« PreviousContinue »
of the collection of the customs to the same distance. So that, according to this principle, we ought to have our custom-houses in Philadelphia for transacting the mercantile business of the city of New York.
The argument of the Senator from Maryland, [Mr. PEARCE] conceded the whole point, when he said that, if the question was in the first instance upon establishing a mint for the United States, the convenience of trade, he should think, would be a conclusive argument for locating it in the city of New York. And the argument of the Senator from Pennsylvania, (Mr. COOPER] brings us to precisely the same conclusion, when he says, that is a mint shall be established in New York, the institution in Philadelphia will expire, notwithstanding it is supported by the patronage and favor of the government, and all the commercial interests of that great and flourishing city. We are told, indeed, by the Senator from Maryland, that at most there can be but an expense of thirty thousand dollars a year to be saved to the mercantile community by the establishment of a mint at New York. I say, sir, with all due deference, that even that expense is more than the government has a right to impose upon the commercial community, inasmuch as the government has undertaken to furnish coin, and commerce requires that the expense of furnishing it should be made as small as possible. But who can tell us the amount of loss that is sustained by the exportation of bullion, and even unassayed gold dust, to Europe, to avoid the loss, risk, and delay, of transportation to and from Philadelphia for purposes of coinage ?
Mr. President, let us meet a great question directly and justly. The mint was rightly established in Philadelphia. When it was established there, the commerce of the country was there. But now commerce has changed its haunts. The commerce of the country has concentrated, and the commerce of the world is concentrating, at New York. The government must accommodate itself to the change of times and of circumstances, or maintain a conflict in which it must be overborne. Sooner or later we shall come to this conclusion—the sooner, of course, the safer and more wise. I say nothing to the prejudice of Philadelphia, nothing in hostility to its interests or its commerce, or to the mint established there. Let it stand and perform all the functions required of it. But let us, at the same time, provide for the performance of those
same functions where they have become necessary, and even absolutely indispensable.
The communication which has just been read shows this extraordinary fact, that, owing to the failure of the mint at Philadelphia to coin the amount of bullion and foreign coin sent from New York to Philadelphia in proper time, the government has been obliged to resort to the expedient of sending an agent from Philadelphia to New York to pay off the amount of certificates given to merchants and bankers in that city for gold sent to be coined at Philadelphia ; that is to say, that the mint in Philadelphia has been under the necessity of using the sub-treasury of the city of New York to pay out the coin collected there, and thus to relieve the pressure which has been created for want of sufficient coinage. I think that this circumstance alone shows the necessity and the great importance of establishing a mint in the city of New York.
But it has been asked, of what use and to whom is the use of establishing a branch mint in the city of New York? I answer : that the expense, the loss, and the burden, which falls upon the
community of New York, has been, at various times, not less than fifty thousand dollars a year for want of a mint in that city. But it is said that some of the gold which would be coined at that mint is extracted from the mines in California, and it is asked what would be the use of á mint in the city of New York? I answer, that the very same reason which dictates the necessity of a branch mint at California ; the same necessity which would prescribe its establishment there, prescribes, with equal if not greater force, the necessity of establishing a branch mint in the city of New York. What is the necessity or object of a mint anywhere? It is to receive the gold which is uncoined, whether in bullion, or in ingots, or in foreign coin, and convert it into money, which will he received and passed by our mercantile operations into circulation in the country. Now, then, it appears that the gold which is extracted from the mines in California does not go into circulation without subjecting the miner to a loss of two dollars upon every ounce; and therefore it is apparent that, by the establishment of a mint there, the sum of two dollars upon every ounce of California gold is saved to the country. Now, take the other alternative. Ten times as much gold comes annually into this country by the way of the city of New York as has yet been received
from the mines of California. This is foreign gold, much of it foreign coin; and as it comes into the city of New York, so it goes back again, without being recoined, and it does not therefore enter into our circulation ; and the reason is, that it cannot be circulated as money, because, not having received the stamp, the impression of the government, it is not practically circulating coin. It is a collection of coins from other countries, every piece of which has to be weighed every time it is received or paid out, precisely like the gold in California. The argument, therefore, which proves the necessity of establishing a branch mint at California, proves equally the necessity of the establishment of a branch mint in the city of New York; and the question in both cases is precisely the same; that is, whether, in California, you will establish a mint at the mines where the gold is gathered, or take it to a distance of a hundred miles : so, if you are to have a mint on the Atlantic coast, the question is, whether it should be at the point where the most gold is imported, or whether it should be a hundred miles from that point ?
FEBRUARY 7, 1861.
NOTE.—The credentials of Robert Rantoul, chosen by the Legislature of Massachusetts a senator for that state for the seat occupied by Robert C. Winthrop, under an appointment by the governor of that state, were presented; but Mr. Rantoul had not yet appeared to claim his seat. Mr. Winthrop retired from the Senate. But thereupon, Mr. Davis, of Massachusetts, offered the following resolution :
“ Resolved—That a senator appointed by the executive of a state to fill a vacancy, is entitled to hold a seat until the Senate is satisfied that a successor is elected aud has accepted the office. Provided—That such election and acceptance takes place during the session of the legislature held next after the vacancy occurs, and that such acceptance ought not to be inferred from the mere presentation to the Senate of the credentials of the newly-elected senator."
Mr. PRESIDENT, I find myself unable to vote for the resolution of the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, [Mr. Davis] in favor of which my feelings and wishes draw me. If this had been a new question, I should have concurred at once in the construction
* Remarks on the duration of the term of senators appointed by governors to fill Vacancies.
of the constitution given by the honorable Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. RHETT) which, I think, is the literal exposition; but it is too late, I think, to review the construction which has been acquiesced in so long, and which was adopted so soon after the establishment of the government. Then, adopting the construction which has been given in the precedents heretofore established, that this seat was filled by the person appointed by the governor until the vacancy should be filled at the next session of the legislature, I cannot adopt the opinion that the terms employed in the constitution were designed to close the term of the person holding office by executive appointment on the first day of the session, or on the first hour of the session, or on the last hour of the previous recess of the legislature; because if we adopt a construction so artificial and so technical, it would follow that, unless the legislature should, on the very first day, or in the first hour, fill the vacancy, or at least make it the first act of their session to appoint a senator, the legislature would never afterward have the power to fill the vacancy. I think, therefore, that the construction given to that clause of the constitution by the honorable Chairman of the Judiciary Committee (Mr. BUTLER] is sound and correct, to wit, that the vacancy may be filled by the legislature at any time during its session.
Then, the question arises, what constitutes the act of filling the vacancy? It strikes me that the Chair has given a true exposition of that act. The legislature have a duty to discharge; they perform that duty by appointing a person to fill the vacancy. They are to be presumed to have ascertained the competency or the qualifications of the person whom they have selected. They are not to be presumed to have sent here a person constitutionally disqualified from accepting the trust; they are not to be presumed to have selected an alien, one who has not resided within the United States a constitutional length of time; they are not to be supposed to have appointed a man under the required age. But, on the other hand, it is due to the legislature, and due to the state, to suppose that they have ascertained that the person whom they have appointed was competent to discharge the trust. And I think further that it is our duty to presume that they have ascertained also the fact of his acceptance of the trust, for it is not to be supposed that any state would notify us of the appointment of the person who had refused to accept, or about whose acceptance
they entertained any question. I suppose, therefore, that a person who is appointed by a legislature is from the day of his appointment a senator in the Congress of the United States. I suppose that he is to be deemed and reputed as holding that office, and entitled to all its privileges. The time when he will accept it, the time when he will enter upon the discharge of the duties of the office, is a question for himself alone. He may never accept it; but the state has discharged its duty, and it remains with the state to take care that the vacancy shall be filled. It seems to me, therefore, that we ought to pass over the question of acceptance of the office; for if we wait for an acceptance, how shall we define what is to be an act of acceptance of this trust? There may be various forms in which a willingness to accept may be signified. An exercise of the franking privilege would imply a willingness to accept. If we wait for an actual acceptance, we ought to define what that acceptance shall be. After having examined the question with care, I have come to the conclusion that we ought to regard the state as having sent here a person qualified, and, therefore, that it has filled the vacancy which existed ; and so I come to the conclusion that the temporary tenure of the senatorial office in this case has ended, and that the vacancy which it continued has been constitutionally filled. It may be that it will prove to have been imperfectly filled, but the legislative appointment is sufficient until it shall be found otherwise.
MAJ. GEN. WINFIELD SCOTT.*
FEBRUARY 12, 1861.
It is precisely for the reason that it is not a departure from what has heretofore obtained in this government, that I am in favor of this resolution, and it is precisely for the reason that occasion calls for it, that I wish to follow out the line of safe and well-timed precedents from the day when the independence of this country was declared until now. It has been the habit of Congress to award honors to soldiers who had distinguished them
* Remarks on a resolution anthorizing the President of the United States to confer the rank of Lieutenant General ou Wiufield Scott.