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Surplus Revenue, &c.
(Jan. 12, 1836.
the humiliation to which we were now subjected in be
The Committee on Finance reported a series of ing superintended by the heroes of Algiers and Nava- amendments to the bill, in no case diminishing approrino, the project of certain Senators to apply the public priations, in some cases increasing them, and in some moneys in a different direction, namely, to divide them instances making entirely new appropriations. All the among the States, and which required them to keep the gentlemen of the Senate with whom he had familiar sum for distribution as large as possible, in order to pre. conversations, would remember his frequent expression sent captivating dividends to each distributee. The of anxiety on the subject of this bill. It was sent back plan of putting the country in a posture of defence was by the other House with agreements and disagreements incompatible with these plans of distributing the reve to the Senate's amendments. He did not now recollect
The two plans cannot go on together; one or the to which. After five o'clock in the evening of the 3d other must give away, and he had purposely drawn the of March, this bill was reported to the Senate. They resolution under consideration to make an issue between had joint conferences with the different Departments them, and to draw the line between those who will put on those new appropriations, and came to the conclutheir country in a state of defence, and those who will sion to retain all the new appropriations. An amendleave it naked and helpless.
ment containing an appropriation of $3,000,000, to be Mr. B. had felt it bis duty to bring to the notice of used under the direction of the President of the United the Senate the approach of the French squadron of States, provided such expense was necessary to the deobservation, and to show that it came because “ Ameri- fence of the country, was in it after it was returnca had no force capable of being opposed to it.” It ed from the House of Representatives. The objection was a subsidiary argument, and a fair illustration of the
to the appropriation was not on account of any distrust dangers and humiliations of a defenceless position. It to the President. No, sir, said he, it was merely as to should stimulate us to instant and vigorous action; to the the constitutionality of it. The Senate disagreed to the concentration of all our money, and all our hands, to amendment of the House; the House insisted, and rethe sacred task of national defence. For himself, he fused to recede. He alluded to a practice of changing did not believe there would be war, because he knew the time of the clock on the last night of the session, that there ought not to be war; but that belief would and not relying upon it, he took out his watch and have no effect upon bis conduct. He went for national ascertained by it, if it did not deceive him, that the defence, because that policy was right in itself, without committee of conference on the part of the Senate went regard to times and circumstances. He went for it out before eleven o'clock; and, said he, here we sat now, because it was the response, and the only re. until twelve o'clock at night, waiting for their report. sponse, which American honor could give to the visit of They sent a messenger to keep the House in mind of Admiral Mackau. Above all, he went for it because it the appropriation bill. For what reason the House did was the way, and the only manly way, of letting France not take up the report of the committee of conference, know that she had committed a mistake in sending this it would be improper, indecent, and disorderly, in him Aeet upon us. In conclusion, he would call for the to state. He had stated the facts, and every member yeas and nays, and remark that our votes would have to
who was present would remember them as stated. be given under the guns of France, and under the eyes Mr. PRESTON said the gentleman from Virginia of Europe.
(Mr. Leigu) had given a very clear view of the facts. Mr. WEBSTER said his duty was to take care that He (Mr. P.) did not feel called upon to explain, beneither in nor out of the Senate there should be any cause he had voted for the rejection of a bill containing mistake, the effect of which should be to produce an an undefined appropriation of $3,000,000. It was impression unfavorable or reproachful to the character enough for him to know that it was an unconstitutional and patriotism of the American people. He remem and indefinite appropriation, and dangerous to be put bered the progress of that bill, (the bill alluded to by into the hands of the Executive. He would go further. Mr. Benton,) the incidents of its history, and the real if, instead of these vague rumors about the movements cause of its loss. And he would satisfy any man that of the French fleet, the whole frontier had been laid in the loss of it was not attributable to any member or ruins, he would have voted against it. How was it officer of the Senate. He would not, however, do so that this appropriation had been sprung upon them? until the Senate should again have been in session on They were not called upon for it by the proper deexecutive business. As soon as that took place, he partment, and he did not feel called upon without the should undertake to show that it was not to any department, whose business it was to make the recoindereliction of duty on the part of the Senate that the mendations requiring such appropriations. He was not loss of that bill was to be attributed.
then disposed to take the responsibility for what beMr. LEIGH said there was one or two facts in rela- longed to the proper departments, and he was not now tion to this matter to which he would call the particular disposed to do it. Under the better opportunities of attention of the gentleman from Missouri, (Mr. Berton.] the Executive to acquire information, it was the duty of Mr. L. referred to a report of the Committee on Milit the department to keep the Senate informed of the tary Affairs, at the last session, on the expediency of necessity and object of appropriations, and until that providing for fortifications. He did not understandine was done, the Senate was not bound to act. The hongentleman from Missouri (Mr. Benton] to say that that orable Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Clay) had introspecific report was rejected. He (Mr. L.) understood duced a resolution for the distribution of the surplus it was rejected with other appropriations.
revenue, arising from the sales of the public lands, and [Mr. BENTON explained.]
his colleague, the honorable gentleman from South Mr. L. continued. I have, said he, a particular rec Carolina, had reported a bill for the appropriation of ollection. My mind was attracted to the subject by the balance of the surplus revenue, for purposes that the quarrel going on between France and the United were defined. But, in this case, the appropriation is States. He expected some means to be resorted to in first made, and then the Executive is to be asked how order to strengthen the national arm. The bill to much is necessary.
You appropriate thirty millions, strengthen the fortifications of the country had passed and the Executive says five millions is all that is the House of Representatives on the 24th day of Febru. | wanted, what becomes of the rest? From these vague ary, and so anxious was his mind on the subject, that rumors, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. BENTON) he went to the Secretary's table to examine whether had taken occasion to remark that he desired the exparticular appropriations were in the bill. He found l terior of the United States put into a state of defence,
Jan. 13, 1836.]
Suspension of Indian Hostililies-Sufferers by Fire in New York.
In all this he concurred. Every Senator had concurred of her insolvency, to levy on the body of Louis Philippe. in general appropriations to put the navy and army in a No, sir, said he, we shall have no war with France. I state of defence. This undefined appropriation was not can imagine a state of things, said Mr. P., calculated the only exception. The gentleman from Missouri to make a war inevitable. (Mr. Benton] bad said this appropriation was intend If the Senate had wandered so far from its duties as ed to operate as a permanent' defence. He would had been intimated, and a war was to be waged with the ask, for what purpose was this French fleet coming on Senate, that might make a war with France. But God our coast?
Had he said for what purpose were they forbid that such a state of things should exist. If a war coming? Why were the breezes bringing this great of partnership was to be waged, he deplored the consearmament? If they were coming in hostile array, why quences. He hoped no measures would be adopted are we (said Mr. P.) kept in the dark by the President liere that would lead to a war with France. of the United States? They had been looking, anx If the real cause of apprehensions should occur, he jously looking, for a message from the President, whe. hoped for unanimity. Whether the resolution of the ther these newspaper rumors respecting this fleet of honorable gentleman from Missouri, (Mr. Benton,] the observation were true.
propositions of the honorable gentleman from Kentucky, The President ought to know-it was his duty to (Mr. Clay,]or from his colleague, (Mr. Calhoun,)should know. He trusted, however, the gentleman from Mis be taken up first, he would leave to be settled between souri [Mr. BENTON] had superseded the functions of the them. President. Could it be for the purpose of overawing Mr. CLAYTON was surprised at the suggestion of an them out of their votes that this alarm had been raised? idea that the American Senate was not disposed to make France, our former ally, be believed, did not doubt our the necessary preparations for the defence of the counvalor. He believed she had a due respect for us. Why, try; that they had endeavored to prevent the passage of sir, said Mr. P., do they think that the approximation of a bill, the object of which was to make provision for a fleet of France can alarm us into a vote? No, sir, said large appropriations for our defence. The Senator from lie, we would cover ourselves with a panoply for our Missouri had gone into a liberal attack of the Senate. mutual defence. The President of the United States, in He (Mr. C.) was not disposed to say any thing further his message, bad informed them that he had ordered the of the events of the last night of the session. He took representative of this country in France (Mr. Barton) occasion to say there were other matters in connexion to receive the money due to us, or ask for his passports with this appropriation. Before any department or any to return to the United States. We were not now rep- friend of the administration bad named an appropriation resented in either England or France. He did not say,
for defence, he made the motion to appropriate five however, that we were cut off from all intercourse in hundred thousand dollars. It was on his motion that England as in France.
the Committee on Military Affairs made the appropriaThe President had recommended making reprisals, if tion to increase the fortifications. Actuated by the very France refused payment.
France had refused, but the same motives which induced him to move that approremedy was not pursued. It may be, said he, that this priation, he bad moved an additional appropriation to fleet is merely coming to proiect the commerce of Fort Delaware. The motion was to increase the seventy, France. If the President of the United States, at the five thousand to one hundred and fifty thousand, and last session of Congress, had suggested the necessity of elicited a protracted debate. The next question was, making this appropriation, we would have poured out whether, in the general bill, five hundred thousand dolthe treasury; we would have filled his hands for all ne. lars should be appropriated. He recollected the home cessary purposes. There was one hundred thousand dol-orable chairman of the Committee on Finance told them lars appropriated that had not been called for. He did there was an amendment before that committee of similar not know whether he was permitted to go any further
As chairman of the Committee on Military Af. and say to what extent any of the departments were dis- fairs, he felt disinclined to give it up. The amendment posed to go in this matter. At the opening of this ses fell on the single ground, by one vote, that the Coinmitsion the President in his message entered into a detail of tee on Finance had before it the identical proposition our affairs with France, and promised us, on the return made by the Committee on Military Affairs. He apof Mr. Barton, a special message.
Mr. Barton had re pealed to the country whether, under those circumstanturned, if they were to rely upon the same source of ces, they were to be arraigned before the people of the intelligence upon which the gentleman from Missouri country on a charge of a want of patriotism.
He had (Mr. Benton] had relied. We are asked, why has the always felt deeply affected when those general remarks Senate not done its duty? I ask, said Mr. P., why the were made impugning the motives of patriotism of the President has not done his duty? The Senator from Senators. He was willing to go as far as he who goes Missouri [Mr. Benton) had preferred a general indict. farthest in making appropriations for the national proment against the Senate before the people of the United tection. Nay, he would be in advance of the administraStates. It was strange the gentleman should ask the tion. depariments for calculations to enable us to know how On motion of Mr. EWING, and without taking the much was necessary to appropriate, when the informa question on the resolution, tion was not given to us when we rejected the unde The Senate adjourned. fined appropriations.
I rejoice, said Mr. P., that the gentleman bas said even to my fears there will be no French war. France
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 13. was not going to squabble with America on a little point
SUSPENSION OF INDIAN HOSTILITIES. of bonor, that might do for duellists to quarrel about, but not for nations.
Mr. WEBSTER asked the unanimous consent of the There was no reason why blood should be poured out Senate to take up the bill making appropriations for like water in righting this point of honor. If ih matter | suppressing hostilities with the Seminole Indians. was placed on its proper basis, his hopes would be lit up There being no objection made, the bill was taken into a blaze of confidence. Who were the plaintiffs in up, and read a third time, and passed. this case? Not France. We are the plaintiffs. France
SUFFERERS BY FIRE IN NEW YORK. is the defendant. If a ca. sa. should issue, it would be to levy upon the goods and chattels of France, or, in case Mr. WRIGHT moved the Senate to proceed to the
Sufferers by Fire in New York.
[Jan. 13, 1836.
consideration of the bill for the relief of the sufferers by port of entry, when fraudulent attempts were made to the late fire in the city of New York.
consume the sum appropriated for their benefit. There Mr. CALHOUN moved to strike out from the bill the were cases which the bill might not meet; but, in a gensecond section. He was oppoesd to all that did not pro. | eral provision of this kind, it was not to be expected vide for the actual sufferers. He was opposed to be that every case would be provided for. coming the general ensurers for all losses, whether of an Mr. WRIGHT said he has compelled to trouble the agricultural, manufacturing, or commercial community. Senate with a very few remarks, and he found himself
Mr. WRIGHT held in his hand a statement, showing very delicately situated, if he correctly understood the the amount of bonds for duties to be three millions six state of the question. To make himself sure upon that hundred thousand dollars. Mr. W. said, if the second point, he would ask if he was right in supposing that section should be stricken out, relief would then be ex the honorable Senator from South Carolina (Mr. Caltended to only a portion of the sufferers.
HOUN] had withdrawn his motion to strike out the sec. Mr. CLAY did not like either of the sections, and ond section of the bill. [Mr. Calhoun signified that perhaps it was not possible to prepare one to meet the be had withdrawn the motion.] Mr. W. continued. views of all the other gentlemen of the Senate. He He said the question was then upon the amendment had, however, prepared two sections to meet his views, offered by the honorable Senator from Kentucky, [Mr. and wished the Senator from South Carolina (Mr. Cal Clay,] which was virtually to remit the duty upon the HOUN] to withdraw his amendment for the present, in goods burned. This was part of the relief prayed order that he might introduce them. He objected to the for by the citizens of New York, in the memorial in bill, as reported, on account of the inequality of its their behalf which had been presented to the Senate; operation. The second section of the bill, as reported, but a relief separate and distinct from that provided for provided for cases where no loss had been incurred by in the bill under discussion. This bill merely provided the persons who were to have the benefits of it. The for forbearance of the debts due to the Government for mercantile community of New York were exceedingly duties, in consequence of the calamitous fire. Another sensitive, and the distinction taken by the gentleman bill, he felt authorized to say, would be presented, or from New York (Mr. Wrigut] was entirely too refined, would come from the other branch of Congress, proIt was an old saying, that there was no friendship in posing a remission or refunding of the duties upon the trade. By their reported bill, relief was extended to burned goods, and the delicacy of the situation of himall persons who had imported goods in the port of New self and his colleague arose from the fact that, if they York. Suppose (said Mr. C.) there are other persons should vote against the amendment now proposed, prowho import in New York, not citizens of that place, viding for this relief, they would be subject to the persons from Philadelphia, were they to be excluded misrepresentation and misconstruction of voting against from the benefits of the provisions of the bill? It is that part of the relief prayed for by their constituents; said (continued Mr. C.) that the Government may give while, if they voted for the amendment, they necessarelief to this man or to that man, as the case may seem rily, by its adoption, denied what he considered the to require. It was the want of universality in the bill more general, and, so far as that whole great commerthat made it objectionable to him. He did not con cial community was concerned, more important relief sider this like the case of a poor debtor, whose debt the of a forbearance of payment of the outstanding duty Government were likely to lose. Here Mr. C. sub- | bonds. mitted his amendments, as follows:
In this position, he knew but one course; and that 1. That, in all cases where merchandise was con was to pursue singly the object proposed by the bill sumed by fire in the city of New York on the 16th and before the Senate, and to postpone to some future 17th of December, 1835, the duties paid or accruing occasion the remaining wishes of the sufferers. He thereon shall be refunded or remitted, under such rules would say, however, that neither himself nor his col. and regulations, in regard to evidence, as the Secretary league had made up their minds that the relief proposed of the Treasury may prescribe; provided that the total by the amendment could not be properly extended, and amount to be allowed under the act shall not exceed their votes against the amendment must be understood
dollars. And if the amount of the aforesaid du- merely to indicate that they were unwilling to substitute ties shall be ascertained to exceed that sum, it shall be that measure of relief for the one provided for in the divided between the sufferers ratably, in proportion to bill, and not that they were unwilling to grant both; not their respective losses.
that they were opposed to the principle of the amend. 2. That in all cases of bonds taken prior to the afore- ment, but that they could not consent to adopt it at the said fire, for duties on merchandise imported into the expense of sacrificing another measure of relief equally port of New York, by persons who have suffered loss by important, and, in their judgment, more clear from the said fire, in the destruction of their buildings or ef. objection. fects, to the amount of their respective bonds, it shall Mr. W. said he was not disposed to disguise or deny be lawful, under such rules and regulations as may be that the bill before the Senate granted to the merchants prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury, to extend of New York the use, without interest, of an amount of the time of payment of the aforesaid bonds to three, capital equal to the amount of bonds the payment of four, and five years, in equal instalments, with the as which was forborne, and for a time equal to that for. sent of the securities, or to take new bonds, with suffi- , bearance. This he understood to be the object of the cient surety or sureties; provided that no such indul. bill. An immense amount of the capital of that commergence shall be given in the case of any bond which had cial city had been annihilated by the fire. Property of fallen due before the fire aforesaid.
the value of between seventeen and eighteen million Which being read, he resumed:
had been entirely destroyed in the period of a few hours, If we had a Government warehouse system introdu- and he had supposed the object of the bill was, by a ced, and the Governmeni had lost the goods, there forbearance of payment upon the duty bonds, to give to would be no doubt of the liability and power. The the city the temporary use of that portion of the capital amendment he had offered would employ the vigilance thus destroyed. In that case, but about one fifth of the of the merchants who had actually sustained losses, to loss would be thus supplied, and that would be done prevent frauds upon the munificence of the Govern without asking the Government to give one cent beyond ment. They would know, through the entries and the mere use of this portion of its dues for a very short clerks in the custom-house, and the regulations of the period. The whole amount of bonds to be extended by
Jar. 13, 1836.)
Sufferers by Fire in New York.
the bill exceeded by a very trifle $3,600,000, and a would be made more acceptable to his suffering convery large portion, more than two thirds of the whole stituents, because relief to any commercial town in the amount, were only to be forborne for six, nine, and country would consequently relieve the suffering city, twelve months.
whose interests it was his duty to represent in this He asked if this small measure of relief was not due to debate. The present state of the national treasury the occasion. Every man within the hearing of his would permit the extension of time upon the existing voice could appreciate the condition of such a com duty bonds, without injury to the fiscal operations of the munity under such a loss of property. Every one must Government, and if any member of the Senate would see that the business of that city could not go on with propose such an amendment to the second section of out material and substantial relief, or without immense the bill, he should most cheerfully assent to it. He had changes among the business men. Every one must feel not felt, and the committee from New York representthat hundreds upon hundreds of the most respectable ing the interests of its citizens had not felt, at liberty to and enterprising of the merchants of the city must be ask that the bill should be extended beyond the suffer. entirely ruined, unless some relief, speedy and efficient, ing port; but he could not be mistaken in saying that, shall be afforded.
if made general, it would be even more acceptable, and Still, Mr. W. said, he announced to the Senale with more beneficial to that city than in its present shape. the most heart-felt and proud gratification, that, as yet, But, Mr. W. said, the adoption of the amendment Rot a single mercantile failure had been the consequence proposed by the honorable Senator from Kentucky of this unexampled calamity. Why, he would ask, was [Mr. Clay) as a substitute for this bill, would not afford he able to state this singular and cheering fact? Because the relief required. He feared the honorable Senator every effort of enterprise and faithfulness had been bimself was not aware of the practical effect of the brought into action, while hope, confident hope--the proposition. What did he suppose would be the extent last support which leaves the sinking and despairing of the relief it would afford? He (Mr. W.) was able to man--had hung upon the prompt and favorable action say, from the information given to him by the intelligent of Congress, of the State Legislature, and of the cor. gentlemen who composed the committee from New porate authorities of the city, to sustain those exertions York, that it could not exceed a million and a half of until the future operations of trade might enable the dollars; that the whole amount of duties to be remitted worthy sufferers so far to retrieve their losses as to be or refunded upon burned goods, in case that measure enabled to pay their debts, not only to their neighbors, should be adopted according to the prayer of the me. but to the Government; and thus save the city from a morial, could not greatly exceed that sum. This would scene of wide-spread and fatal bankruptcy, the extent furnish great, and, in many instances, effectual relief to of which, if ever it commences, no buman foresight can the immediate sufferers by the fire; but it would be, measure.
more properly speaking, individual than general; it What, then, (said Mr. W.,) is asked by this bill in would act more emphatically upon individuals than upon furtherance of an object so important to that great com. that great trading and commercial community; it would mercial emporium, to its neighboring commercial cities, distribute eventually, and when the extent of the claims indeed, to ihe whole country? A mere forbearance of could be ascertained, a large sum of money among the payment upon debts due to the Government, to the actual sufferers who were importers and dealers in amount of three millions and a half of dollars, and upon dutiable goods, and in that sense was a most desirable more than two thirds of that sum for a very limited measure of relief. The bill before the Senate, however, period: sis, nine, and twelve months. Might he not, had a larger scope, and proposed to accomplish a more then, hope that opposition would be withdrawn, and general object. It proposed to relieve, so far as forthat this extension of credit would be given without fur- bearance of payment could do it, the whole city; it was ther delay.
not opposed to the measure of relief provided for by He felt bound to repeat to the honorable Senator from the amendment, but independent of it; it was more Kentucky, (Mr. Clar,) and to the honorable gentleman speedy in its influence, and consequently would be from South Carolina, (Mr. Calhoun,) that propositions, more instantly beneficial. embracing precisely the principles contained in the Mr. W. said it was not by any thing we could give amendment proposed by the former gentleman as a sub that he expected business in that great commercial stitute for this bill, will be laid before Congress. He emporium would be continued without fatal interruption; would further say that the question of a remission or re it had become embarrassed by an unprecedented defunding of the duties upon burned goods had been one struction of property, sweeping from thousands of indiof doubt and difficulty. It had, to a greater or less ex. viduals, as it were, instantly, the means of paying their tent, occupied the attention of Congress from the com debts and discharging their obligations of a pecuniary mencement of the Government to the present time; and character. The Government was a creditor to more although he could not say that a uniformity of action
than three and a half millions of dollars. We have our would be found upon it, he believed he was right in the hand upon these oppressed merchants, and unless we assertion that no remission had taken place upon such an raise it, by an extension of time for the payment of this application for many years now last past. He regarded great sum of money; if we enforce payment in this hour that proposition of relief, therefore, as one of doubtful of their affliction, hope must desert them, and mercanresult, and certainly calculated to excite long debate, tile failures must commence, the extent of which no and to occupy much time, if ultimately successful. The human foresight can measure. Will not the Senate, present measure was not of that character, but was the then, consent to the forbearance proposed by this bill, one which had been uniformly adopted in such cases; and leave for future consideration the relief provided and for that reason had been put forward now, under for in the amendment? the hope that it would not only meet the approbation of Time, Mr. W. said, was every thing to the suffering Congress, but its prompt adoption.
merchants. ^ Jle had been informed, by the respectable Any objection, however, to the second section of the commitee who were here to represent their interests, bill, of this character, might be easily removed by an
that something like $40,000 in amount of these bonds amendment which should make that section general, and
were falling due daily; while a provision in the revenue applicable to all the outstanding duty bonds taken at
laws positively prohibits the entering of goods by, and
the reception of new bonds from, a merchant whose ject 10 such an amendment. The bill, in that shape, I former bond is due and unpaid in the hands of the col
Sufferers by Fire in New York.
[Jan. 19, 1836.
lector. Importations ordered before the fire are daily sanctioned. In that sense he was bound to refer to arriving, and men whose all has been consumed are several acts of Congress applicable to cases of the nacompelled to raise the means to pay their existing bonds, ture, but not of the extent, of the case under considera. to enable them to enter the goods thus received. De tion. These acts spread over a period from 1803 to lay, then, in the extension of the credits proposed by 1820, and the relief afforded by each was an extension this bill, might cause a comniencement of inercantile of time to the debtors of the Government for the payfailures, which, once commenced, could not be calcu ment of their duty bonds. The acts to which he would lated, either as to their extent or number, or as to their refer wereeffect upon the general mercantile community of the An act for the relief of the sufferers by the fire at country. He did hope, therefore, that the bill might Portsmouth, in the State of New Hampshire, in 1803; be acted upon without delay, and without being con An act for the relief of the sufferers by the fire at the nected with other propositions of a inore questionable same place, in 1807; character.
An act for the relief of the sufferers by fire at NorHe never spoke of legislative precedents as binding folk, in the State of Virginia, in 1804; upon legislative bodies, but he did speak of them as An act for the relief of the sufferers by the fire at Saworthy of the most grave consideration when they were vannah, in the State of Georgia, in 1820; found to be uniform, and not conflicting with principle. Together with sundry private acts for similar relief in He feared that the proposition to remit the duties upon individual cases of loss by fire. It was a duty he owed the burned goods would be found to be against the pre- to the Committee on Finance, of which he was a memcedents and practice of the Government for many years ber, to refer to these precedents as their justification in last past, and for that reason his own efforts, with that presenting the bill before the Senate. He was not aware of the committee representing the citizens of New
that any question of partiality or favoritism towards these York, have been to have this bill presented by itself, afflicted ports bad been raised, or that it had been for disconnected from any such debatable question. It one moment supposed by any person that these laws had been so presented by the Committee on Finance, were infractions of the constitution, or that they disand he hoped it would not now be exchanged for so turbed, in any sense, the equality of the regulations of doubtful a mode of relief, by the adoption of the amend. commerce or revenue. He would add no more upon ment proposed by the honorable Senator from Ken- this point, but, with a single other remark, would subtucky, [Mr. ClAy] or in any way connected with that mit the bill to the judgment and justice of the Senate. question. He wished each measure of relief prayed Was it not for the interest of the Government to grant for in the New York memorial might be acted upon sep this extension? The means of its debtors to pay had arately and independently by Congress, and he must been swept away by the fire. Still they were struggling, entreat the Senate to adopt or reject the proposition to by every effort which enterprise and courage could extend the time for the payment of the duty bonds, and command, to sustain themselves, to sustain their credit not to change it for another, and he feared it would as merchants, and to avoid bankruptcy, until the regular prove a less acceptable proposition.
restoration of business and the gains of trade should enMr. W. said it had been objected to the second sec able them to pay their debts. If, in this state of things, tion of the bill, tbat it was unconstitutional, as being we press them with demands for immediate payment of within the meaning of the constitution, a regulation of our $3,600,000 of bonds, is there not greater danger of commerce or revenue, not general to all the ports of the loss to us than if we give them time, and permit them to country, but partial, and proposing to give an advantage make the struggle which they are now making with so to the port of New York. He could not himself see much credit to themselves and to the mercantile characany force in the objection. He could not view the bill ter? He would give it as his most deliberate opinion, as a regulation of commerce or revenue, in any manner that the bill was rather calculated to contribute to the to affect importations hereafter to be made, or the rev security of the Government than to subject it to a loss, enue to be collected from such importations. It was a and that it should be passed as a measure calculated to mere regulation between the Government and a certain benefit the treasury, even if the sufferers were not to be portion of its debtors, whose means of payment had regarded. been swept away by a fire unexampled upon this conti Mr. EWING confessed that his doubts had not been nent in its extent, and the destruction of property it removed by the observations of the chairman of the had caused. Could any gentleman consider a simple Committee on Finance. He believed that if the exten. forbearance of payment to debtors thus circumstanced sion were made general, it would be considered a reguas a regulation of commerce or revenue, and, as such, lation in relation to revenue. If, as a general proposipartial, unequal, and unconstitutional? He could not tion, then, said Mr. E., it would be considered as a think so, and surely he was entirely unable to see how regulation, in relation to revenue, when you make the this position was to be maintained by gentlemen who extension apply to a particular port, contrary to that proposed to remit the duties upon the burned goods, provision of the constitution before referred to, this and thus not to forbear payment upon the bonds mere regulation applies to the port of New York alone, and ly, but to give them up to be cancelled without pay gives that port a preference over other ports of the ment. He must suppose that, if Congress possessed Union. The fire in New York gave Congress no power the power to forbear payment upon any bonds taken for it did not possess before. Then, suppose there had been duties, they possessed equal power, so far as the consti no fire there, and a bill was brought in to extend the tution was concerned, over all bonds so taken; and cer. credit on duty bonds, one, two, three, four, or five tainly he could not comprehend bow it could be consti- years, touching New York, and no other city, would tutional to give up a bond to be cancelled without pay it not then be contended that you were giving a prefer. ment, and unconstitutional to forbear payment upon that ence to New York over the other ports of the Union? same bond for a term of years, or a few months, giving The fact that there was a fire did not change the nature nothing but the use of the money.
of the case at all. You are, said Mr. E., giving advanMr. W. said he had already observed that he did not tages to New York not given to others. It appeared to quote legislative precedents as binding upon legislative him that there were strong constitutional objections to bodies, but that he did refer to them as worthy of high the bill, and he therefore could not vote for it. He regard in cases where the power to act was clear, and would with pleasure give it his support, if these constithe practice of Congress had been uniform and long I tutional objections were removed. The amendment pro