صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

shall, with one wing, winnow the breezes of the Atlantic, and with the other, hover over the quiet waters of the Pacific; until the colossal power of the republic, standing on the lofty mountains of this continent, shall, with one hand, extend the olive branch to the peaceful nations of the earth, and with the other, wave the sword of justice over the satisfied and tranquil citizens of these widely extended regions.

I have thus, Sir, according to the limited measure of my ability, made an effort to sustain the Resolution, moved by the honorable gentleman from Virginia; and I should be in some sort satisfied with that effort, could I have brought to his aid any portion of that efficiency, which, on a great and former occasion, was brought to the aid of an illustrious citizen of that State, by a son of RhodeIsland.




IN explanation and support of the Amendatory Bills for relief of the Survivors of the Revolutionary Army, Mr. Burges addressed the Committee of the Whole House, on the 4th of January, 1827, in the following


MR. CHAIRMAN-Although many things have already been said concerning the subject now before the Committee of the Whole House, yet, because, since that time, it was referred to the Committee on Military Pensions, and now comes up on their Report, some explanation of that Report may, at this time, be expected. I stand before you, Sir, for the purpose of attempting to make that explanation. Every thing connected with the Revolutionary War is interesting to the People of this country; but nothing is so deeply interesting as the venerable survivors of that Army which conducted that war, in the camp and in the field. It is not from any powers at my command, of placing before you the concernments of these men, but from their moral qualities, and the peculiar relations existing between them and our country, that I now hope for your candor, your patience, and attention; and, notwithstanding their cause may be hopeless, in the hands of such an advocate, yet must it, I am persuaded, be perfectly secure, before such a tribunal.

It will be recollected that this subject came into this Congress at its first session, in consequence of the President's Message, and of a petition from the survivors of those officers of the Revolutionary Army, who continued in service until the close of the War. The petition was referred to a Select Committee, and so much of the President's message as related to this subject, to the Committee on Military Pensions. In the course of debate on the Bills respectively reported by these Committees, a recommitment, with instructions, was moved—and they were both, with instructions, recommitted: the result of that recommitment is the Report of the Committee on

Military Pensions, made in pursuance of those instructions, and stating "the number of those who served in the Revolutionary War for whom provision ought to be made by law, the amount necessary to make such provision, and the manner in which it should be made." This Report is now before this Committee, and a complete explanation renders it necessary to divide those for whom, according to this Report, provision ought to be made by law, into two classes. The first comprehends all the survivors of those officers who continued in service till the close of the war, supposed to be four hundred, together with the surviving widows of such of those officers as have died since that time, supposed to be three hundred and forty-seven.

The amount necessary to make provision for this class, is, in this Report, stated at one million. The manner in which this provision ought to be made, is therein proposed and detailed, giving to such officers eight hundred thousand dollars, to be distributed to them according to their rank and pay while in service, in a stock bearing a yearly interest of five per cent. payable quarterly, and redeemable at the pleasure of the nation. The amount of two hundred thousand dollars, provided for the widows of this class, is applied to their relief, by paying to each of them out of it, one hundred dollars a year, in quarterly payments. This fund is to be annually charged with these payments, and the balance annually credited with interest, at five per cent. It is calculated that this fund, so managed, will make provision for these venerable matrons during the remainder of their lives. The balance, if any then remain, will fall to the Treasury of the United States.

The second class comprehends all the survivors of those who, in the Revolutionary war, were engaged in the land or naval service of the United States during the continued term of nine months or upwards, being regular troops, either of, or not of the line, and not being pensioners of the United States, or of any one of them. It also comprehends all the surviving widows of such as served in manner as aforesaid, and who were also not on any roll of pensioners.

The number of men of this class, for whom provision ought to be made by law, is stated by the Report, and stated on the authority of facts drawn from the Department of War. The number of the Army now alive, (not including the officers of the first class,) is not more than eighteen thousand five hundred; of these, five hundred

are regular troops, not of the line, and served from one to three years. On the Continental establishment are fifteen hundred who served nine months or upwards; two thousand who served one year or upwards; three thousand who served two years or upwards; and eleven thousand five hundred who served three years or upwards. The number now on the pension list is twelve thousand nine hundred and eighty-five. The number, therefore, on the list of pensioners, who served in the Revolutionary war, of this class, for whom provision ought to be made by law, is five thousand five hundred and fifteen. It is stated in the Report, and the statement is made from calculations, that the number of widows of this class is about four thousand seven hundred and twenty-nine.

The amount necessary to make provision for this class, is, in the Report, stated at two millions of dollars. The manner of making this provision, is similar to the manner of making that for those of the other class. It consists in creating one million two hundred thousand dollars of five per cent. stocks, and distributing them according to rank and duration of time in service, to this last remnant of the Revolutionary army; and, in appropriating eight hundred thousand dollars to the creation of a fund, out of which to pay annuities of thirty dollars each to the surviving widows, of such of this class of the army as have now passed beyond the reach of national munificence.

You therefore have, Sir, in this Report, according to the instructions, the probable number of those who ought to be provided for by law; the amount of that provision, and the manner of making it.

The reasons inducing your Committee to make this Report, involve many considerations. This Committee had in view the character of the army; the nature of their service; their compensation.

It may, by some, be deemed a waste of time to speak of the character of an army which fills so large a space in the history of the last century. It is not so considered by those who wish to place the whole of this subject under one view, and to make one more attempt to redeem their country from any imputation of injustice or illiberality towards this army. Besides, it was not forgotten that in this House it had been said, the resolutions for enlarged pay, and pensions for life, were extorted from Congress

by a spirit of mutiny in the army, and made merely to appease that spirit, and save the country from its consequences. Although all who know the facts, must know that none of the relations of verisimilitude exist between those facts and these assertions; yet, because what we are doing to-day will become part of the history of that army and of our country, I would not permit that history to pass into the hands of the children of future generations, with one page where such assertions found, for one moment, shelter under silence, or stood an instant unrefuted by the recorded truth. The character of this army, Sir, has stood unimpeached, while the greatest men on earth have been calumniated. That "slander which doth belie all corners of the world," had not belied this army. General Washington, in his letter to Congress, dated March 18th, 1783, gives this high testimonial to their glorious character: "I am,” says this illustrious man, "pleading the cause of an army which has done and suffered more than ever any other army did, in the defence of the rights and liberties of human nature."

Permit me to adduce one other testimonial. When independence was achieved, and peace ascertained; and when the friends of freedom, and of man, were, in both the old and new world, anxiously looking on the American Congress, to see in what manner .they would close the great action of war, which, for eight years, had brought upon the stage the most illustrious characters on earth, that Congress did, on the 18th day of October, 1783, by their resolution of that date, proclaim a thanksgiving to Almighty God for the gracious and abundant manifestations of his Divine Providence, in favor of our country, and on the same day, that Congress did also make one other Proclamation; a small part of which I beg permission to read:

[blocks in formation]

"Whereas, in the progress of an arduous and difficult war, the armies of the United States of America have eminently displayed every military and patriotic virtue, and are not less to be applauded for their fortitude and magnanimity in the most trying scenes of distress, than for a series of heroic and illustrious achievements, which exalt them to a high rank among the most zealous and successful defenders of the rights and liberties of mankind: And where

« السابقةمتابعة »