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ation in the Senate, and which gives each of them two electoral votes in addition to their number of representatives in the other House of Congress. That if the distribution principle was to be adopted, he could not think it proper, under existing circumstances, to look upon the States as counties, and wholly disregard their rights as equal members of this great confederacy. That the principle proposed by him, whilst it did not divide the moneys equally among the States, yet was a nearer approach to equality than the proposition embraced in the bill as it now stands. Mr. W. then proceeded to show what States would be the gainers by this amendment, specisying the exact amount for each State. He said the proportion of Mississippi would be nearly doubled, and that of little Delaware, nearly tripled. Mr. CLAYTON returned his thanks to the gentleman from Mississippi for his kind intentions towards little Delaware, though she would be very glad to get the proportion allotted to her in the shape it came from the committee. Should any member in favor of little Delaware come before them on a future occasion, he would be happy to receive the gentleman's support; but, for the present, he must beg to decline his proffered kindness. The bill gave to Delaware her proportion; not according to the ratio of her representation in the other House; not according to the number of her Senators and Representatives in both Houses; but apportioned her share of the distribution on the basis of her federal population, which was the only true and just principle of distribution. With this Delaware would be satisfied. Mr. CLAY opposed the amendment, as not in accordance with the provisions of the deed of cession from the State of Virginia, declaring that the lands given by her should be held for the common benefit of all the States then in the Union, and those that might thereafter come into it; and that the distribution should be made in proportion to the burdens borne, respectively, by the several States, of the general expenses of the Government. The amendment, therefore, of the Senator from Mississippi would be unconstitutional; the only true principle of distribution, complying with the terms of the deed of cession, was on the basis of federal population. Mr. WALKER replied, disclaiming any disrespectful reference to Delaware, and eulogizing her valor and patriotism at the period of the Revolution. He said that if the distribution proposed by him violated the terms of cession, so did this bill; for it proposed to give a certain additional per centage of the proceeds of these lands to some States, and not to others. Mr. W. denied that his proposition violated the terms of the compact. These terms (admitting even that they remained in force after the adoption of the constitution) did not grant these lands as a common fund to the several States in proportion to their population, but upon a different ratio, namely, in proportion to “their usual respective proportions in the general charge and expenditure.” Now, (said Mr. W.,) the “usual general charge” in carrying on this Government, is not in proportion to population. The exporting States, of which Mississippi is one of the largest, bear a proportion in sustaining this Government, both in war and in peace, far beyond their population. In war they bear nearly the whole pecuniary burden; for their great staple falls to a mere nominal price, whilst home manufactures rise in value; and in peace, the tariff, from which we derive our revenue, whilst it is thought to aid the manufactures of the North, depresses the value of the Southern staples. In any point of view, the charges upon the people of the Union are not in proportion to population. It is true, direct taxes are in proportion to the federal population, and we are told taxation and representation go together; but taxation and representation do not go together, in their sull
extent, under our form of Government; otherwise, the large and the small States would not be equally represented in the Senate. If representation is to be the criterion, that criterion, under our constitution, should be the representation in both Houses of Congress, as he (Mr. W.) proposed. If taxation was to be the criterion, direct taxation would furnish no practical rule on the subject. Direct taxation was one only of the modes of supporting this Government—a most unusual one—and Mr. W. thought it probable would never be resorted to again. The “usual general charge” upon the States is the tariff; and this does not operate in proportion to population. Whilst, Mr. W. said, he was no believer in “the forty bale theory,” yet he proceeded to prove that, under the tariff system, the exporting States bear more than their proportion of the charges of conducting the Government; it affects them both as consumers and exporters, whilst those States that export nothing are affected as consumers only. Mr. W. then pointed to that clause of the bill which proposed to distribute the proceeds of the sales of the lands in 1840 and 1841, according to the last census, whereas they should, according to the theory of the bill, be distributed according to the next census, which will greatly increase the share of Mississippi, and ought to be done if the present ratio was retained. Mr. NILES made some remarks in favor of the amendment. He said these lands were ceded as a common fund, to pay the debts of the confederation and carry on the war; and if they were considered a fund belonging to the States, there was much reason to believe they belonged to them as sovereignties; but if they were the exclusive property of the Union, then there was an arbitrary power in the Government over their distribution. He regarded the whole scheme as an indirect system of internal improvement, and in carrying it out a regard ought to be had to the distribution among the States according to their respective wants and necessities; they ought to give the most to those that needed it most. Some States had just commenced their internal improvements, and would need more than others. The State of New York had finished hers, and would not need any assistance. If there was any principle in this bill, it was in favor of this amendment. The States had formerly stood upon equal footing, and little Delaware then stood up as an equal with Virginia. He belonged to one of the small States, and was opposed to the whole scheme; but if they were to be bought up, he wanted as high a price as he could get. Mr. CLAYTON referred to the deed of cession from the State of Virginia, to show that the principle contained in the amendment was unconstitutional. The deed of cession required that the distribution of the fund arising from these lands should be made according to the respective proportion contributed by them of the general charges and expenditures of the Government. Now, could the gentleman from Mississippi tell him that Mississippi and Delaware paid a proportion of the ex: penses of the Government equal to the proportion of their Senators and Representatives in Congress? and if not, how the distribution proposed by his amendment (taking the additional amount given to these two States from the other states) would be just? Now, the apportionment on the basis of federal population was the only just one, because it was on that basis that the direct taxes were apportioned. Mr. C., after taking a view of the two messages of the President recommending a dis: tribution of the surplus revenue on the basis of federal population, and reading copious extracts from it, said that the distribution on that basis, as recommended by the President, was the only just one, and that he heartily agreed in opinion with him. By apportioning the distributon according to the representation in the other House,
April 26, 1836.)
Delaware would be treated with great injustice, because she had but one Representative, and wanted but a fraction of population, according to the apportionment of Representatives, to entitle her to two; while a distribution, according to the number both of Senators and Representatives, would give Delaware three shares, though she was entitled to but two, or nearly two, and would be unjust to the large States. Mr. WALKER said he had not said the additional per centage was unequal; he had only said it was not, according to the proposed ratio of federal population, and, therefore, if this ratio could be departed from in the one case, it could in the other, as proposed by him, (Mr. W.) That the distinguished Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Clay j must be hard pressed for argument when he rallied the friends of the bill against a just amendment, by s lying it had emanated from him, (Mr. W.,) an enemy of the bill. Mr. W. said it was true he had feared the policy of the bill was to defeat pre-emption laws, to keep up the price of the public lands, to keep up the tarif on the lands of the West, whilst it was reduced in all other cases; and that he had deeply lamented the failure for the present of this amendment reducing the price for four forty-acre lots in favor of actual settlers only, which would have greatly benefited the poor man and the actual cultivator of the soil. But, he had not told the Senate how he should now vote. Since this bill was introduced, the old States had, he feared, become more and more rigid in regard to the settlers in the new States—that they were now opposing pre-emptions as well as a reduction of the price. That as regards the settlers, the speeches of gentlemen in their favor were very good things; but when gentlemen spoke one way for the settlers, and voted another way against them, their speeches amounted to less than nothing. That no provision, as regards any ratio of distribution was designated by the constitution; and that to disregard the representation of the States in the Senate altogether, was to make an approach towards breaking down the State sovereignties and consolidating the Government. Mr. W. said there were pecular reasons why the principle of distribution which he proposed now might be very just at this period, and yet not constitute a standing precedent. All the new States (but one) are small States, whose fund would be increased by the principle he proposed to adopt; and that this would be only returning to the people of the new States, who paid into your Treasury nearly all this fund, a large ratable proportion of the moneys paid by themselves. Mr. W. said if he had proposed to divide this fund equally among all the States, without regard to population, there might be some ground to complain; but when his proposed distribution adopted the compound ratio of representation in both Houses, fixed by the constitution, it would come much nearer to a just basis, under existing circumstances, than the last or the next census. Mr. CLAY said that the gentleman from Mississippi, it was true, offered strong inducements to Delaware to obtain the support of her Senators to his amendment, and, these failing, he had offered another, by way of compliment to her Senator, and that had also failed—the Senator from Delaware's sense of justice outweighing all other considerations. The gentleman referred to the inequality in the bill which gave the 12 per cent. to the new States. Now, if the Senator's sense of justice to. wards the old States was so strong as to induce him to move to strike out this provision, and he could get the gentleman from the other new States to agree with him, he (Mr. C.) did not know that he would persist in a desire to retain it. Mr. C. then went on to show that the distribution according to the basis of federal population was the only just one, and urged the Senate not to adopt the amendment, as going to defeat the bill.
Mr. PORTER observed, in reply to Mr. Walkeit, that as the Senator from Mississippi had not given any pledge to vote either for or against the bill, he was still open to conviction, and he hoped he might be induced to go for it. Now, he had made up his mind to vote for the bill, and, being friendly to it, he dreaded the effect the amendment would have in the other House. In the Senate the small States were strong, but in the other House the tables would be turned; there will (said Mr. P.) be forty to one against us. He therefore could not vote for the amendment, as he believed it would defeat the bill. Mr. BLACK observed that he had carefully examined the deed of cession from the State of Virginia, and was satisfied, after full reflection, that the amendment of his colleague conflicted with its provisions. He was therefore compelled to vote against it. The question was here taken on Mr. WALKER's amendment, and it was rejected: Yeas 6, nays 37, as follows: YEAs—Messrs. Benton, Ewing of Illinois, Linn, Niles, Robinson, Walker—6. NAys—Messrs. Black, Brown, Buchanan, Clay, Clayton, Crittenden, Cuthbert, Davis, Goldsborough, Grundy, Hendricks, Hill, Hubbard, Kent, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Knight, Leigh, McKean, Mangum, Moore, Morris, Naudain, Nicholas, Porter, Prentiss, Preston, Rives, Robbins, Shepley, Southard, Swift, Tallmadge, Tomlinson, Webster, White, Wright--37. The Senate then adjourned.
Tuesday, Apnil 26. TEXAS.
Mr. MoRRIS presented the proceedings of a large and respectable meeting of the citizens of Cincinnati, on the subject of the struggle for freedom now going on in Texas, and suggesting the expediency of acknowledging the independence of that country. Mr. M. asked that the proceedings might be read, and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
Mr. KING, of Alabama, suggested to the Senator from Ohio, whether it was not going too far, in the present aspect of the affairs of Texas, to refer these proceedings to a committee. However strong, he said, our feelings might be in favor of these unfortunate men who were struggling for the preservation of their dearest rights, as well as for their very existence, and however deep our abhorrence and detestation of the cruel and tyrannical conduct of their invaders, yet he thought that the acknowledgment of their independence at this time, or the adoption of any measure looking to it, seemed to be premature. He admitted there was a strong feeling on this subject pervading every portion of this country, and it was natural that it should. The people of this country could not but deeply sympathize with those who were contending for the dearest rights of man, and must necessarily feel a powerful, sense of indignation at the blood-stained atrocities which had marked the desolating progress of their cruel oppressors. This was all very natural; but for the Senate to interfere in the present state of affairs, he thought was premature; and he suggested to the gentleman from Ohio, whether the best course would not be to lay the proceedings on the table.
Mr. "WALKER said that he hoped the motion to lay these proceedings upon the table would not prevail; that such a course would not be expressive of the sense of the people of the United States; that the sympathies of the American people were deeply excited in regard to the situation of Texas; that there were thousands of American citizens invited by Mexico to participate in the blessings of a federal Government and of free insti
Duties on Imports—Land Bill.
[Armil 26, 1836.
tutions--invited to settle the wilderness and defend the Mexicans against the then frequent incursions of a savage foe, and now attempted to be trodden down beneath the feet of the most sanguinary despot and usurper that had ever disgraced the annals of the world; that, in point of fact, Santa Anna and his priests and mercenaries were the rebels, and not the people of Texas; that it was Santa Anna and his party who had prostrated the federal Government of Mexico, and were now attempting to establish upon its ruins a central military despotism; that the people of Texas had fought for the federal constitution of 1824, and adhered to it until all hope of its preservation had been extinguished; and that then, and then only, when the only alternative presented was to receive the chains of a usurper, or resist unto death, they had nobly unfurled the flag of independence, resolved to maintain their liberties or perish in the conflict. Nobly, gloriously, had they maintained the uncqual contest; they would perform deeds of valor that would challenge a comparison with any thing in Greek or Roman history. Such men could not be vanquished. No! the sun was not more certain to set in the western horizon, than that Texas would maintain her independence, and that we would acknowledge it. The death of the murdered heroes at the Alamo, of prisoners of war massacred in cold blood by the orders of a ruthless tyrant, would call down upon him the vengeance of earth and Heaven. It had excited a thrill of horror throughout this Union, and was now bringing the evidences of public feeling before this body. Let us now, then, give to these proceedings in favor of Texas that respectful reference to which they are so justly entitled, and which, whilst it does not now violate the neutrality of this Government, will cheer onward, in the hour of gloom and danger, a people who are imitating the example of the patriots of our own Revolution, and whose destiny will be the same. Mr. MORRIS was well assured that this was a question of great delicacy, and that they should proceed with much caution. He agreed with his friend from Mississippi that the public mind was much excited on the subject, and that the sympathies of our people were deeply roused in favor of the suffering Texians. As a citizen, individually, he accorded fully with the feelings expressed in the proceedings of this meeting, but as an American Senator he felt that he ought to act with some caution. He believed that the people of Cincinnati spoke the united voice of the whole State, and that their meeting would be followed by other meetings, not only in Ohio, but in every part of the Union. He was willing to lay the proceedings on the table for the present, as suggested by the Senator from Alabama, and the more so, as he had been informed that similar memorials would be presented from other parts of the United States, when the Senate, having the sentiments of the country more generally expressed, might think proper to call up the proceedings, and act on them. The proceedings were then laid on the table.
DUTIES ON IMPORTS.
Mr. DAVIS, pursuant to leave, introduced a bill to amend the act entitled “An act to amend the several acts imposing duties on imports;” which was read a first time.
Mr. D. moved the second reading of the bill, and said it required a word of explanation. It would be remembered by all that the tariff of imports underwent an entire revision in 1832. It would be seen that, in passing such a law, it was not convenient to enumerate all articles of merchandise, as it would render an act too voluminous. , Articles of merchandise were, therefore, as far as they conveniently could be, classed. In doing this, it brought goods of like character, and subject to
like duties, together; but some kinds of merchandise were mixed in their character, being made of different materials, as of cotton and wool, silk and wool, or cotton and silk, and thus it became difficult sometimes to assign such articles to their proper class. It had so proved in regard to lead, which, in its unmanufactured state, was subject to a heavy duty of three cents a pound, while in some of its manufactured states it was only liable to fifteen per cent. It was, therefore, immediately introduced in the form of busts, and then applied to any purposes for which lead was needed, being substantially, for all purposes, considered as unmanufactured. Yet the courts held that it was manufactured lead in this form of busts, and subject to a duty only of fisteen per cent. It became necessary to pass an explanatory act, to carry into effect the real purpose of the law, by giving suitable protection to the producers of lead, and busts are now on the footing of unmanufactured lead. The bill now introduced is to meet a like unexpected construction of the law. The second section of the law, after providing specific duties for carpets, baizes, &c., says, “and upon merino shawls made of wool, all other manufactures of wool, or of which wool is a component part, and on ready-made clothing, fifty per cent.” Worsted goods were imported into New York, and not being otherwise provided for in the act, the collector decided that they were manufactures of wool, and fell under the above provisions. The importer thought otherwise. He admitted that worsted is made of wool, but denied that a cloth made of worsted was a manufacture of wool. He paid the duty, reserving to himself the right to sue for the excess, and recover it back. The suit was instituted, and has lately been decided in the Supreme Court of the United States; and although we all here, when the law was made, believed what was made of wool was a manufacture of wool, yet the court decided that worsted cloth was not a manufacture of wool, and therefore that worsted shawls were not embraced in the provision reserred to. Having thus decided, it became necessary to determine what duty such goods must pay. No specific provision for them could be found, and the question was admitted to be full of difficulty; they were, however, assigned a place among certain silk goods. The object of this bill is only to restore the legitimate purpose and meaning of the act of 1832; otherwise injustice will doubtless be done to both wool grower and manufacturer, as goods will be contrived for various purposes, and be extensively introduced under this construction of the law. Having thus explained his object, he would move that the bill be reserred to the Committee on Manufactures, and hoped for their speedy action upon it. The bill was then read a second time, and referred to the Committee on Manufactures.
LAND BI LL.
The Senate proceeded to consider the bill to appropriate, for a limited term, the proceeds of the public lands, &c.
Mr. CLAY rose to address the Senate in support of the bill. He observed that more had been already urged, with great ability, in its support, by those who had preceded him in debate, than was necessary to convince even the most skeptical of the great benefits to be derived from it; and had he consulted the feelings both of that body and of himself, he should have remained silent, acquiescing in what had been said in behalf of this measure. But regarding it as one of great and unmixed public good, conducive in all its results to the benefit of this whole country, he could not reconcile it to a sense of duty to leave the burden of the argument on his friends, able as they had slown themselves to be. APRIL 26, 1836.]
It was possible that he might, on this occasion, present some views to the Senate that were new, or that he might have the power to exhibit those already offered in a new light, so as to induce a more favorable opinion for what had not been sufficiently considered. It was for this purpose, therefore, that he ventured to intrude upon the time of the Senate. His friend from New Jersey who sat in front of him [Mr. South ARD] had been reproached by the Senator from New York [Mr. WRight] with having endeavored to create alarm in the public mind, and to destroy its confidence in the circulation of the country, at a moment when it was essential that the public property should be rendered secure. The man who endeavored to disturb a just confidence deserved the highest degree of reprobation; but his fault was not greater than that committed by him who endeavored to inspire a confidence where confidence was not due. He put it to gentlemen, whether the sentinel at his post was most culpable who concealed the approach of danger, or the one who announced it when it was not near. He would not charge the Senator from New York with treachery when he endeavored to impress on the public mind the belief that all was safe and prosperous, as that Senator had endeavored to do. Still, the public treasure was not in such a condition as warranted the Senator in making such representations; and if he could, he would inspire him with one deep and constant apprehension of its security. His friend had also been reproached, and with little justice, he thought, with having indulged in party acrimony. This reproach was altogether unmerited. His friend had drawn a picture, a just picture, of the state of the Treasury, and referred to the powers assumed over it by the Executive. He did not say that the powers assumed had been abused by the President or by those about him--he trusted that it would not be abused; but he thought that all would agree with him that the powers assumed were utterly at variance with the liberties of a free country where a constitution and laws prevailed. What was the state of the Treasury? According to the returns of the Secretary of the Treasury, last brought in, there were upwards of forty millions of public money in about thirty-four banks created by State authority, composed of money which still belonged to the public, part of it being at the credit of its disbursing officers, which, with the seven millions of United States Bank stock, made a total sum of about forty millions. The banks in which these deposites had been made had an amount of specie of about eleven millions of dollars, and their total immediate liabilities amounted to about the sum of ninety-three millions, their immediate means amounting to only thirty-eight millions. This great sum was held by banks not under the control of law. He regretted that he had not time to examine the report of the Secretary of the Treasury that came in that morning, but he perceived that he commenced in a defence and in excuses which ought not to be necessary on such an occasion. This great sum might be with: drawn in a moment, at the fiat of the Secretary, and might be placed all in one bank, or deposited in a place which was not a bank; and, without inquiry whether this power might be abused or not, he asked if it was not a power too dangerous to be confided to any one man? This was the state of things referred to by the
Senator from New Jersey, and which induced the Senator from New York to reproach him with having indulged in party feeling. This power was too great to be trusted to any one human being. In any one of the three hundred and sixty-five days of the year, it was in the power of the Secretary of the Treasury to destroy any one of these banks, and thus lead to the explosion of the paper system, in which the property and credit of such vast numbers were involved. Now, if they look
ed to the means of these banks, and compared them with their immediate liabilities, they would find that there was very little to encourage the idea of the Senator from New York that all was safe and prosperous. They had collected from the people of the United States about forty millions of dollars, and placed it in these thirty-four deposite banks, which gave them no interest and no security for the return of the capital. They could give in fact no security, for if the Secretary of the Treasury were to take bonds from them, he would do so without the authority of law, and the bonds would be therefore void. This money, thus deposited in these banks, was loaned out, a considerable portion of it, to the people of the United States; and the means of returning this sum collected from the whole people consisted of the notes of those to whom it had been loaned, and who these were was not even known to the Secretary of the Treasury himself. Thus this vast sum was loaned out by banks, acting without authority, to persons unknown to the Secretary; and in the case of an explosion, the loss to the Treasury would be in proportion to the extent of that explosion. This had actually occurred, or something like it, after the close of the last war, and caused the unavailable funds which were now in the Treasury. . But if such a pressure were to occur as took place about the year 1819–want of confidence, or a large export of specie for the wants of commerce, or a failure of the crops, or a great reduction of prices of the great southern staple—-if the banks became affected by any one of these causes, the loss to the Treasury would be far greater than was to the public in 1819. Look now to the state of the currency; confidence in it was already diminishing, and exchanges were greatly deranged, while bank issues had enormously increased. All this had arisen from the unfortunate controversy with the Bank of the United States. The number of State banks in 1830 was something like three hundred; and up to January, 1835, they amounted to nearly seven hundred and fify, while the circulation was nearly double what it was in 1830. He had no doubt, if they could get accurate accounts, that the present circulation would be found to be upwards of a hundred millions, and the number of banks eight hundred, all of them without law and without responsibility to the United States. Was this a state of things in which the Senator from New York could place himself on the watch-tower and cry that all was safe? When the currency was wrested from the power of Congress, where was it transferred? It was not even in the possession of the States; it was in the possession of these thirty-four banks; and the Secretary of the Treasury, whose interest it was that it should be secure, did not know to whom they had loaned it. The attention of the Senate had been called by the Senator from Ohio to a single bank, which had attempted to regulate the currency to a certain extent, by prohibiting the land office from taking the notes of other banks designated by it. And let us see what the Secretary of the Treasury has done while Congress is legislating on the subject of the currency. In his letter of the 22d February, he requests these banks (he puts his commands in the form of a request) that, after the 1st of July next, they will not issue notes of a less denomination than five dollars; and, at a certain period thereafter, that they will discontinue the issue of notes of a less denomination than ten dollars. Now, he was not about to inquire into the expediency of discontinuing the circulation of bank notes under ten dollars, or into the expediency of making the currency consist of gold and silver only; this might be right. It was to the right to exercise this power, without the sanction of Congress, that he should call the attention of the Senate. Where did the Secretary derive this power, conferred on Congress alone by the constiSENATE.]
tution, and reserved by it from the Executive himself? The power of taxation was not much greater than the power of determining the thing on which taxes should be paid. Give him the latter power, the right of deter. mining the modes of taxation, and he could make it nearly equivalent to the power of taxation itself. Now, if the Secretary of the Treasury could declare what should be the currency of the country—if he could regulate these banks without the authority of Congress—this power was capable of being rendered equivalent to the tax-laying power. No man of ordinary prudence and forecast could contemplate the existing state of things without the most serious alarm. It was impossible that they should continue; that eight hundred banks should go on, from day to day, to issue so much paper, and that the twenty-four sovereignties should submit to it. It was utterly impos. sible but that an explosion must come; though when it would come, he could not pretend to say. They might differ there about the cause of it, but come it certainly would. There was a most unnatural state of things pré. sented—abundance on the one hand, and scarcity and pressure on the other. What was the cause of this pressure?. One cause was the vast portion of public' revenue locked up in the vaults of these banks, or loaned out by them to persons who might not be able to return it promptly; and, if they looked to the state of the public pressure, they would find something to support this opinion. Where was the greatest pressure at the pres. ent moment? It was at the points where the greatest amount of revenue had been collected and deposited that the severest pressure was felt; and of these points the city of New York, being the greatest both for collection and deposite, they had every reason to believe, from the accounts received, suffered the most from pe. cuniary pressure. , Let us look, said he, at other points —at cities where the collections were not so great, and where comparatively little was deposited. Take Louisville, for example, or any of the cities on the western waters. At Louisville, where capital always found a ready employment, there was no pressure, and the course of exchange demonstrated a state of prosperity and security. , Go to Cincinnati, or to any of the south. ern cities, and it would be found that the measure of pressure was equal to the measure of collection. There was another cause, and that was the want of confidence, which had caused a severe pressure in the money mar. ket. The fact of this pressure was undeniable; it was severe and alarming, and called loudly for the application of Congress of any constitutional means within its power to relieve this distress. How was the city of New York to be relieved from the abstraction of eleven millions of dollars’. She was to be relieved from the pressure only by the distribution of the money in the public Treasury, which would afford immediate relief; and immediate re. lief, would be afforded to the banks in that city, and in those other great commercial cities of Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Boston. And was it possible Congress could adjourn without distributing this vast treasure? Among the schemes devised to dispose of this fund, was one of making large appropriations for public defence; and the term public defence had been répeated in their ears until every body was sick of hearing it. In good old times the Commons of England or the Congress of the United States did not go to the Crown in the one case, or the Departments of State or the Executive in the other, to ask how much they could spend, but cut it down to reduce it to the proper sum consis. tent with economy. But now they goaded and harassed the disbursing departments to tell them how much, and what was the maximum amount they could spend. The Secretary of War, in a document highly creditable to
his sound judgment and discretion, had told them how much had been expended; and it was evident he was against this extravagant system, as he had cautiously avoided indicating any sum that could be expended, and supposed they were capable of judging for themselves. But this did not suit some gentlemen; and he was called on again, and it was referred to Colonel Gratiot; and, finally, it was referred to a lieutenant in the service, who had given it as his opinion that six millions could be expended. In other cases they had not only the authority of the Secretary, but the authority of the President. But now the Secretary refers it to the same branch of the Department, and Congress was asked to expend six millions on the opinion of a lieutenant. There could be no diversity of opinion on this subject. He asked gen: tlemen to look at the condition of the country now, and compare it with that period when we defended ourselves so successfully against a powerful nation. Our population has about doubled since then; we had twelve ships of the line finished or on the stocks, and an additional number of frigates, and our whole coast from the Balize to Norfolk was increased in all its fortifications. He adverted to the efficient defences of New York and of the whole north Atlantic coast, and asked the Senators to look at the Canada frontier, and compare our resources and strength there with what it was in 1814, and they would find it possessed a thousand times the strength it then did. We had paid off a debt of upwards of a hundred millions, and it was ideal to compare our strength then with what it was now. The introduction of steam power on the father of rivers, the Mississippi, and other navigable rivers, baffled all calculations in figures of our strength. This thing of making these extravagant calculations in regard to fortifications, &c., was nothing but an effort to get rid of the surplus. Appropriations and expenditures were not synonymous terms. Appropriating more than they could expend would only be turning another leaf in the leger, and charging it against, instead of leaving it where it stood, to the credit of the Treasury. The appropriation of last year could not be expended. They might appropriate it as they pleased, and they could not expend it; and to leave it where it was, it was in repositories that were insecure and unsafe; and the loss of interest while it remained in these banks alone would amount to upwards of two millions per annum; and, besides the loss of interest, they ran the risk of losing the capital itself. What, then, ought they to do with it? He answered, distribute it. These lands were acquired by cessions from States and by treaties from foreign Powers; and under either mode they came under the general powers of Congress. The lands acquired by cession were ceded in consequence of the revolutionary struggle to pay the debt of the Revolution, and to satisfy Maryland, New Jersey, and other States, for the extensive waste lands in thosc States. The President, in his message of 1832, had said the object for which they were ceded having been accomplished, they were then subject to the disposal of Congress, in such way as would best satisfy the several States. The deed of cession from Virginia was prior to the adoption of the present constitution, and Virginia having been a party to it, it followed that when the power was concurred in by the ceding States, it was intended to be at the disposal of the States. The power to dispose of the thing itself implied the power to dispose of the proceeds of it. In the view he had taken of it, under the treaty, the power to dispose of it was unlimited. If any Senator doubted the right of Congress to dispose of the proceeds of the lands in Florida and Louisiana, he might move to strike out those proceeds, and they would still have the means of carrying the bill into effect. He should be able to satisfy every Senator there could be no doubt of the power, if they limited it