Sidor som bilder

JANUARY, 1812. sovereign rights—we cannot stop, we cannot draw back, unless she recedes and repeals her hostile edicts. When the war is commenced, it must be viewed as an appendage to the war for independence. You have already taken the previous question on the subject; you have voted a regular army of 25,000 men, in addition to your Peace Establishment—they cannot be kept idle; idleness is the bane of the honorable soldier; to make them efficient you must supply them with arms. I have heard it said on this floor, that a part of your mi

litia, the bulwark of the nation, is supplied with

cornstalks instead of firelocks. If this be a truth O! for Heaven's sake, apply a speedy remedy. you have the means within your reach : at any rate, make your regulars as efficient as possible. On this subject there can be no difference of sentiment in this House. It gives me peculiar pleasure, when I compare our present means with those which we deemed competent to commence the war for American independence. At that period, our fathers needed everything, but a bold and intrepid spirit, to lead them to freedom. They determined on the contest, and were triumphant. Can we hesitate? Surely not, sir, when we have all the necessary materials within our reach; nay, they are our national resources. Need I detail to you again, that we possess five hundred and thirty operative forges, furnaces and bloomeries; two hundred and seven powder mills; that the iron which is annually manufactured is incalculable in amount; that your lead mines offer a superfluity of that article; that our resources for saltpetre in the Western States are extensively known, and that the supplies may be made as abundant as the article is all-important. For sulphur, sir in common with most other nations, we are now dependent on foreign supplies; still I do not despond : and shall it be hereafter necessary, from circumstances, to seek for additions to the quantity at present at our command, I anticipate the aid of science, of chemical science, to point out the mode to separate this article from its combinations, which abound in the United States. Sir, to some the amount which I shall require may seem enormous. It will be well applied; and to gentlemen who feel uneasiness on the subject, let them rest easy when they are told, that the greater part of the articles for which the expenditures are contemplated, are such as are imperishable from their nature; so that if Great Britain shall proceed to do us justice, and I hope to God she will without forcing them to arms, these supplies will form a stock for the nation in cases of future emergency. One word, sir, on the subject of arms. The present stock is sufficient for all our purposes— our public establishments, and such as are furnished by individuals, will enable us to gratify the most sanguine expectations on this subject. Sir, I will read to you the estimates which have been furnished by the proper departments, and will then submit to the Committee the several sums which are necessary to be voted by the bill. Mr. S. having read the estimates to which he alluded, moved to fill the first blank with one mil

Disabled Soldiers.

[ocr errors]

lion five hundred thousand dollars, and the second with four hundred thousand dollars, which motions were agreed to without a division. The two sections of the bill then read as follows:

“Be it enacted, &c., That the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated for the purchase, under the direction of the President of the United States, of ordnance, ordnance stores, camp equipage, and other quartermaster's stores, for the use of the Army of the United States.

“That the sum of four hundred thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated for the purchase, under the direction of the President of the United States, of saltpetre, and sulphur, for making the same into powder, and for ordnance and small arms for the use of the Navy of the United States.”

The Committee rose, the House agreed to the amendments, and the bill was ordered to be read a third time to-morrow.


Mr. DAwson then called up the bill for the relief of infirm, superannuated, and disabled officers and soldiers; which motion being agreed to, the House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole upon it; when Mr. D. spoke as follows:– Mr. Chairman: The pressure of business relative to our foreign affairs, and my infirm state of health, have delayed an indulgence of my wishes in bringing forward this subject at an earlier period, and indeed I now.find it impossible to do it that justice which it merits. In presenting to you this bill, I have obeyed the unanimous vote of the committee to whom the subject was referred, and the dictates of my own judgment, while I have gratified the best wishes of my own heart. It is a subject about which, in common, I trust, with a majority of this House, I feel warmly interested—it is a subject which has often been brought to the view of this House, and the principle has always appeared to me to merit the sanction of this House. A much valued friend of mine, an honorable gentleman who now sits on the bench in a neighboring State, and who himself was carried from the field cowered with wounds and honor, often called the attention of Congress to the sufferings of his fellow soldiers, now infirm, disabled, and superannuated, by wounds received in our Revolutionary, war. His voice was never raised in vain, though his efforts were never attended with success, owing to a diversity of opinion as to the details of the bill. The committee have endeavored to avoid that evil, by extending the provisions of the bill to the case of every person who sustained injury in his person, while in the actual service of his country. This, sir, meets with my approbation, though I shall with pleasure accede to the views of other gentlemen as to amendments not fatal to the bill, my first object being to get this institution established, leaving it to time and to experience to point out and cure its defects. Ever since I have had the honor of a seat in this House, I have voted in sayor of every claim which appeared to be founded in justice, and I have extended that principle with a liberal hand

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

towards those who rendered us services, especially ersonal services, during the Revolutionary war. heir number is now small indeed, and in my judgment it ill becomes a great, and I trust a grateful nation, to suffer those who have fought her battles to go down in poverty and sorrow to the grave. No, sir, we ought to afford food and raiment to the infirm and superannuated, and to pour balm into the disabled defenders of their country. Every principle of justice, gratitude, and humanity, call aloud for this. And there is one consideration, arising from policy, which in my judgment strongly urges its adoption. We shall probably soon be involved in a war. On yesterday we passed a bill for raising a large army. Pass this bill, and it will have a happy effect in filling your ranks; yes, when it is seen that our country is not ungrateful—that she will make comfortable the declining years of those who have spent their better days in her service, it will be a strong inducement with many to step forward and enter into that service. I am far, very far, from thinking this bill perfect. I am sensible that it has many defects, and I invite the friendly aid of all gentlemen, on every side of the Committee, and particularly of the select committee, to point out, and endeavor to cure these defects, and to establish a system which will do honor to this House and to this coutry. Mr. Rhea moved to amend the bill, by a new section, “providing a pension for every noncom‘missioned officer and soldier, who, by reason * of having a family, or for other good cause, may ‘not be able to join the corps of invalids, not ex‘ ceeding half the pay of such non-commissioned * officer or soldier.” This amendment, after some debate, was negatived, and the bill was reported without amendment, and ordered to lie upon the table. Mr. DAwson gave notice he would call it up on Thursday.


On motion of Mr.Gholson, the House resolved itself into a Committee, on a report of the Committee of Claims on the subject of excepting certain claims from the act of limitations. The report of the committee being read, which concluded with a resolve that it is inexpedient to open the act of limitations for the claims in question:

Mr. Gholson hoped the committee would not agree to this report. Information had been received from the Treasury Department, stating in a distinct and unequivocal manner, that all this description of claims (which were all liquidated claims, such as indents of interest, certificates, &c.,) might be allowed by the Government, without danger of fraud or imposition; and, said Mr. G., if justice can be extended to this description of claimants, without danger, why should it be deferred ?. Only one solitary reason had been offered —that the persons really entitled to these claims upon Government might not get the money. He

hoped this would not be sufficient to prevent Congress from doing what was just on the occasion.

Mr. CLAY (the Speaker) hoped the Committee would disagree to this resolution. It appears that the officers of the Treasury are of opinion that provision may be made for this description of claims without that danger of fraud, which might ossibly arise from a total repeal of the statute of É. that their whole amount does not exceed $300,000, and the probability is, that onefifth will never be applied for, should they be authorized to be paid. What, said Mr. C., is this statute of limitations, which, whenever mentioned in this House, seems to make everybody tremble? It is a general rule prescribed by the Government for the direction of its accounting officers in order to exclude unjust claims. What are statutes of limitation as applicable to individual cases? : A rule under which individuals claim protection whenever they choose to do so, and when, from the lapse of time, or loss of evidence, they would be injured, were they not to take this advantage. But in these statutes of limitation...there are al

| ways exceptions in favor of cases of disability, in

fancy, coverture, insanity, absence beyond sea, &c. But what is the course which an individual would take who found himself protected by a statute of limitation ? He would examine the justice of the claim brought against him, if the claim were just, if he had been deprived of no evidence by the delay, if as able to pay it as if it had been presented at an earlier day, he will not hesitate to discharge the claim, and scorn to take advantage of the statute. And, said Mr. C., shall the Government be less willing to discharge its just debts than an honest individual 7. Shall we turn a deaf ear to the claims of individuals upon Government because of this statute? - He trusted not. The Committee of Claims ought to examine the merit of every claim which comes before it, and if it be just, decide in its favor... But what, said Mr. C., as been the history of claims, for four or five years past? When a solitary claim was presented, the House would say, we cannot legislate upon individual cases. They occupy too much of our time. The claim is put aside. The same

individual, some time after, appears in company

with others. We then say there are too many of these claims—their amount is too large, and

the Treasury too poor—that there are a great

many other claims equally well founded-that justice cannot be done to them all. Sometimes

there is a division between the two Houses. This

House passes a bill in favor of some particular claim—the other tells you, they will not legislate

for particular cases; that if they act, they wish

to take up the subject generally. Mr. C. said, it was his wish, both in his public and private character, as far as possible, to do justice; he therefore hoped the course proposed by the Chairman of the Committee of Claims would be agreed to. The resolution recommended by the report was negatived, 54 to 31; and a resolution offered by Mr. Gold, recommending a provision by law for these claims, after some ... from Mr. ALston, was agreed to 39 to 36. The Committee then took up, on motion of Mr. Gholson, a resolution which had been referred

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]

Mr. Lewis presented a memorial of the Levy Court of Washington county, District of Columbia, praying such alterations in the laws of the District as will enable the said court to impose taxes on the whole of the said county, and to erect and maintain a penitentiary ; and that the members of the court may be taken from the several sections of the county according to their respective number of inhabitants.-Referred to the Committee for the District of Columbia.

The SPEAKER laid before the House a resolution of the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, approbatory of the sentiments contained in the President's Message at the commencement of the session, and declaring their determination to support, in every way, such measures as the Government may find it expedient to adopt towards the European belligerents.-Ordered to lie on the table.

An engrossed bill authorizing the purchase of ordnance and ordnance stores, camp equipage, and other quartermaster's stores, and small arms, was read the third time, and passed; as was also the bill in the case of the ship Eliza Ann.

The SPEAKER laid before the House a petition of the Ursuline Nuns at New Orleans, praying that the hospital which adjoins their convent, and is in a decayed state, may be removed, and that they may be permitted to build a house thereon for the education of females.—Referred. .

Mr. Mitchill, presented the petition of certain inhabitants of Mississippi Territory, stating that boatmen, who navigate the Ohio; are frequently taken sick at the Natchez; that the inhabitants of that place and the Western country have made considerable exertions amongst themselves to establish a hospital for their reception. This petition prays for some portion of lands to enable them to effect their work, which he moved to be referred to the Committee on Public Lands.

Mr. PosNDExter hoped the gentleman from New York would suffer this petition to lie upon the table until to-morrow.” He presented a peti

tion of a similar kind at two different sessions,

which not only asked for lands, but proposed a tax on these boatmen for effecting this purpose, and which had been referred to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures, but upon which, though he had frequently pressed the committee on the subject, no report had ever been made. If this petition lay till to-morrow, he would procure the petition which he had mentioned, and have it referred at the same time.—Ordered to lie on the table.


On motion of Mr. SMille, the House took up the order of the day, and went into a Committee on the bill to authorize the President of the United States to accept of certain volunteer corps.

The bill being read, an amendment was proposed to prevent the land which is provided for the heirs and representatives of any volunteer who shall fall in the service from being sold to specu

-lators; but, after various attempts at amending

the amendment, and considerable discussion, it was discovered that no volunteer could dispose of this land, as he never would have any right in it, as it vested in his heirs in case he died in the service only. The amendments were of course disagreed to. o A motion was afterwards made to allow every volunteer, who had served twelve months, on leaving the service, eighty acres of land; but this was disagreed to, on the ground that the men who entered, into this service, would enter from patriotic motives, and ought not to be put upon a level with the regular soldiers. The Committee rose, without going through the bill, and obtained leave to sit again.

[blocks in formation]

The committee to whom was referred the Message of the President of the United States, transmitting two letters from Governor Harrison, of the Indiana Territory, reporting the particulars and the issue of the expedition under his command against the hostile Indians on the Wabash, and to whom was also referred the memorial of the General Assembly of the Indiana Territory, and the memorial of the officers and soldiers of the militia of Knox county, in the Indiana Territory, who served in the late campaign under the command of Governor Harrison, report:

That they have had the several matters to them referred under their consideration, and have given to them that attention which their importance seems to merit.

It appears to the committee, that the troops under the command of Governor Harrison may very properly be termed raw troops : very few of the officers, and almost none of the men, had ever been in actual service; and a considerable portion of them had been only a few weeks withdrawn from the pursuits of civil life. The attack made on this quickly-assembled army by the hostile Indians on the Wabash, when viewed, either as it relates to the nature of the enemy, the time, or the violence with which the attack was made, cannot but be considered of such a character as would have severely tested the collected firmness of the most able and experienced troops. This attack, violent and unexpected as it seems to have been, was repelled by the

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

troops under the command of Governor Harrison, with a gallantry and good conduct worthy of future imitation. The whole transaction, in the opinion of the committee, presents to the American people a new proof that the dauntless spirit of our ancestors, by whom the war of the Revolution was so ably and successfully maintained, has not been diminished by more than thirty years of almost uninterrupted peace, but that it has been handed down, unimpaired, to their posterity. In estimating the claims of the army on the Government of the United States, it is worthy of remark, that the nature of the country, as well as of the enemy to be encountered, subjected the army to many extreme hardships, and equal dangers, where everything was hazarded, and but little could be gained, except the regard of their country. The volunteers and militia (to whose claims the memorials referred to the committee particularly relate) were h actual service but a short time, for which alone they are entitled to pay by law ; the compensation, therefore, to which they are entitled, is not at all commensurate to the services rendered, and the dangers incurred. Besides, many of the officers and men who fell, or were wounded, in the battle of the 7th November, 1811, were purchasers of the public lands, for which they were indebted to the United States; which debt falls due in a short time, and the penalty of forfeiture will be incurred if the debt is not paid. It would be unjust to inflict a penalty so severe on the disconsolate widows and orphans of those officers and soldiers of the volunteers and militia, who, in common with their brother officers and soldiers of the regular troops, fell in their country's cause, in a manner so distinguished, that nothing was wanting but a great occasion, interesting to the feelings of the American people, to have crowned their names with unfading laurels. As an evidence, therefore, of the regard due to the bravery and ability displayed by the troops under the command of Governor Harrison, in the battle of the 7th November, 1811, as well as to relieve the representatives of those who were killed in the action, from the pecuniary losses incurred in consequence thereof, the committee respectfully submit the following resolutions: 1. Resolved, That one month's pay ought to be allowed, in addition to the common allowance, to the officers, (according to the rank which they held,) the non-commissioned officers and privates of the regulars, volunteers, and militia, and to the legal representatives of those who were killed or have since died of their wounds, composing the army under the command of Gov. Harrison, in the late campaign on the Wabash. 2. Resolved, That five years' half-pay ought to be allowed to the legal representatives of the officers, (according to the rank which they held,) the non-commissioned officers, and privates, of the volunteers and militia who were killed in the battle of the 7th November, 1811, or who have since died of their wounds.

3. Resolved, That provision ought to be made by law to place on the pension list the officers, (according to the rank which they held,) the non-commissioned officers, and soldiers, of the volunteers and militia who served in the late campaign on the Wabash, under the command of Governor Harrison, and who have been wounded or disabled in the said campaign.

4. Resolved, That provision ought to be made by law to pay for the horses and other property of individuals lost in, or in consequence of the said battle."

5. Resolved. That the further time of — years ought to be allowed to the officers and soldiers who

were wounded, and to the legal representatives of those who were killed, in the said battle, to complete the payments due or which may fall due to the United States on any purchases of the public lands made by them before the said battle.


A message was received from the Senate informing the House that the Senate had agreed to all their amendments to the bill to raise an additional military force, except the proviso in the first section, and the three additional sections, to which they disagree."

The proviso disagreed to, is in the following words: *

“Provided, however, That commissioned officers for six only of the said regiments shall be appointed, until three-fourths of the privates requisite to complete such six regiments have been enlisted, when the commissioned officers for the remaining seven regiments shall be appointed.”

The following are the three sections disagreed to : - * * “That the officers, who may be appointed in virtue of this act, shall respectively continue in commission during such term only as the President shall judge requisite for the public service; and that it shall be lawful for the President to discharge the whole or any part of the troops, which may be raised under the authority of this act, whenever he shall judge the measure consistent with the public welfare.

“That no general, field or staff officer, who may be appointed by virtue of this act, shall be entitled to receive any pay or emoluments until he shall be called into actual service, nor for any longer time than he shall continue therein.

“That in the recess of the Senate, the President of the United States is hereby authorized, to appoint all or any of the officers, other than the general officers proper to be appointed under this act, which appointment shall be submitted to the Senate at their next session, for their advice and consent.”

Thursday, January 9.

The petition which the Speaker laid before the House yesterday, from the Ursuline nuns at New

Orleans, was enclosed to him and recommended

by Governor Claiborne. It prayed for an exis . of the military hospital for some lots which they hold in that city better calculated for a hospital. After the petition was read, Mr. DAwson observed that he had received a letter from Governor Claiborne relative to that petition, and in confirmation of the facts therein stated. This community of nuns is a most respectable and useful member of society, the whole of their temporal cares being directed to the education of female youth. They are that community which some years ago presented a most elegant address to the ... of the United States, and received from him an equally elegant answer. * * I am well assured that the lots which they wish to exchange are more valuable, and better suited for the erection of a hospital than those on which the hospital now stands. I, therefore, move that the petition and accompanying papers be referred JANUARY, 1812. to a select committee, who will, no doubt, converse with the Secretary of War on the subject.

This was agreed to, and Mr. DAwson, Mr. Lowndes, and Mr. Macon, were appointed the committee.

Mr. Poindexter presented to the House the R. from the Mayor and other citizens of

atchez, on the subject of erecting a hospital for the reception of sick boatmen employed on the the Mississippi, to which he referred yesterday, This petition, with that presented yesterday by Mr. Mitchill, was referred.

The SPEAKER laid before the House a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury enclosing a report of the Commissioners of the Eastern District of Orleans and Louisiana, of rejected claims.-Referred to the Committee on Public Lands. .


Mr. Porter called for the consideration of the bill for raising an additional military force, which motion being agreed to, the amendments disagreed to by the Senate were read, when

Mr. Porter moved that the House recede from these amendments. He made this motion from no change of sentiment, but from a desire to prevent further delay. He had always been of opinion that, if we went to war, the first operations of the war would be carried on by the volunteer corps and the troops already in force, because the volunteers will not only be much soonest ready to take the field, but they will be already armed and disciplined, whereas the new troops would be drawn from different parts of the Union, and probably be entirely unacquainted with military discipline. It was under this impression that the Committee of Foreign Relations, when the bill from the Senate was referred to them, recommended an amendment reducing the twenty-five thousand men (the number in the bill which came from the Senate) to fifteen thousand. They supposed that this number, with those which had been authorized for filling up the present establishment, would be sufficient, and as large a number as would be at present raised. But when this amendment was proposed to the House, it was met with a gust of zeal and passion. [The SPEAKER said those were improper terms to be applied to the House..] Mr. P. meant not to reflect upon the House. The zeal with which this proposition was met, evinced a laudable wish to raise a sufficient force to protect the rights and interests of our country. Nor did he feel inclined to oppose what appeared to be almost an unanimous wish of this

ouse and of the Senate. He thought it of more importance to act promptly, than to dispute whether there should be ten thousand, more or less, men; and, therefore, gave in to the will of the majority. When the amendments for limiting the appointment of officers, now disagreed to by the Senate, were introduced, he voted for them, because they brought the bill nearer to his views; but, as these amendments had been rejected by the Senate, he was willing to recede from them.

Additional Military Force.

H. of R

Mr Smilie did not wish to occupy the time of the House by any observations. He was opposed to the motion for receding, and called for the yeas and nays upon it.

Mr. Johnson thought he had already carried

-the spirit of accommodation far enough in vo

ting for raising a greater number of men than he thought necessary at present. He would be one of the last men in the House to bring into question the rights of the Senate, or to excite feelings of warmth between the two Houses; both had the same country to serve, and doubtless had the same objects in view. He regretted that the passage of this bill should be procrastinated; and if there was a majority in favor of receding from the amendments, his remarks should defer the question but for a few moments. He would advert to the course which this subject had taken, in order to justify those who are in favor of raising a smaller number of men than is contemplated by the bill. It was not only the opinion of the Committee of Foreign Relations, but of every department of the Government, that ten thousand regular troops, in addition to filling up the present Military Establishment, and the contemplated volunteer corps, would be sufficient for the first moments of the war- After the first blow was struck, it was believed there would be no difficulty in raising a regular force to any extent that might be wanted. Those, however, in favor of ten thousand, out of a spirit of accommodation, consented to the raising of fifteen thousand, and afterwards, with the restrictions in relation to the appointment of officers, to twenty-five thousand men. • *

Mr. J. said it would be impossible to get along

with this business if members did not act with an

accommodating spirit. Respect ought to be paid to the opinions of men who have had an experience of ten, fifteen, or twenty years in the Government. If, in a cause like the present, no member would vote for raising any but the precise number he had in his own mind fixed upon, the House would be able to pass no bill upon the subject. Whilst this House was engaged in discussing the resolution for raising an additional military force, a bill on the subject was received from the Senate. The House immediately laid aside their own proposition, and took up the bill. The Senate cannot but see that the House gave way to their wishes, on the subject; but they ought to consider that this House, stands upon the same ground with them, and that, respect is due to their decisions. He had no doubt that many were induced to vote for this bill from the amendments to which the Senate have disagreed. When appropriations for this army are wanted, this House will have to originate a bill for the purpose; and shall have to account to the people for the economical expenditure of the public money in the prosecution of this war. Before he would lose the bill, he would, to be sure, recede from these amendments; but he hoped the House would, in the first instance, adhere to their amendments, which would bring on, a conference between the two Houses that might either induce

« FöregåendeFortsätt »