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William B. Giles, a member of the House of Representatives in the Congress of the United States, declares
That in the evening of Thursday, the seventeenth of December, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-five, as well as this informant recollects, a person called upon this informant at his lodgings, under the name of Robert Randall, with an introductory note from Mr. Gabriel Christie, in the usual form, dated the fifteenth of the said month.
That the said Robert Randall informed this informant, that he had some business of importance to communicate to this informant, which would probably come before Congress: That it respected the fur trade at present carried on by the British traders with the Indians, through the lakes. He observed that it would be important to change the course of that trade into some channel through the United States: That he believed he could put Congress upon some plan for effecting that object: That the plan was of a secret nature: That he was not then prepared to disclose it, and requested a private interview with this informant for that purpose, at some other time. Upon which request, this informant appointed the next Saturday, at twelve o'clock, (being the nineteenth of December) to receive the communication.
That about the time appointed, the said Robert Randall called on this informant, and after some general conversation, informed this informant, that an association had been formed by himself and others, with some of the most influential traders at Detroit, for the purpose of purchasing all the lands contained in the Peninsula formed by lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan, and the waters connecting those lakes, amounting in the whole to twenty or thirty millions of acres, if the consent of Congress could be obtained for the extinguishment of the Indian claims thereto. The said Randall then produced a map of the peninsula and lakes.
That this tract of country was to be divided into shares, and that a number of shares was to be left unappropriated, until the necessary law of Congress should pass, authorizing the extinguishment of the Indian claims ; and might then be filled up by those who might think proper to concur in the plan, and should give their aid for procuring the passage of such law. Upon this intimation, this informant observed, that he hoped the said Randall did not intend to address the information of the unappropriated shares particularly to this informant.
To which the said Randall replied that he did not ; that he only meant it as general information; but he could see no impropriety in the members of Congress being concerned in the scheme, if the public good was to be promoted by it; and that thirty or forty members were already engaged in its support; or words to that effect.
After some further conversation of a gencral nature, respecting the present state of the fur trade; the value of the lands contained in the peninsula; and the probable effect of the late treaty upon that trade and country, the said Randall inquired of this informant "whether he deemed his plan advisable, and whether it would meet with the support of this informant in Congress.” To which this informant replied, that if the said Randall should bring his proposals before Congress, this informant would give them the consideration which his duty required, and should give such vote as he deemed right; or words to that effect. Very shortly after this observation, Mr. Edward Livingston, a member of Congress from New York, entered the room, and the said Randall left it, without further observation, as well as this informant recollects. This informant immediately communicated the contents of this conversation to Mr. Livingston, and declared that he considered the proffer of the unappropriated shares to the members of Congress, as a direct attempt at corruption.
This informant, on the same day, communicated the substance of the conversation to the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States, to Messrs. Blount, and Macon, of North Carolina, and to Messrs. Madison, and Venable, of Virginia. It was deemed advisable by all these gentlemen, as well as by this informant, to permit the plan to be brought before Congress in the usual way, by memorial, and to cause a detection, by means of a committee, to whom the said memorial should be referred: and in the mean time, if the said Randall should again call on this informant, he should proceed to make further discovery of the real state and nature of the transaction.
That on the next day the said Randall did again call on this informant, and informed him, that he, the said Randall
, then proposed to disclose his plan more particularly; and after some general remarks upon the public utility, as well as individual benefit of the plan, he said that it was in substance as follows:
The tract of country before described was to be divided into forty-one shares, five of which were to be reserved to the Indian traders at Detroit; the other thirty-six were to be divided into two departments; eighteen to the Eastern and eighteen to the Southern department. That six out of the eighteen shares were to be reserved to his Eastern partner and associates, and six out of the remaining eighteen, to himself and his associates. That the remaining twenty-four shares were to be left unappropriated, for the use of such members of Congress as should support the measure. That the names of those members were not to be made known until after the law for the extinguishment of the Indian claims had passed: and then requested this infornant to prepare some writing which would compel the ostensible persons to surrender the unappropriated shares to the real supporters of the measure, after it should be effected." That one million of dollars were spoken of as the price of the lands; but that he deemed that sum by far too much; and ag Congress would have to fix the price, they might make the terms such as to ensure considerable emoluments to the purchasers. That a majority of the Senate had consented to give the plan their support, and within three of a majority of the House of Representatives. After much further conversation on the subject, which this informant thinks unnecessary to particularize, the said Randall proinised to wait again on this informant, at his lodgings, on Tuesday evening, at seven o'clock, and introduce to this informant his Eastern associate.
The said Randall did not call at the appointed hour, and this informant did not sec him again until Friday, the twenty-fifth of December, when the said Randall again called on this informant, and, after making an apology for not calling at the appointed hour of the preceding Tuesday, informed him at the door of his apartment, that his memorial to Congress would be ready to be presented on the next Monday; but as se. veral gentlemen were in this informant's room at that time, the said Randall did not en. ter, and no further conversation was then had; since which time this informant has not seen the said Randall, until he was brought to the bar of the House of Representatives, in custody.
This informant further saith, that he communicated the substance of every material conversation with the said Randall, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and to the several gentlemen before mentioned.
WILLIAM B. GILES. 1st January, 1796.
I, Daniel Buck, inform and say, that about ten days previous to my setting out on my journey to Congress, (which was on the thirtieth day of November last,) a stranger, whom I now know to be Charles Whitney, in custody of the Sergeant-at-arms, called at my office in Norwich, in the State of Vermont, introduced himself by the name of Whitney, and informed me that he had some business of importance which he wished to converse with me upon. I asked if he wished to be in private ; he signified that he did, upon which my clerk withdrew; and the said Whitney proceeded to inform me that the business of which he wished to converse was of great importance to the public, as well as to the individuals immediately concerned. That it would come before Congress, but was so circumstanced as to render it necessary to make a previous statement to some of the members, that they might be able to explain to others; and the whole thereby be better prepared to judge upon the business: he declared he wished tor nothing improper, and that he did not want that I should favor the plan unless I saw it to be consistent : for he said he wanted nothing but what was perfectly just and honorable, and was confident that if the matter could be understood, it would appear to be of great public utility. He then stated that he and his associates had discovered a large and immensely valuable tract of land, between, or contiguous to lakes Erie, Huron, and Michigan, (if I mistake not the names,) which he said might be purchased of the Indians at a low rate: That this purchase would conciliate the affections, and secure the friendship of the hostile tribes : That he, the said Whitney, together with Ebenezer Allen, Doctor Randall, and a number of Canadian merchants at Detroit, had formed an association for the purpose of extinguishing the Indian title, and petitioning Congress for the pre-emption right to those lands ; that if they succeeded, it was their intention immediately to make settlement on them: That those merchants had such influence with, and control over the Indians, that there would be no difficulty with them; and that such a settlement would be a barrier against the savages, and effectually secure peace to the United States : That those merchants were then employed in the business among the Indians ; and that his partner, Doctor Randall, and his other associates, had such connections, that there was a fair prospect of success. That it was not their intention, however, to engross all this property to themselves; but that it was to be divided into nuinber of shares, and that he and the said Randall had the disposal of them. That he, the said Whitncy, was then directly from Philadelphia, and that it was agreed that Randall should dispose of a part amongst his friends, and the influential characters in the Southern States ; that he, the said Whitney, was to distribute the other part amongst his, the said Whitney's friends, and the influential characters in the Eastern and Northern States. That they had already got a number engaged, but that the subscription was not full, and that I might become an adventurer if I wished for it; and as he conceived that I could make myself acquainted with the facts, they, the said associates, would be able so clearly to demonstrate the public utility of the measure, that there could be no impropriety in my being concerned in the business, as I should thereby only connect my private interest with the public good; and while I was advancing the greatest interest of my country, might put two or three thousand dollars into my own pocket. Upon my suggesting, that by a lite treaty, a peace was already concluded with the Indians; and that this was a business that might involve in it an important national question, as, by the treaty, the right of purchasing lands of the Indians, was reserved to the United States, the said Whitney replied and said, that the Indians were greatly dissatisfied with the treaty, and would not keep it; and that another war would be the certain consequence, unless other measures were adopted. He then renewed the protestation of the purity of his intentions, and said that he conceived that they (meaning himself and associates, as I understood him) should so clearly evince the utility of the plan, as that there could be no doubt of its propriety in the mind of any well-wisher to his country; and said, that he thought it would be hard to suppose that members of Congress were, in consequence of their appointment, to be deprived of those advantages to acquire property which might be taken by others. The said Whitney shewed me a plan of the country, and the articles of agreement between the associates, which appear to be the same as have been read in Congress : he also said much upon the magnitude of the object, in respect to the subscribers and partners; and though I cannot now repeat his expressions, yet I can truly assert, that I then clearly understood him, that if I would subscribe as a partner, my name might be kept secret, and after the grant was obtained, if I chose to relinquish my share in the lands, I might receive money in lieu of it ; though no specified sum was mentioned, other than has already been stated; and the conversation finally broke off, upon my declaring that I would make no engagement in the business, until I was better informed as to the merits of the question.
DANIEL BUCK. 2d January, 1796.
The House then proceeded to a further hearing in the case of Robert Randall ; and the said Robert Randall being brought to the bar in the custody of the Sergeant, and attended by his counsel, the informations, in writing, of Mr. Smith,.of South Carolina, Mr. Murray, of Maryland, and Mr. Giles, of Virginia, were read to him.
It was then demanded of him by Mr. Speaker, “What he had to say in his defence " to which he answered, that he was not gulty.
It was further demanded of him by Mr. Speaker, “Whether he had any witnesses that he wished to be examined in proof of his innocence ?” to which he answered that he had not.
Application was then made to the House by the prisoner's counsel, that the informations which had been delivered in against him, may be attested by the oaths of the informant members, and that he may be permitted to examine them on oath, touching the same, subject to the order of the House: Whercupon,
The prisoner, with his counsel, having withdrawn from the bar, it was, after debate,
Resolved, That the prisoner be informed, that if he has any question to propose to the informants, or other members of the House, he is at liberty to put them in the mode already prescribed: that the said informant members be sworn to the declaration just read, and, also, to answer such questions, as shall be asked of them, touching the same.
The prisoner, with his counsel, having then returned to the bar, and being informed of the further proceeding respecting him; the inforınant members were respectively sworn to the truth of the written informations which they had severally delivered in against him ; and also true answer to make to such questions as should be asked of them touching the same: the said oaths being administered to them by the Judge of the Dis. trict of Pennsylvania, who attended for that purpose.
The House then resumed the hearing of the said trial; and, liaving having made some progress therein,
It was, on motion, resolved, that farther proceeding be adjourned until to-tcorrow twelve o'clock. The several orilers of the day were further postponed until to-morrow. And then the House adjourned until to-inoirow morning clerep o'clock,
TUESDAY, JANUARY 5, 1796. The Speaker laid before the House a letter from James Wilson, of the town of Alexandria, in the State of Virginia, late Minister of the Presbyterian Church of Charleston, in South Carolina, inclosing a plan which he has contemplated for establishing a National Tontine and Land Office ; which was real, and ordered to lie on the table.
Petitions from sundry citizens and inhabitants of the State of Vermont, whose names are thereunto subscribed, to the same effect, with sundry other petitions from the said State, in opposition to the treaty with Great Britain, were presented to the House and read.
Ordered, That the said petitions be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union.
A petition of Andrew Dunscomb, of the City of Richmond, in the State of Virginia, was presented to the House and read, praying that he may receive a balance of pay due to him as Commissioner for adjusting the accounts of the said State, against the United States.
Also, a petition of Maria Butler, widow of the late Brigadier General Richard Butler, deceased, who was killed in an engagement with the Indians, on the fourth of Noveinber, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one, praying that the allowance granted to the widows and orphan children of officers who were killed or died in the service of the United States, during the late war, may be extended to the widow and orphans of the cleceased.
Ordered, That the said petitions be referred to the Committee of Claims.
A petition of Anthony İlaswell, of Bennington, in the State of Vermont, editor of a weekly paper, entitled "The Vermont Gazette,” was presented to the Ilouse and read, praying that he may be authorized to publish the laws of the United States, on the same terms as other printers.
Ordered, That the said petition do lie on the table.
A petition of Paul Pinkham, keeper of the light-house, on the Island of Nantucket, in the State of Massachusetts, was presented to the House and read, stating the insufficiency of the compensation allowed him by law, and praying that the same may be increased, and rendered more adequate to his services.
Ordered, 'That the said petition, together with the petition of Tobias Lord and others, presented on the twentieth of January last, be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury, with instruction to examine the same, and report his opinion thereupon to the House.
A petition of John Devereux, of the town of Newbern, in the State of North Carolina, merchant, was presented to the House and read, praying a remission of the duties on a quantity of salt, the property of the petitioner, which he imported from Turks Island, into the District of Newbein, and was destroyed by a violent storm on the second day of August last.
Ordered, That the said petition, together with the memorial of sundry manufacturers of chocolate, in the State of Massachusetts, presented on the thirtieth of January last, be referred to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures; that they do examine the matter thercof, and report the same, with their opinion thereupon, to the House.
Ordered, That the Committee of Claims, to whom was referred the petition of Anne M'Mahon, be discharged from the farther consideration of the same.
Mr. Giles, from the committee appointed to wait on the President of the United States, and present him with the resolution which was yesterday agreed to by this House, on the subject of the colors of France, reported that the committee had, according to order, performed that service.
The House resumed the adjourned hearing in the case of Robert Randall; and the prisoner, by his counsel, being fully heard at the bar of the House, and his defence closed ; it was, on motion,
Resolved, that this House will, to-morrow, at twelve o'clock, proceed to a final decision on the said case.
The several orders of the day were further postponed until to-morrow.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 6, 1796. A petition of James Mackey, now in the county jail of Huntingdon, in the State of Pennsylvania, was presented to the House and read, praying relief from his imprisonment on a suit instituted against him on behalf of the United States, for the sum of two hundred and thirty-nine dollars and seventy-seven cents, due on account of spirits distilled by the petitioner within the said State.
Ordered, That the said petition be referred to the Attorney General, with instruction to examine the same, and report his opinion thereupon to the House.
Mr. Tracey, from the Committee of Claims, to whom were referred the several petitions of Thomas Alexander, of James Armor, of Anthony and Robert Bartow, of Amos Camp and Amos Miner, of Patrick Collins, of Peter Defreest, of Charles De Frey, of Lambert Dorland, of Martha Dow, of Robert Elliot, of Roger Enos, of Chandler Dinwiddie Fowke, of John Gates, of John Goodman, of Samuel lienley, of William How, of Andrew Jackson, of Jabez Johnson, of Reuben King, of William Laken, of Elizabeth Lovel, of Francis Mentges, of Jacob Milligan, of Abraham Mosser snd o hers, of Benjamin Mumford, of David Organ, of Matthew Orssen, of John Ostrander, of Peter Rutan, of Thomas Rutledge, administrator of William Rutledge, cleceased, of Emanuel Sewars, of George Sharp, of John Sumpter, and of Henry Wayman, made a report ; which was read, and ordered to lie on the table.
Ordered, That Mr. Sitgreaves have leave to be absent from the service of this House until Monday se'nnight.
On motion of Mr. Christie, of Maryland, and Mr. Sedgwick, of Massachusetts, the several informations heretofore given by them on oath, in the case of Robert Randall, and now delivered in, in writing, at the Clerk's table, subscribed with their names, respectively, were read, and ordered to be inserted in the Journal, as follow :
The declaration of Gabriel Christie is, that some time in the month of October or November last, this informant was in Philadelphia, when he saw Robert Randall, who had, as he informed this informant, just returned from Canada, where he had been disappointed in the business he went to that conntry on ; but he, Randall
, informed this informant that, on his way home, he had called at Detroit, where he had spent some time, and had, he believed, entered into an association, to which, if he got tîne consent of the Government of the United States, would be of considerable advantage to him, and those who chose to associate with him ; and informed this informant that he might he concerned with him, provided he liked the speculation. He then informed this informant that he had associated with a number of influential persons at Detroit, for the purpose of obtaining the pre-emption right to a large tract of country within the territory of the United States, and produced to this informant the original association. After this infomnant had heard all that Randall had to communicate to him, this informant told Randall that he considered his scheme as a wild goose one, and that this informant would not have any concern in it. Randall then requested this informant to give him his opinion in what manner he, Randall, ought to proceed. This informant told him that the most proper person to apply to was Mr. Randolph, the late Secretary of State, and if he, Randall
, thought proper, this informant would inforin Mr. Randolph. of it, and get his advice ; which Randall agreed to. This informant then went to Mr. Randolph, and gave him all the information that the informant had received from Randall. After considering the business some time, Mr. Randolph advised that an application should be made to the President of the United States; which advice the informant gave to Randall, who seemed, at that time, fully satisfied with the proposal, and requested the informant to introduce him to the President, for that purpose ; but, as this informant was going out of town in a day or two, he told Randall that he would introhim to the President on his return to Congress. When the informant came to Philadelphia, in December, he found Randall in the city ; and, after asking Raudall what he had done in his business, and whether he still meant to apply to the President, Randall then informed the informant that his friend and associate, Mr. Whitney, had arrived in Philadelphia, and that, upon consulting with him, they came to a determination not to apply to the President, as he heretofore had agreed, but had determincd to present a memorial to the Legislature for a grant of the said land. This informant told Randall that he disapproved of this mode, and asked Randall who had advised him to it. Randall then informed the informant, that this said Mr. Whitney had informed him that he had consulted with a number of the Eastern members of Congress, and in particular, with Mr. Sedgwick, who had advised this mode of proceeding: Randall also informed this informant, that Mr. Sedgwick had agreed to draw up and present his menorial. This informant then informed Randall that, by this mode of proceeding, he had put it out of this informant's power to be concerned with him, if he thought ever so well of it. Randall asked the informant the reason. The informant answered, that it would be improper in any member of Congress to be concerned in any thing that he was to vote on: This informant was not able to impress Randall with the propriety of his remark. The informant never understood that Mr. Sedgwick was, in any manner, concerned with Randall or his associates; but that he, Mr. Sedgwick, thought the thing a public benefit, and would support it. That Randall never informed this in