The House of RepresentativesMonday, December 21, 1857.
The House met at twelve o'clock m. Prayer by Rev. P.D. Gurley.
The Journal of Saturday was read and approved.
The Speaker appointed Merssrs. Maynard, Davis of Indiana, Ricaud, and Horton, as the committee, authorized on Friday last, to investigate into the accounts and conduct of Hon. William Cullom, late clerk of the House.
Mr. J. Glancy Jones moved that the rules be suspended, and that the House resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, for the purpose of resuming the consideration of the Treasury note bill. Mr. J. also moved the usual resolution for closing debate in Committee of the Whole in one hour after it shall again resume the consideration of said bill, and demanded the previous question upon the latter motion.
Mr. Grow. What is the regular order of business ?
The Speaker. The call of States for resolutions.
Mr. Grow. I call for the regular order.
The Speaker. Both motions of the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. J. Glancy Jones] are in order.
Mr. Grow. Do they take precedence of the regular order of business ?
The Speaker. They are privileged motions, and will take precedence.
Mr. J. Glancy Jones. As it seems to be the wish of gentlemen around me, I will fix the time for closing debate two hours after its consideration shall be resumed, instead of one. I demand the previous question upon the motion.
The House divided upon seconding the demand for the previous question, and there were ayes 89, noes 72.
Mr. Billinghurst demanded tellers.
Tellers were ordered; and Messrs. Billinghurst and Hawkins were appointed.
The question was taken; and the tellers reported ayes 80, noes 83.
So the previous question was not seconded.
Mr. Washburne, of Maine. I ask the unanimous consent of the House to present joint resolutions of the Legislature of the State of Maine, that they may be laid upon the table, and printed.
The Speaker. The question is upon agreeing to the resolution offered by the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. Florence [Pennsylvania (D)]. I ask my colleague to withdraw his motion a moment, to allow me to introduce a bill of which previous notice has been given.
Mr. J. Glancy Jones declined to withdraw.
Mr. Washburne, of Maine. I trust there will be no objection to my presenting the joint resolutions of the Legislature of the State of Maine.
No objection being made, the joint resolutions of the Legislature of Maine, in relation to indemnity for French spoilations, were presented, laid upon the table and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Florence. I now ask unanimous consent to introduce a bill of which previous notice has been given.
Mr. Phelps. [Missouri (D)] I object to anything but the regular order of business.
Mr. Florence. Is it not a privileged motion ?
Mr. Phelps. I insist upon the regular order.
The Speaker. Objection is made. The question is upon the motion that the debates on the Treasury note bill in the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union be closed within two hours after the committee shall again resume its consideration.
The motion was not agreed to.
The rules were then suspended, and the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, (Mr. PHELPS in the chair,) and resumed the consideration of the
Treasury Note Bill.
The CHAIRMAN stated that the question was upon the following amendment, offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. BANKS,] to the first section of the bill:
Provided, That the power to issue Treasury notes, conferred upon the President of the United States by this act, shall cease and determine an the 1st day of January, 1859
Upon which the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. FLORENCE] was entitled to the floor.
Mr. Letcher. Will the gentleman allow me the floor ?
Mr. ABBOTT [Maine (R)]. I desire the floor, if the gentleman from Pennsylvania does not occupy it.
Mr. FLORENCE. I have no particular anxiety to occupy the floor at this time, and I will yield it to the gentleman from Virginia.
Mr. MORRIS, of Pennsylvania. I object to the gentleman farming out the floor to any one.
The CHAIRMAN. Does the gentleman from Pennsylvania yield the floor.
Mr. FLORENCE. I do not desire to occupy it at this time.
Mr. ABBOTT obtained the floor and said: I have waited, Mr. Chairman, since this discussion commenced, for the purpose of hearing some gentleman of this House express the views which I entertain, in reference to the bill now before the committee. No gentleman has yet expressed the views I entertain, and I deem it my duty to express them myself.
Gentlemen on the other side of the House, and the Secretary of the Treasury, demand the passage of this important measure upon the ground, as I understand it, of relief to the Treasury a mere relief bill. Gentlemen on this side of the Hall my friend from Massachusetts, [Mr. BANKS] and my friend from Maryland, [Mr. Davis] have expressed their assent, as I understand it, to the provisions of this bill, provided they can be qualified and limited in a certain manner.
Now, sir, I am opposed to this bill in toto; I am opposed to it upon principle, and I am opposed to it, also, because I believe it is not necessary, at the present time, as a relief bill. I am not in favor of converting the General Government of this country into a great national bank for the purpose of circulating a paper medium to the extent of $20,000,000; neither do I believe that this measure is necessary as a measure of relief. If this Government is at the present time destitute of means for the purpose of carrying on the Government, I am in favor of furnishing the necessary means, whether the Government is destitute from its own folly and extravagance or from any other cause. I would endeavor to protect the national honor and the national credit; but I would protect it in that way which I consider the least injurious to the Public.
[Here the committee rose informally, and a message was received from the Senate, by Ashbury Dickins, their Secretary, informing the House that the Senate had passed a bill entitled "An act to authorize the issue of Treasury notes," in which he was directed to ask the concurrence of the House. The committee then resumed its session.]
Mr. ABBOTT. What, sir, does this bill propose ? It proposes, in the first place, to increase the national debt $20,000,000. It proposes, in the second place, to flood the country with $20,000,000 of circulating medium, which, if the President is right in what he says in his message in reference to banks, will tend to aggravate and prolong the present commercial embarrassment.
Now, sir, I propose as a relief to the Treasury at the present time, that we curtail the expenses of the General Government by lopping off some of the unnecessary expenditures to which the Government is now subjected, or, in other words, by abolishing, or, at least, suspending, some of the sinecures of the country. If we can relieve the Treasury $20,000,000 by lopping off some of the expenditures of the Government which are unnecessary, it will be far better, in my humble judgment, than to issue $20,000,000 of Treasury notes. Well, sir, how can it be done ? I will say to gentlemen of this House, on the one side and the other, that if there has been the same creation of unnecessary offices all over the country as there has been in the town in which I reside, and you will lop off those unnecessary expenditures, you will relieve the Treasury from more than twenty million dollars per annum. In the little town where I reside there is a population of only five thousand inhabitants. In that little town, since President Pierce's administration came into power, in 1852, there have been two offices created, at an expense to the General Government of $4,100 per annum. One of these offices was named aid to the revenue for the towns of Northport and Lincolnville, and the officer was appointed from Belfast, at a cost of $1,100 per annum. The other of these sinecures I will not call it an office was given to a gentleman in California, at an expense to the General Government of $3,000, or more, per annum; making in all $4,100.
Now, sir, what are the duties of those officers ? The aid to the revenue has no duties whatever to perform. Before the collection district was divided, only three officers were required to discharge the duties of the customs a collector, a deputy, and a tide-waiter. After that district was divided, the same number of officers, at the same expense, was retained. The duties involved in the collection of the customs at that port are only about half as much as they were before the division of the collection district, and yet the same number of officers has been retained. Shortly after the inauguration of President Pierce, in 1852, the Democratic paper in my town came out, because of certain circumstances and of certain positions which the Chief Magistrate then took against the renomination and reëlection of Franklin Pierce. It was then thought necessary to establish another paper, and another paper was established, and it was necessary that the paper thus established, to sustain the views of Franklin Pierce and his fallen fortunes, should be maintained. But, in order to support it, it was necessary to create a new office, and that office has followed the publication of the paper to this day. There have been several changes in the publishers of that paper, but at every change this office has descended to the incumbent. It is a sort of heir-loom, going with that paper, and the incumbent has nothing to do with the duties of the customs. Now, sir, in relation to this appointment of the Californian, I do not know that that office has any name; I know of none. I do not know that it is worthy of a name. But, at any rate, the office was created, and as I understand it, the incumbent is a sort of general political agent for all California. Now, sir, what are his duties ? He has duties to perform, I suppose, but I know of none. I have heard of no duties which that gentleman has to perform in California, except to act as an agent to superintend everything in general and nothing in particular.
Strike off these sinecures, if they exist all over the country as they do in this little locality, and you will relieve the revenue of more than $20,000,000 all that is required, according to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury. Take the question thus, which is the fair way of stating it: If there be expended in a territory which contains only five thousand inhabitants, $4,100 per annum, how much will be expended in a territory which has thirty millions ? You will have, Mr. Chairman, $24,600,000, or $4,600,000 more than is wanted to meet the estimated deficiency in the Treasury for the present fiscal year.
This, Mr. Chairman, is the proper, legitimate mode of relieving the Treasury. I would not have the Treasury embarrassed; I would not have the national credit dishonored; but I would have this deficiency in the national Treasury furnished in some better way than by converting this Government into a great national bank, and flooding this country with $20,000,000 of paper currency, in addition to what is now in circulation, to inflate the currency and aggravate the present commercial embarrassment.
Sir, with what propriety can gentlemen ask us on this side of the House to vote for this bill, when, by lopping off these sinecures, they can relieve the Treasury from all the estimated or contemplated deficiencies ? I do not know, Mr. Chairman, that the appointment or creation of these sinecures to be paid out of the national Treasury is a fraud upon the people of the country; but I say this much, that, in my humble judgment, it comes so near a fraud, that I should like to see some gentleman point out to me the slightest difference between it and a fraud. I can see none. And yet we are asked to vote for a bill which I think, to say the least of it, is inexpedient and improper under the circumstances. If it is necessary to raise money to meet the immediate wants of the Government, let us resort to a small temporary loan, instead of resorting to this measure.
Mr. Chairman, I wish to allude to one other matter in connection with this subject. The President, in his annual message, as I understand it, charges the whole difficulty now existing in the monetary affairs of this country, wholly and unqualifiedly on the banks of this country. Now, so far as that is concerned, the banks are no more chargeable with the present financial condition of the country, than they are chargeable with the extravagance that has depleted the Treasury of the United States. The banks are no more chargeable with these embarrassments that now exist, than they are chargeable with having corrupted the national Government. Have the banks excited the national Government to this extravagance that we see everywhere existing ? I am no friend of banks or of paper money, but still I do not wish to hear the banking institutions of this country branded, if I may use the term, without saying a word in their favor. I have never been the friend of banking institutions, or of paper money, and I have been especially opposed to the extravagant issue of paper money; but I do not wish to see the banks of the country placed in a position by the Executive to which they are not entitled. The President, in his message, says:
" In all former revulsions the blame might have been fairly attributed to a variety of cooperating causes, but not so upon the present occasion. It is apparent that our existing misfortunes have proceeded solely from our extravagant and vicious system of paper currency and bank credits, exciting the people to wild speculations and gambling in stocks. These revulsions must continue to recur at successive intervals so long as the amount of the paper currency and bank loans and discounts of the country shall be left to the discretion of 1,400 irresponsible banking institutions,"
That paragraph contains two distinct errors. In the first place, the banks are not irresponsible. They may be irresponsible to the national Government, and I am glad, Mr. Chairman, that they are; for if they were not, I should be afraid that they would be corrupted. They are responsible directly to their own State governments. Their charters limit and qualify and regulate all their actions. Neither are they responsible for this embarrassment that has come on the commercial interests at the present time. What, Mr. Chairman, is the true cause of this commercial revulsion, under which we are now laboring ? It is, in my judgment, simply this: the community has traded with foreign Governments more than the amount of their exports. The present revulsion is an ordinary one, common to all commercial countries that trade with foreign communities beyond the amount of their exports. In other words, when the imports of a country exceed the exports, then that country is going behindhand precisely the same as when the expenditure of an individual exceeds his income, he sinks deeper and deeper into embarrassment. If a country imports more than it exports, then it is sinking; and, by-and-by, comes pay day; and when pay day comes the specie is drawn from the country, and then comes the revulsion. This is the true cause, and the only true cause of the commercial revulsion in all commercial countries. It is here as everywhere else.
One word further. This message, as I understand it, charges on the banks all these commercial troubles; thus making the banks exceedingly potent for evil. And turning over a few pages more of the message, we find the President, in that portion of the message that relates to Kansas, intimating that banking institutions are of no consequence whatever, that none of the local or domestic institutions of the North are of the lightest consequence whatever, and that the only institution which is of any sort of consequence to the people of the country is the slavery institution. The banking institutions, literary institutions, common schools, and all the other institutions of the North, are of no sort of consequence when the President comes to discuss the Kansas question; but when he discusses commercial revulsion he shoulders the responsibility from the national Government to the banks, and then it is that the institutions of the North are of some importance, then it is that the banking institutions are potent for evil.
I would say one word more in relation to the banking institutions of the country. I know but little about those of the West. I know but little about those of the South. But I know that the banking institutions of New England, and the banking institutions of the middle States have been, for the last four or five years, as solvent and as prudent in their operations as any bank ever were in any country.
And I will say further, that the banking institutions and the people of this country have not been half so extravagant as the national Government have been. I have here a few statistics, for it may be said that the national Government has not run into this extravagance. Figures sometimes give us some light on these questions. In 1831, the expenditures of the Government, I find from the Treasurer's report, were $25,044,358.40. The expenditures of the Government for the year 1830 were about the same. In 1852, they were $46,007,896.20. Then, in twenty-one years the expenditures of the Government were increased from a little over twenty-five millions to more than forty-six million dollars per annum.
Again, as I have stated, the expenses of the Government, in 1852, were $46,007,896.20; but for the fiscal year of 1857, the expenses ran up to $70,822,724 85. Here, then, in a period of only five years, we have an increase in the Government expenses of $24,814,828.65.
Sir, how did this happen ? I have shown to you that this enormous increase has taken place in consequence of the extravagance of the national Government. I have shown you, by reference to my own little town, that in that town have been expended, in purely sinecure offices, more than four thousand one hundred dollars per annum. If there have been expenditures in the same ratio for the same useless purposes all over the Union, the amount would reach $24,600,000 more than the estimated deficiency of the Treasury. It would have paid the $20,000,000 now asked for, and have left a surplus of $4,600,000 in the Treasury.
Mr. Chairman, I am not going to ask gentlemen on the other side of the House to abolish these sinecure offices, if they wish to keep them up; but I am going to ask them, if they will not abolish them, to at least suspend them for one year, that the Treasury may be relieved. I do not know but gentlemen may find it necessary to keep up these sinecures, which began shortly after the commencement of the administration of Franklin Pierce, and have continued to the present time. There may have been a necessity for these sinecures, an absolute necessity, in order that the national Government might sustain its political power. It is well known that politicians want place, and that they will have place or abandon the Administration. Place they must have, and places they have had, until, within the last five years, they have increased the expenses of the national Government from $46,000,000 to over $70,000,000.
Now, sir, I do not know how gentlemen who have the control and responsibility of the Government for they will not allow us on this side of the House to have any control in the matter I do not know how they can ask us to go into the passage of this bill, and thus increase the national debt $20,000,000. Sir, I would have this House begin the work of retrenchment here; I would have this House set the example of reform to the other branches of the Government. Instead of providing additional messengers and additional pages; instead of creating additional clerkships for all your standing committees to do the work proper for members themselves to do; instead of increasing our expenses by these various means, I would commence by lopping off our expenses, or, at least, suspend their increase, at any rate, until the Treasury has been relieved from its necessities. When these necessities have been relieved, then there may be some excuse for these sinecures. Then the gentlemen who wish to sustain power and to ingraft upon this country a policy which is obnoxious to a great portion of the people of the country, may, if they choose, continue these sinecures. I care not for them.
[A message was here received from the Senate, by Asbury Dickins, its Secretary the Speaker having temporarily resumed the chair for that purpose informing the House that the Senate had passed a resolution for the adjournment of the two Houses of Congress, in which he asked the concurrence of the House.]
But, sir, it may be asserted that, owing to the troubles in Utah, more money may be necessary to meet the expenses of the present current year than has been required for preceding years. We are now, at the present moment, at peace with all the world at any rate, we are at peace with all foreign Powers, and might be at peace with ourselves, if we would take the army now stationed in Kansas for the purpose of crushing out freedom in that Territory, and transfer it to Utah. If we put that army to work in Utah, we might not only be at peace with all foreign Powers, but we would be at peace with ourselves.
Mr. Chairman, I have made these few remarks not with any design of going into all the details of the question. I wished only to state these few points to the committee. While I shall vote against the bill without the amendment of my friend from Massachusetts, [Mr. BANKS,] I am not opposed to it in toto. I ant opposed to it in its present condition; but I shall not be opposed to it if it shall be so amended as to bring it to what I believe to be judicious and necessary. I am ready to meet the wants of the President; and if they cannot be met in any other proper manner, then I may be induced to agree to this bill. But, sir, for the present, I deem this bill injudicious and unnecessary; and I hope, therefore, that this House will look into it, and carefully consider its features before they take the responsibility of passing it.
Mr. Letcher. I am very glad to learn that the somewhat distinguished firm HOUSTON, Jones & Co. is likely to receive some important accessions. We have heretofore been charged with being very illiberal in our votes, and whenever any proposition has been brought in here which we thought proper to oppose, gentlemen on the other side have regarded our opposition as a sufficient ground for voting in favor of it. I find now that the gentleman from Maine [Mr. Abbott] has come upon our platform, and that he has commenced to lecture Government upon the subject of extravagance. But there were one or two things in connection with that lecture which struck me as a little remarkable. The gentleman tells us that in his town, in Maine, the Government has expended a vast deal of money unnecessarily, and that it has somehow or other been connected with a newspaper establishment existing at that place. Now, sir, if the officers are unnecessary; if their salaries ought not to be paid; if it is profligacy and extravagance to have the officers, why does not the gentleman signalize his advent here by introducing a bill to abolish those offices which he knows to be useless ?
Mr. ABBOTT. I will state to the gentleman that I have an amendment to that effect, which I shall offer to this bill.
Mr. LETCHER. Such an amendment to this bill ! An amendment to reduce the number of officers to be added to a Treasury note bill ? [Laughter.] I apprehend the gentleman will find, after he has been here a short time, that he will never get a man in that chair who will not rule such an amendment out of order, under such circumstances. Let him bring in a bill, so as to repeal not only the law which gives officers there, but repeal all other laws which establish useless offices elsewhere
Mr. ABBOTT. I have it in my hand.
Mr. LETCHER. A bill ?
Mr. ABBOTT. No; an amendment.
Mr. LETCHER. But I do not think the gentleman's amendment will fit this bill. That is all. If he can get it in, and the officers are useless, I will vote with him.
But we had a little chance for economy the other day, when it was proposed to allow clerks to various committees of this House. It seems to me that there was a chance where the gentleman might have shown a regard to economy by voting with us, who voted against them.
Mr. ABBOTT. I voted against all those propositions.
Mr. LETCHER. I am glad to hear it, for it is still better evidence that he is coming to our side. Now, sir, the gentleman tells us that the Government expenditures for the last year have reached upwards of $70,000,000, and intimates that that expenditure is chargeable upon the present Administration. How can that be ? Who had the majority in this House in the last Congress ?
Several Voices. Nobody.
Mr. Letcher. Nobody ! ah, I thought the Know Nothings had it. [Laughter.] At any rate, the majority was not a Democratic majority. That is plain and clear; and if anybody is responsible for the expenditures voted in this House, it is not the Democratic party, which were in a minority in this Hall at that time.
Mr. WASHBURNE, of Illinois. You had possession of the Senate.
Mr. LETCHER. We had possession of the Senate ! I will attend to that soon. By the way, what has become of that court-house of yours in Galena ? [Laughter]
Mr. WASHBURNE, of Illinois. All right.
Mr. LETCHER. He was for the expense of building a court-house where no court was held, yet he holds the Democratic party responsible for profligacy in spending the public money.
And, then besides, if I recollect right, my friend from Illinois not only was not content to take his own, but in order to get it was willing to go into partnership with fifteen or twenty others for similar purposes.
It seems to me, then, that we are not exactly the persons, nor is the President exactly the person, to be taunted with this course of expenditure. Does not the gentleman from Maine [Mr. ABBOTT] know the fact that not a dollar of the public money can be drawn from the Treasury unless an appropriation by Congress is first made ? Does he not know that a bill for that purpose must originate in Congress, pass both Houses, and be sent to the President for his approval, before it becomes the law of the land ?
Enough for that. I have no doubt the gentleman will find the Democratic party of this House ready at any time to vote with him I can answer for one, at least upon every proposition that proposes to reduce the expenditures of the Government without prejudice to the public service and interest, and without in any manner affecting the power and responsibility of the Government itself.
But let me come to the consideration of this bill. Gentlemen say that they do not see any necessity for the introduction of this bill at this time, and the gentleman from Pennsylvania over the way, [Mr. RITCHIE,] who addressed the House last Saturday, read certain portions of the President's message referring to the Treasury note bill, which is the subject of consideration now. He stated that the President did not seem to be exactly certain that these Treasury notes were needed at the present time that he supposed they might be needed at some period of the present session, but not at a period so early. Now, I understand the President to refer to that matter in the extract correctly reported as the gentleman quoted it; but I understand, at the same time, that the President calls the attention of this House to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, as presenting his views upon this and other questions connected with the Treasury Department. Well, let us see what the Secretary of the Treasury says in his report upon this subject; and we will see there, perhaps, the necessity for it, and I shall endeavor to adduce some reasons to show why the necessity, exists.
On the seventh page of the Secretary's report he says:
"The efficiency of the public service, as well as the security of the public credit, requires that this Department shall be provided with means to meet lawful demands without delay. During the remainder of the present fiscal year it is estimated, as before stated, that sufficient revenue will be received in the course of the year to meet the ordinary outstanding appropriation. But the great bulk of the revenue being derived from duties on merchandise, payable only when it is entered for consumption, the period when such duties will be realized is entirely uncertain, being left by law to the option of the importers during three years. The present revulsion has caused a very large portion of the dutiable merchandise imported since it commenced to be warehoused without payment of duty. To what extent this practice will be pursued during the present fiscal year is too much a matter of conjecture at present to risk the public service and the public credit upon the probability of an immediate change in this respect. It may be safely estimated that, in the course of the present fiscal year, a large portion of the merchandise now in warehouse will be withdrawn and duties paid thereon; but, in the mean time, adequate means for meeting lawful demands on the Treasury should be provided. Such provision should be made at the earliest practicable period, as a failure of sufficient means in the Treasury may occur at an early day. The exigency being regarded as temporary, the mode of providing for it should be of a temporary character. It is, therefore, recommended that authority be given to this Department, by law, to issue Treasury notes for an amount not to exceed twenty million dollars, payable within a limited time, and carrying a specified rate of interest, whenever the immediate demands of the public service may call for a greater amount of money than shall happen to be in the Treasury; subject to the Treasurer's drafts in payment of warrants."
There, sir, is the recommendation of the Secretary of the Treasury, and there are the reasons upon which the recommendation is founded.
Now, let us look at the state of trade, and see whether those reasons are not justified by the facts which are upon the records of the Treasury Department, and that establish clearly and conclusively that, at this moment, there is a large amount of dutiable goods in the warehouses of the United States, and that those goods are lying uncalled for because this commercial revulsion has cut off the parties from the means of withdrawing them at present, and turning them into the channels of trade.
I have here a comparative statement showing the amount of importations into the district of New York, during the months of October and November, of the years 1856 and 1857, classified respectively under the following heads: " Specie and bullion;" "free, (exclusive of specie and bullion;)" "dutiable, entered for consumption, and warehoused." In the month of October, 1856, within that district, there were imported $13,825,592, and in November of the same year, $14,468,545. Now, sir, let us compare that with the importations in the months of October and November, in the present year. We shall discover that the importations are very nearly the same for the two months in each year; and yet we will find, when we come to examine the quantity of goods retained in warehouses during the two periods, that there is an essential and a very wide difference. In October of this year, $14,439,867 worth of goods were imported, and in November, $13,417,960. Of the $13,825,592 worth of goods which were imported in the month of October, 1856, $12,768,782 worth were withdrawn during that month, and went into the consumption of the country; in the month of November, of the $14,468,545 worth imported, $13,049,271 worth were withdrawn, and went into consumption. Now, sir, we come down to the same period of time in this year, after this commercial revulsion took place, and we find that out of the $14,439,867 worth of goods imported in October, $10,148,324 worth were withdrawn for consumption, and the balance remains in warehouse, a large portion of it even up to this time. In the month of November, the disparity was still greater; for of the $13,417,960 worth of goods imported in that month, but $8,613,777 worth were withdrawn for consumption. Then, sir, is it not palpable that this commercial revulsion has produced an effect, and a very great effect, upon the commercial intercourse of the country; and that, owing to this fact, the amount received from duties has been essentially diminished, and that there are now, of the importations of those two months, something like nine million dollars worth of goods uncalled for on this 21st day of December.
But let me go still further. Do gentlemen know what amount of dutiable goods was warehoused within the district of New York, up to the 30th day of November last ? The returns to the Treasury Department show that there were upwards of $28,000,000 there, then under bond; and since that time additions have been made to it, so that it is fair to estimate that there is at the present time not less, in that district alone, than $30,000,000 under the warehousing act which allows goods to remain for a period of three years uncalled for, and that will not be called for until later in the winter, or possibly in the spring. If that is the case in New York, how is it if you take all the importing districts of the United States ? There are a multitude of these districts at New Orleans, Charleston, and elsewhere and it would be fair, I suppose, if there are $30,000,000 in New York at this time, to estimate the amount under bond in the various other collection districts, at from ten to fifteen million dollars. So that here would be, of dutiable goods uncalled for, and upon which the duties will not be paid until called for for consumption, between forty and forty-five million dollars, which will pay into the Treasury duties to the amount of about ten or twelve millions. Is not the Secretary of the Treasury right, then, when he says that this is only a temporary deficiency, and that, in consequence of the temporary character of this deficiency, it would be advisable to issue Treasury notes instead of negotiating a permanent loan ? But gentlemen say in this connection, and the gentleman from Maine [Mr. Abbott] indicated it, as well as other gentlemen on the other side of the House, that the Secretary of the Treasury has managed these affairs very badly; that he has undertaken to redeem public stocks; and that, using the money for that purpose, he has squandered the means which would have deprived him of the necessity, at the present time, of recommending the issue of Treasury notes.
Now, let us see how that is; under the act passed in 1853 for which I voted, and, I doubt not, most of the gentlemen here, who were then upon this floor, voted the Secretary of the Treasury was authorized to purchase, at the current market prices, any of the outstanding stocks of the United States, as he might think most advisable, from any surplus funds in the Treasury, provided that the balance in the Treasury should not be at any time reduced below $6,000,000. There was the instruction of Congress to the Secretary of the Treasury, given in the month of March, 1853, directing him, if there should be any surplus money in the Treasury, to apply that surplus money to the purchase of stocks.
And, Sir, does it not come with a bad grace from any gentleman on the other side of the House now to arraign the Secretary of the Treasury upon this floor, when he voted for House bill of the last session of Congress (No. 816) to deposit the entire surplus in the Treasury on the 1st day of July last, with the exception of $2,000,000, with the States ? When that bill was up here, it received the strength almost the entire strength of the then Opposition to the Democratic party; it was passed through the House, but failed to be successful in the Senate; and that bill proposed, as I have said, to take all the funds in the Treasury on the 1st day of July, with the exception of $2,000,000, and to distribute them (or deposit them, if you please) with the States upon the conditions therein specified. Now, suppose your proposition had been successful, that your bill had become a law, and that all the money in the Treasury on the 1st of July last, had been taken and deposited with the States; in how much worse a position would the Government have been than it is at present ? But that bill failed, and now the Secretary is arraigned, for doing what ? For taking the $16,000,000 and applying it to the purchase of stocks, which would have been taken from the Treasury under that law ? No, sir. He has applied in the purchase of stock, including principal and interest, from the 13th of July, 1857, to the 17th of October, 1857, $4,520,104.47. I complain of no gentleman for voting for that bill, but I do complain that gentlemen who voted for it should arraign the Secretary now for applying to the purchase of stock only one fourth of the amount which would have been taken from the Treasury, under that bill, in the way of deposits to the States.
Well, sir, the banks suspended, I believe, somewhere where between the 12th and 20th of October, and the amount of stocks redeemed, after the 12th day of October, was only $212,513.31; an amount that was then on its way to the office of the Secretary of the Treasury for redemption. What was the condition of the Treasury after this redemption had taken place ? The Secretary had left in the Treasury $12,258,531.01 after a all the stocks had been redeemed that had been presented, and that he chose to redeem. You will observe that the ninth section of the act of 1853 provided, that the Secretary should reserve $6,000,000 in the Treasury; but, instead of reserving $6,000,000, he reserved upwards of $12,000,000; and he reserved it upon the principle that $6,000,000 was necessary to carry on the current operations of the Government, and that a like sum of $6,000,000 was necessary for carrying on the coining operations at the Mint, to meet the charges upon the Mint in the way of returns for the bullion deposited there for coinage. The Secretary, not content with sticking to the letter of the law requiring him to hold $6,000,000, out of abundant caution had in the Treasury of the United States a sum beyond $12,000,000, to meet the contingencies that might arise.
Now, sir, with this statement of the case, can it be pretended that the Secretary of the Treasury has gone beyond the line of his duty ? Here is the law laying down that line of duty for him. He followed that law except in regard to the amount to be retained in the Treasury, and in that regard he protected the Treasury to the extent of $6,000,000 beyond what Congress, in 1853, regarded as a sum sufficient for its protection. It seems to me, then, that he ought not to be complained of; but, on the contrary, that he ought to be regarded as having performed his duty, and performed it faithfully, under the law given to him for his guidance. If you take the receipts and expenditures for the period of time commencing in July last, and running down to the present time, you will find how the revenue has fallen off, and you will find that it confirms the tables which I have heretofore presented in regard to the amount of goods on bond in three warehouses, as one of the causes that have cut off this revenue. For the week ending July 13, the receipts in the Treasury were $3,761,553.11, while the expenditures were $2,700,942.48. It runs on through the month of July, never getting below $2,059,000. In the month of August the average receipts per week were $1,500,000. In the month of September the revenue for the first week was $1,041,765.74, and on the 28th it had run down to $660,257.14. In that descending scale you will find the revenue reduced in proportion as the market became more stagnant from the suspension of specie payment, and at one time it ran down as low as $441,192.78.
There is another fact that appears from this table, that for the last week the receipts of the Treasury, from revenues, have increased upwards of $100,000. The receipts for the week ending 7th December, were $562,473.81, and for the week ending 14th December, $676,903.67. I account for that increase in this way. Here were articles that were imported to be consumed in the approaching holidays. These articles were required to be taken out of bond for the purpose of bringing them into market, and it is the demand thus created that has run up the revenue at New York from $562,473 to $676,903 in the week that closed the 14th of the present month. So much, then, for these statistics !
But, say gentlemen on the other side, "We are opposed to Government paper money. We dislike the idea of making the Government a great bank, and investing it with the power and authority to circulate notes throughout the country, while the President himself is denouncing the banking institutions of the States." Now, I maintain, in the first place, that this bill does not create a bank. I think there is one fact which clearly and conclusively settles that point. How many of our friends on the other side, who have engaged in this discussion, are in favor of a bank of the United States ? Are they not all for it ?
Mr. LOVEJOY. No, sir.
Mr. LETCHER. How many of you are opposed to it ?
Mr. LOVEJOY. Three fourths.
Mr. FOSTER. It is an obsolete idea.
Mr. LETCHER. The gentleman says it is an obsolete idea. Then, I suppose, the gentlemen have embraced a new idea, and that they are now for a hard-money currency.
Mr. FOSTER. Yes, sir.
Mr. LETCHER. And yet, strange to tell, the gentleman who just closed his remarks [Mr. ABBOTT] wound up with a eulogy on stock banks; and my friend from Maryland, [Mr. Davis] who spoke on Saturday, arraigned the President and Secretary of the Treasury for the suggestion of a bankrupt law intended to be applied to the banks that have suspended, or failed to redeem their obligations ! Now I cannot exactly understand how it is that while gentlemen are in favor of hard money, they are yet disposed, whenever the question comes up as a State measure, to rally to the standard of the paper-money banks in the several States of the Union, and insist that every man shall stand with hands off so far as they are concerned, although these banks may be at the time in a state of suspension, refusing to pay their debts, while they are coercing payment from every man that has had the misfortune to borrow a dollar from them.
Now, I profess to be as much a hard-money man as any one; and if gentlemen can convince me that the issue of these Treasury notes which I regard as nothing more than a means of effecting a loan leads to the establishment of a Government bank of any kind whatever, I pledge myself to go against it. I do not go exactly so far against banks as a distinguished politician of my State John Randolph did when he pronounced all banks "houses of ill-fame."
But white I do this, I think that the banking system has been carried to a very ruinous extent; and I have no hesitation in saying now, that if I was in the Legislature of my State at this crisis, I should go for a divorce between bank and State, for selling every dollar of stock that the State of Virginia has in banking institutions, and for the collection of revenue in gold and silver.
What is the issue of Treasury notes but a mere loan ? What else is it ? The money is to be raised. It is to be raised in some way, either by a permanent loan, or by this temporary expedient the issue of Treasury notes. Gentlemen say, give us a loan. What do you want with a loan ? Do you want this to be a permanent debt ? Do you want the Secretary of the Treasury to say that what he has regarded as a temporary necessity shall require the permanent medicine of a loan for years ? Do you want to couple with this not only the loan itself and its permanent establishment on the Government for years, but do you want also to create the necessity for revising the tariff, and for increasing the rates of duty ? Now, sir, if a loan is to be established, if it is to go in as part and parcel of the national debt, what will be the next cry ? Do gentlemen want any further indication than has been furnished on this floor here by some gentlemen who have addressed the House, and alluded to the tariff act of last session ? I take it that this is, perhaps, one of the causes of dissatisfaction with the President of the United States on the part of some of the gentlemen who are known to favor the doctrine of protection for protection's sake.
The President, on the thirteenth page of his message, says:
"As stated in the report of the Secretary, the tariff of March 3, 1857, has been in operation for so short a period of time and under circumstances so unfavorable to a just development of its results as a revenue measure that I should regard it as inexpedient, at least for the present, to undertake its revision.
Now, I take it that it is that position, taken by the Secretary of the Treasury, and sustained by the President, that has aroused a vast deal of the opposition of those known to be protective-tariff men in this House, against the introduction and adoption of this measure. If the Secretary of the Treasury would come forward and propose a loan to run for eight, or ten, or fifteen years, I doubt not that that would be more agreeable to the gentlemen on the other side of the House than the temporary issue of Treasury notes, as proposed. It is not so to me. I think this recommendation is preferable to theirs. It is temporary only, and is intended for nothing more. It is not to extend beyond the year. It is intended to serve until the goods are withdrawn from the warehouses and the duties received. But, said the distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Banks] I am opposed to your proposition, because you have no provision there for funding this debt. Why does he want it funded, unless he wants to make it permanent ? What other reason can there be for providing that it shall be funded, than to give it the character of permanency and settled stability as the policy of the Government with regard to the debt itself.
But let us see how the gentleman's idea is going to work out. The gentleman has referred to the act of 1847, authorizing the issue of Treasury notes. Let us call his attention to the fact that the House was at that time presided over by the distinguished gentleman, Mr. Winthrop, of Massachusetts, and that the House was an Opposition House. But, sir, under the act of 1847 Treasury notes were issued, some of which are unredeemed to this day, and are supposed to be lost. There are something like $100,000 of them outstanding still. During the past summer some of those Treasury notes have been presented at the Treasury, and, instead of being redeemed, under the operation of that law, they were funded; and in some instances, in less than one week they were sent back to the Treasury, and the Government was compelled to pay the premium of sixteen dollars on the $100.
Now, sir, if there had been no law for funding the debt, the Government would not have been compelled to pay this premium of sixteen dollars. But under the operation of that provision, which the gentleman wants to have incorporated into the present bill, they had the right to come in there and have them funded, and then take the premium. I know the gentleman from Massachusetts does not desire to adopt a policy which shall impose upon the Government an additional burden of sixteen dollars on the $100, but I call his attention to the fact that he may have the opportunity of meeting the point in regard to this feature which he seeks to ingraft upon the bill now before us.
Mr. BANKS. If the gentleman from Virginia desires an answer now, I will give it.
Mr. Letcher. If the gentleman will not take too much of my time, I will yield to him certainly.
Mr. BANKS. The proposition which I made, Mr. Chairman, with regard to this bill, and the objections which I made to the bill as reported by the Committee of Ways and Means, are not answered by the suggestions of the gentleman from Virginia. There is no necessity, under the proposition I have made, that the Government shall go into the market for the purpose of buying up stock at fifteen, twenty, or twenty-one per cent. premium. That is the objection which the gentleman makes, as I understand it. You may limit the issue of stock to one, two, or three, years for as short a time as you please and the Government will never be under the necessity of purchasing stock at a premium. There are plenty of people who desire nothing so much as a safe investment for their funds, whether they be much or little; and therefore, if the stock of the United States be issued at six per cent. interest, it will be taken up for one year, two years, or three years, just as gentlemen choose. There will then be no necessity for purchasing this stock at a premium, as heretofore.
If the gentleman asks whether the Secretary of the Treasury was justified in paying a premium for the stock purchased in the three years past, I answer that I think he was justified. But I say to the gentleman from Virginia that the Government of this country ought never to have placed the Secretary of the Treasury in a position which obliged him to purchase stock at a high premium. It was the fault of Congress in not adopting the recommendations of the late Administration. The adoption of the course of policy recommended by the Administration which has recently expired would have relieved the Secretary of the Treasury from the necessity of such purchases.
That Administration commenced with a recommendation by Mr. Guthrie for the revision of the tariff, for two purposes: first, to reduce the surplus money in the Treasury, and, second, to relieve the industrial interests of the country from burdens imposed by the previous policy of the Government. Congress did not act upon that recommendation. I am willing to relieve the gentleman from Virginia from any responsibility for the course pursued. The gentleman advocated measures which, if successful, would have relieved, three years since, the Treasury of its surplus. But, sir, the Government did not adopt that policy. Instead of revising the tariff laws, as recommended by Mr. Guthrie in 1853 and 1854, it devoted its entire energies to the settlement of those questions in which the country has been involved, ever since the repeal of the Missouri compromise. It was for that reason, because the energies of the country have, for the last four or five years, been devoted exclusively to sectional questions, that the industrial interests of the country have suffered. It was for that reason that the surplus in the Treasury was permitted to accumulate as it did.
Now, sir, I say to the gentleman, leave the question to us and we will relieve his friends of their difficulty. We will take the negro out of the Government and allow it to give its attention to this matter. Let gentlemen give some attention to the industrial interests of the country for a few years. Give us a little legislation for the benefit of white men, and there will not again a surplus accumulate in the Treasury, such as has been there for the last four or five years.
And let me say another word to the gentleman from Virginia. He declaims against the issue of paper money upon the part of the States, reëchoing the sentiment of the President upon this question. Now, sir, I do not stand here to defend the paper money system of the country as carried on by the States. On the contrary, I desire as earnestly as any man in this country, to see a proper and judicious reform. But I take issue with the President and with the gentleman from Virginia, if he follows the lead of the President in this matter, in the assertion that the issue of paper money by the States is the sole cause of those commercial revulsions which have swept over the country with so terrible an effect. But I have to say that we cannot go to the people of the States and ask them to forego their privilege of issuing paper money when the same Government which he defends in the denunciation of that system have taken up the business of issuing inconvertible paper money, as proposed by this bill. I ask the gentleman from Virginia to allow us to appeal to the people of the States to restrict their issues of paper money upon some sound and judicious plan, by refusing to the Government the power which they now ask of issuing inconvertible paper money, without any limit in respect to the time of redemption, or when its authority shall cease.
Mr. LETCHER. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman will soon be in the gubernatorial chair of the State of Massachusetts, and I shall look with some interest to his first message, to see what reforms he will recommend for the banking system of that State. I trust he will recommend an alteration, as far as the banking system of his own State is concerned, and that that alteration will be radical that his reforms will go to the bottom of the system.
Mr. Banks. If the gentleman desires me to answer, I will answer now. Wherever I am, I shall advocate, and, as far as I have the power, sustain, every judicious or, if the gentleman pleases radical reform, in the banking system. But, I repeat again, that if I go to Massachusetts and ask them to restrict their issues, I shall be met by every banker in the State with the declaration that the gentleman from Virginia, and the hardmoney men here, propose that the Government of the United States shall resume the business of issuing paper money. If the Government will not forego the advantage of issuing paper money, why should individual bankers forego that privilege ? And I think it will be very difficult for the gentleman from Virginia, to answer their argument.
Mr. Letcher. I do not see the slightest difficulty in answering it. What are these Treasury notes but an acknowledgment in writing, upon the part of the Government, that it owes so much ? As I understand it, the gentlemen upon the other side, for the purpose of making these Treasury notes a currency, propose to provide indorsements, by which they are to pass from hand to hand, and in this way make the national Treasury responsible for every indorsement in the chain of indorsement, from the issuing of the notes down to the time of payment. Now that is one of my very reasons for going for it that it neither establishes a debt, nor does it make the Government paper currency . But if it did, is not it remarkable that, under the issue of Treasury notes in 1837, 1840, 1843, 1846, and 1847, a regular paper currency was not then established, and when, in that latter year, Treasury notes to the amount of $36,263,000 were issued ? Was that a currency ? Did it go into the ordinary channels of circulation, and pass from hand to hand as ordinary bank bills did ?
Again, these Treasury notes provide for the payment of interest. Do your bank notes provide for the payment of interest ? Not at all. You cannot get the principal even upon a bank note, a large portion of the time, to say nothing about the interest.
Mr. BANKS. I beg leave of the gentleman from Virginia to say that the very feature which he states as the distinguishing characteristic between a Treasury note and a bank bill has been taken from bank bills, by special enactment. Banks in this country have been prohibited from allowing interest on their notes.
Mr. LETCHER. So much the worse.
Mr. BANKS. So much the better. Interest gives them legs by which they walk off to the distant parts of the country. The difficulty with banks is to get their bills out. They would be glad to pay interest upon bank bills so that they might walk off, and perhaps never come back. But the United States gives to its paper money that characteristic power to walk off so that under this bill they may never come back again.
Between the paper money he proposes to issue, and the paper money issued by the banks of the country, there will be no difference, except as to the degree of credit attached to the one and the other. First, this Government money is inconvertible on demand; it is receivable for public dues; the creditors of the Government are required to take it for their dues at their option I admit, as to creditors. It is the same as to bank bills. Creditors in no case are required by the law of any State to accept bank bills in discharge of their dues. It is left to the option of the creditors to take this Government paper, it is true; but the option comes to a man under such circumstances, that it results in little less than that he may take that or nothing. The creditor may have the right to refuse the paper money; but if he does refuse, he runs the risk of losing the favor of the Government. So he has the right to refuse a bank note, and if he does, he incurs the risk of losing the favor of those who issue it.
Mr. Letcher. When the gentleman talks about bank paper in the States not being a legal tender, he knows that the Legislatures of the States have made it a virtual tender, by declaring that it shall be received in payment of State dues, and paid out accordingly. There is not a State in this Union, that has a bank system ingrafted upon it that does not receive these identical bank notes, created under these State laws, in payment of taxes, save the States of Arkansas and Mississippi, which have no banks.
Now, sir, if this is a convertible currency, how does it happen, when the Congresses which I have specified undertook to issue those notes from 1837 to 1847, a period of ten years, to the amount of $80,732,000, they never became a part of the currency of the country ? Does he believe, at that time, that these notes went into the country as a circulating medium, and passed from hand to hand ?
Then, sir, so far as the gentlemen on the other side are concerned, their past practice, and the practice of the past party friends with whom they are connected, and the Administrations they have sustained, conclude them from this objection. My own belief is, that if it were a bank, we should hear a very different note from that sung on this occasion. The very fact of its being a bank would recommend it to their consideration, while it would array against it those upon this side. It is the very fact that it is not a bank; that it does not possess the features of a bank; that it does not issue the currency of a bank, that makes it objectionable to them.
But I was glad to hear the gentleman say that so far as the Secretary of the Treasury was concerned in regard to this stock matter, he believes he has acted properly, and in accordance with the requirements of the law. That was not his complaint, but his complaint was against those who passed the law under which he acted. I was astonished to hear the Secretary of the Treasury arraigned here upon that ground. At the time when ruin seemed inevitable to all from the pressure of the crisis, the Secretary, with the noble spirit that became him, undertook, so far as lay within his power, to relieve the distresses of the country by an act which was within the range of his constitutional authority by the payment of these stocks. Then it was that the whole country, from the North to the South, rang with his praises; and the press upon all sides, even the party press, proclaimed that he had done a great duty, and an act of kindness to the country; and even just now, upon the 18th of this present month, the National Intelligencer, the organ of the Whig party in this city, came out in praise of his efforts. Why is it, then, that he is arraigned here now ? Is party feeling so strong, is party prejudice so overwhelming, that what was proper and right two months ago is not proper and right now ? No, sir; if it was right then, it is right now; and I am glad to hear the gentleman from Massachusetts come out and accord to the Secretary the meed of praise for what he has done.
Mr. Chairman, I believe I have concluded what I have to say upon this subject. There were other thoughts that I intended to have presented to the House; but in this running discussion between the gentleman from Massachusetts and myself, my order of discussion has been somewhat deranged; and I now yield the floor.
Mr. LOVEJOY [Illinois (R)]. I have, Mr. Chairman, several objections to this bill, which I propose to present to the committee; but, lest I should forget it, as I have taken no notes of what the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Letcher] has said, I want to allude, in the first place, to his remarks in regard to the Secretary of the Treasury deserving the praise of the country for stepping in so benevolently to relieve the distresses of the land. I suppose, sir, that people must have been sorely distressed, when they had to be induced to sell their Government obligations at a premium of twenty per centum ! If they were in distress, why were they not willing to bring in their notes and receive their par value for them ? That is the question; and I would like the gentleman to answer it. The Secretary of the Treasury had to present an inducement of from sixteen to twenty per cent. premium to get the notes in to relieve the distresses of these men, and, therefore, he is to be made President for his benevolence.
I object, Mr. Chairman, in the first place, to the movements in regard to this bill, that it is pressed with such hot and indecent haste. An attempt has been made three or four times, if I remember rightly, by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means to screw us up to a vote upon it under the previous question. Without scrutiny and without analyzing and sifting this measure the most important measure, probably, that will come before the House during the present session.
A Member. Except Kansas.
Mr. Lovejoy. Yes; of course. I always except the "peculiar institution" and its expansion. That is the one paramount thing.
Now, sir, it looks a little suspicious that the friends of this bill should be so urgent to bring it to a vote under the party drill, with which I have no doubt they will secure its final passage. They cannot let us discuss it. Will not they let us have time to study and understand and present the subject ? I am glad that there is a little sea-room to-day.
Mr. J. Glancy Jones. Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question ?
Mr. Lovejoy. Yes, sir.
Mr. J. Glancy Jones. Has the Secretary of the Treasury paid out a single dollar at a premium, except in accordance with the law passed by Congress ?
Mr. LOVEJOY. I have no doubt that the action of the Secretary was legal. I did not deny that, Mr. Chairman. I simply met the eulogistic assertion of the gentleman from Virginia, that it was a beneficent movement towards those who were in distress. I did not deny that it was in accordance with law.
Mr. J. GLANCY JONES. I understand the gentleman to say, then, that all the Secretary has done in this matter, has clearly been in obedience to law.
Mr. LOVEJOY. I do not remember the particular terms of the law. I was not here when it was passed. But I judge from hearing it read, that his action was not contrary to law. The matter was left optional with him, and, as I understand, the Presidency dazzled him a little, and he said to himself "Now, I will bless the country;" and he blessed it. I would like to be blessed in that way too.
My first objection, Mr. Chairman, to this bill is, that it is a deceptive bill. I do not say that it is fraudulent, in the legal sense of the term, but I do say that it is a deceptive bill. It proposes to do a certain thing, under concealment and disguise. It professes to be one thing, when it is really another thing. It will be called a loan, but in reality it is converting the Government into a great shinplaster machine, to flood the country with an irredeemable currency, which has, as I supposed, always been as the broth of abominable things to the Democratic party, and which is so to me now.
The gentleman from Virginia seemed surprised that there were any members on this side of the House in favor of a hard currency and against banks. I will tell him how it has happened. I presume he has read the Metamorphoses of Ovid, and is familiar with them, and he will remember there a great many transmogrifications and changes and transmigrations. Now, I will tell him how this has happened. The real, genuine soul of Democracy has left the party that bears the name, and has come to animate the Republican party. It has left a soulless carcass in the one place, and a youthful giant, animated with the spirit of Jeffersonian Democracy, in the other.
I was saying, sir, that this measure is a deceptive measure. It proposes to convert the Government into a great banking concern. And, sir, I venture to say that the engravings for these notes are already made. I venture to say that the head of the venerable President is at one end of the notes, and that the Secretary of the Treasury will ornament and beautify the other end; and as a motto, there will be traced on it in legible characters, "Thanks to the sub-Treasury, the Government has not failed; we have not become bankrupt; we pay specie."
Sir, if this Government has become bankrupt, contrary to the declaration of the President, then I say let us stand right up before the nation and the world and own it; let us say we have failed; and then if you want a loan to the extent of your necessities, I will vote a loan; though while I have my senses I never will vote for this bill. If you want a loan, I will vote you a loan. Just let the Secretary of the Treasury, if he needs a loan, ask for a loan. Do the honest, plain, frank, above-board thing; say the Government has failed, and we must, borrow money, and go into New York and pledge the faith of the Government. If that will not do, mortgage the Capitol, and the other public buildings; and if that does not bring the coin, pledge the immaculate and inviolate faith of the Democratic party, and the gold will begin to move towards you. [Laughter.] That would be the honest thing, sir. And what will be the result ? The result will be that you can borrow this money, whether it be five, ten, fifteen, or twenty million dollars that you need. You can obtain it in New York. It is lying there unused in the vaults. The credit of the nation will bring it out. Go and advertise for it; and you will get it. If you can get it for one per cent., do not give six per cent. to save the country and bless the poor people in distress. If it requires two per cent., give two, and so on up to six per cent. Make the best bargain you can, and agree to pay at a certain date, and then take that money and put it into circulation through the country. That is Democracy genuine Democracy, I mean, which is Republicanism now and I will vote for it.
I object again because I do not perceive, at present, the necessity for this loan. Why, even the friends of the measure say that they do not know that they will be obliged to issue the amount. It is a kind of contingency that they are contemplating. Gentlemen have said on this floor, and I want the House to take notice of it, that they did not know that there should be a single dollar of this loan needed. Well, then, how can we perceive the necessity of it, if its friends cannot ? Why do they not come forward and make frank statement here, and tell us why they want the money, and for what they want the money, and just how
December 22, 1857.
intention of the gentleman from Massachusetts, for I believe it is not; but the effect would be to enable them to make large profits without the Government or the country deriving any corresponding advantage. I am, therefore, opposed to the amendment. Let us make these Treasury notes redeemable in twelve months. By that time the Government will probably have means to redeem them, and in a year or two probably they will all be brought in. But if you provide for a loan, or the issue of Treasury notes, the capitalists will not take the notes. They will hold back and tell the Secretary that his notes will not go, and that he must have a loan for ten or twenty years.
Gentlemen have said, during this discussion, that the Secretary of the Treasury has made a very great mistake. Well, if that be so, I am not willing to trust him with this discretion, for he may make another mistake. I do not say that he has made a mistake; but gentlemen say he committed a blunder by buying up Government stocks at a premium, and they ought not, therefore, to desire to trust him. I am opposed to the amendment, therefore, for the reason that, if you put in the alternative, you cripple the proposition for the issue of Treasury notes. I hope we shall stand by the bill as we have now got it, and that we shall have a vote at once upon the pending amendment.
Mr. TAYLOR, of New York. I move to strike out the enacting clause of the bill.
Mr. Clingman. Let us vote on this amendment first.
Mr. TAYLOR, of New York. As it is desired to take a vote on this amendment, I withdraw the motion for the present.
Mr. WASHBURNE, of Illinois. I ask for tellers on the amendment of the gentleman from Massachusetts.
Tellers were ordered; and Messrs. TAYLOR of New York, and Washburne of Illinois, were appointed.
The question was taken; and the tellers reported ayes 78, noes 103.
So the amendment was not agreed to.
Mr. Barksdale. I move to strike out the enacting clause of the bill.
Mr. Washburne, of Maine. I request the gentleman from Mississippi to withdraw his motion till I offer an amendment to the second section; I wish to offer it in good faith and have it voted on. It will take but a few moments.
Mr. Bocock. If any gentleman on the other side has a real bona fide amendment to offer, I think he will be allowed to offer it, and have a test vote upon it. And, then, when these test amendments are offered and decided, we can come to a vote on the bill.
Mr. Barksdale. I would like to accommodate the gentleman from Maine, but I think that the best course for the House to pursue would be to strike out the enacting clause, and put the bill on its passage.
Mr. CAMPBELL . I understand the gentleman from Mississippi refuses to withdraw his motion to strike out the enacting clause. Does the gentleman propose to speak his five minutes on the proposition to amend ?
Mr. Barksdale. I do not.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Then I have a word or two to say against the amendment.
The CHAIRMAN. It is not an amendment. It is a motion to strike out the enacting clause, and, in the opinion of the CHAIR, is not debatable.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I submit that it is a proposition to amend the bill by striking out the enacting clause.
The CHAIRMAN. The motion to strike out the enacting clause takes precedence of an amendment, and is not of the nature of an amendment, for it is for the purpose of withdrawing the bill. The CHAIR therefore rules that the motion is not debatable.
Mr. CAMPBELL. I think that the rule referred to by the CHAIR is not applicable at all to proceedings in Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union. It certainly never was designed that the previous question should prevail practically in Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union.
Mr. BARKSDALE. I submit that discussion is out of order.
The CHAIRMAN. The CHAIR has so ruled.
Mr. BARKSDALE. This plan has been repeatedly pursued during the last two Congresses.
Mr. Washburn, of Maine. I desire to appeal to the gentleman from Mississippi to withdraw that motion but for a single moment. I have an amendment which I wish to offer in good faith, and have it voted on.
Mr. BARKSDALE. The committee can vote down my motion if it choose to do so, but I refuse to withdraw it.
Mr. WASHBURN, of Maine. The CHAIR has decided that a motion to strike out is in order. From that decision of the CHAIR I respectfully take an appeal, and I will state the grounds of my appeal. The CHAIR, if I understand him, decides that the motion is in order, under the 119th rule. This rule is:
"A motion to strike out the enacting words of a bill shall have precedence of a motion to amend; and, if carried, shall be considered equivalent to its rejection."
That rule was adopted in 1822. Now, I understand that any subsequent rule or law that is inconsistent with this rule must modify and change, or abrogate it. I call the attention of the CHAIR to the 34th rule, adopted in 1847, and which, I submit, in view of its inconsistency with the 119th rule, adopted in 1822, changes or repeals that rule.
" 34. No member shall occupy more than one hour in debate on any question in the House or in committee; but a member reporting the measure under consideration from a committee, may open and close the debate: Provided, That where debate is closed by order of the House, any member shall be allowed, in committee, five minutes to explain any amendment he may offer, after which any member who shall first obtain the floor shall be allowed to speak five minutes in opposition to it, and there shall be no further debate on the amendment; but the same privilege on debate shall be allowed in favor of and against any amendment that may be offered to the amendment."
Now, I desire, under the rule that I have read, to offer an amendment to this bill. The rule provides that I shall have an opportunity to offer it, and shall have an opportunity to speak five minutes to it. The gentleman from Mississippi, [Mr. Barksdale] invoking the aid of a rule established twenty years before that, says that I shall be prevented from offering my amendment. It is a right granted to me by the rule of the House, established in 1847.
Mr. Stephens, of Georgia. Is it in order for me to say anything in reply to the gentleman from Maine ?
The CHAIRMAN. The question is not debatable.
Mr. Stephens, of Georgia. Does the CHAIR say that the question is not debatable ?
The CHAIRMAN. The CHAIR says that under the rules it is not debatable.
Mr. Stephens, of Georgia. Then I desire to inquire why the gentleman from Maine was allowed to make a speech, while I am not allowed to reply to it. I know the question is not debatable; but, as he made a speech, I desired to make one too.
The CHAIRMAN. The 119th rule provides that a motion to strike out the enacting words of a bill shall have precedence of a motion to amend, and if carried, shall be considered equivalent to its rejection.
Mr. Stanton. I move that the committee do now rise.
Mr. LOVEJOY demanded tellers. Tellers were not ordered.
The motion was not agreed to.
Mr. Washburn, of Maine. What has become of my appeal ?
The CHAIRMAN. The CHAIR did not understand the gentleman as appealing.
Mr. Washburn, of Maine. I did appeal.
The CHAIRMAN. Very well; the appeal will be entertained. From the decision of the CHAIR on the point of order made by the gentleman from Maine, that gentleman takes an appeal. The question is, "Shall the decision of the CHAIR stand as the judgment of the committee ?"
Mr. WASHBURN, of Maine, demanded tellers.
Tellers were ordered; and Messrs. Letcher and Lovejoy were appointed.
The question was taken; and the tellers reported ayes one hundred and eight, noes not counted.
So the decision of the CHAIR was sustained.
The question then recurred on Mr. Barksdale's motion, and it was agreed to.
Mr. J. GLANCY JONES moved that the committee rise.
The motion was agreed to.
So the committee rose; and the Speaker having resumed the chair, Mr. Phelps reported that the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union had, according to order, had the Union generally under consideration, and particularly Senate bill (No. 13) to authorize the issue of Treasury notes; and had directed him to report the same back to the House, with the recommendation that the enacting clause be stricken out.
Mr. J GLANCY JONES. I suppose the question before the House will be upon concurring in the recommendation of the Committee of the Whole in striking out the enacting clause.
The SPEAKER. That will be the first question.
Mr. J. GLANCY JONES. I hope that motion will not prevail. I call the previous question upon it.
The previous question was seconded; and the main question ordered to be put.
The House then refused to strike out the enacting clause of the bill.
Mr. J. GLANCY JONES moved the previous question upon ordering the bill to a third reading.
The previous question was seconded; and the main question ordered to be put.
The bill was then ordered to a third reading.
Mr. J. GLANCY JONES moved the previous question upon the passage of the bill.
The previous question was seconded; and the main question ordered to be put.
Mr. BILLINGHURST demanded the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The question was taken; and it was decided in the affirmative yeas 118, nays 86; as follows:
YEAS Messrs. Adrain, Ahl, Anderson, Arnold, Atkins, Avery, Barksdale, Bishop, Bocock, Bowie, Boyce, Branch, Bryan, Burnett, Burns, Caskie, Chapman, Ezra Clark, John B. Clark, Clay, Clemens, Clingman, Cobb, John Cochrane, Cockerill, Comins, Cox, James Craig, Button Craige, Crawford, Curry, Davidson, Davis of Indiana, Dean, Dewart, Dimmick, Dowdell, Edmundson, Elliott, Eustis, Faulkner, Florence, Foley, Gartrell, Gillis, Gilmer, Goode, Greenwood, Gregg, Groesbeck, Lawrence W. Hall, J. Morrison Harris, Buskin, Hatch, Hawkins, Hill, Houston, Hughes, Huyler, Jackson, Jenkins, Jewett, J. Glancy Jones, Owen Jones, Keitt, Kelly, Lamar, Landy, Letcher, McKibbin, McQueen, Samuel S. Marshall, Maynard, Miles, Miller, Millson, Montgomery, Moore, Edward Joy Morris, Isaac N. Morris, Niblack, Pendleton, Peyton, Phelps, Phillips, Ready, Reagan, Reilly, Ricaud, Rufflin, Russell, Sandidge, Scales, Scott, Seward, Aaron Shaw, Henry M. Shaw, Robert Smith, Samuel A. Smith, William Smith, Stallworth, Stephens, Stevenson, James A. Stewart, Talbot, George Taylor, Miles Taylor, Thayer, Ward, Watkins, White, Whiteley, Wilson, Winslow, Woodson, Wortendyke, Augustus R. Wright, and John V. Wright 118.
NAYS Messrs. Abbott, Andrews, Banks, Bennett, Billinghurst, Bingham, Blair, Bliss, Brayton, Buffinton, Burlingame, Burroughs, Campbell, Case, Chaffee, Clawson, Clark B. Cochrane, Colfax, Cragin, Curtis, Damrell, Davis of Maryland, Davis of Mississippi, Davis of Massachusetts, Davis of Iowa, Dawes, Dick, Dodd, Durfee, Fenton, Foster, Gilman, Goodwin, Granger, Grow, Robert B. Hall, Harlan, Thomas L. Harris, Board, Horton, Howard, George W. Jones, Kellogg, Kelsey, Kilgore, Knapp, Jacob M. Kunkel, John C. Kunkel, Leach, Leiter, Lovejoy, Humphrey Marshall, Morgan, Morrill, Freeman H. Morse, Oliver A. Morse, Mott, Nichols, Palmer, Parker, Pettit, Pike, Potter, Pottle, Purviance, Quitman, Ritchie, Robbins, Royce, John Sherman, Judson W. Sherman, Spinner, Stanton, William Stewart, Tappan, Thompson, Tompkins, Underwood, Walbridge, Waldron, Walton, Warren, Cadwalader C. Washburne, Ellihu B. Washburne, Israel Washburn, and Zollicoffer 86.
So the bill was passed.
Mr. J. GLANCY JONES moved that the vote by which the bill passed be reconsidered; and also moved that the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table.
The latter motion was agreed to.