صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني




but the House finally receded by a vote of thirty-one to twenty-nine.

Since this matter had been so warmly debated, and all the Northern members were opposed to all the Southern, and since the bill was regarded by many as inconsistent with that provision of the Constitution which declares that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand of its Federal population, the President, with his wonted caution, took the opinion of his Cabinet on the subject before he acted. Messrs. Jefferson and Randolph were clear that the bill was repugnant to the Constitution. Messrs. Hamilton and Knox did not regard the question as free from doubt, but advised the President to sign the bill. He, however, considered it unconstitutional, and sent it back to Congress with his objections, which were:

First. The Constitution has prescribed that Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers; and there is no one proportion or divisor which, applied to the respective numbers of the States, will yield the number and allotment of Representatives proposed by the bill.

Second. The Constitution has also provided that the number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand; which restriction is, by the context, and by fair and obvious construction, to be applied to the separate and respective numbers of the States; and the bill has allotted to eight of the States more than one for every thirty thousand.

This subject of apportionment which has, after every succeeding census, been a source of irritating controversy in Congress, in the contests of the members for the political power of their respective States, or in their readiness to seize on every question by which they may gain credit




for patriotic zeal with their constituents, has been happily settled by the bill introduced by Mr. Vinton in 1850, by which the number of Representatives being fixed, the ratio of apportionment is a mere question of arithmetic, and leaves no discretion or ground of discussion to the Legislature.

Of the two objections made by the President, the last, which is conclusive, can never again recur, as the numbers proposed for choosing a Representative must always greatly exceed thirty thousand. But the first objection is less satisfactory. It refers to that clause of the Constitution which requires representation and taxation to be apportioned among the States according to their respective numbers (second Section of the first Article). Now this provision cannot be literally complied with, since there can be no ratio that will give to all the States the precise representation which is due to their respective numbers, or that will not leave some portion of their numbers unrepresented. The Constitution, however, must be presumed to have aimed only at what was practical and attainable, and, consequently, must have looked to an approximation to an apportionment according to numbers; and that approximation might be as close (perhaps. closer) by giving to a State a member for a large fraction beyond its respective quota, as by having its fraction unrepresented. In other words, if fractions are to be disregarded, then the States whose fractions are the smallest, have more than their share of the representation, and the other States, less. But if a large fraction is allowed a representative, then the State having such fraction has more than its share; and thus that course seems best to fulfil the purpose of the Constitution which does the least injustice.

[ocr errors]



[CHAP. VI. Upon a reconsideration in the House, the bill was lost by thirty-three votes to twenty-nine.

A third bill, fixing the ratio at thirty-three thousand, was then passed by both Houses, which made the whole number of Representatives one hundred and five members.

Let us now return to the war against the Indians in the north-west.

It was September before the main army, under St. Clair, consisting of about two thousand men, were ready to march. They were subsequently joined by some hundreds of Kentucky militia. Their numbers had been so reduced by detachments to garrison distant forts, and by desertion, that they had but fourteen hundred men remaining, who, by one of those ambuscades in which the savage has peculiar skill, and places much reliance, they were completely routed, with great loss. General Butler, who had the chief command, fell in the action; St. Clair was confined to his tent by disease. The loss was about nine hundred men in this action, known as St. Clair's defeat. The number of the Indians has been estimated at from one thousand to one thousand eight hundred men.

In December news arrived of the defeat, on the fourth of November, and the fact being communicated to Congress, it was necessary to make further preparation to carry on the war against the Indians.

A bill was brought in, on the suggestion of the Execu

The precise number was as follows. In killed thirty-eight commissioned officers; five hundred and ninety-three non-commissioned officers and privates; total, six hundred and thirty-one. Wounded: twenty-one commissioned officers; two hundred and forty-two non-commissioned officers and privates; total, two hundred and sixty-three. Making a total of eight hundred and ninety-four killed and wounded.




tive, to authorise the raising of three additional regiments, and a squadron of cavalry, to serve for three years, unless peace should sooner be made with the Indians, or the President should think it was prudent to discharge them sooner.

This increase of the army was earnestly opposed by the members in the opposition, from its necessary consequence of increasing the power of the Executive, and the expenditure of the government; but after a warm debate, and some disagreement between the two Houses as to its details, the bill finally passed both Houses, by which the regular force for the time was increased to about five thousand men. By another bill the power was given to the Executive of calling out the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrection, and to repel invasion.

With the increase of the standing military force required by the Indian hostilities, an increase of revenue was the natural consequence.

A report of the Secretary of the Treasury on the best mode of raising the additional supplies thus required, was animadverted on by the opposition as an improper interference with their own powers and duties by a department of the Executive.

Another report from the same officer, after considering and answering the objections that had been urged against the excise, suggested some alterations which he thought likely to render it more acceptable, as it had now manifestly excited great discontent in the western portions of the country, especially in Pennsylvania.

Of the three modes of raising the additions to the revenue required, that is, the sale of the bank stock owned by the government, a public loan, or taxes, the Secretary gave preference to the last; and to this end




he recommended additions to the impost. His recommendations were substantially adopted.

In pursuance of a resolution of the House of Representatives at the preceding session, the Secretary of the Treasury proposed an able and elaborate report on the policy of encouraging the manufactures of the United States; and although this subject was one that engrossed the public attention, more than any other, both in Congress and out of it, for some fifteen or twenty years, and was more fully discussed, scarcely an addition had been made to the arguments which he then adduced in favor of that policy; assuming, however, what has been so warmly controverted since, that Congress had the constitutional power of giving this protection.

He had, at the previous session, prepared a long report on the subject of a mint, in which he discussed very fully the several questions of the relative value of gold and silver, the policy of making one or both metals standards of value, or, as he called them, the money unit of the United States; whether the coinage should be free, or subjected to the charge of its cost; the various species of coin; and the regulations of the mint.

Though this report shows the writer's wonted ability, yet it will less bear the test of examination than most of his other reports; and on the two most important points of a single or double standard, and whether or not the coinage should be gratuitous, he is opposed by all the theorists of the first reputation in the present day, in his preference of a double standard, and of a gratuitous coinage over a seignorage. Both of these errors proved mischievous in practice, and the influence of his opinions has not yet passed away.

A law was enacted in conformity with his views, which provided for the issuing of coins of gold, silver, and cop

« السابقةمتابعة »