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ately antecedent to the operation of the Government, and to contrast it with the calamities in which the state of war still involves several of the European nations, as the reflections deduced from both tend to justify as well as to excite a warmer admiration of our free constitution, and to exalt our minds to a more fervent and grateful sense of piety towards Almighty God for the beneficence of His providence, by which its Administration has been hitherto so remarkably distinguished.
"Au'l while we entertain a grateful conviction that your wise, firm, and patriotic Administration has been signally conducive to the success of the present form of government, we cannot forbear to express the deep sensations of regret with which we contemplate your intended retirement from office.
"As no other suitable occasion may occur, we cannot suffer the present to pass without attempting to disclose some of the emotions which it cannot fail to awaken.
"The gratitude and admiration of your countrymen are still drawn to the recollection of those resplendent virtues and talents which were so eminently instrumental to the achievement of the Revolution, and of which that glorious event will ever be the memorial Your obedience to the voice of duty and your country, when yon quitted reluctantly, a second time, the retreat you had chosen, and first accepted the Presidency, afforded a new proof of the devotedness of your zeal in its service, and an earnest of the patriotism and success which have characterized your Administration. As the grateful confidence of the citizens in the virtues of their Chief Magistrate has essentially contributed to that success, we persuade ourselves that the millions whom we represent, participate with us in the anxious solicitude of the present occasion.
"Yet we cannot be unmindful that your moderation and magnanimity, twice displayed by retiring from your exalted stations, afford examples no less rare and instructive to mankind, than valuable to a Republic.
"Although we are sensible that this event, of itself, completes the lustre of a character already conspicuously unrivalled by the coincidence of virtue, talents, success, and public estimation; yet we conceive we owe it to you, sir, and still more emphatically to ourselves and to Our nation, (of the language of whose hearts we presume to think ourselves at this moment the faithful interpreters,) to express the sentiments with which it is contemplated.
"The spectacle of a free and enlightened nation offering, by its Representatives, the tribute of unfeigned approbation to its first citizen, however novel and interesting it may be, derives all its lustre (a lustre which accident or enthusiasm could not bestow, and which adulation would tarnish) from the transcendent merit of which it is the voluntary testimony.
"May you long enjoy that liberty which is so dear to you, and to which your name will ever be so dear; may yonr own virtues and a nation's prayers obtain the happiest sunshine for the decline of your days and the choicest of future blessings. For our country's sake, for the sake of Republican liberty, it is our earnest wish that your example may be the guide of your successors; and thus, after being the ornament and safeguard of the present age, become the patrimony of our descendants."
To which the President made the following Reply:
"Gentlemex: To a citizen whose views were tm ambitious, who preferred the shade and tranquillity c private life, to the splendor and solicitude of elevate stations, and whom the voice of duty and his countr could alone have drawn from his chosen retreat, n reward for his public services can be so grateful a public approbation, accompanied by a eonsciou-snes that to render those services useful to that countr has been his single aim: and when this approbatio is expressed by the Representatives of a free and et lighted nation, the reward will admit of no additiot Receive, gentlemen, my sincere and affectjonat thanks for this signal testimony that my service have been acceptable and useful to my coon try. Tfa strong confidence of my fellow-citizens, while it an mated all my actions, ensured their zealous cc—opera tion, which rendered those services successful. Tit virtue and wisdom of my successors, joined with ti patriotism and intelligence of the citizens who con: pose the other branches of Government, I firm! trust, will lead them to the adoption of measure which, by the beneficence of Providence, will git stability to our system of Government, add to its sue cess, and secure to ourselves and to posterity tha liberty which is to all of us so dear.
"While I .acknowledge, with pleasure, the since! and uniform disposition of the House of Represents fives to preserve our neutral relations inviolate, ant with them, deeply regret any degree of in terraptio of our good understanding with the French Republic I beg you, gentlemen, to rest assured that my endea vors will be earnest and unceasing, by all honorab] means, to preserve peace, and to restore that harmon and affection which have heretofore so happily sut sisted between our two nations; and with you, cherish the pleasing hope that a mutual spirit of juf ticc and moderation will crown those endeavors wit success.
"I shall cheerfully concur in the beneficial mea sures which your deliberations shall mature on th various subjects demanding yonr attention. An while directing your labors to advance the real ir terests of our country, you receive its blessings; wit perfect sincerity my individual wishes will be offer? for your present and future felicity.
'« G. WASHINGTON."
The members then returned to the Hous< and having resumed their places, the Speiake presented a copy of the Pbesident'b Answer t the Clerk; which he read.
Monday, December 19. John Hathobn, from New York, and Joir Milledob, from Georgia, appeared and too their seats.
A new member, to wit, Elisiia R. Potter, froi Rhode Island, in the place of Benjamin Botjbxi resigned, appeared, produced his credentials, We qualified, and took his seat in the House.
Monday, December 26. National University. Mr. Habpeb moved the order of the day, fc the House to go into a committee on the estal lishment of a National University. The Hons accordingly formed itself into a committeeMr. Coit in the chair. When the report was read, Mr. Maoon sai Dkexbkk, 1796.]
there was the word "appropriation " in the report. He did not recollect any having been msde for that purpose. He wished to know wh.it was meant?
Mr. Cbaiz said, authority was given for the Pbesident to appropriate about twenty acres of land for the erection of this building; this hi supposed to be what was meant.
Mr. Nicholas said, that some time or other the institution of a Seminary in this District may be of use, but at present, and in the manner contemplated in this report, it would not do. If carried into effect thus, it will sometime need an appropriation. We are now, said Mr. X., going into the subject, but we know not to what lengths it may carry us; we do not know where it will end. ne did not think the time had arrived to incorporate a company for Gilding a National University. It would be taking money from those districts of country which can do for themselves, and would receive no benefit from this institution. It would be inconvenient and inconsistent for people living at a considerable distance to send their children V> this University; besides, he thought, the forther children are from home, by being less under the eye of their parents, the more their morals would bo injured. If it be a National University, it must be for the use of the nation. It will then be necessary to open funds for the purpose of its support. It is recommended by the President, it is true; but this is no argument why we should precipitate the business: it is the last time he will have an opportunity to address this House, and it being an object he should like to see encouraged when it was practicable, he took that opportunity to express it. We are not now in a situation to forward its establishment. It may be done at some time, but Mr. N. thought it would be many years first. That district of country would be many years before it could encourage the hope of such a plan prospering. He thought gentlemen from other parts of the Union would not say they wanted it for their youth. He thought if the House once entered into the snbject, the responsibility would fall on it to keep up the institution.
Mr. Haeper said, it did not appear to him that the gentleman last up had attended sufficiently to this report, for he seemed to be much mistaken as to its principle. There was nothing in it that contemplated pledging the United States to find funds for its support; nor was it the object of the report to establish a National University. He agreed with the gentleman, tiiat we were not arrived at a period for such in institution. But gentlemen would see that the object of the commissioners was not to establish a National University or obtain money from the United States, but their direct object wis, to be incorporated, so as to be enabled to receive such legacies and donations as may be presented to the institution, and hold it in trust kt that purpose. The President had already siven nineteen acres of land, and signified his
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intention to give fifty shares in the Potomac canal whenever there was proper authority to receive endowments. It appears that there is no authority at present. The memorial goes no further than to authorize them to receive such benefactions as may be made, and hold them in trust. How far, then, this went towards involving this House in its support, he should leave the good sense of gentlemen to judge. Mr. H. thought the amount of this memorial could not have any evil tendency, but it may have a good one; for which reason he hoped it would be agreed to.
Mr. Baldwin did not know any thing, according to his present views, which could be injurious in the report. At present it seemed favorable to him. He had two principal ideas in his mind, which made it appear so; if neither of which was cleared up otherwise, he should vote for it. The first thing he should ask was, Is such a thing desirable? And then, Is there a Seminary so near the spot contemplated, as to make it hostile in this House to encourage this University? lie believed there was none that this will injure, but that an establishment like this would be very agreeable in that District. If it was desirable, who could undertake it, who encourage it, like this House? The^ could not do it themselves. If, then, the step is a proper one, it can never be too soon to commence it, although it may bo many years before it may be wanted. The objection may be, that it would bo wrong to incorporate a Literary Society; but we have frequent instances of incorporation, and nothing can prove it improper, since no pecuniary aid is required, no grant of money is asked. If it was, I should, like the gentleman before me, (Mr. Nicholas,) disapprove of it, but not now seeing reason to object, I shall vote for the report.
Mr. Ckaik.—After the caution the committee had observed in forming their report, to prevent objections, I am sorry they should he charged with things they do not in the least merit. If the report contemplated the raising a fund for the support of this institution from the United States, there might have been some ground for gentlemen's objections; but, as there is not the most distant view of such a thing, I am surprised to hear it objected to. I did not expect it from that gentleman, (Mr. Nicholas.) I did not expect to hear him say, that institutions of this kind were not wanted there; it might have come better from gentlemen residing in more distant parts of the United States.
If this subject was now before the House, sir, I should not be against proving, at this time, that it is the duty of the United States to establish a University, and that the sooner it was done the better. But, as this is not the case, as we are only asked to permit its encouragement, by allowing these people to receive benefactions, how can we refuse? Shall we shut the door against individual benevolence? There are appropriations already* made to this institution. There is a fund now of fifty shares in the H. Of R.]
canal, which is now valuable and increasing in value daily. I think the situation for this purpose very good; and the probable increase of the city of Washington will induce many persons to benevolence for this purpose. I know of no situation more central, and believe there is no place of the kind in its neighborhood; and from an established knowledge it would be a very useful and desirablo institution, shall vote for it.
Mr. W. Lyman.—As far as I can understand, the land which is now to be appropriated for this University is the property of the United States. Does not th is look as though the United States are to patronize and support the establishment? If we take this step, I shall very much wonder if our next is not to be called upon to produce money. I do not expect much from the liberality of individuals; and can it be expected that people from the remote parts of the United States will send their children to this Seminary? Surely not; and consequently their money will be lost. It will be a natural source of discontent to them to pay their money merely for others to obtain the advantage. It may be very good for people thereabout, but remote parts cannot derive the least advantage from tie institution. We are going quite too fast into this business, without attending to probable consequences.
I think it would have been more proper, if these people had only wanted this power, for them to have applied to the State Legislature of Maryland; it would be more to their interest and duty to encourage a Seminary if one is wanted in that place. They have sufficient power vested in them to encourage all such laudable undertakings. For us to encourage this would be to do injury, instead of having a number of schools planted in various parts, they are now all to centre in one; and the people are to neglect all to support this one; as others would become very weak.
I flatter myself to have as liberal sentiments on such institutions as other gentlemen, but I do sincerely think small academies are as useful as this institution for a University. The large institutions are generally out of the reach of people in general, and of the middling class in particular. These small academies have produced many eminent literary characters in the country. If it should be necessary at any time to form a Seminary for the use of that District, Congress would not refuse its encouragement; but to draw money for a National University I hope they never will agree. But gentlemen say this is not asked; true it is not at this time, but there is that in the principle that will most certainly lead to it.
Mr. Dayton (the Speaker) said, if it should ever be the policy of the United States to establish a National University, he was of opinion this was an improper time for making the decision. He did not believe the committee who made the report meant to do more than had been stated; but the effect, he said, would be
what he predicted; this measure would be looked upon as an entering wedge, and they should hereafter be told they must go through with it. If gentlemen were prepared to sanction an institution of this kind they would of course do it; he was not prepared to vote for the measure, but should give it his negative.
Mr. Nicholas said he had not been convinced by the observations of gentlemen who had spoken in favor of this report that all the mischiefs would not follow this measure which he before predicted. He inquired into the purpose of establishing a National University. The Pbesident had said (and the commissioners after him) it was to establish a uniformity of principles and manners throughout the Union. This, he believed, could not be effected by any institution. If, said he, you incorporate men to build a University, are you not pledging yourselves to make up any deficiency? and, as the building must be commensurate •with the object, they would have an enormous empty house continually calling upon them for contributions to its support. Whatever moderation had been observed in framing this report, Mr. N. said it was like many others which came before them: it was so covered as not to show half the mischiefs which would attend it. If a plan of education was wanted for that District, let members from that part of the country say so, and he would be ready to afford thetn every necessary assistance; but he would not think of going into the scheme of a National University.
The district of country from whence it came might stand in great need of seminaries of learning, as had been hinted by the gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. Ceaik,) but their ignorance must continue until they were sensible of their want of instruction. He believed there wa< no Fedoral quality in knowledge, and no Federal aid was necessary to the spreading of it. Every district of country was competent to provide for the education of its own citizens, and he shouM not give his countenance to the national plan proposed, because the expense would be enormous, and because he did not think it would be attended with any good effect, bnt with much evil.
If a University is wanted for the use of that District, or any other part, Mr. N. said he would give it all the encouragement possible, bnt he could not agree to go to such great lengths—lengths which were not yet explored.
Mr. R. Spbigo considered the report before them as of a very harmless nature. The PreSident, he said, had appropriated land upon which to erect the University in question. They were not called upon to sanction that appropriation. His power to give it was full and ample. The thing was done, and he had promised a future donation. The apprehensions of the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Nicholas) seemed to arise from his conceiving they were about to sanction a National University, such as had been recommended by the Peesimsnt. If thi3 were the case, although the Representative December, 1796.]
of that District, he should not give his vote in rapport of the measure. On the contrary, he <4id, they were called upon merely to authorize proper persons to receive donations for a University. What sort of institution this should be, would be for the future consideration of Congress. Mr. S. said he shonld always bo wady to give his support to every measure which liad a tendency to spread knowledge throughout the United States, as he believed the progress of knowledge and liberty would accompany each other. The gentleman from Virginia seemed to think this institution would niily benefit a small circle. He did not think the"State of Maryland would be much benefited by it. as they had already two good universities; bat he thought it doing no more than justice to the owners of property in the Federal City that this institution should bo encouraged. What was asked of them would not commit them at all for any thing further, and it would \<e a mean of tnrning the attention of the people to the support of an institution of this kind. For these reasons, he hoped the House would agree to the report.
Mr. LmxosTOS said he had thought, like the gentleman last up, that there was nothing in it bnt what wa< perfectly harmless, until, recurring t» the law for establishing the permanent seat of Government, that something more might be intended than the eye could at first discover. Mr. L. said, he turned the thing a variety of way3 in his mind, and could not account for fome of its obscurities. If nothing was intended bnt a mere incorporation, why not apply to the State that could incorporate such a body? Something further seemed to be intended: public patronage was wanted to support tins institution. They were called upon, at a moment's notice, to give their encouragement to this National Institution. It is true, they were called upon from very respectable authority. They were not called upon to appropriate the publicfunds to this purpose; bnt how far the commissioners are justifiable in laying out public lands for that purpose, he knew not. He had not the law itself at hand, but he was doubtful about the just disposal of it, if in this manner. This land was for public use. The use of this land was to erect buildings on for the benefit of Congress; and if these commissioners had pjwer to appropriate it for building a National rniversity on, they had the same power to give it or make use of it for any other purpose. Such institutions are not public, but private concerns.
This, said Mr. L., I view as the effects of the recitation, were it to be adopted; bnt I would Ml be thought as in the least reflecting on the Jatires of the gentleman who brought it forward. I believe it will operate (as a gentleman has justly said) as an "entering-wedge;" and at sme future time we shall be told, we must go fa—now we have encouraged its institution, we ffl"Et support it. We shall hear more about it at & future day. Gentlemen tell you, sir, that
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nothing is intended, but merely to permit its institution. Why cannot they obtain this power which is asked of us of the State where it is wanted? The laws there will permit it, and, most likely, it could be obtained. If this report is agreed to, the time will arrive when this institution will pretend to a just claim on this House for its support; and the reasons they will then urge will have a force which will not be easily repelled.
Mr. Madisox said he was very far from considering, with some gentlemen, that this is a question of right or policy. These ideas are not comprehended in the present question. It is not whether Congress ought to interpose in behalf of this institution or not; it is whether Congress will encourage an establishment which is to be supported entirely independent of them. He did not consider it would ask a single farthing from us, nor that it would pledge Congress to endow the establishment with any support The State of Virginia thought proper, during the war, to present the President with fifty shares in the Potomac canal, in consideration of his services, which he refused accepting for his own use. He has now offered to give it to this Seminary.* Some other individuals have likewise destined part of their land for its support, and other benefactions may he expected. The amount of this motion before the committee is whether wo will grant power and security to persons to receive such donations in trust for the institution? He conceived it only in this simple point of view, and he thought if it was worthy of patronage, it ought to be from the United States.
The gentleman from New York (Mr. LivingSton) seems to say it is not necessary for Congress to interpose, as the laws of Maryland allow that Legislature power to do it, and they are the most proper. Congress has the sole jurisdiction over that District: it is not with the power of that Legislature. Their power in that District could only operate by virtue of a grant from the United States; although it is necessary, until that District becomes the permanent seat of Government, the laws of Maryland should be in force there. This being the situation, the commissioners applied to Congress to give them the power to receive benefactions.
Another thing which gentlemen had objected to, is its being called a National University. The report does not call it so; it calls it "A University in the District of Columbia;" which, he thought, was materially different. Congress may form regulations for institutions which may he very good, and yet, not be viewed as national institutions. It was in this qualified light (for he wished not to consider it a burden on the nation) he meant to vote for the report.
• Valued by a speaker In this debate at £.1000 sterling, and afterwards given to the Washington OWlege, Lexington, Va,
Mr. Spbiggs said it had been inquired why the Legislature of Maryland could not have granted the commissioners what they now pray for? He answered that they could make no law for that District which should extend beyond the time at which the seat of Government was to be removed there. He mentioned some instances that had taken place while lie was a member of that Legislature. This, he said, accounted for the application of the commissioners to Congress.
On motion, the committee rose, and had leave to sit again.
Tuesday, December 27. Dempsey Bi-rges, from North Carolina, appeared, and took his seat.
The order of the day was called for on the report of the committee to whom was referred the memorial of the commissioners of the Federal City, and that part of the President's Speech, which referred to the establishment of a National University. The Ilouse accordingly resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole on that subject, when the resolution, reported by the select committee, having been read, no gentleman rising on the subject, the Chairman inquired if the committee were ready for the question, and on being answered in the affirmative, the question was put and negatived by a great majority.
The committee rose, and the Chairman reported their disagreement with the select committee.
The House then took up the subject.
Mr. Murray rose, expressing his great surprise at the unexpected decision on the question in the committee. lie was very much surprised to see the committee so changed, no opposition, and yet the report so quickly negatived; surely gentlemen must have mistaken the question. It is matter of regret such an important subject should have so little consideration. The language of the report is perfectly moderate and just. The gentleman from Virginia, yesterday, gave us to understand that this institution was to draw its support from the National Treasury; but on examining the report I can find no such idea held out or intended; and also he told us this was a National University. The gentleman's observations are grounded in mistake, or it was effected by an imagination of evils, of which there could not be the most distant apprehension. If we refer to the memorial of the commissioners we shall see they ask no money from Congress; they only ask yon to erect a number of gentlemen into a corporate capacity to enable them to receive donations from those who are well disposed towards instituting a useful Seminary in that District; this is no more than they have a right to expect from Congress, and is the duty of Congress to grant. Yet the determination of the Committee of the whole House has been oarried
against this very desirable and reasonable request. I would again repeat that the language of the memorial is only to enable them to support a seminary of learning in that place, ana not a single shilling is asked from the nation. They only want a medium to act upon—an act of incorporation.
The President has generously signified LU intention to make a valuable benefaction, not less than £5000 sterling, and the wise and good in all parts of the United States would probably follow his example, particularly in that neighborhood, if Congress would put them in a way to receive it; a building would then be begun and some advances made towards the execution of the institution, in proportion to the fund. Instead of allowing this to be the case, every possible view has been given unfavorable to the plan, and every possible supposition formed, though without grounds, which could tend to blast it. The ideas of gentlemen have been inferred that a large empty house would arise;— that it would draw from the United States funds for its support. It may be possible, but it is no way probable. Is it not more probable that these gentlemen, knowing they cannot expect national support, will keep themselves within the bounds of their funds, if they mean to carry on the institution? Certainly this seems most consistent with the wisdom and prudence of men in that capacity. Nothing is asked of the public in the report of the select committee:—nothing they have a right to ask. I therefore hope, as the request is perfectly reasonable, gentlemen will not be too hasty to oppose such a measure without due consideration.
Mr. Cbatk.—I must confess I feel as much surprised as my colleague on the decision which has just been given in the Committee of the Whole. Some gentlemen who opposed the report yesterday conceived there was some secret poison lurking within it—some dangerous principle not to be discovered on its face, which would some time produce baneful influences— this has been insinuated though not directly said. If so it must come there by accident, or of itself, which those gentlemen must allow if they will give themselves the trouble to examine the true principle of it, and give it a just decision. When we examine the materials of which this report has been formed, viz: the President's communication on this subject in his Speech, and the memorial of the commissioners ;—we should be led by those gentlemen to believe, that this, which is the groundwork of the report, is connected to convey something which may extend further than it seems to carry its object; this perhaps is the secret poison hinted at. Were I in the situation of the President, I am free to confess, had I studied my own feelings and the great use of the institution, I should have recommended it. It has been justly said, that the President, from the impulsive imi>ortance of it, has taken this opportunity—this last opportunity to recommend