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[JAN. 30, 1837,
censure on the President; but the bill now before the Senate is to accomplish the same object--a repeal of the order—-though by different words; yet it seems to have their undivided support. For my single self, I am unable to reconcile this apparent incongruity; but if the implication of censure can in any case be a reason for our course here, it ought to operate most strongly when it is calculated to censure the constitution of the country and the policy of the States. The President, I am sure, cannot thank his friends for their reasons; if any part or parcel of his official conduct cannot be supported on principle, he will never ask that it shall be excused in pity; he well knows that we take our seats under the solemn injunction of an oath to support the constitution, but not the administration; that is matter of choice, not of obligation; and he has too high a regard for the constitution to tolerate for a moment a friend who would sacrifice it for his personal or official favor. But, sir, I return from this digression. It was so thrown in my way that I could not well get round it, but was compolled to take up and remove it. The arguments on the bill before us are what I have now to do with. I shall consider them as they occur to my recollection, not having taken notes at the time, as I did not then intend or expect to speak on this question. In support of the doctrine of the bill, it has been contended that Congress have the power to take, in payments for any dues of the Government, articles in kind such as to them may seem proper. To this doctrine I can never assent, except gentlemen can prove that Congress have the power to make money of wool, or leather, or any other chattel. 1 mean, to consider and receive these articles as money; for I hold that, by the constitution, Congress can collect the revenue of the Government in nothing but money. If they, then, can, by the magic of their power, transinute a yard of broadcloth into money for the time being, and receive it for the duty payable upon the whole piece, the argument is good, but not otherwise. I think this an important branch of the subject, and ought to be well considered; and although I may not be able to add a new idea, or advance a single additional thought, yet I consider it a duty not to conceal my opinion. I hold that the Government of the United States has not the power to possess itself of any property whatever by contract, or purchase from individuals or corporate bodies, but such only as is necessary and proper to car. ry on the functions of the Government. Congress cannot barter with individuals even for that: they may sell their own property, constitutionally acquired, and with the proceeds, money of course, purchase what they may need. Congress cannot receive the real estate of the Gov. ernment debtor, or of a defaulter, in the payments of such debts or default; because Congress cannot, without the consent of the States, purchase any land within their respective jurisdictions. The reason is obvious; for the exercise of exclusive authority over the rights of individ. u ol property within its jurisdiction is essential, I may say v tally so, to State sovereignty. The primary dispo. sal of the public domain acquired by treaty with other nations, or by cessions made by States, which is, in fact, the same thing, is clearly within the power of Congress; but having once disposed of the soil, this Government can never resume those rights without the consent of the States in which the land is situate. If, then, Congress cannot receive in payment of taxes, imposts, or excises, the real estate of the person who owes such dutics, and thus enter the arena with the land speculator, much less can we receive, for the dues of the Government, hats, shoes, clothes, wines, sugars, or any other duitable article, for the amount of duty due by the importer; if it were otherwise, the Government has the power to enter into competition with any of her citizens' in the general
| trade of the country—a power in fact to become a deal.
er in slaves, so long as slaves can be considered proper. ty. I understand this power as contended for: I mean the general power to purchase or receive property for its dues, or even apply the revenue of Government for that purpose. Viewing it in that light, it is a power at which I revolt, and one to which I am sure the people of this country would not, for a moment, submit." It was this glaring absurdity (at least to my mind) that in. duced me vote at the last session against the bill for the purchase of stocks with the surplus revenue of the country; and I confess I heard the other day, when the bill for advancing to claimants under the French and Neapolitan treaties their dues was under consideration, not only with surprise, but with astonishment, the principle advanced, that, as we had a surplus of money on hand, it was improper we should suffer it to lie idle in the Treasury; that if we could make three or four per cent. by making advances to these claimants, it was wise and proper to do so; that we had the power, and it was prudent so to invest this money that it would be productive; that when we came to appropriate by law, we should find its quantity increased. I do not pretend to give the exact words, as used in the argumen", but I feel sure that I remember them substantially. I endeavored at the moment to realize in my own mind the practical operation of the rule. I well remember of mentally asking myself if this doctrine be true; if we can take the whole of the surplus money in the Treasury, send our agent into the New York market, and purchase the en
| tire stock of broadcloth or tea on hand. This would no doubt be a safe and sure investment, and one by
which this Government could not only make four per cent, per annum, but probably from twenty to fifty per cent. in a few months. I did not hesitate a moment in deciding that we had not the power; and if we had, however advantageous to the Government it might be, it would be most grossly unjust. I am still unable to see any difference in principle between power to receive or purchase cloth, and the power to receive bank notes. Bank notes, being but mere evidences of dett, are, or ought to be, less the object of our care than things of more substantial value. There is another objection to the receiving of bank notes, as contemplated by this bill: it is the odious doctrine of preference which it contains; and that preference is not matter of law, but matter of discretion, given by law to the officers and agents of Government. If this bill is not obnoxious to the words of the fifth paragraph of the ninth section, first article, of the constitution, it falls clearly within the reason of that paragraph. No preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to the port: of one State over those of another. Suppose we should read, no preference shall be given by any regulation of revenue to the banks of one state over those of another: would not such reading appear to be founded on equally reasonable and just principles? I should think so. ijoes not this bill claim the power, if in fact it does o: expressly authorize its exercise, to make this preference? if you can make a discrimination in bank noto" at all, if indeed you can designate what are specie"Poo ing banks, as the phrase is, you can make any other ". ignation or discrimination you please; and thus, to t k regulation of the revenue, give a preference too ban f over another, or to the banks of one State over those 9 another. A proposition so plain, and a practico ..". just and absurd, must o: every o at o ts view, as highly improper, if not unconstitutional. But the #. that the Government shall undertako to discriminate 'between the bank notes of different banks has been, and still is, productive of much injury to the paper circulation of the county, as created by the states.' it has been often said, and I admit its truth,
JAN. 30, 1837.] Treasury
that the currency of our country, as it now exists, is a delicate subject to touch, and that one jar vibrates through the whole machinery. If the Secretary of the Treasury, or even a collector, acting for the Government, should refuse, after the passage of this bill, to receive the notes of any bank, that bank, however solvent, thus coming in contact with the power of this Government, would receive a shock from which it would not easily recover; and the blow thus inflicted would be felt throughout the system; hence the contractions by banks, and the difficulties in the country, which, it is said, the late Treasury order created. I would, then, make no discrimination, no regulation, as to the currency of the country created by the State banks; because, in the first place, I believe Congress has not the power to do so; and, in the next, if the power was admitted, it would be unwise and unjust to exercise it. Can any one doubt for a moment, when he calls to his mind past experience of the action of this Government upon the paper system of the country as it now exists, that if we wish uniformity, stability, and equality in value, in that system, we must leave its entire regulation to the power that crea. it, for that is the only power that can effectually regulate it, But, sir, we have other reasons urged upon us in support of the passage of this bill, which, to my mind, are most extraordinary, but still leaves the bill liable to all the constitutional objections to which I first supposed it. It is said that we must form a connexion with the State banks; that they are absolutely necessary as fiscal agents of the Government; and that it follows from necessity that, in that connexion, in some degree, we must *xercise the power of regulation. The premises here laid down I conceive to be founded in error. This Government has, within itself, sufficient power to carry on its own operations by its own means; if it is necessary to lean on the State banks for support, we must admit that the removal of that support, which is entirely within the power of the States, would at once check, if not prostrate, the action of this Government. It has been said, with much emphasis, that we who are for cutting loose this Government from the State bank sare in favor of re-establishing a Bank of the United States. This rattletrap, used for party purposes, has lost its effect, at least upon me. Opposed to the whole banking process, and unwilling to recognise the existence of banks, or bank notes, by any action of this Government, as either useful or necessary institutions, is a strong objection I entertain against the present bill; but I contend that, if banks are absolutely necessary as fiscal agents of the Government, (which I by no means admit,.) if we can adopt a State bank for that purpose, we can create a bank by an act of Congress for the same purpose; for the power to adopt and use most certainly acknowledges the powto create; and I would at once give my vote to create such fiscal agent for the use of this Government, rather than adopt a whole litter of State banks for that purpose. It has been said in the course of this debate that Congress have the power to receive any article they may think proper in discharge of the dues of this Govern. ment. This doctrine places Congress above responsibility—a doctrine I cannot admit; and to meit appears persectly clear that Congress have no power to receive any thing but money. If Congress could authorize the reception of articles of what kind they pleased, they surely would have power to provide for the payment of demands against the Government in the same manner. . We should, indeed, present to the eyes of our constituents a strange spectacle, is, under the operation of this bill, we should provide for the payment of salaries due the different officers in bank notes, to one officer the notes of one bank, to another the notes of a different bank, and so on, parcelling out our power to men
and banks to an almost infinite extent. No man will, I presume, deny but we can do this, if we have the power to authorize the reception of bank notes in the collection of the revenue. The whole scheme, sir, is wrong. Nothing can be paid but in consequence of appropriations made by law, and nothing can be appropriated but money, and bank notes are not money. It is further said that this is an executive measure; that it is in accordance with the views of the President to aid the States in restoring a metallic currency, by the suppression of small notes. However much I may respect the opinion and views of the President, and I have been the constant and uniform supporter of the great measures of his administration, yet I cannot admit that these talismanic words, “the President says so,” shall govern all my actions and votes here; and I shall take the liberty on this, as on all other occasions, so to act as my best judgment informs me will be most conducive to the interest of the country. Andrew Jackson, sir, the friend of banks! Andrew Jackson the friend and advocate of the paper system—a friend of paper currency! I cannot, I will not, believe it; such an idea is at war with the entire course of his administration, and inconsistent with all his opinions on this subject, as I have read and understood them. Sir, I hold the present bill to be not only repugnant to the opinions of the President, but the whole code of Virginia doctrines on the subject of State rights; and I have been both surprised and pained that this bill should come from a Senator of that State. I may be
asked, what course do you propose? My answer is, that L
would repeal the resolution of 1816, permitting bank notes to be received in payment of the revenue, because I view that as I did the provision of the bank charter passed by Congress the same year, permitting or allowing the notes of that institution to be received, as both unconstitutional. But both these violations of the constitution were justified, as the bill now is, on the ground that the peculiar situation of the country and the necessity of the times required the act to be done. Indeed, I have heard some gentlemen admit that the necessity of the case in 1816 had changed their previous opinions on the question, that Congress had not power to charter a bank, and they now deem them erroneous; thus suffering necessity to change the fundamental law of the country; a most dangerous error, as necessity is always the plea of tyrants. I here drop my hasty remarks on the constitutionality of the measure proposed by the bill before us; and the reasons which in my mind apply to its constitutionality are equally strong against the policy of the measure. A discrimination made by the order and under the authority of this Government, as to what bank paper shall be received, and what rejected, must necessarily produce an unsettled state of the currency that is created by the States. The power of the States to create this currency I do not mean to question, by its admission or denial. I have heard various statements, as to the amount of bank notes in circulation, made by different gentlemen on this floor. I have heard it rated at from three hundred to near a thousand millions of dollars. I do not pretend to any accurate knowledge on the subject; take a medium amount, say five hundred millions. it seems to me the argument is fallucious, that assumes the idea that this vast mass of circulation can be materially affected by the collection of the revenue of this Government in money only, say twenty millions, which ought to be the largest sum in time of peace, and which is collected and paid during the same year. , 1s Congress should adopt this course, it seems to me that the different State banks could at once arrange their business to this state of affairs, and it would. tend to give stability, permanency, and equality, to their issues. The rates of exchange between different portions of the country would become known and settled, and these continual fluctuations and jars respecting the moneyed system would entirely cease, and thus all classes of society be benefited; for it seems to be an admitted fact, that nothing is more injurious to the general prosperity of the country than these continual fluctuations. I would, therefore, leave the collection of the revenue precisely where I find it left in the constitution, and in all laws and proceedings of Congress at an early day, wherein provision is made for the collection of revenue or the disbursement thereof. I would use no other word than “ money,” or “current coin,” without giving any description or definition of the words used. As to the effects produced by the Treasury order of the 11th of July last, or the popularity of that measure in the Western country, I have little to say; and perhaps I
SENA re.] Public Lands.
ought not to take up the time of the Senate, after what
I have said on the other branch of this question; but I cannot entirely agree with my colleague as to either. Property is at a very high price; and if the measure was somewhat unpopular at first, I am inclined to believe that it is now more favorably received. That it has produced some salutary effect upon the banking institutions of the West, I have no doubt. It has checked their over-issues; but that, if continned, it will still be beneficial, I have great doubts, Hoping and believing that some more salutary regulation than that contemplated by this bill can and will be brought forward, I shall vote against its passage; and, in doing so, I hope to be understood as neither censuring, applauding, approving, or disapproving, the course taken by the President in this in atter. Mr. WERSTER said, when the resolution moved by the Senator from Ohio, [Mr. Ewing,) to rescind the Treasury order of July last, was under discussion, I expressed the sentiments which I then entertained, and which l hold now, in regard to that measure. , My great object, as I then said, and now say, is to get rid of the order. I was not, and am not now, very solicitous as to the particular mode. When the subject was sent to the Committee on the Public Lands, (though my own impression had been that it should have been referred rather to the Committee on Finance,) I assented, in the hope that they would confine what they should propose to the single object of getting rid of the order. But for that order, I presume that few would have been willing to touch the subject at all. The majority of the Senate were content that matters should have remained as they were under the joint resolution of 1816. But as the order interfered with the provisions of that resolution, it was deemed necessary that something should be done. I regret that this bill is not such a one as was called for by the exigency, and confined to the exigency. It goes beyond what was needed, in important respects, and, though I most cordially wish for the abolition of the Treasury order, there are some things in this bill which do not accord at all with my own view of what the public interest requires. I feel, therefore, somewhat at a loss to know what is the true line of my duty on this occasion. I will state my difficulties. In the first place, I see nothing in the bill that is fixed and stable, defined and determinate; nothing peremptory and decisive, as matter of law. I asked the honorable chairman who reported the bill, whether he understood it to be peremptory in its character, and would be so in its practical effect, or not? And his answer was, that he did not doubt that its operation would be to produce a great reform in the state of the currency. Now, what I want to know is, whether this bill will surnish the country with a legal statute rule as to the payment of debts; or whether the whole matter will not be left very much in the discretion of the Secretary of the Treasury? I think it leaves too much in that discretion. It provides that he may issue orders as he may deem necessary, in
[JAN, 30, 1837.
order to secure the collection of the revenue in specie and bills of specie-paying banks. Now, supposing the Secretary should not think that any further order of any kind is necessary? Then matters will remain precisely as they are now. Suppose he should believe one kind of order necessary for one part of the country, and another for another part? The bill would allow all this. It secures no uniform or certain rule. Again: the particular previsions of the bill appear to me (with great deference) to have been not well consid. ered. If its enactments amount to a positive statute, (and not a mere permission or recommendation,) then neither land scrip nor revolutionary scrip can be received for the public lands; or, if they can be received for the public lands, they can equally be received for the cus. toms. This, 1 presume, was not intended. The bill is imperfect; it imposes no duty on the Secretary, it enacts no law to supersede a Treasury order; the whole subject is left within the discretion of the Secretary. While, on the one hand, it does not directly relieve the country from the existing illegal and unconstitutional Treasury order, on the other, it does not provide a circulating medium which shall be uniform and legal in its character. Could we say, in so many words, that all the debts of this Government shall be collected in such mode as the Secretary of the Treasury shall think best? Or that such funds shall be received as the Secretary shall think most expedient, with a view to increase a specie circulation? thus presenting a mere indication of the object he is to have in view, and leaving all the rest to him. Would that be law, would that be constitutional? What sort of a tender might a debtor of the United States make, under this law, in discharge of his debt? Suppose he tenders Virginia land scrip, and the answer given him is, “the Secretary of the Treasury has not issued any order that land scrip shall be receivable at the custom-house,” would that not be a good answer? As this bill repeals all other enactments in pari materie, does it not refer the whole to the Secretary? May he not issue one order to-day, and another to-morrow? One order in the Northwest, and another in the Southwest? It is surely most important that, on such a subject, there should be a plain, settled, statutory provision, declaring what is receivable in discharge of debts due the Government, so that men may know what are their rights. To me it appears that, by this bill, in its present form, the whole subject is left in greater doubt than before... If we do any thing with a view to rescinding the objection. able order, let us have a bill that shall apply to the exgency, to that single object, and give the country some uniform and stable rule. If we reject the Treasury order, let us re-enact the resolution of 1816; that will get rid of any thing like rebuke or reproach in regard to the order, and will give us at least a law to guide us... As the bill stands, it leaves every thing in the will of the Secretary of the Treasury. Mr. CALHou N said that he agreed entirely in the view presented by the Senator from Massachusetts...This bill left that which should be the most stable of all, the
JAN. 31, 1837.]
their children, to be patented when they should come of age—
After some desultory conversation, an attempt was
made to postpone the bill to to-morrow; but it failed: Yeas 18, nays 27. The question being then taken, the amendment of Mr. BuchanaN was agreed to, as follows: Yeas–Messrs. Bayard, Brown, Calhoun, Clay, Clay. ton, Crittenden, Ewing of Illinois, Hendricks, Hubbard, Kent, Knight, Lyon, Nicholas, Norvell, Prentiss, Rives, Robbins, Robinson, Sevier, Southard, Strange, Swift, Tallmadge, Tomlinson, Walker, Wall, Webster, White-28. Nars–Messrs. Benton, Black, Fulton, Grundy, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Linn, Moore, Morris, Niles, Page, Preston, Ruggles, Tipton, Wright—15. On motion of Mr. WALKER, the bill was then further amended, so as to allow no one to enter a tract in his own name until he is 21 years old. Mr. CLAY then renewed the motion formerly made and withdrawn by Mr. Monnis, to strike out the 4th section of the bill, including the whole pre-emption clause, and demanded the yeas and nays; which were ordered. Mr. MORRIS supported the motion. Mr. NILES opposed it. Mr. CALHOUN and Mr. CLAY spoke with warmth against the unlimited pre-emptive rights conferred by the bill, and Mr. SEVIER and Mr. WALKER replied in defence of this section, with which, as Mr. W. declared, the bill must stand or fall. Mr. MORRIS now moved an adjournment, (it was five o'clocki) and on that motion Mr. WALKER demanded the yeas and nays; which being taken, stood: Yeas 23, nays 22. So the Senate adjourned.
Tuesday, JANuany 31. JOSEPH NOURSE. The Senate proceeded to the reconsideration of the unfavorable report of the Committee of Clains on the claim of Joseph Nourse. Mr. CRITTENDEN briefly advocated the claim, stating that it rested on extra services of the claimant, he having, for a number of years, performed the duties of a disbursing officer, in addition to his regular employ. ment; and that the claim had been allowed by a judicial tribunal. Messrs. LINN and PRESTON explained the grounds on which the unfavorable report had been made; Mr. P. stating that the committee thought there ought to be a general law regulating cases of this kind, and that the committee were embarrassed by the fact that a decision unfavorable to the claim had been made by a co-ordinate branch of the Government, in such a way as to be imperious if not binding on Congress. Mr. HUBBARD opposed the claim; and the report, on his call, having been read, .. motion of Mr. LINN, it was ordered to lie on the table. PUBLIC LANDS.
The bill to prohibit the sales of the public lands, except to actual settlers, and in limited quantities, was taen up as the special order, the question being on Mr. Clay's motion to strike out the 4th section, which contains the pre-emption principle. Mr. KING, of Georgia, said that he perfectly agreed,
Th some of the friends of the bill who had addressed the - ciently generous, in all conscience, to allow to the new
Senate, that this clause did not essentially differ in principle from the other provisions of the bill. If the clause were more objectionable, it was in the extent and not in the character of its operation. The whole bill, he said
was one to encourage a system of fraudulent speculation, partiality, perfidy, and plunder, in which those who had the least conscience would make the most money. He had waded through all the various amendments made and proposed, and thought he now understood the character and objects of the bill as amended; and, if it were to pass in the present, or any form likely to be proposed, he cared but little about the details; and perhaps the worse its provisions the better it might ultimately prove for the country. Thus being opposed to the whole objects of the bill, Mr. K. said he would take the occasion to make some remarks upon the general subject, before the question should be taken on the fourth section of the bill. It was not likely (at least he hoped not) that we should have, strictly, a party vote upon this question. It was one of those measures, of which we had had too many in our country, which proposes bounties and advantages to some sections of the country at the expense of the remainder. That such legislation should be popular with those who expected to be benefited by it, was not at all surprising. But that those whose constituents were to be despoiled by the unjust and unequal operation of the measure, should quietly submit to it, ought not to be expected. Yet it is a melancholy truth, said he, in the history of human affairs, that such are the hidden cheateries by which the machinery of legislation is frequently made to transfer the labor of one class of citizens into the pockets of another, that it often happens that the most partial, unjust, and unequal legislation is precisely that which obtains the most positive popularity, and does most credit to those who may happen to propose it. The reason, he said, was obvieus. These partial benefits were plain and palpable. They were felt by the favored, and perceived by every one, whilst the injury and injustice to the great mass of the community were more widely diffused; and, being somewhat of a negative character, are not so easily perceived or estimated. But (said Mr. K.) I doubt very much whether either the ignorance or the apathy of a majority of the people of the United States, and particularly of the old States, will be sufficient to protect this measure against that discontent which the gross injustice of it is so well calculated to engender. Mr. K. said that, as the basis of all just remark upon this subject, it should be constantly recollected, as it had been repeated, that the public domain was a public fund; as much so as the public money in the Treasury of the United States. It should, therefore, be administered and distributed among the people with as much equality as was consistent with a fair administration of the laws. It had been truly said that a large portion of this public domain had been purchased with the common blood and the common treasure of the people of the old thirteen States. In obedience to this feeling, and in answer to the petitions of their fellow-citizens of the other States of the confederacy, the people of these States, who had the exclusive right and jurisdiction over this property, had generously surrendered it for the common benefit of the whole. Another large portion of this property, he said, and much the largest undisposed of, had actually been purchased with money from the common Treasury; money which had been collected by actual taxation upon the consumption of the people, and which, it must be admitted, had borne most heavily on the people of the old States. One would suppose, when we looked at the history of this property, when we saw from what source it had been derived, and with whose labor and money it had been purchased, that it would be considered suffi
members of the confederacy an equal participation in this great national partnership fund, when they did not, as members, bring a dollar into the concern.
SENATE.] Public Lands.
[JAN. 31, 1837.
This equality he did not complain of, and no one complained of it, but it had never been considered as sufficient; and, accordingly, millions upon millions had been lavished upon them, from time to time, in one form or other. When we consider the choice selections they had been permitted to make; the twelve or thirteen millions of acres of land alone that had been given to them were probably worth one hundred and fifty millions of dollars, or a sum nearly double what had ever come into the Treasury from the entire sales of the public land since the commencement of the Government. Well, one would suppose that those enormous bounties, at the expense of their fellow-citizens of the old States, would satisfy the most voracious appetite. . But not so. For their advantage, solely, the public land had been put down, and kept down, at one tenth of its value, as compared with lands of equal quality in the old States of the tjnion. This fact had just been admitted by one of the friends of the bill. The result was precisely what might have been expected. The annals of time furnished no instance, either parallel or approximate, of equal rapidity in growth, wealth, population, and prosperity, to that exhibited by the junior members of the confederacy. On the other hand, history furnished few examples, under free government, of such premature old age, decrepitude, and decay, as that which was exhibited by some of the old States of this Union. Costly dwellings were seen mouldering into ruins, and plantations that should still be valuable were left to wash into ruts and gullies, and grow up in briers. Sir, said he, it is enough to make the heart of any patriot from one of the old States bleed to travel through this favored region, and compare its condition with the impoverished home he has left. But how could it be otherwise, with this heavy bounty, furnished at the common charge for the exclusive benefit of a small portion of the States?
Mr. K. had hoped, at least, that these manifold bounties, and this contrast so melancholy, and the truth of which all must acknowledge, would have softened the hearts and stayed the hands of those who seemed determined on the destruction of the old States: but not so; they were still unsatisfied. Emboldened by their own strength, derived from the munificence of those they despoil, and by the weakness of the latter, occasioned by the same cause, and with the aid of a few unnatural allies, they now boldly come forward and claim, for their exclusive benefit, the whole of this immense national fund. Nay, said he, a great deal more than this; for he would infinitely prefer an entire surrender of the whole of the national domain, and get rid of the expense, and these eternal torments and importunities, than to see this bill passed upon the people of the old States. If the law should be honestly enforced, the proceeds of the sales would not pay the expenses or our land machinery; certainly not, if we included the Indian treaties, Indian wars, and Indian annuities, which were all fairly chargeble to this account. Thus losing the whole of this immense property, the old States would be farther burdened with the expense of parcelling it out to others. If the law should be evaded, the sales would be something larger, but the profits on speculations would be an ex. clusive bounty to crime, and a premium to ingenious and fraudulent speculation.
And yet we are told, said Mr. K., that we must go for this measure because it is an administration measure. In its present form he did not believe it was so. He knew the pre-emption clause was not, as all knew that nothing was more abhorred by the Executive than that unjust and odious feature in the bill. But, said Mr. K., however this may be, do not talk to me of administration measures, whilst you have got your fingers in my pockets, or the pockets of my constituents. Take them out, sir, and then we can better reason the matter. Insert
some equivocal provision; mantle the bill in some obscurity; afford some temporary refuge for reason, whilst fancy may be called in to promise some distant hope of a possible advantage to the old States, to compensate them, to some extent, for the enormous sacrifices which you propose to force upon them. Do not, said he, insult us with this plain project of taking money from the pockets of one class of citizens and putting it into those of another. Sir, continued Mr. K., the people of Georgia, that greatly wronged, much abused, and much injured State, yielding to the claims of their sellow-citizens of the other States, with whom, in a common cause, they had marched through the perils of the Revolution, generously surrendered to the United States (with reservations too insignificant to notice, when compared to the value of the whole) two of the finest States in the Union. This territory, if disposed of to the best advantage, would have freed the State from taxation to the end of time. Though millions of it had been squandered upon squatters, relinquished to speculators by the relief law, and otherwise prodigally disposed of, the past and future receipts from it would likely be near one hundred millions of dollars. And yet the people of Georgia, to whom this immense property once exclusively belonged, are hereaster to be virtually deprived of all participation in it, as a common interest to the confederacy. Her citizens are to be deprived of the poor privilege of buying it at the price fixed by the Government, to which it was gratuitously given. The honest planter, with a growing family of sons, with prudent foresight, looking forward to the period when your unnatural combinations and legislative plunder may render his impoverished State an unfit habitation for man, cannot provide for them a few sections of land in a more favored State, without submitting to ceremonies and restrictions which, to an honest man, will render the privilege worse than a mockery. He must stand by, said Mr. K., and see this property tied up by narrow, contracted, partial legislation, into a bundle of bribes and bounties, calculated and intended to drain the resources and consummate the ruin of the State whose generosity furnished the means of perpetrating the injustice. Sir, said he, when the people of Georgia send me here to plunder them, and not to protect them, I may think of the proposition, but not before. What were the reasons urged for this partial and oppressive measure? Interest was sufficient to address to some; party, perhaps, to others; but what were the reasons addressed to those members from the old States who were disposed to stand up for the rights of their constituents? Why, they were the great and threatening evils of a redundant Treasury, it was strange this measure had not been urged with such zeal, for these reasons, when there was some necessity for it. Where was this surplus now, or from whence was it to be derived during the present year? Gentlemen had shown commendable caution in making, or rather in not making, calculations on this subject. No one had descended to the use of figures but the Senator from Mississippi; and he, Mr. K. thought, contrary to his wont, upon grave matters, had been a little flighty upon this subject. The Senator had estimated a future annual surplus of 20 millions of dollars, and that, without this measure, 80 or 100 millions of acres of the public lands would pass into the hands of speculators in the next four years. And what was the basis of his estimate? Why, he had taken the proceeds of the last year, (about 25 millions,) and made them the basis of his estimate for the next four years. The Senator might just as well have anticipated in 1813, that because Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Russia with an effective army of 400,000 fighting men, he would be enabled to make the same effort annually for the remain: der of his life. It is certainly, said Mr. K., a logical