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Friday, February 12.
Mr. Thomas called up his motion respecting State Balances, which is as follows:
"Resolved, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the expediency of extinguishing the claims of the United States for certain balances, which, by the Commissioners appointed to settle the accounts between the United States and the individual States, were reported to be due from several of the States to the United States, and that the said committee have leave to report by bill or otherwise.''
Mr. Bayard hoped the resolution would prevail. The debtor States, not satisfied with the settlement made by the Board of Commissioners, had asked for information respecting the grounds on which it had been made. The information had been imperiously refused. In his opinion it was but right, if the debtor States did not dispute the validity of the debts due to the creditor States, that they should agree to expunge the claims against the debtor States. Indeed, he had been assured that the commission was not instituted with a view of sustaining any charges against the debtor States, but for ascertaining the amount due to the creditor States, and funding them; and he believed it had been so understood at the time. This was an affair not determinable by the ordinary rules applied to individual cases. Many of the States, not expecting a settlement, had kept no accounts or vouchers; and however great the supplies they contributed under such circu instances, they received no credits for them; while those States which had been most careful in the preservation of vouchers, shared a different and a better fate.
Mr. B. believed it was the true policy of the creditor States to agree to the extinguishment of these balances. He believed they never could be paid, because no State allowed them to be due. They would not, therefore, be paid voluntarily ; and he knew of no force in the United States to compel payment. Why. then, keep np a source of irritation, which could do no possible good, and which could only tend to repel some States from that constitution, which we all ought to endeavor to make the object of general affection!
Mr. Southard said, he had yet heard no reason that convinced him that the resolution offered was just or proper. It would be recollected that this contract was made under the confederation. In the establishment of our independence, great and various exertions had been made. In the contributions made, great inequalities took place, whioh were unavoidable. Generally, where the war existed, the States became creditor States. It was just that those States which had contributed more than their share should be repaid, and that those who had paid less should make up the deficiency. If the debtor States were not to pay their balances, why settle the accounts? To relinquish the payment would be, in his opinion, not only un
just but unconstitutional. The <»nstituti'X•^,. "All debts contracted, and engagements cied into, before the adoption of this conaittt: shall be as valid against the United State asthis constitution as under the Confedeni'and the present Government had retail, those debts as just. The gentleman fhmikr ware says, the settlement is not just. Bss was barely the suggestion of his own sat To sustain it, he ought to have shown its defc but this he had not done.
Mr. MiTCHnx was in favor of the restfcii as he believed a refusal to adopt it would but tended with unpleasant sensations. Hejite so from an historical review of the basse-The several States had associated togetK.*-' their common defence, and, in theeyeofsjc" whatever that defence required, shouM ««£■ tute a common charge. The accounts a » penses thus incurred were not settled al * new Government was established. Hair'ernment fixed the mode of settlement; it £■ pointed a board of referees, to report tie Hs and credits of the respective States. la a report, it was the fortune of certain States, swithstanding the greatness of their cocci* tions, to be reported debtor States. "» States became debtors from the indepe»: spirit with which they asserted their sor«r£ rights. Not relying on the general eo»8*" tions, they furnished great supplies «:»' making any charge to the Union; by eiacall their strength, they paid as they went preserved no vouchers of what they paid, T: I he averred, was the case as to the State rt° he had the honor in part to represent;»St* as willing as able to contribute, and which $ contribute to a great extent; but whic!: ■ neglected to preserve her vouchers, the JB* vation of which would have made herart*-tor State. He believed, therefore, that in l& the States were not bound to pay these bate* But to this it is replied, the award is finaL 6 would not agree to that; he denied it. Be*"there was a want of coercive power in the 1 ted States to enforce those demands, R* this consideration alone, we ought to fWJ with lenity, and endeavor to make the set* ment a peaceable one. As in other cinstances, we ought to make a virtue of neees?
Mr. S. Smith said, he did not rise to tale«J part in the debate, but in order to bring » subject directly before the committee, »• which, he moved so to amend the reeoWi* * to make it read, "Resolved, That it is erpeditf to extinguish the claims," <fcc „
Mr. Lowxdes hoped the amendment tm not be agreed to. He did not see the 6*1* diency of volunteering a relinquishment ot t» claims established against several of the Mat* The amendment was calculated to tale Bj committee by surprise. The original^reM0*'" went merely to consider the expedience «' relinquishment; the amendment involved W principle itself. y
Mr. Hill was desirous the amendment a]wJ»>
[H. OF R. not be made, not from any indisposition himself | the amendment, because the principle ought to to agree to it, but from a regard to the senti- be decided here, and not in a select committee. ments of other gentlemen. Even if it was as- What, indeed, could such committee report certained that these debts had arisen on a just | There were no vouchers or books whereon the consideration, yet, in his opinion, they ought to settlement had been made to be got at. All be extinguished, from the principle that, in our they could do, then, would be to report the balGovernment, whatever hazarded the harmony ances alleged to be due, which any member of the Union, ought to be avoided. Precedents could at any time learn. were not wanting in which sacrifices were made It seemed almost useless to go into arguments to this principle. He alluded to the quieting to show the injustice of the claim, and of conthe claims under Connecticut rights. But, sequence, the justice of the resolution. It had whatever might be the general ideas on this been justly said, that those States which had subject elsewhere, he knew not a man in North contributed the post, had, by the report of the Carolina, who did not believe the adjustment Commissioners, i he most to pay; and this was iniquitous. To show the committee how the peculiarly so with the State of North Carolina. citizens of that State felt, he would state a case Mr. W. had forborne to dwell on the injusthat had occurred before the Board of Commis- tice of these demands. But were he to enter sioners. Two claims had been made, both for on that branch of the discussion, he should say the same amount and the same description of that the very act of destroying all the vouchers supplies, one on one side and one on the other was of itself sufficient to justify any suspicion. side, of Pedee River; one in North, and the other He should say, that for what, in some States, in South Carolina; and, in one case, seven shil- there had been an allowance of one hundred lings had been allowed, and in the other, only pounds, North Carolina had not been allowed sixpence for the bushel of wheat. The business twenty shillings. Could, then, gentlemen talk generally was entitled to the attention of Con- of moral obligation, and say that this was a just gress. It had, in fact, already been attended debt ? to at different times. New York had extin- Mr. T. MORRIS said, it was contended that the guished eight hundred thousand dollars of her accounts should be opened anew and re-examinbalance under certain provisions applied to her ed. The fears, therefore, of the gentleman from case.
Massachusetts, were entirely visionary. The Mr. Bacon said, if the object of the motion resolution was a simple one. It proposes to inway to go into a new liquidation of the old ac- quire into the expediency of doing away these counts between the United States and the sev-debts. The amendment goes to determine the eral States, it would not only take up every day principle here. He thought it proper the prinof the present session, but the work would be ciple should be settled here. But gentlemen left unfinished for our successors. These debts say they want information. If so, after the had been incurred in a common cause, in which amendment is agreed to, they may move for a each State was equally interested, and towards postponement. If the amendment were carried, which each State was bound equally to contri- he would himself move a postponement. bute. When Congress made requisitions on this It had been said that New York had had principle, they were accompanied by a promise eight hundred thousand dollars of her debt rethat there should be a final liquidation. This mitted by the United States. But how did the liquidation was made; the settlement was com- case really stand ? New York had availed herplete. But this settlement is now objected to, self of the act of Congress, not because she and what is to be done? Why we must annul acknowledged the debt to be just, but because the contract. This might satisfy some of the she preferred doing something to remaining in States, but he was sure it would dissatisfy others. the situation towards the United States in which He saw, therefore, no end to be answered by she stood. It was strange, then, to hear gentlethe motion. We must either set aside all that men say that New York had been favored. had been done, and begin de novo, to which this What was the fact ? North Carolina, according body is incompetent, or rest satisfied with what to the gentleman, had not, and would not, pay is already done. .
one cent; and New York had discharged a greatMr. R. WILLIAMS observed, that since he had er sum than was due by all the other debtor held a seat in the House, this subject had been States, with the exception of Delaware. She almost every session called up. The more he was, therefore, instead of being favored, placed had heard it discussed, the more he became con- in a worse situation than any other State. It vinced of the necessity of getting it out of the was from the existence of this state of things way. He found that whenever it was brought that he wished a final decision to be made this ap, all was imagination. One State contended session. New York having agreed to make that it had contributed largely, and another, certain payments to the United States, it was that its exertions had not been surpassed. important to her to know whether the United
We are asked, why relinquish these balances States meant to enforce payment by the other before we are solicited by the States? He would States. Her situation would be truly unforreply that North Carolina never had recognized tunate, if after agreeing to pay, the United the debt, and, in his opinion, never would ap- States suffered her claims against the other ply for its extinguishment. He was in favor of States to sleep. She would not only have to
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pay her quota of the debts, but would see no prospect of deriving her share of benefit from the payments of the other debtor States.
Mr. Macon said the subject was a very old one, which had occupied much time every session for many years, and he thought it would be as well to try the question now as at any other time. No information of a select committee could throw any new light upon it.
There was a fact which ought to have great •weight with the committee. One of the Commissioners who made the settlement, who was a member of this House, had, after the settlement, proposed a resolution to extinguish the balances of the debtor States ; and he had stated, as a reason for this measure, that the principle adopted by the board had operated very harshly upon particular States. Mr. M. had it from authority not to be questioned, that in the settlement by the Commissioners, teams, with the usual number of horses, had not produced twenty shillings.
This subject had hung over our heads for eight years, and no scheme was yet devised for collecting the balances. How could they be collected f Congress had, it is true, authorized expenditures by the States in the erection of fortifications; but this very act was a tacit confession of the impracticability of getting the money into the public Treasury. As to a settlement with North Carolina, it was involved in great difficulty. In the act of cession of lands by that State to the United States, it was provided that the territory ceded should be pledged to pav a proportional share of the balance due the United States. How could that share be estimated?
Mr. M. regretted that this subject had been brought up. He should not himself have been for bringing it up, for he thought the claims of the United States not worth a rush. The truth was, the States had all exerted themselves in one great and common cause; they had done their best; they had acted with great glory. As to the State which he represented, he would ask if the first blood that had been spilled after that shed at Boston was not in North Carolina? and that was the blood of brother against brother. . ne desired not, however, to make comparisons, which were always unpleasant, but to show that North Carolina had no reason to shrink from an inquiry which would demonstrate that she had fully contributed her share in the common cause, without meaning to assert that she had done more than other States. Let, then, Congress decide at once, and abandon the claims altogether, or devise some plan for collecting them, that we may know how we stand.
Mr. Dana said, I hope the amendment will not be agreed to. However gentlemen may be possessed of a wholesale intellect, that enables them to decide on interesting questions without a moment's reflection, I confess I am not blessed with so happy an intuition. I do not know that I have ever been called upon to form an opin
ion on this subject. As to a reference of it to i committee, I think their investigation may 1* useful, and after we get that, we may take tiice to decide. But now the plan is changed, sai we are called upon to decide at once the prinriple. This mode of transacting business may be called an economy of time. You may give it the name, but it is not the substance. For my part, I desire to proceed according to oar o£i plan, and go through the slow process of investigation. This is my way, and gentlemen mix rest assured that this mode of hurrying busiaea is not the way to save time, bat to lose it.
Mr. Bayard t>clared himself in favor of the amendment, and .ie could not think, notwithstanding the remarks of his honorable friend from Connecticut, that any gentleman in the Houso was unprepared to vote upon it. The subject had been frequently discussed, and he believed that the House was then as well prepared for a decision as they would be for a century to come. It involved but a single principle; and, as to information, he could seam-It tell what information was wanted. He fei mnch of the indifference of the gentleman frco North Carolina, (Mr. Maoox.) He was siw the United States had neither the right, nor the power to recover these balances; and he repeated it as his opinion, that it had not bees the original intention that the debtor State* should pay them. Will gentlemen recollect tU: the commission was instituted under the oH Confederation. Had Congress, then, a right t* do any thing to bind the sovereignties of the independent States? All they could do was w pass resolutions making requisitions, which the States, might or might not comply with. Tbej could appoint Commissioners to settle the accounts, but could they impose the debts np» the States? No, they could not It, therefore, never could have been contemplated that tbej would establish those debts. The only- efiec; that could have been contemplated, was, tha the creditor States might rely that, on a settiement, Congress would assume their balances.
On the question being put, the amendment was lost—yeas 41, nays 46.
When the original resolution for referring to a select committee the consideration of the expediency of extinguishing the balances was carried.
Ordered., That Mr. Thoxas, Mr. Bayxeti, Mr. Dana, Mr. Hill, and Mr. Butler, be appointed a committee, pursuant to the said resolution.
And the House adjourned.
Tuesday, February 16.
The House then went into Committee of the Whole on the Judiciary bill from the Senate.*
* A debate of great length and earnestness now tookpijet In the House on this repealing bill sent down from the Senate, and passed there by a majority of only one. The two putifl
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Mr. HENDERSON.-I should not rise to offer | have therefore erected another branch of the my opinion on the great question before the Legislature, called the Senate, the members of committee, were I not placed in a situation dif- which are not to be elected by the people imferent from that in which I have been since I mediately, but by the sovereignties of the sevehave had the honor of a seat in this House. ral States; they are to be chosen for six years, The Legislature of the State of North Carolina, and not for two; and the qualifications requione of whose representatives I am on this floor, site to entitle those to a seat is different from have seen proper to instruct their Senators and that of a member of this House. To these to recommend to their Representatives in Con- bodies are given the power of initiating all gress, to use their exertions to procure a repeal laws; but after a bill has passed both of these of the law passed the last session of Congress, Houses, before it becomes of binding obligation for the more convenient organization of the on the nation, it must be approved of by the Courts of the United States, and the bill on President; it is a dead letter until life is given your table has for its object the repeal of this by the Executive. The President is elected law, and as I shall probably vote against its not by the people, not by the Legislatures of passage, a decent respect for the opinions of the several States, not by either House of Conthose who have framed and sent forward those gress, but by Electors chosen by the people. resolutions, demands that I should give the rea- He is to hold his office during four years. This sons which influence my conduct.
is the second great department of the GovernThe people of America have obtained and es ment. It will be easily discovered from this tablished that the powers of Government shall cursory view of our constitution, the caution be vested in three great departments; the Legis- and jealousy with which the people have conlative, the Executive, and the Judicial. They ferred the power of making laws, of commandhave said that there shall be a House of Repre- ing what is right, and prohibiting what is sentatives, the members of which shall be chosen wrong. But, sir, after this law was made, after by the people of the several States every second | its authoritative mandate was acknowledged by year. Though this House is composed of mem- the nation, it became necessary to establish bers chosen by the people immediately; though some tribunal to judge of the extent and oblithey can have no other interest than the great gation of this law. The people did not see procommunity from which they were sent; though per to intrust this power of judging of the meanthey must return to the common mass in the ing of their laws, either to the Legislative or to short period of two years; yet enlightened the Executive, because they participated in the America did not see proper to intrust the pow- making of these laws; and experience had er of making laws to this body alone; they shown that it is essential for the preservation knew that the history of man, and the experi- of liberty that the Judicial and Legislative auence of ages, bore testimony against the safety thorities should be kept separate and distinct. of committing this high power to any one As. They therefore enacted a third department, sembly not cbecked by any other body. They called the Judicial, and said that “the Judicial
power of the United States shall be vested seemed to have staked themselves upon it, not before the
in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior House, (where the issue was certain,) but before the coun
courts as Congress may from time to time ortry, to the arbitrament of which the great appeal was made.
dain and establish. The judges both of the SuAbove thirty members delivered elaborate speeches, of
preme and inferior courts shall hold their ofwhich but small parts can be given in an abridgment--the fices during good behavior, and shall at stated less to be regretted, as the staple of each was, of necessity,
times receive for their services a compensation much the same--but varied, enlivened and enforced by the which shal not be diminished during their conpeculiar talent, learning and ability of different speakers. Itinuance in oifice.” Their names were-for the repeal: John Bacon, of Massa- ! It is admitted, I understand, by all parties, by chusetts; John Clopton, of Virginia ; Thomas T. Davis, of every description of persons, that these words, Kentucky; John Dawson, of Virginia ; William B. Giles, of "shall hold their offices during good behavior," Virginia ; Andrew Gregg, of Pennsylvania ; Nathaniel Ma- are intended as a limitation of power. The con, of North Carolina; John Milledge, of Georgia ; Thomas question is, what power is thus to be limited Morris, of New York; Joseph H. Nicholson, of Maryland; l and checked. I answer, that all and every John Randolph, of Virginia; General Samuel Smith, of power which would have had the authority of Maryland ; Philip R. Thompson, of Virginia; James Hol
Thompson, of Virginia; James Hol- | impairing the tenure by which the judges hold land and Robert Williams, of North Carolina.-Against the their offices, (if these words were not inserted,) repeal: James A. Bayard, of Delaware ; Manasseh Cutter, of
itter, or is checked and limited by these words; whether Massachusetts; Samuel W. Dana, of Connecticut; John
that power should be found to reside in ConDennis, of Maryland ; Thomas Plater, of Maryland; William
gress, or in the Executive. These words are Eustis, of Massachusetts; Calvin Goddard, of Connecticut;
broad and extensive in their signification, and Roger Griswold, of Connecticut; Seth Hastings, of Massachusetts; Joseph Hemphill, of Pennsylvania; Archibald
hibald can only be satisfied by being construed to conHenderson, of North Carolina; William H. Hill, of North
trol the Legislative as well as the Executive Carolina; Benjamin Huger, of South Carolina; Thomas
power. But gentlernen contend that they must Lowndes, of South Carolina ; John Rutledge, of South Caro
be confined to limiting the power of the Presilina ; John Stanley, of North Carolina; Benjamin Tallmadge,
dent. I ask gentlemen, what is there in the of New York,
constitution to prove their signification to this
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end alone I When yon erect a conrt and fill it with a judge, and tell him in plain, simple language, that he shall hold his office during good behavior, or as long as he shall behave well; what, I beseech you, sir? will any man, whose mind is not bewildered in the mazes of modern metaphysics, infer from the declaration? Certainly that the office will not be taken from him until he misbehaves; nor that he will be taken from the office during his good behavior. Under this impression he enters upon his duty, performing it with the most perfect satisfaction to all persons who have business before him; and the Legislature, without whispering a complaint, abolishes the office and thereby turns out the judge. The judge is told this is no violation of the compact; although you have behaved well, although we have promised that as long as you did behave well yon should continue in office, yet, there is now no further necessity for your services, and yon may retire. These words, "during good behavior," are intended to prevent the President from dismissing you from office, and not the Legislature from destroying your office. Do yon suppose, sir, that there is a man of common understanding in the nation, whose mind is not alive to the influence of party spirit, that would yield his assent to this reasoning? I hope and believe there is not. But, sir, how is it proved that the President would have had the power of removing the judges from their office, if these words, "during good behavior," had not been inserted in the constitution? Are there any words in that instrument which give the President expressly the power of removing any officer at pleasure? If there are, I call upon gentlemen to point them out; it does not result from the fashionable axiom, that the power which can create can destroy. The President can nominate, but he can appoint to office only by the advice and consent of the Senate. Therefore, it would follow, if the power of displacing results from that of creating, that the Senate should participate in displacing as well as creating officers. But however this may be, it is certainly a mere constructive power which he has exercised, because the Legislature have, from motives of expediency, acknowledged that he had it. If the constitution does not necessarily give the President the right of removing officers at pleasure, and if that right depend upon Legislative acts or constructions, where would have been the necessity for inserting these emphatic words as a check and limitation of Executive power, where without them the President has no such power? You are taking great pains to control a power which does not exist. The persons who framed our constitution knew that a power of removal in ordinary cases must exist somewhere. They took care, therefore, that in whatever hands it might fall, the language of the constitution respecting the tenure of the office of a judge should be co-extensive with the whole power of removal, whether it should reside in one or in more hands.
But it has been said that the power? of ai Congress are equal and that a subsequent Letslature can repeal the acts of a former; and « this law was passed by the last Congress, w have the same power to repeal it which tier had to enact it. This objection is more phisble than solid. It is not contended by us is, legislatures who are not limited in their poiw! have not the same authority. The qnestfct < not what omnipotent Assemblies can data what tee can do under a constitution de&sa and limiting with accuracy the extent ££ boundaries of our authority. The very secra in the constitution (sec. third, art. first) whid I have read, is a proof against the power rf every Congress to repeal the acts of their psdecessors. In the latter part of the eighth «• tion it is proposed that the judges shall receive for their services a compensation which shsD not be diminished during their continuance h office ; and yet the salary was ascertained wi fixed by a former Congress. The same ohservations may be made with respect to campssation for the President, which can neither * increased nor diminished during the period to which he shall have been elected. It is ■( competent for this Congress to vary the coopensation to him which has been fixed hy i prior Legislature. It is clearly seen, upoc i little investigation, that the position which gettlemen take is too extensive, and leads innHdiately to a destruction of the constitution. I does away all check, and makes the Legislsrw omnipotent. It has been asked, that if a Jo1 rupt and unprincipled Congress should make it army of judges, have not a subsequent Const* the right of repealing the law establishing this monstrous judicial system? I answer that tte' have not; the same mode of reasoning fW attempts to prove this right from an abuse'4 power will also prove that you may lessen the compensation of your judges. May not ec* oppression be imposed upon the people by tiring your judges exorbitant salaries as by increasing their numbers? May not the same corrupt and unprincipled motive which would lead men to the raising of an army of judges lead them to squander the public money? And may the!' not, instead of giving their judges two themsand dollars a year, give them two bnndmi thousand? And yet, sir, if it were to taie place, I know of no" authority under the constitution to lessen that exorbitant compensation. The Government of our country is predicated upon a reasonable confidence in those who sdminister our public affairs. They must have the power of acting for the public welfares* this would never have been given them if the possible abuse of this power were a suffice"' reason for withholding it.
Again, sir, the construction which gentlemen on the other side of the House contend wi tends to the concentration of Legislative ana Executive powers in the same hands. If ft*gress, who have the power of making laws, can also displace their judges by repealing tut