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feated? He felt convinced that such had been the case $50,000, to the inhabitants of Venezuela, whose efin the present instance. It was the connexion of bis | fects were swallowed by an Earthquake. proposition with other features in the naval bill, which And, sir, within a few days we have paid a debt of had prevented its being taken up by the House. He, | $200,000, as due to Republican principles, and the cause therefore submitted whether, under this view of the of liberty. But, sir, have gentlemen read the proof ac. subiect, his motion for a separate inquiry into this sub-companying the report of the committee? If they have, ject, was not in order.
I fondly hope their doubts, as to the cause of the deThe SPEAKER adhered to his decision, and explain-struction of the buildings, have been removed. The preed the rule of order, but suggested that other modes of | sumption is so strong, sir, as to amount to what is called attaining the same object might be resorted to.
a violent presumption. I think honorable gentlemen The question was then put, and the resolution was ought not to entertain any doubts on this subject. The laid upon the table.
destruction of the buildings, however, is said to have Mr. ARCHER, of Va. from the joint committee ap. been an act of “retaliation," and if so, this Government pointed to communicate to General LAFAYETTE the ought not to pay for them. And to prove this, a Royal act passed for his benefit, asked and obtained leave to Proclamation of a Royal Governor of his most Royal report-when he submitted copies of a letter from the Majesty, has been read. But, sir, I intend to spend no committee to the General, and his reply, (as will be time in examining that
time in examining that wonderful production; my seen in the account of the Senate proceedings,) which, honorable colleague and friend has disposed of that, on motion of Mr. CONDICT, were entered at large on satisfactorily, I trust, to the minds of this committee. I the Journals of the House.
will only say, that it was a “Salvo," a contemptible NIAGARA SUFFERERS.
ebullition, to satisfy the compunctious visitings of a
guilty conscience. Humanity has already passed judgThe House then proceeded to the order of the day, | ment upon the act, irrevocable as time, lasting as eterand went again into committee of the whole, Mr. CAMP. nity. BELL, of Übio, in the chair, on the bill for the relief of I have been instructed by the Legislature of New the Niagara sufferers.
York, of which I am a citizen, to advocate these claims. Mr. CADY, of New York, then rose, and observed, it I do it most cheerfully, regretting only my feeble powe was but seldom that he obtruded himself upon the at-ers. She asks you to alleviate, in some degree, the losses tention of this House, but being a citizen of the state of of a portion of her citizens. She bas long since extendNew York, and having had an opportunity of knowing ed her charitable hand-she asks you to do equal and ex. something of the merits of the petitioners in this case, he act justice--she has seen you pay for losses in the West could not consent to give a silent vote. I once, said and in the South--she has seen your western dragoons Mr. C. entertained an opinion nearly similar to the one remounted, and the negroes of the southern planter re. expressed by the honorable gentleman from North Ca- stored. Will you now listen to her application ? Are rolina. I once believed that exaggeration had magnified there any more “constitutional objections” in the way? the sufferings and multiplied the losses of these peti- I well remember the time when she applied for your astionersbut, sir, that day of ignorance has gone by. It sistance, in the formation and completion of a work was once my duty, in the Legislature of New York, to which history has already recorded as the proudest monexamine this subject, and I do assure the honorable genument of the age. But, sir, I do not wish to digress; teman from North Carolina, and this committee, that, rest assured, that, in the state of New York, from Erie as r
the losses of these petitioners, and the mise. to Long Island, there is an universal prayer that we shall ries they endured, the truth has never been half told. I do something for these Niagara sufferers. If gentlemen am not now disposed to enter into a disquisition whether suppose the bill to be too broad, let us amend it in the this claim is to be classed under the head of a perfect or spirit of charity-let us say, “come let us reason togeimperfect obligation ; the black letter reading of Coke ther," but do not let us any more, with a cold tombstone op of Blackstone, will have but little infiuence in deter. charity, say to those suffering petitioners, “be ye fed mining my vote. Nor, sir, shall I consult the musty and be clothed.” The honorable gentleman from Ohio pages of Grotius or Puffendorf, to know for what losses has, in a warm, vivid, and glowing manner, peculiar to those gentlemen are pleased to say, Governments are himself, described some of the sufferings of these petibound to pay. But, sir, I have asked my conscience tioners. About two hundred inhabited dwellings were whether I believe this Government ought to do some entirely consumed; they contained, probably, upon an thing for these claimants, and whether we are probibited average, from six to eight souls. From 12 to 1600 hufrom doing it. I have also read the Constitution of my man beings, with the aged father, the helpless mother, country, and in the preamble I am told that it was adopt the infant in the cradle, were involved in one promiscuied sto promote the general welfare." I believe our ous labyrinth of woe. At that most inclement season, right to do something bas not been disputed. Why when the cold northern blasts of winter chill to the very not then do it? One honorable gentleman seems to soul, were these claimai:is bereft of a home, without a sunpose that the occupancy by our army of the build- shelter but the broad canopy of Heaven, the cold earth ines destroved. was not the cause of their destruction. their bed. Their sufferings may be imagined-they What then, supposing it to be true, will you furnishi no cannot be described. Many, to be sure, have gone to relief?
their long home, but many still remain looking up to us, Are our bands tied down and manacled, so that we and fervently imploring us to alleviate, in part, their dare not touch one cent in the Treasury? This has not distresses. Let us do it; we need not fear the consealways been the case. The moneys heretofore given to quences. No nation ever suffered by doing great, humane, alleviate great calamities, the grants beretofore made and generous acts. They tend to engage the affection), and appearing on your statute books, speak a different and rivet the attachments of the people. Let us, then, language. The select committee, in their report upon sir, do something worthy of this nation, and rest assurthis subject, has called our attention to some othered that the American people will not only hail you as grants :
upright and able statesmen, but also as noble, generous, $8,500 to the citizens of Pennsylvania, who suffered and charitable. losses by the wanton violence of some of her misguided Mr. SHARPE, of New York, expressed a wish that and misinformed inhabitants.
the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. P. P. BARBOUR,) 24.000 acres of land to the settlers at Galliopolis, be- would withdraw his motion to strike out the eracting Cause some speculators had cheated them.
clause of the bill, as the time spent in discussing it would $15,00, to nofortunate enigrants from llispaniola. prove, in a great measure, time lost, if the flouse re
fused to agree to the motion, since the bill would then Mr. WRIGHT, of Ohio, then said, that, as he was ad. have to undergo amendments, and all the discussion vised that the gentleman from New York, who had just would have to be gone over again. Whereas, if the taken his seat, as well as other gentlemen, had prepared motion to strike out the enacting clause were suspended, amendments to the bill, in order to give them an opporuntil its friends had had a fair opportunity to render the tunity of submitting them, he would withdraw that now bill as perfect as they could, it might then be put, and under consideration, stating, at the same time, that he the sense of the House as well, and better, taken upon had himself also prepared another amendment, which it, than in the present stage of the bill.
he should present at the proper time. Mr. P. P. BARBOUR observed, in reply, that he had Mr. WRIGHT'S motion for amendment having been made the motion to strike out the enacting clause on a withdrawn, and the question being on that offered by principle which he had invariably followed, viz. to save Mr. STORRS, the time of the House in discussing the forms of a mea-/ Mr. FORSYTH, of Georgia, observed, that he did not sure, when he believed that the measure itself, from its think he correctly understood the object of the amend. principle, would be rejected. He did not agree with ment. He went into a recapitulation of what had prethe gentleman from New York, that the time which was viously been done on this subject--the act of 1816 occupied in discussing such a motion was time lost. The the powers of the commissioner-his decisions—the inamendments might as well be engrafted after the gene terposition of the President, and the subsequent act of ral principle of the bill had been discussed as before, and 1817. By this act, it was required to be proved that the that discussion might itself suggest amendments; but, property was occupied by order of an officer of the as the gentleman from New York requested him to United States ; and, as he understood, all the claims withdraw the motion, and considerable discussion had! which had been brought under the provisions of this already been had upon it, he would not refuse. Mr. B. act had been paid. The object of the claimants now accordingly withdrew the motion to strike out the enact seemed to be to undo the restrictions of the law of 1817. ing clause of the bill.
and restore them and their claims to the same state as Mr. STORRS then rose, and said that he was opposed they were under the act of 1816. Now, the act of 1816 to the amendment of the gentleman from Ohiv, (Mr. had been extended by the commissioner to all property WRIGHT,) inasmuch as ail the difficulty which had hi-occupied with or without an order of any United States therto occurred to retard the settlement of these officer; and, if such was, in any way, the object of the claims, has sprung out of a phrase in the bill of 1816, present bill, or of the amendment, he should be opposed almost word for word the same as that now proposed by to it in toto, knowing, as he did, the abuses to which the present amendment. And whoever had attended the extraordinary decision of the commissioner would to the reports of committees of this House, on the va- have led. rious individual claims which had been submitted, for Mr. MARVIN, of New York, rose, in reply, and said injuries by the enemy, would perceive that the rejec- that it was not the object of the present bill, or of the tion of those claims had almos: invariably turned on amendment, to establish any new principle. He thought this same idea, viz. that it did not appear that the occu- the gentleman from Georgia had not stated the case pation by the United States was the cause of the de- quite fairly. It was true that the commissioner's prostruction: a point which former acts required to be prov. ceedings had been arrested, and that a new law was ed affirmatively, which the present bill did not require passed, establishing a different rule of adjudication, and to be proved; but which it was the effect of the amend empowering him only to examine and report. Under ment again to bring in question. Mr. S. maintained this law, a new commission issued to two members of that this was not a proper point to be inquired into ; the this House, and another gentleman of great talents, tu only point material in the claim, was, whether a citizen, whom was added an agent of the United States. These by surrendering his property to the use and occupation gentlemen repaired to Niagara, and, in their examinaof his Government, bad divested it of its private charac- tions and report, were governed by the law of 1817, ter, and whether, under such circumstances, it had been They took ample testimony—they made a detailed redestroyed. If these two facts were shown, the Govern-port-they did both by the authority of this House; but ment was bound to make up the loss; but the moment there their powers stopped, and there this House stopyou go a step beyond this, you meet an artificial difficul- ped also ; for, after receiving that report, nothing had ty of your own creating. Where private property, in- been done-not a dollar was granted for settling the deed, retaining its private character, becomes the sub-claims. Last session, a committee, indeed, had been ject of depredation by the enemy, as when the vessel of appointed to inquire what it was proper to do in the a merchant is unlawfully captured, or his goods wasted matter, and the report of that committee is before the and destroyed, the case, though a hard one, gives no House, and they propose the present bill, not to set up claim: upon the Government for indemnity; it comes any new principle, but merely to carry the former acts under the general case of losses in war, and must be into effect. Why did the House order them to report, borne as it may. But as soon as he, by his voluntary if it was not intended to follow up their report with act, gives up his property to public use, it becomes as some corresponding measure? Not one of these claims much an instrument of war as a cannon is. It is part of had been paid since 1817, and they were so numerous the materiel of the war, and the enemy may inflict upon that it was utterly impracticable for Congress to delibe. it what injuries he will, lawful or unlawful; he may rate upon them singly. Some general act was requisite even destroy it in sport. It does not touch the question to carry the rule the House had laid down into some of indemnification ; the fact of the destruction is a plain practicable effect. Such was the simple object of the one, susceptible of ample proof; but the moment you present bill. Its friends, indeed, did wish to get rid of an leave this to inquire into the motives of the enemy, you objectionable phrase in one of the former acts on this enter on a field of speculation and uncertainty. If the subject, which provides that the occupancy of the proHouse shall reject the amendment pow proposed, this perty must have been the cause of its destruction. will be avoided. Mr. STORRS then moved to amend the Under that law, if a claimant comes and proves both bill by striking out that clause which grants indem- the occupancy of his dwelling by United States' troops nity, provided the property “had been at any time dur- or magazines, and its destruction by the enemy, he is ing the war in the occupation of the United States, I answered “Ay, but you have not shown that the one was and substituting the proviso, that it was in such occu. the cause of the o her.” If he attempts to prove this pation “at the time of its destruction, or immediately by inference, it is objected that the destruction was on before."
a principle of retaliation for the burning of Newark.
If he attempts to show that whole villages were burnt, braced within the principle of existing laws. The effect he is again told that neither the occupancy by United of the present bill would be to embrace cases which the Statesh troops. nor the buming of Newark was the cause, Commissioner of Claims was about to allow, and would but only the predatory character that marked British have allowed, but for the interference of Congress, and warfare in former wars as well as the present. The claim- some of which, indeed, were allowed, without, in his ant is sent to examine the mind, and to probe the con opinion, any color of authority by law. The bill now science of the enemy, and tell what his true motives were, before the House embraced, in fact, a new principle, reIt was from such a requirement that the present bill cognizing a vast number of the claims, covering he knew sought to free these unhappy sufferers, many of whom | not what amount of money. had'endured a second desolation in consequence of the Mr. MERCER, of Virginia, said this appeared to be a Jegislation of this Hall. The acts of 1816 and 1817 led proper moment for correcting an error which had been them to expectindemnification; and the expectation was fallen into by several of the gentlemen who had spoken, ainst one: it was founded in their confidence in this and lastly by the gentleman from Georgia, relative to House, and the execution of its laws. In consequence, the course of the Commissioner of
the course of the Commissioner of Claims under the act they had begun to rebuild their burnt buildings, and of 1816. Mr. M. said he was authorized by the docuhad incurred responsibilities by doing so. The execution ment wbich he beld in his hands to aver, that the Comof those acts was suspended; the time of payment for missioner bad put no construction upon that act but their repairs came round. The same citizen who had what had received the sanction of the President of the once been stripped by the enemy, had to see his pro- United States. As soon as he took possession of the perty a second time swept away by judgment and exe- office to which he was appointed, the Commissioner adcution.
dressed four queries respecting the construction of that He did not mean to enter into the discussion of the act, to the Attorney General of the United States, who general principles of the bill ; but surely the Govern. returned for answer that he did not think himself bound, ment had fully settled it by its own act respecting the in the discharge of his official duty, to answer those destruction of Newark. He knew that act had been dis- queries. What did the Commissioner then? He adayowed by the Government: he should not express any dressed a letter to the acting Secretary of War, who opinion on the question, whether the act was or was not did fóirnish him with an exposition of the views of the
'iustifiable one': but he would call the attention of the Executive on this question. What was the exposition ? House to the letter of the Secretary of War. (Here he It was precisely that which the member from New York quoted the letter.) Now I do not say, observed Mr. | bad now put upon the law. Mr. M. bere quoted the NARVIY, that the act of burning was in obedience to this documents to sustain this statement of the facts. He read letter. The letter gays that it might become necessary. also part of another document, being a letter addressed Ladmit that it was not unavoidable ; for at the same by the Commissioner to the Secretary of War on the time we burnt the village, we evacuated Fort George. | 1st of November, 1816, in which he says he feels it to be AU L insist on is, that, in that letter, the principle was his duty to conform his decisions to any construction of recognized, that the burning of a village might become the law which the President should think the proper necessary in the lawful prosecution of a military enter | one, and that he would make no other decisions under prize. bid the Secretary apprehend any danger that it, until he should receive further instructions on that the buildings and houses of Newark should arrange head. How could it be said, under these circumstances, themselves into battalions, and march against our army? | that decisions had been made by the Commissioner, unNo: but he knew that they protected the British forces. der that act, without any color of authority? Shortly after our troops evacuated the British territory, Mr. M. here reviewed the history of the decisions, the they entered ours, and took Fort Niagara. Now, said / great number of them
great number of them, and the considerable amount
ar Mr. MARVIX, suppose that the taking of that fort had / which they involved.
which they involved, which reduced Congress to the been followed by a letter of precisely the same import alternative of revoking the law, so as to shut out the as that of our Secretary of War, where would be the cases not yet allowed, or that of laying by the cases for difference of the cases? (Experience had shown that further consideration. The latter course was preferred, the villages on both sides were a covering to the troops; and, by causing testimony to be taken in regard to the and the British order might have expressly referred to destruction of property at Buffalo, &c. a hope was held the fact that, in 1812, the whole frontier was converted out to the claimants that the same measure would be into one great cantonment.) Sir, the act was done : and dealt out to them as to others similarly situated, whose I contend it was done on the self same principle as our claims had been allowed before the execution of the own act in burning Newark.
original law was suspended. He was happy to find that the gentleman from Geor U pon the question whether the laws of civilized war gia was disposed to acquiesce in the principles of the justified the destruction of the Niagara frontier, Mr. M. acts of 1816 and 1817 ; and when that gentleman disco- expressed the decided opinion that the usage of civilized vers that he was mistaken in supposing that the claims nations did not justify it. He defied any one to put his under those acts had been paid, he will allow that a law finger on any passage in any esteemed writer on Nationwhich provides for their payment is every way just and al Law, or on any page of history, in which such a necessary.
transaction was reconciled to the principles of lawful Mr. FORSYTH said he did not know whether any of warfare. So far from a belligerant being entitled to the persons whose case came fairly within the provi- destroy private dwellings because of their being or bav. sions as the acts of 1816 and 1817, had been paid. He sing been occupied by its enemy, Mr. M. maintained was perfectly certain that those who came within them the reverse to be the law. The most fertile and populwere entitled to be paid, and he considered it to be the | lous countries of Europe, he remarked, had been most duty of the House, when the cases were fairly made out, frequently the theatres of war-Flanders and Lom. to pay them. But, he asked, what is now the quiestion? | bardy, for example, the cock pits of Europe, in which Not to pay those who, under those laws, are fairly enti- France and Germany had so often contended for empire. ted to be paid, but to alter the law, and embrace in / of the ravages which would have been made of these a new enaciment cases expressly excluded by those two beautiful countries, if the principle now suggested had acts. After taking a brief review of the history of the been acted upon, he drew a vivid outline, concluding by act of 1816, and the adjudications under it, Mr. F. said saying that, by the conduct of her commanders on the that gentlemen had mistaken their remedy altogether, shores and fruntiers of this country during the late war, if, as the gentleman suggested, these cases were em- the arms of Great Britain had been stained with a dis
grace which it would take a century to wipe off. There curious to ascertain what were the views of Congress existed, he argued, no such right on the part of a bellion this subject, would find them clearly indicated by the gerant, as the right to destroy private houses, or indivi- various amendments, &c. which were proposed to the dual property, from which an enemy has been driven. bill, wbich grew out of this Message of the President. If such a right bad been admitted and acted upon in Eu: Mr. DWIGHT, of Mass, said he did not rise to enter rope, what would have become of the splendid buildings into the discussion of the general question upon thre dedicated to military purposes, or of the private build.merits of the bill, as it originally stood; to that bill, un. ings occasionally employed for them? He expressed his modified, he was himself opposed. But limited, as it surprise to find gentlemen in this discussion transferring now was, by the amendment of his honorable friend from themselves to the Niagara frontier, as if their general New York, (Mr. STORRS,) to the destruction of buildprinciples applied there only, instead of sweeping the ings or other property in the actual occupation of our whole continent. He illustrated the principle which own Government, at the time of the destruction, he gave had been laid down on this subject, by applying it to he his most hearty co-operation. He rose merely to point City of New York, if, in any future war, an enemy out an error of the honorable gentleman from Virginia, should obtain possession of it; and demanded if the (Mr. MERCER,) who had just taken his seat, and upon right to ravage that city with fire could be derived from which the argument of the honorable gentleman against the fact that troops called in for its defence were quar- the present bill seemed entirely to be founded. That tered in private buildings. Upon the whole, he conclud- is, that the laws of 1816 and 1817, in behalf of persons ed that it would be neither just nor wise for this go who had property lost, captured, or destroyed, by the vernment to recognize any such principle as the right of enemy during the last war, w-re not founded in princi. an enemy to destroy private property because it may ple, and went further than the Government were bound have been employed, for a time, either for military depo- to go in relief of individual distress. To shew that the sites, or for barracks.
error was in the laws of 1816 and 1817, and not in the With regard to the distinction which bad been drawn administration of them, the honorable gentleman from as to the right of the enemy to destroy private property, Virginia had attempted to shew that the Commissioner, that the war on the Niagara frontier, was, on our part, an acting under the authority of those laws, had invariably offensive war, Mr. M. remarked, that, whether a war was been guided by the opinion of the Government, as to offensive or defensive, must be determined by its origin, the extent of the allowances which he was to make. and not by any particular incident of the war.
To support this position, the honorable gentleman had The gentleman from New York, (Mr. STORRS,) had read a part of the correspondence belween the Commisanswered the argument of his colleague, (Mr. Tracy,) sioner and the Secretary of the Treasury, as to the exby contending that the war on the Niagara frontier was tent of his ability to make allowances. And thence, the calculated to call the attention of the enemy from the gentleman had induced the belief that, because the Comfrontier of the state of Ohio, which he was in the act of missioner had consulted the Government, he had, in all invading. Whether a particular expedition was offen- instances, been governed by the result of that consultasive or defensive, he repeated, must depend entirely tion. So far indeed was this from being true, he was upon the plan of the campaign. An invasion of the ter- himself prepared to shew, from the documents which ritory of the enemy might be necessary to call his at the honorable genıleman had just read, that the Secre. tention from our own seaboard.
tary of the Treasury had, in his answer to the Commis. A member from New York, (Mr. CAMBRELENG,) had sioner, confined relief to the destruction of buildings actold the committee, indeed, that this country would tually in the occupation of the Government for military never again be invaded. He was very glad to hear it, purposes. The committee were not ignorant, that, so he said; and yet nations as strong as this had been in- far from this salutary principle being the governing one, vaded. And, in reference to the possibility of such an the Commissioner had allowed some thousands of dollars event, as well as upon general principles, he objected in one instance to be paid for a building in the City of to the establishment of a new law of nations, which Washington, in regard to which the proof was by a Bri. would subject the public treasury to all the losses of tish deserter, that it was destroyed by the enemy because property it might occasion.
a single musket was found in one of the apartments. He Mr. M. concluded his observations, by some remarks might add, (he said,) other instances of a wide deparon the general subject of claims of this description.- ture from what was now considered the spirit of the He said he should probably vute against the bill, in any laws of 1816 and 1817. They were, he presumed fresh and every shape in which it should be presented to the in the recollection of gentlemen who were, unlike bim. House ; being of opinion, that those of the claimants self at that time, conversant with those proceedings.who were entitled to relief ought to present themselves He would ask the honorable gentleman if the policy of by petition to the House. In particular cases, sufficient the laws of 1816 and 1817 were so generally questionareasons might be assigned for the allowance of particu-ble, why they had not been repealed ? It was true, he lar claims : but he had always been opposed to the pas admitted, that the President had long since suspended sage of any general bill on this subject. He was unwil- the powers of the Commissioner. But that had not ling to establish a principle now, by the passage of this repealed the law. The President, indeed, had no more bill, which, on some future occasion, he would be under power over that repeal than the humblest individual of the necessity of abandoning.
the nation. He appealed to the committee for the corMr. FORSYTH said he had not any intention to call rectness of the assertion, that the universal public feel. in question, at this late day, the conduct of the Commis- ing at that time, was, that the decisions of the commissioner of Claims. At a proper season he had done so, sioner (though he had no doubt they were honest,) and, he believed, with some effect. He had not spoken would involve the government in payments which it of inisconduct on the part of the Commissioner, but of was not in contemplation of the laws of 1816 and 1817 an extraordinary construction of the law by him; and, to make them responsible for. The fact that the laws so far from its being previously sanctioned by the Presi- now remained unqualified and unrepealed upon the stadent, the language of his message on the subject to tute book, was unequivocal evidence of the correctness Congress, was, that the law had received "such a con. of their policy; while the suspension of the powers of struction by the Commissioner," that he had thought the commissioner at that early period, by the President, proper to interfere and suspend the further execution of went as clearly to show that he had not, in the opinion the law. Mr. F. quoted that part of the Message of the of the government, been guided by a sufficiently cauPrésident to Congress in December, 1816, which relates tious policy in the administration of those laws. He to this subject, and said that any gentleman who was, would submit, then, he said, to the committee, the ques
Jan. 3, 1825.]
[11. of R.
tion, whether the honorable gentleman was authorized lawful war, and, as such, they were bound to grant into found an argument against the present bill, upon a demnity to the sufferers. This is the principle upon supposed resemblance to the laws of 1816 and 1817, which he bill has been rested by its friends, and the onThe coincidence, if any, was in favor of the present bill, ly principle upon which it can rest. and not against it. True it was, the law of 1816 con. Let us then, said Mr. B. inquire into the justice of tained a qualification not embraced in the present bill, this proposition. Had the enemy a right to burn and and that was, that it should appear “that the occupation destroy the whole Niagara frontier, because most of the by our government was the cause of the destruction of private houses were occupied as barracks and places of the building for which payment was 'demanded.” He military deposite? On this subject he concurred genewould ask gentlemen if it were worthy of our govern- rally with the views of his friend from Virginia, (Mr. ment, who had violently seized upon the house of an in- MERCER.) If this were established as a correct princidividual, and turned his family out to cover their house.ple of national law, the consequence would be dreadful, less troops, to demand of him, when he asked remune. and in many cases, the general devastation of the private ra ion for a burning by the enemy, when so occupied, to property of unoffending individuals must inevitably enprove that such occupancy was the cause of its destruc- sue. War would no longer be a civil game between intion? He thought not. Every principle which binds a dependent sovereigns; but each individual of the hostile government to its citizens, or one citizen to another, nations would be liable to ruin by the destruction of his was at war with such a requisition. He would say, in the property. I will illustrate my views, said Mr. B. by an language of the gentleman from Vermont, the other day, example. Let an enemy land upon our shores and drive (Mr. BIKADLBY,) who then was, but now he presumed our army beyond the line of our fortifications, what would not be, against the bill before the committee-would then be the consequence? Private houses must “The Government have taken the property of an indi-of necessity be used as places of military deposite and vidual, and while in their hands it was destroyed; they as a shelter for the soldiers. Once, then, establish the are bound to restore it or make compensation Equal. principle embraced by this bill, and you justify an enely clear, he contended was the principle laid down by my in destroying and laying waste the whole country the honorable gentleman froin Virginia, (Mr. BARBOUR,) over which he advances. Nay, you do more ; you offer who had the other day gone so fully and ably into the him the strongest temptation to commit such outrages. discussion of the merits of the original question. This Such, said Mr. B. has never been the practice of civilizwas a case, in the language of that gentleman, of destruc- ed nations; andi he trusted this government would never tion in pursuance of the usages of civilized warfare ; sanction the propriety of such outrageous acts on the and, if so, there can be no doubt the government are part of an enemy. bound to compeosate to the full extent of their ability. Mr. B. said there was another view which this subject The sum asked for was but small, under the amendment, presents, which adds the guilt of perfidy to that of the and he hoped it would prevail. He would, before he sat violation of the laws of war. Whilst the village of Bufdown, ask the commiitee to look at the situation of the falo still presented a hostile front to the enemy, a capitupetitioners, who, upon every principle on which we had lation was entered into by Col. Chapin of our army, with founded our opinion upon private claims, were entitled Gen. Rial, who commanded the British forces. By that to relief. Their misfortune hitherto seems to have been instrument, it was solemnly agreed “that private pro. that their claims were involved with a mass of less ques-perty and private persons should not be molested or intionable cases, and, year after year, to have been re-jured." Upon the faith of this capitulation the British fused relief, because a bill intended for them embraced forces entered the town. The testimony proves, that, others not so clearly within the settled principle which before its date, they were well acquainted with the fact, had governed this House. In this case, the maxim of that a large body of the United States' troops bad been charity was equally applicable as a maxim of justice. quartered there, and that many of the houses were “Bis dat, qui cito dat,"'-he gives twice who gives places of military deposite. With a full knowledge of quickly. Let this be applied to them, and your deserv. those circumstances, they entered into the capitulation : ing citizens who have given up their houses for barracks, What was then their subsequent conduct? instead of shall not be compelled to add to the ten years in which separating the military stores from the houses in wbich they have been in vain asking for remuneration. He they were deposited; instead of destroving public and would not occupy further time, as he had only risen in saving private property, they involved the whole village reply to the observations which had just fallen from the in one common conflagration. At the most inclement gentleman from Virginia
season of the year, in a northern climate, regardless of Mr. BUCHANAN, of Pennsylvania, said, he rose to their faith, they set fire to the town, and drove its inhamake a few observations on the bill beiore the commit-bitants to seek shelter and bread from the compassion of tee, which he would not have done, had his views of strangers. And this under pretence of what they well the subject been exhibited by any other gentleman. He knew before the capitulation, that there were military said, he would state, as a clear proposition, which had stores deposited in many of the private houses. And not been much disputed in the course of the discussion, yet this destruction is attempted to be justified by the that this government was bound, as a matter of right, to laws of war established among civilized nations. indemnify individuals for the destruction of their proper. Again, said Mr. B. pass this bill, and no member of ty by the enemy, provided such destruction were in the committee can form any just estimate of the number pursuance of the rules of civilized warfare. If that and amount of the claims to which it will give birth. The were not the case, then we were not compelled by any | inhabitants of the Niagara frontier are neither better nor principles of public law to make such an indemnity.- worse than their fellow country men. This bill is chiefly Every motive of policy would forbid it.
intended for their benefit. It is to embrace a tract of Then, said Mr. B. the question is, was the devastation country of considerable extent, within which the whole of the whole Niagara frontier and the burning of Buffalo, mass of people feel a common interest in obtaining from acts justified by the laws of war? Can this be a subject the Government as much as possible. Self love, and of serious doubt at the present day? If we pass this bill, the prejudices which necessarily result from it, will in. we proclaim that our denunciations of the conduct of duce them to bring every case in their power within the British army on that frontier, which lias met the re- the language of the law, and to place the highest value probation of the people of the United States, and, he possible upon the property which was destoyed. This trusted, of the whole civilized world, were unjust and bill is without limit, and without bound; and what will untounded the Congress of the United States will be the extent of the appropriation necessary to carry it declare, that the acts of that army were measures of l into effect, the committee cannot even conjecture.