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The views presented in the accompanying communication, would have reached
you in the form of a “Buncombe” speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, but, from January until within a short time past, the state of my health has not been such as to admit of any exertion in speaking; and now that only twenty working days of the session remain, with business enough unacted on to employ the House for months, I do not feel that it would be just to the House or the country for me to consume one-fourth of a day's sitting in discussing a subject on which no present action is asked in Congress. Hence I have adopted the ancient mode of presenting to you my views in the form of a circular.
L. O'B. BRANCH.
DISTRIBUTION OF PUBLIC LANDS."
INCREASE OF TAXATION.
At the commencement of its present session, Congress was informed by the Secretary of the Treasury that, in consequence of the sudden and unforseen commercial revulsion, the means of the Government were insufficient to meet the demands upon it; and on his recommendation, Congress authorized him to borrow twenty millions of dollars, to be repaid in one year from date. It is generally understood, though not yet officially communicated to Congress, that having exhausted the twenty millions already borrowed, he will be compelled to ask for authority to borrow thirty millions more, to enable him to carry the Government through the crisis with untarnished credit. Thus it will be seen, that, after using all its income from public lands, tariff, and other sources, the Government will probably be compelled to borrow fifty millions of dollars during the present and next years to meet its obligations. There is not only no surplus in the treasury, but the Secretary, with the aid of the twenty million loan, can, with difficulty, meet the daily demands made upon him, and important public works ordered by Congress, remain unexecuted. Even if there should be a revival in business, his embarrassments must be still greater next year, because then he is to provide for the regular and ordinary appropriations Congress is now making for the service of that year; and in addition to repay the twenty millions already borrowed.
At this juncture, when every prudent public officer is endeavoring to husband the resources, and reduce the expenses of the Government, so that it
may meet its pecuniary engagements without laying additional taxes on the people, a party has arisen in North Carolina, which urges me and my colleagues to vote in favor of a proposition to withdraw from the treasury the proceeds of the sale of the public lands, and give it to the States, to enable them to build railroads. I do not believe there are ten members of the House who would vote for such a proposition, unless the peculiar representatives of the manufacturing interest would do so, for the sake of the bounty it would afford to their friends, and I am not sure that there is one member who would take upon himself the responsibility of proposing it to Congress at this time. If it should be proposed, I intend to vote against it; and the object of this communication is to state the reasons of my opposition. These reasons are given in deference to the opinions of many respectable and intelligent persons amongst my constituents whose errors even, are entitled to respectful consideration, and who are not likely to err when fully informed.
Before proceeding to my main object, I desire to say that the vote I gave at the last session of Congress, in company with all my colleagues, and one-half the Representatives from Virginia, to deposit the surplus revenue with the States, in no degree sanctions distribution. The two measures are not only totally unlike, and founded on different principles, but they are, and have always been, antagonistic measures. In 1836, Gen. Jackson, Mr. Calhoun, Mr. Buchanan, and every leading Democrat, except Mr. Benton, adopted deposit as the adversary policy to distribution. The former being the Democratic policy-the latter, Whỉg policy. The Democratic party favors low tariffs and no surplus in the treasury, but when its opponents, in their eagerness to favor the manufacturing interest keep the tariffs so high as to accumulate a surplus