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Mr. W. Ltmah thought, the time it was under consideration before, when referred to the Secretary at War, was the time to have thought of referring it to that committee; but now it w» too late; now the House had a report before it It appeared to him a mere formality. It looks Hke throwing the business out. He hid not made up his mind which way he should vote, bnt he thought one report was sufficient; It, therefore, hoped it would come under consideration.
Mr. Blocst said, when he first presented the petition, be moved it to be referred to the Committee of Claims; it was then rejected, and sent to tbe Secretary at War.
The Committee rose, and obtained leave to St again.
Friday, December 30.
Alexander D. Orr, from Kentucky, appeared, and took his seat.
Mr. Andrew Jackson presented a petition of George Colbert, one of the chiefs and warriors d the Chickasaw nation of Indians, complaining of a non-performance of stipulations entered into in certain talks held with Governor Blount and other agents of the United States, in which they agreed in defensive support of each other's rights; that their nation was invaded by the red people, (the Creeks,) when they applied, according to treaty, for aid; that their brother, James iv.bertson, said he bad no orders to send them iiy assistance; and that he must first have •rdersfrorn their father the President Of The United States. However, a detachment of volunteers under the command of Colonel Haasker, came to their aid. He asked compensation for supplies furnished to that detachment during sixty days. He said he had applied to his beloved friend the Secretary at War, who told him that Congress had set apart no money out of which it could be paid; he, therefore, applied to Congress for relief.
This petition was referred to the Committee of Claims.
Hugh Lawson White.
The House again resolved itself into a Com□ittee of the Whole on the petition of Hugh Liwson White.
The resolution of Mr. Andrew Jackson havicg been read,
Mr. Coit called for the reading of the petition upon which the report was founded. It ~n read.
Mr. A Jackson •said, the rations found for the troops on this expedition had already been tad tor by the Secretary of War, and he could se no reasonable objection to the payment of tbe whole expense attending the expedition. &i the troops were called out by a superior Jieer, they had no right to doubt his authority.
!ere a contrary doctrine admitted, it would *nTke at the very root of subordination. It Vol. H—4
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would be saying to soldiers, "Before you obey the command of your superior officer, you have a right to inquire into the legality of the service upon which you are about to be employed, and, until you are satisfied, you may refuse to take the field." This, he believed, was a principle which could not be acted upon. General Sevier, Mr. .J. said, was bound to obey the orders he received to undertake the expedition. The officers under him were also obliged to obey him. They went with full confidence that the United States would pay them, believing that they had appointed such officers as would not call them into the field without proper authority. If even the expedition had been unconstitutional (which he was far from believing), it ought not to affect tbe soldier, since he had no choice in the business, being obliged to obey his superior. Indeed, as the provisions had been paid for, and as the ration and pay-rolls were always considered a check upon each other, he hoped no objection would be made to the resolution which he had moved.
Mr. Coit said, he had called for the reading of the petition, because he could not see the connection between it and the resolution under consideration. The petition prayed for recompense for the services of the petitioner, and the men under his command, and the proper resolution would be that the prayer of it ought or might not be granted; but, instead of this, the resolution before them went to the whole troops employed in General Sevier's expedition.
Mr. A. Jackson said, by referring to the report it would be seen that the Secretary of War had stated, that to allow the prayer of this petition, would be to establish a principle that would apply to the whole of the militia in that expedition. If this petitioner's claim was a just one therefore, the present decision ought to go to the whole, as it was unnecessary for every soldier employed in that expedition, to' apply personally to that House for compensation.
Mr. Rdtherford observed, that the gentleman from Tennessee had set the matter in so fair a light that it was not necessary to say much more on the subject; but, as he had been acquainted with the frontier from his infancy, he would just give it as his opinion, that the expedition was a necessary one, and that the expense ought immediately to be paid. He hoped, therefore, the resolution would bo agreed to unanimously.
Mr. Harper was not prepared to say, without more information than he had on the subject, that the measure was just and necessary, or the contrary. He felt disposed to think favorably of the expedition; but he thought the House should have further information before it came to any resolution on the subject. They had, it was true, a letter from General Smith, the then Secretary, but he thought this was not suffi cient. He thought it would be better to refer tht report and other papers to a select committee, with instructions to inquire into the necessity and propriety of the expedition, and report H. Op R.]
Hugh Lamon White.
thereon. He hoped, therefore, the present resolution would be disagreed to, and the committee would rise. He wonld then bring forward a resolution to that effect. The Secretary of War, he said, had not gone fully into the subject; he had given them copies of two letters, but not his opinion. He did not think that an expedition of so important a nature, and which must involve in it a very heavy expense, should be decided upon without further information.
Mr. Cbaik agreed in sentiment with the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Harper.) He said there was great difficulty in forming an opinion from the report itself; though the Secretary of War seemed to think the calling out of the Militia necessary, there were other expressions in the report which appeared to convey a contrary sentiment. He referred to the letter of General Smith, but mentioned that there were other papers. He could not say the expedition was not necessary; but he thought further information was desirable, and the report should be committed to a select committee, for the purpose of gaining that information.
Mr. W. Smith agreed with the two gentlemen last up, that further information was necessary. The question, he said, involved a number of important points. In the first place, a question was involved, whether, if the expeditions was necessary, as it was not authorized by law, the expense ought to be defrayed by the United States f By the report of the Secretary of War, it had appeared that Congress were well apprised of all the circumstances which rendered the expedition necessary, yet they did not think proper to authorize it. In the letter of the Secretary of War to Governor Blount, on the subject, was this passage:
"If those difficulties existed while the Congress were in session, and which, it was conceived, they alone were competent to remove, they recur, in the present case, with still greater force; for all the information received at the time Congress were in session, was laid before both Houses, bnt no order was taken thereon, nor any authority given to the President of the United States; of consequence his authority remains in the same situation it did on the commencement of the last session. It is, indeed, a serious question to plunge the nation into a war with •the Southern tribes of Indians, supported as it is said they would be."
Mr. S. also read from the report "that the expedition was undertaken without authority," &c. The Secretary afterwards, indeed, stated, in his report, the disagreeable situation of the country at the time, by way of palliative; but, as Congress were possessed of these facts, and did not authorize offensive operations, it became a nice point to determine whether the expedition in question was justifiable. He would not say that such a situation of things might not occur as would justify a measure of the kind, but it was of consequence to determine whether this was such a case, which could not be done hastily. Neither had the House any information of the magnitude of the expense,
whether it would be two or threo hnndred thousand or half a million of dollars. He should, therefore, hope the Committee of the Whole would be discharged, and that the m\ject would be committed to a select committee.
Mr. Madison saw no necessity for referring this subject to a select committee. If it was suggested that the official information which was before them was inaccurate, and .that a more full explanation of the situation of things was necessary, there would be some ground of reference; but he did not find that this was the case. The Secretary of War stated facts, and referred to documents to prove "that the Indians had greaiV perplexed and harassed, by thefts and murders, the frontier inhabitants of Tennessee, had shown themselves in considerable force, and killed at two stations fifteen persons." If this was a state of facts, and it could not be doubted, the words of the constitution on the subject were clear: "No State shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty on tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay."* There could be no doubt, therefore, Mr. M. said, but this expedition came within the meaning of the constitution. In many cases, he said, it was difficult to determine betwixt offensive and defensive operations, as it was sometimes necessary, when acting on the defensive, to use an offensive measure. He had no doubt on the subject, and though tthe expense of the expedition should, by all means, be paid.
Mr. Dayton (the Speaker) said, that he was not prepared to adopt the resolution which was moved by the member from Tennessee, nor even to decide finally upon it, unless he could he persuaded that the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Madison) was correct in saying that the report before them contained all the information which it was possible for them to obtain. He was convinced that there were other official papers and documents which would throw additional light upon the subject, and therefore.
* This Is the true ground on which the United States becomes liable to a State for its expenses In suppressing or repulsing Indian hostilities. It tarns upon the Ides o( u actual invasion, or such Imminent danger of It as not to admit of delay: then the contingency happens in whici the State may engage in war, and all the acts of Congress and the Government orders give way before a constitution! right Tennessee, like other new countries in the Unit** States, was settled without law, and against law. Its esrij settlers not only had no protection from the Federal Gov ernment, bnt were under legal disabilities to pursue thi enemy. This arose from the policy of the Government t< preserve peace on the frontiers by restraining the adTsnfl of settlements, and curbing the disposition of the peopl< to war. The history of all the new settlements, from thi Atlantic to the Pacific, is the same: people go without lav and against law; and when they can neither be stopped b; the Government, nor driven back by the Indiana, then. £ Government gives them protection.
Hugh Lauuon White.
ought to be in possession of the Committee of the Whole before they took any decisive step. He alluded to the confidential communications from the President, in December, 1792, which gave rise to lengthy discussion, with closed galleries, upon the measures that ought to be adopted in consequence of the hostile acts and threats of those very south-western Indians, who were the objects of the expedition for which they were called upon to pay. The House of Representatives then decided that they would neither declare war against those nations of Indians, nor authorize the President to carry an offensive expedition into their country, if, in the recess of Congress, he should deem it proper, in consequence of their continuance in hostility. As the acts of Congress upon this very application would operate in future as a precedent and kind of commentary on that part of the constitution which limited tiie instances in which a State might levy troops and act offensively, without the previous assent of the General Government, they could not, Mr. D. said, be too particular in their investigation, nor too strict in their reference to dates and facts. He hoped that the Committee of the Whole would be discharged, and the report of the Secretary of War referred to a select committee, whose duty it would be to report those facts, with their dates, which gave rise to the claim in question, and which justified, under the provision in the constitution, the raising of troops and carrying on an offensive war, without the previous consent of Congress or approbation of the President.
Mr. Nicholas believed, on a reference to dates, it would be seen that these attacks of the Indians were subsequent to those which were in the knowledge of Congress at the time mentioned, as they took place while Governor Blount was at Philadelphia; and he thought no further information was necessary on the subject than the letter from General Smith to the Secretary of War, printed with the report, to prove that the expedition was both just and necessary. General Sevier's going into the Cherokee country was no proof that his operations were offensive. If other information could oe obtained by referring the business to a select committee, he should have no objection; but he believed this would not be the case. He wished the letter of General Smith to be read. [It was read accordingly.]
Mr. Baldwin was not able to recollect how great a portion of the members present were in the House when this business was brought l)efcre Congress in the year 1792. His own reooQeetion was fresh upon the subject. It was a period when they were much alarmed for our Indian frontier, North and South. The North was fortified, and it was recommended to have a legion on the South. The gentleman from Sooth Carolina, he recollected, was opposed to the measure, and thought the Executive had determined too soon upon hostility. Mr. B. •aid he had at that time frequent conversations
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with the then Secretary of War, who informed him that he had written to the Governor of Tennessee that, in case the pressure of tho Indians was so great as to require it, he must caU out the militia. The Governor was well known, and sufficient confidence was placed in him that this power would not be abused. He believed the troops on the Northern frontier had not proved sufficient, and that they had already paid the expense of troops which were called in to their assistance. At this period, Mr. B. said, the danger which threatened the country was great, and it was happy for us it had been so well got over. He believed it was well that the legion for the Southern frontier was not equipped, though he at that time thought it necessary. The expense of the expedition in question, he said, would be nothing compared with that which would have taken place had the legion contemplated been equipped. Mr. B. said, he had no doubt with respect to the propriety of paying the expense of this expedition. He did not think the number of men was great, or that the charge would be very heavy.
Mr. Dayton (the Speaker) said, he was inclined to believe the attacks of the Indians, which provoked the expedition of General Sevier, were subsequent to those in' the knowledge of Congress at the time the subject was under discussion.
He was one of those, he said, who thought that the hostile dispositions shown by those Indians at that time called for force, and he had introduced a resolution, by means of his colleague, to that effect. It was not, therefore, that he did not think the expedition authorized, but because he had a desire to have the facts relative to the subject clearly stated, that he wished the business to be committed to a select committee.
Mr. Rutherford said, they were not particular about the manner of doing the business, provided it was done. He was confident the expense of the expedition ought to be paid. When the Indians were upon them, what could the Governor do? Was he to send forward to the seat of Government to be instructed what to do? No; resistance was necessary, and it was not becoming in them now to say, "You did not act perfectly regular—the thing was not exactly as it should have been." It was a critical period, he said, and if the expenses were not paid, it might have a bad effect in future.
Mr. Kitchell was in favor of the committee rising. He remembered the transactions which took place on this business, as mentioned by his colleague, (Mr. Dayton.) He said, he was one of those who wted against the proposition of using hostile means, because he thought it possible to ward off the evil. It had been warded off; but he believed there was sufficient ground for calling out General Sevier, and he doubted not, if the business was referred to a select committee, the result would be satisfactory to those gentlemen who brought forward the .business.
Hugh Lawson White.
H. Op R]
The committee rose, and leave not being granted to sit again, on motion, the report and papers accompanying it were referred to a select committee of Messrs. A. Jackson, J. Smith, Blount, Dent, and Harper.*
| Friday, January 20,1797.
Direct Taxes. The House then took up the consideration of tho resolution reported yesterday by the Com-' mittee of the Whole, on the subject of further revenue.
Mr. Coit wished for a division of the question, viz: that the proposition for a tax on land and that for slaves should be put separately.
Mr. Swanwick called for the yeas and nays. They were agreed to be taken.
Mr. Nicholas thought the resolution should not be divided, but that the propositions for a tax on land and a tax on slaves should go together, as he should. object to vote for the tax on land except that on slaves accompanied it. He thought the gentleman had better try the question, by moving to strike out what respected slaves.
Mr. Madison thought it would be best for the two propositions to go together; but if they did not, he did not think the embarrassments insuperable. If the question was divided, those who thought a tax on slaves necessary must vote for the first part; and if the second was rejected, there would not be wanting an opportunity of voting against the tax on land. It was necessary to observe, that it had been found expedient to associate these two taxes together, in order to do justice, and to conform to the established usage of a very large tract of country, who were entitled to some degree of attention, and to whom a tax on land, without a tax on slaves, would be very objectionable.
Mr. Coit said, he could not gratify the gentleman from Virginia by varying his motion, as it would not answer the purpose he had in view.
Mr. Nicholas supposed, if the motion was persisted in, he was at liberty to move to insert slaves in the first part of the resolution. The gentleman certainly knew his own views best; or he thought it was possible to have settled the business he proposed.
Mr. W. Smith saw no difficulty on the subject. Gentlemen would vote for the first part of the resolution, in hopes that the second would pass; but if it did not pass, they would have an opportunity of voting on the main question, and therebv defeat the whole.
Mr. Van Cortlandt would vote for both together, but not separately.
Mr. Gallatin inquired as*to a point of order,
* The committee reported In favor of paying the brigade of General Sevier, (300 infantry and two troops of horse,) amounting to the sum of |22,S1« and 23 cents—a Tery small aum for a remote expedition into the country of a formidable Indian tribe, and so efficiently conducted as to secure tranquillity to the frontier. It deserves to be remembered for its promptitude, efficiency and cheapness.
whether, if the first part of the resolution was carried, and the second negatived, the question would not then be taken upon the resolution as amended?
The Speakbb answered in the affirmative.
Mr. Williams said, it would save time if the question was taken upon the whole resolution together; for if several gentlemen voted against the first proposition, lest the last should not pass, the whole might in this way be defeated, He thought a vote might be safely taken upon the whole together, as no one would be bonnd by the vote in favor of the bill, if he should not approve of it. For his own part, he wished to see the plan, though he did not know that he should vote for it.
Mr. Nicholas supposed there was not the difficulty mentioned by the gentleman from New York. Gentlemen would not risk the whole by voting against the first part of the resolution; since, if the second was not carried, they co^-d afterwards reject the whole.
The question was then put, that the House agree to the first resolution, viz:
"Resolved, That there ought to be appropriated, according to the last census, on the several States,
the sum of , to be raised by the following direct
"A tax ad valorem, under proper regulations ami exceptions, on all lands, with their improvements, including town lots, with the buildings thereon."
It was resolved in the affirmative—yeas 48, nays 39.
The second part of the resolution, relative to slaves, was about to be put, when
Mr. Gallatin said, before the question was taken on this division, he would just mention why this species of personal property was brought under view, whilst all other persona! property was unnoticed.
It was very true, that stock upon a farm in the Northern and Eastern States paid nearly as great a proportion of the taxes of those Slates as the negroes did those of the Southern States, and therefore it might seem somewhat wrong to introduce negroes in tho one case and not cattle in the other. The reason which induced the Committee of Ways and Means to adopt this mode was, that negroes are confined to certain spots of land in the Southern States, while horses and cattle extend nearly over a whole country. And a land tax, unaccompanied with a tax on slaves, would be very unpopular in those States, as it would throw too great a burden upon farmers who did not hold slaves, and fall too lightly upon those whose property chiefly consisted of slaves. There was this difference betwixt the two species of property: A farmer in the Northern or Eastern States would not think himself aggrieved by not paying a tax upon his farming stock; but a farmer in the Southern States would think himself aggrieved if his land was taxed, whilst the slaves of the slaveholder were not taxed.' It was on this account that this species of property was introduced.
Mr. Muebat was not struck with the observations of the gentleman last np, so as to say he »ooId ultimately vote for this species of tax; at present, he should vote for a bill to be brought in; but unless he found the bill could reconcile the principle more, and do greater justice in the ease than he at present conceived, he should then oppose it.
He said, he considered slaves in the Southern States as laborers, and unless gentlemen could show him where laborers were taxed, he should not think it right to vote for that part of the MIL He was decidedly in favor of a land tax, bnt against the other part of the question. Mr. M. said, he merely mentioned this that he might not hereafter be charged with inconsistency, in case he should vote against the bill. He repeated, unless provision be made for taxing labor in other parts of the United States, he aitpt vote against this part of the bill if brought in. because the tax would operate very unequally.
Mr. Harper said, though he was entirely opposed to the tax proposed by the resolution, and should vote against the whole, yet he thought it right that a tax on slaves should be introduced with a tax on land; for, as this direct tax nis to be raised by apportionment through the States, whether the Southern States paid on slaves, or the Northern States on land, made no difference in effect; each paid in its own way; one mode was more convenient for the Northern, another for the Southern, and another for the Eastern—no injury was done by this to any other State.
Mr. G. Jackson said, he was against all species of direct taxation, but particularly on this species; and, if a tax on land was carried, he should bring forward a resolution to lay a tax upon all property vested in public securities, lie wished for the yeas and nays on this qaestion.
The yeas and nays were agreed to be taken.
Sir. Nicholas wondered to hear the observation of his colleague. He should vote for the question, though he and his constituents would be affected by it; but, in the district which that rentleman represented, there were no slaves; :uid it was therefore his constituents' interest to tave a tax on slaves, in order to lighten that on land.
Mr. 6. Jackson said, it was not so much on account of the interest of himself or constituents that he opposed this tax, but he objected to it as a capitation tax.
Mr. Moore said, the situation of the Southern States had been truly stated. In the Western parts, there were few slaves. He said, in the representation to that House, the labor of the ^-rroes had been considered as five to three, with respect to white persons; therefore, the sHEty of the State to pay was considered in the saie proportion. His colleague from the mountains (Mr. G. Jackson) should consider that, if tbe holders of slaves were not to pay a portion of the tax imposed on the State of Virginia, it
would fall very heavy upon his constituents, nnd those of his colleague, where few blacks were kept.
He hoped, therefore, it would pass.
Mr. Jeremiah Smith was aware that a tax on slaves would lighten the tax on land in the Southern States, and therefore he did not wonder at the Representatives from those States wishing it to take place; but, by so apportioning the tax, would not the landholders in the Southern States pay loss than the landholders in parts of the Union where no slaves were kept? He believed they would. A person, for instance, in New Hampshire, holding the value of £1,000 in land, woufil pay a larger portion of the tax than a holder of land to the same extent in Virginia. He believed this would bo unjust, and an objection to this mode of taxing the Southern States, as, though the tax would fall more equally on them, it would not be so with respect to other States.
Mr. Qocdbich said, this tax was introduced into the system for the accommodation of that part of the Union where slaves were numerous.
A disposition to render the plan as acceptable, in every part of the country, as it could be made, consistently with the interests of the whole, ought to prevail. But, before a tax on slaves was adopted, its operation on the Union, and its effects, as it respected different districts, should be considered.
A direct tax ought to fall as equally* as possible every where; that on land and houses, with their improvements, which had been agreed to, would be laid by a valuation seldom repeated—perhaps, once in ten or fifteen years. The expense of its assessment and collection would be nearly equal throughout the United States; but, with respect to a tax on slaves, there would be required frequent enumerations—at least an annual enumeration. This would be attended with considerable expense, to be defrayed, not by the particular districts, for whose benefit this species of tax was introduced, but by the United States.
There was another objection. A laud tax was certain—it might, and undoubtedly would, be made a lien on the real estate on which it was laid. It would be liable to little, if any, loss. Not so with a tax on slaves. Such a tax, he apprehended, would be uncertain, exposing the revenue to considerable defalcations. If a provision could not be made to place the loss on the districts where it happened, by retaxing them it would operate unequally. He imagined a relaxation for defalcation, if it could be made, would be considered as unjust, and create discontent among the individuals who were subjected to it; and if that could not be done, the deficiency must fall on the Union, and would prodnce uneasiness from its partial effects. He did not know how the detail would bo arranged. He had been of the number who were desirous to see the collection-law, before they decided on the resolution before them, so as to havo possessed the whole subject. At present, he