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FEBRUARY, 1794.]
Commerce of the United States.

[H. OFR. uniformly evidenced a selfish policy; and that we ter thereof, and report the same, with their opinion have no privileges to boast of in consequence of thereupon, to the House. our present existing commercial treaty with that The House resolved itself into a Committee of nation.

the Whole House on the bill providing for the reThis, Mr. Chairman, is a summary view of the lief of such of the inhabitants of Saint Domingo, principal arguments which have been adduced on resident within the United States, as may be found the one side and on the other of the important in want of support; and, question before the Committee. Many ingenious Ordered, That the said bill be engrossed, and calculations, observations, comparisons and docu- read the third time to-morrow. ments, fraught with information, and tending to elucidate the subject, have been offered. I have

COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES. listened with attention to the whole of them, and, on a careful review, it appears to me that this is tee of the Whole House on the Report of the Se

The House again resolved itself into a Commitnot the proper time for us to introduce very essen- cretary of State on the privileges

and restrictions tial alterations in our commercial system; that, be our wishes what they may respecting the issue on the commerce of the United States in foreign

countries: When of the present war in Europe, neither duty nor good policy will permit us to become parties--the strict

Mr. Swift moved, that the first of the resoluprinciples of neutrality ought to influence our tions, which was then before the Committee, should conduct; that the measures proposed would have be struck out. a very bad tendency; that they would produce

Mr. Nicholas said, that the gentleman who had great inconvenience to our revenues ; a temporary moved the resolution, and several other members, stagnation to our commerce; a future augmenta- were not present; and he hoped for a delay, were tion of the shackles under which it now labors; it only of ten or fifteen minutes. deprive our fellow-citizens of enjoyments which Mr. Dayton said, that it was the business of they have a right to possess; turn industry from members to attend in their places, and if they did its natural channel; induce a necessity of land not choose to do so, the House were not to wait taxes for the exigencies and support of Govern- for them. ment; prove injurious to public credit; be ruinous Mr. Giles was of opinion, that, from motives of to our agriculture, and, in the present crisis, might delicacy, the Committee should grant a short

delay. precipitate us into a war-evils which justice, hu- He, therefore, moved that the question should be manity, true principles of patriotism, the duties of deferred. morality and the best interests of our country, re

Mr. FORREST considered that it would be unfair quire us to deprecate, and, if possible, avoid.

and uncandid to take the question in the absence of I have endeavored to examine and consider the the gentleman who proposed the resolutions. He, subject with candor. I have formed my opinion himself

, if he stood in the place of that gentleman, upon serious deliberation, and feel an impression must feel extremely hurt at such a thing being of duty, when the question shall be taken to vote done to him; and he would not use any gentleman against the propositions.

so, because he would not wish to be used so himThe Committee now rose, and had leave to sit self. again.

Mr. Smilie, in all the public assemblies where he had ever been, had never been witness to

any attempt like the present of taking the advanMONDAY, February 3.

tage of the absence of a gentleman to carry a ques

tion against him. A petition of Thomas Pearsall and Elijah Pell, Mr. Dayron replied, that he disdained any idea of the city of New York, was presented to the of this sort, and he did not care whether the House and read, praying, that an additional duty gentlemen on the opposite side were to defer the may be imposed on the importation of house or question for a day, a week, or a month. He was hand-bellows, or such encouragement given to the willing to postpone it as long as they pleased. But manufacture of the said article in the United he thought it a bad precedent, that any member, States, as to the wisdom of Congress shall seem by choosing to absent himself, should stop the meet.

business of the House. Ordered, That the said petition, together with Mr. FitzsimOns wished that the question might the petitions of the manufacturers of paint in the never be taken at all, towns of Baltimore and Alexandria, and of the Mr. DEXTER spoke a few words to the same dealers in oil and painters' colors, which lay on purpose. He did not think that the resolution the table, be referred to Mr. Watts, Mr. Cort, had any meaning, at least he could not discover it; and Mr. HindMAN; that they do examine the mat- and, therefore, he did not think it worth while to ter thereof, and report the same, with their opinion take any question upon the matter. thereupon, to the House.

Mr. CLARK said, that this was the thirteenth The SPEAKER laid before the House a Report day which this question had been debated. The from the Secretary of the Treasury on the petition gentleman who was up last had, upon one of these of Winthrop Sargent; which was read, and order-days, engrossed the time of the House for more ed to be referred to Mr. Heath, Mr. Foster, and than an hour, and after having opposed the meanMr. MONTGOMERY ; that they do examine the mat- ing of the resolution at such great length, he at last


H. or. R.]

Commerce of the United States.

[FEBRUARY, 1794.


made this wonderful discovery, that it meant had not, on that account, been censured. If it was nothing!

wrong, it arose from the religion they professed. Mr. Boudinot wished the Committee to rise. He expressed his surprise at the gentleman's as

Mr. W. Smith regarded the precedent as a dan- sertion, that the majority of the Assembly of Penngerous one. The absence might be intentional. sylvania had once run away from a question. That Perhaps the gentleman now absent would like it must have been a very foolish majority, indeed, wise be absent to-morrow, although the question to run away from a question, which, by staying, should be deferred.

they could have carried as they pleased. He supMr. Smilie expressed himself much hurt, that posed, however, that the gentleman was mistaken the member (Mr. Madison) should be so treated about the majority, and rather intended a circumin his absence. It was a sort of usage that could stance peculiar to the late Constitution of Pennnot be forgiven. He reprobated the insinuation sylvania. By that Constitution, the Legislature, of the gentleman having fled the question. consisting of but one branch, two-thirds of the

Mr. W ADSWORTH was sorry that the gentleman members were necessary to make a quorum. This, who spoke last should have been angry at the hint and the obligation to publish business of a public of members flying the question. It was certainly nature, from one session to another, were designed true that such things had frequently happened ; as checks to prevent party resolutions. In the and, therefore, it could be no harm to say so. There early period of that Legislature, so many of the had been members on that floor who had fled the members as reduced the House below a quorum, question. More than one, two, or three members frequently withdrew, to prevent hasty measures. had done so. There will be such characters in all On one occasion they withdrew to prevent a law ages and in all countries. A majority of the As- from passing, without being constitutionally pubsembly of Pennsylvania had once run away from lished for consideration. The doors being attempta question. There were members who nevered to be forcibly shut, occasioned the affair to make could be brought to give a vote on a question of some noise. Perhaps it was to this the gentleman war. Congress had been sometimes forced to stop alluded, but it was not a majority that withdrew. business for want of a quorum, on account of mem- He said, that he admitted that in most cases the bers flying a question. For himself, he looked absence of members was a bad argument for deupon it as a very bad precedent for the House to laying, business, nor was it acknowledged by defer business on account of the absence of any the rules of the House, but he thought that a regard member. He understood that he was this day to to decency and propriety was always a rule. The give his vote in a minority. He was against the present question had been debated for twelve or resolutions for many reasons, with which he was thirteen days in the space of about three weeks. acquainted before this debate began; and he was The question had often been called for, but when likewise against them for many reasons which he any gentleman suggested that there was anything never heard till after the debate began. I know a further to be offered, the question was delayed member, said Mr. W. smiling, who is to give his without opposition. That before the House advote against the resolutions, and who goes into the journed on Friday last, the question appeared ripe country this night. If the question is deferred for decision, but a member who had been much this day, for the absence of one member, I shall engaged in the debates, suggested that another try to get it put off to-morrow for the absence of member wished to be heard, and the question was this other member; and so I shall always be for delayed. That on Saturday it was expected that putting it off till I can turn my minority into a ma- many members would go out of town who would jority.

not be returned so early this morning. Though Mr. Findley rose in reply to what had dropped he acknowledged the right of the House to take from Mr. W. about the majority of the Assembly the question at any time, yet he wished for a deof Pennsylvania running away from the question. cent exercise of that right. Though he thought [It was objected, that he was not in order, as he the member had a right to change his mind and was not speaking to the question before the House.] decline speaking if he thought proper, yet he could Mr. F. replied that he was in order, as he was not approve of first delaying the question at the about to explain the nature of some facts which request that the members might be heard, and dethe gentleman had asserted. That if that gentle-clining, to speak in order to favor a surprise. man was permitted to assert those things, he had Though the House might decide any time, it a right to explain them, and appealed to the Chair- ought

not to prefer the most improper time that man, who, as well as many of the members, ac- offered during the whole discussion. He said the knowledged his right, and bid him go on. Assembly of Pennsylvania, to which such free

Mr. F. said, that he doubted if the members allusions had been made, thought it indecent to had all as high a sense of honor, in standing their take an important question on Monday morning, ground upon a question, as his colleague (Mr, knowing that several members having left town SMILIE) had suggested, though he acknowledged on Saturday night, had not returned. To punish abthey ought to have it. He alleged, that members sent members in this way was a poor argument. thus absenting themselves, was not peculiar to It was not the members that were punished, but Pennsylvania. That in the Assembly of that and the constituents. He said he did noi know which other States, and even in Congress, members had side of the House had most members absent; he sometimes withdrawn from questions respecting only wished a fair and full decision. war, upon the account of religious scruples, and Mr. CLARK observed, in answer to the gentle

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FEBRUARY, 1794.)
Commerce of the United States.

[H. OF R. man, that if they sat much longer on this question, Smith, rose together. Mr. Smith was heard. He he should have no feeling at all; for he believed said that they had not been debating at all about they would all be petrified. He was for putting the first resolution, but about the second resoluthe vote immediately, that they might not be en- tion, evet since the discussion began. Mr. S. moved tangled in another debate of six days, to prove that an amendment to the first resolution, which was the resolution meant nothing.

that instead of the words "certain cases,” be read Mr. Giles rose and withdrew his motion. “ the following cases." He said that this amend

Mr. Madison had now come in. In answer to ment was necessary to make the resolution intelliwhat had been objected against the generality of gible. his resolution, he said that there were numerous

Mr. Venable said, it was in vain to deny, there precedents of that sort upon the Journals. was a subterfuge and a spirit of quibbling unworthy Mr. Ames replied to Mr. Madison.

of Congress in these proceedings. A gentleman, Mr. Fitzsimons said that he would vote against (Mr. Smith,) had just now told us that the first the first resolution ; but some of the subsequent resolution was unintelligible, and yet this very ones he approved. They had lost three weeks in member had taken up two days on this very resodebating upon the metaphysics of commerce. Let lution, and now he rose to tell us that it had no the resolutions be taken one by one. He hoped meaning, and that he did not understand it. Mr. V. that the House would do something for the manu- bad listened with great attention to all that had factures of the country. He was convinced that been said, and thought it evident, that a spirit of something might be done.

quibbling and of subterfuge had got into the opinMr. Giles said, that he would vote for the first ion of the resolutions. resolution, but for some of those which went after This charge was retorted from the gentlemen it he would not vote.

on the other side of the House. For which Mr. Mr. Madison spoke as follows: I owe many Nicholas said there was no ground. As to blendapologies to this House for rising so often, but ing, political and commercial speculations, for since 1 rise only for explanation, I hope I shall be which the friends of the resolution had been blamed, forgiven. I intentionally made the first resolu- there was nothing unfair. In the very beginning tion as vague as it is, and not more so. I regarded of the debate, it had been stated, that they were a this generality of expression as necessary.

substitute for military preparations. Mr. Heath wanted the question taken, the gen- Mr. Fitzsimons hoped the amendment. would tlemen against the resolution were going of the be withdrawn. It would sound strangely to the question in a ludicrous manner.

world, and place them all together in a singular Mr. Dayton was against the resolution. The light, if, when they had debated so long on a resoevasion was on the opposite side. The gentlemen lution, they should at this time be amending it, in for the resolutions were like some kinds of am- a way as if they had not understood the meaning phibious animals. If you attack them on the land of it. Mr. Smith withdrew his motion accordthey fly into the water; if you attack them by ingly. water they fiy to land. As to the resolutions, he Mr. Giles did not wish to delay a vote. He expected nothing but mischief from them. The had been both amused and astonished with the people of the United States would set up manufac- tone of distinction adopted by the gentlemen opiures. The restrictions would presently be taken posed to the resolutions. Polítical questions were off

. British manufactures would pour in again. the genus, of which commercial questions were a And those who had set up American manufacto- species. There was nothing unfair in connecting ries would be reduced to beggary: The House what it was impossible to separate. A spirit of would act in this case as the British House of quibbling had this day got into the House. The Commons once did. They voted, “ that the in- debate had taken a new turn, and a turn in which fluence of the Crown had increased, was increas- he was very unwilling to appear. ing, and ought to be diminished.” But they had The question being loudly called for, it was put . never acted up to this resolution, or done anything and carried, 51 votes to 46. The Committee then upon it. In the same way, the gentlemen who rose, and had leave to sit again. vote for the present resolutions will disagree to those that come after it. The business would end

Tuesday, February 4. in nothing, and thus the House, by having adopted the first resolution, would make themselves such of the inhabitants of St. Domingo, resident

An engrossed bill, providing for the relief of ridiculous. Mr. Ames said, the resolution was matter of of support, was read the third time, and passed.

within the United States, as may be found in want moonshine, including everything, and concluding nothing. Now we are told by the mover that the

COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES. first resolution pledged us to nothing. Therefore, The House again resolved itself into a Comwe shall have nothing to do with it.

mittee of the Whole House, on the Report of the Mr. Heath observed, that if he had entertained Secretary of State, on the privileges and restricany doubts as to the propriety of the resolutions, tions on the commerce of the United States in those doubts would be now removed by the style foreign countries. of subterfuge adopted in the present debate by the Mr. Nicholas desired to exclude by name all members against them.

Powers except Britain, from the effect of the first Here Mr. Dayton, Mr. Ames, and Mr. W. resolution.

H. OF R.]

Commerce of the United States.

[FEBRUARY, 1794.

[Some gentlemen said it would be much more sense, gentlemen, after perusing such letters from manly to name Britain at once.]

Mr. Pinckney, could stand up, and pretend to say, Mr. Nicholas said, that he had no objection to that they had the smallest expectation of obtainnaming Britain.

ing justice from Britain? He had been astonished Mr. Madison observed, that he had at first at the language that he had heard in that House. avoided the particular mention of Britain, because Members had not scrupled to say, that the mere he had been solicitous to conduct the business in exercise of our political rights, as an independent as civil a way as possible. It was no concern to Government, was equivalent to a Declaration of him whether Britain was specially mentioned or War against Britain. Why do we pretend to call not. Her Statute Book had afforded many' ex- ourselves a free or independent People? It would amples of that kind of style.

be much better, honestly and at once, to declare Mr. S. SMITH was at a loss to know what re- ourselves Colonies subject to Britain! The lancent injury Britain had committed, which could guage held upon this topic was an insult upon the justify this proceeding. In point of justice, Spain common sense of every American. We were enought to be put on the same footing. She had titled to exercise our own rights in our own way. laid restrictions on American shipping, that she He would rather hazard a war, than give up that did not imposé upon those of any other nation. right.

Mr. Nicholas answered, that the case did not Mr. WADSWORTH was convinced, that Spain apply to Spain; we enjoy a trade with her that is and Portugal deserved to be comprehended under highly beneficial to the United States; nor have the commercial restrictions as much as Britain, we any means of compelling her to alter her since they behaved as badly.. Portugal, in particonduct.

cular, had acted with superlative baseness, for she Mr. Boudinot strongly recommended that Spain, did not, as in good faith she was bound, warn us and the Imperial ports, should be comprehended in beforehand of the approach of the Algerine Peace. the restrictions. He had been against the original. It was true that the newspapers had teemed with resolution; but since the measure was going for- preposterous praise of her generosity, but this was ward, he wished that it might be conducted with altogether a farce; because the papers before the propriety, and on principles as reasonable and equi- House, which could not be printed, proved the coniable as could be adopted.

trary. It was strangely said, that Britain had Mr. Madison observed, that Britain had issued made the Peace for Poriugal without the knowa Proclamation respecting the stoppage of the ves- ledge of the Court of Lisboa—a circumstance quite sels of neutral nations; of these there were but incredible. Mr. W. asserted the conduct of Spain three-Denmark, Sweden, and the United States. to be as mischievous as it possibly could be. The The two former had been expressly excepted from same remark applied to France, where the Capthe consequences of these restrictions. The Pro- tains of American vessels had been fined for atclamation was, in itself, a breach of the law of tempting to obtain redress in a Court of Justice, nations.

against the captors of their ships. Nor did it proMr. Ames was of opinion that it would be wiser ceed from any want of provisions, that they had to accept of excuses for injuries, than fight battles seized cargoes of that kind. They had openly to avenge them. He likewise insisted that a train locked them up in warehouses for many months, of negotiation had been entered into respecting the and at the same time refusing to give the Captains grievances of America, and that it would be pro- of the vessels any satisfaction. I really do not per to wait the conclusion of it.

know (said Mr. W.) anybody, within whose reach Mr. Madison considered the conduct of Britain we come, that does not despoil us. As to the Law as extremely atrocious. He read some extracts of Nations, I leave that to gentlemen of the lawfrom the correspondence between Mr. Pinckney they may manage it; but he found it to be very and the American Government. In these, the uncertain. He was sure that all the world did us behaviour of Britain was represented as very ar- all the harm that was in their power; and he was bitrary and tyrannical; and it was strongly stated, not certain but what an open rupture with us will that there was not the least chance of obtaining be acceptable to some of the nations of Europe. redress from, the Court of London, for the vio- With regard to Spain, such a hostile disposition lences committed on the American flag.

cannot be surprising, since every American newsMr. Dayton read some other passages from the paper that we can look into is full of projects for same correspondence, and from these he drew in- driving them out of the American Continent. He ferences of an opposite tendency.

said that immense property depended on the deMr. Giles read a passage from one of the let- cision of this day; he believed there never was a ters of Mr. Pinckney, wherein that gentleman re- greater at stake, in any question which had ever commended commercial restrictions, as the safest come before an American Congress. He referred way of obtaining satisfaction from Britain for all to the lawsuits at present depending before the the wrongs of America, since there was not the British Courts of Admiralty for the recovery of smallest probability of obtaining redress in any American property seized by the British pirates. other way:

Mr. P. expressed his extreme aversion He was convinced that, if the present amendment to war, and therefore he suggested this method of passed, the merchants of this country never would retaliation, as a sure mode of distressing Britain, recover a farthing before the British Judges, of without the expense and danger of actual hostili- the immense sums for which they had lodged ties. Mr. G. asked how, in the name of common claims, which would be their ruin. There was

FEBRUARY, 1794.]

Commerce of the United States.

[H. OF R.

one effect which the resolutions would produce, Mr. W. Smith rose immediately after Mr. and that was, to drive a great part of our shipping Clark, and observed, that the member might out of employment. This he did not consider as have spared himself the trouble of mentioning his a misfortune, for there was a much greater pro- advanced age, as his garrulity was a pretty strong portion of the mercantile capital of America en- symptom of it. Whether he (Mr. s.) had, in the gaged in that business than could be for the ad-course of his remarks, employed more words than vantage of the country.

were necessary, the Committee would judge. Mr. Nicholas, in reply to an argument con- They would also judge whether the incessant stantly urged by the gentlemen on the other side loquacity of that member was, in general, much of the question, said, that it was quite needless to to the purpose. With respect to any illiberal inspeak of waiting for the result of an application sinuations, they only excited his contempt. He to Britain. A thing has happened that puts all had no doubt they were reprobated by the Comnegotiation out of the question. A man owes you mittee, for they were intended to check the freea dollar, you ask payment, and he robs you of an dom of debate. But he declared, he would never hundred. The affair of the Algerines puts an end suffer such attacks to deter him from that which to negotiation. The case was so bad, that after he conceived a proper discharge of his duty. Mr. it, no man could hope for amicable redress from S. said it was astonishing that, after he had, from Britain, or that after such baseness she would ever the commencement of the debate, so guardedly give us justice. With regard to Spain, there were excluded all political topics, and confined his retwo good reasons why we should not wish to offend marks expressly to commercial grounds, (considerher. In the first place, the United States gained ing the subject merely as a commercial one,) that largely by her trade; and, in the next, she was there should be found any one so uncandid as to entirely out of our power, As to Britain, she wrest his arguments from commercial and apply was within our reach; and he was solicitous to them to political facts. He had stated commerexcept Spain and every other country from the cial facts, and had drawn inferences from them. restrictions, that their impression might be the If the facts were unfounded in truth, let gentlemore strongly felt in Britain.

men deny them. If his inferences were inconcluMr. W. SMITH again spoke at considerable sive, let gentlemen refute them. It was with length.

much satisfaction he had, however, found, that Mr. Clark replied, that the gentleman from all the commercial members who had followed South Carolina had said that Britain was the him on the same side had, by their opinions and most friendly to the United States of any nation votes, borne testimony to the accuracy of his statein Europe; and that if a stranger came into that ments. Were those members, on that account, House, he would think the resolution under dis- liable to the charge of undue partiality for Bricussion was a manifesto of war against Britain. tain, and would they not, if such charge were But, said Mr. C., (looking at Mr. Smith) if a made, be justified in recriminating? Would there stranger were to come into this House, he would not be as much reason to accuse the one side of think that Britain had an agent here.

being agents

of France as the other of being agents [Here the gentleman was called to order.] for Britain ? But he hoped all such remarks

Mr. C. rose again, and repeated what he had would, in future, be spared. The members on said, appealing to the judgment of the House. He both sides were Americans, and had the same said that he had not named the gentleman as being object in view the public good-but they differa British agent; he had only said, that a stranger ed about the means. To substitute indecent permight think there was a British agent in the Com-sonalities for argument was unworthy of any memmittee. The gentleman (Mr. Smith) had objected ber, was an avowal of a want of argument, and to the prolixity of the proposed amendment, in merited the animadversion of the House. Daming and excepting so many nations from the Mr. Swift was sorry to hear so much personal restrictions, and had recommended it as much reflection cast out as the Committee had just now better to declare, at once, that they were levelled heard. He was convinced that the gentleman from at Britain only, it was putting twenty-five words South Carolina would despise it, as he was satiswhere one would answer the purpose. Sir, (said fied that every other gentleman in the Committee Mr. C.,) in cases of this kind there are often dif- would do. ferent opinions. He had heard the gentleman him- Mr. Smilie saw no difference between returnself employ five hundred words, which, in his judg- ing to the situation of a Colony dependent upon ment, did not comprehend the meaning of one. Britain, and that of submitting to be shackled as As to the war, we had heard much painting, as if to commercial restrictions. arms and legs were flying about our ears. For his Mr. Ames said, that there was no commercial own part, he was not afraid of hostilities: the rea- State in the Union which favored the resolutions: son perhaps was, that being much more advanced four-fifths of the citizens of the United States were in life than some other members, he had less to against them. It had been urged, that they conlose by death. As to the present amendment, he tained nothing new; nothing but what had long regarded it as containing the essence of all which been intended to be carried into execution. An they have been debating about for thirteen days; opinion against the resolutions was traveling with and he hoped that the same gentlemen would vote rapidity from this centre, on every side, to the cirfor it to-day, who yesterday had voted for the cumference of the circle. The people had too resolution itself.

much good sense to approve them. 3d Con.-15

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