Imagens das páginas



[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

APRIL 25, 1836.]

Land Bill.


into an account of dollars and cents. He asked whether the public lands were to be debited with the expenses of the removal of the Indians and the payment of agents. The trustee was bound to give all the benefit to the person for whose trust he held the money, and the person for whose use and benefit the trustee undertook to apply his money faithfully had a right to expect the full benefit. He spoke of the great importance of the purchase of Florida to the country, and especially the southern States, in preventing a lodgement of a foreign enemy, independent of its pecuniary value. He had no doubt that, after deducting these sums improperly debited to the public lands, and allowing a reasonable sum for all necessary appropriation, there would be enough left to fully equal the amount proposed for distribution. He would not go into so labored an argument as some others to show what would be left in the Treasury. At the close of the last quarter, there was in the Treasury thirty-one millions; and, at the end of the next quarter, there would probably be thirty-three millions, and they had in bank stock, nominally, seven millions, but which would probably be equal to seven millions five hundred thousand dollars, and by adding these sums together, they had at the end of the year about seventytwo millions. To avoid every thing like mistake, he deducted three millions five hundred and sixty-seven thousand dollars, and still there would be upwards of sixty-seven millions left. The late Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. McLane) had estimated all the ordinary wants of the Government at fifteen millions, and, taking that as the data, there would still be twenty-five millions left; and he confidently asked, if, after all the wants of the Government were provided for, there would be twenty-five millions needed, unless they increased the army and navy to an unreasonable extent? He cited documents from the War Department to show that a great increase of the army was not wanted, and that the notion of fortifications, on the scale contemplated, was exploded, as not calculated for general defence; and they were useful only at certain important points; and that a board of examination had been recommended to point out the most eligible points for their erection; and that it was not recommended to go on with all the fortifications this year, but to expend the appropriation this year in completing those already begun. Forts, if not manned and armed, might serve the enemy as a place of security and annoyance, instead of defence against them. The radicals in 1822–23–24, and ’5, were in favor of the fortification system. They might think they could take the lead and regulate public opinion on that subject; but they would find that public opinion would regulate them, if they saddled a standing army on the country. These armies employed to fight for the Government would think it necessary to do their voting, and the militia of the country would rise en masse, and vote to abolish them. They might give what they pleased for their navy, and get out all the timber they could to build all the ships they could, and they could not consurne the surplus. He understood there was a project started to invest the surplus in stocks—but that would increase the difficulty, and instead of getting clear of the surplus, they would have an increase of it. The Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads had brought to bear a steam power to help them to get rid of it; and to that system he entered his solemn protest. The Postmaster General had now the power to make contracts with these steam car companies for the transportation of the mails; and if he had not the power, he was in favor of giving it to him. He argued at very considerable length against the measure proposed by the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads, to show the difficulties in which it would involve the Government

[merged small][ocr errors]

power was doubted, in passing the distribution bill, this Post Office bill was still more objectionable. He relied upon the sound integrity of the Chief Magistrate in reconsidering his former views, when he found the people desired this distribution of the surplus. If, then, they had money enough, and none of these projects were received with the same favor as this, the question was, whether it would not be sound policy to adopt it. It was said that its passage would have the effect to destroy a spirit of manliness, which was necessary to keep the federal Government in tone. When the people would understand that the money they received was not a gratuity or a bounty, but was taken from their own funds, and returned to them, they would not be decoyed into useless experiments. He would never think of distributing, except in cases of an extraordinary accumulation like the present. The State Governments understood quite as well how to manage their affairs as the United States did to manage its affairs, and would make a judicious disposition of the quota they would respectively receive. Another difficulty was suggested. There was a number of new States, and some going to be admitted; and if they went into the system of dividing the revenue from the public lands, the old States would hold on to the high prices, and never consent to the reduction of them. It was right for gentlemen from the new States, who really thought so, to oppose this bill. But he did not believe the objection well founded. They must always suppose an integrity and magnanimity of character in the thirteen old States, upon which they could rely for justice. He had been raised in a new State himself, and he was ready to say that the moment he voted for the distribution, he should be as ready to vote for a reduction, so as to enable the inhabitants of the new States to purchase land for a home for themselves and families. He had voted against the amendment offered by the Senator from Mississippi, [Mr. WALKER, because he did not think it could answer the purpose intended, but declared himself friendly to a gradual reduction that would benefit the settlers, let the fate of this bill be what it might, and would vote for a graduation principle, such as would protect the honest settler: . If any thing should put him out of humor on that subject, it would be because his own State had not received any thing from the general Government. He spoke of the facilities loans from banks afforded to combinations for the purposes of speculation, and of the inability of those not concerned in them to compete with them in the purchase of public lands. Those speculators lived upon their wits instead of their labor. He closed by portraying the general benefits that would result from the passage of the bill, which would check this system of speculation, and bring back a return of a wholesome and sound currency; it would be the means of sustaining these banks; it would be invested in internal improvements and general education, and none of the other projects ought to come into collision with it, as there was money enough for them all. It was returning to the States what was their own money, and he would never consent that they should be treated as infants, incapable of acting for themselves. Mr. WALKER submitted the following amendment: which was to strike out the distribution according to the last census, and insert a distribution according to the compound representation of the respective States in the Senate and House of Representatives. Mr. W. said that if this distribution bill should be forced upon us, whether he should vote for, or against it, he wished to see it made as perfect as posible. That his amendment was in accordance with that feature of the constitution which regarded the States as coequal soyereignties, which provided for their equal represent

« AnteriorContinuar »