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[H. OF R. it. He has recommended it with earnestness; I before we commence a building and project the which gives an additional proof of his sincere plan I have long thought that in this young regard for the welfare of his country. I hope country such a thing was necessary. It should this will not be conceived in favor of the idea be now begun, to grow up with its growth and suggested. The commissioners seemed to have strengthen with its strength. We should now anticipated the objections which have been lay the corner-stone-the foundation to build made to a National University, and have pur- upon. Though such a Seminary cannot be esposely avoided inserting it in their memorial. tablished now, it may fifty years hence; and it They have cherished similar ideas which I have, can never be too soon to commence a good inof the eligibility of such an institution, but stitution. We are not called upon to travel foreseeing that plan would not be approved, they into the fields of speculation for the purpose of have relinquished that, and only requested in finding funds to support this plan; there are corporation to enable them to act in trust for funds which present themselves to view. We the institution. They do not call upon this only want a grant to secure the benefactions in House to put their hand into the Public Trea- prospect. The PRESIDENT has employed a sury; they seem to have possessed somewhat handsome benefaction for this purpose; and I of the prophetic, to see the necessity of form- much wonder that gentlemen from that part of ing their memorial so little objectionable; and the Union should oppose measures that would yet there is supposed to be danger in this simple only encourage its reception. When I take a request.
view of the extent of country which lies much Gentlemen have supposed a responsibility, a / in want of a Seminary, I feel surprised that peculiar obligation to support it, would be at- such measures towards its growth should be tached to the United States, were they to give denied. this privilege. As well might it be said that If there are any gentlemen here who oppose Congress, by allowing a bridge to be built, or a the advancement and growth of that District road to be eat, would incur the expense, or if it which they have taken under their wing, they could not otherwise be done for want of money should come forward and declare it; we then in the applicants, would be engaged to do it for should have ground to account for their conthem at the national expense. If there are ob- duct. If we are determined to deny these jeetions of force in one instance they will apply people common justice, we dispirit them. There to the other. If this is denied it proves that is no circumstance which can occur that will District to be wretched outcasts, being denied a tend so much to discourage the growth of that request the most reasonable, natural, and just that State; if we forbear to do them this justice, can be contemplated. Many of the objections we exclude them looking up for those common urged, indeed most of them, against the admis- rights which could be enjoyed in any other sion of this report, do not go so much to the Territory of the United States. I hope this exclusion of the measure, as to the danger of House will never deny to that people, rising Legislative interference. Gentlemen say, if we into existence, this small privilege. Is it a move in itif we put our hands at all to it, we strange thing, I would ask gentlemen, for a State pledge ourselves to effect it. If this is the to grant charters? I answer, no. And for situation with the people of Columbia, the year this State to be denied this privilege only to 1800 will be a woful year to them; this is an un-secure a fund for such an excellent institution, happy presage of the jurisdiction to be exercised | I believe is quite a novel idea. I hope if there on that country. If it is inexpedient for that are any doubts on this subject, they will lie District to have a Seminary of Learning, let over for future consideration; and I hope we gentlemen who could state it with truth, come shall be careful not to damp the attempts of forward and say so. If the objections of gentle- that people by a conduct which could not be men are not grounded on the danger of this refused by any State in the Union; and that House pledging itself to support the institution Congress should refuse it without assigning a nor on the inexpediency of such a thing in that sufficient reason is unprecedented. I hope it District, I am at a loss, for my soul, to conceive will lie over for future consideration, and not on what ground their objections are formed. I be refused so quickly. Wüs surprised yesterday to hear the opposition. It was moved that the subject should lie over come from the quarter it did; and am equally until the second Monday in January. surprised to find such an opposition now. In The question for postponement was put and tay view there is a very great want of Semina- carried-ayes 37, noes 36. ries of Learning in that District. If we take a view on the south side of the
WEDNESDAY, December 28. Potomac, for a considerable extent of country, there is no institution to answer any desirable
Relief to Savannah. purpose. There is the greatest probability of a Mr. W. SMITH wished the House to resolve rapid increase in the population. Is it not itself into a Committee of the Whole on the reasonable, then, that an institution of this resolution, which he had the other day laid kind should be established in that place? And upon the table, proposing to afford some relief
reasonable at all, are we to wait till the period to the sufferers by the late fire at Savannah, arrives when the country is thickly inhabited | For his part, he said, he could see no reasonable
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(DECEMBER, 1796. objection which could be made to so benevolent if it had it would not have been granted, be a proposition. A gentleman in the House had cause its distresses are not so great. In a dis got a plan of the ruins of the city; it was, in- | tressing situation like that now before us aid deed, a most distressful scene. There had never can be afforded by the many towards alleviatoccurred so calamitous an event of the kind in ing the distresses of the few. Hence arises the the United States, or which had so strong a advantages from public contributions; and claim upon the General Government for relief. would that Honse, he asked, refuse their assistHe said they had granted assistance to the suf- ance? It would not be felt by the public parse. ferers by fire at St. Domingo; and surely if It has been said, to adopt this resolution would it were justifiable to grant relief to foreigners have a dangerous tendency, inasmuch as it would in distress, it was at least equally so when the encourage a neglect of insurance. But the evil objects were our own citizens. If gentlemen has come; the unfortunato circumstance has had objections to the measure, he wished they occurred; four-fifths of that unfortunate city would state them. The sum with which he has been destroyed, and their distress is great. should think of filling up the blank would not Such a circumstance may not again happen for be such as to materially affect our finances. a century. The amazing value of £500,000
Mr. MILLEDGE said, if the unfortunate had sterling damages is done; and shall we refuse any claim upon the Government for relief, none to give a trifle to assist, with others, towards could have greater than the citizens of Savannah. removing the present distressed situation of Few houses, he said, were remaining of that city, some of the unfortunate inhabitants? I trust and those few were the least valuable. Not a not. It is not asked of the House to indemnify public building, not a place of public worship, the loss of these sufferers. No, sir; it is only or of public justice-all was a wide waste of asked that the General Government should give ruin and desolation, such as scarcely could be the trifling sum of fifteen or twenty thousand conceived, and as it were impossible to describe. dollars to afford these people some relief. He hoped some relief would be afforded to dis- The question was then put for the House to tress so unexampled.
resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole on Mr. COOPER said, it was a very unpleasant the subject, and lost-yeas 38, nays 39. thing to come forward to oppose a measure of It was then moved that the committee be this sort; but, when they looked into different discharged from the further consideration of the parts of the Union, and saw the losses which subject. had been sustained at New York, Charleston, Mr. W. LYMAN hoped the business would not &c., it would appear only reasonable that, if be disposed of without going into a Committee relief was afforded in one case, it ought to be of the Whole. He thought more respect was extended to another; and, if this resolution were due to the feelings of the sufferers than to disagreed to, he should certainly move to have pose of the subject without discussion. He hoped some relief afforded to New York. He hoped, the committee would not, therefore, be dishowever, the business would not be proceeded charged. with. If the principle were a good one, it Mr. HARTLEY trusted the committee would would bear going through with; but it would not be discharged. He believed the destruction be seen this would, on the contrary, prove a of Lisbon by an earthquake did not occasion dangerous one. What they did to-day, he said, I greater mischiefs than the late fire had done to should bear repeating to-morrow. If they were Savannah. The Legislature of Pennsylvania, to make good losses by fire, there would be no which had no greater power than the General occasion for insurance companies, nor any in-Government to afford relief to these sufferers, ducement to build with brick in preference to had given $15,000. Indeed, he thought it more wood. He felt as much as others for the dis- the province of the General Government than of tresses of the people of Savannah, but was of State Governments to afford relief in such opinion it was not a proper business for the in-cases. terference of that House.
Shall we, said he, treat the citizens of SavanMr. W. SMITH agreed with the gentleman lastnah with more disrespect than the people of St. up that this would be considered as a precedent; Domingo? This House then gave $10,000 or he agreed that they ought not to do that to-day more for the relief of those people, and shall we which ought not to be done to-morrow. It not now have liberty to discuss the subject, might be brought forward as a principle upon whether to give or not to our own citizens ? which we should be bound to relieve New | Although, he said, he would not wish to draw a York or Charleston; but the question is, precedent from English transactions, yet he whether this is not a distinct case ? This is a would observe that their generous benevolence case awfully distinguishable from all others; to the unfortunate sufferers by the earthquake and, if a case like the present will not be often at Lisbon, though only commercially acquainted found, this House are certainly not bound to was worth imitation, to whom they gave £100,grant relief in others, though in this. He trust-000. Mr. H. was sorry gentlemen should ened such a case would not be again found deavor to prevent this by bringing in the calamto solicit relief. Charleston, he said, had ex-ities in New York and Charleston. Those were perienced a great calamity by fire, but had not only personal losses; this was a general conasked relief of that House; and it was probable | flagration, a catastrophe unprecedented ; and he
[H. Of Ro hoped, for the sake of humanity and national | The question was then taken for going into a honor, this House would never withhold re- Committee of the Whole on the subject, and lief.
carried by a considerable majority, there being Ur. SPRIGG hoped the committee would not | 45 votes for it. be discharged, but that they would go into the The House accordingly resolved itself into a business at an early day. He said, he had not Committee of the Whole, when made up his mind how far they had power to Mr. W. SMITH said, he did not propose to fill afford relief in a case like the present. There up the blank at that time. If the resolution was was an instance in the relief afforded to the agreed to, the sum could be put in when the bill daughters of the Count de Grasse, as well as came into the House. He himself should not that given to the sufferers at St. Domingo. He think of proposing to fill the blank with more wished for further time to make inquiry on the than 15,000 dollars. This, it was true, was but subject. If there were not insuperable objec- a small sum, but it would afford relief to the tions to the measure, he hoped relief would be poorer class of sufferers, and others could not afforded.
expect to receive the amount of their losses. Mr. HARPER acknowledged that it was sound | He should move that the committee might policy in Government to keep a strict eye over rise and report the resolution. its Treasury ; but this watchfulness ought not Mr. HARTLEY called for the reading of the act to go to the rejection of all claims, however allowing relief to the sufferers by fire at St. Dojust and proper. He thought the tenaciousness mingo. [It was read. It allowed 15,000 dolof approaching the Treasury was carried too | lars for their relief, which sum was to be chargfar in the present instance. He would ask, ed to the French Republic, and if not allowed what was the use of society if it were not to in six months, the relief was to be stopped after lessen the evils of such calamities as the pre- that time.] sent, by spreading them over the whole com- Mr. MACON wished the act allowing a sum of munity, instead of suffering them to fall upon money to the daughters of Count de Grasse to the heads of a few individuals? He thought it be read also. He did not think either of them the duty of Government to alleviate such peculiar in point. The sufferings of the people of Savandistress as the present. It was said this would nah were doubtless very great; no one could prove a dangerous precedent, and prevent ne- help feeling for them. But he wished gentlecessary provisions against fire. If they were men to put their finger upon that part of the about to make good the whole of the £500,000 constitution which gave that House power to destroyed, there might be some ground for the afford them relief. Many other towns had sufalarm; but when fifteen or twenty thousand fered very considerably by fire. He believed he dollars only were contemplated to be given, no knew one that had suffered more than Savangreat danger could surely be apprehended. The nah in proportion to its size: he alluded to fires at New York, Baltimore, and Charleston, Lexington in Virginia, as every house in the had been mentioned; but what were the means place was burnt. If the United States were to of Savannah when compared with New York ? become underwriters to the whole Union, where Not as one to twenty. New York was rich must the line be drawn when their assistance enough to bear her loss, but this could not be might be claimed ? Was it when three-fourths said of Savannah, all the inhabitants of which or four-fifths of a town was destroyed, or what were reduced to poverty and distress. They other proportion? Insurance offices were the could not, therefore, get relief from their fellow-proper securities against fire. If the Governcitizens; and to whom could they look for ment were to come forward in one instance, it protection and relief with so much propriety as must come forward in all, since every sufferer's
he General Government? When compared claim stood upon the same footing. The sum to Charleston, the loss of Savannah was of ten which had been given to the sufferers at St. Dotimes the magnitude as that experienced by it. iningo was to be charged to the French RepubThe loss of Charleston was alleviated by a sub- lic, and that given to Count de Grasse's daughseription of $30,000 from its own citizens, be- ters was in consideration of their father's sersides the handsome contributions which were vices. But New York had as great right to made in other parts of the Union; but there come forward and expect relief as Savannah. vas no property left in Georgia to afford relief He felt for the sufferers in all these cases, but he to the sufrerers. Suppose, said Mr. H., we were felt as tenderly for the constitution; he had exto give thirty thousand dollars towards this loss, amined it, and it did not authorize any such what would it be when divided among the grant. He should, therefore, be very unwilling vbole Union And yet it would be enough to to act contrary to it. draw down countless blessings upon us from Mr. RUTHERFORD said, he felt a great deal of these objects of distress. He hoped, therefore, force on what gentlemen had said. There were the committee would not be discharged. It two circumstances which were perfectly concluwas a case of peculiar and almost unprecedent- sive in his mind. He saw it our duty to grant el affliction, such as he hoped would not again relief from humanity and from policy. Savancocar; and a decision in their favor would be nah was a city of a minor, helpless State; it was applauded by every man, woman, and child in a very young State, yet it was a part of the the Union.
| Union, and as such, was as much entitled to
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[DECEMBER, 1796. protection as any State under such a direct | lose revenue in the first instance, as put money misfortune; and it became Congress to alle into the people's pockets to pay it with ? Hoviate their great distress. They have lost much; manity was the same every where. A person they have, many of them, lost their all. To who lost his all in a village, felt the misfortune say we will not assist to relieve, when almost as heavily as he who had a like loss in a city, every State in the Union is putting their shoul- and perhaps more so, since the citizen would ders to support these people's burden, is wrong. have a better opportunity by means of comThe State of Pennsylvania has done itself im- merce of retrieving his loss. He was against mortal honor in the relief it has afforded, and the general principle, as he believed, if acted shall we not help to support this part of the upon, it would bring such claims upon the family in their distress? This State is a branch Treasury as it would not be able to answer. of the great family of the Union; it would be, 1 Mr. MURRAY thought the gentleman from in my idea, extremely inconsistent to neglect Virginia (Mr. VENABLE) carried his idea of rethem. He hoped the motion would be adopt- lief too far. He had no idea that tbat House, or ed, and he hoped it would never be said that any Legislature, could undertake to make good the General Government refused to provide individual misfortunes. He was of opinion that help in such a poignant distress occurring in the lines which separated individual from Daone of its principal towns.
tional cases, were very observable; the one Mr. HARTLEY said, that the gentleman from was happening every day, the other seldom ocNorth Carolina (Mr. Macon) had voted against curred. When a large town is burnt down, and both of the bills which had been referred to. He that town is an important Southern frontier knew no difference between the Constitution of town, it is surely a national calamity, and has the United States and that of Pennsylvania, yet a a claim upon the humanity of the country. It vote in their House had been carried unani- was true, the claim was not of such a nature as mously. He thought the law for the relief of to be brought into a Court of Justice, but it the sufferers of St. Domingo perfectly in point; was a calamity in which the whole nation symfor, notwithstanding what was said about ne- pathized. It was not only a claim upon the hugotiation, the distress of those people had con- manity of the nation, but also upon its policy, sumed all the money before the six months as, by restoring it to its former situation, it were expired. If ever there was a case in which would be able to bear its wonted part in conthey could grant relief, this was one. The tributing to the revenue of the conntry, and losses at New York and Charleston would bear would continue to carry population, arts, and no comparison with that of Savannah; they wealth to that distant part of the Union. In were rich and flourishing places, whilst Savan- case of war, Savannah was a most important nah was a small city of a new State, and the place. It was necessary the Union should have sufferers generally poor. He hoped, therefore, a town in that situation, and he could not conthe resolution would be agreed to.
sider any money which might now be advanced Mr. MOORE said, the laws which had been ad- as given away, but as lent to that town, which duced as precedents were not in point ; for the might enable it, in a few years, to resume its one sum we were to have credit with the French former situation, whilst the withholding of it Republic, and the other was in consideration of might prevent its ever rising from its present past services. The distress of the people of ruins. Savannah was not an object of legislation ; every Mr. KITCHELL was opposed to the amendindividual citizen could, if he pleased, show his ment and to the resolution itself. He had doubts individual humanity by subscribing to their re- if even they were to give the citizens 15,000 lief; but it was not constitutional for them to dollars, as was proposed by the gentleman from afford relief from the Treasury. If, however, South Carolina, whether they should not, inthe principle was adopted, it should be general. stead of service, be doing them an injury; beEvery sufferer had an equal claim. Lexington, cause, if the General Government were only to in Virginia, contained only one hundred houses, I give this sum, the State Legislatures would proand all except two had been destroyed by fire. I portion their donations accordingly, and proHe should therefore move to add Lexington to bably give much less than they would otherwise Savannah in the resolution before them; though have done, if they had not had this example he would observe, as he did not approve of before them. He had doubts as to the constithe principle, he should vote against them tutionality of the measure; he thought the both.
constitution did not authorize them to make Mr. VENABLE did not see the difference be such use of public money; however, he thought tween the two cases which was so distinguish- it might be a very flexible instrument; it would able to the gentleman last up. Because Savan- bend to every situation, and every situation to nah was a commercial city, its distress, accord- that. He thonght, in this instance, if we grant ing to that gentleman, was indescribable, but money, while we attempt to serve, we shall when a like scene was exhibited in a small town, eventually injure. As to what the gentleman it was no longer an object which touched his from Virginia says of Lexington, Mr. K. thought feelings. His humanity went no where but it had been fully relieved; however he should where commerce was to be found. He asked vote against both propositions. whether the United States might not as well! Mr. Page said, that he was sorry that his col
[H. OF R. league bad made this amendment, as he had constitution. If any case could be admissible, done it with a view to defeat the original reso- he thought this could; it ought to be rememlation. If humanity alone were to direct his bered, that that part of the Union has suffered yote upon this question, and if the amendment much. Georgia was a slaughter-pen during the had been proposed more early and singly, he war, besides being continually harassed by the might have voted for it. But that not being hostile Indians. He thought 15,000 dollars the case, it, as well as motives of general policy, would not be ill-spent, as from motives of infidenced him in favor of the original motion. He policy it would be of more advantage to the had reasons which could not apply to the United States from the quick return the revenuo amendment. He should vote against it. He was would gain. Indeed, if constitutional, he hoped bound by order to confine himself to the single the sum would be made more than proposed. question before the committee. This is, Shall | These are your fellow-citizens who are sufferthe amendment be received or not? He de- ing, and if not speedily relieved, the whole inclared it as his opinion that the case of Lexing- terest will be involved. If in order, he would ton ought not to be connected with that of vote that the committee rise, to enable him Savannah, which had been, as stated by the and, perhaps, many others, to consult whether member from South Carolina, materially dif-relief could be constitutionally granted ? He ferent. He was restrained by order from en- said be felt a great propensity to do it. tering into the merits of the original resolution, The question was put on the amendment and bat he thought that he had a right to hint at negatived—there being only 26 in favor of it. the motive of policy which would apply to the Mr. BALDWIN said, he had doubted whether resolution, and not to the amendment. This to make any observations on this motion; not was, that Savannah being an important place, it that he was insensible to the calamitous situation wonld be wise and politic to prevent its revival which had been the cause of it, but from an apfrom being owing to any other aid than that of prehension that it might be thought he was too the General Government of the United States. strongly affected by it. Though it might be It ought not to be under obligations to indivi- disagreeable to one to give his judgment and duals, or single States, and much less to a foreign urge his opinions, when his own relation to the power.
question was different from that of others, yet * Mr. HARTLEY hoped the amendment would some of the reflections might not be useless to Dot prevail. If the loss of the people at Lex- those who were to determine it. He was sure ington had been greater than they could support, it was not a want of disposition to relieve the they would doubtless have applied to the Legis- unhappy sufferers that had or would draw forth lature of Virginia, but he had not heard of any an observation on this occasion, but merely such application having been made. He agreed doubts as to the powers of the Federal Governwith the gentleman last up, that the Generalment in money matters. The use of a written Government ought to relieve distresses of this constitution, and of that provision in it which kind.
| declared that no money should be drawn from Mr. MURRAY inquired when the fire happened the Treasury but under appropriations made by st Lexington ?
law, was very manifest from the caution which Mr. MOORE answered, about nine months ago. it gave in the expenditure of public money and He thought it was the duty of the United States in laying burdens on the people; yet he befirst to pay the claims which were made upon lieved it impossible to obtain absolute directions thern by distressed soldiers and others for past from it in every case. The objection is, that services, who were denied justice because they | Congress is empowered to raise money only to had passed an act of limitation. If they were to pay the debts and to provide for the common act from generosity, he said that generosity | defence, and the other purposes, exactly as speought to be extended universally. It was a new cified in the 8th section. The objection has ofdoctrine that because a sufferer by fire did not ten been made, but many laws have passed not live in a commercial city he was not equally en- exactly specified in that section. He mentioned titled to relief with the inhabitants of a city, the private acts before alluded to, the law for and that though such persons were called upon establishing light-houses, to aid navigation in to contribute to the losses of others, they could the improvement of harbors, beacons, buoys, have no redress for their own. This seemed as and public piers, establishing trading-houses if favorite spots were to be selected upon which with the Indians, and some others, to show that special favor was to be shown. He was opposed though the constitution was very useful in giyto all such humanity.
ing general directions, yet it was not capable of MG, CLAIBORNE was against the amendment, being administered under so rigorous and mebat he hoped the resolution would be agreed to. chanical a construction as had been sometimes He was sorry any gentleman should propose an contended for. amendment like this, purposely to defeat a mo- Mr. GILES said, if the present resolution passed tion which would tend to relieve such sufferers it would make them answerable for all future
those of Georgia must be. He was not cer- losses by fire. The small sum of $15,000 was tain whether he could vote upon constitutional | not of any consequence when compared with grounds or not. It was a sharp conflict between the establishment of a principle of that House bamanity to that suffering country and the acting upon generosity. He believed that nei