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TWELFTH CONGRESS....FIRST SESSION.
Continuation of Debates on the Report of the Committee on Foreign
Relations-Dec. 6. Mr. Porter, [whose observations, introductory to the report, commenced in the last numberclosed his remarks, by observing, that he was sensible there were many good men out of Congress, as well as many of his best friends in it, whose appetites were prepared for a war feast. He was not surprised at it; for he knew the provocatives had been sufficiently great. But he hoped they would not insist on calling in the guest, at least until the table should have been spread. When this was done, he pledged himself in behalf of the committee on Foreign Relations, that the gentlemen should not be disappointed of the entertainment for want of bidding: and he believed he might also pledge himself for many of the members of the committee, that they would not be among the last to partake personally, not only in the pleasures, if any there should be, but in all the dangers of the revelry,
Mr. P. said, that this was the time and occasion on which, above all others, within his experience, we should act in concert. If the ultimate object of the great body of this house and of this nation was the same, and so far as he had been able to ascertain the sentiments of both, it was) there would be no difficulty in attaining it. But we must yield something to the opinions and to the feelings of each other - Instead of indulging in party reflections and recriminations in this house, he hoped that the whole of the house and of the union would form but one party, and consider a foreign nation as the other.
Mr. P. said, he had risen merely for the purpose of explaining to the house the opinions and views of the committee, in relation to the resolutions now to be discussed, and he should be satisfied if he had been so fortunate as to succeed.
The question was taken on the first resolution for filling the ranks of the present army, &c. and carried.
The second resolution, which is in these words--- That an addition- *
Mr. Little moved to strike out 10,000 and insert 15,000.
Mr. Alston wished to leave the number to the discretion of the
The question was then taken on striking out the number 10,000,&c. and carried by a large majority.
The question now being on the number which was to be inserted in lieu of it
Mr. Porter was in favor of a practical number of regulars, relying on volunteers for effective service as well as regulars.
Mr. Little spoke in support of his motion.
Mr. Fisk spoke in favor of 30,000; he was desirous that our measures should be effectual.
Mr. Little spoke in favor of the House fixing the number, in preference to leaving it discretionary with the Executive.
Mr.Nelson spoke in favor of the number reported by the committee.
Mr. Seybert spoke in favor of 30,000 men. He was desirous of acting efficiently if at all.
Mr. Wright spoke in reply to Mr. Nelson, and in favor of regular troops in preference to volunteers.
Mr. Smilie thought 10,000 men would be a sufficient number, together with the volunteers, for any object they might be wanted for.
Mr. Porter proposed that the number should remain blank, as it could be better fixed, when the bill was brought in, in pursuance of the resolution.
Mr. Nelson spoke in reply to some observations of Mr. Wright on the relative importance of regulars and volunteers ; and Mr. Wright rejoined.
On the suggestion of Mr. D. R. Williams, the motions to fill the blank created by striking out “ 10,000,” were withdrawn : and the resolution, thus varied, was agreed to.
The 3d, 4th, and 5th resolutions, authorising volunteers, militia, and equipment of our little navy, were agreed to by the committee of the whole.
The sixth resolution, to permit our merchant vessels to arm, in self-defence, against all unlawful proceedings against them, being under consideration--
Mr. M'Kee spoke against it, conceiving it at variance with the system comprised in the other resolutions. He had no idea now of merely resisting ; if attacked, he would retaliate.
Mr. Smilie supported the resolution. If we were not now in war, he said he verily believed we soon should be.
Mr. Wright took the same ground with Mr. M'Kee, and moved to amend the resolution by adding thereto words similar to the following: “And if attacked by any vessel contrary to the law of nations, to capture and bring them in for adjudication.
Mr. Porter explained. The proposed amendment would make the resolution an act of war, which it was not the intention of the committee to declare in this report, or to commence until they had prepared for it.
Mr. Wright's motion was lost,
Mr. M'Kee said the parties had joined issue, and the pleadings were made up's the case was now to be decided by battle and not by jury. He therefore desired to retain the sinews of our strength, and moved an amendment contemplating AN EMBARGO for 90 days on vessels in our ports, &c.
The motion was declared to be out of order.
Mn Randolph, wishing time, moved that the report lie on the table. Motion lost, 66 to 50.
The question was then taken on the first resolution, in the following words :
Resolved, That the Military Establishment, as authorized by the existing laws, ought to be immediately completed by filling 'p the ranks and prolonging the enlistment of the troops ; and that to encourage enlistments, a bounty in lands ought to be given in addition to the pay and bounty now allowed by law.
The following are the yeas and nays on the question :
YEAS.-Messrs. Alston, Anderson, Archer, Avery, Bacon, Ba. ker, Bard, Bartlett, Bassett, 3ibb, Blackledge, Bleecker, Blount, Boyd, Breckenridge, Brown, Burwell, Butler, Calhoun, Cheves, Chittenden, Clopton, Cooke, Condit, Crawford, Davis, Dawson, Desha, Earle, Ely, Emott, Findley, Fisk, Fitch, Franklin, Gholson, Gold, Goldsborough, Goodwyn, Gray, Green, Grundy, B. Hall, o. Hall, Harper, Hawes, Hufty, Hyneman, Johnson, Kent, Key, King, Lacock, Lefever, Lewis, Little, Livingston, Lowndes, Lyle, Macon, Maxwell, Moore, M’Bryde, M'Coy, M'Kee, M?Kim, Metcalf, Milnor, Mitchill, Morgan, Mosely, Nelson, Newbold, Newton, Ormsby,Paulding, Pearson, Pickens, Piper, Pitkin, Pleasants, Pond,
Porter, Quincy,Reed,Ridgely, Ringgold, Rhea, Roane, Roberts, Sage, - Sammons, Seaver, Seybert, Shaw, Smilie, G.Smith, J. Smith, Stew
art, Stow, Strong, Sullivan, Taggart, Tallmadge, Tallman, Taliaferro, Tracy, Troup, Turner, Van Cortlandt, White, Whitehill, Williams, Widgery, Wilson, Winn, Wright.--117.
NAYS.----Messrs. Bigelow, Brigham, Champion, Davenport, Jackson, Law, Potter, Randolph, Stanford, Sturges, Wheaton.-11.
Mr. Goldsborough, after expressing his readiness, should war be once determined and declared by the administration, to go all lengths to support it; but wishing further time for reflection on so important a sobject, made a motion to adjourn, which was carried.
And the House adjourned.
Monday, Dec. 9. Mr. Porter called for the consideration of the 2d resolution in the report of the committee on Foreign Affairs-which was as follows:
2. That an additional force of ten thousand regular troops ought to he immediately raised, to serve for three years; and that a bounty in lands ought to be given, to encourage enlistments.
It was suggested, to strike out from the fourteenth paragraph of the report, the following words, “ the occasion is now presented, when the national character, traduced and misunderstood for a time by foreign and domestic enemies, should be vindicated,” as having an indirect meaning to imply federalists.
Mr. Porter said, he was willing to erase.
Mr. Wright moved to insert the words “ twenty thousand," so as to authorise the raising of that number of men.
The Speaker said this amendment was not in order.
Mr. Smilie hoped the house would decide on the general principle contained in this resolution, and leave the details to be settled here. after. A concurrence with this principle would decide the great question before the house, which an agreement to the first resolution did not.
PMr. Randolph said, he was an old-fashioned politician. In the days of terror, we shrunk at standing armies : and what is the object DowDefence? Who?- Freemen who would not defend themselves. He would ask, if seven millions of Americans were to be protected in their lives and liberties by ten thousand vagabonds who were fit food for gun.powder? It would be necessary to know the ulterior views of the committee on this point. It would be proper, before a vote was taken on this resolution, to know for what purpose these additional troops were wanted. The house ought not to commit itself on a question of such magnitude, without detailed information. He was as much opposed to raising standing armies now, as he had been in the reign of terror. He had seen too much of the corruptions attendant on these establishments, in the course of the investigation in which he was engaged, not to disclaim all share in the creation of them. The people of the United States could defend themselves, if necessary, and had no idea of resting their defence on mercenaries, picked up from brothels and tippling houses--pickpockets who have escaped from Newgate, &c. and sought refuge in this asylum of oppressed humanity. He contended, that this resolution contained an unconstitutional proposition, and that the standing army now in the service of the United States was maintained in the very teeth of that part of the constitution which declares that no money for the support of a standing army should be appropriated for more than two years. He again called for information as to the ob ject of the army now proposed to be raised ; declaring, that if the president should say they were necessary for the protection of New Orleans, to be employed against the Indians, or to repel incursions from Canada, (although this seemed not to be much thought of) he should not refuse to grant them. He declared the report to be a negative position, which could not be combated except to disadvan
tage. He wished to know the constitutional resources of the committee ; and expressed a hope, that the remarks he had made would draw out the talents of that body. Mr. Grundy, in reply to Mr. Randolph
did not expect, that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr.Randolph) would have made any inquiries into the motives or objects of that committee of which he himself was a member. He, sir, attended faithfully to his duty, and witnessed every step the committee took. He also saw the report before it was made to this house, and must have heard the exposition of our ulterior measures, as explained by our chairman. Why then, sir, shall he now affect not to understand us? Our object, by those who will listen, shall not be misunderstond. And, Mr. Speaker, as I have no political secrets, I feel no hesitation in declaring to you, to this house, and to the uation, the view I have taken of the subject. But before I do this, it is due to the committee that an explanation of their conduct should take place.
So soon as the committee on our foreign relations was appointed, we were forcibly impressed with the serious and highly responsible station you had assigned us : to that committee, consisting of nine members only, were not only the eyes of this house, but of the nation, turned ; and from us, in this the most troubled season our world has ever known, was it expected, that a course of measures would be recommended, calculated to protect the interests of seven millions of people. Under this impression, Mr. Speaker, we deem it a duty to take time for deliberation : we thought it better to ens counter the charge of having acted in a tardy and dilatory way, than to take a rash step, by which this nation might be plunged into difficulties from which it could not be easily extricated. We therefore took the necessary time to weigh the arguments both for add against the measures we have recommended ; and, as far as we are able, we surveyed the consequences which were to follow from the course proposed. We foresaw, Mr. Speaker, that our countrymen were to fall in the meditated conflict, and that American blood was to stream afresh. Nor were we unmindful of the expenditure of public treasure. And, sir, what cost more reflection than every thing else was the new test to which we are to put this government. We are about to ascertain, by actual experiment, how far our republican institutions are calculated to the shock of war, and whether, after foreign danger has disappeared, we can again assume 'our peaceful attitude, without endangering the liberties of the people.
Against these considerations, weighty in themselves, your committee felt themselves constrained to decide, influenced by existing circumstances of a character too imperious to be resisted–These I will cóumerate before I sit down. My business at present is to address a particular portion of the members of this house-I mean, sir, the republican members; and although what I am about to say might Be deemed impolitic on ordinary subjects of legislation, yet, at this