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440

TONNAGE DUTIES.

[CHAP. V.

of American shipping, but thought we had gone far enough.

Mr. Williamson stated that Great Britain had been disposed, at the time of the treaty of peace, to enter into a commercial treaty, but finding our ports were open to her ships, had declined it.

Mr. Lawrence was in favor of postponing a decision, and urged considerations both for and against the mea

sure.

Mr. Jackson was opposed to the bill, but Mr. Page was decidedly in favor of it.

The Committee rose and reported in favor of the additional duties on foreign vessels, and of prohibiting them from exporting raw produce from the United States, with a proviso, however, which excepted from the operation of the act the vessels of any nation which permitted the importation of fish, salted provisions, grain, and lumber in vessels of the United States. A bill, in accordance with the resolution of the Committee, was ordered to be brought in.

So far, a majority of the House had been evidently in favor of Mr. Madison's policy of retaliating the commercial restrictions of Great Britain. But in the course of a few weeks a great change seems to have taken place. In the interyal, Congress passed a general tonnage act, substantially the same as the one passed at the preceding session; which act was apparently considered to afford as great encouragement to American shipping as it would be then prudent to give. It was clear, from the debates, that a variety of interests were enlisted against the proposed retaliation. Its opponents urged that as the shipping of the United States was not then adequate to the wants of the country, the exclusion of British vessels would be highly injurious to the Southern exporter; and

1790.]

RETALIATION AGAIN PROPOSED.

441

that it would enhance the price of imports. Even the ship-owners of the Northern and Middle States did not favor the policy, from a dread, no doubt, of counteracting measures on the part of Great Britain.

On the twenty-ninth of June, therefore, the retaliatory bill was negatived in the Committee of the Whole, when a substitute was adopted, on the motion of Mr. Fitzsimmons, that a specific tonnage duty should be laid on all vessels not built or registered in the United States; and a duty of the like character on foreign vessels coming to the United States from ports from which American ships were excluded.'

The next day, however, Mr. Madison made another attempt to procure the adoption of his retaliatory policy, by proposing, first, that in all cases in which vessels of the United States are prohibited from bringing any article from a foreign country into the United States, the vessels of such foreign country shall be subjected to a like prohibition; and, secondly, where the vessels of the United States are prohibited from carrying to a foreign country articles not the product of this country, the vessels of such foreign country shall also be prohibited from bringing into these States any articles not the product of such foreign country. But from the change of sentiment which had taken place, neither these resolutions of Mr. Madison, nor the milder measures proposed by Mr. Fitzsimmons, were acted on during the remainder of the session. The subject was not, indeed, renewed until the year 1794, when it was brought forward by Mr. Madison. It is but justice to this statesman to remark, that no one could be more thoroughly convinced of the benefits of free trade than he; and he thought the most effectual mode of promoting its liberal 1 II. Gales & Seaton's Debates, page 1712.

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442

NATURALIZATION-TRADE WITH INDIANS. [CHAP. V.

principles was to make Great Britain feel the inconvenience of restriction. Had he received sufficient support at home, it is impossible that the self-harming policy should have been continued, with little abatement, by either nation for more than forty years.

As it was the obvious policy of the United States to encourage immigration, while they had so thin a popula tion on their extensive territory, Congress availed themselves of their constitutional power on the subject of naturalization to extend the rights of citizenship to all foreigners on the very easy terms of two years' residence within the United States, on proof of good character, and on taking an oath to support the Federal Constitution; which rights were also extended to the applicant's children under twenty-one years of age.

It was with the like considerations that the furniture, books, and tools of immigrants were exempted from the payment of duties.

A portion of the members were for allowing some of the privileges of a citizen, as to hold real estate, on a residence of one year, or even less, and thus to extend those privileges, according to different degrees of residence; but a simpler and more uniform course was finally deemed preferable.

A law was also passed for regulating the intercourse with the Indians, by which no one was allowed to trade with them without a license to be issued by a Superintendent appointed by the President; and the person so licensed was required to give bond for the faithful performance of the conditions prescribed for such trade. Persons trading without such license forfeited their merchandize. All sales of lands by Indians, except by public treaty, were declared void; and all crimes committed

1790.]

DEATH OF DR. FRANKLIN.

443

against Indians were equally punishable as if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States.

In the act for punishing crimes in the United States, it was provided that there should be no prosecution for any offence committed more than three years previous, nor for any inferior offence, committed more than two years before; it seeming to them that in a few rare cases in which new evidence sufficient to convict might be found, such offences, after those periods of time, had better go unpunished, than that the accused should be exposed to the danger of malice, perjury, and the uncertainty that time ever casts upon facts. All the reasons in favor of an act of limitations in civil cases are applicable to criminal cases.

During this session Dr. Franklin died at the advanced age of eighty-four. His death was brought to the notice of the House of Representatives by Mr. Madison, who paid a high and just tribute to his fame abroad as well as at home, and to his long course of patriotic services. He concluded with moving a resolution which, after a brief, but high eulogy on Franklin, proposed that the House wear the customary badge of mourning for one month, which was adopted.

The National Assembly of France, on the eleventh of June, paid to the memory of the patriot and philosopher a similar honor, by wearing mourning for three days: and, on the twenty-eighth of June, it addressed a letter to the President of the United States, in which, after adverting to their decree of the eleventh, they pronounced a lofty panegyric on Franklin's moral and intellectual character.1

A joint resolution of the two Houses, prepared in the 1 II. Gales & Seaton's Debates, page 2171.

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444

ACTS OF CONGRESS.

[CHAP. V. Senate, expressed the sensibility of Congress to the tribute paid to Franklin's memory by the National Assembly."

In a government so newly organized, the number of public laws enacted at this session was necessarily large. The most important of them were :

An act for the punishment of crimes against the United States; as treason, piracy, murder on the high seas, or offences committed in places in which the United States have exclusive jurisdiction.

An act for regulating the military establishment of the United States. This amounted only to one thousand two hundred and sixteen men, enlisted for three years.

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An act for the collection of duties on imports. It created fifty-seven collection districts, of which no less than twenty were in Massachusetts. It regulated the impost, and the duties of the several officers employed in collecting it.

An act providing for intercourse with foreign nations. The sum of forty thousand dollars is appropriated; and the salary of a Minister Plenipotentiary is nine thousand dollars.

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An act for the settlement of the accounts between the United States and the individual States. For this pose three Commissioners are appointed, whose duties are prescribed.

An act providing for the reduction of the public debt. This authorises certain officers' of the government to purchase, with the surplus money in the treasury, the debt

1

1 II. Gales & Seaton's Debates, page 2021.

2 The President of the Senate, the Chief Justice, Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and Attorney-General. This was the origin of the sinking fund, of which those officers were the permanent Commissioners.

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