صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

MAY 13, 1834.]

Adjournment of Congress.

must be made by law in the form of bills or joint orders,
votes or resolutions, upon which the President of the Uni-
ted States has simply the power of a negative, subject to
a vote of two-thirds of each House of Congress.
Resolved, That no change of the constitution of the
United States is necessary to authorize the Congress of
the United States to intrust the custody of the public mo-
ney, not appropriated by law, and not disbursed under
appropriations by law, whenever or howsoever obtained,
to other agency than that of the Executive department,
and that the custody of the public money must not be ne-
cessarily, under the constitution, intrusted to the Execu-
tive department.

[H. of R.

Mr. MANN, of Pennsylvania, called for the yeas and nays; which were ordered.

Mr. FOSTER said that although he was no great stickler for the observance of the Sabbath, yet he did not desire to see it profaned, when it could possibly be avoided. He presumed that, if the resolution was to adjourn on a Monday, there was scarcely a doubt but that the previous Sunday would be devoted to the transaction of business. He, therefore, suggested that Saturday, the 14th, should be fixed, and he submitted an amendment to that effect. Mr. CHILTON said that, in order to bring up the printing of the journal, Tuesday, the 17th, would be the better day, and proposed an amendment in accordance. The amendment fixing Saturday was then rejected. Mr. CHILTON withdrew his proposing Tuesday. Mr. WARDWELL having renewed it, it was rejected. The question then being on the adoption of the reso

Resolved, That Congress can take out of the hands of the Executive department the custody of the public property or money, without an assumption of Executive power, or a subversion of the first principles of the constitution. And that said committee be further instructed to re-lutionport such measures as it may deem necessary and proper to provide for the future safe-keeping, control, and disposition of the public property and moneys, and to assert, maintain, and protect the constitutional powers of Congress over the public property and public purse.


Mr. BOON asked the unanimous consent of the House to take up the joint resolution, heretofore submitted by him, fixing a day (the 31st instant) for the adjournment of Congress.

Objections having been made

Mr. B. moved a suspension of the rule, to enable him to have it taken up, intimating, at the same time, that, if his motion should prevail, it was his intention to modify the resolution, by inserting Monday, the 16th of next month, in lieu of the day named for adjournment.

The motion to suspend was decided in the affirmative: Yeas 152, nays 12.

Mr. EWING moved to amend it by adding "provided the essential business of the people, which demands the action of Congress, be then determined."

Mr. ANTHONY desired to know how the proviso was to be determined upon?

Mr. EWING replied, that it was in the power of every member to determine what was essential to the interests of his constituents: for his part, he knew that his constituents expected that the business, interesting to them, should be despatched before they would think of adjourning. He called for the yeas and nays on his amendment. The House refused to order them; and the question having been taken on his amendment, it was rejected.

Mr. VINTON desired to be informed by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means if it was his intention to call up the bill reported by that committee to regulate the terms, &c. upon which the public deposites were to be made in the State banks, previous to any adjournment?

Mr. B. then said he was desirous to repel an unfound- Mr. POLK replied, that, so far as he was concerned, ed attack which was made upon him, for having previ- and knew the opinion of those with whom he acted, it was ously submitted the resolution to adjourn. The attack his and their intention to bring up that subject, and press was made in a communication, dated on the 17th April it upon the consideration of the House. This he would last, from the House of Representatives, and was inserted take the earliest opportunity of doing, which would be in the Telegraph. The writer of it had impugned his as soon as the remaining appropriation bills were actmotives, had asserted that he had submitted the resolu-ed upon.

fion in a thin House, and that he was actuated, from that Mr. ARCHER desired to know how many of them statement, by an insidious motive to have it passed in a were undisposed of?

thin House.

in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and repairing said road east of the Ohio, and continuing certain territorial roads; and one making additional appropriations for the improvement of certain harbors, and removing obstructions in the mouths of certain rivers.

Mr. POLK said there were five reported from the ComAfter quoting the article, Mr. B. said that the writer mittee of Ways and Means, which he was desirous to of it was unknown to him; but be he whomsoever he have speedily acted upon, viz: one making appropriations might, he pronounced that it was a false and base calum-for the Indian Department; one for certain fortifications ny, and was done with knowledge aforethought. For it for the year 1834; one for Indian annuities, and other would be in the recollection of members in the House similar objects; one for continuing the Cumberland road that when he first proposed the resolution fixing the time for Congress to adjourn, so far from desiring to press it in a thin House, upon the suggestion of a friend near him, [Mr. R. M. JOHNSON,] that the House was thin, he had acceded to the propriety of his suggestion to postpone, and did then postpone it, for that very reason. The writer There was a bill in relation to West Point Academy, would convey the idea that, in submitting the resolution, and others of importance, from other committees (said he was under the dictation of imperial majesty, or had Mr. P.) yet to be acted upon; he, therefore, hoped that done so in compliance with the wishes of the kitchen the House would be disposed to immediately consider cabinet." This idea, however, he must altogether repel; and act promptly upon the appropriation bills. it was too contemptible, it was undeserving and unbecom- Mr. VINTON said, as the chairman of the Committee ing the notice of any man; and he should not have noticed of Ways and Means had thus announced his determinathe matter at all, were it not to repel the insinuation that tion not to call up the bill which was, in his judgment, he was actuated by an insidious motive in proposing the of more importance than any of those which he had naresolution. He would not hold himself accountable to any med, and which, when called up, he believed would octribunal on earth save to his constituents. He now pro-cupy all the time, from this period until the day named posed to modify the resolution to read as follows: for adjournment, he could not consent to fix a day for adResolved, That the President of the Senate, and the journing, until the bill he alluded to was disposed of. Speaker of the House of Representatives, close the present session of Congress by an adjournment of their re-a memorial to present to the House from his constituents, spective Houses on Monday, the 16th day of June next. but which, from present appearances, he was not to have

Mr. HARDIN remarked that he had had for some time

H. OF R.]

Commutation Pension Bill.

[MAY 13, 1854.

it in his power to present. He took this occasion to arrangement of the army. 2d. Those who continued i.. state, it was from the farmers of his district, and they set service to the end of the war. To the first class, the pr forth the great pressure under which they were now la mise was absolute and unconditional; it was made in conboring, agricultural produce being reduced from 40 to sideration of past services and privations, and in compen 60 per cent. sation for being left out of service in the new arrange They attribute all this to the derangement of the cur- ment. To the second class, it was conditional; dependent rency. And, among other resolutions, they had express-on their continuance in service to the end of the war. A ly instructed him not to vote for an adjournment until further reduction of the army took place, in pursuance of something was done towards chartering a national bank. the resolve of 31st December, 1781. Officers retiring They believed that this was the only means to remedy the from service, under this last resolution, are, according to evils they complain of, and the amendment proposed on the resolve of March 9, 1785, entitled to half pay, or com this subject by the member from Illinois, [Mr. DUNCAN,] mutation, equally with those who retired under the resolves was, he thought, worthy of their consideration. Accord- of October, 1780. This resolve of March 9, 1785, seems ing to the instructions sent him, he could not vote for the to have proceeded from abundant caution; for there could resolution. be no question of the right of an officer to half pay, or

Mr. CHILTON, believing that little good would result commutation in lieu thereof, who had been retained in from a protracted session, was willing to vote for the ad-service under the new arrangement of the army, made in journment.

The debate was here arrested by a motion, submitted by Mr. PLUMMER, to proceed to the orders of the day; which motion prevailed: Ayes 84, noes 78. The SPEAKER then laid before the House sundry communications, among which was the following:

"NEW HAVEN, 9th May, 1834.

"SIR: I have this day resigned my seat as a member of the 23d Congress.

"Yours, very respectfully,

"SAMUEL A. FOOT. "The Hon. the SPEAKER of the H. R." The special order of the day being the


Mr. CRANE, having the floor, rose, and addressed the

Chair as follows:

pursuance of the resolves of 3d and 21st of October, 1780, and had been subsequently, and before the end of the war, deranged out of service by the act of the Govern ment, in the further reduction and new modelling of the army. Half pay for life was solemnly promised by Congress to all those officers who retired from service under the resolves of October, 1780, or under any subsequera remodelling or reduction of the army; and to all tice who continued in service until the end of the war. Tas half pay was, by resolve of March 22d, 1783, commuted for five years' full pay; this commutation to be accepted, not by individuals, but by lines of the army. It was ac cepted by the several lines, and is one of the many procis of the patriotism of the officers of the continental army. This commutation, in lieu of half pay for life, was certairofficers; but it was proposed by the officers themselves, ly not an advantageous bargain, especially for the younger Mr. Speaker: As I was a member of the committee to avoid the invidious distinction of pensioners. This to remove the jealousies infused into the public mind, and which reported this bill, I wish to reply to some of the bill provides a mode for investigating and settling these objections which have been urged against it, more es claims for commutation. That such claims exist, we have pecially as the bill has been, for some time past, with sufficient evidence in the numerous petitions before us drawn from the attention of the House. The very able, If they are just and well founded, the public faith is and, as I should hope, successful vindication of this bill, pledged for their allowance and payment. The peri by the gentleman from Kentucky, [Mr. MARSHALL,] and limited for bringing forward these claims expired in 1794 its other friends, has left little for me to do. I can only forty years ago; but this bill, in permitting them to be c glean the field already reaped. There seems to be a hibited at the Treasury Department until 1838, does not mistake respecting the object and effect of this bill. It rouse up a host of dormant claims; its only effect is to is supposed that it extends the grants to the officers of provide a new tribunal; for we all know claims of this de the revolutionary army beyond the intention of the Conti-scription have, for several years past, been brought be nental Congress, and that it adopts new principles of de-fore Congress, and examined and decided on their meris cision respecting the claims of those officers. The com- respectively, without reference to any statute of limitation mittee had no design, and claimed no authority, to go be- But the objection chiefly urged against this bill, and yond the Congress of that day: their object was to carry apparently most relied on, is to the second section, and into effect the stipulations of Congress with the officers, to the presumptions there sanctioned. These presump. and to do this by the application of such principles of de- tions are branded as anomalous, novel, and unreasonable. cision as had heretofore received the sanction of Congress. Sir, in the reports of the Committees on Revolutionary They aimed at no novelties, but kept themselves scrupu- Claims, you will find these much-decried presumptions lously within the line of precedent. A brief review of the legislation of the Continental have repeatedly received the sanction of Congress. The constantly recognised, and you will also find that they Congress will be useful in judging of the provisions of statute book is full of instances of acts passed for the rethis bill. On the 15th May, 1778, Congress promised lief of revolutionary officers, or their representatives, half pay for seven years to the officers commissioned by whose claims were sustained by just such presumptions. Congress, on condition of service to the end of the war. But erroneous precedents furnish no guide of action The benefit of this provision was subsequently, by the The maxim is true: the propriety of its application to this resolution of 24th August, 1780, extended to the widows case is disputed. Let us examine these presumptions, so and orphans of those officers who had died, or should much objected to. Take the case of an officer alleged thereafter die, in service. This is one class of the claims to have retired under the resolves of October, 1780. The provided for by this bill. By the resolution of October opponents of the bill contend that the burden of proct 21st, 1780, half pay for life was promised to the officers should be thrown on the claimant. Granted. But the of the continental army. A suitable provision for those true meaning of such a rule is, that he shall support he officers had been an object of long and anxious solicitude claim by probable evidence. What proof of the fact of with General Washington, and this resolution was the re- retiring from service will those who object to the pre sult of his repeated and pressing solicitations to Congress.sumptions of this bill require? Must it be established by By it, two classes of officers were entitled to half pay for the army lists? They are defective, mutilated, lost. life. 1st. Those who retired from service under the new What secondary evidence will be sufficient? The only

MAY 13, 1834.]

Commutation Pension Bill.

[H. of R.

rational objection to the presumptions of the bill must cashiered, or voluntarily abandoned an actual command? be insufficiency-that they are not fair and rational de- One or the other of these presumptions you must adopt. ductions from the premises. The fact on which the pre- The deficiency of the public records, and the peculiar sumption depends, and from which all its force is derived, state and condition of the continental army, after January, is, that the officer claiming commutation was in service 1782, render it always difficult, and in many cases almost on the 21st October, 1780, and until the new arrange- impossible, to prove, by direct and positive testimony, ment of the army was completed. That fact must be that an officer actually served until the end of the war. fully and clearly established; then, according to the bill, By admitting the presumptions of the bill, it is possible "he shall be presumed, unless it shall appear that he you may, in some few and rare instances, sustain unfoundwas then retained in service, to have been reduced by ed claims; reject those presumptions, and you necessarily that arrangement, and therefore entitled to half pay, or exclude many just, meritorious ones. It is for an Amerithe commutation in lieu of it." The officer thus in ser-can Congress, deciding on the claims of the revolutionary vice must have either retired or continued. The bill pre-officers, to determine which rule they will adopt. This sumes that he retired, unless it appears he was then re-bill will not throw open the doors of the treasury to untained. The Government is to rebut the presumption, by founded claims; it will guard the treasury against that showing that he was retained in service. And is not this constant tendency of legislation, on individual claims, to reasonable and just? Will you not only require him to enlarge the basis of relief; it will, in a brief period, settle establish the fact that he was then in service, but impose the remaining claims of this description upon just and on him the further task of proving that he did not con- equitable principles. The true question is, which is tinue in it after the new arrangement of the army? Is it the best mode of determining these claims? Shall Conhis fault that the army rolls are mutilated or lost? It gress go on to legislate on each individual case, or was the business of the Government to prepare and pre-establish by law a tribunal for the investigation of all serve them. Shall claims, sustained by direct proof and such cases? Many and decided advantages will be obfair presumptions, be thrust aside with the sneering obtained by constituting the Treasury Department such a jection, that they are founded on lost records, and sus-tribunal. The investigation will be made at vastly less tained by violent presumptions? The loss of records is expense than in Congress; the facilities of consulting such the misfortune of the revolutionary officers, not of the public records as are yet extant will be much greater; and, Government. Sir, the committee, in imbodying these in the comparative permanency of the officers of that Depresumptions in the bill, have only required the Secreta partment, with the fluctuating and shifting character of ry of the Treasury to decide these claims upon the same committees, we have a greater security for the despatch principles which the committees have observed, and which of business. When a member of the committee has Congress has sanctioned. become acquainted with this subject, he may be transAgain: the bill requires an officer claiming commuta-ferred to another committee, or he may grow weary of tion as having served to the end of the war, to prove that the labor, or he may leave Congress altogether. This he remained in service after the arrangement of the army bill holds out to the claimants the prospect of a speedy under the resolves of October, 1780. From that fact the decision; an advantage which a petitioner to Congress, presumption is drawn, that he continued in service to who has endured, year after year, the misery of hope dethe end of the war, or retired entitled to half pay for ferred, will know how to estimate. It is proper that life, "unless it appear that he died in the service, or Congress should prescribe general rules to guide the resigned, or was dismissed, or voluntarily abandoned an action of the Treasury Department; to prevent delay; to actual command in the service of the United States." render appeals to Congress unnecessary; to maintain The war virtually ended with the capture of Cornwallis, uniformity of decision; and to avoid the error of intrustin October, 1781. On the 31st December, 1781, a ing a latitude of discretion to a special and temporary further reduction of the army took place, and the officers tribunal. then retiring were entitled to half pay for life. The camOne objection, of a singular character, has been urged paign of 1782 was inactive, and almost bloodless, marked against this bill. We are gravely warned that it will inonly by a few skirmishes, chiefly in the South: the very crease Executive power. If there be one political doclast one is made memorable by the fall of that gallant trine which I hold indubitably clear beyond others, it is officer and accomplished man, Colonel Laurens. In the that, in the language of a resolution now on your table, interval between the capture of Cornwallis and the final the Executive power in this country has increased, is indisbandment of the army, on the 3d of November, 1783, creasing, and ought to be diminished. It is my solemn officers were permitted to return home on furlough, conviction that, unless this power be restrained within narwhere, in many instances, they remained until the peace, rower limits by the wisdom and foresight of the people, not being required to resume their command. To re- it will eventually, and at no distant period, overturn the quire direct and positive proof that an officer continued fair fabric of our liberty. If I can in any degree, howin service until the disbandment of the army, must ex- ever humble, aid in the reduction of a power which threatclude many just and well-founded claims. And where is ens to absorb all other powers in its vortex, I shall deem the hazard of presuming that an officer, proved to have my public life not wholly useless. But gentlemen may remained in service after January, 1781, continued until dismiss their fears respecting this bill, as the illusions of the end of the war, or retired entitled to half pay for imagination. It is not in this way Executive power is inlife? Will you presume, against all probability, that he creased. The bill creates no new officers; it imposes laresigned, and thereby abandoned all claim to that pro- borious duties on officers now existing; it is temporary, vision which his country had made for his services and his and leaves nothing to arbitrary discretion. The gentleprivations? Will you adopt the harsh and injurious pre- man from New York [Mr. VANDERPOEL] alleges that the sumption, that he was cashiered, or voluntarily abandoned passage of this bill will bring into action the whole corps an actual command? Yet, when no evidence can be of pie poudre court lawyers, wherever dispersed; that drawn from the public records, which it was the business cases will be prepared and brought within the rules of the Government to make out and preserve, will you prescribed; that proofs of service will be manufactured adopt the just and obvious presumption, that the officer by imposing on the dotage of revolutionary officers. in your service in 1781 continued in it until discharged by The gentleman underrates the testimony of revolutionary the act of the Government? or will you, to defeat his officers: he forgets that law of our nature by which the claim, adopt the improbable presumption, that he re- decay of memory, consequent on old age, is shown in the signed? or the harsh and injurious one, that he was forgetfulness of comparatively recent transactions, while

H. OF R.]

Commutation Pension Bill.

[MAY 13, 1834.

the events of early years are fresh and vivid. The them. That gentleman also contends that commutation scenes of the Revolution would be the sunny spots on was given to those only who rendered the service, and which the memory of the aged veteran would love to was never intended by Congress to go to the heirs or lelinger. The gentleman forgets, too, that his objection gal representatives. When the lines of the continental applies with equal, if not greater, force to claims before army accepted five years' full pay in lieu of half pay for a committee of Congress. Can evidence be manufactured life, the amount of each officer's commutation became a for the Treasury Department only? and have committees debt due to him, and, if unpaid during his life, like any peculiar advantages in detecting imposition? other debt, was payable to his representative. If there Another and a most extraordinary objection of the had been originally any doubt on this question, Congress gentleman from New York is, that the act of 1828 is a has too often recognised the right of the representative of new commutation act, intended to meet cases of commu- the deceased officer to receive the commutation, for such tation not previously allowed and settled. That act a doubt now to exist. The allowance of interest is stresgives to each surviving officer of the revolutionary army, uously objected to, and the gentleman from Georga in the continental line, who was entitled to half pay, proposes that it should be allowed only where delay of according to the resolve of October 21, 1780, full pay payment has been owing to the Government. Interest is for life according to his rank in the line; provided, expressly promised by the resolution of March 22d, 1783, however, that no officer should receive more than the and Congress, by fixing so short a period for the exhi full pay of a captain in the line. The fact of having re- bition of these claims, has delayed their payment. The ceived commutation is taken as conclusive evidence that committee could not refuse to allow interest, without asthe officer was entitled to the benefit of the act of 1828. suming the power of revising the deliberate judgment of The allowance of full pay according to his rank was not Congress. Interest has been granted on commutation for five years, but for life. The provision is for the sur- claims in numerous instances, and cases have occurred viving officers; nothing is allowed to the representatives where the principal sum has been allowed in one act of of deceased officers who had not received the commuta- Congress, and interest thereon in a subsequent one. A tion to which they were entitled. reference of these claims to the Third Auditor has been

[Mr. VANDERPOEL explained. He had not said the act proposed. The committee entertained a just sense of was in a literal sense a commutation act, but that, in its operation, it might be so considered.]

the merit of that valuable officer, and the propriety of such a reference was taken into consideration, but it was Mr. CRANE. How the act of 1828 can have any con- thought most advisable to submit the claims to the ho nexion with, much less operate to exclude, claims for of the Treasury Department, who could bring all the commutation growing out of the resolves of Congress of knowledge and ability of his Department to their investe 1780 and 1783, is beyond my comprehension. Again, it gation. The House is reminded of the resolution of Janis objected that this bill makes no provision for the pri- uary 26th, 1784, "that half pay cannot be allowed to vate soldier, and thus creates an invidious distinction in any officer, or class of officers, to whom it has not heretofavor of the officer. The objection is thrown out for fore been expressly promised;" and the committee are effect, or arises out of misconception of the objects of charged with violating this rule by extending the seven the committee. By the resolve of 16th of September, 1776, years' half pay, given to the widow and orphans of cone hundred acres of land were given to every non-com-cers dying in service, to the heirs general of such offmissioned officer and soldier who should serve to the cers. This is a mistake. Reports, rejecting such coar end of the war. A further gratuity of $80 is given, by struction, and confining the grant to the widow ad resolve of May 15, 1778, to each soldier enlisting for and children, are now on your table. during the war, and continuing to the end thereof. It One remark I was sorry to hear from the gentleman was not the business of the committee to inquire whether from Georgia, [Mr. GILMER,] that the Government, in these grants to the soldier were liberal, and proportional 1780 and 1783, were forced to comply with the demands to those made to the officers; nor was it thought neces- of the officers. I am sure that gentleman has too muca sary to provide a mode for settlement of the claims of liberality, too much sympathy with the patriotism of those the non-commissioned officer and soldier; for such gallant men, to impute to them the design of taking an claims are rare and infrequent. The soldier, on his dis- ungenerous advantage of the condition of their Gover charge, received his certificate for his land and the $80, ment. Sir, they earned fairly and hardly every dolar and was too often compelled, by his wants, to part with them for the merest trifle to the greedy speculator.

that was promised to them by Congress. The annals of history do not exhibit more devoted patriotism, more pa tience under long-continued privations and sufferings than was shown by the continental army. What sese Congress entertained of their services and their claims, may be seen in a report made by Hamilton, Madison, and Ellsworth, and adopted on the 24th April, 1783:

The gentleman from Georgia [Mr. GILMER] alleges that it is impossible to ascertain who has received commutation. I believe no such difficulty exists, and that the Government has taken care that no one shall receive it twice, and that full lists of all who have received it may be found in the public offices. He accounts for "Another class of creditors is that illustrious and paofficers not bringing forward their claims to commutation triotic band of fellow-citizens, whose blood and whose because they were indebted to the Government; and he bravery have defended the liberties of their country; who alleges that, under this bill, the representatives of such have patiently borne, among other distresses, the priva debtors may obtain commutation. A clause, that such tion of their stipends, whilst the distresses of their councommutation should not be paid to any debtor, or his rep-try disabled it from bestowing them; and who, even now, resentatives, until the debt has been settled, might have ask for no more than such a portion of their dues as will been inserted in this bill from abundant caution; but surely such clause is not necessary to authorize the Government to offset the debt due it against that due the officer or his representatives.

enable them to retire from the field of victory and glory into the bosom of peace and private citizenship, and for such effectual security for the residue of their claims as their country is now unquestionably able to provide." Again: the gentleman from Georgia objects that, under The report goes on to refer to the proceedings at the this bill, invalid pensioners may obtain commutation, con- camp of Newburg as "a fresh and lively instance of trary to the resolve of June 7th, 1785. The bill gives their superiority to every species of seduction from the commutation to those only to whom it was promised by paths of honor and virtue." On that memorable occa Congress. So far from promising commutation to invalid sion, the officers of the continental army did "give the pensioners, Congress has in express terms denied it to world another subject of wonder and applause-an army

MAY 13, 1834.]

Commutation Pension Bill.

[H. of R.

victorious over its enemies-victorious over itself;" vic-quired under such resolves-in other words, that he shall torious over those feelings which the eloquent incendiary have judgment in his favor. Mr. A. said it was to this strove to excite to an appeal from the justice to the provision, altering and varying the principles and effect fears of Government." Nor was this love of country of presumptive evidence, that he objected. Presumpconfined to the officer; the lowest sentinel in the army tions, or presumptive evidence, ought to be subjected to felt its influence. Let me refer you to one striking in- consideration; and when they were so strong as to prostance. When the Pennsylvania line, goaded to madness duce conviction, they might be considered as tantamount by grievances unredressed, and especially by the attempt to full proof. It was a matter to be submitted to the to prolong the period of enlistment beyond the terms of sound discretion of the tribunal appointed to weigh the the original contract, broke out into open revolt, though testimony, and to direct according to the influence it they killed and wounded their officers who attempted to would have upon the mind. quell the mutiny, though they pointed their bayonets at One rule prescribed is, that, "it being established that the bosom of their favorite commander, Wayne, and an officer of the continental line was in service as such on compelled even that lion-heart to recoil from their des- the 21st day of October, 1780, and until the new arrangeperation, yet they still clung to their country, ungrateful ments of the army, provided for by the resolutions of that and faithless as they deemed her: they rejected all the date, were effected, he shall be presumed, unless it apsplendid lures of the British general, Sir Henry Clinton, pears he was then retained in service, to have been reand delivered up his emissaries to the justice of Washing-duced by that arrangement, and therefore entitled to the ton. While liberty and independence are cherished in half pay for life, or the commutation in lieu of it." The this favored land, the claims of the continental army will second is, "that a continental officer, proved to have renot be forgotten or slighted: an American Congress mained in service after the arrangements of the army will never avoid the performance of its solemn engage- under the same resolution, shall be presumed to have ments with any one officer or soldier of that army, by served to the end of the war, or to have retired entitled statutes of limitation, or by strict and rigid construction. to half pay for life, unless it appear that he died in the Mr. CRANE having concluded his remarksservice, or resigned, or was dismissed, or voluntarily Mr. POLK said he was in favor of the bill, but, re-abandoned an actual command in the service of the United ferring to the importance and urgency of the appropriation bills, expressed his hope that the present bill would either be postponed or passed upon without delay. After some conversation as to the order of business, Mr. ALLEN, of Vermont, obtained the floor. Mr. A. said he was opposed to the bill; and, lest the motives which had brought him to that conclusion should be misunderstood, he begged leave to trespass upon the patience of the House, whilst he assigned some of the reasons which had influenced him to oppose its passage. He was in favor of a liberal provision for the support of the surviving officers and private soldiers of the Revolution. In their behalf he would go as far as any other member upon this floor. The successive laws that have been passed for their benefit he had been gratified with, and desired to see them still further extended, embracing the widow of the revolutionary patriot, and would most cheerfully support such a provision. He had regretted the provisions of the statute of 1820, restricting the privleges of the law of 1818.

States." The facts of such service are circumstances which may well be flung into the case as presumptive evidence, but ought not to be established as testimony, which, unless explained away, must be considered as conclusive. If none were to apply but the survivors themselves, who might be put upon their corporeal oaths, no great danger would be apprehended; but when this bill is understood to embrace the heirs of the deceased officer, his administrator and their assigns, who will constitute nine-tenths of the applicants, it is easy to foresee that great impositions and frauds might be practised upon the treasury. The representative of the officer would establish the fact of service from the 21st day of October, 1780, to the 1st of January following, or prove a service for any period, it matters not how short, subsequent to the 1st of January, 1781, and he would make out his case. The rule is positive. He shall be presumed to have served to the end of the war. It cannot be expected that the Government can hunt up testimony to rebut the presumption of service, after a lapse of fifty years; and it The bill upon your table, said Mr. A., embracing pro- is an admitted fact that the archives of the Government, visions, in their character, of a very different description, from conflagrations and other accidents, do not furnish I feel myself called upon to oppose it. It contains princi- security against frauds and impositions that might be ples which I consider it dangerous to adopt, and cases practised under this lax rule of testimony. Under the which we are not called upon by any resolution or sub- prescribed effect to be given to such testimony, the tribu sisting contract to provide for. nal appointed to try the question might be wholly dissatThe bill prescribes a mode of proof, which, as varying isfied as to the fact of service to the end of the war, and from settled and salutary principles of evidence, ought yet be compelled to render judgment in favor of the not to be introduced into a public statute law. If there claimant. Applications might be made by some heir, or are cases of the sort intended to be provided for in this his assign, of an officer who had never interposed a claim, bill, demanding relief, which could not be maintained by or suggested a right to half pay or commutation; yet, on the established rules of evidence, they had better be de- the simple fact of service for the least period of time, cided here. Each particular application would depend unaccompanied by any corroborating circumstances, the upon its own merits. Mr. A. said he wholly disapproved Secretary, against his own opinion, would be compelled the enactment of any new principles of evidence fitted to allow the claim. Mr. A. said the third rule of presumptions he could as

It was,

up for particular cases. The bill professes to make provision for the payment little subscribe to as those already considered. of those persons who were entitled to the commuation that a continental officer, who died during the war, and of five years' full pay in lieu of half pay for life, and of within three months after he is proved to have been with seven years' half pay to the widows and orphans of those his command, shall be presumed to have died in the serofficers who died in the service during the revolutionary vice, unless the contrary appears. This includes the War, and who have not already received their certificates. whole period of the war, and embraces not merely the In aid of this object, it prescribes and gives effect to the claim of the surviving widow for seven years' half pay, but establishment of certain given facts, falling short of proof her heir, representative, and assigns. He considered this of the requirements by the resolutions of Congress, un- also too dangerous a rule of evidence to be embraced in der which the claim is made, by which the applicants a public statute. If once admitted, how can you withhold shall be presumed to have rendered all the services re- your assent to the extending a similar law to other VOL. X.--254

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