Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

H or R,]

Public Debt.

[JULY 23, 1790.

[ocr errors]

amendments depending between the two Houses, On motion of Mr. Gerry, the interest on on the bill providing for the settlement of ac- Indents was raised from three to four per cent. counts between the United States and the indivi- per annum. dual States, reported certain amendments that The term of " ten years," the proposed period it would be proper to make in the said bill; the at whic one-third of the principal was to be House took the report into consideration, and funded, was altered to seven years. These, with agreed to the same with a small alteration. the rate of redemption, at eight dollars per an

A message was received from the Senate, num on account of principal and interest, that they had passed the funding bill, with which the Senate proposed should be at seven sundry amendments, which amendments were dollars per annum, were all the alterations made the order of the day for to-morrow. made by the House this day.

On the proposition for the assumption of the
Thursday, July 22.

State debts being read,
COASTING TRADE.

Mr. Jackson moved that the amendment of the Mr. Goodhue, from the committee appointed Senate respecting the assumption of the State for the purpose, presented a bill for registering debts should be disagreed to. ships or vessels, for regulating those employed In support of his motion, he said it is with in the coasting trade and fisheries, and for other great reluctance I rise again on the question purposes, which was twice read and committed. before the House-a measure which has not

The SPEAKER laid before the House a letter only agitated this Legislature, but has more of from the Secretary of the Treasury, covering less convulsed the whole people of the United his report for a uniform system for the disposi- States. It has elated speculators and State tion of lands, the property of the United States, brokers, whilst it has depressed three-fourths made pursuant to an order of the House of the of the honest part of the community. It has 20th of January last, which were read and or- held out alluring prospects and fortunes to the dered to lie on the table.

one, whilst it has blasted and withered the just GENERAL POST-OFFICE.

expectations of the other. It has, in short, Mr. Gerry, from the Managers appointed on been the centre-pin of visionary projectors and he part of this House to attend a conference interested men, whilst its future effects have with the Senate on the subject matter of the been viewed with horror by disinterested amendments depending between the two Houses minds. to the bill to establish the Post-office and post To give a history of this important question, roads within the United States, made a report. (for important, however wicked, it certainly

The first amendment of the Senate the com- is,) would be to tax Congress with the most mittee on the part of the House did not agree extreme inconsistencies. Repeatedly has the to. This amendment was to invest the Post- question been decided, and repeatedly negamaster General with the power to establish the tived; and as the principle was first originated cross post roads. Mr. Hartley moved that without reference, the same stubborn disposithe House should adhere to their disagreement; tion is manifest, notwithstanding, the repeated this was seconded by Mr. BlOODWORTH. determinations of the House. The forms of

A considerable debate ensued on this motion, Proteus have been assumed, and the forms of which was finally carried in the affirmative, the Proteus have been defeated here; but a new yeas and nays being as follows:

shape is not still wanting to aid the perseveYEAS.--Messrs. Ashe, Baldwin, Bloodworth, ranice of the East. The Senate of the United Brown, Burke, Clymer, Coles, Contee, Fitzsimons, States, a power not known to, nor chosen by, Floyd, Gale, Gerry, Griffin, Hartley, Heister, Hunt- the people, have undertaken to load the citiington, Jackson, Livermore, Madison, Matthews,

zens of the United States with an enormous Muhlenberg, Page, Parker, Scott, Seney, Sevier, debt. Sherman, Sylvester, Steele, Stone, Sturges, Sum

I will not appeal to the passions; but I call ter, Tucker, Vining, White.--35.

NAYS.--Messrs. Ames, Benson, Boudinot, Cad. on the House, as the Representatives of the wallader, Foster, Gilman, Goodhue, Grout, Law: people, as the guardians of their liberties, to rence, Leonard, Partridge, Rensselaer, Schureman,

resist this encroachment on their constitutional Sedgwick, Smith, of Maryland, Smith, of South rights; they will expect it, and if the principle Carolina, Thatcher, Trumbull, Wadsworth, Wyn- is established at present, there is no knowing koop.-20.

to what length it may be carried in future. As The other amendments were agreed to.

well might the Senate, under color of an amendThe House then took up the amendments of ment, have inserted the whole funding system the Senate to the funding bill, and made some in an appropriation bill, as have inserted this progress therein.

new principle in the bill before the House. It

may be advanced that it is no money bill, that Friday, July 23.

there are no ways and means, no taxes or burPUBLIC DEBT.

thens imposed on the people. To interested The House resumed the consideration of the men, and persons who would not look beyond amendments proposed by the Senate to the bill the surface, this reasoning might appear just; making provision for the debts of the United but I would ask, if the taxes and burthens, the States.

ways and means, must not follow-pass this JULY 23, 1790.]

Public Debt.

[H. OF R.

principle in the bill, and the public faith is an excess of 746,153 dollars, where she has not bound; neglect to provide for it, and you lay asked it, and where the State and her Representhe Government open to insult.

tatives are averse to the measure. What, sir, I But setting this encroachment of the Senate will ask, is this for? Is it by way of gift or from our view for the present moment, I have douceur? I know her Representatives to be no objection to consider the question on its own too honest, too steady to their trust to be bribmerits. Nothing which I have yet heard has ed. Georgia and New Hampshire are, howconvinced me of its propriety. The accumu- ever, not the only States which will suffer; lation of an immense debt ought to be founded New York and Maryland will likewise be inin more than perseverance for its basis; it ought jured. The former is to receive 1,200,000 dolto have justice for its groundwork, and policy lars; her just quota would be 1,904,615 dollars; for its superstructure.

there will be a deficiency, therefore, of 784,615 The question of justice has been subservient dollars. The deficiency of Maryland is much to both sides of the House; but the great rules, greater, she is to receive but 800,000 dollars, and the leading features of justice, have not been the deticiency from the amount of her just answered, if they have been attempted. Where, quota will be 1,184,615 dollars. One State, I again demand, is the justice of compelling a Pennsylvania, has a million allowed her above State which has taxed her citizens for the sink- the amount of her debt. So that some of the ing of her debt, to pay another proportion, not States are to be doubly, and some trebly taxed, of her own, but the debts of other States, which for the benefit of others. I will here, sir, aphave made no exertions whatever?

peal to the same moral sense with the gentleIf this assumption had taken place at the man from Massachusetts, (Mr. Ames,) to the conclusion of the war, the principle would have same rectitude of the heart, and I will confibeen more just than at present, because then dently demand from him if you can impose this none of the States had made exertions to re- burthen on the States and call it equality; if lieve themselves from debt, and they were you can adopt the assumption and call it jusnearer on an equality; but even then it would tice. not have been on perfect terms of justice; the I consider the State which made exertions, situations of the State, and their charges, were as I mentioned on a former day, to have paid not the same.

off so much of its proportion of these debts, But, sir, suppose the accounts settled at the whether called the debts of the States or the close of the war, how would the expenses of the debts of the Union. If State debts, no State war bave been proportioned? Not agreeably to ought to pay the debts of other States; if they the present ratio of representation will be al. are the debts of the Union, then has the State lowed me. How then? Why, by the ratio of which has exerted itself and paid off its own existing requisitions, or nearly so, and Georgia debt, contributed its proportion, and ought not would have paid the one-ninetieth part of the to pay a second time. whole debt; whereas, at present, she is bound A gentleman from Connecticut has analyzed for the one twenty-second part. But now, sir, the argument in favor of the measure. As I even the ratio of representation is to be over-think them of as much weight as any that have leaped by the present scheme of the assump: been advanced, I will notice a few of them as tion, and by a calculation of the quota, she will well as my small ability will permit. That gen'pay upwards of 600,000 dollars more than she tleman's first argument is, that the debts were will be benefited by. New Hampshire and contracted on behalf and for the benefit of the Georgia ought to receive, if a just quota was al- United States, and that therefore justice relowed as their sixty-fifth parts of the 21,000,000 quires they should be assumed. On this princidollars, 969,231 dollars each; they are, by the ple, the gentleman has endeavored to prove system before the House, to receive but 300,000 that the debts are of the same nature, and, in Jollars each, which makes a deficiency of 669,231 fact, the debts of the United States. The very dollars of their proportion of the amount which term, however, which he uses, of State debts, is to benefit other States, and the citizens of must convince him they are so; his explanation New Hampshire and Georgia are to pay it with a gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Can this House expect that they will quietly GERRY,) why they were not inserted in the subinit to it? If the citizens of New Hampshire Constitution, has convinced me that they were are disposed to be easy under the imposition, I not respected as the debts of the Union by the do not believe the citizens of the State of Geor- Convention. The Convention met, and the gia will be contented. Let us examine sonie of Constitution was formed for the restoration of the other States. Massachusetts is to receive public credit, and if the State debts were a part of the sum 4,000,000 dollars; her just quota of of the debt of the Union, provision would have the sum would be 2,646,153 dollars, or there- been made for them. But, sir, if the Convenabouts, enjoying an excess in her favor of tion had no power to insert them in the Consti1,353,846 dollars. South Carolina has still a tution, whence all our powers are derived, greater excess, she is to receive 4,000,000 dol- neither, sir, have we a power, under that Conlars; her quota of the sum would be 1,653,846 stitution, to provide for the payment of them. dollars and some cents; the excess in her favor Neither are ihose debts of the same nature with will be 2,346,153 dollars. North Carolina has that of the United States. The same scruti

H. OF R.]

Public Debt.

[JULY 23, 1790.

ing it.

mizing eye hath not pervaded the respective those who took protection remaining. That States. Some States, in expectation of being wealth preserved, left South Carolina yet in a the paymasters themselves, have dealt with a state of affluence. She would, in the former rigid parsimony; others have been as extrava- Congress, have felt herself insulted, if she had gantly liberal. Some have allowed regiments been considered second in resource to any State of officers to their militia without men, whilst in the Union. She is as great now in resource, others have reduced their officers to a grinding and I believe that I speak with justice, when I situation. Some have allowed large bounties advance, that three-fourths of the back inhabiand pay, as bas been the case with some of the tants of that State are opposed to the measure. States who complain most, whilst others have Sir, they are republicans, who have fought and scarcely allowed bounty or pay at all. Many bled for the cause of liberty, and know the of the charges of individual' States would be value of it. I know and regard them as such, and rejected; whilst others, which the States have although I wish not to wound the feelings of rejected, would be allowed. The difference is any gentleman present, I assert that they will very great, and as clear as the day, and none see through this thin veiled artifice to take their but interested individuals can prevent discern- portion of State power from them, and they

will feel that continual drain of specie which The second argument of the gentleman is, must take place to satisfy the appetites of baskthat some States have taken upon themselves ing speculators at the seat of Government. greater sums than their proportions or abilities The third argument is, that the funds out of will pay

which those debts ought to be paid, are, by the This, sir, I think doubtful; nor can it be as. Constitution, put, under the direction of the certained but by a settlement of accounts Federal Government, and this done by the which alone can determine. But, sir, let us people for the express purpose of paying the examine, on the principles of equity, the claims debts of the United States, of which these are of the two States which complain the most- a part. Massachuseits and South Carolina. The for

This argument is in a great measure done mer has, it is said, greatly exceeded her quota. away. Congress have rejected the excise as The fair method to judge of this is, to compare impolitic and improper; the impost alone is her exertions, during the war, with her ability. taken, and this is not grumbled at; the States This solid principle of judging has been lost gave it years ago, when the payment of State sight of, although contended for when the bill debts was not thought of. The journal the for the settlement of accounts was before the gentleman has referred to does not include the House. At the commencement of the war, there Štate debts; the impost of five per cent was is no doubt that the citizens of Massachusetts, required from the States for the payment of the in and near Boston, suffered considerably; but real debts of the Union; suppose all the States from the evacuation of that city to the end of had agreed to that measure, would not they the war, she felt the advantages rather than the still have paid their own debts? disadvantages of war. She carried on the me- The fourth argument, that imposts and exdium of commerce for the Union-her mercises can be best managed under one direction, chants, and her country, of course, would be falls with the third; excises are rejected, and I enriched; she became enabled, therefore, to hope the House have no intention of bringing make greater exertions, and no doubt did her them forward again. I trust that Congress will part. Contrast this with some others of the not be like the Long Parliament-foster them in States. Overrun by the enemy-houses and secret, while they openly disavow them. plantations destroyed-commerce arrested- The fifth argument of the gentleman, if it is merchants and citizens totally ruined, and the not fully refuted by my reply to his first and most opulent families beggared. I will leave to second, can be easily accomplished. It is, that the gentlemen from Massachusetts themselves, equal justice ought to be done to all the crediI will appeal to their candor, to determine, if tors; but this cannot be done by individual their debt was double the amount, which was States, some of them being unable to make the better fate!

provision, burthened beyond their quota, and South Carolina I shall, however, be told, is deprived of former revenues. on the other side; and, in a great measure,

I

By the present mode the argument is defeatwill grant it.

ed, for the creditors are not on a footing-the The difficulties of that State have been great, whole is not assumed-a proportion will therethe merits of her citizens many, and her sul-fore still be left to the mercy of the States, ferings out of proportion with most, but not all which may be as backward in their payment of the States. North Carolina and New Jersey now as formerly. Without the assumption at suffered nearly as much, and Georgia more. A all, the distinction was not hard to be borne. It great proportion of the wealth of South Caroli- was to be borne. It was only between the na was preserved by persons who took protec- State creditors and those of the Union. At tion, or who resided in Europe the greatest part present, the distinction is between the same of the war. This was not the case with Geor- State creditors—those who will benefit are the gia; her citizens were totally beggared, and her speculators near the seat of Government; and country left a wild uninhabited desert-few of those near the Cominissioners; whilst those at a

JULY 23, 1790.]

Public Debt.

(H. OF R.

distance, and who, probably, are the only origi- has asked if the tendency of this measure will nal holders, will not be benefited. The cre- be to evil, rather than to common benefit? He ditors of one State are not even on a footing is of the latter opinion, although he allows this with those of another. Massachusetts, South and to be a vague question. If, sir, the question is North Carolina, have the one-half of 21,000,000 vague or dubious surely he will not adopt it. dollars allotted them-the two former have He says, however, that it will prevent interfenearly their whole debt. I will call on gen-rence between the State Governments and that tlemen to know if any within this House can of the Union, and prevent the usurpation of suppose they have a balance of 10,000,000 dol- one upon the other. lars due them? The amount of the debt of That it will prevent usurpation is a fact I Georgia is more than was supposed, it amounts will grant the gentleman; for, sir, if the assumpto 700,000 dollars—300,000 of which are only tion takes place, there will be nothing left to to be assumed. If the measure was wise, the usurp: The States will be deprived of every whole ought to be assumed.

thing but the shadow of power; they will be reI am not for this partial method; either the duced to the state of mere colonies, with not assumption ought to be proportioned to the re- even the power they possessed previous to the presentation, or taken generally, or certificates revolution. ought to issue to the States for what they have That gentleman bas likewise told us of the sunk, as to individuals.

protection the measure would enable the GoThe sixth argument is, that the measure is vernment of the Union to afford the respective founded in good policy, as well as justice, as it States. Sir, if we were under the Government will promote harmony among creditors and dif- of a despotic Prince, I suppose that we should ferent States, attach them to the Government, be well protected against foreign tyrants, but and facilitate operations.

how should we be protected against himself? That it is not founded in justice I think has We should lay at his mercy, and become his been pretty well shown. Its policy was clearly property. The gentleman's argument, thereproved, at a former day, to have been a consoli- fore, goes too far, when it tends to prove the dation of the Government; and, sir, I believe, more power we give the Government the betwith it, a consolidation of the people's liberties. ter we shall be protected. Sir, the competition, The object certainly was the absorbing the so far from being an injury, is, in my opinion, whole of the State powers within the vortex of a benefit; jealousies are necessary in all free the all-devouring General Government; seven countries, and as long as those jealousies exist, years were we fighting to establish props for the people will be safe; whether, therefore, the liberty, and in less than two years since the State Governments are to be considered as riadoption of the Constitution are we trying to vals, watchmen, or legislators, State powers kick them all away, and he is the ablest poli. are absolutely necessary. tician, and the best man of the day, who can The gentleman from Connecticut has noticed do most to destroy the child of liberty of his an argument respecting the ratio of contribuown raising. A friend, sir, to the State Go- tion by impost, and has alluded to the Journal vernments, or the liberties of the people, is as of Congress of the 29th of April, 1783, where, much lost at the present day, as if he had be- he says, it is clearly proved that the States conlonged to the last century, and had a resurrec- tribute to impost according to the number of tion in the present age.

inhabitants. The gentleman from MassachuBut, sir, if so much of this patriotism is lost setts has likewise noticed this. · I grant those near the seat of Government, let us not sup- gentlemen that the consumer pays, but I deny pose that it is the case with the whole of the that the States pay agreeably to populationUnited States. The States will not tamely sub- they contribute, sir, agreeably to habit. Conmit to a measure calculated to distress, and necticut manufactures a great deal, and she immanifestly founded in injustice and the ruin of ports little. Georgia manufactures nothing, the State Governments. So far will it be from and imports every thing. Therefore Georgia, producing the harmony the gentleman has sup- although her population is not near so large, posed, that I think I can venture to prophe- contributes more to the public Treasury by imsy it will occasion discord, and generate ran- post. cor against the Union. For if it Lenefits one But admitting the force of the gentleman's part of the United States it oppresses another. arguments, and let it be fixed at populationIf it lulls the Shays of the North it will rouse yet, sir, on the principles of justice, the arguthe Sullivans of the South.

ments, so far as respects the assumption, must The more checks there are to any Govern- fail. linpost, as well as all other taxes, is an imment, the more free will its citizens be. The position, and only to be permitted in cases of State powers are a most effectual and necessary necessity, or where preservation to Governcheck against encroachments from the Government requires it; it is an actual encroachment ment of the Union. The assumption, by an- on the people's rights in any other view. Vatnihilating the powers of the State Governments, tel, the celebrated writer on the laws of nawill prove a decisive and fatal stroke at that tions, calls the freedom of commerce a natural check.

right, and says, that instead of burthens and reA gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr.Ames) I strictions, it is the duty of all nations to give it

H. OF R. ]

Public Debt.

(JULY 23, 1790.

the utmost freedom, and that restrictions can who first adopted the measure—will they foster only be justified on very important reasons, it in secret, while they apparently reject it? arising from the public good.

Where else, I ask, are the ways and means to In America, that necessity has originated satisfy this accumulated debt? Your impost is from the public debt, and the necessity will re- stretched to the utmost; if you go further, you main as long as the public debt exists. Add to will not only oppress the people, but lose your that debt, and you add to the necessity; go on revenue. Will you proceed to direct taxation? in that ratio, and you may keep the necessity We have been informed that the people

will not for ever.

But, sir, shall we, to strengthen the submit to it. Government, add to our debts, and injure the If the House, sir, will not submit to the people!

voice of reason, and are determined to assume, It has, however, been advanced, that the citi- still, sir, I insist that this is not the period. zens have given this into our hands; that we and the measure should appear the result, not

The respective States ought to be consulted, are in the exercise of it, and it has been impli- of party or bargain,

but the result of deliberaof America. Sir, it is expected, and I hope be the former, if adopted now, after so many men who use this language know not the

people tion, which all our measures at the least ought never will be lost sight of, that when the necessity is at an end the duties will be taken of decisions. Even in Massachusetts, let us listen Besides, is the impost more in our power than 1776, who, by his signature, first pronounced you

, , equally given us with the other, and carry the a free nation-hear the venerable patriot exidea of impost as far as some gentlemen wish pressing his doubts of the powers of Congress it, and you may carry direct taxation as far.

in this respect, without the consent of the reWe are not confined in our powers, and if Con: spective States first obtained. Her Legislature, gress choose to tax the citizens to the whole in compliance, instructed their Senators and amount of their estates, there is power suffi- Representatives; this was done, although we cient in the Constitution to warrant it. But, the country was overloaded with debt, and her

were told on this floor, about that time, that sir, would the citizens submit to it? So far am citizens borne down with the weight of taxes. I from agreeing with the gentlemen, that I can What other States have done the same? None assure them it was expected that the States but South Carolina; so that the two States only would have been credited for the imposts they which are interested in this business, have refurnished.

ceived instructions from their Legislatures. The gentleman from Connecticut has noticed Let me ask this House, if those two States an argument of mine respecting the debt of have received instructions, where so much inGeorgia; but he has not refuted the justice of terested, if the other States should not also be it. He says it is an additional reason for as- consulted, and where they are to receive no suming. Sir, I do not believe that there are benefit from the measure? I request the House twenty original holders in Georgia; the original to think of the evil consequences of it before holders received no interest, nor did they ex- it is too late, and at least to postpone it until pect any; they parted with the certificates as the next session. If it is good now, it will be they stood, without interest; the speculators good then. If it is not adopted now, it can be now hold them, and contrary to the tenor of then; but if it is assumed at the present session, the certificates, the intention of the State, and we shall be bound without the power of relierthe contract they made, they will be allowed ing ourselves again from the burthen. Let us interest. Here will be a prodigious distinction, not exhibit a monument to mankind of the imthe one-half of the creditors of Georgia receiv- possibility of preserving republican manners by ing interest, the others none; how is this to be aping European nations, and laying the foundareconciled?' Besides, sir, the debt will be in- tion of our Government in immense debts. Sir, creased one-half; there will be an additional our terms of service, happily. I believe for the debt, if interest' is allowed on the whole, of country, are near expiring. We shall return to 350,000 dollars, supposing the debt to amount the mass of the people, and participate in the burto 700,000 dollars; will the original holder who thens we impose. When the cool hour of indid the service, or furnished the supply, be con- vestigation arrives, happy indeed will it be for tented to be taxed to supply this interest, when us if, amidst the murmur of an oppressed peohe himself was not allowed it?

ple, we have not to say, in self condemnation, Another argument arises now against the I too have been guilty of bringing this load of measure, which did not exist at a former day-sin on the nation, and this load of fetters on the the excise, which had begun to set the Continent people. America, sir, will not always think as in a flame, has been rejected. Are there mem- is the fashion of the present day; and when the bers hardy enough to adopt and sanction it now, iron hand of tyranny is felt, denunciations will after they have exerted themselves against it fall on those who, by imposing this enormous For this must be the case, or it will be again and iniquitous debt, will beggar the people and rejected. Will this House, as I before men-bind them in chains. tioned, be like the Long Parliament of England,

« ForrigeFortsett »