Page images
PDF
EPUB

H. of R.]

Internal Improvements.—Pensioners of the United States.

[MARCH 26, 1830.

For the continuance of the road from Pensacola to St. Augustine, with five thousand dollars.

posed it of no commercial utility. Commerce, he says, For the continuance of the road from Detroit to Chicagoes from West to East. He has never been in the south-go, with eight thousand dollars. west quarter of Virginia, and knows nothing of the direction of the commerce of that part of the country. The commerce of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia does Mr. HEMPHILL moved to amend that clause of the not go to the East. The merchants obtain their merchan- bill containing the appropriation of thirty thousand dollars dise from Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. The for defraying the expenses of examinations and surveys, caravans of wagons which carry on merchandising between and of arrearages for the years 1826, 1827, and 1828, by Knoxville and Baltimore, now pursue the proposed route increasing the sum to thirty-five thousand dollars. three hundred and fifty miles; and, when the road is made, Mr. WICKLIFFE desired that the arrearages should they may pass through this place, or continue through be made the subject of a separate appropriation, and not Winchester, as at present. It is true, that, eastward of blended with that for defraying the expenses of the surthe Blue ridge, in Virginia, commerce goes to the East; veys. He inquired of the chairman of the committee, therefore the middle route, on the east side of the Blue who reported the bill, what was the amount of arrearages. ridge, would be useless for commercial purposes, except Mr. McDUFFIE replied, they amounted to five thouthat some hogsheads of tobacco, within thirty or forty sand one hundred and forty dollars. miles of James river or Roanoke, might be carried along the proposed road, if made on that route, to those rivers. Mr. HEMPHILL withdrew his amendment; and then The commerce of the interior and western ports of North Mr. WICKLIFFE moved to amend that part of the bill Carolina passes eastward to her own towns, or to Nor-stating the objects of the appropriation, so that they would folk and Petersburg. The most eastern route through be confined to surveys already commenced and not comthe capitals of the Southern States will only facilitate go- pleted, and to works of a national character. He was vernmental and commercial correspondence. On the west- opposed to instituting any new surveys.

At the suggestion of Mr. INGERSOLL,

ern route, the cotton of Alabama and the south of Tennes- Mr. CLAY and Mr. MERCER opposed the amendment. see may be brought to, and manufactured in, the towns Mr. M. urged the necessity of continuing the surveys, of the great valley as far as Winchester, and will pass which [he said] were done at so trifling an expense, since four hundred miles along the proposed road. The engi- the topographical engineers who made them must of neers have given this route a decided preference; they show necessity be employed by Government, even if the surit to be the best and the cheapest; it will require less ex-veys were discontinued. pense in causeways and bridges: and the expense of making Mr. LEA suggested to Mr. WICKLIFFE to enlarge the road from this place to New Orleans, should it be Mac- the object of his amendment, so as to embrace "such suradamized, would cost, according to their estimate, more veys as are recommended by either House of Congress.” than a million of dollars less than making it on the middle route, advocated by the gentleman from North Carolina, [Mr. CARSON.]

in my

The engineers do not seem to have observed the fact, that James river is navigable where the western route passes that stream. There will terminate the trip of wagons bringing from the Southwest produce for the Richmond market. To the other recommendations of the western route, I will add, that the accommodations for travellers, along the great valley, from Knoxville to Winchester, about four hundred and fifty miles, are, opinion, not equalled, in goodness and cheapness, on any road, of the same length, in the world. Sir, the road through the southwest of Virginia is an exceeding important highway. It was formerly the usual road to Kentucky; but the making of the Cumberland road, and the Kenhawa road, has lessened its importance. It is still necessary to the inhabitants of the south of Kentucky, as the gentleman before me [Mr. LETCHER] well knows. They send along it to market vast numbers of live stock, to the northern parts of Virginia, to Maryland, and even to Pennsylvania.

Mr. WICKLIFFE said, he would prefer that the gentleman should offer the subject of his suggestion as an amendment. He wished to test the sense of the committee on the proposition he offered.

Subsequently he accepted the amendment as a modification of his proposition..

The amendment was negatived: yeas, 50--nays, 66. On motion of Mr. VERPLANCK, an appropriation was inserted of five thousand four hundred and fifty dollars for office rent, &c.

On motion of Mr. McDUFFIE, this bill was then laid aside, and the bill "making appropriations for improving harbors," &c. was taken up.

The blanks containing appropriations for the improvement of certain harbors therein mentioned, being filled, The committee then rose, and reported the two bills.

FRIDAY, MARCH 26, 1830.

PENSIONERS OF THE UNITED STATES. Mr. BATES, from the Committee on Pensions, reportThe gentleman from North Carolina [Mr. C.] asks if ed the following joint resolution: this road can ever compete with the Mississippi. Sir, the Resolved by the Senate, &c. That the heads of the deMississippi does not run near us; and if our branches of partments who may be severally charged with the adminthat river were navigable, New Orleans never can com-istration of the pension laws of the United States of Amepete with Baltimore in supplying us with merchandise.

On motion of Mr. SHEPARD, the committee then rose, and reported progress.

INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS.

rica, be, and they are hereby, respectively directed and required, as soon as may be after the opening of each ses sion of Congress, to present to the Senate and House of Representatives a several list of such persons, whether revolutionary, invalid, or otherwise, as shall have made On motion of Mr. McDUFFIE, the House again resolv-application for a pension or an increase of pension, and as ed itself into a Committee of the Whole on the state of in their opinion respectively ought to be placed upon the the Union, Mr. LETCHER in the chair, and took up the pension roll, or otherwise provided for, and for doing consideration of the bill "making appropriations for ex-which they have no sufficient power or authority, with aminations and surveys; and, also, for certain works of the names and residences of such persons, the capacity internal improvements." The blanks in that part of the in which they served, the degree of relief proposed, and bill containing the appropriation for the continuance of a brief statement of the grounds thereof, to the end that the road from Detroit to Fort Gratiot, was filled with Congress may consider the same. seven thousand dollars.

For the continuance of the road from Detroit to Saganaw bay, with seven thousand dollars.

The resolution was twice read; and

Mr. TUCKER moved to amend it, by adding to it the following words:

[blocks in formation]

MONDAY, MARCH 29, 1830.

[H. of R.

“And also the names of the several pensioners, and their residence, who continue to receive their pensions; The House again resumed the consideration of the resoand likewise the whole amount of applicants for pen-lution offered by Mr. McDUFFIE on the 18th instant, sions, under the law of 1818, giving pensions to revolu- relative to a reduction of the compensation of members, tionary soldiers." in case they remain in session after a certain period in each session, as specified therein.

Mr. TUCKER'S amendment was agreed to: yeas, 77-nays, 69.

Mr. COULTER concluded his remarks commenced on

Mr. CHILTON was opposed both to the amendment Saturday, against the adoption of the resolution. and the resolution. He argued that the power and the [They were to the following effect:] patronage of the Executive Department of the Goverment Mr. C. said, I would not of my free choice say any thing were sufficient already, without vesting in it what the re-concerning the proposition now before the House. I am solution proposed: for, if it passed, not five or ten, but induced to do so solely by the accidental circumstance of fifty additional officers would be necessary to examine the my belonging to the Committee on Retrenchment, whose cases, and prepare the information called for. Instead of especial duty, it seems to be considered, is to aid and abet this general reference of all the cases of application for every gentleman in cutting down and breaking up every pensions to the War Department, or a Board of Commis- part of the machinery of this Government which does soners, with discretionary power to dispose of them, he not meet with his approbation. As I cannot, in this inpreferred that every case should come at once before Con-stance, labor in the vocation which has been assigned to gress to judge of its specific merits. The plan he thought me, it is perhaps due to myself, and only respectful to the wrong, because, after imposing this labor on the officer, House, to state my reasons. If, however, this resolution the cases would still have to come to Congress; so that the had been offered, as some have been, and I suppose will only effect would be to give useless employment to a large be again, by gentlemen who love to amuse their constitunumber of additional clerks. Mr. C. went on to remark ents, I should not have touched it. It might have come on another subject. He was aware [he said] that the upon the stage, made its bow, and exit, and went off, like transaction of the legislative business required commit-its predecessors and associates, in a flourish. But it comes tees; but he thought it a dangerous practice to give to upon us urged and sustained by a gentleman of high pocommittees unlimited confidence, and making it an apolo-litical consideration, who is likely to win for it much favor, gy for members of this House to neglect investigation here and in the nation. It is meet, therefore, that it should themselves. He meant no reflection on the motives of be considered with the gravity and respect due to the any one; but the practice was bad. The consequence gentleman from South Carolina, [Mr. McDUFFIE.] I rewas, that the House passed measures without knowing any gret that those who now give this proposition their pathing of their merits, trusting entirely to the reports of tronage, had not brought it forward at an earlier period committees. No chairman of a committee, he presumed, of the session, especially as a most appropriate occasion would venture to report a pension bill solely on the ab- was then afforded them for presenting it to the House. stract which should be furnished by the Secretary of War, It will be recollected that one bill, concerning the comand therefore it would be as well for the subject to stand pensation of members of Congress, passed this House as it does, and let the committee report the cases on their about the last of December. In that bill the proposition own examination.

now under consideration was once contained. But a maMr. BATES was indifferent to the fate of the resolution jority of the Committee on Retrenchment of this year since the amendment was added to it, because it would divested the bill of what they considered an unjust and require the reporting of a large volume every year of use- odious feature. Yet, when it was undergoing the action less matter. The resolution had been offered to the House of the House, it was competent for the gentleman from by the committee, because a great deal of time was now South Carolina, or the chairman of the Retrenchment lost in investigating individual cases, which have been pre-Committee, [Mr. WICKLIFFE] to have offered an amendsented to the War Department, and, after examination ment, embracing this their favorite proposition. Business there, rejected, as not coming with the provisions of the had not then thickened upon the House, and time, which, existing laws. The committee thought that, as these cases it is now said was then wasted, might have been employnecessarily passed under the investigation of the head of ed in considering what we are now discussing. If it had the department, he could prepare with ease and accuracy then been acted upon, it might, by operating on our avaa summary view of the nature and merits of each case, rice, have produced some of the good with which the for the information of the committee. Nothing was to be gentleman from South Carolina feeds his fancy. Now it referred to his discretion; he was merely to report facts; it is too late for this Congress, at all events. But at that imposed on him no additional responsibility, and would time we heard nothing of this proposition. No, not even give him but little additional trouble. Mr. B. therefore, from the Magnus Apollo of retrenchment. A proposition thought it a wise provision, calculated to save time, and in relation to the daily pay of members, which the gentlefacilitate the business, so as to grant relief in cases which man from Kentucky [Mr. CHILTON] did then offer as an were entitled to it, and ascertain at once those which were amendment, received so little countenance or encourageimproper. ment, that the House refused to order the yeas and nays The resolution was then ordered to a third reading-upon its rejection. I think the House did wisely and yeas, 95.

SATURDAY, MArch 27, 1830.

PAY OF MEMBERS.

well. It is certainly a delicate affair for this or any other legislative body to agitate the question of its own compensation. The necessity of the case constitutes it an exception from the general rule, which forbids public functionaries to be the judges of their own salaries. It has

The House again resumed the consideration of the re-been judged safer, in all free countries, to vest this power solution offered by Mr. McDUFFIE on the 18th instant, in the legislature, though interested, than in any other dereducing the compensation of members of Congress to partment. But the delicacy of their position ought to two dollars a day for every day the House may sit after make them cautious in their movements. If they attempt the expiration of one hundred and twenty days of the long to increase their allowance, it will be ascribed to love of session, and of ninety days of the short session. gain. If they attempt to reduce it, ten to one if they either Mr. COULTER addressed the House in opposition to get or deserve credit for patriotism or sincerity. They the resolution, till the hour for considering resolutions will most probably be charged with the grovelling design elapsed. of purchasing popularity, by relinquishing a modicum o

H. of R.]

Pay of Members.

[MARCH 29, 1830.

their pay, without deserving it by merit. The best way, ry motives, and that while they remain here they are influ therefore, seems to be, for a statesman to leave the matter enced by a sense of public duty, and sustain an actual peas he finds it, until the people complain. They know how cuniary loss. But to them money is not the primary mowe stand; and if we are entitled by law to more than we tive to action. Other and more exalted motives actuate deserve, they will demand that we shall set the matter them. To them absence from kind friends, from their acright. I have heard of no voice of complaint among customed scenes, from the domestic hearth, which I them. Their minds are tranquil, and have settled down trust comes home to the bosoms of all who are entrusted for many years with contentment upon the present rate of with a seat on this floor, is sufficiently painful--spring recompensation. They know that we are the nearest power turns, but not to them returns its accustomed joys-daily of the Government to themselves--the representatives of and hourly they are recalled to the scenes of their home-their wisdom, their virtue, their feelings, and their patri- their hearts yearn after their wives, children, and friends, otism--and they have not demanded of us to cut down our but public duty, their obligations to their constituents, compensation below that of clerks in the public offices; keep them here. When they have accepted the honor nay, even below that of the humblest messenger employ- conferred on them, they will remain here so long as duty ed about this hall. Under these circumstances, I regret requires them. To such men this resolution only offers that this measure has been brought forward at a period of insult--it is addressed to them in vain. But it seems to be the session when it can produce no practical result, except addressed to men of different mould, with whom it may that of displacing business well matured, and delaying be supposed the gentleman from South Carolina has the action of the House upon measures, the progress of "sounded the depths and shoals of honor;" and I would which the public eye is watching, and in relation to the ask the gentleman whether even as to them it is not bottomfate of which the public feeling is now engaged. Sir, it ap-ed on a wrong estimate of human nature. Upon the prinpears to me that an economist of time could hardly have ciple of the resolution they are selfish. They have no been less fortunate in the selection of an occasion, or a mode care for, and pay no regard to, the public interest. Their of doing public service. The question of compensation, feelings and passions are absorbed in speechifying, as the as presented in the resolution, comes in a form as nox- word goes, for their own aggrandizement. They will, of ious and offensive as could possibly have been given to it. course, go on in their usual course until the period when So far as my recollection ranges over the history of re- the eight dollars per diem shall cease, and, after having presentative governments and deliberate assemblies, whe- picked up the crumbs and offal of every debate, to make ther in free or monarchical countries, I can bring to mind themselves notorious, will go home at the end of the four no example or precedent, no proceeding that bears any months, and leave the public business undone. The old likeness or parallel to this. It has at least one merit, that adage, that "you cannot bring blood out of a turnip," is of originality of invention. Of what character is it? Is its too true to be overturned by this resolution. I do not object to produce deeds of patriotism, of honor-to ad- wish to be understood as believing that this is the true chavance the interests and extend the renown of our country, racter of this House, or any very large portion of it. I by appealing to our nobler feelings? No--but by address- believe the members generally to be actuated by as high ing itself to the base and sordid passions to those feel- and honorable motives as any former Congress. It is not ings which actuate the most degraded and worst of man- requisite I should, in candor, say that they possess the kind. Looking to the ancient republics, we find that they, same amount of talent. I know that in this session, as in when they wished to elicit deeds worthy of a free people, all former ones, time has been consumed in what has been addressed themselves to the higher feelings, to the patri- often called frivolous debate, but still I am satisfied, from the otism, the love of country-the honor and integrity of information of those sufficiently qualified to know, from their public functionaries. That is the mode in which I correct and official sources, that we are not behind any should like to see the lagging integrity, the slow atten- preceding Congress in the amount of business actually tion, the wandering thoughts, of this assembly, if such done, and that we are much ahead of them in important things be urged into concentration and quickened into ac- national affairs, well matured by our committees, and now tion. We have fallen on evil times indeed, if our bosoms awaiting the action of the House. In addition to this, it can respond to nothing but such a call as this. We have ought to be recollected, by experienced gentlemen, that experienced a rapid and premature decay, if, at the end we have had three contested elections, each of which was of fifty years after the declaration of independence, and the subject of warm excitement and debate, and which for before the last, lingering, and almost hallowed footsteps the time entirely excluded ordinary legislative business. I of one of those who proclaimed it, have left the earth, we know that many "wise saws" have been uttered about a have so lost its spirit, become so degenerate in purpose, debate of two days on a small Indian memorial. I do not as to be urged to duty and honor by no other incentive set myself up as a censor upon any gentlemen who may than a small pecuniary penalty hanging over our heads! think proper to enter a debate upon any question before Sir, we are required to perform an undefined and unde- this House. They are all of age, and act upon their refinable amount and extent of legislation, to provide for sponsibility to their constituents, and are amenable to the the interests, wants, and exigencies of twelve millions of high bar of public taste. But, as I did not enter into that people, and a vast extent of country, in a specified time, debate, and have been generally "a looker on in Verona,' or be fined for it. Knowledge and wisdom are thus to be I may be permitted to say that it involved an important measured by hours, and patriotism by dollars. The iron principle. It ought to be supposed that gentlemen from bed of Procrustes is the only thing I know, to which the various quarters of this Union, meeting together here, resolution bears a resemblance. somewhat strangers, debate for mutual and public instrucThe reproach which the resolution conveys, (not de- tion. For my part, I listen with pleasure and delight to signed, I am sure, by the gentleman who offered it,) may the effusions of genius, talent, and experience, on any be correct or not. I will not undertake to say that the subject, and bear with patience its concomitant evil, garmajority of gentlemen on this floor are induced to waste rulity without wisdom. The public never said that the the time, and lengthen out the session, for the purpose of time so consumed was wasted, until some gentlemen here, receiving their per diem allowance. There are many perhaps with a view of building up their own reputation members, of whose character, standing, and virtue, I am at the expense of others, made some stir about it. If we unacquainted, (the gentleman from South Carolina has could all see ourselves as others see us, it might, perhaps, more experience than I have,) but there are many with be considered that the best way to build up a reputation whom I am acquainted; of these last I can say with confi- for business habits, is to attend diligently to the matters dence and candor, that they are not influenced by mercena- before us, without making a parade about it. A close

MARCH 29, 1830.]

Pay of Members.

[H. of R.

The

mouth is not only the sign but often the very perfection of days. Sir, it may do very well for the gentleman from wisdom. The discussions of the early part of this session South Carolina, but it will not do for me. But, if we canmay have led to no practical measure, still they may have not trust the National Legislature of primitive times for an awakened public attention, and sharpened public inquiry. example, let us look to the State Legislatures. There the I believe there is no valuable institution in this world with- members stand in close affinity and contact with the people, out some alloy; assembled here from the different sections under the eye of their constituents; yet it will be found of a mighty empire-the representatives of a free and in- that they consume as much and more time than we do, telligent people--overlooking the multitudinous interests making allowances for the difference of circumstances unof this great republic--exercising the right of free discus- der which we operate, and the magnitude and variety of sion-that great and glorious right--can we expect to have interests for which we provide. I speak with knowledge it without some alloy? It is impossible--discussion would of the State from which I have the honor to come. not be valuable if it were so controlled us to exempt it Legislature of that State met one month before Congress, from being abused. We cannot have that beau ideal in le- and has not yet adjourned. If the members have done gislative proceedings which gentlemen seem to desire, and wisely, they will hear, when they return home, the words we should be careful lest, in attempting to take away what "well done" from their constituents; because that people may seem objectionable in debate, we do not destroy the look more to the worthiness and value of legislation, than value of the right of discussion altogether. to the ordinary time expended in maturing it. I think, then, I may safely say, deriving my information from that great source of political knowledge, experience, and we should always pursue our path into futurity by the light which beams from the past--looking to this authority, I may safely say that the resolution of the gentleman from South Carolina is bottomed upon a presumed fact, the converse of which is established by experience. Shall we, then, who are entrusted with the concerns of a great nation, be guided by experience, or follow the imaginings of the gentleman? I choose to follow in the path of those wise and patriotic men of our early days, with whom the spirit of the revolution abided, who were honored in their lives, and, in their deaths, were embalmed in the recollections

The resolution is founded upon an assumed fact, the contrary of which is proved by experience. It would doubtless be a wise measure, if it was satisfactorily established, that the legislative business could be transacted in four months. If not, the resolution ought to be abandoned. How are we to ascertain that the business can be done in one hundred and twenty days, not only now, but in future time? Are we to resort to experience, the sure guide which statesmen ought always to follow, or draw upon our imaginations? We must consult the records of our country, and they will admonish us that it is a gratuitous supposition, a mere fancy, to say that our business can be transacted in four months. I have looked at the sessions of Congress from the commencement of the Government, of our people. and I find that, at no period, has the first session of any Con- At the close of the hour on Saturday I was about to regress been less than five months, not even when the popuply to some observations of the gentleman from Virginia lation of the country did not much exceed three millions [Mr. ALEXANDER] which introduced the tariff, and the of souls; at times, too, when men of the purest patriotism peculiar feelings of gentlemen from the South, into this and most distinguished talents appeared in the councils of debate. I will forbear, because I feel that I shall trespass the nation; men whose bright escutcheons were never long enough on the time of the House by adverting to stained with the imputation of eking out a session for the the topics that more properly belong to this resolution. I love of their per diem allowance. The first Congress sat, hope to have some more fit occasion to express all my in the two years, five hundred and nineteen days. I admit, feelings and opinions on the subjects which the gentleman that putting the new machinery into operation required from Virginia has touched. They are like those of the more than ordinary time; but in the years '93 and '94, when people from whom I am sent, decided and emphatic. The the whole machinery of Government was in harmonious gentleman from Virginia spoke of the rapine and plunder operation, Congress sat three hundred and eleven days; committed on the people by an army of legislators. I do in '99 and 1800, it sat two hundred and seventy-two days. not know but those might have been the sentiments of At that period the population was five million three hun- Robespierre, when he undertook to regulate every thing dred and nineteen thousand and thirteen souls, less than by the jacobin club. Bonaparte dispensed with the reone-half of our present population, and the great States in presentatives of the people in a summary mode-and so did the valley of the Mississippi have since grown up, as if by Cromwell. As long as liberty dwells in this land, its bright magic, claiming the paternal care of this Legislature. But est, purest, and most secure abode must be in these halls. I have turned to another period of our history, in the hope I do not wish to see the power of the people, as here unthat its example would be more prevalent here. Mr. Jef folded and exemplified, curtailed or straitened. The ferson came into power upon the basis of economy and re-gentleman from South Carolina has devoted his energies form, and I believe he had a sincere desire to promote hitherto, to what he considered some improvement in the both. But I have looked in vain to find that the first ses- constitution. But I would ask him whether the practical sion of any Congress, during that administration, was effect of his proposition would not be to weaken the popubrought to a close in less than five months. The first ses-lar representative branch of this Government, and to sion of his administration lasted one hundred and forty-strengthen unreasonably the Executive arm. The constieight days, and the second eighty-eight. Supposing, how-tution provides that neither House shall adjourn without ever, to humor the fashion of the times, that they had some the consent of the other, for more than three days. The trouble in clearing away the rubbish left by General notion and view of the convention in this provision is eviWashington and Mr. Adams, in the first Congress, yet the dent. The aristocratic branch, or, as some will have it, second Congress of that administration, influenced by the the representatives of State sovereignties, (if that expresstrictest economy, conducted by the purest republicans, sion can be used without a solecism in lexicography and sat two hundred and eighty-two days. Is it to be expect- common sense,) might choose to adjourn so long, in times ed that this Congress, legislating for more than double of public excitement or public apathy, as to leave the Exthe number of people, covering a much wider extent ecutive authority in perfect control of the Government. of territory, and embracing six additional States, with Now they cannot do it without the consent of the popular less of political experience and wisdom, can do the busi-branch. Sir, every despot who has arisen in the world, ness in two-thirds the time? The gentleman from South commenced by encroachments on the voice and privilege Carolina would task us too hard, he would fix a badge of of the people, first limiting, and then suppressing it. The disgrace upon us, unless we far surpass the Roger Sher-freedom of the press, which is entirely analogous to that mans, the Albert Gallatins, the James Madisons, of other of debate, is liable to abuse; and there is a class of gentle

H. of R.]

Pay of Members.

[MARCH 29, 1830. men who are constantly engaged in fastidiously bewailing saved to this people the amount mentioned by the gentleits corruption. man from South Carolina, by the adoption of this measure; It is most undoubtedly liable to abuse. More, much but what will that signify? The expense of the army is more than the privilege of free debate. Yet who would annually about five millions of dollars, and that of the wish to see it trammelled or circumscribed? The con- navy is nearly of the same amount, whilst the whole civil stitution provides that Congress shall pass no law "abridg- department of the Government does not much exceed half ing the freedom of speech or of the press." Now, what of one million. Now if Congress did nothing, its value freedom of speech was it that they intended to place be- would be felt. It is something like the eye of a master yond the reach of legislation? That which takes place watching the labor of his workmen. If gentlemen speak in the market place or in the public streets? One would over again, in the "stock debates," the same speeches that think not, because that is provided for by the common have been spoken, to use the language of the gentleman law, on the subjects of suits for slander. Once there from Virginia, [Mr. BARBOUR] "de die en diem," it is unwas a sedition law-a sin, in a degree as fatal as the original doubtedly an evil, and is only to be remedied in the firm sin of Adam--because the crime of the father is visited good taste which resides in this House. It must come to upon their children. But, on the whole, considering the that at last: gentlemen must learn that they will be toleratprovision as a general political guaranty, it is hardly to be ed in speaking only when they have something valuable doubted but that it was intended to guard the freedom of to communicate. If ever I set up for a pedagogue to lecdebate in the national assembly as well as in private cir- ture the House, I will strike at these standing debates, not cles or the bar rooms of a tavern. And is not the national at the occasional flashes which bring fire from the eye and representative of this people possessed of sufficient dis- eloquence from the lips of some gentlemen. cretion to confine within reasonable bounds the privilege of Sir, in the beauty and repose of yesterday evening, I debate? In the Roman Senate, a consul was not permitted strolled, in company with others of this House, to the to interrupt a senator, but, if the debate was unreasonably neighboring city of the dead, where some of the fathers prolonged, the senators interrupted it and stopped it by of the republic repose quietly side by side. Their bones their clamor. Cannot the representatives of this people, lie where the bones of their kindred and people do not the most enlightened and patriotic that ever existed on the lie. There is the tomb of George Clinton, upon which it earth, be entrusted with the same privilege? No, sir, is recorded that his children performed that pious office upon the principle of this motion, our controlling motive which was due to his remains from his country. There is is avarice. It cannot be disguised or forgotten that this also the tomb of Elbridge Gerry, upon which his own Government is the first hope of liberty, and, if it fails, the memorable saying is engraved, "Government has a claim last prop of enlightened humanity and justice will have upon the time of every citizen, and, if he had but one day left the earth. We are entrusted with a sacred deposit. to live, that day ought to be employed in doing good to The eyes of the friends of liberty and justice in all quarters his country." It was refreshing to my spirit to read this of the world are directed towards us. We have proclaimed memorial of his devotedness to his country, by one of its that virtue is the foundation of a republic, and knowledge fathers and benefactors. But my heart fell within me, when its surest support. It seems that we have been going on up- I recollected that it was my humble office to oppose this on a mistake. If so, we ought to undeceive the world. day a resolution, which seems to imply that public spirit A gentleman brings in a motion, bottomed on the sup- no longer remains among us, and that our most appropriposition that we are governed by money. Even Walpole, ate motive to action is love of money. in the pride of his power, never broached so bold a notion; he thought, to be sure, that every man had his price, but he thought that public men were to be bought by some thing magnificent, not by the paltry sum of six dollars a day. If we adopt this resolution, the people will take us at our word; they will say that we have fixed the mark of Cain on our foreheads. I never yet knew any man who acknowledged himself to be a mean fellow, who was not believed. If we condemn ourselves, the people will beMr. STANBERY said that he did not like the resolution, lieve us. No man can gather "golden opinions" by and he lamented that it came before the House from so rebranding himself with iniquity. If the resolution passes, the spectable a source. It proceeded upon the supposition that people will perform a solemn lustration, they will purify a majority of the members of this House procrastinate the this hall; and I trust in heaven, that no man who has been session, for the purpose of increasing their own compenpresent at the degradation of his country's honor, will sation. If gentlemen can persuade the people to believe ever again be returned. Sir, the people of the old con- this, it will have a manifest tendency to bring us into continent have looked upon us with something of wonder and tempt and disrepute with them, and prepare their minds admiration. They have not exactly comprehended the for certain irregular movements against this Union, with spirit of public virtue which urged us on to prosperity which we have been threatened. The truth cannot be and happiness. Sir, the proposition of the gentleman disguised, that the people have a deep-rooted attachment from South Carolina will meet all their wishes. If it is for the Union. This attachment is much stronger than a adopted, as quick as the ocean can bear it, winds will waft certain class of politicians among us perhaps may wish. it to the old world; royal presses will proclaim it; and the Not all our measures for the protection of the industry of tottering and decaying institutions of despotism will be the country, and for its internal improvement, complained stimulated into fresh vigor by the sound. of as so oppressive by some, will, I am persuaded, have the effect of stimulating the people in any quarter to sanction any of the irregular movements to which I have alluded. Those who may wish to prepare the minds of the people to look with approbation on any measures of this kind, have yet a great work to perform. They must first bring this Government into contempt: nothing would so effectually do this as the passage of this resolution, which would proclaim to the world that we, the Congress of the United States, the immediate representatives of this great people, are public robbers.

The decline of republics is traced from the first moment of the decline of public virtue and public spirit. I need not run over the history of ancient times to prove this. Every gentleman in this House is sufficiently informed to know it. Shall we not bring disgrace upon representative government, if we establish, by our law, that we shall acomplish all our legislation in a given period, or have a brand of disgrace upon us? I do not agree to it. It may suit the views of gentlemen who wish to weaken the popular branch of this Government. There may be

Mr. EVERETT expressed himself as friendly to the object of the resolution, so far as regarded an abridgment of the sessions, but not disposed to employ the means which the resolution proposed to attain this object. He moved to amend the resolution so as to limit each session to a fixed term, which, he thought, would obviate the objections which had been urged against the resolution in debate, and suggested to him by many of his friends.

« PreviousContinue »