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probably are many cases of impressment which do not come to our
knowledge, and the difficulty of distinguishing British from Ameri-
can seamen very often affords a pretext for impressing the latter.
To remedy these two inconveniences the bill directs, in the first place,
agents to be appointed to reside in Great Britain, and such other
places as the President may direct, whose duty it will be to enquire
into all cases of impressed American seamen, to use all means for
their relief, and to give our government exact information on the
subject. Secondly offices to be erected, where American Seamen on
proving their citizenship, may obtain authentic certificates to protect
them from impressment. This being done, the 19th article of the
treaty provides that they shall not be molested.^

There having been a vacancy in the office of chief Justice, it was
bestowed on Mr. Cushing,* the eldest Judge. He declined it on
account of ill-health, and it has been given to Mr. Ellsworth,'^ a
Senator from Connecticut. The office of Secretary at War, vacant

> Feb. 4. Ibid., 293.

» Ibid., 372, 381 ff.

5 Xote in the original print : " By stipulating that ' all commanders of ships of War
and Privateers of one party and their subjects and citizens, shall forbear doing any dam-
age to that of the other party, or committing any outrage against them.' "

* William Gushing (1732-1810) of Massachusetts, who had been appointed associate
justice Sept. 27, 1789. The vacancy had been caused by the resignation of John Jay.

Oliver Ellsworth (1745-1807), chief justice 179&-1799.



14 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION.

by the promotion of Col. Pickering/ has been conferred on Dr.
M'Henry,^ of Baltimore, who was Secretary to the President while
commander in chief. Mr. Charles Lee ^ of Virginia, has been made
Attorney General, instead of Mr. Bradford * who died last summer.

A new state has lately been formed called Tenassee.^ It is com-
posed of the settlements on Holston, French Broad, Cumberland,
and their waters. ^ Their constitution has been sent on, and we expect
their members soon. Their general assembly for chosing them was
to be held the first of this month. They will be intitled to two mem-
bers in the House of Representatives.*

A Law has been passed fixing the compensation of the Senators and
Representatives.^ It remains at six dollars a day. And by an ap-
propriation Law which has been passed for the support of govern-
ment this year it appears, that the whole expences of the civil de-
partments for 1796, including all the salaries of officers, support of
Congress, the mint, judicial departments, etc., are not to exceed
530,392 dollars, which is less than the annual allowance lately voted
by the British Parliament for the Prince of Wales. Of this sum the
mint costs 52,464 dollars.^

Considerable progress has been made in the six frigates ordered to
be built by a former act of Congress. The greater part of the work
is done to some of them, and far the greater part of the materials for
all. These vessels, in size excellence of materials and excellence of
workmanship far surpass any of the kind, heretofore built in any
country: but the expence greatly exceeds the first estimate, Avhich
was 688,888 dollars. Of this sum 458,971 dollars has already been
expended, and it is now estimated that to finish them all completely
would cost 453,272 dollars more; making in the whole 1,142,160 dol-
lars. The sum already expended being 458,971 dollars, leaves a
balance from the former appropriation of 229,917 dollars; which, it
is estimated will be sufficient to finish two, which may be ready for
sea in November. It will be a desirable thing to finish them all for
the better protection of our commerce, if money can be spared: but
as the present revenues may not be more than sufficient to defray
the annual expence, and pay that part of the public debt which is to
be annually discharged ; and as it will by no means be proper to lay

"Timothy Pickering (1745-1829), commissioned secretary of state Dec. 10, 1795, on
Randolph's resignation.

2 James McHenry (1753-1816), secretary of war from Jan. 27, 1796, until 1800.
•Charles Lee (1758-1815), attorney-general from Dec. 10, 1795, until 1801.

* William Bradford (1755-1795) of Pennsylvania, attorney-general from 1794 until
his death, 1795.

° The convention which drafted the state constitution for Tennessee met at Knox-
ville, Jan. 11, 1796. Tennessee was admitted to the Union June 1, 1796, in spite of the
opposition of the Federalists.

• Note In the original print : " This being a subject of doubt, they claimed, and were
allowed, but one."

' Feb. 20. "Annals ". 4 Cong., 1 sess., 381.
■Jan. 25. Ibid., 253-263, 266.



LETTERS OF R. G. HARPER^ 1796. 15

new taxes for any such purpose : it is had in view to finish only two,
and reserve the materials already provided for the others, till the
state of the finances will permit the whole to be completed.

The actual military force of the United States amounts to 3228
non-commissioned officers and privates, 240 of which are cavalry ; 731
artillery: and 2257 infantry. Of this force 2039 are in the Arm}'^
North-west of the Ohio, 222 at Pittsburg, Fort Franklin, and Presque
Isle; 350 on the frontiers of Georgia; 33 in the South-western Terri-
tory; and 584 at West Point, the different fortifications of the har-
bours, and the several recruiting stations. The support of this force,
together with the expences of fortifications at the various sea ports,
of erecting arsenals and magazines, and of intercourse with the In-
dians, costs the United States 1,480,227 dollars annually. This ex-
pence will be diminished in consequence of the termination of the
Indian war; but there are doubts about the propriety of reducing
the number of troops. 2000 men are thought by many not to be more
than sufficient to protect so extensive a frontier, and garrison so many
posts. This subject however has not yet been taken up by the House,
and it is impossible to say how it may be settled. This will depend
much on the report of the committee, to whom it has been for some
time referred.

By the returns into the Treasury it appears, that the nett proceeds
of duties of impost and tonnage in 1794. including fines and forfei-
tures, were 6,083,313 dollars; in 1793 they were 6.073,512, and in 1792.
4,615,559. It must however be remarked, that between 1792 and
1793 the duties were augmented. The returns for 1795 are not yet
compleat. Of the nett amount in 1794, New Hampshire paid 38,798
dollars, Vermont 1.420. Massachusetts 1,037,756, Rhode Island
89,423, Connecticut 171,828, New York 1,860,763, New Jersey 15,391,
Pennsylvania 1,473,996, Delaware 24,590, Maryland 795,728, Virginia
389,970, North Carolina 78,793, South Carolina 651,916. and Georgia
88,194. Making up in the whole, after some deductions for occasional
charges, the above sum of 6,683,313 dollars. The whole expence of
collection was 221.090 dollars.

Of the above amount 2,699 dollars are for fines and forfeitures;
80,113 for tonnage; and the balance, 6,600,501 dollars for duties on
goods imported.

The tonnage duties are paid by the different states in the following
proportions. NeAv Hampshire 601 dollars, Vermont , Massa-
chusetts 18,121, Phode Island 2,500, Connecticut 1.953, New York
14,388. Pennsylvania 12,075, Delaware 541. Maryland 5.056. Vir-
ginia ().431, North Carolina 3.808, South Carolina 10.751. and Georgia
3,112. Kentucky having no ports, pays directly no duties either on
imports or tonnage. Indirectly she pays duties on imports, because
goods brought into the Atlantic ports are sent overland and con-



16 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIOlSr.

sumed among her citizens, who repay the duty in the price of the
article.

The total amount in one year of the internal revenues, consisting
of the duties on stills and distilled spirits, sales at Auction, snuff
manufactured, snuff mills, sugar refined, carriages, and licences to
retailers of spirituous liquors, is 528,481 dollars; of which sum stills
and distilled spirits pay 357,539, Sales at auction 31,289, snuff manu-
factured 2,399, snuff mills 7,112, sugar refined 33,988, carriages
41,421, and retailers licences 54,731.

These taxes being all collected by one set of officers, who receive
salaries, it is impossible to ascertain precisely what expence is in-
curred by the collection of any one tax : but the whole expence of col-
lection on all is 84,943 dollars ; which leaves a nett balance of revenue
to the Treasury, of 443,538 dollars.

To shew how these taxes operate among the states it may be re-
marked, that of the above nett balance New Hampshire pays 2,757
dollars, IMassachusetts 94,616, Rhode Island 33,513, Connecticut
10,904, Vermont 679, New York 40,582, New Jersey 14,937, Pennsyl-
vania 98,518, Delaware 4,233, Maryland 36,097, Virginia 63,403, Ken-
tuclr^ 16,000, North Carolina 9,977, South Carolina 15,626, and
Georgia 1,689.

The gross sum paid by South Carolina from these taxes is 20,580
dollars, of which stills and distilled spirits pay 10,557, sales at auc-
tion 5,321, snuff manufactured 5 snuff mills , sugar refined ,

Carriages 3,016, and retailers licences 1,680. The whole expence of
collection in that state is 3,954, which leaves the above nett balance of
15,626, for our proportion of the sum actually paid into the Treasury.

In the year 1794 the quantity of shipping which entered in the
ports of the United States was 828,141 tons, of which 745,525, was
American. The whole amount which entered in 1790, was only
476,890. In that year the quantity of British shipping which intered
in our ports was 216,914, and in 1794, it was only 37,058. From which
it follows that from 1790, to 1794 inclusive, our commerce very nearly
doubled, and the foreign shipping employed in it decreased more
than seven fold; our own increasing during the same period nearly
four fold.

On the last of December 1794 the people of the United States
owned 628,677 ton of shipping. Of this quantity there belonged to
New Hampshire 14,524 tons, to Massachusetts 224,743, to Rhode
Island 24,783, to Connecticut 31,436, to New York 95,006, to New
Jersey 7,344, to Pennsylvania 74,167, to Delaware 2,300, to Maryland
55,380, to Virginia 45,700, to North Carolina 20,573, to South Caro-
lina 25,918, and to Georgia 4,234.

It having been long a subject of complaint that there is great ir-
regularity and derangement in the Post Office, whereby the communi-



LETTEES OF R. G. HARPER, 1796. 17

cation between the various parts of the Union is rendered very tedious
and uncertain, a committee has been appointed to enquire into that
subject, and report what legislative provision is necessary. We hope
the delays and uncertainty so justly complained of will soon be
remedied, some new post-roads and office erected, and the communica-
tion made not only less precarious, but more general.

The last accounts from Europe, which are not very late, give us no
news of a very interesting nature. There is a great scarcity of grain
in England, which has induced the Parliament to give a very high
bounty on its importation. This will encrease the price of provi-
sions in this country, already enormously high.^ There was, and no
doubt still is, great uneasiness in England on account of some very
tyrannical bills brought into Parliament by the minister for prevent-
ing meetings of the people. In the meantime the government con-
tinues the war, and goes on at its usual rate of profligate expence.
The Minister^ has an immense majority in the House of Commons.
He has lately borrowed 18,000,000?. Sterling for the expences of the
present year. This is nearly twice as much as the whole public debt
of America. Last year he added 27,000,000Z. Sterling to the national
debt; which he has already encreased upwards of 60,000,000?. by the
present war against France.

The French Legislature is happily employed in reducing their
finances to some order, and providing for the reestablishment of their
Navy, and the interior order of the Republic. Their internal commo-
tions, are nearly, perhaps quite, at an end; and their armies on the
frontier are formidable and successful. On the Rhyne however,
little has been done. We often hear of victories gained by one side
and the other, but they have hitherto turned out to be only incon-
siderable advantages. In Italy their success has been very great.
Bread is said to be very scarce in the country. Peace in the mean-
time between them and the Austrians and English appears to be still
distant.

We hear that Mr. De La Fayette ' has been released, and is on his
way to America; but this is not certain.

^ The matter from this point to the paragraph beginning, " We hear " was struclt
out by the author. Th«re is a certain significance in the omission of the sentence respect-
ing British legislation, especially if, as we conjecture, the form in which these printed
letters are now found Indicates preparation for reprinting in a volume nineteen or
twenty years later. For in fact, though the fact has, we believe, hardly been mentioned
by any historian, the Sedition Act passed by the Federalists in 1798 was closely modelled
on the provisions of the British measures here alluded to, the Treasonable Practices Act,
36 Geo. Ill, c. 7, and the Seditious Meetings Act, 36 Geo. Ill, c. 8, both passed Dec. 18,
1795 (and the Alien Act, less closely, on the British Alien Act, 33 Geo. III., c. 4). In
1814 a Federalist might naturally wish to omit a sentence In which, in 1796, he had
stigmatized these British statutes as tyrannical.

« William Pitt.

•Lafayette was not released until 1797.
62513°— VOL 2—15 2



18 AMEEICAN HISTOEICAL ASSOCIATION.

As soon as any decision takes place on the important question now
under discussion in Congress I will inform you of it. Till then be-
lieve me to be, My Dear Sir, With respect, yours etc.

Harper to his Constituents.

Philadelphia, April 10^ 1796.

Dear Sir : In my last I informed you that a motion had been made
in the House of Representatives, " that the President be requested to
lay before the House the instructions to the minister who negociated
the late treaty between Great-Britain and the United States, and the
papers and correspondence attending the negociation, except such of
them as any existing negociation may render improper to be dis-
closed." A motion was made by Mr. Madison to strike out the last
part of the resolution, and insert the following words, " except such
of them as in his opinion the interest of the United States may render
it improper at this time to disclose." This amendment however was
not carried.^

A very long debate then took place on the original motion. It
was opposed on the ground, that the Constitution having given the
power of making treaties exclusively to the President and Senate,
the House of Representatives had nothing to do with them, but to
judge in the first place whether they were made according to the
Constitution, and secondly whether if so made the necessary laws
ought to be passed for carrying them into effect: That the papers
were not necessar^^ for either of those purposes, but both points must
be decided by the treaty itself; since if unconstitutional on the face
of it, the instructions or correspondence could not make it otherwise,
and if so bad that it ought to be broken, the instructions and corre-
spondence could not make it good. It was admitted that the House
might demand the papers for the purpose of impeaching the nego-
ciator or the President; but then this purpose ought to be avowed,
and expressed in the resolution. This was my opinion and that of
many others.

There were some who went further, and contended that when a
treaty had been constitutionally made, it became, by the constitution,
the supreriK law of the land; and the House of Representatives had
no right to deliberate whether it should be carried into effect or not,
but was bound immediately to pass all necessary laws for that pur-
pose, except in some extreme cases, where the greatness of the
danger would justify resistance to a law.

These two descriptions of persons voted against the resolution, be-
cause in their opinion it implied a right in the House of Representa-

» "Annals ", 4 Cong., 1 sess., 438 ff.



LETTERS OF R. G. HARPER, 1796. 19

tives to interfere in making treaties, contrary to the express words
and intent of the Constitution.

On the other side it was contended that treaties, when they relate
to any legislative subjects, are incomplete till sanctioned by the
House of Kepresentatives, and that the House ought to see all the
instructions and papers, to enable it to judge whether its sanction
ought to be given. It was also said that though an impeachment was
not intended, it might possibly appear to be proper, and that when
papers or other information were called for, it was not necessary to
state the purpose for which they were wanted. And further it was
contended, that even for the purpose of judging whether the House
would concur in passing laws to carry the treaty into effect, these
papers were necessary; because they might shew that though not a
good treaty, it was the best that could be made.

The first principle, " that treaties are incomplete in certain cases,
without the sanction of the House," was warmly contested, and gave
rise to a long able and interesting debate. Those who at first ad-
vanced it at length explained it away, and concluded with declaring
that they meant nothing more than that where a treaty touched on
subjects delegated by the constitution to the legislative power, it
must depend for its effect on laws, which the House might concur in
or not, as it should think consistent with the public good. And to
judge whether it would so concur the papers, they said, were neces-
sary. The motion was finally agreed to, by a considerable majority,
and the resolution sent to the President.

He took some days to consider of it ; and then sent a message to the
House, in which after explaining at some length his opinion respect-
ing the power of making treaties under the constitution, and his
reasons, he concludes thus :

"As therefore it is perfectly clear to my understanding, that the
assent of the House of Representatives is not necessary to the validity
of a treaty ; as the treaty with Great-Britain exhibits in itself all the
objects requiring legislative provision, and on these the papers called
for can throw no light ; and as it is essential to the due administration
of the government, that the boundaries fixed by the constitution
between the different departments should be preserved; a just regard
to the Constitution and to the duty of my office, under all the cir-
cumstances of this case, forbid a compliance with j^our request."

This message was referred to a committee of the whole House,
where the following resolutions were proposed and agreed to without
debate.^

Resolved, That it being declared by the 2d section of the 2d
article of the constitution, " That the President shall have power,
by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties.

1 Ibid., 769 fif.



20 AMERICAN HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIOIir.

provided two thirds of the Senators present concur," the House of
Kepresentatives do not claim any agency in making treaties; but that
when a treaty stipulates regulations on any of the subjects submitted
by the constitution to the power of Congress, it must depend for
its execution, as to such stipulations, on a law or laws to be passed
by Congress ; and it is the constitutional right and duty of the House
of Representatives, in all such cases, to deliberate on the expediency
or inexpediency of carrying such treaty into effect, and to determine
and act thereon, as in their judgment may be most conducive to the
public good.

Resolved^ That it is not necessary to the propriety of any applica-
tion from the House to the Executive for information desired by
them, and which may relate to any constitutional functions of the
House, that the purposes for which such information maj^ be wanted,
or to which the same may be applied, should be stated in the appli-
cation.

All those who had voted against the call for papers, and some
others, voted against those resolutions, on the ground that they were
umiecessary, and might be hurtful; inasmuch as they might tend to
bring about division and dispute between the different branches of
the government. They were carried by a considerable majority.

This day or to-morrow the House will enter into the consideration
of the treaty ; in order to decide whether the necessary laws shall be
passed for carrying it into effect. This crisis is very important.
Should the laws not be passed it is impossible to foresee the conse-
quences, to our peace, our prosperity, and our national honour.

By a late report of the committee of ways and means it appears,
that our present revenue is sufficient to defray all our present ex-
penses, including the interest of the public debt now payable, and
such part of the principle as the government is bound annually to
pay. It also appears that there is everj'' reason to expect an encrease
of revenue, from the encrease of commerce and the sale of public
lands. But as this encrease is not certain ; and in the year 1801 the
interest of the deferred debt, amounting to about 1,200,000 dollars an-
nually, will begin to be payable, it may be necessary to provide new
revenues by that time. The committee therefore has recommended
a duty on stamps, and an encrease of the duty on carriages of pleas-
ure; and also that the Secretary of the Treasury should be directed
to prepare, and lay before Congress at next session, a plan of direct
taxes.^ This last proposition was agreed to, not because it was
thought direct taxes would be necessary, but because they may per-
haps be necessary ; and in that case the plan ought to be in readiness.
The proposition for stamps was sent back to the committee.

* "Annals", 4 Cong., 1 sess., 856.



LETTERS OF E. G. HAEPER, 1796. 21

It has been agreed to reduce the military establishment to 3,000
men ; which is about the number actually in pay. The number hereto-
fore directed by law, was 6,000. Three of the six frigates are also
directed to be equipt immediately, and the other three suspended;
such materials as are perishable to be sold, and the rest preserved
till it may be convenient to equip the whole number.

Thus stand our affairs at present. As soon as the fate of the ques-
tion on the treaty is known you will be informed of it. Till then

1 am, my dear sir, your's, truely.

Harper to his Constituents.

Philadelphia, May '2d, 1796.

On Saturday, my dear Sir, the 30th of April, the Resolution to
make provision for carrying into effect the Treaty with Great Britain
was carried in the House of Representatives, by a majority of three:
there being fifty-one votes in favour of it, and against it forty-eight.
This made ninety-nine who voted. Two members were out of the
House, one had resigned, and two were absent on leave. These,
with the Speaker, who did not vote, make up the whole nimiber
of Representatives. The two members who were out of the House
were against the Treaty. The member who resigned and the Speaker
were in favour of it; and of the two absent on leave one was in
favour and the other against. So that if the whole number of
Representatives, 105, had been present, there would have been a ma-
jority of three voices for the Resolution.^

When it was found that the Resolution would be carried, an at-
tempt was made to annex a Preamble to it, declaring the Treaty to
be in the opinion of the House highly objectionable, and injurious
to the interests of the United States : But this Preamble was rejected
by a majority of one voice.

The votes from the different States, on this Question, were divided
as follows:

New Hampshire: 4 members; 3 for, 1 absent. Massachusetts: 14
members; 10 for, 3 against, 1 absent. Rhode Island: 2 members;

2 for. Connecticut : 7 members ; 7 for. Vermont : 2 members ; 1 for,
1 against. New York: 10 members; 7 for, 3 against. New Jersey:
5 members; 4 for, the Speaker 1. Pennsylvania: 13 members; 7 for,
5 against, 1 out of the House. Delaware: 1 member; 1 out of the
House. Maryland: 8 members; 6 for, 1 against, 1 resigned. Vir-
ginia: 19 members; 1 for, 18 against. Kentucky: 2 members; 2
against. North Carolina: 10 members; 1 for, 9 against. South
Carolina: 6 members; 2 for, 4 against. Georgia: 2 members; 2
against.

» Ibid., 1282-1292.



22 AMEEICAN HISTOEICAL ASSOCIATION.

Makes in favour 51

Against 48



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