« FöregåendeFortsätt »
some magic, make a material distinction between this and all other roads. His intellect, he acknowledged, was too obtuse to perceive the difference ; unless, indeed, it be meant that, if the provision were retained, it would have the effect to prevent the President, in the exercise of his approving power, from looking beyond the act itself, and ascertaining whether, in truth, the fund was exhausted or not,—and then to compel him to sign an act which, otherwise, his oath to support the constitution would compel him to veto. He took an entirely différent view. He believed it due to the President, to ourselves, and the constitution, to present the act to him, if presented at all, in exact conformity to the state of the facts, so as to afford him a fair opportunity to exercise the high power vested in him by the constitution over our acts, with a full knowledge of all the facts; and if he had no other objection to the bill than the retention of this deceptive provision, as he regarded it, he would on that account vote against it. He held a strict adherence to truth, in every particular, to be among our most solemn obligations.
Viewing this bill like every other for internal improvement, he was opposed to it, if for no other reason, because the experience of a quarter of a century had proved that this Government was utterly unfit to carry on works of the kind. He would vote for the substitute, in order to get rid of the whole system. It appears, by a statement from the Treasury Department, that there has been spent by this Government, for internal improvements, the sum of $18,600,000, in round numbers. If, to this expenditure, interest be added, it may be fairly put down at the sum of twenty-five millions; and what do you suppose has been the aggregate income of the Government from this immense expenditureequal to one-fourth of the debt of the Revolution? The whole amount is just $173,620, and from a single work, the Louisville and Portland Canal ; and we have now, if I mistake not, a bill on the calendar to surrender that work. Nor is this road an exception to wasteful and thoughtless expenditure. It has been stated in debate, and not contradicted, that it had thus far cost $18,000 per mile; a sum at least three times as great as a good road of the kind may be made for, and much greater than what a substantial road ought to cost.
Georgia is constructing at this time a railroad from the Tennessee to the Chattahoochee river, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles, including the mountain section between the Atlantic and the western waters, at the rate of $15,000 per mile, substantially made, to be laid down with heavy rails and graded for double tracks. If he misstated, he asked his friend from Georgia, back of him, to correct him (Mr. Lumpkin). He felt that he hazarded nothing in asserting, that this very road will in ten years be superseded by a railroad, and will prove worthless, like all our other projects of the kind, with the lucky exception to which he had alluded. The uncertain navigation of the Ohio River, in summer and winter, will make a railroad passing in the same direction necessary; and when made, this, which costs so much; and is the cause of so much contest, will be no more than a mere neighborhood road, being used to drive stock on, and not good for that.
But the unfitness of this Government to carry on works of internal improvement, is not confined to this objection. Our disbursements are as partial and unequal as they are wasteful and thoughtless. I hold in my hand a document (No. 89, 2d Sess., 23d Cong.) which gives the amount expended under the head of internal improvement, from the commencement of the Government to 1833. To that period there had been expended ten millions of dollars in round numbers, of which sum Georgia had received just seventeen thousand for her share, South Carolina nothing at all, Kentucky nothing, Virginia nothing, and Tennessee twenty-seven thousand dollars. The truth is, that the expenditure appears to have been governed by importunity and political influence, with little or no regard to justice or utility.
A system so conducted must lead to discontent, and be productive, politically, of many mischievous consequences. Need we go further than this very instance to prove the truth of this assertion? Can we doubt that there is, in reality, a large portion of this body discontented with so large an annual draft on the treasury for a single work, as local in its character as a thousand others that may be named ? Nay, further ; can we doubt that there is a great majority of the body of both parties opposed to it, both on the ground of expediency and constitutionality, but who feel themselves compelled in a measure, to vote for the appropriation, because of its supposed bearing on a certain question which now agitates the country, but which he did not deem it proper to name here? According to his mode of thinking, those who represented the States immediately concerned, had the greatest interest in terminating the whole system. They were placed, in his opinion, in a state truly awkward and embarrassing ; and for himself, he would rather that his State should never receive a cent, than to receive double the amount contained in this bill, under the circumstances under which it would have to be voted.
It is time, Mr. President, that we should awake from our long slumber. We have, for the last fifteen or twenty years, been wasting the resources of the Union on innumerable objects of internal expenditure-roads, canals, harbors, an overgrown eleemosynary pension list, never intended to be placed, by the constitution, under the charge of this Government-while we have been grossly neglecting the great objects for which the Government was really instituted. It is high time that the internal bleeding, which has been wasting the strength of the Government, should cease, and that we should direct our attention and resources to objects really
intrusted to the Government, and for which it is responsible. He was no alarmist; he did not believe that war would grow out of the boundary question. Right, he solemnly believed, was with us; and when the Government of Great Britain came to a full and calm consideration of the subject, such, he believed, would be her conclusion ; but be that as it may, he could not bring his mind to the belief that two nations so deeply interested in preserving peace, should refuse to settle such a question short of an appeal to arms. point is to prevent collision between the local authorities on the opposite side of the line, and to keep the question at the real point at issue. If this be done, he did not doubt but the controversy would terminate peaceably, and to the mutual satisfaction of both parties. But although he did not believe that war would result, or that there was danger in that quarter, he could not look at the general state of the world without fearing that the elements of strife were daily multiplying and gaining strength, and that it was time for us to economize our resources, and direct them to the point where they would be felt in the hour of trial. We must look at the ocean.
That is the exposed side-the side of danger. There was no real danger on the side of the inland frontier. He regarded the British possessions on that frontier as a pledge of peace, and not a source of danger. The immense increase of our population on the whole extent of the line, and the still greater facility of concentrating the great masses of our population on any of its exposed points, by roads and canals, made us invincible there. Not so on the maritime frontier. It is there we are really exposed, and to that we must direct our attention. For its defence, fortifications have their value ; but they have been over-estimated. It is on the navy we must rely. It was our cheapest and safest defence—at onee our sword and shield. On it we should converge our surplus means. He would be prepared to show on the proper occasion, that it would be in our power, by strict economy, and withholding useless, profuse, corrupting, and unconstitutional expenditures, to put on the ocean, at no distant period, and without increase of burden, a force that would give to us the habitual command of the adjacent seas, against any force that could be safely kept by any hostile power on our coast. At that point we ought to aim. Nothing short of it can give security or respectability. The first step is to put a stop to these internal expenditures, at the head of which stands that which is the subject of discussion. Till it is stopped this system cannot be arrested ; nor can we have any assurance till then that it will not return on us in its full vigor. Other portions of the Union will not stand by and see a part receiving all the benefit of the system, be the pretence what it may, without struggling to participate in its advantages.
On the Bill supplemental to the Act entitled, “ An Act
to establish branches of the Mint of the United States;" made in the Senate, April 17th, 1840.
MR. Calhoun hoped that whatever might be the proper course to be pursued in reference to these mints, the motion of his colleague would not prevail. If he understood the object of this bill, it was to superadd the power of coining silver, to that which the mints now possessed of coining gold. The expense to effect the object in view would be exceedingly small, for the bill contemplated that it should not be undertaken, if expense of any account was to be occasioned by it. His impression, upon a view of these facts, was, that there ought to be no opposition to the bill. There was a considerable portion of silver alloy in all the gold