網頁圖片
PDF
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

works, demanded of it by the strongest principles of duty, interest, and equality, an opportunity is offered to us, in common with others, of getting a return of something like the interest upon our taxes. And if no adequate return is made in this way, in what other way can it be made . There is no other. This, sir, is the only method by which any approach to equality and fairness in the dis. bursement of the revenue can be gained in practice. The principle of equal distribution is in its nature general. An exact application of it cannot always be made; but it has found in the system of internal improvement the best means of attaining the end, and under the prudent operations of that system it will be a powerful auşory in working out the salvation of this country. W: “... o. I do not mean to say that everything done upon the tide water is wrong: very far from it. I might confidently appeal to the recollection of those with whom I have acted for the last seven years, to bear ine out in saying that I have generally voted for such appropriations. I would not now stop them if I could; I say to gentlemen go on; finish your fortifications and other national works with rea. sonable despatch, and, as heretofore, I will go with you. But while you are makiug all safe and covenient without, I beg of you to turn your eyes within, examine the region of the interior, and extend to it the benefits of your equal enre. Allow even to the West a share of the surplus millions, for an annual surplus, with proper economy, there will be, which might likely be increased by some diminution safely made from objects which have received more than equal munificence. The gentleman from Virginia says, he would take care that there should be no surplus revenue. That when the national debt shall be paid, which we are alike desirous of hastening, and which this bill cannot delay, he would reduce the revenue to the annual expenditure. But could we do it? Would it not baffle the skill and experience of even that gentleman, great as they are, to draught a revenue law that they should exactly meet the annual expenditure? On reflection he must admit that it would, for it is impossible to foresee either the amount of imposts or appropri. ations, and graduate the one with the other. They both depend on too many contingencies. And to avoid the danger of suffering your revenue to fall below the demands upon it, you must necessarily make it go above. In reducing and equalizing the tariff, I would go a great way with that gentleman; but I would stop considerably short of the point to which his theory would lead him, and which I must think he has pushed faster and further than practical convenience and real safety will warrant. If the public debt were now paid, the books balanced, and closed, and sealed with seven seals, I would not if I could to-day reduce the duties to the point of current expenditure. And why? To do that suddenly, to do it otherwise than by the gradual indications of time and experience, perhaps to do it at all, would convulse this nation through all its essential interests. I would not reduce the revenue to that point, because extrordinary occurrences in the world, and the exigencies of the Government, may often render it a matter of the first necessity to have a surplus at command. And I would not do it for another, and to my mind a better reason. I would have a surplus to expend in the gradual improvement of the country. For that improvement I would tax its commerce, because that tax is in a great measure voluntary; because it will relieve the property of the citizens of the State from a direct and indiscriminate levy of contribution for these purposes; and, above all, because it is the very interest which, acting in unison with the great farming interest of the community, is to reap the benefits of these works. It ought to bear the charge of making them, and it can do it without feeling the pressure. If we can look forward to the time when commerce shall again raise its languid head, freed from

[ocr errors]

the shackles of high, disproportionate, and prohibitory duties, we will see the agricultural interest springing forward to meet it with redoubled animation and vigor, and these improvements will be the highways of their communications. If any one branch of industry or enterprise can have more at stake in these improvements than another, it is the great farming interest of the interior. That is closely connected with, yet primary to all others. Who would toil through the summer's sun for more than a subsistence, without the means, either by land or water, of carrying his surplus to a market? Or who would tug the heavy produce of his land, through the mud and mire and rains of winter, to a distant market, without the prospect of bringing something back that should more than repay the cost and drudgery of taking it there Let but the truth be told —the deplorable condition of this neglected part of the community be known, and I envy no man the heart that cannot feel for it, nor the hand that will not relieve it. We have heard urged against this, as all other measures of the kind, the effects of expending the public resources in the improvement of the country. These effects are fancifully, and I think falsely, described as permicious to morality, and dangerous to liberty. What, sir? is it immoral or unjust to lay out a portion of the money paid by the pool. in accomplishing something that shall be permanently useful to themselves and the nation? Is it wrong to encourage industry by removing the impediments that lie in its way to the comfortable enjoyment of life, and the education of rising generations? No, sir; morality is not to suffer in this cause, unless, indeed, the virtue of this people is only to be preserved in a state of wretchedness and ignorance. And how is liberty to be in danger from this system Philosophers may admire liberty for its own sake; but that liberty which the mass of mankind understand, the free institutions which they love, and would die to defend, must, with its other blessings, afford the security of equal laws, and the full participations of equal benefits. Again: It is said that any improvement at one place will produce dissatisfaction at others, because that or something else is not done there. I tell you, sir, the dissatisfaction will be much deeper, and more universal, if they are not done somewhere. It is no objection to this, or any other course of profitable legislation, that every thing cannot be done at once; nor is it any excuse for not doing all we can, and doing it as fast as we ean. These, with the whole class of forced objections to which they belong, should rather stimulate to exertion and uniformity in our progress to ultimate success. Let me say, in conclusion, that this is no new experiment. It commenced a few years after the adoption of the constitution, and has been gaining ground ever since. But its principles, as now maintained by a great majority of the nation, were not firmly settled till the eighteenth Congress. Then (without going farther from home) the Representatives of Kentucky and Tennessee were found acting together with equal unanimity in both Houses, of Congress, in support of this great measure. And whatever Kentucky may have expected from it, a little help at the Louisville canal is all the immediate advantage she has yet achieved. As for Tennessee, these dispensing showers have all passed her by. The first dew has not yet refreshed her fields. But our time has now come, and it behooves us to be consistent with ourselves, true to our own principles, and alive to the prosperity of our country; and not ours : but every other where the hand of improvement should be laid. That country and this cause deserve higher efforts than I can exert; yet, whatever on my P. can be supplied by devotion and perseverance, shall be continued, regardless of intervening obstacles, as long as there is hope of success. [Here the debate closed for this day.]

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 1830,

The House resumed the consideration of the resolution offered by Mr. SWIFT on the 18th instant—the question being on the amendment offered by Mr. DRAYTON. The said resolution, at the instance of Mr. WICKLIFFE, and by consent of Mr. SWIFT, was modified so as to read as follows: Resolved, That the Secretary of War be requested to cause the necessary survey to be made on or at the outlet of Lake Champlain, near the Canada line, in order to ascertain the expediency of erecting a fortification for the defence of that frontier of the United States, and report a plan and estimate at the next session of Congress. Mr. DRAYTON withdrew his amendment, and the resolution as modified was agreed to.

- PAY OF MEMBERS.

***
The following resolution, laid on the table some days
since by Mr. McDUFFIE, was taken up:
“Resolved, That the Committee on Retrenchment be
instructed to report a bill providing that whenever the
first session of Congress shall continue for a longer period
than one hundred and twenty days, the pay of the mem.
bers shall be reduced to two dollars per day from and after
the termination of the said one o and twenty days;
and that whenever the second session of Congress shall
continue for a longer period than ninety days, the pay of
the members shall be reduced to two dollars per day from
and after the termination of said ninety days."
Mr. McDUFFIE said that the resolution spoke its own
importance, and superseded the necessity of any argu-
ments in its support. He would, however, say one or two
words on the subject. The adoption of the resolution,
while it would not impair the legislative efficiency of the
House, would save at least one month of the time now
consumed by Congress at every long session. He had
made an estimate of the saving which this would produce,
and had ascertained that it would save the sum of seventy-
five thousand dollars each year of its operation; and at the
same time the public business would be well done. He had
made another estimate—that if Congress sat five months,
the average pay of the members would be seven dollars a
day; this was an adequate compensation; but, if the mem:
bers chose to attend assiduously to the public business, and
complete it within, the time prescribed, they would still
receive eight dollars. The effect of this resolution, he
was confident, would be to increase the attention to the
discharge of public business, without diminishing the pay
while here. It was universally agreed [said Mr. McD.]
that the “compensation law” contained at least one wise
principle—that of a salary compensation instead of a per
aliem one. The ouly objection urged against it, and the
cause of its unpopularity, was, that it was enacted by
those who were to receive its benefit. He, however, dif-
fered from the general opinion on the advantage of the
salary principle. He thought it would operate as too
werful a stimulus on members to get through the public
usiness, and that it would be done, too hastily. His pro-
ition combined both principles, and the advantages of
{. without their defects, In every view of the subject,
therefore, he conceived it would be one of the most effect-
ive measures of economy ever proposed by Congress, in
regard to itself.
Mr. DWIGHT concurred most cordially in the principle
and expediency of the proposition. he business of
Congress could be as well done by the first of April as the
first of June, aud when once the limit was fixed for the
earlier day, there would be no difficulty in completing all
the business which it was proper to perform, É. hoped
the resolution would pass,
Mr. WHITTLESEY said, the object of the gentleman
from South Carolina was to hasten the business before the
House, and that he would most cheerfully unite with him

in accomplishing it, in this or any other mode. But he would suggest to the gentleman whether his object would not be more certainly attained by accepting a modification that he would mention. The gentleman from South Carolina has given it as his opinion that the business of Congress may be done in four months, take one session with another. Mr. W. said, he thought if members would faithfully discharge the trust reposed in them, that it might be done in three months. We have heard much said of organizing a business party in this House, and gentlemen have patriotically tendered their services as privates; but there appears to exist a great reluctance against officering the corps. said he was one who was disposed to put to party er complete organization. And he would propose that forty-five members enter into a solemn stipulation that they will sustain a call for the yeas and nays whenever a motion shall be made to adjourn before four o'clock. He would have this corps persevere in keeping the House in session; and if one should prove treacherous and desert, he would have him tried and shot. Notwithstandiug what we have heard said about a business party, it was no longer than last Saturday that a motion was made to adjourn at about two o'clock, and, on a mo: tion to call the yeas and nays, only thirteen were found to sustain the call, when it was known to gentlemen that there was public business of great importance to be acted on, and it was also known that there are claimants here, who will be inevitably ruined unless bills for their relief pass. We have been in session one hundred and nine days, during which time the House has met only seventynine days. "We have enacted thirty-four laws, where the bills originated in the House, and five where they originated in the Senate; sixty-one bills are before the Senate that have passed the House, and fifty-four are before the House that have passed the Senate. The whole number of bills reported to the House is three hundred and seventy-nine, and the number of resolutions adopted is four hundred and eighty; and this mass of business is to be left unacted on, or so hastened through, that very few members will know what provisions the bills contain. The correct mode of legislating is to commence the session with a determination to attend to business—to prolong the daily session of the House, and not adjourn from Friday to Monday. The excuse offered by gentlemen for adjourning has been that they have business at the departments. Mr. W. said he came from a section of the country where some claims remained unsettled, and that he found he could generally transact the business confided to him better by writing than by a personal attendance. The business of the departments was interrupted by the calling of the members, and the officers, he did not believe, had any desire to see them. It was very rare that an answer could be given at once, and it was generally transmitted through the post office. He said he considered the excuse for adjourning over as groundless, and that the time was spent in amusement. The proposition of the gentleman from South Carolina will punish the industrious with the negligent and inattentive. He was one who believed, with the flourishing condition of the treasury, that eight dollars a day was not too much for a member to receive for his services, if his time was faithfully bestowed on the business of the House. He knew there were members who devoted day and night to mature business, and to attend to it in its progress through the House. He was unwilling that these should be curtailed in their daily allowance because others were remiss in their duties. The modification he would suggest to the gentleman is this: that no member who is not in attendance on the House when it is called to order in the morning, or who shall be absent during the calling of the yeas and nays, without rendering a satis| factory excuse for his absence, shall be entitled to diem |É. for that day. . Gentlemen need not apprehend that there is any thing humiliating in rendering an excuse to * - * . . . ;

[blocks in formation]

the Speaker, if they are detained from the House by business that could not be dispensed with: much less is there any thing objectionable to the most delicate sensibility in making such excuse, if the detention arises from sickness. He would go further—he would have a list of the absen. tees published in the papers that published the laws, so that the constituents of any member might know how he spent his time here. If the people were apprised of our neg. lect of duty, they if correct the evil. The object of having the House composed of two hundred and thirteen members, is to unite the intelligence of that number on avery proposition that is acted on; but whoever will take the pains to examine the list of yeas and nays, will find that in most cases, unless it be on a political or some great national question, we rarely have more than a bare majority for doing business. He would throw the responsibility ou every member, and insure his constant attendance. He said he was willing to unite in any mea. sure that would dispatch the business; but he feared the present resolution would not accomplish that object—that we should waste the time of the sessiou until we came to the allowance of two dollars a day, and then that we should leave the business undone; and for that reason he expressed a hope that the modification suggested, would be accepted by the mover of the resolution. Mr. TUCKER said, it had been his object to fix the day of adjournment. He was gratified with the resolution offered by his colleague. The gentleman from Ohio said he believed the business of the House could be done in three months. Why, then, did not the gentleman vote for the proposition, and introduce his own plan afterwards? Mr. GOODENOW made some remarks, which he coneluded by moving the previous question—yeas, 42. So the bill was not seconded. Mr. ALEXANDER said, that from his experience here, and after much reflection upon the subject, his mind had been brought to the conclusion that some such principle as the one proposed in the resolution was necessary to be adopted by Congress to enable us to do justice to the interests of the nation with which we are charged. When [said Mr. A.] I first had the honor of a seat here, I was of an opinion that the compensation allowed, was but a reasonable pay, considering the extravagance at that day, and the depreciation of .." But the case is now different; the value of money has appreciated, and every thing become proportionably cheaper; and I believe the only corrective against the abuse of the time of Congress and mischievous legislation of which the people have so much right to complain, will be found in the remedy proposed, which carries along its own limitation as to the period of our sessions. What [said Mr. A.] has been the fact of late years in regard to the history of our proceed. ings, and of which there seems to be no prospect of a discontinuance? Why, the first three or four months of the first session of Congress, sufficient for all the necessary purposes of legislation, have been usually consumed in idle and unprofitable debate, connected with one's own personal aggrandizement, or in projecting schemes for party or political purposes, little calculated to promote the public interest. We find, during the late war, when the interest of the country was concerned in conducting it to a successful

conclusion, amidst the most violent opposition, Congress

rarely ever sat the first session beyond what is now the usual period of the termination of our labors. We are necessarily led to inquire into the causes, and see if there exists a necessity for it or no. I can perceive but two, and two only, neither of which, in my judgment, will longer justify a continuance of the practice. The attention of Congress having been withdrawn from the theatre of war, it was thrown upon the domestic concerns and relations of the country, with many of which it had nothing to do; and hence have sprung up all the unhappy differences, local divisions, and calamities, with which

[ocr errors]

we are surrounded that have goaded on the people to a state of desperation. This Government, from having been confined to our external relations chiefly, and a few internal regulations, has undertaken to regulate the whole labor and industry of the country, and thereby drawn within its vortex a sum of legislative powers properly belonging to State jurisdiction. The great evil of this Government, as of every other, and of which the people are convinced more and more every day, having experienced it in a greater degree, probably, than any nation under the sun, is the immense mass of legislation with which they are afflicted. . Besides four and twenty State Governments, acting directly upon them once a year, they have an annual Federal Legislature, with all its ramifications and corruptions, preying upon them with a cormorant's appetite, to a degree beyond human endurance. While I admit in theory it is perhaps the most beautiful in the world, when confined within its roper limits, in practice, I am not sure, without reform, it will prove the most tyrannical and oppressive that the ingenuity of man could have devised. What does it matter, whether the people are taxed in a republic or a despotism #. It is all the same to them : and it seems that injustice, violence, and rapine can be as well exercised in the one as the other. Nay, more securely, because it works by stealth under a false denomination. Now, sir, as I have no well grounded hope of an amendment in their condition—as I perceive the same legislative course which has been pursued for several years past, is likely to be continued—the same system of taxation and unequal distribution of the funds of the nation to be kept up as heretofore, I must look out for the best protection for them that I can, against what I conceive to be their own worst enemy—too much legislation. And this, I think, will be found in the reduction of the pay of the members. I know it to be a delicate subject, which touches the nervous sensibility of every one. But if we are in earnest in the professions that were given to the people at the coming day of a reform in the abuses and extravagance of the ndministration of affairs, and which they have so much right to expect at our hands, let us go into the good work, and show a devotion worthy the cause in which we are engaged. After the example set us by the Executive head of this nation, who has gone forward with a firmness and decision that bespeak his character, holding this language on his elevation, that “the recent demonstration of public sentiment inseribes on the list of Executive duties, in characters too legible to be overlooked, the task of reform;" relying upon our co-operation, we should be unfaithful to the trust reposed in us, were we to halt and hesitate in so eventful a crisis. What has been done in this respect after the laborious and faithful investigation of the Committee on Retrenchment the last session, and the parting voice of the able chairman who committed to his successors the charge, with the hope that it might be prosecuted to a successful issue for the benefit of the people? Nothing but the discontinuance of the draughtsman of this House, while the other measures rest silently on your table, or sleep the slee of death within the bosom of the committee itself. This is one of the measures they recommended to our attention. I take it, sir, there are two principles connected with this subject, which must always enter into the character of every legislative body. The one of interest, the other of honor. If it were possible wholly to attain the latter, it would, no doubt, be the best and safest for the country. But as it is considered with us that the “laborer is worthy of his hire," and it is not expected that any person can serve here without a reasonable compensation, the great object, it seems to me, should be to produce the happy combination of the two, in such manner, that while the one offers a sufficient inducement for talents and virtue, the other destroys the temptation. This, I think, will be accomplish by the proposition now before us. i. oo **

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Moderate salaries are consistent with the spirit and principles of our institutions; and in proportion as the value of our own pay is enhanced, does it regulate every thing else connected with the operations of Government. I confess that I have no faith in any improvement being made in other respects, until we direct our attention here. I do not say that it will be proper to follow up this example in regard to all the other officers of Government, as proposed by a resolution now on your table, because these, in some respects, depend upon entirely distinct principles. If they are faithful and vigilant in their respective places, it is but right that they should receive a just and adequate compensation for their services.

But the nation expects, and has a right to demand, something at our hands, in relation to those great and important expenditures which have been so wastefully and extravagantly lavished away; and there seems no likelihood, at present, of any change for the better in this respect.

As the hope is a vain one which I entertain of any thing like a recurrence to the original principles of the Government, the only safety and security for the people, that I can see, will be in the economical administration of affairs in every department thereof. And I rather think this will at last be found the only distinction between a republican and monarchical form of Government. Whether even this shall be accomplished, we have yet to learn. From the disposition that has been manifested, the progress of measures before this House, and the character of some that have passed from before us, we are met with despair even here; in what, then, I ask, have the times differed from those that have gone by ? and how can we stand justified before the people, who were led to expect important and radical changes; I say nothing of the head of this 'administration, from whom we have the assurance that, as far as depends upon him, he will not be behind us in the great work of reform. The defect is here, and he can do but little without our aid. It is, I conscientiously believe, sir, in the pay of the members, offering an inducement to continue here longer than is necessary for the transaction of the real business of the nation, doing, as they always must, mischief, when good is unattainable. I am, therefore, for striking at the root of the evil, and making a seat become here what it ought to be, rather the post of honor than of profit. I, therefore, shall give my cordial support to the proposition now before the House, with a hope that it may be referred and acted upon.

Mr. COULTER then rose, but the SPEAKER having announced that the hour had elapsed, the discussion was arrested.

BUFFALO AND NEW ORLEANS ROAD.

On the motion of Mr. HEMPHILL, the House resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House on the state of the Union, Mr. HAYNEs in the chair, and resumed the consideration of the bill “to construct a national road from Buffalo, by Washington city, to New Orleans.”

Mr. CARSON said, the supporters of this bill urged the importance of its passage upon four general considerations, to wit: Commercial, Political, Military, and the Transportation of the Mail.

The constitutional powers of Congress to act upon this and similar subjects, have been assumed and maintained by the supporters of the bill. Upon all subjects of this kind, [said Mr. C.] involving constitutional questions, which have been discussed since I occupied a seat in this House, I have studiously avoided entering into the debates upon them. I have done so, for the very plain reason that my vocation is that of a farmer; and well knowing that it required so science and deep research to elucidate and give satisfaction upon those critical points upon which men of eminence, patriotism, and distinction differ. Under these circumstances, I may well be permitted to be, if not without hope, at least stoo diff.

fident of my own opinion upon constitutional questions, to trouble the House with the reasons upon which they are founded. Yet, as I am the representative of an intelligent and most excellent community, and as I have to act under the obligations of an oath “to support the constitution of the United States"—that charter under the guaranties of which we can alone act here—it is incumbent upon me to look into that charter, and well examine the powers which it extends to us, and to act in accordance with my own views, however crude; for, sir, on all questions in which conscience is involved, the decision must be made by that tribunal, from which there is no appeal; and however great our respect and deference for the opinions of others, in cases of this kind, we are thrown back upon ourselves, and must alone depend upon our own views of right or wrong. But, whatever my views may be of the constitutional owers of Congress, or however adverse to bills of this wind, I feel that it would be wholly useless to urge them here; and if I should not be suspected of an attempt at rhetorical flourish, I would say, that you might as well attempt to dissolve these marble columns which support the canopy of this hall, by blowing upon them the breath of your nostrils, as to convince, by force of argument or powers of eloquence, those who have made up their opi nions, or who, from the force of circumstances, will not convinced. - Yes, it would be worse than idle; for all the experience which I have had upon this floor but strengthens me in the conviction, that if ever constitutional arguments are argued with effect, it will be in other halls—not this. But do not infer any thing like a spirit of disunion in me, from this remark—far from it. I look upon that as the last resort, resulting from insufferable oppression, which a minority may be forced or driven to, when it would cease to be patriotism to submit. But, should that ever arrive, (which may God of his infinite mercy avert!) may we not justly fear that the world may then § a long farewell to all republics, and to the rights of man? But, whilst I disclaim any thing like a disposition to disunion in the remark, it may be proper here to say that it partakes something of the nullifying doctrines, which, while they are more pacific in their nature, will be found to be, in my opinion, as effectual in their results. Upon a more proper occasion, I may give my views fully upon this subject of “nullification,” as it has been denominated in the other branch of this Legislature. But, as I am somewhat the creature of impulses, I shall be governed, in this particular, by subsequent feeling and reflection. My design is to speak of the expediency, or rather inexpediency, of this measure; not that I can add any thing to the powerful argument of the justly distinguished gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. P. P. BARBOUR) for the grounds which he took were so fully and ably occupied, that he has left little to be said by others. I shall, however, take the same side of the question; not that I shall be able to shed a new ray of light upon the subject, but for the reason that the bird of more humble flight may sometimes see what the eagle overlooks. The supporters of this bill do not claim the power under which they act, as expressly delegated by the constitution, but as an incidental power; or, in other words, as a mean necessary to carry into effect some of the expressed powers. Admitting this position to be correct, and which I do to a certain but limited extent, the question then naturally arises, does the exigency of the country demand at our hands the exercise of those incidental powers, or the use of those means, to effect any of the objects contemplated by those powers expressly delegated And if so, another question will also arise: Will this road meet those exigencies, and effect the object? To both of these propositions, I answer in the negative most positively. There

« 上一頁繼續 »