Page images
PDF
EPUB

H. of R.)

Distribution of the Public Lands.

(Dec. 29, 1829.

most important of which was, the highly interesting infor- to have authentic information as to the probable capacity of mation he was induced believe would be elicited by any portion of our country to produce this important basis such an inquiry. That it will prove necessary to establish of the circulating medium. I repeat, sir, that, was there a mint in North Carolina, to the extent to which such an not (as indeed I think there is) a manifest importance in establishment now exists in Philadelphia, he was by no the proposition, courtesy to the mover would, in my means prepared to say; and were he to hazard an opinion, humble opinion, be a sufficient reason to lead to its adopas at present advised, he would say that it would not be tion. I would, Mr. Speaker, have preferred that the necessary. A branch, however, of the Mint might be terms of the inquiry had been more liberal in their chafound necessary. For instance, (said he) an office, under racter, by embracing also the States of Virginia, Georgia, national authority, connected with the mother institution, and South Carolina; in all of which gold also is found, to assay our metals, and show us their correct value-to though by no means so extensively as in the State from stamp our bars of gold, and prepare them for a circulating which I come; for, whenever, sir, any inquiry is proposed medium, or as an article of deposit, upon which circulating here, relating to any particular interest in our country, medium might issue. This would also prevent frauds am not for confining it to my own State or immediate from being practised: for, while it would show the owner district, but would embrace also any other portion of this the real value of the metal, it would also secure the pur-Union where the same interest is known to exist. But with. chaser from frauds, such as mixing alloy with the gold, out waiting to cavil about the terms of the resolution, per. which otherwise would be difficult to detect. In a word, mit me to hope that it may be adopted in its present form, [Mr. C. said) the inquiry would do no injury, while there The question was then taken on the resolution moved was a probability of its doing good, for any report made by Mr. Carson, and decided in the affirmative. by the committee will be subject to the future action and control of the House.

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 1829. When I introduced the resolution on Thursday last, [said Mr. C.] I will not disguise the fact that I felt consi.

DISTRIBUTION OF THE PUBLIC LANDS. derable solicitude for its passage. But, sir, my anxiety The House resumed the consideration of the resolution has in a degree been diminished, not that I deem the in-moved by Mr. Hunt, of Vermont, on the 17th instant, quiry less important, but because I observed an honor- proposing an inquiry into the expediency of appropriatable colleague, (Mr. Conner] voting in opposition to the ing the nett annual proceeds of the sales of the public resolution. For that gentleman, sir, I have always, since lands among the several States and Territories, for the our first acquaintance, entertained the highest personal purposes of education and internal improvement, in prorespect, and so also have I for his opinions: and, sir, from portion to the representation of each in the House of Rea knowledge of the fact that no part of the State is more presentatives. deeply interested in all subjects connected with the pre The question being upon agreeing to the motion of Mr. cious metals than the district represented by my col- MARTIX, of South Carolina, so to amend the resolution as league, (for, sir, the greatest proportions, as yet, have to direct an inquiry also "into the amount and value of been found within his district and by his constituents,) I am the public lands which have been given by Congress to constrained to believe that important considerations have any state, or to any public institution in said State," induced his opposition. What those considerations may Mr. MARTIN said, he was indebted to the kindness of have been, I have not been able to learn, and it may be the gentleman from North Carolina, (Mr. Spigot] who that his withholding them from the House lias resulted yesterday moved the postponement of this resolution, and from his kind feelings towards me, wishing rather to cover to that of the House, which agreed to it, because of his than expose the defects of my proposition. Should this casual absence when it was called up. The subject of the be the case, sir, I certainly thank him. Mr. Carson Con-resolution (he said] was one of great delicacy, and respectcluded his remarks, by tendering his thanks to the House ing which he felt much difficulty: it was one of great pubfor agreeing to the motion for reconsideration, and, as no lic importance, also, and in which the people take great injury could result from a mere inquiry, hoped the House interest. He knew of no subject on which, at this mowould adopt the resolution.

ment, public opinion was more divided, or on which pubMr. A. H. SHEPPERD rose, and remarked, that, as his lic inquiry was more excited. It seemed to him, therecolleague had made an individual allusion to a member fore, before deciding any thing in reference to this ques from North Carolina coming from the gold region, and betion, it ought to be examined with much deliberation and ing himself from that desirable country, he wished to know with great caution, that nothing might be done in regard whether the remarks of his colleague were intended for to it which should produce confusion or difficulty hereaf

. him. (Mr. Canson explained, and said his allusion was to ter. He had so fully believed that the subject was laid his colleague representing Mecklenburg--that he did not upon the table for the remainder of the session, that he know how his colleague now making the inquiry voted had not prepared himself, as he otherwise should have on the question.) Mr. SHEPPEnd continued by saying, done, for entering freely into the discussion of it. He had that, owing to his bad health he was necessarily absent at intended to prepare a statement showing the amount of the time the resolution was offered and rejected; had he the public debt, for the payment of which the public have been present, he should have voted for its adoption, lands were pledged: for, thongh he entertained no doubt not merely because it happened to come from a colleague, that the public debt might be paid from other sources, and to embrace a subject interesting also to his own con- there was still an indelicacy in touching upon the security stituents, but from a belief that, upon a mere question of in which had been given for the payment of that debt until it quiry, it was the more courteous, if not indeed the more should be redeemed. Whatever may be our ability to dis prudent course to accede to the proposition, unless it be ab- charge the public debt according to our obligations, (he surd in itself, or clearly adverse to some established rule of said the proposition to alter the security for its payment legislation. Should the resolution be adopted, the com- certainly ought to come from any other quarter than that mittee raised upon it would doubtless elicit much informa- by which such security had been given. The precise tion, interesting not merely to the country in which the amount of debt for which the public lands stand plede precious metal is or may be found, but to the nation at ed, he was not, for the reason already given, prepared ta large; and even if the inquiry proposed should not at this show; but that it does stand pledged in this manner, na time result in a transfer of a branch of the Mint (that one would question. Mr. M. went on to say that he was op: powerful attribute of Government) to the region proposed, posed to the whole object of the resolution; he should be yet it cannot but be important, in a national point of view, so if the amendment which he had proposed should be

Dec. 29, 1829.]

Distribution of the Public Lands.

[H. of R.

adopted: but, if the mover and supporters of it were seri- was, as had been said the other day, no argument against ous in their proposition for the distribution of the proceeds his amendment, because the committee would have the of sales of public lands according to representation in this less difficulty in coming at it, and presenting it in a conHouse, or according to any other ratio, they ought to re. densed form. A difficulty had been suggested in arriving cognise the principle to its full extent; which would re- at the amount of land granted to each State, but he did quire that those States which have already received a large not perceive the force of it: the States, which had receiva portion of the public lands should receive of the residue ed lands, either had them or had sold them, and it could only in their due proportion.

readily be ascertained what lands they now hold, and what In the few remarks which he made the other day, (Mr. quantity they have sold, &c. Upon the whole, Mr. M. M. said) he had not intended to draw out the gentleman concluded by saying he was opposed to the principle of from Ohio, (Mr. VANCE] as he had done. He had not meant the resolution; but, if it was to pass, he wished it to be to rouse his feelings: for, though the gentleman had not said a put in the best possible shape, which he thought would great deal on the occasion, he seemed to suppose that some be assisted by the adoption of his amendment. unkind allusion had been meant to that State. In alluding Mr. HAYNES, of Georgia, said, that he, too, with the to the extent of the grants of land to the Western States, gentleman from South Carolina, had supposed that this [Mr. M. said] he did not do so for the purpose of complain-resolution had been laid upon the table for the remainder ing of them, or with reference to any particular State, but of the session. Without going into the subject at all, he only to state the fact. The gentleman from Ohio, upon rose to suggest that this subject had been already referthis allusion, had spoken of the thirty-sixth sections, and, red to one of the select commitees appointed upon the from the manner in which he spoke of them, seemed to President's message. [At his request, the resolution was imply that these sections were all the donations of lands read referring so much of the message as relates to inwhich the States had received from the General Govern- ternal improvements, and the distribution of the surplus ment. Now, (Mr. M. said] he had meant no allusion to revenue, after payment of the public debt, among the sethose reserved sections, but had intended to allude to the veral States. ] very large grants of land which had been made by Con Mr. PETTIS, of Missouri, regretted that the resolution gress to the different States of the West for the purpose now under consideration had been offered, and he regretof canals, of asylums, and various other public undertak-ted, also, that the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. ings. Indeed, so common had these grants been of late, Martin) had thought fit to offer this amendment. Whatthat when any important public undertaking was meditat- ever his opinions might be in relation to the proposition ed in those States, they seemed to look almost of course for making a distribution of the nett proceeds of the pubfor an appropriation, and a large appropriation, too, of lic lands among the several States according to their republic lands towards it. He would now (he said) turn to presentation in this House, he thought the present an imdocument No. 95 of this House at the last session, to show proper time to make the inquiry proposed. The resoluthe quantity of land which had been thus appropriated, tion seemed to contemplate an immediate distribution. but he did not wish to consume the time of the House, The public lands were pledged to aid in the liquidation of especially as each member could turn to that document for the public debt; and he asked gentlemen, if this plan were himself, and ascertain the facts.

immediately carried into effect, whether it would not emBut he might be told again, as he had repeatedly heard barrass the Government in its views in paying off this debt. it said on this floor, that these grants of land to particular The offering of this resolution was to be regretted on anStates, &c. were beneficial to the Government and to the other account. It was expected that some improvement people at large, because they increased the value of the in regard to the mode of disposing of the public lands remaining lands belonging to the United States. Of all the would be attempted, and he feared that the plan proposed arguments which sopl:istry every invented, this (Mr. M. by this resolution would throw difficulties in the way of said) was one of the most convenient. It might be resort- that measure. Sir, the people of the new States desire to ed to with equal facility in every question of public policy. see some reasonable prospect for the arrival of the period In matters of internal improvement, it was easy to say when the title of the United States to lands within their that whatever benefited a particular town, or village, or several limits may be extinguished. They thought that neighborhood, was a measure promotive of the general some better mode might be provided for, which would be welfare. And (said he] by the same process of reasoning, better for the Government as well as the new States. He if, for the benefit of a particular branch of industry, or said he regretted to see the excitement which prevailed in class of people, their pursuits are protected, properly or this House on this subject; and he supposed from this improperly, at our expense, we are told that, ultimately, that the public mind was also excited. It did appear as if we shall be benefited, inasmuch as the establishment and gentlemen considered this a mere scule for the public encouragement of manufactures, like internal improve- lands, who should get most. And while he thought that ment, must, in the end, benefit the whole country, &c. some improvement could be made in regard to the mode On every question of grants of privileges, &c. this argu- of disposing of the public lands, he could assure the ment was resorted to. Admit all the force that was asked House, that on this, as well as every other subject of lefor it, yet it must be allowed that it was only true in part, gislation, he should, while attending to the interests of because those to whom a grant is made have the imme- those he represented, not be unmindful of the interests of diate benefit of it, whilst others have only a remote one. the United States. Then, if the public lands are to be distributed among the He would say a few words on the amendment in reply several States, (which would look very much, he thought, to the gentleman from South Carolina, (br. Mantin.] like the case of a man dying, and his children dividing his The gentleman seems to think that each State should renestate among them before paying his debts,) let us have der an account of the public lands which have been given; the good common sense rule of each bringing back to the that there should be an account current made out, and general stock what each has taken from it. This was the that there is nothing in the argument, that, by the donaproper footing on which to place it; that those States tion of these lands, and the sales and improvements of othwhich have hitherto received no lands shall have their ers, the remainder of the public lands are not enhanced in allotment of lands or money, in the same proportion as value. Sir, the argument is not so light as the gentleman those that have hitherto received them.

supposes. Is there nothing due to the enterprise of the Mr. M. then answered some of the objections which West? Is there nothing due to the exertions of those who had been made to his amendment. The existence of the have gone as picneers to the improvement of the West? It information wbich he asked for on the files of the House, is a fact too well known in the Western country now to be

H. of R.]

Distribution of the Public Lands.

(Dec. 29, 1829.

doubted, that, by the sale and improvement of one tract of land heretofore ought to be taken into account or not, of land, the contiguous tracts are enhanced in value; and in any arrangement for the future, was a different ques

. it is equally well known that the grants of land to the new tion. He was for having all the information, which was States, for various purposes, were intended to promote the or would be asked for, at once; for (said he] meet this improvement of the country, to induce the sale and im- question, we must. We have got to hear it; and the more provement of the lands, and thereby to increase the value we can anticipate the difficulties which are likely to enof the lands unsold.

barrass it, the better. But if this account is to be taken, he asked the gentle Gentlemen had urged that this was an inauspicious time man if the same justice and equality would not re- for considering this question; that the lands are pledged quire that we should extend our inquiries back, and as- for the payment of the public debt. Mr. M. said he did certain what States had contributed most of the public not suppose that any committee, which should consider lands to the common stock. This being ascertained, should the subject, would ever think of violating that pledge. not the States, according to his principles, be reimbursed The object was to provide, beforehand, for the distribuin proportion to the quantity granted by each? If this tion of the proceeds of the public lands whenever the na. were the case, the State of Virginia (and he begged par- tional debt shall have been paid. When that payment don of her delegation for taking an interest in the welfare shall have been accomplished, what shall then be done of the Old Dominion) would be entitled to much the with the public lands? That is the question. Some inti. greatest share.

He was opposed, however, to the whole mation had een thrown out that some motive of interest inquiry. When the public debt shall have been paid, it was at the bottom of this proposition. It is a motive of would be time enough to make this inquiry. When that interest, (said Mr. M.] I freely avow it a motive of interest time arrived, it might be worth the consideration of gen- in behalf of the rights of the people whom I represent, tlemen bere, holding certain opinions, whether, if we have which influences me in favor of it. I think that the gen. the power, the contemplated distribution for the objects tleman from Missouri intimated that, when we come to mentioned in the resolution (internal improvements) might the question of the actual disposition of the public lands, not assist very much in freeing us from the many difficult some intricate questions will arise. I know not, sir, esand perplexing questions which were constantly arising on actly, to what the gentleman refers. I will refer, lowthis foor.

ever, to one-to a principle which has been very comMr. REED, of Massachusetts, said, it had been remark-monly spoken of in some portion of the Western country, ed that this subject excited more of the public attention viz. that the United States do not, in fact, own a foot of at this moment than perhaps any other. If so, did it not land in the Western States. When sentiments of this become the more the duty of the House to examine it? kind were publicly stated, and found strenuous if not nuAs to the proposed amendment, (Mr. R. said] he had no merous advocates, (Mr. M. said] he was willing and anxious disposition to retrospect in this matter, considering the ar that the question should be met as early as possible. I am gument to be correct, generally speaking, that the gifts one said he] who believes that the United States have land to the new States have not diminished the value of the there; and when their right to them is endangered by false public domain, but that they have increased the value of pretensions, I am ready to defend it. We cannot, at too the remainder sufficiently to compensate for the loss of early a day, look to the security of our own interests in what has been given away. As coming from one of the that particular. These [he said) were his reasons, frankly old States of the Union, (Mr. R. said] he claimed nothing, expressed, for desiring this inquiry, and he had no objecand wanted nothing, for the past. But, as regards the tion to the amendment which would go to make it broader future, the disposition of the proceeds of the public lands and more liberal. He would endeavor to procure a fair, was a question which presented much difficulty, and should and liberal, and equitable distribution of the public lands, be met unincumbered and unembarrassed. He thought such as was due to the people of his State and to the peothe amendment wrong, therefore, because it tended to ple of the United States in common.

Ile was in faror of embarrass the main subject. When a proper occasion at once asserting the rights of the several States in that should offer, of so much consequence did he deem the great interest. main purpose of the resolution, he should move to refer Mr. DUNCAN, of Illinois, said, he was perfectly will. it to a select committee, rather than to the standing commit- ing to see a full investigation of every subject which retee, which is already too much burdened with business to lates to the public lands. He cared but little about the give to this question the attention which its importance resolution, or the amendments offered by the gentleman demands.

from South Carolina, (Mr. Martin) although he was opMr. MALLARY, of Vermont, was in favor of the amend-posed to the general object. His object in rising was to ment, and gave his reasons for being so. What, he ask- notice some of the remarks of the gentleman from South ed, was the object of the resolution? To inquire into the Carolina, and those made by the gentleman from Vermole of disposing, for the future, of the proceeds of the mont. He said that the gentleman from South Carolina, sales of public lands. We all know that Congress has, and other members of the House, appear to misapprehend from time to time, made disposition of portions of them, the objects, or considerations, received by this Govern: sometimes in answer to the demands of justice, sometimes ment for the grants of land, or donations as they are calle in liberal donations towards the accomplishment of useful ed, which have been made to the new States. He said public objects. The question presented by the amend that the largest portion of those donations, as they have ment is, whether the committee shall be charged with an been styled, was the school lands, or the sixteenth sections inquiry into the amount of donations which have been given to the inhabitants of each township for the use of thus already made to different States. He was in favor schools to be established in said township; and as these of the amendment, because it would enlarge the scope of lands have always been appropriated before the sale, they inquiry. He should vote for it, toʻdisembarrass, and not have been justly considered as a part of the consideration, to embarrass, the inquiry, as some gentlemen seemed to and an inducement to the purchase of all the remaining suppose it would. If the amendment were rejected, what lands in the township; and so far from their being a donawould

be the effect? The gentleman from South Caro- tion to the States, they have been, and are selling to the lina would institute the inquiry in a different form, and ul- inhabitants of the townships in which they lie. timately it must and would connect itself with the main He said that some small grants of land had been made inquiry: Was it not more important that tlie House should to the new States by the General Government when they have this information in the outset, than have it called for received their admission into the Union; but they in a later stage of the proceedings. Whether these grants made upon the express condition that those States would

Were

Dec. 29, 1829.]

Pay and Mileage of Members.

(H. of R.

never tax the public lands within their limits, nor those ment; and he supposed no one could think it reasonable sold by the General Government within five years after or just that those people should be burdened with an adthe sale. Surely she said] this is no donation, it is a fair ditional tax to make roads in a country where every foot of bargain, and the new States have much the worst part of land is owned by this Government. Mr. D. regretted to it, as they have given up a right which would be worth hear the reasons given by the gentleman from Vermont in more to them now than a hundred times the quantity of favor of this proposition. It was true [he said) that some land they have received. He said that it was a fact, which individuals, and one State, had asserted a claim to all the could not be questioned, that the new States would now public lands, but he did not believe that any large porhave the power to tax all the lands, public and private, tion of the people would sustain any pretension of that within their bounds, if they had not bartered away their kind. He said he believed his constituents would be satisright to do so for a few acres of land, and some other fied with having their just and reasonable claims satisfied, equally unimportant considerations. He said that those which were, that the price should be reduced, and the lands had been purchased by the surrender of all right to sales so regulated as to enable all the settlers to obtain levy a tax, which would have amounted every year to their homes on reasonable terms. more than the land is worth. He said, if it should be de When Mr. DUNCAN concluded, the SPEAKER artermined now to charge these new States with this land, rested the discussion for the day, the hour allotted for the (and the proposition to give an equal quantity to each of discussion of resolutions having elapsed. It will come up the old States before the contemplated division takes again to-morrow. place, is, in effect, to do so,) he hoped that the new States would be restored to their natural rights the right to tax

PAY AND MILEAGE OF MEMBERS. and exercise a sovereign power over their own territory, The bill to regulate the mileage and pay of members of which in a single year would be worth more to the new Congress coming up for consideration, and especially the States than all the lands in question.

amendment proposing to strike out the clause referring Mr. D. said that the gentleman from South Carolina the computation of mileage to the Postmaster General, could not certainly be acquainted with the situation of the Mr. WICKLIFFE said, that, as a member of the select new States, and their peculiar relation to the General Go- committee which had been raised during the last session, vernment, or he would not have raised a claim by the old and re-appointed at the present session, on these subjects, States for those lands which have been given to some of he felt it a duty to himself and to the committee to exthe new ones, to assist them in making internal improve- plain why he thought the amendment ought not to be ments, such as roads and canals. He said that it was a adopted. He felt satisfied that, if the amendment passed, fact well known to every man of common observation, they might lay the bill at once upon the table, and say no that every valuable improvement in a country, such as a more about it; for its chief object would, in a great mea. road or a canal, is calculated to increase the value of the sure, be defeated. The House had heard a great deal of lands through and near which they are constructed; and the necessity of reforming abuses and retrenching expenas the General Government owned much the largest part ses. He was one of those who was willing to give evi. of the land in the new States, and especially where some dence of his sincerity, by carrying the principle into effect of those improvements are to be made, he thought he in every department of the Government. As a member should hazard nothing in saying that, in every instance of that committee, he had brought this subject up as a where the improvement is made, the increased value of matter fit for legislative action--as a matter imperatively the public lands occasioned exclusively by the improve- requiring the interposition of Congress. Yesterday he ment will amount to ten times the value of the donation. had offered his explanation of the object and effect of the He said that a policy which would be wise in an individual bill

. The objection to that part of the bill proposed to owning large quantities of wild land, would also be wise be stricken out by the amendment was, that it implied a in a Government; and he appealed to any gentleman to want of confidence in members of Congress, and cast, by say whether he would not consider a portion of this land implication, a suspicion upon their integrity. He thought well appropriated in this way, when there was a certainty that that matter had been well answered by his colleague of its hastening the sale, and increasing the value of the of the committee yesterday, who argued that all legislaresidue.

tion was based upon an admission of human fallibility-Mr. D. further said that the United States were bound upon a presupposed liability of the human mind to be in. by every principle of common justice to contribute some. Auenced by interested motives. The object of that bill thing to the improvements which were making, and con- was to take from members the possibility of being thus templated to be made, in the new States, as every canal, biassed in a calculation where they were personally interoari, or bridge, made in those States, had a direct tenden- rested; and in which the estimates were not limited except cy to increase the value of the public lands. He said that by their own discretion. In reply to the objection that about eighteen-twentieths of all the lands in the State he the calculation would much encumber the business of the represented belonged to the General Government, and Post Office Department, he would state simply that this that his constituents were burdened with a heavy tax to morning a clerk in the department had furnished him with construct roads and bridges, which, though necessary to statements of the post offices, and distance of every memtheir own convenience, had a direct and certain tendency ber of Congress (two hundred and sixty-one in number) to raise the value of all the lands over which they are made. from the seat of Government, in less than an hour. This He said he knew the States had no power to compel the was for the members of the last Congress. And this calGeneral Government to contribute its part to these im- culation would be necessary only once in two years. By provements; but he hoped that a sense of justice would the amendment, it was proposed to leave the decision to prevent its receiving such advantage without contributing the Clerk of the House. He had as much confidence in its full portion towards it. He said that all the old States the present Clerk as any man, but this regulation was for had the power of taxing the lands over which they made the future-for future Clerks and future Houses. It was roads or other improvements, and that the holders of land not proposed, as had been said, that every member should rarely complained of a tax of this kind, as it generally call upon the Postmaster General for a certificate of the gives a great increase to the value of their estates. He distance for which he was entitled to charge mileage. It said that there was a county in a remote part of the State was to be the business of the Clerk of the House to make of Illinois, containing about ten thousand inhabitants, all a general application. of whom are tenants of the United States, and pay near It had been said, both in the House and out of it, that fifty thousand dollars per annum tax or rent to the Govern- this was a small matter, not worthy the attention of the

H. of R.)

Pay and Mileage of Members.

(Dec. 29, 1829.

House. Were gentleman aware of the amount of mile- House. The rule being fixed, he was not afraid to trus age annually overcharged for the last ten or fifteen years? this subject to each House, to the officers of the House, or He had calculated upon the table of distances furnished to the members themselves. He preferred, however, that, that morning by the Clerk of the Post Office Departnıent, instead of the provision now in the bill, the computathat the number of miles charged, under the act of 1818, tion should be made according to the nearest post road-for mileage, should have been one hundred and six thou- that it should be according to the most usual stage road. sand nine hundred and sixty-one; the amount actually Under the apparent excitement which this subject had charged was one hundred and forty-two thousand seven given rise to, he considered it due to himself to make this hundred and two, being an annual charge for more than explanation of his views to the House. than thirty-five thousand miles above the strict construc [At this stage of the business, Mr. CHILTON made a tion of the law, and a sum exceeding the proper amount motion to recommit the bill for the purpose of reducing of money payable for that object by twenty-eight thou- the specific allowance for pay and mileage of members; sand dollars. Was that a trifie? It was she said] not so which was opposed by Mr. WİCKLIFFE, on the ground small a business, and very well worthy of gentlemen who that its effect would be to defeat the practical and attainwere very clamorous, abroad and at home, for reform and able object offthis bil), and defended by Mr. CHILTON, on retrenchment.

the merits of the retrenchment itself, and on the ground He believed this charge to have been made under an of a pledge given to his constituents to move it. Mr. erroneous construction of the law. He could not say that BURGES made a few humorous and rather sarcastic re. any member had wilfully overcharged. But here were marks upon the last motion, and Mr. BUCHANAN made gross mistakes, which the bill of the committee was in- some observations deprecating a debate out of place, as tended to prevent for the future. We have been calling this was. When Mr. CHILTON withdrew his proposiupon the departments to account for these expenditures. tion, with a view to offer it at a future stage of the bill.] Was it not time to work at home, and correct the loose When, the question on the amendment recurring, practices and mistakes which had occurred in this House? Mr. CARSON, of N. C. said, as to the amendment now

These facts he had mentioned for the satisfaction of those under consideration, he felt perfectly indifferent. Yet, if gentlemen who had called yesterday for the reasons on the estimate made out at the Post Office Department, and which the committee had framed this bill. He would not presented to the Chairman of the Retrenchment Commitunnecessarily impeach or impugn the motives of any mem- tee this morning, as he states, is to be made the standard, ber now here, or who had been here. But, being called sir, the amendment ought to prevail. The palpable er: upon yesterday, he had stated the facts. He now had in rors in that estimate ought not, nor cannot be received. his hands the record of the facts. In parliamentary lan- I will state one, sir. This estimate gives my colleague, guage, he had the documentary evidence. Believing that (Mr. Conner] by whose post office I travel

, (and I am the abuse was the result of accident, of miscalculation, of compelled to do so if I travel by stage,) a distance of thirchanged roads, shortened distances by improved roads, teen miles less than the distance they have given me. Now, &c. yet, when the abuse was ascertained, it was the duty sir, the fact is, I live near cighty miles further than my of the committee to correct it. He concluded by saying colleague. The same book, sir, places Lincolnton, North that he was opposed to the amendment, because it would Carolina, three miles distant from my residence, when, in still leave the calculation of mileage at the discretion of fact, it is sixty short of the distance. each member.

With regard to the distance for which I have received Mr. PETTIS said, from his distant residence, and from pay, I believe I can safely say that I never knew it till this the intimations which had fallen in debate, he was con- day. When I first took my seat upon this floor, Mr. O. strained to ask the indulgence of the House, while he ex- Carr, our cashier, came to me, and asked my distance of pressed his opinion of what he considered the true con- mileage. I told him I did not know, that I had not travel

. struction of the existing law on this subject, and while he led directly to this place, but had passed by the Sweet gave his views in relation to the bill now under considera- Springs in Virginia, on account of my health. He then tion.

asked me how my residence was to that of my predecessor. Coming, as he did, from the most western State, he 1 answered thirty-three or five miles nearer. He then might not be considered sufficiently disinterested to take said he could arrive at the distance. I told him if he took any part in this debate, but he could assure gentlemen that the mileage of my predecessor, " to deduct forty miles," he was quite disinterested; he did not expect to gain or and I presume he did so. If so, it will be found that the lose by the passage of this bill. He said, without imput- distance given in by my predecessor was six hundred ing improper motives to any gentleman who had given a miles-for it appears that the distance allowed me was different construction to the law, he had never had but five hundred and sixty miles-should it appear otherwise, one opinion as to the true construction. He had come the responsibility must rest on Mr. Carr, our clerk, who hither by what was called the water route, because it suit. settles our accounts; for, sir, I never did know the dised his convenience to do so, but he expected to charge tance for which he paid me, nor did I ever scrutinize his according to the most usual post route--the most usual accounts, for my confidence in his honesty and correctstage road. Whenever there was room for a misconstruc- negs left me without a doubt as to the accuracy of his settion of any law—whenever an improper construction had tlements

. I therefore placed my signature to his receipts been applied, he was in favor of taking away the ground whenever he presented them, without inquiry. Nor bare for such a misconstruction, but he thought that we should I any thing to reproach myself with, except for negligence take care that we cast no unworthy imputation upon our in not calculating the distance myself, and placing it be selves. For these reasons, he was in favor of the main yond the power of any man to impute to me the slightest principle of the bill—that which fixes the true rule of com- disposition to obtain more than was due to me. But

, sir

, puting the mileage--but he was opposed to referring the there is a remedy left, and I shall avail myself of it. It is question to the Postmaster General. He was in favor of this: I bave already directed the clerk to get an estimate uniformity in the charges, but was opposed to placing of the distance of the most direct mail route from this to members of Congress under the control of any officer of my residence, and to calculate my mileage from that; and, the Executive. When the rule provided for in the bill if it should be found that I had received an excess heretoshall have been established, he did not espect that any fore, to deduct it from my wages of the present session: gentleman would make a false statement in regard to the I will not have a dollar that is not due me; but what is distance he had to travel. He therefore boped that the right I want. This explanation (Mr. C. said] he consideramendment of the committee would be agreed to by the ed due to himself to make.

« PreviousContinue »