Page images

H. OF R.]
Duties on Distilled Spirits.

(JANUARY, 1798. States, and on stills; which motion being agreed The motion was supported by Messrs. Macon, to, thé House resolved itself into a Committee HARRISON, HARPER, J. PARKER, NICHOLAS, of the Whole on the subject, Mr. KITTERA in VENABLE, R. Williams, New, DENNIS

, T. Claithe chair. The bill having been read,

BORNE, and Clay. It was asserted that the Mr. Macon said, that the report of the Com- law as it now stood excluded four out of five of mittee of Ways and Means, on the proposition the owners of orchards, in the Southern States, for allowing distillers to take licenses for a from distilling their early fruit at all; that their week, having been referred to that committee, peaches ripened hastily, and as hastily rotted, if it were taken up at all, this was the proper if not made use of. Persons who had only fruit time. He should, therefore, propose an addition to employ their stills for three or four days, al section to the bill, to embrace this objection. sooner than take a license for a fortnight, suf

Mr. M. accordingly presented a section to fered their fruit to rot; and to allow licenses allow of weekly licenses.

for a week would produce a considerable aug. This motion produced a considerable debate. mentation of the revenue, since those persons It was opposed by Messrs. SewaLL, GRISWOLD, only would take such a license, who, if that GALLATIN, GORDON, and Brooks, on the ground privilege were not allowed, would not take out that the duty now paid upon spirits distilled a license at all, or such as had occasion to disfrom fruit (which description of distillers the til a few days longer after their two weeks' regulation was avowedly intended to accom- license was expired. It was unjust to require modate) was not equal to that paid by distillers a man, who had only a small orchard, and ocof grain, as the duty on spirits distilled from casion to use a still but a few days, to pay a fruit was not more than two and a half cents much higher duty upon his brandy than his per gallon, whilst that on spirits distilled from more opulent neighbor. It was not so inconsigrain paid seven cents; and if the amendments derable an object as gentlemen supposed, since were agreed to, this inequality would be in- it had not reference to one license only-farmcreased—for persons who took a license for å ers in the Southern States having occasion to week, by preparing their materials beforehand, take out separate licenses for their early, their and working night and day, would finish their middle, and their latter fruits ; and this regulabusiness within that time, which otherwise tion would not open a door to fraud, as was would have required a fortnight; by which supposed. It was an undeserved imputation means the duty would be reduced from six upon the characters of persons concerned in cents per gallon, on the capacity of their stills, this business, to suppose they could be tempted to four; that it would increase the temptation to defraud the revenue for the sake of half a to fraud, as that temptation was strong, or the cent per gallon upon what they could distil in contrary, in proportion to the length of time a day. The penalties consequent upon fraud, for which a license was taken; as a person tak- if the virtue of the persons concerned could not ing a license for a fortnight, by working his be relied upon, were sufficient to guard against still one day past the time specified in his them; and, if they were not, it could not be license would gain half a cent a gallon on the expected, as some gentlemen seemed to suppose, capacity of his still, whilst he who took out a that the excise officers should overlook the conlicense for six months would only gain half that duct of every distiller. If they were to be so sum. If licenses for a week were allowed, the inspected and scourged, an attempt to defraud temptation would therefore be increased; that the revenue could scarcely be blamed; and, ex: such a regulation would greatly augment the cept it were the intention of gentlemen to crush duties of excise officers, without rendering any this domestic manufacture, no reasonable objecmaterial advantages to individuals—since, if the tion could be urged against the proposition, owner of a still of fifty gallons took out a license The objections which had been urged proved for a fortnight, when a week might have serv- the ignorance of gentlemen in respect to this ed, he would only pay a dollar more than he branch of business; for though the excise officers would have paid for a week; that when this would have some trouble in issuing licenses, scale of duties was made, reference was had to it was believed they would be wel satisfied the situation of persons who would be obliged to encounter it, since their profits were in proto take out a license for a fortnight, though portion to the quantity of spirits distilled; and they might not have fruit to employ a still though this law had been but a short time in more than a few days, and a rate proportionably being, the last season, having been a scarce low adopted; that the same reasons which were fruit season, had given a good opportunity of urged for allowing licenses for a week might be trying it. As the application for this amendurged for allowing one for two days; that, ment was seconded by the whole of the Souththough there might be some inconveniences ex- ern country, it was entitled to respect, and ought perienced by the distillers of fruit, (as it was not not to be branded with being a fraudulent dedoubted there might be in other parts of the sign upon the revenue. law,) yet, as it was only just got into operation, In the course of the debate, Mr. GALLATIN it would not be right to enter into the propos- called upon gentlemen acquainted with the ed regulation, but fer it to the period when subject, to say

hat was

quantity of spirits it would most probably be necessary to go into which could be distilled from peaches in a & review of the whole law.

week by a still of the capacity of thirty, forty

JANTARY, 1798.]
Expenditure for Naval Service.

[H. OF R. or fifty gallons, with a view to show that this negatived. $500 a year for the four daughters species of spirits paid less at present than spirits for five years, he said, would be $10,000. He distilled from grain.

thought this a very serious sum. He again adMr. Clay answered this inquiry, by saying, verted to the situation of many of our own citthat a still of fifty gallons would distil from five izens, and called for the yeas and nays upon to seven gallons of brandy a day. If the the question. weather was wet, and the peaches rotted quick-! Mr. HARPER asked whether, if, when the ly, not more than five; but when the weather Count de Grasse was solicited to remain with was dry, and the peaches sound, seven gallons the fleet under his command in the Chesapeake, might be produced.

at his own risk and responsibility, he had asked The question on the amendment was at length as a condition that on some future day $10,000 put and carried-45 to 37.

should be granted to his daughters, would it Mr. DENNIS said, he wished to try another not have been complied with, if it had been principle in this bill. The law at present re- ten times that sum? And ought his descenquired an annual entry of stills, whether they'dants to be more hardly dealt with because were used or not, which occasioned persons fre- their father had the generosity and magnanimiquently to ride twenty or thirty miles to make ty not to make the demand ? He trusted not.* the entry, when they had no intention to make After some observations in favor of concuruse of their still; and not unfrequently, from ring with the Committee of the Whole in their not meeting with the officers at home, this vote, by Messrs. THATOHER, BROOKS, LIVINGjourney was taken two or three times over. ston, and GORDON; and against it by Messrs. Indeed, he believed, more penalties had been VARNUM, MODOWELL, and MAOON—the former incurred on account of this regulation than any of whom said that the clergy, in his part of the other, and he looked upon it as a useless regu- country, had not more than three hundred and lation. When a still was once entered, he thirty dollars a year; and the latter gentleman thought it was sufficient, and no future entry produced three cases of our own citizens who ought to be required, except when a still was bad lost their lives in the service of the United about to be made use of, or when it was trans- States, whose families had been much more ferred into other hands. Mr. D. proposed a hardly dealt with, viz: the family of a Lieutensection to this effect; but after some objections ant Colonel, who had four hundred and fifty to the introduction of so important a provision dollars a year granted them; that of a Major, into this bill, (which before it could be decided three hundred dollars a year; and that of the upon would require considerable discussion) by Marshal of Georgia, whose family had a grant Messrs. HAPTLEY, GALLATIN, and HARPER, he of two thousand dollars. The yeas and nays agreed to withdraw it for the present.

were taken-40 to 43. It having been agreed to fill the blank of the The question for allowing five hundred dolsam per gallon to be paid on the capacity of a lars a year being negatived, four hundred was still, when a license was taken for a week, with proposed and carried-46 to 34. four cents, the committee rose; the House took | The question being on the bill being engrossup the amendments, agreed to them, and the ed for a third reading, Mr. BLOUNT called for bill was ordered to be engrossed for a third the yeas and nays upon it. It was carried-55 reading to-morrow.

to 25.

MONDAY, January 15.
FRIDAY, January 5.

LEMUEL BENTON, from the State of South
Count de Grasse.

Carolina, appeared, and took his seat. Mr. LIVINGSTOn called for the order of the day on the bill for granting an annuity to the Expenditure for Naval Service. daughters of the late Count de Grasse; which Mr. LIVINGSTON called up for consideration being agreed to, the House resolved itself into I and decision the resolution which he had laid & Committee of the Whole on the subject, Mr. | upon the table a few days ago, for the appointDent in the chair; and, after a number of des.

ment of a committee of inquiry into the expenultory observations, the blanks were filled up, I diture of money which had been appropriated viz: the time for which the annuities should for the naval service. continue was fixed at five years, and the sum The House having agreed to take up this per annum to be allowed at $500 each. The businessfirst question was determined by a considerable Mr. HARPER said, he believed that the apmajority, there being 57 votes in favor of it; pointment of such a committee was very unthe latter was carried-46 to 38.

usual, without having some ground stated to The committee then rose and reported the the House for the proceeding. A vote of this amendments. They were all agreed to without a division, except the sum to be allowed per annum. When that question was put,

1 per an- | * Upon the request of General Washington the Count de

Grasse remained in the Chesapeake beyond the time which Mr. J. WILLIAMS hoped it would not be agreed his instructions allowed, risking all the penalties of insubor. to. When the subject was before under discus- dination, and by so doing did what was indispensable to the sion, the question on $500 and $400 had been | capture of Lord Cornwallis.

H. OF R.]
Expenditure for Naval Service.

(JANUARY, 1798. kind would imply a censure upon the conduct he did not think it would either have been beof our public officers, which certainly ought not coming or necessary to have again stated the to be done hastily, or without first having, at reasons which gave rise to this resolution, esleast, some ground of suspicion laid before them pecially as he felt an aversion to say any thing upon which to act. The House had not yet which might be unnecessary, or which might received the statements which had been called tire those who heard him. Mr. L. said, that he , for relative to this business; they were di- had before observed that the patience of the 'rected to be laid before the House in the last House had been worn out by the repeated apweek in January, and might, therefore, be soon plications which had been made for money for expected.

this object; that the expense had exceeded all (Several gentlemen said it was the first, and belief; that the most extended imagination not the last week in January, in which the ac- could not have conceived an amount like that counts had been ordered to be laid before the which Congress had from time to time been House.]

blindly led to appropriate. But the proposition Mr. H. said the delay, he supposed, had been was objected to, because it would cast an odium occasioned by the officers having been obliged upon our officers. This he was perfectly indifto remove from the city during the fever. He ferent about. Whatever might be the private had, however, been informed that these state- opinion he had of the characters of these offiments would be ready in a few days. And cers, however incapable he might believe them would it not be extraordinary, he asked, if, be- of doing wrong, or of acting corruptly, yet, fore they received these statements, they were when his duty called upon him to make an into appoint a committee of inquiry? He thought quiry into the expenditure of public money, he it would. He believed the officers of this de- was deaf to all considerations of a private napartment of Government were very desirous of ture. But, in this case, he did not see the nethe inquiry taking place; but this was not a cessity for this remark.' The House had been sufficient reason for the House to proceed in told (he believed by the gentleman from South the business without having first some ground Carolina himself) that the extraordinary exto suppose the money had been misapplied, and pense had been occasioned by our inexperience this he believed could not be ascertained until in business of this kind, by the high price of lathe expected statements were before the House. bor, materials, &c. If this were the case, the When these were looked into, it was possible result of the inquiry would be honorable to the House might be satisfied with respect to the those concerned, and highly satisfactory to the expenditure of the money, and it would, there. House. It was a proceeding which our public fore, be improper to appoint a committee to in- officers ought to wish for; nay, gentlemen say uirt into a matter which might so shortly they do wish for it. appear satisfactory. If, on the other hand, these But, Mr. L. said, it had been alleged, that the accounts should not be satisfactory, he would statements ordered a year ago to be laid before readily concur in the appointment of a commit- the House during the first week in this month, tee of inquiry.

should be waited for before any inquiry took Mr. J. WILLIAMS said, the gentleman from place. He would reply, if these officers had South Carolina ought to recollect that the in- not, in the mean time, called upon the House for quiry was produced by a further appropriation a fresh supply of money, this inquiry would not being called for. It might be best to defer the have been thought of. Besides, the accounts inquiry until the accounts which had been call- asked for last year would not give the satisfaced for were laid before the House ; and he tion required. The request only extended to all should have been satisfied with the business the expenditures previous to the 1st of January, taking that course, if a further appropriation 1797. "The House would wish to know what had not been called for in the mean time. But had been expended since, and they had no reawhen they are called upon to appropriate a son to expect further information than was further sum of money for any object, it was asked for. Mr. L. said every member who was natural to inquire what was become of that al- present at the time must remember that whenready voted; and the only way of doing this ever the House bad been applied to for further was to appoint a committee who would look appropriations, they had been told that the into all the different statements which had from frigates would be ready for sea at such and time to time been laid before the House, and such a time; and that they would then bear those which might shortly be communicated, our flag triumphantly over the ocean, And and state their opinion thereon to the House. yet, though the House had been four or five He thought those gentlemen who were most times deceived by these representations, they friendly to the frigates ought not to oppose the were told there was no ground for inquiry. appointment of a committee; because, if it For his part, he should consider himself as negshould appear that the money had been justly lecting his duty were he not to call for this inexpended, there would be little objection to a quiry immediately; for, if the House were to further appropriation.

wait a week for the statements called for, they Mr. Livingston said, from the full discussion might wait another for their being printed; of this subject, which, though incidentally pro- they might then be found to be deficient, fresh duced, had taken place on a former occasion, I statements might be necessary, and the session

JANUARY, 1798.]
Naval Expenditure.

(H. OF R. might expire without effecting the wished for the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Harinquiry. He thought all parts of the House PER) would prevent any inquiry whatever; for ought to favor the inquiry; for, he believed, if he stated that the House ought not to pass the it should appear that frigates could not be built present resolution, because certain statements for less than $500,000 a piece, the project of a had not been received, and because to pass it navy ought to be given up; but if, on the other would be to imply a censure on our officers. hand, difficulties and expenses had occurred in So that on this ground no inquiry could be gone the commencement of this business, which into without statements, as the House could not would not return, and their frigates may in fu- obtain statements without passing a resolution, tore be built for half the sum, (which was his that resolution would be construed into a cenopinion, there would be some encouragement sure, and therefore ought not to be passed.. to proceed in the business.

This Mr. G. thought a very improper doctrine. Mr. SEWALL was sorry that the gentleman It would never be in the power of the House to from South Carolina (Mr. HARPER) had given decide upon the propriety of statements by the occasion, and that the gentleman last up barely having them laid upon the table. had so eagerly seized it, to thwart any measures which might be necessary for the general de

MONDAY, January 15. fence, by ridiculing the resources of the country. The present, he said, was a time of danger

Naval Expenditure. and apprehension, and thus to talk of the re- Mr. GALLATIN stated the different estimates sources of the United States added to the appre-which had been made to the House. In 1794, bension and the danger. The gentleman from he said, they were told that $688,000 would be South Carolina had said, that to pass this reso- sufficient to build six frigates. In 1796, they lution would be to pass an odium upon our were informed there had been a mistake in the public officers. He did not think so. He matter, but that with $80,000 more three would thought an inquiry of this kind at all times be finished. In January, 1797, the House was proper where there was any doubt as to the again called upon for $172,000; in July, in the expenditure of money. He agreed with the same year, for $200,000, and now for $150,000 gentleman from New York, that the inquiry more. Such calculations, he thought, wholly (if it had a favorable issue, which he did not unaccountable. doubt) would forward the design of providing Mr. NICHOLAS did not understand what the a navy; as it would appear that the extraordi- gentleman from Connecticut meant by saying nary expenses had been such as it would not be that this was wholly Executive business. He necessary to incur in future. He was, there did not believe, because the PRESIDENT had told fore, sorry to hear the gentleman from New the House that he was about to hold a treaty, York first op (Mr. WILLIAMS) say he should be that the money must be granted, and that the disinclined to vote any further appropriation House had no choice whether they would apuntil he saw how the last had been expended. propriate it or not. From what had already However improvidently the money already ap- been said upon the subject, he doubted not propriated had been expended, yet, in order to there was a pretty general disposition to grant Secure what had been voted, and to keep the the money; but it was not proper that the MesWork in progress, they ought to vote a further sage should be sent to the Committee of Ways sum, as soon as wanted, whether the statements and Means, as if an appropriation was a thing called for were received or not.

of course; to do this, would be to act at the comMr. LIVINGSTON desired to know wherein he mand of the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES ; had attempted to ridicule the resources of this whereas the House could only act upon the full country? The gentleman from Massachusetts exercise of its discretion. He therefore moved must excuse him when he asserted he had never that the Message be referred to the Committee made a more hasty or unfounded charge. If of the Whole, which had already this subject he had either ridiculed the resources, or thwart- under consideration. ed any measures for the general defence of the Mr. GALLATIN believed the gentleman from United States, it must have arisen from a weak Connecticut had not considered this subject with judgment, and not from any intention of doing his usual correctness. That gentleman had said 80. But he was certain nothing which had that the Message before them ought to go to fallen from him could be so construed.

the Committee of Ways and Means, and that Mr. SEWALL acquitted the gentleman from an appropriation should follow as a thing of New York of any intention of lowering the ap course. It must be known that this was pearances of the resources of this country; but contrary to the practice of that House, or of he appealed to the House whether he bad not any former Legislature of the United States. spoken of this fleet with a degree of ridicule, On the contrary, it was usual, first to authorize When he represented it as governing the ocean. an expense, and in the next place to appropriate; It appeared so to him at least.

and in no case had the business been reversed. Ur. HARPER again insisted upon the impro- If the Message were referred to the Committee priety of going into this measure, from reasons of Ways and Means, all they could do, would similiar to those which he had already given. be to bring it back to the House, and ask for an

Mr. GALLATIN said, that the ground taken by l authority for the expense. He believed the gen

H. OF R.]
Foreign Intercourse.

[JANUARY, 1798 tleman from Connecticut had been led into this. The recommendation was concurred in by the mistake by considering the Message announcing House. the intention of the PRESIDENT to hold a treaty as a treaty made; and had that been the case,

Civil Appropriation for 1798. according to that gentleman's known opinion,

On motion of Mr. HARPER, the House resolvhe would consider the House as bound to maké ed itself into a Committee of the Whole on the the necessary appropriation; but he desired him report of the Committee of Ways and Means to recollect that no treaty was yet made; and,

for providing for the expenses of the civil detherefore, that that doctrine could not apply in

partment for the year 1798, and the blanks the present case.

being filled (except in a few cases, in which Mr. RUTLEDGE did not believe it was neces

they were left in blank) according to the estisary or proper for that House to authorize the mate which bad been laid before the House, the PRESIDENT to hold a treaty: but if it were ne- committee rose, the House concurred, and the cessary for him to hold å treaty, the concur- bill was ordered to be reported accordingly. rence of that House was necessary to enable him to do it, as it could not be done without

THURSDAY, January 18. money. It was requisite, therefore, to pass a The SPEAKER laid before the House a commubill, not to authorize the PRESIDENT to hold a nication from the Secretary of War, enclosing treaty, but to enable him to do it. It was best, an estimate of the appropriations necessary for therefore, for the communication first to go to holding a treaty with the Cherokee Indians, the Committee of the Whole, and afterwards which was in substance as follows: to the Committee of Ways and Means, in order for three commissioners, ninety days, at for them to say where the money could be got. eight dollars per day •

- $2,160 There was something in this case which pointed Incidental expenses of do.

- 360 out this mode as peculiarly proper, as there | Secretary, at four dollars per day • 360 seemed to be a disposition in the House, if the Rations of two thousand Indians - 15,000 treaty should not succeed agreeably to the Presents to the Indians

· 5,000 wishes of the PRESIDENT, to afford temporary re- Stores for the commissioners

. 2,000 lief to the persons now suffering from being Incidental expenses

• 1,200 driven from their land. The gentleman from Connecticnt had said, that the Committee of

25,880 Ways and Means could report an estimate of the probable expense which would be incurred. This statement was referred to the Commitin holding the treaty; but if he attended to the tee of the Whole to whom was referred the Message of the PRESIDENT, he would find that former Message of the President on this subthis estimate was to be laid before the Houseject. by the proper department, so that there was no

Persons Imprisoned for Debt. necessity of a reference to any committee for that purpose.

The following Message, with the papers to The motion for a reference to the Committee

which they refer, was received from the PRESIof the whole was carried, without a division. DENT OF THE UNITED STATES :

Gentlemen of the Senate, and · William Alexander.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives : On motion of Mr. GREGG, the House went A representation has been made to me, by the into a Committee of the Whole on the report Judge of the Pennsylvania district of the United of the Committee of Claims on the petition of States, of certain inconveniences and disagreeable William Alexander, surveyor of Army lands. circumstances, which have occurred in the execution After reading a number of papers relative to

of papers relative to of the law passed on the 28th day of May, 1786, the subject, the report, which went to author

entitled “ An act for the relief of persons imprisoned ize the Treasury to settle the accounts of the

for debt," as well as of certain doubts which have petitioner, was agreed to, the committee rose,

been raised concerning its construction ; this repre

sentation, together with a report of the Attorney the House concurred, and a bill was directed to

General on the same subject, I now transmit to Conbe brought in accordingly.

gress, for their consideration, that if any amendments General Kosciusko.

or explanations of that law may be thought advisable,

they may be adopted. Mr. PINCKNEY, from the committee appoint

JOHN ADAMS. ed to confer with the Senate on the disagree-| UNITED STATES, January 18, 1798. ment between the two Houses on the bill for the payment of interest to General Kosciusko, This Message, with the papers accompanying reported, that finding the business could be set it, was referred to the same Committee of the tled in a manner equally advantageous to the Whole to whom was referred the report on the General, by agreeing to the amendment of the petition of William Bell. Senate, as by the mode originally proposed, the committee recommend it to the House to recede

Diplomatic Intercourse Bill. from their disagreement to the Senate's amend | Mr. NICHOLAB inquired with what suins the ment.

blanks in the bill were to be filled.

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