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[H. OF R. of the Limitation Act. Messrs. Macon, Sit-| Having, at that time, no settled National GovernGREAVES, and HARPER, wished the matter to goment, a regular system for conducting public business, again to the Committee of Claims, as many mem- especially money transactions, depending on credit, bers now in the House were unacquainted with was not to be expected. the merits of the claim; and the latter gentle- |
he daim. and the latter cente Great numbers of individuals were necessarily inman, because he thought the House had been
vested with the power of binding the public by their surprised into a decision, contrary to fifty other
contracts. Almost every officer of the Army, whether determinations on similar questions, which ought
in the Commissary's Department or otherwise, in now to be reversed.
different stages of the war, had it in his power to conMr. CLAIBORNE opposed this course, and
tract debts legally or equitably binding upon the
United States. We find Congress, at various times, trusted the House would again be influenced by during the war, endeavoring to make arrangements the justice of the claim, to act as they had here- | which should prevent an undue use of the powers tofore done, by passing a bill for the relief of the vested in individuals, and the dangerous consequenpetitioner.
ces to which the Government was thereby necessarily Mr. GALLATIN thought it would be best to exposed. The acts of the 5th of March, 1779, and commit the business to the same Committee of of the 23d of August, 1780, were calculated to limit the Whole to which they had yesterday referred the public responsibility in such cases. After the & report of the Committee of Claims on the peace, and under the old Government, periods were subject of excepting a certain description of prescribed, within which claims of certain descripclaims from the operation of that act.
tions, and finally all unliquidated claims, were to be The business was, however, elosed by Mr.
exhibited for settlement, or to be for ever thereafter CLAIBORNE's withdrawing his motion for the
It must be acknowledged by all, that during those present.
periods every provision which could rationally have
been expected was made for the accommodation of inMonday, December 11.
dividuals having claims against the public, to enable Two other members, to wit: JAMES GILLES- them to obtain proper settlements of their demands. DIE and JOSEPH MODOWELL. from the State of | The journals of Congress under the confederation North Carolina, appeared and took their seats.
will abundantly justify this remark.
Commissioners were appointed, with special or TUESDAY, December 12.
general powers, to settle the claims of individuals in
all the departments; and, in every instance, the Acts of Limitation.
powers given were plenary and explicit. Sufficient Mr. GALLATIN called for the order of the day time was given for every one to obtain information on the report of the Committee of Claims, to and pursue his remedy ; and ample opportunity was whom it was referred to inquire into and report
I given for all to substantiate their claims, or, at least, on the expediency or inexpediency of designa
to present abstracts of them, which would have preting certain claims against the United States to
vented their being foreclosed by the acts designed be excepted from the operation of the acts of
| eventually to operate upon them. The cases cannot limitation; which being agreed to, the House
be numerous, in which the want of opportunity to
bring forward claims can be justly pleaded as an exaccordingly resolved itself into a Committee of
cuse for the omission the Whole on the subject, Mr. DENT in the chair.
By the act of the 17th of March, 1785, all persons The report was read, as follows:
having unliquidated claims against the United States The Committee of Claims who were “instructed to were required, within twelve months, to exhibit parinquire into, and report on, the expediency or inexpe- ticular abstracts of such claims, to some of the Comdiency of designating certain claims against the United missioners in the State in which they respectively reStates, to be excepted from the operation of the acts sided, who were sent and empowered to settle ao of limitation," report :
counts against the United States, under the penalty That, in obedience to the orders of the House, they or condition that accounts not so presented, should be have made all the inquiries which to them appear thereafter settled only at the Treasury. necessary; that they have attentively and delibe By another act of Congress, of the same year, viz: rately considered the subject referred to them; and November 20, 1785, all persons having claims for are of opinion that it would not be expedient to desig services performed in the military department, were Date any species of claims against the United States directed to exhibit the same for liquidation to the which are now affected by the acts of limitation, to Commissioners of Army accounts, on or before the be excepted from the operation of those acts.
first day of August, then ensuing. By that act it In considering this subject, a review of the situation was expressly resolved, that all claims, under the deof the United States, as respected their finances, du- scription above mentioned, which might be exhibited ring the period when most of the demands originated, after that period, should be for ever thereafter precluwas requisite. It was also necessary to ascertain ded from adjustment and allowance. what measures had been adopted by Congress, both And it was provided, by the act of July 23d, 1787, poder the old and under the present government, to that all persons having unliquidated claims against bring all the demands against the States to a liquida- the United States, pertaining to the late Commissation and settlement
ries', Quartermaster's, Hospital, Clothier's, or Marine It will be recollected, that, at the commencement department, should exhibit particular abstracts of such of the war, the United States were destitute of money; claims to the proper Commissioner appointed to settle and during a long period of years afterwards, were the accounts of those departments, within eight obliged to rely principally on credit, for carrying on months from the date of the said act; and all perall their important operations.
sons having other unliquidated claims against the
H. OF R.]
[DECEMBER, 1797 United States, were to exhibit particular abstracts | It was essential to the public administration that thereof to the Comptroller of the Treasury of the the extent of just demands upon the Government United States, within one year from the date there should be, within a reasonable period, definitely asof; and all accounts not exhibited as aforesaid, were certained. It was essential to public safety and to to be precluded from settlement or allowance. right, in relation to the whole community, that all
These regulations were adopted by Congress under unsettled claims should be made known within a time the old Government. Great care was taken to have when there were yet means of proper investigation, them extensively published, so that every individual and after which the public responsibility should terwho was interested inight be informed of their exist- minate, and the possibility of charging the Governence and operation.
ment by collusive and fictitious contracts, should be Under the present constitution there has not been at an end. wanting a disposition to relieve certain individuals The justice as well as policy of acts of limitation, whose claims were considered as peculiarly meritori under such circumstances, cannot be doubted. * ous, which had been affected by the acts above The situation of no country ever presented a more recorded.
clear necessity for, or a more competent justification With this view, in March, 1792, two several acts of, precautions of that nature. And all the reasons of Congress were passed, suspending for two years for adopting them operate to recommend unusual the operation of the resolutions of Congress of No- caution in departing from them, with the additional vember 2d, 1785, and July 27th, 1787, so far as they force of this circumstance, that the subsequent lapse had barred or might be construed to bar the claims of time has increased the difficulties of a due examof the widow or orphans of any officer of the late ination. army, to the seven years' half pay of such officer; or The accounts of a considerable number of officers, the claims of any officer, soldier, artificer, sailor, and who had it in their power to bind the public by their marine, of the Army of the United States, for per- contracts, and who were intrusted with large sums sonal services rendered to the United States in the of money for fulfilling their engagements, rernain military or naval departments.
unsettled. Some of those persons are dead; others In consequence of these suspensions, many claims have absconded; the business has been conducted were exhibited, and allowed against the Government. There is reason to apprehend, in some instances, the public were defrauded for want of proper pre-existing * Acts of limitation have been found necessary in all checks and evidences of payinents being made. This countries, and in all sorts of claims, to quiet demands, bring suspension continued for the term of two years, which things to settlement, and to protect the fair dealer from stale was till March, 1794. In the mean time, viz: on the demands, after time and accidents have deprived him of the 12th of February, 1793, the act “relative to claims means of invalidating them. Necessary in the transactions against the United States, not barred by any act of of individuals, they become still more so in the transactions limitation, and which had not been already adjusted,” of the Government. Its officers are constantly changing, was passed by Congress, after a serious and attentive and the knowledge of transactions continually being lost, consideration of the subject.
and the representatives of the Government withont the By that law it was provided, “ that all claims upon personal interest which stimulates inquiry and invigorates the United States for services or supplies, or for other defence. The Government becomes helpless against claims, cause, matter, or thing, furnished or done, previous to
even the most unjustifiable, after the lapse of some years; the 4th day of March, 1789, whether founded upon
and, without the protection of a statute of limitations, is Certificates, written documents from public officers, or
subject to continual impositions. This was well known to otherwise, which had not already been barred by any the conductors of our Revolution, and the founders of our act of limitation, and which should not be presented | Federal Government; and they took care, as they believed, at the Treasury before the first day of May, 1794,
to provide against a danger whico they knew to be immi. should for ever after be barred and precluded from
nent. Equally solicitous to pay every valid claim, and to settlement or allowance." But this was not to be
avoid the payment of unjust ones, they began even during construed as affecting Loan Office certificates, cer
the war to call upon all claimants to present their demandstificates of final settlements, indents of interest, bal
to furnish abstracts when the case was not ready to be ances entered on the books of the Register of the Treasury, registered certificates, foreign loans, or cer
proved up. These calls were redoubled at the conclusion of tificates issued under the act making provision for
peace, were repeated during the existence of the confeder. the public debt of the United States.
ation, and reiterated at the formation of the new GovernOne other act, passed the 3d day of March, 1795,
ment under the constitution. They took the form of law, provided that Loan Office certificates, final settle
and barred the claims which were not presented within lim. ments, and indents of interest then ontstanding. | ited times. The final bar was seven years after tho new should be presented at the office of the Auditor of the
Government went into operation. The committee, of which Treasury, on or before the first day of January, in the
Mr. Gallatin was chairman, made an enumeration of these present year, 1797, or be for ever after barred or pre
different statutes, and reported in favor of their observancecluded from settlement or allowance.
a report in which the House concurred, and to which ConThe summary contains a general view of the prin gress then conformed its action. These statutes, and the cipal acts of limitation, by which claims against the
reasons in which they were founded, seem to have been public have been affected.
since forgotten; and stale claims let in upon the Treasury From an attentive consideration of them, and of without restraint, and proved without difficulty, which no the circumstances under which they were enacted, call could bring forth at the time they were supposed to the committee are fully impressed with an opinion that have originated. It is instructive to look over the list of it would not be expedient to suspend their operation. these statutes, and see the reasons in which they were
Some remarks extracted from a report heretofore founded, and the offorts made to call in all valid claims, and made to Congress, are subjoined by the committee, the attention paid to them fifty years ago, and the disregard as pertinent to the subject.
[H. OF R. by others with so little order as to put it out of their Mr. CLAIBORNE made that motion, which Mr. power to render a proper statement of their transac- Cort moved to be referred to the Committee of tions. The books and papers of others, who had ex- Claims, in order that they might report the tensive trusts, have been destroyed, so as to preclude facts relative to the case, which were not generthe possibility of settlement. Hence it must appear ally known. that the Government would, in a great number of
Mr. CLAIBORNE objected to this; and cases, be destitute of the moans of repelling unfounded
Mr. BALDWIN suggesting the propriety of and even satisfied claims, for want of documents and vouchers, which only could have resulted from a due
committing it to the same Committee of the settlement with those officers, and from the possession
Whole, to whom were referred the subject of of their books and papers.
considering the expediency of excepting certain It might be inferred without proof, and it has ap- claims from the operation of the limitation acts, peared in the course of business at the Treasury, that this course was adopted. it was a practice with certain public officers, on obtaining supplies, to give receipts and certificates for
Friday, December 22. thein, and when they made payments, either partially or totally, to take distinct receipts from the parties,
General Kosciusko. without either endorsing the payment upon the Mr. Dawson wished to call the attention of original vouchers or requiring a surrender of them. the House to a subject, which, he doubted not,
Hence it would often happen that parties could pro- would interest the feelings of every member. dace satisfactory vouchers of their having performed The subject he alluded to was the situation of services and furnished supplies, for which, though General Kosciusko. It was a fact well known to satisfaction may have been made, the evidences of it every man in this country, it was a fact known would not be in the possession of the Government.
to the world, that this brave man entered into And hence, from relaxations of the limitation acts,
the service of the United States, at an early pethere would be great danger that much more injustice would be done to the United States than justice
riod of our Revolutionary war. When this serto individuals.
vice was ended, he received from the GovernThe principles of self-defence, therefore, require and ment a certificate of what was due to him. He justify an adherence to those acts generally; and there returned to Poland, his native country: there. are not any particular species of claims, which, in animated by the same spirit which had led him view of the committee, ought to be exempted from to take a part in our struggle for independence, their operation.
he endeavored to overthrow the existing tyranny, Those which have been most frequently referred and to introduce in its place liberty and indeto by some members of the House, are such claims as pendence. For some time his attempt seemed include the arrearages of pay and other emoluments | likely to be crowned with success; but, on the to officers and soldiers of the late army, &c.
fatal 10th of October, 1794, overpowered by Pursuant to an order of the House at the first ses
House at the first ses- numbers, ho was defeated and taken prisoner. sion of the present Congress, a report was made to
Covered with wounds and with glory, he was them, having special reference to this subject. It was
conducted to the prison of Petersburgh. When considered in Committee of the Whole, and agreed to by the House on the fifth day of February, 1796. To
So he was released from thence, he immediately set that report and the documents accompanying the
the out to this country, here to spend the remainder same, the committee ask leave to refer the House of his life. He was now within this city: but. and respectfully submit the whole subject to their
from the wounds he had received in his arduous consideration.
but unsuccessful conflict, he was unable to walk
or to attend to any business. The unfortunate WEDNESDAY, December 13.
day on which he was taken prisoner, he lost his JOHN WILKES KITTERA, from Pennsylvania,
all, and with it the certificate of the services
rendered to the United States. He was unable, appeared, and took his seat in the House.
therefore, to obtain a settlement of his account FRIDAY, December 15.
at the Treasury. To set aside all difficulty in
the matter, Mr. D. proposed to offer a resolution A new member, to wit, PELEG SPRAGUE, from to the consideration of the House; and as it was New Hampshire, in place of Jeremiah Smith, l justice only which he sought for this brave man, resigned, appeared, produced his credentials, l'he doubted not that a spirit of justice would enWas qualified, and took his seat.
sure its adoption. It was to the following ef
fect:: THURSDAY, December 24.
“ Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inAmy Dardin.
quire and report whether any, and, if any, what proMr. T. CLAIBORNE moved that the report of visions are necessary, to obtain payment of the claim the Committee of Claims, on the petition of of Gen. Kosciusko on the United States." Amy Dardin, be referred to a Committee of Mr. J. PARKER seconded the motion. He
hoped the resolution would be agreed to, and The SPEAKER said, that the report having that immediate attention would be paid to the been negatived at a former session, and a bill unfortunate gentleman, as he believed, except tronght in for her relief, but not decided upon, he made use of the grant made to him by the the proper motion would be to appoint a com- Emperor of Russia, which, he believed, he was mittee to bring in a bill.
disinclined to do, for considering his predecos
H. OF R.)
[DECEMBER, 1797 sor as the chief cause of his own misfortunes, / in the mean time, stand in need of it, it might and those of his country, he did not wish to be be proper in the United States to anticipate its under obligations to him. The certificate given return, by settling the account with the General. to the General on his departure from hence, was He hoped in whatever way this business was effor $12,800, upon which he had received only fected, it would be in such a way as not to one year's interest. He hoped, therefore, as he wound the feelings of a man who had deserved had the misfortune to lose his certificate, at the so well of this country. time he was taken prisoner, that the House On a suggestion of Mr. SITGREAVES, instead of would take such measures as should enable him appointing a committee, the Secretary of the to receive the amount of his certificate, with the Treasury was directed to make a report what interest due thereon.
“Legislative provision was necessary, &c." Mr. Coit moved that the resolution should be This motion was carried by 49 to 40; but committed to the Committee of Claims, but af- whatever difference of opinion there was in the terwards changed his motion so as to make that House, as to the mode of doing the business, committee the committee to inquire and report, there seemed to be but one sentiment, as to the instead of a select committee. He professed to propriety of complying with the spirit of the have no other object in these motions than that resolution. this claim should take the same course with other claims.
WEDNESDAY, December 27.
EN SAMUEL JORDAN CABELL, from the State of posed by Messrs. J. PARKER, LIVINGSTON, GAL
| Virginia, appeared, and took his seat. LATIN, BROOKS, NICHOLAS, HARPER, SHEPERD,
Count de Grasse. Otis, PINOKNEY, SWANWICK, S. SMITH, T. Olai
Mr. Livingston, from the committee to whom BORNE, and MoDOWELL. The motion for a reference to the Committee
was referred the petition of the daughters of the
late Count de Grasse, made a report, which of Olaims was lost-59 to 33. Mr. PINOKNEY said, that as this claim was dif
stated that the sum heretofore allowed by Conferent from most others which came before that
gress was intended only as a temporary provi
sion, until the events of the war should permit House, and having himself had something to do
them to take possession of an estate in St. Doin the business, he would state to the House
mingo; that the facts formerly stated showed what he knew of it. Previous to General Kos
that the most important services were rendered ciusko's return to Poland, whilst he was in Ger
to the United States by their father, from momany, he applied to the Polish Ambassador in
tives the most honorable, under the greatest reLondon, by letter, requesting him to make application to the American Minister there for
sponsibility, and at a risk the most hazardous
that could be encountered by an officer of rank payment of a part of the money due to him from the United States. The mode of transacting
and reputation ; that, with a recollection of this business was this: The interest arising from
these services, it would consist neither with the
honor nor justice of the United States to refuse the certificate granted to the General, was made
an adequate provision for the orphan children payable in Paris ; but from the change which
of the man who rendered them. The committook place in the French Government, the Ge
tee, therefore, recommended that a certain sam neral did not know how to receive it there, which was the reason of his making application,
te should be granted to each of them, annually, for
their lives. The report was twice read, and through the Polish Minister, to him (Mr. P.) in London. Mr. P. wrote to the American Minis
committed for Monday ter in Paris for an order on the bankers of the United States in Holland, but having in the
THURSDAY, December 28. mean time received a letter from Gen. Kosciusko,
Gen. Kosciusko. requesting the money to be sent for him to Ra- The SPEAKER laid before the House a letter tisbon or Leipsic, he (Mr. P.) sent an order to and report from the Secretary of the Treasury, Amsterdam, requesting the bankers there to in pursuance of a resolution of the House, of the transmit the money either to Ratisbon or Leipsic, 23d instant, relative to the claim of General as the exchange should be most advantageous. Kosciusko. The report states, that the accounts In the interim General Kosciusko returned to of the General were settled at the Treasury in Poland, and he supposed he then had no time 1784, when a certificate was issued to him for to attend to this business. He never heard any $12,280 49, bearing an interest of six per cent. more upon the subject until he saw the General from the 1st of January, 1784, which was stipuin Philadelphia, when he found this money had lated by a resolution in February following, in not been received by him ; so that he supposed common with the interest due to all the foreign it yet lay in the hands of the Leipsic or Ratis officers, to be paid annually at Paris; that in bon banker.
May, 1792, moneys were granted by Congress to Finding this to be the case, Mr. P. immediate- discharge the principal and interest of these ly wrote to the banker at Amsterdam, request. | debts, at which time it was supposed that all the ing him to redraw the money, and to transmit officers had received their interest to the 1st of it here for the General's use. But, as he might, | January, 1789; but it now appears by the
(H. OF R. banker's account at Paris, that no interest had | House. It also states, that a bill had been rebeen received by General Kosciusko for four mitted to our Minister at London, for the interyears, viz.: from 1785 to 1788. Sufficient funds est from 1789 to 1792, but which money was to pay the interest from 1789 to 1792, were, in afterwards, by direction of the General, ordered 1792, placed in Amsterdam, subject to the dis- to be remitted to Leipsic or Dresden; but it did posal of our Minister at Paris ; that by his di- not appear that this order had been complied rection a bill for the amount was remitted to with. It was clear, however, it was never reMr. Pinckney in London; but, pursuant to the ceived by him, nor had he given any person a direction of General Kosciusko, Mr. Pinckney right to receive it. He hoped, therefore, as the wrote to the banker at Amsterdam to remit the money lay at Amsterdam, Leipsic or Dresden, amount to Leipsic or Dresden. That in Septem- and could at any time be got by the United ber, 1792, a notification was published, that pro- States, there would be no objection to pay the vision had been made for paying the principal General that sum at this time. It was further of the debt due to foreign officers, on application stated in the report, that in September, 1792, a at the Treasury, after the 15th of October fol- | notification was published, informing all the lowing, and that the interest upon their demands foreign officers that provision was made at the would cease after the last day of December in Treasury for the payment of the principal of that year, That though the certificate issued their debts, and that the interest thereon would to the General is stated by him to have been therefore cease after the last day of December in lost or destroyed, yet the powers of the officers that year. Upon examination he did not find of the Treasury are competent to the payment that this arrangement was founded upon any of $12,280 54, the principal, and $2,947 33 inte-law; it was, therefore, a regulation agreed uprest, for the years from 1785 to 1788, on receiving on by the Treasury Department, and ought not a bond of indemnification from the General: but to operate to the injury of persons who were that they cannot advance the interest supposed ignorant of it. It was well known, tbat, from to have been remitted to Leipsic or Dresden, the peculiar situation of General Kosciusko at though payment will be immediately made for the time, that he could not hear of it; and the any som which may be hereafter redrawn, and truth was, he never did hear of it until he arcredited to the United States at Amsterdam; rived in this city. He hoped, therefore, there nor is it in the power of the Treasury to allow would be no objection to the payment of the any interest on said principal since the 1st Jan- amount of the certificates, with interest to the uary, 1793.
present time. To effect this purpose, he proOn motion of Mr. Dawson, this report was posed the following resolution : referred to a Committee of the Whole for Mon
“Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, day.
that the Secretary of the Treasury be authorized and
directed to pay to General Kosciusko, the interest of TUESDAY, January 2.
six per cent. per annum, on $12,280 54, the amount
of the certificate received by him from the United JOHN FOWLER, from the State of Kentucky,
States, and now lost, from the 1st of January, 1789, appeared and took his seat.
to the 31st day of December, 1797."
This resolution was opposed by Messrs. MACON, General Kosciusko.
Cort, and J. WILLIAMS. They were opposed to Mr. Dawson moved the order of the day on interest being paid up to the present time, and the report of the Secretary of the Treasury on wished, if any provision were made for paying the claim of Gen. Kosciusko; which motion be- interest beyond the time fixed by the notificaing acceded to, the House resolved itself into a tion of the Treasury, that the regulation should Committee of the Whole, Mr. KITTERA in the
be a general one, and extend to all other foreign chair, and the report having been read, J officers. They were also against paying the
Mr. DAWSON said, when he had the honor of interest, which had been transmitted to Paris presenting this business to the House, he hoped for General Kosciusko's use, and which, by his the proposition he then submitted would have direction, was afterwards remitted to Leipsic been agreed to in that way, which, in his opinion, lor Dresden, as it most probably lay there, and would have been most honorable to the United would be paid to his order without their interStates, and most agreeable to the person con- ference. cerned. In this hope he had been disappointed; The motion was advocated by Messrs. VENA: but, though they differed as to the mode of doing BLE, PINOKNEY, J. PARKER, HARPER, GALLATIN, the business, there was but one opinion as to the land' T. CLAIBORNE, and was finally agreed to business itself. He had now a resolution to sub- without a division. mit to the consideration of the House, which he trusted would meet with no opposition. It would
WEDNESDAY, January 3. be found, by the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, that the accounting officers were ready
Duties on Distilled Spirits. to pay to General Kosciusko $12,280 principal,
PEACH BRANDY. and $2,947 interest, from 1785 to 1788. To re- Mr. HARPER moved the order of the day on cover those two sums, therefore, there would the bill to amend the several acts for laying a have been no occasion for application to that I duty on spirits distilled within the United