Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

SENATE.]

Fortification Bill.

[Mar 26, 1836.

in asking for a postponement till the next session of Mr. B.,) if this plan goes on, it will put an end to the Congress.

institutions of the country; it was engaged in contending Mr. CALHOUN observed that this system of fortifica- against the very objects for which this Government was tions was likely to be run down by extravagant appro- formed the defence of the country. While they had priations. It added something like two millions to the but a skeleton of an army, whose companies of only fifty usual appropriation bill, and, considering the present, men each were reduced to thirty-odd, and while the offi. prices, at least a million beyond what the appropriations cers in Florida were continually calling for men to fill ought to be. As the bill now stood, he felt himself up their ranks, the bill for that object could not be compelled to vote against it.

touched; it must be set aside to make room for the Mr. BENTON remarked that the reasons given by the banks of the District of Columbia. Yes, sir, (said Mr. Senator from Georgia, why he should vote against this | B.,) the convenience of the banks of the District of bill, were very proper so far as they were his reasons; Columbia must take precedence over the cries of the but when the Secretary of War was quoted as being bleeding frontiers. He could not but regret that at the opposed to it, he thought it proper to set gentlemen last month of the session there should be a further effort right. Just so often as the Secretary was quoted in to put off appropriations for the defences of the country; opposition to this system of fortifications, so often would that, after having spent the first two months in criminahe quote his own language. He would read a few tion and recrimination for the loss of the fortification bill extracts from the Secretary's report, in order to show of the last year, they should now, at the end of six what his opinions really were. Mr. B. then read the months of the session, have to struggle hard to get a bill following:

for the same object passed. He wished to call the at"It cannot be doubted but that fortifications at the fol. tention of the Senate and the country to the conselowing places, enumerated in this bill, will be necessary:quences of this odious principle of distribution. It was At Penobscot bay, for the protection of Bangor, &c.; at going to reduce us to a condition more helpless than we Kennebec river, at Portland, at Portsmouth, at Salem, were under the old confederation; for it would reduce at New Bedford, at New London, upon Staten island, at us to a dependence not only on the voluntary contribuSoller's flats, a redoubt on Federal point, for the Barran tions of the States, but to the leavings of the States after cas, for Fort St. Pbilip.

they had cut and carved all they wanted for themselves. " These proposed works all command the approach to Mr. KING, of Georgia, said he had not voted for the places sufficiently important to justify their construction distribution bill, and therefore the remarks of the Senunder any circumstances that will probably exist. I ator on that subject could not be made applicable to think, therefore, that the public interest would be pro- | him. moted by the passage of the necessary appropriations (Mr. BENTON said they were not intended for Mr. K.] for them. As soon as these are made, such of the Mr. K. said neither could the remarks of the Senator, positions as may appear to require it can be examined, denouncing those who had delayed the bill in its progand the form and extent of the works adapted to exist ress, unless be referred to a vote for an adjournment on ing circumstances, if any change be desirable. The Saturday evening. He had voted to adjourn very late construction of those not needing examination can com- on Saturday evening, when he believed some of the mence immediately, and that of the others as soon as friends of the bill wished to push it to a third reading. the plans are determined upon. By this proceeding, But he had done so only from the lateness of the hour, therefore, a season may be saved in the operations." and thinness of the Senate. That he was justified in

Now, he did not know (Mr. B. said that it was in the that course, had been since proved by the revocation, power of language to be more explicit in favor of any in a fuller Senate, of every vote taken on that evening. object than that of the Secretary of War was of the bill Mr. K. denied that he condemned the report of the on the table. He must object (Mr. B. said) to any Secretary of War, by voting against this bill under presarguments founded on detached expressions in this rés ent circumstances. He intended ultimately, in the main, port, when that same report contained esplicit declara to conform to it. It was an able document. In it we tions in favor of the bill.

saw the developments of a great mind, well stored with It had been urged by some gentlemen that the season science, and, what was equally important, a practical was so far advanced, that it was not worth while to make talent to give that science a judicious and useful appliappropriations this year. How did this happen? It was cation. He again referred to the report, and insisted because there had been a continued struggle to keep off that the season at which this bill would be passed, if at appropriations for the defences of the country; because all, and the attention required of the War Department the Senate had, by yeas and nays, given the distribution to another part of our frontier, would reconcile his views bill a preference over such necessary objects; because with those of the Secretary. The Secretary sent his there had been a continued contest between the defences report the 8th of April; and, as the bill was then before of the country and the scheme of dividing money; and the Senate, he thought most likely it would be speedily in that contest the defences of the country had gone to acted on. From the business before the House, it could the wall. Gentlemen said that it was vow too late in not be finally acted on before July; and he did not think the season to apply these appropriations this year. | any advantage could be derived from the appropriation, Well, then, if it was too late, whose fault was it? When if the examination and surveys should be made before this plan of distribution was commenced, it was support the money was expended. At any rate, the arlvantage ed on the ground that it was impossible to use the sur- would be too small to justify an appropriation so far in plus in the Treasury for the service of the country, advance, and a departure from the valuable principle of Every gentleman in favor of the plan took this position; having surveys and estimates before appropriations were and yet, when the officers of Government had sent in made for any work of this description. report after report, showing that this money can be Mr. K. said it was true that the Secretary, in one part profitably employed for the defences of the country, of his report, had recommended the appropriation under iheir judgment was disputed, and disputed, too, on the circumstances stated, and had stated that the Depoints in which they must necessarily be entitled to cre.partment would have the examination and surveys made dit and respect. There they were, said Mr. B.,) while before any money should be spent. If we would take two States and one Territory were reeking with blood the whole report together, however, we could plainly and resounding with cries, engaged in dividing surpluses, see that the Secretary was yielding something to his and dividing them, too, by creating them. Sir, (said friends. lle was reporting against the recommendations

MAY 26, 1836. }

Fortification Bill.

(SENATE.

of the engineer department, against the bill reported by principles upon which our Government is to be adminthe Military Committee of the Senate, and against the istered. Every thing would shortly be settled by the known wishes of many friends whose opinions he re. sword, the truncheon, and the bayonet. A corporal and spected. This, he thought, would account for any tri his guard would soon be more respected than the Chief Aing difference between the Secretary and himself. Justice and his associates. And, like another great na

The Secretary, he said, had been compelled to throw tion which had lately revolutionized in the name of lib. himself against some of the most extravagant schemes erty, but, in its sacred name, with a peace establishment for increasing our military preparations that had ever of four hundred and ten thousand men, perpetrates every threatened the country. The whole of them, if adopt species of tyranny; the prison would, with us also, become ed, would require at least one hundred millions to begin the purifier of the press, whilst the bayonet settled our with. One bareau recommended near thirty millions | civil disputes. He, therefore, gave notice that he should for providing munitions of war alone. The fortifications vote against all these vast projects for changing our sysproposed by another bureau, and recommended by the tem into an expensive military Government, as fast as Military Committee, would cost near forty millions more; they might be brought forward. And as to the forts in and he had noticed that, in debate in the other House, question, why push them on us without estimates? Was twenty-two millions were spoken of to arm the militia. Maine in danger? He hoped she could sustain herself The standing army was to be expensively increased; and another season against the Brunswickers. Jor as to depots, armories, and arsenals, they were almosted good natured at present, and had even kindly interferwithout number, as their cost was beyond computation. ed to settle a dispute for us with a belligerant neighbor.

It would require some Hutton to give us the sum total. But we were told we were refusing appropriations whilst Sir, (said he,) to consider the past policy of the Gov- the Indians were cutting the throats of the people. Invernment, and look at the documents on your table, and deed! And were fortifications in the East intended to the views given us from various quarters, one would protect us against Indians in the West? No appropria. think he had been dreaming. The wise policy of allow. | tions for the West had been delayed a moment, when ing our citizens to prosper in the enjoyment of the fruits asked for: and the danger in the South and West was of their labor was to be changed. Every thing seemed another reason why we should direct our whole attento look to vast military establishments. Now. (said Mr. I tion there for the present, and not be dividing the attenK.,) what I wish understood is, that I protest against all tion of the War Department with the seacoast, where these schemes of heavy expenditures for permanent es. there was no danger pressing. tablishments. They would not only absorb the surplus, Mr. BENTON replied that his allusions to the Indian but heap new burdens upon us, and curse posterity with disturbances in the South had no relation to the fortifitariffs and taxes. We had been reminded of the system cation bills, but to the bill for filling up the ranks of the

cation bills, but to the bill for Hilling of fortifications recommended by Washington, and asked army, which had been reported by the Military Commitwhy they could not increase now, in proportion to our tee months ago, and which was also recommended by wealth and population. This was strange argument. the Secretary of War; whose fate was so peculiar, that he Should we increase the nurses of the infant as he ap I could not make a report without its being praised on all proached the years of maturity? Should we quadruple hands, though the objects he recommended were strenthem, after Tie bad become entirely capable of taking uously opposed. Now the Secretary recommended the care of bimself? We were able now to meet on equal filling up the ranks of the army, and a bill in pursuance of terms any Power on the face of the earth; and all the that recommendation had been reported by the commitPowers of Christendom united could not send a suffi- tee; yet it had been made to yield to this distribution cient force across the Atlantic to gain a dangerous footing / bill. When he referred to the sufferings of the southern upon our soil. And yet, in this period of strength, we frontiers, from Indian hostilities, he did it in connexion had all at once become alarmed for our safety, and wish- with this continually staving off the bill for filling up the ed to wall the enemy out. Except for our large com. ranks of the army, though that army had been reduced mercial cities, we wanted no walls but the wooden walls under a compact that it was to be filled up whenever that floated under the cominand of our gallant navy. We the defence of the country rendered it necessary that wanted no ramparts bebind which to defend our coun they should do so; though the skeleton companies of try, except a rampart of bayonets pointed by the steady that army of fifty men each did not even contain that arms of freemen. Our main arm of defence was the number; and though the general commanding in Florida free and sturdy yeomen, who, whenever any daring in bad called upon them in the most earnest manner to fill vader should set foot upon our soil, would always be up their ranks. They could not (said Mr. B.) get that ready to drop any petty or party disputes, and rally bill considered, though in the midst of summer, and near around the standard of their common country.

the close of the session, and though he had attempted He said he must confess that, as a democrat, governed to bring it forward by a side movement as an amend. by the principles of the old school of democracy, he felt | ment to the volunteer bill, he was still ansac great jealousy and apprehension of the multiplication of Sir, (said Mr. B.,) the States are engaged in defending these fortifications. If we went on with them as threat themselves, because neglected by the General Governened, he feared they might, at no distant day, become ment. The States of Alabama and Georgia are taking the grave-yard of freedom, and the burying-ground of care of themselves in the same manner as if the General the constitution, instead of the citadels of liberty. Other Government was expunged; and expunged it would be, if gentlemen had made predictions, and he would ven. this scheme of distribution went on. The State of Mis. ture one: that was, if these military projects went on as souri would have to take care of herself, to raise her they seemed to have begun; if our coast of three thou: | own men, and expend her own money, to protect herself sand miles were to be frowning with fortifications, and against the 50,000 Indians placed on her borders by clouded with cannon; if our hitherto peaceful country the General Government, bountifully supplied with mowere to become a great military camp; if every Stateney, with arms, and with horses, and amply prepared in the Union were to be hereafter bristling with bay. | for offensive operations. When this wretchell scheme onets, and covered with arsenals, armories, and depots, of distribution came to be surrendered, he supposed he predicted we might, in the course of a few years, tbat the States would be reimbursed for what they take the parchment upon which our constitution was should be compelled to expend for self-defence; but he written, and cover a drum-head with that, for all the use much feared that, until then, they would have to take we should have for it as an instrument to define the l care of themselves.

SENATE.]

Fortification Bill.

[May 26, 1836.

Mr. WALKER said he had participated in no portion employers. He may say, Pay me better wages, or I of the debate on this bill, and had designed giving a will go and become a farmer in the West. This distrisilent vote in its favor; but that the observations of his bution bill, then, is a bill to bring down the wages of friend, the Senator from Georgia, (Mr. KinG,] rendered the working-men of the North, and to place the poor in it necessary that he should explain the grounds upon the power of the wealthy. This (said Mr. W.) was which his vote was given. Mr. w. said he was not in one of the effects of this distribution scheme, which favor of a large standing army in time of peace, or of would be made known to the working-men of the fortifying the whole line of seaboard. He was for such North--a scheme to prevent their ever being enabled an army only as was indispensably necessary to occupy to become farmers and freeholders; to give them a home important posts on the coast or frontier, or in exposed which would be indeed their own, instead of diminish. situations in the country: an army very little exceeding ing their wages, by forcing them to remain dependent our present number would be sufficient. He was only for their daily bread upon such miserable pittance for for fortifying important positions, upon the principles their labor as their wealthy employers might choose to recommended in the admirable report of the Secretary give them; a scheme to retard the settlement of the of War, and sanctioned by the President. He would new States, and to pauperize the laboring men of the not, as other Senators had done, commence by eulogi. | old States, for the benefit of wealthy capitalists and zing that report, and conclude by opposing its important powerful chartered monopolies; a scheme to plunder recommendations. Gentlemen had said that this bill the new States for the benefit of the old States, and to would subvert the liberties of the country-that armies oppress the poor man in every quarter of the Union. and military array would cover the whole Union. Mr. Gentlemen say the militia is the best defence of the W. had seen none of those formidable armies, none of country. Be it so; but are they the friends of the militia, those bristling bayonets, that seemed to alarm so many the friends of the people, who would expose them to Senators. The neigh of the war-horse, or the sound of defend every important point without fortifications, and the cannon, had not reached his car, as one of the con- without cannon? who would make freemen the sole sequences of this measure. The defence of the coun- / breast work against which hostile artillery is to be directtry was a constitutional injunction: it was one of the ed, and cause streams of American blood to flow, solely main objects for which the constitution was formed: it is because important points and harbors had no fortificadue to the States--it is due to the people. And when tions? Sir,'(said Mi. w.,) I consider the lives of Ameriwas this defence to be made? When war had com- can freemen as above all price; and to save and protect menced? No, (said Mr. W.) It was the maxim of them I would, if necessary, pour out the last dollar in the Washington, in peace to prepare for war. And how Treasury. Sir, (said Mr. w.,) it is because I am opprepare, unless by fortifying those important points on | posed to large standing armies, that I am for this bill. the coast, by which, if undefended, an enemy's fleet might Leave the coast undefended, and you invite foreign sail into our harbors, and burn our cities, and destroy ! aggression; you increase the chances of war, and thus our people? Mr. W. could not perceive bow we were increase the probable necessity for standing armies. Mr. destroying the country by defending it. And now we W. said he had been instructed by the Legislature of are asked to substitute distribution for defence; to Mississippi to endeavor to obtain a military depot at the abandon the defence of the country, in order to distrib. flourishing and beautiful town of Columbus, upon the ute money, and that money the proceeds of the sales Tombigbee. of the lands of the West.

Mr. W. said he had laid these instructions before the This fatal distribution bill was to surrender the coast Military Committee, which has reported a ''ll embracing undefended into the hands of a foreign enemy, and to the contemplated object; which bill will become a law, deliver up the new States as the colonies of the old mem if we do not abandon defence for distribution. Mr. W. bers of the confederacy. This distribution of the pro- said he had also carried through the Senate a resolution ceeds of the sales of the public lands originated in a re. requiring a survey of the coast of the State of Missisport of a tariff committee of the House in 1829; and the sippi, and the islands in its vicinage, to ascertain if same committee which first proposed this distribution there were any proper judicious sites for fortifications. distinctly stated that it was necessary to give the old / If such sites were found in that quarter, (Mr. W. said, ) States a direct interest in the income of the public lands, 1 he would ask for forts to be erected there also, for the in order to prevent any further concessions to the new defence of Mississippi and her people, and commerce upStates, or reduction of price. [llere Mr. W. read an on the Gulf. But lie would vote for no unnecessary fortiextract, proving this statement, from this report.] Here fications in any section of the Union. Whilst millions, in was the effect of this distribution scheme, distinctly con- times that are past, have been expended for other States, ceded by its authors to be a project to render it the in Congress has, in fact, done little or nothing for Missisterest of every old State to oppress and ruin the new sippi; and (Mr. W. said) he should, upon all proper States; and it is for this scheme we are asked to abandon occasions, press her claims upon the consideration of the defence of the country.

the Senate, with a deep conviction that she would yet Sir, (said Mr. W.,) this distribution scheme is, in ano-1 receive justice at the hands of the General Government, ther way, an enemy to the defence of the country. Re by a reduction, in favor of actual settlers, of the price of duce the price of the public lands in favor of actual set- the public lands. tlers, and enable the poor but bonest laborer to obtain at Mr. KING, of Georgia, said the remarks of his friend a low price a farm, and a home of his own to defend and from Mississippi compelled him to say a word further to protect, and you strengthen his arm and nerve his reconcile his views with the general principles of the heart in the hour of gloom and danger. Increase the report. If he had any pride as a politician, (and he had number of farmers and cultivators of the soil, and you not much,) it was the pride of consistency. That he increase the truest and surest defenders of the country. might be perfectly understood, he would read a few But these men are to be sacrificed by this distribution words further from the report, which he had not read bill. Yes, (said Mr. W.,) the bill which refuses to re- before. Mr. K. then read from the 21st page: duce the price of your public lands is as hostile to the “But before any expenditure is incurred for new interest of the poor but industrious laborer of the old as works, I think an examination should be made in every of the new States. Open the lands of the West to pur case, in order to apply these principles to the proposed rhase at a low price to poor settlers, and the laboring plan of operations, and thus reduce the expense of con. man of the North may defy the power of his wealthy | struction, where this can properly be done, and, also,

le

into the hea

Mar 26, 1836.)

Fortification Bi!l.

(SENATE.

the expense of garrisons required to defend works dis. enjoy the fruits of his own labor, by which we had be. proportioned to the objects sought to be attained.” come a nation of producers. He wished to continue this

This was the wise language of the Secretary, ap- system, and not, like other nations, by a large Governproved by the President, and in which he entirely con- ment patronage, sustain one third of the nation in splencurred. He believed, however, that the season would did idleness and glittering vice, devouring the bread be so far spent before this bill could pass, that this ex earned by the honest industry of the remainder. amination could not properly be made and acted on be Mr. CRITTENDEN said when he remembered how fore the next session. We, therefore, had no induce- formidably the Senator from Missouri announced that he ment to tie up additional millions in the deposite banks and his friends constituted the majority of the Senate, so long before needed, and also depart from the princi- and that some responsibility would thereafter devolve on ple of having surveys and estimates, when there was no them, he considered his rebuke as intended for his emergency that justified such haste in the appropriation. friends, and not for those opposed to the administration. Tlis friend was for "reasonable defences." So was he. Mr. C. said it was but in accordance with parliamentary In the abstract, they agreed exactly. He feared only proceedings to interpose dilatory motions, to defeat any they would differ when they came to settle what was measure before the Senate for its action. He preferred, reasonable.

himself, however, to meet this bill directly, and wished The Senator had very candidly acknowledged that it were in his power to take upon himself the whole re. one of his reasons for voting for this bill at this session sponsibility of defeating it; and would then consider he was, because he looked on it as “antagonistical" to the had done some service. If the Senator, in saying there distribution bill. He would make a further appeal to was no surplus, meant to say the capacity to squander, the candor of his friend, and ask him if he were not indicated by these appropriations, transcended the capasensible that this was the only reason he had for voting city to accumulate, then he admitted there was no surfor the bill? (Mr. WALKER said no, he had other rea- plus. In regard to Penobscot, they were told that the sons.] He had no doubt the Senator imagined he had, appropriation was not equal to, but would require treble or he would not say so. Mr. K. could not think that the amount to complete it; and so it was said of other many of his democratic friends would ever bave thought fortifications, and all under the term of national defence; of the enormous appropriations at the present session, and were they, he asked, at the tap of the political drum, and this among them, but for that fatal surplus. “The to fall into this unbounded system of extravagance and surplus!” “the surplus!" ay, that was at the bottom of wastefulness, and deprive the people, to whom this moall our troubles. It was the root of all the evils that, he ney belonged, from a general participation in its advanta. feared, might grow out of the proceedings of the present ges? But a plan was proposed to invest it in a train and session. He acknowledged its possession gave us much chain of fortifications, from Maine to Florida. He agreed embarrassment, and surrounded us with perils; but he with the Senator from Georgia, that it was better to bury hoped we would live through them. He cared nothing it in the ocean, than to squander it in this way, and enfor the surplus. Would to God that filty millions of the tail upon us the train of evils that would follow. A public treasure could be thrown into the crater of Ve standing army would follow this system, as certainly as suvius, or sunk in the ocean), unless we could devise the shadow followed the substance. In time of war, it some means to get rid of it, that would not fix a perina- was said not to be patriotic to stop for estimates, and it nent and growing curse upon the country. He cared seemed that peace was not time to wait for them; so that but little for land bills, distribution bills, or graduation they were to be made belligerants from beginning to bills, which had been referred to: and as to the surplus, end; and peace itself, it seemed, was made for war. When gentlemen might do just what they pleased with it, so they had constructed all these fortifications, a tax would they did not plant it in prodigality, that it might grow have to be raised to garrison them, for which six thou. up and branch off into future expenditures that would sand men would be necessary, who would require a ultimately overshadow and inpoverish the land.

perpetual tax of two millions of dollars to support them. A useless expenditure, he said, was not only the loss They were, in fact, sowing these fortifications like drag. of the amount thus expended, but was the fruitful seed ons' teeth, over the land, from which hosts of myrmidons of other and greater expenditures. It grew up and would spring up, to eat out the substance of the citizens. branched off like a polypus. Having once taken leave Last year, in the prospect of a war, two millions was all of the rules of necessary expenditure, we were soon that was necessary; and now, in time of peace, that sum governed by no rule at all. Waste begat corruption, bore but a small proportion to the amount proposed to and corruption begat more waste; and thus, by a recip. | be expended for defence. He admitted there were some rocating influence, useless expenditure became both points on the seacoast, where forts, &c. were necessary, effect and cause, and ultimately led to that system which and he would go for them; but he was opposed to this he was anxious to avoid; that was, the expenditure of system of fortification as a means of general defence. It money as an end, instead of a means. If no safe distri- was, among other reasons, too costly for a general sysbution could be made then, he implored gentlemen, lem. It was admitted by the Senator from Mississippi after making necessary expenditures, to let the surplus that the militia was the main arm of our defence; but he alone. But it was said the banks would break, and we was for placing them behind these fortifications, which should lose the money unless we got rid of it. Well, Mr. c. thought would tend to destroy their spirit of let them break. He should shed no tears over their valor and patriotism; and when they became too good to misfortunes, por mourn over the losses of the Govern stand out in the danger, let them stay home, said he, and ment. Better that a thousand charters of private corpo. sustain a mercenary army to fight for them, under cover rations should be forfeited, and millions lost to the Gov. of these fortifications. ernment, than our constitutional charter should be But what, he asked, did our militia do at Bunker's forfeited, and our liberties lost. Better submit to the Hill, and what did they do at New Orleans? The very acknowledged evils of the surplus, than encounter argument in favor of protecting our citizens behind walls, greater evils by its improper expenditure. He only required but one step further to create a standing army. wished that we should adhere to the system under which It was the honor, the right, and the privilege of the citi. we had grown and prospered beyond any example the zens to defend their country, and he would as soon see history of the world had ever furnished. The great se. them surrender their right of suffrage as to yield to this. cret of this prosperity was the economical system here. If this bill passed, they would appropriate not less than tofore pursued, of having the citizen lightly taxed, to six millions of dollars, and there would be a beating up

Yol. XII.-100

SENATE.)

Fortification Bill.

[MAY 26, 1836.

for labor along the whole line of fortifications. Penob- upon the art of war, and was against the experience of scot would beat up against Kennebec, and Kennebec all the nations of the world. The musket and rifle were against Penobscot, and the Government would be beating one means of defence, artillery a second, and forts a up against itself from Penobscot to New Orleans. By third; and upon the principle that should induce us to adding to expenditures in one part of the country, it was abandon the third, we should also abandon the second, taking the amount expended from another part; and he in order to increase the loss upon our side, and augment asked what right they had to take the labor of laboring the glory and danger of the combat, and thus infuse into men from one portion of the country to another. If this our people a more martial spirit. But (said Mr. W.) bill was antagonistical to the land bill, it followed that, will this danger and glory call back from the grave our as that bill had passed the Senate, this must be defeated, slaughtered citizens? Will they check the widow's sigh, especially as this was a scheme to prevent it from going or dry the orphan's tear? Will they give back your cities into effect. He went against this bill for the reasons he from pillage and conflagration? Will they return to their had given, and would prefer leaving it in the banks, homes and country that patriotic militia who were wan. rather than appropriate the money in this way. Wbile tonly sacrificed, mowed down by thousands, because the gentlemen looked upon the paltry distribution of the Government bad refused to erect the necessary fortificasurplus at Kennebec, Portsmouth, &c., to use a figure tions to repel invasion? To me (said Mr. W.) there of speech of the Senator from Connecticut, [Mr. Niles, would be no glory in such a spectacle. Our true glory they wanted to stick their forks into the fleshpots of consists in saving an effusion of American blood; in spaEgypt alone.

ring the lives of our citizens; in conquering with as little It seemed the people could not be trusted with an loss upon our side as possible. If any other man than equal distribution of the surplus among them, on account the patriot Jackson had commanded at New Orleans, that of their susceptibility to corruption; while the Senate city, and the whole commerce of the West, would have alone claimed ihe priority of calling on the aid of engi been sacrificed for the want of the necessary fortificaneers and a host of officers to superintend its expendi tions. The object is to defend the country with as little ture. He should hardly suppose the Secretary of the loss of life as practicable; and hence it was behind cota Treasury could get bis natural rest in watching these ton-bale ramparts that the riflemen of the West obtained various projects for disposing of the surplus, which were at New Orleans that great and glorious, because to us a sometimes overcharged, and sometimes undercharged. bloodless, victory. And when the victory was gained,

The Senator from Missouri had sneeringly and con and many an ardent officer applied to their great comtemptuously said, that while here engaged in the work mander for liberty to pursue and capture the army of of dividing the surplus, they had refused to take meas the enemy, "No," said the veteran patriot, “my obures for the defence of the frontier against the Indians.

of the fronlier against the Indians. ject is accomplished--the defence of New Orleans; and lle would like to know how the distribution bill had in- I would now rather pave with gold the way of the enetersered with appropriations for that object.

my beyond our limits, than sacrifice, in search of glory [Mr.. BENTOx said he would tell the gentleman. It only, the life of one of my soldiery." Whilst some bad interfered in this way. They had reported a bill, gentlemen (said Mr. W.) denounce the bill, because under the recommendation of the Secretary of War, to they say it will destroy the martial spirit, others oppose fill up the skeletons of our regiments, and they could it because it will make us too belligerant. Indeed, the not get that bill considered.]

same Senators have used these irreconcilable and conMr. C. continued. The general commanding there tradictory arguments. How the bill could at the same had in command ten men for one opposing him; and if time destroy our martial spirit, and yet render us too he had not succeeded in his expedition, it had not been belligerant, Mr. W. could not understand. for want of men. He intended to cast no reproach on Mr. w. said he had heard not one sound practical arthe soldiers; but he thought perhaps fewer would have gument against this bill; it was all vague and general done better; and, accordingly, he did not know that any denunciation. Those opposed to the bill, eulogized the of them were accusable for that negligence.

report of the Secretary of War, and conceded the pro[Mr. BESTON said the gentleman never read the re priety of defending important points; and (said Mr. W.) port of the general commanding in Florida, or he would is not every point, the fortifying of which is proposed by have known it.]

this bill, an important point-a point within the express Mr. C. continued. They had not refused any appro recommendation of the Secretary of War? These honpriations for that object, but had hurried them through orable Senators, then, upon their own principles, should without estimates. He had a deep settled conviction support this bill. It is a bill to defend important points, that this system of fortifications was pregnant with mis and those only; and if we do not intend to abandon the chievous consequences that ought to alarm the country. 1 whole system of fortifications, and leave the entire coast It was an extravagance and waste of the people's money, naked and defenceless, and open to the hostile navies of from which they would reap a poisonous harvest; and the world, to burn our cities, and destroy the lives and the time would come when we should have no surplus, property of our people, we must support this bill. The and when we should be called on to raise by taxation opposition to this bill, with specific appropriations, is a some two or three millions of dollars per annum for the singular commentary upon the course of those Senators support of a standing army

who excused themselves for opposing the three million Mr. WALKER said he would detain the Senate but a fortification bill, because its appropriations were not spefew moments in reply to some of the strictures of the cific. We have just escaped (said Mr. W.) the horrors Senator from Kentucky (Mr. CRITTENDEN) upon his re of a foreign war, with our coast and harbors entirely demarks. That Senator said that to support the system of fenceless; and as Omniscience only can determine when fortifications would destroy the martial spirit of the peo the danger may recur, preparation against foreign ag. ple, by placing them in forts where there was no peril gression is the best means of avoiding it, and a solemn in the conflict, no hazard of life, and none of that glory duty which we owe to the States and people of this and excitement arising from their exposure to danger in | Union. “Millions for defence, not a cent for tribute," the open field in defence of their country. Mr. W. is a principle, when properly applied, that should never said that, if exposing to danger the lives of our people cease to influence every American statesman, and which, upon a naked and defenceless coast was the best means he hoped, would operate upon the present occasion. of infusing into our citizens a martial spirit, it was one of Mr. RIVES said he agreed with several of the gentlethose means that had escaped the sagacity of all writers I men who had spoken against this bill, and particularly

« AnteriorContinuar »