Chatham, Sheerness, &c., nor citizens, and of the difficulties arising from the any in Scotland or Ireland. In the West Indies doctrine of inalienable right, supported by the there was no Consul; and it was necessary to English; and observed that when two countries have attention paid to Halifax and Bermuda, each claim a right to a man, no means but force where many American seamen lie. The expense was left to decide between them. He concluded, in effecting this business, he said, would be conby observing that whilst this country had Considerable ; but this was no objection; it was a suls whose business it was to attend to the disa measure necessary to preserve to the country the

H. OPR.]

Impressment of American Seamen.

[MARCH, 1796.

lives and usefulness of a valuable body of men. tions with respect to the propriety of two or three Mr. S. next alluded to what had been said about different amendments, it was agreed to, with an the proposed agents being of a nondescript cha- amendment, proposed by Mr. SWANWICK, to strike racter, and believed the British would treat them out the words " West Indies," in order that Haliwith as much respect as any other officer of the fax and Bermuda might not be excluded. American Government. No reflection was meant The report, thus amended, is in the following by this view of it to be thrown upon any body: words: they sat there, he said, as legislators, and when Resolved, That provision ought to be made for the they talked about hurting the feelings of such support of two or more agents, to be appointed by the and such officers, he thought they were misspend-President of the United States, by and with the advice ing their time. The present measures, Mr. S. said, and consent of the Senate; the one of which agents were not only caleulated to produce relief for shall reside in the Kingdom of Great Britain, and the present sufferers, but prevention from future evils, others at such places as the President shall direct ; by giving certificates to every citizen seaman whose duty it shall be to inquire into the situation of and he hoped this would induce merchants to such American citizens as shall have been, or hereafter take apprentices to the sea-faring business; and may be, impressed or detained on board of any foreign by that means build up a valuable body of sea- vessel ; to endeavor, by all legal means, to obtain their men, which will be of greater wealth to the coun- release, and to render an account of all foreign impresstry than the mines of Mexico or Peru. He con-ments of American citizens to the Government of the

United States. cluded, by supporting the original resolution, and against the amendment.

Resolved, That proper offices ought to be provided, Mr. Gilbert explained.

where every seaman, being a citizen of the United States Mr. Hillhouse believed the great diversity of naturalization, or residence within the United States,

(on producing evidence, duly authenticated, of his birth, opinion on the subject before the House, arose and under their protection, on the third day of Septemfrom a wish to determine upon the best possible ber, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three) may way of serving the class of men who were the have such evidence registered, and may receive a certifiobject of their present inquiry. It has been said cate of his citizenship.” that America had only five Consuls in England, but surely these five Consuls would be better able suant to the said resolutions; and that Mr. Liv

Ordered, That a bill or bills be brought in, purto do the business in question than one solitary Ingston, Mr. Bourne, Mr. Swanwick, Mr. S. agent. He thought a Consul General might be Smith, and Mr. W. Smith, do prepare and bring appointed, who should have the power to call in the same. upon all other Consuls for assistance to carry into effect the business upon which he was commissioned.

WEDNESDAY, March 2. Mr. Jeremiah Smith proposed to combine the two places of agents and Consuls together. by A bill for making a partial appropriation for leaving it optional with the President, which the Military Establishment for the year 1796, was plan he thought best in each particular case.

read a first and second time, and committed to a Mr. Madison again urged the propriety of Committee of the Whole to-morrow. adopting the plan of agents, in preference to Con

It was moved that the consideration of the Land suls, and showed that in adopting this plan, they Office bill, which was the order of the day, should could not be considered as wanting in respect to be laid aside, to take up the consideration of the the Executive, since they would be doing no more subject of the Naval Equipment; but after some than their duty.

observations for and against the postponement, the The question being called for, the amendment sense of the House was taken, when there appearwas lost-being 33 for it, and 52 against it.

ed for it 27, against it 41. The original resolution was then carried, after Mr. BOURNE wished a Letter that had been striking out the words "such part of."

mentioned to have been received from the War The second clause being read, Mr. Goodhue Office might be read. It was produced and read and Mr. JEREMIAH Smith remarked upon the diffi- accordingly. It contained an account of the maculties which would attend the registering of sea- terials wanted, the money expended, and what men. They were replied to by Mr. LIVINGSTON, would yet be required to complete the building of who was of opinion it was perfectly practicable the frigates. Referred to the Committee on the In speaking of the different kinds of American Naval Equipment. citizens, Mr. L. spoke of those who were natives

Mr. Livingston said, that it was generally unof other countries, but who had sought an asylum derstood that soale important Constitutional quesunder the American Government, and quoted a tions would be discussed when the Treaty lately great number of ancient and modern authors, and concluded between this country and Great Britain even some English acts of Parliament, to prove should come under consideration ; it was very that “ man has an inherent right to go into what- desirable, therefore, that every document which ever country he pleases, and by residing there, and might tend to throw light on the subject should conforming to its laws, become a citizen thereof." be before the House. For this purpose, he would

After which, the report was agreed to, and the move the following resolution : Committee rose. It then underwent a consider " Resolved, That the President of the United States ation in the House, and after a number of observa-l be requested to lay before this House a copy of the in

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March, 1796.] Indian Trading Houses---Northwestern Land Offices.

[H. op R. structions given to the Minister of the United States posed to carry into effect the bill in question who negotiated the Treaty with Great Britain, commu- should be given up to the sole direction of the nicated by his Message on the first instant, together President, or whether that House would direct with the correspondence and other documents relative how it was to be disposed of. It was the first time, to the said Treaty."

he said, that a proposition had been made that the Ordered to lie on the table.

PRESIDENT should be allowed to give salaries ad INDIAN TRADING HOUSES.

libitum. The bill provided that six thousand dol

lars should be paid for salaries, but it would be Mr. Parker moved that the unfinished business very improper that the whole sum for carrying might be postponed, to take up the consideration the act into effect should be put in the power of of the report of the select committee to whom the Executive. He said he had never any sanwas referred the amendments of the Senate to the guine expectations from this bill, but had no obbill for establishing trading houses with the Indian jection to the experiment being tried. tribes. The House agreeing to this question, the Mr. JEREMIAH Smith believed it was right to report and amendments were read, when limit the power of carrying into effect this bill,

Mr. PARKER, one of the committee, gave the but thought six thousand dollars too small a sunr reasons which induced them to recommend to the to be allowed for agency. He said it was conHouse to disagree to the amendments of the Setemplated to have six trading houses, and it would nate. He said they went to alter the principle of be necessary that each should have a clerk, who the bill. The bill took precautions to prevent would expect five hundred dollars, so that there Government from suffering loss, but one of the would remain only three thousand dollars for the proposed amendments puts it in the power of the six agents. He supposed an alteration would PRESIDENT to alter the price of merchandise, as he therefore be necessary in the sum. As a confermay think proper. The bill fixed the sum of six ence would most likely take place between the thousand dollars for the payment of six agents, two Houses, he thought it best to disagree to the which was thought both by the late and present amendment, in order that the clause might be difSecretary at War to be sufficient; but the Senate ferently modified. has struck out the clause, and left it to the PRESI Mr. Hillhouse again spoke in favor of the DENT to appoint as many agents and to pay them President's appointing the agents, in order that what sum he pleases. The bill has directed that he might employ them in other business, and by offenders against the act shall be tried and punish- that means save an expense to the public. ed in the vicinity where they live; but the Se Mr. MILLEDGE was of opinion that the agents, nate propose that offenders shall be taken and tried appointed under this act, should be confined to the anywhere. It may be said that offences against business of it alone. this act would be of the same nature as a debt; Mr. Dearborn said it would require a very difbut, he said, to be so tried, would take away the ferent person to be employed in a trading house great privilege of the Habeas Corpus act; that it from those employed in distributing articles to the was one of the grievances complained of when Indians, the act for authorizing which he believed this country was under British Government, that expired this session. He thought the sum would they were removed into that country to be tried. be fixed for salaries; but he thought six thousand The principle of these amendments, he said. dollars far too little, and he believed it should be amounted to this, that the PRESIDENT should sell twelve thousand, goods at what price he pleased, give what salary The motion being put, on agreeing to the rehe chose to agents, and try offenders against the port of the committee to reject the first amendact where he thought proper.

ment, it was carried. The other amendments Mr. Sedgwick hoped the amendments would were severally put, and, after a few remarks, four be considered separately.

of them were agreed to, and four rejected; and The first amendment being read, respecting the the Clerk was directed to acquaint the Senate appointment of agents.

therewith. Mr. HillHOUSE hoped the House would agree to the amendment. He saw no inconvenience in

LAND OFFICES N. W. OF THE OHIO. leaving it to the PRESIDENT to appoint agents and The House resolved itself into a Committee of fix their salaries, as they might be employed in the Whole, on the bill for establishing Land Offother business, which, at present, persons are spe- ces for the sale of the North Western Territory. cially employed to transact, under a former act. The amendment proposed for selling the land by

Mr. PARKER said, this act was meant to intro- auction being under considerationduce a friendly intercourse with the Indians, and Mr. Baldwin said he was in favor of the amendought to have no connexion with any other busi- ment. He was not disposed to encourage, in his ness.

own mind, too great suspicions of the integrity of Some observations took place between Mr. J. individuals; but it is not to be forgotten, said'he, SMITH, Mr. PARKER, Mr. SEDGWICK, and

another in making the provisions of this land law, that it member, on the propriety of the wording of one of is to be carried into operation in times singularly the clauses of the bill, which was at length allow- exposing it to a mercenary and unfaithful execued to be right.

ion. We must temper our laws to what we see Mr. Giles said the question was, whether one o be the state of the country. Philosophers and hundred and fifty thousand dollars, the sum pro-politicians, in some ages, have made such success

H. OF R.]
Northwestern Land Offices.

[MARCH, 1796. ful addresses to human nature, on the subject of would prevent competition in bidding. The bill honor, virtue, patriotism, and regard to the public was objectionable, as it contemplated only one interest, that reputable men despised appearing to plan ; if the whole of the land is not sold by the be governed in their actions by pecuniary consider- present plan, there is no provision for selling the ations; but philosophers and politicians with us rest. If the map was looked at, he said, it would have of late made their most importunate and suc- appear to be most convenient not to dispose of the cessful addresses to other passions, and have ex- whole at once, but only particular parts. He cited the insatiable sordid passion of avarice to an thought the bill should describe such parts of the unusual degree. Speculation and making money land as should be sold. are rarely found in a more raging extreme, and Mr. MOORE thought that if a mode was adopted persons whom we have supposed worthy of our for persons inclined to purchase to offer their proconfidence and esteem, publicly practising the posals in writing, unsealed and open to inspection, meanest and most disgraceful arts and tricks of for the small lots, it would afford the best opporswindling; and instead of being exhibited to pub- tunity of suiting persons who might wish to belic infamy in the pillory, they show an unblushing come settlers. front in a very different situation. When such

Mr. Coit wished to make a motion to strike out men, said he, are publicly patronized and treated the whole of the section. It was his opinion they with respect, it is necessary to take care how we ought to proceed no further in the business, until suffer the execution of our land law to depend on they had caused a survey of the land to be taken. the disinterestedness of an individual.

It was unfortunate for the House that they were Mr. COOPER was in favor of selling by auction. legislating on a subject upon which they had very No man, he said, would be at the trouble and ex- little information. In the course of the next seapense of exploring the country without some certainty of purchasing. But if the bill remained son, he said, the land might be surveyed, and imin its present form, a farmer might travel and ex- of the land, by the quality of soil, situation, &c.;

portant advantages would arise from it, in the sale plore these lands, and when he goes to the sacred being distinctly marked on the map. The sale Land Office, with his money in his hand, the agent might then be regulariy entered upon. At present might easily inform some favorite speculator what he thought the House had too little knowledge of was the highest sum offered, so that he might ad- the land to fix upon such a plan of sale as shall vance some trifle upon it. Why, said he, adopt a produce the greatest advantage. secret plan, when an open one can be adopted with greater advantage? He referred to the State

Mr. Nicholas thought that the present was the of New York, as a proof of the preference due to time to dispose of the land, when speculation

was the public mode of selling.

at so high a pitch. The fixing upon a plan of Mr. Kitchell said he was one of the committee surveying would take up as much time as the who brought in the bill, and at that time he thought selling of the land. They would be perfectly safe, the plan proposed the best; but from what he had he said, in selling by auction, and fixing a miniheard advanced on the subject, and from seriously take place in the sales.

mum price; and no error, he was of opinion, could considering the matter, he was now of opinion that a sale by auction would be best. He knew there

Mr. W. Lyman hoped the section would not be were objections to be urged against that mode of struckout. The advantage of selling at present was selling, but he trusted they would be mostly ob- great, owing to emigration, and if the land be not viated.

sold, it will be taken possession of without sale ; Mr. Hillhouse also said, from observation and and if settlements begin on that principle, it will reflection, he was now in favor of selling the land deprive the United States of great advantages. by auction. He hoped that salt springs and other Mr. DAYTON (the Speaker) said, it was well valuable lots would be reserved for the use of known to gentlemen that there was plenty of land Government. He had no idea of bringing the to be purchased, whether Government agreed to whole of the land into the market at once, and open a Land Office or not, and except in providing would therefore preserve that clause of the bill for a survey, a sale is also provided for, the consewhich makes two dollars the lowest price at which quence will be, that persons will buy land of others, any part of the land shall be sold. He would who have it to sell in the neighborhood of these have offices opened to which applications should lands. Another thing: as the sale of this land rebe made for any lot of land that might be chosen, spected revenue, so far from providing a revenue which should be advertised and publicly sold by the plan of surveying proposed, a certain great and he would have no parcel of land offered for expense will be incurred. The present emigrasale, which was not fixed upon by some person, tions, he said, were great, and likely to increase, and then there would always be a certainty of one from the opening of the Mississippi and other bidder at least. By this means, he doubted not, a causes. The object should be, he said, to hold good price would be got for all the best tracts of out inducements to these people to wait for these land.

lands. He was in favor of the mode of selling Mr. Isaac SMITH was in favor of selling by by auction; but, as that was not at present the vendue, as he hoped it would preclude the possi- subject before the Committee, he should wish the bility of deception or fraud.

section to remain, in order to consider the amend Mr. Havens spoke in favor of public sales, but, ment. he said, if the minimum price was set too high, it Mr. Kitchell said, that the speediest manner

MARCH, 1796.]

Northwestern Land Offices.

[H. OP R.

of bringing forward land into the market, would neighborhood sells for. This inquiry has been be of the greatest advantage in all respects. made, and it is found, that land as good in quality

Mr. Coit supported his motion. It was said, sells for double and treble the price put upon this. he observed, that if the land was not sold, it would Speculators cannot afford to give this price; the be settled upon. He said it would take up nearly consequence will be, that those only who mean to as much time to make a survey for sale, as to carry settle will give the price. This will prevent too into effect the plan he proposed.

large a quantity from coming into the market at The motion was put and negatived.

once, and give Government that money which The motion for selling by auction being put, speculators would get were a lower price fixed was agreed to.

upon the land. Mr. Nicholas moved to strike out a part of a The motion was put and carried. section, and insert the words,Provided, That no Mr. Gallatin said that it had now been agreed part of the said land be sold'for less than two dol- that the land should be sold by auction, and that lars per acre.”

no lot should be sold for a less price than two dolMr. COOPER wished the House might not deter-lars per acre. If in order, he would move a promine to fix the lowest price of the land at two vision that the large tracts should be sold at the dollars per acre. Many millions of acres were seat of Government, and the small ones in the now selling, he said, on the Ohio, for three shil- Western Territory. He proposed this provision, lings on long eredit. ' He thought if the minimum as he believed it would meet the wishes of the price was fixed at ten shillings, it would not affect House, though he was of opinion it would be best the price of good land.

to sell the whole in the Territory, as he conMr. DAYTON (the Speaker) said it was not ceived, that no person would give two dollars per meant to sell the whole of the land at present, but acre, except such as were acquainted with the only a certain proportion. For this purpose, two quality and situation of the land; the conclusion dollars per acre is the price fixed upon as the is

, that a man who wishes to purchase must send lowest; and if this price were not sufficiently an agent to examine the land before he purchases, high to prevent more than from five to 800,000 and when he is upon the spot, he can purchase acres of the best land being sold the first year, he without further trouble. This would be the most should advise it to be higher. The following equitable and equal way. Whereas, if sold at the year a like quantity might be brought forward. Seat of Government, an advantage is given to By this means, the land will progress in value as such as live in the neighborhood; but, as he did it becomes settled, and the land of second or third not expect it to pass, he did not wish to move quality, in the course of a short time, will come this proposition. He moved first," that the small to be worth as much as the best land at the open- lots be sold upon the Western Territory." ing of the sale.

Mr. Williams wished some specific place to Mr. Williams thought the plan proposed would be mentioned. prevent more land from being sold at first than Mr. Gallatin thought that different parts of would be purchased by settlers, and cause a com- the land would sell better at one place, and other petition in the sale. He thought there were parts at other places. many tracts of the land worth double the price Mr. Havens thought the proposed plan of sale mentioned, but a sale by auction would find its would yet favor speculators too much; for,

when real value.

agents were sent to explore the lands, they would Mr. Heath thought the minimum price of the become acquainted with the value of small tracts land too high.

as well as large, and enter into competition with Mr. DEARBORN believed a very great propor- the settlers for them. tion of the land first sold would command a con Mr. DEARBORN said it appeared that the memsiderably higher price than that fixed upon. ber who spoke last was afraid of too great a com

Mr. GALLATIN said the more he reflected on petition for the lands; he thought there was no the subject, the more he was convinced there was great danger of getting too high a price for them. no safe plan to be adopted in the sale of this land The motion was put and agreed to. without limiting the price. And if a low price Mr. Nicholas moved that it be added, "And was fixed, in order to accommodate persons of that the large tracts of land shall be sold at the small property, they should fall into error. He Seat of Government." said there were two kinds of purchasers of lands, Mr. MACLAY was in favor of selling all the settlers and speculators. The demand of the lands upon the Territory. first class is always limited, and the remainder Mr. Nicholas said there would be a great adfalls into the hands of speculators, and they will vantage lost by selling the large lots on the Terbe induced to purchase only by a prospect of ritory; for when agents are commissioned to buy, profit. In the year 1792 all the land west of the they are limited to price, but when principals atOhio was disposed of to speculators at 1s. 6d per tend a sale (which would most probably be the acre, and in a week afterwards sold for a dollar case if sold at the Seat of Government) they are and a half; so that the money which ought to frequently induced by competition to give more have gone into the funds, went into the pocket of for an estate than they at first intended. the moneyed men who purchased. In order to Mr. DAYTON said, if the member who objected govern the price of the land in contemplation, it to the present motion, would apply to his former is necessary to inquire at what price land in the remarks on the subject, he could not support his


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