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discussion; but he wished to submit a few observations to the House, in the sincere hope that the embarrassment of their situation might be relieved, and a decisive vote taken on this important and exciting topic. This same subject had been presented to the consideration of Congress, from time to time, since he had a seat there, on the petition of persons who had, as these petitioners have, no community of interest in the alleged grievance of which they complained; and he would here say, what he firmly believed, that he had never seen on the floor of the House of Representatives a half dozen members, of any party, disposed to exercise their legislative authority for the abolition of slavery here or elsewhere. In the course of this debate, he was happy to have heard every gentleman express a decided opposition to the prayer of the petition. All concurred that there should be no legislative enactment in conformity to their wishes. But the difficulty exists in the conflicting views as to the means by which this end is to be attained. How is the subject to be disposed of? The House has decided to consider the petition. The gentleman from Maryland has moved to reconsider that vote. Some gentlemen are opposed to this motion, because they wish to lay the petition on the table, from which it cannot be called up without the concurrence of two thirds of the House, and thus give it its quietus, and in effect refuse to consider it. But will they accomplish their object? I understand the gentleman from New York [Mr. BEARnsler] to have suggested that, if more agreeable to the House, he will modify his motion to lay on the table, so as to refuse to consider the prayer of the petition. It appeared to him that this was precisely equivalent to a direct vote on the question of consideration; and although avoided now, it must be met on some other petition of a similar character with this. It is necessary that the House should meet the question. When, on a former day, a gentleman from Maine presented a similar petition, and moved to lay it on the table, he (Mr. M.) had demanded that the question should be taken by yeas and nays, and, in doing so, alluded to the deep sensibility which pervaded a large portion of the country on the subject, and asked the members of the House to express their opinions on the principle involved in the petition in the vote then to be given. The result was an overwhelming majority against the petition. He had hoped, most sincerely, that the decision then made would have been acquiesced in; and that gentlemen charged with such petitions, from respect to the expressed opinion of the House, would have withheld them, or, on presenting them, would have consigned them to the same fate. In this he was disappointed; and to him it was apparent, that laying one or many of these exciting petitions on the table would not relieve the House, and it was necessary to adopt a more decisive mode. In his judgment, this could only be done by refusing to consider them. Other gentlemen are disposed to refer the subjcct to one of the committees of the House. He asked, what beneficial result could be effected? The only object of a reference to a committee was, that the subject referred might be investigated, and its details prepared with more accuracy and despatch, for the purpose of legislative action. To such examination, a committee was better suited than the House. But surely the House would not refer a petition, embracing a great principle, which has agitated the public mind throughout the country, and on which every member is prepared to express his opinion. But it is urged that a report adverse to the petition would aid in allaying excitement, and restrain a perseverance in this mischievous course. Has not this been done? Has not more than one able
Slavery in the District of Columbia.
[DEc. 18, 1835. report, condemning similar petitions, been made to this House in former sessions, and published to the world? We cannot desire merely a republication of what has already been published, and we will deceive ourselves if we hope to repress a fanatical spirit by giving such a countenance to the effusions of misguided zeal. If, said Mr. M., the House is prepared to decide upon the principle of this petition, why may we not reject it at once? Surely there is not one disposed to exercise the high and dangerous power which the petitioners invoke at our hands; why, then, shall we entertain the subject? why keep alive those feelings of apprehension and excitement which it is our sacred duty to allay? To refer the petition is an act of supererogation, which can do no good, and will do much mischief. The most unexceptionable mode in which we can accomplish this object is to reconsider the vote; and then it will be competent for the House at once to refuse to consider the petition, or to reject it; and if a majority of the House (and I doubt not there is an overwhelming majority) are opposed to the petition, let them meet the question at once, and terminate those angry discussions, and allay those bitter feelings which scar, if they do not break, the pillars of the noble edifice of our constitution and liberty. Mr. PIERCE, of New Hampshire, said he had no disposition to discuss the merits of this deeply exciting question at any time, and his respect for the rules of the House would prevent his attempting to do so, under the motion of the gentleman fron Maryland [Mr. Thomas] to reconsider; which motion he hoped would be withdrawn, and then the motion of the gentleman from New York, [Mr. Bearnslex,] so far modified as to meet the approbation of all who are most sensitive upon this agitating question; and he rose to add his request to the suggestion made by his friend (he hoped he might so call him) from Virginia. This was not the last memorial of the same character which would be sent here. It was perfectly apparent that the question must be met now, or at some future time, fully and explicitly, and such an expression of this House given as could leave no possible room to doubt as to the opinions and sentiments entertained by its members. He, (Mr. P.,) indeed, considered the overwhelming vote of the House the other day, laying a memorial of similar tenor, and, he believed, the same in terms, upon the table, as fixing upon it the stamp of reprobation. He supposed that all sections of the country would be satisfied with that expression; but gentlemen seemed now to consider the vote as equivocal and evasive. He was unwilling that any imputation should rest upon the North, in consequence of the misguided and fanatical zeal of a fewcomparatively very few—who, however honest might have been their purposes, he believed had done incalculable mischief, and whose movements he knew received no more sanction among the great mass of the people of the North, than they did at the South. . For one, he, (Mr. P.,) while he would be the last to insringe upon any of the sacred reserved rights of the people, was prepared to stamp with disapprobation, in the most express and unequivocal terms, the whole movement upon this subject. Mr. P. said he would not resume his seat, without tendering to the gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. Mason,) just and generous as he always was, his acknowledgments for the admission frankly made in the opening of his remarks. He had said that, during the period that he had occupied a seat in this House, (as Mr. P. understood him,) he had never known six men seriously disposed to interfere with the rights of the slaveholders at the South. Sir, said Mr. P., gentlemen may be assured there was no such disposition as a general sentiment prevailing among the people; at least, he felt confidence in
asserting that, among the people of the State which he had the honor in part to represent, there was not one in a hundred who did not entertain the most sacred regard for the rights of their southern brethren—-nay, not one in five hundred who would not have those rights protected at any and every hazard. There was not the slightest disposition to interfere with any rights secured by the constitution, which binds together, and which he humbly hoped ever would bind together, this great and glorious confederacy as one family. Mr. P. had only to say that, to some sweeping charges of improper interference, the action of the people of the North at home during the last year, and the vote of their representatives here the other day, was a sufficient and conclusive answer. Thus much he had thought due to himself and to those whom he had the honor to represent. If the motion to lie upon the table should be persisted in, he should vote for it, though he would prefer to meet the question in some form which could by no possibility be considered either equivocal or evasive. Mr. MASON, of Virginia, suggested that the object might be accomplished by a resolution to this effect: that the House, having the petition under consideration, resolved that it be rejected. Mr. CAMBRELENG thought his honorable colleague misapprehended the object of the motion to reconsider, which was to reconsider the vote to consider the petition this day. Mr. C. should vote to reconsider, in order to move to suspend the 45th rule, and consider the petition. A motion was here made by Mr. VINTON, that when the House adjourn, it adjourn to meet on Monday next; which was agreed to. Mr. PICKENS said, as the question had taken a much wider range than had at first been anticipated, he hoped he should be allowed to trespass with a few observations. He understood the gentleman who moved the consideration of the memorial did it with a view to leave open the question whether it should be considered to-day or not; and, in order to get rid of the 45th rule, as suggested by the gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. MAsoN,) a motion would be made to suspend it, to enable the House to take up a resolution that the petition be rejected. That seemed to be the present position of the question. In connexion with this subject, said Mr. P., there were many interests involved. The gentleman from New York [Mr. BEARnsley] had alluded to the sacred right of the citizens to petition. That was unquestionable. . But, as the gentleman from Virginia had well remarked, that House had also the right to reject; and Mr. P. put it to the House whether they could not do so, even if the petition were couched in respectful terms. There were, however, other interests concerned in this matter. They had even higher duties to perform than their mere duties as representatives; they had their own individual constituents in the District of Columbia; and if their rights were not to be maintained in that House, where, let him ask, would their protection be? [Mr. P. then referred to the act of cession from Virginia, which he was about to read, when the Chair interposed, and said the sense of the House must first be taken, before the discussion could be extended to the merits of the question.] Mr. P. said then he would confine himself to what had been thrown out by the gentleman from New York. That gentleman had asked, why was it that discussion was desired upon that floor? and intimated that certain famatics, as well in the South as in the North, desired to agitate this question. Mr. P. desired to take that opportunity to throw back the insinuation with scorn and contempt. Sir, said Mr. P., we do desire to agitate this question. We desire it, because we believe we
have been foully slandered before the world; and Istand here prepared, at any time when the question shall come up, to vindicate the institutions of the people I have the honor in part to represent, from the foul aspersion and calumny thrown upon them. These are the motives which prompt us to desire discussion. He had heard some insinuations thrown out from higher quarters than the gentleman from New York, that certain gentlemen of the South, belonging to a certain party, desired the discussion of this question to advance the interests of a particular individual; and he would again repeat that it was a foul and infamous calumny, and those who uttered it knew it to be such when they uttered it. Mr. MAY called the gentleman to order for going into the merits of the question, and was sustained by the Chair. Mr. P. explained, that, as the discussion had already taken a wide range, it was disficult to keep within the strict rule. He had risen to express a hope that the House would suffer a direct vote to be taken on this question, and he only intended to urge another reason in favor of sustaining the motion of the gentleman from Maryland. If that motion prevailed, then, as had been suggested by the gentleman from Virginia, the question itself should be brought directly before the House for its immediate decision. These were questions in which the most momentous concerns of this confederacy were involved, and it was extremely to be desired that there should be an immediate decision on them in that House. Mr. II AM ER said, if ever there had arisen an occasion in which it was necessary to call the attention of the House to the wisdom of the 45th rule, it would be found in the discussion of this day. While this discussion continued as it was then progressing, it was very doubtful, when they came to vote upon the final disposition of this petition, whether all the members of the House would be prepared to give that vote to-day, which they might give to-morrow; and he did not believe that such a debate was exceedingly well calculated to a calm, dispassionate, and deliberate consideration of the question. He was of opinion, therefore, that, in order to disentangle (to use the words of a gentleman who had spoken to-day) ourselves from embarrasment, it would be better to adjourn; and he therefore made that motion. Tellers were appointed, and the House refused: Ayes 98, nocs 108. Mr. HOWARD said, in order to check even himself in debate, and with a view, if he could, to obtain the opinion of the House, whether in the outset he was right or not, he would move to lay the motion of his honorable colleague, [Mr. Thox. As, ) from whom it gave him great pain to differ, on the table. Mr. JUDSON asked both the gentlemen from Maryland to accept a proposition he intended to offer, in the shape of two resolutions. First, resolved that the vote of the House just taken on the petition be, and the same is hereby, reconsidered. Second, resolved that the 45th rule of the House be suspended; and said petition being under consideration, resolved that it be, and the same is hereby, rejected. If the House would give its consent, he would move these two resolutions. The motion being objected to, the question then recurred to lay the motion to reconsider on the table; whereupon Mr. WISE asked for the yeas and nays, but they were not ordered. The question was then taken by tellers, and decided in the afiirmative: Ayes 119, noes 72. So the motion to lay the motion to reconsider on the table was carried. Mr. HA M \1OND then modified his motion, in substance, as follows: Resolved that the 45th rule of this House be suspended; and resolved that the petition, &c., be, and the same is hereby, rejected.
Mr. BRIGGS inquired what was the question before the House. The CHAIR informed the House that the motion of the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. HAMMonn] being secondary to the motion of the gentleman from New York, [Mr. Bearnsler, the question before the House was the motion to lay the petition on the table. Mr. GLASCOCK suggested the propriety of withdrawing that motion, and taking the question on the motion to reject. Mr. H. EVERETT asked if the effect of the motion just carried was not to lay the whole subject on the table. The CHAIR replied that was not the effect. Mr. MASON, of Virginia, expressed a hope that the motion to lay the petition on the table would be withdrawn, and let the question be taken on the second part of the resolution of the honorable member from South Carolina [Mr. HAMMond) without debate. Mr. BEARDSLEY said he could not yield his motion; for the practice of the House, for years past, had been to lay all such papers on the table, and such a disposition of them he believed to have been satisfactory to the country at large. The yeas and nays having been ordered on the motion to lay the petition on the table, the question was so taken, and decided in the negative: Yeas 95, nays 121, as follows: YEAs—Messrs. C. Allan, Anthony, Ash, Bailey, Barton, Beale, Bean, Beardsley, Beaumont, Bockee, Bovee, Boyd, Brown, Buchanan, Burns, Carr, Casey, G. Chambers, Chaney, Chapman, Chapin, Cleveland, Crane, Cushing, Cushman, Davis, Deberry, Dickerson, Evans, Fairfield, French, Fry, W. K. Fuller, Haley, Hamer, Hannegan, Hardin, Harlan, S. S. Harrison, Hawes, Hawkins, Howard, Howell, Huntington, Huntsman, Ingersoll, Ingham, Jarvis, J. Johnson, R. M. Johnson, B. Jones, Kennon, Kilgore, Kinnard, Klingensmith, Lane, Lansing, Laporte, J. Lee, T. Lee, Leonard, Logan, Lucas, Job Mann, W. Mason, M. Mason, S. Mason, Miller, Montgomery, Morgan, Muhlenberg, Page, Parks, Patterson, Pierce, Phelps, Rencher, John Reynolds, Schenck, Seymour, Shepperd, Shinn, Sickles, Spangler, Sutherland, Taylor, J. Thomson, Turrill, Underwood, Vinton, Wagener, Webster, Weeks, L. Williams, S. Williams--95. NAys—Messrs. Adams, H. Allen, Ashley, Bell, Bond, Borden, Bouldin, Briggs, Bunch, J. Calhoon, W. B. Calhoun, Cambreleng, Campbell, W. B. Carter, Chambers, Childs, Claiborne, Clark, Coffee, Coles, Connor, Corwin, Craig, Cramer, Darlington, Doubleday, Dromgoole, Dunlap, Efner, Everett, Farlin, Forester, P. C. Fuller, J. Garland, R. Garland, Gillet, Glascock, Graham, Granger, Grantland, Graves, Grayson, Grennell, Griffin, J. Hall, H. Hall, Hammond, Hard, Harper, A. G. Harrison, Haynes, Hazeltine, Henderson, Hiester, Hoar, Holsey, Hopkins, Hubley, W. Jackson, J. Jack. son, Janes, C. Johnson, H. Johnson, J. W. Jones, Judson, Lawler, Lawrence, Lay, L. Lea, Lincoln, Love, Loyall, Lyon, Martin, J. Y. Mason, Maury, May, McCar. ty, McComas, McKay, McKennan, McKeon, McKim, McLene, Mercer, Milligan, Morris, Owens, Parker, Patton, D. J. Pearce, J. A. Pearce, Pettigrew, Peyton, Phillips, Pickens, Pinckney, Potts, Reed, Joseph Reynolds, Roane, Robertson, Rogers, Russell, Shields, Slade, Sprague, Standefer, Steele, Storer, Taliaferro, Thomas, W.Thompson, Toucey, Towns, Vanderpoel, Ward, Washington, White, Whittlesey, Wise—12i. So the House refused to lay the petition on the table. Mr. HAMMOND then modified his resolution as fol. lows: Resolved, that said petition be, and the same is hereby, rejected. Mr. HAWKINS, of North Carolina, asked for the yeas and nays; which were ordered.
Mr. HUNT apprehended, he said, that there was but one sentiment on this subject in that House; and let gentlemen extend their observation over this wide and extended country, and perceive what had been passing since this abolition question was first agitated, and they would see he was correct, that there was but one sentiment every where. He apprehended that gentlemen on all sides merely differed as to the means of effecting a general and desired end—an end they were all seeking, and which was to give quiet and composure to this republic, upon this exciting question. He would repeat, he was thoroughly convinced that the only difference of opinion that existed was with regard to the means to ef. fect a desirable end. It had been said, that if they rejected this petition, they should give quiet to the country, and no other petitions or memorials of a like tendency would be sent there. Would this be so? If constituents chose to send their petitions to that House, would not gentlemen feel it their duty to present them? Permit him to say, that if there be anything indecorous or disrespectful in a memorial presented there, to any member of the House, or to any member of the Government, then he understood it to be parliamentary to reject it; but if, on the other hand, the memorial be couched in respectful language, it was a right guarantied the citizens of this country by the constitution, to memorialize that House. The right he held to be a sacred one, and he could never consent to infringe upon it, even by implication.
Humble as he was, said Mr. H., it might not, perhaps, be unknown to some there, that upon this abolition question he had extended the principle so far as to go for all the gentlemen of the South contended for. He could also assure them that, among the New England men, there was but one universal and unanimous sentiment upon the subject. But to go back again to the mode of effecting the desired end, that of giving quiet and repose to this agitating question, and to this excited community, Mr. H. held ideas with regard to it, which he submitted with all due deference. He held that the quiet of the community could not be ensured by suppressing information and inquiry; but, on the contrary, both policy and expediency, and the true course they owed to their constituents, dictated that they should give to these memorials and these petitions the usual course. He would appeal to an eminent instance, within the knowledge of every one present, which did more than all the meetings on the subject, by way of putting down the fanatical zeal in regard to the Sunday mail. As long as the House laid those memorials on the tables, so long were they loaded with them, session after session; but the very moment it gave them what he conceived to be their proper direction, by referring them to a committee, which made a report thereon, that very moment the excitement was allayed, and nothing more was heard on the subject. He asked gentlemen to carry back their recollections to what the effect was upon the republic. The subject was put forever at rest; and so, he apprehended, it would be with the present, for he considered the cases analogous.
It was true, said Mr. H., the subject was an irritating one; but they, as representatives of the people, were bound to meet it. They could not shut their eyes to what was going on around them. They could not slight nor evade it; nor did he believe it was the disposition of any honorable member there to do so. The only difference in judgment appeared to him to be as to the means to effect the end. To refer, then, to the analogous case, Mr. H's own deliberate judgment was, that they should give to all these petitions the usual parliamentary course, for this was not the last, in all human probability, that would be sent there. They could not conceal from themselves the fact that the public were advised of the
existence of these memorials. They would be sent to members there; and, judging from what he felt to be his own duty, he apprehended that other gentlemen would also feel it to be their duty to present them. He asked, then, that they would show the South fairly the principles they maintained, by referring this and all similar petitions and memorials, either to the Committee on the District of Columbia, or to some special committee, with instructions to report. They did not doubt what would be the nature of the report, and he apprehended he ran no risk in pledging himself that there was not a man in that House but would give his sanction to a report that should put this question forever at rest; silence the fanatics on the one hand, and satisfy our brethren of the South on the other. He would again assure gentlemen that the feeling of the North was entirely sound and healthy on this subject. This was not the first public occasion on which Mr. H. had avowed the feelings he entertained on this question. He had avowed them on other occasions; and in the great meeting at Utica, to which allusion had been made, he had done all he could, although he took not such a prominent part as his honorable colleague over the way, [Mr. BEARnsley.] But to ask him to vote for the rejection of this petition, was to ask him to do what seemed to him not a proper and respectful course, if he might be permitted to use that term. . With a view of enabling other gentlemen who might have similar memorials to present, to pursue the course their own sense of duty directed, and with a view of carrying out the action of the House in a way which might speak to the nation unanimously on this question, through the report of some proper committee, Mr. H. said he should be constrained to vote against the motion then under consideration. Late as it was, an enfeebled as he was, yet he would not permit his vote to be recorded on the question without briefly explaining his views.
. Mr. GLASCOCK said it must be gratifying to every individual to have listened to the remarks made by the honorable gentleman from New York, [Mr. HUNT,) who had just taken his seat; and he believed it must be squally gratifying to every portion of the House to have been placed in possession of his views upon this question, though a large portion of them must differ with the gentleman in regard to the policy he thinks ought to be adopted in relation to it. The discussion that had taken place to-day, Mr. G. had no hesitation in saying, would be hailed in the South as the greatest omen that the permanency of this great and glorious Union was about to be secured; and, for one coming from that section of the country, he hesitated not to believe that the honest difference of opinion that did exist, was an honest difference of opinion only as to the manner and mode in which this question should be settled. For one, he believed the motion of the gentleman from South Carolina to be one that would be approved, at least the best approved, by that portion of the people from whom he came. He admitted it was the constitutional right of every citizen of the country to petition this and the other branch of the Legislature. it was a feature in the constitution itself, and it was an inseparable privilege, which he believed no individual who advocated this mo. tion had pretended to deny. But he contended that, whenever, the petition was brought forward, that very moment the constitutional requisite had been complied with, and it then became the duty of the House to treat it as its merits deserved. Now, he would appeal to the gentleman himself, and ask him whether there be not in that petition language which calls upon the House to frown upon it with indignation? He would ask if there be not charges in it that called for the unanimous voice 9f reprobation of those opposed to it? He would to God that he could act on this occasion with the gentle.
man; but the proper course to be pursued in relation to the petition was to reject it; and in rejecting it, he could not for himself believe that a similar petition would again be presented for the consideration of that body. With due deference to the opinions of those who represent States, some few of whom might be favorable to the principles contained in the petition, it would, in his humble conception, be virtually a disrespect to the majority, either way, who might vote to reject or to receive, afterwards to vote to lay it on the table; and he wished, therefore, to avoid this by bringing the question at once and directly to bear upon the motion to reject it. But there was another reason, which he would suggest to the consideration of the House. They would not be deprived of meeting the question fully, freely, and deliberately, hereafter. What did the President recommend in his annual message? He recommended to the consideration of that House the prohibition of, or some law to prevent, the circulation of these incendiary publications through the Post Office Department. Then they would have an opportunity of expressing fully their views in relation to this matter. It was then he expected again to hear the voice of that gentleman in vindication of the views he had now taken. Then he trusted they would have but one voice throughout that House; and when that vote should be received, the South would be secure in their lives, their property, and their rights. It would be then they might say this republic is safe; then everything like disunion would be quieted, and, he trusted, forever. Mr. SUTHERLAND believed, he said, that no man in that House, who had known him for any length of time, could doubt his feelings upon this question. He came from a section of country that was exceedingly anxious to allay, as far as possible, all kinds of excitement upon a question so agitating to the South. He came there prepared, as far as he could, to vote upon that question; and he trusted that, when the time came to meet it, it would be met in a manner the great interests connected with it demanded. But he would say, in advance, that he was not quite satisfied with some of the feelings expressed from certain quarters of this country to-day in that House. They were bound by all the ties that kept the Union together to meet this question freely and boldly, to throw aside every prejudice, and sacrifice it upon the altar, for their country’s good; and it did not become them to excite each other by any kind of language. Mr. S. lived in a State, he said, once a slaveholding State, and which had been one of the first to abolish slavery, having found it expedient to start early in this question. He lived in a State, too, where they as sincerely and honestly regarded the rights of the South as any other State in the Union. And he came especially from a district that he knew—and if he could use stronger language he would—that he knew utterly de; spised and detested the whole question of a prompt and speedy abolition of slavery in the South. He knew that he spoke their voice when he said he was prepared to go all the lengths that honor and justice should require at his hands. While he admitted so much, he also looked at this: that the constitution guarantied to us all the right to send our petitions to that House. But he went further, and took the other side of the question: that if that petition be not draughted in the style in which it ought to be, or if it be even inflammatory, in it; nature, and calculated to excite the feelings, why, then, he would throw it out, because they were assembled there fairly and dispassionately, to meet this question. He would neither allow the high feelings of the South te disturb him in his judgment, nor the high feelings of the North, who were some of them anxious to run all
lengths, and some of them to cast the firebrand of slavery and abolition into that House. Now, on the question under consideration, he went with the gentleman from Georgia, [Mr. GLAscock, ) that if there was any thing in that paper that did not comport with the dignity and respect of the House, vote for its rejection, come from where it might. But, at the same time, Mr. S. always held himself bound to vote for every petition sent there in a proper style and language, on any and every question, be it what it might, from any quarter of the nation. Mr. S. did not rise, he said, so much with a view of making these remarks, but to state a fact of which the House was probably not aware before the last vote was taken on this question. He would state to the House that it had already, that day, that very morning, referred a memorial upon this very question to the Committee on the District of Columbia; and the Chair would state whether he was correct or not. The SPEAKER stated the fact to be so, and that he had conferred with the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Baiggs] who presented the petition, informing him that it was the intention of the Chair to call the attention of the House to it. It was doubtless through inadvertence that the members of the House did not generally hear it; but the Chair intended to have made a statement of the fact to the House, and he so informed the mover. Mr. HAMMOND said the presentation of the petition had escaped him, or he should have made the same motion with regard to that, which he did with reference to the other. Mr. PATTON then moved to reconsider the vote by which the memorial presented by Mr. Burgos was referred. Mr. BRIGGS suggested it would be better to postpone the consideration of it till the one before the House to-day was disposed of which was agreed to. Mr. EVERETT moved that the House adjourn. Mr. HAWKINS called for the yeas and nays, but the House refused to order them; and tellers being appointed, the ayes were 120, noes not counted. So the House adjourned till Monday.
Mr. CAMBRELENG rose, he said, to throw himself on the indulgence of the House, for the purpose of asking what he was sure would be granted—the unanimous consent of the House to report a bill from the Committee of Ways and Means, for the relief of the sufferers by the late fire in the city of New York.
Mr. JARVIS moved a suspension of the rule, so as to permit any of the committees to make reports; and it was agreed to.
Mr. CAMBRELENG, from the committee of ways and Means, then presented the following correspondence, report, and bill:
SIR: I enclose, herewith, a copy of a communication received this morning from the collector of the customs at New York, and of my reply to it; and I venture to express a hope that all due indulgence will be extended by congress to the sufferers who are indebted to the United States. I remain, very respectfully, Your obedient servant, LEvi wooDBURy, Secretary of the Treasury. The Hon. C. C. CAMH RELENG, Ch. Com. of Ways and Means.
Collecton's Office, half past 2 o'clock,
New York, December 17, 1835.
Dr.An Sin: Last night, between eight and nine o'clock, a fire broke out near the merchants’ exchange, and is still raging most violently, although the firemen have got it under control. By this disastrous visitation, between four and five hundred buildings have been destroyed, and goods and other effects to the amount of from fifteen to twenty millions of dollars. This calamity falls principally upon the heavy importing merchants; and they must unquestionably become greatly embarrassed, and many of them ruined. The bonds of these individuals must be dishonored; all business is suspended, and our city, from being the seat of prosperity and wealth, within twenty-four hours, is now the abode of sorrow and despondency. It was thought, at first, that the bonds which should not be paid, owing to the consternation, and confusion which prevail at present, might be held subject to your decision upon the matter; but, upon more mature reflection, I have determined that I cannot, in any way, or under any circumstances, deviate from the course laid down by the law. Consequently I shall hand them over to the district attorney, as usual, trusting and believing that Congress will forthwith take some action on the subject of this heavy calamity. The merchants’ exchange and post office being destroyed, I have caused temporary accommodations to be erected in the inspector's rooms, attached to this office, for the accommodation of the latter, until better can be procured elsewhere. . The effects of the post office were all saved from injury. This office was in the greatest danger for a long time, as was one half of the city. But I did not remove an article, but was prepared to save every thing had it been necessary. I am, dear sir, with the greatest respect, Your obedient servant, SAMUEL SWARTWOUT, Collector. Hon. LEvr Woon hu Ry, Secretary of the Treasury, Washington, D.C.
From the Secretary of the Treasury ‘to the Collector at New York.
DFAn SIR: Your letter of the 17th instant, communicating the disastrous intelligence concerning the late fire in the city of New York, has been received. 1 hardly need assure you that, under this great calamity, your citizens shall have extended to them, from this Department, every indulgence which their misfortunes require, and which the laws and official duty will permit me to render. I therefore approve of your course in furnishing temporary accommodations for the post office, and have sanctioned the proposal of the marshal to tender also for the same purpose the use of the rooms in the City Hall now occupied by the United States courts. in respect to delay in the collection of bonds, or to remissions or reductions of duties in certain cases, they both deserve very favorable consideration. But as you remark concerning your own power about the former, it may be added as to my power about both, that the acts of Congress now give me no control over the subject. I do not doubt, however, that the subject will be taken up by Congress on Monday, and some expression of its views soon given, and, in the mean time, I do not hesitate to believe that you and the district attorney would be sustained and justified if, in the exercise of a sound discretion under this afflicting emergency, you