Imagens das páginas
PDF

Dec. 20, 1836.)

perusal, but he had at that time no apprehension that the effects to be produced on the currency and business of the country were likely to be so extensive. If, as it appeared, the object of the order was the accumulation of specie in the banks, he doubted not that there would be a thousand ways devised to evade and defeat it. He thought that the same thousand dollars, by being made to travel backward and forward between the bank and the land office, might be made to purchase land enough to satisfy the desires of any number of buyers. Mr. C. spoke on this subject from information and conjecture, having had no personal experience. He had never attended a land sale in his life, and knew nothing of the arts employed; but it was reasonable to suppose that men who were much engaged in business of this kind would become expert in availing themselves of every advantage in conducting it. But he had also thought that, on this side of the mountains, it would be easier to evade the order than on the other; for there was a proviso which admitted a cert ficate of deposite in the Treasury to be received in the place of cash. This, he supposed, would obviate the transportation of specie to the West, and would require it only to be carried to Washington, in which there would be no great difficulty; but he had since understood that a mode had been devised still more convenient: the intended purchasers would ob'an drafts on the Bank of the Metropolis. They would present these drafts at the counter, and the question was asked, do you want hard money? Yes, I want to buy land. The matter was easily managed. A certain amount of silver was put into a little keg, and this was put into a wheel-barrow and carried across the street to the Treasury, where the requisite certificate was granted of so much money deposited in the Treasury. The keg was then wheeled back to the bank, and this had been repeated until it became a matter of open ridicule among the subalterns of the Treasury. This little barrel had been rolled backward and forward from the bank to the Treasury and from the Treasury to the bank, a distance of not more than fifty yards, until, according to a calculation which had been made, it had travelled about 1,100 miles; and this was the boasted metallic circulation. This process did but exemplify, to a considerable extent, the operation of this Treasury order over the whole country. But, allowing for all these evasions, this order undoubtedly has and must continue to occasion large sums of gold and silver to be temporarily withdrawn from general circulation, and paid into the land offices. From these offices it is transferred to the deposite banks--is there subjected to the ordinary banking uses and purposes, and serves to strengthen and fatten these corporations, to the prejudice of the general circulation, and of those banks from which that gold and silver has been withdrawn. To compensate for these evils, and this derangement of the currency, what adequate good has been or can be produced by this order? I cannot perceive it--it appears visionary to me to suppo-e that it will add a single dollar to the amount of the specie of the United States. But, sir, the direct operation of this order has not, probably, been more injurious, or perhaps so much so, as its indirect consequences in producing distrust and alarm. When the i'reasury raises its mighty arm, the banks are shaken far and wide. The sudden call for gold and silver, made by this order, aided by some other causes, rendered the banks, to some extent, uneasy, and created apprehensions in the minds of the holders of their notes. The consequence was that these holders Pressed the banks for payment; the banks pressed their debtors, and withheld their customary accommodations; and thus, sir, derangement and pressure were more severely and widely extended. Such, I know, has been \\e case in Kentucky to a considerable extent.

Treasury Circular.

what it had produced”

[SENATE.

The Senator from Missouri had exhibited a table, the results of which he had pressed with a very triumphant air. Was it extraordinary that the deposite banks should be strengthened? The effect of the order went directly to sustain them. But it was at the expense of all the other banks of the country. Under this order all the specie was collected and carried into their vaults, an operation which went to disturb and embarrass the general circulation of the country, and to produce that pe. cuniary disficulty which was felt in all quarters of the Union. Mr. C. did not profess to be competent to judge how far the whole of this distress was attributable to the operation of the Treasury order, but of this at least he was very sure, through a great part of the Western country it was universally attributed to that cause. The Senator from Missouri supposed that the order had produced no part of this pressure. If not, he would ask Had it increased the specie in the country? Had it increased the specie in actual and general circulation? If it had done no evil, what good had it done? This, he believed, was as yet undiscovered. So far as it had operated at all, it had been to derange the state of the currency, and to give it a direction inverse to the course of business. The honorable Senator, however, could not see how moving money across a street could operate to affect the currency; and seemed to suppose that moving money from west to east, or from east to west, would have as little effect. Money, however, if left to itself, would always move according to the ordinary course of business transactions. This course might indeed be disturbed for a time, but it would be like forcing the needle away from the pole; you might turn it round and round as often as you pleased, but, left to itself, it would still settle at the north. Our great commercial cities were the natural repositories where money centred and settled. . There it was wanted, and it was more valuable if left there than if carried into the interior. Any intelligent business man in the West would rather have money paid him for a debt in New York than at his own door. It was worth more to him. If, then, specie was forced, by Treasury tactics, to take a direction contrary to the natural course of business, and to move from east to west, the operation would be beneficial to none, injurious to all. it was not in the power of Government to keep it in a false direction or position. Specie was in exile whenever it was forced out of that place where business called for it. Such an operation did no real good. It was a forced movement, and was soon overcome by the

natural course of things.

Mr. C. was well aware that men might be deluded

and mystified on this subject, and that, while the delu

sion lasted, this Treasury order might be held up before the eyes of men as a splendid arrangement in finance; but it was only like the natural rainbow, which owed its very existence to the mist in which it had its being. The moment the atmosphere was clear, its bright colors vanished from the view. So it would be with this matter. The specie of the country must resume its natural course. Man might as well escope from the physical necessities of their nature, as from the laws which governed the movements of finance; and the man who professed to reverse or dispense with the one was no greater quack than he who made the same professions with re. gard to the other. But it was said to be the distribution bill which had done all the mischief; and Mr. C. was ready to admit that the manner in which the Government had attempted to carry that law into effect might in part have furnished the basis for such a supposition. He had no doubt that the pecuniary evils of the country had been aggravated by the manner in which this had been done. On this subject, however, he confessed himself to be but a SENATE.]

learner. He had no doubt that the Government might so have distributed the money as to avoid all injurious consequences, and might have so managed the operation that the transmission of these funds, instead of occasioning injury or inconvenience, might rather have increased the prosperity of the country, by falling in with the natural and legitimate course of business. But this hid been passed by, and the Government had proceeded, like a porter or drayman, to carry the public money from one quarter of the country to the other. Thus, millions of specie had been carried from New York to Kentucky; but the people of Kentucky would have preferred that it should have remained in New York, for there they might have disposed of it at a premium of one or two per cent. This would have fallen in with the course of business, and have been beneficial to the conn'ry. But, as it was, the effect was the reverse. But, sir, according to the honorable Senator from Missouri, all the evil which was not the effect of the distribution law was the effect of a panic, “a little starveling panic, no bigger than a church mouse;” a panic which was now over; which, contemptible as it was, had enjoyed the distinguished honor of dying by the hand of that Senator, and meeting its end, like Cesar, in the :apitol. And was this all the comfort which the gentleman had to give under the pressures and distresses of the commercial interest? Mr. C. did not presume to set himself up as a competent judge of mercantile affairs. There were other gentlemen on that floor who far better understood the interest of that meritorious class of our fellow-citizens, and who would speak on the subject in due time. But if there was any truth in the representations universally given, there was an extreme pressure now felt in all our great cities, from Boston to New Orleans, the effect of which was rapidly spreading through the interior. What was the cause of this embarrassment? The gentleman said it was this little panic. Well, but what was the cause of the panic? Who made it? What caused it? Was it not the Treasury order? The Senator loved the order well, but not the panic; and all the remedy he could propose was to tell the sufferer it is but a panic, a contemptible little panic, a petty starveling panic; the country is sound, the country is safe. Sir, of what invaluable use has been that little word? It has furnished its full contribution to the beauty and the force of many a ponderous and patriotic argument of the Senator from Missouri. It has given point to many a sentence; it has helped to round off many a sonorous period. He has wielded it like some well-tried and favorite weapon, and has displayed great skill in its use. It seems there have been three great panics, which the gentleman has noted like so many eras of the plague. Whatever may be the national misfortune, and how loudly soever it may call sor a remedy, when legislative wisdom can furnish none other, it is a sufficient remedy to cry panic! panic! Sir, it is a senatorial specific, a ready panacea for all the evils of the body politic. Yes, sir, this is all. Your statesmanship goes no farther. Tell the people it is a panic, and let them understand that all the enemies of General Jackson's administration have united by common consent to get it up and keep it up. A legislator will thus feel that he has fully discharged his duty to the country and to his constituents when he has duly vociferated panic! panic! Two per cent. a month is given for money, and it is all panic, panic. A justification for this illegal Treasury order is further attempted by telling us that there are in the country one thousand banks, and that it is the design of this resolution to fastew on the country an odious paper system, and to pay for the public domain in the rotten and worthless notes of one thousand banks. To this the honorable Senator is opposed. So are we all. But he

[blocks in formation]

seems to think that all are not opposed to it; and he has traced down, from the days of Hamilton, the existence of a great and formidable party which hates gold and silver; and if I correctly understand how I must take my place in this division of parties, I must be one of those who hate gold and silver. Now, permit me to assure the honorable Senator that I partake at least so much of mortal mould as that gold and silver coin are not among the objects of my ant pathy. These “rascal counters” do not indeed engross my affections, but they are very far from being odious to me. No very serious defence or reply, however, would seem to be necessary to the strange and exaggerated accusation of hating gold and silver. If, as I suppose, the honorable gentleman intended to apply that accusation to his political oppoments here, I would suggest to him that he would propably do thern no disservice if he would please to make good his charge by convincing the public that they have no love for these precious metals. It would certainly place them in striking contrast with the party of the honorable Senator; and what he imputes as a crime might possibly be regarded as a recommendation. The love of gold and silver has so much prevailed as the vice of political parties, and been the cause of so much abuse and corruption in Governments, that probably the peo: ple of the United States might be tempted to make the experiment of administering their Government by a new set of agents or rulers taken from this newly discovered sect of money-hating politicians—the first party of that description, I think, which has yet appeared in the world. But, sir, however this may eventuate, I ought perhaps to admit, whatever be its merit or demerit, that the party of the honorable Senator do love gold and sil. yer better than their opponents. That party has been long blessed with opportunities of manifesting this at: tachment, and it has not neglected them. Its long and strict monopoly of the public Treasury, with all its shining heaps, and the manner in which it has used that monopoly, sufficiently attest its affection for the precious metals. Indulgence, too, may have increased this passion; for it is exactly one of those cases where “increase o appetite doth grow by that it seeds on.” On the other band, sir, the opponents of this party have been so long excluded from all these opportunities and indulgences, that they are supposed, it seein', to have lost the natural taste, and, as if in mockery, are denounced as “haters of gold and silver.” I know of no better grounds on which the honorable Senator can rest his accusation, nor does any reply occur to me better suited to its ludicrous gravity. But now, sir, seeing that the honorable Senator is of that party which loves so well the constitutional curren: cy, let me ask him what his love will prompt him to do? This Treasury order, it seems, is not the ultimate scopo and aim of his attempts what is it he would wish for? Is it to destroy all banks? Is it to annihilate the entio paper system, and give us in place of it showers of gold and showers of silver? Why, sir, if the fiat of that geotleman could annihilate at a blow all the bank notes to the country, does he really believe that the busines: 9 this community could be carried on without them? Sir, to attempt to transact the affairs of the American cool" munity by a medium of gold and silver coin, would be little better than going back to the old Spartan expedo ent of bars of iron. But from what does the Senator infer that the party to which he is opposed hate, or at least are opposed to, gold and silver? Is the party which advocated the Bank of the United states the party which is in lovo with the paper system? That is his argument. But what was one of the chief grounds on which they advocated that bank? Was it not that its influence went to maintain a solid currency, convertible into gold and Dec. 20, 1836 )

silver? Was it not that, by means of its central situation and extensive control, it would check excesses of local banks? So far from being opposed to gold and silver, it was the object of that party to keep up a circulation both of hard money and good paper, and secure to the country the advantages of both. And now, can we advance an argument in this House on the subject of the currency, without coming under some reproach about the Bank of the United States? You have put down that institution, which actually accomplished all that this order professes to aim at, and now just what we predicted is daily coming to pass. State banks are springing up like mushrooms in all parts of the country, and that under the patronage of the Government, and according to its earnest wishes. And these constitute a part of the thousand banks which figure so largely in the speech of the honorable Senator. is not this the very effect which we told you would follow the destruction of the Bank of the United States? If you are flooded with banks, and the paper of some of them is of doubtful credit, is it the fault of those who did their best to preserve that which would have kept down these spurious issues?, What can be more unjust than to charge us with loving this state of things? But is it not even ludicrous to contrast what has actually happened with the predictions of the party opposed to us, and to which the Senator belongs? They told us that the State banks would give us a better currency. The executive messages, year after year, gave us the most solemn assurances that the State banks would fully supply the place of the Bank of the United States; that no distress would be the result, but that we should have a better currency. Behold the consummation of these prophecies. Do not the prophets stand in a position perfectly ludicrous? Are the notes of these thousand banks a better currency than the notes of the Bank of the United States? If they are, then why not receive them for the public lands? Did any man doubt the solvency of the Bank of the United States, or the goodness of its notes? You destroyed that bank. Your better currency is come in the place of it; we bring it to your own doors, and you spurn it. We offer it to you, and you reply, “What! convert the public lands into reams of spoiled and speckled paper, called money?” Thus scorned, thus hooted at, is that very currency which you told us was to be better than the notes of the United States Bank; and because we prophesied such a currency, and labored to prevent its coming upon the country, we are now to be called haters of gold and silver! We too, sir, are opposed to converting the public lands into worthlees bank notes. But we supposed that, dubious as the credit of many of these banks is justly considered, some of them are good, and that the notes of these should be received from the people, without running into the sudden and inconvenient extreme of rejecting everything but gold and silver; a measure the more harsh in its operation and character, because of its being the unexpected act of an administration that, up to that very instant, had encouraged the circulation of these bank notes, by proclaiming it to be a “better currency” than that which had been furnished by the Bank of the United States. But the Senator tells us that the object of this resolu. tion is twofold. Its prime object is to disgrace General Jackson, and the second, which is little inferior in importance, is to overthrow the national currency. These are the two revolutionary consequences which the Sen. ator supposes to be aimed at by my friend from Ohio. For myself, I can with great truth say that I am actuated in this matter only by my view of the good or bad policy of the Treasury order, disconnected entirely from all personal feeling toward General Jackson. I have no more personal feeling against him on this subject than

[blocks in formation]

I have against you, sir. Would you consider it an impeachment on your integrity for a gentleman to differ from you as to the policy of a political measure? Surely not. Why, then, should the Senator suppose that a motion to rescind this Treasury order must be intended to dishonor General Jackson? Sir, I object wholly to this introduction of presidential influence into debate on this floor. Is it becoming in us to say one to another, you must do this or that, lest the President should feel himself degraded? Is this a fit weapon to be wielded in this House? The Senator from Missouri, from the intimacy he is supposed to enjoy with the President, may be considered as speaking with authority on such a subject. But may I, who am in some degree excluded from the presidential smiles, attempt to carry a measure through the Senate by threatening the presidential frown? May every little whipster wield this weapon over our heads? What is to be the influence of such threats? What is to be the end of such a system? What must its end be but to resolve all legislation into the will and wish of the Executive? The scope of such an argument would leave this Senate little more than a tame registry of presidential edicts. The Government may retain the shadowy forms of republican freedom, but it will become in fact a stern, substantial monarchy. The phrase “degrade the President” is to be used as so many cabalistic words: the moment they are uttered the Senate is to be silenced. The President thinks a certain measure right, therefore we must think it right. I read that Philip of Macedon had but one eye, and he covered the place of the other with a patch. His influence in Greece, which had long been increasing, at length reached that point that to court his favor the Grecian Senators appeared in their places with a patch over the left eye. [A laugh.) So I suppose it is to be with us. If the President on any occasion happens to do wrony, we are not to think or to speak on the subject, and must prefer to do injustice to ourselves, rather than run the risk of degrading the President. I suppose I am to understand the Senator from Missouri, when he speaks of the “constitutional currency,” to mean a currency of gold and silver. But the constitution says nothing on the matter, save that the States shall pass no law making any thing but gold and silver a legal tender. That is all it contains on the subject. But I will here tell that gentleman that I do to a great oxtent, agree with him in the picture he has drawn of a degraded paper currency, and I will very gladly contribute my mite to correct so great an evil. But I fear it is boyond our reach. The banks of which he complains hold their existence under State authority, and all our arguments amount to nothing more than mere, idle speculation. You have no bank. You rejected that you had, and refused to make another. Is this Treasury order the mode in which you would correct the evils of excessive banking? Would you disorder and derange the whole currency of the country, in order that the banks may explode? For all the evils of the existing system that gentleman and his party are fully chargeable. They put àown that institution which would have prevented the whole. They did it with the consequences plainly before their eyes—clearly shown, and distinctly foretold. They persevered, and those consequences have now come. From that act have grown up all these evils—evils which the Senator paints in glowing colors, but evils from all which I look forward in trembling hope to an ultimate deliverance. I entertain as great an apprehension of the danger of these thousand banks as he does; but it is a darger which the Treasury order will not remove. I am opposed to that measure, because it is not a competent remedy. Instead of mitigating, it aggravates the evil; and I therefore hope the resolution before us will receive the sanction of this body.

SENATE.]

The gentleman is full of thanks to the President of the United States. Well, sir, I really have no idea that the President had in this matter any view or purpose hostile to the best interests of this country. I can readily imagine that his objects and his motives were of the most beneficent character. IBut, sir, where is the great occasion for this outpouring, this outbreaking of gratitude; so earnest, so sublime, that it approaches to adulation, nay, to positive adoration? I hope I am not insensible to the obligations of gratitude; but I have no idea that we are forever to be looking up to the President as a sort of demi-god, who has showered down bent fits upon us notwithstanding our ill deserts—benefits entirely supererogatory, and such as we had no right to expect or hope for. No, sir, I am willing to treat the President with due respect, and to acknowledge all his good deeds in such a manner as becomes an American citizen; further than this I am not disposed to og. The Senator, (said Mr. C.,) in the peroration of his eloquent harangue, transported by the servor of his victorious argument, regretted that there was not more talent and genius on the other side, over which he might prosecute still further conquests. He seems to lack something. Like the victorious Saracen, who carried the true faith through the world on the point of his sword, or like Alexander, who called for more worlds to conquer, the honorable Senator, after having exulted in triumph over all that had been brought against him, calls out for more talent and more genius over which to pursite his conquering course. It is not, probably, in my power, sir, to contribute what is thus called for to swell the gentleman's triumph; nor is it for me, sir, longer to keep the field when such champions are engaged. When Mr. Chitre N n EN had concluded, and taken his seat, Mr. BENTON explained that his remarks on the want of talent, argument, &c., were not intended to apply to the actors in the Senate, but to those out of it who, he supposed, had prepared the subject. The question being announced from the Chair as being on orderiug the resolution to a second reading, Mr. EWING called for the yeas and nays on this question; which were arcordingly ordered. On motion of Mr. W EBS 1 ER, The Senate then adjourned.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

A bill to extend the provisions of certain sections therein named of the act of the 23d June, 1836, regulating the deposites of the money that may be in the Trea. toy on the 1st January, 1838. B; it enacled, &c., That the money which shall be in the T **śry of the United States on the 1st day of Jan. uary, 1838, reserving the sum of five millions of dollars shall be deposited with the several States, on the term. and according to, the provisions of the 13th, 14th, and 15th sections of the act to regulate the deposites of the public money, approved the 33d day of June, 1836. Mr. C., in introducing the bill, observed inst he had not asked leave to introduce this bill without satisfying himself that there would be a large surplus of the public

[blocks in formation]

revenue remaining in the Treasury at the termination of the next year, after allowing for very liberal appropriations on all proper subjects of expenditure. From the calculations he had made, he was convinced that the amount of this surplus would not fall short of eight millions of dollars. He was fully aware that the Secretary of the Treasury, in the report submitted by that officer to Congress, had taken a very different view; yet Mr C. thought he hazarded little when he said that on this subject the Secretary was certainly mistaken. He knew, indeed, that formerly such an assertion from a member of Congress, in relation to the highest fiscal officer of the Government, would have been deemed adventurous; but so vague, so uncertain, so conjectural, and so very erroneous, had been the report from that Department for two or three years last past, that he could not be considered as risking much in taking such a position. That in this remark he did no injustice to the Secretary of the Treasury, (toward whom he cherished no personal hostility or unkind feeling whatsoever, ) he would take the 1.berty of presenting to the senate the estimates made by that officer for the present year, in December last, and comparing with it the actual result, as now ascertained from the Secretary's own report, made the present season. His estimate of the receipts from all sources, including the public lands and every other branch of the revenue, amounted to $19,750,000, whereas the report stated those receipts to have amounted to $17,691,898; presenting a difference in the estimate, for a single year. of $27,941,898. Thus the excess of the actual receipts had exceeded the estimate by more than one third of the whole amount of the estimate. Each of the great branches of the revenue, the customs and the joublic lands, exceeded the estimate by millions of dollars. Again: the Secretary had estimated the balance at the end of the year, then within four weeks of its termination, at $18,047,598, whereas the report showed that the balance actually amounted to $26,749,803, being an error of $8,702,250 for that short period. How these errors arose, whether from negligence or inattention, or whether they were made purposely to subserve certain political views, it was not for him to say; but they were sufficient to show that he ran no very formidable hazard in venturing to say that the views of the Secretary in respect to what was yet future might be erroneous. But further: the Scoretary, in his report last year, had estimated the available means of the Treasury for the current year at $37,797,598; they were now ascertained to have been $74,441,701, exhibiting the small error of $46,644,104. We might search the fiscal records of all civilized nations, and would not find in the compass of history an error so monstrous. He stated this with no feelings of ill will toward the Secretary, but with emotions of shame and mortification for the honor of the country. How must errors like these appear in the eyes of foreign nations? How would they look to posterity” But he was not yet done. The Secretary estimates the expenditures of the year at $23,103,444, whereas they turned out to be $31,435,032, making a difference of $8,331,588. He estimates the balance in the Treasury at the end of this year at $14,500,000. He now admits that it will equal $43,005,669, making an error of $28,505,669, and this notwithstanding he had made an under-estimate of the expenditure of more than eight millions, which, if added, as it ought to be, would make a mistake of nearly thirty-seven millions. The Secretary, however, had profited by the errors of last year. The estimates in the present report were somewhat nearer to the truth, but were still far removed from it. And, indeed, so small was the amount in which he had profited, that he had risked an opinion that the expenditure would czcced the income, so that, of the

Dec. 21, 1836.]

Public Deposites.

[SENATE.

sum which had been deposited with the States, a portion, amounting to between two and three millions, would have to be resunded. The Secretary held out language of this kind, when he acknowledged that the income of the year would be $24,000,000. Mr. C. said he would be glad to see the administration, with such an income, venture to call upon the States to pay back the moneys they had received. No administration would venture the call, except in the case of a foreign war, in which case these deposites would prove a timely and precious resource. With proper management, they would enable the Government to avoid the necessity, at the commencement of a war, of resorting to war taxes and loans. All those gentlemen, and he saw several of them around him, who were here at the commencement of the last war, would well remember the difficulty and embarrassment which attended the operation of raising the revenue from a peace to a war establishment.

Assuming, then, that there would be a surplus, the question presented itself as to what should be done with it. That question Mr. C. would not now attempt to argue. The discussion of it at this time would be premature and out of place. He proposed to himself a more limited object, which was to state the points connected with this subject, which he considered as established; and to point out what was the real issue at present. One point was perfectly established by the proceedings of the last session—that, when there was an unavoidable surplus, it ought not to be left in the Treasury, or in the deposite banks, but should be deposited with the States. It was not only the most safe, but the most just, that the States should have the use of the money in preference to the banks. This, in sact, was the great and leading principle which lay at the foundation of the act of last sessionan act that would forever distinguish the 24th Congress—an act which will go down with honor to posterity, as it had obtained the almost unanimous approbation of the present day. The passage had inspired the country with new hopes. It had been beheld abroad as a matter of wonder, a phenomenon in the fiscal world, such as could have sprung out of no institutions but ours, and which went in a powerful and impressive manner to illustrate the genius of our Government.

He considered it not less fully established that there ought to be no surplus, if it could be avoided. The money belonged to those who made it, and Government had no right to exact it unless necessary. What, then, was the true question at issue? It was this: Can you reduce the revenue to the wants of the people?—he meant in a large political sense. Could the reduction be made without an injury that would more than countervail the benefit? The President thought it could be done; and Mr. C. hoped he was correct in that opinion. If it be practicable, then, beyond all question, it was the proper and natural course to be adopted. It was under this impression that he had moved to refer this part of the President's message to the Committee on Finance. He not only considered that as the appropriate committee, but there were other reasons that governed him in making the reference. A majority .# that committee were known to be hostile to the deposite bill, and would, therefore, do all in their power to avoid the possibility of having a surplus. If, then, that committee could not efsect a reduction, then it might be safely assumed as impracticable. If they ...; agree on a reduction, the Sonate no doubt would readily concur with them.

There was one point on which the committee need have no apprehension: that any reduction they might propose to make would be considered by the South as a breach of the compromise act. Her interest in that act is not *gainst the reduction, but the increase of duties. If it be the pleasure of other sections to reduce, she will certainly not complain.

[ocr errors]

Mr. C. said he would take this occasion to define with exactness the position he occupied in regard to the compromise. He stood, personally, without pledge or plighted faith, as far as that act was concerned. . He clearly foresaw, at the time that bill passed, that there would be a surplus of revenue in the Treasury. He knew that result to be unavoidable, unless by a reduction so sud. den as to overthrow our manufacturing establishments— a catastrophe which he sincerely desired to avoid. Whatever might be thought to the contrary, he had al. ways been the friend of those establishments. He thought at the time that the reduction provided for in the bill had not been made to take place as fast as it might have been. But the term s of the bill formed the only ground on which the opposing interests could agree; and he, as representing in part one of the Southern States, had accepted it, believing it, on the whole, to be the best arrangement which could be effected; yet he saw (it did not, indeed, require much of a prophetic spirit) that there were those who were then ready to collect the tariff at the point of the bayonet, rather than yield an inch, who, when the injurious effects of the sur. plus should be felt, would throw the responsibility on those who supported the bill. Seeing this, Mr. C. had determined that it should not be thrown upon him. He had, therefore, risen in his place, and, after calling on the stenographers to note his words, he had declared that he voted for that bill in the same manner, and no other, that he did for all other bills, and that he held himself no further personally pledged in its passage than in any other. Mr. C. was therefore at persect liberty to select his position, which he would now state. We of the South had derived incalculable advantage from that act; and, as one belonging to that section, he claimed all those advantages to the very last letter. That act had reduced the income of the Government greatly. Few, he believed, were fully aware of the extent to which it had operated. It was a fact, which the documents would show, that the act of 1828 arrested at the customhouse one half in value of the amount of the imports. The imports at that time, deducting reshipments, were about sixty-five millions of dollars in value, out of which the Government collected about thirty-two millions in the gross. The imports of the last year, deducting reshipments, amounted to $120,000,000, which, if the tariff of 1828 had not been reduced, would have given an increase of $60,000,000, instead of something upwards of $21,000,000. He claimed not the whole difference for the compromise, but upwards of $20,000,000 may be fairly carried to its credit. Under this great reduction, we of the South began to revive. Our business began to thrive and to look up. But the compromise act had not yet fully discharged its functions. . Its operation would continue until the revenue should be brought down till no duty should exceed 20 per cent. ad valorem, and the revenue be reduced to the actual wants of the Government. But, while he claimed for the South all these very important advantages, Mr. G. trusted he was too honest, as well as too proud, while he claimed those benefits on her part, to withhold whatever advantage the North may dérive from the compromise. His position, then, on the question of reduction, was to follow, and not to lead; and such he believed to be the true position of the South. If it be the wish of other sections to reduce, she will cheerfully follow; but I trust she will be the last to disturb the present state of things.

Having thus clearly defined his own position, Mr. C. said he would venture a suggestion. If the manufactu. ring interests would listen to the voice of one who had never been their enemy, he would venture to advise them to a course which he should consider as wise on all sides.

it is well known, said Mr. C., that the compromise act

« AnteriorContinuar »