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propositions had been made: one, by the Senator from them, and enable them to go on as formerly with their
South Carolina, [Mr. CALhoux,] to loan it out without interest, and for a certain period, on certain conditions, to the several States composing the Union; and the other, by the Senator from New York, [Mr. Wright,) to in: west it in stocks on the credit of some of the States of the Union. The first proposition in the bill, providing for the safe keeping of the public money, by adopting some arrangements that would be satisfactory to both Houses, he had great hopes would be determined on, and become a law before the close of the session; for from what he had ... observed of the spirit of the Senate during the last week, he thought some satisfactory measure would be adopted, and he, for one, would do all in his power to bring about the adoption of some measure satisfactory to Congress and the nation. He had not, however, the same confidence that anything would be done as to the disposition of the surplus. In looking to the two propositions relating to this object, he thought he could engraft amendments on the one of the Senator from New York, which would render it more conformable to his views than the original bill of the Senator from South Carolina, under any modifications that could be made to it. One great objection which he had to the plan of the Senator from South Carolina was, that it legalized the present disposition of the public funds, and, though the same objection applied to the plan of the Senator from New York, yet the objection was not so strong, and could be removed by striking out a particular section of the amendment. His view was, that they should not consider the public funds as rightfully placed anywhere, except under the control of law, and that they should take up the subject de noro, and pass a law declaring where they should be placed, in the same manner as if they had never been taken from the custody of the law. The measure for the deposite and safe keeping of the public money could be carried into effect immediately; but the other measure, for the disposition of the surplus, would require much time to be put into operation. If they adopted the proposition of the Senator from South Carolina, they would have to wait for the meetings of the State Legislatures to give their assent to it; and if they adopted the plan } the Senator from New York, much time will be required to enable the commissioners to purchase stocks. He was satisfied, considering the amount of public money in deposite, that the places of deposite were too few. In looking over the statement of the Secretary of the Treasury, he found that the deposites in all the banks were equal to the whole amount of their capital stock; and that where the largest masses were deposited, the deposites were sometimes double and sometimes three times that amount. The effect of this was, that the banks which received large masses of deposites must make an underhand use of them, or let them remain idle, because they are not permitted by their charters to discount more than a certain amount beyond their capital. They also accumulated in their vaults the notes of neighboring banks, whose issues and accommodations to the public were by this means restrained; and, therefore, jealousies and distrusts naturally arose. The banks whose notes are thus held up by the deposite banks, feeling themselves in their power, fear to discount, and the public therefore suffer by it. To remedy the evils growing out of this state of things, he would suggest to the Senator from New York to modify his amendment, by providing that the deposites in no bank shall exceed half the amount of its capital stock actually paid in. The result of this amendment would be, that it would be necessary to select other deposite banks, who would receive from the present deposite banks the notes that are now held up in terrorem against
ordinary accommodations to the public. It would also more effectually secure the safety of the public money; for it was obvious that, if a bank failed, it must pay all the demands against it before the stockholders got any thing; and thus, by having in these banks but an amount of deposite equal to half their capital, the public never could be losers, unless in very extraordinary cases, which could be guarded against by selecting banks under the management of men of known honor and respectability. This amendment would also render the banks independent: they would not, as now, be in the power of the Secretary of the Treasury, and liable to be broken at any moment that he chose to remove the deposites from them. Mr. E. stated his objections to the provision requiring that, as a security for the public deposites, the deposite banks shall have an amount of specie in their vaults equal to one fourth of their circulation. This provision, he thought, would have a very unequal operation, and was not calculated to effect the object in view. It was supposing that the liabilities of the banks arose from their circulation only. Mr. E. instanced some banks whose liabilities for their circulation were in a small proportion to their capital, and mentioned other banks whose liabilities consisted almost wholly in their circulation. He himself did not look upon the specie in a bank as a test of its ability to pay its debts. There ought to be specie in a bank to some extent to meet any sudden run that might be made on it; but further than this, it was not necessary. If the amendment which he proposed, limiting the amount of deposites in these banks to half the amount of their capital, should prevail, he thought they need not be so particular as to the amount of specie they had. Mr. E., after referring to some other amendments that he intended to propose, proceeded to consider the propositions for the disposition of the surplus. He considered the plan of the Senator from New York as less objectionable than the one of the Senator from South Carolina, though he was not prepared to express a decided opinion with regard to either. Mr. E. then went into a minute examination of the nature of the stocks proposed to be purchased by the commissioners of the sinking fund, stating the advantages and disadvantages of each, with the effect that large investments in them by the Government would have both on the stock markçt and the money market; after which, he laid on the table, for the consideration of the Senate, the amendments that he proposed to submit at a suture time. Mr. WRIGHT suggested that the best course, in his opinion, would be to refer the whole subject. In the mean time the discussion might proceed, so as to put the Senate in possession of all the ideas of gentlemen in reference to this matter. He thought that course would be a saving of time to the Senate, and the best mode of perfecting the bill. Mr. CALHOUN suggested that the bill might be laid on the table, or postponed, until some Senator should be prepared to go on with the discussion. Mr. WEBSTER asked to what time it was proposed to postpone the discussion. Mr. CALHOUN replied, until to-morrow, or whenever any Senator might be prepared to proceed. Mr. WALKER said that the unfavorable position in which the State of Mississippi would be placed by the measure proposed by the motion of the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. CALHous, compelled him to trespass for a few moments upon the time of the Senate. The proposition is to loan the surplus money to the States, upon their Legislatures passing laws to return the money to the General Government, in certain instalments, upon the call of Congress. Now, said Mr. W., Mississippi can pass no such law, and consequently can
receive no portion of this gratuitous loan, and will not by this bill be placed on an equal footing with her sister States. There is a general and comprehensive clause in the new constitution of Mississippi, prohibiting the Legislature from pledging the faith of the State for the redemption of any loan whatever, except by the consent, in all cases, of two successive Legislatures, and then under certain restrictions and limitations which might prevent the passage of the law altogether. Mr. W. said, as the sessions of the Legislature in Mississippi are biennial, another obstacle would be interposed to the adoption of any law of that State on this subject, within any convenient period. This bill, then, was a proposition to make gratuitous loans, without interest, to all the States except Mississippi. But, Mr. W. said, he had other objections to this bill. It was a dangerous and untried experiment. It would greatly complicate and embarrass the relations between the States and the General Government. It would make all the States debtors of the General Government, and create a new and strong pecuniary interest in favor of a dissolution of the Union, As a means of absolving themselves from the heavy debts they may incur to the General Government under this law. The relation of debtor and creditor was not generally one of long continued friendship. It was an old but true remark, if you wish to make a friend your enemy, loan him money beyond his means of convenient payment. The remark will apply with full force to the States and the General Government. If we wish to embroil ourselves with the States, and make them the enemies of this Government, let us loan them money, as proposed by this bill, far beyond their means of convenient payment. It is admitted that the States will expend this money; and when we call upon them for payment, will it be made? Suppose a minority of States refuse payment, or that a single State refuses, how will we collect the money? A suit is impracticable. Will we, then, collect it by force, or leave it uncollected, to the injury of all the States that make payment? But if the Genéral Government must loan the money, and the States must make good the loan, how will they do it? Will the State Legislatures dare to impose a direct tax upon the people of each State, to refund these uncounted millions? No, they will instruct their representatives in Congress to collect the money required by the General Government by increasing the tariff and the price of the
ublic lands. If the loan be not a gift in disguise, an increase of the tariff and the price of the public lands is the inevitable result of this measure. If it be a gift in disguise, it is a distribution of the surplus revenue, which the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Calhous] has denounced as a gross violation of the constitution. And (said Mr. W.) if Mississippi could really receive her portion, the ratio would be most unjust. By this bill, the State of Mississippi would receive no more than Rhode Island, although, taking the votes given in Mississippi at the last election as a criterion of her increase since the last census, she must now contain three times the population of Rhode Island. The measure would, then be unequal and unjust—doubly so when it was considered that Mississippi, through the collections from the land office and other sources, paid into the public Treasury ten times the amount paid by Rhode Island.
Mr. W. Said the amount deposited in the deposite banks was large, but from ten to sixteen millions had been repeatedly in deposite in the bank of the United States. Then it was thought all right and proper by that institution, and she viewed a restoration of the dé. Posites to the bank as indispensable to the salvation of the country; but now we aré told that the country is to be ruined because a large amount is deposited in State banks. ... Mr. W. believed there was infinitely more dan. ger to liberty from accumulating this money in a single
bank, than from depositing it in various State institutions. The evil was this, that we never should have collected this vast amount from the people; and we should now and at once reduce our collections, by reducing the price of the public lands and all other taxes. Reduce your revenue and taxes, and loans or distribution are unnecessary. Mr. W. said the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Calhous] had fixed the surplus revenue this year at about $26,000,000. Mr. W. would not pretend to say whether that Senator was correct in the list of items by which he made up this amount; but if he were, there might be other items that would greatly reduce this sum. If the Bank of the United States, as from present symptoms seemed probable, should have the audacity to retain the stock of the Government in that bank to pay her pretended infraction of her charter by the Government, then seven millions must be striken off the twenty-six millions, which would reduce the amount to nineteen millions; the war, another source of expenditure, yet remaining. When the Creek and Seminole war terminates this summer, it will be a solemn duty which we owe to the people of Florida and Alabama to remove these Indians at once, whatever the expense may be, beyond the limits of Alabama and Florida. Protecting the people of Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, from a renewal of these inhuman massacres, would be much better than loaning money. The number of Indians in Alabama and Florida was about thirty thousand, and we must remove them beyond the reach of white settlements, peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must: and the expense of removal in this manner will be enormous. We have now in Alabama and Florida a surplus only of blood and misery, and we must guard at any expense against a repetition of these inhuman massacres by these “poor Indians,” with whom a certain party once so deeply sympathised, and whom they would retain within the settled States and Territories of the Union, there to commit these terrible atrocities upon every age and sex, and to give over the bodies of the dead to the wolves and vultures of the wilderness. No, said Mr. W., these scenes must not be repeated; no party can or does desire it. This 1ndian removal must be instantaneous, forcible; and the expense will still further greatly reduce our surplus revenue. To the proposition of the Senator from New York he had some objection. If he voted for it, it would be because no other alternative was left; but he hoped that no transfers of moneys from any deposite banks would be permitted to distant banks, except for necessary disbursements in other quarters. His confidence in the wisdom and integrity of the Secretary of the Treasury was very great. He was a most honest and able functionary; but this was a power which he could not desire to retain, and justice required that the money in the deposite banks, at the points where it was collected, should never be drawn from those institutions, to be placed in other and distant deposite banks, except when needed for the disbursements of the Government. Mr. W. was not satisfied with any of the propositions before the Senate in their present form; he hoped, however, that the bill would be referred, and some wise and judicious measure would yet be devised. It was due to ourselves and the country; and, in sustaining such a measure, he would co-operate to the full extent of his humble abilities. Let us not, however, convert the General Government into a money-lender to the States, with or without interest. If we do, we will effect a radical change in the relations between the states and the Generol 9overnment; a change full of complications and difficulty, and threatening the repose, if not the very exis” of the inion. U §. motion of Mr. CALHOUN, the bill was then laid on the table, to be taken up at one 9 clock to-morrow. SENATE.]
Convention with Spain—Recaptors of the Frigate Philadelphia.
[May 31, 1836.
On motion of Mr. WHITE, the Senate proceeded to the consideration of executive business; after which, it adjourned.
Tues DAY, MAY 31.
CONVENTION WITH SPAlN.
On motion of Mr. CLAY, the Senate considered the message from the liouse disagreeing to the amendment of the Senate to the bill to carry into effect the convention with Spain.
This bill, as it came from the House, provided for the appointment of a board of commissioners for the division and distribution of the money obtained under the treaty. The Senate amended the bill by striking out all the provisions regarding commissioners, and assigning the duties to the Attorney General. The House disagreed to this amendment; and the question now before the Senate was on concurrence in that disagreement.
Mr. CLAY moved that the Senate insist on its amendment; and that a committee of conference, to consist of three Senators, be appointed. The motion was agreed to.
RECAPTORS OF THE Firl GATE PHILADELPHIA. The bill to reward the recaptors of the frigate Phil. adelphia coming up for consideration, and the question being on the engrossment of the bill— Mr. ROBBINS rose, and spoke to the following effect: This bill is a bill to compensate the recaptors of the frigate Philadelphia, after her capture by the barbarians of Tripoli, and while she was, and after she had long been, in their secure possession, in their own harbor, and under the guns of their own fort, and where she was kept fully manned and armed as their pride as well as defence, and where she was a monument at once for barbarian triumph and for American humiliation. This protecting fort was armed with more than a hundred guns, and backed, it was said, by an army in camp of twenty thousand men. The banks of this harbor were lined with land-batteries throughout, and armed also with more than a hundred guns, and its waters were guarded by a thousand seamen. Still this little gallant band, the recaptors, at the dead of night, with Decatur at their head, made their way to this frigate, boarded her, cut down every barbarian on board, or drove him over her sides into the water; then, and in obedience to orders to set fire to her in different parts, burnt her down to the water's edge, and then made their retreat in safety; and all this in the face and fire of the artillery of that sort and of those land-batteries. Thus, in flames, was extinguished this monument of our disgrace, and our own frigate was no longer to be employed as a pirate in piracies on our own commerce in those seas. This astonishing feat struck a terror into all the Powers on the Barbary coast, and they humbled themselves to their fears of a people capable of such daring exploits. They were soon after brought to sue for peace; to release our captive citizens without ransom; in a word, to suffer us to dictate to them the terms of peace. From that moment, ever after down to the present time, our commerce, before so vexed and harassed and plundered, has been safe to our merchants in those seas. Such were the fruits of that bold and successful enterprise. In every instance, save this, the capture and destruction of an enemy's vessel of war, or the recapture of our own vessel of war from the enemy, has been compensated to the captors by Congress. To the report in this case there is appended a complete list of all those cases, and of the compensation made to each, fully attesting this fact. This case stands a solitary exception. Though the first in the order of time, though in brilliant and consequential merits the first, it remains the last and
alone to be compensated. The subject has frequently been before Congress, and in no instance have ever the propriety and the duty of making compensation, and to the amount of this bill, been made a question; but a difference of opinion as to the scale of distribution has been the difficulty, and has frustrated every bill for compensation heretofore reported. To obviate the objections growing out of this difference of opinion, the committee have now reported a bill with a scale of distribution corresponding to the pay of the officers and seamen of the navy, according to the pay-bill adopted at the last session of Congress. This, we think, will do justice, and give satisfaction. The parties interested, all, as we understand and believe, will be content with this scale. As the same bill has now been reported to both Houses, the committees indulge the hope that no difficulties of form will longer impede this act of national justice. But one word further, with the indulgence of the Senate, as to the merits of this case. Let it be recollected that this daring enterprise was out of the routine of the regular naval service; it was indeed permitted, but not directed, by the commanding officer on that station; it was wholly a volunteer enterprise. It was originally suggested by the gallant, and ever-to-be-lamented Decatur, then a lieutenant, and but a youth as it were. He saw that the thing was practicable to spirits daring like his own, and that the achievement, though full of danger, would be full of honor. He saw the brilliant page it would make in history, but he did not foresee that it would be but the title-page to that volume of brilliant exploits which subsequently were to illustrate our naval annals, of which this was to be the precursor and animating model. He soon collected his volunteer band of congenial spirits, all young like himself, and, like him, burning with a thirst for distinction. Confiding in themselves, they went to the enterprise confident of success, and did realize what to colder minds would seem but the dream of romance. It is pleasing to note the number of our naval heroes, who afterwards so much distinguished themselves in our naval battles, who gave their juvenile and first proofs of heroism in this heroic enterprise. It is not easy to estimate the value to a country of a sublime achievement in any line of merit, by any of her own sons, as an example to enkindle the spirit of emulation in others to rival, and of ambition to surpass it; nor is it wise in any Government to be penurious or over frugal in awarding remuneration for such value: for it is the sublime in achievement only that has this desirable, this almost magical influence in example; that sublime which the voice of fame gives to immortality. Man born to immortality in another life, aspires to it in this. But over all that is vulgar in men, and things, and human affairs, he sees time to roll her oblivious wave; and that nothing but the sublime in human virtue and human achievement stands secure and aloft above her devouring flood, and never to be affected by it. These achievements he admires, and, emulating these, he treads the arduous paths that lead to the same glorious heights. But it is the home-example that has most of this marvellous effect. Who that dwells upon the great example near to him in time and place, and in a congenial pursuit, but has felt himself animated, and carried even beyond himself, in his efforts, on the self-inquiry, “Why should I not do what my fellow has done? and why should my equal outstrip and leave me behind in the race of glory?” Hence it happens that one sublime achievement, by its animating influence, begets another, and another, and another, till they cluster into a constellation. Hence, too, it happens that these constellations break upon the world but periodically. The brilliant eras which mark the history of all nations who have greatly distinguished themselves, are to be traced to the operation and force of this prinMAY 31, 1836.]
ciple—the magical influence of great example, by compatriots on compatriots. Who can doubt, then, but that the constellation of naval victories which adorns our naval annals in our late war with Great Britain, sprung from the spirit of emulation kindled by the brilliant exploit achieved in the capture and destruction of the frigate Philadelphia? That was the original spark, which, spreading, and kindling as it spread, afterwards broke out into such a blaze of naval glory as to be seen over the earth, and under the whole heavens; commencing with the attack and sudden destruction of the Guerriere on the ocean, (the thunder is scarcely more sudden on the lightning’s flash than was that destruction upon that attack, ) and closing with the brilliant though bloody triumphs of ou fleets on the Lakes. The glorious achievement of the recapture and destruction of the frigate Philadelphia, the precursor and progenitor of so many others, remains alone of them all, and the only one not yet requited by the justice of our country. Shall this cold neglect still be continued to mark her insensibility to such illustrious merit? Your votes must determine. The question was then taken, and decided as follows: * YEAs—Messrs. Benton, Black, Buchanan, Cuthbert, Ewing of Illinois, Ewing of Ohio, Goldsborough, Hendricks, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Linn, Naudain, Nicholas, Niles, Porter, Prentiss, Preston, Rives, Robbins, Shepley, Southard, Tallmadge, Walker, Wall, White—26.
NAys—Messrs. Brown, Clay, Crittenden, Davis, Leigh, Morris, Robinson, Tomlinson, Webster, Wright—10.
ANNUAL MEETING OF CONGRESS.
The bill to appoint a day for the annual meeting of Congres came up for consideration. This bill, as reported, reads thus: “Be it enacted, &c. That hereafter the annual meeting of Congress to be assembled in pursuance of the constitution, shall be on the first Monday of November of every year; and that the day of adjournment of the first session of every succeeding Congress shall be the second Monday of May, after the commencement of such session, unless Congress shall at any such session, by joint resolution of both Houses, otherwise provide.” Mr. PORTER moved to strike out “first,” before Monday, in the beginning of the bill, and insert “third.” The motion was negatived. The bill was then ordered to be engrossed: Ayes 27.
The Senate proceeded to the consideration of the bill to regulate the deposites of the public money; when, l Mr. WFBSTER rose and addressed the Chair as folows:
Mr. President: I have no desire to make myself responsible, in any special manner, for what may either be done or omitted, on this subject. It is surrounded with difficulties, some of them, as I think, unnecessarily created; and as these have been produced by measures in which I did not concur, it naturally belongs to others, who did concur in those measures, and who now possess the power, to apply the remedy, according to their judg. ments, and on their own responsibility. But I incline, nevertheless, to express my opinions on a subject of such very high interest, and to let them have what weight they are entitled to, if it may be supposed that they are entitled to any weight at all. - On one point, I presume we are all agreed, and that is, that the subject is of great importance. It affects the
..?nnual Meeting of Congress--Public Deposites.
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finances of the country, the security of the public money, and the state of the currency; and it affects, also, the practical and actual distribution of power among the several branches of the Government. The bill comprises provisions for two objects: First, regulations for the custody of the public money between the time of its collection and the time of its disbursement; and, as naturally connected with this, it contemplates, or must at least very materially affect, the currency of the country, the exchanges, and the usual operations of credit in the commercial world. The second direct object of the bill is a reduction, positive or contingent, of the amount of money in the Treasury. It seems probable, sir, the bill, so far as it respects the first of these objects, may be so modified as to receive the approbation of a majority of the Senate. A committee, acting in a spirit of conciliation, and with an honest desire to avoid the points of former difference, might, I think, agree on the regulations to be prescribed to the deposite banks. The sentiments which have been advanced in the course of the discussion, do not appear to be irreconcilable. In the present state of things, I see no way but to employ State banks as depositories of the public money; and I have a sincere desire to subject them to such regulations, and such only, as shall make them, in the highest procticable degree, safe to the Government and useful to the country. To this end, I am of opinion that the first step is, to increase their numbers. At present their number, especially in the large cities, is too small. They have too large sums in deposite, in proportion to their capital and their legal limits of discount. By this means the public money is locked up. It is hoarded. It is withdrawn, to a considerable extent, from the general mass of conmercial means, and is suffered to accumulate, with no possible benefit to the Government, and with great inconvenience and injury to the general business of the country. On this point there seems little diversity of opinion. All appear to agree that the number of deposite banks should be so far increased, that each may regard that portion of the public treasure which it may receive, as an increase of its effective deposites, to be used, like other moneys in deposite, as a basis of discount, to a just and proper extent. I regard this modification of the present system as indispensable. I think, too, that, for the use of these deposites, the banks should pay a moderate interest. They can well afford it. The best banks in the States will be ready, I do not doubt, to receive the deposites, on that condition among others. What the rate of interest should be, depends very much on what we may do with the surplus revenue. If we leave that surplus undistributed, the banks ought to pay a large interest. If we provide for distributing the surplus, thus leaving but a small amount in the banks, and making it their duty, at the same time, to transfer the public funds from place to place when requested, without charge, the rate of interest should of course be less. I agree, too, to what has been suggested, respecting the authority to change those banks. They ought not to be changed, but for plain and specific cause, set down and provided for in the law itself. Any restriction less than this, will place a discretion in the hands of the Executive which will be very capable of being abused. Nor should the Secretary be at liberty to order funds from one bank to another, for any other reason than the exigencies of the public service. He should not be at liberty to use the public treasure for the purposes of upholding the credit or increasing the means of any State institution. The bill proposes that all the deposite banks shall be
bound to keep, at all times, an amount of specie in their vaults bearing a certain proportion to their debts and liabilities. I approve of this, not so much from any belief that the solidity of the banks can be secured by any such provision, as because a regulation of this kind may tend, in some measure, to retain a certain quantity of specie in the country, and by that means to secure, in some small degree, the general circulation against violent shocks. But I do not attach great importance to this. in my opinion, Mr. President, if the bill pass with these modifications, a considerable benefit will be conferred on the community. Confidence will be, in some measure at least, restored; the banks will possess the power of useful action, and the distressing uncertainty which now hangs over every thing being dispelled, the commercial community will find its way out of its present embarrassment. Still, sir, I am bound to say that the present system, in my opinion, can never be perfect. It can never be the best system. It can never be a safe regulator of the currency of the country, nor furnish solid security against derangement. It can never give to the mercantile world the cheapest, safest, and best means of facilitating domestic exchanges. The State banks were not made for these general purposes; they are not fitted for them; they have not the unity and comprehensiveness of plan and of operation which the successful accomplishment of such purposes requires. They are subject to various limitations by their charters, and it may even be doubtful, in some cases, whether they can legally bind themselves in such stipulations and contracts as we propose to submit to them. They were established for local, not for general objects. They did not expect to receive Government deposites; and it might possibly be thought important to their stockholders and customers to be informed whether, in case of failure or insolvency, the priority of the United States would prevail, as in other cases, to the postponement of all other debts and claims. It is certainly my opinion, sir, that we are running great hazards with the currency of the country. I see no well-assured reliance for its safety in this system of deposite banks, regulated as well as they may be. Nevertheless, regulation is necessary, nay, it is indispensable; and some present benefit at least would arise, I am persuaded, from the passage of a proper law. I come now, sir, to the other important object of this bill—the reduction of the amount of money in the Treasury. And here the first question is, whether there will be any surplus revenue. Will there be any thing to divide at the end of this year? On this point opinions are not agreed, but I think there will be a surplus, and a large surplus. I do not see any probability either of such a falling off of income, on the one hand, or such an increase of expenditure, on the other, as shall leave the Treasury exhausted at the end of this year. I speak of this year only, because the measure which I shall propose will be limited to the end of this year. My plan is to provide for the surplus which may be on hand at the end of this year, and to stop there. As to the probable state of the Treasury at that time, agree it is matter of opinion and estimate; but we know what sum is on hand now, and we are drawing the session to a close, when appropriations will cease, and the year itself is already half expired. It would seem, then, that we ought to be able to judge of the state of the Treasury six months hence, without risk of great and wide mistake. I proceed on the following general estimate and calculation: January 1, 1836. Amount of money in the Treasury, - - - - $25,000,000
[May 31, 1836.
This estimate, sir, does not rest solely on my own judgment. I find others, acquainted with the subject, and competent to judge, coming to conclusions not far different from my own. It is true this rests on opinion. It cannot be mathematically proved that we shall have a surplus in the Treasury at the end of the year; but the practical question is, whether that result is not so highly probable that it is our duty to make some provision for it, and to make that provision now. I propose only to divide the surplus. If it shall happen, after all, that there shall be no surplus, then the measure will have done no harm. But if the surplus shall not be forty millions, but only thirty-five, thirty, twenty-five, or even twenty, still, if it be now probable that it will reach even the lowest of these sums, is it not our duty to provide for it? This is a contingent measure, not a positive one. It is intended to apply to a case, in my judgment, very likely to arise, indeed, I may say, a case which, in all probability, will arise; but, if it should not, then the proposed measure will have no operation. I have already observed that, in my opinion, the measure should be limited to one single division——one distribution of the surplus money in the Treasury. In that respect my proposition differs from the bill of the honorable member from South Carolina, and it differs, too, from the amendment proposed by the member from New York. I think it safest to treat the present state of things as extraordinary, as being the result of accidental causes, or causes, the recurrence of "which hereafter, we cannot calculate upon with certainty. There would be insuperable objections, in my opinion, to a settled practice of distributing revenue among the States. It would be a strange operation of things, and its effects upon our system of government might well be feared. I cannot reconcile myself to the spectacle of the States receiving their revenues, their means even of supporting their own Governments, from the Treasury of the United States. If, indeed, the land bill could pass, and we could act on the policy, which I think the true policy, of regarding the public lands as a fund belonging to the people of all the States, I should cheerfully concur in that policy, and be willing to make an annual distribution of the proceeds of the lands, for some years at least. But if we cannot separate the proceeds of the lands from other revenue, if all must go into the Treasury together, and there remain together, then I have no hesitation in declaring that the income from customs must be reduced. It must be reduced, even at the hazard of injury to some branches of manufacturing industry; because this, in my opinion, would be a less evil than that extraordi: nary and dangerous state of things in which the United