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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 93 of 187)
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the debate upon the bill ; yet was this a reason
why the survivors should be neglected, and faU
into their graves in the same forlorn state as
their comrades in arms 3 This bill gave more
satisfaction in every part of the country that I
have heard from, than aU the other doings of
Congress for the session. The people have al-
ways approved, heart and soul, of every thing
done for the benefit of the old soldiers. And
even those Bevolutionary worthies to whom
none of the nation's bounty, as we caU it, came,
never were known to repine at the good for-
tune of others, although they justly, in many
cases, complain of their not being taken care of
themselves. So far as it relates to myself, I
would not only cheerfully vote for a biU to pro-
vide for those who yet remain to be provided
for — I mean the militia who served in that war
— but for the widows of all our soldiers of the

Let us look for a moment and see what has
been done for the other actors in this drama —

the traitor and the spy, who figured largely in
this business. The traitor, although his plan
entirely failed of success, received his promised
reward to the very letter of the contract. The
ten thousand pounds were paid down; the
commission rank of Brigadier General was in-
stantly given him, his family were at once put
under the protection and patronage of the
British Government, and his children are at
this day men of considerable standing and
wealth in the Canadas. The British Govern-
ment fulfilled every part of this base contract,
even to doing all they could to make him a
man of consequence; but there were hearts
among our enemies too noble to yield their
confidence to a traitor. As regards the spy, it
is true that he was insensible to honors, for
he slept under the tree where he was executed ;
but his Government pensioned his mother and
sisters, and some of them survive to enjoy the
royal bounty until this day. A cenotaph was
erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey,
among the monuments of the great and wise of
his nation, who had gone to their long rest in
honor and virtuous praise. This was not all.
After the lapse of nearly forty-five years, his
bones were even unearthed by a royal man'
date, and carried to his native land, and placed
in consecrated ground. They thought he died
in a good cause, and were not content that his
ashes should remain in an ignominious grave,
I complain not of this : for his country, as well
as other countries, had a right to pass in judg-
ment upon the merits of their heroes, or mar-
tys, or soldiers, and to decide as they please.

I state these facts not to injure the fame of
Andre, for he took his life in his hand, and for-
feited it, and was punished by the death all na-
tions have prescribed for his offence. Justice
was satisfied, and so should aU be : what I
complain of is, that, while listening to mono-
dies upon Andre, and keeping up our sym-
pathies with every act of his nation, in regard
to his family or fame, that we forget the merits
of his captors, and something more than forget
them — even question the purity of their mo-
tives, and undervalue their services, and cloud
their fame with suspicions. This at once is
robbing the dead, and piercing to the heart
their descendants, who had no other inher-
itance left them but the reputation of their an-
cestors. If these men had acted for gain, how
widely did they misjudge : for the ransom of
their prisoner would have been five times as
much at the moment as they have received
during the whole of their lives, and an annuity
might easily have been added : for such things
require no debate in Parliament. A reward
for delivering him to the British would have
been certain, and no doubt, splendid. What
they might possibly gain from Congress, was
distant and uncertain: for, sir, neither these
men, nor the wisest of the sages of the Revolu-
tion, could predict at that time what would
have been the probable result of the more than
doubtful contest in which they were engaged.



Jandakt, 1829.]

Oumberlani Road.

[H. OF E.

They were true to their country ; to the cause
of liberty ; and deserved ample rewards.

Mr. Beent inquired of the Ohair if it was in
order to refer petitions by a resolution.

The Speaker replied that it was not.

Mr. Waed then modified his resolution so as
ito make it read, " report of the Committee on
(Revolutionary Pensions ; " and, being thus
' amended, it was adopted.

Guniberland, Road.

On motion of Mr. Mbkoee, the House went
into Committee of the Whole, and took up the
bUl for the preservation and repair of the Cum-
berland road.

Mr. Andeeson, of Pennsylvania, took the
floor, and said, as it was his intention to vote
against the amendment under consideration
and in favor of the bill, he would ask the indul-
gence of the committee while he stated very
briefly some of |he reasons which had led him
to that conclusion. On the constitutional ques-
tion, of the power of Congress to appropriate
a part of the national resources to objects of
Internal Improvement, he should say but little.
I have understood (said Mr. A.) that the ques-
tion was considered as definitively settled and
put to rest, and I certainly have no desire to
provoke a discussion of it on the present occa-
sion. As it appears to me, however, to be, in
some measure, involved in the subject under
consideration, I wiU take the liberty of making
a few remarks, by way of introduction to what
I intend saying hereafter. I never had any
scruples of the existence of such a power in the
General Government. The language of the con-
stitution is too plain and intelligible to be mis-
understood. I apprehend it would be diiHcult
to discover any ambiguity in its meaning. To
doubt the right of Congress to make appropria-
tions for purposes of Internal Improvement, ap-
pears to me to be about as reasonable as it
would be to doubt their right to appropriate a
part of the revenue to the payment of the na-
tional debt, or to any other purpose. To be
adequate to any great national purpose of pro-
viding for the general welfare, it was necessary
that this power should be untrammelled by re-
strictions or reservations that might lessen its
eflEiciency. It was equally as impossible for
the convention to foresee what state of things
the fluctuating tide of events might develop, in
the course of half a century, as it is for us to
foresee what another half century may unfold to
posterity. It was all-important, therefore, that
Congress should be clothed with a power fully
competent to provide for every possible emer-
gency. It is a national power, created for na-
tional purposes, and, of necessity, should he
lodged in the General Government, by which
it can be most promptly and most eflSciently
applied. I apprehend it would have been a
very doubtful, if not a dangerous policy, to
have confided to the States, in their separate
capacity, the performance of a duty so impor-
tant as that of providing for the general wel-

fare. It is a duty which properly and neces-
sarily appertains to Congress to perform. If,
then, it is admitted to be the special province
of Congress to provide for the general welfare,
the existence of a power adequate to the ful-
filment of that duty, and their right to exercise
it, can no longer be a matter of doubt. It is
contended, however, that this power, which
has been emphatically called the making power,
does not involve the preserving power ; that
the power to make turnpike roads does not in-
volve a power to erect gates and collect tolls,
for their preservation ; that they are distuict
powers, between which there is no connection ;
that the power to preserve is not an attribute
of the making power. This (said Mr. A.) is
the first time I have ever heard such a doctrine
seriously advocated. I have always supposed
that the power to provide for the repair and
preservation of a public work, and the power
to construct it, were so closely united, and so
intimately blended, as to be inseparable ; that
the one was an essential attribute and concomi-
tant of the other. Will it be said that the
power to build forts, arsenals, and ships of war,
does not involve a power to provide the means
of keeping them in repair ? Every man in the
community knows that they are indispensably
necessary for the common defence, and for the
protection of our commerce. The power to ap-
propriate money for their preservation is uni-
versally admitted. Annual appropriations are
made for that purpose, without opposition. In
relation to these objects, the power to make,
and the power to preserve, are necessarily in-
divisible. The efficiency of the one would be,
in a great measure, destroyed, if deprived of
the other. If, then, it is conceded that the
power granted to Congress, to provide for the
general welfare, involves a power to make
turnpike roads, it is manifestly clear that they
possess a power to provide the ways and means
of keeping them in repair.

Mr. Stewaet expressed his regret that gen-
tlemen had deemed this a fit occasion to draw
into discussion all the topics connected with
the general power over the subject of internal
improvements. If repeated decisions, and the
uniform practice of the Government, could set-
tle any question, this, he thought, ought to be
regarded as settled. The foundation of this
road was laid by a report made by Mr. Giles,
the present Governor of Virginia, in 1802, and
was sanctioned, the next session, by a similar
report, made by another distinguished Virgin-
ian, (Mr. Kandoiph,) now a member of this
House. It was, therefore, the ofispring of Vir-
ginia, and he hoped she would not now aban-
don it, as illegitimate. Commenced under the
administration of Mr. JeflTerson, it had been
sanctioned and prosecuted by every President,
and by almost every Congress, for more than a
quarter of a century. It had cost more than
two millions of dollars, and was worth much
more than it had cost. Its benefits were incal-
culable. Important as this road was, as a me-



H. OP R.]

Cumberland Soad.

[Jandaet, 1829.

dium of oommunication, and as a bond of union
between the Atlantic and Western States ; im-
portant as it was, to the nation, in connection
witb its mail, military, and commercial opera-
tions; no permanent system had yet been
adopted for its preservation and repair. This
road had already passed through three States,
and was in progress through three others. A
portion of it had been in constant use, for fif-
teen or sixteen years, yet the whole amount
appropriated for its repair had not been sufS-
cient to put one inch of stone on its entire sur-
face. No road in the world, he contended, had
ever sustained itself so long, with so little re-
pair. This fact, alone, furnished a triumphant
refutation of the charge of want of fidelity and
skill in its original construction.

This road was now in a state of rapid decay,
and almost rapid dilapidation. Something must
be done speedily, or both the road and the money
it had cost would lie lost to the nation. The
impossibility of obtaining annual appropriations
had induced the Committee of Roads and Ca-
nals to report the bill under discussion, which
required those who used the road to pay for its
repair. This was not to be a tax for purposes
of revenue, as had been alleged ; but a volun-
tary contribution, paid by travellers, barely
sufficient to repair the injury they did to the
road by using it ; it was not a tax in the con-
stitutional sense, no more than the postage paid
on letters, or the money paid by vessels pass-
ing lighthouses on the seacoast. The power
that sanctioned the one, sustained and support-
ed the other.

Mr. S. laid it down, as a general principle,
that the power of creation carried with it, as a
necessary and inseparable incident, the power
of preservation. This could not be controvert-
ed ; and, hence, gentlemen opposed to the bill
were under the necessity of denying the power
of the Government to construct the road. This
they had done, and thus brought under discus-
sion the whole question of power, in all its as-
pects. His colleague, (Mr. BuoHAHfAisr,) who
had opened the debate on this subject, seemed
to regard the bill with more alarm than the
people of the South did the tariff. He had de-
nounced it as a most daring and dangerous
usurpation of power; as tending directly to
consolidation or separation; as even worse
than the sedition law ; as alike destructive to
the rights of the States, and the liberties of the
people. He had, indeed, conjured up a most
frightful picture. He had, himself, called it a
" spectre." True — ^but it was one of his own
creation. A " spectre " at which, he says, even
the Federalism of former days would have
" shrunk back with horror." He had, there-
fore, felt it his duty to sound the tocsin of
alarm ; he had exhorted the friends of State
Eights to rally their forces ; he had appealed to
Virginia, whose voice, he said, had awakened
some of her slumbering sisters, and kept alive
the wholesome doctrine of State Eights ; and
of this school, he, too, it seems, had become a

sudden, and, of course, a zealous disciple. He
had, however, taken but one step— he must
take another, and that wa.s, to deny, also, the
constitutionality of the tariff. This he might do
at the next session ; and then, and not tiU then,
could he be admitted into fuU communion.
He must go the whole, and even that would
not restore him to favor.

The gentleman has, in fact, distinctly inform-
ed us, in his speech, that the politicians of this
country are hereafter to be divided into two
great parties: the one in favor of "Federal
power, and the other wedded to State Eights ;"
in other words, those who advocate, and those
who deny, the power of this Government to
protect domestic manufactures and promote in-
ternal improvements. These are the subjects,
and the only subjects, over which the power
of this Government is now warmly resisted.
These were the great points of controversy,
and he agreed with his colleague, that every
man must take his stand, on the one side or
the other. The issue was made up. These
measures must be abandoned or sustained. The
power exists, or it does not : there was no half
way course. If it existed in the one case, it ex-
isted in the other ; they were kindred measures,
and, in his opinion, would stand or fall together.
After the public debt is paid, which must occur
in a very few years. Why, you will be asked,
impose a tariff of duties, when there is no ob-
ject on which you can expend the revenue?
These subjects were inseparably connected;
they constituted one system of policy ; it was
against this system that the party " wedded to
State Eights " were directing their efforts, and
it was this system that its friends were now
called upon to defend and uphold.

Mr. S. appealed to the Eepresentatives of
the Interior and the West. Without internal
improvements, he inquired what they were
ever to expect from the expenditures of this
Government. They must bear their full share
of the public burdens, pay their full share of
the public revenue, without the possibility of
participating in its benefits — ^the whole would
go to the seaboard. In the Interior, and the
West, they had no fortifications, no ships and
navies, no sea walls, dockyards, lighthouses,
buoys, and beacons. He afiirmed, without fear
of contradiction, that, from the foundation of
the Government, to the present time, the whole
civil expenditures of the Government, for all
purposes, except internal improvements, in the
whole Union, twenty miles from the tides of
the ocean, had not been equal to the expendi-
tures on a single fortification ! Deplorable, in-
deed, must be their condition, without this
power ; it amounted to a positive exclusion of
the Interior and the West from all participation
in the benefits of the public expenditure. Their
wealth, it was true, like their vast rivers, would
continue to flow in uniform and never-ceasing
streams to the ocean, bearing to it their ample
contributions ; but, by destroying this power,
you blot out forever that sun, which alone



Januakt, 1829.]

Cumberland Road.

[H. OF R.

could take up a portion of this great deep, and
return it in copious and refreshing showers
over the vast region from which it was drawn,
invigorating and replenishing the numberless
' fountains from which it originally flowed.

Wednesday, January 28.
Ourriberland JRoad.

The House again went into Committee of the
Whole upon the state of the Union, and re-
sumed the consideration of the Cumberland
road bill.

Mr. Smith, of Indiana, said : Is it necessary
that Congress should adopt any measures for
the permanent repair and preservation of the
Cumberland road? If so, does the bill,' as re-
ported, provide for such repairs and preserva-
tion ? And, if the bill is liable to objections,
is the amendment the less so ? So far as I have
heard the argument, these questions have di-
vided themselves into two general heads — I
mean those of constitutionality and expedien-
cy ; or, in other words, is the proposition con-
tained in the biU constitutional ? Is it expedi-
ent ? The same questions arise on the amend-
ment. This subject, arid the answers to these
questions, are not new to me ; they are not
new to the people whom I represent ; they
present no new question here. For myself, I
confess that I have thought much upon this
subject — ^not for the purpose of making a
speech here ; not merely since I have been a
member of Congress; no, sir, in my own
house, at my own fireside, at times when I
could view the whole ground coolly and dis-
passionately ; when the gaze of such an august
body ag this, which is almost enough to djive
from the mind of so young a speaker as I am,
the ideas which he intends to bring into the
discussion, was not upon me. At times like
these, sir, I have formed an opinion for myself
on this all-important question ; and that opin-
ion it wUl be my object to communicate to this
committee, as distinctly and intelligibly as I
can, as it is upon that opinion, and the rea-
sons which have operated on my mind, in its
formation, that I must rely, before my constit-
uents and the world, for the correctness of the
vote which I am about to give on this question.

Then, sir, I have no doubt but that Congress
is vested with plenary powers, by the Constitu-
tion of the United States, to construct roads
and canals of a national character. I do not
wish to be understood as saying, that the
United States possess the power to construct
either roads or canals which are local or sec-
tional in their character. The question which
these two propositions would present, have lit-
tle or no aflSnity with each other. This Gov-
ernment is only vested with power to operate
on objects strictly national in their character.
Sectional or local objects do not come within
the sphere of her operations ; they fall within
the exclusive control of the State Governments
in which they are constructed. In this restric-

tive sense I wish to be understood as contend-
ing for the power of Congress, under the consti-
tution, to construct roads and canals.

So far as principle is involved, the amend-
ment presents quite as strong a question of
constitutional power as the original bUl; in-
deed, it may well be questioned, whether the
amendment does not go one step farther than
the biU as reported. The biU proposes to put
the road in repair, and then to collect a toll
barely sufiScient to keep it in repair. The
amendment proposes to put the road in a like
repair, and then provides that the United States
shall cede the road to the different States in
which it lies, upon the condition that the
States, by a given day, shall accept of the ces-
sion, with a restriction annexed that they shall
never collect more toll on this road than will
be sufficient to keep it in repair. What, then,
does this amendment assume ? It assumes,
first, that Congress has the power to take the
materials necessary for the repair of this road,
and to enter upon it, and repair it ; secondly,
that the road, when repaired, is the property
of the United States ; thirdly, that the Con-
gress of the United States can constitutionally
cede the property of the United States in this
road to the several States in which it lies ; and
lastly, that we have the power to impose re-
strictions on the legislation of the States on the
subject ; for we cannot repair this road unless
we can constitutionally use the means ; we
cannot cede this road unless it is our property ;
we cannot impose restrictions on the legislation
of the States, in relation to this road, unless it
is subject to our jurisdiction and control. The
bUl assumes no more — ^nay, it does not assume
so much : the one provides that Congress shall
keep the road in repair, by erecting the gates
and collecting toU suflBcient for that purpose ;
the other provides that the gates shall be erect-
ed by the States, and a toU collected, under re-
strictions imposed by Congress. Now, sir,
what is the difference ? Will not the maxim,
qui facit per alium faeit per se, apply to this
case with some propriety S It seems to me to
amount to about the same thing either way, so
far as the erection of the gates and the collec-
tion of toll is concerned, except as to the laws
under which the tolls are to be collected. Of
this exception I shall have occasion to speak
hereafter ; and I should like the gentleman to
show me the section of the constitution under
which he proposes to cede this road to, and im-
pose the restriction on, the States. There may
be such a clause in that instrument, but I con-
fess it has escaped my observation. I have
now, I presume, said enough to let the commit-
tee know that I am in favor of the bill, as re-
ported, and against the amendment.
■ I listened with pleasure to the speech of the
gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. P. P. Baeboue,)
delivered on this question a few days since, as
I do to aU that gentleman says in debate ; and
while I acknowledge the great powers of his
mind, and the ingenuity of his arguments, I



H. OP K.]

Cumberland Road.

[Jahdabt, 1829.

must most decidedly dissent from Ms doctrines.
His premises, too, are professedly the pro-
visions of the constitution ; but I hope to be
able to show that his arguments are founded in
error, in respect to the powers given by the
constitution to Congress, and the object of con-
ferring those powers. This wUl make it neces-
sary for me to take a cursory view of the
formation of this Government and its powers,
prior to the adoption of the federal constitu-
tion. It will be recoUeoted by gentlemen, that
the thirteen original States were bound to-
gether by the Articles of Confederation. This
was emphatically a union of States. The States
who had thus entered into this league or con-
federation retained all their rights, their sov-
ereignty, and their exclusive jurisdiction in
their own hands. The Congress of the United
States acted upon those States as so many sov-
ereign corporations, and not upon the people.
When it became necessary to raise an army for
the common defence. Congress could fix the
just quota that each State should send to the
field, and could request the States to comply
with the requisition. Was it necessary to col-
lect money from the people to support the
army, carry on the war, and defray the ex-
penses of Government, Congress could appor-
tion the sum that each State should contribute
to the common stock, and make a request that
the States should furnish the amount. If these
requests were thought expedient, and no con-
stitutional scruples should suggest themselves
to the State Legislatures, they were complied
with ; but, should the States, or any one of
them, not comply, what was the consequence ?
Congress, imder the Articles of Confederation,
had no power, by civil means, to coerce a com-
pliance : nothing short of a resort to the sword
— ^to civil war, with all its awful consequences —
could hope to procure a submission on the part
of the State. Thus, the Confederation was not
only weak and powerless, but it contained
within itself the seeds of civil war, and its own
dissolution, and with them the destruction of
the lives and liberties of those citizens who
had taken shelter under its rotten branches,
from the storms of the revolution. The sages

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 93 of 187)