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Insolvent Debtors of the United States.
(March 1, 1831.
give their views as individuals on the policy of a measure stage, and look into the disbursements made ont of the to which they had always been opposed, and which went treasury for the objects of Government, and to the degree to recommend a system to the country wbich was alto- of fidelity and correctness which has there prevailed, our gether new. He would therefore vote in favor of the experience has been far less gratifying. The selected document being received.
servants of the Government have lost us thousands, where Mr. GRUNDY said he would vote against it, because those whom the laws and the course of business bave he thought any other individual in the Senate had an compelled to become our debtors at the custom-house, equal right to offer his views on the subject, and have them have hardly lost us a dollar. The mercantile character has printed.
richly earned this distinction. In all times it has shown The question was then taken on receiving the paper itseli' worthy to be relied on; in all times, in prosperity and presented by Mr. Dickerson, when the motion was car- adversity, in peace and in war, amidst all the events that ried by a vote of 19 to 18.
usually affect national income, or shock systems of finance, Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, moved that when the Senate the Government has always felt that what was due to it acljourn to-day, it shall adjourn to meet to-morrow at ten from the commercial community was to be counted on as o'clock. The motion was agreed to.
so much already in its coffers. Debtors of this class, beINSOLVENT DEBTORS OF THE UNITED STATES. coming insolvent without imputation of fraud or dishones
ty, lave fair claims to a discharge. On the other hand, The bill for the relief of certain insolvent debtors of let the severity of the law continue towards public delinthe United States was then taken up, on motion of Mr. quency. Let those who solicit public trusts understand, WEBSTER.
once for all, that a rigorous rule will be applied; that a Mr. WEBSTER then said, the object of this important perfect accounting will be exacted; and that debts, creand long desired measure was to enable the Government, ated by disregarded duty, and a violated trust, is a fetter in proper cases, and by a just and safe proceeding, to never to be broken. compromise with certain of its insolvent debtors. Не The bill, sir, proposes a public and open proceeding, looked on this object as equally politic and humane. The to ascertain the facts in each particular case. The inrelation of debtor and creditor was a delicate one; many solvent debtor is to apply by petition, setting forth the practical consequences ordinarily sprang from it; and it facts of his case. The petition is to be referred to comwas not expedient that large numbers of persons should missioners, who are to inquire into it, with power to exbear this relation to the Government, without the hope of amine the petitioner, and any other persons, on oath, ever changing it. It naturally cherished feelings not the respecting the whole matter before them; and they are to most friendly, to the discharge of social and political du- be attended by an agent on the part of the Governinent, ties. Hopeless debt, too, terminates the active agency to interpose objections, and demand explanations of whatand effective efforts of most of those who have become ever may appear to require explaration. The facts thus subject to it. Their exertions, their enterprise, their use- ascertained are to be referred to the Secretary of the fulness, are in a great measure lost to society. Few will Treasury; and thereupon he is authorized to compound struggle under a weight which they know, struggle as and compromise the debt, according to the circumstances, they may, can never be moved. Few will exert them- and discharge the debtor. selves, under the consciousness that the utmost exertion It might be expected, perhaps, that the bill would have will never enable them to throw off or to break the chain provided that, in every case, if no fraud or unfairness which binds them, and to place themselves again in a con- appeared, and clear insolvency and inability to pay were dition to enter the employments, the business, and the made manifest, a discharge should be granted of course. engagements of society. It was wise, therefore, in his But, from what was known in regard to some existing opinion, that every hopelessly insolvent debtor to Govern- cases, it was thought better still to leave the Secretary ment should be able to ask inquiry into his case, and the some discretion. It is known that there are cases in which, causes of his inability, and to show bis honesty and his mis- by the contributions of friends and connexions, or other fortune, and then have the power of making his peace means, considerable sums would have been paid if diswith his creditor; to have his quietus, in the language of charges could have been obtained; which cases, without the old law, and be enco
couraged, once more, to such ef- such prospect of discharge, rould be cases of great and forts, and such services, as his social and domestic duties total loss. So that one effect of this very measure will doubtmay require of him.
less be, to cause receipts into the treasury of considerable This being the general object of the bill, said Mr. W., sums, on account of debts, no part of which, without it, it proceeds, in the first place, to distinguish clearly and would ever have been collected. broadly between mere debt and official delinquency. This The next important characteristic of the bill is, that in distinction is founded, not only in true policy, but in cor- its operation it is altogether retrospective. It is not a rect morals also. Unpaid de one thing; violated trust standing provision. It applies only to past cases. Its very much another thing. Delinquency, or failure in the object is to settle up and close cases of insolvency, long discharge of official duty, finds neitlier favor nor indul- since happening, and still existing; to make a sort of gence in any of the provisions of this bill. Principals in half century jubilee, and set all the honest and unfortunate official bonds, and all persons who have received money once more free from the demands of Government debts. to be paid into the treasury, or who have received it from We sce that, in the individual concerns of commercial the treasury, for public disbursement, are cut off from all men, it is found indispensable that some system, having its benefits. This is just. It is not unworthy of remark, the actual effect of a system of bankruptcy, should be however, that, in the history of our Government, the pub- adopted. Congress does not seem disposed to exercise lic has lost infinitely less by public debtors, than by public its undisputed power of establishing such a system for the officers and servants. Six or seven hundred millions of wliole country, by law; no State can establish such a dollars have been received into the treasury, almost all system, except to a partial extent; and most of the States by being first secured by bond, with only a loss of the half have not attempted to provide any at all. But voluntary of one per cent. This fact speaks much, not only to the assignments, and voluntary discharges, have come into credit of the system, but also for the integrity and punc- very general use, from the absolute necessity of the case. tuality of the American mercantile character. No Go- Individuals thus establish rules of distribution of effects, vernment in the world, I believe, collects its revenues and for the discharge from debts, for themselves. But with more certainty, or more economy, than ours. But it Government has not the power which belongs thus to a must be confessed, that when we proceed to the next private creditor. The treasury cannot compromise or
MARCH 1, 1831.]
Military Appropriations.--Congressional Documents.
discharge the debt, in any case, without full payment. Mr. WEBSTER said, the proposed reference was unUnder this act, as to past obligations, it will possess that necessary, as the subject had already been before the power; and when its operation shall have been seen and joint Library Committee. tried by experience, it will be competent to Congress to Mr. POINDEXTER then withdrew his motion for rerepeat the provision, at a proper time hereafter, or not to commitment, and submitted an amendment which should repeat it, as its wisdom shall see fit.
confine the selection to documents which had already been As I do not anticipate any objection to the principle of printed. the bill, I shall no longer press a claim on that time and Mr. CHAMBERS thought an amendment of this kind that attention of the Senate, which are demanded by so would tend to enlarge the number of volumes to be printed. many other urgent subjects. I wish, however, not to re Mr. HAYNE thought the bill should be referred. sume my seat before I espress my sense of the obligation After some remarks between Messrs. CHAMBERS, which the public is under to the distinguished gentleman WOODBURY, HAYNE, ROBBINS, and DICKERSON, in the other House, on whom it devolved, in the dis Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, moved to lay the bill on the charge of his duties there, to take the lead in this mea- table; which motion was decided as follows: sure. I feel that he has rendered a substantial service to YEAS.-Messrs. Benton, Brown, Dickerson, Dudley, the country; that the bill which he has matured and Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Iredell, Kane, King, Mcsupported through the House to which he belongs, will Kinley, Poindexter, 'Robinson, Sanford, Smith, of Md., be a joyous relief, and a great blessing, to many honest Tazewell, Troup, Tyler, Woodbury.--20. and valuable citizens; and both useful and safe to the Go NAYS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, Chase, vernment. I am happy in seconding here that which he Clayton, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Johnhas so well sustained elsewhere; and am desirous, for one, ston, Knight, Livingston, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, Rugof expressing my thanks for his zealous devotion to this gles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of S. C., Sprague, Webster, object, and his successful lead in its accomplishment. Willey.--23. The bill was then ordered to be read a third time.
A motion was then made to refer the bill to the ComMILITARY APPROPRIATIONS.
mittee on the Judiciary, and decided as follows:
YEAS.--Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Ellis, Grundy, The Senate then, as in Committee of the Whole, pro- Hayne, Iredell, King, Poindexter, Robinson, Sanford, ceeded to the consideration of the bill making appropria- Smith, of Maryland, Tazewell, Troup, Tyler, Woodbutions for the military service of the United States for the year 1831. The several amendments reported by the
NAYS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, Chase, Committee of Finance were agreed to, the most import: Clayton, Dickerson, Dudley, Foot, Forsyth, Frelinghuyant of which was to strike out 100,000 dollars, and insert
sen, Hendricks, Holmes, Johnston, Kane, Knight, Living200,000, as the sum to be appropriated for the present ston, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsyear for arming the new fortifications.
bee, Smith, of S. C., Sprague, Webster, Willey.--17. Mr. CLAYTON submitted a further amendment, ap
Mr. POINDEXTER then spoke in favor of his amendpropriating $30,000 for the purchase of small arms for ment, and Mr. LIVINGSTON against it; when the inilitia, that amount having been withdrawn from the fund for arming the militia, for the purchase of artillery, which was negatived, as follows:
Mr. WOODBURY moved to lay the bill on the table; Mr. KING opposed the motion, and Mr. CLAYTON
YEAS.--Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Dickerson, Dudsupported it.
ley, Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Iredell, Kane, King, After a few words from Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, the McKinley, Poindexter, Robinson, Sanford, Smith, of Maamendment was rejected.
ryland, Tazewell, Troup, Tyler, Woodbury.-21. The amendments were then reported to the Senate, NAYS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, and severally concurred in.
Chase, Clayton, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Mr. CLAYTON renewed his motion to amend, and Johnston, Knight, Livingston, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, called for the yeas and nay's on its adoption; which were Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of South Carolina, ordered.
Sprague, Webster, Willey.--23. Messrs. SMITH, of Md., KING, and HAYNE opposed
After a question from Mr. WEBSTER, and a few obthe amendment, and Messrs. CHAMBERS and CLAYTON servations by Messrs. HAYNE and KING, the latter supported it.
moved to refer the bill to the Committee on the Contingent The question being finally put on the amendment, it Fund of the Senate. This motion was negatived, as folwas negatived, as follows:
lows: YEAS.-Messrs. Barton, Bell, Chambers, Chase, Clay YEAS.--Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Ellis, Grundy, ton, Dickerson, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Marks, Nau- Hayne, Iredell, King, McKinley, Poindexter, Robinson, dain, Robbins, Ruggles, Sanford, Silsbee, Sprague, Sanford, Smith, of Maryland, Tazewell, Troup, Tyler, Webster, Willey.-17.
Woodbury.--17. NAYS.- Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown), Burnet, Ellis, NAYS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, Foot, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Iredell, Johnston, Kane, Chase, Clayton, Dickerson, Dudley, Foot, Forsyth, FreKing, Knight, Livingston, McKinley, Poindexter, Robin- linghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Johnston, Kane, Knight, son, Seymour, Smitli
, of Md., Smith, of S. C., Tazeweil, Livingston, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, Ruggles, Seymour, Troup, Tyler, Woodbury.--25.
Silsbee, Smith, of South Carolina, Sprague, Webster, CONGRESSIONAL DOCUMENTS.
Willey.-27. The bill from the House, making provision for a sub
The question was then put on Mr. Poindexten's scription to a compilation of Congressional Documents, amendment, and decided in the negative, as follows: was read the second time, and considered as in Committee
YEAS.-Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Dickerson, of the Whole.
Dudley, Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Iredell, Kane, Mr. POINDEXTER moved its reference to the Com- King, McKinley, Poindexter, Robinson, Sanford, Smith, mittee on the Library.
of Maryland, Tazewell, Troup, Tyler, Woodbury.-20. Mr. LIVINGSTON hoped it would not be referred; if
NAYS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, it was, it would have the effect to destroy the bill. The Chase, Clayton, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, subject had been before so fully discussed in the Senate, Johnston, Knight, Livingston, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, that it was wholly unnecessary a reference should take Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of South Carolina, place, &c.
Sprague, Webster, Willey.--23.
Election of a President pro tem.
[March 1, 1831.
After a few remarks from Mr. HAYNE, he moved to strike out 750, as the number of copies to be printed, The VICE PRESIDENT having retired from the Chair which was also negatived, thus:
of presiding officer, the Senate proceeded to the election YEAS.--Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Dickerson, of a President pro tem. Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Iredell, Kanc, King, Mc The votes were, (first ballot:) Kinley, Poindexter, Robinson, Sanford, Smith, of Mary For Mr. Smith, of Maryland, :
17 land, Tazewell, Tyler, Woodbury.--19.
Mr. Bell, of New Hampshire,
12 NAYS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers,
Mr. Tazewell, of Virginia,
3 Chase, Clayton, Dudley, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Scattering, Holmes, Johnston, Knight, Livingston, Marks, Naudain, On a second balloting, there were Robbins, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of South For Mr. Smith, of Maryland, Carolina, Sprague, Webster, Willey.-24.
9 Mr. WOODBURY then submitted an amendment, to
8 reduce the price of the proposed printing twenty per Scattering,
2 cent. below that paid to the Congress printer; whichi On a third balloting, there were motion was negatived--18 to 23.
For Mr. Smith, of Maryland,
15 Mr. HAYNE then submitted an amendment, limiting Mr. Tazewell,
21 the number of volumes to be printed to fifteen.
3 This amendment was opposed by Mr. HENDRICKS, So Mr. TAZEWELL was elected President pro tempore who stated his reasons for the vote he should give; and of the Senate. the amendment was negatived, as follows:
Whereupon, Mr. TAZEWELL rose, and with a proYEAS. --Messrs. Benton, Brown, Dickerson, Dudley, fession of his sincere distrust of his ability to discharge Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Iredell, Kane, King, Mc- the duties of the Chair with satisfaction to himself or to Kinley, Poindexter, Robinson, Sanford, Smith, of Mary- the Senate, begged to be escused from accepting the land, Tazewell, Tyler, Woodbury.--20.
honorable station which the Senate liad assigned to him. NAYS.-Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, Mr. WEBSTER expressed his hope that the honorable Chase, Clayton, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Senator from Virginia would reconsider his determination, Johnston, Knight, Livingston, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, and would not be excused from the duty to which the Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of South Carolina, vote of the Senate had called him. Sprague, Willey, Webster.--23.
Mr. TYLER, expressing his bigh respect for his colMr. POINDEXTER then moved to amend the bill by league, and declaring that he himself, with all the sincere adding a new section, providing for a subscription to a respect which he had for his colleague, not expecting proposed publication of a stereotype edition of the laws, such a course, had voted for the venerable Senator from by Duff Green.
Maryland, and, desirous to pay due regard to the wishes This motion, after some conversation between Mr. of bis colleague, moved that his colleague be escused POINDEXTER and Mr. CLAYTON, and the reading of from serving as President pro tempore. the report of the Library Committee on the subject, was The Secretary of the Senate having put the question rejected, as follows:
on this motion, it was decided in the affirmative, by 20 YEAS.--Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Ellis, Grundy, votes to 14. Hayne, Iredell, Poindexter, Tyler.--9.
The Senate then proceeded to another balloting for NAYS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, President of this body; and it resulted as follows: Chase, Clayton, Dickerson, Dudley, Foot, Forsyth, Fre For Mr. Smith, of Maryland,
20 linghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Kane, King, Knight,
Mr. Bell, of New Hampshire,
11 Livingston, McKinley, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, Robin
Mr. Ruggles, of Ohio,
4 son, Ruggles, Sanford, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of South Mr. King, of Alabama, Carolina, Sprague, Tazewell, Webster, Willey.--31. So Mr. Smith, of Maryland, was elected President pro
The bill was then reported to the Senate without tempore of the Senate; and, being conducted to the chair, amendment; and the question being put on ordering it to made his acknowledgments for the honor which he said a third reading, it was determined in the affirmative, as he was satisfied was paid rather to his age than to his follows:
ability, and said that the only return he could make, YEAS.--Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chambers, would be to devote his best ability to the proper despatch Chase, Clayton, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, of the business before the Senate. Johnston, Knight, Livingston, Marks, Naudain, Robbins, The Senate then proceeded to the despatch of a variety Robinson, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of South of business, of which the following was the most promiCarolina, Sprague, Webster, Willey:--24.
nent: NAYS.--Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Dickerson, The bill to carray is to effect certain Indian treaties was Dudley, Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Jayne, Iredell, Kane, read the second time, and, on motion of Mr. GRUNDY, King, Mckinley, Poindexter, Sanford, Smith, of Mary-lit was amended by striking out the clause which provides land, Tazewell, Tyler, Woodbury.---19.
for taking the sum appropriate for carrying into effect On motion of Mr. WEBSTER, the Senate determined the Choctaw treaty, from the fiind of $500,000 last year to take a recess from four to six o'clock P. M. this appropriated for the removal of the Southern Indians, evening:
and the expense of curying into effect that treaty was The CHAIR laid before the Senate a letter from the ordered to be paid out of any money in the treasury not Postmaster General, in compliance with a resolution of otherwise appropriated. Thus amended, it wits ordered the Senate of the 14th of May, 1830), transmitting a state - to a third reading. ment of the amount of postage received in that depart The amendments of the flouse to the amendments of ment from the 1st of April, 1829, to the 31st of August, the Senate to the general appropriation bill were all 1830; which was referred.
agreed to, with the exception of that which goes to strike The VICE PRESIDENT having stated that he should out the clause inserted on the motions of Mr. Kane and not again attend the meetings of the Senate at the present Mr. Tyler, and inserting $15,000 for the services of the session, avaled himself of this opportunity of wishing the commissioners employed to conclude the treaty with the Senators a very pleasant return to their homes.
Sublime Porte. The Senate thien took a recess.
A varicty of motions were made on this subject, several
MARCH 2, 1831.]
[SENATE points of order were discussed, and then some remarks unceasing but fruitless attempts to procure the justice were made on the constitutionality of the appointment of due to our citizens. Other causes soon combined to give the commissioners. The effect that the amendment of a more important turn to the negotiation. The suspension the House would have, as preventing the Senate from of the right of deposite at New Orleans excited a just and expressing their disapprobation of the course of the violent sensation in the Western country. Its citizens Executive, was also spoken of, when, finally, the Senate could scarcely be restrained from marching down, and refused to agree to the amendment, and appointed a com- securing by force of arms the free navigation of the Mismittee of conference on its part, consisting of Messrs. sissippi, so essential to their commerce. About the same TAZEWELL, WEBSTER, and King, to meet conferees to time, Mr. Ross, a Senator from Pennsylvania, made a be appointed by the House of Representatives.
formal proposal to authorize the President to take possesThe Senate then adjourned.
sion of New Orleans: a measure which it was thought more urgent, because, about this time, May, 1802, it was
known in the United States that Spain had, in the preWEDNESDAY, MARCH 2.
ceding year, ceded Louisiana to France. And it was CLAIM OF JAMES MONROE.
feared that if a war broke out again (which was appreMr. HAYNE said he was about to make a motion, hended, and shortly after happened) between that Power such a one as he seldom made, and to which he was in and England, that this last Power would make a congeneral opposed-a motion which would have been unne- quest of it, and thus enclose us on our whole frontier. cessary, it the bill had been suffered to come up in its Instructions were therefore sent to Mr. Livingston, to order, but which had been prevented by the many mo- endeavor to purchase New Orleans and the Floridas for a tions made by gentlemen to take up bills out of their price, of which the payment of the debt due to our citiorder--and that was, to take up the bill for the relief of zens was to form a part. In obedience to these instrucJames Monroe.
tions, Mr. Livingston turned his whole attention to the The motion prevailed--yeas 25.
accomplishment of this great object. Whik urging on the The motion to amend, heretofore submitted, to strike one hand the payment of the debt, on the other he was from the bill the words “for public services, losses, and endeavoring to demonstrate the policy of making the sacrifices," was, on motion of Mr. HAYNE, disagreed to, cession to the United States, not only as the means of to save time.
discharging the claims of our citizens, but as the only After a remark or two from Mr. FORSYTH and Mr. mode of preventing Great Britain from acquiring that BELL,
valuable colony. In a memoir which he published in Mr. LIVINGSTON said he would premise what he December, he not only insisted on these topics, but had to say on this subject by a declaration that he in- showed the advantage to France of encouraging the comtended to vote for the bill. I am obliged, said he, in this merce and naval power of the United States, by the same case, as all of us must, for the most part, in cases of claims act which would prevent the rapid accession to those of for services, or the settlement of accounts, to trust very the rival of France. much to the investigation made by our committees, and In February, of the year 1803, finding that he could get to the correctness of their reports. Were each member no explicit answer from the ministry of France, he took a to investigate the details of the numerous cases that come step dictated by a close study of the character of the extrabefore us, we should spend all our time in this examina- ordinary man who as First Consulthen directed the affairs of tion, and then do the business imperfectly, leaving no France. Quitting the established form of communication, time for attention to the great interests of the nation. he addressed a letter directly to the First Consul himself, In this case, a committee of the other House, that House appealing to his honor as a soldier, and personal sense of itself, and our own committee, have informed us that justice, for the performance of a treaty he himself had Mi. Monroe has an equitable claim on the nation: and made. This bold proceeding had its effect. An answer they propose that the amount of this claim shall be settled was given, positively promising a prompt liquidation and by our accounting officers on equitable principles. I must payment of the claims. To give greater effect to this believe, therefore, that something is due, and therefore will promise, and increase the obligation of performing it, the vote for the bill But, sir, a private duty which I owe to contents of the answer were immediately communicated to the memory of a very near and very dear relative, a the agents of the claimants at Paris; they were advised not public duty to a statesman who had no inconsiderable to dispose of their claims, and told that ibey might rely on share in the establishment of our independence, who was the word of the First Consul. This was done, with a one of the committee which sanctioned the declaration knowledge that no other means could be found by France that proclaimed it to the world, and whose subsequent for discharging the debt, but the cession of New Orleans. life was a series of important services to his country: these In the mean time, Mr. Monroe had been appointed on a duties oblige me to notice an attempt to deprive bim of special mission to effect the same object. His arrival was the credit of one of the most important of those services. expected about the beginning of April, and, so far from Among the claims which Mr. Monroe urges to the grati-expediting, would, by waiting for his arrival, have delayed tude of the country, is the acquisition of Louisiana to the the termination of our difficulties, but for the concurUnion. Forgetting the agency of his colleague, scarcely rence of events which brought the matter to a conclusion mentioning him, except only to say that he had the merit in the mind of the First Consul before Mr. Monroe had set of agreeing with him, (Mr. M.) he directly assumes the his foot in Paris. A history lately published by M. de whole credit of the negotiation, by saying that nath ng Marbois, one of the confidential ministers of Napoleon, has was done, or could be done, until his arrival; intimating raised the curtain, and exhibited to us what passed in clearly that it was his agency alone which produced the his cabinet on this subject. On the 16th April, two days important result. I beg leave, sir, in order to test the justice before Mr. Monroe's arrival in Paris, this important counof this pretension, to adveri to the history of this transaction. cil was held. Louisiana, although ceded, had not yet been
In the year 1801, Robert R. Livingston was sent by Mr. delivered to France. The stipulations of the peace of Jefferson as plenipotentiary to France. Important claims, | Amiens had not been performed; a renewal of hostilities the payment of which had been promised by the treaty was daily apprehended, and one of the first acts of those of the preceding year, were yet insatisfied; and the de- hostilities was expected to be the seizure of Louisiana by ranged finances of the republic rendered it very difficult the British. France, too, wanted money for carrying on the for them to procure the means of discharging them. The war; and the First Consul was pressed for the performance first part of the year 1802 was spent by our minister in l of his promise to pay the American debt. Under the sea
Claim of James Monroe.
[March 2, 1831.
circumstances, he submitted to the two counsellors, on the price. He very probably did repeat that they would day I have named, the question, whether it would be have negotiated to greater advantage if New Orleans had most expedient to transfer Louisiana to the United States, been taken; and is it not probable, too, that he might not or to send on the expedition which had been prepared to think it prudent to express what he really thought in the take possession, and to risk the subsequent conquest of presence of a young gentleman he did not know, and of it by England. His two counsellors took different sides whose discretion he could not be assured, and that he reof this question; their arguments are given in detail by served the communication of the overtures that had been the historian, who was himself one of them, and who ad- made to him for a fitter occasion? It is said, indeed, that vocated the cession. The deliberations, he tells us, continu- he did not believe the overtures to have been sincere; but ed till late in the night. At daybreak on the morning of whether he thought so or not, he would have been bound the 11th, he summoned M. Marbois to hear and execute to communicate them to Mr. Monroe; and his not doing his decision; he gave it in these words: “Irresolution and so on that occasion gives force to the conjecture that deliberation are no longer in season. I renounce Louisi- he was restrained by the presence of a third person,
It is not only New Orleans that I will cede; it is the and used vague expressions, which were not accurately whole colony, without any reservation. I know the price of rendered in transferring them to the journal. But Marwhat I abandon. I renounce it with the greatest regret: bois, it is said, also thought that Mr. Livingston was susto attempt obstinately to retain it, would be folly. I direct picious of the sincerity of the offers; but for this argument you to negotiate this affair with the envoys of the United it unfortunately happens that M. Marbois takes his fact States; do not even wait the arrival of Mr. Monroc; have from Mr. Monroe, and quotes his memoir for his authoan interview this very day with Mr. Livingston. But I re- rity; so that, in relying on Marbois's authority, Mr. Monquire a great deal of money for this war, and I would not roe only quotes his own. like to commence it with new contribution. I will be But whatever were Mr. Livingston's impressions, they moderate, in consideration of the necessity in which I am could not alter the facts, that the decision to cede Louisiof making the sale, but keep this to yourself; I want fifty ana was taken two days before Mr. Monroe arrived in millions of livres, and for less than that I will not treat. Paris, and that clecision made under the pressure of causes On that very day M. Marbois did make the overture to which Mr. Monroe had no share in producing, and of Mr. Livingston, the price was discussed, but, of course, which he was totally ignorant—that the cession would Mr. Livingston, knowing that Mr. Monroe was joined have been made if he had never arrived--that the condiwith him in the mission, and that he had arrived at Havre, tions even were not modified by his interference. The could not conclude any thing until his arrival; he had sale of the whole province being resolved on, instead of another conference on the 13th (before Mr. Monroe had the part for which he came to treat, and the price fixed been presented) with M. Marbois, with whom he had by the First Consul on the 11th, before his arrival, being been on a footing of intimacy of as old a date as the revo- that which was agreed upon afterwards, his merit consists lutionary war, when Mr. Livingston was Minister for Fo- in having agreed with his colleague in exceeding their reign Affairs, and M. Marbois held a diplomatic employ, instructions, and taking the whole instead of part. And ment to the old Congress, which considerably facilitated yet he assumes to himself the whole credit of the treaty; their intercourse on the present occasion. Mr. Monroe ar- makes no allowance to the memory of a man, to whose rived on the 12th, and soon after joined his colleague in the able and laborious negotiation, whatever there was of menegotiation; and the treaty was signed on the 30th of April. rit, in the preparatory steps taken to ensure the cession,
Two circumstances are remarkable in this transaction: was due. Near two years of unremitting exertion to bring first, that the arguments employed in the consultation of about this end are considered as nothing! The dilemma the First Consul's cabinet in favor of the cession are pre- to which the First Consul was reduced by his renewed cisely those suggested by Mr. Livingston in his memoir of promise to pay the debts--a promise procured by a bold December, 1802, and expressed in nearly the same lan- and hazardous departure from the usual modes of negoguage; the other, that the arrival of Mr. Monroe, and the tiation--and the suggestion, urged with so much force in part he took in the negotiation, did not change an item in the memoir of the previous December, that they were the propositions made by the First Consul.
used as arguments, and had their effect in bringing about Tivo things are adduced, however, as proofs that Mr. the decision of the First Consul--all these are passed over Livingston could effect nothing without the aid of Mr. in silence, and the arrival of Mr. Monroe, the bare weight Monroe, and, consequently, that all the merit of the ces- of whose name before he had arrived, it is given to undersion is due to him. One is, a private letter written hastily stand, had more weight than all these; and Mr. Livingto congratulate him on his arrival, in which he (Mr. L.) ston's name is only mentioned to give him the great merit speaks doubtingly of final success, unless Mr. Monroe of agreeing with his colleague. should bring the account of Mr. Ross's resolutions having Sir, I lament that Mr. Monroe should have thought it passed, and says they would negotiate to much better necessary to pursue this course. It is unworthy of him, effect with New Orleans in our possession; and most and of the memory of a man with whom, to say the least, undoubtedly we should. The purchase would have been he would not have lessened himself by acknowledgmade for half the price. But it must be remarked that ing as an equal. His course has obliged me to make this letter was written on the morning of the 10th, before these observations, which, I repeat, are not intended to the resolution which was the result of the Consul's cabi- injure his claim on the justice or gratitude of the country. net council was taken. But, in this very letter, Mr. Li- My duty to a brother's memory has forced from me these vingston tells his colleague he had paved the way for him. explanations. I know the value he placed on the share What did he mean by this, if he had lost all hope? he had in annexing the vast territory of Louisiana to our
It is said, too, that this same language was repeated on confederacy, and should be unworthy of the honor of my the night of the 12th, and that it was recorded in Mr. relation to him, unfaithful to his memory, and ungrateful Monroe's journal. There is something that always struck for his fraternal affection, if I stood by and silently permitmeas singular in thus recording what was said in a friencl. ted any one to assume the sole credit of it. ly visit macie at the moment of his arrival. Why was this What I have said is not intended to injure any claim treasured up, even if it was rightly apprehended? But, Mr. Monroe may have on the justice of the country. I sir, there was evident misapprehension or inaccuracy; for should be grieved if it had that effect; nor can I believe Mr. Livingston could not, on the 12th, at night, have used it possible that it should. this language, when he had the day before received the The question was then put on ordering the bill to a overtures from M. Masbois, and even discussed the third reading, and was decided as follows: