Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

have neither ships, nor bonds, nor imposts. But were taken by such a calamity. In 1803, the town of Ports. it otherwise, should we withhold it? Are the merchants mouth, in New Hampshire, was visited with a destructive not men? Are not their families women and children? fire, and Congress on that occasion promptly interposed Are they not subject to the same wants--hunger, thirst, and passed an act for the relief of the sufferers, similar, griefs, dismay, ruin--as other folks! And because a in principle to the first section of the bill now under merchant has lived well, and is now devastated, will he consideration. It authorized the collector at Portsmouth feel want and ruin the less poignantly on that account? to cancel the old bonds, and take new ones, and to

Mr. Chairman, I have detained you too long. I have extend the credit given by the old bonds. In 1807, it endeavored to confine myself strictly to the argument. I seems that Portsmouth was again visited by a similar have meant to suppress all unnecessary detail. The pecu- calamity, and the like relief was given by Congress. liar relation I stand in towards the sufferers would not In March, 1804, an act was passed for the relief of the permit me to say less. Had I not prohibited myself, it sufferers by fire in Norfolk, similar to those which were were easy, sir, to give you volumes of detailed individual passed in the cases of Portsmouth. It will be recollectloss, distress, dismay, more affecting to the mind, more ed that, in 1820, a fire swept away a considerable porappalling to the heart, than the great view of the deso tion of the city of Savannah; and you will find in your lation.

statute book a similar act for the relief of the Savannah I think the bill ought to pass; I trust it will pass. sufferers on that occasion. Here, then, were precedents

Mr. CHAMBERS, of Pennsylvania, said, the only in abundance to justify the interference of this House, power existing in the Government by which this bill if there was any weight in precedents. could pass under the constitution and the laws, was the But, by examining these same statute books, it would relation between debtor and creditor. He maintained be found that Congress had not limited their relief that the money paid, the Government was not only bound against such calamities to the mere extension of the to hold it, but had no right to return it. Mr. c. should bonds given for duties, but had also, on various occasions, vote in favor of the motion of the gentleman from Ken wholly remitted the duties on the goods destroyed, and tucky, (Mr. HARDIN.)

that, too, on a principle that be considered to be entirely Mr. VANDERPOEL said that, appreciating and ad defensible. Under our system of indirect taxation, it miring, as he did, that humane, liberal, and high-mind was intended that the consumer should actually pay the ed feeling, which should ever characterize an assembly duties upon goods imported into the country; and if composed of the representatives of a great and magnani-those goods were destroyed before they went into the mous nation, he had not permitted himself to doubt that hands of the actual tax payer, it was right that they the bill under consideration would pass, if there was no should be refunded to bim who had thus, in anticipation, constitutional objection in the way of its passage. The paid them to the Government. If Congress bad, then, greatest calamity with which the elements had ever as he asserted, on a variety of occasions remitted the scourged any city on this continent formed the occasion duties, and the principle of such interposition could be for the appeal which was made in behalf of many of supported, he could imagine no difficulty in supporting the enterprising and ill-fated citizens of one of your this bill on the ground of principle; a bill which did not commercial cities. The disaster was one of unprece at all propose to relinquish the debt to the Government, dented violence, and gentlemen should not too readily but only to extend the time for payment of it. have startled, if the remedies proposed had even exhibi The gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. HARDIN,) and ted some extraordinary characteristics, which he humbly the gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. CHAMBERS, ) had conceived that the provisions contained in the bill did objected to the bill because, as they seemed to suppose, not do. To call for chapter, and rule, and precedent, it dispensed charity. He (Mr. V.) did not, consider and section, to justify means of relief in such an emer that the bill at all involved this principle of charity. gency, would she spoke it with all due deference) be Your great importing merchants were your agents, to too stoical a requisition for the occasion. It would be a bring into the country the means of raising revenue. libel upon legislation, under free and constitutional Gov. You were the principal. The arm of your agent was ernments, for it would be virtually saying that, in legis. crippled by a certain catastrophe, which no human skill lation, the head could never approve what the heart could guard against; and the question was, whether you most eloquently dictated.

| would let him sink, and be dísabled from bringing into That the bill for the relief of the New York sufferers, the country any more means to enlarge your revenue; frame it as you might, would be opposed, was indeed or whether you would, by a little indulgence, encourage to have been expected. It was to bave been expected and enable him to go on in his occupation of enterthat that jealous vigilance over the public interest and prise, and bring from abroad new means of swelling your the national Treasury, which, salutary as it was in the Treasury. All gentlemen would agree with him, that main, so often detected objections and bugbears which not one single dollar's worth the less of foreign goods its own creative energies only produced it was to have would be consumed in the country, by reason of the imbeen expected that this never-sleeping principle would, mense mass of goods that had been destroyed in New in any event, occasion some opposition to the bill; but York. The vacuum occasioned by the devouring the friends of the bill still hoped that when honorable element must, and would most assuredly, be filled up; gentlemen came to weigh all the arguments and con not a coat less would be worn, not a cent's worth of grocesiderations, derivable not only from precedent, but from ries the less would be consumed. What, then, would be principle, that could be urged in favor of the bill, they the consequence to the Government? Why, sir, the would not have the heart to give it their negative; for Government would actually make money out of that he firmly believed that they would not have the argument which had blasted the hopes and annihilated the propof the heart alone to justify them to their constituents; erty of so many enterprising individuals. It would but that reason, justice, expediency, and even prece realize the duty upon the goods destroyed, upon the dent, should plead their justification.

goods for which the bonds in question were given, and Were gentlemen aware that the statute books abound. then derive an additional revenue from the immense ed with precedents to justify the relief proposed to be quantity of goods that must and would be imported to given by the first section of the bill, extending the | supply the deficiency. The Government would then credit upon the revenue bonds? He had collected a inevitably gain much by means of an event which had few, and he believed only a few, of the acts which Con- | created so much individual distress; and would we not, gress had passed to relieve those who had been over. I should we not, when we were to be the recipients of so

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

much gain, extend a little indulgence to our unfortunate word, in must penetrate into the most distant spot, difcreditors! He humbly conceived that policy and ex. fusing dismay throughout every portion of this vast conpediency, as well as justice, dictated this course; that an federacy, wherever human industry was active. To opulent individual creditor would, under like circum- follow the ramifications of such an event was impossible. stances, grant to his unfortunate debtor all the relief pro- Those ramifications were, as had been well expressed vided for by the bill. Suppose a debtor engaged in in another branch of this Legislature, so " complicated some occupation which consequentially produced much and implicated" that pursuit was impracticable; but so gain to the creditor; suppose him overtaken by a severe intimately were all the great interests of the country calamity, which paralyzed his energies and disabled | united, that the vibration must be felt in every point, him without some relief from further prosecuting his with greater or lesser influence. If the smallest pebble business, so directly profitable to himself, and so inci- thrown into the stream of commerce was sufficient to dentally profitable to the creditor: would the latter, disturb the smoothness of its current, what must be the sir, considering his own interest, hesitate to extend his effects of a convulsion like this, which had, as it were, bond? He would do this, and be apt to go further, and upturned the entire bed of the mighty river itself? It make a new loan. Self-interest, if no better motive, was a national calamity, and in that point he wished it to would prompt him to do this; and was the arm of Gov. be viewed. So far as relief could be granted to the erment so tied up that it could not, in such a case, do city, be was confident that when it was taken into confor its own interest what an individual would do? He sideration that thousands actively engaged in business, did not believe that we were so lamentably impotent. consisting of merchants, and all connected with them in

It had been remarked by gentlemen, that the proviso their transactions, had, in the very midst of an inclement to the first section of the bill was objectionable, because season of the year, been thrown out of employment, it provided for cases where bonds had already been paid, their business disturbed; that confusion reigned where He did not consider this objection at all sound. If but a few hours before all was order; and that in the we legislated at all, we should do it in such a way as at hour of affliction, wbile with unsubdued spirits these least not to be subject to the imputation of partiality. very citizens were rallying their scattered force, wbile Why should not those sufferers who had been compel they were calling upon the Hercules of the General led to pay their bonds participate in the benefits intend Government for assistance, yet they were exerting every ed to be secured by the bill, equally with those whose means to rise above the troubles with which they were bonds were unpaid? They had paid, because they could oppressed--be felt confident, he said, they would not not enter their goods when their bonds laid over. Was | refuse the sanction of that committee to the bill. We this compulsory promptness, this inconvenient abstrac- do not, continued Mr. McK., in this bill ask for a remistion from those funds which were necessary to enable sion of duties--a question bereafter to be presented, and them to further prosecute their business, was this to op- which he hoped to see adopted. There is nothing in erate against them? He hoped and confidently believed this bill with regard to the surplus moneys of the Gov. tbat the bill would pass this House without amendment. ernment. He wished gentlemen to understand these

Mr. McKEON said, that in presenting himself to the points. He wished to remove impressions which he was committee, with a view of offering some remarks in re aware existed in the minds of many, in relation to the lation to the subject then nnder consideration, he trusted provisions of the bill. The first section provided for an the committee would find in the catastrophe which exci extension of the time of the bonds of all persons who teå the consternation of the whole country, and called had suffered loss by the fire of the 16th of December forth the bill on the table, sufficient apology for his last, for periods not exceeding three, four, and five rising. He should be wanting in the duty he owed to years, in equal instalments, from the day of payment the city which he had the honor in part to represent, specified in the bonds. It also provided for the canceland in gratitude to a constituency which had for years ling of the bonds, upon others being given with proper honored him with their confidence, if, on an occasion sureties, payable in the like space of three, four, and like the present, he did not endeavor to make known to five years. To the first section were annexed two prothe committee the claims of his fellow-citizens. He visions. The first, that those who were within the proconfessed that he was surprised to witness the observa- visions of the act, and who may have paid their bonds tions made in opposition to the measures then under subsequent to the fire, should be entitled to the benefit consideration. The relief asked for in the bill was so of the first section--that their bonds should be renewed, partial that he had hoped no objection would have been and the payments made on them refunded. The second raised; but, since it had been, it was his purpose, if the provision denied the benefit of the section to any person committee would favor him with their attention, to point whose loss did not exceed one thousand dollars. This out the propriety of the passage of the bill. An awful section was not only founded upon every principle of calamity had fallen upon the city of New York. It was justice, was dictated by every maxim of sound policy, not his intention, even if he had the power, to attempt but was in accordance with the settled practice of the to arouse their sympathies, by depicting the scenes of country. Nothing novel was presented in that part destruction which now might be visible in the commer. which provided for the extension of the bonds. They cial emporium of the Union. It was not his intention to would find in their statute book law after law, from the describe the effects of a conflagration which had never year 1803 to 1820, sanctioning the principle of this secbeen equalled, in its devastating and sweeping fury, on tion. They would discover the cases, already referred this continent. Our public journals had been filled with to, of the sufferers by the fres which occurred at Portsappalling statements of the misfortunes of our mer.mouth, at Norfolk, and at Savannah, and in which the chants; with descriptions setting forth that the section extent of the calamity giving rise to the legislation was of the city most devoted to mercantile operations, with not to be compared with that of the city of New York. its bundreds of stores and warebouses, and its millions of The section was fortified by precedents, to which he property, was now a pile of smoking ruins. The mis- solicited their serious consideration. fortune of New York was a national misfortune. This The gentlemen from Kentucky and Pennsylvania blow, struck at the commercial mart of the country-this Messrs. HARDIN and CHAMBERS] objected to refunding wound, given to the very heart of the western world the money already advanced by the debtors of the Govwas sufficient to paralyze for a time the industry of the ernment. We bad no right to pay back the amount. nation. It must alarm the capitalist-it must dishearten There can be no doubt, sir, as to our right. The whole the manufacturer-it must harass the agriculturist: in a question is in our bands. We are here to adjust the

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

differences between the Government and its debtors. | lated at $17,115,692. This amount was far below the We are here to do justice towards all those debtors. So actual loss; upwards of twenty millions of capital had far as those who have paid their bonds are concerned, been sunk; and to relieve the community from the effects would it not be refusing to them the kindness which we of the withdrawal of this amount, measures must be intend to give to all debtors of the Government, if we adopted, and without delay, if the country did not desire do not provide for a future period of payment? It would to see a prostration of a large portion of our mercantile be cruelty to take advantage of their situation, and hold population. The gentleman from Pennsylvania referred the money they were compelled to pay, in order to fulfil | to the fact of the most of our merchants being insured, the law, and that they might enter their goods. If we and the probability of their being indemnified by these intend to extend the time, let us extend it for the benefit insurance companies. He (Mr. McK.) had been furof all who have suffered. Standing in the relation of a nisbed with a statement, by a member of the committee debtor overtaken by a sudden misfortune, the merchant of the merchants from the city, in whose intelligence he has a strong claim upon the Government, with an over. had every confidence, setting forth that there were flowing Treasury, for forbearance, for time to meet the eighteen insolvent companies representing a capital of payments of his bonds. Is it prudent to harass your $6,850,000, and six solvent institutions amounting to debtor? Is it not wise to sustain him in his efforts to $1,900,000. These millions, which performed many obtain the means of satisfying your demands?

functions in the financial operations of the city, were To the second section of the bill, which provided for now lost to the merchants. Under the present bankan extension of all other bonds given prior to the late fire

ruptcy of the insurance offices, the merchants must be for a period of six, nine, and twelve months, he bad an-suffering. The payment of even the small amount ticipated objection. To many it might appear strange

which may be paid by the solvent companies could not that the bill should extend in its provisions beyond the be calculated upon under many months, and during that actual sufferers by the fire. Many would object (as had

period the insured must be embarrassed to a great exthe member from Kentucky) to an extension of time with tent. So far as indemnity was concerned, there was no out the exaction of interest; and many might imagine a

prospect. The remark had been made, in the course preference would be given to the port of New York over of the discussion, that New York was able to sustain other sections of the country.

herself; that we heard of no failures, therefore we were He (Mr. McK.) was prepared to show that analogous not called upon to act. He did not understand that, becases could be found for the legislation which was now cause extraordinary, he might say superhuman, efforts asked for. Congress bad from time to time extended had been made to sustain the credit of the city, we to the debtors of the Government, owing large sums on ought to refuse assistance. These efforts, while they the purchase of public lands, the period of payments, | redound to the bonor of the merchant, ought to arouse and bad at length not only released the interest, but also us to assist men capable of making such powerful strugdeducted a large per centage of the principal. Against | gles against misfortunes. such measures no objection ought to have been raised-- 1 Why do they here present their memorials?, Be. it was part of a just, liberal, and sound policy, calcula- cause they cherish their commercial character; because ted to foster the enterprise and give an impulse to the they value their credit as their very life blood; because industry of a large section of country. He therefore they wish to protect it from the slightest breath of susdesired that the same principle which had been adopted picion. They well know its mighty efficacy in giving in regard to the branch of the public revenue derived wings to the enterprise of our citizens. They are well from lands should be extended to that received from the aware how it has carried onward our commerce, and customs. If there bad been extension and forbearance that with the loss of that credit must sink the high cuar. in one case, he hoped the same policy would be pur- acter which the American merchant now sustains sued in this instance. No deduction was solicited: mere. throughout the commercial world. For these reasons ly further time for payment. The fire (Mr. McK. said) they appear bere; and let it not be said that you permit. had not only affected those whose goods were destroy ted the honor of your merchants to be jeoparded in the ed, but every man in business of any nature in the city hour of an unexampled calamity; that you refused to of New York, and particularly merchants. Their ope extend to them the generosity of the nation. Why was rations must be crippled by the destruction of a large the credit system originally adopted? To aid with your amount of capital; millions upon millions, the result of capital the rising commerce of the United States. Your the labors of years, the accumulations of enterprise, had merchants had industry and enterprise, but they wanted been entirely annihilated, totally abstracted, and the capital. It was granted to them, and the magnificent commercial community must suffer thereby to a consider- results show the sound policy of vour movements. The able extent. The gentleman from Pennsylvania Mr. | reason which operated then, applies with great force to CHAMBERS] remarked there was no evidence of the the present case. Your merchants are now operating true state of losses. The committee had no estimate with a capital diminished twenty millions and upwards, before them. He (Mr. McK.) was in possession of a land to that extent have a strong claim upon your sympastatement from which some calculation might be made thies. And now let me turn to my honorable friend of the immense amount of property destroyed. It was from Kentucky, and, with his permission, lay before the result of the labors of a committee which reported him the history of the transactions of New York in retto a meeting held in the city of New York, the mayor | erence to the General Government. I wish to point out presiding, and from which it appeared that the whole l to him the conduct of that city in the collection of the number of buildings destroyed is ascertained to be 527, I public revenue. I speak not of the faithful discharge exclusive of the Exchange and the South Dutch Church, 1 of duties as the agents for the collection of our imposts. and may be fairly valued at $4,000,000, which is a frac- | I refer not to the immense revenue of that port in the tion over $7,000 each, and is generally considered a cor. | spirit of exultation, or with a view of holding up to rect estimate. As far as the committee could ascertain, I this House the gigantic means derived from the industry less than one half only of the mercantile houses have re. of our citizens. I regret that my honorable friend has ported their loss in goods by the late fire. By duplica- | attempted to arouse the feeling of this House, by repreting this amount, ($6,557,846,) we have $13,115,692, senting our strength-our solicitations for the use of the as the probable total sum destroyed in merchandise of public treasure I will not conceal the pride I feel in all descriptions. Add to this the estimated value in the city of New York, and how that feeling has been buildings, $4,000,000, and the whole loss may be calcu- l increased by the recent display of energy on behalf

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

of her inhabitants. But, sir, the Union has a right a large portion of the surplus revenue which you now to be proud of her also. She belongs to you all, and have in your Treasury. Is it not sound policy to give any injury inflicted upon her must react upon the those facilities which will permit the stream of wealth to whole country. She is the storehouse of the industry of pour on in its natural course, (now I trust but temporari. the nation, and to the representatives of the nation be ly checked) into the great reservoir of the nation? Is it longs the protection of her interests. The gentleman not sound policy in you to inspire the recuperative enfrom Kentucky ought not to blame us if, with natural ergies and to infuse into the great body of the mer. advantages unequalled upon the face of the globe, with chants that confidence which is the foundation of credit, a location commanding an immense foreign commerce, and the companion of prosperity of a commercial peoand hundreds of miles of inland communication, our ple! Believe me, the aid of your Treasury will be remerchants have exerted themselves to advance the turned fourfold hereafter. The money is not required, prosperity of not only that city, but also of the entire the security of the Government is not diminished, and country. By an examination of the Treasury accounts, you afford the means of renovating the commercial systhe honorable member would find that upwards of two tem. Give New York the means to sustain her commer. hundred and sisty millions had been paid by the port of cial credit, and she will soon add to the riches of the New York into the Treasury of the Union. A vast por public coffers by her extended importations. tion of revenue had been collected by some of the very We may be told that in a question of this nature we men now applying for relief. New York paid annually are in danger of surrendering our judgments to our feeltwo thirds of your revenue; she has been a faithful and ings. I do not admit by the adoption of this bill we indefatigable agent in the collection of your imposts; should be committing such an act, and, even if we and to deny her the request now made would be an did, to what nobler conqueror could we yield submission unkind requital for her conduct towards the Govern-than to the best feeling of our nature--to the sympathy ment.

for the sufferings of our fellow-men. The destruction The bill ought not to be delayed. Every day it was does not confine itself to those for whose relief the bill postponed added to the difficulties the merchants were on your table is intended. Would that our action, withnow suffering under. Goods were daily arriving which in constitutional limits, would permit us to encircle all must be entered, and he entreated the committee no who suffer by this calamity-to relieve the thousands longer to delay the adoption of the measure now before thrown out of employment--to succor the infirm, the it, and to destroy at once the fears which otherwise aged, and the helpless--to save from misery those who might be entertained of an unparalleled commercial now must bide the pelting of the pitiless storm! Much distress. Prudence dictated an immediate decision on do I regret that, to borrow the figure of eloquence, our the question.

kindness must resemble the sun, which in its rising only My colleague (Mr. CAMBRELENG] has given you to illumines the loftiest eminences, and not that sun in its understand that a pressure must come, and you ought to meridian effulgence which diffuses its light and warmth, put these merchants over it. The storm was gathering, not only over the loftiest palace, but into the deepest and you ought to protect them from its fury. It would valley. We ask not for charity--for that charity which be well for the members to consider that the connexion has already afforded precedents for noble acts in the between New York and the whole country is so close thousands given to the people of Caraccas, and to the that distress cannot fall upon her alone. Credit bas people of New Madrid. I will not refer to cases to been given on the faith of these bonds to every part of show how former legislation has not been remiss in the the Union, and must be redeemed. If you insist on execution of the duties of philanthropy; but while I payment from the merchants, they must call upon the point to these cases, and ask you to not even advance so different sections of the country. On the representa- | far, but to afford us cold, unfeeling justice, to relieve tives of the whole nation rests an awful responsibility. the distresses of our community, I do hope this will not They ought not to add to the natural difficulties with be denied to us. which the commercial community might be compelled Let it not be supposed that this is a mere local ques. to contend. True it was, we had their bonds; but did tion. I feel confidence in appealing to the various init become us to insist on the penalty at this moment? terests which are here represented: to the manufac. When the great master of the human heart was desi- turer and mechanic, the profitable result of whose labor rous of presenting to us the character of an opulent and depends much on the capacity and integrity of the merunmerciful creditor, he gave us a Shylock. "How had chant; to the agriculturist who, although his main dewe all burned with indignation at the recital of the un- pendance is upon the soil, is aware that the value fortunate victim who had given the bond! But, sir, he of that soil, and the products of that soil, must be inhad, like our debtors, calculated on his future success creased by his sustaining the prosperity of our commerto meet his engagements; he rested on the return of his cial interests. The various industries of the country are rich argosies, wherewith he might discharge his debts. so interwoven, and depend so much upon each other, that But misfortune came upon him; and when bis unmerciful it is the duty of all to uphold such as may be in danger. creditor insisted on the penalty, when the cruelty to be The influence of commerce is not only felt in particuinflicted was defended on the very same principle lar points. To its invisible power not only the magnifi. which we have put forward on this floor, that its non cent cities with which our seacoast is studded, but the fulfilment might establish a dangerous precedent, most remote hamlet in the Union, may attribute their whose heart has not revolted from even the sketch of prosperity and advancement. The gentleman from imagination? Would it be believed that we should pre- Kentucky asks, who are these merchants? Will he persent to the civilized world the reality, that, with our cof. mit me to answer him by remarking that they are his fers overflowing with funds accumulated by our own brethren, protected by the constitution of our country, agents, we should insist on payment, because it is so which extends its blessings to every citizen; that consti. nominated in the bond? You may insert the knife, you tution which provides that into your hands shall be given may have your pound of flesh" nearest the heart," but the care of the interests of commerce! And for whom you may be satisfied that the most delicate nerve in this do I ask the sympathy of this committee! For men immense body politic will grieve under the operation. whose industry is ever active, whose talent is unsurpassYou will affect the whole country, which must inevitably ed, men who are strongly identified with the interests suffer from such a policy.

of the country, who have ever been foremost in works To the city of New York you have been indebted for 1 of kindness, and whose philanthropy has been extended

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

to the unfortunate of every clime. I claim it for those two provisions of the constitution: First, “ All duties, whose spirits are unbroken and energies uncrushed imposts, and excises, shall be uniform throughout the amid the ruins of their desolate Rialto; I ask it for those United States;" and, secondly, “No preference shall who have carried the glory of the American name and be given, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, to the fruits of American labor into the most distant por the ports of one State over those of another,” &c. Mr. tions of the earth. For such men I claim it.

P. said that an essential element in the amount and regBut a few days since and but one feeling was in this ulation of duties was time and indulgence upon the rey. House. The glow of sympathy was visible in every enue bonds; if, for instance, three, four, and five years quarter. I was indulging the hope that relief would be were given in the city of New York, and only six months instantaneously afforded. The whole country seemed in Boston, he apprebended that this would be not only to be alive to the consequences of the catastrophe. T a violation of the spirit but the letter of the constitution, cannot forego this opportunity which is here afforded | He remarked that, in reply to this, the argument might me of offering my thanks to those communities which be that this was not a regulation of revenue or a revehave expressed their kind feelings in behalf of New York. nue law; but he contended that if this preference could To their Representatives on this floor I cannot but say not be given directly, in the first instance, it could not that, however my constituents may want in me one who be done indirectly afterwards; for this would involve can give competent expression to the deep feeling of us in the additional difficulty of passing, to a certain exgratitude which they entertained for the generous senti- tent, an ex post facto law. If, after a revenue law be ments sent forth from every quarter in their behalf, passed, operating under the provisions of the constituthey may rest assured that their kindness has not been tion equally in every port and on every class, you 'by extended to those who are cold or insensible of its value, law then vary its operations, and grant indulgences and or by whom it will soon be forgotten.

preferences, you in fact, for all practical purposes, vioI trust, sir, that the warm feelings of sympathy express late the spirit of the constitution. Mr. P. said that, as ed on every side are not dying away with the sounds to the different precedents that had been referred to which carry to the furthermost bounds of our coun. in the practice of the Government, it was matter of intry the report of this awful calamity. The tumultu. difference to bim, as the action of no preceding Congress ous noise is still breaking over the land; but it is could have any great weight on the present Congress in echoed back into these halls, in the shape of the reso its constitutional opinions on any subject. So far as mere lutions calling upon the Representatives of a generous expediency was involved, then, the precedents of forpeople to sustain the commercial metropolis of the mer Congresses might be referred to as entitled to conUnion. Confident I am it will be heard before long sideration. from beyond the Alleghany, calling upon my friends He continued, that the Treasury agents might and from Kentucky. Let us obey that voice, which speaks had extended indulgences on bonds; but it was upon to us in tones of comfort for the distressed, which tells the principle that, if they were pressed, the amount, or us to aid in the cause of our afflicted merchants, and to part of it, might be passed to the Treasury; and, if inallow commerce once more to pursue her course. It dulged, the whole might finally be paid. This was exdoes not become us to refuse assistance to that gallant ercising a sound discretion, for the exclusive benefit of vessel which, in the hour of misfortune, bas been over our fiscal affairs, for the advantage of the Treasury, but taken by this sudden tempest-she still appears above not with a view to benefit the debtor. Mr. P. said that the wave, with shattered spars, and riven with lighten in all such cases the circumstances with wbich it was ing, yet bearing upon her deck a noble crew, whose connected made the law of that particular case, and the energies are unchecked, and hopes unbroken, amid the discretion of the Treasury officers was to be exercised darkness of the storm, and struggling to preserve their for the benefit of the Government. But (said Mr. P.) bark from the yawning gulf. Must they be deserted in here you propose a general law, for the benefit of a such an hour? Must they perish? Will you extinguish whole class in a particular port, not extended to other the light which has been shining here, cheering them ports, and not for the benefit of the Treasury, but in their struggle, towards which they have turned their avowedly, as its title purports, " for the relief of the anxious eyes! Let it not be said that you hesitated to sufferers by fire in the city of New York." This, Mr. extend the indulgence of the nation to the unfortunate; P. said, he apprehended was a perversion of the pow. that commerce had made her appeal in these halls to the ers of this Government. He said that the gentleRepresentatives of a generous people, to those intrust. man from New York [Mr. McKEON) had referred to the ed with the guardianship of her interests, and that her case of Caraccas, when this Government afforded reappeal was denied. Let it not be said that an Ameri | lief in a public calamity; but that stood on different can Congress refused to American merchants forbear- principles. As far as the foreign intercourse and relaance.

tion which exists between us, as One people, and other Mr. PICKENS said he deeply regretted the public nations, this Government is, in a great measure, unlimcalamity that had prompted the chairman of the Com- ited. There are certain duties which we owe as a uniman of Ways of Means to propose the bill upon the ta ted people amongst the family of nations, which duties ble. Mr. P. said no gentleman in the House could feel are to be performed by this Government, defined and more sympathy for that noble city, the pride and the

laid down by treaties, and regulated by the admitted ornament of this confederacy, so far as commercial precepts of national law. Mr. P. said that, even in the wealth, prosperity, and enterprise, are concerned. To case of Caraccas, he would not have voted the reliel, see her, to a great extent, laid in ashes and ruins, is as he doubted whether alms-doing and charity could enough to call up all the charitable feelings and kind emo- legitimately be included amongst the laws of nations, tions of the buman heart; but (said Mr. P.) we stand | particularly amongst those nations under limited and here not to pass measures that may constitute prece constitutional Governments. There was, however, an dents important to the future welfare of a common | obvious distinction between the case of Caraccas and country, from the mere impulses of feeling and sympa- affording relief by extending credits on custom-house thy. We stand here to exercise certain great trusts, for bonds to a certain class in a certain port, which is not the benefit of the people of this confederacy, which extended equally to all other ports. Mr. P. said that, trusts are regulated and defined by the great provisions in the case of Alexandria, it was unconstitutional, as of the constitution. He said he did not intend to press the Government had no power to appropriate, except the argument out elaborately, but begged to refer to from a local Treasury, in such a case; the general

« AnteriorContinuar »