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Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' 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 Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 181 of 199)
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too, it requires no spirit of prophecy to predict that
the operations of the civil engineer department will,
in a very few years, rival, in expenditures and nu-
merical strength of agents and operatives, the mili-
tary and naval service of the. Government, and
constitute a more alarming branch of public patron-
age than is to be found elsewhere in the Govern-
ment. From the peculiar nature of their expendi-
tures, corruption, favoritism, and peculation may
be reduced to system more successfully in them
than in almost any other branch of the civil admin-

If such was the opinion of the Committee of
Ways and Means in 1837, it certainly cannot be
changed by examining into the present condition
of these improvements.

After an experiment of thirteen years on the 103
works for which appropriations have been made,
the following is the result :

Never commenced, - - 3
Abandoned, - - - 1
Suspended, .... 4
May perhaps bo completed with existing appro-
priations, 14

Completed, - - - - 20

Not completed, - . - - 61



Some of the works have been built over twice,
and the twenty completed cost but $409,178 25,
leaving all the expensive works yet to be finished,
and at an expense which cannot even be estimated.

Such is the result of this Federal system of im-
proving our harbors, rivers, and creeks, and build-
ing piers for our cities, towns, and villages; and
such the prospect before us. The time has cer-
tainly arrived when it becomes necessary to inquire
whether all these expenditures belong to Federal
legislation ; and to examine a system which, if made
permanent, must entirely change the character of
our Government.

Monday, January 28.
Fetitionfrom the Settlers in Oregon Territortj.
Mr. LiNif presented the following memorial
from citizens of the Oregon Territory :

To the honorable the Senate and House of Represent-
atives of the United Slates of America :
The undersigned, settlers south of the Columbia
River, beg leave to represent to your honorable
body, that our settlement, begun in the year eighteen
hundred and thirty-two, has hitherto prospered be-



Jakdaky, 1839.]

iSalt Duties.

25th Cong.

yond the most sanguine expectations of its first
projectors. The products of our fields have am-
ply justified the most flattering descriptions of the
fertility of the soil, while the facilities which • it af-
fords for rearing cattle are, perhaps, exceeded by
those of no country in North America. The peo-
ple of the United States, we believe, are not gene-
rally apprised of the extent of valuable country
west pf the Rocky Mountains. A large portion of the
territory from the Columbia River south, to the
boundary line between the United States and the
Mexican republic, and extending from the coast of
the Pacific about two hundred and fifty or three
hundred miles to the interior, is either well -supplied
with timber or adapted to pasturage or agriculture.
The fertile valleys of the Wallamette and Umpqua
are varied with prairies and woodland, and inter-
oeeted by abundant lateral streams, presenting facili-
ties for machinery. Perhaps no country, of the
same latitude, is favored with a, climate so mild.
The winter rains, it is true, are an objection ; but
they are generally preferred to the snows and in-
tense cold which prevails in the Northern parts of
the United States. The ground is seldom covered
with snow, iior does it ever remain but a few hours.
We need hardly allude to the commercial ad-
vantages of the Territory. Its happy position for
trade with China, India, and the Western coasts of
America, will be readily recognized. The growing
importance, however, of the islands of the Pacific
is not so generally known and appreciated. As
these islands progress in civilization, their demand
for the produce of more northern climates will in-
crease. Nor can any country supply them with
beef, flour, &c., on terms so advantageous as this. A
very successful effort has been recently made, at
the Sandwich islands, in the cultivation of coffee
and the sugar cane. A colony here will, in time,
thence easily derive these articles and other trop-
ical products in exchange for the produce of their
own labor. We have thus briefly alluded to the
natural resources of the country, and to its external
relations. They are, in our opinion, strong induce-
ments for the Government of the United States to
take formal and speedy possession. We urge this
step as promising to the general interests of the
nation. But the advantages it may confer upon
us, and the evils it may avert from our posterity, are

Our social intercourse has thus far been prosecuted
with reference to feelings of honor, to the feeling
of dependence on the Hudson's Bay Company, and
to their moral influence. Under this state of things,
we have thus far prospered, but we cannot hope
that it will continue. The agricultural and other
resources of the country cannot fail to induce emi-
gration and commerce. As our settlement begins
to draw its supplies through other channels, the feel-
ing of dependence upon the Hudson's Bay Company,
to which we have alluded as one of the safeguards
of our social intercourse, will begin to diminish.
We are anxious when we imagine what will be, what
must be, the condition of so mixed a community,
free from all legal restraint, and superior to that
moral influence which has hitherto been the pledge
of our safety.

Our interests are identified with those of the
country of our adoption. We flatter ourselves that
we are the germ of a great State, and are anxious
to give an early tone to the moral and intellectual
character of its citizens. We are fully aware, too,

that the destinies of our posterity will be intimately
affected by the character of those who emigrate to
the country. The territory must populate. The
Congress of the United States must say by whom.
The natural resources of the country, with a well-
judged civil code, will invite a good community.
But a good community will hardly emigrate to a
country which promises no protection for life or
property. Inquiries have already been submitted to
some of us for information of the country. In return,
we can only speak of a country highly favored of
nature. We can boast of no civil code. We can
promise no protection but the ulterior resort of self-
defence. By whom, then, shall our country be
populated ? By the reckless and unprincipled adven-
turer ! not by the hardy and enterprising pioneer of
the West. By the Botany Bay refugee, by the rene-
gade of civilization from the Rocky Mountains, by
the profligate, deserted seamen from Polynesia, and
the unprincipled sharpers from Spanish America.
Well are we assured that it will cost the Government
of the United States more to reduce elements
so discordant to social order, than to promote our
permanent peace and prosperity by a timely action
of Congress. Nor can we suppose that so vicious a
population could be relied on in case of a rupture
between the United States and any other power.

Our intercourse with the natives among us, guided
much by the same influence which has promoted har-
mony among ourselves, has been generally pacific.
But the same causes which will interrupt harmony
among ourselves, will also interrupt our friendly rela-
tions with the natives. It is, therefore, of primary
importance both to them and to us, that the Govern-
ment should take energetic measure? to secure the
execution of all laws affecting Indian trade and the
intercourse of white men and Indians. We have
thus briefly shown that the security of our persons
and our property, the hopes . and destinies of our
children, are involved in the objects of our petition.
We do not presume to suggest the manner in which
the country should be occupied by the Government,
nor the extent to which our settlement should be en-
couraged. We confide in the wisdom of our na-
tional legislators, and leave the subject to their
candid deliberation, and your petitioners will ever
pray. .

(Signed,) J. L. WHITCOMB, and 35 others.

March 16, 1838.

On motion of Mr. Linit, tie memorial was
read, laid on the taUe, and ordered to be

Salt Duties.

On motion by Mr. Benton, tlii5 Senate took
np the request made by liiin for leave to in-
troduce a bill for the repeal of the salt duty
and the fishing bounties, and allowances depend-
ent thereon.

Mr. Datis then addi-essed the Senate, in
reply to the remarks of Mr. Benton, when
presenting the bill on Thursday last.

Mr. Benton replied to Mr. Davis at lengthy
after which,

The Senate adjourned.



3d Sess.]

United States Naturalization Laws in British Courts — Case ofTheller. [Januart, 1839.

Thtjesday, January 31.
Jfniied States JsTaturalization Laws in British
Court — Gase of Theller.
Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, presented the petition
of Dr. E. A. Theller, -who stated that he was
a native of Ireland, and had heen naturalized,
and resides in this country ; that he had joined
in the expedition for the invasion of Canada,
and had been taken prisoner ; that he had
been tried, and convicted of treason — the
judge charging the jury on his trial that his
act of naturalization in this country was null,
and of non-eiJect, that no subsequent act could
expatriate him from his original allegiance.
Under these circumstances. Dr. T. asks that
Congress should take some action on the
Bnbject, which would deiine the rights of
naturalized citizens.

After some remarks from Mr. Clay, of Ken-

Mr. NoEVELL said, that the memorialist was
a citizen of Michigan. He was an intelligent
man, but an enthusiast in whatever related' to
human liberty. He had sent to him the coun-
terpart of the memorial just presented. The
facts in the memorial were as stated by the
Senator from Kentucky. The memorialist was
a native of Ireland, but a naturalized citizen
of the United States. In the early part of the
past year, he embarked in the struggle for
Canadian liberty. He was captured in the
Upper Province of Canada, and taken to To-
ronto. There he was tried, condemned, and
sentenced to execution, on a charge of high
treason against the Queen of Great Britain.
The chief justice of the province, who presided
at the trial, instructed the jury, that no sub-
ject of the kingdom could ever expatriate him-
self. Birth, and the residence of one hour in
the British dominions, created a perpetual
allegiance. From this allegiance the subject
could never be exonerated, under any plea or
pretence. The memorialist owed his present
safety from the penalties of treason, to his
escape from the citadel of Quebec.

These were the facts which gave rise to this
memorial. Upon these facts, the memorialist
appeals to Congress to adopt measures for the
aajustment of this question of perpetual alle-
giance claimed by Great Britain from all her
native born subjects, and for the protection of
all such subjects as have become, or may
heoome, naturalized citizens of the United
States. The subject was certainly one of
great importance. The doctrine of perpet-
ual allegiance, asserted by Great Britain,
was an absurd reho of feudal barbarism. It
was incompatible with the constitution and
laws of naturahzati^n of the United States.
By those, British subjects may and do become
American citizens. They are entitled, equally
with our native citizens, to protection in all
their lawful pursuits, wherever they may
li.ippen to be. Tliis Government was thus
bound to protect them in peace and in war.
Vol. XIII.— 47

Mr. Madison, in the last war with Great
Britain, steadily maintained this principle,
resisted the claim of that kingdom to the
perpetual allegiance of her subjects after they
had become our citizens, and repeatedly inti-
mated his determination to retaliate for every
injury inflicted upon our naturalized citizens,
captured as prisoners of war, if they were
punished on the ground of their being subjects,
or if they were treated differently from other
prisoners of war. The memorialist was mis-
taken in supposing that the treaty of peace
between this country and Great Britain recog-
nized the right of that kingdom to the perpet-
ual allegiance of Jier native born sutgects.
No such expression is to be found in those
treaties. Our Eevolutionary ancestors were
all British subjects at one time. In separating
from the mother country, they ceased to be
her subjects. And how could they, in the
treaty of peace which recognized them as a
separate and independent nation, permit Great
Britain to assert any claim to the perpetual
allegiance of those who were born within the
British realms ?

No principle is more clear than that the
naturalized citizens of the United States possess
all the rights and are entitled to all the pro-
tection which could be claimed by native
citizens. No duty is more imperative upon
the Government than that of affording equal
protection to the naturalized as to the native
citizen ; and he had no recollection of any fail-
ure on the part of any Republic or any Admin-
istration to perform its duty in this respect.

The circumstances which had produced this
memorial were peculiar, and had embarrassed
any action which the Government might have
been disposed to take on the subject. The memo-
rialist had, in his zeal for the Hberty of a foreign
province not prepared to assert its own free-
dom, invaded that foreign province ; and had,
with a number of our native citizens, _wage_d
war upon the British authorities, while his
own country was at peace and in amity with
them, and had been captured. Ho and_ his
coadjutors had voluntarily, at least for a time,
expatriated themselves. They had left their
own country to engage in a foreign civil war.
Now, in this situation, what right had our
Government to exercise its power for their
protection, except by way of friendly in-
terposition? If the memoriahst had been
taken while fighting the battles of his adopted
country; if, without committing aggression
upon the established Government of a foreign
power, he had, while passing through any part
of its dominions, been taken on any pretext,
and tried for any offence not committed against
the peace of that power, and condemned on
the claim of a perpetual allegiance from him,
then this Government would have been bound
to interpose for his protection, and would
have protected him. As it was, the Jixec-
utive acted with regard to him precisely
as it did with regard to native citizens



jAsnART, 1839.]

Small Silver Cmnagefor Change.

[25th Concs.

captured at the same time with him. It sent
an agent to Toronto for the purpose of pre-
vailing with the provincial authorities to
release the prisoners. It made no distinction
between the naturalized and the native citizen.
What more could it do, without involving the
nation in a war ? It might have made a formal
declaration, that it would never recognize the
principle of perpetual allegiance, as asserted
in the trial and condemnation of the me-
morialist. It might, as intimated by the
Senator from Kentucky, have remonstrated
against that barbarous principle. But if it
had done so, the danger was, that he would
have been forthwith ordered to execution, for
the very purpose of showing a determination
practically to maintain the British claim to
the perpetual allegiance of their subjects. He
had no doubt that this consideration had
operated upon the execution in this case. He
had alluded to these facts to show that this
Government had not been inattentive to its duty
on this occasion.

Thtjesdat, January 31.

Liberation of American Slaiies ly Britisli Au-
thorities while passing from one U. 8. port
to another.

Mr. Oalhotjit offered the following resolu-
tion, which was considered and agreed to :

Resolved, That the President of the United States
be requested to communicate to the Senate whether
the Government of Great Britain has made compen-
sation in the cases of the brigs Enterprise, Enco-
mium, and Comet, the first of which was forced by
stress of weather into Port Hamilton, Bermuda
Island, and the other two wrecked on the keys of
the Bahamas, and the slaves on board forcibly seized
and detained by the local authorities ; and if no
compensation has been made, the reasons why it has
not been made, with a copy of the correspondence
between the two Governments, which has taken place
since the answer to a former call on the same subject
by the Senate.

Small Silver Coinage for Change.
Mr. Stkangb presented certain resolutions
adopted by the Legislature of North Carolina,
representing the scarcity of specie change in that
State, and asking for the passage of a law au-
thorizing the branch mints to coin silver change.
The resolutions having been read —
Mr. Olay, of Kentucky, wished to make a
single observation on the subject, before it was
passed. This complaint of the want of silver
change was not confined to North Carolina,
but existed in other places, and was produced
by that disproportionate value between gold
and , silver coin which originated in the cele-
brated gold bill. The effect of this bill
was this : that when it became necessary to
export specie, silver was exported in prefer-
ence to gold, because the silver was more
valuable in foreign countries ; and hence, he
apprehended, was the scarcity in North Car-

olina. He had lately received a communica-
tion on this subject from one of our commer-
cial Northern cities, which attributed the
scarcity of silver change to this cause.

Mr. Steangb said that when he offered the
resolutions of the Legislature of North Caro-
lina, he had not the slightest expectation that
they would have given rise to any debate;
but as the Senator from Kentucky had thought
proper to notice them, for the purpose of intro-
ducing notions on the subject of the currency,
he felt it due to himself and his constituents,
from whom these resolutions emanated, to
make a brief reply. He wholly dissented from
the position laid down by the Senator from
Kentucky, with regard to the causes which pro-
duced the scarcity of silver change. It was
not exportation which produced this scarcity,
but it arose from the hoarding of silver by the
banks, who issued, in lieu of it, their small
notes. In fact, he did not believe that silver
coins of the lower denominations were ever

Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, hoped he might be
permitted, without offence, to make a few ob-
servations on the subject presented by these
resolutions, particularly as it was one of im-
portance, to which his attention had been
recently directed. He happened to receive, but
a few days ago, a communication from an intelli-
gent gentleman, in one of our principal sea-
ports, affirming that the scarcity of silver
change was one of the effects of the passage
of the gold biU ; because, by reducing the
standard of the gold coin, it became less valu-
able as an article of exportation than silver,
and, therefore, the latter was always exported.
Now this was exactly what was predicted by
himself and others, at the time of the passage
of the law, .for the adjustment of the value
of the two coins ; and the result has proved the
correctness of the prediction. Gold could not
be exported under that law, without disadvan-
tage, unless exchange was greatly against us ;
but silver can profitably be exported, and
when exportation becomes necessary, it is of
course made in that species of coin in which
it can be sent abroad without loss. This was
exactly in accordance with the information
which he had just received from an intelligent
source, in one of our large commercial cities.

Mr. NiLES thought that the Senator from
Kentucky (Mr. Clay) was mistaken in the
causes to which he had attributed the scarcity
of silver change, and that he was mistaken in
the fact that a scarcity of change existed in
the country at large. He thought there was
no such scarcity ; he knew, in many places, it
was abundant. Within his own experience,
banks had refused to receive it. This was a
convincing proof that, there was abundance
of it. It is known to every one who has in-
quired into this subject, that silver change is
never exported, because its nominal value in a
foreign market would be lost, and it could only
be disposed of as bullion to bo recoined, occa-



3d Ses3.]

Small Silver Coiiuigefor Change.

[Jahuaey, 1839.

sioning much loss by the process. There may
be a scarcity of change in some States, but
that is the result of their paper systems. The
hostility of paper to silver is well known ;
indeed, so hostile is it, that where it has the
power, even silver fipennybits are driven out
of circulation. What was the result in Phila-
delphia, where the mint was located, during
the late suspension ? In that city, which, pre-
rvious to the suspension, was thoroughly satu-
rated with silver change, after the barrier was
broken down and the emission of shinplasters
authorized, no change whatever could be pro-
cured. In a single night, the state of things
was completely changed. Instead of an
ahundance of silver change, there was an entire
absence of it. And a similar result will
always follow a similar cause ; and to the
extension of our paper system, the circulation
of one dollar notes, and notes for a fractional
part of a dollar, may we much more appropria-
tely look for the scarcity of silver change, than
the operations of the gold bill of 1836.

Mr. Steange said, that, upon reflection, he
was entirely satisfied that the Senator from
Kentucky was grossly mistaken in the posi-
tions laid down by him. Every man knew
that there had been a great increase of specie
in the country, since the passage of the gold
bill. Now this increase could not be alto-
gether in gold, but must be partly in silver and
partly in gold. He was also satisfied that
there could not be the diiferehce in value, be-
tween the gold and silver coinage, which the
Senator from Kentucky supposed ; for he
believed that their relative value was as
nicely adjusted as it was possible for human
ingenuity to do it; indeed, this was shown
to be the case by the prices current in foreign

The Senator from Kentucky had attributed
the disappearance of silver specie to exporta-
tion, and he attributed it to the hoarding of
it by the banks, and partly by individuals.
Change was a thing that was never exported.
The country must be reduced to the lowest
ebb, before it would suffer the inconvenience
and loss of sending it abroad ; because it must
go as mere bullion, to be recoined, in the
countries to which it is sent. Every man of
reason and reflection, could see at once the
true cause for this scarcity ; and upon the
soundest principles of philosophy, when one
good cause presents itself it was idle to search
for another. He would not have troubled the
Senate with these remarks, but for the im-
mediate connection the subject had with
his constituents and himself, and but for the
false position laid down by the Senator from
Kentucky. •

That Senator seemed to have taken Korth
Carolina under his especial charge, and to have
felt hunself called upon to take part in the
public struggles within her. "When he and his
colleague, some time ago, introduced certain
resolutions coming from their State, the Sena-

tor took the unusual course of appearirig as
the advocate of one of the political parties of
that State, and, in a lengthened address, assign^
ing his views as to the complexion of the docu-
ment, and the course of the North Carolina
Senators on this floor. And what followed ?
Why, a garbled statement of the debate was
immediately sent out, in one of the papers of
this city, in advance of the true statement,
containing the answers of his colleague and
himself; and no doubt the intended effect was
produced before the contradiction could over-
take the misrepresentation, which was pub-
lished in every Whig paper in the State.
What was 'the case now ? These being North
Carolina resolutions, the Senator from Ken-
tucky, who seems to take such an interest in
that State, rises in his place, and assumes a
position in relation to them, which, if uncon-
tradicted, win have an unfavorable effect
on the public mind. We must, said Mr. S., be
more fortunate now than usual, if the contra-
diction accompanies the assertion.

Mr. Clat, of Kentucky, said he was unwill-
ing to prolong this discussion, but he would
assure the Senator from North Carolina that

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 181 of 199)