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consists of three things: it is a tripod, it is a stool that stands upon three legs; first, high prices of the public lands, to prevent emigration to the West, or, as the late Secretary of the Treasury, [Mr. Rush] in his report two years ago, said, to check by high prices the system of bounties which he supposed were held out to agricultural pursuits in the West by the low prices of public lands. Or, in other words, the policy of this branch of the system is, to sell your lands high, prevent thereby the inducements to emigration, retain a population of paupers in the East, who may, of necessity, be driven into manufactories, to labor at low wages for their daily bread. The second branch of the system is high duties, high taxes, the consequences of which are two fold; first, to protect the manufacturer, by enabling him to sell his wares at higher prices, and next to produce an excess of revenue. The third branch of the system is internal improvements, which is the sponge which is to suck up the excess of revenue which you collect from your people. These constitute the splendid system by which the people of a great portion of this Union are to be taxed, and oppressively taxed, in all time to come, unless the policy is changed. The people of the West will soon see, if they do not already see, their true interest. The speedy sale and settlement, at low prices, of the public lands, is the paramount interest of the West, and it is the true interest of the whole Union, with the exception of the particular interest I have mentioned. I would sell out the public lands at low prices —at much lower prices than they ever have been sold. I would have them speedily settled by a hardy race of enterprising freemen, who would feel that they had a stake in the Government. I would impose no unnecessary taxation upon them, to support any particular interest. I would relieve the burdens of the whole community, as far as possible, by reducing the taxes. I would keep as much money in the treasury as the safety of the Government required, and no more. I would keep no surplus there to scramble for, either for internal improvements, or for any thing else. I would bring the Government back to what it was intended to be—a plain, economical Government. We had a party in this country and in this House a few years ago, who were proud to be called radicals, and who assumed to be almost the exclusive friends of a plain and eheap Government. We find but few of them here now. Many of them, I fear, have changed the red jacket for the white, and have hoisted a new flag. Many of them, I fear, have mounted this delusion, this splendid “American system,” this grand scheme of spending millions of the public money in internal improvements, as a political hobby upon which to ride into power. The history and present practical operations of the constitution may be dated at the peace of 1815. Before that period, the Federal Government performed the functions, which it was chiefly intended to perform, by the States who were parties to the compact, and who created it. Up to that time, the action of the Government was chiefly external; the attention of its rulers was mainly taken up in attending to our foreign relations. . In the early history of the Government, and during the long continued wars in Europe, it required a most vigilant attention to preserve a strict neutrality on our part. We were threatened with war, our commerce and our rights were invaded upon the seas; we were driven to an embargo, to a system of non-intercourse, and finally into the war of 1812. During this whole period, the action of this Goverhment may be said to have been external. At the restoration of peace in 1815, our difficulties abroad were at an end, our rights same to be respected by all nations, and the attention of the Government was turned internally. Since 1815, the notion of the Government has been internal and essentially wielous; I repeat, sir, essentially vicious. There has been * constant tendency increased and daily increasing, to accumulate power in the federal head, and to encroach upon *
the legitimate reserved powers of the Stätes; a constant tendency to assume the exercise of doubtful constructive powers, and to build up here a splendid Government, differing, if this tendency shall continue, only in name from a consolidated empire. I was glad to hear my friend and colleague [Mr. BLAIR) say that he cherished the sovereignty of the States; and that he would have the Federal and e State Government each to move in their respective orbits, neither invading nor encroaching upon the rights of the other. I heartily respond to this sentiment; but how my colleague reconciles it to the vote which he intends to give for this bill, I shall not undertake to decide. Upon the preservation of the rights of the States depends the perpetuity of the equipoise of powers between the Federal and State Governments, intended to be observed at the adoption of the constitution. The States will be the last citadels of your liberty; and so long as the wholesome check which they were intended to constitute upon the Federal Government remains, it will last forever. We are in no danger from a foreign enemy, who boldly shows himself, and lands upon our shore; we will meet him at the water's edge, and mark his approach by the blood of his soldiery. It is by slow and imperceptible assumptions of power on the part of this Government, that the balance of the constitution may be disturbed, and the liberties of the eountry undermined. I am not discussing the constitutional question involved by this bill. It has been my whole purpose throughout to avoid that, and to oppose the bill upon the ground of its expediency alone. I have been led into this digression by the sentiment that fell from my esteemed colleague, [Mr. BLAIR..] I shall not be provoked to depart from my original purpose by the broad doctrines laid down by my colleague, [Mr. Isacks.) This is not the time nor the occasion to go into any examination of the nullifying power of the State authorities alluded to by his, nor to inquire how far the States may constitutionally resist the operation, within their limits, of powers assumed by this Government, which the States may suppose it does not, possess. I only mention it now, for the purpose of saying that I cannot go with my colleague to the extent of the doctrines which I understood him to lay down. Besore I conclude, I beg leave to call the attention of the committee to a part of the message of the President at the opening of the present session of Congress. And if this system must go on; if we who are opposed to it are in a minority: if its friends are determined to press it; I call upon them to stay their hands for the present. Take the suggestion contained in the passage which I shall read as preferable to the present plan; husband all your means; pay off the public debt first; and then, if you are determined not to reduce the taxes, and there be a surplus in the treasury, “apportion it among the several States according to their ratio of representation.” The passage to which I allude is as follows: “As, then, the period approaches when the application of the revenue to the payment of debt will cease, the disposition of the surplus will present a subject for the serious deliberation of Congress; and it may be fortunate for the country that it is yet to be decided. Considered in connexion with the difficulties which have heretofore attended appropriations for purposes of internal improvement, and with those which this experience tells us will certain. ly arise, whenever power over such subjects may be exercised by the General Government, it is hoped that it may lead to the adoption of some plau which will reconcile the diversified interests of the States, and strengthen the bonds which unite them. Every member of the Union, in peace and in war, will be benefited by the improvement of inland navigation, and the construction of highways in the several States, Let us then endeavor to attain this benefit in a mode which will be satisfactory to all. That hitherto adopted has, by many of our fellow-citizens, been deprecated as an infraction of the constitution; while by
others it has been viewed as inexpedient. All feel that it has been employed at the expense of harmony in the legislative counci
“To avoid these evils, it appears, to me that the most safe, just, and federal disposition which could be made of the surplus revenue, would be its apportionment among the several States according to their ratio of representation, and, should this measure not be found warranted by the constitution, that it would be expedient to propose to the States an amendment authorizing it. I regard an appeal to the source of power, in cases of real, doubt, and where its exercise is deemed indispensable to the general welfare, as among the most sacred of all our obligations. Upon this country, more than any other, has, in the providence of God, been cast the special guardianship of the great
rinciple of adherence to written constitutions. If it fail F. all hope in regard to it will be extinguished. That this was intended to be a Government of limited and specific, and not general powers, must be admitted by all; and it is our duty to preserve for it the character intended by its framers. If experience points out the necessity for an enlargement of these powers, let us apply for it to those for whose benefit it is to be exercised, and not undermine the whole system by a resort to overstrained constructions. The scheme has worked well. It has exceeded the hopes of those who devised it, and become an object of admira: tion to the world. We are responsible to our country, and to the glorious cause of self-government, for the preserva. tion of so great a good. The great mass of legislation relating to our internal affairs, was intended to be left where the federal convention found it—in the State governments. Nothing is clearer in my view, than that we are chiefly indebted for the success of the constitution under which we are now acting, to the watchful and auxiliary operation of the State authorities. This is not the reflection of a day, but belongs to the most deeply rooted convictions of my mind. I cannot, therefore, too strongly or too earnestly, for my own sense of its importance, warn you against all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of State sovereignty. Sustained by its healthful and invigorating influence, the federal system can never fall.”
Who can read this passage from the message, without yielding his conviction of the truth at least of some of the sentiments it conveys; Who can read it without admiring the honesty of the heart, and the soundness of the head that dictated it! Do we not all know, that, whenever
ower over subjects of internal improvement has been attempted to be exercised here, it has been “at the expense of harmony in the legislative councils?” ...Is it not, upon this very occasion, attempted to be exercised “at the expense of harmony” in our deliberations? Without feeling inyself called upon now to express an opinion on the question of “apportionment among the several States according to their ratio of representation," or whether “an appeal to the source of power” would be "indispensable" to the exercise of this power, I have no hesitation in giving to it a decided preference over the present plan. There would be equality at least in the disbursement, if not in the collection of the surplus revenue.
[Here the debate closed for this day.]
TUEsday, MARCH 30, 1830. PAY OF MEMBERS.
The House resumed the consideration of the resolution offered by Mr. McDUFFIE, to curtail the sessions of Congress by reducing the per diem after a certain period.
Mr. WAYNE rose, and said he was opposed to the resolution proposed by the honorable gentleman from South Carolina, [Mr. McDUFFIE] and also to the amendment offered by the honorable member from Massachusetts, [Mr. EveRETT.] The adoption of either would be pro
ductive of more harm than good—nor was there anything, in the past legislation of our country, or which had occurred at that session of Congress, to justify the changes suggested. I am satisfied [said Mr. W.] with the present arrangement for the sessions of Congress, and believe the House will come to the same conclusion, after mature reflection upon the subject. The original resolution proposes that the compensation of the members of Congress shall be eight dollars a day for one hundred and twenty days, and, if a session shall be extended beyond that time, that the pay shall be two dollars per diem; and the amendment provides that the commencement of the sessions of Congress shall be on the first Monday in November, with a limitation of both to the 3d March. The first is urged upon the grounds that there is a want of industry in this House, and that something is needed to coerce us to greater effort—that our inertness is caused by the mercenary consideration of daily pay—that it will save to the nation seventy-five thousand dollars; and that if the first session of each Congress shall be continued to its ordinary length, then eight dollars per day for one hundred and twenty days will reduce the daily compensation to seven dollars, which is said to be an ample allowance. I shall examine each of these positions in the order they have been stated; and my reason for giving this formal investigation to a subject apparently of no great importance, is the respectable source from which the resolution and the amendment came, and the disposition to prevent the mischief which either may do. If apology, however, were necessary, my justification would be found in the example of the honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. CoulTER] whose acute and talented exposition of the reasons against the resolution, and of the consequences which will result from its adoption, must have commanded the approbation of the House. The first consideration urged in favor of the resolution by its mover—a want of industry—is the assertion of a fact, and its truth must be ascertained before it can be used as an argument. I am told by those in whose experience I have confidence, and the examination of our statute book confirms the declaration—that if the legislation of this session is compared in kind and quantity with that of any preceding Congress, it will suffer no disparagement by the comparison. Between four and five hundred resolutions have been submitted, three hundred and ninety-nine bills have been matured by the committees and laid upon your table, one hundred and twenty-three of them have been finally disposed of in this House, forty-one of which have received the concurrence of the Senate, and ed into laws; seven from the Senate have been acted upon here, and fif. ty-two from the same branch of the Legislature remain for our consideration. Of the bills, which have passed into laws, it should be remembered, there are several of national importance, and among them, what is unusually so earl in the session, and which should have conciliated the kindness of the gentleman, [Mr. McDUFFIE] is his own bill of . for the ensuing political year. With this formidable array of business done, it is easier to make an accusation of indolence than to sustain it. . No preceding Congress has done more so early in the session; and at the termination of this on the 15th of May, the time fixed for its adjournment by this House, in quantity at least, we may anticipate enough to entitle us to the commendation of our constituents, and from present appearances, too, without having the volume of our laws enlarged by any making extravagant and experimental expenditures for internal improvements which can never yield a revenue to our treasury, or by such laws as press upon the loins of national industry to encourage manufactures. However, let me not be supposed to intend any injustice to the gentleman, [Mr. McDuffiel as it is not owing to his want of ability #.
or exertion that we have not been relieved from the latter; and as to the first, without thinking, with some of us in principle, between whom it must be admitted there are shades of difference, he has already manifested a strong desire to retain the operation of his own sentiments upon the power, strictly within the bounds of judicious and national appropriations; and I cannot refrain from expressing the hope that this session will pass without a difference between us as to what works or subscriptions shall be consi. dered entitled to his cautionary opposition. But the charge of a want of industry in this Congress has gone out to the world, under the sanction of the gentleman's uame, and upon such authority it will be believed, unless, it shall be repelled by a detailed examination of preceding Congresses—not very interesting, it is true, but which may command the attention of the House from its direct application to the subject. And one other reason urges me to be particular. Having come into this House under the political revolution which the people thought the condition of the country demanded, it is not to be supposed, composed as it is of a moiety of new members, three-fourths of whom were chosen to sustain the present administration, that such a charge, involving them in a moiety of its discredit, will be permitted to pass without a refutation, even when made by an old member of this House, though he be one of the firmest and ablest supporters of our common cause. Such a charge may raise the maker of it in public estimation, but it will throw his associates into disesteem if it be not denied and disproved, and might jeopard the administration itself at the ensuing election, unless it shall be shown that those who are here and its advocates are worthy of being continued. Our adversaries, sir, are suf. ficiently talented and numerous, without giving to them additional strength by the voluntary condemnation of ourselves. The examination of our statute book will show that every Congress, from the beginning of the Government until the expiration of the last, excepting the fourteenth, fifteenth, and seventeenth, occupied more time than will have been consumed in this, if the pressure of our engagements shall permit us to separate on the 17th of May, which every one thinks so probable, that no one even suggests an extension of its sitting after the 24th of that mouth. A reference to the forty-eighth chapter of the first volume of our laws, which gives the periods of commencement and adjournment of Congress from the year 1789 to the 3d of March, 1815, will confirm the declaration just made, as regards thirteen Congresses, and the journals of this House will show it to be equally exnet as regards the sixteenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth. The exception of the fourteenth, fifteenth, and seventeenth—and to the fourteenth and fifteenth, the gentleman [Mr. McDUFFIE] alluded as examples of commendable industry, and of reproach to this—may be accounted for, that the country having passed from a state of war to peace, the occupation of both consisted in repealing the taxes which had been laid to meet the exigencies of the first. More than the half of their legisla. tion was strictly private and local; that which was of a mixed character, relating to our public lands, was the resumption of what had been discontiuued by the war, with which persons in and out of Congress were familiar. True it is, then was the inception of our present restrictive commercial code, by the passage of the act “to regulate duties upon imports and tonnage;” and the time was made equally memorable by the grant of the United States' Bank charter. The first, however, was passed with much less discussion than has been had upon bills having the same object in view since; though the tendency of that, in the subsequent claims which have been based upon it, was foreseen and foretold by some, whose warnings were unheeded, by the honest wish of many to make our nation independent of foreign supplies, without looking into futurity for its cost; and by others, who overlook
ed consequences, in their eager desire to have the honor of its paternity. For the other, the bank charter, the public mind had been prepared by much previous discussion; by the existence of a former bank; by its plan having been matured in the recess of Congress; and because it was generally known that the then President's constitutional objections to the charter had been subdued by rol recollections of the necessities of his treasury, and the rapacious combinations, during the war, to depreciate Government securities, issued in our hour of hardest trial, to supply its deficiencies. In referring to the history of that time, one scandalously inelined might also say the salary compensation law, an immediate operation having been given to it, had its effect in causing an earlier spring flight than had been usual. I, sir, however, make no such charge; and in explaining the causes which enabled the fourteenth and fifteenth Congresses to adjourn the first session of both earlier than had been done before, I disclaim any intention to depreciate their industry, or assail their purity. I turn back to them with respect; for it was not until then that my mind began to pursue political investigations, or to think of public measures, either as to their consequences, or the principles by which they were to be sustained; and from the reasoning of some of the prominent men of that day, my politics received a ra. dical tint, which, as mych decried as it was afterwards, is now the badge of many who would not then wear it, and is very fast becoming the national color, fatal as it was made to some who first raised it as a banner. There was inseribed upon it, judicious impost for revenue—proper expenditures for necessary national establishments, but nothing for patronage, and a limitation of the action of the Government to the text of the constitution—the best and only security for the perpetuity of the Union. The other exception of the seventeenth Congress is to be aecounted for, from a part of the business of its first session having been done in the last session of the sixteenth which was begun in November, three weeks earlier than the ordinary time of meeting. Such is the fact, in regard to the time occupied in legislation, since our Government was organized, which of itself relieves this Congress from the imputation of any protrae. tion of its sitting; and it shall be presently o if it is to be appreciated by the business done, it will have no cause to shrink from any contrast with the past. Nay, if the mere performance of duty could at any time justify exultation, it might be indulged by us, and those who have for some years preceded us, without any self-complacency, that the time passed in legislation has not been extended, if it is recollected how long the sessions of Congress were continued after the Government had been fully organized; when the subjects of legislation have been constantly increasing with this House, consisting of a fourth less number than it now has, for thirty years of our history, with all the rapidly progressive fluctuations of a population from three to twelve millions, living in twenty-four separate sovereignties, instead of thirteen. , Sir, our predecessors were not drones in legislation; their labor is their eulogium, and ours shall be as well thought of hereafter; for I cannot be mistaken in believing that there is a spirit in this Congress, revolting at the slanders of inexperience and want of ability, uttered against this administration, and determined, if they shall be permitted to do so, to make the effort to give to it as distinguished an elevation in the future annals of our country, as that which is held by the administration of its father and first President. But it is urged, in proof of the propriety of limiting the first session of Congress to one hundred and twenty days, and as a reproach when it is extended beyond it, that the second session of three months is sufficient for all the urposes of legislation, and that as much is done in it as is accomplished in the first. The declaration was incon
siderate, for such is not the fact; and I ask the attention
of gentlemen, while I resort to detail, to sustain the contradiction of both assertions. By adverting to our statute book, it will be found that the business done at the first sessions of Congress has been, with little variation, the same, and that the proportions of laws passed at the long and short sessions do not differ materially, though those of the latter are in number but two-thirds of the former. . But, to prevent too great a trespass upon the time of this House, and because it will suffice to establish our position, I shall adduce the business of seven successive Congresses, being one-third of the number which have been chosen under the Government. In the fourteenth Congress two hundred and eighty-seven acts were passed, one hundred and seventy-three in the long session, and one hundred and fourteen in the short. In the fifteenth Congress one hundred and twenty-four acts were passed at the first session, one hundred and nine at the second; and this near approach of the business of the last to the other was caused by the second session having begun on the 16th of November, three weeks earlier than usual. In the sixteenth Congress two hundred statutes were enacted in both sessions, but only sixty-two of them in the short. In the seventeenth Congress one hundred and twenty-nine acts were passed in the first session, one hundred and one in the second. In the eighteenth Congress two hundred and eleven acts were passed at its first session, one hundred and twenty at the second. The nineteenth Congress shows a result of two hundred and fiftynine statutes, one hundred and one of which were enacted at the short session; and the twentieth Congress added to our code one hundred and fifty-one statutes at its first session, and sixty-five at its last. Thus, in seven Congresses we have an aggregate of one thousand seven hundred and sixty-six statutes, six hundred and seventy-two only of which were passed in the second or short sessions. And this difference in the business between the long and short sessions of Congress, notwithstanding that of the first is resumed in the second from the point to which it had been carried, by which members, having a preparation of some months for much of what is to be done, advance in it more rapidly. The amount of business done in the short sessions shows there is not time enough for all that is projected, or of which Congress have jurisdiction; and a more conclusive evidence of this fact cannot be furnished than the business left undone in the session of the twenti. eth Congress, which may be taken as equally applicable to those which preceded it. In the first session of the twentieth Congress three hundred and three bills were originated in this House, one hundred and nineteen were sent to it during the session from the Senate, one hundred and sixty-one of our own bills were left undecided to be resumed at the second session of the twentieth Congress, and forty-nine of the Senate bills were not acted upon, which, having passed from the branch of Congress in which they were begun, had to be originated again at an ensuing session, under all the forms of legislation. Thus, sir, we see, there were two hundred and ten bills left undecided by the Houses during that session. The second session began its business by resuming the one hundred and sixty-one bills, which were the fruit of this House at its previous session, but for which there had not been season enough to mature; one hundred and fifty-nine new bills were reported, making an aggregate of three hundred and twenty bills to be attended to in three months. What was the result, sir? One hundred and nine bills of the one hundred and sixty-one were again left undecided, and one hundred and sixteen of the one hundred and fifty-nine reported at this session never reached a third reading, thus showing two hundred and twenty-five bills of this House alone left undecided during the Congress, and the sum total of its three months' legislation were sixty-two acts, uineteen of which were bills from the Seuate in which the House concurred, and
forty-three of our own, out of three hundred and twenty, which during the session were on our calendar, or in the orders of the day. I have been thus particular, sir, not to vindicate this Congress alone from the charge of not having done its duty, but to show the source from which this accumulation of business flows, and to suggest the means to lessen its current. Some suppose it cannot be stopped, and that our sessions will have to be extended from necessity; and the real cause of delay is so much overlooked, that some even deem it a result of our biennial elections—a great constitutional feature in the Government, so much in harmony with its aggregate tendency, that it should not be subjected for a moment to the imputation of such slanderous consequences. The evil is, the mass of private claims of which Congress has taken jurisdiction, which occupy two days in each week, besides the time taken to receive the petitions relating to them, and which are more fit for judicial serutiny than legislative inquiry. Relinquish our jurisdiction of these matters to a tribunal, which might be constructed and maintained at an annual expense of one-fifth of what it now costs the nation to attend to them, and one-third more time will be gained for national legislation, by which your sessions will be limited in the same :. besides securing to the country, and the persons"interested, more speedy and ample justice than can now be done to either. This, sir, is the evil which protracts the sitting of Congress, to which the gentleman's [Mr. McDuffie) talents and influence should be directed to correct, and which, when corrected, will hasten our departure even before the day intended by his resolution, without restrict. ing our official duties by law to a day, to be produced by the apprehension of members being left without a support if the session should be continued beyond it; and that, too, notwithstanding some pressing and unexpected emergency or interest might make it necessary for us to be longer in session. This latter consideration was happily expressed by the honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania §. Scott] in his opposition to the resolution. Sir, the reform we need is, that of lessening the subjects of our jurisdiction, or to have nothing to do with private pecuniary claims; and, to produce it, I will become the gentleman's willing auxiliary. Nor should I ask him to take the lead in such an honorable enterprise, if my noviciate did knot admonish me to keep in the back ground, though no one here has a better right to attempt it nor more able to accomplish it than the honorable gentleman. It should be known that of the disbursements of this session for this branch of Congress alone, which never exceed three hundred and sixty thousand dollars, one hundred thousand of it may be fairly charged to the time we are engaged ... private claims, strictly judicial in their character—
of which might be settled by a tribunal such as has been suggested, and which might be maintained at a cost of less than twenty thousand dollars per annum. Neither the fact nor the remedy proposed are mere suggestions. Examine the statutes P the twentieth Congress, or those of any preceding it, and one-third of the laws passed will be found to have been for private relief. I go further, sir. Look over the present calendar of private claims, compare it with those of other years, and mark how often there is the recurrence of the same claim. How Cougress is occupied from session to session, year after year, until a generation has been comprehended in the pursuit, by the p. of claimants, either feeling that justice has
en withheld, or hoping that importunity will extort what justice does not demand. Such a tribunal would, indeed, be an achievement worthy of the Committee on Retrenchment, to whom is to be assigned the honor of maturing the present conception, if it shall receive the approbation of this House. The more this subject shall be scrutinized, the stronger will be our conviction that the time con
sumed upon private claims, and which is forced upou
Congress by their number, is the principal cause of its protracted sitting. The gentleman and myself, it will be perceived, have the same object in view—to lessen the time of our stay here, but we differ as to the mode of ef. fecting it. There are causes, however, which should not be overlooked, growing out of the nature of our institutions, which have, and will always give to our legislation the semblance of delay, and which, in connexion with the facts already stated, fully account for the protracted pe. riod of our sessions. They are slight inconveniences, inseparable from their source, differing entirely from those delays caused by our neglect or want of sagacity. In our work of reform, to make it improvement, we must distinguish unavoidable from adventitious evils, and be careful not to confound them. In the remarks, therefore, now about to be made, complaint is not intended, nor is correction believed to be practicable; they are only illus. trative of some of the causes which extend the first ses. sion of each Congress to a late day in May. The constitution and laws require the President and the heads of the departments, at the opening of each session of Congress, to give a detailed exposition of national affairs. These documents are voluminous; and with all the effort of the most industrious printer, provided with the most extensive establishment which private means can acquire or support, they cannot be printed in less than three or four weeks. The constantly occurring business of the House, from day to day, make such draughts upon the press also, that these documents cannot be given to us in less time than has been just said. It is believed not much more E.; is done than is necessary; though a change may made in the mode of doing it, by which a part of the expenditure on this account may be saved. The extent of it, however, will surprise even ourselves, when thus definitely stated. Sir, there have been already laid upon our tables eighty-five Executive documents, four hundred bills, and three hundred and thirty-seven reports from committees; and of the first, four hundred and thirty copies of each were struck off; and of the others, six hundred and thirty. The Executive documents are laid upon the table at different times; but it does not always happen, nor can it be so, that they are brought to us connectedly as regards the subjects to which they relate; some days after they have been received, will pass, before members can be prepared even to propose the important legislation which they suggest. o. shall be done,
must be begun either upon motion for leave to bring in a
bill, or in the almost invariable way of resolution, to commit the subject to one of the standing committees, or to select one raised for the purpose. As is natural, debate begins at the inception of the proposition, which, though sometimes too much extended, is not without benefit, as it enables the House to arrest a mischief at once, or, by developing the objects of the mover, instructs the committee upon the points most material to be investigated; for, from the brevity of the resolutions, the sum total of the information intended to be reached is as rarely displayed in its particulars, as the human countenance rarely portrays the ruling propensities of the man. The one tells the main object, as the other does the strong passions of which he may be the victim. Thus, what to an ordinary observer seems to be delay, is no more than deliberate action; and these rules of proceeding have been well said to be “a check and control against the attempts of power.” And it also often happens, that very unexpect. ed calls are made by both Houses of Congress at the same time, upon the same department, for information upon subjects entirely disconnected. Nothwithstanding the division of labor in the departments, and the utmost energy 9f their chiefs, a fortnight or a month will often intervene between the call and the answer; and, after it is made, *ome days will pass before it can be printed. And, sir,
permit me to remark, that these calls are answered with
a minuteness, compared with information of the same kind given by other Governments, and which may be examined in our library, showing the acknowledgment of a responsibility from our highest functionaries to the people, unknown and unfelt by the officers of any other nation in the world. It is an allowable source of pride, and a strong proof of the permanency of our system. In proof of what has been just said, I refer to the call made by the honorable gentleman from South Carolina, [Gen. BLAIR) upon the Secretary of War, for information concerning our military school. Every particular which has been stated relating to such calls for information, or as regards the time of preparing and printing them, as well as in the characteristics of minuteness and responsibility, may be affirmed of this document. Such calls are intended to be the basis of . legislation, which will rarely be matured if no alteration shall be made in the subjects of our jurisdiction, and the session shall be limited, as is proposed by the resolution. In stating the causes which delay proceedings in the beginning of the first session of every Congress, it should not be forgotten that in every Congress there are many new members, unaccustomed to legislation, unwilling to obtrude themselves upon the notice of the House, unacquainted with their own strength in this new scene of action, and ignorant of the actual strength of those who have been here before them. The half of this Congress are new members, who are here for the first time; they have been desirous to have the way shown to them by their seniors; and, not having been very prominent in debate, must be exempted from the charge of having protracted the session, either by their listlessness or loquacity. Coming, sir, as we do, from many States, all of which, except four or five, are divided into districts, upon which the legislation of this House bears, or is desired to be brought to bear, it is probable each member is charged by his constituents with something particularly interesting to them... Shall not a little time be allowed to us to become familiar with our novel position, for the consideration of what we may propose 1 or shall the provision in the constitution, graduating representation to population, be made virtually to mean that their representative is not to be heard By having shown, sir, that our long sessions are principally caused by the subjects of our jurisdiction, by our rules for doing business, and that they are, in some measure, an incident of our institutions, the accnsation of voluntary protraction is refuted, and the propriety of rejecting the resolution made manifest. In regard to inertness from mercenary motives, though such an imputation has been disclaimed by the honorable gentleman, [Mr. McDUFFIE] and I do not believe in his observations he meant to make it; if it had not been disclaimed, it could have been met but in one way, and that would have been by saying, a charge so disreputable in mass, no one will venture to make particular in its application. But, sir, though it was not intended, it is implied by the terms of the resolution, for if it be not addressed to an existing corruption, it is meant to actupon our fears, which is not less disreputable. What is the resolution? The compensation shall be but one-fourth of what it is to be for one hundred and twenty days, and this reduction is the penalty for not having done in that time all that the exigencies of legislation may have required. If it be not in the nature of a penalty, one or the other of these consequences must ensue, either that the sum then to be allowed is always sufficient, or that the laborer deserves as much for his services after the time proposed by the resolution for the limitation of the session, as he received before it. It may be that there are persons here who would protract the session from sordid calculations, but we must presume they are in number too small to give decisive results to their wishes. But allow them to be numerous; how can