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

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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 22 of 188)
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thought $14,000 too large a sum to be given to
purchase new fhmiture; $8,000 he thought
would be a sufficiently handsome sum for the
purpose. They were apt to be too lavish with
the public money on some occasions, and too
sparing on others. He had not been satisfied
with Vxe reasons which had been given by the
Ch^rman ot the committee for giving the -sum
now in the bilL At a time when our Treasury
-was so much in want of money, he did not
wish so large a sum to be g^ven for this pur-
pose ; nor did he think it necessary, except it
were to put our Psbsidbnt in the style of a
potentate or prince. And this he was sure the
PsBsiDEin OF THS UjsirrsD Statbs would not

wish, as he believed he was a gentieman of
great economy, and would spurn at any thing
Uke tinsel or expense. Five thousand dollars
had been thought a sufficient sum for this pur*
pose, but he was willing to give $8,000. He
hoped the bill would therefore be recommitted,
and this sum be inserted.

Mr. Maooit seconded the motion for recom-
mitting the bilL He was against it altogether.
He did not see why they fihould furnish the
house of the PBBsmBnr any more than that of
any other of thehr officers. He thought the
thing improper at first, and that it was wrong to
continue the practice. If the salary was not
large enough, it should be made larger, though
he thon^t it sufficientiy large.

Mr. RuTEDEBFOBD conoumd with his col-
league, Mr. Hbath. It was necessary, he said,
that Republicans should be consistent If we
thus give away the people's money, said he,
shall we not be charged with rapaciously put-
ting our hands into their pockets f Have we
not, he added, refosed to redress grievances
and iiijuries, and to do Justice to many deserv-
ing and distressed citizens, because our Treasury
is low? And shall we now, when there is no
right reason for it, lay hold of the public Trea-
sury, and lavish away $14,000? For what?
For adding new fdrniture to the house of the
President. No; he was willing to render him
all possible respect ; he remembered well his
letter to our sister Republic of Holland. He
had a pretty good memory. He remembered
weU Ids patriotism ; but he saw no reason to
give him $14,000. He would give him $8,000,
which he thought would be a very pretty com-
pliment; but to give $14,000 would outrage
every idea of that economy and Republican
simplicity which ought to characterize the
American nation. Why, said he, shall we, who
are a OonfBderaoy of the Democratic Republic-
ans, everlastingly keep our eyes upon the pa-
geantry of Eastern Courts? Let us rather
attend to our own character than that of any
despotic nation upon earth. He hoped the bi&
would be recommitted.

The question for recommitting was carried—*
45 to 40.

The House accordingly resolved itself into a
Oommittee of the Whole on the bill, when —

Mr. Heath moved to strike out $14,000 and
insert $8,000.

Mr. GnxESFiB called for the estimate, which
he understood was in poBsession of the com-

Mr. SiTGBBATBa said there was no estimate
before the House or committee. All that he
had seen was a list of the furniture which had
been purchased for the F^sesident in 1789. He
himself had not had patience to go through it ; but
if the gentieman wuhed it, it might be read to
the House.

Mr. Habtlst hoped there would have been
no objection to this appropriation. He thought
the Ohairman of the committee had Mly shown
the prc^riety of granting the $14,000 to the

Digitized by




H. OF B.]

Aooommodaiwn of the PretidmL

[Febbuabt, 1797.

President, who was not merely an ofSoer of
the Government, but a branch of it. It was not
giving the money away, but merely advancing
It on account of the United States. He was not
in favor of high salaries, bnt he wished the sitn-
ation of the I^bsident to be made comfortable
and respectable.

Mr. Heath said, he believed a great part of
the furniture which was purchased in 1789, was
at present as good as when laid in ; this was
particularly the case with respect to the mahog-
any furniture; and he thought the $8,000
would be a sufficient sum to replace all articles
of a perishable nature, such as carpets, lin-
ens, &G,

Mr. Holland was in favor of striking out, be-
cause it was only necessary to appropriate as
much as might be necessary whilst Government
remained here, as, when it should be removed,
the furniture now used might not be suitable
for the house at Washington. At that lime, he
supposed a further sum would be called for, and
therefore he thought a less sum tiian $14,000
would be sufficient for the present purpose.

Mr. Williams was in favor of the bill as it
stood. He had been told that it was the inten-
tion of the State of Pennsylvania to make an
offer to the President of the house which had
lately been erected in this city ; if so, perhaps
the Aimiture which might be purchased for it
would be suitable for the house in the Federal
City. He had before said that he thought it
would have been better to have augmented the
salary of the Pbesident, and let him purchase
his own furniture. But as that had not been
agreed to, he wished the committee now to rise
and report progress, that information might be
gained on the subject ; because he thought if he
was to have that house, that sum would not be
too large.

Mr. SiTOBEAVES sud, he did not know whether
the Legislature of this State would conclude to
make the President the offer which the gentle-
man last up had mentioned ; but of this he was
sure, that if they did, he could not afford tb
accept of it. For, if this bill passed, he was
certain that, under such circumstances, he could
not remove into that house, because he would
not be able to fhmish it.

Mr. S. siud, he was surprised the House should
80 suddenly change their opinion. He thought
he had given sufficient information on the Bub-
lect to have shown the necessity of the grant.
[Mr. S. here repeated what be had before noticed
respecting what had been allowed on a former
occasion.] When gentlemen entered minutely
into the subject, they seemed to have inform-
ation which was not very correct. He believed
the sum mentioned in &e bill not more than
sufficient. The decay which had taken place
in the President's household would require that
sum to make it good. The gentleman from
Virginia supposed there were many articles, not
perishable in their nature, which could not have
been injured by their use. He was mistaken.
There was nothing but about $800 worth of

plated ware and the mahogany fumitare which
could at all come under this description. In-
deed, any gentleman who was in the habit ot
paymg his respects to the President of tee
United States must have seen with regret that
the appearance of his furniture was so far in-
ferior to that which was to be found in the
houses of any of our wealthy citizens, or even
of those in moderate circumstances. When this
was a notorious fact, what ground, he asked,
could gentlemen have for comparing the house-
hold of the President to the pomp and splendor
of Eastern Courts ? On the contrary, he bought
there was a humility of appearance in the house
of the President, which he would not say was
a disgrace to the country, but which at least
proved its rigid economy.

Mr. Nicholas said he voted for going into
Committee of the Wholfe on this subject from
an idea that the sum proposed to be ^ven to
the President was larger than was necessary,
though he confessed he could not say what that
sum ought exactly to bs; he was for giving
enough and rather too much than too little. In-
deed, when he considered that the whole sum
was not to be expended, except it should be
found necessary, and that a certain style was ex-
pected to be observed in this station, he was not
for stinting the sum to what he tnought just
enough for purchasmg furniture. If the whole
of the money granted must of necessity be ex-
pended in furniture, he should have had more
hesitation on the subject ; but as the expendi-
ture would be left to the discretion of the Pre-
sidebt, he could not suppose, from the well-
known habits of economy of that gentleman, it
would be improperly disposed of. He there-
fore felt no difficulty in agreeing to the sum in
the bill; for though he thought the sum too
lu^, yet he would not so confine the appropria-
tion as to oblige their officer to go aoout the
streets to look out for cheap purchases of funu-

Mr. BuoK said, previous to these measures be-
ing brought forward, they had decided against
any advance to the salary of the President.
All that time a committee was appointed to in-

Suire into the state of the President's hou8&-
old, and to report whether any, and what,
further accommodation was necessary to be
afforded. He conceived that it was the wish of
that House that the gentleman who was com-
ing into office should have accommodations
equal to those which had been g^ven to the gentle*
man who was leaving it The committee had
eiuunined into facts, made a report, and a
bill had been brought in accordingly. The com-
mittee had informed them upon what principles
they had acted; and it did not appear that tJiey
either intended to increase the splendor of the
household of the President, nor to add to his
salary. If any member could come forward and
show that the report of the committee was er-
roneous, they should have some ground upon
which to reject it. He had heard no man say
this, and therefore all that had been offered oc

Digitized by




TmBvoAXTf 1797.]

Aeeommodatum aftke PresidetU,

LH. ovRp

the Bnbject onght not to weigh against that re-
port. When the bill was before them on Satur-
day, there was a considerable mt^ority in &vor
of it, and as they had no new information on
the matter, he saw no reason for a change of

Some members, Mr. B. said, had held ont an
idea that they were about to ^ve this money
away, to enable the new Pbxsident to live in
the style of foreign Oonrta. If the inhabitants
of this city had adopted this style, then it would
be chargeable against the PsEsmENT, but not
otherwise, once it was acknowledged he had
not kept pace with them in this respect. The
appropriating this money would only be con-
verting it into so much public property ; for,
when his term of office should expire, he could
not carry away a single article. It was not,
therefore, giving away a &rthing, but merdy
providing for our own convenience to enable
the PRBsn>ENT to fill the office with comfort
and reputation ; and as they had nothing before
them to show the sum too large, he saw no
propriety in rejecting it, for the purpose of in-
oerting any other.

Kr. RuTHEKFOBD Said, if the House had com-
mitted an error one day, it would be well for
tiiem to correct it another. K they were to
give $14,000 away on the present occasion^ he
Siou^t they would commit a very senous
error. The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr.
SiTosEAVEs) had said many of the citizens of
Philadelphia lived in a superior style to the
President. K so, he would say they were very
bad citizens, since it was proper that the citizens
of this rising Republic should cultivate a sim-
plicity of living and of manners.

Mr. Maoon thought some of the arguments
introduced on this occasion were very hnproper ;
such as the habits of economy or private fortune
of the gentleman who was to succeed to the Pre-
sidential chair. They were about to settle a
permanent principle, which it was proper to do
at this time, before a new Presidency com-
menced* He knew nothing of the private pro-
perty of the person who was to ffil the office,
nor had it any thing to do with the matter. The
question was, whether they were to go over the
flame ground every four or eight years of fbr-
niahing the house of a new Pbbsideht ? He
did not wish that it should be so ; he wished
the sidary to be the only consideration which
the PBEsmxNT should receive for his services.
If it had not been settling a permanent princi-
ple, he should not perhaps have opposed it.

It had been said that the old Pbesidebt of
Congress had a household famished him, but he
received no salary from the United States ex-
cept his household. He considered this sum as
an advance upon the salary paid to the Pbbsi-
i>EKT by the different States, and before any
salary was fixed by the United States ; but now,
as an ample salary was paid to the FssemEsr^
he did not think such aprovision should be con-
tinued. It was sometimes said that it was no
matter what som was appropriated, as, if it was

not wanted, it would not be expended ; but, he
believed, whatever sum was appropriated would
be expended; for he was not one of those
who thought that revenue could not be found.
He believed if the money was granted, it would
be both found and spent.

Mr. SiroBBAVEs wished to correct the gentle-
man last up with respect to one &ct. He had
said the Pbesidbnt of the old Congress had no
salary. It was true that he did not receive
any tiling under that name, but there was apro-
vision, not merely for the fdmiture of his house,
but for the constant provision of it ; and this
was so considerable that frx>m 1778 to 1779, in
one year, eighty-liiree thousand dollars wero
paid for that purpose.

Mr. Maooit wished to know what sort of
money this was ; he supposed it was in depre-
ciated paper.

Mr. SrroBBAVEe was not certain what kind of
money was meant

.Mr. Jeseioah Smith said, in settling an affidr
of this kind, it was proper to have respect to
the office, and not to the man who was to fill
it He could himself consider the establishment
of the PBEsmENT^s household in no other light
than in the nature of a compensation for his
services, in the same way that he considered
the privilege of frunking^ stationery, and news*
papers, allowed the members of both Houses, to
be such ; because, if they wero not allowed to
them, they would have to purchase tnose articles
themselves ; and if fumitnro was not provided
by Government for the house of the PioenoKNT,
he must himself ftonish it out of hid ' salary, or
from his private purse. To refuse to provide
the necessary fhmitnro would therofore be to
reduce his salary ; for it was true that this plan
of presenting forniture to the Pbxbidsnt was
adopted before the salary was fixed, so that it
must have been considered as being additional
to the salary. And was that salary, he asked,
near so valuable now as it was when fixed!
Certainly not He trusted, therefore, they
should not reduce it

This sum, Mr. S. said, was mentioned, from a
consideration that four years hence the seat of
Government would be romoved, and that then
the fttmitnre would be in a great d^^ree useless.
They, therefore, only recommended such a sum
as they thought wiuld be sufficient to put the
fhmituro in a proper state for that term. He be-
lieved that fourteen thousand dollars would not
do moro than that

Mr. Maooit said he was always opposed to the
privileges allowed to members of franking, dro.
Gentlemen talked about a statement; he did
not know what that might contain, he had not
seen it ; but he did not know how it could re-
quire fourteen thousand dollars to ropair frimi-
turo which at first cost only thirteen thou-

Mr. JsBDOAH Smith said, the gentleman last
up was inaccurate in his statement The thir-
teen thousand dollars which wero allowed for
fiunituro for the kte Pbisidbbt, was in add!-

Digitized by




H. or B.]

Accofmmadicakm of the FrmidmL

[FsBSUAmr, 1797.

tion to the fdmiture which hud already been in
possession of the "Pebstdsst of Congress.

Mr. Shbbbubnb said, the qnestion was with
respect to the qoantam of money to be granted,
88 erery one seemed to allow that a certain sum
was necessary. By having recourse to what
was done for other officers of the Government,
they might, perhaps, form an estimate of what
wonld be reasonable on the present occasion.
A practice had been established of allowing onr
Ministers to foreign coontries a sum as an ontfit
eqnalto one yearns salary; so that nine thousand
dollars were allowed a Minister for this purpose,
though it might happen that he would not be
employed more than a few months in the ser-
vice. He thought, therefore, that fourteen thou-
sand dollars could not be thought too lai^ a
sum for the PsssinsNT of thb IJnitxd States,
whose term of service was for four years, and
which would go to his successor in office;
whereas, the nine thousand dollars allowed to a
foreign Minister were entirely at his disposal,
though he might not be in the service more
than a month.

Mr. Ames said, it appeared to him that it
would be desbrable to proceed according to pre-
cedent, as nearly as they could. It was not de-
sirable to innovate or change the established
order of things, except strong reasons existed
for the change. On inquiring what had been
the practice heretofore, they found the Pbbsi-
DSZTT of the old Oongress, as well as the Pabbi-
DEHT now going out of offic€L had establish-
ments made for their household similar to that
now proposed. If they looked forward to that
period when the seat of Government was to be
removed, and ccMiridered the ftmoiture which
would be necessary for the house in the Fed^nl
city, it would be seen that there would be a
necessity for a new establishment at that time,
as it was evident that the present furniture or
what might be purchased with the sum now
contempkted, would be wholly inadequate to
the fttmiahing of that house. He supposed an
additional grant of twelve or fifteen thousand
pounds womd be necessary for that purpose.

We have chosen an elective Government,
said Mr. A., and if it were meant to be kept
pure, they must encourage the people to make
choice of such men, without respect to fortune,
as they think will serve them best, but if in-
stead of providing a suitable household for the
Pbbsidxzst, they left him to provide for himself
in ti[iis respect, men of large fortune only could
engage in this part of the public service. And
would tills, he asked, be doing honor to the Re-
publican €k)vemmentf He thought not

The question for striking out was put and
negatived — 55 to 80. The committee then roM,
and when the question was about to be put in
t^e House —

Mr. GiXLATiN said, the provision of the bill
left it to the discretion of the PsisiDxirr whe-
ther he would expend the whole of the money,
or not His opinion was. that the sum was too
large ; but the question for striking it oat hav-

ing been negatived, the expenditure must be
left to the discretion of the Pbesidiekt. He did
not mean to go into any detail He did not vrish
to place the gentieman coming into office in a
worse situation than that of him who was going
out; and as he felt no objection to leave it to
the Pbesibent to make use of the whole or a
part of this money, as his discretion i^ould di-
rect he should vote for the bilL

Mr. Olaibobnb said, as provision had been
made for furniture for the gentieman now in
office, he was inclined to vote for the fourteen
thousand dollars proposed now to be granted
for the same purpose to the gentieman who was
to succeed him.

Mr. xiEiTDBBsov wished to give his reasons
for voting against this bill. He wished to place
the Peesidbnt coming into office in as comfort-
able circumstances as he who was going out ;
but it appeared to him that the sum proposed
was larger than necessary for this purpose. In-
deed, said Mr. H., when he read an article
of the constitution touching this subject, he had
his doubts with respect to the constitutionality
of the proceeding. That article said, **that the
President should receive a compensation which
should neither be increased nor diminished dur-
ing the period for which he should have been
elected ; and that he should not receive within
that period any other emoluments from the
United States, or any of them."

Mr. SiTGBXATES believed there could be no
doubt as to the constitutionality of the proposed
grant of money, as the clause ran, " during the
period for which he should have been elected,"
which would not prevent them from passing
anynumber of acts before he went into office.

The question on the passing of the bill waa
then taken by yeas and nays, and stood 68 to
27, as follows:

YEAS.*-Fi8her Ames, Theodoras Bailey, Abraham
Baldwin, Theophilos Bradbuiy, Daniel Buck, Demp-
sey Bulges, Thomas Claiborne, Joshna Coit, Wil-
liam Cooper, William Crail^ Samuel W. Dana, James
Davenport, George Dent, George Ege, Abiel Foster,
Dwight Foster, Nathaniel Freeman, jonior, Albert
Gallatin, Ezekiel Gilbert, Nicholas Gilman, Heniy
Glenn, Chamioey Goodrich, Roger Griswold, William
B. Grove, Robert Goodloe Harper, Carter B. Harri-
son, Thomas Hartley, William Hindman, John WIUdm
Kittera, George Leonard, Edward Livingston, Sam-
uel Lyman, WiUiam Lyman, James Madison, Fnacis
Malbondy Andrew Moore, Frederiok Al. Muhlenberg,
William Vans Murray, John Nicholas, John Page,
Josiah Parker, John Pattern, Elisha R. Potter, John
Read, John Richards^ Samuel SewaU, John S. Sher-
burne, Samuel Sitgreaves, Thompson J. Skinner, Jer-
emiah Smith, Nathaniel Smith, Isaac Smith, Israel
Smith, William Smith, Richard Sprigg, junior,
Thomas Sprigg, John Swanwiok, Zephaniah Swift,
George Thatcher, John E. Van Allen, Philip Van
Cordandt, Peleg Wadsworth, and John Williama,

Nats. — Thomas Blount, Nathan Biyan, Samuel J.
Cabell, Gabriel Christie, John Clopton, Isaac Coles^
Jesse Franklin, James Gillespie, Christohpher Green-
up, Andrew Gregg, Wade Hampton, Jolm Hatham,
Jgnathan K. HaTena, John Heatii« Thomaa Hendar*

Digitized by




Fkbrvaxt^ 1797.]

Military and Naoai AfpnpnuUumt.

[U. ov B.

son, James Holluid, Andrew Jaekicn, Qeorge J«ck-
ion, Aaron Kitohell, Matthew Lock<s Nathaniel Ma^
con, John MOledge, Anthony New, Alexander D. Orr^
Bohert RnthezfoAy William Strudwick, and Richard

Military and Kanal Appropriations.

The House went into a Committee of the
Whole on this subject^ when, after some disousr-
8ion respecting the price of rations, Mr. Galla-
tin inmsting npon seventeen cents being a suffi-
ciently high calonlation, and Mr. W. 8mith abid-
ing by the estimate of the War Department at
twenty oents; the latter was agreed upon thirty* .
six to thirty-fonr, and the pa;^ and subsistence of
the Army was settled, bat which has since under-
gone an alteration, owing to the two companies
of cavalry b^ng added by a new bilL The sum
lor forage and dothing was also agreed upon, but
which afterwards^ of course, from the above al-
teration, underwent an augmentation. The hos-
pital department being under consideration,

Mr. W. Smith moved to fill the blank with
thirty thousand dollars.

Mr. Gallatin moved to fill it with ten thou-
sand. He said, they had this year had a statement
of the expense of the Military Establishment, by
which they found that the hospital department
had cost six thousand nine hundred and five dol-
lars. It had been the uniform practice of the
House to appropriate from thirty to forty thour
sand dollars under this head, though the expense
had never exceeded seven thousand ; and to ap-
ply the surplus to other purposes. He thought it
wrong to appropriate four times the smn neces-
sary, and had therefore proposed to fill the blank
with ten thousand dollars, whleh was fifty per
cent, more than had ever been expended for the

Mr. Pajbxsb believed than ten thousand dollars
would be enough to pay for physic for the Army.
Indeed he belieyed it was generally expended in
wine and luxuries by the officers, and that littie
of it went to the use of the subordinates.

The question for ten thousand dollars was put
and carried.

The blank for the Ordnance Department was
filled with forty thousand dollars : and that for
the fortifications of the ports and narbors of the
United States with twenty-four thousand dollars.

IQr. Gallatin moved to fill the blank for the
Qoartermaster's Department, the Indian Depart-
ment, the defensive protection of the frontiers,
bonnties, and all the contingent expenses of the
War Department, witii three hundred thousand

Mr. YsNABLB said, if the sum necessary for
each of the above items could be specified, he
would rather have it so expressed than have the
whole in one sum.

Mr. W. SiOTH said it would come to the same
thing, if the several items were voted in an ag-
gregate sum, as they were all contingent ex-

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 22 of 188)