Speech of Mr. Pickens of South Carolina
In the House of Representatives,
Thursday, July 8, 1841.
Mr. Pickens [Francis Wilkinson Pickens (April 7, 1805 – January 25, 1869)] addressed the committee in opposition to the bill.
He did not desire, he said, to trespass on the attention of the committee. He knew how great the disposition was to hurry business through, and he knew that there was a great indisposition on the part both of the House and the committee to consider such bills as these. During the whole period of his service here, he had been struck with the remarkable fact that on all money questions, upon all bills involving appropriations of the public money, there was more apathy and indifference, and less consideration, in this House, than on any other measures. He did not know why this was; but such was the fact. And yet, if any measures were more important than others, they certainly were those which related to the finances of the country, and the mode and manner of raising the ways and means to meet the exigences and expenses of he Government.
We have been taught to believe that there is nothing more important to the people in the affairs of Government than the exercise of the taxing power. This might be a prejudice, but if it were, we had inherited it from our ancestors, and from the proudest recollections of past history. Although the bill was nominally one to borrow money, yet you could not separate from its consideration the question how you were to lay taxes upon the community to meet that loan. Is the loan necessary ? And the question for future consideration is, how that loan is to be met ? An intelligent people will inquire into these points; and it is the duty of an honest Representative to examine well before he will consent to impose a tax of twelve millions of dollars upon his constituents.
Mr. Chairman, we present a singular spectacle to the world in our legislation at present. It was but two day ago that you passed a bill distributing more than three millions annually of your revenue amongst the States of this Confederacy. This was its nominal object, but the object in reality was to divide it amongst the corporations, speculators, and stockjobbers, who will ultimately get the benefit, while those who furnish the productive labor, the bone and sinew, and muscle of the country, will receive, none of this money. Yes, you propose one day this immerse distribution, which will, in two years, equal $6,000,000 annually, and the next day you propose to borrow $12,000,000 to meet, as you pretend, a deficit in the revenue, but in reality to enable you to make that distribution practically efficient for the foreign fundholder.
Sir, the annals of a free country do not furnish such an example as this of daring and reckless legislation. I would be faithless to my constituents if I were to sit silent, and not expose these profligate and high handed measures which strike at their most vital interests.
Every people have their peculiar criterion by which to judge of liberty. The Frenchman considers it the peculiar privilege of a Paris mob to pull down one dynasty and put up another. Provided they can exercise this turbulent privilege they are contented. Not so with those who speak the English language they had been taught to believe that the line which separated the power of Government from private property, was the line that defined English and American liberty. And the true and real mode by which to judge of the privileges and liberties of a people was the power they had to control and restrain taxation by Government.
Connected with this subject, there was another question as deeply interesting as the power of taxation, and that was the mode and manner in which revenue should be expended. There is no operation connected with Government that produces so great an effect upon the distribution of national wealth as the mode and manner in which its revenues are disbursed or disposed of. As deeply important as this consideration must be to all nations, yet it is more so to us as a free people than to any other. Our country presents the most extensive territory near two thousand miles North and South, and the same East and West embracing all variety of productions, almost from the frozen to the torrid zones, with various and complicated local interests, and twenty-six separate local Governments. No statesman can look at these things without seeing at once the profound impression that must be produced, in the course of time, upon the distribution of wealth by not only the collections of our revenue, but, in a far greater degree, by the disbursements of that revenue. Hence it is, that every tax bill, or loan bill, or any measure, touching the fiscal action of this Government, must always produce a deep sensation throughout the Republic.
In England the thing was somewhat different. There they had a very small territory; with a dense population and a perfect identity of interest. Hence it was that the British Government could collect two hundred millions of dollars in revenue without producing any very great impression upon the distribution of wealth, because that revenue was disbursed again amongst the same people. It might affect classes and individuals, but as far as her resources as a nation were concerned her capital, her labor, her productive industry were involved it produced little or no impression Collecting two hundred millions from a small territory, with a dense population and identity of interests, and then spending or disbursing the same back again amongst precisely the same people and upon the same territory, comparatively speaking, impaired but little their resources, and produced but little effect upon the distribution of national wealth. Such a people might sustain an immense national debt and the heaviest expenditures of Government.
But it was not so with us. Take for instance Arkansas and Massachusetts two States of this Confederacy, near fifteen hundred miles apart, with very different productions and pursuits. The question as to taxation may present itself in very different aspects to those two States, and particularly when you connect the question as to the mode and manner in which the revenue from that taxation shall be disbursed. Although you may suppose that both States may contribute in exact proportion to population (a proposition by no means true) towards that revenue; yet if one receives more in disbursements and the other less than it contributes, you at once see that taxation connected with disbursements may be, as far as money is concerned, a gain to one and a loss to the other. In this point of view, taxation and a national debt may be a blessing to one State, whilst they are a constant drain and a curse to another State. If, in the course of 20 years' operation, the Government were to collect 450 millions of dollars from the whole Confederacy by taxation, and were to expend 300 millions of it back on one section, and that the smallest section; is it not palpable, as far as the distribution of national wealth is involved, that there is a difference of 150 millions in the operation ?---[How dare you, sir, object to the socialist concept/practice of taking from the producers and giving it to the non-producers !! No wonder John Sergeant threatened ye with civil war, and 20 years later the Whig children finally did give you a civil war war. Are you selfish, self-centered ? is there something wrong with you ? that you do not subscribe to the concept of giving the products of the labour of those who work and produce, to predators, parasites or free-loaders ?]
Suppose that there should be two great sections of the Confederacy (and I will only suppose the case merely for illustration) and both should contribute one-half, or 225 millions apiece towards the 450 millions and that one should receive back in disbursements the 300 millions the other only 150 millions do you not see that as far as the pecuniary operation is concerned that the one will receive back 75 millions more than it paid, whilst the other would lose exactly 75 millions ?
But, than, suppose that by a peculiar system of indirect taxation you were to make one section contribute through its exchangeable products three hundred millions, and the other one hundred and fifty millions, and then that you were to disburse back to the latter three hundred and to the former one hundred and fifty, then the loss to one would be precisely one hundred and fifty millions, and the gain to the other one hundred and fifty. Now, when you take taxation and disbursement together, this is, to a great extent, the operation. Hence at is, that it is contrary to the genius of our system to bear a high rate of taxation or disbursement. Not that there is any objection to paying what is right for the support of Government, or to contribute freely for all those just purposes prescribed by the Constitution not that there is any objection to contributing our last dollar for the defence of the interests or the rights of our common country but that we should be cautious and forbear to make any unnecessary exactions that we should attempt, as far as possible, to preserve justice and equality, and to be sure and take not a cent from the people that may not be necessary for the absolute wants of a wise Government. As to the gain that one section might, from its peculiar investments, have by taxation, discouraging foreign competition in the home market, Mr. Pickens said he would not at present touch that branch of the subject, although it was an incidental and collateral benefit resulting from taxation that might also be dwelt upon.
There was no Government whose fiscal action was at all like ours in its incidental effects upon the distribution of wealth. We perhaps might see something of the same kind in France and Russia. In France the Government had necessarily made heavy collections in the vine-growing provinces of the South, and the heaviest disbursements of the Government were necessarily made on her Northern frontier, to prevent invasions from her powerful and warlike neighbors. This operation had thrown a larger accumulation of capital and wealth where the greatest proportion of the expenditures and disbursements had for centuries been made, and the more fertile and productive provinces of the South had been kept bare. So it was in Russia more fully exemplified. Collections had been made from every quarter of the empire, and the disbursements were made upon the Baltic, and more particularly around St. Petersburg. The result was, that from the country being a quagmire and marsh, the disbursements of a mighty empire had enriched it, and built up one of the most beautiful and richly ornamented cities of modern Eu rope. But that empire, vast and extensive as it is, from the very fact of its wide expanse and variety of interest, never can be able to stand heavy exactions in money. Despotic as the Government is, although it can draw for men without number, yet it can never bear heavy taxation. Large collections, gathered from the regions about the great wall of China, or habitually exacted from the fertile provinces towards the Black sea, and disbursed upon the Baltic, would enrich the latter, while it would exhaust and desolate the former.
The political economists of Great Britain have, to a great extent, overlooked the principal effects that disbursements of Government have upon the capital and labor of a nation, because it was not so sensibly felt there. They have a compact territory, with a dense population, and an identity of interest, and the consequence is, that they can bear the collection of two hundred millions of dollars and feel it less than we would the collection of fifty millions, because their disbursements would be immediately thrown back again into the same compact territory and amongst the same consolidated interests.
But here the whole fiscal action of the Government, if it be high, produces sensation and derangement throughout our whole system. This was the great difference between our Government and that of Great Britain, and it was the cause of the power and immense fiscal resources of the latter nation. This difference created the fatal error into which gentlemen fell by adopting those systems of measures which looked to high revenue and high disbursements. They had taken their examples from England from English institutions English principles and customs and they had attempted to apply them to us to a people totally different in every respect.
Far be it from me to say that we had such local interests that we could not be harmonized under one Government. No; my remarks are intended to show that we are not prepared to bear high pressure that unnecessary exactions in profound peace were not suited to our interests or to our institutions. We had great and leading interests in common we had trial by jury, and universal suffrage two great bulwarks of liberty. We spoke a common language, and had freedom of religion. But what is still more, we have a common American interest as contra-distinguished from European power. The necessity of a permanent union for the purposes of defence and independence, is too obvious to be dwelt upon. We have the glorious associations of the past, and a common origin and a common fame to bind us together. Preserve the forbearing and equal principles of the Constitution, and there never can be a murmur.
But it is a fatal mistake to suppose that the Union is strengthened by assuming doubtful powers, or by making unnecessary exactions to give the Government a high fiscal action. There may be as much oppression and injustice produced by using the powers of the Constitution to an unnecessary excess, as there would be from a direct violation of the instrument itself. Abuse of power may sometimes perpetrate as much wrong as usurpation.
Let not gentleman suppose that opposition to this bill and its kindred measures a high tariff distribution to pay indirectly the debts of the States and a Government Bank to organize the whole for the benefit of the stock interest and foreign fund holder originates from any factious desire to thwart the just action of the Government. Mr. Pickens said his opposition was to the whole as a system. We had these questions indirectly in issue before us for the last four years. They lay at the bottom of all the bitter party conflicts upon this floor, and throughout the country. The politicians who were seen to triumph in there contests were nothing compared with the great moneyed interests involved. They were but feathers and corks floating upon the surface. The agitation of the deep current beneath came from the great gambling, speculating and moneyed interests of society. They constitute questions that have divided the two great parties from the foundation of our Government to the present day.
We paid off the Revolutionary war debt, and submitted to the system then imposed upon us, from the necessity of the case, and from the recollections of that glorious event, that terminated in our independence. We then paid off the second war debt, under a similar system, and were quiet, from similar motives. But now, in profound peace, we find ourselves comparatively free from a national debt, and the great question is, whether we shall be thrown back again, under the former system of measures, for the benefit of the moneyed and stock interest, and at the expense of the landed and laboring interest of this confederacy; or whether we shall reduce the Government to simple and economical expenditures, and a low fiscal action, suited to a state of peace, and congenial to the free principles of an equal Constitution, and to the feelings of a Republican people.
Alexander Hamilton and his followers engrafted the British banking and funding system, with their corresponding measures, upon our country, from very patriotic motives at the time. I have no doubt that they believed our system too weak, and that it was necessary to rally around it the moneyed interest of the country by favors and bounties, so as to sustain the Government, and with it the Union. But the circumstances under which we are now placed, are totally different. No man doubts the power or the permanency of our Government, under a strict and proper construction of the Constitution. Under the system which Hamilton created, there grew up a party that differed from him radically in their principles of public policy. They believed the Government strong enough under a strict construction of the Constitution. George Mason, Patrick Henry, Rollins Lowndes, and Thomas Jefferson, were the fathers of this latter school. They understood thoroughly the philosophy of our system, and had judgment to discriminate between what was necessary for Great Britain, and what might be necessary for us.
Sir, it was a profound school of politics, and the experience of time has but proved the maturity of their wisdom. True, it was a little more complicated, and more difficult to be understood, than the direct and consolidated system of Hamilton; but where has there been a free Government that has not been more or less complicated ? It is a despotism that is always simple. It is one of the beautiful attributes of a free system, that it requires thought, intelligence, to understand and restrain it.
A gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Underwood] had the other day ridiculed State authority, State Rights, and pronounced it all a humbug. Sir, I have known many instances in physics, and morals, as well as in politics, where gentlemen pronounced a system absurd and ridiculous, which they had not the ability to comprehend. I believe, when Galileo first used the telescope, and developed our beautiful planetary system, proclaiming that the sun was a centre, and that the planets moved around it in their separate orbits, that he was immediately denounced as a heretic by the ignorant, and, if I mistake not, thrown into prison by the fanatical. The system was too complicated for their understanding. I remember, too, when at college, that many young men would go as far as quadratic or cubic equations in algebra, but when they came to rise to the higher branches, and to apply spherical trigonometry to the study of the heavens, they then thought it too ethereal for their contemplation, and in the supreme gravity of ignorance, they pronounced it all useless and ridiculous. And so it is with those who are contented with a simple and despotic Government; they relieve their minds from contemplating the higher fields of philosophy in politics, by pronouncing it all theoretical abstraction. In one point of view liberty itself is an abstraction. When gentlemen in this country pronounce a great system of politics all ridiculous and absurd, let them first strike from the scroll of fame the names of Jefferson and Henry.
Mr. Pickens said that he believed if the system of Alexander Hamilton a funded debt high tariff assumption of State debts or which is the same thing, the distribution annually of public revenue together with a Government Bank if all these were to be revived in a time of peace and at this enlightened period of the Republic, the result would be alienation of feeling sectional excitement all tending to weaken the bonds of this Union. Not that he would threaten any thing of that kind, or looking towards it, but that the people would not bear a high pressure system at present. It is the part of wisdom and patriotism to forbear.
Mr. Pickens then said he regretted that the chairman of the committee [Mr. Fillmore] had thought proper to arraign parties upon this floor. He had touched topics calculated to excite the bitterest feelings. I thought that, while giving his beggarly account of empty boxes, it would have been the part of a statesman to have presented his measures in such a manner as to have commanded the best feelings of the House. Why was it that he attempted to show that the last Administration had expended so much more than what came from the ordinary revenues of the Government ? Was it to repeat that partisan calculation made in the Secretary's report, which went to show the "excess of expenditures over the current revenue" for the last few years ? Suppose a debtor and creditor account were opened, and the last administration were to show the twenty-eight millions of dollars deposited, or, as the Secretary might have it, distributed amongst the States. If this were done (and it would be just as fair as the Secretary's miserable showing,) it might then square accounts upon the most approved basis of Federal calculation.
The Chairman has thought proper in one breath to denounce the extravagance of the last Administration, and then, in the next, to speak of their contracted expenditures. He proclaims that they refused to appropriate for fortifications for the Navy, and last, although not least in his estimation, he denounces them for having abandoned appropriations for harbors, and internal improvements, &c. He even mourns that they sold at auction the implements for works of internal improvements that had been carried on before. And is this their sin ? I rather think that many will suppose that they were right for lopping off useless and unconstitutional expenditures. It will be recollected that for five years past we have fought these questions upon this floor, upon high principles of constitutional power as well as expediency. We have been able to vote them down, and, in my opinion, very properly. I suppose now, from the denunciations of the chairman, these measures and expenditures are to be revived. But when the chairman comes to speak of the expenditures of the last Administration, did it never occur to him that Congress had something to do in passing upon and pressing those expenditures, and that there were hardly any, no matter how extravagant, that he and many of his friends did not vote for ? It ill becomes him to rebuke what he may call extravagance in others, when he himself has gone with them upon expenditures, and even complains that upon some points they were not heavy enough. And he is now ready even to go further than was ever thought of by others. The party to which he belongs have come into power with economy upon their lips and extravagance in their hearts.
I should like to see some of their reforms and reductions. Instead of this, we have now before us a funded debt proposed of $12,000,000; we have just passed a distribution bill of at least three millions of dollars annually, which is equal to funding the whole public lands at fifty millions of dollars, as three millions is the interest upon that amount at six per cent; they also propose to raise the taxes, so as to increase the revenue from customs at least $12,000,000 more than at present; and then we have a Government Bank proposed with Government stock again to the amount of $10,000,000 more in all, eighty-four millions of dollars.
These are the movements towards economy and reform, which a deluded and betrayed country were taught to believe would follow this great reforming party !!
Let us examine into the Treasury report, and see if there be any necessity for this loan. It will be observed, in the first place, that the Secretary of the Treasury makes the deficit on the 31st of August next, $5,251,388.30. I believe he has since discovered a mistake of half a million, which he has sent into the Senate. But to make this deficit of five millions (I speak in round number,) on the 31st of August, he resorts to the extraordinary calculation, that, from the 1st of June to the 31st of August, three months, there will be required for the Government sums to the enormous amount of $11,151,693.37.
The Chairman has said that this calculation rests upon the basis that this is one fourth of the year, &c. Multiply this by four, and it will make what will be required for the Government for the whole year, according to this basis, the enormous amount of $44,605,773.48. And is this what the Secretary would make out as required by the Government ? His object was to make the deficit as great as possible by 31st August; and therefore he forced near half the required sums for a whole year into three months, it is too gross and palpable to deceive any man.
The Secretary also makes the deficit at the end of the year, or in his language: "Leaving unprovided for of the demands for the present year, the sum of $6,000,941.14. If the required sum as estimated in the quarter ending 31st August, were estimated in the like manner for the last quarter then the deficit ought, according to this basis, to have been much greater than six millions at the end of the year. Either the calculation is not true as to the quarter ending 31st August, or the other calculation as to the end of the year is not made upon the same basis. The truth is, they appear made out to suit the case the Secretary desires to present.
Take, for instance, amongst the sums which he says will be required from 1st June to 31st August, and we see that he puts down "military service" $4,591,092, which, at that rate, would make for a year $18,364,391 for "military service." And it is by this sort of calculation, by forcing every thing to the highest point within the three months, that he makes the deficit. He might as well have calculated all the expenditures for the year as demanded within the three months, ending on 31st August, and thus he could have had a much larger deficit and debt.
Again to make out a deficit at the end of the year of $6,000,941.14, he estimates $2,521,336.98 to be appropriated this session, under the head of "additional appropriations, required by the War Department." He adds that, as if it were a certain demand upon the Treasury, and then makes out the deficit at six millions. I speak in round numbers. Now it remains to be seen whether this reforming and economical Congress will make this enormous appropriation particularly when we find on page 2d of the report, amongst the balances of appropriations outstanding on the 4th of March 1841, "military $15,991,895.15." Besides, we have now a balance of appropriations on hand for fortifications, $775,000. This is as much as can be wisely expended before the 1st of January next.
You could not at present expend judiciously more upon those objects. At least the public interests could not suffer much on that head until the regular session. Then state the deficit as the Secretary does for the end of the year $6,000,941.14. Deduct new appropriations, estimated, but not made yet 2,521,336.98. And we have at the end of the year only 3,979,604.16.
And take the same amount from the deficit made out by The Secretary on 31st August, and it will only be at that time $2,730,051.32. It will be seen that the Secretary makes the lowest estimates as to the "ways and means in the power of the Treasury" from 1st June to the 31st August, whilst he makes the largest calculations as to the sums required in the same period. For instance, on page 4th, he estimates receipts from customs to 31st August at $3,000,000. Now it is well known that our heaviest importations were in January and February, and that the custom house bonds of those months, running for six months, will be falling due within that period. The dues will be now coming in for the heaviest importations of the year, made in January last, and the estimate might more fairly be made at four millions than three millions.
So it is with lands. He estimates them for the same time at $700,000. If the usual sales had not been postponed or suspended, those receipts might have been put higher. There can be no reason for not making sales, unless it be intended (which surely cannot be the case) to enable those speculators, who it was said, two years ago held 60,000,000 of acres of lands on speculation, to bring their lands into market on more favorable terms, than if the Government were to urge sales at the minimum price.
As the Treasury is said to be in want, it would seem the fit time to make sales of public lands as an extraordinary source of revenue, which could be collected without pressure to any interest; so that the sales ought to reach a million of dollars, instead of $700,000. If we go to conjecture, the probability ought to be from lands and customs $1,300,000, in any reasonable calculation more than is estimated up to 31st of August. This, taken from the $2,730,051.32, would leave at that period only $1,430,051.32. This would be a reasonable result even upon the extraordinary high estimate of "sums required" up to the 31st of August.
But let us calculate by the data furnished from the report, and present another view. In page 12, he states "the balances of appropriations outstanding March 4, 1841, $33,429,616.50." Take from this (page 3d) what "will be required for the services of the current year," $24,210,000, and it leaves $9,219,616.50, which of course would be the balance of outstanding appropriations 1st January, 1842; then take that from the $12,306,265.35, stated page 12th to be "balances of appropriations outstanding January 1, 1841," and we have $3,086,648.85. This, then, added to the $24,210,000 "estimated for the services of the current year," would make $27,296,648.85. According to his own estimate, he can make no more than this for the year. Then divide that amount by four, and you have the estimate, according to the chairman's basis, for three months "of sums that will be required," in amount $6,824,162.21, instead of the $11,151,693.37, as estimated by the Secretary at page four.
But then add the extra amount of Treasury notes, which the Secretary calculates as due by the 31st August, to the $6,824,162.21, and you will have $9,581,062.21. Add also to that the sums estimated both for taking the census and the expenses of the extra session of Congress, (the last of which was unnecessary, and the former might have remained until the regular session,) and these are the only two items of extras beyond the Treasury notes, and then we only have $10,225,062.21. This makes a difference of $926,631.16, which I am at a loss to explain, and which I believe no man can explain.
Then the Treasury notes at pages three and twelve, estimated as falling into the Treasury this year, although issued from January to 4th March, 1841, $1,110,611.08, must also be deducted from his general estimate, and added to this last sum of $926,631.16. It is well known that, at six per cent. under existing circumstances in the country, there is no investment more profitable and safe at present. There can be no reason why they should be calculated as coming in certainly before due. Add then the $2,521,336.98 "additional appropriations required by the War Department," but not yet made, and in no point of view can be estimated as deficit. To this put the sums of $350,000, and of $294,000, estimated for the census and the extra session, (but in no view to be calculated as deficit,) and we have then an aggregate from these items of $5,202,579.22. Then take this from the Secretary's own estimate of deficit at the end of the year, $6,000,941.14, and it leaves only $798,361.92 actual deficit at the end of the year.
Taking out $215,151, money now in the mints, and this amount would be reduced $583,210.92; so that if there had been no extra session, there could not have been a deficit at any rate on the 31st August next, but all the reasonable and ordinary calculations would make an abundance at that time, whatever may be said as to the year. The whole is an exaggerated and forced calculation, to produce a vague impression as to the necessity of the called session.
As to the $4,000,000 which the Secretary recommends as a fund, that always ought to be idle in the Treasury, (or rather in the Bank, to be created as a fund for its use) as a surplus. If such an amount were necessary for extraordinary emergencies, then it would show far more financial wisdom and patriotism, to give the Government power to use its own credit conditionally, to suit such emergencies. Instead of four millions in money collected from the people, and lying as a surplus always on hand, it would be far better and cheaper to use Treasury notes, as they might be needed for extraordinary emergencies. This would give efficiency, and avoid hoarding up idle money.
But this four millions is not only designed to relieve the Treasury, but is intended as a fund for a Bank or banks, to use as the basis of discounts for their benefit.
But, Mr. Chairman, independent of all these calculations, I have another view to present. The present dominant party came into power upon professions of economy and reform. They spread these professions upon every banner, in their struggle for triumph. The people, in the language of the gentleman from Maryland, [Mr. Sollers] gave them a verdict; and I am for entering up the judgment. Under these circumstances, considering their solemn vows, they were bound in faith and honor to have presented a scheme for reduction and economy, before they called on us to give new supplies for extraordinary demands. If they had first presented us a scale, a general system of reductions, according to their open promises, and then have asked for the necessary supplies of a just and economical Government, there might have been some sort of claim to our confidence and support.
But instead of that we find the first proposition made is to squander and profligately to divide the whole revenue from the lands amongst their dependent speculators. And then they modestly ask to borrow twelve millions to make the first gift good; and then propose to tax the people twelve millions in addition to what would now be the ordinary revenue from customs so as to make them pay for this loan and distribution. Sir, the younger Pitt, in all his power, often as he issued exchequer bills to the amount of millions to aid and relieve the Bank of England, would not dare to propose such naked and reckless measures to a free people as are now proposed for our adoption by a daring party, who have done so much lip service around the altar of reform.[So much for Clay's and Lincoln's policy of tariff protection !!]
But as they have refused to present us a list of items which can be taken from the expenditures of the Government, without impairing in the slightest degree its efficiency or usefulness, I will present a few. In this estimate I have only taken the expenditures for three quarters of the year, from January 1st to September 30, 1840, as given in the report of the Treasury, 9th December, 1840, p. 23. I find for that period a list of expenditures exclusive of trust funds, and amongst them I select the following as items placing the expenditures for the three quarters of the year in one column, and the reductions that can fairly be made, in the opposite column. Of course the estimated reduction is made with reference to the next year, 1842:
Thus it will be seen, in that list, after leaving enough to finish the public buildings and custom houses, there can be, and ought to be, a saving of $890,970.47, and that only for three quarters of the year.
I come now to the important item of pensions. I find in the same document, for three quarters of the year, expenditures as follows:
As to Indian annuities, that will expire in the next year, although I have some details, yet I am not sufficiently informed from the documents to know what will be the amount.
So it is as to the various items of expenditure connected with volunteers, transportations &c. &c. made in 1840, for the Florida war; and also for fulfilling our Indian treaties, &c. But it may be safely said that the heaviest expenditures of the Florida war are over; and it is a very moderate calculation to put down the reduction for 1842, under that head, at $1,000,000.00. Cherokee treaties are also now about closed; payments and ration under it finished 1,000,000.00. Congressional expenses to be saved 100,000.00. Expenses saved in collection of the revenue 600,000.00. It has some years cost near 2,000,000.00. With average ad valorem duties, such as proposed under the compromise act, and at a low rate, the system would be less complicated and expensive, particularly if they are so low as not to encourage smuggling. This would dispense with many officers and offices connected with customs, now kept up to prevent smuggling, and which do not clear expenses.
Saving in public offices, contingent expenses, extras, and reduction of clerks extended to custom-houses 150,000.00. Building arsenals, adding to armories, and barracks heretofore made, but now finished 122,000.00. [All together] $2,972,000.00. Add these several items of 2,972,000.00. Second 985,144.00. Third 840,970.47. Amount $4,798,114.47.
Which can be made without in the least impairing the efficiency of the Government in time of peace.
As to the drawbacks and duties refunded on iron and materials for railroads, and repayment of the 5 per cent. to States on proceeds of public lands, and cur Indian annuities, I am not sufficiently acquainted with details to make any estimate of reductions in expenditures or amounts to be added thereby to the receipts into the Treasury.
But of one thing I am certain, that before this Administration can ask us for loans and an increase of taxes, it becomes them first to come up to their professions of retrenchment, and present us a system of fair reductions. They must move in this way according to their promises, before I can consent to give them money to squander and waste in profligate schemes amongst the States, or rather the speculators in the States, under the shallow pretext of necessity.
The proposition now is to borrow in advance $12,000,000 for eight years at 5 per cent. besides expenses to agents, &c. In eight years, this, at 5 per cent. would be, in interest, $4,800,000, which, in all, would make $16,800,000. And the great question among the tax-payers will be, and ought to be, why was all this why were we called on to pay this to Government ? And posterity will answer, because it was intended to benefit the stock interest and foreign fundholder.
Mr. Pickens was interrupted by the termination of the hour rule. He was about to show that if there were any actual necessity in the Treasury, the conditional issuing of Treasury notes was just as efficient, and can be demonstrated to be cheaper than the loan for eight years. The use of such notes heretofore has but little exceeded 4 per cent. to Government; and, considering they are only issued as needed, and coming in as dues, all of which makes the interest but short as to time, they would be in the long run the cheapest mode of relieving any temporary necessity in the Treasury.
As to the power of Government, it was a question whether Government had a right to use its promissory notes instead of bonds to raise or borrow money. The power to borrow was undoubted, and the Government had a right to use its own mode. Neither ought to be resorted to, except from absolute and certain necessity. The issuing of Treasury notes, or funding a debt, as proposed by the bill, were both dangerous powers, and precedents liable to be abused. They never ought to be allowed except for urgent necessities. In this case the necessity did not exist.