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H. of R.] The Post office
Establishment. [Dec. 17, 1830.
pointed to take into consideration all measures and propositions relative thereto, which shall be referred to them, and to report thereon by bill or otherwise. On offering the above resolution, Mr. RICHARDSON said, that, in explanation of his object in submitting the resolution proposing the appointment of a select committee on education, he begged leave to offer a few remarks. At the last session of Congress, said Mr. R., I proposed the establishment of a standing committee on education. That proposition was not sustained. The object of the proposition, I think, was misapprehended. All that passed at the last session gave cause of regret that there was no appropriate committee to whom to refer the numerous applications touching that subject. In the form of memorials, resolutions, and motions, there were at the last session not less than thirty applications to this House for acts of legislation for purposes of education. These applications were from various parts of the Union, and few only were finally acted on. From Arkansas there was a call for legislation for the benefit of common schools. From Alabama, for the benefit of Belleville Academy, of Green Academy, of La Grange College, and the University of Alabama. From Michigan, for the benefit of the University of Michigan. From Louisiana, for the benefit of Jefferson College, in that State. From Rhode Island, for the benefit of Brown University, in that State. From Kentucky, for the benefit of the Asylum of Deaf and Dumb, the Hardin Academy, and Transylvania University, in that State. From Ohio, for the benefit of common schools, the education of deaf and dumb, a female academy, and of Kenyon and Ripley Colleges, in that State. From Pennsylvania, for the benefit of Jefferson and Washington, Madison and Allegbany Colleges, and the Western University, in that state. From Mississippi, for the Franklin Academy. From New York, for the benefit of the Institution of Deaf and Dumb, and of the Academy of Arts and Design, in that State. From the District of Columbia, for the benefit of free schools in Alexandria and in the city of Washington, and of the Columbian College, in this District. Other applications from other quarters were made in relation to the same subject. They all evince great solicitude in relation to this momentous concern. These applications were referred to various committees' charged with other interests of importance. A number of them were referred to the Gommittee on the Public Lands. I have, said Mr. R., in the ability and fidelity of that committee the most perfect confidence. But the labors of that committee are arduous. It could never have been intended that that committee should have charge of the great subject of education. The applications mentioned would be sufficient of themselves to occupy the whole attention of an able committee. For the want of an appropriate committee, there is much reason to apprehend that they never will have due consideration. And, sir, said Mr. R., may not the applicants connected with seminaries of learning of high order and of strong claims in various parts of this Union reasonably expect that their applications shall receive the due attention of an appropriate committee? And you have, sir, committees on agriculture, manufactures, Indian af. fairs, and various subjects, not because the constitution has made them objects of special care, but because they are objects of general interest to the country. The edication of the youth of this republic is an object of vital importance; and why ought it not to have the fostering care of this Government? Indeed, already some millions of dollars in public lands and in money have been appropriated for the support of common schools and other seminaries of learning. Is it not time to consider whether these benefits have been dispensed with an equal hand, and whether they subserve the purpose of their appropriation. Sir, Massachusetts has made no call upon Congress for aid in support of her seminaries. I trust I
am not actuated by any local considerations. If I know
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States: GENTLEMEN: From information received at the Department of State, it is ascertained that, owing to unforeseen circumstances, several of the marshals have been unable to complete the enumeration of the inhabitants of the United States, within the time prescribed by the act of the 23d March, 1830, viz. by the first day of the present month. As the completion of the fifth census, as respects several of the States of the Union, will have been defeated, unless Congress, to whom the case is submitted, should, by an act of the present session, allow further time for making the returns in question, the expediency is suggested of allowing such an act to pass at as early a day as possible. ANDREW JACKSON. WAshi NgtoN, December 15, 1830.
The message was read, referred to a select committee, and ordered to be printed.
FRIDAY, DEcEM is En 17. Mr. EI.LSWORTH, from the Committee on the Judiciary, to which was recommitted the bill of the last session to amend and consolidate the acts respecting copyrights, made a report thereon, (for which see Appendix.) THE POST OFFICE ESTABLISHMENT. The House resumed the consideration of the bill to es— tablish certain post routes and to discontinue others; and
Dec. 17, 1830.]
all the amendments made to the bill in Committee of the
the community, or, at least, not so urgently required, that
rule: he brought every consideration down to the simple test of his duty. He never listened, for one moment, to the clamors which had been raised against his worthy friend the Postmaster General, any more than if the silence of despotism reigned around him; nor would the people regard it more than he, or be so unjust as to blame the head of a department for what was the act of Congress alone. Mr. J. said that a large portion of the post routes in this bill he knew to be indispensably necessary to the comfort and accommodation of great districts of the country. Why, then, limit the bill? He differed totally from his very worthy colleague in this matter; and, however accountable he held himself to his constituents, he was not afraid to avow, either in that House or elsewhere, that, so long as they had a dollar to appropriate out of all the millions they had contributed for the welfare of our common country, he should not be afraid to appropriate it for an object so essential to their comfort and happiness. This he conceived to be the right way to treat the people. They put millions into the treasury, and they would never complain that a part of their own treasure was taken out to promote their own best good. Mr. WICKLIFFE rejoined. He was well acquainted with the boldness and independence of his scolleague in voting for any appropriation of money which he considercd to be demanded by the public good. He only regretted that, if he considered an appropriation in this case necesary and proper, he had not retained the clause for that purpose as it originally stood in the bill, but had himself moved to have it stricken out: for Mr. W. felt fully convinced that if the bill were passed in its present form, the department would have at once to come to the treasury. To this he for one was utterly opposed. He considered that the duty he owed to himself, and to his constituents, required him to keep the expenses of the Post Office Department within the amount of its receipts. With that view he was desirous to repose in the officer at its head such a discretion as might relieve him from the necessity of applying to the treasury, however abundant its contents might be, (though he did not believe they would be so very abundant either.) He should not urge anything further in support of its amendments, but would conteut himself with requesting that the vote upon it might be taken by yeas and nays. The yeas and nays were ordered by the House. Mr. JOHNSON rose to correct a misapprehension of his colleague, as to what he had said. He had never as: serted that any appropriation from the treasury would be required to carry this bill into effect, but had only expressed his willingness to make such an appropriation should it be required. Mr. BELL, of Tennessee, said, he hoped the House would not act on a subject of this kind without duc deliberation. By the acknowledgment of the honorable and very generous chairman of the Post Office committee, [Mr. Johnsox,] the policy heretofore invariably pursued in relation to the Post Office is now to be changed As a tax, the contributors to this branch of the Government have had that characteristic which renders any tax the most popular, viz. its being paid by those who personally enjoy the beneficial consequences. The department, said Mr. B., has heretofore been managed with very great care, and has been very popular; the most so, perhaps, of any of the branches of the Government; great harmony also has generally prevailed between Congress and the head of that department. One great reason of the popularity, as well as the general prosperity it has enjoyed, is to be found in the fact, that it has been thus far sustained by its own resources; the revenue from postage has paid the expenses of transporting the mail. But if the extensoon and multiplication of mail routes is to be pursued without regard to the receipts of the department, one of
will have been removed. He hoped the House would consider maturely before they entrusted this branch of the Government with a discretionary power to demand appropriations from the treasury; and, if it is further to have the discretion of applying the appropriations when obtained, its concerns could not fail to fall into great disorder: a looser system of administration would be adopted; the tax would lose its equitable character, and soon cease to be popular. He had urged these considerations because the honorable chairman of the committee had avowed it as his plan to call for appropriations where the funds of the department should fall short. As to the interest of the country in this multitude of new routes—(he did not know how many were proposed by the bill—a gentleman near him said seven hundred)—he could only say that heretofore the Post Office committee in the House had always moved in concert with the head of the department; and it was reasonable and fit that they should do so. It was not to be expected that that committee could possess the same extent and minute accuracy of knowledge which belonged to the department——no committee during its term of service here could obtain such a mass of geographical information. The present bill, however, had, it seemed, been got up without any consultation with the department. Here were seven hundred new post routes proposed at once. [Mr. VANCE here interposed to explain. He feared he had unintentionally misled the gentleman——the bill contained not seven, but about three hundred routes.] Be it so, said Mr. BELL, the objection is the same in principle, if there are but one hundred. No committee can judge of their utility with the same degree of safety as the Post Office Department can. Yet the honorable chairman declares that he did not consider it his duty to consult the Postmaster General in each of these three hundred routes. Any committee, charged with a duty of this kind, is, from the nature of the case, liable to great impositions. He did not mean to say that honorable members of this House would wilfully and intentionally deceive or impose upon any committee; but they might, in effect, produce a very false impression by their representations, which, however sincere, were chiefly based on a narrow circle of topographical information. Each member looked mainly at his own immediate neighborhood, without consulting the general interest of his region of the Union, and without an accurate knowledge, perhaps, of the routes already existing. He meant not the slightest imputation on the patience, diligence, or fidelity of the committee, or on the motives or conduct of any member of the House; but it was obvious, that, from the necessity of the case, most of these routes could receive from a committee but a comparatively slight investigation. There was another point he considered important: supposing that the Post Office Department had hitherto sustained itself out of its revenues, the House could not be sure that, in departing from previous policy, they would be sustained by public opinion. The vote of yesterday to strike out the appropriation at first introduced into the bill, seemed to indicate that this House had not yet made up its mind to enter upon a new course of policy in relation to this department. The consequence of too great a multiplication of mail routes was, that the department had to narrow down its contracts where the mail was most wanted. The whole country received a slight accommodation, which was not graduated by the comparative wants of its different parts, and many of the routes became scarce worth sustaining. No one could think more highly of the usefulness of a wide-spread dissemination of intelligence than he did; but might not greater facilities be granted in routes already existing, in preference to the opening of new routes, Would it not conduce more to a general diffusion of know
the most salutary checks in the administration of its affairs
ledge, if the same facilities of circulating information Dec. 17, 1830.]
which are now confined to members of Congress should be
States? It had often struck him, said Mr. B., that if they were the real and sincere friends to a general diffusion of intelligence, which might be inferred from their zeal for multiplying mail routes, would they not more ef. fectually promote that object by some such arrangement as he had alluded to? The members of the state Legislatures were more spread among the people, and lived more among them, and were consequently the best acquainted with their wants and wishes; an arrangement of this character would overbalance a thousand of these small routes, while it added less to the expenditure of the department. Mr. B. concluded by saying that he had esteemed it his duty to submit these views on the general subject, and expressing his hope that the House would act with great coolness and caution in so important a department of le. gislation. Mr. BUCHANAN, of Pennsylvania, disclaimed any intention of entering into a discussion of the general subject, but would offer one or two words in explanation of the reasons which would induce him to vote against the amendment. Waiving the question whether this bill ought to pass or not, he objected to the amendment of the gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. Wickliff E, ) because it vested the Postmaster General with an absolute discretion in the application of the funds of his department, and enabled him to decide without appeal among three hundred conflicting claims for the new mail routes proposed in the bill. This confided to a single officer a weight of responsibility which pertained to Congress alone. Mr. B. said he entertained both respect and friendship for the distinguished officer at the head of the General Post Office; and as his friend, he felt unwilling to impose upon him so onerous a burden. Exercise this discretion how he might, he was sure to give great offence. Each applicant for favor would esteem his own route best entitled to preference, and there would be three or four hundred of these applicants struggling with each other for a boon which, perhaps, could be extended to but three or four individuals; the rest were sure to feel offended. What, asked Mr. B., is the duty of Congress in this matter? To put only such routes into the law as the resources of the department will enable it to meet; and between the various claims for such admission, Congress should itself decide, and not devolve its own responsibility on the head of any individual. In both these views of the subject, he felt opposed to the amendment. He should rather appropriate at once the sums that might be thought necessary, than entrust such a responsibility as was proposed by the gentleman from Kentucky to the head of any department. Mr. JOHNSON again addressed the House. He considered himself very unfortunate in not having been understood—he knew with certainty that his friends would not wilfully misunderstand him——he must, therefore, attribute the mistake to some defect on his own part. He had not said, as seemed to be supposed, that the Post Office committee had acted in total independence of the Post Office Department, in judging of the necessity of the various routes proposed to them; but that they had acted without holding themselves obliged to consult the department, whether routes should be adopted that would require appropriations from the treasury. On some of the routes in this bill, the committee had obtained the details from the department. Whenever they had rejected a route asked for, the rejection was recorded, together with the reasons for it. But, supposing the committee had acted in entire independence of the department, who, he asked, could be better qualified to give the committee all the information it needed to en: lighten its judgment than the members of this House? Men who come from the country where the route must must run ? Men who reside with the people, and are sent
The Post Office Establishment.
here to express their wants and wishes? If a committee extended to members of the State Legislatures in the several
of this House are incapable of deciding on a post route, without first obtaining the approbation of the Post Office Department, (except so far as mere courtesy is concerned,) then that clause of the constitution which gives to Congress the power to establish post offices and post roads, had better have been so worded as to confide that power to the Executive branch of the Government. Mr. J. said he was truly very unfortunate in being thus exposed to the buffets of his friends, for he had been opposed by none but those who were his friends, both personal and political. He had expressed his opinion—it was a candid one—and he was sorry he could not withdraw it, or recall any thing he had said: nor could he consider the force of his argument lessened by what he had heard. One word to the worthy gentleman before him, [Mr. Brill,) (than whom he knew none more worthy, or for whom he felt a truer respect;) that gentleman was wrong in supposing him to have said that any money would in this case certainly have to be appropriated. It would be a delicate thing to make such a declaration beforehand; but he had declared that if, when the time arrived, an appropriation should prove necessary, he was prepared to vote for it. He again declared, that, rather than deprive the country of such a benefit, he would give the money necessary to obtain it. His very worthy friend from Pennsylvania [Mr. Buch ANAN] had expressed a wish that the Post Office committee had ascertained the precise amount requisite to carry the bill into effect; that gentleman was so much and so constantly engaged in other labors of a very different kind—[Mr. B. is chairman of the Judiciary committee]— that he had overlooked the fact that the department had ascertained the amount referred to, and had reported it to the House at $82,000. This was the amount originally inserted in the bill, and which the House had yesterday resolved to strike out. This amount was not asked by the department: the department asked for no appropriation; but this was the answer given by the department to the inquiry of the Post Office committee, as to the amount required to establish all the new routes in the present bill. For himself, Mr. J. said, he would rather let the bill sleep on the table, than adopt the amendment proposed by his colleague. Thatamendment appended, and the bill would amount to nothing; nay, it would be worse than nothing, for it would confer a legislative discretion on the head of the Post Office Department. His worthy friend [Mr. Bell] had said that it appeared the policy of the Government, in relation to the Post Office, was about to be changed. He said not. It would not be changed at all, until an appropriation should actually have been made. On the contrary, should this bill be laid asleep, then the policy of the Government would indeed be changed. Then this House would, in effect, say to the people of the United States, “while your own President, the man of your choice, the man whom you elected at the polls, fills the chair, you are to enjoy less privileges than you ever had before; you are to be indulged with less mail accommodation, in proportion, than under any former administration.” Sir, said Mr. J., I am not willing to say this to the people. I do not, indeed, connect my support of this bill with this or with that particular administration; but I cannot consent that we should now, for the first time, begin to withhold privileges from the people. I again repeat, that I consider myself unfortunate in being opposed by my friends, and by such friends. I am, I declare, almost in doubt whether I must not be wrong, seeing I differ from them; still, however, I do not so far doubt as to change my opinion; and if this amendment shall be adopted, I shall immediately move to lay the bill upon the table. Mr. HOFFMAN, of New York, expressed his regret that the gentleman at the head of the Post Office commit. tee found it necessary to avow that he felt indifferent
whether this bill would or would not charge the Govern-increased expenditure proposed in this bill? Surely not. ment beyond the income of the Post Office Department. Had it not been echoed and re-echoed, as well by the I had thought that it was an acknowledged settled princi-President and the head of the department asby all the papers ple in reference to the management of that department, of a certain description, from one end of the Union to that its revenues should not be exceeded by its expendi- the other, that the Post Office was in a high state of prosture. The idea, either of making the Post Office a source perity? Yet, what did the House now see and hear? of revenue, or of suffering it to be a burden on the trea- Gentlemen, professedly the friends of the administration, sury, he understood to be alike abandoned. He had been hesitating to pass the ordinary biennial post office bill, lest
under the impression that the committee, when they re-it should compel the department to make a draught upon the ported this bill, believed that the revenues of the depart-treasury! such a fear must be idle indeed. Surely this ment would be sufficient to meet the expense of all these House was raising a clamor against the department, which routes. In this, it appeared, he was mistaken. Mr. H. would meet with no credit out of that House. The House said he should not vote for the amendment of the gentle- had o by the head i. the .."; 1 In o man from Kentucky, [Mr. Wick LIFFE, although he felt public official communication, that a saving had been efvery sensibly the §: of the argument of the o fected, in making contracts this year, of seventy-two from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Broch ANAN.] He concurred with thousand dollars. Yet gentlemen had branded that branch that gentleman in the opinion that it is the House, and not of Government by the unfounded supposition that its exthe Postmaster General, who should fix upon the routes penses had run beyond its income to the amount of eightyto be carried into effect; but it was perhaps too late to two thousand dollars. Could this be true while a saving hope for this now. It would require a revision of the had been effected to nearly that whole amount? The thing
whole bill, and, to be properly done, would also demand a was incredible.
One gentleman had even supposed that not less than two hundred thousand dollars would be needed to carry into effect this bill. Yet the head of the department asked no more than eighty-six thousand dollars as sufficient to cover all these routes. The last bill of this kind burdened the department only to the amount of twenty thousand dollars. One was passed in 1826 establishing various new routes, and another bill in the following year. The latter, it is true, was passed against the opinion of the Postmaster General, who desired that the routes in the previous bill should be suffered first to go
rom Kentucky, thinks that an appropriation will be readi- into operation before any others should be added; but the
ly voted, if called for, to make up any deficiency caused by the passage of this bill, yet the Committee of the Whole, and the House, with a knowledge of the increasing deficit of the department, had voted to strike out the appropriation from this bill. If the committee
House thought otherwise, and passed the bill. But, as he had observed already, the whole expense incurred by
these bills had been long since defrayed, and the depart
abandon'd ing condition. The gentleman from Kentucky had alluded
ment had since been officially declared to be in a flourish
their proposition now, what reason was there to suppose to certain proceedings in the Senate. Such allusions, he
that the House would willingly assent to it hereafter Under all the circumstances, Mr. H. said he thought it would be better to pass the bill with the amendment than without it. Mr. WHITTLESEY, of Ohio, expressed his regret that the gentlemen from Kentucky and Tennessee [Messrs. Wick LIFFE and BELL] had not looked into the documents submitted to Congress at the opening of the session, before they had taken the ground they had now done, in offering and in supporting the amendment. Had they done this, they would have found abundant evidence to show that a bill like that now under discussion might be suffered to pass, without the least apprehension of a deficiency of funds to carry it into effect. Had the language of those documents been referred to, the whole of the present discussion might have been avoided, and the bill been by this time engrossed for its third reading. The documents would show, that when General Jackson came into office, the Post Office Department had the sum of two hundred and thirty thousand dollars at its disposal. In his first communication to Congress, he informed that body that great improvements had taken place in the adminiš. tration of this as well as other branches of the Govern. ment, and that large savings had been effected in its funds, which had been formerly squandered away, owing to the irregularity of the public accounts. He told congress, that at that time the Post Office Department was in , highly prosperous condition. Now, there had not a single new post route been authorized since 1827. In that year, it was true, the expenses of the department had been increased to a certain extent, but the expense had long since been defrayed. Under these circumstances, could the gentleman, who introduced the amendment, or the gentle. than who had supported it, entertain a reasonable doubt
thought, were not in order. [The CHAIR interposed, and observed that Mr. WickLirr E had made no allusion that he heard to the proceedings of the Senate. Had he done so, it would undoubtedly have been out of order, and the Chair would have interposed to stop any remarks of that kind. Mr. W H ITTLES EY said he thought the gentleman had alluded to committees of inquiry. Mr. W1CR LIFFE offered to explain, but Mr. WHITTLESEY proccoded.] He admitted that the routes ordered by the bill of 1827 did not go into effect till January, 1829. One quarter was due in April, and the present Postmaster General was not concerned in the result until July, 1829. At that time the department had, by its own showing, upwards of two hundred thousand dollars at its disposal. On the whole, Mr. W. concluded it to be utterly impossible that with this surplus then, and its very rigid and economical mode of conducting business since, the Post Office IDepartment should not be in circumstances to meet the provisions of the present bill. Did he wish to injure the credit of that department, he could not employ language better calculated to effect that object, than that now held by the gentlemen who advocated the amendment: what was more likely to excite an alarm in the minds of the people, than that the affairs of the department had not been properly conducted? If gentlemen, after all that had been said of the flourishing state of the Post Office, would nevertheless admit that it was unable to add these routes without calling on the treasury, the conclusion was inevitable that there must exist very great improvidence in its management. Mr. STORRS, of New York, said that he had come to a different conclusion from his friend from Ohio, [Mr. Whirtirsky, ) and thought it best, on the whole, to vote
of the ability of the Post Office Department to sustain the
for the amendment of the gentleman from Kentucky.