Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

Jan. 12, 1829.]

Sinking Fund, doc.

(SENATE.

market, but he has ventured to calculate on a speculation said, that Mr. Crawford was induced, in 1821, to give the of a million and more upon its falling to 65, which he an loan (among other reasons) to the Bank, because they ticipates. This stock, purchased at 65 in the 100, will could not employ their funds, of which we were a large yield 4 61 per cent. with a profit of 35 dollars on each stockholder. Mr. J. said, we had a large equivalent from share when paid off; those who purchased at 65, may now the Bank in the safety and management of our funds for realize 20 dollars, and sell at 85; and those who hold at the use of the balances. We ought to deal justly with 85 know they will receive 100 dollars ; and can we there them. If they pay us the interest, which will not exceed fore believe that those who purchased at 85 will sell at 65, $150,000 a year, we must pay them a reasonable compenand thereby lose 20 per cent. of the capital ? As the period sation for their services. Mr. J. concluded by saying, the of payment approaches, the stock will rise. If it could be proposition now submitted was, in his judgment, premaeven bought at 85, which it cannot, in any quantity, it ture, and the law unnecessary. would be giving our money for 3 53-100 per cent. Is Mr. BENTON had a remark to make in reply to the that then the best employment of our money? He said, he Senator from Louisiana (Mr. Johnston), which was, that thought not. We have other means of using this fund all these statements about the amount and use of the ba much more advantageously. We may pay seven millions lances would come much better when they came officialfor our Bank stock: this is yielding us 6 per cent., and ly, as he hoped they would, from the President of the this is better than can be done with money by purchasing Bank. With respect to the amount of actual balances, in the market. We could now get 22 or 24 per cent. ad- of which he had only exhibited the average, he presumvance on that stock. The interest of this 7,000,000 in the ed the Senate would soon have an opportunity of seeing Bank yields 420,000 dollars; while we pay but 390,000 them, as they had been called for by a resolution of the dollars on the 13,000,000 of three per cents. The seven Senate. Their amount would then be seen to be great, millions, therefore, while thus invested, is equal to the astonishingly great. He differed from the gentleman as thirteen millions. Is it, therefore, wise to employ the to the proper time for this debate. He did not think it seven millions to extinguish that amount of the thirteen premature ; on the contrary, it was hardly early enough. millions, and leave us in debt six millions at interest ? He himself had begun, about a year ago, to call the atAnd can we feel any solicitude about paying the thirteen tention of the people to the great subject of extinguishing millions, while the búrthen of that debt is countervailed by the public debt, and abolishing ten millions of duties. The seven millions ? If we make the appropriation of seven subject was just beginning to take root in the public mind, millions in the year 1831, we may use the remaining five and there was now hardly time for the people to think, to millions either in purchasing other stock, if found advan- make up their minds, and to make known their minds, betageous, or it may be distributed among the States, or ap- fore Congress would have to act. The subject was one of plied to national objects; or we may provide for the pay vast consequence in principle, and of great extent in dement of so much of the debt due in 1832, on the first of tail. The Committee of Finance had reported forty-five January of that year, as Congress, in its wisdom, may articles on which duties might be abolished without injury hereafter provide. In 1832, there are eleven millions and to domestic industry. He, Mr. B., would add fifteen interest payable, which will more than absorb the Sinking articles more, of which two, namely, blankets and strouds, Fund of that year.

for the Indian trade, were of the first moment to his conThere will remain in 1833,

$2,227,363 stituents engaged in the fur trade; and three others, 1834,

2,227,363 namely, tin, copper and brass, in plates or sheets, fit for 1835,

4,735,296 manafacturing here, were of great moment to the numerAs these are very small demands upon our resources, ous manufacturers of these articles, and to the still more we may, in 1832, inquire into the reduction of the duties numerous class who used the articles after they are manuwhich may then be made.

factured. The payment of the debt, and the consequent Mr. J. said, the Chairman of the Committee has said, abolition of duties, will be the test of new parties. None that the spirit of accommodation which the Bank of the will stand up openly for the continuance of the debt; but United States had always manifested, would induce them innumerable operations will be carried on to diminish the to permit the Government to redeem their stock at a fair revenue, or to squander it; the effect, if not the object of price, whenever we had the means; and they would prefer which, will be to perpetuate the debt. He, Mr. B , was to give up our stock, which has but one or two years to against partial reductions of duty to diminish the revenue run, to the payment of our stock in the Bank. He entirely and to continue the debt, to relieve one part of the comconcurred in this view, and had no doubt, in the year 1831, munity, and leave the burthens upon another: he was for we could make our arrangements with them.

abolition, when the whole list would be taken up. Mr. J. explained how the average balances in the Mr. B. wished to correct an error which prevailed as to Bank had been so large; which was owing to several the character of his resolutions. Gentlemen did not seem large sums laying over, unemployed, which

ould never to understand them, though printed and laid on every occur again ; that portions of this sum were in transitu table; they were treated as if compulsory on our Comfrom place to place ; that the Bank could not employ its missioners to purchase the public debt, and thereupon capital, much less avail itself of the use of these balances. an argument was founded, that their going into the market It is known that about sixteen millions of the revenue is would raise the price of stock. Not so the fact, nor the received in New York, where the capital of the Branch consequence. The resolutions were not compulsory, but does not exceed two millions five hundred thousand dol-optionary; the Commissioners were to purchase, or not to lars, and where the discounts do not exceed four to five purchase, as they deemed best. It was not like mermillions. The gentleman proposes to make the Bank pay chants going into the market to buy tobacco, cotton or interest for these uncertain balances, which, at most, are flour. We bought our debt, not to sell it again, but to exonly unapplied balances of appropriations.

tinguish it. We would buy the three per cents. to cancel Mr. J. said, the Bank has given us $1,500,000 for the that stock forever, and he still believed that stock would bonus, the interest on which alone would exceed the in- lose a part of its value the eyes of its holders, especially terest due on the balances. Besides this, they receive and its European holders, if his resolution should become pay ont, without compensation for the labor or the risk a law, and subject that stock to extinction on any day. on the exchange, more than twenty millions a year. The The holders would want to get rid of a stock that might Bank will tell you to use your money, if you desire to throw their money upon them at any moment ; they would draw it, in any way or at any time ; but that they cannot want a more permanent investment; one at least that fixed pay the interest, because they cannot employ it. Mr. J.

a time to exist.

SENATE.]

Distribution of the Revenue.

[Jan. 13, 1829.

Mr. B. would note one other advantage, and a great 1834, and as more than four and a half millions of our one, in clothing our Commissioners with power to pur- five per cent. debt is not redeemable before the first day chase in the market when they had the money: it was in of January, 1835, there will be a large surplus in our the saving of interest, At present we only pay from half Treasury, between the years 1832 and 1835. not applicable year to half year; and if we have millions on hand in the to the reduction of the public debt, under the present regufirst quarter, it must lie idle to the end of the second quar- lation of the Sinking Fund. ter, the debt all the while drawing interest.

It is proposed, by the bill under consideration, to apThe question was then taken separately, on referring propriate, after the 1st of January, 1830, five millions of the first, second, and third clauses of the resolution to the the Sinking Fund to the fund for distribution ; still, howCommittee on Finance, and decided in the affirmative-ever, subject to the control of Congress ; as no more is to the remainder of the resolution was then also referred. be divided than may be found in the Treasury unappropri

ated, on the first day of June, in that year, and on the first

day of June in each succeeding year. TUESDAY, JAN. 13, 1829.

By this arrangement, the public debt-except the three

per cents. and Bank loan-might be extinguished on the DISTRIBUTION OF THE REVENUE.

first day of January, 1838, and forty millions of dollars The Senate, as in Committee of the Whole, took up the distributed among the States. This would admit of a following bill:

gradual reduction of the public debt; but, as fast as the Be it enacted, &c. That the Secretary of the Treasury public good requires that it should be reduced, it would be authorized and required, under such regulations as he speedily bring into operation a fund for such objects of may think proper to prescribe, 10 divide annually among education and internal improvement, as the States right the several States of the Union, in the ratio of direct tax- think proper to adopt; and gradually introduce a safe ation, all moneys in the Treasury, not otherwise appro- system for the disposal of our surplus funds, after the expriated, on the first day of June next, and on the first day tinguishment of our debt, and which, after all the reducof June in every succeeding year.

tions of revenue that can or will be adopted, will not fall “Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That, of the annual short of five millions of dollars a year. sum of ten millions of dollars appropriated to the Sinking Of this feature of the bill, however, I am not particuFund by the second section of the act of the third of larly tenacious. Should the whole of the Sinking Fund March, one thousand eight hundred and seventeen, enti- be applied to the reduction of the debt, till the first of tled,' An act to provide for the redemption of the public January, 1831, or 1832, the States would wait the longer debt,' five millions be appropriated to the fund to be divid- for the funds, which are extremely necessary to their pured among the States, as by the first section of this act, poses, and which they could apply to the greatest possible annually, after the year one thousand eight hundred and advantage to the country, but the debt would be the sooner twenty-nine ; and that so much of the residue of the said extinguished. Even if this part of the bill should be altoannual sum of ten millions of dollars, as shall not, on the gether omitted, still its most important objects would be first day of June of any year, have been applied to the answered, and many objections to it obviated. If the bill redemption of the public debt, shall be appropriated to should simply provide, that, after the first day of June, the fund to be divided among the States as aforesaid. of the next and every succeeding year,

the unapproMr. DICKERSON (who introduced the bill) arose priated moneys in the Treasury should be divided among and said, that, two years ago, when this subject was under the States, in the ratio of direct taxation, and that such discussion, he endeavored to show the necessity of pro- parts of the Sinking Fund, as, in any year, should not be viding, in time, for the proper direction of our funds-applied to the reduction of the public debt, should be conwhen our public debt shall be paid ; when the great works sidered as unappropriated money, the most important for national defence shall be completed ; and when the objects in view would be attained. The States would demands upon our Treasury, growing out of the conse- ultimately, and in a short time, have the benefit of quences of the revolutionary and late wars, shall be re their funds; and the inconvenience and extreme danger of duced to a small amount. He then endeavored to show, a large surplus in the United States Treasury, to be legisthat, whatever system should be adopted for this purpose, lated away by Congress, would be avoided. it ought to commence before the entire extinguishment of There is great impatience to see the public debt entirethe public debt: and he further attempted to show the ex- ly extinguished. It is now reduced to a small amount ; treme danger of a large surplus in our Treasury, unless and it would certainly be a gratifying circumstance, that subject to some well digested and previously settled regu we might proclaim to the world that we were out of debt. lation for its disposal.

But for that gratification I would not pay too dearly: I I thought then, as I do now, (said Mr D.) that with a would not buy up the stock of the United States, even at proper reirenchment of our expenditures, we might divert its present prices; and the prices would rise the moment a large sum, annually, in addition to the ten millions we determine to purchase it. We should thus give an imappropriated to the Sinking Fund, towards the reduction mense advantage to the holders of the stock, now chiefly of the public debt ; by which, the moment of its final re in the hands of the Bank of the United States, and other demption might be greatly hastened. Believing, however, moneyed institutions in this country, and in the hands of that no proposition to divert from the present objects of rich stockjobbers in Europe. A proposition to authorize expenditure, any considerable portion of our revenue, the purchase of this stock is now referred to the Committee would be well received, I shall consider the subject as if of Finance; but that committee will hardly recommend no more than ten millions of dollars a year were to be ap- any measure for that purpose, that shall lead to a serious plied to the reduction of the public debt.

loss of money on the part of the United States. The At this rate, however, it is rapidly drawing to a close. chairman of that committee (Mr. Smith, of Maryland.) By a calculation hich I had the honor to submit to the thinks that, as a large portion of the stock not redeemable Senate, it appears that, by the annual application of the before the 1st of January, 1834, and 1835, is held by the ten millions of dollars, our debt, except that bearing an Bank of the United States, they will, from a disposition to interest of three per cent., and the United States' Bank accommodate the General Government, surrender that stock loan, muy be extinguished on the 1st day of July, 1833 ; before it is redeemable, upon our paying them its nominal and leaving, on that day, a surplus of $342,069 28. But, value; and that we might improve this good disposition as more than two millions of the four and a half per cent. very much, by threatening the Bank to pay off the seven stock is not redeemable before the the first day of January, millions loan. I have no doubt that something might be done

Jan. 13, 1829.]

Distribution of the Revenue.

(SENATE.

amounts to

by a proper application of the screws to the Bank ; but lof less importance ; giving, altogether, a revenue in the this is not exactly the mode I like of obtaining favors. Tyear 1827, of $6,119,466. The second list consists of But if means can be found to pay off the five and four linens, worsted stuff goods, nankeens, black bottles, demiand a half per cent. stock before it is redeemable-which johns, thread and silk lace, and other articles; giving a I do not think will be done-yet there will still remain a revenue, in all, of $1,181,575; fifty per cent. on which difficulty as to the three per cent. debt. That debt at would amount to $590,787, which added to the revenue present amounts to

$13,296,259 45 on the first list, amounts to $7,301,041 ; by which amount,

according to this statement, our revenue may be diminI:s present price is $85 for $100; at

ished. which rate it would amount to

11,301,812 03 But suppose this reduction to take place; still, by the The Commissioners of the Sinking Fund

time that our debt shall be paid, the great works for are authorized to purchase it at $65

national defence completed, or nearly so, our public buildfor $100, its par value, or what was so

ings finished, and the expenditures growing out of the considered in 1817; at which rate it

late and revolutionary wars, particularly the payment of 8,742,562 14 pensions, be brought to a close, there will still be in the

Treasury a surplus of more than five millions of dollars a Leaving a clear loss of

$2,659,250 89 year. to the country, and gain to the stockholders, should we As, in case of war, or danger of war, we must resort to purchase at the present price. But should we determine the most important articles of taxation in the first list, as to purchase it at any price, or to redeem it immediately, wines, teas, coffee, &c.; it would not be prudent to disor within a short period, it would rise to its nominal value; continue the duties upon them entirely at any time. The which would be more than its par value, by $4,653,677 31. merchants - have asked a reduction of duties upon teas, It is, however, not to be presumed, that Congress will but not a repeal of those duties. There ought undoubtwarrant the purchase of this debt, upon any principle by edly to be a great reduction of duties upon many of the which the United States are to lose the one half, or even articles in that list ; but certainly not a repeal of the duties the one quarter of a million of dollars. It is, therefore, pro- upon the most important of them. There are some articles ba ble, that this debt will remain many years unredeemed. in this list, upon which it cannot be presumed that ConBut, should we determine to purchase it, or redeem it gress will abolish the duties: for instance, it is proposed to even at its nominal value, and to a loss of more than four abolish the duties on wines of all kinds, amounting to and a half millions of dollars, it may be quickly done, $ 667,369; and upon silks of all kinds, amounting to as it would only require the application of the Sinking $1.281,094: the duties upon these two articles amount to Fund for about one year and a half. But we may relieve nearly a third of those upon the whole list. ourselves of this debt at a much cheaper rate than paying At the last session, we reduced the rates of duties upon for thirteen millions of dollars, its nominal value ; or some of these articles, the policy of which measure may be eleven millions, its present value in the market.

fairly doubted. I thought the measure an ill-judged one The annual interest on this debt amounts to $398,887 48. then, and I think it so now. I am confident the country A capital of $6,648,124 67, at six per cent., will yield will not sustain us, in abolishing the duties upon these arthat amount of interest. If, therefore, we set apart and ticles of luxury, when there is a spirit prevailing through pledge so much of our seven millions of stock in the the nation to produce them for our own consumption. The United States Bank, yielding us six per cent interest, to production of wines and silks may, and will be of the the holders of the three per cent. stock, it will pay their highest importance to our agriculture and manufactures, interest so long as our Bank stock gives us the present as they will give employment to a large portion of the capidividends. And possibly the Bank might be induced, by tal and labor of all the States, but more particularly to further application of the screws, to relieve us of our those of the South, where they show but little disposition three per cent. debt for a little more than six and a half to embark in other manufactures. Upon the articles of millions of our stock in that institution. But whether they wines and silks, I do not believe there will be any reducrelieve us from this debt, or whether we receive our divi- tion of revenue. There are other articles in this list on dends upon the whole of our stock in Bank, and pay the which there will not be an entire reduction of duties, as interest on our three per cent. debt, is of but little im- salt and indigo. Upon the whole, the greatest reduction portance to the country, as in either case there would be of revenue that will take place upon the articles in this no loss—while there would be a very great one by any list, will not exceed three millions of dollars. mode yet suggested, of purchasing or redeeming the debt. As to the second list, upon which there is to be a reducTo those who think that it would be better to reduce our tion of fifty per cent. upon the duties, there will in fact rerenue, so that, at the time of the extinguishment of our be but a small reduction of revenue. Reducing the duties debt, our receipts into the Treasury may be diminished by fifty per cent. would probably increase the consumption ten millions of dollars, I would answer, that such a reduc- twenty-five per cent., in which case there would be a retion will not take place: no one, who examines the state duction of revenue of no more than twenty-five per cent., of our country, can, for a moment, believe it. Without or $295,393. This, however, is greater than any reduc-. any increase of duties, it is evident that our revenues must tion that will actually take place. Can any one believe rapidly increase with our increasing population, and con that there will be any considerable reduction of duties sequent consumption. A reduction of duties upon par- upon linens or nankeens, which would exclude our cotticular articles of consumption, as teas, coffee, wines, ton fabrics ; upon worsted stuff goods, which would cxclude and silks, would not lead to a correspondent reduction of our woollens; or upon thread or silk lace, the duties upon the revenue derived from those articles; as diminishing which several articles amount to more than a million of the duties upon them would increase their importation dollars; or npon black bottles, or demijohns? The reand consumption. In a report made by the chairman of duction of duties upon this second list will not exceed the Committee on Finance, the 21st of April last, there $150,000. We must presume that we shall have a large is a list of articles, upon which it is stated, the duties might surplus of revenue, if not permanently, certainly for many be repealed after the payment of our debt ; and another, years, as the great reductions of duties contemplated canupon which it is stated, that there might be a reduction of not take place suddenly without manifest injury to the fifty per cent. upon the duties. The first embraces wines country. If, for instance, we should repeal the duties of all kinds, teas of all kinds, silks of all kinds, coffee, upon teas, it would carry ruin to those merchants who salt, raisins, indigo, pepper, and a variety of other articles have large quantities on hand; so as to wine, coffee, and

SENATE.]

Distribution of the Revenue.

[Jan. 13, 1829.

other articles. There must be time to dispose of the the States, they would cement, and not dissolve the Union. present stock, before the alteration of the duties could They were yielded up for the benefit of the whole : but have the least effect in reducing the prices, or we ought would not this primary object be defeated by locking to restore to the importers the duties they shall have them up from the States when most wanted for their paid. If there is even a probability that we shall have purposes, and not wanted for the purposes of the General surplus funds to a large amount, we should legislate to Government? Such a time must have been anticipated by meet such probable event. It may be thought, and I the statesmen who formed our constitution; and, if we have frequently heard it said, that however important it conclude that they intended thus unnecessarily to cripple may be that the States should have the funds proposed to the energies of the States, do we not impeach their wisbe divided among them, it is an unnecessary operation to dom and their patriotism? But I will not pursue this incollect the money from them for the purpose of returning quiry further, or express any decided opinion upon it, as it to them. That it would be better to suffer the State it is noi necessary to my present purpose. Governments to collect the money for themselves. To That the time is at hand when a large portion of the this it would be a sufficient answer to say, that moneys revenues of the United States will be devoted to the obcollected by the General Government do not cost a quar- jects of internal improvements, by roads and canals, ter as much in the collection, as an equal amount collected either by the General Government, or by the State Governby the States; and, whether we raise a few millions, more ments, no one can doubt, who attentively considers the or less, from imposts, we have the same number of officers subject. The event is certain to those who hope, and engaged in collecting the revenue. It is, however, not inevitable to those who fear it. Of the two modes, the in contemplation to collect money merely for the purpose choice alone is left to us. I am among those who do of distribution—but to distribute the money that may and not believe that the constitution has given, or that it was will be accumulated in our Treasury, from time to time, by intended to give, by those who formed it, the power to the operation of our financial system ; which, to provide for the General Government to make roads and canals through the exigencies of our Government at all times, and to be the States, with or without their permission. That to do prepared for contingencies against which it is our duty to so, without the assent of the States, would be an invasion make ample provision, will occasionally afford surplusses of their modified sovereignity—and that the assent of not wanted for the purposes of the General Government, States interested would not warrant the measure, as the and which may be estimated at five millions of dollars a system of internal improvement which the United States year at least. It is a subject worthy of inquiry, however, can exercise, if they can exercise any, must be general if not now, at some future period, how far the States may and not partial-must be operative in all the States, or in avail themselves of the agency of the General Government, none. But this part of our constitution will yield to the to reach, for their several benefit, the objects of taxation overwhelming, the irresistible pressure of surplus funds, which have been surrendered to the Union for the gen- if left to their undivided operation. In 1817, Congress eral good. All revenues arising from foreign commerce passed a bill to set apart certain funds for internal imare vested in the General Governinent; and all revenues provements, in which they pledged those funds to the conarising from excises, with very few exceptions, are of structing of roads and canals, and improving the naviganecessity vested in the same Government; for no State tion of water-courses in the different States, with the ascan lay an excise upon her manufactures, without driving sent of the States in the ratio of representation. The the capital invested in such manufactures, in a greater or President, Mr Madison, objected to the passing of this bill; less degree, into the neighboring States; nor upon the pro- and, in his reasons for so doing, he denies the power on duce of her soil, without enabling the farmers and planters the part of the United States, and says: “If a general of the neighboring States to supply her markets, to the ex power to construct roads and canals, and to improve the clusion of her own industry and capital. Imposts and ex- navigation of water-courses, with the train of nowers incicises are, therefore, vested in the General Government. dent thereto, be not possessed by Congress, the assent of The only objects of taxation left to the States are of the the States, as provided for in the bill, cannot confer the most odious character, and several of the States are com power. The only case in which the consent and cession pelled to resort to a land tax to support their governments. of particular States can extend the power of Congress, are The Legislatures of such States reluctantly engage in any those specified and provided for in the Constitution.” Notmeasures of internal improvement, or systems of education, withstanding these objections, and notwithstanding our as they must lead to taxes which the people would not public debt then amounted to more than one hundred and willingly bear.

twenty-three millions of dollars, the House of RepresentaWhen our constitution was formed, the whole of the tives, on reconsidering the bill, gave sixty votes for its final revenues to be derived from the subjects of taxation, thus passage, and but fifty against it ; but as it required twosurrendered, were wanted for the purposes of the General thirds in the affirmative, the bill was lost. It was with Government, and have continued to be so for forty years. difficulty that the provision in the bill, requiring the asThis, however, was not the reason of vesting these objects sent of the States, was adopted—as, when proposed as an of taxation in the General Government to the exclusion of amendment 10 the original bill, it was strenuously resisted the States. The reason of the surrender was, that, without in the House of Representatives. A large portion of the it, no union could have taken place; and the Union would most experienced statesmen of the nation believed that be instantly dissolved if the States should resume the right Mr. Madison's construction of the constitution was a corof laying imposts. During wars these sources of revenue rect one ; upon the strict observance of which, the proswill continue to be necessary to the United States, and perity, harınony, and even permanency of the Union, in not to the several States, as at such times labor is too high no small degree depend. to admit of works of internal improvement. In times If, when we were laboring under the greatest weight of peace they will not be wanted, except in part, by of debt that ever oppressed this country, this part of our the United States, but will be most wanted by the States, constitution was saved only by the firmness of the Presifor objects of internal improvement, which only in peace dent, exercising his qualified negative, what are we to can be carried on with success. It is absolutely necessary expect when it shall again be assailed by those who think that all revenues derived from commerce should be col- the power of Congress is limited only by its will, and who lected by the General Government, as they cannot be col- shall be aided in their views by the irresistible force of lected by the State Governments without dissolving the surplus funds ? Even those most determined to support Union; but there is no such necessity that they should be the constitution must yield, or see the States which they expended by the General Government. If expended by represent excluded from a participation in those funds,

Jan. 13, 1829.]

Distribution of the Revenuv.

(SENATE.

which have been derived, in part, from their commerce Ohio Canal; 10 vote for President and Directors of and their industry.

these companies, annually; and to receive the tolls and Independently of constitutional objections to the exer- other emoluments accruing to the United States from cise of the right of Congress to make roads and canals in these companies. And, as to the Chesapeake and Ohio the States, with or without the permission of such States, Canal," he shall have and enjoy, in behalf of the United or even the right of subscribing to, and holding, shares in States, any other right of a stock holder in said company." the stock of turnpike roads, rail-road and canal companies, Suppose we had subscriptions in one hundred canal and there are other considerations, altogether sufficient, to rail-road companies and we are in a fair way to have prevent our ever embarking in this system. If Congress twice that number in a few years the Secretary would undertake to make roads and canals, it will inevitably hap. have a rare time of it in attending election-dinners of Prepen, that States which do not want roads and canals must sident and Directors of these companies, in which it is to involuntarily contribute to make roads and canals in States be feared he might lose sight of our part of the tolls and where they are wanted ; States which have expended emoluments arising from these numerous partnerships. large sums for roads and canals for themselves, must con We should soon want at least eight or ten additional Setribute to the making roads and canals in States which cretaries to attend to our complicated rail-road and canal have made no such improvement; and States which are concerns. Should we proceed in this system of becoming deeply in debt for their improvements, must aid those partners in all the rail-road and canal companies that will who are unwilling to devote their resources, or even apply for our aid, we shall, in a few years, after squanderpledge their credit, for such purposes. The most gross in- ing millions of money, be obliged, from the mere mass of justice must take place where great influence can be legislation that it would impose upon us, to relinquish the brought to bear upon the members of Congress. Moneys whole in utter despair. will be appropriated to the exclusive benefit of particular I have no doubt of the constitutionality of the measure sections of the country, without regard to the general good, proposed in this bill. Others may have. The doubts of and to the utter neglect of other sections, having equal some, as to the constitutional powers of Congress, if adoptclaims, but less influence. Jealousies of the most invete- ed by a majority, would put an end to some of the most rate character must arise, and distract the councils of the important and indispensable objects of legislation; while nation. State will be arrayed against State ; the East and others seem to consider no provision in the constitution West against the South; the South and West against as an impediment to the exercise of the will of Congress. the East; the South and East against the West. The most | I am with those who are in favor of a rigid construction of dangerous conibination will take place, for the purpose the constitution ; but not too rigid. Among the enumeof engrossing the public funds; and these will have the rated powers of Congress, is that to provide for the commost deleterious influence in the passing of every import- mon defence and general welfare of the United States; ant law; will regulate the appointments to office, and and they are to make all laws which shall be necessary and control the election of every future President of the Unit- proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, ed States. The arm of the General Government will be and all other powers vested by the constitution in the rendered too strong to be restrained by any salutary check government of the United States, or in any department provided by the constitution; and the administration, or office thereof. It is a matter of extreme difficulty to with its host of engineers, will regulate the affairs of the ascertain the exact extent and limits of the powers vested nation at their pleasure, and prostrate the barriers establish in Congress by this provision of our constitution. Had ed for the protection of State sovereignties and State rights. the inembers of the Federal Convention been required to

If Congress shouid embark in a general system of mak- define those powers, they would probably have been as ing roads and canals, the experience we have already had much at a loss as we are. It was undoubtedly intended, must convince us, that the whole year would not suffice however, by this provision, to vest in Congress, a body of for the necessary legislation upon the subjects which which there was the least jealousy, a power not otherwise would be presented to us. Congress, instead of being a granted, but absolutely necessary to the perfection of the body for the superintendence of the general concerns of system—a power which it was impossible accurately to the Union, which of necessity belongs to them, would define, or upon the exact limits of which the convention find themselves almost exclusively engaged in the busi- could not agree. It was an expedient to avoid difficulties ness, never thought of by the federal convention, of mak- at the moment, that might otherwise have been found ining roads and canals, which properly belong to the States. surmountable; adopted under an impression that, being

The experience we have had should convince us that subordinate to the other provisions of the constitution, it there must be a waste of one or two hundred per cent. might be safely trusted to the immediate representatives upon all the moneys to be laid out by the United States of the people and of the States. The power, however, for those improvements. The Cumberland road has al- has limits, and narrow limits. It must be exercised in ready cost us more than fourteen thousand dollars per strict accordance with, and in subordination to, the other mile, and it is now, in many parts of it, nearly impassable. provisions and principles of the constitution ; its range And in some of our fortifications there has been as great must be confined by the words necessary and proper; and a waste of public money. In England, where more has been must, in no case, infringe the rights of States or individuals. done in making roads and canals than in any other part of There must be a power to dispose of our national funds, the world, the whole has been the work of individual en- when not wanted for the usual exigencies of the Governterprise ; the government has never taken any part in them. ment, or the common defence of the country, to some ob

Should Congress pursue the plan already begun, of sub- jects of the general welfare of the United States. And scribing to canal companies, and extend the same to rail there must be a corresponding duty, on the part of Conroad companies, in a few years our financial system will gress, to provide for the case. “Congress have power present an immense complication of funds and deficits, so to dispose of, and make all needful rules and regulations perplexed, entangled, intricate, and involved, as to defy respecting the territory, or other property, belonging to the all powers of involution, extrication, or comprehension. United States. There is no property, of any character

The Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to sub- whatever, belonging to the United States, that is not emscribe one hundred and fifty thousand dollars to the Dis- braced by this provision. The right of raising revenue is mal Swamp Canal; to subscribe three hundred thousand not property ; but revenue in the Treasury is so; and that dollars to the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal; to sub- hereafter to be there, may be the subject of present legisscribe one hundred thousand dollars in the Louisville lation. And, if we provide that any unappropriated Canal; and one million of dollars in the Chesapeake and balance in the Treasury, at any particular time, not want

« AnteriorContinuar »