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Commissioner of Claims.
H. OF R.
That it had not been heretofore acted on, was in the Indian war previous to the Treaty of Greennot to be attributed, Mr. C.said, to any impression ville. derogating from the importance of the subject. Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That if any
It arose from the want of funds; from the em- officer or soldier of the militia, of the rangers, the seabarrassed state of our finances, and from the crit. | fencibles, the twelve and fifteen months volunteers, ical state of our foreigo relations, which demanded shall have died within three months after returning all our attention. We had now abundance of home from the service of the United States, by reason revenue, and were in a state of peace, giving the service of the United States, and shall have left a
of wounds received, or diseases contracted, while in leisure to Congress to examine subjects connected with domestic affairs of all which, internal im- widow, or, if no widow, a child or children under sixprovement was not exceeded in importance by child or children shall be entitled to, and receive half
teen years of age, such widow or, if no widow, such any. He hoped, therefore, the resolution would the monthly pay to which such officer or soldier was pass, and the inquiry be made as proposed.
entitled at the time of his leaving the service afore. The motion was agreed to, nem. con., and said, for and during the term of five years. But, in Messrs. Calhoun, SHEFFEY, CREIGHTON, Gros- case of death or intermarriage of such' widow, before VENOR, and INGHAM, were appointed the com- the expiration of the said term of five years, the half mittee.
pay for the remainder of the time shall go to the child or children of such deceased officer or soldier : Pro.
vided, also, That this provision shall extend to the Tuesday, December 17.
widows and children of the officers of the regular Another member, to wit: from New York, army. Victory Birdseye, appeared and took his seat. Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That, if any sol.
A new member also appeared, to wit: from dier of the regular army, during the late war, shall Virginia, John Tyler, in the room of John Clop- have died while in the service of the United States, or ton, deceased, who produced his credentials, was upon his return home, by wounds received in that ser. qualified, aod took his seat.
vice, or by any other means; or if any such soldier Engrossed bills, of the following titles, to wit: shall have died within three months after his return An act for the relief of Luther Bingham.
home, by wounds received or diseases contracted,
while in the service of the United States, and shall An act supplementary to an act to regulate the have left a widow, she shall be entitled to and receive duties on im posts and tonnage, were severally half the monthly pay to which the deceased was entiread the third time, and passed.
tled at the time of his death, or at his discharge, Mr. HERBERT, from the Committee on the Dis- for and during the term of five years; but, in the case trict of Columbia, reported a bill to incorporate of the death or intermarriage of such widow before the the Colombian Insurance Company of Alexan- expiration of the term aforesaid, the half pay for the dria; which was twice read, and committed. remainder of the five years shall cease and determine,
Some discussion took place on a motion made and, in the cases embraced by this act, the five years by Mr. Hardin, of Kentucky, to clothe the Com- shall commence from the death of the officer or soldier mittee of Claims with power to call for persons aforesaid. and papers, with a view to obtaining from Wil- The bill was twice read, and committed. liam O'Neale two papers, stated by Mr. HARDIN to be essential to a just view of the merits of his
COMMISSIONER OF CLAIMS. claim against the United States for a vessel de
Mr. Yancey, of North Carolina, from the Comstroyed; which papers were the property of the mittee of Claims, to whom was referred the MesHouse, but accidentally delivered to him by the sage of the President, recommending a revision clerk with his owo papers, which he bad leave to of the act for the settlement of claims, for propwithdraw from the files of the House. It was erty lost and destroyed in military service during suggested, after some conversation, rather than the war, handed in a report, stating the circumdebate, that this object could be accomplished stances of three decisions, which, in the opinion without difficully, on a mere request from the of the committee, the Commissioner had incorClerk to Mr. O'Neale; and, in the end, Mr. HAR- rectly made under the law, and recommendiog to DIN'S motion was rejected.
the House the adoption of the following bill : PENSIONS.
A Bill to amend the act “ to authorize the payment Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, from the Commit
for property lost, captured, or destroyed, by the enetee on Military Affairs, reported the following
my, while in the military service of the United States,
and for other purposes, passed the 9th day of April, bill:
1816." A Bill concerning the invalids of the Revolutionary Be it enacted, fc., That the ninth, tenth, eleventh,
war, and the widows and children of the militia, and twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth, sections of the act the soldiers of the army during the late war. “To authorize the payment for property lost, captured,
Be it enacted, &c., That all laws and regulations or destroyed, by the enemy, while in the military serauthorizing the officers and soldiers of the regular vice of the United States, and for other purposes, passed army, and the officers and soldiers of the militia, who the 9th day of April, 1816," be and the same is hereby served during the late war, to be placed on the pension | rej led. roll, shall, and they are hereby declared to, relate equal. Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That all claims, ly to the officers and soldiers of the Revolutionary war; the payment for which is authorized and allowed, by and the officers and soldiers of the militia who served the said act, shall hereafter be heard and decided by
H. OF R.
DECEMBER, 1816. the Additional Accountant of the War Department, Carroll's claim, or of what would have been its fate under such rules and regulations as bave heretofore upon an application to Congress ; but they are fully been established for the settlement of accounts in the persuaded that a sound.construction of the act would said Department, and such other rules as the President not authorize its payment. The amount of the claim of the United States may hereafter prescribe. is $27,093 50; the most objectionable part of which
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the loss or is a charge for rent of the house from the 24th August, destruction of the property, mentioned in the aforesaid 1814, to the 24th August, 1816, at $3,200. act, as well as the value thereof, shall be ascertained
The second was the case of Tench Ringgold & Co. by the best evidence which the nature of the case will Mr. Ringgold, W. and C. Smith, and Philip B. Key, admit of, and which shall be in the power of the party owned an extensive ropewalk, with a house on the to produce, and the amount thereof, when so ascer
same lot, and not far distant from the walk, in the City tained, and the decision thereon approved by the Sec. of Washington. It appears, from evidence filed with retary of War, shall be paid to the sufferer or suffer. the Commissioner, that the owners of the ropewalk ers, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise had been in the habit of manufacturing cordage for the appropriated.
Navy of the United States, upon contracts made with The report and bill were read, and referred to the Secretary of the Navy. In the year 1811, a cable a Committee of the Whole.
belonging to the United States, then lying in the navy The report is as follows:
yard, had one of its strands accidentally cut by a carTo enable the committee to decide on the necessity penter; it was taken to the ropewalk to have it cut, of an alteration in any of the provisions of the act, it and a new one put to each end." One end of the cable was necessary, first, to understand the construction was afterwards, in the latter part of the year 1811, which it had received from the Commissioner appointed removed to the navy yard, and the other continued in to carry it into effect. For this purpose, the chairman or about the walks. On the 25th August, a British of the committee, under their instruetions, addressed officer and a party of men went to the ropewalk, broke a letter to Richard Bland Lee, Esq., requesting his open one of the doors, and the officer ordered one of attendance before them, to give them such information the men to set fire to some yarns which were stretched upon the subject of their inquiry as his experience under in the walks, and which the master workman states the act could afford. Mr. Lee accordingly attended, were to have been manufactured into cables for the Gov. and, from a conversation with him generally upon the ernment. The person who had care of the ropewalks provisions of the act, the committee were decidedly of remonstrated against the conduct of the officer, and opinion that he had given, and was still disposed to assured him that it was the property of a private citizen; give, to the law, an extension of construction not con. to which he replied that he did not wish individuals to templated by Congress at the time of its passage, and suffer, but that he should destroy all houses and propnot warranted by its object. Among the adjudications erty which were engaged in public work, and that he made by the Commissioner, there are several which knew or believed the yarns in the ropewalks were inhave been examined by the committee, and in their tended for public use, and that the walks at that time were opinion not authorized by the law. The Ärst case to employed in public work. At the same time he ordered which their attention was called was the case of Dan. the house not far distant to be fired, but, upon exam. iel Carroll of Duddington, who, together with others, ination, finding that it was occupied by the master owned a house in the City of Washington, called workman of the walks, and not occupied as a storehouse, Tomlinson's Hotel. A part of this house was occu
it was not fired at that time; while the walk, however, pied by two families on the evening of the 23d of Au- was burning, the house caught fire and was destroyed. gust, 1814, at which time the remainder of the house, The value of the ropewalk, and the property that was heing unoccupied, was taken possession of by a troop in it, and the house, amounting to $17,612 39, has of cavalry, and some militia from Virginia, on their been awarded to the owners, upon the ground that the way to join that part of the army commanded by Gen- ropewalk and house constituted a military deposite eral Winder, and then in the vicinity of the city. an adjudication, in the opinion of the committee, most Some of the militia continued in possession of that part erroneous and improper. of the house, unoccupied by any family, until 11 or Another decision which has been made by the Com12 o'clock on the 24th. On that evening the British missioner, the committee are of opinion is much more army, commanded by General Ross, entered the city ; erroneous and improper than either of the two which and it is proved by some men who say they then be have been mentioned:
it is the case of William O'Neale Jonged to the British army, that, in consequence of its and Robert Taylor. The evidence before the Commisappearing to the officers that troops had occupied the sioner, and which he has submitted to the committee, house, it was burnt. No other person who lived in the was the certificate of Solomon Frazier, stating that he house or about it has proved the cause of its destruc- was a lieutenant in the flotilla service under the comtion. It is believed that, under a rigid and proper con- mand of Commodore Barney, and that, pursuant to struction of the law, this claim ought not to have been the commander's orders to him, he ordered the schooallowed. The ninth section of the act authorizes pay- ner Islet, belonging to O'Neale and Taylor, to be sunk ment for a house or building destroyed by the enemy in the Patuxent, to prevent her falling into the poswhile the same was occupied as a military deposite, session of the enemy, on the 22d August, 1814-she under the authority of an officer or agent of the United then having on board property of the United States. States, if it shall appear that such occupation was the The owners of this vessel are allowed $4,000, that cause of its destruction. A mere temporary occupac being the valuation, according to affidavits filed with tion of the house for one night and a part of the next the Commissioner, According to the adjudication, day, by one or two companies of militia, cannot impart this claim was allowed, under the third section of the to the house even the character of barracks, much less act which authorizes payment for property only in those that of a military deposite. It is not for the committee cases where the injury has been produced by capture, to decide upon this occasion upon the merits of Mr. | destruction, or loss, by the enemy.
H. OF R. The case of O'Neale and Taylor was before the valued rights which we hold under that instruCommittee of Claims the last session of Congress, and ment-a mode as old as the Government itself. by them reported to the House of Representatives. At first, when intrigue and State struggling bad That report, together with the evidence upon which it not polluted our elections, it was the most general was made-except the official statement of Commo- mode practised by most of the States, and is still dore Barney, which, according to the letter of the Seco continued by some of them. The objection, thereretary of the Navy of the 16th of December, 1816, is fore, which is urged by some, that the features now in the possession of William O'Neale-is annexed of our Government should not be altered," will to this report.
not apply to the proposed amendment, inasmuch Considering the extended construction which has
as it embraces po new feature, and fixes upon a been given to the law, and the erroneous decisions uniform rule, rendering it unalterable by the vaact should be so amended as to repeal a part of its pro- rying views of the
States and the changes of facvisions, and transfer the settlement of claims under it tions and times. The reason of the objection is to the War Department. They are the more induced one of the strongest arguments in favor of estabto recommend this course, because the cases provided lishing a fixed rule for the exercise of our suffor will there be determined according to uniform prin- frages, which shall become venerable from long ciples observed in the settlement of claims under the and unaltered usage, and on principles which will control and responsibility of the Head of that Depart- be equal and fair to all parties, to all parts of the ment, and will pass through the several offices in the country, and at all times. usual way of transacting business, and subject to the Another objection I have heard to one branch usual checks known to be so salutary in the settlement of this amendment is, that Congress already posof accounts. They therefore report a bill to that effect. sesses the power of regulating the elections of
representatives. It is a sufficient answer to say AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION.
that Congress never bas yet ventured to touch The House resolved itself into a Committee of the subject, so extremely delicate is it viewed. the Whole on the state of the Union, Mr. Smith, Indeed, Congress should never be allowed to touch of Maryland, in the Chair.
it, unless to make such regulations as should be The proposition made by Mr. Pickens to rec- perpetual. The consequence of allowing this ommend to the States an amendment to the Con- body to be changing the mode of exercising this stitution, to establish an uniformity of the mode fundamental right, would be viewed by some of of election (by districts) in all the States, of Rep the States with great jealousy, particularly where resentatives to Congress and Electors of President it might be construed as done with the view of and Vice President, was read.
gaioing some unfair political advantage; and it Mr. Pickens, of North Carolina, rose to supo might often happen that the jealousy would be port his proposition. lo po other case can it be too well founded. To avoid, therefore, all causes more important, he said, that the law should be for future heart-burnings, in times when intrigue fixed and uniform, than in the exercise of the right and faction shall prevail, would it not be prudent, of suffrage. This is the only link between the at this season of serenity, when there is no parpeople and their Government. To preserve this ticular contest in view, to establish, unalterably, connesion, this right should not oply be exercised such regulations as will be just and fair, and least in fact, but in such manner as to insure it confi- liable to abuse ? dence and respect. For this purpose, it would Steadiness and uniformity in the mode of elecseem essential ihat the mode of election should Lion of either the Representatives or the Electors, be fair in relation to different parts; that it should is only attaioable by a Constitutional provision. be free from sudden changes; that it should be as While this is left to the varying views of Condirect a communication of the public will as gress, and the still more various and varying conveniently might be, and in a manner the most councils of the several States, such changes will pure.
be made by the prevailing parties, for the time If our system of Government is worthy of a being, as may answer their particular views. Our fair trial, it must be an urgent duty on us to apply own experience is ample to prove this. We have its fuodamental powers so as to perform properly seen sometimes a general vote prescribed-distheir several functions. The public will being tricts of various sizes electing from one to three the centre of motion, its influence must be prop- or four Representatives or Electors, and Legislaerly imparted to the surrounding bodies, or the cures have taken upon themselves the appointexperiment will be unfair, and the system mayment of Electors. Thus have the people been become deranged; with this view, the present kept in a state of Aluctuation and uncertaiaty, amendment to the Constitution has been offered. about the most important right they possess, after
Mr. P. said the proposition now before the Com-enjoying it very equivocally and indirectly, if enmittee was so plain in itself, and had been so joyed at all. There have been exhibited between oiten brought into view in the different States, as Siates and the parties in States, almost every well as before this body on several occasions, that four years, what might be called a political farce, he would only present a few leadiog ideas which but for the importance of the actors, and the induced him to hope for its adoptioa.
weight of the results. The prevailing party in a The resolution proposed to engraft no new prin. State have generally been the advocates of State ciple into the Constitution ; but to prescribe a rights, and for giving a united suffrage, regardless mode of exercising one of the clearest and most of the sentiments of divisions, being a minority of
H. OF R.
Amendment to the Constitution.
the whole State. The minority in a State have long unaltered custom. This renders a bad Gov. contended for allowing to every section its proper ernment more tolerable, and is the foundation of and distinct weight, tending to divide the weight half the laws of every country in the world, our of suffrage. And this is the general character of own not excepted. When to this regularity of the majority and minority, no matter of what po- method is added the qualities of being fair, pure, litical complexion.
and congenial to our free professions, we can at We have seen the great State of Pennsylvania, least promise ourselves a fair trial of the theory though she generally acts with much regularity, of our Government. at the poiot of losing her entire suffrage in the These qualities all attend the mode proposed, choice of Electors; the choice was then in the in an eminent degree, with others which add to Legislature, and the two branches differing in po- its worth. Io elections by the people, in single litical views, they were unable to agree on a bal- districts, the candidates will be well known to the lot, until an actual compromise was effected, in voters; they can best judge by their own knowl. which each side held out for the best terms it edge who may be entitled to their confidence. could procure. In this act the public voice was The choice flows most directly from the people, unheard.
who need no dictation from a caucus. The voter About four years ago a similar case happened is not hampered by a general ticket of many in Massachusetts, in which a compromise was names, some of whom he may not know, and agreed to, after many vain attempts to effect the others he may not like. The operation being choice, the two branches being opposed to each confined to narrow limits, and the result being other.
small,, the public excitement cannot be great. About the same time, in New Jersey, a general The exercise of suffrage, originating with the vote of the people being the established mode for people, it must be inaccessible to corruption. It choosing Electors, and no change in the number is a maxim universally admitted, that the body of of Electors, or other ostensible reason for an alter the people is honest, and free from intrigue. It ation existing, the Legislature convened a few would, indeed, be inconsistent to suppose ihat the days previous to the time of election; and finding people should feel an interest in injuring thema majority of that body of a different political selves; that they should be corruptible, would be complexion from what they supposed the majority absurd. Otherwise, in the case of a legislative of the qualified voters in the Siate to be, the elec- choice, or caucus nomination. With all these tion law was instantly repealed, and the right of properties, it has that of being perfectly conveappointing Electors was assumed by the Legisla- nient. ture, giving the Electoral College their own po- In every State there will be a diversity of senlitical image.
timent, and often of interest. In this mode, each Mr. P. said he meant no reflection on these re- will have a fair hearing, where it amounts in imspectable States; the fault is in the system, or portance to the majority of a district. In a genrather the want of system. These are a few only eral vote, any portion of sentiment less than a of the ridiculous and disgusting occurrences which full majority of a State, will not be represented ever have, and ever will attend this unsettled distinctly. The States of Georgia, Connecticut, course; tending to degrade our representative New Hampshire, and Vermont, all of which have Government in the eyes of the world, and to lower chosen Representatives by general vote, in each it in our own estimation.
of these there may be a diversity of opinion and We boast of our Government as an exception of interest; this appears obvious from the main the wisdom of its organization, as well as in jority being so equivocal in some of them, as to the freedom of its institutions, and that it is not make entire changes in their delegation. It is formed for the present day only, but for posterity. presumable, that by the district plan there might How can we reconcile this promising picture with be districts, having decided majorities differing the fact before us, that we cannot exercise one of from the prevailing sentiment of ihe State. And the plainest acts under the Constitution, and one why should not these be heard in their due proessential to its existence-the choice of a Chief portion ? Difference of opinion is no crime. It Magistrate-without these struggles and intrigues arises mostly from difference of interest and of among the members of the Confederacy, and be associations. If there be a district in Connecti. tween their component parts? No uniformity: cut, having a majority of what is called Republino stability-maxims which we call fundamental, can opinions; or a district in Georgia, of oppobeing often disregarded in practice, by which the site sentiment, I should like, in either case, to see people, the boasted fountain of power, have some such districts represented here. Though there times not even the semblance of suffrage, and might be no great difference in the general mooften nothing but the semblance. The Electors, mentum on either side, by this change, it would chosen by a Legislature, elected for a very differ- afford most happy consequences. Disappointment, ent purpose, or by a general ticket, formed by a in any measure, is then reconciled by the refleclegislative or other caucus.
tion that there was a fair trial. Kindred sympaWould it not conduce more to the digoity and thies would be happily blended between distant stability of the Government, to have its principal climates, and geographical divisions avoided. The offices Glled by a fair uniform procedure, which contrary is the consequence, in any larger mode long habit would render venerable? Nothing of division, and especially in a general vote of tends more to give respect to any institution than States. Disappoiniment is then sharpened by
considering that a fair trial was not had, that the before the House was not, he said, to his mind, sentiments of the minor divisions of the States calculated to change the principles of the Constiwere not heard. Antipathies would paturally be tution, since it proposed nothing more than a come sectional between whole States and regions, modification of the manner in which a Constitubeing united in opposition to each other, respect- tional provision should executed. That the ively.
people should elect their Representatives, in such of all species of division, none is so truly to be a manner as to speak the voice of the nation most deprecated as that of a geographical character. distinctly, was what the Constitution intended. And that the mode of general vote tends that way To so organize the House of Representatives that is clear, and that in filling the Electoral Colleges, they may truly speak the national will, is to lay as well as this House. For, the very appearance out the State into districts for electing Representof this united opposition in colleges within whole atives; or the minority of the people may elect States and regions, to other sections, equally uni- the majority of the Representatives. Mr. R. was ted, and this frequently occurring, will naturally therefore in favor of this part of the resolution. lead to the same kind of local feeling. And as But the other proposition, said he, as now precertainly, 100, in a federative system, where each sented to us, contemplates an invasion of one of State is left free to regulate its weight in the bal- the great fundamental priociples of our Constituance, does it tend toward the mode of entire suf- tion. It was not so, as the honorable gentleman frage; and our experience proves it. The evil, from North Carolina seemed to suppose, that the theo, is a national one, and a growing, one. Its great States had yielded to the smaller ones (at only cure is by a Constitutional provision. the formation of the Constitution) two Senators
li is said that, by adopting this amendment in each. It was the small States that yielded a full the case of Electors, the federative principle in representation to the large States, in the popular that particular will be decreased. What is that branch, according to their numbers. Before the federa live principle? It consists mostly in the adoption of the Constitution each Slate, large or two extra Electors being allowed to the States small
, had an equal voice in Congress, as an indewithout respect to their relative sizes; this was a peodent State, confederated with others, on equal concession io the small States. And this is still terms and with equal rights. But, the large States retained by the amendment, as there is no altera- having to pay a share of the taxes in proportion tion in the distribution or number of Electors. to their numbers, the smaller States had conceded The right of the States, indeed, to regulate the to the larger ones, that they should have a repremode of appointment being of a federative char-sentation in one branch of ihe Legislature in proacter, may be an object with some. But when portion to their numbers. One branch of the the State is so united in sentiment as to present Legislature, therefore, was representative, the an und ivided front, it may still do so, and ihe ob- other federative. The Executive branch of the ject is still retained. When this is not the case, Government was a compound of both—the people ihe loss in any State will depend on the relative and the State sovereignties combining their pow losses sustained by other States in the same way, ers to elect 'a President of the United Siates. and the fraction of loss in any case is not worth Hence a small Slate, containing sixty thousand the expense of the many evils resulting from the was entitled to four Electors, while one of present unsettled course.
double the population had perhaps not five votes, Mr. P. said he had long been impressed with because the Electors are chosen on a principle the necessity of this amendment, and bad for sev: which is a compound of the popular and federaeral successive sessions presented it; the favorable tive principles, one of which this proposition properiod, he hoped, had now arrived; it may be poses to invade. Those Electors to be appointed many years before we experience so much inter-io represent the people, Mr. R. said, he had no nal harmony. He had sincerely wished that his objection should be chosen by the people, and in views bad impressed some other member to have the same districts as are laid out for the election offered this proposition, whose influence and ar. of Representatives; but the other two in each guments could bave given it force. He still hoped State, who were to represent the State sovereignits own merils were such as to give it a favorable ties, ought to continue to be chosen as the Legisdetermination.
lature might direct. To establish a different mode, Mr. Root, of New York, said that changes in would be to invade the rights of the States; and the constitutions of Governments ought never to it would, besides, be found extremely inconvebe made on slight motives. Some great evil 10 pieni, in practice, io adopt the rule proposed. be avoided, or some great good to be attained, New York, for instance, with twenty-seven disought to be the only motive to change. Attempts tricts for Representatives, would find it extremely to change a constitution, even if unsuccessful, inconvenieni to lay out twenty-nine for Electors'; produced very pernicious effects; they are calcu- and the change would, in other respects, be burlated to strip, in a degree, the Constitution of that densome. But the inconvenience of the rule in reverence and respect to which it ought to be en- practice was not an objection, by any means, of titled, and which ihe rising generation ought to equal force with that growing out of its invasion be taught to entertain for it. For these reasons, of the principles of our Government, which was Mr. R. said, he never would consent to a change to him an insuperable obstacle to that part of the for slight causes.
resolution. The first proposition contained in the resolution Mr. HAMMOND, of New York, said that the res