United States. Congress.

Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856 : from Gales and Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of debates, and from the official reported debates by John C. Rives online

. (page 143 of 188)
Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856 : from Gales and Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of debates, and from the official reported debates by John C. Rives → online text (page 143 of 188)
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schooner Enterpxise, manifested in an engagement
with, and in the capture o^ a-Tripolitan corsair, of
superior force, in the Mediterranean Sea, fitted out by
the Bej of that Regency to harass the trade, captoie
the yessels, and enwiye the citizens, of these States,
the Preadent o( the United States be requested
tq present Lieutenant Storret with a gold medal, with
Boch suitable dcTicos thereon, as he i£all deem proper,
and emblematic of that heroic action, and the mercy
extended to a barbarous enemy, who three times
struck his colors twice, and reoommeuoed hostili-
ties : an act of humanity, however unmerited, highly
honorable to the American flag and nation; and
that the President of the United States be also re-
quested to present to each of the Lieutenants, Porter
and Lawson, of the Navy, and Lieutenant Lane of
the Marines, who were serving on board the Enter-
prise in the engagement, and contributed, by their
gallant conduct, to the success of the day, a sword,
-with such suitable deTlces as the President may
deem fit
" Be it fiaiher resolved, In consideration of the in-
trepid behayior of the orew of the Enterprise, under
, the orders of their gallant commander, and their re*
ceiving no prize money, the corsair being dismantled
and released after her capture, that one month's pay,
over and above the usual allowance, be paid to all the
other officers^ sailors, and marines, who were actually
on board and engaged in that action ; for the expen-
diture of which charge Congress wQl make the ne-
cessary appropriation."

The question was taken that the House do
concur with the Committee of the whole House
in their disagreement to the same, and resolved
in the affirmative.

The resolutions contained in the report of the
select committee, to which the Oonmiittee of
the whole House reported their agreement,
being twice read, in the words following, to

** Beeolved 5y the Senate and ffoiue of Beprttentc^
lives of the Umted States of America in Congrees as-
sembled, That they entertain a high sense of the gal-
lant conduct of Lieutenant Sterret, and the oUier
oflScers, seamen, and marines, on board the schooner
Enterprise, in the captora of a Tripolitan corsair, of
fourteen guns and eighty men.

"Besolved, That the President of the United
States be requested to presmit to Lieutenant Storret
a sword, commemorative of the aforesaid heroio ac-
tion ; and that one month's extra pay be allowed to
Vol. n.— 88

all the other officers, seamen, and marines, who
were on board the Enterprise when the aforesaid
action took place."

• The question was taken that the House do
concur with the Committee of the whole House
in their agreement to the same, and resolved in
the affirmative.

Ordered, That the said resolutions be en-
grossed, and read the third time to-morrow.

Monday, February 8.
Imprisonment far Debt.

Mr. SMn.iB called up his resolution that a
committee be appointed to revise the laws re-
specting imprisonment for debts due the United
States. His objects, he siad, were two ; to se-
cure the debtor's property, and to inflict some
penalty or provide some remedy instead of im-
prisonment for life.

Mr. RuTLSDOB was opposed to imprisonment
for life, where the delator gave up his whole
property, and was unable to pay all. He had
known, in South Carolina, revenue officers im-

Erisoned for debts due the United States, who
ad been many years confined; men of good
character, men of honesty, but who, through
ignorance of transacting certain business, or
their misfortunes, were unable to pay. He knew
an individual of that State who had applied to
that House for relief; his petition was referred
to the Secretary of the Treasury ; the Secretary^
felt a delicacy in interfering in the case ; the*
petition was not granted ; and the person had
now been m jail five years, though his inability
to pay did not arise from having wasted the
public money, or from anght but misfortune ;-
for he was acknowledged to be a man of good
character. He was averse to such cruelty.
Hence the necessity of making some provision
that the innocent, when distanct^ons can, as in-
most instances, be made, may not be subjected
to cruel punishments, that were of no benefit to
the United States. Why send him to jailf
Why lode him up there? Why prevent his
being able to suppoirt his family ?

Mr. SMiiJi:.^t is the case that when yon
exceed in making your laws what is reasonable,
those laws, as the present concerning debtors to
the United States, will not be executed. The
present law cannot be put in execution* He
wished some sufficient penalty. This was not
the proper stage to give hb sentiments; were
it, he should say, he thou^ the defaulter
ought to give up the property, and perhaps be
imprisoned a period. But the Legislature are
not the proper judges, and ought not to inter-
fere; the Legislative and Judicial Departmenta
should be kept separate. We want some uni-
form law, operating on all according to their
The subject was postponed till to-moirow^

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[Febrvast, 1808.

Fridat, February 13.
State Balances,

Mr. Thomas called up his motion respecting
State Balances, which is as follows :

** JRetohed, That a ocmunittee be appointed to in-
qniro into tikie expediency of extinguishing the claimi
of the United States for certain balances, which,
by the Ck>mmis8ionerB Appointed to setde the accounts
between the United States and the indiyidnal States,
were reported to be due from several of the States to
the United States, and that the said committee haTe
leave to report by bill or otherwise."

Ht. Batabd hoped the resolution would pre-
Tail The debtor States, not satisfied with the
settlement made by the Board of Commission-
ers, had asked for information respecting the
grounds on which it had been made. The in-
formation had been imperiously refused. In
his opinion it was but right, if the debtor States
did not dispute the yalimty of the debts due to
the creditor States, that they should agree to
expunge the claims against the debtor States.
Indeed, he had been assured that the commis-
non was not instituted with a view of sustain-
ing any charges against the debtor States, but
for ascertaining the amount due to the creditor
States, and funding them ; and he believed it
had been so understood at the time. This
was an affair not determinable by the ordi-
nary rules applied to individual cases. Many
of the States, not expecting a settlement, had
kept no accounts or vouchers; and however
great the supplies they contributed under such
circumstances, they received no credits for them ;
while those States which had been most careful
in the preservation of vouchers, shared a differ-
ent and a better &te.

Mr. B. believed it was the true policy of the
creditor States to agree to the extinguishment of
these balances. He believed thev never could
be paid, because no State allowed them to be
due. They would not, therefore, be paid vol-
untarily ; and he knew of no force in the United
States to compel payment. Why. then, keep
up a source of irritation« which could do no pos-
sible good, and which could only tend to repel
some States from that constitution, which we
all ought to endeavor to make the object of gen-
eral affection f

Mr. SoiTTHABD said, he had yet heard no rea-
son that convinced him that the resolution of-
fered was just or proper. It would be recol-
lected that this contract was made under the
confederation. In the establishment of our in-
dependence, great and various exertions had
been made. In the contributions made, great
inequalities took place, which were unavoidable.
QeneraUy, where the war existed, the States
became creditor States. It was just that those
States which had contributed more than their
diare should be repaid, and that those who had
paid less should make up the deficiency. If the
debtor States were not to pay their balances,
why settle the accounts? To relinquish the
payment would be^ in his opinion, not only un-

just but unconstitutionaL The oonstitation sayi,
^^ All debts contracted, and engagements enter-
ed into, before the adoption of this constitution,
shall be as valid against the United States, under
this constitution as under the Confederation ;^
and the present Government had recognized
those debts as Just. The gentleman from Dela-
ware says, the settlement is not just. But this
was barely the suggestion of ^ own mind.
To sustain it, he ought to have shown its d^ecb;
but this he had not done.

Mr. MrroHiLL was in &vor of the resolntiflii,
as he believed arefosal to adopt it would beat-
tended with unpleasant sensations. He judged
so from an historic^ review of the bnaneaa.
The several States had associated to^ethtf f(»
their conunon defence, and, in the eye of equity,
whatever that defence required, shonld consti-
tute a common charge. The accounts of ex-
penses thus incurred were not settled till the
new Government was established. That Got-
ernment fixed the mode of settlement ; it ap-
pointed a board of referees, to report the deUs
and credits of the respective States. In this
report, it was the fortune of certain States, not*
withstanding the greatness of their contribu-
tions, to be reported debtor States. These
States became debtors from the independent
spirit with which they asserted their sovereigi
rights. Not relying on the general contribu-
tions, they fhrnished great supplies without
makinff any charge to the Union ; by exerting
all their strength, they paid as they wait, and
preserved no vouchers of what they paid. This,
he averred, was the case as to the State which
he had the honor in part to represent ; a State
as willing as able to contribute, and whidi did
contribute to a great extent; but which had t
neglected to preserve her vouchers, the preser-
vation of which would have made her a credi-
tor State. He believed, therefore, that in equity,
the States were not bound to pay these bnl^ioea.
But to this it is replied, the award is final He
would' not agree to that; he denied it. Besides,
there was a want of coercive power in the Uni-
ted States to enforce those demands. From
this consideration alone, we ought to proceed
with lenity, and endeavor to make the settle-
ment a peaceable one. As in other circum-
stances, we ought to make a virtne of neoeaaty.

Mr. S. Smith sud, he did not rise to take any
part in the debate, but in order to bring the
subject directly before the committee. To do
which, he moved so to amend the resolution as
to make it read, " Resolved, That it is expedient
to extinguish the clidms," ko,

Mr. Lowndes hoped the amendment would
not be agreed to. He did not see the expe-
diency of volunteering a relinquishment of the
claims established against several of the States.
The amendment was calculated to take the
committee by surprise. The original resolutkn
went merely to consider the expediency of a
relinquifihment ; the amendment involved the
principle itsel£

Mr. Hill was desiroiu the amendment should

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not be made, not from any indispoalion himself
to agree to it, bnt from a regara to the senti-
ments of other gentlemen. Even if it was as-
certained that these debts had arisen on a Just
consideration, yet, in his opinion, they ought to
be extinguished, from the principle that, in our
Government, whatever hazarded the hannony
of the Union^ ought to be avoided. Precedents
were not wanting in which sacxifices w6re made
to this principle. He alluded to the quieting
the claims under Oonnecticut rights. But,
"Whatever might be the general ideas on this
subject elsewhere, he knew not a man in Nortiti
Carolina, who did not believe the a^ustment
iniquitous. To show the committee now the-
citizens of that State felt, he would state a case
that had occurred before the Board of Oonmiis-
fiioners. Two claims had been made, both for
the same amount and the same description of
supplies, one on pne side and one on the other
ade, of Pedee River ; one in North, and the other
in South Carolina; and, in one case, seven shil-
lings had been allowed, and in the other, only
sixpence for the bushel of wheat. The business
generally was entitled to the attention of Con-
gress. It had, in fact, already been attended
to at different times. New York had extin-
guished eight hundred thousand dollars of her
balance und^ certain provi£&ons applied to her

Mr. Baook said, if the object of the motion
was to go into a new liquidation of the old ac-
counts between the United States and the sev-
eral States, it would not only take up eveir day
of the present session, but tiie work would be
left un&iished for our successors. These debts
had been incurred in a common cause, in which
each State was equally interested, and towards
w^hich each State was bound equally to contri-
bute. When Congress made requisitions on tiiis
principle, they were accompanied by a promise
that there should be a final liquidation. This
liquidation was made; the settiement was com-
plete. But this settiement is now objected to.
and what is to be done ? Why we must annul
the contract. This might satisfy some of the
States, but he was sure it would dissatisfy others.
He saw, therefore, no end to be answered by
the motion. We must either set aside all that
had been done, and begin de novo^ to which this
body is incompetent, or rest satia/ied with what
is already done.

Mr. B. WnuAMB observed, that since he had
held a seat in the House, this subject had been
almost every session called up. The more he
had heard it discussed, the more he became con-
vinced of the necessity of getting it out of the
way. He found that whenever it was brought
up, all was imagination. One State contended
that it had contributed largely, and another,
that its exertions had not been surpassed.

We are asked, why relinquish these balances
before we are solicited by the States f He would
reply that North Carolina never had recognized
the debt, and, in his opinion, never would ap-
ply for its extinguishment, *" "' ""

n, uever wuuiu ap-

He was in favor of

the amendment, because the principle ought to
be decided here, and not in a select committee.
What, indeed, could such committee report?
There were no vouchers or books whereon the
settiement had been made to be got at. All
they could do, then, would be to report the bal-
ances alleged to be due, which any member
could at anv time learn.

It seemea almost useless to go into arguments
to show the injustice of the claim, and of con-
sequence, the justice of the resolution. It had
been justly said, that those States which had
contributed the Tuost, had, by the report of the
Commissioners, the most to pay ; and this was
peculii^ so with the State of North Carolina.

Mr. W. had forborne to dwell on the injus-
tice of these demands. But were he to enter
on that branch of the discnsdon, he should say
that the venr act of destroying all the vouchers
was of itself sufficient to justify any suspicion.
He should say, that for what) in some States,
there had be^ an allowance of one hundred
pounds, North Carolina had not been allowed
twenty shillings. Could, then, gentiemen talk
of moral obligation, and say that this was a just

Mr. T. MoBBiB said, it was contended that the
accounts should be opened anew and re-examin-
ed. The fears, therefore, of the gentieman from
Massachusetts, were entirely visionary. The

resolution was a simple one. It proposes to in-
quire into the expediency of doins away these
debts. The amendment goes to determine the
principle here. He thought it proper the prin«
ciple should be settied here. But gentiemen
say they want information. If so, after the
amendment is agreed to, they may move for a
postponement If the amendment were carried,
he would himself move a postponement

It had been said that New York had had
eight hundred thousand dollars of her debt re«
mitted by the United States. But how did the
case^eallv stand f New York had availed her-
self of the act of Congress, not because she
acknowledged the debt to be just, but because
she pKrefen^ doing something to remaining in
the situation towards the United States in which
she stood. It was strange, then, to hear gentie-
men say that New York had been favored.
What was the factf North Carolina, according
to the gentieman, had not, and would not, pay
one cent ; and New York had discharged a great-
er sum than was due by all the other c&btor
States, with the exception df Delaware. She
was, therefore, instead of being favored, placed
in a worse ntuation than any other State. It
was from the existence of this state of things
that he wished a final decision to be made this
session. New York having agreed to make
certain payments to the United States, it was
important to her to know whether the United
States meant to enforce payment by the other
States. Her situation would be truly unfor-
tunate, if after agreeing to pay, the United
States suffered her dahns against the other
States to sleep. She would not only have to

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[Fkbbdast, 180S.

pay her quota of the dehts, hnt would see no
prospect of deriving her share of henefit from
the pajinents of the other dehtor States.

Mr. Maoon said the snhjeot was a very old
one, which had occupied much time every ses-
sion for many years, and he thought it would he
as well to try the question now as at any other
time. No information of a select committee
could throw any new light upon it.

There was a fact which ought to have great
weight with the conmiittee. One of the Com-
missioners who made the settlement, who was
a member of this House, had^ after the settle-
ment, proposed a resolution to extinguish the
bdances of the debtor States ; and he had sta-
ted, as a reason for this measure, that the prin-
ciple adopted by the board had operated veiy
har^y upon particular States. Mr. M. had it
from authority not to be (juestioned, that in the
settlement by the Commissioners, teams, with
the usual number of horses, had not produced
twenty shillings.

This subject had hung over our heads for
eight years, and no scheme was yet devised for
coUecting the balances. How could they be
collected ? Congress had, it is true, authorized
-expenditures by the States in the erection of
fortifications; but this verv act was a tacit con-
fession of the impracticability of getting the
money into the public Treasury. As to a set-
tlement with Korth Carolina, it was involved
in great difficulty. In the act of cession of lands
by that State to the United States, it was pro-
vided that the territory ceded should be plecged
to pay a proportional share of the balance due
the United States. How could that share be

Mr. M. regretted that this subject had been
brought up. He should not himself have been
for brmging it up, for he thought the claims of
the United States not worth a rush. The truth
was, the States had all exerted themselves in
one great and common cause ; they had done
their best; they had acted with great glory.
As to the State which he representeo, he would
^ask if the first blood that had been spilled after
that shed at Boston was not in North Carolina?
and that was the blood of brother against bro-
ther. I^e desired not, however, to make com-
parisons, ^vhich were always unpleasant, but
to show that North Carolina had no reason to
shrink from an inquiry which would demon-
strate that she had fully contributed her share
in the common cause, without meaning to assert
that she had done more than other States. Let,
then, Congress decide at once, and abandon the
daims altogether, or devise some plan for col-
lecting them, that we maj know how we

Mr. Dana said, I hope the amendment will
not be agreed to. However gentlemen may be
possessed of a wholesale intellect, that enables
them to decide on interesting questions without
a mementos reflection, I confess I am not blessed
with so happy an intuition. I do not know that
I have ever been called upon to form aa opin-

ion on this subiect. As to a reference of it to a
committee, I think their investigation may be
useful, and after we get that, we may take time
to decide. But now the plan is changed, and
we are called upon to decide at once the princi-
ple. This mode of transacting business may be
called an economy of time. Ton may g^ve it
the name, but it is not the substance. For my
part, I desire to proceed according to our old
plan, and go through the slow process of inves-
tigation. This is my way, and gentlemen may
rest assured that this mode of hurrying business
is not the way to save time, but to lose it.

Mr. Batabd declared himself in fiivor of the
amendment, and lie could not think, notwith-
standing the remarks of his honorable friend
from Connecticut, that any gentieman in the
House was unprepared to vote upon it The
subject had been frequently discussed, and he
believed that the House was then as well pie-
pared for a decision as ihey would be for a cen-
tury to come. It involved but a single princi-
ple ; and, as to information, he could scarcely
tell what information was wanted. He fe&
much of the indifiference of the gentleman from
North Carolina, (Mr. Maook.) He was sure
the United States had neither the right, nor the
power to recover these balances; and he re-
peated it as his opinion, that it had not been
the original intention that the debtor States
should pay them. Will gentiemen recollect that
the commission was institLted under the old
Confederation. Had Congress, then, a right to
do any thing to bind the sovereignties of the
independent States ? All ihe^ could do was to

gaas resolutions making reqmsitions, which the
tates might or might not comply with. They
could appoint Commissioners to settle the ac-
counts, but could they impose the debts npon
the States ? No, they could not It therefore,
never could have been contemplated that they
would establish those debts. The only effect
that could have been contemplated, was, that
the creditor States might rely that, on a settie-
ment. Congress would assume their balances.

On the question being put, the amendment
was lost— yeas 41, nays 46.

When the original resolution for referring to
a select committee the consideration of the ex-
pediency of extinguishing the balances was

Ordered^ ThatMr.TnoiCAfl, Mr. Batabd, Mr.
Danta, Mr. Hill, and Mr. Btjtleb, be appointed
a committee, pursuant to the said resolntion.

And the House ac|joumed«

TuBSDAT, February 16.

Jtidiciary Syitem.

The House then went into Committee of the
Whole on the Judiciary bill from the Senate.*

* A d«bftt6 of great length end eerneatneee now took ptee
in the Hoiue on this Tepeeling Utt eent down lh»i the Benalei
•ndpeaeedtherebxain^oxltjof oaljooe. Thsfrvioptfttai

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[H. or B.

Mr. HxNDBBSoN. — ^I should not rise to offer
my opinion on the great question before the
committee, were I not placed in a situation dif-
ferent from that in which I have been since I
have had the honor of a seat in this House.
The Legislature of the State of North Carolina,
one of whose representatives I am on this floor,
have seen proper to instruct their Senators and
to reoommend to their Eepresentatives in Con-
gress, to use their exertions to procure a repeal
of the law passed the last session of Congress,
for the more convenient organization of the
Ck)urt8 of the United States, and the bill on
your table has for its object the repeid of this
law, and as I shall probably vote against its
passage, a decent respect for the opinions of
those who have framed and sent forward those
resolutions, demands that I should give the rea-
sons which influence my conduct.

The people of America have obtained and es-
tablished that the powers of Gk>vemment shall
be vested in three great departments ; the Legis-
lative, the Executive, and the Judicial. They
have said that there shall be a House of Bepre-
sentatives, the members of which shall be chosen
by the people of the several States every second
year. Though this House is composed of mem-
bers chosen by the people immediately ; though
they can have no other interest than the great
community from which they were sent ; though

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856 : from Gales and Seaton's Annals of Congress, from their Register of debates, and from the official reported debates by John C. Rives → online text (page 143 of 188)