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Chap.nr. ' In the speech delivered to congress at the com1790 mencemtnt of their third session, the president ■nurd«mion expressed much satisfaction at the favourable
prospect of public affairs; and particularly noticed the progress of public credit, and the productiveness of the revenue. "This latter circumstance" •fteprwi. he added "is the more pleasing as it is not only
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a proof of the fertility of our resources, but as it assures us of a further increase of the national respectability and credit; and let me add, as it bears an honourable testimony to the patriotism and integrity of the mercantile and marine part of the citizens."
Adverting to foreign nations,* he said, "the disturbed situation of Europe, and particularly the critical posture of the great maritime powers, whilst it ought to make us more thankful for the general peace and security enjoyed by the United States, reminds us at the same time of the circumspection with which it becomes us to preserve these blessings. It requires also, that we should not overlook the tendency of a war, and even of preparations for war among the nations most concerned in active commerce with this country, to abridge the means, and thereby at least to enhance the price, of transporting its valuable productions to their proper market." To the serious reflection of congress was recommended
• In a more confidential message to the senate, all the objects of the negotiation in which Mr. Morris had been employed were detailed, and the letters of that gentleman, with the full opinion of the president were communicated.
the prevention of embarrassments from these con- Chap. Iv. tingencies, by such encouragement to American 1790, navigation as would render the commerce and agriculture of the United States less dependent on foreign bottoms.
After expressing to the house of representatives his confidence arising from the sufficiency of the revenues already established, for the objects to which they were appropriated, that their residuary provisions would be commensurate to the other objects for which the public faith stood pledged, he added "allowme moreover to hope that it will be a favourite policy with you not merely to secure a payment of the interest of the debt funded, but as far, and as fast as the growing resources of the country will permit, to exonerate it of the principal itself." Many subjects relative to the interior government were succinctly and briefly mentioned; and the speech concluded with the following impressive and admonitory sentiment. "In pursuing the various and weighty business of the present session, I indulge the fullest persuasion that your consultations will be marked with wisdom, and animated by the love of country. In whatever belongs to my duty, you shall have all the co-operation which an undiminished zeal for its welfare can inspire. It will be happy for us both, and our best reward, if by a successful administration of our respective trusts, we can make the established government more and more instrumental in promoting the good of our fellow citizens, and more and more the object of their attachment and confidence,"
Chap. Iv. The addresses of the two houses, in answer to 1790. the speech, proved that the harmony between the executive and legislative departments, with which this congress commenced its deliberations, had sustained no essential interruption. But in the short debate which took place on the occasion, in the house of representatives, a direct disapprobation of one of the measures of the executive government was, for the first time, openly expressed.
In the treaty lately concluded with the Creeks, an extensive territory claimed by Georgia, under treaties, the validity of which was contested by the Indian chiefs, had been entirely, or in great part, relinquished. This relinquishment excited serious discontents in that state; and when a clause in the address of the house of representatives, which respected Indian affairs, was under consideration, general Jackson criminated the measure with considerable warmth, as an unjustifiable abandonment of the rights and interests of Georgia. No specific motion, however, was made, and the subject was permitted to pass away for the present.
Scarcely were the debates on the address concluded, when several very interesting reports were received from the secretary of the treasury, suggesting such further measures as were deemed necessary for the establishment of public credit.
It will be recollected that in his original report on this subject, the secretary had recommended the assumption of the state debts; and had proposed to enable the treasury to meet the increased demand upon it, which this measure would occasion, by an augmentation of the duties on imported wines, spirits, tea and coffee, and by imposing a Chap.iv. duty on spirits distilled within the country. The 1790. assumption not having been adopted until late in the session, the discussions on the revenue which would be required for this portion of the public debt did not commence, until the house had become impatient for an adjournment. As much contrariety of opinion was disclosed, and the subject did not press,* it was deferred to the ensuing session; and an order was made, requiring the secretary of the treasury to prepare and report such further provision as might, in his opinion, be necessary for establishing the public credit. In obedience to this order, several reports had been prepared, the first of which repeated the recommendation of an additional impost on foreign distilled spirits, and of a duty on spirits distilled within the United States. The estimated revenue from these sources was eight hundred and seventyseven thousand five hundred dollars, affording a small excess over the sum which would be required to pay the interest on the assumed debt. The policy of the measure was discussed in a well digested and able argument, detailing many motives, in addition to those assigned in his original report, for preferring the system now recommended, to accumulated burdens on commerce, or to a direct tax on lands.
A new tax can seldom fail to be a rallying point for all those who are unfriendly to the administration, or to the minister by whom it is proposed.
• The interest on the assumed debt was to commence with lIi« year 1732.
Chap. rv. But that recommended by the secretary, contained 1790. intrinsic causes of objection which would necessarily add to the number of its enemies. All that powerful party in the United States, which attached itself to the local, rather than to the general government, would inevitably contemplate any system of internal revenue with jealous disapprobation. To them, imposts collected by congress, on any domestic manufacture, wore the semblance of a foreign power intruding itself into their particular concerns, and excited serious apprehensions for state importance, and for liberty. In the real or supposed interests of many individuals was also found a distinct motive for hostility to the measure. A large portion of the American population, especially that which had spread itself over the extensive regions of the west, consuming imported articles to a very inconsiderable amount, was not much affected by the impost on foreign merchandise. But the duty on spirits distilled within the United States, reaching this part of the society, it was consequently indisposed to the tax.
1791. A bill having been introduced, conforming to DebaRm the report, it was opposed with great vehemence gecxcise by a majority of the southern and western members. By some of them it was insisted that no sufficient testimony had yet been exhibited that the taxes already imposed would not be equal to the exigencies of the public. But, admitting the propriety of additional burdens on the people, it was contended that other sources of revenue, less exceptionable and less odious than this, might be