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Militia Courts Martial.
The Committee on Military Affairs have been, in my opinion, unjustly censured, because they took possession of the documents before they were printed. But was not the order of the House to refer, equally powerful with the
ing for these papers to be printed, might have the privilege of having these documents before them. He admitted that the argument of the committee was ingenious
the naked truth shall not go forth until his friends | negative, rather than be instrumental in prohad prepared a commentary to accompany it? ducing another protracted party debate. He was astonished that any gentleman could advance the doctrine here, that papers must, of necessity, go to the world with a commentary and argument to each this fellow-citizens how to understand the record. He prayed that members of the House, who had been nearly a fortnight wait-order to print? The committee had at least as much right to the possession of these documents, as the printer. One gentleman may have wished that the printing might be the first step, while another desired that the reference might have the precedence. How, then, are the committee censurable? If the printing had been delayed too long, the House could and would have exercised a control over their committee.
The SPEAKER reminded the gentleman from Rhode Island, that it was not in order to discuss the merits of the report on a question to print. Mr. BURGES said he was not about to go into the merits: He would say the report had no merits. He wished to have the testimony without the commentary; and he prayed that the order already made by the House should be complied with.
The SPEAKER stated, that when the order of the House was made to refer the documents and print them, he had submitted the papers to the chairman of the committee, a course which he thought perfectly proper.
Mr. DRAYTON referred to the course pursued at the last session, as to the documents connected with the dispute between the U. States and the State of Georgia. A motion was then made, by the chairman of the committee, that all the documents should be appended to the report of the committee, and they were so appended. The committee of which he was a member, had, in the course of their investigation, found it necessary to examine a mass of documents, some of which were only to be obtained from the Indian Department, and all these were appended to their report. There was nothing novel, therefore, in this proposition.
Mr. BUCHANAN said: I rise to express a sincere hope that the House may promptly decide this question. I fear, from the course which the debate has taken, that we may again find ourselves involved in a political contest. I call upon those gentlemen upon this floor, if there be any such, with whom my opinion has any influence, to avoid making this a party question. The House have already wasted sufficient time upon questions of that character. We have already withdrawn ourselves long enough from the public business of the nation, for the purpose of attending to the politics of the day.
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What is the true, the intrinsic nature of the question now before the House? It is simply this Shall the documents be printed with, or without, the report of the committee? What possible difficulty can arise in answering this question? No gentleman has objected to printing the report. Whether the documents shall be attached to the report or not, both will be read by the people of the United States. Then why detach them from each other? Let them go together. The question, however, is one of so trifling a character, that I should vote in the
If the House had wished the documents to be printed, without the commentary of the committee, they ought to have passed an order for printing simply. But at the same time that we ordered the printing, we sent the documents to the committee. For what purpose? Certainly that we might obtain their report: and now the only question is, whether the documents, and the report upon them, shall be printed together, or separately? I shall vote that the commentary shall accompany the text; but yet I think it a matter of very little importance.
The only change which the committee have made in the order of the letters, is to place them in the order of their dates, and make the answer follow the letter to which it is a reply. No gentleman can wish to see the answer placed before the letter which gave birth to it. Mr. B. again expressed a hope that this might not become a party question, and produce a party debate.
Mr. TAYLOR, in reply to the question which had been asked, as to what difference it made how the documents were printed, said that there were two distinct series of printing: one of which embraces Executive documents, and the other Reports of Committees. At a future day, when this information should be sought for, the Executive documents would naturally be looked to. Should it be transferred to Reports of Committees, it would not be in its natural place. It does not now come before us as from the Executive Departments at all. The House had ordered that it should be printed as an Executive document, and as such it ought to be printed. Precedents had been referred to. One gentleman had referred to the case of the Vice President. In that case, the documents were matters collected as evidence, and formed a part of the report. This is a very different matter. If the Department has presented these documents in a manner to impose on the people, the committee might cast a censure on the Department; but the House owes it to the Department to print the information as it has been received. He thought it high time that we should proceed with the public business. He had come to the House this day in that ex
Navy Appropriations and Expenses.
pectation. Unless we violate all the rules and practice of the House, the order would be executed as it had been previously directed, without any change in the manner of doing it.
Mr. WICKLIFFE called for the previous question: which motion prevailed.
The question being then-"Shall the main question be now put?" It was decided in the affirmative-ayes 105, noes 75.
The question was then taken, on the passage of the resolution, and agreed to-ayes 108, noes 69.
TUESDAY, February 12.
Navy Appropriations and Expenses. On motion of Mr. McDUFFIE, the House went into Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, Mr. CONDICT in the chair, and took up the bill making appropriations for the Naval service for the year 1828. The bill was read through, and then taken up by sections; and the clause of appropriation for the pay and subsistence being under consideration
Mr. HOFFMAN, Chairman of the Committee of Naval Affairs, requested Mr. MCDUFFIE, Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, who had reported the bill, to state to the House what was the increase in the number of officers in the estimates of the present year, over the number of officers in the estimates of last year.
Mr. McDUFFIE replied, that he had imperfectly understood the gentleman from New York, but would state, in reply to what he had understood to be his question, that the increase in amount for this item was about $20,000; which difference grew out of the increased number of officers.
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stricting the appropriations for their pay and subsistence. He expressed his willingness to increase the number of officers so far as might be necessary for vessels actually in commission, but was opposed to increasing the number of those waiting for orders. The Navy now cost about one-seventh of the whole expenditure of the Government. That arm of the Government was at present highly popular; but would not continue to be so if it were suffered to grow too expensive. Mr. H. concluded by stating that he was unable to designate what particular sum should be substituted for that now in the bill, as he had not received the necessary data for that purpose from the Navy Department.
Mr. TAYLOR congratulated the House that this subject had received the attention of the Naval Committee. He deprecated the omission, on the part of Congress, heretofore, to fix the number of naval officers, as it had done that of the officers of the Army. He thought it highly improper that their number should be left discretionary with the Executive branch of the Government, and pressed upon the Naval Committee the propriety of bringing in a bill fixing the Navy Peace Establishment.
Mr. MCDUFFIE sent to the Clerk's table a letter from the Secretary of the Navy, explaining in detail the estimates from that Department for the present year.
Mr. WILLIAMS inquired of Mr. HOFFMAN, whether he considered the total number of officers, proposed to be employed, as too great in proportion to the services proposed to be performed, and whether the whole number was any greater than was requisite for that service which was authorized by law.
Mr. HOFFMAN replied, that the number would Mr. HOFFMAN then went into a lengthy de- be far too small if all the vessels in the Navy tailed statement, in which he compared the were actually in commission, but not more than estimates of this year and the last, as they ap-half our vessels were in actual service; and, in plied to each grade of officers. The number of reply to the other question, he said, that if the Captains, in 1827, was 27; for this year, 32. estimates of last year were to be taken as a Those in commission in 1827, were 8; those standard of judgment, the number of officers for this year, 9. Captains waiting orders last proposed for the present year was too great in year, were 9; this year, 13. Lieutenants wait-proportion. The estimate contemplated an ining orders last year, were 83; those waiting crease in the service, which Mr. H. did not orders this year, 111. Surgeons, two more think necessary. this year than last-12 waiting for orders. Surgeons' mates were increased from 28 to 32; waiting orders last year, none; this year, 11. Pursers increased from 21 to 23-4 waiting orders last year; 8 this year. Midshipmen waiting orders last year, 20; this year, 85. He summed up the increase for the present year as follows: 5 Captains, 1 Commandant, 55 Lieutenants, 17 Surgeons, 14 Surgeons' mates, 6 Pursers, 3 Chaplains, and 156 Midshipmen. After stating the reasons given by the Secretary for this increase, Mr. H. insisted, that, if any alterations were to be introduced in the management of the Navy, those changes could be more easily effected if the number of officers was few than many. The only limit to the number of appointments was in the re
After some explanations from Mr. TAYLOR, Mr. HOFFMAN continued his speech, and opposed the expediency of fixing a Peace Establishment, thinking it better that the number of officers should be regulated, from year to year, according to the contingencies of the service. He was opposed to every thing like a sinecure office. He would pay the officers liberally when in actual service; but not retain large numbers of them, upon salary, waiting orders.
Mr. STORES (who was last year Chairman of the Naval Committee) went into an explanation of the causes which had led to an increase in the extent and expenses of the Navy. He insisted that the expenditure was economical, having been more than made up by the value of our commerce which it had protected. The
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Navy Appropriations and Expenses.
[FEBRUARY, 1828. increase of the officers ought to keep pace with | Committee would suggest some mode of rethat of the Navy itself. As to a temporary straining the number of Lieutenants and Midemployment of them, to cease as soon as their shipmen, he would unite with him in such a ships ceased to be in commission, he denounced measure. it as utterly destructive of our naval interests and character. He pronounced the present pay of the officers to be inadequate to the stations they respectively occupied. He denied that there were any sinecures in the Navy, and insisted that, if the number of officers was at any time too great, the fault did not lie with the Department, but with Congress, who had frequently been solicited by the Department to fix the number by law. Such an arrangement was earnestly wished for by the Secretary of the Navy; but he had hitherto asked it in vain. The increase of the expense of the Navy was only in proportion to the increased extension of the commerce which it had to protect.
Mr. WHIPPLE insisted, that, as this whole subject had been placed within the discretion of the Navy Department, that Department should either be permitted to arrange the number of officers as it thought proper; or be accused of malfeasance in office. He presumed the head of that Department had sufficient ability to exercise a sound discretion. Mr. W. insisted upon the better information possessed by the Department, as to the necessity of changing the arrangement of different detachments of the Navy than existed elsewhere, and such changes are necessarily expensive. Let the House either trust to the discretion of the Department, or regulate the matter themselves by law. He had heard no good reason advanced to show that the discretion reposed in the Department had been improperly exercised.
Mr. DWIGHT replied at considerable length to the remarks of Mr. HOFFMAN, the general error of whose statement lay in this: that he had compared the estimates of this year with the estimates of the last year; whereas, he ought to have compared the estimates of this year, with the expenses of the preceding year, on which they were founded. Had he done this, he would have found, that, instead of being greater, they were about 150,000 dollars less than those of the preceding year. Mr. D. did not agree with Mr. TAYLOR as to the necessity of restricting the Executive discretion, in the appointment of officers. He recapitulated the increasing appropriations which had been made, and the multiplied items of expenditure which had arisen from the building of ten sloops of war-the erection of dry docks at New York and Boston-the depot at Pensacola, &c., and insisted that the number of officers was not greater than these new and various branches of the service required.
Mr. BARNEY, adverting to the situation of Mr. HOFFMAN, as Chairman of the Naval Committee, reprobated the sentiments expressed from so influential a quarter, in regard to paying the officers only while in actual service, as tending to degrade the standing of those gentlemen, and drive them from the public employment, the effect of which would be to ruin the service, and leave the Navy of the United States bottom upwards. Mr. B. denied that the number of officers was too great even for a permanent Peace Establishment. There were no supernumeraries-no sinecures. The increase of Midshipmen, instead of being upwards of ninety, as by the estimates it would appear to be, was, in fact, but about fifty. He concluded by insisting that the extent of the Navy was only in proportion to the commerce of the country; that the Navy was, in effect, the right arm of the nation.
Mr. McDUFFIE stated the facts, from which Mr. SERGEANT stated, as a reason why the the increased estimates of the present year had number of vessels in commission would require arisen, and among them, dwelt especially upon to be increased, that information had just been the increased number of Lieutenants and Mid-received from the southward, that great danger shipmen. He gave no opinion as to the neces- was apprehended from the rise of piracy in the sity or expediency of this increase; he denied Gulf of Mexico. Applications on that subject that the number of officers employed was to be had this day been received at the Navy Departregulated by the number of vessels in commis-ment, from the Insurance Companies of Philasion. Their number was five times as great as delphia and New York, and others would no was needed for a state of peace, if that state doubt follow, from Boston and elsewhere, urgwas always to continue. The necessity for ing the propriety of stationing an additional their employment arose from the necessity of force in the Carribean sea, in consequence of being prepared for war. He would not say the proclamation of Commodore Porter, invitthat it was inexpedient, in this point of view, ing privateers into the Mexican service. While to increase the number of officers. He was in- this increase of our naval force was required in competent to judge of that point, but should be that quarter, the service in the Pacific, on the unwilling to refuse, without further light, the coast of Brazil, and above all, in the Mediterappropriation asked for. Viewing the Naval ranean, would not allow of any diminution. Establishment in peace, as in fact a preparation Mr. S. insisted, that the power of appointing for war, he thought the number of officers officers was properly vested, and that, as long ought to bear some general relation to the as the House could check it by the amount of number of ships, and that, if the Navy itself appropriations, there was no need of regulatwas increased, some increase of officers was ing the number of officers by legislative enactunavoidable. If the Chairman of the Naval ment. As to a Peace Establishment, the Navy
Cadets at West Point.
[H. OF R.
knew no such thing as peace. From its crea- | to be paid out of the moneys appropriated for the tion to this day, it had been in perpetual ser- gradual increase of the Navy of the United States, vice. Our commerce had required incessant by the first section of the act, entitled 'An act for protection, and was likely now to require still the gradual improvement of the Navy of the United more in the Gulf of Mexico, and in the Medi-States,' approved 3d March, 1827." terranean. If a Peace Establishment was fixed at all, it must be fixed at a maximum of what was likely to be required, which would be a very extravagant arrangement. The ships and men of a Navy might be changed, but its officers grew up from childhood in the service, and could only be matured by long practice and experience. It was now the settled policy of this nation, that its Navy was to be gradually increased; and, if so, the number of officers ought to increase with it. Congress had fixed the number and size of its ships, and therein had done all that was required of them, towards fixing the number of officers. Should the service be cut too short of officers, it might chance to fail on the very point most exposed, and a loss be thereby incurred far greater than all the petty saving which might be produced by curtailing the appropriation.
Mr. HOFFMAN now spoke in reply. The Naval Register assigned eight vessels to the West India station. These were more than sufficient to guard against any dangers in that quarter. He thought the past history of our Navy was sufficient to show that no naval nursing and schooling from infancy, was required to form able and accomplished officers. The merchant service supplied such training; and an officer of spirit would rather return to that service, when out of active employ in the Navy, than receive a salary which he did not earn. He opposed the necessity of fixing a permanent Peace Establishment to the extent suggested. He professed his zeal for maintaining this arm of the national defence, on which he bestowed very liberal commendations, but opposed the position that the number of officers was to go on continually increasing. Peace might last a quarter of a century, and yet, at this rate, the expense of the Navy will be so enormously increased, that it might at length constitute onehalf of the expense of the Government.
Mr. SERGEANT said, in explanation: It was true, that the Naval Register gave eight vessels to the West India station, but of these, only three were in that service at this time, the Erie, the Grampus, and the Natchez; the others being in port undergoing repairs.
On motion of Mr. LITTLE, the committee rose, reported, and obtained leave to sit again.
WEDNESDAY, February 13.
Mr. HOFFMAN moved the following: "And be it further enacted, That there be, and hereby is, appropriated, for the purchase of such lands as the President of the United States may think necessary and proper, to provide live oak, and other timber, for the use of the Navy of the United States, a sum not exceeding ten thousand dollars,
Secretary of the Navy, endeavoring to fulfil a Mr. HOFFMAN stated, in explanation, that the law passed at the last session, for reserving certain portions of the public land on which timber fit for shipbuilding was found, had experienced considerable difficulty from the intervention of private claims, which, though small in amount, must be satisfied before the law could be carried into effect. This was especially the case in Florida. It was with a view to the extinction of the private titles that he had moved the amendment.
the section which provides for the
the officers attached to vessels in actual service,
sum moved by the Committee of Ways and
FRIDAY, February 15.
the following resolution, offered by Mr. WEEMS,
to furnish this House with a list of the Cadets now at
resolution, except that it was needless, inas-
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Military Appropriations-West Point and its Visitors.
a book containing all the particulars he had stated, Mr. R.'s constituents had not.
Here the hour allotted to resolutions expired; and the debate was arrested.
Military Appropriations.- West Point and its
Mr. WEEMS said, that he had made such ap- Mr. GILMER moved to strike out the item plication, but without success. In the mean- "for erecting new buildings" at West Point. while an impression had gone abroad that Ex-He thought the number of cadets ought to be ecutive patronage grew out of the manage- diminished rather than increased, and, holding ment of that institution. This was denied by that opinion, was opposed to extending the essome gentlemen, who asserted that each Con- tablishment by the erection of any new buildgressional District was entitled to have one ca-ings. det in that school, and that this cadet might be nominated by the Representative from that District. He wanted that the people should know how this matter stood, as well as every thing else about the Academy-its advantages and its disadvantages.
Mr. HAYNES said he was not in the habit of interfering with calls from the Departments, but he had himself corresponded with the Secretary of War on this subject, and all the information that was sought by the resolution, could easily be obtained by a personal applica
tion to that officer.
The amendment of Mr. GILMER was negatived, only thirty-six members rising in the affirmative.
Mr. MCDUFFIE moved to insert a separate item of $1,500, to defray the expenses of the Board of Visitors annually attending at the Academy.
Mr. MILLER said, that the only objection he had heard to the call, was, that all the informa- Mr. KREMER thought the Board of Visitors tion it requested, was usually given by the entirely useless. Most of them were men desSecretary of War, when publishing the namestitute of all military talent, and when they got of those who were admitted. Gentlemen who there, a report was prepared for them, and all supposed this, were in error. That statement they had to do was to sign it. The Governdid not designate the Congressional Districts ment might as well send so many wooden from which the cadets came. This was very men. desirable to be obtained.
Mr. MCDUFFIE stated the practice of the War Department on this subject. The Committee of Ways and Means had inserted but half the sum contained in the estimates from the Department. Many members of Congress visited the institution without compensation, but there were many scientific men who were very fit for this duty, whose circumstances would not admit of this.
Mr. RAMSAY asked whether the travelling
Mr. VANCE said, that it was impossible that the Secretary should give this information, as no register was kept in the Department of the particular Districts from which the cadets came. The register designated merely the States. The usual course, however, was to appoint one cadet from each District. But it was a rule universally observed, that, when one of the candidates was the son of a revolutionary officer in low circumstances, he was pre-expenses of the Visitors were paid. ferred. In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the choice was left to the Representative from the District, unless his State has already received more than its proportion. Mr. V. said that he possessed a register of the cadets, which gave their rank and standing in the institution, the State from which they came, and all other facts respecting them that needed to be inquired into. This book might be consulted by any gentleman who wished to see it. He had, however, no objection to the call.
Mr. McCor thought the gentleman from Ohio was in error in supposing that there were no data in the office stating the District from which the cadet was received. The main object to him was to know how the Secretary filled up the vacancies which every year occurred in the institution: for it was well known that a considerable proportion of the students admitted, either from want of capacity or inclination to continue their course, left the institution.
Mr. RAMSAY said, that some gentlemen appeared to be in possession of information which he was not so fortunate as to possess, and which his constituents, as well as himself, were desirous to obtain. If the gentleman from Ohio had
Mr. MODUFFIE replied, that there was no fixed rule. Where the Visitors could not afford to pay their own expenses, they were defrayed out of this appropriation, but in many cases they were not paid for.
Mr. BARNEY stated the facts as they occurred when he visited the institution. The Visitors were allowed the actual expenses of their journey. Such of them as were members of Congress were not allowed their rates of mileage as members. To refuse to pay the actual trayelling expenses of such Visitors as were in slender circumstances, would exclude a very valuable class of citizens, particularly the professors in most of our colleges, who could not afford to come from a great distance at their own charges.
Mr. WICKLIFFE remarked that it was possible the member from Pennsylvania, (Mr. KREMER,) (and not Mr. BARNEY, from Maryland, as reported,) was mistaken in the opinion he had expressed, that this Board of Visitors was totally useless. Without intending to express any opinion himself upon the valuable results of the Boards, which have heretofore inspected and reported upon the nature and character of the course of instruction which was pursued in