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H. OF R.]

Virginia Resolutions.

[MARCH 3, 1834.

gress having the effect of making him an agent of Con- can afford. Would such language have been used, if there gress, it is not only refuted by what took place in relation was but one possible contingency in which this unqualified to the clause directing him to report plans, to which I discretion could be exercised? Why not have defined the have already referred, but is in conflict with the constitu- authority so as to limit it to that contingency? The stat tion, which, it seems to me, recognises no such poli-ute, moreover, requires him to give the reasons; and yet tical existence as an agent of Congress, in any other sense the argument is, that there is but one possible reason which than that in which all officers are agents of the law and can be given. the constitution. In that sense, he is the agent of Con- But this power of removing the deposites could not pos gress, who can act upon him by law, and only by law; or, sibly be used without entirely prostrating and overthrowwhich is the same thing, by joint resolution. In any other ing the credit of the institution, if its credit was before so way, his responsibility to Congress is a mere shadow. For doubtful as to make it the just ground on which the place suppose Congress, and the President too, thought the de-of deposite was changed; and thus the act done, for the posites ought to be removed, and the Secretary of the safety of the money apprehended to be in danger, would Treasury should be of opinion (as the present Secretary be the certain means of still more endangering it. And, seems to be) that they are placed in the Bank of the Uni-in addition to all this, another clause of the bank charter ted St by contract; that he alone has the power to directs that all dues to the Government shall be receiv remove them; and that the casus fœderis did not exist able in notes of the Bank of the United States, until Conwhich justified their removal: what is to be done? Can gress shall otherwise order and direct. Now, I cannot you impeach him for protecting the chartered rights of comprehend what advantage it would be to the safety of the corporation? And if you could, the delay necessarily the public money to remove it, as long as this provision incident to the proceeding might render it entirely nuga-existed, as it is obviously a matter of no sort of conse tory as to the interests of the public. All that could be quence whether the public money exists in bank credits done, all that you could do, would be to look to the Pres-or in bank notes. These give a promise to pay-those re ident to exercise that very power which is now denounced cognise with the same solemnity the obligation to pay. as a usurpation. And another answer to this argument|If, then, the safety of the public money had been the only is, that if his being required to report the reasons for hav-or the chief consideration with the framers of the bank ing done an act to Congress makes him an agent of Con-charter, they would have given the Secretary, as the gress, one would think that, pari ratione, his being bound means of making it effectual, the right to refuse the notes to give his opinion in writing to the President in relation of the bank. to the act would make him an agent of the President.

I referred to one discriminating feature in the first two resolutions of the Legislature of Virginia. The first charges the unlawful act-the assumption of power; the second charges the same offence, and, moreover, that it was done from a "disposition to extend his official authority." That charges the act-this the malo animo. Now, this is impeachable matter. If the Legislature so intended it, I regret that they did not say so in plain terms; and it does seem to me, that any gentleman who entertains this opinion, and thinks it can be sustained by proof, ought to institute proceedings for the purpose of investigating it. We have the right to make the accusation; but we are not the judges. If the accusation is to be made, let it be made in the usual way-in a mode calculated to bring before us all the proofs on which the charge is founded, as well as the exculpatory testimony. Let us see if the charge is well founded. If it be, the President ought to be impeached; if any gentleman thinks there are sufficient grounds on which to make the inquiry, he shall have my vote in favor of it.

This notion, that the deposites can only be removed on the ground that they are unsafe, is generally abandoned here. The Bank of the United States, to be sure, main tains this proposition; but most of its friends here concede that there are other reasons for which the Secretary would be justified in removing the deposites: one is, the failure of the bank to transfer the public money from place to place, as required by one of the stipulations of the charter.

Now, sir, recollect that this last would be a violation of one of the fundamental articles of the charter. And how can those who make this concession use, with so much earnestness as they do, the denunciations against the Secretary for stating, as one of the reasons for the removal of the deposites, that the bank had violated its charter in another important article? It is said, with great plausibility, that the President and Secretary have assumed judicial authority, and have deprived the bank of the benefit of a jury trial, the great palladium of liberty; and when they admit that he may remove the deposites because of an act which would constitute a ground for the forfeiture of the charter, do they not themselves admit that he may protect the interests of the country from the misconduct of the bank, so far as the removal of the deposites is concerned, without waiting the judgment of a court, or the verdict of a jury?

As to the request of the Virginia Legislature that the deposites may be restored, I have only to say, that unless the bank charter is to be renewed, or another Bank of the United States established, I have as yet seen and heard nothing which induces me to think that any substantial and permanent relief from the public distress which exists I do not know that there is any other question growing will result from changing the place of deposite. Upon immediately out of the resolutions of the Virginia Legis this point, however, I am willing still to hear more, and to lature, except, perhaps, the idea that the Bank of the hear all that can be said; and to be governed, in relation to United States is made by the bank charter the treasury of this question of expediency, by all the circumstances which the United States; and that, consequently, the removal of may exist at the time I am required finally to act on it. the deposites from that bank is in violation of that provision But I do not concur in the principle on which the Legis- of the constitution which requires that no money shall be lature of Virginia seem to found their request, to wit, that drawn from the treasury but in pursuance of appropria the only consideration to be taken into view, in reference tions made by law. The obvious answer to this is, that if to the removal or restoration of the deposites, is, whether the bank is made the treasury by the sixteenth section of the Bank of the United States is a safe depository of the the charter, the same section gives the Secretary the au public money.

thority to say that it shall not be the treasury. It is the I am constrained to say, after a careful consideration of only clause of the charter from which the idea is derived. this subject, that the authority given to the Secretary to It is as follows: "That the deposites of the money of the remove the deposites was not given solely with an eye to United States, in places in which the said bank and branches their safety, and, indeed, that it could not have constituted thereof may be established, shall be made in said bank or the chief, or even a prominent motive. The authority branches thereof, unless the Secretary of the Treasury given to him is given in terms as broad as the language shall at any time otherwise order and direct; in which case,

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MARCH 3, 1834.]

Virginia Resolutions.

[H. OF R

the Secretary shall immediately lay before Congress, if in tute a quorum to do business, commits to a sub-committee, session, and, if not, immediately after the commencement chosen by the President of the bank, the transaction of of the next session, the reasons of such order and direc-business most materially affecting the general interests of the community, and which finally expends large sums of

tion."

The truth is, that the public money, no matter where it money belonging to the public as well as the other stockis, to the credit of the treasurer of the United States, is holders, for the purpose of controlling the politics of the in the treasury. The public money, while in the Bank country.

of the United States, is in the treasury; and when it is This last charge it has been attempted to slur over and removed thence by the officer who is authorized so to ridicule, as unworthy of serious notice, as well as untrue in "order and direct," and placed elsewhere, it is still in the fact. I regard it, however, as important in principle, and treasury. It is said that the Secretary of the Treasury it seems to be sufficiently established in proof. The has undertaken to do what the whole Government cannot printing accounts of the bank prior to 1829, when Genedo, to wit: lend out the public money to support the ral Jackson's first message was issued, had not ordinarily credit of local banks. 1 take it for granted the principle exceeded about seven or eight hundred dollars per andis true; but if the deposite of a portion of the public funds num. From that time, its expenses for printing docuin a State bank be a loan to that bank, and therefore ille- ments and essays rapidly and enormously increased; and, gal, is it not equally illegal, and equally a loan, to deposite in 1832, if I mistake not, the amount expended under the it in the Bank of the United States? The deposite of money resolution authorizing the president of the bank to proin a bank is not a loan at all. It is selected as a place for cure and circulate such documents and pamphlets as were keeping the public money until it is wanted. As to the "calculated to enlighten the public mind as to the nature authority of the Secretary of the Treasury, ad interim, and and operations of the bank," (I think that is the lanin the absence of special legislation, to select the place of guage,) swelled up to the amount of $26,000: 1832 was keeping the public money, I have only to say, that it seems the year of the veto, and of the presidential election. In to have been the universal construction of the department 1833, the year after the most serious" assault" was made from 1789 down to the present time-constantly practised by the President on the credit of the institution, and when, on, and frequently brought to the notice of Congress, who therefore the motive of defending the bank against these have thereby given a silent acquiescence in it. Mr. Hamil-assaults" was strongest, the expense was only $3,000. ton, while he was Secretary, exercised this authority, and But the presidential election was then over. "Res ipsa lodetailed, in a report to Congress in 1794, the practice of quitur." The bank declares its determination to go on in the department under the interpretation of the law then this course of expenditure, and, as it claims its right to do adopted. When the old Bank of the United States ex-it, I presume it is now employing its funds in this way. pired, in 1811, Mr. Gallatin was Secretary of the Treas. Perhaps it has the mere corporate right of spending its ury, and, as such, selected the places of deposite, and money as it pleases. But this Government has the right prescribed the stipulations which were to be made.

Mr. Crawford, both before and after the establishment of the present bank, pursued the same course. And the bank charter itself, in two of its clauses, recognises this authority. The sixteenth section authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to direct that the deposites shall not be made in the Bank of the United States. Now, if the Treasurer is authorized, under the law of 1789, to select the place of deposite, he may immediately order them back, which would render nugatory the authority given to the Secretary. Another clause of the bank charter requires the bank to give facilities for the transfer of the public money whenever required by "the Secretary of the Treasury." Thus distinctly recognising that officer as entitled to direct where the public money shall be placed.

of keeping the public money where it pleases, and I regard such an employment of the corporate powers of the bank as a dangerous and unjustifiable use of its power, and think we may rightfully employ all the powers over the public money which we have not surrendered to the bank to check its career. We have reserved the right to change the place of keeping the public money.

To illustrate my idea as to this abuse of the bank, let me ask what would be said, what ought to be said, if the Congress of the United States were now to pass a resolution declaring that the Bank of the United States was a dangerous institution to the liberties of the country, and that it was unconstitutional, and, therefore, that the President of the United States should be authorized to procure and circulate such pamphlets, essays, and documents as he might think proper, "to enlighten the public mind as I do not mean, Mr. Speaker, at this time, exhausted as to the nature and operations of the institution, and that is my strength, and worn out as the patience of the House the whole treasury of the United States should be put unmust be, to enter into an examination of the reasons al- der his control for that purpose?" Is there a man who leged by the Secretary for the removal of the deposites. would dare to face his constituents after giving a vote for alleged by him, if substantiated, are, in my such a resolution? And yet this is precisely what the Bank judgment, such as justified the withdrawing and withhold- of the United States has done with its treasury, to every ing the public deposites, so far as the rights of the bank intent and purpose.

The reasons

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were concerned; and enough of these charges seem to be As an authority to prove that this control over the deadmitted or established to my satisfaction, to have war-posites may be used to prevent the bank from mingling in ranted the act of removal in point of legal authority. I the politics of the country, I will read an extract from a think, however, that it was effected in a way which was report made to this House in 1830, which has received hasty and ill-judged. The sudden and unexpected man- the sanction of the bank at least; for the printing and cirner in which the determination to change the place of de- culating some fifty thousand copies of it, constitute one posite was announced, without notice to the bank or to item in the "printing accounts of the bank, the country, was, I think, unwise and prejudicial to the It is from the report of the chairman of the Committee interests of the community. That the bank itself has con- of Ways and Means, (Mr. McDUFFIE,) now, tributed by its course to increase the evils arising from this distinguished member of this House, from South Carolina. proceeding, I can have no doubt. But I think it extra- "While there is a national bank bound by its charter to ordinary doctrine, indeed, that we are obliged to keep the perform certain stipulated duties, and entitled to receive public money in a bank which has violated a fundamental the Government deposites as a compensation allowed by article of its charter, which, in effect, excludes the Gov- the law creating the charter, and only to be forfeited by ernment directors from all participation or knowledge of a failure to perform these duties, there is nothing in the its important concerns; which, in spite of the express di- connexion at all inconsistent with the independence of the rections of the charter that seven directors shall consti- bank and the purity of the Government. The country

VOL. IX.-180

Bank of the United States.

[MARCH 4, 1834.

has a deep interest that the bank should maintain specie shall be restored or not, as one of very small importance, payments, and the Government an additional interest that comparatively. it should keep the public funds safely, and transfer them quences are involved in the debate, if not in the decision More important questions and conse free of expense wherever they may be wanted. The of the mere naked practical question. It is to be seen Government, therefore, has no power over the bank, but whether the constitution and the law shall be supreme, the salutary power of enforcing a compliance with the or whether we shall be governed by a great moneyed terms of its charter. Every thing is secured by law, and oligarchy; whether we shall have the constitution as our nothing left to arbitrary discretion. Secretary of the Treasury, with the sanction of Congress, on the "Procrustes bed" of this great corporation, and It is true that the fathers gave it to us, or whether it is to be laid prostrate would have the power to prevent the bank from using its stretched here, or curtailed there; bent, twisted, and power unjustly and oppressively, and to punish any at- fashioned, as may suit its interests. Whether, in short, tempt on the part of the directors to bring the pecuniary the Bank of the United States shall prove itself stronger influence of the institution to bear upon the politics of the than the constitution, stronger than the Government, and country, by withdrawing the Government deposites from stronger than the people. the offending branches. But this would not be lightly exercised by the treasury, as its exercise would necessarily be subject to be reviewed by Congress: it is, in its nature, a salutary corrective, creating no undue dependence on the part of the bank."

This seems to me to lay down as broad doctrine as that which is assumed by the Secretary in his report, in reference to some of his reasons.

Virginia will be found sustaining the Legislature in the It may be, sir, as it has been alleged, that the State of avowal of principles which I regard as directly in conflict with the constitution, and leading, in their tendencies, to barriers which defend the rights of the States from the the utter demolition of the only remaining constitutional overwhelming tide of federal encroachments. If so, 80 The opinion that the power to remove the deposites ble strength to this fatal and desolating tide to the last, be it. But, I for one, Mr. Speaker, will oppose my feemight be employed as a means of checking the excesses, and when I sink under its force, I will continue to press and controlling the misconduct of the bank generally, the constitution of my country to my bosom, and my last seems to have been entertained by the committee of in- shout will be, in the language of the immortal Henry, vestigation raised in 1819, and various members of Con-"Give me liberty, or give me death." gress at that time, and apparently without being question- Mr. GHOLSON next obtained the floor, and signified

On motion, the House then adjourned.

TUESDAY, MARCH 4.

BANK OF THE UNITED STATES.

Mr. POLK, from the Committee of Ways and Means,

ed by any one. A very strong opinion to that effect is to a wish to speak on the subject, but as the hour was very be found in a speech of Mr. Sergeant, who then repre- late, he would defer his remarks. sented the city of Philadelphia, and was then the great champion of the bank on this floor. And there is a very remarkable thing to be noticed in relation to his argument. Then the proposition was that Congress should take strong measures against the bank, on account of its general mismanagement, and the misconduct, and perhaps fraud, of some of the directors. Mr. Sergeant contended that the only authority that Congress had was to to which had been referred the letter of the Secretary of inquire whether the charter had been violated, and, if so, the Treasury, giving his reasons for withdrawing the pubto order a scire facias. That Congress had nothing to do lic deposites from the Bank of the United States; the with the control of the bank, except to that extent. And memorial of the Bank, and various other papers on the he said, "If we undertake to examine the general ad- same general subject, made a report: he moved that it ministration of the affairs of the bank, or to investigate be printed, and its consideration postponed to to-morthe conduct of particular directors, we are involved at row week. once in the danger of an interference with the Executive." And so Congress passed it by. Now the executive officer has undertaken to examine the general administration of the affairs of the bank, and employing the means vested in him by law, for correcting what he thought to be misconduct in "the general administration of the affairs of the bank," and justifying himself for so doing, on the ground that the charter being a contract, Congress could not act on the subject until he reported the fact to the reading was of right. them that he had removed the deposites, we immediately hear the distinguished gentleman from Philadelphia, who consumption of time in reading a long report, and probis now the great champion of the bank on this floor, com- ably a counter report, both of which would be immediateplaining vehemently that he should make such an extrav-ly printed. agant construction of the law as excludes Congress from all right to act until he acts.

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When the Legislature attempts to control the bank, the bank and its friends say it belongs to the Executive to look to this matter. When the Executive acts, then a usurpation of legislative power is charged. So true is it

that

"The doctrine to day that is loyalty sound,
May bring us a halter to-morrow."

Mr. CLAY called for the reading of the
Mr. McDUFFIE objected.

report.

ber to have any paper read when first presented to the The CHAIR decided that it was the right of a mem Mr. McDUFFIE moved that the reading be dispensed

House.

with.

The CHAIR pronounced that motion out of order, as
Mr. HARDIN remonstrated against the unnecessary

Mr. CLAY said that he wished the reading, because he ber of copies of the report. meant to follow it by a motion for printing an extra num

Mr. HARDIN said he would vote for the extra number without the reading.

The CHAIR stated the grounds on which he had decided that the reading was of right, when called for by member of the House. He said that the member from Alabama (Mr. CLAY) had a right to have the report read before he could be required to vote, and that it was not

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I have only to say, look-in order to move to dispense with the reading, nor in ing to some of the great principles which have been the power of the majority of the House so to direct, if brought into debate in connexion with this subject, and persisted in by any member of the House. The rule the whole course of opinion now, and argument hereto- which declares that, when the reading of a paper is called fore expressed upon the various questions which have for, and the same is objected to, that the House shall dearisen, that I regard the inquiry, whether the deposites termine by a vote whether it is to be read or not, does

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MARCH 4, 1834.]

Bank of the United States.

[H. of R.

not apply to the case of a paper first presented for the used its corporate power or money to control the press consideration and action of the House. That rule was to interfere in politics, or influence elections; and whethe adopted, no doubt, in consequence of its having been ther it has had any agency, through its management or to supposed that this right of a member to have a paper money, in producing the existing pressure; à select comDe ses read for information, extended to all papers which were mittee be appointed to inspect the books and examine stron the table, or in the possession of the House, and on into the proceedings of the said Bank, who shall report which the House might have passed. To guard against whether the provisions of the charter have been violated the delay and inconvenience which would have arisen or not; and, also, what abuses, corruptions, or malfrom the exercise of such a right, the forty-second rule practices have existed in the management of said bank; was adopted. and that the said committee be authorized to send for

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other

Mr. McDUFFFIE asked whether it would be in order

That rule, however, is only applicable, in the opinion persons and papers, and to summon and examine witof the Chair, to papers upon the table, or in possession nesses, on oath, and to examine into the affairs of the of the House, and does not apply to papers first present- said bank and branches; and they are further authorized ed to the House, and on which its action is to be had. to visit the principal bank, or any of its branches, for When any paper is thus presented for the first time, in the purpose of inspecting the books, correspondence, the business and proceedings of the House, any member accounts, and other papers connected with its managehas a right to have it read through once at the table be- ment or business; and that the said committee be refore he can be compelled to give any opinion or vote in quired to report the result of such investigation, together relation to it; but, having been once read, it is, like every with the evidence they may take, at as carly a day as paper that belongs to the House, to be moved to practicable. be read, if again desired; and, if objection be made, the sense of the House is to be taken by the Chair. This is an important right to each individual member, one of the few that can be exercised by him against the opinion of the House, and which no majority can, as the law now is, deprive him of. It has been so regarded, and held sacred, by the individual who fills the Chair, and he has been sustained by the practice and decision of the House. In 1802 the question was first raised, in relation to a communication from the then Secretary of War: a motion The CHAIR replied that the question of postponement having been made to dispense with the reading of it, was had precedence.

at this time to move an amendment to these resolutions. The CHAIR replied in the negative, as the question before the House was on the postponement.

Mr. McDUFFIE then requested Mr. POLK to withdraw his motion; but he declined.

Mr. WILDE inquired whether it would be in order to move a reference of the report to a Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union?

decided, by Mr. Speaker Macon, to be out of order, (no The question was put on the postponement and cardoubt for the reasons now stated, though that does not ried; and the report was ordered to be printed.

appear,) and approved by a vote of more than four to one. Mr. BINNEY presented to the House a report from the A difference of opinion had probably arisen on the sub-minority of the Committee of Ways and Means on the jeet, the Speaker said, in consequence of the rules as laid same subject, and moved that it receive the same destinadown in the Manual. The authority of Hatzel, which tion with the last paper; which was agreed to. Mr. Jefferson referred to as justifying the rule, had been Mr. CLAY moved that 10,000 extra copies of both reentirely misapprehended. The practice of the House of ports be printed. Commons certainly, since the time of Mr. Onslow, was in accordance with the decision now made, and the right in question he had ever regarded as one highly important to each individual member of this House. The report must therefore be read, if desired by the member from Alabama.

The House acquiesced in the decision of the Speaker, and the paper was read.

The reading of the report was then commenced, and had proceeded some time, when

Mr. HAWES moved, as an amendment, that there be 50,000; but it was negatived.

Mr. REED then moved 20,000; but this was also negatived.

Mr. HALL, of Maine, moved 15,000.

Mr. EWING, of Indiana, opposed the printing of so great a number of a report calculated, as this is, to extend the existing panic, by tending to create a wrong belief that no adequate substitute for the existing United States Bank can be created. He contended that the people Mr. CLAY, stating it to be his understanding that no would not, as they consulted their own and the general objection would be made to the printing of an extra num-good, place reliance upon a local currency that would ber of the report, withdrew his call for the reading; and eventually operate as a severe tax upon the industry of thereupon suspended; but, at the request of a the country. He thought that the committee should member, the resolutions with which the report closed were read, as follows:

it was

1. Resolved, That the Bank of the United States ought

not to be re-chartered.

have shown and recommended a suitable and proper substitute for the general good, when it is determined the existing corporation bank shall cease. He would oppose the printing of so many thousands of a report that could not fail to extend the existing want of confidence, and consequently increase the existing embarrassment of the 3. Resolved, That the State banks ought to be con- country. He would return it with instructions to the tinned as the places of deposite of the public money, and committee, or lay it upon the table.

2. Resolved, That the public deposites ought not to be restored to the Bank of the United States.

that it is expedient for Congress to make further provi- [The SPEAKER here informed the member from Insion by law, prescribing the mode of selection, the secu- diana that it was not in order to debate the merits of the rities to be taken, and the manner and terms on which question.]

they are to be employed.

The motion for printing 15,000 copies was agreed to.

4. Resolved, That, for the purpose of ascertaining, as Mr. WILDE wished to move that an amendment be far as practicable, the cause of the commercial embarrass-printed, which he desired to offer when the subject came ment and distress complained of by numerous citizens of up, (the same in substance as the second resolution of Mr. the United States, in sundry memorials which have been CLAY's motion in the Senate, viz: that the reasons of the presented to Congress at the present session, and of in- Secretary of the Treasury for the removal of the public quiring whether the charter of the Bank of the United deposites are unsatisfactory and insufficient,) but the States has been violated; and, also, what corruptions and House, refused to suspend the rule in order to receive abuses have existed in its management; whether it has Mr. WILDE's motion.

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REVOLUTIONARY CLAIMS.

[MARCH 4, 1834.

tions which it recognises, and which it proposes to dis charge. It proceeds upon the principle, that we owe The House then resumed the unfinished business of the officers of the revolution who are embraced in its Friday last, viz: "a bill to provide for the settlement of provisions, a debt which, at this late day, we are under a certain revolutionary claims," when moral obligation to pay, augmented too by the interest of Mr. VANDERPOEL, of New York, resumed his re- half a century. The research and reflection which I have marks in opposition to the bill, as given entire below. bestowed upon the subject have satisfied my mind, sir, Mr. Speaker: I have examined the details, reflected that the debts proposed to be cancelled are of too equivoupon the principle, and have endeavored to ascertain cal a character, at this late day, to justify our exposure to what will be the certain consequences of the passage of the enormous frauds, impositions, and peculations, to the bill upon your table; and after bestowing upon it that which the bill upon your table will most assuredly lead. attention which is alike due to the amount it would draw The foundation of the claims for which the bill pro from your treasury, and to those good and gallant men poses to provide, rests in several resolves of the revolu for whom it purports to provide, I feel it an incumbent tionary Congress, which the committee who reported duty most strenuously to oppose its passage. Let no one this bill tell us have created obligations that have not infer, sir, from the course I am about to take, that I am yet been fully discharged. In order to understand all the insensible to the claims of the gallant and veteran officers points involved in the discussion upon which I propose to of the revolution. No, sir, I would freely award to them enter, it becomes indispensably necessary to recur to the not only the justice, but the bounty of my country: but resolves or promises which are said to have created the in the discharge of the important duties that here devolve indebtedness which the bill proposes to provide for. upon us, we should remember that there is a point On the 15th day of May, 1778, Congress, by a resolve beyond which liberality degenerates into prodigality, and that will be found in the journals of the continental Conceases to be a virtue. In the halls of legislation, sir, the gress, provided that all the officers of the continental general impulses of our nature should always have the line, who should remain in service to the end of the war, checks and balances which sober judgment and reason should receive seven years' half pay, after the conclusion impose. The purse of the nation is confided to our care, of the war. On the 3d day of October, 1780, the army and if, on the one hand, a niggardly and parsimonious was reformed, by which many officers then in active serspirit is unworthy of the generous and high-minded peo-vice were rendered supernumerary, and in order to prople whom we have the honor to represent, so, on the vide for these, another resolve was then passed, that these other, a system of waste and extravagance, resulting from supernumeraries should be entitled to half pay for seven even the kindest feelings of our nature, would indicate a years from the time of such reform. The officers who betrayal of our high trust. Our constituents have given remained in service, it seems, were not yet satisfied with us the power to dispense justice to all who have just the provision that Congress had made for them. They claims upon the country; but I cannot find, sir, in the knew not how long the war would be protracted; they power of attorney under which we act, an authority to had abandoned their civil pursuits already for a long vote away the treasure of the people in indiscriminate period, and entertaining, as they did, the natural sentilargesses and enormous bounties, or by any imprudent ment, that it was a duty which they owed to themselves act of legislation to provoke upon the treasury the vast and to those who depended upon them, either to return frauds and peculations which the passage of the bill to their civil avocations by which they could obtain a upon your table would, in my estimation, most inevitably competency for themselves and their families before the

occasion.

vigor of youth had passed away, or to procure from the Should the bill upon your table become a law, (said National Legislature some promise upon which they could Mr. V.,) a million, or more probably two millions of dol- rely, as an indemnity for the services which they renlars, would be drawn from your treasury under its pro- dered, and the chances of gain which they consented to visions. This, to be sure, (said Mr. V.,) should not pre- forego, they pressed Congress for further promises of vent its passage, provided the subjects of it have a just or remuneration; and, accordingly, Congress, on the 21st of equitable claim upon the nation; but it should, at all October, 1780, passed another resolve, that the officers events, inculcate a spirit of caution, and provoke to it the who should continue in service to the end of the war strictest scrutiny of gentlemen; and, above all, it should should be entitled to half pay for life, and in the same guard against that precipitancy in its passage through the resolve were included officers who were rendered super House with which it was here rushed through the Com- numerary by certain reforms and new arrangements of mittee of the Whole. Its total escape of criticism and the army, or rather those who were not in active ser comment in its passage through its first ordeal, is not at vice, but who were in readiness to perform it whenever all surprising, when we consider how totally subordinate their country called upon them. The promise thus has been every other subject, in point of interest, to that made to the officers by the resolve of the 21st October, great question which has so unremittingly engaged the at- 1780, soon became very unpopular and odious. It very tention of the House during this session. The bank, and naturally awakened a fear and jealousy that it contained the matters connected with the bank, have constituted the germe of an aristocracy, of sinecures and placemen, to a mammoth interest, which seems to have swallowed up all be thus early fastened upon the republic for life, and solicitude about other, though important concerns; and it soon proved repugnant to that anti-monarchical spirit would not be wonderful, if, amid all the cries of panic which gave birth to, and which had thus far sustained and and distress which have been so unceasingly rung through prospered the great cause of the revolution. The offi our ears, our accustomed vigilance in relation to other cers themselves very soon became aware that the spirit subjects and other interests, had somewhat relaxed. It of the people did not justify the very liberal provision, is only upon this principle, sir, that I can account for the for life, which Congress had thus, in the plentitude of its passage of a bill through the committee so important in liberality, made for them; that it was calculated not only amount, and, as a general bill, so novel in principle as the to bring down the popular odium of the country upon one upon your table, without at all breaking that silence their heads, but to abate the general enthusiasm for the which seems to be so rare in this Hall. It is not, how-great cause of the revolution, which had hitherto, amid ever, too late to arrest it, if obnoxious to the objections all reverses and difficulties, animated the breasts of the which it shall now be my task to expose. people. The officers, therefore, who came within the resolve of the 21st October, 1780, as well from a natural regard to the estimation in which they desired to be held

In order to understand the provisions of the bill, it becomes necessary to advert to the origin of the obliga

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