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36th Congress, ) HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. < Ooioc.
SELECT COMMITTEE OF FIVE,
ON THE FOLLOWING SUBJECTS:
1..FURTHER PROVISION FOR THE COLLECTION OF DUTIES ON IMPORTS.
2. ALLEGED HOSTILE ORGANIZATION AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT WITHIN
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
3. NAVAL FORCE OF THE UNITED STATES—WHERE STATIONED, &o.
4. RELATIVE TO THE CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND THE
COMMISSIONERS ON THE PART OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
5. SEIZURE OF FORTS, ARSENALS, REVENUE CUTTERS, AND OTHER PROPERTY
OF THE UNITED STATES.
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE.
In The House Of Kepresentatives,
March 2, 1861.
Resolved, That ten thousand extra copies of the several reports and evidence submitted
by the Select Committee of Five be printed and bound in one volume for the use of the
members of the House.
Attest: JOHN W. FOBNEY, Clerk,
36th Congress, ) HOUSE OP REPEESENTATIYES. ( Report 2d Session. J j No. 59.
FURTHER PROVISION FOR COLLECTION OF DUTIES ON
[To accompany Bill H. R. No. 969.]
January 30, 1861.
Mr. J. Cochrane, from the select committee of five on the special message of the President, made the following
The special committee, to whom was referred the message of the President of the United States, communicated to Congress January 9, 1861, having carefully considered the matters embraced in that paper, do now respectfully submit the accompanying bill in reference to that part thereoj relating to the collection of the revenues of the United States; and Mr. John Cochrane, in reporting the bill from the committee, accompanies the same, by authority of the committee, with a statement of his views in relation thereto, as follows:
While fully concurring with the President in the opinion that no State possesses, under and by virtue of the federal Constitution, any right or authority to secede or withdraw, or seperate itself from the federal Union, I am equally convinced that, not having been prohibited, the justification of the exercise of such right is referable to the nature and extent of those rights reserved to the States or the people thereof. Therefore, all the acts and ordinances of secession which have been or may be enacted by any State or States, acting separately, in my opinion, are, in as far as the same may be carried intp effect, to be considered as revolutionary infractions of the supreme law of the land, however they may be regarded as the proper exercise of an indefeasible right of " resisting acts which are plainly unconstitutional and too oppressive to be endured/'
I also concur with the President that the federal Constitution has abstained from conferring upon the federal government, or any department thereof, authority to declare and wage oppressive war against a seceding State, in order to coerce the repeal of any act or ordinance of secession which she may have passed, or the renunciation of any purpose of secession which she may entertain, or to compel her to remain nominally, as well as in fact, a member of the federal Union. On the contrary, the plenary power of offensive war and reprisals conferred by the Constitution upon Congress is, in my judgment, designed exclusively to authorize and empower such war by the federal governmerit in its discretion against such governments and communities as may be rightfully considered foreign to the Untied States.
States which profess to have seceded from the federal Union by their separate State action cannot, in my opinion, be rightfully so considered, and, therefore, a just conception of the constitutional authority of Congress combines with other and, if possible, higher an 1 more commanding motives to prescribe other measures than aggressive and coercive war to remedy the grave inconveniences, perils and evils, of such secession.
It is, on the other hand, entirely manifest that the federal government throughout the whole extent of its constitutional jurisdiction, both territorial and maritime, is vested with powers which it cannot surrender, and charged with trusts and duties which it must perform. It holds valuable property in every part of the territory over which its jurisdiction has been, by the solemn mandate of the people of all the States, extended; and it holds every article of this property as the common trustee of all the people of all the States for their common use and benefit, and to them and to all of them it is directly responsible for the safe-keeping and protection of such property. By constitutional legislation, supreme in its character and irrepealabie except by the authority which created it, the federal government has established a system of revenue laws which it is bound to maintain, and against all obstructions to the execution of which it is equally bound adequately to provide. No extra constitutional action of any State can possibly release the federal government in any of its departments from this imperative obligation.
It is to this aspect of the duty of Congress in the unfortunate and unexampled state of facts presented for its consideration by the President in his late message, that the attention of the committee has been specially directed, and they report herewith a bill designed, as is believed, peaceably, and in a spirit of moderation and forbearance fully to protect the entire revenue system of the United States from all the unconstitutional and unlawful obstructions and disturbances with which it is now or may be hereafter threatened.
In framing this measure there has been kept steadily in view, first, the obstacles of every character which oppose any attempt by the federal government to coerce a State; and, secondly, the principle upon which, as is conceived, the whole coercive action of our revenue system has, from its inception, been founded.
The just and rightful coercion exercised under the Constitution by the federal government in the collection of its revenue from foreign commerce is a coercion not directed against State authority, nor even against unlawful action by assemblages of persons within any State. That coercion, on the contrary, applies itself directly to the bulk and body of the foreign importations upon which the revenue is chargeable, and to the vessels and the agents by which they are brought into our ports opened to such commerce only under the protection and by the regulation of the federal law.
The well-understood and just assumption upon which all this foreign commerce proceeds is, that the federal government provides tor it ports of entry and delivery in which it may be entered and delivered, and in which the lawful duties chargeable upon it shall be collected and paid to the federal government, whose laws have, for that very consideration, established, and protected, and regulated such entry and delivery. The failure to observe those regulations is, by our whole code of revenue law, visited in penalties upon the agents by whom the merchandise is transported, the vessels in which it is carried, and finally in the form of seizure and forfeiture upon the merchandise itself. All this is a coercion of law upon foreign commerce, and not a coercion of force upon any State to which it may be bound. No State can rightfully expect that the United States shall permit foreign commerce to be carried on in ports and places open to it only under their authority, without compliance with the constitutional conditions under which those ports or places have been thus opened. It is in this view that the bill proposes that vessels from a foreign port, bound to a port within the scope of its provisions, shall, with its foreign cargo, be liable to seizure and condemnation, and, in the same view of applyits restrictions only to foreign commerce on which revenue is by law collected, all vessels lawfully engaged in the coastwise trade are exempted from the operation of its purely remedial and defensive provisions.