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H. of R.] Crimes in the Dist
rict of Columbia. [APRIL 8, 1830.
Penalties had been imposed, two-thirds of which were p. to the informers; and the extent of this evil could
somewhat inferred from the fact, that a single constable was in the habit of receiving from two to three thousand dollars a year of gamblers, as informer, for his share of penalties, the balance of which was paid to the corporation. It was certainly important to the morals and welfare of society, that this alarming practice should be sup
ressed. P He should not [said Mr. P.] dwell on the subject of duelling. It had often been discussed by far abler men, and he could offer nothing new. All must be sensible of the magnitude of the evil, and concur in a desire to abo
lish a practice fraught with such calamities as this coun-
marks at present, but was prepared to give such explana.
Mr. WICKLIFFE next moved to insert the word free, in order to make these punishments only applicable to free citizens, and not to slaves. . Mr. POWERS said it was the intention of the committee to place slaves upon the same footing as free citizens in relation to criminal punishments.: Mr WICKLIFFE demanded what punishment it could be to take a man from the bondage of his master, and place him in the penitentiary. Mr. POWERS said, he had inadvertently answered for the whole committee on the subject of maintaining an o in punishments, while, in reality, he only expressed his own sentiments. He was now convinced that others, and perhaps a majority of the committee, were opposed to him on that subject. Mr. BURGES said, he did not know the provisions of the bill, but he could not see how a distinction could be made in punishing the crime of a slave or that of his master; and he was sure his master could not complain of the loss of his service, so long as his confinement was required for the public safety—for this was, in fact, the object of punishment. He agreed with the gentleman from Kentucky, that it was no great punishment to imprison a slave; but the public safety might require his confinement. If slaves were exempted from punishment, a man might, with impunity, aim a dagger at the throat of him whom he hated, by the hand of his slave. Mr. BOULDIN said, there were circumstances, founded in necessity, which rendered a distinction essential, between the laws applicable to a free man and those intended for a slave. The incarceration of an individual, and making him a slave for a time, had some terrors for one who was free; but what possible effect could it have on one who was already a slave? What possible good could result from taking him for a time from one master, and giving him to another? He thought, also, that the punishment of the slave aud the interest of the master should ever beinseparable. The master should rather be interested in the detection and punishment of the crimes of the slave, than in their concealment. He did not know the size of the Peniteutiary; but, if the act passed in its present shape,
concur with the gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. Wick,
they could not be too quick in setting about its enlarge. ment—for it would certainly be filled. He did not know what the laws of Maryland and of Virginia were at the time of their adoption by the District; but he presumed .*.*. nearly the same as they are now, and adapted to the government of slaves.
Mr. POWERS stated the provisions of the laws of Ma. ryland on the subject.
Mr. SPENCER, of New York, said, the infliction of pain or punishment upon the offending individual, was not the object of criminal law. It was to provide for the public safety alone; and in this respect, no difference could exist between black or white, bond or free. It would certainly be wrong to punish slaves with more rigor than others, as their opportunities to acquire knowledge, and their inducements to practice virtue, were less than those of the white man. It would also be wrong to punish them less, as it would look like an inducement to the commission of Crime. He thought the House could make no distinction in its provisions for their punishment.
Mr. SEMMES said, as a slave holder, and a representa: tive from a slave holding State, he was entirely op to the amendment, for the reasons offered by the gentleman from New York, [Mr. SPENCER.] It was a most mistaken idea that it could be no punishment to a slave to confine him in a Joo. He would ask the gentlemen to look around on the condition of slaves in this District, at this enlightened age. Had they not as much to lose by their incarceration, as the white man Would they not be torn from their homes—the bosom of their families—and the enjoyment of their domestic comforts, by being con: demned to prison He contended that stripes were no
April 8, 1830.]
adequate punishment for crime, and did not conduce to the
Mr. SEMMES said, if gentlemen wished for the amelioration of the condition of slaves, they would effect their object by voting for the proposition. Mr. BARBOUR followed in explanation of the laws of Virginia on this subject. After some further debate, however, the proposition was withdrawn. Mr. WICKLIFFE proposed an amendment to the clause relating to assaults, with intent to kill. Mr. SUTHERLAND suggested that the word “murder" would be more correct than “kill,” which was the usual term. It would, he thought, be better to insert in such cases two counts, one for assault aud battery, with intent, &c., and the other for the intent to murder; the jury could then decide upon the quo animo of the case before them. He referred to a case which he had formerly conducted, in which, by this means, the criminal been convicted. Mr. TAYLOR said, that, in his opinion, it was better to retain the words used in therancient judicial practice. To kill, as applied to this, was, in the legal acceptation of the term, to kill feloniously; and such was the construction put upon the phrase by the highest authorities. Mr. WICKLIFFE, after a few remarks, withdrew his amendment. Various other amendments were proposed and adopted. Mr. INGERSOLL moved to amend the bill, by adding to it a section providing to punish the crime of forcibly carrying away or seducing from the District, with intent to sell, free negroes, by fine, not exceeding five thousand dollars, and imprisonment for not more than seven years. The amendment was agreed to. Mr. WICKLIFFE proposed a further amendment to the bill, for the punishment of persons breaking into a dwelling-house during the day time. Mr. SPENCER, of New York, stated, that he had never heard of such an offence as the one described. Breaking into a house by night, with intent to steal, is punished as búrglary, because it disturbed the repose and hazarded the safety of the inmates. In the day time, however, there could be no offence of this nature committed, amounting in the eye of the law to burglary. Mr. WICKLIFFE replied, he was reluctant to labor under an imputation of providing for the punishment of a crime which had never been heard of. Mr. SPENCER, in explanation: I stated that it was a crime which I had never heard of. Mr. WICKLIFFE resumed. He should not have alluded to the remark, but from the circumstance of its being made by so eminent and distinguished a jurist as the gentleman from New York; [Mr. Spencer] nevertheless, he must still maintain that the breaking into a house in the day time was, under certain circumstances, equivaleut to the crime of burglary during the night. He would instance a case which would demonstrate this: suppose a man leave his house during the day, in the pursuit of his usual avocations, in the care of a female of his family, and that some one entered his house with a felonious intent, or attempted to commit a felony, would the person injured be content with a system of law which .. the prisoner for a mere assault and battery It was for the protection of families from alarm and outrage, that he had moved the amendment in question. You must charge, [said Mr. W.] under the present law, the ruffian who breaks into a house during the day, with the most atrocious intentions; he does not accomplish his full purposes with intent to steal only; for which offence the punishment is a small fine, and, perhaps, six months' imprisonment. My amendment will prevent this very apportionment of punishments, and contribute, accordingly, to the safety of our fellow citizens. With respect to the remark, that the proposition is novel, in as much as it provided for the punishment of an offence never heard of he would only say, that he [Mr. Wick
voted for them.
Enos) had, in his own State, Kentucky, been charged with
the prosecution of such offences, and had convicted the offenders. Mr. SPENCER repeated, that he had said he had never heard of such offences. If the necessity of such a provision could be shown, he should certainly give his ready assent to it. After some further discussion, in which Mr. STORRS, of New York, Mr. WICKLIFFE, Mr. SPENCER, of New York, and Mr. TAYLOR took part, the amendment was negatived. Mr. MARTIN submitted an amendment to the fourth section of the bill, providing that uo person concerned in a duel shall be subject to an indictment for having been engaged in it, on his own testimony, during any part of the proceeding in the case of such duel. The amendment was adopted. Upon motion of Mr. POWERS, the committee then took up the bill for the appointment of commissioners to prepare a code of laws for the District of Columbia. Mr. WICKLIFFE moved to amend the bill, by insert. ing a clause, that one at least : the three of the *. sioners proposed to be appointed for that purpose shoul not be 5. of the Ş. of &o pos The motion was negatived. Mr. STERIGERE moved to strike out from the bill the words “by and with the consent of the Senate.” This motion was also negatived by the committee. Several verbal amendments were proposed and agreed to. Mr. STORRS, of New York, moved to reduce the sum to be appropriated from ten thousand dollars to six thousand five hundred dollars; which, after some remarks from Mr. POWERS, was agreed to. Mr. WICKLIFFE moved a further amendment, granting to the commissioners the use of a room in the Capitol; which was agreed to. The committee then rose, and reported; and, On motion of Mr. WINTON, . The House adjourned.
FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 1830.
The House took up the bill for the punishment of crimes in the District of Columbia, with the amendments report. ed by the Committee of the Whole.
Mr. A. SPENCER objected to the amendment which introduces the word “free", before “persons,” and thus confines the operation of the bill to free persons. He repel. led the idea that confinement to hard it. in the penitentiary would be no punishment to a slave, and entered into a train of reasoning to show that the discrimination was improper and inexpedient.
As discussion seemed about to arise on this bill, Mr. WHITTLESEY proposed that the House, according to the rule, take up the private docket, and the SPEAKER accordingly proceeded to the orders of the day.
without discussion or reflection. He moved that the report and resolution be committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union, and that they be rinted. p Some remarks were here made by Messrs. SPEIGHT and DESH.A. Mr. DRAYTON said, he wished it to be distinctly understood, that he did not declare himself in favor of a reduction of the number of officers of the army. He did not deem it necessary to express an opinion on that subject. But he thought it altogether F. that the inquiry should be made. This was the whole object of the resolution. Mr. TAYLOR said, he must still be allowed to consider his more than a mere resolution for inquiry. It directs the Secretary to submit a plan for the reduction of the army. He thought the first step should be, for the House to inquire whether such a reduction was proper to be made; but this the resolution takes for granted. It was in vain to say, that, by the passage of this resolution, the House would take no part on the question of further reducing the army. It o imply an expression of opinion that this reduction was proper, and it would go abroad to the peo. ple of this nation in that light. On the reduction of the army from ten thousand to six thousand men, in 1821, Mr. T. said he was one of those who advocated the measure. For this, he and his friends, who voted with him, were stigmalized as radicals, and as attempting to take away the right arm of the national defence. This was nine years ago, and he asked what they had done since How many fortifications have been erected since, and how many men will it take to arm them properly to make them effective in the defence of the country? It is but a few days since the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. DRAYToN] himself introduced a bill making appropriations for this very ob. ject. Is this a time, then, for this House, without debate and without investigation, to pass a vote that it is expedi. ent to reduce the army? for this is the purpurt of the reso. lution. Mr. T. said it had been suggested to him to offer an amendment, calling on the Secretary of War merely for information on the subject; but he would not do even this. He believed that inquiry belonged exclusively to that House, and he did not think the mere opinion of the Secretary of War could aid them in arriving at a conclusion on the subject. Mr. POLK said, he thought the gentleman from New York [Mr. Taylor) mistook the object of the resolution, as it was evidently only intended by it to institute an inuiry. Q o TAYLOR asked that the resolution might again be read; which being done, Mr. POLK continued. He thought it a proper subject for inquiry, though he was not now prepared to express an opinion on the policy of continuing the present system of maintaining a skeleton of an army. The SPEAKER pro tem. [the Hon. P. P. BARBoua) remarked that the question was on the commitment of the resolution, and not on its merits. Mr. POLK thought the delay incidental to a commitment to the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, was wholly unnecessary. Mr. CAMBRELENG said, he fully concurred with his colleague, [Mr. TAYLoR] in the opinion expressed by him, that this was a proper subject for reference to the House, and its discussion while on the state of the Union. It was well known that officers, in what had just now been termed our “skeleton of an army,” supported at the public expense, for future emergency, were more numerous, in strict proportion, than the privates. But it was also known that most of the disasters which befell our country at the commencement of the late war with Great Britain, arose from the want which we so deeply felt of experienced officers. It was not the business of the Secretary of War to instruct that House upon the policy of reducing the offi.
cers of the army to a minimum with the privates, or of preserving the precious “skeleton” of an army which we yet essed—it was not a subject for him to decide, whether our army of officers was to be fostered or abandoned; but he believed it was a proper subject for reference to the Committee of the Whole on the state of the
Mr. DRAYTON said, if he took the same view of the subject that the honorable gentlemen from New York [Messrs. TAYLoa and CAMBRELENG] did, he would readily concur with them in the propriety of the proposed reference. But he could not so view it; and he must still believe it a proper subject for reference to the Secretary of War. He was extremely anxious not to be misunderstood in this matter. He had by no means inferred that he had arrived at a conclusion that the army or its number of officers should be reduced, nor that they should be increased; though he was not sure that, on a proper investigation, he should not express one of these opinions. The proposed inquiry was far from being unprecedented; and he would ask if resolutions were not almost daily laid upon the table, and agreed to, for inquiries to which the House was opposed. The language of the resolution was certainly misconstrued. It called for such a plan as would not be iujurious to the public service; * if such a plan were submitted, he asked if the House would not feel bound to adopt it. As the object of the resolution was a mere inquiry, he thought it should be sanctioned. Mr. EVERETT, of Massachusetts, said, as the object was merely that of inquiry, he would propose to amend the resolution by adding “if, in his opinion, such reduction can be made” without injury, &c. [A motion being pending to commit the resolution to a Committee of the Whole, this amendment was not in order.] Mr. DESHA said, he rose to reply to the gentlemen from New York, [Messrs. TAYLoR and CAMBRELENG) who had adverted to the policy of the Government in the present organization of the army, as a resort in future emergencies. Experience had fully proved that the service of an officer in time of I. did not improve his capacities, or qualify him for the exigencies of war; on the contrary, such had ever been found the most inefficient. Mr. VANCE expressed his opposition to any project for disturbing the present established organization of the army. The detached service on which this small eorps was employed, required a greater proportion of officers than if o: were kept in more compact order. The SPEAKER again reminded gentlemen that the merits of a resolution was not a subject for debate, on a motion to commit it. Mr. WANCE said, he believed its commitment would amount to its rejection, as it could not be reached this session in the regular succession of business. Mr. DWIGHT said, he was equally opposed to the resolution, with other gentlemen who had addressed the House. [Order.] The reason why he was in favor of its commitment to the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, was to give an opportunity for discussing whether the Government would abandon fortifications for which they had appropriated ten millions of dollars. The defence of our sea coast alone, on which these fortifications are erected, requires in time of war forty thousand men, and in time of peace twelve thousand; while, at this moment, we have not five thousand men in service. He would ask, if it was supposed the Secretary of War could instruct the House that five thousand men were too many for the service of twelve millions of inhabitants. The agitation of this question [he said] must tend to destroy the confidence in the Government, which it was desirable should be possessed by men, who, he did not hesitate to say, were as talented, worthy, and brave, as those of any army of its size in the world. Mr. WILDE said, he was in favor of the motion for the
commitment of the resolution, because the inquiry appeared to him to be altogether an improper one. The resolution also seemed more than a simple inquiry. It indicaed something like an opinion, on the part of the House, that some alteration might be made in the present organization of the army, and he must entertain an opinion of that sort himself before he could vote for it. The various suggestions it contained were all proper subjects for the consideration of that House, and not for the Secretary of War. We do not call upon him to know whether it is necessary or proper for us to diminish or increase our fortifications, or whether we will abolish or continue the Military Academy, that nursery of officers. Mr. W. said he was a member of that House at the close of the late war, when the calamities we had suffered for the want of a well organized army in its beginning, were fresh in their memories. Perhaps their feelings at that time might have carried them too far in providing for future emergencies; if so, he was willing to bear his due proportion of the blame. It seemed to be admitted that the number of privates was not too great for the necessities of the service. ... It was only the officers against whom the inquiry was directed. Experience had demonstrated that it would be much easier to i. men on the recurrence of a war, than it was to ave them properly commanded. The SPEAKER again remarked that a debate upon the merits of the resolution was inadmissible. Mr. WILDE said, he was sorry to infringe on any of the rules of order of the House, but he felt the necessity, and he wished to impress it upon the minds of members, to reflect what would be their condition, if they proceeded to pass a vote for another reduction of the army, for such, he considered, was the purport of the resolution proposed. Mr. W. was about to proceed, when the SPEAKER announced the expiration of the hour allotted to resolutions.
MoNDAY, APRIL 12, 1830. KENTUCKY DEAF AND DUMB ASYLUM.
Mr. BAYLOR, from the committee appointed on the 28th of December last, to which was referred, on the 18th of February last, the petition of the trustees of Centre College, of Kentucky, who are also the trustees of the Kentucky Institution for the tuition of the Deaf and Dumb; reported a bill to amend an act entitled “An act for the benefit of the incorporated Kentucky Asylum for teaching the Deaf and Dumb;” and to extend the time for selling the land granted by said act.
Mr. KINCAID rose in explanation, and support of the bill. He observed that its object was simple and reasonable; being to extend the time which had been allowed to the Deaf and Dumb Asylum of Kentucky in the original act to dispose of the land granted to it by Congress. The act had been passed on the 5th of April, 1826; it granted to the institution one township of land, to be located under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, and made it the duty of the said corporation to sell the land within five years from the passage of the act; the same to be located in one of the territories, on land on which the Indian title had been extinguished.
Difficulties of various kinds had occurred in complying with the terms of the act, in consequence of which the sale had been so far retarded, that, if the terms of the original grant should be insisted upon, the trustees would be compelled to part with the residue of the land, (consisting of about one-third part of the whole,) at a great sacrifice. Under these circumstances, they had presented their petition to Congress, praying that the time might be extended to five years longer.
The nature id causes of the difficulties which had retarded the sale were well explained in a letter written to him by R. C. Allen, Esq., the agent of the Institution in
Florida, (in which territory the lands had been located.)
and the condition was for the benefit of the Territory of
Florida. This is a question now, in which the United
with the privilege of holding up the land five years, and with the certainty of a prolongation of five more; upon the precedent now about to be established, the territories, in: stead of being colonies of the United States, will be held by Deaf and Dumb Corporations, who will sell them out
|stitutions. I humbly hope, sir, Congress is not prepared
as the funds may be required for the purposes of their in .