« AnteriorContinuar »
Feb. 1, 1831.)
Distribution of the Surplus Revenue.
[H. OF R.
colleagues on the committee as to the precise subject opposers of the doctrine, expressly waived the discussion: which was referred to it. In my judgment, the only subject he said it had been practically settled—that argument had which they were directed to consider, was that part of the been exhausted upon it--and nothing now remained to message relative to the distribution of the surplus funds be said. Every thing which ingenuity, and talent, and among the several States, in proportion to their represen- learning, and eloquence, could contribute, had been tation in Congress. This was the simple inquiry; and lavished in its discussion; and I thien thought, and still there is surely enough in it to engage the calm and deli- think, that no new light can be thrown upon the subject, berate attention of Congress. It involved an examination by further discussions. Is it right or useful further to agiof the constitutionality of the proposed measure, into tate the public mind-to open a question which the peo. its expediency, into the proposerl rule of distribution, ple have already settled--to renew arguments which they and the extent to which Congress ought to retain con- have overruled, and more especially to accuse ourselves trol over the disbursements, should the proposed plan before them of a direct violation of the constitution? In be adopted. In a proper consideration of these and other my judgment, it is not. Having disposed of the question topics necessarily connected with the subject, I did not of the constitutional power of Congress over the works suppose that the subject of internal improvement, gene- in question, the committee proceeded to a consideration rally, was involved, and much less that an inquiry into of their constitutional power to make the proposed disthe constitutional power of the General Government to tribution among the several States; and I do not know, prosecute works of this description was submitted to the sir, that I dissent from the opinions of the majority on committee. It seems to me that the House, having ap- this part of the subject. I am rather disposed to concur pointed a select committee upon internal improvements, with them in believing that Congress does not possess the and having referred to it expressly so much of the mes- power, or rather that it is of a character too questionable sage as relates to the mode of prosecuting them by sub- to admit of its being exercised. It stands, in my opinion, scriptions to stock in incorporated companies, have very upon a totally different principle from that upon which clearly marked the line of separation between these internal improvements have been made. The funds of topics, which, in some degree approached each other, the country belong to the whole people, as one people, and have designated the appropriate duties of each of and one country, and are to be disbursed for the benefit these committees. The majority have thought otherwise, of the whole people. The proposition is, to distribute and have discussed at considerable length the long-de-them among the States, in the language of the message, bated question of the constitutional power of Congress to “ for domestic use." make appropriations for works of internal improvement, Now, sir, while I can readily believe in the power of and have arrived at the conclusion that the exercise of the Government to disburse its funds for the general welthis power, in any of the modes in which it has been prac- fare and defence, and to make improvements of a national tised, is an infringement upon the constitution. I also character, I cannot so easily find the authority to dispense differ with the majority in this conclusion, believing with it for the domestic uses of the States. Having come to the President, whose opinions the committee have not this conclusion, as the committee did, unanimously, I befailed copiously to bring to their aid on other particulars, lieve, it seemed to me that nothing more was required of “that the right to make appropriations for such (works] them than to report their opinion to the House, and to as are of a national character had been so generally leave the subject to their pleasure. As to the expediency acted upon, and so long acquiesced in by the Federal and of making the proposed distribution, provided the conState Governments, and the constituents of each, as to stitution had authorized it, I have not felt it necessary yet justify its exercise on the ground of continued and unin- to form an opinion. That it has recommendations worthy terrupted usage.” I am aware, sir, that the sentiments of consideration, probably will be denied by no one; and of the President, conveyed in his message at the last ses- that it is not " free from objections," and is "attended sion, returning the bill for the Maysville turnpike, hare with difficulty,” the President himself asserts in his mesbeen differently understood in different places, and by sage. What, sir, would be thought of the idea of distridifferent parties, and are, perhaps, not readily to be buting the money expended in fortifications, among the discovered. Yet, I believe, in that document, as well as States according to the rule proposed, to be appropriated in the message at the commencement of the present ses by them for those objects? What would be said of a proposion, the President means to assert the constitutional sition to make this cqual and exact appropriation, in time power of the General Government over works of this of war, to the States for their defence and security? Would description, and places his objection only upon the local these be listened to for a moment? Certainly not. All puband limited character of the particular works in the bills lic expenditures must be made according to the particular before him. If the subject were now presented for the exigency of the case, and in a manner best to promote first time, I should be disposed to give to it the most full the public safety and welfare. And yet, sir, why is it not and deliberate consideration, and perhaps to obtain from as just and proper that these and all other public disthe people, by spreading our sentiments before them for bursements shall be expended equally in the several States their examination, an expression of their opinion; but it according to their representation, in order that each may is now quite too late in the day to discuss a question upon share in the favors of the General Government, as that which argument has been exhausted, and a decision long this particular disbursement should be so distributed? since made, and sustained, as the President asserts, “by Works of internal improvement are designed and prosethe Federal and State Governments, and the constituents cuted with a view to the defence and security of the coun. of each.” Sir, this House has sustained that decision in try, and to augment its strength and power, as well as repeated instances, and has passed acts appropriating freets and fortifications; and ought there to be any other money to works of internal improvement, founded clearly rule in the construction of them, than to regard their imupon its constitutional power so to do. Now, sir, what portance to the general welfare? The President sugare we asked to do? Why, to give our sanction to a re-gests in his message that it may be proper for Congress port expressly denying this power-to accuse ourselves to reserve the power in.certain cases over the disburseof gross inconsistency, and a violation of the constitution, ment of the funds by the States. Now, sir, it appears to in numberless instances. I think, sir, the time has gone me that the cases of this description are the only cases by, when a discussion of this question can be useful. At where the public funds ought to be expended at all; and, the last session, a distinguished gentleman from Virginia, therefore, that Congress ought to retain the power in all no longer a member, (Mr. P. P. Barbour,] who has cases. But, sir, it is not my purpose to go into a full been among the ablest and most constant and persevering discussion of these subjects at this time; and I have allud
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Distribution of the Surplus Revenue.
(Feb. 1, 1831.
ed only to some of the difficulties suggested by the Exe- sal of millions of treasure; it is a subject which involves cutive, which seem to me to have much weight. To constitutional considerations of the greatest importance. obviate these, and to render the scheme successful in its My colleague objects to the printing of the report in operation, he regards it only necessary to appeal to the which these matters of high moment are considered, bepatriotism of the people-to the example of the framers cause it contains no facts. How long, sir, have we adoptof the constitution, and to a spirit of “mutual concession ed this criterion? and reciprocal forbearance," which he trusts will never The Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads made be invoked in vain. Sir, these are powerful considera- at the last session an able report on the subject of the tions, and such as will never be disregarded by the friends Sunday mails. It contained no facts; it was merely an of our country and its institutions. But I am at a loss to argument; and yet no opposition was made to the printing. know why they are not as effective to overcome the evils At this session, the Committee on Manufactures made a supposed to exist in the mode at present pursued, why report, which was ordered to be printed; notwithstanding they may not be wished with equal success now, as to ob- the committee had told us on the very threshold of their viate the difficulties of the proposed substitute.
report, that we were to expect neither facts nor arguIf, at every obstacle, real or imaginary, which may ments from them; their report was one of opinions! spring up in the progress of our Government, experi Another objection is, that, by printing the report, the ments are to be tried, new paths explored, new provi- House gives its sanction to the opinions it contains. If sions incorporated into the constitution, what shall we so, sir, this House may be, and often is, placed in an exhibit but the perpetual fluctuations and instability which awkward predicament; for an illustration of which, I have been characteristic of popular Governments in all will again refer to the Committee on Manufactures. That ages? And is this a spectacle we are solicitous to hold up committee, as we have lately been informed by a memto the view of the world?
ber of it on the floor of this House, is split into three There is another topic introduced into the report of parts. One part looks upon the tariff of 1828, that child the committee, which I did not regard as submiited to of many fathers, as a model of beauty and perfection; their consideration; and that is, the expediency of so mo- another part considers it a rickety, deformed urchin, difying the tariff as to diminish, if not wholly prevent, the which, however, has some stamina, and, by dint of great accumulation of funds more than are required for the or- care and good nursing, may be reduced into some shape dinary expenses of the Government. The message as- and comeliness; a third part regards it as a monstrous sumes that a surplus will remain in the treasury after the abortion, which ought to have been strangled at its birth. public debt shall have been paid, and, in the happening of The report, and a counter report from different parts of that contingency, proposes the inquiry as to the mode of this committee, have already been printed, and the opiits distribution. Now, sir, whether or not such a surplus nion of the third part would also have been printed by will remain, is not a matter for the consideration of this the House, if its views had been submitted to us. Then, committee, or this Congress. If, when the anticipated according to the doctrine of my colleague, the House period arrives, I shall be honored with the confidence of would have exhibited the singlar anomaly of entertaining my constituents, and retain a seat in the councils of the three different opinions upon one and the same subject. nation, I shall not fail to co-operate in affording relief from It would have regarded the tariff as perfect, indifferent, any duties or taxes which can be granted, consistent with and execrable! Sir, my colleague would transform us that protection to American industry and enterprise, into a moral monster, surpassing the fabled monsters of which is required by a proper regard to the happiness, antiquity. In the legends of former days, we read of prosperity, and independence of the country. I shall not monsters having three heads; but we, sir, should be a aid in raising a revenue by any species of taxation upon monster having three minds. A Alight of the the imagithe people, for the purpose of prosecuting works of in-nation beyond the wildest fictions of poetry. ternal improvement, or for distribution among the States Sir, the subject of the surplus revenue has been carefor their “domestic use;" but, on the other hand, I shall fully, diligently, and scrupulously examined and scanned not acquiesce in withdrawing the plighted protection of by the committee to whom it was referred. The result of the Government from these branches of manufactures, their investigation is contained in the report of which which are regarded as "objects of national importance,” | have moved to have an extra number of copies printed. “essential to national defence," or which, after tempo- The report has been drawn up with great care, and not rary protection, may fairly be expected to become sources without labor; and I trust that the House will extend to it of national wealth, and to compete successfully with the the same indulgence which it has extended to other reproductions of foreign labor.
ports not surpassing it in interest or importance. Mr. JARVIS, of Maine, said, when I made the motion Mr. CRAIG, of Virginia, said he was in favor of the for printing an extra number of copies of the report of proposition to print six thousand copies of the report in the Comınittee on the Surplus Revenue, I certainly did question. The time was now distinctly in view, at which, not expect to encounter any opposition; st:ll less, sir, did in all human probability, it would be necessary to provide I expect that the opposition would come from my col- for the disposition of a large annual surplus of revenue. league, who is a member that committee. Had he There was, it seemed to him, great propriety, at this time, favored us with his presence when the question was con- in drawing to it the public attention. This report, by sidered by the committee, I cannot but believe that he being circulated among the people, will have that effect. would have acquiesced in the propriety of having the The public mind being drawn to the subject thus early, subject submitted to our constituients. Sir, I will not be will probably have digested some mode of disposing of seduced into following my colleague through the mazes of this surplus, before the occasion for immediate action his arguments. If, upon the bare question of printing, arrives, and all the difficulties usually attendant upon a the custom should prevail of taking so wide a range, and matter of so much magnitucle on its first appearance, be of entering into constitutional discussions, the House of avoided. Representatives would cease to be a hall of legislation, He would now attend to some of the objections which and would degenerate into a debating club.
had been advanced by the gentleman from Maine, (Mr. The question of the disposal of the surplus revenue Evans,] against the motion to print an extra number of was first offered to the consideration of Congress by the this report. And first, if he (Mr. C.] rightfully underpatriarch of the republican party; it has been twice, ay, stood that gentleman, he objected to the printing of the thrice, urged upon our aitention by the present Chief Ma-proposed number of the document, because that number gistrate. It is a subject which involves the yearly dispo-was too insignificant to answer any good end; the share
three or four years.
Feb. 1, 1831.]
[H. of R. of each member would not amount to more than (about) from the people when not necessary for those objects, or twenty-five copies, and this number, distributed in each more than may be necessary, would be, on the part of the member's district, could produce no sensible effect. Government, a manifest breach of trust, and to the people [Here the gentleman from Maine rose, and, the floor being unjust and oppressive. yielded to him, stated that the gentleman from Virginia “ Resolved, that the General Government was created had misconceived him. He did not intend the remark by the people of the States for certain general objects, to which had been quoted as an argument, but merely as a execute which, particular and specific powers, enumerated remark to show that he had no fears that, by printing this in the constitution, were conferred on it, and, among small number of the document, impressions would be others, the power of laying and collecting taxes, duties, made upon the public mind, unfavorable to his views of imposts, and excises, which, like the other powers, was -the subject which it professes to treat.] Mr. C. said he conferred solely as means for effecting the common obwas glad to be corrected. He had no wish to misinterpretjects entrusted to the Union; and that, for the General the arguments or remarks of gentlemen.
Government to collect taxes, to distribute the proceeds Mr. C. said he had understood the gentleman to say, among the several States, would be in fact to acknowledge that to print this document would be, in effect, to give that the money is not necessary for those common objects, the sanction of this House to the principles which it con- and would, therefore, be not only unjust and oppressive, tains. This is an assertion, not of intuitive truth, and but a direct and palpable violation of the constitution itself. requires proof. The proof had not been furnished, and, “ ResolvedThat to collect money to be distributed therefore, he might be excused for disputing its correct among the States, must, in its consequences, put to hazard
He contended that the order to print would not all the objects for which the General Government was usher the document forth to the world under its implied formed, as it would necessarily create in all the States sanction of the principles which it contains. The order powerful factions, whose object would be to obtain a to print would only sanction the propriety of submitting control over the sums distributed, and whose influence the subject to the public, for examination--to be approv- would be directed to increase the surplus to be distributed if deemed to be correct--to be rejected if deemed ed, by arresting or demolishing the appropriations of the
General Government, however constitutional or proper The object of the motion he [Mr. C.) understood to they might be, while they would be under the most direct be, not to forestall or act upon public opinion, but, as he and powerful influence to sustain the General Government had already stated, to arouse the attention of the whole as a mere engine for the unconstitutional, unjust, and oppeople to a subject of great interest to the subject of a pressive purposes of collecting money from the people distribution or other disposition of the annual surplus for an object never contemplated by the framers of the revenue, after the extinguishment of the national debt; an constitution, and wholly inconsistent with the purposes for event which would, with a moral certainty, take place in which it was created.
“ Resolved, therefore, That to distribute the surplus Can it be believed that the early agitation of principles revenue among the States, would be unjust, unconstituiamong the people is calculated to expose them to the tional, and oppressive, and dangerous to the General Goinfluence of error? Sir, said Mr. C., I apprehend this is vernment; and that the only plan that can be devised, that the very mode of avoiding error. Truth is great, and will be at once economical, just, constitutional, and safe, gains strength by exposure. The more it is agitated in is, by a reduction of taxes, to leave the money, not necesthe public mind, the surer is its final triumph over its sary for the purposes of the Government, in the pockets natural adversary--error. I cannot then think that any of those who make it.”]
consequence can possibly result from the printing of -3 this document. But, on the contrary, it may produce
WOOD FOR THE POOR OF GEORGETOWN. good effects, by offering inducements to the people at The SPEAKER laid before the House a letter from the large to take, thus early, into their consideration the Mayor of Georgetown, relative to the distressed situation great subject of the surplus revenue, and to prepare their of the poor of that city, and soliciting the House to grant opinions for the emergency when it shall arrive. a donation of some of the wood in the vaults of the capitol
The gentleman from Maine, said Mr. C., asks with con- for their present use. siderable emphasis, will the House permit the printing of Mr. WASHINGTON said he would not take up the a document which contains principles in opposition to the time of the House in explaining the necessity for acting sentiments of a majority of the House? Has the gentle immediately on the application just made. The letter man considered the extent of the principle indicated by sufficiently explained itself, and he should content himself this question? Does he intend to deny to the minority all with simply submitting the following resolution: rights and privileges? Shall the majority be allowed to Resolved, That the Clerk of the House is hereby auavail themselves of all the means afforded, by a command thorized and directed to cause thirty cords of wood io be over the treasury, to propagate their dogmas, to the ex- delivered to the order of the Mayor of Georgetown, for clusion of the minority? Or does the gentleman mean to the use of the suffering poor of that town. assume that the majority is infallible? This question Mr. POLK said he knew it was an igracious task to savors strongly of Popish intolerance--we are right, you oppose a resolution in behalf of the suffering poor of this are wrong. In mercy to your dangerous condition, we District, or any other country. He must be permitted to will force you to the standard of our faith. We will, at remark, however, that the precedent of appropriating the least, prevent you from giving currency to your heresies. public funds for such purposes was a bad one.
The reso[Mr. C. was proceeding, when the Chair announced the lution now before the House had come upon it suddenly, expiration of the hour allotted to the discussion.] and it was not of sufficient consequence to move its post
[The following are the resolutions submitted by Mr. ponement. He recollected that, some years ago, there Martin, to the report of the Committee on the Distri- was a fire in the District, to be seen from the windows of bution of the Surplus Revenue:
the capitol, and an applcation was immediately made for " Resolved, That the power of taking money from the extending relief to the sufferers. While he was disposed people, by laying and collecting duties, imposts, and ex- to do full justice to the motives which prompted members, cises, is one of the most sacred of the trusts vested in on that occasion, to draw money from the treasury for the Governments; that it is conferred solely to enable them relief of the sufferers, he would ask, was the course to command the necessary means to execute the objects adopted a proper one? Was the obligation to contribute for which they were instituted; and that to exact money to the relief of sufferers within the ten miles square
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Revolutionary Transactions.---Judicial Contempts.
(Feb. 1, 181.
greater than to those of other parts of the Union? The The effect of this decision being to set aside the amendvery same day that the fire occurred in Alexandria, pro- ment of Mr. Blair, the question was put on agreeing to perty, to a far greater extent, was destroyed by the same the resolution, and decided, by yeas and nays, in the affirmelement in Cincinnati, Obio; but he had never heard that ative--yeas 108, nays 79. those sufferers applied to Congress for relief. There
REVOLUTIONARY TRANSACTIONS. were many sufferers in the United States--many objects of charity—but they did not call upon Congress to help The SPEAKER laid before the House the memorial them. Continue to pass resolutions of the character of of the heirs and representatives of the house of Basmarien that now before the House, and what would be the con- and Raimbeaux, merchants, of Bordeaux, in France, in sequence? Why, every winter, when the snow fell, or the period of the revolutionary war, upon the subject of the Potomac was frozen over, applications would be made the claims of said house against the United States, arising to Congress, and members would be engaged in the dig- out of transactions during the said war; which was read, nified object of buying and stowing wood, to give to the referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and ordered poor of the District of Columbia. Mr. P. remarked that, to be printed. in opposing the resolution now under consideration, he did it on principle: the House had not the power to make
JUDICIAL CONTEMPTS. the donation requested. He might be told that Congress Mr. DRAPER, of Virginia, by leave of the House, subwas the exclusive Legislature for the District. Be it so. mitted for consideration ihe following resolution: But was that any good reason that they should give away Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be diall the revenue of the nation to the people of the District rected to inquire into the expediency of defining by of Columbia? If so, the poor of the other sections of the statute all offences which may be punished as contempts country had nothing to do but to come and sit down here, of the courts of the United States. in this District, and apply to Congress for relief.
The resolution having been read, not to the amount proposed to be given that he objected- Mr. DRAPER said that he had offered this resolution no, not the paltry cost of thirty cords of wood; but he under the deepest sense of duty. It was not his intention, would state that gentlemen came here to legislate on the he said, on this occasion, to agitate a question which had great concerns of the Union, and not to give away the been recently much agitated elsewhere. But, said he, I public property. It was not money from the treasury, but do wish to know upon what tenure the people of this the expense was to be defrayed by the contingent fund of country hold their liberties. I wish to know whether, if I this House. That fund was voted for the use of the House; myself choose to go into the public newspapers to vindithere should be some discretion in its application; and if we cate any vote I give here, it be not competent for any may give away a part of it, for purposes other than for what man, who thinks proper to do so, to enter the same forum, it was intended, we may give away the whole. He might upon equal ground, to show that my opinion is wrong. well address himself, on this occasion, to those who, by If I, as a member of this House, or this House as a body, the operation of the previous question, had cut off all op- should set forth to the world any opinion upon a matter portunity of remark on a former similar subject. Their before us, has not any one a right, through the same me. motives were kind, no doubt, and he gave them credit for dium, to question the correctness of that opinion? Does them; a severe storm was raging, and they yielded to their not that opinion, from the moment of its publication, be. feelings as men. No such reason could be urged now, come public property? Does it not present as fair a subhowever; for the present was one of the most pleasant ject for discussion as any that can be presented to the days they had enjoyed for some time. But it was said the mind of man? The object of such a publication of an poor of Georgetown were suffering—so may be the poor opinion is to convince the readers of it that a certain proof New York, and other sections of the Union. In con- position is right. If the object of a publication be to clusion, he trusted that the House would, by its vote to- convince the public at large that any particular proposiday, put a check to legislation on matters of this sort. tion agitated here is correct, is it not competent for any
Mr. BLAIR, of South Carolina contended, that it was citizen to call in question the correctness of such an opinot competent for the House to vote donations of fuel for nion? Surely it is. If, then, we have not the power of the people of the District. If so, it would have power also promulgating our opinions, under the protection of a garb to vote inillions of the public money to feed and clothe of official sanctity, I should like to know if any other dethe suffering poor of the District. The House had no right partment of the Government has a right to go before the to give away the public money for any such purpose; and public with a vindication of its opinions, without any if gentlemen were disposed to be liberal, let them be li- citizen who chooses having the right of reply to them, or beral out of their own money. He, therefore, moved the comment upon them. This body has, 1 admit, a right to following substitute, by way of amendment, viz. preserve decorum and order within these walls, and to
“ That the Sergeant-at-arms be required to deduct from fremove from within them any one who may disturb the the compensation of the members of this House one day's (proceedings of this House. But if, after baving acted pay, and deliver suid sum to the Mayor of Georgetown, upon any subject, a majority of this House shall choose to to be applied to purchase fuel for the paupers of that go into the newspapers, to state the grounds on which we town: Provided, nevertheless, that such deduction shall have acted, I maintain that any citizen whatever has a be made from the compensation of such members only as right to meet us there, and contest those grounds. Any vote in favor of this resolution."
solitary individual has, under such circumstances, a right Mr. POLK asked for the yeas and nays on the amend to meet and confront the whole body of the majority of ment, observing that he would vote for it with the great- this House. If this reasoning apply to the legislative est pleasure.
body, does it not, in an equal degree, apply to every Mr. STORRS, of New York, asked, what was the Legis- other department of the Government? I maintain that it lature of the District of Columbia? As the answer to that does. Whenever an individual in office lays aside his question would imply the power of the House to grant the official capacity, and endeavors by argument and reason proposed relief, yet not to grant a similar relief to the to convince others that any thing which he has done offpeople of Ohio, or any other State having its own legisla- cially, has been done properly, he has a right to be met ture, Congress stood in the same relation to this territory by whomsoever, differing in opinion from him, in any as the Legislature of Ne York did to hers. He conclud- forum which he himself may select. Believing this, I have ed a few remarks, by demanding the previous question. prepared this resolution, under a deep sense of the duty
The call was seconded, 90 to 86; and the main question which I owe, not only to myself, but to the sixty thousand was ordered.
freemen whom I represent on this floor. I am not for Mr. STORRS, of New York, thought it would be perholding my liberty for one moment at the discretion of fectly safe to refer the accounts of Mr. Monroe to the any individual. It may be said, sir, in opposition to the accounting officers. He hoped they would be settled by object of this resolution, that there will be difficulty in them, and never come before Congress again. defining contempts of court. Though this may be true, Mr. HUNTINGTON would vote for the amendment we shall find no difficulty in defining what are not con- of Mr. Williams, and trusted that, if that should not pretempts. We can embrace, in any legal provision on this vail, the House would act upon the matter at once. subject, many cases which are not contempts. We might Mr. MALLARY was decidedly in favor of the claim, say, for example, that it would not be a contempt of court and would have been willing to relieve the distinguished to express an opinion upon any decision finally made in individual referred to from all his embarrassments. He court, &c. We might declare that it should not be a should support the amendment of the gentleman from contempt of court in any one to say that a judge is not Virginia. immaculate. I beg not to be understood, said Mr. D., as Mr. DRAYTON thought enough had already been alhere referring to a case which has been lately before the lowed to Mr. Monroe. He referred to former legislation other branch of this Legislature, sitting as a high court of of the House, and spoke, not hearing the arguments of impeachment. Far be it from me to reflect upon the others, but from bis own experience. conduct of any individual, who for such conduct has been Mr. ANGEL addressed the House as follows: constitutionally tried, and legally acquitted. But the law Mr. SPEAKER: I shall vote for the amendment offered ought to be so clear, that every individual may be able to by the gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr. WILLIAMS. ] look to the statute book, and know whether, in any thing I shall vote for it on the ground that it reserves to this that he may do, he acts within the law or not. For the House the settlement of the principles on which the apsecurity of the rights of the whole people, and for no pur- propriation for this claim, if allowed, shall be made. By pose of invidious allusion or personal gratification, I invite the constitution of the United States, the appropriating this inquiry. It is proper, sir, that every individual in power is specially confided to this House. As the immethe community should know what are the laws which he Late representatives of the people, the members of this is bound to observe at the peril of his liberty.
House are responsible for all moneys drawn from the Mr. DOD DRIDGE, concurring with his colleague in treasury. The amendment, as offered by the gentleman the expediency of this inquiry, suggested to him the pro- from Virginia, (Mr. MERCER,] proposes to transfer this priety of modifying his resolution, by adding to it these responsibility to the Executive Department. Sir, the subwords: “and also to limit the punishment for the same.” ject of Executive legislation, as it is called, has become Mr. DRAPER accepted this modification.
the subject of loud and long complaint. Session after And, thus modified, the resolution was agreed to with session, and day after day, in each session, we hear gentleout a division.
men upon this floor uttering complaints against it. I have
not made an examination or estimate, but I have freCLAIM OF JAMES MONROE.
quently heard it asserted, that the amount of money The House then took up for consideration the amend-drawn from the treasury, under Executive legislation, is ment yesterday submitted by Mr. Mercer to the bill for nearly equal to that drawn from it under the legislation of the relief of James Monroe; which was as follows: Congress. The complaints against this irregularity are
“Strike out from the bill all that follows the enacting not confined to this House; they appear in the columns of clause, and insert
the newspapers throughout the country, and the people "That the proper accounting officers of the treasury, at large are strongly inclined to restrain this practice. under the supervision and direction of the Secretary of By a reference to the debates upon the constitution, War, and subject to the approval of the President of the when it was before the people of this country for adopUnited States, be, and they are hereby, authorized to tion, you will see that strong fears were entertained that, adjust and settle all the accounts and claims of James if the entire revenues of the country were placed at the Monroe, late President of the United States, upon princi- disposal of the Federal Government, abuses would grow ples of justice and equity.
out of that power, and appropriations would be made, in“And be it further enacted, That, so soon as any consistent with the public interest. It was urged that no amount shall have been found due to the said James lasting abuse would ensue; for that, by, the constitution, Monroe, it shall be paid to him out of any money in the the appropriating power was exclusively confided to the treasury not otherwise appropriated.”
immediate representatives of the people; that they were Mr. WILLIAMS moved to amend the amendment, by to be elected once in two years, and were immediately striking out all after the word treasury, and inserting responsible for the exercise of their power to their conthe following:
stituents; that, should they attempt to make an improper “Be; and they are hereby, authorized and directed to disposition of the public funds, a speedy remedy could be examine and adjust all the accounts and claims of James found in the frequent recurrence of elections. This arguMonroe, late President of the United States, upon the ment prevailed, and this House was recognised as the principles of justice and equity.
safest depository of the appropriating power. Should "And be it further enacted, That the amount of the this House prove recreant to its duty, and refuse to hold several accounts and claims, when examined and adjust- the purse strings of the nation, who will hold them for us? ed, in the manner aforesaid, together with the principle When the immediate representatives manifest an indifferon which each item is founded, shall be reported to Con- ence as to the appropriation of the public treasure, can gress for final decision and allowance.”
we expect that agents, whose responsibility is more reMr. WILLIAMS addressed the House in support of his mote, will protect the interests which we abandon? Before amendment.
we sanction an appropriation, it is our province and our Mr. SPENCER, of New York, preferred the amend- duty to know, to understand, and to settle the principle ment submitted by Mr. Mercer, to that then under con- upon which that appropriation is made. The amendment, sideration.
as offered by the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. MERCER,] Mr. CHILTON addressed the House at some length proposes an unlimited appropriation, and refers the setagainst the claim, and replied to the remarks of Messrs. tlement of the principle upon which it is to be made to SPENCER, EVERETT, and MERCER. Of the two, he had a the Executive Department. What principle that departpreference for that of Mr. WILLIAMS, but thought Con- ment may adopt, and what amount it may award under gress, instead of Mr. Hagner, should settle the claim. the provisions of this amendment, should it become a