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stantial resources of the country. Disdaining to act upon a system of temporary expedients, to preserve the people's favour at the cost of the country's interest, he frankly communicated to the house the real state of the finances. He acknowledged the wants of the government. He introduced a system of revenue to meet the public exigencies, and preserve the public credit. Gentlemen cannot have so soon forgotten the letter addressed by the honourable Langdon Cheves to Mr. Gallatin. The reply of that minister must also be fresh in their recollection. So direct and explicit was Mr. Gallatin's answer in regard to taxes, that inany at the time supposed, I was fully persuaded his object was to deter the congress from declaring war, by holding up to their view a frightful picture of internal taxation-the inevitable consequence of war. I must beg gentlemen to bear with me while I read an extract or two from the report of the committee of ways and means to which I allude.
The president, in his message of 1811, had suggested to congress the propriety of providing a revenue “sufficient, at least, to defray the ordinary expenses of
government, and to pay the interest of the public debt, including that on new loans, which may be authorized.” The committee in their report, thus respond to the president's suggestion:7" Any provision falling short of this requisition, would, in the opinion of committee, betray an im. providence in the government, tending to impair its gene , ral character, to sap the foundations of its credit, and to enfeeble its energies in the prosecution of the contest into which it may soon be drawn in defence of its un. questionable rights, and for the repulsion of long con. tinued and most aggravated aggressions. Should the ruinous system of relying altogether upon the aid of loans for defraying not only the extraordinary expenditures of the present and succeeding years, but also a large porVOL. II.
tion both of the ordinary expenses of government, and the interest on the public debt, including that on new loans, be suffered to prevail, and no additional revenues be reasonably provided, it will result that the loans which it may be necessary to authorize during the year 1813, must amount to at least 17,560,00) dollars, and for 1814, to 18,220,000 dollars (this estimate was deemed liberal at the time, but it is 12,000,000 short of the actual demand) an operation, which, by throwing into the market so large an amount of stock, accompanied with no adequate provision for paying even the interest accruing on such as may be created; but relying altogether upon the decreasing ability to borrow for the purpose of paying such interest, must have a most unfavourable effect upon the general price of public stocks, and the consequent terms of the loans themselves: it may be added, that a system of that sort, would, it is believed, be found to be altogether unprecedented in the financial history of any wise and regular government, and must if yielded to, produce at no distant period, that general state of public discredit, which attended the national finances during the war of the revolution, and which nothing but the peculiar circumstances of the country, and the want of a well organized and efficient government, during the period of that revolution, could at all justify."
Thus, we find, sir, in language just as it is strong, the system of expedients, now recommended, reprobated as ruinous, destructive of public credit, and evincive of the inefficiency and imbecility of government. But strong as are the terms in which the committee denounced the very system which is now to be adopted, rather than incur popular odium, by providing, in the only regular and practicable mode, the requisite ways and means, to leave no doubt of the fatal tendency of such a system, in their judgment, they proceed to condemn it in still
harsher language:-“ To have withheld from the public view, a fair exposition of the probable state of the fiscal concerns of the government, under the very first pressure of active war, or to have de ferred submitting to the house such a system as in the opinion of the committee was indispensable to place the revenues of the country upon a basis commensurate with the public exigencies, would, in their judgment, have at once evinced in the eyes of foreign nations, an imbecility of action and design, the effects of which must be too obvious to be mistaken, and as it regards our own country, would have indicated a policy as feeble and as short-sighted, as it must have been considered DECEPTIVE and DISINGENUOUS, as unworthy the rulers of a free and enlightened nation, as in its result it would have been found fatal to its interests, and paralyzing to all its efforts.”
It is impossible to add to the force of the report which I have in part read. I shall only impair its strength and weaken its application, by dilating upon the sound maxims and correct opinions it contains. The com. mittee expressed its full concurrence in the opinion of the secretary of the treasury, given in answer to a call upon him for an explicit avowal of his opinion. Mr. Gallatin's answer contains this paragraph:" that what appears to be of vital importance, is, that the crisis should at once be met by the adoption of efficient measures, which will with certainty provide means commensurate with the expense, and by preserving unimpaired instead of abusing that public credit on which the public resources so eminently depend, will enable the United States to persevere in the contest, until an honourable peace shall have been obtained."
This report, leaving nothing to be added in condemnation of the very system so much deprecated at the commencement of the war, and now proposed to be act
ed on, was adopted by this house. When, therefore, I pronounce the exposition and estimates of the honourable chairman of the committee of ways and means, to be deceptive, fallacious and disingenuous, I used the language of a committee of this house; a language not reproved by the house itself, when it received the report of that committee; language that will be continued to be applied to the ruinous, deceptive and disingenuous system under consideration.
But, sir, I need not rely upon the message of the president, the letter of the secretary of the treasury, the report of the committee of ways and means, and the opinion the court party here expressed by the reception of that report, in applying suitable epithets to the exchequer budget. Out of his own mouth will I condemn the honourable chairman. At the last summer session, the gentleman, as chairman of the committee he still presides over, introduced a report which the house will indulge me with reading in part: “ They (the committee) deem it unnecessary to say any thing as to the necessity of providing additional revenue at a time when the general rate of expenditure has been so much increased, by measures necessarily connected with a state of war,". “a provision for an additional revenue can no longer be delayed, without a violation of all those principles held sacred in every country, where the value and importance of national credit have been justly estimated.” And yet, sir, the honourable chairman who addressed this house and the nation in the manner mentioned, after a few short months, has overlooked and disregarded all those sacred principles, the violation of which he so much deplored.
A little attention will show the great deficit in the revenue to meet the interest of the public debt, the interest upon the new loan, and the expenditure for the peace establishment. By the treasury report it appears, that a
revenue of 12,050,000 dollars will be necessary to de. fray the expenses of the peace establishment, and satisfy the interest of the public debt. To meet this sum of twelve millions and upwards, the acting secretary of the the treasury, in the annual report of that department on our table, estimates the receipts into the treasury:For customs and sales of public lands, at
$ 6,600,000 Internal revenues and direct tax
3,500,000 Balance in the treasury
Total, 11,280,000 Making an acknowledged deficit of
770,000 For this deficiency no provision is made or proposed.
To this deficit, admitted by the head of the treasury department to exist in the sum mentioned, ought to be added
it being the balance in the treasury at the commence
ment of the present year, which will swell the deficit to
$ 1,950,000 The balance in the treasury at the commencement of the current year can fairly be said to form no part of the revenue to pay the expenses of the peace establishment, and the interest of the public debt. It cannot be considered a part of the income of the year 1814, because it has heretofore been appropriated, and must be wanted to satisfy unsettled claims that have accrued the last year, So that a real deficit of nearly two millions exists, which no funds are provided by law to make good. But a fair deduction being made from the sum charged for the sales of public lands, and the revenue from the customs and sales of public lands will considerably increase the deficit stated. The sum so arising is stated at
Being reduced one third, and added to
the deficit already made out
it will make a total deficit, admitting
the land tax to be renewed, of