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ferent sections of the country in comparison or contrast. I have done so, but in answer to the disparagement of. fered to the right of the State I represent here to be embraced in the plan of common defence proposed by the bill. I would never volunteer, on any subject, in a gratuitous argument founded in sectional interests and distinctions. Such considerations ought never to control the legislative action of Congress, nor in any manner characterize its deliberations. The States of this Union constitute one great political family, all the members of which have a common interest, and should act from a common impulse. The different parts of the country they embrace seem designed by the God of nature sor mutual dependence and a community of interests. Their very variety of climate, the diversity of productions to which they are adapted, and all the opposites and apposites which are presented in the different sections of our widely extended country, serve but to give them an adhering affinity, and bind them more closely together. After some remarks from Messrs. EWING of Ohio, WALKER, and PRESTON, Mr. PRESTON moved to amend the pending amendment by making it read as follows: “ for fortifications at Penobscot bay, the sum of dollars annually for two years;” which motion was accepted by Mr. BENroN as a modification of his amendment. Mr. WEBSTER suggested that the question on this amendment had better be taken when the Senate was full; and, as it was late in the day, he thought that they had better adjourn. The Senate then adjourned.
FRIDAY, MA y 20.
Mr. CALHOUN, from the committee of conference appointed on the part of the Senate, to confer with a committee of the House on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses as to the Senate’s amendment to the bill authorizing the President to accept the services of ten thousand volunteers for the defence of the western frontiers, reported that the committees of the two Houses had had a meeting, but that they had not been able to effect the objects for which they were appointed, having sat the whole day without coming to any agreement whatever.
Mr. KING, of Alabama, (from the same committee,) observed that it was true that they had come to no agreement on the point at issue between the two Houses, inasmuch as some gentlemen seemed to think that they had the whole bill under consideration, and that they had the power to modify it at pleasure. He hoped that when the Senate again appointed a committee of conference, they would appoint gentlemen who would be willing to confine their deliberations to the subject of disagreement, and not think themselves authorized to take the range of the whole bill.
Mr. CALHOUN replied that the committee did confine themselves to the subject of disagreement, until finding that there was no possibility of coming to an agreement on that point, they entered into a more enlarged discussion, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the bill could not be so framed as to meet the concriprence of both Houses. His understanding was, that when a committee of conference came to a proposition that could not be agreed on, the whole subject was open to them.
Mr. KING of Alabama recollected exactly the state of the case. The proposition last made was, that they should extend the term of service of the militia force of the United States for a year, instead of its being a volunteer militia force. This was the last subject of confor
ence; and, after taking until half past five o’clock, the committee found that they could come to no agreement whatever. Mr. CALHOUN said it was true that that proposition was made, but another one was also made, and that was, that the President should receive these volunteers from the States by battalions, regiments, and brigades, officered by the States. The committee of the other House was unanimous in the opinion that it was unconstitutional for the President to officer this force, unless it was made a part of the regular army, and that then he must appoint the officers in the same way that other officers of the regular army are appointed. He must say this bill had been passed under the pressure of very extraordinary circumstances, and that, consequently, that consideration was not given to it in this particular that its importance deserved. It had been called up by the Senator from Alabama, under the apprehension of a Creek war, and its immediate passage was insisted on. They were told that there were precedents to sanction it; but, on examination, he found that there was not one. The precedent referred to, was the volunteer bill of 1812, which was passed the very day preceding the adjournment of Congress. By it, authority was given to the President to commission these volunteers; but on what condition? Why, on the condition of enrolment. The bill provi. ded, that, after these companics should be organized, and their services accepted, they should enrol themselves as part of the army; and then, and not till then, the President was to commission them. Now, he would ask gentlemen to consider the difference between this bill, which had been cited as a precedent, and the one before them. By the present bill, they were to have a dormant military force in the country, mixed up with the militia; and this dormant force was to be officered by the President, to mingle with our citizens, entirely contrary to the provisions of the constitution. They ought to be cautious how they established precedents. They all remembered the circumstances under which this volunteer bill of 1812 was passed. Unfortunately, some of the New England States held up their militia, and Congress wanted to get that military force without going to the Executives of those States for them. They authorized the President to accept the services of this militia in companics; and what was the next step? it was first to enrol, and then commission them. And what was the next step now? We get, said Mr. C., a military force mixed up with the citizens of the United States, not organized as part of the stauding army, but officered by the President; thus having, at the same time, two militia forces, one officered by the States and the other by the President. Again: the power of appointment of the subordinate officers was virtually taken from the President, and given to the men. He wished to know the necessity for this departure from the constitution. The gentleman from Alabama said that the mode of appointment, provided by the bill, would render the force more effective. Why should it be so? Why would a force officered by the President be more effective than one officered by the States? He did not think that the description of force contemplated by the bill could be raised. . The difficulty would be in getting the men to enrol themselves; for officers who were in the late war said that the same thing had been in fectually tried then. There were but two ways of getting men for a military force: the one was by volunteers raised on the spur of the occasion; and the other was by enlisting men for the regular army from the dregs of society. Now, the men could not be raised under the provisions of this bill, and the Iesult would be, that there would be a multitude of officers appointed by the President, and no men to be commanded by them. The CHAIR here stated that the debate was irregular,
MAY 20, 1836.]
the message of the House on the subject of its disagreement not being before the Senate. Mr. KING of Alabama, to give the Senator from South Carolina an opportunity of continuing his speech, moved to take up the message of the House, with the amendment. Disagreed to. The message of the House was then received, stating that that body insisted on its disagreement to the amendment of the Senate. Mr. CALHOUN moved that the Senate also insist on its amendment, and that it ask for another committee of conference. Mr. KING of Alabama said, although the committee were very unfortunate in their conference upon the disagreement between the two Houses, yet he still hoped they might come to some conclusion in a matter of such vital importance as this. He could not assent to the declaration of the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. CALhous] that this bill was forced on the Senate by surprise. It was sent from the other House, and was some time under discussion before the Senate. It was time it was acted on with despatch, as it ought to be, for the bleeding citizens of our frontier demanded it, and it passed without opposition even from the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. CALhoux] himself. He hoped one more effort might be made, so that we might have a force in the field sufficient to meet the emergency. Mr. CALHOUN said there had not been, nor should there be, any thing wanting on his part to give a safe, prompt, and efficient force for the protection of the frontiers. If the gentleman from Alabama believed that, for the sake of having an efficient foree, these volunteers should be officered by the President, he had wholly overlooked the constitution. He entertained the delibe. rate opinion, that this bill was wholly unconstitutional, and was not supported by a single precedent. In reply to the Senator from Alabama, he asked, if it was not under the pressure of extraordinary circumstances, that this bill was called up and hurried through? Mr. BUCHANAN said that he had been a member of the committee of conference; and if a second committee should now be appointed, he hoped he would be excused from serving upon it. He did not believe that the appointmcnt of the same committee by the Senate and the House could result in any practical good. They had been busily engaged in the conference chamber until a late hour yesterday; and when they had separated, they were further, if possible, from agreeing, than when they had first met. For his own part, he could not feel the force of the constitutional objections which had been made by the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. CALhoun..] It was true that the amendment which had been proposed by the Senate to the bill of the House was somewhat vague and ambiguous in its terms. He had thought, at one time, during the conference, that we . have agreed upon an amendment to the Senate’s amendment, which would have made the bill much more explicit, and would have removed all the constitutional objections of the gentleman. When it came to the final vote, he found he had been mistaken. The amendment proposed in the committee of conference provided that none of the officers should be appointed by the President, until the volunteers were actually mustered into the service of the United States. Until that moment, the companies which might be form. ed would thus be considered as mere voluntary associations, under no pledge whatever, except that of honor, to enter the service of their country. When once, however, this pledge was redeemed—when they were mustered into the service, they became a portion of the army of the United States for the period of six or twelve months; and then there could not possibly be a constitutionalobjection to the appointment of their officers by the PreVol. XII.-95
sident. Congress possessed the power to raise armies in any manner they thought proper. Whether they obtained soldiers by individual enlistments, or whether the patriotic young men of the country chose to associate together as volunteers and come in masses, we had an equal right to receive them. . The one mode of obtaining soldiers was just as constitutional as the other. The amendment which had been proposed, whilst it practically insured to the companies the selection of their own company officers, did not interfere with the constitutional powers of the President. The volunteers themselves were to designate such officers, and, if the President approved of such designation, these officers would be appointed. This would be the best and strongest recommendation which could be presented to him; and, no doubt, he would always obey the wishes of the companies, unless in cases where powerful and satisfactory reasons existed to render it improper. Until these volunteers should actually enter the service, they would continue to be militiamen of the States, and liable to perform militia duty in the States. Their character would not be changed. They would not constitute a dormant standing army in the States, with officers appointed by the President, as had been urged; but would be mere associations, bound together by no law but that of honor. Such men would always be ready to obey the call of their country in case of necesThe Senator from South Carolina [Mr. CALhou N] had argued that it would be a violation of the constitution for the President to appoint these officers without the previous advice and consent of the Senate. Whatever doubt might have rested upon this point at the organization of our Government, this power had been exercised, over and over again, ever since the adoption of the constitution, under all administrations. The precedents were numerous. One act had been read, which passed during the late war, conferring upon the President, in express terms, the power of appointing all the officers of the military force to be raised under its provisions, but requiring him to submit these appointments to the Senate for their approbation at the next session. The very same thing was proposed to be done by this act, in regard to all officers above the rank of captain. Mr. B. said he was afraid to trust his memory in attempting to state the proceedings of the committee of conference. So much had been said, that he could not, if he would, undertake to report it all. We did not confine ourselves to the point of disagreement between the two Houses; but almost every question relating to the military defence of the country had been ably and eloquently discussed. He had derived much information on this subject from the members of that committee. There was one fact which he would mention, and which demanded the serious consideration of the country at the present crisis. A gallant and distinguished officer, who was a member of the committee, (General Ripley,) had stated, that, according to his recollection, the history of our Indian wars did not present a single case in which a volunteer force had been beaten by the Indians. Our disasters in this kind of warfare had always been suffered by the regular troops. Our recent experience was certain} in accordance with this statement. This important act, however, established the necessity of raising volunteer corps, in some form or other, composed of our brave and hardy youth, accustomed to the modes of Indian warfare, and who were able and willing to fight the Indians, man to man, according to their own custom. Such men would best protect our citizens from the ravages of the Indians, and would soon put an end to the Creek war. He had said more than he intended, as his chief object in rising had been to request that he might not be appointed a member of the new committee of conference.
Mr. CALHOUN would have been glad if the Senator from Pennsylvania had stated the whole of his objections to this bill. He did object to the President’s appointment of the officers in the recess; because he believed there was no necessity for giving him such power. The volunteer bill of 1812, referred to as a precedent, was passed on the last day of the session, and there was therefore no time to have the appointments submitted to the revision of the Senate. But here there was no such exigency; if this force was to be at all valuable in the Creek war, they would certainly sit there long enough to provide for its constitutional organization. The Senator from Pennsylvania had omitted another of his objections. This bill conferred on the companies the power of appointing the officers, from the rank of captain, down; and there was not the slightest authority for this in the constitution. Remember (said Mr. C.) that this bill provides for an army of the United States: it can only be defended on that ground; and the bill conferred on the companies the power of appointing their own officers, while the constitution provided that they should be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The proposition was to treat all the officers, from captain, down, as inferibr officers, and this, too, in the regular army; and to have them appointed by the President, without the previous consent of the Senate. They well knew how an ambitious man would proceed, when he wanted to seduce the army to aid his views. He would not go first to the general officers; it would be the subordinates that he would first practise on; Cromwell like, he would take the corporals to his bed. The proposition was, in creating this regular army, to confer on the President the power of appointing the officers of every grade. A member of the committee of the other House, who was a distinguished officer in the late war, told them that it would be impossible to raise the force contemplated by the bill, as it now stood; that the experience of the late war had fully shown that but an inconsiderable force could be raised in this way. This gentleman was most decidedly in favor of a volunteer force in the constitutional way. He said further, that, if officered by the States, a trained force of twenty thousand men could be got in a very short time, without the least difficulty. Mr. C. believed that if the bill passed in its present form, there would be a multitude of officers, without men to be commanded; and that if it passed in the form recommended by the Senator from Pennsylvania, there would be neither men nor officers: and this Creek war would have to be ended without this volunteer force. He hoped that it would soon pass off; indeed, he had just been informed that it was not likely to prove as serious as had at first been apprehended. He believed that a volunteer militia force would be as efficient as the force proposed by the Senator from Alabama. Why should not a volunteer militia force, the officers having commissions in their pockets signed by Governor Clay of Alabama, Governor Lynch of Mississippi, or Governor Cannon of Tennessee, be as efficient as if their commissions were signed by Andrew Jackson? With respect to himself, he was not ambitious of serving in this committee of conference, neither had he any objections to doing so. He held himself at the disposal of the Senate, and was content to serve, or not to serve, as it pleased. Mr. PRESTON desired to state the history of the bill, which was a proposition to raise ten thousand volunteers; and the 4th section provided the manner in which they should form themselves into battalions, regiments, brigades, and divisions, out of which had arisen the difficulty in relation to the officering of them. It was yielded that they were not the militia, and, as his colleague had correctly stated, they turned out to be somewhere between the militia and regulars. Informing a battalion or
regiment, if one company belonged to one State, and the other companies necessary to form it belonged to another State, how were the commanding officers of such battalion or regiment to be chosen? If chosen by the States, which State should have the appointment of them? Here was a difficulty that presented itself in regard to appointments by States; to obviate which, it was necessary that something should be done; and in
the discussion in the Senate, they decided that the vol
unteers should not be officered by the States, and the bill was accordingly recommitted to the committee with instructions; and, in obedience to the instructions given by the Senate, the committee reported the bill. The constitutional question which had been raised in regard to the power of appointment by the President, vanished the moment it was decided that the volunteers were not militia. He cited the act of July, 1812, as a precedent for this bill. But his colleague had drawn a distinction between that act, and this bill, and spoke of a force lying inert and scattered over the country, and not under the control of the States, but subject to the call of the President. With all proper deference to the opinion of his colleague, he thought he had not construed this act correctly. By the act of 6th February, 1812, the President was authorized to receive 50,000 volunteers in companies, battalions, regiments, and divisions, who were liable to be called into service, by the terms of that act, within two years from the time the President accepted their services. And where, he asked, were these battalions and divisions during this time? They were lying inert, and scattered over the country, organized and officered for the service of the country, whenever the President called them into service; and in the mean time were not subject to militia duty. And so it was in the other case: they would be inert for two years, from a corporal, up. The enrolment was not to take place after they were brought into actual service, but when organized, to tender their services. Although the President might issue commissions, he did not do it until they were enrolled for actual service, and subject to the articles of war. He was authorized to form them into battalions, regiments, brigades, and divisions. Mr. P. cited the language of the act, to show that they belonged to, and were entitled to the privileges of, the mass of the people, until called into actual service. A portion of that organization must nocessarily, he said, be by the appointment of officers. Taking it for granted that this species of force was desirable, the committtee were not willing, on the grounds of expediency, to endow it with all the constitutional powers of the militia. From 1807 to 1814, this species of force was frequently appealed to in our difficulties with Great Britain. The act of the 3d July, 1812, passed about a week before the other act referred to; the old republican party who voted for the war voting for it, and the federal party, who, voting against all the war measures, of course voted against it. In the ordinary course of militia organization, the companies, battalions, regiments, brigades, and divisions, were all officered complete under the laws of the States; and in his State (South Carolina) they had recently taken some pains in their organization. But who was to command this force? Could the Governor call out one of these brigadiers to take command of a force raised partly out of his brigade, and partly out of other brigades? He could not do it; and, without calling on the State Legislatures, their system could not be altered. For one, he would make no invidious distinction between a commission signed by George McDuffie and one signed by Andrew Jackson. But if 80 or 100 men went beyond the boundary of the States, he woult prefer their officers being appointed by the President. ” Mr, BUCHANAN said he could not now but hope, after May 20, 1836.]
having heard the observations of the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. Calhoux,] that a committee of conference might yet agree upon some compromise which would be acceptable to both Houses. He now believed, from what he had just heard from several members of the other House, that another committee ought to be appointed. The Senator from South Carolina had not, he believed, denied any of the positions which he had stated. They did not materially differ as to their constitutional views on this subject. His (Mr. B's) positions were these: that any number of individuals within the States might associate together, either in companies, battalions, or divisions, for the purpose of entering the army of the United States, for six or for twelve months, upon any contingency which might render their services necessary; that these associations would be voluntary, and not compulsory; and would be held together by no tie but that sense of honor which binds a man to enter the service of his country, after he has declared, in the presence of the world, that such was his determination; and that these volunteers, after having arrived at the place of rendezvous, and after having been mustered into service, but not before, became a part of the regular army of the United States; and the President could then, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint their officers. At one period of the conference, he had believed that the committee would arrive at these conclusions. One of the objections of the Senator from South Carolina was, that the appointment of the captains of companies and other inferior officers ought, like that of the superior officers, to be submitted to the Senate. Mr. B. had been perfectly willing, and was still willing, to adopt this modification. He could not, however, agree, nor did he understand the gentleman now to insist upon it, that these offices could not be filled without the previous advice of the Senate. Such a provision would render the law perfectly nugatory. We might not, and probably would not, be in session when these appointments must be made. The same necessity which the entleman alleges to have existed during the late war, or authorizing the President to make appointments during the recess of the Senate, will exist in regard to the appointments to be made under this act. Besides, whatever might be our opinion in regard to the power of the President, if the question were now, for the first time, submitted to us, Congress have so often authorized him to make appointments during the recess, to be submitted to the Senate at its next session, that this constitutional question must be considered as settled. As to the act of 1812, which had just been cited by the other Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. Pn Eston,] he thought it went too far. He would not say that it was unconstitutional, because he had not examined the subject sufficiently to express a positive opinion. This he would say, however, that it did authorize the exist ence of a dormant military force within the several States, commanded by officers appointed by the President of the United States, and liable to be called into service at any moment he might think proper. The individuals composing this force were exempted from militia duty within the States. Upon the principles contained in this act, the militia of the several States might be subverted, and a national militia, under the command of national officers, might be substituted in its stead. This would certainly be at war with the spirit of the constitution, which reserves to the States respectively the appointment of the officers of the militia, and the authority of training them according to the discipline prescribed by Congress. The militia emphatically belongs to the States, and not to the general Government; and it might be very dangerous for the States to surrender their control over this force into the hands of Congress. Under the act cited by the gentleman, a portion of the
militia was taken from the control of the States, and relieved from the performance of militia duty, whilst they remained in the heart of the country, mixed up with the other citizens. This did seem to him to interfere with the power of the States over their militia, contrary to the provisions of the constitution. But these objections did not apply to the bill before them, nor to the amendment he had suggested. They had drawn a broad line of separation between the force to be raised and the militia of the States. What they proposed was, that these volunteers should associate themselves together for the purpose of offering their services to their country, and that, when they arrived at their places of rendezvous, they should enrol themselves, and be mustered into service as a part of the regular army; but, until then, that they should remain as they were, citizens of the several States, liable to the performance of the militia duty of the States. With these views, he was confident that a new committee of conference might come to such an agreement as would be acceptable to both Houses, and he therefore hoped that one would be appointed. He was almost ashamed to say that he had never acquainted himself sufficiently with the rules which governed the proceedings of a committee of conference. His common sense, however, had taught him that it was the duty of such a committee to confine itself to the point of disagreement between the two Houses; but he had been informed by gentlemen of great experience that the whole subject of the bill was open to them. Acting upon this principle, they had got into a general discussion as to the relative value of volunteer and regular, as well as common militia forces. He believed now that a committee of conference might do some good, and that, by steering clear of the constitutional scruples of gentlemen, they might agree on some amendments that would render the bill acceptable to both Houses, and thus enable them speedily to adopt a measure so urgently demanded for the protection of the suffering inhabitants of the frontiers. Mr. B. said, as he should not be a member of the new committee of conference, he would read the amendment which had been so much discussed in the old committee. “Be it enacted, That the said volunteers shall form themselves into companies, and designate their company officers, who, if he approve of such designations, shall be commissioned by the President, after they shall have been mustered into service; and that the President be, and hereby is, authorized to organize the volunteers so mustered into service, as aforesaid, into battalions, squadrons, regiments, brigades, and divisions, as soon as the number of volunteers shall render such organization, in his judgment, expedient; and shall then appoint the necessary officers; which appointment shall be submitted to the Senate at its next session.” Mr. LEIGH said the bill, as it came from the other House, provided that the President be authorized to accept the service of ten thousand volunteers; and the com: mittee finding no provision for appointing field and staff officers, provided that the President should appoint them. In most of the States there were corps of men called volunteers; and what struck him was, that it was these volunteer companies that were excepted, and that the first provision required that the companies should be officered by the States. But the greatest difficulty that struck him was, that when companies were some from one state, and some from another, in forming the battalions: who was to appoint the officers of such battalions? And so in the case of regiments, brigades, and divisions. He contended that the only mark of distinction,between volunteers and regulars was, that one received the bounty, and the other jid not. As to the character of the force, the length of the term of service was of no consequence. SENATE.]
District Bunks–Fortification Bill.
[May 21, 1836.
It was a voluntary enlistment in both cases—the one with, and the other without, the bounty; and they ought to be commissioned in the same way as the commissions were issued for the regular army. But the greatest difficulty, in his mind, was in taking a body of men out of the militia, and keeping them subject to the control of the President. Mr. WBBSTER said the first proposition to be considered was, that the militia belonged to the States, who had the exclusive right to organize and train them; there was no other militia known to the constitution. The militia, therefore, was the militia of the States, there being no such thing as a national militia known to the constitution. If they were to say that there should be men enrolled and officered by the Government, liable to be called into service at its pleasure, that would be a national militia, which he supposed no gentleman contemplated. By the constitution, they might raise an army, and, on a sudden emergency, call on the States to furnish military aid by their militia. In the first ten years of the Government, a law was passed under their difficulties with France, authorizing the President, should circumstances render it necessary, to raise a provisional force; and the act went on to provide that, when raised and organized, this force should be subject to the rules and articles of war. There might then be a provisional army, as well as a regular army. He had no idea that any man could be in the military service of the United States, but in one or the other of the two characters—a member of the regular army, or a militiaman, called into service in the constitutional way. He would be the last man to agree that there should be an organized, unemployed force scattered through the country, liable to be called into service at the pleasure of the Executive; but for a short service it seemed to him that they might accomplish the object by providing that the men should have the privilege of electing their own officers, such elections to be approved of and confirmed by the President. It was with these views, and to render it more in conformity to the general ideas of a volunteer force, that he had made this suggestion when the bill was before them a few days ago. He had simply made the proposition, leaving it to wiser heads than his own to determine the manner in which it should be carried into effect. Mr. CALHOUN stated his impressions in reference to that amendment; and, as he understood it, the members of the committee who voted for the amendment, voted for it as preferable to the bill of the Senate. The question was put distinctly, whether they would prefer their own bill of the Senate, or the bill as amended by the Senator from Pennsylvania? and they decided in favor of their own bill. The cases cited as precedents for this bill were not analogous; and by the act of July, 1812, the distinction was still broader, which was “upon the express condition of enrolling;”, which, by changing the phraseology of a single word, it would read, “on the express condition of enlisting.” The question was discussed in committee as to what was the condition of these men before being called into service, after their service was tendered. They were citizens; and, he would ask, could they be tried by a court-martial? The question was, simply, whether the President could enrol a number of men as an army, and leave them in the midst of the citizens? He could not bring his mind to the conclusion to consent that the officers should be appointed without the consent of the Senate. The act of the 3d of July was passed under peculiar emergencies at the very close of the session, and he could not consent to recognise it as a general precedent. After some further remarks from Messrs. PRESTON, CALHOUN, SOUTHARD, and WEBSTER, The question was taken, and the Senate determined *o insist on its amendment, and to ask for another con
ference; and, on balloting for a committee on the part of the Senate, Messrs. CALHOUN, KING of Alabama, and NICHOLAS, were chosen.
On motion of Mr. WHITE, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of executive business; after which, it adjourned.
SATun DAr, MAY 21. DISTRICT BANKS.
Mr. KENT moved to take up the bill to recharter the banks of the District of Columbia.
Mr. BENTON said he should oppose the taking up any measure whatever, except a defence or appropriation bill, till the fortification bill was disposed of; and he therefore asked for the yeas and nays on the motion of the Senator from Maryland.
The yeas and nays having been accordingly ordered, the question was taken, and decided in the negative— yeas 16, nays 16; the Chair giving the casting vote.
On motion of Mr. LINN, the bill making appropriations for the purchase of sites, the collection of materials, and for the commencement of certain fortifications, was taken up; the question being on Mr. BEN to N’s amendment, as modified by Mr. PREston, to strike out $101,000 for fortifications at Penobscot, and insert “for fortifications at Penobscot bay, $75,000 per annum for two years.”
Mr. BENTON said the immediate question before the Senate related to the prospective appropriations; the appropriations for two or more years at once, for carrying on the fortifications. He had moved amendments to this effect, in pursuance of instructions from the Military Committee; and the committee had acted under the recommendation of the Secretary of War, (Mr. Cass.) Personally, he (Mr. B.) would wish to make all the provisions of the bill acceptable to those who were favorable to its general object, and should be sorry that any such should be alienated from the bill by the proposed amendment. He would go far to keep it in a form that should be acceptable to them; but there was one class of objectors to this form of appropriation, to whose conscientious and constitutional scruples he could not defer, and whom he held to be estopped—if he might use a law term--by their own act, and forever barred from setting up this objection; he alluded to the distributors of the revenue—to the gentlemen who, at former sessions, and at the present one, had voted for five years appropriations at once, of what was called the proceeds of the public lands. To the scruples of these gentlemen he could not defer, and with their objections he could have no compromise; for he could not comprehend the train of reasoning by which gentlemen could bring themselves to balk at small and limited appropriations for two years, for objects named in the constitution, after having voted indefinite millions for five years for a purpose not named, not thought of not dreamed of, in the constitution, nor heard of until forty years after that instrument was formed.
There was nothing in the constitution against this prospective appropriation for building the forts; on the contrary, there was a clear implication in its favor. There was a limitation against extended appropriations for the support of armies; but that was founded upon a reason peculiar to armies—a reason which could have no application to the construction of forts; and, if it did, would not militate against the proposed appropriations, but would sanction them; for two years was the limit upon the army appropriations, and two years is the extent of the proposed appropriations for the fortifications. So far as the constitution was concerned, the argument,