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 97 of 184)
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tion therefor, but without eflTect :

Therefore, lUaoioed^ That until equitable and sstis-
fiMtoiy arrangements on these points shall be made
becween the two Governments, it is expedient that
from and after the day of no goods, wares.

or merchandise, of the growth, product, or manufac-
ture of Great Britain, or of any of the colonies or de-
pendencies thereof, ought to be imported into the
United States. Provided^ however, that whenever
arrangements deemed satisfactory by the President of
the United States shall take place, it shall be lawful
for him by proclamation to nx a day on which the
prohibition aforeqaid shall cease.

The House having agreed to consider this re-

Mr. Thomas said he had seconded the motion
of the gentleman Irom Pennsylvania, and should
give it his decided support It would however
have suited him better, had it gone still further,
and interdicted all commercial intercourse with
that nation, until she should cease to commit
depredations on our commerce, impress our citi-
zens on the high seas into her service, and aban-
don the new principles which she had lately in-
terpolated in the maritime code, and which he
considered as uigust as they were unauthorized
by the acknowled^d law of nations.

But as unanimity in the Legislature of the
nation was desirable at all times, and particu-
larly so on great national questions, he was dis-
posed, in order to produce that result on the pres-
ent occasion, to yield a part of his own opinion
to meet the views of other gentlemen.

The present was an important question, and
he hoped the honorable mover would consent
that it should lie a day or two for consideration,
and moved that it be printed.

Mr. GsKGO said his wish was to refer the re-
solution to a Committee of the Whole on the
state of the Union ; and made a motion to that
effect which was agreed to without a divbion,
and the resolution ordered to be printed.

Thubsdat, January 80.

The bill sent from the Senate, entitled *^ An
act to empower QeorgeRappand his associates,
of the Society of Harmony, to purchase certain
lands,^* was read twice and committed to a
Oommittee of the Whole on Monday next

Mr. STAinroBD, from the committee appointed
on t^e twenty-third instant, presented a bill for
altering the time for holding the circuit court in
the district of North Carolina ; which was read
twice and committed to a Committee of the
Whol^ to-morrow.

A memorial of the inhabitants of the town of
Salem, in the State of Massachusetts, signed by
a committee, in behalf of the said inhabitants^
was presented to the House and read, setting
forth that they have beheld, with the deepest
regret and anxiety, the aggressions committed
on the commerce of the United States, and the
oonsequent violation of neutral rights, under
the new assumed principles and adjudications
of the maritime courts of Great Britain ; that
they view with equal abhorrence the impress-
ment of our seamen, the violation of our juris-
diction by captures at the mouths of our harbors,
and the insulting treatment of our ships on the
ocean, bv the same nation, not less hostile than
the conduct of other nations, by piratical de-

Digitized by




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[ Jasvart, 1806L

predations, aod the lawless pitinderings of pri-
vateers on our coasts ; that, while they ask for
no measure but what Justice approves and rea-
son enforces — claiming merely to pursue a fair
commerce, with its ordinary privileges — wish-
ing for peace, fur honorable peace, and to sup-
port the independence of tlieir country bv the
acquisitions of lawful industry, they pledge
their lives and properties in support of the
measures which may be adoptea to vindicate
the public rights and redress the public wrongs.
Referred to the consideration of a Committee
of the Whole on the state of the Union,

The Speaker laid before the House the fol-
lowing letter from the Secretary of the Navy
addressed to the House :

Sib: In obedience to the resolntion of the Houae
of Representatiyes of the 27tii instant, directing the
Secretaiy of the Navy " to lay before the House a
report on the condition of the frigates, and other pub-
lic armed vessels, belonging to the United States,
distinguishing the frigates fit for actual service ; dis-
tinguishing such as require repair, and the sum ne-
cessary for repairing each ; and distinguishing also
such as it may be the interest of the United States to
dispose of rather than repair,'* I have the honor to

That the frigate Constitution is now in a state of
thorough repair, and in all respects prepared for ser-

That the frigate Chesapeake has lately been re-
paired and is fit for service.

That the frigates Adams, Essex, and John Adams,
are also fit for service.

That the brigs Syren, Hornet, Aigus, and Vixen,
the scboooers Nautilus and Enterprise, the bombs
Spitfire and Vengeance, and all the gunboats are fit
for service.

That the frigates President, United States, Con-
gress, Constellntiun, New York, nnd Boston, required
to be repaired ; but it is utterly impossible to form
an accurate estimate of the " sum necessary for re-
pairing each."

I know of no vessel belonging to the navy, which I
consider it would be ** the interest of the United
States to dispose of, rather than repair."

On the motion of Mr. J. Randolph, the first
and third sections of the bill to repeal so much
of an act as authorizes the evidences of the pub-
lic debt to be received in payment for public
lands, and for other purposes, was referred to a
Committee of the whole House.

The discussion which ensued on the details of
this bill occupied nearly the whole of the residue
of the day.

The committee having reported the bill, with
sundry amendments, it was ordered to a third
reading to-morrow.

Neutral Bightt.
Mr. J. Randolph said it would be recollected
that, very early in the session, so much of the
Message of the President of the United States
as relates to the invasion of neutral rights by
belligerent powers, had been referred to the
Committee of Ways and Means. It would also
be recollected that another Message on the same
subject, or on one connected with it^ had been

referred to the same Committee of Ways and
Means. I understand, said Mr. R. (for my in-
disposition has not permitted me ibr some days
past to attend to the duties of my seat) that a
motion has prevailed to discharge the Com-
mittee of Ways and Means from Uie considera-
tion of that subject. Inasmuch as this discharge
may have been effected under an impresaon
that the committee have been delinquent in ex-
ecuting the duty devolved npon them, I feel it
my duty before I surrender tiie papers connect-
ed with this subject, to give some account of
the proceedings of the committee. On the
elevenUi of December the committee instructed
their Chairman to write a letter to llie Secre-
tary of State, which I will read. Mr. B. here
read the letter as follows :

CoMMrmcB Rooif, Dee. II, 1806L

Sm : The Committee of Ways and Means have in-
structed me to request you will cause to be laid be-
fore them such inrormation, on the subject of tin
enclosed resolution, as the Department of State can

The peculiar objects of our research are—

1. What new principles, or constructions, of the
law of nations have been adopted by the belligerent
powers of Europe, to the prejudice of neutral rights?

2. The Government asserting tiiose principles and
constructions ?

8. The extent to which the commerce of the
United States has been thereby ii^ured ?
I am, with very great respect, sir, vonrs,

JOHN Randolph.

The Secretary op State.

On Saturday night the 35th instant, the Com-
mittee of Ways and Means received an answer
to this letter, which I will deliver to the Cleik,
in order that it may go to the new oommittee^
to which this business has been referred. It is
unnecessary for me to add any thing more.
The House must be sensible that while the Com-
mittee of Ways and Means were in the dark they
could not proceed in the discharge of the duties
assi^ed them, and that after receiving infor-
mation from the Secretary of State so late in the
day, it was impossible for them to have made a
report by this day ; and if I am not mistaken,
tlie motion to discharge the Committee of Ways
and Means was made before the answer of the
Secretary of State was received.

The Clerk accordingly read the letter of the
Secretary of State, as foUows :

Department of State, Jan, 25, 1806L

The Secretary of State presents his respects to Mr.
Randolph, and has the honor to transmit him a copy
of a report this day made to the President of &
United States, respecting interpolations by foreign
powers, of new and injurious principles in the law of
nations. This report, which the commumcations
made by the President to Congress, particulariy that
of the 1 7th instant, will, it is hoped, afibrd the infor-
mation requested, for the Committee of Ways and
Means, by Mr. Randolph's letter of the 11th ultimo.

When, on motion of Mr. J. Randolph, the
papers laid by him on the table were referred
to a Committee of the Whole on the state ot
the Union.

Digitized by




Jahvart, 1806.]

BridgeacrotB ike Potamao.

[H. OF &

Fbidat, Jannaiy 81.

Another member, to wit^ William Blaok-
LKDOK, from North Oarolina, appeared, pro-
duced his credentials, was qualified, and took
his seat in the House.

Bridge acroM the Potomac.

The House then again resolved itself into a
Committee of the Whole on the resolution in
&yor of audiorizing the erection of a bridge
across the Potomac.

Mr. Lbwis. — ^Mr. Chairman: There is but one
point to which, in my opinion, the attention of
this committee ought to be directed : Will the
erection of the contemplated bridge injure the
n&yigation of the river Potomac? This is the
only question applicable to the subject, and the
only pivot upon which it ought to turn. Let us,
Mr. Chairman, examine the objections and
reasoning of the anti-memorialists upon this
point. They say in their memorial that " they
consider their natural and political rights will
be infringed by the adoption of this measure,
as the navigation of the river will be injured
and obstructed thereby ; that from the meeting
of the stream and tide-water, at the place
where the bridge is contemplated, a tendency
will be produced in the impeded stream-water
to deposit the earthy particles with which it is
charged in time of freshes, and by which they
apprehend the present, entire, main and deep
channel may be divided into many small and
narrow passages, to the great injury of the nav-
igation.*' This, sir, is the bare assertion of
t£e counter-memorialists ; they have not deigned
to state one single fact, or adduce the sm^est
proof in support of a result which they have
taken for granted will be inevitable. Although
the proof rests upon the opponents to this meas-
ure, and not upon its friends, yet I am willing
and prepared to prove, by the best evidence the
nature of the case will admit, that the naviga-
tion of the Potomac, instead of being iiyured,
will be greatly benefited by the erection of this
bridge. Sir, the evidence I shfdl offer is drawn
from experience. It is known that in Europe,
as well as in this country, piers have been sunk
for the express purpose of deepening the chan-
nd, and improving the navigation of rivers, and
if this experiment has succeeded in all other
oounteies and rivers, surel v it will not fail in
the Potomac. It is not to be believed that the
Potomac is unlike every other river in the
world. But, sir, if we had not the aid of expe-
lienoe before us, common sense and common
reason would revolt at the idea of injuring the
navigation in the manner stated by the counter-
memorialists. If you oblige ve^s of all de-
scriptions to pass throngh your draw and of
course pursue the same channel, will it not have
a tendency to deepen and clean the channel, by
agitating the sediment which may have settled
there, and which will by that means be swept
away by the current ? and instead of a number
c^ small channels, will it not have the opposite
eflSict of improving and deepening the only

main channel? Surely this must be the effect.
But, Mr. Chairman, whilst I am unwilling to
believe, tbaft the erection of this bridge can in
any manner whatever injure the navigation of
the Potomac ; yet I will candidly admit that tlie
vessels passing to and from Georgetown wiU
experience some little inconvenience at the
draw ; but that inconvenience will ue so very
trifling that it will be entirely lost in a compa-
rison with the great general good which will
result to the community. Having prov^, as I
trust, satisfactorily, that the navigation of the
Potomac cannot possibly be injured by the
adoption of this measure, let us now examine
the inconvenience to which vessels passing the
draw will be subjected, for this appears now to
be the only remaining ground of investigation.
We have been told by gentlemen on this floor
well acquainted with the building of bridges
and of their effects, that little or no detention
is experienced in passing the draws. That it
frequently happens that vessels pass through
without lowering a sdl or beinff detained a single
instant when they have a fair wind, and that
at no time is it necessary to detain them longer
than from five to fifteen minutes. If this m-
formati(m is correct, (and we cannot possibly
doubt it,) where, let me ask, is the very great
ii^nry to the very few vessels that will have to
pass this draw? When I say very tew, Mr.
Chairman, I have reference to the statement
made the other day by my honorable colleague,
the chairman of the committee, whose report is
now the subject of discussion. He then told us
that his statement was taken from absolute
entries made at the collector's office at George-
town for the last seven years, and in that time
only twenty-one ships, six brigs, one hundred
and thirty- two schooners, and fifty -two sIoodb
had been entered there, making in the whole
two hundred and eleven vessels of all descrip-
tions. My colleague at that time omitted to
mention, or was not apprised of the fact, that
of the vessels entered at Georgetown, a very
considerable proportion never went there, but
were destined for, and actually loaded at the
Eastern Branch. It is very well known that
within the last seven years a number of large
vessels were loaded at the Eastern Branch by
Mr. Barry alone, who was at that time engaged
in making large shipments of fiour and biscuit
to the West Indies ; yet aU tiiese vessels, us well
as a great number employed in removing from
Philadelphia the furniture of- Congress, of the
President, and of the public officers, together
with those employed in bringing stores, &c., for
the navy yard on the Eastern Branch, were all
entered at G^eorgetown, that being the only port
of entry for Georgetown and the city of Wash-
ington, thereby giving to Georgetown an ap-
pearance of commerce which she is not really
entitled to. I have ascertained that some years
ago several foreign vessels resorted to the port
of (Georgetown to carry away the tobacco of
that town and Bladensbarg, and that the ships
used to lie in the Eastern Branch to obtain their

Digitized by



H. or R.]

BrUgiaenn Ihe Potomac

[jAinrABT, 1806

oarpo from both plaees. That this trade has
dedined caimot be denied, for it is an inoon-
trovertible fact that the onij ship destined for
Georgetown last year, called the William Mnr-
dook, Captain Tom, was loaded at Barry^s whar^
<m the Eastern Branch, because there was not
sufficient water over the bar below Georgetown
to admit her passage to and from that place.
Now, sir, from the whole number of yessels of
all descriptions entered at Georgetown for the
last seven years, we may fairly deduct one-fburih
for those which never went there; there will
then remain 158 as having actually passed np
the river to that place during that time ; which,
divided by seven, will be something less than
twenty-three vesads in each year, and not quite
one for each fortnight. Thus, then, sir, this
mijghty obstacle— these great delays by a draw-
bridge — after investigation become very incon-
nderable. Indeed, the first is proven to be
nothing, and the last too trifling to deserve
serious consideration. But, "Mr, Chairman, in
order to remove every objection, or even doubt,
which can possibly exist with any part of the
committee, I am willing to insert a danse in
the bill obliging the Bridge Company to
compensate for any loss by detention at the

We have been told by the counter-memorial-
ists, and it has been reiterated here, *^ that natu-
ral advantages ought not to be imured by
artificial means.^' Upon this subject, Mr. Chair-
man, the people of Georgetown ought to have
been silent; they are not aware of a retort
which this objection will force upon theuL WOl
they recollect, sir, that to artifidal means alone
they are indebted for the greatest part of their
commerce ? Will they recollect that from arti-
fidal means alone the towns of Baltimore and
Alexandria have been deprived of their natural
advantages to the exclusive ben^t of George-
town ? Do they not know that the improve-
ment of the Potomac above them has diverted
from its natural course a commerce which
belonged to others and which now enriches
them? And will they permit me to remind
them that even to the erection of a bridge
they owe no inconsiderable share of their com-
merce ? Yes, sir, I will remind the people of
Georgetown of advantages fVom artificial means
which they ought not to have forgotten, because
to them, in a great measure, they owe their
present commercial standing. The bridge bdow
the Little Falls, at the head of the navigation
of the Potomac, has given to Georgetown a con-
siderable quantity of produce from Virginia
which must otherwise have gone to Alexandria.
I am very far from objecting to the means by
which the importance of Georgetown has been
acquired. I was pleased with the erection of a
bridge at the Little Falls, because it was a ocm-
venience generally, and particularly so to that
part of the country from which I come, and
from the same prindple I should be glad to see
a number of other bridges erected, lK>th above
and below the Falls. I have always thought^

and still think, there ought to be a bridge it
Georgetown, and if the people of that plstttre
of the same opinion, and will propose it, I irill
promise to vote for it. Is it necessary ulretdj
to remind the people of Georgetown that for
their exdusive benefit one arm of the riTer
Potomac has been entirdy dosed, by anthorizing
a dam from Hason^s Island to the Virgima diore,
which gives to them, in some measure, & mo-
nopoly of the flour which comes down Uie Po-
tomac ? and are we now to be told by the aune
people that we possess no constitutional rigfat
to authorize a bridge across the Potomac fortiie
public good, even with a free paseage to vessdB
of aU descriptions, and that even ^ we poesa
the right, it would be a wanton and crad exe^
dse o{ it? The erection of the dam wiH off-
tainly prevent flour boats fh>m going to Alex-
andria at particular seasons of the vear, wba
high winds are frequent, as they will he obbgd
to go a considerable distance round Masons
Island, exposed to a wide and unprotected sheet
of water, which will subject them to ooDsdeh
able danger, even when the wind is moderate;
but before the erection of this dam, the hoato
could go down to Alexandria at almost aoT
season, and with almost any wind, as they conld,
and did, always keep dose to the Virginia shores
and oovered by its banks were perfectly secme.
This measure, as wdl as the erection of the
bridge at the Falls, was evidently injurious to
the interests of Alexandria. Tet, sir, had we
any complaints from diat quarter? Were our
rights questioned by them, amd our motives ceo-
snred ? Were we told by them that " no pisce
should calculate on artificial advantages, which
cannot be horded without depriving other
places of their natural advantages ? " No, sir,
they were silent ; not even a murmur escaped
them ; they had no wish to deprive their nei^
bors of any advantages tbey could dmve from
** artifidal means," although their interests
should in some measure be afiected by it; thej
felt none of those jealousies which appear sow to
infiuence their neighbors. It is wdl known that
at the last session of Oongress I was in favor d
the causeway from Mason's Idand to theYir^
nia shore. I did not believe at tiiat time it
could do any injury to &e public, and ss the
people of Georgetown supposed it wodd benefit
them by reclaiming a chimnel conslderahly in-
jured by natural causes, I conld have no reason-
able objection to the experiment^ and of oomss
gave to it my support.

Mr. Qttinot supported; and Messrs. Dawbok
G. W. Oahfbell, MiLOBUDKR, Y^sinnc, and
Masivbs, opposed the resolution; when the
question was taken, and the resolution carried—
yeas 60, nays 51. The committee immediate!/
rose and reported their agreement to the reso-
lution. The House took the rep<Ht into con-
dderation. On concurring in the resolution the
yeas and nays were called ; and were— yeaa W»
nays 49, as follows:

Teas.— Joseph Barker, Bnrwell Bassett, Geoigi
M. Bedinger, Silas Betton, William Butkr, Un

Digitized by



Fkbbuabt, 1B06.]

Imlercourse wUh Great Britain.

[H. OF R.

Cuej, Martin Chitteodeii, John Claiborne, Chris-
ftopher Clark, Frederick Conrad, Orchard Cook, Leon-
ard CoviDgton,, Jacob Crowninaliield, Ezra Darby,
Eliaa Earle, Ebenezer Elmer, William Ely, James
Fiak, James M. Gamett, Peterson Goodwyn, Silas
Halsej, Seth Hastings, Wm. Helmes, David Hongh,
Walter Jones, James Kelly, Thomas Kenan, John
Lambert, Joseph Lewis, jnn., Henry W. Livingston,
Matthew Lyon, David Meriwether, Nicholas R. Moore,
Thomas Moore, Jonathan 0. Mosely, Thoa Newton,
jr^ John Pogh, Joeiah Qoincy, Thomas M. Randolph,
Jacob Richa»ls, John RusseU, Peter Sailly, Martin
G. Schaneman, Henzy Southard, Richard Stanford,
Joseph Stanton, William Stedmao, Lewis B. Stoiges,
Samuel Taggart, Benjamin Tallmadge,David Thomas,
Philip R. Thompson, Uri Tracy, Abram Trigg, KIl-
Ean K. Van Rensselaer, Peleg Wadsworth, Eliphalet
l^lckes, Nathan Williams, Alexander Wilson, Joseph
Winston, and Thomas Wynns.

Nays — Willis Alston, jnnior, Isaac Anderson, John
Archer, David Bard, Barnabas Bidwell, John Blake,
jr., Thomas Blonnt, Robert Brown, Joseph Bryan,
George W. Campbell, John Campbell, John Chandler,
Samuel W. Dana, John Davenport, jnn., John Daw-
aim, Petor Early, James Elliot, John Fowler, Charles
Goldsborongh, Edwin Gray, Andrew Gregg, Isaiah
L. Green, John Hamilton, James Holland, David
Holmes, Patrick Magruder, Robert Marion, Josiah
Masters, Jeremiah Morrow, John Morrow, Jeremiah
Kels> a, Roger Nelson, Gideon Olin, Timothy Pitkin,
jun., John Rea of Pennsylvania, John Rhea of Ten-
nessee, Thomas Sanford, James Sloan, John Cotton
Smith, John Smith, O'Brien Smith, Samuel Smith,
Samuel Tenny, Joseph B. Vamom, Matthew Walton,
John WhitehiU, Robert Whitehill, David R. Willianu,
and Marmadnke Williams.

Ordered, That a bill, or bills, be brought in,
pnrsnaDt to the foregoing resolution ; and that
Mr. Thompsoh of Virginia. Mr. Campbell of
Maryland, Mr. Lewis, Mr. Maobudeb, and Mr.
BuTLXB, do prepare and bring in the same.

Monday, Febrnary 8.
A memorial of the merchants of the town of
Boston, in the State of Massachnaetts, was pre-
aented to the Honse and read, staUng that they
bare witnessed, with mingled feelings of indig-
nation towards the perpetrators, and of oom-
mlseration for their nnfortnnate countrymen,
the insnlts and barbarities which the commerce
of these States has sustained from the cmisers
of FniLOb and Spain ; but that it is their olgect,
in the present memorial, to confine their ani-
madyersions to the more alarming, t>ecanse more
xmmerons and extensive detentions and con-
demnations of American vessels, by Great
Britain, and to advert to the principles recently
avowed and adopted by her courts, relative to
nentral trade in articles of colonial produce :
principles whidi, if admitted, or practised upon
in all the latitude which may fidrly be inferred
to be intended, would be destructive of the
navigation, and radically impair the most lucra-

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 97 of 184)