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Dec. 31, 1827.]
Public Lands.-Cancelling a certain Bond.
be apportioned to their quality; but this was now impossible, since it was not adopted at the commencement. it ought to have been infused into the system at the be ginning: the idea of graduating the price of lands was a pleasing and specious one. It was not the project, itself that he opposed; it was the inevitable effect which he looked to. The operation of the measure, which could only be looked upon as a scale of depreciation, would be to delay all sales until the expiration of the five years designated in the bill; and then the same speculations would occur as had taken place in Alabama. The surveys that had as yet been made were merely superficial, and it would be impossible to ascertain the quality of the interior lots. Great misrepresentations have been made to the Western people, in newspapers and pamphlets, asserting that our land system “cost the Government upwards of 33 1–3 per cent. on the amount collected.” The official reports from the Treasury, show that the whole expense of selling the nineteen millions and upwards of lands, heretofore sold, including the expense of surveying, was only 3 and 6–10ths per cent on the amount,of the sales; and this was cheaper than our revenue from commerce, which had been estimated at about 5 per cent. One word more and he should close the few remarks which he designed now to offer. His colleague had noticed the land system in Tennessee. There was sormerly an arrangement between the United States an Tennessee, in which it was stipulated that Tennessee, should not undersell the General Government. This arrangement went on for several years, until the best lands in that State were disposed of, as it was more populous than most of the other new States. All the States' lands being sold but the coves in the mountains, and other waste strips, the restriction was removed. He was not long since in Tennessee, and knew that persons were entering such pieces of lands at one cent per acre, which the State was willing to dispose of, because they became, after sale, taxable, like other lands. The plan only operated after the other lands were sold out ; and there was nothing plainer, than that, if Tennessee could sell her lands at twenty-five cents, it would operate to increase her population. He should not oppose the introduction of the bill, because it was not customary; but he should, at a proper time, express himself more fully on its merits. The bill was then ordered to a second reading. Agreeably to notice, Mr. NOBLE asked and obtained leave to bring in a bill for the continuation of the Cumberland Road ; which he prefaced by remarking, that, under the administration of Mr. Jefferson, the first bill for the construction of the Cumberland Road was passed, when congress clearly held out to the people of the west that it should be continued. The bill which he now offered called on Congress to redeem the pledge then made, and take the preliminary steps towards a continuation of this great public work. The bill was read and ordered to a second reading. The resolution submitted on Friday, by Mr. HENDRicks, in relation to a cession of the Public Lands to the States in which they lie, was then considered. Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, said that, as the Senate was verythin, and as this was an important proposition, he hoped the resolution would be laid on the table until after the holidays. Mr. HEND RICKS observed that, he saw no cause for the delay, as no principle was to be settled by this resobrion. It was simply a motion for an inquiry, by the Committee of Public Lands. Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, said that it would be injurious to have an idea get abroad that the lands were to be given away. He therefore urged his motion. Air SMITH's motion was carried, 19 to 12.
The bill to authorize the President of the United States to cause the reserved Salt Springs, in the state of Missouri, to be exposed to sale, was read a second time. Mr. BARTON, in reference to this bill, remarked, that so much had formerly been said on this subject, that much explanation was not necessary. The whole number of Springs reserved in the State of Missouri, were 34. . Of these, 12 had been taken by the State, and were in operation. The remainder were consider. ed of so small value, as to render it unnecessary to make any distinction between them and other territory. There was reserved around each of these Springs, however weak, a section of land, which was now lying waste. The neighboring inhabitants plundered these sections of their timber; and, if they were not shortly disposed of, their value would be much injured. It was a fact that a sufficient number of Springs had been reserved by the State to prevent a monopoly of the manufacture ; and there was, therefore, no objection to disposing of these inferior Springs. The bill was then ordered to be engrossed. The Senate adjourned to Thursday.
Thursday, DEcEMBER 27, 1827. There was no business transacted this day to give rise to debate. The Senate adjourned over to Monday.
Mox DAY, DEcKMBER 31, 1827. The bill to authorize the cancelling of a certain bond therein mentioned, was read a second time. Mr. KING asked for an explanation of the bill. Mr. VAN BUREN called for the reading of the petition, which he said would fully explain the object of the bill. The petition having been read, Mr. V. B. made a few explanatory remarks. Mr. CHANDLER proposed some questions in relation to the bill: Whereupon, Mr. BERRIEN made some additional explanations, from which it appeared that the negroes (39 in number) referred to in the bill, were part of a cargo of negroes found on board a Spanish vessel which was captured by a revenue cutter of the United States, sent into Savannah and libelled for an alleged violation of the slave acts of the United States. The Spanish Consul set up a claim to the vessel and cargo, as the property of Spanish subjects. The Portuguese Consul set up a claim in behalf of certain subjects of Portugal ; and the Captain of a privateer, sailing under a South American flag, advanced another claim. Upon investigation, it was found that the negroes had been plundered from several Spanish and Portuguese ships, by a South American privateer. The suits growing out of these claims were prosecuted in different Courts of the United States; and, after the lapse of eight years, were finally decided by the Supreme Court, at the last term. The Portuguese claim was rejected because no owners appeared ; and the Spanish claim was reduced in amount to thirty nine negroes. The claimants were also required to give bond, with security, for the removal of the negroes from the United States. The other portion of the negroes was sent to Liberia at the expense of the Government. Meanwhile, the negroes adjudicated to the Spanish claimants had formed ties in this country, and were unwilling to be carried to the West Indies. The petitioner, from motives of humanity alone, purchased them from the Spanish owners, for the sum of $ 1,500. He had also paid for salvage $4,500, to Marshals $6000, and to the Proctors in the different Courts between 2 and $3,000; the aggregate amount being greater than the value of the slaves. The petitioner had also offered the negroes to the Colonization Society, for transportation to Liberia, but the funds of the Society did not enable them to accept the offer. The petitioner, now, therefore, prayed that the bond given SENATE.]
Military Road in Maine.—Imprisonment for Debt.
[JAN. 3, 1828.
for the removal of the slaves from the United States may be cancelled, in order that they may remain in a state of mitigated slavery in Georgia, where they are well treated and content. The bill was then ordered to be engrossed for a third reading. The Senate adjourned over to Thursday.
Thunsnay, JANUARY 3, 1828. MILITARY ROAD IN MAINE. The following resolution, offered on Monday by Mr. CHANDLER, was taken up for consideration : “Resolved, That the Committee on Military Affairs be instructed to inquire into the expediency of making a Military Road from the mouth of the Mattawomkiag, where it empties into the Penobscot river, to Mars’ Hill, in the State of Maine.” * Mr. CHANDLER said that a military post must eventually be established at or near the termination of the road contemplated in the resolution. All he asked was, that the expediency of constructing the road should be inquired into by the committee. After some remarks on the resolution, from Messrs. SANFORI), NOBLE, and PARRIS, Mr. ROWAN, who objected to the resolution on the ground that the construction of a military road, as such, would excite the jealousy of our British Canadian neighbors, moved that the resolution be laid on the table ; which motion was lost. Mr. HARRISON observed, he could not acquiesce in the suggestion of the Senator from Kentucky, that the designation of the proposed road, as a military road, would give offence to the British Canadian Government. They could not take umbrage at the construction of a military road more than at the establishment of a fort or an arsenal. Both the British and the American Governments have made warlike preparations on the frontier. Ships have been built since the late war on the lakes, and military posts established. He was not sufficiently well acquainted with the localities of the country, to say whether the military road contemplated in the resolution was necessary. But he was well aware that the Senator from Maine [Mr. Chandle R] was acquainted with those localities, and he was disposed to confide in his opinion, as to the expediency of the road, at least so far as to authorize an inquiry on the subject by the Committee on Military Affairs. The resolution was then agreed to. IMPRISONMENT FOR DEBT. The bill for abolishing imprisonment for debt, as formerly amended, came up as the special order of the day. Mr. M'KINLEY was, he said, favorable to the princi. ple of the bill, but submitted to the Senate, whether the 5th section was not at war with the principle of the bill. He, himself, could see no reason why a preference should be given to judgments recovered in another State ; and he moved, therefore, to strike out the following section, to wit: “Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That, in all actions brought upon a judgment recovered in another State, it shall be lawful to require bail on mesne process, and the plaintiff may have his execution against the body of the defendant or defendants, as if this act had not passed.” Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, would not oppose the motion for striking out this section. He was never partial to it, and he had assented to its adoption only in compliance with the expressed wishes of some members of the Senate. The amendment was then agreed to. On motion of Mr. BERRIEN, several verbal amendments were adopted. Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, rose, and said, that an opportunity was now offered to those opposed to the bill to present their views; and he would be gratified if his
respected friend, the Senator from South Carolina, would now give his reasons against the passage of the bill. Mr. SMITH, of South Carolina, observed that, however much he might be disposed, on other occasions, to gratify his honorable friend, the Senator from Kentucky, he was not now willing to go into the discussion of the question. Ten years ago, when this subject was before the Senate, he had joined in its discussion ; and he was willing again to give it an examination, but was sorry he could not this day have the pleasure of gratifying his friend from Kentucky. Mr. JOHNSON expressed a wish that the bill would now be ordered to a third reading, and that Monday might be assigned for its discussion and decision. Mr. SMITH said, that the Senate was now very thin, and thought it proper that a certain day should be assigned for the discussion : he should then take occasion to express his objections to the bill. Mr. ROWAN proposed to amend the bill by striking out that portion of the first section which makes the operation of the bill entirely prospective. The bill, he said, in its original shape, embraced all cases of imprisonment for debt. It provided for the abolition of imprisonment in all cases, without reference to the date of the contract upon which suit had been instituted, or to the period when the judgment was obtained. The Judicial Committee had so amended it, as to confine its operation to suits instituted, and judgments obtained, upon contracts entered into after the 4th day of July next. He feared, he said, that the restriction of the operation of the bill to future contracts, would inflict a greater evil than the one which the bill was intended to remedy. The restriction having been made by the Judicial Committee, might imply that, in the opinion of that very enlightened organ of this body, there was no distinction between right and remedy—between the law of the contract, and the law of the forum ; or rather, that the remedial system, which existed at the time a contract was made, entered into and formed a part of the contract ; and, of course, that it could not be altered, without impairing the obligation of the contract. Such an opinion, coming from so high a source, might tend to strengthen the erroneous notions which were propagated in some of the States, by those who were disposed to weaken the power and diminish the rights of the States, in the view to strengthen the arm of the General Government. He stated, that he believed the rights of the States, and the rights, liberty, and happiness, of the People of the States, depended, essentially, upon maintaining the natural distinction between right and remedy—a distinction which existed most obviously in the nature of things, and one which had, until lately, been recognised by all jurists. A new doctrine had lately been established by the Courts in Kentucky, both State and Federal, that the legal obli– gation of a contract consists alone in the remedy. If it should be acquiesced in by Congress, and the States, it would produce consclidation, in its worst aspect. If such was the opinion of the statesmen of this country, it could not be too soon known. It would, he said, supersede the necessity of guarding against encroachments by the General Government, upon the rights and powers of the States, in relation to othel matters, about wi ch there had been much sensibility displayed. That clause in the Constitution which provides that no State should pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts, would, if it were once conceded that the remedial laws of a State enter into and form a part of the obligation of contracts, throw the States inextricably into the power of the General Government. . It would paralyze them. It would leave them no power worth exercising. It would not be in the power of any of the States, whose citizens might be fighting the battles of their country, to save, by a no odification of the remedial laws, the property of those citi
zens from sacrifice by the Sheriff, in their absence—to save their families from being unhoused and reduced to the extremest want. Mr. R. insisted, that the great ob. ject of the State Legislatures was, to mitigate the evils inflicted upon the People, by great and unforeseen changes in the state of things. That, while a state would be restrained by its wisdom from changing its remedial system upon light or ordinary occurrences, it ought to possess the power to do so in instances of great national calamity ; and does, he insisted, possess this power, and will exercise it, whenever its interests and its happiness will be promoted by its exercise, or rather, whenever, by its exercise, great suffering and misery can be avoided. He referred to the practice of the States during the last war. There was not, he believed, one of them that did not, during that period, soften the rigor of its remedial system. And he insisted that much distress had been avoided by the exercise of this power during that period; and who, said he, then contended that those alterations were unconstitutional—that they impaired the obligation of contracts * Mr. President, said Mr. R., we are very much influenced by the force of circumstances. If this erroneous sentiment were even adopted in peace: ful and prosperous times, it would be rejected in times of great public calamity. But it is only in times of public calamity, that the remedial laws, which had been accom. modated to times of prosperity, would be thought rigor. ous. It is only then that they would require to be so thangea, as to suit the changed condition of society. The wisdom of all legislation consists in suiting the laws to the condition of the People; when that condition shall be altered, the laws ought to be so altered as to fit the change. This power of altering the remedial laws upon great emergencies, was so essential to the States and to the prosperity and happiness of their citizens, that he was unwilling to see it questioned even by implication. He hoped. therefore, that the advocates of the prospective operation of this law had been influcinced by what they considered reasons of expediency. That they had not predicated the alteration upon their belief of a want of power to alter the remedial laws in relation to existing contracts. If they should place it on the ground of ex}. and not of constitutionality, he should feel but ittle concern for the success of the amendment ; which he had proposed rather to elicit the sentiment of the com. mittee, than on account of any great concern about its import. He was, he said, in favor of the abolition of imprisonment for debt—but he did not believe that much would be gained by the passage of this bill. He stated that the abolition should be by the States, and that the execution laws of the States should be the execution laws of the United States; that the only law which Congress ought to pass upon the subject of executions, should be a law adopting those of the States ; that the United States should have no execution laws peculiar to itself, except those which related exclusively to its revenue. The cases, he said, which this law, if it passed in either aspect, could embrace, would be comparatively so few, that he felt concerned only about the moral effect which its passage would have upon the public mind. He repeated again, that the execution laws of the country must be enacted by the States, and adopted, so far as they are needed, by the United States. Mr. BERRIEN said, in reply, that the object of the amendment was to render the provisions of the section retrospective. As the bill stood, they were limited to contracts which should be entered into, or causes of acon which should originate, after the fourth of July next. The amendment would extend them to all contracts and does of action, whenever they originated, or may origirate. The views of the Senator from Kentucky, it appeared to him, were erroneous in two particulars. No doubt can
exist that there is a clear and well-settled distinction be. tween the power of legislation over existing laws which affect the contract, and those which merely regulate the remedy. . But that question does not arise here. So far as he understood, the section, in its present form, was adopted, not from want of power, but of will, to make the provision retrospective. In the opinion of the committee, it was expedient to leave the remedy on existing contracts, and other causes of action, to the regulation of the laws under which they originated. The inference which the Senator from Kentucky apprehended, could not, therefore, he thought, be deduced from the provisions of the bill as reported by the committee. But if this were so, the argument in support of the amendment attached to such an implied concession by this House, an importance which did not belong to it. The States, in the exercise of Legislative power, cannot be controlled by the acts or concessions of this House. Within the li. mits of their constitutional charters, the whole array of Federal legislation is incompetent to such a purpose ; and, whenever, in the exercise of their respective powers, in their application to individuals, a difference of opinion as to the extent of those powers shall occur, there is a common arbiter to which such controversy must be referre". He resisted the amendment, therefore, because it was founded on views not justified by the provision to which it was applied ; and because the argument urged in its support seemed to him to attach an undue importance to the acts or declarations of this IIouse, in their supposed influence on the constitutional powers of legis. lation in the several States. The restriction in the sec. tion did not concede a want of power, but resulted from a want of will on the part of the committee to render the bill retroactive. . It was in their view a mere question of expediency, and neither does nor can effect the legislative power of the States, or of the Union. He trusted, therefore, that the amendment would not prevail. Mr. BRANCH said, that the inference which had alarmed the Senator from Kentucky, was not justified. The States were forbidden, by the Constitution, to pass laws impairing the obligation of contracts; and no act of Congress could either give that power to the States, or deprive them of it. He did not conceive that the power of the States could be, in any way, affected by our legis. lation. The means of coercion which were placed in the hands of the creditor, was, he contended, a part, and an essential part, of the contract. Right was not worth a stiver without a remedy. Congress, he said, had, undoubtedly, the power to make this bill retrospective. The question was, whether it was expedient to exercise that power. . For his own part, though warmly in favor of the principle of the bill, he would not vote for it, if it was to operate on existing contracts. Mr. KANE rose in support of the amendment. He thought, with the Senator from Kentucky, that the restriction ought to be done away with. It was due to the consistency and impartiality of this body, to render the law uniform in its operation upon all contracts, whenever and wherever made. Congress, he declared, never estab'ished the law of imprisonment for debt. The process acts of 1789 and 1792, provided that the United States’ Courts should use the process of the several States, subject to alteration whenever occasion required. In some of the States, a debtor cannot be held in prison; in other States he can. This renders the United States’ process different in different States. A uniform rule should, in his opinion, be established. There was no limitation to the power of Congress over contracts; nor did he think, with the gentleman from Georgia, that it was inexpedient to exercise the power vested in us over the subject. Mr. ROWAN agreed with the member from Georgia, that Congress had no power to alter the laws of the States. His idea was this ; that the moral power of a law
of Congress would often induce the State Legislatures to concur in an opinion expressed in that law as to a constitutional point, &c.
After some further remarks from Messrs. BRANCH and ROWAN, Mr. R., at the solicitation of his colleague, withdrew his amendment.
FRIDAY, JANUAny 4, 1828. * CASE OF FIRANCIS LARCHE.
The bill for the relief of Francis Larche, of New Orleans, was read a second time, and considered as in Committee of the Whole. Mr. RUGGLES said, that this bill had, two or three times, passed the Senate, but had never been finally acted on in the other House. The circumstances of the claim are these. The negro slave of the petitioner was imressed into the service of the United States during the ast war, and was employed in the transportation of baggage. Whilst in this service he was killed by a cannon ball from the enemy. These facts had been proved to the satisfaction of the Committee, and, as slaves were recognized as property by the laws, the petitioner was, in the opinion of the Committee, entitled to relief. Mr. CHANDLER asked, whether other slaves, killed under like circumstances, had been paid for by the Government * Mr. RUGGLES, in reply, said he had no recollection of a similar case at present; no claim, to his knowledge, had been made upon the Government for compensation for slaves impressed into the service of the United States, and killed while in that service, and he was not aware that any similar case had ever occurred. On motion of Mr. RUGGLES, the blank was filled with $800, and the bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading.
CASE OF ABRAHAM OGDEN.
The bill for the relief of Abraham Ogden, and others, was read a second time, and considered as in Committee of the Whole.
Mr. WOODBURY said he was instructed by the Committee on Commerce to move that the blank be filled with $1,000. Before the question was taken, he wished the report accompanying the bill to be read. The report having been read,
Mr. WOODBURY said he would explain the facts and grounds on which the Committee rested the bill. . The petitioners claimed compensation for the detention of their vessel, which was chartered by the Government. He was aware that demurrage could not be recovered unless specified in the charter party. The decisions were contradictory on the subject, but the balance of them was against the admission of the claim. But, on principles of equity, the person who does the wrong is answerable for it. The vessel was freighted by the United States to transport a quantity of provisions to Laguira ; she was there detained twenty-eight days in unloading ; she might have been unladen by lighters ; and it was customary at that port to use lighters for this purpose, as the ships could not be brought to the wharves. It was the duty of the United States to have unladen her in the manner usual at this port. If this had been done, she would have been unloaded in four days, instead of twenty-eight. He was aware that the Consul of the United States had given reasons for not using the lighters. It was convenient for him to keep the ship as a store ship, and lighters were scarce, in consequence of the large quantity of shipping in the port. Two days after the ship was laden, the pacificating army entered Laguira, and the ship was seized. This seizure occasioned a further detention of nine days, when the vessel was given up. The gross loss suffered by the owners was 5 or $6,000.
Case of Francis Larche—Abraham Ogden—Imprisonment for Debt.3
[JAN. 4, 1828.
The United States was not answerable for this last detention, because the owners might have effected an insurance against capture by foreign power... They had neglected to do it, probably because they did not anticipate a long detention of the vessel at the port by the officers of the United States. The Committee had fixed upon the sum of $ 1,000 as a remuneration, upon the hypothesis that the United States were answerable for da. mages resulting from the detention of the vessel twentyfour days. The Committee allowed 5 or $ 600 for the detention for twenty-four days ; which, with the interest, amounted to $1,000. But, if the Senate thought that the United States were answerable for the further detention, eight or nine days after, the sum allowed should be considerably increased.
Mr. SMITH, of South Carolina, said, that before the question was taken on the bill, he should be glad to have an opportunity of examining it. He recollected a corresponding case formerly before the Senate, in which he took an active part. He did not care for the amount, but the principle involved in the bill he considered highly important. This affair grew out of a project of benevolence. We undertook to feed the sufferers by the earthquake at Laguira ; and, like most other projects of that sort, it had been productive of little good to any party. He did not think the claimant entitled to compensation. But, in order to examine the facts, he would move to postpone the farther consideration of the bill until Friday next.
Mr. WOODBURY assenting to the motion, the bill was accordingly postponed.
IMPRISONMENT FOR DEBT.
The bill for abolishing Imprisonment for Debt was taken up, as the unfinished business of yesterday. Mr. HAYNE had not intended, he said, to participate in the discussion of the bill, but he was constrained to state his views in relation to it, by the circumstance that, in his former remarks, he had been erroneously supposed to have expressed himselfin favor of the bill, as it now stood. He was in favor of the principle of the bill, but was opposed to its provisions. It might be made to assume a form in which it would meet his approbation, but he did not think it probable that such a form would be given to it. The only principle of the bill was this ; it deprives the creditor of the power which the common law gave him, to hold the body of the debtor, after he had surrendered his property; and this is made to apply only to suits brought in the courts of the United States. He was perfectly willing to adopt this principle, but he was not willing to abolish the process of capias ad respondendum and capias ad satisfaciendum. He would beg leave also to remark, that the object and purport of the bill was wholly different from what its title expressed. It was called a bill to abolish imprisonment for debt. But it did not apply its provisions to a single case of existing debt, and affected no contracts except those that should be formed after the 4th of July next, and only that part of them which should be sued in the Courts of the United States. Of the whole number of debtors now confined, or in danger of being confined, in jail, not one would be relieved by this bill, and not more than four or five, perhaps, even if it were made retrospective. Of those contracts which may arise after the fourth day of July next, not one in a hundred will be af. fected by this bill. These remarks he did not make to depreciate the bill ; he knew that Congress had not the power to legislate for the States in this case ; but he wish. edit to be understood by the people generally, many of whom had misconceived the purport of the bill, that it would not afford, to any extent, relief to debtors. The bill was nothing more than an act to regulate process, in certain cases, in the United States' Courts.
There were two classes of provisions embraced by the bill—one respected mesne process, and the other process after judgment. As respected mesne process, the common law provides, that a person who is sued should give security that he will remain in the country, and abide the issue of the suit. The bill did not abolish this provision, but took away the means of enforcing it; and substituted, in cases where fraud or flight was intended, a mode of procedure which was expensive, tedious, and inconclusive. The plaintiff must allege, in certain forms, before certain authorities, that the defendant intends to abscond, set forth his cause of action, and then comes the defendant to contest the allegations, &c, forming altogether a complicated and tedious process. The other provisions of the bill respected the means of enforcing payment after judgment had been obtained. After taking the plaintiff through this new and troublesome process, the bill gives him no means of collecting the money adjudged to be due to him. In South Carolina, and, as he believed, in nearly all the States, the plaintiff, after judgment, had recourse to the visible and tangible property of the defendant, not to his person. But it often happened, especially in cities, that the property of the defendant was locked up in bonds, money, notes, bank stock, and choses in action ; in which case, the body was arrested as the means of enforcing payment. What does the bill substitute for this process A new suit. After the plaintiff has obtained judgment, he must, to recover his money from a defendant whose property is secured in money, stock, or choses inaction, institute a new suit, and pass a second time through the forms, crpenses, and delays, of an action at law. Mr. HAYNE here read and con, mented on the several sections of the bill, in order to show that his construction of its provisions was correct. The writ of “ne taceat,” he remarked, was intended to hold defendants to bail who were about to leave the country, and, by the law as it now stands, the plaintiff may procure the writ from the Clerk of the proper Court, at a trifling expense, and without delay but, under the provisions of the bill, it was necessary for the plaintiff to insti. tute a Chancery suit. His objections, too, in regard to the final process provided in the bill, were insuperable : ano, unless these objections were removed, he should be compelled to vote against the bill. He would now suggest a remedy for what he considercd the imperfections of the bill. He would propose, as an a mendment, that the “process of the United States’ Courts should be made to conform to the established process of the Superior Courts of the several States.” The States, he conceived, were better able to provide rules of practice suited to their wants and habits than the United Stats. An exception might be made as to revenue debts. We did not know whether the bill embraced revenue cases. To that matter he would call the attention of the Committee of Finance. He thought it proper for them to it quire whether the provisions of the bill would compel the Government to pursue the circuitous mode which it established for the collection of debts. His first motion was, to recommit the bill to the Committee which reported it, with instructions so to amend it as to conform the pro£ess of the United States' courts to the process established by the Superior Courts of the several States, and to em. brace proper provisions to secure the collection of the revenue of the United States. Another motion he should subsequently make, if he found gentlemen at all disposed to simplify the bill, and rid it of its cumbrous and compli. tred machinery : that is, to make the simple declaration to defendants, in any action of debt, in the United Soes' Courts, should be entitled to a discharge, upon filog in Court an assignment of all their property; with a proviso that, if subsequently found guilty of fraud or concoalment, they shall be punished.
If the friends of the
bill chose to modify the bill, either according to his first or second proposition, he should vote for it. He then moved the recommitment of the bill, with instructions, &c. as above stated. Mr. KANE said that the existing laws on the subject rendered the process of the courts of the United States conformable to the process of the State courts; subject, however, to the rules which might be prescribed by the United States’ courts. The existing law, therefore, accomplished the object proposed by the gentleman from South Carolina. But the existing law did not apply to all the States. There was now a bill before the Senate for extending the process of the United States' courts to those States which had been admitted into the Union since the year 1789. That bill would, in a few days, come before the Senate, and until it had, he hoped the Senator from South Carolina would consent to withhold his motion. Mr. VAN BUREN said that the proposition of the gentleman from South Carolina related to the Judiciary, which he conceived to be one of the most important branches of our Government. Great difficulty had been found in adapting the process of the United States' courts to the judiciary system of the States. It had more than once been proposed to pass general laws on the subject. But, whenever this had been attempted, it had been found impossible to reconcile any one general system to the dissimilar usages of the several States. The law of 1789 adopted the State process as the rule of the United States' courts, under certain restrictions ; while the proposition, now made, would put the process of the United States' courts wholly under the direction of the State courts. Mr. V. B. here enlarged upon the difficulties which would attend any change of the present system, either by extending or restricting the powers of the Unit. ed States' courts over their process. Mr. V. B. also complimented the Senator from Kentucky, [Mr. Johnsos,) on the zeal and ability with which he had prosecuted his important and philanthropic measure, and expressed a hope that his honorable exertions would be crowned with success. Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, rose, and said that the proposition of the Senator from South Carolina was totally distinct from the object of the bill. It presented a substantive and distinct object—to govern the United States' courts by the State laws. He would not oppose that proposition when offered separately from the bill, with which he did not see that it had any connexion. He and his collegue had, for year after year, attempted, without success, to effect this very object, in reference to the State of Kentucky, which the Senator from South Carolina now proposed in reference to all the States. The United States’ courts had undertaken to regulate the process of the Kentucky courts; and, instead of adopting the execution laws of Kentucky, as they existed, so as to go, pari passu, with the improvements of the judiciary of that State, they had arbitrarily and cruelly adopted those exe. cution laws which had been used in the infancy of the State. The object of the law of 1789, he contended, was to render the process of the United States’ courts conformable to the process of the State courts, as it might be modified from time to time. This matter, in his opi. nion, presented the most interesting question which had ever been agitated in this body, viz: whether the Supreme Court of the United States was clothed with legislative power 2 and whether the assumption of such powers over the process of the Kentucky courts, by the Supreme Court, was not palpable usurpation 2 Mr. Johnson here proceeded at some length to show the calamities which had been brought upon his State by the judicial legisla. tion that had been exercised over it. He thought the subject presented considerations of much greater importance than the regulation of a ca. s.a. ; but he did not think