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Compensation of Members.
which a man could not earn one thousand five be further from his wish or intention than to aihundred dollars in six months, and do it much tribute improper motives to the worthy chairmore pleasantly too than by coming here. Mr. man, or any other honorable gentleman of the R. concluded by repeating, íhat the object of his committee by whom the bill had been introduced. amendment was intended merely as a quietus to But he must be permitted to say that the bill, so over-tender consciences.
far as he comprehended its scope and tenor, preMr. Grosvenor said, to decide on the amend sented itself to bis understanding in a very quesment, it was only necessary to inquire, whether tionable shape. It wore too much the appearthis measure was at all proper. If it be necessary, ance of disguise and concealment. If there really is it not so at this, as the next session ? On what was such evident necessity for an increase in the principle, he asked, was it necessary to postpone pay of members of Congress, why not grant it ihe effect of the bill? It would be viewed only in the good old way of a per diem. If six dolas a little attempt to evade the imputation of re- lars a day were not adequate to meet their reagarding their own particular interests; and he sonable expenses, and afford them a comfortable was decidedly opposed to it.
subsistence at the Seat of Government, let the Mr. Huger assured the House, he had never rate be augmented to eight, ted, or twelve dol. risen to address them with more reluctance, or lars, or to whatever sum might be deemed suffiless satisfaction to himself, tban on the present cient. But let this be done in such a manner as occasion. He had waited to the last moment, that their constituents might at a glance, underand until the question was on the point of being stand what had been done, and have an opportutaken, in the hope that some other gentleman nity of making a fair comparison between the would undertake the unpleasant task, (for an un- present allowance, and what it was now propleasant task it certainly was,) of rising in oppo-posed to raise it to. By changing the per diem, sition to a measure, evidently so popular and so or daily allowance, into a salary, or gross sum, well received. Providence in its beneficence, a concealment of the increase of pay was, be had blessed him with independence, and some would not say sought or intended, yet it certainwhat more, perhaps, of the good things of this ly was effected. What number of persons abroad, life, than had fallen to the lot of several of those he asked, would comprehend the full effect of the be addressed. He was sensible, that under such change, or possess proper data upon which to circumstances, opposition to the proposed increase make a correct estimate and comparison between of pay might doi come with the best possible the present daily allowance and that which was grace from him; and he most siocerely wished contemplated ? 'Even in that House there was that it had devolved upon any other gentleman, great difference of opinion on the subject. The rather than on himself. He had waited, however, chairman of the committee stated it, including as before observed, to the last moment, but no one an average of extra sessions, at between nine and evinced the least disposition to rise in opposition ten dollars. He contended they were not likely to the bill. He did not, therefore, think himself so to have, for some years to come, any extra sesbound down, hand and feet, by the above consid- sion. Yet the very fact that there might or eration, or by the feeliogs of delicacy arising out of might not be extra sessions, was almost concluit, as to be absolutely precluded from expressing sive argument of itself in favor of the old mode his dislike to a measure, which he disapproved of of a per diem, and against the proposed change most decidedly, and in all its bearings; nor under of it into a fixed salary and gross sum. At all aay moral obligation to let it pass sub silentio, events there was not the most distant prospect of and without the most trifling atiempt being made an extra session, neither bad there been one duto stop its progress. He should, without further ring the Constitutional term of the present Conpreface, throw himself on the candor and indul. gress. He was strictly correct, therefore, and gence of the House. And whilst he cheerfully fully authorized in estimating the addition of acknowledged the merits of the honorable gentle pay which would actually be received by the man from Kentucky (Mr. Johnson) who had so present members, at an increase of from one hungreatly distinguished himself in other fields, and dred to one hundred and fifty per cent., or at an a kind of warfare rather more glorious than that average of at least fourteen dollars a day, besides for which he had been, on the present occasion, the annual travelling allowance of six dollars extolled in such glowing language; he flattered every iweoty miles. Indeed, this was so obri. himself, that he might at least hope and calcu- ously the case, that he had heard it in converlate upon the pardon and forgiveness of gentle sation, candidly acknowledged, that the mode med, if he veniured, in like manner, to come for adopeed of giving an annual salary instead of a ward with some little independence, and oppose per diem, was the only one which could render a measure, evidently so popular within the walls ibe thing palatable, and make it go down with of the Chamber
, and which received such kind, the people. And ihis very observation and acand to all appearance, such general welcome. knowledgment had been by no means one of the
Mr. H. repeated that he was decidedly opposed smallest inducements with bim to turn his attento the bill in all its bearings and provisions; 10 tion particularly to the subject, and rise in oppothe increase of pay it proposed, (especially at the sition to the bill. present time and under existing circumstances) But even granting it to be expedient to increase and still more to the manner in which that in their pay for the future, it was, in every possible crease was to be brought about. Nothing could view, incorrect and unbecoming to give the bill
H. OF R. a retrospective operation. When the members and drawers of water. He saw no force in the of this Congress were elected they well knew observation. They were in fact, and in truth, they would be entitled to six dollars a day, and day laborers, and must, from the nature of their no more. They accepted their seats under this services, continue such. Their predecessors had express condition. But if the bill passed, each been so, and had received for upwards of thirty member would receive fifteen hundred dollars years a per diem, in proportion to their daily serfor the year ending on the 4th of March, which vices. Yet, it was the first time he bad ever was already elapsed, and during which they had heard a whisper as to its baneful influence on barely been in session three months. Thus, in their dignity, or that the receipt of a per diem stead of $180 a month, or $540 for three months, had affected, one way or the other, the standing to which they were now entitled, and which or respectability of the members of Congress. many had already drawn, the members would Not only their dignity, however, was all of a receive $1,500 each, while the President pro tem. sudden found to be lessened by the old mode of of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of compensation, but members, it seems likewise to Representatives
, instead of $1,080, to which they be most unexpectedly discovered, received less would be entitled as the law now stood, would than clerks in many of the offices, or those emeach receive $3,000; the members a per diem at ployed to copy their own proceedings; and, it the rate of about seventeen dollars per day, ex- was triumphantly demanded, whether members clusively of the usual allowance for travelling of that honorable body were not worthy of at expenses; the President pro tem. of the Senate, least as much compensation as mere quill-drivers. and the Speaker of the House of Representa- He really did not expect such an argument (well tives a per diem of rather upward thirty-three dol- enough adapled, perhaps, to a newspaper paralars, likewise exclusive of ihe usual allowance of graph) would have been seriously urged in that travelling expenses. The President pro tem., and House. He would ask in return, whether the the Senate, and the Speaker, and House of Rep- question liad been fairly stated, or whether there resentatives of the Fourteenth Congress, would was any point of comparison between a clerk consequently receive a gratuity, (for a gratuity, who earned his daily bread by personal labor and concealed as it might be, it certainly was,) over his skill in figures and penmanship, and a mem and above their usual per diem, at the close of a ber who was elevated to a seat in that august bloody and expensive war, out of the public cof-body; to whose care was committed the destifers, io the amount of about $200,000 for their pies of this great and rising Republic. He put services the three months last past, during which it to gentlemen themselves to say, whether it they had literally, and to the best of his recollec. was indeed with a view of making a livelihood, tion, done nothing else but make appropriations, or upon the principle of obtaining compensation and' lay taxes. Yet bonorable gentlemen had for their services, that they sought or accepted of spoken of this gratuity and augmentation of pay the high, dignified, and responsible situation of a they were about to vote to themselves, as a mere Representative
of the people. He was confident pittance, which the liberality of their constitu- that gentlemen, one and all, would spurn at the ents would confirm without a second thought on suggestion. Indeed, the honorable gentleman the subject; nay, several had gone so far as to from Virginia, (Mr. RANDOLPH,) who was one say, if the committee had erred, it was rather in of the most zealous supporters of the bill, had fixing upon a sum too small, than in recommend given the most decided negative to any such'idea, ing one too large. He thought very differently. and the strongest argument in favor of the prinAnd though he had as much confidence in the ciple he advocated, when he stated it to be his liberality of those whom he immediately repre- sober and well-digested opinion, that the memsented, as any other gentleman could have in that bers of Congress should not be allowed any pay of his immediate constituents, yet when he rec- whatever. ollected how liberally taxes had been laid on On this point, however, he had the misfortune them already during the present Congress, and likewise to differ from that gentleman; and he the high tariff of duties on foreign importations well remembered, at a former period, and as a about to be added to these, by way of bounty to member of a former Congress, when "economy domestic manufactures, he could not find it in and republican frugality and simplicity" were as bis conscience to draw upon their liberality for a much the cry and watchword of the day, as are gratuity, and an addition to his pay at such a at this time" dignity, and living like gentlemen," moment, and under such circumstances.
he well remembered he had resisted most strenuWere there no other objections then to the bill, ously a proposal to reduce the pay of members this extravagant retrospective operation would of Congress to three or four dollars a day. He be a sufficient inducement with him to vote had done so from motives and principles not disagainst it. But he had a still stronger, and, in similar to those which actuated him at present in his opinion, unanswerable objection to the bill, opposing an increase of pay. on account of the proposed change in the mode He had always understood that the object of of compensation, and the novelty of converting giving a per diem to members, either of the State members of the Legislature into salary officers. or National Legislatures, was not by way of a They were said, indeed, to be mere day laborers, compensation for their services, still less toʻremuand that it was beneath their dignity to receive a nerate them for sacrifices of pecuniary or personal stipend, as though they were mere hewers of wood advantages of any kind. No; the real object
H. OF R.
Compensation of Members.
was to enable individuals, whose private means the bill. He contended that it was perfectly farwould not enable them to attend the sessions of cical to talk of drawing out the firsi-rate talents the respective Legislatures, to meet the moderate and characters by such a salary as fifteen busand reasonable expenses 10 which they must ne- dred dollars. On the contrary, this sum, when cessarily be subjected by their attendance on them, fixed and certain, was about sufficient to tempt and to the end that the country might not be alto- the cupidity and excite the avarice of the second gether deprived of the services of men in narrow or third rate county court lawyer, the idle and circumstances, from their inability to suffice to this noisy demagogue, or the lowest grade of political extra expense. Hence, and in the same spirit, a brawlers, who haupted the taverns and rippling moderate and reasonable allowance was made for houses, and stunned the ears of the peaceable citi. travelling expenses--not at such a rate, bowever, zens with their devotion to republicanism, their as would be required by the nabob of the South, love of the people, and their exclusive patriotism. whom the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Here the question presented itself, and he would KING) describes, and who, he tells us with all examine whether the old per diem of six dollars ibe gravity and dignity he possesses in so eminent was or was not sufficient io meet the reasonable a degree, and which so well becomes the occa- and necessary expenses of a member whilst atsion-cannot get along without his carriage and tending to his official duties. He would candidly two horses, and two black servants, and iwo dogs, aeknowledge that money had depreciated; that but such as would enable a decent and respecta- living was (nominally ai least) higher; that the ble individual to transport himself comfortably pecuniary resources of a member, arising from and conveniently from his place of residence to his pay, were not as great or as favorable to him the Seat of Goveroment.
as they had been in former and better times. But Such, beyond all doubt, was the principle upon this was noi to last forever. In the meantime, it which pay has heretofore been given to members was equally felt by all those in any way conof the Staie and National Legislatures. This was nected" or concerned with the General Goverothe correct medium between the two extremes ment-the public creditor, the old soldier, the disof refusing to pay their reasonable expenses, or banded officer-indeed, by every portion of the of giving salaries sufficiently large to compensate community, even in their private concerns and members of the respective Legislatures for the capacity. He saw no reason, therefore, why the loss of time, the sacrifices they made of individ members of Congress should separate themselves ual comfort
, and the diversion of their talents and from all other classes of that community, and industry from their usual avocations; by the first make use of their official station to escape from alternative, depriving the country altogether of the pressure of an evil common to all, and one for the services of persons in Darrow circumstances, which it would better become them, and it was their and throwing the Government entirely into the bouoden duty, to endeavor to find an efficient remhands of the rich; by the latter, attempting to do edy. He moreover contended, the depreciation that which, if carried into execution, would bank- notwithstanding, that a member could live conrupt the nation. It was, in fact, not to be ex: veniently, comfortably, abundantly-ay, and like pected nor calculated upon, that the best and a gentleman, too, if this was to be the criterion, first-rate talents of the country could or would upon the present per diem. He could prove it
, be drawn out, in common and peaceable times, he thougbi, beyond all contradiction, by figures. by any salary which might be offered; far less by Take, for example, the expenditure of a week ia such an annual stipend as that proposed. In mo- Washington, at the highest rate, and for what he ments of great crisis-on occasions of imminent should presume to be an ample establishment, danger and national exigency-the amor patriæ even for a gentleman: boarding and lodging, (the -the genial impulse of great minds would force highest charge he had heard of,) fifteen dollars, such men to come forward and take a part in the a servant four, iwo horses eight. He did not public councils. But, to expect such a sacrifice include the iwo dogs of the honorable gentleman of private pursuits, and individual enjoyment and from Massachusetts, as this necessary appendage emolument on their part, in ordinary iines, was to the dignity of a member was unknown to him. out of the question. He more than doubted, self or either of his colleagues, and must belong, indeed, whether any salary, the most sanguine he presumed, exclusively to Virginia and the friends of the bill could prevail on themselves io other large Siates. The above three items amount propose, would insure a more respectable repre- to twenty-seven dollars, which, deducted from seniation than that which composed the present twelve dollars, the gross amouat of a week's pay, Congress.
at six dollars per diem, would leave a balance of The point at issue, then, it would seem, between fifteen dollars per week for extra expenses, inthe gentleman and himself, was, that ihey pro- cluding Madeira, which the veteran member from posed to remunerate members for their services Maryland (Mr. Wrigor) seemed to think bad and sacrifices; whilst he, according to the princi- likewise become indispensable to the dignity of ple heretofore acted upon, thought it most expe- a gentleman who had in these days a seat in Condient to confine the pay to such an amount as gress. And on this point, at least, he candidly would defray their necessary and reasonable ex. acknowledged, and was happy to find, that his penses, coming to, attending on, and returning feelings were somewhat in unison with his old from, the National Legislature. Take either horn Congressional friend and acquaintance; though of the dilemma, and he was equally opposed 10 ) he had, nevertheless, some doubts whether the
H. of R. member who had made a late dinner or his sup- comfortable, and to entice them into expenses and per with brown bread and a tumbler of genuine a kind of living beyond what they were accuscider, would not find himself on the following comed to, or had the private means of keeping up morning fully as adequate to perform the duties at home, was contrary to the soundest dictates of of a legislator, as the one who had feasted sump- common sense, and dangerous in the extreme. tuously with the best white loaf, or enjoyed his By doing so, they must become needy and cravbottle, even of the deservedly far-famed old lath ing, and be placed precisely in that situation most of Alexandria.
likely to render them subservient to, and then The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. RANDOLPH) perhaps reluctant, yet not less implicit tools of, had said it was immoral, contra bonos mores, to ibat branch of the Government which could alone oblige members to live, for the want of means, supply their immediate and most pressing wants, so many months separated from their families and hold out to them in expectation a rich har: There was point and pith in this, as there usually vest and ample share of the loaves and fishes at were in the remarks of that gentleman. He per- its disposal. fectly acquiesced in the truth and justice of it; But it was contended by the chairman of the but, before it could have any weight with him is committee, that this increase of pay, and change making up his mind on the present question, he of the per diem into a salary, would shorten the must be convinced that the proposed augmenta- sessions of Congress, put an end to long speechestion would remedy, or at least have a considera- in a word, be the panacea or cure-all to every evil. ble tendency to remedy, the evil. From his own Such might be the case in part, particularly as koowledge, he was convinced it could and would relates to the shortening of the sessions of that pot. He was confident that the contemplated body. He more than doubled, nevertheless, if it addition to the old per diem would not enable was so, whether such an alternative was altogentlemen, who had not other and private means gether desirable. The honorable chairman apof their own, to bring their wives and children peared to him not to have examined, with his with them; por did he believe that one additional usual sagacity, both sides before he had made up family would spend their Winter at Washington his mind on the question. Upon his own data, in consequence of it. The only effect of this in- it would seem evident, on the one hand, that an creased compensation would be, that the expen- augmentation of pay could not be necessary; for sive habits and inclinations of one portion of the his arguments went to show, that the present six members would be encouraged and excited, whilst dollars per diem tempted members to make long others, who were more saving and economical, speeches, and spin out the session--to the end would carry heavier purses home with them. that they might reap the greater emolument by
Another argument had been advanced, which remaining here and obtaining a greater number likewise carried with it some appearance of plau: of days' pay. It followed, of necessity, that the sibility. It was said this addition of pay would old and present allowance was found experimenlessen the anxiety and necessity for Executive tally to be not only sufficient, but highly desirable. favors and appointments, and that Executive in. On the other hand, if the per diem was changed fluence and control in and over that body would into a salary, and that salary increased, in order to be thereby diminished. He was convinced, how- shorten the sessions and put down long speeches, ever, it would have a contrary tendency. The might there not (deducing the same probable efmoment a seat in Congress was regarded as a fecis from the same efficient causes) be with jus. money job, or members were induced to change tice serious apprehensions entertained lest the their habits, and live beyond their regular means, members should, in time to come, be induced to by a temporary addition to them, they would im- shorten the sessions too much, and hurry over bíbe expensive notions and inclinations. Their the public business somewhat unadvisedly, and wants would increase; their families, as well as before it was properly and sufficiently matured ? themselves, would be disposed to ape the follies This was perhaps too often the case, even at this and extravagances of the rich contractor, unprin- lime, and under existing circumstances. cipled speculator, and every other description of What, then, was to be expected, according to moneyed men, or of men without money, who the data given, from a measure the necessary lived by means of their wits, and at the expense operation of which was to place the interest of of the industrious classes of the community. De- the individual in direct opposition to his duty, and pendence must be the natural and unavoidable to render his emolument greater or less, in exact consequence. An overweening anxiety and irre- proportion to the shortness of the period he desistible necessity of obtaining Executive favors voted to his public duties, and remained in this, and patronage, per fas aut nefas, must as certainly as it was said, most expensive city. Now, though follow. Moderation, frugality, and economy were he was by no means fond of too inuch regulation, the only safeguards to the independence and in- yet he confessed he saw no very great inconvetegrity of men in public life. It was not only in nience or danger likely to accrue to the Republic direct opposition io the most sacred maxim of from too much discussion. For his own part, he morality, thus to lead them into temptation; but would rather be condemned to listen to fifty long the doctrine of the present day, and that preached and tedious speeches than contribute, sub silentio, up on the present occasion, which weni to per- to the passage of one bad law, or be obliged to suade members that it was necessary to live in a vote for a measure he had not heard explained or style beyond what was decent, respectable, and did not comprehend.
H. OF R.
Compensation of Members.
There was another aspect in which this subject the letter of that article of the Constitution, presented itself to him as of vital importance, and which prohibited a Senator or Representative as affording cause for serious alarm. He was from being appointed to any civil office under perfectly satisfied, in his own mind, that no mea- the United States, that had been created, or the sare could be devised which would increase, so emoluments of which were increased during the enormously and fearfully, the influence of the time for which he had been elected. Certain he was executive over the legislative branch of the Gov- that in South Carolina, his native State, and the ernment, or throw the latter so completely under one he had the honor, in part, to represent, no act the control of the former as this salary system. to increase the compensation of the members of Not only the sessions would thereby be injuriously the Legislature could take effect till after a new shortened, but business would be hurried through election; nor did the provisions of any such act any how and every how. Congress would meet go into operation, except in favor of those who for little else than to lay taxes and make appro- were chosen to serve in a succeeding Legislature. priations. Laws would be passed as they were He had long, therefore, been accustomed to regard sent ready drawn up from the several departments, this as the true and the most decorous, as well as and measures, kindly and previously matured by the most correct principle, and he should not, the industry and superior wisdom of the Execu- he trusted, be accused of presumption if he ventive, would be adopted, right or wrong, with little tured to recommend it to that House, as a preif any discussion. He entreated gentlemen to cedent which it would well become them to imtake this view of the subject, before they made itate. up their minds on the question, and to postpone Before he sat down, Mr. H. said he would add, the bill at least till the next session, and until that he was perfectly aware, the stand he had they had gone home and consulted with their made in opposition to an increase and change of constituents in regard to it. He could not, for his the per diem into a salary, (indeed it had been own part at least, but regard this change of the more than insinuated in the course of the debate.) per diem into a salary, or gross sum, as a dan would be attributed to a desire of obtaining popugerous innovation, and one likely to be attended larity, and an anticipation of the popular edict it with the worst consequences.
would probably have out of doors. He would Our Government had been described with some not say that such feelings might not have bad humor, and not less justice, perhaps, as a species some influence on his mind and conduct; for he of logocracy. It was in fact and in essence very pretended not to be less fallible than those around much of one. It could not get along without consid- him. But he could with justice, and in sober erable discussion. The people ought and would truth aver, that he was opposed upon principle to know, what were the motives which led to this the measure, and more especially to the change or that measure, or why one law was passed, and of the per diem into a fixed salary; a system that, another rejected. Now, he knew of no mode by he was perfectly satisfied, would augment most which this information could be obtained by them enormously the power of Executive influence, more conveniently or satisfactorily, than through which no one, he believed, would deny had inthe debates in Congress, and the speeches of their creased,
was increasing, and would be if it was not Representatives. He was disposed, therefore, to already, placed by this new system beyond all view this cacoethes loquendi, which some gentle control. Besides, convenient as he acknowledged men (who possessed it in no trifling degree them- such an addition to his pay would be to himself, selves) complained so much of, with some little at the present time, as well as to other gentlemen, indulgence. There was, indeed, at times, irksome, yet when he recalled to mind the heavy taxes tedious and most ridiculous speeches 'made in which had been or must be laid; the exorbitant that House. But gentlemen enjoyed a privilege tariff of duties on foreign importations, likely to which they had very generally, and not very un- be adopted ; the large and uoprecedented (at least frequently availed themselves of during the present in time of profound peace) appropriations they session-ihe privilege of not listening to such were called upon to 'make; the number of vetspeeches ; whilst the good people abroad read erans who had lately been disbanded, and thrown them, or read them not
, according as the subject, penniless upon the world; the debt which bad or speaker, or any other circumstance, excited been incurred, and partially funded; the large their curiosity, or attracted their attention. outstanding demands not yet liquidated-in a
These few observations, he hoped, would tend word, when he passed in review these and similar to reconcile the worthy gentleman from Ken- matters, it did seem to him that the proposed tucky, a little, to the inconvenience of long measure was wrong, and most obviously ill-timed. speeches, and would also, he trusted, plead in He at least could not reconcile it to himself; and, some measure his own apology for the length of though sneered and laughed at by more than one time he had encroached upon their patience. He honorable gentleman, for so expressing himself, should not have indulged himself to such an ex- he would repeat, he should be ashamed to return tent, but that the active opposition to the bill ap- home and acknowledge that, under such circumpeared to devolve almost exclusively upon him-stances, and at the close of so bloody and expenself
, whilst the first talents in the House had been sive a war, he had voted for, or even neglected to brought forward in support of it. He would fur- oppose an increase of pay to himself and to those ther observe that in the ground he had taken, he who, like himself, represented the good people of thought himself supported by the spirit, if not these United States on that floor, and consequently