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Mar 19, 1836.]
Transfers of Public Money.
linois, and Missouri, and the Michigan Territory, has been transferred to banks in the eastern cities since 30th June, 1835, and the answer was promptly and truly given. The report stated what “amount of money” had been transferred from Ohio,” &c. This was the inquiry, and this inquiry was answered. But the present resolution asks what amount has been transferred from particular banks each in Ohio, including all the deposite banks in Ohio, and in Ohio alone. Would it have been possible for the Secretary of the Treasury to have inferred that this was the purpose of the Senator from Ohio, under his first resolution? When he asked what amount of money had been transferred from the “States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri, and from the Michigan Territory,” that all the Senator intended was, to be informed of the amounts which had been transferred from “particular banks in Ohio,” this could not have been presumed. The Senator was probably dissatisfied by the answer given to his first resolution; but it was given—truly and promptly given; and he would assure the Senator that he would as truly and as promptly receive an answer to the present, as lie did to his first resolution. Again: the first resolution did not ask the amount or date of each transfer, but only the whole amount since 30th June, 1835, and the names of the banks to and from which made. The answer was given. But how is this resolution? It asks for the date and amount of each transfer, and the banks from and to which it was made. The known industry of the head of the Treasury Department will, without delay, furnish an answer to this inquiry. No information, he was sure, would be withheld by that officer from the Senate, or from the gentleman from Ohio, which they or he might think proper to ask for; but certainly the Secretary had a right to expect that the wished-for information should be asked in language which reason and intelligence might comprehend. Again. The first resolution asked whether any more transfers were ordered, and only that; and in reply it was stated there were, and the reply covered the whole inquiry. But this resolution asks the amount of each transfer ordered, and when to take effect, and the banks to and from which they are made. He would assure the Senator that an answer to this last inquiry would be at once given. Again. The first resolution asked nothing about the transfers to Ohio or its banks; and hence they were stated only in the gross, in illustration of the transfers therein. But the present resolution asks for the amount of transfers to each of the said banks in Ohio during said time. In truth, it would be difficult to conceive of two resolutions having more clearly distinct and different objects in view, and more plainly and intelligibly expressing those objects. If, then, the Senator from Ohio was disappointed in the answer to his first resolution, if he was disturbed by that answer, he must find the cause of that disappointment at his own door. He has no right to impute it to any misunderstanding, to any misconception, to any omission of duty, on the part of the Secretary of the Treasury. From the course of the Senator's remarks, one would infer that great wrong had been practised upon Ohio; that great injustice had been done to her interests by the course pursued by the Secretary of the Treasury in relation to the transfers of the public money from ohio to other parts of the Union. But this will not turn out to be the case. It will be seen that, at the last bank returns from that State, there were millions more of the public money then in deposite within that State than there was on the 30th June, 1835. Does this look like oppression—like partiality? It will be found that much more was in deposite at the last returns than can be wanted for public expenditure within that State during
the whole course of the current year; that there was much more at the last returns in that State than there was in all the New England States, with the exception of Massachusetts. Does all this savor of oppression? Does this look like a settled determination on the part of the Secretary to pursue a severe course with reference to Ohio?—a course calculated to bring embarrassment upon her interests, and ruin upon her citizens? Let it be remembered that no blame can be imputed to the Secretary of the Treasury in relation to the kind of money receivable for the sale of the public lands. He has no power over that matter; and, if he had, he would be the last man in the community to exercise it improperly. The legislation of Congress has settled that question; they have declared what money shall be receivable for the sales of the public lands. That cannot, therefore, be a regulation of the Treasury Department The deposite banks will receive whatever money the laws of Congress require; if they go beyond this, it is matter of regulation between themselves and the banking institutions of the country, with which the Treasury Department has nothing to do, and should have nothing to do.
The revenue of the country is collected principally from imposts and from the sale of the public lands. The revenue is collected for the use and the purposes of the Government. It would be preposterous to suppose that it must remain for public expenditure at the various points where it may be received. This cannot be done. And wherever the public necessity or the public convenience requires public expenditure, there must the public money be concentrated. And the Secretary of the Treasury would be a most unfaithful public officer if he should omit to be seasonably and sufficiently prepared at all points to meet the public wants. This he has, thus far, done; and this he has, thus far, well done; and this seemed to him to be the head and front of his offence.
From what has been already said, it is not at all difficult to show why transfers have been from time to time made of the public money from one point to another point of the confederacy. Much more of the public money is collected at certain points than is necessarily wanted at those points for public use. This is the case with respect to Ohio. From the sales of the public lands, more money, within the last few years, has been received in that State, than was necessarily required there for public expenditure. What was to be done? Most clearly it became the bounden duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to cause portions of the public treasure to be transferred to those points where it would be wanted. But two considerations alone, he presumed, had ever controlled the Secretary in such proceedings. Wherever the public convenience would be subserved, wherever the better security of the public money would be promoted, there the Secretary has caused the transfers to be made. But on no one occasion has that officer, in the performance of this high and responsible duty, been governed by any personal or political considerations. This he believed to be the true state of the case; and until an instance can be shown where the Secretary has been under the influence of selfish views, he will presume that he has been solely governed by pure and proper considerations.
The Senator from Ohio has been pleased to say, in the course of his remarks, “that there never has been a subject more shamefully mismanaged than the public moneys have, since they have been under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury.” This may be so; but he should require some better evidence of the fact than the declaration of that Senator. For one, he did not hesitate to declare, as his deliberate opinion, in the most unqualified terms, that the public moneys had been managed, by the present head of the department, with safety and with economy.
He must differ in opinion, therefore, with the Senator from Ohio in this particular. For himself, he most conscientiously believed, instead of there having been any mismanagement of the public moneys under the charge and supervision of the present head of the Treasury Department, they had been on all occasions, and at all times, managed with a strict regard to the existing laws of Congress, as far as those laws could have any possible bearing upon the subject; and when left to the discretion of the Secretary, the public money had been managed with a steady adherence to public convenience, and to the security of the public treasure. This had been the policy and the manifest course of the Secretary of the Treasury; and although such broad and general denunciations of that officer have of late become frequent on this floor, yet he thought it would be very difficult for the Senator from Ohio, or for any other gentleman, here or elsewhere, to put his finger upon one single official act of the Secretary of the Treasury, in relation to his management of the public money, showing any dereliction of public duty, or evincing either malfeasance or misfeasance in office. Where is the evidence of his mismanagement? It exists only in imagination; it has no foundation in fact. Have not all the public moneys been safely preserved? Have they not been transmitted from one point of the Union to another, as the public convenience demanded, and without any charge to the public? Has not the rate of exchange between the most remote commercial cities of the Union been as low as it ever was in the best days of the Bank of the United States? All this is true; and, notwithstanding the speculations which we have so frequently heard upon this floor, there is no good reason to doubt of the entire and perfect safety of the public money now in deposite. He should want no easier task than to demonstrate this fact, upon the showing of the banks themselves, upon the ordinary principles of business transactions. Yet the Secretary of the Treasury is anxious, and most anxious, to get rid of this charge. He is particularly solicitous—a solicitude which he has expressed time and again to his friends in this and in the other House—to have this whole subject regulated by an act of Congress; and that his duty, should any duty devolve upon him under the act, may be exclusively of a ministerial character. He could not well see how the Secretary could desire any thing different. He has no sinister views to accomplish. He has no speculation or purposes to aid, through the power and influence of the Public treasure. He must therefore on this point be permitted to differ with the gentleman from Ohio. There was not a particle of doubt that the Secretary was honestly and most sincerely desirous to be resieved from this, responsibility. But so long as the responsibility shall rest upon him—so long as the duty of taking the care and charge of the public money shall devolve upon him, he will not shrink from that responsibility, or sail to perform that duty. Mr. H. (in reply to some remarks of Mr. Websten) said, he presumed that he was not understood, when up before, to have said he should make any opposition to any legislative measure, having for its object the Proper, regulation of the public money now in the dePosite banks. He was as decidedly in favor of such a measure as any Senator on this floor; and, with the Senator, from Massachusetts, he hoped that the subject would, “not be postponed or neglected,” but that it would be, “without unnecessary delay, considered and acted on” by Congress. He believed that the best interests of the banks which had the public money in deposite called for such a measure. He could not doubt that the interests of the commercial community most Pressingly, most imperiously, demanded the prompt action of Congress upon this subject. He believed that a P"9Per regulation of this whole matter would add to the
security of the public treasure, by inspiring public confidence in those institutions which should have the public money in charge. He was prepared to go with the Senator from Massachusetts for the adoption of just regulations for the government of the deposite banks. The sooner this was accomplished, the better it would be for those institutions; the better it would be for the commercial community. The sooner this was accomplished, the sooner would the head of the Treasury Department be relieved from the reiterated, but , groundless—he would not say malicious—attacks which are daily poured forth against him in relation to this subject. There was every consideration which should induce the earliest possible attention of Congress to this matter.
The present state of the money market in the principal cities in the eastern States demands this measure at our hands. No man could be blind to the causes which produced the present pressure in our commercial cities. The most astonishing fact is, that, amidst all the calamity, all the pressure which has pervaded some sections, the mercantile community have been able to stand erect—to maintain their high credit against all the disasters and discouragements which have arisen within the last few months. They have done so; and this circumstance alone cannot fail to inspire a high confidence in the integrity, resources, and character of our commercial community. There is no scarcity of money; there is an abundance of means. There never has been a time when the farmer, the mechanic, the manufacturer, were commanding higher and better prices for the productions of their labor. The present pressure proceeds from the great uncertainty and doubt which hangs over the action of Congress upon the subject of the public money. And the great amount of the public money in the charge of particular banks throughout the whole country increases, under existing circumstances, rather than diminishes, that pressure. Our superabundance will continue to be an evil, rather than a blessing, so long as the deposite banks and the public money shall not be subject to “just regulations.”
Let Congress, then, act upon this subject; let proper and just regulations be adopted; let the deposite banks be fairly protected; let them at least understand on what they may rely; let them be told that a reasonable opportunity shall be given to them to pay over to the Government the public money whenever it shall exceed a given amount; let them well understand the policy of the Government, and all will be well. The commercial community will no longer experience the effects of the money pressure; business will resume its accustomed channels; activity and enterprise again will characterize the operations of the merchant and the manufacturer; success and prosperity will, as usual, flow from their ef. forts and from their energies.
Mr. WRIGHT said he did not rise to detain the Senate, or to offer any opposition to the resolution of the honorable Senator, [Mr. Ewing.] It was not his habit to oppose calls for information of any character, although he must say, if he were to be asked what public purpose was to be answered—what measure of legislation was to be affected by this, and the former call of the Senator connected with this, he should be unable to answer the inquiry. The calls seemed to him to be purely local, and, to some extent, personal; to have in view no public object, but the personal information, and gratification of the mover of the resolutions. Thus viewed, he thought the Senator's remarks showed that he had been very unfortunate. He had made repeated calls upon the same Department, o the present session, and his complaint had almo...". ormly been, not that he did not receive answers, ". o the answers were not promptly and fully returned, but that he obtained more May 19, 1836.]
information than he desired; that the Secretary gave not only the particular facts called for, but other and more facts connected with the subject of the calls; and that, unasked, he had sometimes given reasons as well as facts. So, in the present case, the Secretary is charged with having made a long and full answer, where he should have made a short one; and being required to state his official acts in relation to a given matter, he has not only stated the acts, but the grounds upon which, and the reasons why, those acts were performed. For this he is censured, and another call is framed, with an effort to exclude a part of the facts, and all the reasons contained in his former answer. The resolution, however, upon the suggestion of the honorable Senator from New Hampshire, [Mr. Hunh Ann,) has been so modified, by the consent of the mover, as to be unexceptionable in form, by embracing all, and not a selected num
ber only, of the deposite banks in the State of Ohio; and
in that shape he was willing that it should go to the Secretary. He could promise the Senator, with entire confidence, that he would continue to receive facts and reasons in answer to his calls, which he would find it far more difficult to contradict or subvert, than it would be for him to surmise that other facts were behind which might be of more use to him. The honorable Senator, as was somewhat the case with several members of this body at the present time, secned to have his jealousies greatly aroused against the city of New York, and had apparently convinced himself that great favoritism was extended towards that city in the management, and especially in the transfers, of the public money. If the fact were so, Mr. W. said he hoped the Senator would discover and expose it. He should have all his aid in any proper efforts to learn the truth, and, should partiality or favoritism be discovered, he would go as far as the Senator himself to condemn and to prevent it; but so fully conscious was he that these abuses had no existence, except in the imaginations of prejudiced minds, that he must warn the Senator to prepare himself for continued and increased disappointments in the prosecution of his enterprise. The facts and reasons returned by the Secretary, in reference to transfers of money to the city of New York, would be, as they had been in so many former answers to calls made by that Senator, [Mr. Ewing,) too full, too plain, too clear, and would too strongly sustain the acts of the Treasury Department, to meet with his approbation. Mr. W. said he had listened to the Senator with attention, and in his protracted speech he had been able to discover but one ground of difficulty or complaint; and that one, from his own showing, most palpably rested with himself, and not with the Secretary. The Secretary, in speaking of the transfers as relating to the State of Ohio, had given the amounts transferred from that State, and the amounts transferred to it; and, by deducting the latter from the former, had found that the balance was some forty-five thousand dollars; thus showing that the amount of moneys in deposite to the credit of the Treasury transferred from the State of Ohio, within the period covered by the call of the Senator, was larger than the amount of moneys transferred to that state within the same period by forty-five thousand dollars only. This balance the Senator had used as the whole amount of transfers from the State of Ohio, and his complaint seemed to be that his error had been corrected in the public papers. Surely this furnishes no foundation on his part for complaint against the Secretary, or for a charge of ambiguity in his answer to the Senator’s former call. The very portion of the report which he read to the Senate, in the course of his argument, states this forty-five thousand dollars as a balance ascertained by the deduction of the amount of transfers
from the State, and not as the amount of transfers either to or from it. The error, therefore, is an error of the Senator, and not of the Secretary; and the Secretary, and not the Senator, is the party which has cause of complaint.
The Senator (Mr. W. said) had sought this occasion to refer to some proposition which he had had the honor to offer as amendments to the bill to regulate the public deposites. The proposition related to the disposition of any surplus moneys which might, at any time, be found in the deposite banks, and proposed to invest such moneys temporarily, and until the wants of the Government should call for them, in stocks issued upon the saith and credit of the States. Such a disposition of these moneys the Senator had chosen to characterize by the appellation of “stock-jobbing, going among the bulls and bears of the stock-market, to regulate, raise, depress, and govern the price of stocks.” Mr. W. said he merely referred to this portion of the Senator's remarks to say that he should not, in this incidental way, debate the deposite bill. He preferred to debate the question before the Senate, and not, upon any proposition which might be before it, to debate every proposition which might thereafter come before it. He was most happy to hear the declaration of the Senator that he would vote for his propositions, if he could get no better, although he considered them most objectionable; and, in reply to this generous advance on the part of the honorable gentleman, he would tell him that, at a proper time, and when those propositions should come up for consideration, he would discuss them with him with perfect fairness; and, should better be offered by that honorable Senator, or any other member of that body, they should receive his most cheerful support. He had no pride of authorship in the propositions he had offered. They were not his, but the propositions of the Secretary of the Treasury, recommended to Congress in his annual report. He had made himself the organ of their formal presentation to the Senate, because he had found none which seemed to him as acceptable. He was as anxious as any other member of the Senate that something should be done as to the regulation of the deposites of the public moneys in the banks, and as to the disposition of any surplus which might be found to exist.
In justice to himself, it was proper that he should here call to the recollection of the Senate the state of facts in relation to this bill. Upon some of the first days of our present session, a distinguished Senator from South Carolina [Mr. CALhou N] had introduced a bill to regulate the public deposites. Mr. W. said he turned his attention to the bill, and prepared such amendments as he proposed to offer to it; and, having done so, waited for the time when the mover of the bill should call it up. A delay of some six weeks or two months took place, and the bill was not called. At the expiration of that time the honorable Senator announced to the Senate that he should not call up the bill at all, but should abandon it to the care of the friends of the administration. He (Mr. W.) then, at the earliest convenient period, called up the bill, and offered his amendments, which were ordered to be printed. Since that time the mover of the bill, and others of the opposition members, had expressed renewed anxiety that it should be called up and acted upon. In the mean time, other public bills of the first importance had obtained a preference; and as he thought much time was lost in changing our debates from subject to subject, without completing any thing, he could not consent to attempt to interpose the deposite bill at this time; but as soon as the fortification bill, and one or two other bills which had been much considered, and he hoped would be speedily and definitively acted upon, should be disposed of, he would go with gentlemen upon all sides of the House for the earliest final action upon that bill.
Mr. EWING, of Ohio, said he had not mistaken or misunderstood the report of the Secretary. That report states that no more than $45,000 had been transferred from the State of Ohio, over and above what had been transferred to it. The inquiry to which that report was an answer, was, what amount of money received for lands had been transferred? That answer, therefore, very unfairly conveys the idea that no more than this small sum, of all that was so received in Ohio, has been transferred; a statement in direct opposition to that contained in the Globe, which appears to be from the Treasury, or authorized by it.
Without further debate, the resolution was then agreed to.
ForTIFICAti ON BILL.
The Senate then proceeded to the consideration of the bill making appropriations for the purchase of sites, the collection of materials, and for the construction of fortifications; when Mr. WRIGHT said, when the subject was last before the Senate he had moved an adjournment, with the intention more particularly of making a reply to some of the remarks of the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Qalhous] who had then just addressed the body against the bill. So much time, however, had elapsed, that the reply intended had been principally abandoned; and as he did not see that Senator in his seat, and understood he was absent upon official duty, he should only notice such of his observations as were material to the views he proposed to present upon the merits of the bill. On the 18th day of February last, the Senate came to a final vote upon a resolution offered, at an early day of the session, by the honorable Senator from Missouri, [Mr. Benton,) upon the subject of appropriations for the public defence. All would recollect the declaration of the mover of the resolution, made at the time of its introduction, that he considered it as antagonist to the two propositions then before the Senate for the distribution among the States of the public moneys in the Treasury; the first, the land bill; and the second, the proposition of the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Calhous] so to amend the constitution of the United States as to authorize an entire distribution, for a series of years, of the surplus revenues, from whatever source derived. None could have forgotten the protracted debate upon that resolution, or the views entertained and expressed by those who took part in the debate. Upon the one side, the declarations of the honorable mover were sustained and enforced; and upon the other side, the policy of a system of fortifications was resisted by some, while others admitted and advocated the policy and expediency of such a system, but denied that the land bill was antagonist to the proposed appropriations. The subject occupied the principal attention of the Senate for some four weeks, and a very slight modification only was adopted. The palpable and declared object of the resolution was to present to the Senate the great and vital question, whether the surplus revenues in the national Treasury should be given away, as gratuities to the States, before the public defences were provided for, or whether those defences should first command the attention and favor of the national Legislature. The resolution, as drawn and offered, related to the surplus, and neces. sarily presented this question. The modification merely removed the application of the resolution from the surplus revenue to the whole revenues of the Gov. ernment, and made the pledge more broad than the mover of the original resolution had proposed. In its amended shape, it stood in the following words: Resolved, That so much of the revenue of the United States, and the dividends of stock receivable from the
Bank of the United States, as may be necessary for the purpose, ought to be set apart and applied to the general defence and permanent security of the country.”
In this shape it was voted upon by the Senate; and upon a call of the yeas and nays, every Senator then in his seat, to the number of forty-two, out of the forty-eight members of the body, recorded his name in favor of it.
Mr. W. said he thought he had a right to ask whether this vote ought not to have been considered a pledge to the country, on the part of the Senate, that all necessary appropriations for the public defence should be first made out of the public moneys in the Treasury, before any other disposition should be attempted to be made of those moneys? He thought the inquiry could not be considered impertinent, or improper; and he called the attention of those Senators who had voted for that resolution to its fair implication, and to the measure now under discussion. This was the first measure for general public defence, which had been presented for the action of the body, since the passage of the resolution. Were the defences it proposed necessary, so as to bring it within the pledge contained in the resolution?
To answer this inquiry, it would be proper to look further into the resolution itself, and into the information it had elicited. In addition to the general pledge before quoted, it contained a call upon the President, and, through him, upon the proper Departments of the Government, as to the appropriations necessary and proper to be made for the various branches of the public defence, naval and military. An answer to that call, most full and satisfactory, had been given, and, for his present purpose, it was only necessary to refer to the clear and strong letter from the Secretary of War, to whose Department that branch of the public defences provided for by this bill particularly pertained. The Secretary speaks with especial reference to the bill under discussion, and therefore his remarks are susceptible of the most clear and unquestionable application. The bill was reported from the Committee on Military Affairs, recommending appropriations for the commencement of new fortifications at nineteen new points upon the seacoast. The Secretary had adopted twelve, and, for the present, rejected the remaining seven appropriations. He had recommended delay and further examination merely as to the latter class; while he had, in the most clear and unequivocal language, urged action—prompt, full and efficient action--as to the former class.
Mr. W, said, as attempts had been made to cast doubt and obscurity over the opinions of the Secretary in this matter, he should speak for himself. He would read from the 19th and 20th pages of the report, and the language was as follows:
“It cannot be doubted but that fortifications at the following places, enumerated in this bill, will be necessary:
At Penobscot bay, for the protection of Bangor, &c.
At Kennebec river.
At New Bedford.
At New London.
Upon Staten island.
At Soller's flats.
A redoubt on Federal point.
For the Barancas.
For Fort St. Philip.
“These proposed works all command the approach to places sufficiently important to justify their construction under any circumstances that will probably exist. I think, therefore, that the public interest would be promoted by the passage of the necessary appropriations for them. As soon as these are made, such of the positions as may appear to require it can be examined, and the
form and extent of the works adapted to the existing circumstances, if any change be desirable. The construction of those not needing examination can commence immediately, and that of the others as soon as the plans are determined upon. By this proceeding, therefore, a season may be saved in the operations.” Such, Mr. President, (said Mr. W.,) are the expressions and the opinions of the head of the Department, upon which the call has been made, on this important subject of fortifications. Are those expressions and opinions equivocal? Has not the Secretary told us that he believed “the public interests would be promoted by the passage of the necessary appropriations for them?” Has he not told us, that by making these appropriations now, “a season may be saved in the operations?” Where, then, is the doubt? Where the equivocation? The bill originally contained provisions for nineteen new works. The Secretary selects and recommends, unequivocally, appropriations for twelve of the nineteen, and as unequivocally recommends a postponement of appropriations and further surveys and examinations as to the remaining seven. He meets fairly and fully the whole bill, and gives his opinions and his reasons as to every part of it. Whence, then, the pretence that his recommendations are obscure, and his opinions doubtful, as to the works still embraced in the bill? The Committee on Military Affairs, since the receipt of the report of the Secretary, have considered his views, and made their bill conform to them. They have recommended that the appropriations for the seven works, for which the Secretary does not recommend immediate appropriations, should be stricken from the bill; and the Senate has unanimously agreed to the amendments. They have been made, and the bill is now precisely what the Secretary tells us the public interests require that it should be. Whence, then, (Mr. W. said,) he again asked, these attempts to prove that the opinion of the Secretary was doubtful as to the remaining twelve proposed new fortifications? The answer was clear and conclusive, and he should only repeat what had been already said by the honorable Šenator from South Carolina [Mr. PREston] when he gave it. Gentlemen had taken the expressions of the Secretary applicable to the seven works for which he recommended the suspension of immediate appropriations, and had applied them to the twelve works in reference to which he had given the opinion “that the public interests would be promoted by the passage of the necessary appropriations for them.” Any one, who would read with care the report of the Secretary, would detect this error, and absolve that officer from all obscurity or equivo. cation. It should be further remembered that the President, upon whom the call was made, has especially and fully endorsed the recommendation of the Secretary of War. So far, therefore, as the information and opinions of the executive departments can establish a necessity for the works for which the bill under consideration provides, we are able to pronounce, without doubt or hesitation, that they are necessary to the public defence. What, then, (Mr. W. said) he must ask, is the condition of the Senate in its action upon this bill, after the pledge given to the country in the resolution above quoted? Were we at liberty to refuse the appropriations, unless we disputed the necessity of the works? It seemed to him not. It seemed to him we were estopped by our own acts, unless we were prepared to assert and show, in opposition to the report of the Secretary, and the concurring opinion of the President, that the works proposed to be constructed are not necessary to the national defence, within the fair scope and meaning of our own resolution. He must then appeal to the Senate, and to every indi
vidual Senator, to know whether there is one member of that body who will deny, or even question, the necessity of one of the works now proposed by the bill. He did not believe he should hear a voice raised in doubt, much less in denial, of the necessity of each and every one of these works. How, then, was the Senate to refuse the appropriations, and preserve the pledge it had given to the country, that the public defences were first to occupy its attention, and that provision for these defences, so far as such provision might be necessary, was first to be made from the public moneys in the Treasury, and the public revenues to be received into that Treasury. Objections to the bill, however, had been made, and Mr. W. said he would detain the Senate for a few moments, to examine some of those objections. The first in order which he would notice was, that new discoveries in the art and science of defence might supersede the present propositions; that the power of steam, and its application to the defences of a nation, were yet little known, and had been little tried; and that future experience might prove that this power would furnish a preserable substitute for the permanent defences proposed by the bill. In answer to this objection, he would merely ask, in sincerity and candor, whether a single member of the Senate had brought his mind to the belief that our important commercial towns, our principal and most useful harbors, and the mouths of our great navigable rivers, which were susceptible of perfect defence by permanent, stationary, and durable fortifications, were to be left to any description of movable and floating defences, whether moved and governed by steam, or by the natural elements? Did any man, who had in the slightest degree examined this subject, delude himself with the notion that a commercial nation, with a coast more extended and exposed than any other nation of the world, and with the means in its Treasury for the construction of permanent and secure defences, was either to wait for new discoveries as to the power and application of steam, or to trust its wealth and commerce to the protection of floating batteries, instead of well-constructed and immovable fortifications? For himself, (Mr. W. said,) his enthusiasm as to modern improvements had carried his mind to no such conclusions. lie had not doubted, and did not now doubt, that steam, as connected with harbor defence, was to be made a most important agent in the great work in which we were engaged, and he was prepared to go as far as experience and wisdom would warrant in providing for its use; but he would not, for one moment, admit that the important points upon our coast, susceptible of permanent land defences, were to be left to the uncertain and doubtful protection of moving batteries of any description. He had not heard it advanced that the science of defence by fortifications was very imperfect, or that improvements were to be soon anticipated; and having come to the conclusion that these were the defences which the country required, at the points named in the bill, and that the art of constructing them had been, in all essential particulars, as perfect for centuries as it now is, he was prepared to give, his support to the bill, without waiting the uncertainty of valuable improvements by new discoveries. The next objection he proposed to notice was, that we want information as to some of these proposed works; that the necessary examinations, surveys, and estimates have not been made; and that we act in the dark in making appropriations without them. . This objection (Mr. W. said) he was willing to admit was specious and plausible; but as to these particular works, he thought he should be able easily to show that it was much more specious than solid and substantial. He had understood from the remarks made by the chairman of