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if its limitation was determined, it would always doubt intended for a wise purpose. The Constibe in the power of the Government to make it tution had given them, and it was a fair inference commensurate with what the public debts and to suppose that the Senate ought to be trusted in contingencies required.
this particular as well as the House. He did not The Constitution, as had already been observed, apprehend any danger from the money being in places the power in the House of originating the treasury ; because it could not be touched money bills. The principal reason why the Con- without the special appropriation of Congress, stitution had made this distinction was, because and the receipts and expenditures of the public they were chosen by the people, and supposed to revenue must be published, which was an addibe best acquainted with their interests and ability. Lional security. He apprehended that the limitaIn order to make them more particularly ac- tion would not be equal to the demands of Govquainted with these objects, the democratic branch ernment, because he thought they would continue of the Legislature consisted of a greater number, unsatisfied for a longer term than gentlemen and were chosen for a shorter period, so that they seemed willing to allow the law to exist. The might revert more frequently to the mass of the time mentioned by the former Congress, and to people. Now, if a revenue law was made per- which they requested the concurrence of the sevpetual, however unequal its operation might be, eral States, was, that the impost duties might be it would be out of the power of this House to continued 'for twenty-five years. This request effect an alteration; for if the President chose to was made on full consideration, and they did not object to the measure, it would require two-thirds think it was more than sufficient to discharge the of both Houses to carry it. Even if the House principal and interest of the national debt. He of Representatives were unanimous in their opin- concluded, therefore, that it was better to let the ion that the law ought to be repealed, they would law remain without limitation; because when not be able to carry it, unless a great majority they found the purposes for which it was intended appeared in the Senate also.
were accomplished, it would be in the power of He observed, that an honorable gentleman had | Congress to repeal the law. thought that no appropriation of the public money Mr. LAWRENCE thought the present was a subcould be made for a longer term than two years
. ject of great importance, and he lamented it was This was true, as it related to the support of ar- not brought forward at an earlier period, because mies; but the question here did not appear to be he feared the time would not allow that full disrespecting an appropriation. It was the revenue cussion or deliberation which ought to take place. itself, which, without any appropriation, might He wished also that the House was acquainted continue flowing into the public treasury inde- with the necessities of the United States, that so pendent of the will of the people, and might they might make provision accordingly; but these ihereby become a convenience in the hands of two points were mere matter of speculation as to some other department of the Government, for their precise amount; yet he believed it was the purpose of oppression. Experience might also agreed on all hands, that the ways and means forcibly suggest the necessity and importance of provided in this bill for the support of Governalterations in the law, yet, without this clause, it ment, the payment of interest and instalments of might never be in the power of the House to make the foreign and domestic debt, were, so far as them.
agreed to, inadequate to the object. If this be the Mr. BOUDINOT said, he was in favor of the mo- case, the public debt must accumulate; and as we tion at the first view; but it was without proper do not know when the time may come for its exconsideration. He had attended to the arguments tinguishment, the provision cannot be limited; with a great desire of obtaining information, the for every gentleman will agree, that if the deconsequence had been, that such difficulty - arose mand for revenue be increasing, the fund ought in his mind on the subject, that he was unpre- to be commensurate to the object. Is there any pared to give his assent to it. He considered the time when the civil list will cease its demand? want of public credit as one of the greatest evils If there is not, there will be a perpetual call for the Legislature had to encounter; that such had revenue. He thought it absolutely impossible to been our situation for a long time under the late provide for the payment of the debts, if the bill Government, that we were unable to perform any was limited to two, three, or four years; such a of the functions necessary to promote the public precarious provision would never tend to the rewelfare. From this melancholy consideration, establishment of public credit. If the bill was not he was induced to join in every Constitutional limited, it would always be in the power of the measure to promote so laudable an end. He did Legislature to lower the duties or make such other conceive that if the present bill was limited in its alteration as might, upon experience, be thought operation or duration, it would prevent the growth beneficial to the community whereas if the bill of public credit. He thought, unless some very were limited, it would be thought improper to valuable advantage was to result from the limita- make any amendments during the term for which tion which gentlemen had in view, it ought not it is enacted, although those amendments apto be adopted; for his part, he could discover peared indispensably necessary. But why is this none. He considered a law always to be in the degree of caution necessary? Will not the adpower of the Legislature. It was true there were ministration of public affairs be conducted in fuchecks to prevent a hasty repeal or adoption of ture by representatives as good as ourselves? any measure whatsoever. These checks were no Will they have less wisdom or virtue to discover
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[May, 1789. and pursue the good of their fellow-citizens than inviolate; it was one of the greatest securities the we have ?
people had for their liberties under this Govern. As to the appropriation of this revenue, he was ment. Moreover, the importance of the House sorry the information before the House did not itself depended upon their holding the purse warrant them to proceed to that part of the strings; if they once part with this power, they business: he hoped it might be well done at some would become insignificant, and the other branch future period, but till it was done, not a farthing of the Legislature might become altogether indeof the revenue could be paid out of the treasury: pendent of them. For these reasons he was in Where must the bill for the appropriation origi- favor of the motion of his honorable colleague, nate? It must be here. Then what ground and hoped it would obtain. have the House to fear the check of the Senate, Mr. GERRY.-There seems to be a great variety or the President, in a case where they still retain of opinions entertained by gentlemen on this all the power in their own hands? 'For it is as question. But he thought they would all agree much in their power to limit this bill, by limiting on these two points: first, that there were very the appropriation, as it is by the clause now great demands upon the Federal treasury; and proposed.
secondly, that they had no kind of documents to If he supposed the liberties of the people would show what they were, or what the revenue bill be endangered unless the motion obtained, he would produce. Under these circumstances, genmost surely would be in support of it; but he tlemen must agree that there is danger of passing thought the liberties of the people would ever be a law that would operate oppressively, and withsure, while they chose men of wisdom and integ- out reason. There was also danger of erring in rity to represent them. He had no reason to the mode of collecting, for want of experience to believe the people would be inattentive to this guide them. From these considerations, there was great privilege; and if it were exercised with no doubt but the act would require the recondiscretion, there was no reason to apprehend that sideration of the Legislature in a short time; Congress would continue to collect an oppressive there may be applications from the people of all revenue, after the object for which it was imposed quarters to repeal a part of it. But what are had ceased to exist. He was well persuaded, if their immediate representatives to do, in case the the bill were limited, it would have the effect the bill be made perpetual? They may be convinced gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. SINNICKSON) that a repeal would be just and necessary; but it mentioned, namely, that of injuring the public may not be in their power to remedy the griercredit.
ances of their constituents, however desirous they Mr. Bland.-Our public credit consists of two may be of doing so; for, although this House may branches; first, as it respects the evidences of our originate and carry a bill unanimously through debt, in the hands of those from whom we have for the repeal, yet it will be in the power of the had money or services; and secondly, as it re- President, and the minority of the other branch spects our ability to borrow in future. Now, the of Congress, to prevent a repeal. first branch of public credit depends upon the The arguments of gentlemen, relative to the punctuality with which the interest is paid; but support of public credit
, appeared to him illthis, in foreign nations, does not depend upon the founded. The revenue intended by this bill was limitation of the act. Do gentlemen suppose our not specially appropriated. If it were appropriated laws, like those of the Medes and Persians, to the payment of the public creditors, they would unchangeable? Can any person, who has read expect they had a security herein, which ought our Constitution, believe that it is in our power to not to be withdrawn; but would not Congress
, pass a law without limitation ? No, it is impos- from the peculiarity of our situation, if from no sible. Every person knows that a future Con- other cause, have a right to change the security gress may repeal this, and every other law we for an easier and more agreeable one to their conpass, whenever they think proper. Taking the stituents? To be sure they would. Then what subject in this point of view, gentlemen would advantage can result from declaring a system see that the arguments in favor of a perpetual perpetual, which, constitutionally, may, can, and revenue were more specious than solid; while will be changed whenever the public good those for a limitation contemplated the best and requires it? safest means of avoiding difficulty, in the repeal Viewing the business in every point of view, it or alterations which hereafter might be thought appeared to him the best policy, and most likely necessary. Nothing but experience could demon- to give satisfaction, to limit the duration of the strate the propriety or impropriety of the present bill to one or two years; and therefore he hoped measures; therefore they ought to be adopted the motion would be agreed to. merely by way of trial. The Government ought Mr. HUNTINGDON thought it easy to see the to be cautious in its first setting out, lest it alarm danger of making this bill perpetual: besides the people; and he thought his constituents would parting with the power which the Constitution be much alarmed, if they conceived the power of gave to the House of Representatives, in authorthe purse to be given into the hands of the other izing them solely to originate money bills, there branches of the Government. The Constitution would be another inconvenience, which was, exhad particularly entrusted the House of Repre-tending the revenue beyond what the nature of sentatives with the power of raising money; great the public debt required. The foreign debt was care was necessary to preserve this privilege payable by instalments; it was saying nothing to
[H. Or R allege that the debt would accumulate, because debts, foreigners would find the means to make the United States must make provision for the them. Taking it therefore for granted, that Conannual extinguishment of a part. If the revenue gress would always provide for these objects, he arising from the impost be insufficient for this would proceed to consider what effeci might purpose, recourse must be had to some other fund arise from a permanent or temporary provision.
which will enable us to perform the engagements If the latter were made, the creditors would honor i of the late Congress. It is true, the debt is large, us for our exertions, and confide in our continuing
and will take time to pay it off, but he had to provide for them in the manner we should find no doubt but it would be done according to con- upon experience most convenient to the comtract, and with honor to the Union. How, then, munity. "If the system was declared to be a percan gentlemen suppose the revenue ought to be petual provision for the payment of their interest, perpetual, in order to be commensurate with the it would give no hope, in the first place, for the object? If they contemplated the contraction of redemption of the capital; and in the second, if more debts in future, the supposition might be Congress were to alter it, and which, in all protrue; but he saw no reason why gentlemen should bability, they shortly must, the security would be extend their views so far. He thought if a future impaired, and an essential injury done to the war, or some other untoward circumstance, should public credit, which we are so desirous to revive. increase the national debt, it ought to be provided How can gentlemen contend that the bill is not for by the Government who were acquainted commensurate to the object? Do they know with the necessity. He thought the House ought what the object is? He supposed it would be to consider seriously before they parted with appropriated as mentioned, to the support of Govtheir powers; it was easy for them to pass a bill ernment and the payment of the interest and to give power, but it was difficult to recall it. He principal of the national debt; but such appropriahad seen many instances of this kind; one in par- tion had not taken place, and it was uncertain ticular, in the State from which he came, where whether it ever would. He thought it would be the Legislature had given the appointment of better to bring in a bill specially appropriating sheriffs, and some other little matters out of their this fund to the payment of the foreign debt, and hands, and had been a long time endeavoring to then it might be declared that it should continue, get it back; but they had not been able to obtain and be applied to this use, until the foreign debt it. He had no suspicions of any character in the was cleared. He conceived it would be unconSenate, but the Constitution had made that body stitutional to make the law perpetual, and therefore in some degree perpetual, to obtain a permanency he was in favor of the clause. in the laws; if, therefore, this revenue bill had Mr. AMEs considered this as a very important once their approbation, they might be inclined question; and in order that his own mind might to continue it, even against the sentiments of be fully enlightened, he had listened with the the people and of the House. Though he was most unwearied attention to the arguments urged not against trusting gentlemen who now com- on both sides; but he was far from being satisfied posed the Senate, he was against trusting their that the motion was necessary or proper for the successors.
House to adopt. The principal reason offered in He thought the faith of the United States its support was, that the revenue is not specially sufficiently pledged to the public creditors, not appropriated; but he could not perceive that this only by the late Congress, but by the Constitution, furnished a reason why the clause should be which showed a particular attention to their introduced; either gentlemen are afraid that the interest. It then only remained, by efficient mea- Senate will not agree to the appropriation, or they sures, to perform its stipulations; and this ever will agree. If they will agree, there is no reason would be a duty on the representatives of the for distrust; if they will not agree with the people, until it was fully complied with. In House, then we ought not to trust them with this confidence that it might be done within a reason- bill, until we bring forward a clause for the purable time, he was for a period neither so short nor pose of appropriating the fund it is intended to so long as had been mentioned. About seven or raise. Gentlemen tell us the act is imperfect, ten years, he thought, would effect the object the and therefore ought to be limited; if this be the gentlemen had in view and he would join them case, it may be a good reason for recommitting in voting for that time.
the bill, but can be none for adopting the clause. Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, was also in If we have not taken up time enough in adjusting favor of the clause; he conceived the only reason and considering the several parts of this law, let of weight urged against it, related to the restora- it be readjusted and reconsidered in a Committee tion of public credit; but he thought every person of the Whole, until gentlemen are satisfied as to possessed of the stock or debt of the United its perfection. States would have the same feelings and reason Gentlemen tell us they are willing to make the ing as the House ; they would know that their revenue commensurate with the debt. If they demands depended upon a higher source than do this, all the inconveniences resulting from the Congress, and might be sure that we would do imperfection of the system will be entailed upon our duty in making particular provision. If Con- us for a number of years
. Other gentlemen mengress neglected this, one part of the creditors tion a year or two for its limitation. Can the would compel them. If it was found that the House listen seriously to such a proposition? If United States were not disposed to pay their we were to tell our creditors that we are making
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provision for them for one year, would it tend to He considered these advantages as having made inspire them with confidence in our wisdom or that nation rich and powerful. He believed a like justice? Would our foreign creditors believe we conduct on our part would produce the same conwere scrupulously fulfilling our engagements with sequences, because our Government is of such a them? No: nothing less than a fixed, permanent nature as to give the public creditors the greatest system, can beget confidence or give security. security they could wish. If the revenue is apAn illusory system of one or two years duration propriated, and the law for collecting it is without would engender distrust; its very visage would any limitation, the funds cannot be taken away make the public suspect deception. If we do not without a positive act of injustice, to which both mean to deceive, why not make the provision Houses of the Legislature must assent by a macommensurate to the occasion ? His idea of a jority of two-thirds, or three independent parties temporary act was pro hac vice, by way of ex- must unite. It was therefore three to one in faperiment; but he thought the House could not vor of the public creditor, that the funds approprimake the experiment with this bill, because the ated to his use would not be annihilated. Under public credit would not admit of it. If this act these circumstances, Government might more be made for one year, will it not be a considerable safely be trusted. This, he observed, was not the expense to the public by going over all the ground case under despotic princes; their will alone could again, which had taken the House such a length tear away the security of the subject. Under a of time to discuss ?
pure democracy, the case was almost as bad ; no Gentlemen have insisted upon the necessity of confidence could be placed, because the caprice keeping the purse-strings in their hands. What and whim of one body could dictate a change. do they mean by this ? What power have the Now an act that expires at a limited period reHouse over the money that comes into the trea- vives the topics of partial politics and opposing insury? Are they at liberty to apply it to their terests, which involves expense; besides, it affords own use? Do not Congress declare the revenue less confidence, because a variety of circumstances to be the property of the public creditors, when occur to prevent a continuation of the necessary they appropriate it to their use ? Shall we say provision to establish the foundation of credit. It the people, then, keep the purse-strings in their may be prevented by the mere disagreement of hands ? For what honest purpose shall they keep the two Houses. This uncertain situation of the them? Why shall we, the House of Represen- public credit will prevent the Government from tatives, detain the money of foreigners ? Does re-loaning their foreign and domestic debt, which it not seem to carry fraud on the face of it? One might otherwise be done to very great advantage gentleman says that he is unwilling to trust a fu- at a reduced interest. Viewing the subject in all ture Senate; but if it shall be of equal integrity these points of light, he could not help being opwith the present, why should he hesitate ? The posed to the motion. State will be equally careful of obtaining a good Mr. PAGE expressed his surprise to find gentle representation, for their own sakes. But suppose men opposed to the limitation of the bill
, who the reverse should happen, do we not act wisely had complained so much of its imperfections. in making a provision for the security of our He thought a measure of the kind now proposed honor and the public welfare, which cannot be de- absolutely necessary to reconcile these gentlemen stroyed by one misguided branch of the Legisla- to particular parts of the bill. For his own part, ture? Now, suppose this law to expire, and the he had objections to some articles, and for that Senate should be unwilling to provide for the ob- reason, if there was no other, he would be in fajects we have in contemplation, will this not pre- vor of the limitation. It had been frequently asvent the representatives of the people from carry- serted that half the revenue would be lost by ing their wishes into execution ? But if the smuggling. Can this, then, he would ask, be a Senate be willing to co-operate with the House, bill proper to perpetuate, or fit for the restoration for what honest reason do we endeavor to retain of the credit of the United States? He asked this power?. Besides, if the act is imperfect, will gentlemen whether they would lend a hand to it not be easier to correct the imperfect part than rivet round the necks of their fellow-citizens a regto frame a new system? Surely gentlemen are ulation which experience has convinced them under a great mistake when they suspect danger was unjust, unequal, and oppressive? Yet the gento arise from the revenue continuing to flow into tleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Ames) had dethe public treasury. Have not the House a com-clared that experience had convinced him that at plete command over it? No money can be drawn least one particular article was subjected to a duty out but by appropriations by law. The President of this kind. cannot touch it. Does it increase the power of He did not believe public credit could be rethe Senate? The Senate have no command stored otherwise than by a strict and positive adover it, unless authorized by law. Can the House herence to our engagements
, and a faithful perof Representatives make any use of it? They formance of the duties they undertook. While cannot get a farthing, because the consent of the this continued to be a leading feature of the GovSenate is required to enable them to draw for it. ernment, he would be bold to say that we should
What has been the conduct of Great Britain, daily grow in reputation, prosperity, and happiness. in relation to her funds? What has carried the He hoped, therefore, that a particular attention credit of that kingdom to a superior eminence, would be paid to their future conduct, and that but the attention she has paid to public credit í each member would emulate the other in pro
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viding for the revival of public credit
, by acts of tinguish the national debt in twenty-five years ; justice to the holders of public securities. but, in addition to this fund, they expected to
Mr. GERRY asked his colleague if he advocated make annual requisitions on the States for one carrying the taxes to such an extent as to ac- and a half million of dollars at least; so that gencumulate sums in the treasury for which the tlemen could not expect the whole to be paid by United States had no particular use? Yet if this single fund in a short time. He wished a this revenue law were made perpetual, it would limitation to the law in general terms, such as uncollect money into the public coffers after the til the debt, foreign and domestic, is discharged. national debt was paid. This would be such a He thought a short term would make an unfavortemptation to the Executive to possess itself by able impression upon the minds of the public force of the treasures of the nation, as he hoped creditors, and tend in a great measure to cloud would never be put in its way. If our commerce the happy prospects that began to brighten the and population increased, this revenue would in- political hemisphere of this country. crease in the same proportion. He could not, Mr. GERRY expressed an intention of calling therefore, bear the idea of all this money being the yeas and nays if he was supported, because he collected into one spot, unless there was an abso- thought it a question in which the essential interlute demand for it. He thought it incompatible ests of the people were deeply involved. with the liberty and security of the people, and Mr. LAWRENCE said, he held his present opinion therefore hoped the House would agree to a short upon the purest principles of patriotism, and an limitation.
ardent love for his country's happiness. He had Mr. Madison, for the sake of accommodation, no objection to the yeas and nays being taken, as would make another proposition. He was ex- | he was not inclined to disguise his sentiments. tremely sorry to differ with gentlemen about Mr. Page was glad the yeas and nays were modes, when their object appeared to be the same. called, as it would give gentlemen an opportunity He thought the spirit of the Constitution and the of showing to their constituents their approbation structure of the Government rendered it impro- of a measure calculated to secure the blessings of per to pass a perpetual revenue law. The argu- liberty to themselves and posterity. ments had been clear on this point; but as there Several members rose to speak on this question, was an evident propriety in making the means when Mr. Ames moved the adjournment, fearing commensurate to the occasion, he was inclined to gentlemen would grow warm upon the question. give the bill such a perpetuity as would answer Whereupon, the House adjourned. the purpose of providing for the public debt and restoring the national credit. He thought this
SATURDAY, May 16. might be done by modifying his motion so as to refer to the collection bill; for he hoped, before Mr. Seney, from Maryland, presented to the that passed, the House would be able to ascer- House an act of the Legislature of that State, tain the appropriation, and could limit it accord- offering to the acceptance of Congress ten miles ingly. The words he would propose were, that square of territory, in any part of the said State, this act should not continue and be in force longer for the seat of the Federal Government, which than the day of unless otherwise limit was read and ordered to lie on the table. ed by the act providing for the appropriation. As A petition of Duncan Campbell, of the city of he had heard it intimated that the yeas and nays New York, was presented to the House and read, would be called on this question, he was desirous praying that compensation might be made him of rendering the clause as satisfactory as possible. for sundry advances which he made during the
Mr. Ames could not bear to lie under the impu- late war, for the service of the United States. tation of inconsistency, with which he was Ordered, That the said petition lie on the table. charged, inasmuch as he contended against the A petition of John Fenno was presented to the limitation of a bill he had opposed as oppressive House and read, praying to be employed in the in some of its parts. He believed the amendment printing service of the United States. now offered was new to almost every gentleman. Ordered, That the said petition be referred to For his part, he had always supposed it was in the committee appointed yesterday, for receiving tended as a permanent system. He remembered proposals for printing the acts and other proceedmany gentlemen had made use of this expression, ings of Congress. through the various debates which had taken place in the several stages of the bill. He had under
DUTIES ON IMPORTS. derstood it in this light, and had therefore com The House resumed the consideration of the bated, with some degree of energy, such parts as amendment proposed yesterday to the bill for laying appeared to him impolitic or unjust. He ima- a duty on goods, wares, and merchandises imported gined the gentlemen on both sides had labored to into the United States, and the said amendment make the bill as perfect as possible, with a view was read as follows: "And be it further enacted of making an equitable provision for the public by the authority aforesaid, that this act shall be exigencies
, which should affect all parts of the in force until the day of , and from Union with the greatest degree of impartiality. thence until the end of the next session of Con
Mr. Sherman, observed, that when Congress gress which shall happen thereafter." applied to the several States for the five per cent. The question was called for, and Mr. Lawimpost, they judged it would enable them to ex- IRENCE required the ayes and noes.