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H. Of R] Proceedings. [decembeb, 179&
FOURTH CONGRESS-SECOND SESSION.
PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES
THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES.
Monday, December 5, 1796.
This being the day appointed by the constitution for the annual meeting of Congress, in the House of Representatives, the following named members appeared and took their seats, viz:
From New Hampshire.—Abiel Foster, NiCholas Gilman, John S. Sherburne, and JereMiah Smith.
From Massachusetts.—Fisher Ames, TheoPhilus Bbadbuby, Henry Dearborn, Dwight Foster, Nathaniel Freeman, Jr., Samuel LyMan, William Lyman, JonN Read, George Thatcher, Joseph B. Vabnum, and Peleo Wadsworth.
From Rhode Island.—Francis Malbone.
From Connecticut.—Joshua Coit, Chaunoey Goodrich, Roger Gbiswold, Nathaniel Smith, and Zephaniah Swift.
From New Tori.—Theodorus Bailey, WilLiam Cooper, Ezekiel Gilbert, Henry Glenn, Jonathan N. Havens, John E. Van Allen, Philip Van Coetlandt, and John Williams.
From New Jersey. — Jonathan Dayton, Aaron Fotohell, and Isaac Smith.
From Pennsylvania. — Albert Gallatin, Samuel Maolay, Frederick Augustus MuhLenberg, John Richards, Samuel Sitgreayes, and John Swanwiok.
From Delaware.—John Patton.
From Maryland.—George Dent, William Hlndman, and Richabd Sprigg, Jr.
From Virginia.—John Clopton, Isaac Coles, George Jackson, James Madison, Anthony New, and Robert Rutherford.
From Kentucky.—Christopher Greenup.
From North Carolina.—Thomas Blount and Matthew Locke.
From South Carolina.—William Smith.
From Georgia.—Abraham Baldwin.
The following new members appeared, produced their credentials, were qualified, and took their seats, viz:
From Tennessee.—Andrew Jackson.
From Maryland.—William Crate, in place of Jeremiah Crabb, resigned.
From Connecticut.—James Davenport, in place of James Hillhouse, appointed a Senator of the United States.
The Speaker laid before the House a letter from the Governor of Pennsylvania, with the return of the election of George Ege, to serve as a member of the House in place of Daniel Heisteb, resigned.
A quorum, consisting of a majority of the whole number, being present, it was ordered that the Clerk wait on the Senate, to inform them that this House was ready to proceed to business; but it appeared that the Senate bad not been able to form a quorum by one member, and had adjourned.
Mr. WnxiAM Smith presented a petition from Thomas Lloyd, proposing to take, in short-hand, and publish the Debates of Congress at $1,000 per session salary. The expense of printing, &c. he estimated at $540, for which he would furnish the House with five hundred copies of that work; engaging to use every possible precaution, and pay prompt attention.
Mr. S. referred to the unfavorable reception of a proposal of this nature at the last session, and supposed this would not be more successful ; however, he moved that it be referred to a committee.
The motion was agreed to, and Mr. W. Smith, Mr. Gallatin, and Mr. Swift, were appointed to examine the petition, and report thereon to the House.
Tuesday, December 6. Several other members, to wit: from Vermont, Israel Smith; from New Jersey, Mark ThompSon; from Pennsylvania, Richard Thomas; from Virginia, Carter B. Harrison, John Heath, and Abraham Venable; and from North Carolina, Jesse Franklin, William Barry Grove, James Holland, and Nathaniel Macon, appeared, and took their seats in the House.
The Speaker observed, that, as there were several returns of new elections of members to Dkxmber, 1796.]
President's Speech. [H. or R. Proceedings.
serve in this session, it was proper that, pursuant to a rule of the House, a Committee of Elections be appointed.
A committee was accordingly appointed, of Mr. Venable, Mr. Swift, Mr. Dent, Mr. DearBorn, Mr. Blount, Mr. Muhlenberg, and Mr. A. Foster.
Mr. Macon moved that a Committee of Revisal and Unfinished Business of last session be appointed, pursuant to the Standing Rules and Orders of the House, observing that, as the session would be but short, it would be necessary to be early in the appointment of committees.
Whereon Mr. Gilman, Mr. R. Sprigg, Jr., md Mr. Macon were appointed.
Notice was received that a quorum of the Senate was formed.
On motion, it was, therefore, resolved, that a oommittee of three members be appointed to wait on the President Of Tite United States, in conjunction with a committee from the Senate, to inform him that a quorum of both Houses was assembled, and ready to receive any communications that he may please to make. Hr. Ames. Mr. Madison, and Mr. Sitgreaves, were accordingly appointed.
A message was received from the Senate informing the House that they had formed a quorum: whereupon the Clerk went to the Senate with the resolution of this House. The Secretary soon after returned, informing the House that the Senate had concurred in the resolution, and formed a committee for that purpose.
Mr. Ames, from the committee appointed for that purpose, reported that the committee had waited on the President, who was pleased to (ignify to them that he would make a communication to both Houses of Congress to-morrow, at 12 o'clock, in the Representatives' Chamber.
Wkdxebdat, December 7.
Another member, to wit, Samuel Sewall, from Massachusetts, in place of Benjamin GoodBte, appointed a Senator of the United States, appeared, produced his credentials, was qualified, and took bis seat.
A message was sent to the Senate, informing them that this House was ready, agreeably to appointment, to receive communications from the President; whereon the Senate attended, and took their seats. At 12 o'clock the PresiBist attended, and, after taking his seat, rose and delivered the following Address:
Gentlemen o f the Senate, and
of the House of Representatives: Id recurring to the internal situation of our connby, since I had last the pleasure to address yon, I find ample reason for a renewed expression of that gnthnde to the Knler of the Universe, which a contimed series of prosperity has so often and so justly called forth.
To an active externa] commerce, the protection of I Naval force is indispensable: this is manifest with Rgard to wars in which a State is itself a party. But
besides this, it is in our own experience, that the most sincere neutrality is not a sufficient guard against the depredations of nations at war. To secure respect to a neutral flag, requires a Naval force, organized and ready to vindicate it from insult or aggression. This may even prevent the necessity of going to war, by discouraging belligerent powers from committing such violations of the rights of the neutral party as may, first or last, leave no other option. From the best information I have been able to obtain, it would seem as if our trade to the Mediterranean, without a protecting force, will always be insecure, and our citizens exposed to the calamities from which numbers of them have but just been relieved.
These considerations invite the United States to look to the means, and to set about the gradual creation of a Navy. The increasing progress of their navigation promises them, at no distant period, the requisite supply of seamen ; and their means in other respects favor the undertaking. It is an encouragement likewise that their particular situation will give weight and influence to a moderate Naval force in their hands. Will it not, then, be advisable to begin, without delay, to provide and lay up the materials for the building and equipping of ships of war, and to proceed in the work by degrees, in proportion as our resources shall render it practicable withont inconvenience; so that a future war of Europe may not find our commerce in the same unprotected state in which it was found by the present?
Congress have repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too much consequence not to ensure a continuance of their efforts in every way which shall appear eligible. As a general rule, manufactures on public account ore inexpedient. Bnt where the state of things in a country leaves bnt little hope that certain branches of manufacture will for a great length of time obtain, when these are of a nature essential to the furnishing and equipping of the public force iu time of war; are not establishments for procuring them on public account, to the extent of the ordinary demand for the public service, recommended by strong considerations of national policy, as an exception to the general rule? Ought our country to remain in such cases dependent on foreign supply, precarious, because liable to be interrupted? If the necessary articles should in this mode cost more in time of pence, will not the security and independence thence arising form an ample compensation? Establishments of this sort, commensurate only with the calls of the public service in time of peace, will, in time of war, easily be extended in proportion to the exigencies of the Government, and may even, perhaps, be made to yield a surplus for the supply of our citizens at large, so as to mitigate the privations from the interruption of their trade. If adopted, the plan ought to exclude all those branches which are already, or likely soon to be established in the country, in order that there may be no danger of interference with pursuits of individual industry.
It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance. In proportion as nations advance in population, and other circumstances of maturity, this truth becomes more apparent, and renders the cultivation of the soil more and more an object of public patronage. Institutions for promoting it grow up, supported by the public purse; and to what object can it be dedicated with greater propriety? Among the means which have been employed to this end. H. OPR.]
none have been attended with greater success than the establishment of Boards, composed of proper characters, charged with collecting and diffusing information, and enabled by premiums, and small pecuniary aids, to encourage and assist a spirit of discovery and improvement. This species of establishment contributes doubly to the increase of improvement, by stimulating to enterprise and experiment, and by drawing to a common centre the results every where of individual skill and observation, and spreading them thence over the whole nation. Experience accordingly has shown that they are very cheap instruments of immense national benefits.
I have heretofore proposed to the consideration of Congress the expediency of establishing a National University, and also a Military Academy. The desirableness of both these institutions has so constantly increased with every new view I have taken of the subject, that I cannot omit the opportunity of once for all recalling your attention to them.
The Assembly to which I address myself is too en-' lightened not to be fully sensible how mnch a flourishing state of the arts and sciences contributes to national prosperity and reputation. True it is that our country, much to its honor, contains many seminaries of learning highly respectable and useful; but the funds upon which they rest are too narrow to command the ablest professors in the different departments of liberal knowledge for the institution contemplated, though they would be excellent auxiliaries.
Amongst the motives to such an institution the assimilation of the principles, opinions, and manners of our countrymen, by the common education of a portion of our youth from every quarter, well deserves attention. The more homogeneous our citizens can be made in these particulars, the greater will be our prospect of permanent union; and a primary object of such a national institution should be the education of our youth in the science of Government. In a Republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? and what dnty more pressing on its Legislature, than to patronize a plan for communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?
The institution of a Military Academy is also recommended by cogent reasons. However pacific the general policy of a nation may be, it ought never to be without an adequate stock of military knowledge for emergencies. The first would impair the energy of its character, and both would hazard its safety, or expose it to greater evils when war could not be avoided: besides, that war might often not depend npon its own choice. In proportion as the observance of pacific maxims might exempt a nation from the necessity of practising the rules of the military art, ought to be its care in preserving and transmitting by proper establishments the knowledge of that art. Whatever argument may be drawn from partlcnlar examples, superficially viewed, a thorough examination of the subject will evince that the art of war is at once comprehensive and complicated; that it demands mnch previous study; and that the possession of it, in its most improved and perfect state, is always of great moment to the security of a nation. This, therefore, ought to be a serious care of every Government; and for this purpose an Academy, where a regular course of instruction is gjven, is an obvious expedient, which different nations have successfully employed.
The compensations to the officers of the United States in various instances, and iu none more than in
respect to the most important stations, appear to call for Legislative revision. The consequences of a defective provision are of serious import to the Government.
If private wealth is to supply the defect of public retribution, it will greatly contract the sphere within which the selection of character for office is to be made, and will proportionally diminish the probability of a choice of men, able, as well a6 upright. Besides, that it would be repugnant to the vital principles of our Government virtually to exclude from public trusts, talents, and virtue, unless accompanied by wealth.
While in our external relations some serions inconveniences and embarrassments have been overcome, and others lessened, it is with much pain and deep regret I mention that circumstances of a very unwelcome nature have lately occurred. Our trade has suffered, and is suffering, extensive injuries in the West Indies, from the cruisers and agents of the French Repnblic; and communications have been received from its Minister here which indicate the danger of a further disturbance of our commerce, by its authority, and which are, in other respects, far from agreeable.
It has been my constant, sincere, and ardent wish, in conformity with that of our nation, to maintain cordial harmony and a perfectly friendly understanding with that Republic. This wish remains unabated; and I shall persevere in the endeavor to fulfil it to the utmost extent of what shall be consistent with a jnst and indispensable regard to the rights and honor of our country; nor will I easily cease to cherish the expectation that a spirit of justice, candor, and friendship on the part of the Republic will eventually ensure success.
My solicitude to see the Militia of the United States placed on an efficient establishment has been so often and so ardently expressed that I shall but barely recall the subject to your view on the present occasion; at the same time that I shall submit to your inquiry, whether our harbors are yet sufficiently secured.
The situation in which I now stand, for the last time, in the midst of the Representatives of the people of the United States, naturally recalls the period when the administration of the present form of government commenced; and I cannot omit the occasion to congratulate you and my country on the success •of the experiment; nor to repeat my fervent supplications to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe and Sovereign Arbiter of Nations, that His providential care may still be extended to the United States ; that the virtue and happiness of the people may be preserved; and that the Government which they have instituted for the protection of their liberties may be perpetual. G. WASHINGTON.
United States, December 7, 1796.
When the President had concluded his Address, he presented copies of it to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the Honse of Representatives. The President and the Senate then withdrew, and the Speaker took the Chair. The Address was again read by the Clerk, and on motion, committed to a Committee of the whole House to-morrow.
Thursday, December 8. James Gillespie, from North Carolina, appeared, and took his seat in the House.
A new member, to wit, George Ege, from Pennsylvania, in place of Daniel Heister, resigned, appeared, produced his credentials, was qualified, and took his seat.
Addrett to the President.
On the motion of Mr. W. Smith, the House irent into a Committee of the Whole on the President's Address, according to the order of the day. The Speech was read by the Clerk.
Mr. D. Foster mored the following resolution:
"Resolced, That it ia the opinion of this committee, thit t respectful Address ought to be presented from th« House of Representatives, to the President of the United States, in answer to bis Speech to both Houses a" Congress, at the commencement of the session, containing assurances that this House will take into consideration the many important matters recommended to their attention."
Which was unanimously agreed to, and Mr. Axes, Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Madison, Mr. Sit6mvEs, and Mr. W. Smith were appointed a committee to draw up the Address. The committee rose, and the resolution was adopted by the House.
Friday, December 9. David Bard, from Pennsylvania, Josiah Passer, from Virginia, and Nathan Bbyan, from North Carolina, appeared and took their seats in the House.
Address to the Pretident.
The Speaker said, that it had been usual for the House to come to some order on the PresiDent's Address, which was to refer it to a Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union. On which Mr. Williams moved, that it be committed to a Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, which was done accordingly.
Mr. Baylry moved, that a Committee of Commerce and Manufactures be appointed, when Mr. William Smith, Mr. Sew All, Mr. Corr, Mr. Parker, Mr. Blount, and Mr. Dent, *ere named for that committee.
Mr. Bayley then moved, that when this House adjourn, it adjourn till Monday at eleven o'clock,
[The reason stated during the last session for the House not meeting to do business on Saturiivjwas, that the standing committees were numerous, besides many special committees for &Krent purposes, whose business was freneatlj very important and troublesome, it was therefore necessary that Saturday be allowed for the committees to sit, else business would t* moth protracted, and become too burden•wae on gentlemen in committees.]
Monday, December 12. Several other members, to wit: from New Tort, Edward LrvrsasTON; from Pennsylvania, Amistw Gkeog; from Maryland, Gabriel t'EDbTat; from Virginia, William B. Giles,
Andrew Moore, and John Nicholas; and from South Carolina, Robert Goodloe Harper, appeared, and took their seats in the House.
Tuesday, December 13.
Two other members, to wit, Thomas ClaiBorne and John Page, from Virginia, appeared and took their seats in the House.
A new member, viz: William Strudwick, from North Carolina, in place of Absalom TaTom resigned, appeared, produced his credentials, was qualified, and took his seat.
Address to the President.
Mr. W. Smith then moved for the order of the day on the report of the committee in answer to the President's Address.
Mr. Giles said, that as the printed copy of the answer was but just laid before the House, he hoped the gentleman would not insist on his motion, as he declared he had not had time to read it; he would therefore move that it be deferred till to-morrow.
Mr. Parker seconded the motion. He said he was not able to judge whether the answer would meet his approbation or not; he wished time to be given for the consideration of it.
Mr. W. Smith said he knew no instance in which the answer to the President's Address had been laid over, and he thought it ought to be despatched with all possible speed.
Mr. Heath said, he hoped his colleague would not insist on his motion for letting it lie over till to-morrow; he thought it could as well be acted on to-day.
Mr. Ames observed, that it would look very awkward to let it lie over till to-morrow, as it was very unusual, if not unprecedented, so to do; he thought gentlemen might make up their minds about it if laid on the table about an hour; they could, in the mean time, despatch other business, which would come before them.
Mr. Giles said, he had experienced extreme inconvenience from gentlemen pressing for a subject before it had been matured in the minds of members; he thought it would be extremely improper and unusual, and iu its consequences disagreeable, to go into the subject before gentlemen had time to reflect on it.
Mr. Sitoreaves said, that the more expeditious the House were on the answer to the President's Address the greater the effect of it would be. He hoped, therefore, that there would be no delay. He had in recollection a Message which was received from the PresiDent respecting the Colors of the French Republic, at the last session. Those very gentlemen who now wished a delay, then thought that, to let the subject lie over, would lose its principal effect, although several of the members wished it to lie over, and but for one day. Surely we have as much respect for the PresiDent as we have for the French Republic. He really hoped the business would not lie over.
Mr. W» Lyman hoped gentlemen did not look H. Op R.]
Address to the President.
upon this answer to the President's Address as merely complimentary. He declared he took it up in a very different light; he viewed it as of the most extensive consequence; it related to the subjects recommended to the notice of the House by the President, which might relate to the alteration of the laws, and, perhaps, to the forming new laws; and could gentlemen have time to form their minds on such an important part of their business? He had only seen the report this morning, and hoped he should have time to consider it before it passed through the House.
The Speaker said, that the subject before the House now was, whether the unfinished business should be postponed in order to make room for a Committee of the Whole to sit on the report of the committee on the answer?
Mr. Parker observed, that he could not say whether ho approved or disapproved of the answer before the House. He had not read the report; he therefore hoped that the unfinished business would be taken up and this postponed: he thought it was too important to be hastened. He wished gentlemen to be very careful how they committed themselves at a juncture so critical, and on business so momentous. We had just been told by the President that we did not stand well with the French nation; and the Senate, in their answer, had accorded with his observations on that subject. [Mr. P. was here informed that the business of the Senate ought not to bo introduced here.*] He therefore hoped a day might be allowed to take the subject into consideration.
Mr. Williams said, he had searched and could find no precedent in the journal to encourage a delay of this business. He found that when a report was mado by the committee on such an occasion, it was usual to be taken up by a Com-' mittee of the whole House; and if gentlemen disagreed on the subject, it should be recommitted to the same committee who formed it, to make such alterations whereby it may meet more general approbation, or be amended by the House and passed. He hoped no new precedent would be mado.
The Speaker again observed, that the question was on postponing the unfinished business to take up this report.
Mr. W. Smitii said, that if this business was delayed, it ought to be for substantial reasons. The principal reason gentlemen had urged was, that they had not had time to acquaint themselves with the answer. How, then, he asked, could they make their observations on it as they had done? The committee had, ho thought, drafted it in such general terms that it could not be generally disapproved. There are but two parts in which he thought there would be differences of opinion, viz: that which related to the French Republic, and that which com
* In this early day, the parliamentary rule was enforced against any reference In one House to what was done in the other.
plimented the President for his services. As to the first, he thought it so expressed as to need no delay in the answer. With respect to the latter, he hoped no gentleman would refuse to pay a dne regard to the President's services.
The Speaker again informed the House what was the question.
Mr. W. Smith said, we ought not now to reflect on any thing w© may judge has not been done as we could wish. Could we refuse .. tribute of respect to a man who had served his country so much? He thought a delay at present would have a very unpleasant appearance. He hoped we should go into this business immediately, agreeably to the former practice of the House on similar occasions. The unfinished business was yesterday postponed for want of proper information, and ho thought the same reason was yet in force with respect to it. He hoped nothing would impede this business, lest it should appear like a want of respect in as. He hoped to see a unanimous vote in favor of a respectful answer to the Chief Magistrate, whoso services we ought zealously to acknowledge.
Mr. Gilbert saw no reason to depart from a practice which had been usual; he therefore hoped the report might come under consideration to-day. He thought if it laid on the table an hour or an hour and a half, gentlemen could then be prepared to consider it.
The Speaker again put the House in mind of the question.
Mr. Nicholas said, if the business was press ed too precipitately, gentlemen may be sensible of their error when it was too late. Many bad consequences might attend hastening the subject before it was well matured. He could see no reason why the business should be precipitated upon the Houses—a proper delay would not show any want of respect to the President, as some gentlemen think. Would it be more respectful that an answer should be sent by this House, which, for want of time, had not been sufficiently considered? Certainly not. Far more so will it appear that after mature deliberation the members are unanimous in their answer. I therefore think the object of respect which the gentleman from North Carolina has in view will be completely answered by the delay.
Gentlemen talk about precedent. I am ashamed to hear them. There may be no precedent on the subject. But are we always to act by precedent? There is scarcely a circumstance occurs in this House but what is different from any that was before it. The President's Addresses to this House are always different. They relate to the circumstances of things thai are, have been, and may be. Then, to talk o! precedents where things cannot be alike, is t< trammel men down by rules which would tx injurious in the issue.
The Message of the President respecting tin French Colors had been referred to. If gentle men were then wrong, is that a reason why the;
Address to ike. President.