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held. To prove this, has been my object. I trust I have done it to the satisfaction of the Senate. I also believe that justice has been withheld on grounds utterly untenable, and which, if persisted in, must lead, in the end, to the avowal of a principle, on the part of Great Britain, that must strike a fatal blow at the peace of the two countries ; and, in its reaction, on the social and political condition of Great Britain and the rest of Europe. Thus believing, I have attempted to point to some of the disastrous consequences which must follow, with the view of rousing attention to the question at issue between the two governments, in the case under consideration, in order to obtain redress of injury. If, in making my remarks, I have assailed her, it is because we have been assailed, as I conceive, in assuming the principle on which justice has been withheld.
The immediate object I had for introducing these resolutions was, to take the sense of the Senate on the subject to which they refer; and which embraces a principle vital to us of the South, and of deep interest to the rest of the Union. My conviction is strong, that we have justice on our side ; and I wish to afford to our brethren in the other sections an opportunity of exhibiting a proof of their attachment to the common interest, by sustaining a cause where we are particularly concerned, as we did, at the last session, by sustaining unanimously one where they were.*
I have no particular wish as to the mode of disposing of the resolutions. All I desire is, a direct vote on them ; but I am indifferent, whether they shall be first referred and reported on, or be discussed and decided on without refer
I leave the Senate to decide which course shall be adopted.
[Mr. Grundy said that as very important principles were involved in these resolutions, it would be proper that we should examine the
* Referring to the case of Maine.
whole ground before we vote upon them. He was himself prepared to vote now, having had occasion to examine the question some time since, but others very probably had not done so. The able speech of the Senator from South Carolina had thrown much light on the subject, and could not fail of attracting the attention of Senators to it. He would therefore prefer that it should be passed over informally for the present. As to the interference of the British Government in the matter of the Africans taken in the Amistad, he thought it was decidedly wrong, and no good could result from it. It was a question which could only concern two governments—the Spanish and Americanboth of which are perfectly competent to protect the rights of their citizens, and do justice in the premises. Under these circumstances he considered the unasked interference of a third power an intrusion. He wished to see what course the Executive would take in this matter, as in questions between foreign governments and our own, he thought we should act nationally—that all the departments of our Government should act in harmony.
Mr. King said he was fully impressed with the importance of the subject, as no one could fail of being who had investigated it, or who had listened to the remarks of the Senator from South Carolina. It was a question which, if not arrested and settled now, will lead to momentous and disastrous consequences hereafter. Viewing it in this light, and with a view to afford an opportunity for full investigation, he would, with the assent of his friend from South Carolina, move the reference of the resolutions to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
Mr. Calhoun assenting,
The resolutions were accordingly referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.]
On the Cumberland Road Bill, delivered in the Sen
ate, April 1st, 1840.
[The Bill for the continuation of the Cumberland Road in the States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, was called up in the Senate, April 1, 1840, and the amendment proposed by Mr. Clay of Ala., being under consideration, Messrs. Preston, Young, Clay of Ala., and Webster addressed the Senate at length. On the conclusion of the remarks of the last-named gentleman, Mr. Calhoun rose and said :-)
That he was thoroughly satisfied that the General Government was wholly unfit to carry on works of internal improvements, and that, in his solicitude to see the termination of the whole system, he would vote for the amendment offered as a substitute for this bill by his friend from Alabama (Mr. Clay). He believed the offer was a liberal one, and ought to be accepted by the States interested. It went beyond the measure of real justice in the spirit of compromise, and he hoped that it would put an end to this distracting question, and the system of which it constituted a part. It was only in that view he could justify his support of the proposition. Indeed, he believed that the fund was entirely exhausted, and that the States interested in the road had no just claim to further appropriation or aid from the Government.
He could not concur in the opinion of the Senator from Illinois (Mr. Young). That Senator acknowledged that a sum much greater than could ever be derived from the two per cent. fund had been expended on the road, but insisted that on a fair construction of the compact with the States interested, a large portion of the sum expended ought not to be charged to that fund. He rested his construction on the expression, that the money should be expended on roads leading to the State, which he so construed as to make it the duty of the Government, under the compact, to carry the road actually to the limits of the States, and which, if correct, would oblige us to finish the road through its whole extent to the borders of Missouri. In giving this construction, he distinguished between “to” and “towards."
He (Mr. C.) did not think it necessary to go into this verbal discussion. He rested his opinion on more solid ground. It was, in fact, too late to inquire into the true meaning of the compact in reference to the fund. Two points were certain. In the first place, that the Government is not bound to expend more than two per cent. on the road, and that the fund had been exhausted ; and, in the second place, that it had been exhausted by the votes, in part of the members of the States interested in that fund, and at the earnest solicitation of the States which they represent, and against the strenuous opposition of a large portion of the members from other parts of the Union. It is not too late to say, that the fund is not liable for such expenditures. They are estopped by their own acts. The very case stated by the Senator would illustrate what he said. He asks, if an undertaker should engage to spend ten thousand dollars to build a house for you, and should spend that sum on the foundation, would that fulfil his engagement ? Yes, certainly, if that be the limit of the amount agreed to be spent, and if you stood by and insisted he should spend the whole sum he had engaged to do on the foundation. And such is precisely the present case.
Nor could he agree with the opinion of the Senator from Ohio (Mr. Tappan). He takes the ground that justice demands the appropriation; that in consequence of this, and other improvements by the Government, we have received a much higher price for the land sold than we could otherwise have got; and that the purchasers have already paid for the road in this increase of price. He attempted to establish his position by reference to the price at which Connecticut
sold her reserve, which he stated to be forty cents the acre. In answer to this, it is sufficient to remark, that the public lands, so far from affording an income, have not yet returned to the General Government the sum expended for them, as was stated and not denied in the recent discussion on the question of assuming State debts; and that, of course, if the road has been thus far constructed, and if it is to be continued, it must be constructed at the expense of the commerce of the country, our only available source of revenue in reality.
But another, and not less decisive answer, might be given to the argument. So far from selling on better, we have sold on worse terms than Connecticut. She sold her whole interest in the gross, including good and bad land, without expense, almost a half century ago, for cash in hand-or, what is the same, paper well secured, with interest ; while we have been selling, through all the intermediate period, piece by piece of our best land, at a heavy expense. It requires but little knowledge of figures to show that, taking interest into the estimate, she has realized a clear profit per acre far greater than we have, without making any deduction for expenses, trouble, and responsibility of management.
He had now shown that this appropriation cannot be defended on the claims of justice. If then it can be defended at all, it must be on the broad and general ground of expediency and constitutionality, on which every other work of the same description would stand. He would not assent to the ingenious attempt of the Senator from New-York (Mr. Wright) to distinguish it from other works of the kind. That Senator acknowledged that the two per cent. fund had been long since exhausted, and admitted that without the provision in this bill charging the work on that fund, there would be no distinction between an appropriation for this and any other road ; and yet with these admissions, he undertook the herculean task of proving that the retention of the provision charging the appropriation on that exhausted fund, would, by