Imagens das páginas


Texas Distribution Question.

[MAnch 2, 1837.

struction of certain roads (including the Cumberland road) having been taken upMs. NORV FLI, after making a few remarks, moved to strike out the fourth section, which provides for the repayment of the appropriation for the road out of the two per cent. fund. the question on the amendment being taken by yeas and nays, it was rejected, as follows: y Eas–Messrs. Black, Bochanan, Calhoun, Clay, Clayton, Crittenden, Davis, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Knight, Lyon, McKean, Moore, Norvell, Preston, Ruggles, Southard, Spence, Webster, White—21. NAxs–Messrs. Brown, Cuthbert, Dana, Ewing of 11linois, Ewing of Ohio, Fulton, Grundy, Hendricks, ken!, Linn, Morris, Nicholas, Niles, Robbins, Robinson, sevier, Strange, Swift, Tallmadge, Tipton, Tomlinson, Wright—22. The bill was then ordered to a third reading, and passed. TEXAS.

Mr. RUGGLES moved a reconsideration of the vote by which the resolution relative to recognising the independence of Texas, was adopted, in order that he might Change his vote, which was given, under misapprehension, in the affirmative. Mr. WALKER was opposed to the motion, because he regarded it as a violation of the spirit of the rule, at least. If the vote were reconsidered, the result as to the resolution would not be disturbed. Being satisfied that this would be the case, and as time was now so precious, he felt it his duty to move to lay the motion of reconsideration on the table. Mr. W. withdrew the motion at the request of Mr. CALHOUN, who said he concurred with the senator from M ssissippi in what he had said as to the rule. And Mr. C. did not regard the motion of the senator from Maine as going the whole length of reconsideration; all that he wanted was to correct his vote. Mr. C. renewed the motion to lay the motion of reconsideration on the table. Mr. HUBBARD asked for the yeas and nays, which were ordered; and the question was determined in the negative: Yeas 23, nays 25, as follows: YEAs—Messrs. Bayard, Benton, Black, Calhoun, Clay, Cuthbert, Ewing of Illinois, Fulton, Grundy, Hendricks, Kent, Linn, Lyon, Moore, Mouton, Nicholas, Parker, Preston, Robinson, Sevier, Strange, Walker, White—23. NAys—Messrs. Brown, Buchanan, Clayton, Crittenden, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Knight, McKean, Morris, Norvell, Page, Prentiss, Robbins, Ruggles, Southard, Swift, Tallmadge, Tipton, Tomlinson, Wall, Webster, Wright—25. The question then recurred on the motion to reconsider the vote by which the resolution was adopted, which was decided in the negative, as follows—the votes being equal: YEAs–Messrs. Brown, Buchanan, Clayton, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Hubbard, Kent, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Knight, McKean, Morris, Norvel', Page, Prentiss, Ruggles, Southard, Swift, Tallmadge, Tipton, Tomlinson, Wall, Webster, Wright-–24. NAxs--Messrs. Bayard, Benton, Black, Calhoun, Clay, Crittenden, Cuthbert, Ewing of Illinois, Fulton, Grundy, Hendricks, Linn, Lyon, Moore, Mouton, Nicholas,

Parker, Preston, Rives, Robinson, Sevier, Strange, Walker, White——24.

Dl STRIBUTION QUEST, ON. A "****ge having been received from the House of RePoo."ovo, disagreeing to the amendment of the Se!”.'" " 'riking out the 21 section of the fortification

bill, rovidin for the distributi p g ut lus revenue ty the States ion of me suri

Mr. W RIGHT moved that the Senate do insist upon its amendment. Mr. CALHOUN expressed his hope that the Senate woull recede, and not resist an expression of the will of the Representatives of the people, given by so decided a majority as was said to have voted in the other IIouse. Mr. CLAY said it was at least in order to indulge in suppositions as to what had passed elsewhere; and supposing the land bill to have been rejected in the other House, (a fact he rejoiced to hear,) could any Senator doubt that there would remain a large surplus in the Treasury, especially if other measures which had passed the Senate, and which contemplated large expenditures, should follow the sate of the land bill? - He urged the propriety of submitting to an expression of the popular will, so distinctly manifested as it had now been. Was it not wisdom to look ahead?--to provide for the future? If a surplus accumulated, was it not better to return it to the people of the several States than to leave it in the hands of the deposite banks? As to what had lately been said by the Senator from Penn: sylvania [Mr. Buch AN AN] in regard to his favor for a land bill he had formerly had the honor to introduce, and the favorable prospects of that bill, Mr. C. had not seen any indications in the course of the Senate which would encourage much hope for that measure, (though Mr. C. did not finally relinquish hope in regard to it;) but al. though he should infinitely prefer such a disposition of the surplus revenue as that bill proposed, he would accept, as an alternative measure, the distribution clause inserted by the other House in the fortification bill, rather than leave the money in the deposite banks, Mr. C. said that the country owed its thanks to the other House for what it had recently done; he rejoiced to see light breaking out in that glorious quarter, so immediately related to the people; and was it possible that a majority of the Senate would oppose the ascertained popular will in relation to the disposition of the surplus revenue' The Senate had tried the House once, and they insisted on the amendment. They knew the ground on which they stood; they well knew that they were with the peo:

ple in the stand they had taken.

Would the Senate, with all these facts before them, repeat the vote they had before given? He trusted not. He put it to the mojority, who held the power of this body, whether they would not yield to the wishes of the people—wishes known not merely by the course of their Representatives, but through a thousand other channels, so that it was impossible to mistake it? Would gentlemen insist on leaving the public money in the hands of the deposite banks, and under such an agency as now superintended them? Mr. CRIT TENDEN made some remarks. He was understood to refer to the reproaches cast on him, and those who voted with him, on a former occasion, so the loss of the fortification bill; and to ask, if the fortifi: cation bill should now be lost, at whose door the blame would lie? Mr. CALIHOUN said the naked question was, whether the surplus revenue should be left in the deposite banko, or should be returned to the people to whom it belonged. The question was now taken, and decided, by yeas and nays, as follows: YEAs—Messrs. Denton, Black, Brown, Buchanan, Cuthbert, Dana, Ewing of Illinois, Fulton, Grundy, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Linn, Lyon, Mouton, Nicholas, Niles, Norvell, Page, Parkes, Rives, Ruggles, Sevier, Strange, Tallmadge, Walker, Wall, Wright-–28. NAY's—Messrs. Crittenden, Davis, Knight, McKean,

[ocr errors]

Bayard, Calhoun, Clay, Clayton, Swing of Ohio, liendricks, Ken', Moore, Morris, Prentiss, Presto",

[blocks in formation]

The Senate informally passed over the bill under consideration, and took up the bill for the relief of Furley Kellogg; which was ordered to a third reading.

They then took up the Indian appropriation bill, which had come from the House with amendments, covering the expenses of several Indian treaties on our Northwestern frontier, and sundry minor items for examining the country to the southwest of Missouri, and into the depredations in Florida previous to the war, and for the salaries of additional Indian agents.

After some remarks by Mr. WHITE, objections by Mr. SEVIER, and replies by Mr. TIPTON, the amendments were concurred in.


The Senate then resumed the bill respecting the railroad to Fredericksburg. Mr. HUBBARD strenuously opposed the amendments to the bill, which, as he stated, went to appropriate $300,000 to the construction of the road. He asked the yeas and nays. Mr. PARKER replied, contending that the money was to be spent exclusively within the District of Columbia, by which all constitutional objection was removed. Mr. PIKESTON advocated the amendments, stated the miserable state of the road at present, and asked why, when public works were made toward every other point of the compass, the moment any thing was proposed towards the South it was strenuously opposed. After a desultory debate, in which Mr. KENT, Mr. HUBBARI), Mr. PRESTON, Mr. WALKER, Mr. NORVELL, Mr. SwiF T, Mr. Rivros, Mr. BUCHANAN, Mr. PARKER, Mr. HENDRICKS, Mr. BROWN, and Mr. LYON, took part, and in which the constitutional objections to the measure were discussed, (the bill being zealously advocated, especially by Mr. PARKER,) the bill was slightly amended, and then ordered to its third reading, by yeas and nays, as follows: YEAs-Messrs. Brown, Cuthbert, Ewing of Illinois, Ewing of Ohio, Fulton, Hendricks, Kent, King of Georgia, Linn, Mouton, Norvell, Parker, Preston, o, Robinson, Southard Strange, Tipton, Walkct--I so. NAxs--Messrs. Black, Buchanan, Calhoun, Clayton, Hubbard, King of Alabama, Lyon, Nicholas, Niles, Page, Prentiss, Sevier, Swift, Tallmadge, Tomlinson, Wall, White--17. The Senate then proceeded to the consideration of executive business, and remained engaged in it until a late hour, and then adjourned.

Frtin Ay, MAnch 3.

. The various standing committees were successively discharged from the consideration of all subjects before then on which they had not reported.


A message was received from the House of Representative", stating that the House insisted in its disagreement

to the amendment of the Senate to the sortification bill, (which amendment struck out the clause providing for a distribution of the surplus revenue,) whereupon it Was Resolved, That the Senate request a conference, and appoint, on their part, Messrs. WRight, PARKER, and WEBSTER, as a committee to conduct the same. After transacting some other business, The CHAIR announced to the Senate that there was no business on the table, or otherwise before the Senate. The Senate then took a recess.

Evex IN G SEssion.

The Senate proceeded to executive business. When the doors were reopened, Mr. WR: GHT reported to the Senate that the committees of conference of the two Houses on the amendment to the fortification bill had met and conferred, but had been able to come to no agreement. IIARBOR BILL.

The harbor bill was received from the House, with several amendments, and referred to the Committee on Commerce. Mr. DAVIS, from the committee, reported the bill to the Senate, recommending a concurrence in the amendments. 'Mr. STRANGE opposed the amendments on constitutional grounds, and asked for the yeas and nays; which were ordered. Mr. LINN replied, explained, and advocated the concurrence. Mr. STRANGE insisted on his objection, and complained that the valley of the Mississippi should be made, by this legislation, to swallow up all the bounty of the Government. Alr. DAVIS advocated the amendments, the details of which he explained and defended serialim, and pressed a concurrence. The vote was then taken, and resulted as follows: For concurrence 31, against it 11. So the amendments to the harbor bill were concurred in.

NAVY PENsion Fusil.

Mr. Rives, from the Committee on Naval Affairs, reported a recommendation that the Senate disagree to the amendments srom the House of Representatives to the bill for the more equitable administration of the navy pension fund.

Mr. R. explained the ground of the recommendation. The bill of the Senate went to raise the pensions of the widows of officers before March, 1835, to the level of those since that date, while the amendment of the House proposed to cut down the pensions since 1835 to the level of those before that time.

The recommendation of the committee was assented to, and the Senate disagreed to the amendment from the IHouse.


A message was received from the House of Representatives, informing the Senate that the House adhered to its disagreement to the amendments of the Senate to the fortification bill.

Mr. W RIGHT thereupon moved that the Senate adhere to its amendment.

Mr. CALHOUN observed that this was a very important amendment indeed, and one which he deeply regretted the committee had deemed it proper to report. He could not consent to sit by in silence, and suffer the question to be taken, without at least requesting to hear some reason why an amendment of this character had been reported. If there should be a large surplus in the Treasury, as there was every reason to expect there would be, the natural and proper distribution of it was obviously to return it to the people. He could not but express his surprise that the committee should expect the Senate to strike out an amendment of this importance, simply on their recommendation.

SENATE.] Distribution Question. [MAnch 3, 1837. MAnch 3, 1837.] Distribution Question. -- [SENATE.

Mr. WRIGHT said that it was not his purpose to occupy the time of the Senate at this late period of the session. None knew better than the Senator from South Carolina the nature of the amendment, and the bearings of the whole question. The subject was as well understood by every member of the Senate as it could be by the committee. The section which the House of Representatives had added to this bill was precisely the bill introduced at the commencement of the session by the honorable gentleman from South Carolina himself, which had been referred to the Finance Committee, and long since reported on. Surely the gentleman did not expect a written report on a bill referred but yesterday, and embracing a subject of such vast magnitude. The amendment involved as important a question as ever had been submitted to Congress; and if this had been the first time the Senate had ever heard of it, there would have been great propriety in requiring either a written report, or at least some verbal explanation in regard to it. But Mr. W. did not feel bound, as the case stood, to make a long report on a matter with which every body was familiar, and on which he could not suggest a single new idea. A report, under such circumstances, would, if made, change no opinion. This was the simple explanation which he had to make (so far as he was personally concerned) in reply to the call of the honorable Senator from South Carolina. By the committee the subject of a written, report had not once been mentioned. For himself, he considered the section which had been added to the bill as completely disconnected with the subject-matter of the bill as it left the Senate, as one thing could be distinct srom another. It was in fact an important act of independent legislation. All the members of the Senate were acquainted with Mr. w’s opinions on the principles of the measure proposed by the amendment, and he should not, therefore, detain the Senate or waste its time by stating them. Mr. W. of. fered this explanation as an apology for the absence of a report on the amendment; whether it would prove acceptable to the Senator from South Carolina, he could not say.

Mr. CALHOUN said he now understood the Senator from New York to rest the question of concurrence in the amendment on the discussion which had taken place at the last session. To this he could have no objection; for, so triumphant had been the argument last year in favor of the distribution bill, that the gentleman had been lest in a minority of six against the whole Senate. As no reason had since intervened to change the circumstances of the case, Mr. C. was content to rest the issue as it had then been made. A more triumphant argument he had never listened to; and, such had been its irresist. ible force, that it had broken through the bonds of party discipline, and compelled gentlemen to leave their party and vote for the bill. He would not repeat it, but he would ask those Senators who had at the last session felt and admitted its force, and had voted for the distribution bill, whether they would now change their ground, without a single argument having been urged in reply. Surely the Senator from New York was bound to show some difference in the case, which should induce those who had voted for distribution last year to vote against it now. The Senator from New York owed this to gentlemen of his own side, if he expected them thus to turn about in the face of the world.

Mr. Wor rejoined. He was bound to say that the Princ'Ples which had governed his own course re

mained unchanged, without recriminating on any who now differed from him. It was unimportant to him for what reasons other gentlemen might have changed their ground; but he supposed and believed, and so did the gentleman from South Carolina, that the surplus actually existing at the last session, and that which was then certainly anticipated, and which must be disposed of in some way, had governed the action of gentlemen who then voted for the bill. And if the same state of things were certain now, they would act in conformity with it. Mr. W. had no doubt that all those gentlemen who voted for the bill of the last session had acted just as conscientiously as he had himself done in voting against it. He admitted that the opinions which he had at that time held on the subject of the surplus had, to some extent, proved erroneous. But surely the Senator from South Carolina would not call upon him for therea. sons which actuated others. If gentlemen should act differently on this occasion from the manner in which they had acted at the last session, the Senator would, no doubt, find them ready to vindicate their course, and much more able than himself to explain the considera. tions which actuated them. He trusted that this would supersede the censure of the honorable gentleman. Mr. CLAY hoped that the question would be decided by yeas and nays. The proposition adopted, said he, by the House of Representatives, and now sent to this body for its concurrence, is, that any surplus revenue which may remain in the Treasury on the 1st of January next, beyond the wants of the Government, shall, aster retaining five millions, be distributed among the States. If at that time there shall be no surplus, the bill will have, of course, no effect; if there be, it will. What are the objections to concurring? We have been favored with very few on this occasion. I would ask of the honorable Senator from New York [Mr. Waight] whether it is his intention that, in case there shall be a large surplus, it is to remain in the deposite banks which have now the custody of the public money, at an interest to the Government of two per cent. Does the honorable Senator think that that is a prudent and proper disposition of the public funds? A great central state in our neighbor. hood has, I understand, directed that her portion of the surplus distributed in January last be placed in banks, paying for it an interest of 6 per cent. , and there was not any difficulty in the arrangement. Does the Senator consider it as a wise and proper financial operation,” keep the money of the United states in deposite banks, at an interest of two per cent., when, for the same * ney, the Government might obtain six per cent, on ade. quate security? I am anxious to know what is to be the policy of the coming administration on this subject. [Mr. Waight. Their policy is to have no surplus] Mr. Clar resumed. Then take the land bill, like an honest man. There is the remedy. That will be boo ter than your restrictive measures on the sale of the pub: lic lands, which throw open 180 millions of acres at a time. I should be glad, i say, to know what the admin' istration policy is to be; the country has a right to kno"; The honorablé scnator was stoutlast session in his denial that there would be a surplus: oh, no; there would be no surplus—no surplus. At length, however, he was obliged to admit that there would be some—a little; but how did it turn out? We all know. Well, if there." to be a surplus in January, what is to be done with ". Is it to be kept in the deposite banks at two per cent. interest? Is that your calculation? Is that the policy you will announce to the people? Why, what do o daily developments which are taking place demonstrate Do they not prove that these deposite banks are but so many mere political machines? Have you seen the appl. cation recently made by one of the banks in the city 9 New York for a share of the public money? The gro" est recommendation urged by the applicants, their strongest argument, is this: “We are cordial friends to the distinguished chief who has so ably filled the chair of the Chief Magistrate,” &c. Let me now make an appeal to the majority in this House, and I am glad that what I say will be heard by the Senator from Virginia, [Mr. Rives.] This body has been pronounced by him to be the aristocratic branch of the Federal Government. If not positively and avowedly aristocratic, it has at least a squinting toward aristocracy. Well, and who are the majority of the aristocracy here? Are they not the friends of the administration? Now, the democratic branch in Congress have determined that it is unwise and improper to leave a large surplus revenue in the deposite banks, to pay the country an interest of two per cent. ; and whence does the opposition to this salutary democratic measure proceed? From the aristocratic majority in the Senate. Are you, then, going to confirm your own charges against this body? I take your own words, and I ask, will you oppose the democracy of the country? Will you withstand the people's will? Will you, by a silent report, give your lordly dissent to what they have approved and resolved upon? I call on that majority of this Senate who, at the last session, thought it unwise to leave the public money in the deposite banks, to rally around their own principles, to stand by their democratic friends in the other House, and to take the money of the nation out of the hands of these deposite banks, and distribute it among the people of the States, on the principles advocated by themselves last year. I fear, however, the Senator from New York cannot be brought to consent to this arrangement. Well, then, I will propose to him, by way of a compromise, that he consent to the land bill. This is a middle measure; it disposes of two great interests at once. Is it possible to conceive of a better disposition both of the question of the surplus and the question of the tariff If the honorable gentleman will consent to that, I will agree with him; but I entreat the majority of this body not to lend themselves to the plan of retaining this surplus revenue in a few banks, to be selected by the administration. I hope we shall not agree to the recommendation of the Committee on Finance, and I trust that its honorable chairman will, when the yeas and nays shall be called, be found now, as he was found at the last session, standing in a small minor

ity. I ask that the question may be decided by yeas and

Uo. Mr. RIVES said he did not rise from any wish to lengthen this debate, but merely with a view to submit a few remarks in reply to the appeal which had been addressed to himself and others by the honorable Senator from Kentucky. I do not see why he was so particularly anxious that I should hear what he had to say on this subject. I have often listened to that honorable Senator, always with pleasure, and often with profit; but what was it he was so anxious I should hear? In some observations which I had the honor to submit upon another occasion, I took occasion to say that, in a philosophic view of the structure of this Government, the Senate was to be considered as the aristocratic branch of it; not that every individual member of that body was an aristocrat, in the odious sense of that term, but that the body, from the manner of its constitution, was less immediately subject than the other House to the popular will. On that point, I shall enter into no controversy, but I would apply the honorable Senator’s argument to his own case. He says that we are bound now to show that we of the Senate are not aristocratic in our feelings and course of action, and we are to do this by obeying the impulses which proceed from the democratic branch in the other House; and he contends that, if we shall refuse to do so, it will be a verification of what I said. There is no propriety in his making an issue with me; Wol, XIII,-65

but let it be admitted that the argument is properly addressed to a democratic majority, and it amounts to this: that, in order to vindicate their democratic character, they must, in all things and on all occasions, submit to an expression of the will of the democratic branch of the Government. If this be so, let me remind the Senator of his own course in relation to that very important measure, the fortification bill of the last session. He cannot but recollect the appropriation by the House of Representatives of three millions of dollars, in anticipation of the contingency of a war with one of the European Powers. The amendment came here, and was sternly rejected. Notwithstanding the gentleman's doctrine of submission to the democratic branch, the rejection was persisted in until, by means of it, the bill was lost. The Senator himself, on that occasion, set an example directly the reverse of what he is now contending for. I do not call up this subject from any desire to revive the heats which then prevailed, but I mention it as an occasion of reminding him that, if he means to urge a principle of action upon us, he must at least observe it himself. Now, what ought to be the course of the Senate? Will the Senator from Kentucky, or any other gentleman, who does not speak merely ad captandum, say: that when the Senate stands committed before the world to a great system of policy, and an amendment comes from the other House, proceeding on wholly different grounds, this body is bound to surrender the policy it approves, and adopt that which comes from the House of Representatives? Does not the whole system of this Senate proceed upon the ground that there should, not be any surplus revenue? Have we, not altered the land system and reduced the tariff for the express purpose of Preventing a surplus? And now, when we are openly pledged to the country, and to the world, not to distri: bution, but to reduction, must we at once turn about and say that there shall be a surplus, and that it shall be distributed among the States? Is there any fairness in requiring us to surrender all...our fixed opinions at the mere bidding of a majority of the other House? There are other channels, beside the acts of that body, through which we may learn the will of the people. Member as I am of that which, according to its essential genius, is the aristocratic branch of this Government, I do hold myself under the control of public, opinio it comes to me in authentic forms. The House of Representatives is not the only oracular source whence I am to learnit. There are the acts of my own State Legislature; there is the public press; there are a thousand other legitimate exponents of public opinion. Looking at those indicia, what do we see? We see that, even by the temporary distribution of the surplus which had accumulated last year, we have thrown on apple of discord among the states. Such is the language of my own state.” while, owing to the pressure of circumstances, she has felt herself constrained to accept the deposite of her quota of the surplus, she warns his Gov: ernment against the repetition of the measure, And what did we hear from the gentleman from Connecticut? [Mr. Niles.] He tells us that he has received letters from many members of his own State Legislature, describing the conflicts in that body, and all terminating with this objurgation: “For God's sake, send us no more surplus.” Such has been the effect in, all the New England States; and I do say that the public sentiment of this nation, as expressed by its legitimate organs, echoes the same sentiment. Let us have no more surplus, but bring down the revenue. In yielding to the public sentiment, thus fully expressed, there is no in§onsistency with democratic principles, but the con

[blocks in formation]



for the distribution bill of the last session. were the circumstances? Then we had a large amount of surplus actually in hand. We could not get rid of it. Ought we to have expended it in reckless and anti-republican extravagance, or should it be left in the deposite banks? I then said that it was infinitely better to distribute it among the States. I chose this as the lesser evil; I always regarded it as an evil, never as a good; and I resorted to it only as a means of preventing greater evil. Now there is no actual surplus, although I see that, is there is not some change in the revenue laws, there is every probability that there will be one. We have adopted two important measures, which, according to the gentleman from Kentucky himself, are well calculated to prevent a surplus. In saying this, I refer to a part of his speech which I was so unfortunate as to lose; I was not in my seat when, I am told, the honorable Senator referred to myself. His remarks I shall be happy to notice at another time, though I cannot attend to them at present. I understand that he distinctly took the ground, when objecting to the reduction of the tariff, that that reduction was not necessary in order to bring down the revenue, because that had already been done by the land bill. [Mr. Clay here explained. What he had said was this: that, if all the measures passed by the Senate should be concurred in by the House, there would probably be no surplus; in which remark he had alluded to the various extravagant measures which had been voted.] We viewed these measures, which the honorable Senator characterizes as extravagant, as connected with each other, and constituting a whole. I shall not enter upon a consideration of them now. The most impor. tant, and those which the Senate chiefly relied on to reduce or to prevent a surplus, were the land bill and the bill to reduce the tariff, (and which, if passed, will reduce it by two and a half millions.) After a long and painful deliberation and debate, we brought those bills into a shape acceptable to the Senate, and they were adopted and passed. They indicated the course of policy approved and sanctioned by this body. But here comes an amendment which is based upon directly opposite principles; an amendment which proceeds upon the assumption that there is to be a surplus, and that it must be distributed among the States. If this is to prevail, both the tariff bill and the land bill are at once superseded. It is in vain for gentlemen to blink the question. That must be the inevitable consequence. But after we are solemnly pledged to the reduction policy, must we at once surrender it, out of our profound respect for the other branch of the Legislature? And we must do this lest we incur the odium of aristocracy! The Senator from Kentucky must surely have apprehended the spirit of my remark as to the aristocratic character of this body. He cannot but have understood me as not reserring to the character of individuals, but to the genius of this branch of the Government, to the character purposely given to it by the provisions of the constitution; and I insist that, from its structure, it does possess this character. I avow that as my sentiment; I repeat it openly; and, formidable as the Senator from Kentucky always is, I am ready to discuss it with him. But this is not the time for such a discussion. I should not have said a word but for the pointed reference of the honorable gentleman to myself. - I did hear his remarks, and listened to them with profound attention; but, weighty as they were, they would have been far more so had they been supported by his own example. Mr. CRITTENDEN followed. He expressed strong surprise that gentlemen who had voted for the distribution bill of the last session should declare that they could see no analogy betwee" that law and the present amendment. Not only was there the most perfect analogy between the two,

[blocks in formation]

But what but a perfect identity. The bill of the last session and the

amendment now proposed by the House of Representatives were in the very same terms. The subject-matter of both was the same, and they differed only as to the amount—a difference which involved no principle, but was a mere incidental fact, in no way touching the essence of the amendment or affecting its character. So far as the question of constitutional law was concerned, the two were perfectly identical; and all that prevented their identity in all respects was the difference in the amount of money which might be in the Treasury on the 1st of January next from that which had been there on the 1st of January of last year. Could gentlemen find in this difference sufficient ground to change their votes? If it was right to distribute $38,000,000, why was it not right to distribute $10,000,000?, The policy which dictated the one equally sanctioned the other. The policy of collecting revenue for the purpose of dis. tributing it was advocated by none; but if a surplus of revenue legitimately collected did occur, how ought it to be disposed of? Ought it to be thrown into the deposite banks, to excite the cupidity of these corporations and encourage reckless speculations? Or should it be thrown back into the hands of the people? This was the question which had been decided at the last session. Congress determined in favor of the latter alternative. But because they had restored to the people $38,000,000 of their own money, was it time for Government to indemnify itself by retaining $10,000,000 to meet the fancies or the lusts of those in power? But the honorable Senator from Virginia was reluctant to throw an apple of discord into the State Legislatures. The return of their own money might be converted into an apple of discord by State politicians, but to the country at large it was the bond of peace and union. How were the States to be agitated by a measure which gave peace to the Union? ought the Government, in the excess of its patriotism, magnanimity, and tender mercy, to take the people's money out of their hands to relieve them from discord? Should the Government render it. self unhappy and distracted, in its disinterested desire to save the people from corruption? The people, it seemed, were to be fatally corrupted by handling this money; but the Government might be steeped to the lips in the corrupting stream, and still remain purer than snow; To manage the money would occasion the Government no embarrassment whatever; but the poor silly people were unable to bear so weighty a trust, and to them it would prove but an apple of discord. Another reason urged in opposition to the measure was, that it would inspire the members of the National Legislature with narrow and selfish feelings: each man would be endeavoring to withhold the appropriations necessary to the general good, from a hope of securing a larger share of surplus for his own State. Nothing could be more idle than such an objection. Did not gentlemen perceive that the same argument might be applied to the ordinary duty of appropriation? Was there not the same temptation to withhold the taxes; and might not gentlemen as well argue that the General Government could never go on, because it would be the interest of the representatives to prevent the taxation of their constituents? The argument was precisely the same; and if it was a valid argument, it went to show that the American people were incapable of conducting a free republican Government. His friend who had last addressed the Senate appeared to have serious apprehensions lest his colleague had repeated what were unpopular opinions, and seemed resolved for himself to eschew such a course, as the greatest of misfortunes. Mr. C. hoped he would never fall under so heavy a calamity; but unless the people of that gentleman's Solo had a distaste for money, which did not belong to Mr.

« AnteriorContinuar »