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APRIL 29, 1836.]
bution, if it is necessary for them to do anything in conformity to the act of Congress to enable them to take and possess this surplus revenue, I hold that such act would be in contravention of the tenth section of the first article of the constitution of the United States, because it would be a treaty of confederation with another Government; and the States surely intended to divest themselves of this power by accepting the constitution of the United States, for its exercise had led, and would continue to lead, to inextricable difficulties and dangers to the equal rights of the States, as well as to their peace and union. To levy and collect taxes, duties, and imposts, is an attribute of the sovereign power of a country." Congress could not have exercised it but by express grant. The States, having granted it to Congress so far as the grant extends and is exclusive, cannot exercise the power themselves; but the divestment of power by the States would be an idle ceremony, if the same power can be exercised by Congress for the benefit of the States; and thus would there be two distinct and separate powers, each possessing the right of raising a revenue off the people for the same object and purposes—a condition to which, if rightly understood, I am sure the people would never submit; and thus the States, by the creation of this Government for special ends, would only keep the word of promise to the ear, but break it to the sense. This is the first attempt, since the formation of the constitution—the existence of this Government—to bestow money collected as revenue gratuitously upon the States. It is a new invention to rid ourselves of money which, through mistaken policy, has been improperly collected in the Treasury. And as error constantly begets error, multiplying in size as well as number as it progresses, the error of a protective tariff begot the greater error called the compromise bill, by which it is claimed that in the passage of that bill Congress made an agreement or bargain, by way of compromise amongst the members with each other, by which more money has been brought into the Treasury than is necessary for the legitimate expenses of the Government; and it is now insisted that the law passed in pursuance of this agreement ought not now to be interfered with; and to remedy the evil occasioned by this law—a surplus revenue in the Treasury—instead of repealing or amending the law, it is proposed to distribute it amongst the States, which would be a still more palpable and dangerous error. The very silence which has so long existed under this Government as to the power of Congress, as contemplated by the bill, is strong and almost conclusive proof, to my mind, that the power does not exist. I have looked in vain into the report of the committee for the provision of the constitution on which they intend to rest this bill. The report to me, however, on this point, is a sealed book. The honorable chairman can, no doubt, turn us at 9nce to that grant of power on which the committee relied for the passage of an act of Congress for the raisog more money than sufficient for all the purposes of this Government, and distributing the surplus to the several States. I hope, however, we shall not be told that it is to be found in that clause of the constitution which gives to Congress the power to provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States. This provision, which, upon every fair principle of construction, can only be viewed as a declaration of the manner in which the following granted specific powers shall be exercised, has been so often pressed into service for other purposes, that it can now be made to almost prove whatever may be desired. It is a kind of Swiss corps, to serve wherever the highest reward can be obtained. I cannot, however, admit its service in the distribution of a surplus revenue; and I can see no other
If, however, any one should believe that Congress possesses the power, in the imposition of taxes, duties, customs, and excise, or in any other manner, to collect more funds than will be necessary to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, for the purpose of distributing the surplus amongst the States in their separate and individual character, I would still insist that the exercise of such power would be highly impolitic, unjust, and dangerous to the safety and happiness of the country. It is with States as individuals; the possession of money, without the application of their own means for its attainment, almost universally produces a disposition to idleness and premature decay. No possible plan could, in my opinion, be better devised for the prostration of the State Governments, and the establishment of centralism and eventual consolidation, than this: what at first is granted as a gratuity, arising out of temporary causes, will soon be claimed as matter of right and justice, and insisted on until it shall obtain permanency of character, and be deemed essential to the existence of the State Governments; and thus the very existence of the States will depend on the bounty of Congress. I am well aware that direct payment of the salaries of State officers, by an act of Congress, would, at first, as has been observed, shock the moral sense of the community, and defeat the very object to be gained. We are about to give the money in a more coy and coquettish manner; we begin by saying it is the money of the people, and, having no use for it here, we will return it to those who paid it. We in the next breath acknowledge that this cannot in fact be done, and we conclude to give it in masses to the States, to be disposed of as they think expedient. This squeamishness will soon wear off, and we shall shortly find more open attempts made to debauch the States, and the States themselves will accept the price of their prostitution, as a business matter necessary to their existence. Having the large sums of money which this bill proposes to place at their disposal, the State Legislatures may quickly see a great propriety in an increase of salaries and wages of the State officers; and although there may be a little higgling about it at first, yet the propriety of an increased compensation to themselves will soon appear evident—this will be almost a matter of course; while to blind the eyes of the people, a reduction of taxes will take place. “Lead us not into temptation.” Although we may forget this excellent prayer here, I fervently hope that it may be remembered by the States. “The love of money is the root of all evil.” This principle and patriotism cannot dwell together; they will never be found in the same breast; they are antipodes to each other, and cannot be brought together; and money, like every other witching concern of life, the possession of it creates the desire for more. Legislative bodies are men, and subject to all the frailties of men in other situations; and if an ass laden with gold could open the gates of a city which the conqueror of Greece could not force, what may we not expect that money can and will do in these degenerate times, when gain is evidently the ruling passion of the land?
Suppose, sir, that the bank, called the Bank of the United States, should offer to distribute to the several States some millions of its ill-gotten wealth, on the ground that the people of the States were entitled to it, because the bank had collected a surplus in the mode that institution has adopted in raising a revenue: should it go one step further—offer to become a subscriber to every corporation in the States, and, under the doctrine of vested rights, thus acquire not only a foothold, but a freehold in each State; no State ought for a moment to hesitate in rejecting this harlotory embrace, this unnatural, connexion, the issue of which would be a monster, abhor
provision of the constitution the advocates of this bill can rely on for support.
red and hated by all just and good men; and although
[AParl 29, 1836.
it might for a time acquire a rickety growth, yet its deformity could never be hidden. And the moment that patriotism, virtue, and love of country should gain the ascendency, its power and influence would be in a moment driven from the land. One State, it is feared, has already fallen; and that State, too, which has heretofore been considered the pride, strength, and glory of our Union. Its democratic citizens, it is yet hoped, will redeem themselves from this thraldom, and will shiver into a thousand atoms the fetters with which it is attempted to bind them; that they will grind the golden calf to powder, strew it upon water, and compel its votaries to drink thereof. If the potency of money in the hands of a bank is of such dangerous tendency, when improperly used, what may we expect and look for from the same cause, when the United States is the agent to carry on the operations? As you lessen the necessity for the States relying on their own means and exertions for their support, you destroy their ability to do so; their increasing weakness becomes the strength of this Government, and thus enables it to supply additional means to make the States still more weak. The very money you bestow, although it may make the State rich in a pecuniary point of view, yet those very riches will be the bane of equality and freedom. Suppose the money you bestow should be sufficient to enable the State to become the owner of every canal and leading road in its jurisdiction, and to hold the same as Government property; the first result would be a host of officers to “eat out the substance of the people, and destroy their living;” the next to bring into existence a class of men who would of course become the tenants, laborers, and dependants of the Government, instead of being free citizens of the State. When Government is a large property holder, the inevitable consequence must and will be distinctions in society. The wealth of the country will be found in the lesser number, and power will be more secure in the hands of those who are intrusted with the management of public affairs, until the very condition of landlord and tenant will be found to exist between the officers of Government and laborers for the State. It is, in my opinion, a perfect absurdity to suppose that the principles of democracy and equal rights can long exist in a State that is herself a large property holder. It has been said that money is power, and that “power is always stealing from the many to the few.” And if what money we have collected into the Treasury of the United States be the leaven by which the officers of this Government are to be corrupted, I very much fear that its power will be far more deleterious, and operate far more extensively, when divided and sent into the State treasuries. If the State Governments can be preserved pure and uncontaminated, this Government, which cannot exist but by action of the States in their sovereign capacity, cannot well become corrupt, or long remain so. It will be brought back by the influence of the States to correct principles. The power of the States in prescribing the manner of electing the President, and in their direct power in electing Senators in this body, will be sufficient to do this, although instructions from the constituent body to the representative here may be disregarded. But if the State Governments once become corrupt, there is no possible means by which this Government can be kept pure: the fountain being poisoned, the stream must become of the most noxious character. I hope, then, that the wealth of this Government, whether acquired by force from other countries, or by fraud upon our own—a fraud in taxing them more than sufficient to answer all the demands of the United States—will never be sent into the States: at least, I hope the State in which I reside will not receive it; for the very scheme is scattering broadcast through
the land the seeds of that corrupting influence which must end in the subserviency of the States, and the consolidation of all power in the hands of those who have the means and the will to collect money without limitation, and distribute it to whom and when they please; for when this bill passes, the last nail will have been driven into the coffin of State sovereignty. It seems to me there cannot exist a doubt but that the distribution of any part of the public revenue amongst the States, will be the means of changing the relations now existing between the General Government and them. That the change of that relation will be the destruction of one Government or the other, I have no doubt. I am myself of opinion that the State Governments will be the victims; but it is possible, in the nature of things, that the reverse may be the case. That money which is collected by this Government by indirect taxation, when sent into the States, may influence the people to view this Government as a fit instrument for the collection of money that may be used for the promotion of individual interest or the advancement of State power, and be used to operate on elections, so as constantly to send to congress men who will be under an obligation not to repeal the system, but to extend and increase it. In such case, the necessary appropriations for the army, navy, or even the civil list, may be so neglected or reduced, as to impede and weaken all the operations of this Government. Large and powerful States that will, under this system of distribution, receive the greatest sums, may find it to their interest to continue the same, and push it to the utmost extent; and by this means may, in time, be able to overawe the power of the confederacy, and set it at defiance, and thus become the sole arbiters of the fate of this country. Many gentlemen, for whose judgment I have the highest respect, entertain this opinion and these views. I confess I am alarmed at the pertinacity with which this bill is pressed forward. That more is expected by its friends than at first view meets the eye, I have no doubt; and that it may change the policy and power of the country is the real motive that impels it. In whatever light I have been able to look at this measure, to my mind it appears fraught with fearful events. I have heard it often said there is a large amount of money in the Treasury over and above what is necessary to supply all the wants of the United States, and that it is impolitic to permit it to remain there, because it may be used to increase the influence of the executive power. I cannot admit either the fact or reasoning to the extent urged; but my first answer is, that it ought not to have been brought into the Treasury. The tariff, upon the payment of the national debt, should have been reduced to the wants of the Government, and should be now so reduced. I hold that I am not bound by an agreement entered into by members of a prior Congress, in order to obtain the passage of any law. It is not only the right but the duty of the present, as well as any subsequent Congress, to repeal or amend such law, if in their opinion the public good requires it. There is another view which attends the accumulation of a surplus revenue in the Treasury, which, to my mind, is of considerable importance, and which surplus, I be: lieve, will not be reduced but increased by the passage of the present bill. The sale of the public lands for the last year has been large beyond all calculation: millions of money have come into the public Treasury from that source only. These purchases have, in a great degree, been made for speculation alone. The facility of obtaining money has been the cause of engaging many in this business, and that facility has, no doubt, been increased by the deposite banks discounting on the public money in their vaults; and while this is the case, speculation in public lands will continue, and large purchases be made at the present Government price; and that price the bill contemplates in all future purchases. The money thus laid out will return immediately into the deposite banks, on which new discounts will be made and new purchases followed; and thus this bill will enable speculation to make the very meat it feeds on, until the whole public domain will be found in the hands of the rich and wealthy, to the great detriment of the States and the oppression of the laboring classes and men of small capital. The system, then, which continues the present price of the public lands, although you may distribute the public revenue, will constantly furnish a new supply; and the temporary evil now complained of will grow into a permanent and incurable one. The public lands are the property, not the revenue, of the United States; but when converted into money, that money is revenue. While they remain as property, Congress has full power to cede, grant, or dispose of them in any manner, or for any cause or purpose that may be thought proper; but the moment you sell and convert them into money, that money is a part of the Treasury of the United States; and Congress cannot, in the proper exercise of its constitutional powers, give it away--cannot barter or sell it—cannot, in fact, apply it to any use or object but those which are clearly within the power of Congress, by the grants of the constitution. I am fully aware that here is the real difficulty, the disputed question—what are the objects which are within the power of Congress, and upon which they can constitutionally expend the money of the nation? We, no doubt, each of us, have a rule by which to test this question of power. . I have long since formed one for myself, and every day’s experience confirms me in its correctness. It is, that Congress have no power over any subject whatever, where the States possess power over the same subject; or, in other words, where the States have power over a subject, Congress possess none, except it be given by the express words of the constitution, and even then it cannot be exercised to the injury or detriment of the State power; and, in all such instances, the power of Congress is subordinate to that of the States. The only instance in which power is thus disposed, that I can now call to mind, is that of levying and collecting direct taxes—that, mode of taxation which is consid. ered as different from that of duties, imposts, customs, and excise; and where full power is given to Congress, the States have none over the same subject. The States cannot levy war, regulate commerce, coin money, or regulate its value, establish post offices and post roads, or provide or maintain a navy; and for the very plain reason that Congress have full power over these objects. On the contrary, Congress have no power, nor can they rightfully, within the States, make roads or canals, or internal improvements of any character, establish any system of education, raise money for any State purpose, or in any manner, or by any means, provide for the current expenses of the State; and for a like plain reason, the States have power to do all these acts. Our Government is so admirably formed that our citizens do not owe a divided duty; what the States have reserved, and can require of them, this Government has not the right to do; and what this Government has the right to require, the States have entirely divested themselves of the power of doing; and we should be the most happy and prosperous people on earth if the different Gówernments, under which we live, would each confine it. self to its appropriate sphere as designated and marked out by its framers. There would be no clashing of powers, nor doubt in the discharge of duties we owe. Our first duty is to the State, and, when that ceases, our duty to this Government begins. The distribution of money, collected by the order of this Government
Aparl 29, 1836.] Land Bill. [SENATE.
amongst the States, is not only an arbitrary and unwarrantable stretch of power, but is one of those wild speculative schemes into which the visionary and disappointed are sometimes apt to fall. This propensity to extravagant speculation, into which our people are at this time rushing, as well in political as moneyed matters, ought, as far as possible, to be checked by the influence and operation of this Government. It is a moral cancer, to which, if the cautery or the knife be not speedily ap. plied, will consume every principle of patriotism and political honesty in the country. The disease is deeply seated, and its progress is, indeed, obvious to us all. I have no hope or expectation that mild and gentle means will effect a cure. Strong and energetic measures must be adopted; and we ought to begin here at home. Many of the streams that are pouring money into the public Treasury, and swelling the amount beyond the necessary wants of the Government, ought to be instantly dried up; this all will admit, but the mode of effecting that desirable end creates the difficulty. It is our duty to apply such remedy as we think will come at the evil; I will suggest one. It may be deemed a weak and incompetent one, but it is one which has presented itself to my mind, and which my judgment approves. The State which I have the honorin part to represent, ought, in this important matter, to know my whole opinion, that, if in error, it may be corrected. I would begin with the public land, by a reduction of the price to at least one dollar per acre, and confine the sale to actual settlers in limited quantities, and would not make a complete title until after three years continupus occupancy, and a conditional forfeiture of the purchase money in default of so doing. The public lands Qught to be looked to as a source of wealth belonging to future generations, not on account of the money they will bring, but for the population they will sustain. A steady, industrious, contented, and fixed population, are the riches of a country. A provision of the above kind would, in my opinion, produce that effect; a residence of three years would produce the blessings and attachments of home, while the sale of the freehold, even at an advanced price, would seldom be an inducement to part with it, because a larger quantity of land in most cases could not be purchased elsewhere; and thus contentment would ensue, while the products of the farm would enable the younger branches of the family to provide themselves a home upon the same terms. The next beneficial result would be, to check at once the fearful speculation in public lands that is now in progress, and that ruinous system of borrowing that is resorted to for that purpose; and those now engaged in that business would then turn their attention and means to some other pursuit that would advance the growth, prosperity, and permanent wealth of the country. And last, though not least, it would dry up one of those sluices through which money that is not needed is constantly pouring into the Treasury; and it would preserve for our children and our children's children, even to remote generations, an opportunity of acquiring a freehold on the same terms as was afforded to their fathers. But if we sell this valuable estate now as fast as possible, for the highest price that can be obtained, and make that and not the settlement of the country our object, and then distribute the proceeds amongst the several States, for the purpose of having it expended, spent, or squandered, we act the part of an improvident spendthrift, who, having acquired by descent a large landed estate, converts it into money as fast as possible, for the purpose of gratifying his vanity, or acquiring power and influence by corruption and fraud. - in the next place, I would repeal the entire duties on all articles that are used in any manner or form in the diet of the country; and to show its effects upon that SENATE.]
part of the country in which I reside, I would instance the duty on sugar alone, which we now pay either into the Treasury or as a bounty to the manufacturer: take the duty off that article, and the price would be reduced at least two cents on the pound. The bill contemplates giving to the State of Ohio about one and a half million of dollars as her proportion of the spoils for three years; and the profession of the friends of the bill are, that they wish to give this money back to those who paid it; and as they cannot do that, they will approximate as nigh as possible by giving it to the States. Every family in the United States I presume uses sugar, and for the argument I will allow one hundred pounds per annum to each family of five persons. In Ohio we have probably 300,000 families, who pay a tax on sugar of $600,000 yearly. In three years we pay $1,800,000 tax on sugar alone; repeal this tax, and you in effect give to each family two dollars per annum—a sum larger than will be distributed to them by this bill, could its friends make its operation as they profess to wish. But if the surplus revenue be so extravagantly large as has been represented, I would go one step further—reduce the duties on articles of wearing apparel of the coarser texture, which are used mostly by the laboring classes, so that the revenue of the Government will not exceed its just wants, and you will relieve the State of Ohio in one year from the payment of a much larger amount than is proposed to bestow upon her by the provisions of this bill. But should all this be done, there scens to be still a remaining difficulty: the money we have on hand, the surplus in the Treasury—what shall be done with regard to that? how is it to be disposed of? A few more Indian campaigns, Indian treaties, and city debts and private claims, will give an effectual answer, and dispose of that difficulty: indeed, our present situation itself seems a sufficient reply. If after our naval defences, fortifications, and the necessary increase of the army, are completed, as sound policy and justice require, and the wants of the country demand, are all supplied, I am disposed to believe that little danger need be apprehended from the remaining balance: it will neither make nor unmake Presidents. And if, in addition to all these, a speedy completion of the public works now begun, and which Congress ought, and I presume will finish, should take place, and sufficient appropriations be made for that purpose, the surplus revenue on hand will no longer be cause of alarm or contention. I have, in what I have said, fully and freely expressed my opinion, though in as concise and condensed a manner as I was able. I have not sought for precedents, or looked into the opinion of others, out of which to manufacture one for myself. In political, as well as in matters of religious faith, I think the original text a far more safe and sure guide than any commentary, however wise and good the commentator might have been. I have chosen to rely on the constitution as my only sure guide, and that moral principle which ought to govern the actions of men in all situations, and under every circumstance. How far I am correct and ought to be sustained, those who sent me here are the best able to decide. Mr. President, when we look back a few past years and find this bill first introduced into Congress, although it passed both Houses, yet we have full, and to our minds conclusive evidence, that it was disapproved by the great body of the American people. We ought not to regret its introduction now; it is but a new trial of the intelligence and virtue of our constituents, who have always been found sufficient for the evil of the day. It is but an attempt to revive that principle which was found active at the very commencement of our Revolution—the principle of Government power over individual liberty. This principle was first brought in o operation by the charter of the old Bank of the United States, and con
tinued progressing until it produced the alien and sedition laws; this brought about the civil revolution of 1800, in which the patriotism, virtue, and intelligence of the people were triumphant, and a most signal victory was obtained. The vanquished enemy then retired from the contest, and remained quiet for a number of years, waiting for an opportunity favorable to his views. The war of 1812 presented one, as he thought. Having changed his colors, he again entered the field under the banner of the American system, and another United States Bank began this second Punic war. This institution, forced upon the people against their wishes and better judgment, met with resistance at its very commencement. During its first years it shared but little of the public favor. Its friends, however, were in power; and during the next administration after it was created, it acquired much strength and force. Under its auspices the American system was strengthened and invigorated, and the whole doctrine of internal improvement was spread in wild array before the American people; while a protective tariff, the necessary consequence, was gnawing at their substance. The party conducting these measures assumed a new name; they were national republicans. But all would not do; their strides for power were too plain to be overlooked. The country became awakened to its situation, and Andrew Jackson was the man the people selected to save them from these dangerous innovations, at least as far as the Executive power could effect that object. The election of 1824 took place; General Jackson received a large plurality of the electoral votes, as well as the primary votes of the people; but not having a majority of the votes, his name, with two other gentlemen, according to the provisions of the constitution, was returned to the House of Representatives for the election of a President. The result is well known. The voice of the people was disregarded, and those opposed to individual liberty and in favor of Government power prevailed. Flushed with this temporary victory, they felt sure of ultimate success, and the most extravagant pretensions to power were openly avowed; but the public indignation, if it was not loud, was deep. The ship of state was not to be given up; and when the election of 1828 came round, like a clap of thunder it awoke the band of schemers from their golden dreams. General Jackson was brought into power by a most triumphant majority; the rank and file of the bank and American system party were scattered, and many of them left the colors of their chieftains; but the principal leaders still retained their places, and,
though defeated, were not disheartened; they still held a majority in both branches of Congress. A bank bill and internal improvement bills were successively passed and vetoed by the President. The election of 1832 took place, and General Jackson was again elected by an increased majority. Thus all the splendid prospects of power and grandeur which gentlemen thought they were just realizing, were dissipated by the force of public opinion, and the popularity of General Jackson's administration seemed to wither all their hopes. One might have reasonably expected that this mountain labor would have ceased when a majority of the House of Representatives was found on the side of the administration. But no! General Jackson had caused the public money to be removed from the Bank of the United States; this gave new hopes to the panders of power. A panic was
created in the monetary concerns of the country, and
General Jackson was denounced by men high in power,
as a violator of the constitution and laws of his country.
It was now believed by the knowing ones that the scattered fragments of all their broken forces could be again rallied to the fight, at least under a new name, and that of Whig was adopted: yes, the whigs were called on to come to the rescue of the bank, against the power of Arnil 29, 1836.]
the country. A new banner was also unfurled—inscribed on one side, executive usurpation; on the other, lost Treasury, ruined country; but these efforts proved also unavailing. The country is prosperous beyond former example. The Treasury is full to overflowing. And now, out of the midst of all these convulsive throes, creeps this public measure, an attempt to buy up the people with their own money—a distribution of the revenue of this Government amongst the States on the eve of a presidential election. We have a perfect confidence that this scheme, like all its progenitors, will die for the want of public nourishment. Reminiscence is valuable in all the affairs of life, and in none more so than political matters; a knowledge of the family from which this land bill springs is sufficient to fix its character. The short time the public have been acquainted with it has caused the loss of many friends; and although three Senators, who formerly voted against it, have now voted for it, yet its majority here is less than formerly. Of the fourteen Senators representing the new States, five have voted for it, and nine against it. This proves it is considered ruinous to the interest of those States. 1 include one Senator from Indiana, who formerly voted against this measure, but who was not present when this bill was ordered to be engrossed. Eight States have now voted for the bill, containing a population of 3,619,000. (I omit fractions.) Seven States voted against the bill, population 3,567,000; nine States are divided, population 4,758,000; three of the Senators from these last States, if not on this, yet on other subjects, disregarded the instructions of their State Legislatures; and the people of three of these last States have constantly maintained the doctrine of a strict construction of the constitution. No one, aster this, can doubt the fate of this measure before the American people. Should this bill by possibility pass the House of Representatives, that the President will put his veto on it, no one, I presume, doubts. Personal honor, political consistency, as well as duty, seem to require this at his hands. That this act will add to his fame and his usefulness, if addition can be made, I have every confidence; and 1 predict that his enemies now in this conflict will meet with what his enemies, both in war and peace, have heretofore done—more than a Waterloo defeat. When Mr. Monnis had concluded, Mr. WALKER rose and addressed the Chair as follows: Mr. President: I am constrained, by an imperious sense of public duty, to participate in the debate upon the question now under consideration. The measure proposed for our adoption is deeply interesting to the whole Union. To the new States, especially, it is a subject of the highest importance. Indeed, so deeply am I impressed with the momentous consequences to my constituents which must follow the adoption of this measure, that I am appalled by the contemplation of these results, and oppressed by a sense of the responsibility which is devolved upon me. My opposition to this bill may be wholly unavailing; but my resolution is to resist its passage to the uttermost, consoled by the reflection that, in any contingency, I have at least endeavored to discharge my duty. The proposition is to divide among all the States of the Union, according to their representative population at the last census, the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands for the years 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836, and 1837. It is a proposition to subtract at least fifty millions of dollars from the revenues, past and prospective, of this Government, for distribution among the States. It reaches back to the 1st of January, 1833, and stretches forward to the 1st of January, 1838. The nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands for 1833 have heretofore been expended by the Government; yet these proceeds are recap. Wol. XII.-86
tured by this bill for distribution among the States. We do not, in fact, distribute those proceeds, for they have long since been expended; but we take an equivalent sum from the general revenues of the Government, and call it the nett proceeds of the public lands for 1833. lf, then, it be unconstitutional to distribute among the States the general revenues of this Government, this bill involves this principle. If we may take for distribution a sum equivalent to the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands for 1833, we may take similar equivalent sums for the nett proceeds of the sales for 1800, and from that period to the present moment, and call it a distribution of the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands. Might we at this moment pass a bill for the distribution among the States of the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands from the organization of the Government to the present period? and, if not, how can we adopt the present measure? It is vain to disguise the fact, that we are in reality distributing the revenues of the Government, generally, by the retrospective operation of this measure. The unexpended balance in the public Treasury upon the 4th of July, 1836, the distribution of which is then recommended, is composed, in part, of the revenues arising from the tariff. A very large portion of this balance is appropriated, but not expended, under existing laws. By this bill we either repeal the laws, or make a double appropriation of the same money. This bill, we have seen, also reaches forward to ist of January, 1838. It makes prospective calculations for two years in advance of the wants as well as the revenues of this Government, and subtracts during all this period, for distribution among the States, the nett proceeds of the sales of the public lands. This prospective distribution is based upon calculations of an overflowing Treasury in 1837—predictions made by the same party who foretold the insolvency of the Treasury and ruin of the country as the result of the measures of this administration. Others may legislate for years in advance upon the faith of their predictions, but their conjectural estimates of the future wants and revenues of this Government furnish no sufficient data upon which I can rest my vote. They may be as greatly mistaken now, in their prophetic visions of 1837, as they were in 1834; and, if so, this measure would prove disastrous to the country. We are now asked to abandon the settled usages of the Government, and embark in new projects and new experiments. It is proposed to divide among the States a vast portion of the revenues of this Government. A division among the States of the revenues of the Govern: ment of the Union is a fearful omen of the division of the Union itself. It is a movement towards that dread catastrophe. It will be the cause, as it is the precursor, of other assaults upon the Government of the Union. Division—division is now the watchword of assault upon appropriations for national defence. The constitution is assailed here, in the very citadel of its power, by a corrupting demand for the spoils of this Government for distribution. The prayer of inspiration, “lead us not into temptation,” is wholly disregarded; and the States are sought to be dazzled and corrupted by golden visions of millions upon millions for distribution. Defence is to be erased from the tablets of the constitution; and distribution, a word not to be found in that instrument, is to be interpolated, by an appeal to the States to divide the spoils of the Government. National honor and national glory are to become an empty sound; and money, money for distribution, is to absorb all other considerations. When I reflect that the proposition before us, is not a temporary measure, that it is not a single operation upon an accidental surpius, but that its author, the Senator from Kentucky, [Mr. Clay, 1 declares it to be one of the great recommendations of this project, that it will be