Imagens das páginas

JUNE, 1789.]

Duties on Imports.

[H. OF R.

Madison,) and by a respectable commercial char- tercourse with her. She has it in her power to acter and worthy member of this House from become a favored nation at the moment she Pennsylvania, (Mr. Fitzsimons,) that Great Bri-deigns to enter into treaty with us. What can tain, consistently with her interest, could not be she require more? What more can be granted disposed to retaliate; and while her interest op to her? So far, Mr. Speaker, will this measure posed retaliation, there was no apprehension of be from promoting a commercial war, that I apdefeat. Is Virginia compelled to recede from her prehend it will be productive of happy commercommercial warfare? She has discriminated in a cial alliances; therefore I hope this House will superior manner to what is now proposed; but have firmness enough to persist in their vote of Britain, careful of her interest, does noi choose to discrimination. enter the lists against her; she is tenacious of the Mr. Benson.—The more he reflected, the more American trade, and will be cautious how she he was convinced that the former decision of the throws it from her. I need not go, said he, over House was unwise. He had heard no advocate the old arguments. I trust they are sufficiently for this measure, except within these walls; from impressed on the mind of every member, and will which he inferred that it was not a favorite meadetermine him to adhere to that vote which, I am sure with the people of America. He thought bold to say, does honor to the Government, and we were in possession of as many advantages in will terminate in promoting the common interest our intercourse with nations between which and and general welfare of our constituents. Either, the United States no commercial treaty subsisted, Mr. Speaker, let us insist upon our disagreement, as we were with those nations with which Conor appoint a committee of conference; but by no gress had formed treaties. From this considerameans relinquish our object without a single new tion, and because he apprehended consequences reason being offered to induce us thereto. inimical to the interests of the Union, he hoped

Mr. BOUDINOT was clearly for holding up the the House would agree with the Senate in their discrimination in this place as well as the other, amendment. though he admitted we were under no obligation Mr. Madison had spoken so much on former by treaty to do either. And are nations deprived occasions on this subject, that he had little more of discretion? Can we, ought we, to do nothing to say. He presumed that it had been fully unless bound thereto by treaty ? Certainly, it proved that the voice of America was in favor of may be demonstrated that the contested discrimi- the motion. He had been informed that the nation is salutary to the national interest; hence Senate did not differ with the House in the prinit is a proper measure for this House to pursue. ciple that discrimination was proper, but they It has been hinted, that treaties are not beneficial contemplated a detached and pointed law on this to the United States. Was this the language that subject. Perhaps their method might be eligible, venerable patriots of America held when they but he was not inclined to risk a certainty for an formed our treaty of alliance with the French na- uncertainty. Their measures might not be protion, when they solicited the attention and friend- posed this session, or, if proposed, might not be ship of the princes of Europe in the day of cala- | acted upon; but, if they could, then this part of mity and danger? Far other were our sentiments the impost law might be repealed. He was then. But now it is thought another opinion may clearly for adhering to the disagreement. be entertained-away with the idea.

oice of the Union Treaties, Mr. Speaker, no doubt are beneficial, was against the measure; he formed this opinion when properly and reciprocally made. The Uni- from such materials as came to his hands. But ted States, desirous of settling their intercourse waiving that point, he conceived the measure with the European nations and their dependen- im politic, and ihat was sufficient to induce him to cies, wish to meet them on this ground. Hence voie against it; and since he found the Senate of it is we propose a discrimination as an induce- the same opinion with himself, he had no hesitament for them to treat. Without something of tion to declare against it. this kind, what temptation have they to listen to Mr. Sedgwick said the public opinion was too our desires ? If we do not emply the means an uncertain a ground to decide the present question efficient Government has put into our hands for upon; it might be one thing in Massachusetts, bringing about this wished-for event, it is to be another in New York, and a different one in Virfeared our supineness will never permit us to take ginia. The principle of gratitude might also be that station among nations, for which God and left out of the question. It then would stand nature have designed us. This moment is the upon its true bottom-is the measure just in happy one by which the world may be taught our itself, and conducive to the interest of this councharacter: much depends on first impressions. try?' Is it justice to give up part of our revenue, We have little to fear from a nation which knows when we have unceasing demands upon it ? the value of our friendship, but which our imbe- Certainly not. Is it our interest to lessen the cility has encouraged to take an advantage of us. duty on distilled spirits ? Certainly we lose She can never be disgusted at our policy; she has revenue by it, which we are not in a capacity to shown us an example. But if she even were dis- do. From these two considerations he would pleased, she is not in a situation to enter into a vote in favor of the Senate's amendment. commercial warfare. Yet it by no means follows, Mr. Ames called upon gentlemen to recollect because we take measures to regulate our com- the situation of the United States, and the urgent merce, that Britain must attempt to fetter our in- necessity there was for passing the revenue laws.


ught the


[ocr errors]

H. of R.]
Department of Foreign Affairs.

(JUNE, 1789 He submitted to the House how much better it Our trade there is exposed to the most exorbitan would be to let this subject be taken up distinctly, charges; our vessels and seamen to indignities than make it a reason for delaying the great which I wish not to mention. But gentlemen business they were sent here to complete. He need not be surprised at this view, when they was, however, strongly opposed to being led by look around and behold the custom-houses we the principle of gratitude in matters relative to have suffered them to erect in America. the public weal. The obligation of a treaty cannot visit an island without a passport from never required more than what its terms stipula- them. I will not dwell upon what they exact for ted for; therefore, in matters of commerce and this necessary paper; but we admit, by paying it, matters of revenue, interest ought to be the pre-their authority in this country over our comdominating principle.

merce. If this picture of our situation be not Mr. Madison thought this bill would gain sufficiently humiliating, I could color it with an nothing by an immediate passage, because it could enumeration of the contumelies and insults which not operate until the collection bill was passed, our people have actually received. I could inform and that would certainly, by the specimen the this honorable body, that our captains, with their House had had of it, take some time. He would officers and seamen, have been dragged from on not agree to relinquish the present discrimination board their ships at midnight, for the breach of in hopes of obtaining a future one; and he con- laws never promulgated, by the caprice or wanton tended that a discrimination was warranted upon cruelty of a petty officer. Our venerable heads the predominating principle alluded to by the of families, our most virtuous citizens, have been gentleman last up; but he would agree to appoint thus, and more, ignominiously treated by the à Committee of Conference on this clause, in subjects of our great ally. Perhaps we have hopes a compromise might take place.

obtained a promise of better treatment in future, Mr. WaDSWORTH opposed the discrimination by making our well-grounded complaint; but let as ineffectual, and not because it was on unjust me pause a moment, and ask gentlemen whether principles. He knew one or two things in the they know a nation on earth whose friendship is power of Congress, which would compel Great worth purchasing at such a price ? For my part, Britain to treat with us on terms of reciprocity. I know of none. Is the advantage of exporting to If gentlemen were disposed to pursue these, he the place of consumption as many hogsheads of would join them with all his heart ; but any thing tobacco as the Government will admit, a compenshort of it will only irritate, and not produce any sation?. In my mind it a question whether real national advantage whatever. His first this article does not yield a better return from object would be to interdict the trade which sup. Great Britain than elsewhere; therefore the trade plied the British dependencies with the neces- in it to other countries is not valuable enough to saries of life. He was bold to say that Nova induce the freemen of America tamely to submit Scotia, the settlement founded by Britain to rival to impositions and indignities which debase the the United States, could not exist without such rank of an independent nation. Gentlemen may aid; her West India settlements would also feel have formed high notions of our commerce with the want of our commerce; the whole body of her France; but I submit it to the enterprising and colonies would be clamorous to regain the advan. most assiduous of our merchants, to those who tages thus suspended, and compel the mother have had long connexions with that country, and country to adopt measures for their and our mu- who have formed their judgments upon the sure tual convenienceand interest; this he apprehended ground of experience, to say if the French trade would be good policy, and perfectly warrantable. is profitable to America; if this were the fact, But a trifling discrimination may lose us the many more of our traders would have found it advantages we now have in British ports, without out; for I believe the citizens of the Union are as obtaining a compensation in exchange ; for of sagacious in making such discoveries as any whom are we to expect a compensation?' Not of people whomsoever. Britain, unless she is compelled; not of France, With these impressions on my mind, I cannot for the inducement is too trifling. I am sorry, but join with the Senate in their amendment, said he, that I am drawn to make some observa- which I hope may be carried; but I shall never tions on national generosity, because they may oppose;, on the contrary, I will support every not tend to show that our allies display that effectual measure for compelling the nations of virtue towards us in a very conspicuous manner. the world to treat with us on the principles of When this and the tonnage bill were first before reciprocity. the House, the commercial advantages granted The question for concurring with the Senate in the United States by Great Britain were pointed striking out the discrimination on distilled spirits out; they appeared to exceed the privileges of our was put; upon which the House divided, and commerce with France in substance, though per- there appeared twenty-five in the affirmative, and haps the latter were, in some instar.ces, more twenty-seven in the negative; so the question of showy. With respect to the British West Indies, concurrence was lost. Adjourned. we are on a footing with other nations, so that gentlemen ought not to complain, as they have done, of our suffering an indignity by submitting

WEDNESDAY, June 24. to such restrictions. But what shall I say with

DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS. respect to our intercourse with the French islands? The engrossed bill " for establishing an Execu

[ocr errors][merged small]

| JUNE, 1789.]

Department of War-Treasury Department.

(H. op R.

tive Department, to be denominated the Depart- Mr. Page was of the same opinion, but further ment of Foreign Affairs," was read the third thought it argued a doubt, even in the mind of time.

the majority, of the truth of their principles, and Mr. Sumter.—This bill appears to my mind so they wanted, by repetition, to force that upon the subversive of the Constitution, and in its conse- mind which was not impressed by right reason. quences so destructive to the liberties of the peo- The question on the amendment was taken withple, that I cannot consent to let it pass, without out further debate, and carried in the affirmative, expressing my detestation of the principle it con- twenty-four to twenty-two. tains, I do it in this public manner, in order to Some other small alterations being made, the fulfil what I think to be by duty to my country, committee rose, and reported the bill as amended; and to discharge myself of any concern in a mat- which being partly considered, the House adter that I do not approve.

journed. Mr. Page discovered the fate of the bill; he knew it must pass; but, nevertheless, he would

THURSDAY, June 25. decidedly give it his negative, and he hoped the respectable minority which he had the honor of vo- Briggs, of Philadelphia, praying for the exclusive

Mr. WYNKOOP presented the petition of Samuel ting with hitherto on the question of removability: privilege of constructing and vending a machine would unite with him firmly in their opposition; for making nails by mill-work. Ordered to lie and in order to record to their constituents the

on the table. sentiments they maintained, he moved to take the question by the yeas and nays.

DEPARTMENT OF WAR. One-fifth of the members present joined in The House resumed the consideration of the requiring the yeas and nays; whereupon they amendments reported by the Committee of the were taken, and are,

Whole to the bill for establishing the War DeYeas-Messrs. Ames, Benson, Boudinot, Brown, partment; which being agreed to, the bill was Burke, Cadwalader, Carroll, Clymer, Contee, Fitzsim- ordered to be engrossed. ons, Gilman, Goodhue, Griffin, Hartley, Heister, Hu

A message from the Senate informed the ger, Lawrence, Lee, Madison, Moore, Muhlenburg, House that they agree to the amendment proSchureman, Scott, Sedgwick, Seney, Sinnickson, Syl- posed by this House to their amendment to the vester, Trumbull, and Vining—29. Nays—Messrs. Coles, Gerry, Grout, Hathorn, Hun-chandises imported into the United States; insist

bill for laying a duty on goods, wares, and mertington, Jackson, Leonard, Livermore, Matthews, Page, on their fourth and fifth amendments to the said Parker, Partridge, Van Rensselaer, Sherman, Smith, of bill; agree to the proposed conference on the Maryland, Smith, of South Carolina, Stone, Sturgis, subject-matter of the other amendments thereto, Sumter, Thatcher, Tucker, and White-22. So the question was determined in the affirma-l on the said fourth and fifth amendments. The

and have charged their managers to confer also tive, and the Clerk directed to carry the bill to Senate likewise agree to the amendments prothe Senate, and desire their concurrence.

posed by this House to their first and ninth amendDUTIES ON IMPORTS.

ments to the bill impusing duties on tonnage; The House now resumed the consideration of

and also to the proposed conference on the subjectthe message from the Senate, touching their matter of the other amendments to the said bill. amendments to the Impost bill.

TREASURY DEPARTMENT. Aster going through the same, and agreeing to The House then resolved itself into a Comthree amendments, and rejecting six, it was mitteee of the Whole on the bill for establishing

Ordered, That a committee of conference be the Treasury Department, Mr. TRUMBULL in the desired with the Senate upon the subject matter Chair. The second clause being under consideraof the amendments disagreed to; and Messrs. tionBOUDINOT, FITZSIMONS, and Madison, were ap- Mr. Page objected to the words making it the pointed managers at the said conference, on the duty of the Secretary to "digest and report plans part of the House.

for the improvement and management of the DEPARTMENT OF WAR.

revenue, and the support of the public credit;"

observing that it might be well enough to enjoin The House then went into a committee on the upon him the duty of making out and preparing bill for establishing the Department of War, Mr. estimates; but to go any further would be a danTRUMBULL in the Chair.

gerous innovation upon the Constitutional priviMr. Benson proposed, with respect to the lege of this House; it would create an undue Secretary's being removable by the President, a influence within these walls, because members similar amendment to that which had been ob- might be led, by the deference commonly paid to tained in the bill establishing the Department of men of abilities, who give an opinion in a case Foreign Affairs.

they have thoroughly studied, to support the minMr. SHERMAN thought it unnecessary to load ister's plan, even against their own judgment. this bill with any words on that subject; he con- Nor would the mischief stop here; it would estaceived the gentleman ought to be satisfied with blish a precedent which might be extended, til having had the principle established in the other we admitted all the ministers of the Government bill.

on the floor, to explain and support the plans they

H. OF R.]

Treasury Department.

(JUNE, 1789.

have digested and reported: thus laying a founda- ought to be "to consider of the means of improvtion for an aristocracy or a detestable monarchy. ing the revenue and introducing economy into the

Mr. TUCKER.— The objection made by the gen- expenditures, and to recommend general systems tleman near me is, undoubtedly, well tounded. I of revenue.” Now, what more than this is rethink it proper to strike out all the words alluded quired by the clause ? to, because the following are sufficient to answer For my part, I am at a loss to see how the every valuable purpose, namely, “ to prepare and privilege of the House is infringed. Can any of report estimates of the public revenue and public the Secretary's plans be called bills? Will they expenditures." If we authorize him to prepare be reported in such a form even? But admitting and report plans, it will create an interference of they were, they do not become bills, unless they the Executive with the Legislative powers; it are sanctioned by the House; much less is the will abridge the particular privilege of this House; danger that they will pass into laws without full for the Constitution expressly declares, that all examination by both Houses and the President. bills for raising revenue shall originate in the From this view of the subject, so far is the clause House of Representatives. How can the busi- from appearing dangerous, that I believe it disconess originate in this House, if we have it report- vers itself to be not only perfectly safe, but essened to us by the Minister of Finance ? All the in- tially necessary; and without it is retained, the formation that can be acquired, may be called for, great object of the bill will be defeated. without adopting a clause that may undermine the Mr. Goodhue.- We certainly carry our digpiauthority of this House, and the security of the ty to the extreme, when we refuse to receive inpeople. The Constitution has pointed out the formation from any but ourselves. It must be proper method of communication between the admitted, that the Secretary of the Treasury will, Executive and Legislative departments; it is made from the nature of his office, be better acquainted the duty of the President to give, from time to with the subject of improving the revenue or curtime, information to Congress of the state of the tailing expense, than any other person; if he is Union, and to recommend to their consideration thus capable of affording useful information, shall such measures as he shall judge necessary and we reckon it hazardous to receive it? For my expedient. If revenue plans are to be prepared part, when I want to attain a particular object, I and reported to Congress, here is the proper per- never shut my ears against information likely to son to do it; he is responsible to the people for enable me to secure it. what he recommends, and will be more cautious Mr. Page.-I can never consent to establish, by than any other person to whom a less degree of law, this interference of an Executive officer in responsibility is attached. Under this clause, you business of legislation; it may be well enough in give the Secretary of the Treasury a right to ob- an absolute monarchy, for a Minister to come to a trude upon you plans, not only undigested, but Parliament with his plans in his hands and order even improper to be taken up.

them to be enregistered or enacted; but this pracI hope the Hosue is not already weary of execu- tice does not obtain even in a limited monarchy ting and sustaining the powers vested in them by like Britain. The Minister there, who introduces the Constitution; and yet it would argue that we his plans, must be a member of the House of thought ourselves less adequate to determine than Commons. The man would be treated with inany individual what burdens our constituents are dignation who should attempt in that country to equal to bear. This is not answering the high bring his schemes before Parliament in any other expectations that were formed of our exertions for way. Now, why we, in the free Republic of the the general good, or of our vigilance in guarding United States, should introduce such a novelty in our own and the people's rights. In short, Mr. legislation, I am at a loss to conceive. The ConstiChairman, I can never agree to have money' bills tution expressly delegates to us the business of the originated and forced upon this House by a man revenue; our constituents have confidence in us, destitute of Legislative authority, while the Con- because they suppose us acquainted with their stitution gives such power solely to the House of circumstances; they expect, in consequence of Representatives; for this reason, I cheerfully sec- this knowledge, we will not attempt to load them ond the motion for striking out the words. with injudicious or oppressive taxes; but they

Mr. Benson.—If the proposed amendment pre- have no such security, it we are blindly to follow vail, the bill will be nearly nugatory. The most perhaps an upskilful minister. It does not answer important service that can be rendered by a gen-me, Mr. Chairman, to say the House has a right tleman who is at the head of the Department of of deliberating and deciding upon these plans, beFinance, is that of digesting and reporting plans for cause we may be told, if you prune away this the improvement of the revenue, and supporting part or that part of the system, you destroy its public credit; and, for my part, I shall despair efficiency. Therefore we must act with caution; of ever seeing your revenue improved, or the we must either take or reject the whole ; but if national credit supported, unless the business is we reject the whole, sir, we are to depend upon submitted into the hands of an able individual. I ourselves for a substitute. How are we to form one? thought this subject was well understood, from For my part, I should not despair, that the united the debate on the original motion. It was then wisdom of this House could procure one; but if insisted upon by an honorable gentleman, Mr. we are to do this in the second instance, why GERRY, who opposed the appointment of a Secre- cannot we attempt it in the first? I have no obtary of the Treasury, that his important duties 1 jection to our calling upon this or any other offi

JUNE, 1789.]

Treasury Department.

(H. OF R.

cer for information; but it is certainly improper assemblies, that from their nature they are more to have him authorized by law to intrude upon incompetent to a complete investigation of acus whatever he may think proper. I presume, counts than a few individuals; perhaps in a Gosir, it is not supposed by the worthy gentleman vernment so extended, and replete with variety from New York (Mr. Benson) that we shall be in its mode of expenditure as this

, the subject may at a loss to conceive what information would be be more perplexing than in countries of smaller useful or proper for us to require that we must extent and less variety of objects to guard. The have this officer to present us with what he science of accounts is at best but an abstruse and chooses. When the President requires an opinion dry study; it is scarcely to be understood but by of him, the Constitution demands him to give it; an unwearied assiduity for a long time; how then so, under the law, let him send his opinion in here, can a public body, elected annually, and in session when it is asked for. If any surther power is given for a few monihs, undertake the arduous task him, it will come to this at last: we, like the Par- with a full prospect of success?. If our plans are liament of Paris, shall meet to register what he formed upon these incomplete investigations, we dictates. Either these reports of the Secretary can expect little improvement; for I venture to are to have weight, or they are not; if they are to say, that our knowledge will be far inferior to that have weight, the House acts under a foreign of an individual, like the present officer. Hence influence, which is altogether improper and im- I contend, sir, that the Secretary is a useful and politic; if they are to have no weight, we impose invaluable part of the Government. a useless duty upon the officer, and such as is no I would not have it understood that I am against mark of our wisdom.

an inquiry being made into this subject at every Mr. Ames hoped the subject might be treated session of the Legislature. I think such a pracwith candor and liberality; he supposed the ob- tice highly salutary, but I would not trust to a jections were made on those principles, and there hasty: or perhaps injudicious examination of a fore required a serious answer. The worthy business of this magnitude; on the contrary, I gentleman who first expressed his aversion to the would take every precaution in ascertaining the clause seemed to be apprehensive that the power foundation upon which our revenues are to stand. of reporting plans by the Secretary would be im- If we consider the present situation of our proper, because it appeared to him to interfere finances, owing to a variety of causes, we shall with the legislative duty of the House, which the no doubt perceive a great, although unavoidable House ought not to relinquish.

confusion throughout the whole scene; it presents Whenever it is a question, Mr. Speaker, said he, to the imagination a deep, dark, and dreary chaos; whether this House ought, or ought not, to esta- impossible to be reduced to order without the blish offices to exercise a part of the power of mind of the architect is clear and capacious, and either branch of the Government, there are two his power commensurate to the occasion; he must points which I take into consideration, in order to not be the flitting creature of a day; he must have lead my mind to a just decision; first, whether the time given him competent for the successful exproposed disposition is useful; and, second, whether ercise of his authority. It is with an intention to it can be safely guarded from abuse. Now I take let a little sunshine into the business that the preit, sir, that the House, by their order for bringing sent arrangement is proposed; I hope it may be in a bill to establish the Treasury Department in successful, nor do I doubt the event. I am confithis way, have determined the point of utility; dent our funds are equal to the demand, if they and, if they have erred in adopting that opinion, I are properly brought into operation; but a bad adwill slightly make an inquiry. How does it tend ministration of the finances will prove our greatto general utility? The Secretary is presumed est evil. to have the best knowledge of the subject of But, is our proposed arrangement safe? Are finance of any member of the community. Now, the guards sufficient to prevent abuse ? I am perif this House is to act on the best knowledge of fectly satisfied it can be made so, and hope the circumstances, it seems to follow logically, that united exertions of both Houses will effect it. the House must obtain evidence from that officer; How is the power complained of by the honorthe best way of doing this will be publicly from able gentlemen over the way (Mr. Page and Mr. the officer himself, by making it his duty to fur- TUCKER) unsafe? We are told, the plans reportnish us with it. It will not be denied, sir, that ed may have an undue influence. Upon what this officer will be better acquainted with his busi- ground is this opinion rested? Do the gentlemen ness than other people can be. It lies within his apprehend the facts will be fallaciously stated ? department to have a comprehensive view of the If so, I would ask, cannot they be detected ? If state of the public revenues and expenditures. facts are faithfully stated, and the deductions are He will, by his superintending power over the fair, no doubt the plan will be patronised; and collection, be able to discover abuses, if any, in will gentlemen say that it ought not? I believe that department, and to form the most eligible there is little danger of imposition, for a person in plan to remedy or prevent the evil. From his in- this situation would hardly run the risk of detecformation respecting money transactions, he may tion, in a case where detection might be easy by be able to point out the best mode for supporting an examination of the books and vouchers, and the public credit; indeed, these seem to me to be his reputation be destroyed. the great objects of his appointment.

What improper influence could a plan reported It is, perhaps, a misfortune incident to public | openly and officially have on the mind of any

1st Con. 20

« AnteriorContinuar »