Page images

March, 1800.]

was so expressed, as to exclude the case of an impressed American liberating himself by homicide. He concluded with observing, that he had already too long availed himself of the indulgence of the House, to venture farther on that indulgence by recapitulating or reinforcing the arguments which had already been urged.

When Mr. Marshall had concluded, Mr. Dana rose and spoke against the resolutions.

An adjournment was then called for and carried—yeas 50, nays 48.

Saturday, March 8.
Case of Jonathan Bobbins.

The House resumed the consideration of the report made on Thursday last, by the Committee of the whole House, to whom was referred the Message of the President of the United States, of the seventh ultimo, containing their disagreement to the motion referred to them on the twentieth ultimo; and the said motion being read, in the words following, to wit:

(See ante—Mr. Livingston's resolution, February 20.)*

Mr. Nicholas spoke in answer to Mr. MarShall.

The question was then taken that the House do agree with the Committee of the Whole in their disagreement to the same, and resolved in the affirmative—yeas 61, nays 85, as follows:

Yeas.—Willis Alston, George Baer, Bailey Bartlett, James A. Bayard, John Bird, John Brown, William Cooper, William Craik, John Davenport, Franklin Davenport, Thomas T. Davis, John Dennis, George Dent, Joseph Dickson, William Edmond, Thomas Evans, Abiel Foster, Dwight Foster, Jonathan Freeman, Henry Glenn, Samuel Goode, Chauncey Goodrich, Elizur Goodrich, William Gordon, Edwin Gray, Roger Griswold, William Barry Grove, Robert Goodloe Harper, Archibald Henderson, William H. Hill, James H. Imlny, James Jones, John Wilkes Kittera, Hemy Lee, Silas Lee, Samuel Lyman, James Linn, John Marshall, Abraham Nott, Harrison G. Otis, Robert Page, Josiah Parker, Thomas Pinckney, Jonas Piatt, Leven Powell, John Read, John Rutledge, jr., Samuel Sewall, James Sheafe, William Shepard, Richard Dobbs Spaigbt, David Stone, Benjamin Taliaferro, George Thatcher, John Chew Thomas, Richard Thomas, Joseph B. Varnum, Peleg Wadsworth, Robert Wain, Lemuel Williams, and Henry Woods.

Nats.—Theodoras Bailey, Phannel Bishop, Robert Brown, Samuel J. Cabell, Gabriel Christie, Matthew Clay, John Condit, Joseph Eggleston, Lucas Elmendorph, John Fowler, Albert Gallatin, Andrew Gregg, John A. Hanna, Joseph Heister, David Holmes, George Jackson, Aaron Kitchell, Michael Leib, Matthew Lyon, Edward Livingston, Nathaniel Macon, Peter Muhlenberg, Anthony New, John Nicholas, Joseph H. Nicholson, John Randolph, John Smilie, John Smith, Samuel Smith, Thomas Sumter, John Thompson, Abram Trigg, John Trigg, Philip Van Cortlandt, and Robert Williams.

A motion was made to adjourn. Mr. Macon hoped the House woald sit and decide the reso

* Not reported.

[H. Op R,

lution proposed by the gentleman from Delaware, so as to have done with the business, and not to enter on another week with it; however, 54 rising for the adjournment, it was carried.

Monday, March 10. Case of Jonathan Bobbins. Mr. Bayard moved that the Committee of the whole House, to whom was referred the Message of the President, relative to Thomas Nash, alias Jonathan Robbins, and a resolution submitted by himself to the House, approbating the conduct of the President, and referred to that* committee, be discharged from the further consideration thereof.

A long debate arose upon this motion, in which Messrs. Randolph, Davis, Jones, NichOlas, Livingston, and Eggleston, spoke against it—and Messrs. Bayard, Bird, Otis, Kittera, Varnum, Rutledge, Edmoxd, Shepard, and H. Lee, in favor of it; when the question was taken by yeas and nays, and carried in the affirmative—yeas 62, nays 85.

Monday, March 17.

Medal to Captain Trvxton.

Mr. Parker observed that information had been received of a very gallant action having occurred between a frigate of the United States of 88 guns, commanded by Commodore Truxton, and a French vessel of 52 guns, which was extremely bloody, but valiant on the part of the United States commander. It was not usual to grant emoluments on account of any particular gallant action, to our officers, but to give approbation was common and consistent. In other countries, he said, monuments had been erected to commemorate such splendid victories.

As a testimonial of the regard of Congress for the officers who so bravely supported the flag of the United States, and to encourage similar acts of bravery, he would propose the following resolution:

Resohed, by the Senate and Route of Representatives nftJie United States in Congress assembled. That a golden medal, emblematical of the late action between the United States frigate Constellation of 38 guns, and the French ship-of-war La Vengeance of 52 guns, be purchased under the Secretary of the Navy, and be presented to Captain Thomas Truxton, in testimony of the high sense entertained by Congress of his gallantry and good conduct in the above engagement, wherein an example was exhibited by the captain, officers, sailors, and marines, honorable to the American name, and instructive to its rising Navy.

The resolution was ordered to lie on the table.

Tuesday, March 18. Officers and Crew of the Constellation. Mr. Parker moved that the unfinished business be postponed for the purpose of taking up the resolution which he yesterday laid on the table, relative to the captain, officers, and crew of the Constellation; when

The Frigate Constellation, frc.

H. Of R.]

Mr. Nicholson said he wished it might not he taken into consideration until some official information was received upon the subject from the Secretary of the Navy, upon which resolutions can be grounded. In his opinion, the resolution of the gentleman did not go far enough. It had been said, that a young officer had voluntarily lost his life, rather than shrink from his duty, which he thought ought to be noticed. He was in favor of giving his approbation of the conduct of the officers and crew in more general terms than the resolution on the table contemplated.

After some observations from Messrs. ChamPus and Harper, who were of the same opinion,

Mr. Pabker said, he did not suppose a doubt could exist upon this subject sufficient to require any further information than had been received through the medium of the newspapers. He had seen a letter in the possession of the Secretary of the Navy, from Captain Baker, of the Delaware, who had every opportunity of knowing the situation of the enemy's frigate, was in the same harbor, and, being a nautical man, was of course able to give a correct opinion on her then situation, and the evident marks of the bravery of her antagonist with whom she contended— this was sufficient to satisfy his mind.

If, said Mr. P., gentlemen think the resolution does not go far enough, there is no one who will more cheerfully concur in offering other testimonies of approbation, than myself. With respect to the young officer,* whose gallantry and good conduct had been so highly spoken of, it was his intention to have brought forward a resolution for setting up his bust in a niche of the Capitol of the city of Washington.

Mr. P. concluded with observing that he had no objection to call for information from the Secretary of the Navy, and would therefore withdraw his motion.

Mr. Parker then moved that the House come to the following resolution, viz:

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Navy be requested to lay before this House any information he may possess, respecting the engagement which lately took place in the West Indies between the United States frigate Constellation and a French ship-of-war; and, alto, respecting the conduct of James Jarvis, a midshipman on board the said frigate.

Mr. Smith moved to strike out the words in italics, which created considerable debate; when

Mr. Bird proposed to insert in lieu thereof, the following words: "And also upon the conduct of any officer or other person on board said frigate, who may have particularly signalized himself in the said action;" which Mr. B. supposed would meet the intention of the mover, and be less liable to objection than the words proposed to be stricken out.

Mr. Parker having consented to the modiflsation, the resolution was agreed to.

* Son of Mr. James Jarvis, of New York, ami midshipman' on board the Constellation in the entrapment of the 1st of February, who was killed by the falling of the mast

[StABCH, 1«C

Weditesday, March 19.
Military Academy, tic.

Mr. Ons, from the Committee of Defence, reported a bill for establishing a MHitarj Academy, and for better organizing the corps of Engineers and Artillerists.

The bill was proceeding to be read, wba Mr. Otis suggested that as this bill contained much the same in detail as a report on the esk ject made by the Secretary of War, with which every gentleman was acquainted, he suppose! the reading would not be necessary.

Mr. Macon said he should have no objectka to its being read a first time, though be did nw think it necessary; but he would give notice \ that it was his intention to move that the hil i be rejected. He mentioned his reasons to be the expense of the measure generally, which it was an improper time to incur.

The bill having been read, he made the ruction.

Mr Otis and Mr. Champlis answered. Mr. Vaenum supported the motion, which was sr length negatived, 49 to 42; and the bill was referred to a Committee of the whole House.

Thursday, March 20. Removal of Scat of Government. Mr. Ons observed that it appeared to be the general opinion that the seat of GovemmtK would be removed to the Federal City, and that Congress would commence their next session at that place; and as some'preliminary measures were necessary to be made previous thereto; and as it would be reposing too much power in the Commissioners who now act there to rely entirely on their reports; and as sorae measures must be reported and adopted i«::'.>re the end of the present session, he laid on the table the following resolution:

"Resolved, That a committee be appointed to consider what measures are expedient for Oonprcss to adopt, preparatory to the removal of the seat d Government, with leave to report by bill or otherwise."

Amy Dardin's Cate. The House went into a committee on the report of the Committee of Claims on the petition of Amy Dardin, which was that the prayer of the petitioner ought not to be granted. Being taken up in the House, the propriety and impropriety of granting it was again contended, when there appeared in favor of the report 42, against it 42. The Speaker decided in the affirmative, so that the claim was not admitted.

Friday, March 21. Action of the Frigate Constellation. The Speaker laid before the House a report from the Secretary of the Navy, in compliance with the instructions of tho House, respecting the engagement which occurred between the frigate Constellation and a French ship-of-war.

Frigate Constellation.

Mabch, 1800.]

The report enclosed a letter from Captain Truxton, detailing the action, and also extracts of letters from the American Consul at Curacoa, and one from the American agent at St. Kitts, respecting the disabled sfAte of the French ship La Vengeur. As to any particular specimen of valor, the Secretary received no information; but that all the officers and men had acted with the most unexampled bravery and decorum was attested by the captain, whose good management was evinced by the singular success of the action. The Secretary mentions the singular bravery of James Jarvis, a Midshipman, who preferred death to quitting his post.

On motion of Mr. H. Lee, this report, together with a r&solution proposed some days since by Mr. Pakker, was referred to the Naval Committee.

Monday, March 26.
Medal to Captain IVuxton.

Mr. Parker, from the Naval Committee, reported the following resolutions:

"Remind, by the Senate and Home of Representative* of the United States, in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be requested to present to Captain Thomas Truxton, a golden medal, emblematical of the late action between the United States frigate Constellation, of 38 gnns, and tie French ship-of-war La Vengeur, of 54 gnns, in testimony of the high seuse entertained by Congress of his gallantry and good conduct in the above engagement, wherein an example was exhibited by the captain, officers, sailors, and marines, honorable to the American name, and instructive to its rising navy.

"Resolved, That the conduct of James Jarvis, a midshipman in said frigate, who gloriously preferred certain death to an abandonment of his post, is deserving of the highest praise; and that the loss of so promising an officer is a subject of national regret."

The House then proceeded to the consideration of these resolutions; the first of which being under consideration,

Mr. Randolph said, that inasmuch as he could not give his assent to these resolutions, he felt impressed with the propriety of stating the reasons which would govern his vote.

It was not with any intention to detract from the deserved reputation which had been so nobly earned by the captain, officers, and crew of the Constellation; still less to withhold the well-earned applause due to that gallant youth who had sacrificed his life in the prosecution of his duty. It was to the first of these. resolutions, only, that he should deny his concurrence, lie should do this, unless the gentlemen of the Naval Committee should show to him that it was the duty of the commander of the Constellation to persist in the chase, and compel to action a ship of such superior force. This conduct was, in his opinion, rash; and, when the situation of the United States and France was taken into consideration, it was peculiarly unadvisable. Our Commissioners were at this time in the capital of that country negotiating

[H. Of R.

peace. How did the pursuit of this ship—the forcing her into an action, which ended in the crippling of both vessels—comport with that protection which was to be aftbrded to our commerce by the Constellation?

Mr. R. said that his duty obliged him to act upon his own opinion; and, however singular it may appear, he should vote against the first resolution, unless the gentleman who brought it forward would make it appear that it was the duty of Captain Truxton to compel the Vengeance to come to action, when he knew her to be of such snperior force. The second resolution met his most hearty approbation.

Mr. Parker said, what the present state of things between the two countries might be, in the opinion of his colleague, he could not say; but Mr. P. conceived it was no other than it was at the time Congress passed a bill which prescribed the conduct of our naval commanders. In that bill they were authorized to take or destroy all French armed vessels: under these orders Captain Truxton left this country, and, in obedience to instructions to that effect, he pursued and engaged this vessel, which, though of superior force, he had beaten. Had he not attacked her, it is most probable she would have proceeded against our commerce. The law having been passed by Congress, if the President of the United States had not given orders conformably thereto, he would have been subject to impeachment, ne, therefore, presumed it to be his duty; and, most certainly, such orders being given to the commanders, they were bound to conform to them. Mr. P. thought that this and greater approbation ought to be expressed by Congress for conduct so brave and unprecedented. In some countries monumeuts had been raised, but this was unnecessary, though merited. Our naval exertions were very recent and confined, but an instance of extraordinary valor having occurred it ought to be honorably and suitably noticed.

Mr. Nicholas said, however he might agree with his colleague (Mr. Randolph) in a desire that no conduct should be encouraged that would tend to aggravate France in the present situation of things, he could not agree with him in his present sentiments. While we wore in a state of actual, though not of declared war, Mr. N. thought it was naturally to be expected that our commanders would act in their complete military character, when our ships were arrayed for battle, and power given to act up to the full rigor which the laws of honor and of war would warrant. In the conduct of the captain, as well as the crew, Mr. N. said, he saw nothing but what was extremely laudable, and highly meriting approbation.

Mr. Lyon said he rose to request the division of the question on the resolutions. He was disposed to vote for the latter resolution, and not for the former

The Speaker declared they would be divided, and that the question before the House was on the agreeing to the first resolution

Medal to Captain Truxton.

H. Of E.]

Mr. Lyon observed that he had voted for the equipment of the three frigates under an impression that they would be employed solely fur the protection of the commerce of this country: but now he found himself called upon to give thanks or praise to the commander of one of those frigates, and for what? for going oat of the station assigned to him, as the most proper for the protection of the trading vessels of this country, in chase of a ship-of-war of much superior force; and for reducing the ship under his command, as well as that of his opponent, to a mere wreck. Mr. L. said he had seen nothing in the orders which had been published directing him to do this, nor did he think policy or prudence dictated the measure. Let all our naval commanders be excited to follow this example; let them play or fight each of them their vessel against a French vessel-ofwar of superior force in the same way, and our naval force is crippled, while the French will scarcely feel their loss; then our commerce would be wholly at their mercy. Besides these considerations, what is there to defend that commerce, on tho station left destitute by the Constellation, while she is refitting. For his part he was as glad and proud as any gentleman that our officers, and our sailors, and our marines, had behaved gallantly and done themselves and their country honor, in the late action, but he did not feel himself bound, under existing circumstances, to give distinguished praise to the conduct which produced it; he should therefore vote against the resolution.

Mr. J. Bbown would vote for this resolution for the very reason which some gentlemen urged for voting against it. He thought the very fact of chasing a ship of superior force, and forcing her to an action which had been attended with success, was a commendable act. This to him would be the only inducement for paying so high a mark of national respect. If it had been an attack upon a vessel of inferior force, he should not think it worth notice. The objection was partly on account of the French ship being of superior force; surely this would rather be a reason why we should have vessels of greater force than we have now; therefore he hoped the worthy member would suffer that brave officer to go to sea next time with a 74-gun ship under his command, when he would doubtless bring the enemy to a good account.

The yeas and nays were called on this resolution and carried—yeas 87, nays 4, as follows:

Yeas.—Willis Alston, George Baer, Bailey Bartlett, John Bird, Fhannel Bishop, Jonathan Brace, John Brown, Robert Brown, Samuel J. Cabell, Christopher G. Champlin, William C. C. Claiborne, John Condit, William Cooper, Samnel W. Dana, John Davenport, Thomas T. Davis, John Dawson, John Dennis, George Dent, Joseph Dickson, William Edmond, Jpseph Eggleston, Lucas Elmendorph, Thomas Evans, Abiel Foster, Dwight Foster, John Fowler, Jonathan Freeman, Albert Gallatin, Henry Glenn, Samnel Goode, Chaoncey Goodrich, Eliznr Goodrich, William Gordon, Edwin Gray, Roger Griswold,

[Aran, 1800.

John A. Hanna, Robert Goodloe Harper, Tboncj Hartley, Archibald Henderson, William H. Hfil. David Holmes, Benjamin Hoger, James H. Imlay, James Jones, Aaron Kitchell, John Wilkes Kitten. Henry Lee, Silas Lee, Michael Leib, Samuel Lyman. James Linn, Nathaniel Macon, John Marshall, Peter Muhlenberg, Anthony New, John Nicholas, Joseph H. Nicholson, Abraham Nott, Harrison G. Oai Josiah Parker, Thomas Pinckney, Jonas Piatt, Levea Powell, John Read, John Rntledge, jr., Samnel SewsS, James Sheafe, William Shepanl, John Smilie, John Smith, Samuel Smith, Richard Stanford, David Stow, Benjamin Taliaferro, George Thatcher, John Chew Thomas, John Thompson, Abram Trigg, John Trigz. Philip Van Cortlaudt, Joseph B. Vara am, Pekg Wadsworth, Robert Wain, Robert Williams, Lemuel Williams, and Henry Woods.

Nats.—George Jackson, Matthew Lyon, John Randolph, and Thomas Sumter.

The other resolution was adopted unanimous


Mostly, March 31.
Lake Superior Copper Mine*.

The House, according to the order of the day, again resolved itself into a Committee of the whole House on the report of the committee appointed, on the 5th instant, to inquire into the expediency of authorizing the Presides! Of The Uxited States to appoint an agent to purchase of the Indians a tract of land on the south side of Lake Superior, which shall include the great copper bed; and, after some time spent therein, the committee rose and reported a resolution thereupon; which was twice read, and agreed to by the House, as follows:

Resolred, by the Senate and Haute of Reprettntatitts of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President of the United States be authorized to employ an agent, who shall be instructed to collect all material information relative to the copper mines on the south side of Lake Superior, aid to ascertain whether the Iudian title to such lands as might be required for tho use of the United States, in case they should deem it expedient to work the said mines, be yet subsisting; and, if so, the terms on which the same can be extinguished: And that the said agent he instructed to make report to the President, in such time as the information he may collect may be laid before Congress at their next session.

Ordered, That the Clerk of this House do carry the said resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

Wednesday, April 2.
Removal of the Seat of Government.

The House then resolved itself into a committee on the bill to make further progress for the removal and accommodation of the Government of the United States.

A motion was then made to fill a blank for the accommodation of the household of the President, about which considerable conversation occurred; when Mr. Butledqe moved that the committee rise, in order that time may be April, 1800.]

Removal of the Seat of Government.

given for learning the amount of money wanting for this object, and because he supposed the Chairman of the committee, who was absent, might be able to give that information. The motion was afterwards withdrawn, but renewed by the Speaker, and at length carried.

Thursday. April 3.

Lands given in satin/action of Judgments.

Mr. Iiarpeb observed that in some of the States lands were received in satisfaction of judgments, which also was the case in such places where the United States were plaintiffs. To remedy what he conceived an evil, he laid on the table the following resolution:

"Resolred, That a committee be appointed to inquire and report, by bill or otherwise, whether any, and what, further provisions ore necessaiy to be made relative to the sales of real estate delivered to the United States in satisfaction of judgments against persons indebted thereto."

Three members were appointed.

Friday, April 4. Eemoval of the Seat of Government. The House then went into Committee of the Whole on the bill for the removal and accommodation of the Government of the United States.

Mr. Harper proposed to amend the act so as that the sum to accommodate the household of the President of the Cnited States with furniture, in addition to what was now in possession of the President, should not operate until after the third of March next. This he did, he said, in consequence of some constitutional doubts which he had expressed. The constitution declaring that the salary of the President should receive no addition nor diminution during his being in office. This was concurred in.

The question then was, what sum should be allowed for that purpose; $20,000, $15,000, and $10,000, were severally named.

Mr. Randolph, considering the principle itself unconstitutional, moved, in order to defeat the section altogether, (it having been amended and being out of order to move its being stricken out,) to insert the sum of $500. These different sums called forth a lengthy debate. The sum of $20,000 was negatived—45 to 39. That of $15,000 was carried—yeas 44, nays 42.

The bill being gone through, was ordered to be engrossed for a third reading on Monday.

Friday, April 18. Disputed Elections of President, <tc. Mr. NicnoLsoN called for the order of the day on the bill prescribing the mode of deciding disputed elections of President and Vice President of the United States.

Mr. Harper moved that it be postponed till Monday.

[H. Of R.

Mr. Nicholson, after expressing his abhorrence of the principles contained in the bill, then moved that it be postponed till the first Monday in December next.

Messrs. Harper, Dana, Rutledge, and MarShall, opposed this motion; and Messrs. S. Smith, Gallatin, Randolph, Nicholson, and Nicholas, supported it

The question was taken by yeas and nays, and decided in the negative—yeas 48, nays 52.

Mr. Harper's motion for postponement till Monday, was then agreed to—ayes 54.

Monday, April 21.
Admirals in the Navy.

Mr. Parker, from the Naval Committee, reported a uill for the appointment of admirals for the navy.

[This bill provides for the appointment of one Vice Admiral and four Rear Admirals, and arranges the fleet into squadrons.]

It was read a first time, and on the question for the second reading, it was carried—87 to 31. Having been read a second time, Mr. Gallatin moved its postponement till the first Monday in December next.

The Speaker said the question was, whether it should be committed or not? The question for commitment was carried, 37 to 82. The question was then to make it the order of the day for the first Monday in December next.

Mr. Egolksto.v hoped it would be postponed. He said it would be agreed upon to suspend the building of the 74's for the present year; in addition to this our difference with France would most probably be soon adjusted. Another reason was, it would incur an addition of expense, which it would be improper to go into, having recently agreed to borrow $3,500,000. He was really surprised to hear such a bill proposed; he scarcely could think his colleague sincere.

Mr. Parker said that the building of the 74'a was not suspended, but it was thought advisable not to hurry their building. He stated a number of conveniences that would attend the new arrangement; that the whole expense would not be more than $10,000, but owing to the advantages, he believed it would be a real saving. He did not think there could be any certainty of a peace, from the revolutionary disposition of France; but even if it was certain that peace would be made with that nation, it was not certain that the combined powers would not renew their hostilities. He wished this measure to be adopted, even if it was at the expense of the army. The return of peace would render the army nugatory, except just enough for the garrisons; the whole of the army expenses, he said, was upwards of four millions, but the whole sum expended on the navy (really a more efficient defence and advantage) was little more than two millions. He wished our naval defence to be nurtured and rendered respectable, for which the squadron arrangements

Admirals m the Navy.

« PreviousContinue »