Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

DEC. 16, 1790.]

Militia.

[H. OF R.

Mr. PARKER agreed to alter his motion agreeable to Mr. HUNTINGTON's idea.

Mr. BOUDINOT said, that there did not appear to be any necessity for the amendment, as the bill makes provision for excepting persons who are unable to purchase arms, in case the State Legislatures choose to make such exceptions.

France, we recently see the same salutary ef- ments-and no difficulty has resulted from the fects from arming the militia. In England, the law. Penalties on default are exacted and colmilitia has of late been neglected-the conse-lected; but this proposition will produce great quence is a standing army. In Ireland, we inequalities; it will excite jealousies and dishave seen the good effects of arming the militia, cord between the Governments-but if left to in the noble efforts they have made to emanci- the States, the officers will be more exact to pate their country. If we neglect the militia, a prevent impositions on the particular State from standing army must be introduced; but if the which they receive their appointments. idea suggested by the gentleman from Pennsylvania is adopted, certain classes must be drawn out, and kept for months together, which would prove as great a burthen as a standing army, None of the States, he observed, have adopted such a plan. In Georgia, the militia service has been as strict as is contemplated by the bill, but they have never complained. In a Republic every man ought to be a soldier, and prepared to resist tyranny and usurpation, as well as invasion, and to prevent the greatest of all evils-a standing army. Mankind have been divided into three classes, Shepherds, Husbandmen, and Artificers-of which the last make the worst militia; but as the arts and sciences are the sources of great wealth to the community, which may excite the jealousy and avarice of neighbors, this class ought to be peculiarly qualified to defend themselves and repel invasions; and as this country is rising fast in manufactures, the arts and sciences, and from her fertile soil may expect great affluence, she ought to be able to protect that and her liberties from within herself.

Mr. GILES said, he was opposed to the motion on principle; but if that was not the case he should object to it in its present form as it was not full enough. He did not suppose that it was intended that the United States should make a present of the arms thus furnished-but the motion does not provide for their return, when not in use. His principal objection to the motion, however, arose from its being an improper interference with the authority of the State Governments. They may, or may not comply with the law. If they should not, it would prove nugatory-and render the authority of the United States contemptible. For these reasons, and others which had been advanced, he thought the amendment improper.

Mr. PARKER here introduced his motion, to Mr. BLOODWORTH observed, that as the miliamend the bill by a proviso, that persons who tia was to be organized and disciplined under shall make it appear that they are not able to the authority of the United States, and to be equip themselves, shall be furnished at the ex-employed for the general defence, whenever pense of the United States. and wherever Congress should direct, it appearMr. WADSWORTH objected to this amended but reasonable that those who were benefited ment. He said, it would empower the officers by them should be at the expense of arming to create an enormous charge against the United them. States. He said, he had read almost all the militia laws of the several States, and had found no such provision in one of them; there is not a considerable number of such persons in any of the States; and rather than have this proviso inserted, he would prefer a clause to excuse them altogether.

Mr. PARKER said, that in Virginia there is a law, which provides that poor persons, not able to arm themselves, should be equipped at the expense of the State. In every State there are doubtless many such persons, who ought to be provided for by the General Government; and if they are not, the law is rendered impracticable; as you require more than is possible for them to perform. As to excusing such poor persons from military duty, they would be found in cases of emergency, very useful to defend those, who do not choose to risk their own

[blocks in formation]

Mr. SHERMAN said, it appeared to him, that by the Constitution, the United States were to be put to no expense about the militia, except when called into actual service. The clause is not so explicit as might have been wished; but it will be difficult to fix the construction mentioned by the gentleman from North Carolina. What relates to arming and disciplining means nothing more than a general regulation in respect to the arms and accoutrements. There are so few freemen in the United States who are not able to provide themselves with arms and accoutrements, that any provision on the part of the United States is unnecessary and improper. He had no doubt that the people, if left to themselves, would provide such arms as are necessary, without inconvenience or complaint; but if they are furnished by the United States, the public arsenals would soon be exhausted-and experience shows, that public property of this kind, from the careless manner in which many persons use it, is soon lost. The expense and inconvenience would, in his opinion, far overbalance any good that would be derived from such a proposition.

Mr. VINING observed, that the greatest objec

H. OF R.]

Militia.

[DEC. 16, 1790.

Union. With respect to apprentices, every man knew that they were liable to this tax, and they were taken under the idea of being providfor by their masters; as to minors, their parents or guardians would prefer furnishing thens with arms themselves, to depending on the United States when they knew they were liable to. having them reclaimed.

The question on Mr. PARKER's motion was lost.

tion against the motion is, that it stops short in
the regulation of the business. No provision,
it is said, is made for the return of the arms to
the public; and it gives a discretionary powered
to the officers to dispose of the property of the
United States; but he conceived these difficul-
ties were not beyond the reach of remedies; the
wisdom of the House, he doubted not, would
devise such as were adequate to the object. He
asked by what means minors were to provide
themselves with the requisite articles? Many
of them are apprentices. If you put arms into
their hands, they will make good soldiers; but
how are they to procure them? It is said, if
they are supplied by the United States the pro-
perty will be lost; if this is provided against.
every objection may be obviated. He then of-
fered an addition to the motion, providing for
the return of the arms to the commanding of-
ficer.

The Chairman then stated the motion with the amendment.

Mr. TUCKER observed, that the motion in its present form differed from the original proposed by the gentleman from Virginia. He conceived the gentleman had no right to alter it, nor could it be done without a vote of the committee. He preferred the motion in its original state-for the United States may, without doubt, furnish the arms-but he very much questioned their right to call on the individual States to do it.

On motion of Mr. HEISTER, a proviso was added to the section in the following words:

himself with the arms and accoutrements required as "That every citizen so enrolled, and providing aforesaid, shall hold the same exempt from all executions, or suits for debt, or for the payment of

taxes."

66

Mr. FITZSIMONS moved to strike out the words provide himself," and insert "shall be provided."

This motion was objected to by Messrs. BouDINOT, HUNTINGTON, JACKSON, PARTRIDGE, VINING, and MADISON. It was said that it would be destructive of the bill, as it would leave it optional with the States, or individuals, whether the militia should be armed or not.

This motion was lost by a great majority. The second section comprises the characters that are to be exempted from enrolment or militia duty.

Mr. MADISON Boved to strike out that part Mr. WILLIAMSON was in favor of the ques- which related to members of Congress, their oftion's being taken with the amendment admitted ficers and servants, attending either Houseby Mr. PARKER. He wished to know whether and to insert "members of the Senate and Congress meant to tax the individual States in House of Representatives whilst travelling to, this unusual manner. Perhaps as they had as-attending at, or returning from the sessions of sumed the State debts upon this principle, or Congress." He saw no reason for a total exrather without any principle, they might think emption from militia service; exceptions in fathey had a right to call upon them to furnish vor of the framers of laws ought not to be exquotas in proportion, this would be getting some-tended beyond what is evidently necessary. thing for something; and not like the other measure, losing something for nothing.

Mr. VINING said, he could not understand what was meant by saying that the amendment was dictating to the States. What is the whole bill but dictating; a law that affects every individual, touches the whole community. With respect to the constitutionality of the measure, there can be no doubt; every grant of power to Congress necessarily implies a conveyance of every incidental power requisite to carry the grant into effect.

The members of Congress, during the recess, are at liberty to pursue their ordinary avocations, and may participate in the duties and exercises of their fellow-citizens. They ought to bear a part in the burdens they lay on others. which may check an abuse of the powers with which they are vested.

Mr. JACKSON observed, that this alteration might interfere with the public interest; in cases of alarm or invasion, the members might be called to a great distance in the militia at the moment when their presence was required to Mr. WADSWORTH apologized for detaining the attend the session of the Legislature. It would attention of the committee a moment, while he be well therefore to consider whether their serasked the gentlemen who favored the motion vices in the militia would be of equal importwhat was the extent of their wishes? The mo-ance to the public interest, as their services in tion at first appeared to be in favor of poor men, who are unable to purchase a firelock; but now it seems, minors and apprentices are to be provided for. Is there a man in this House who would wish to see so large a proportion of the community, perhaps one-third, armed by the United States, and liable to be disarmed by them? Nothing would tend more to excite suspicion, and rouse a jealousy dangerous to the

Congress.

Mr. BOUDINOT objected to the amendment, not that he would exempt members of Congress from burdens imposed on their fellow-citizens; but the motion he conceived was inconsistent with this very idea. The bill provides that exempts shall pay a certain equivalent; it would be unjust to impose this equivalent, and compel the members of Congress to turn out in the

DEC. 16, 1790.]

Militia.

militia. He concluded by saying, that he conceived the independence of the Legislature was connected with this exemption.

Mr. WADSWORTH said, that he thought there was no necessity to exempt members of Congress. If the Constitution did not grant them such a privilege, he doubted whether they could assume it by an act of their own. He . was therefore for leaving this matter to the discretion of the State Legislatures; no inconvenience would result if this was done.

Mr. HARTLEY was in favor of the exemptions being specified by act of Congress; and he conceived they had the plainest directions to follow, in the universal practice of all the State Legislatures; and this practice was founded in the reason of things, the incompatibility of the duties; they are distinct in their natures, and cannot be exercised together.

[H. OF R.

the burthen very unequal on the whole, which would be palpably unjust. The examples of the State Legislatures is sufficient to show that some exemptions are agreeable to the ideas of the people; and the independence of the Legislature being essentially concerned, leaves no room to doubt the propriety of the measure. He informed the committee that when they came to the clause specifying the sum proposed as an equivalent for personal service, he should move for an alteration.

Mr. HARTLEY observed, that the Constitution declares that the persons of members shall be privileged from arrest during their attendance on Congress; in going to, and returning from the session; with a special reference to the in dependence of the Legislature. He conceived that it would counteract the spirit of the Constitution to render the members liable to be

their nature; on this principle also, it would be in the power of a designing President, should such a character ever be elected, to prevent the members assembling by calling out individuals to attend military duties at the moment when their attendance would be necessary in Congress. The States individually, as well as the Parliament of Great Britain, have set us a good example in this respect.

Mr. MADISON Supported his motion, he con-called on to discharge duties incompatible in sidered it as important that the Governors and the governed should feel their mutual relation to each other; on this principle he thought that no exemption should be allowed, except in cases where an attendance on militia duty was incompatible with the performance of other duties; for these reasons, he wished that the whole clause should be struck out; in cases of difficulty a court-martial would be competent to doing justice to the parties.

Mr. BOUDINOT agreed in sentiment with Mr. HARTLEY, that the independence of the mem

gentlemen from Virginia (Messrs. MADISON and GILES) that legislators ought to participate in the burthens imposed on others, ought never to be lost sight of-but in the present instance, the doctrine would be carried into practice; for at the end of every two years, the members would revert to the mass of citizens, and feel

Mr. GILES followed Mr. MADISON in a similar train of reasoning in respect to rulers sym-bers was an important object. The ideas of the pathizing with the ruled in all public burthens; he adverted to the different plans of organizing the militia which had been contemplated by the committee, and the reasons which induced them to adopt that in the bill. With respect to the plan of selecting particular classes to form a militia, it could not, in his opinion, be done, but by enlistments, which was a mode that the free-in common with others the influence of the men of America revolted from. He said, that no insuperable difficulties would result from rendering all liable to be called upon. Should the clause be struck out, the equivalent mentioned in another part of the bill will be unnecessary, and the article may be expunged. He concluded by saying, that if it was thought proper Mr. MADISON supposed nothing would be that the members of Congress should be ex-risked by the amendinent, as the Constitution empted, it would be best that the exemptions should be made by the State Legislatures.

laws. The business of legislation is more arduous and momentous than any other; and ought not to be impeded, or rendered liable to be frustrated by any other. This he thought would be the case by adopting the amendment.

had sufficiently secured the independence of the members. He had not anticipated so much debate on the motion. He was satisfied in his own mind of its propriety. The possible cases which had been stated did not, in his opinion, justify the violation of the great principle he had mentioned; but, to simplify the question, he would withdraw his motion, so far as only to propose to strike out from the exemptions, the Le-members of Congress."

Mr. SHERMAN said, it was the practice of the several States to exempt their own Legislatures, and the other descriptions of persons mentioned in the clause. He conceived a seat in the Federal Legislature would equally entitle to an exemption. He was opposed to the amendment, though he would agree to strike out the whole, and leave the business to the State gislatures.

Mr. JACKSON observed, that leaving the exemptions from militia duty to the discretion of the State Legislatures might be productive of great inequalities; besides it would not comport with the idea of the bill in the grand object of uniformity. Some States might make great exceptions, others none at all; this would make

66

Mr. TUCKER said, that it appeared to him that some general ideas on the subject of exemptions should be incorporated in the bill. If the committee descend to particulars, they will find it extremely difficult to make such distinctions as are proper. He was opposed to leaving the exemptions to be made by the State Governments. It might create difficulties, as

H. OF R.]

Militia.

[DEC. 20, 1790.

MONDAY, December 20. MICHAEL JENIFER STONE, from Maryland, appeared, and took his seat.

some States might exempt their members, and In committee of the whole on the Militia bill, others might not. These partial exemptions the subject of exemptions occasioned further would be attended with great inconveniences; debate. The committee agreed to sundry althe members may be necessarily engaged in terations, and proceeded in the discussion to making their arrangements to attend their duty the third section; they then rose and reported in Congress, previous to the time of setting out progress. for the seat of Government, and be interrupted by being called to the field to attend militia duty. The number of persons it will be found eligible to exempt, will not be so great as to render the defence of the United States precarious for want of their personal services in the militia. He concluded by observing, that the principle of uniformity, and the competency of the Federal Legislature to making adequate provision in the case, point out the impropriety of leaving the business to the State Legislatures.

Mr. SMITH pursued the idea of Mr. TUCKER, and observed, that, to be consistent, the motion ought to go further, and extend to exempting ministers of the Gospel, only while engaged in preaching; the schoolmaster, while teaching; the miller, while attending his mill, &c. In short, it ought to be so particular as to amount to no exemption at all.

Mr. WHITE Spoke in favor of the motion. The Constitution, said he, has sufficiently defined the privileges of the members. With respect to the State officers, he was in favor of leaving them to be exempted by the State Legislatures; nor was he apprehensive they would abuse the power by exempting half their citizens, as this would only increase the burthen on the other half.

Mr. JACKSON said, he would be still opposed to the motion from this interesting consideration, if no other existed. That it might, in its operation, deprive 30,000 citizens of their vote in the National Legislature.

The engrossed bill to continue an act declaring the assent of Congress to certain acts of the States of Maryland, Georgia, and Rhode Island was read the third time and passed.

PUBLIC DEBT.

The bill from the Senate, supplementary to the act making further provision for the payment of the debts of the United States, was read the second time.

Mr. BENSON, from the committee appointed for the purpose, presented a bill declaring the officer who, in case of vacancies both of the offices of President and Vice President of the United States, shall act as President; also a bill declaring the respective times when the electors to vote for a President of the United States shall be appointed and shall give in their votes; also a bill directing the mode in which the lists of the votes for a President shall be transmitted to the seat of Government; which passed their first reading.

MILITIA.

The House went again into a Committee of the whole on the bill for establishing a uniform militia, Mr. LIVERMORE in the chair.

Mr. FITZSIMONS moved an amendment, by which the light infantry or riflemen, one company of artillery and one troop of horse should be selected from the militia without reference to any particular age. He said the clause which enacts that these companies should be composed of persons from eighteen to twenty

Mr. VINING added a few observations in favor of the motion; and then the question being taken, it was negatived, twenty-four to eigh-five years of age would operate against several

teen.

FRIDAY, December 17.

JOHN HATHORN, from New York, and JOHN SEVIER, from North Carolina, appeared, and took their seats.

BENJAMIN BOURN, a member returned from Rhode Island, produced his credentials, and took his seat.

An address was presented from the people called Quakers, praying an exemption from militia duties and penalties on that account.

The bill for continuing an act declaring the consent of Congress to certain acts of several States was read a second time, and ordered to be engrossed for a third reading.

particular interests, especially mechanics and manufacturers.

Mr. MADISON remarked that by the bill all persons between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five were to serve in those companies; it was not confined to artificers alone. The agricultural interest had as much cause to complain. But the intention of making the youth perform double duty was that they might speedily be taught the military art, and be enabled to defend their country, if her situation called for their aid.

Mr. JACKSON was opposed to it. He said that from eighteen to twenty-one was found to be the best age to make soldiers of. After that period men become engaged in the concerns of life, get married, have children, enter into buin-siness, &c. It would not bear harder on the manufacturers and mechanics than on the farmers; and as the seaports have generally more at stake, it seems to follow that the obligation is stronger on them to turn out in the militia. Mr. HEISTER was in favor of the motion.

A message was received from the Senate, forming the House that they have passed a bill supplementary to an act making further provision for the debts of the United States, in which they desire the concurrence of the House, which was read the first time.

DEC. 20, 1790.]

Militia.

[H. of R.

Mr. FITZSIMONS said he was misunderstood. Mr. GILES said, he was disposed to think He did not mean that persons from eighteen to this proviso more extensive than gentlemen twenty-five should be excused from military imagine. It may, in its operation, exempt all duty. His wish was that such persons should the companies in the United States. The exnot be particularly pointed out for this duty. pression is so general and indefinite that it Mr. LAWRENCE was in favor of the motion. may not answer the purpose intended, as those He observed that it was not age alone that was companies are known by different denominato be considered in forming light infantry or tions, while it may be productive of great diffiartillery companies; there are other considera-culties from its want of precision. tions, as size, agility, &c. He thought the motion a good one.

Mr. AMES was also in favor of the motion. He thought confining the selections for those companies to the particular period mentioned would deprive us of the services of many of the soldiers of the late Continental army, whose knowledge and experience would be highly useful. He suggested difficulties which would result from collecting the persons of the above age from different parts of the country in order to forming them into such companies.

Mr. STURGES observed that he thought a simple regulation that all the militia should be called out so many times a year would be sufficient. This general plan would leave the several independent corps as they now are; and these particular companies would be selected as heretofore.

Mr. PARTRIDGE was opposed to the amendment. The object of the bill being to discipline the militia, it seemed to follow of course that persons of an age the most likely to learn should not be excepted.

Mr. AMES gave an account of the several independent companies in Massachusetts, particularly that known by the name of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery, a company which possessed funds, and had for many years been in possession of a charter from Government. It had been considered as a military school for a long time; it is composed of generals, colonels, and inferior officers, and other respectable persons. This, with other independent companies, rendered essential services in the time of the insurrection in that State; and they prove by their example a stimulus to the militia; they have incurred great expenses to equip themselves, and it is supposed merit the privileges and distinctions they have long enjoyed.

Mr. STURGES observed that the proviso was defective, as it does not point out the duties which these companies ought to perform.

Mr. HUNTINGTON said, these companies were, he believed, under the orders of the regi mental colonels; at least, that was the case in some of the States.

Mr. SENEY moved, that as there were indeMr. GILES said, that gentlemen did not ap- pendent companies who are not incorporated, pear to take a comprehensive view of the bill, it would be proper to strike out the words "inone object of which is to establish a military corporated by the acts of the several States." school. In order to do this, the bill proposes that He said, if this proviso should pass without his persons should commence their military course amendment, it would give exclusive privileges at an early age. If such persons are called to particular companies who happen to be inupon oftener than those of more than twenty-corporated, while the same privileges will not five years, it does not follow that it is unequal; their military knowledge must be supposed to be less. He obviated the objection of the gentleman from New York by saying that as military knowledge is necessary for all, it follows that young persons of every size may be trained in one or the other of these companies. Mr. FITZSIMONS still supported his motion, and said the difficulty started by the gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. AMES,) arising from local circumstances, had not been obviated.

be extended to other companies, equally meritorious, who do not happen to be incorporated. Mr. SMITH'S (S. C.) motion being put, was negatived.

The section which provides that the militia shall turn out four times a year in companies Mr. HARTLEY objected to. He said it would be too frequent. He did not consider the mili tia as a military school; and such frequent assemblings of the people had a tendency to dissipate the manners of the people, especially Mr. BOUDINOT said the difficulty on account youth. He moved that the clause should be of manufacturers had not escaped the commit-altered, so that companies and battalions should tee; but it could not be avoided without destroying a principal feature of the bill. He said the objection might, however, be in some measure lessened by altering the clause from eighteen to twenty.

The question being taken, it passed in the affirmative.

Mr. SMITH'S (S. C.) proviso respecting independent corps was read. It provided that companies in the respective States, incorporated by the Legislatures, should not be disbanded or included in the militia, but retain their former station.

be obliged to turn out only twice a year.

Mr. WADSWORTH suggested an alteration in the amendment, that the clause should be altered to read once a year in battalion, and four times in companies.

Mr. GILMAN moved another amendment, that the militia should turn out in companies three times, and once in battalion.

Mr. JACKSON regretted that one principle of the bill was struck out respecting light infantry companies. He did not suppose that though we are obliged to have some standing troops we were to depend on them. He should regret

« ForrigeFortsett »