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Publication of Secret Proceedings.
subject so fraught with consequences; a premature disclosure might as readily lead to ruin as to prosperity; it was wrong in every point of view, and he considered it his duty to say nothing on the subject; at best, it could only excite speculation. He considered himself as justified to his constituents by the course he had determined to pursue: at any rate, national security, honor, and expediency, would always lead him to a sacrifice of local or individual advantage. The subject was a very delicate one; gentlemen who adopted a course different from himself could best account for it. Agents in this business should not be too severe in their censure of those who had inadvertently disclosed the proceedings. How this information was diffused throughout the Union by means of expresses; and at whose expense; how it was further published at the coffeehouses in our large cities, he need not detail; other gentlemen could give much better information on this subject than he could. The very hour of its arrival in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston, was predicted to a minute. The distress, thus induced, may hereafter lead to reflections far from being the most pleasing.
Mr. BIBB said he should not be diverted from his course by any fear of insinuations against himself; however strange it might appear, such arguments had no effect on him. The gentleman from Pennsylvania had blended together subjects entirely distinct; the object of the inquiry, and the present question, were not the same. The object of the inquiry was to ascertain by what means certain proceedings were divulged; the witness had been called before the House and refused to answer; a gentleman had informed the House by what means he believes the deponent became possessed of the information. So far as related to the object of the House, it was realized. They had nothing more to do with the inquiry. Every man was satisfied of the means by which the individual became possessed of the facts. The inquiry being satisfied, the next question presenting itself was the contempt which the House had received. The party had said he was willing to answer. Thus, then, the object being previously attained, the contempt manifested for the House was removed by the acknowledgment of the willingness of the witness to testify, and it was proposed to discharge him. Was there anything extraordinary in this course? If there was, he confessed his inability to see it.
Mr. POINDEXTER moved to amend the motion, by inserting the words, "and it being unnecessary, in consequence of information given to the House by a member thereof, to prosecute the inquiry further; therefore"-to precede the words, the said Nathaniel Rounsavell be discharged from his confinement."
Mr. SEYBERT accepted of this modification of his motion.
Mr. SMILIE said, his colleague (Mr. MILNOR) seemed to be all on fire to punish this man. He (Mr. S.) judged of a crime by the intention and by the mischief which it produced. What mischief has this man done? None. What has
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been done by my colleague whose zeal is so great against this man? Has he attempted to defeat the very effect of the law, or has he not? After his declamations at the coffee-house in Philadelphia-[Mr. S. was checked by the SPEAKER for personality.]-Mr. S. submitted to the correction of the Chair, observing that it would be well understood what he meant to have said, if permitted to go on.
Mr. SHEFFEY made some observations to show the necessity of pursuing this inquiry, and the inconsistency of the course proposed to be taken, concluding with a motion to amend the resolution, so as to read to the following effect:
Resolved, That Nathaniel Rounsavell be discharged from custody on his answering the interrogatories yesterday propounded to him by order of the House.
He thought that the course first proposed comMr. CALHOUN spoke against the amendment. ported with the dignity of the House, and that rather show a vexatious than magnanimous spirit. to press this subject after what had passed, would The moment their object was attained they ought to proceed no further. It now appeared that no the subject would be dismissed. one was implicated. He rejoiced at it, and hoped
The question on Mr. SHEFFEY's amendment was taken by yeas and nays, and negatived-55 to 37, as follows:
YEAS-Ezekiel Bacon, John Baker, Abijah Bigelow, Harmanus Bleecker, James Breckenridge, Elijah Brigham, Epaphroditus Champion, Langdon Cheves, Martin Chittenden, John Davenport, jun., John Dawson, William Ely, Asa Fitch, Aylett Hawes, Philip B. Key, William R. King, Abner Lacock, Joseph Lewis, jun., Peter Little, Robert Le Roy Livingston, William Lowndes, Arunah Metcalf, James Milnor, Jonathan R. Potter, Henry M. Ridgely, Samuel Ringgold, John O. Moseley, Stephen Ormsby, Joseph Pearson, Elisha Roane, Daniel Sheffey, Richard Stanford, Philip Stuart, Samuel Taggart, Laban Wheaton, Leonard White, and Thomas Wilson-37.
NAYS-Willis Alston, jun., William Anderson, Burwell Bassett, William W. Bibb, William Blackledge, William A. Burwell, William Butler, John C. Calhoun, John Clopton, William Crawford, Roger Davis, Joseph Desha, Samuel Dinsmoor, Elias Earle, James Emott, William Findley, James Fisk, Thomas Gholson, Thomas R. Gold, Peterson Goodwyn, Isaiah L. Green, Felix Grundy, Bolling Hall, Obed Hall, John A. Harper, John M. Hyneman, Richard Jackson, jun., Richard M. Johnson, Joseph Kent, Joseph Lefever, Aaron Lyle, Alexander McKim, Jeremiah Morrow, Hugh Nelson, Thomas Newton, Israel Pickens. William Piper, James Pleasants, jr., Benjamin Pond, John Rhea, Jonathan Roberts, Ebenezer Sage, Ebenezer Seaver, Adam Seybert, John Smilie, George Smith, John Smith, William Strong, Lewis B. Sturges, John Taliaferro, Benjamin Tallmadge, Uri Tracy, Charles Turner, junior, David R. Williams, and Rich
The question was then taken on Mr. SEYBERT'S motion, and carried without opposition; and the Sergeant-at-Arms was ordered to discharge the witnesses from confinement; and then, on motion, the House adjourned until to-morrow.
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WEDNESDAY, April 8.
civil jurisdiction, the Judges have been trespassers; and, as to criminal jurisdiction, they must have stained their hands with crime.
The SPEAKER presented a petition of Edward Clark, stating that he is the inventor of a new and improved method of maritime defence, called Under the act of 1809, a Judge of the Supreme buoy forts, and praying that an investigation may Court, by the appointment of law, discharged be immediately had into the principles upon every duty, without a single exception, of the dis which the said forts are proposed to be construct-trict Judge; the causes in the district court were ed, or that an experiment may be made by which his invention may be tested.-Referred.
The House then proceeded to reconsider the bill to provide for cases of disability or absence of the Judges of the District Courts of the United States, together with the Message of the President of the United States stating his reasons for refusing his signature thereto.
Mr. GOLD. The peculiar situation of the District of New York, in which the business has accumulated in the district court, owing to the continued sickness of the District Judge, to the number of about seven hundred causes, must be my apology for troubling the House on this occasion.
I shall consider the objections of the President to the bill under consideration with freedom, but with the respect due to the opinion of the Chief Magistrate of the United States; and while I readily admit, that the objections would be entitled to much consideration in the revision of the present judicial system; yet, as the bill under consideration introduces no new principle, but is intended only to amend and make the present system, admitted to be objectionable, effectual for its intended purposes in the administration of justice, I cannot find any solid foundation for the objections to the bill.
to be removed into the circuit court for trial; but
and Ohio, actually performed the duties of the
the bill, an appeal may be taken from a Judge sitIn the second place, it is objected, that, under ting in the District Court to the same Judge sitting in the Circuit Court. pose of revision and correction, is wrong in prinThis, as to the purciple; but it is already found in our system and is not new. Appeals now lay from the Judge in the Circuit Court to the same Judge in the Supreme Court; that others sit with him in the Supreme Court, in revising the judgment, cannot alter the principle, but only mitigate its effect. The appeal is a creature of the law, and not provided by the Constitution; it may be abolished wholly or in part. The above act of 1809, in reThis objection goes to subvert the whole judi- moving the case from the District Court before a cial system; it would have defeated the original trial, superseded the appeal from such court, and organization of the courts under the Constitution; whether a cause shall be brought, by appeal, into it applies to the entire system that has prevailed the Supreme Court under that act or this, it comes down to this day, with the exception of the amend- with the single opinion of the same person, with ment for the additional judges in 1801, (so much this difference only, that under one act that opistigmatized at the time, but now generally ap-nion is delivered in the Circuit Court, under the proved of.)
In the first place it is objected, that a Judge of the Supreme Court, being commissioned as Judge of such court only, cannot hold the district court by the appointment of law, but must have a commission for that purpose.
other in the District Court. The appeal might Have not the Judges of the Supreme Court, be made by law direct from the District Court to from the beginning, held the Circuit Courts, by the Supreme Court, and whether direct or cir the appointment of law, and without any com-cuitously through the Circuit Court, as by this mission for that purpose? This circuit is a court bill, how is it possible, as to every purpose of reof original as well as appellate jurisdiction; and vision and correction, that there should be a difthis principle, introduced immediately on the ference in the result. adoption of the Constitution, and acquiesced in, for so great a period, by both its friends and opposers, has been ingrafted in the system, and ought not now lightly to be shaken. A single appointment of a Judge is contemplated in the Constitution, and not a new appointment or commission for every distinct service or court. If this objection be well founded, it goes to the very authority of the Circuit Court, and proves that all the proceedings of that court, for about twelve years, have been coram non judice; as to the exercise of
It is objected, in the third place, that the bill requires additional services without compensation, and is in this inequitable, and will become "a precedent for modifications and extensions of judicial services, encroaching on the constitutional tenure of judicial office."
The duties of the Judges of the Supreme Court may be arduous, perhaps severe and oppressive, but it surely can be no objection to a bill under the Constitution, that it creates new duties; that it modifies and extends judicial services.
possible, sir, that we should doubt our right or the propriety of modifying and extending judicial services from time to time, as the necessities of the community may and do require? Is a precedent for this to become the subject of alarm? Has not this power of modifying and extending, been exercised at all times and under all administrations, from the origin of the Government to this day? Has not Congress extended the circuits to new States and districts, repealed the whole system of the circuits in 1801, and substituted a new one, and in 1802, repealed the new one and revived the old, with modifications and extensions? Are not the duties of the Judges of the Supreme Court treble what they were when their salaries were established? As to all that can enter into the constitutional tenure of judicial office, as enjoyment of office during good behaviour, with an undiminished salary, it remains unaffected by this bill.
The fourth and last objection is grounded on that provision in the bill which authorizes the President to ascertain the disability of the District Judge and delay of business in his court, upon which the duty of holding the court is devolved on the Judge of the Supreme Court allotted to the district. In the above provision of the bill, I can perceive nothing subversive of the theory of our Government in the separation and independence of the different departments. Does the bill subject one department to the discretion of another? It merely authorizes the President to ascertain the event (the disability of the District Judge to hold his court, &c.,) on which a duty is enjoined by law, on another Judge, and all the services and whole effect upon such other Judge result from the law, and not any discretionary authority in the President: discretion can have no place here, in my conception, without abuse of terms. It is the Constitutional duty of the Executive to see that the laws are executed; that justice is administered according to the provisions of law, and the power given the President by this bill is, in my opinion, appropriate to his office as established by the Constitution.
It only, sir, remains for me to add, that if the objections interposed to this bill shall receive the sanction of Congress, I much fear that the situation of the District of New York is remediless; that the District Court, with seven hundred causes depending in it, must remain shut, and the administration of justice delayed, to the great distress and oppression of the suitors of the court, and reproach of the Government.
The question was then put-" Shall this bill pass, the objections of the President notwithstanding?"
The following was the state of the vote on this question:
YEAS-Willis Alston, junior, Harmanus Bleecker, William A. Burwell, William Butler, Martin Chittenden, John Davenport, jun., William Ely, James Emott, Asa Fitch, Thomas R. Gold, Joseph Kent, Joseph Lewis, jun., Nathaniel Macon, Jonathan O. Moseley, Hugh Nelson, Joseph Pearson, Timothy Pitkin, jun., Benjamin Pond, Elisha R. Potter, William Rodman,
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Philip Stuart, Lewis B. Sturges, Samuel Taggart
So the bill was lost.
Mr. CALHOUN then stated that it had become his duty to call for the consideration of the business of a confidential nature; and upon his motion the galleries were cleared, and strangers excluded, and so remained until the House adjourned.
THURSDAY, April 9.
The House met with closed doors, and continued in secret session till one o'clock, when the doors were opened.
The SPEAKER laid before the House a letter from Jonathan Coleman, addressed to the Congress of the United States, stating that he is a native born American citizen, and has been impressed, and is detained on board the British ship of war called the Mars, and soliciting the interference of Congress in effecting his release.-Referred to Mr. BURWELL, Mr. LITTLE, Mr. DINSMOOR, Mr. MILNOR, and Mr. POTTER, to consider and report thereon to the House.
A message from the Senate informed the House that the Senate have passed a bill "to enlarge the limits of the State of Louisiana;" in which they desire the concurrence of the House. The Senate insist on their amendments, disagreed to by this House, to the bill "for the relief of the officers and soldiers who served in the late campaign on the Wabash."
Mr. MORROW, from the committee to whom was referred, on the thirty-first ultimo, the bill from the Senate "to authorize the President of the United States to ascertain and designate certain boundaries," reported the same with amendments; which were read, and, together with the bill, committed to a Committee of the Whole tomorrow.
On motion of Mr. JOHNSON, a committee was appointed to inquire into the propriety of extending the right of suffrage to the people of Illinois Territory, with leave to report by bill, or other
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Recess of Congress-Importation of British Goods.
preparation for war, and to the probable period when such preparation would be sufficient to authorize the commencement of hostilities. In the
wise. Mr. JOHNSON, Mr. B. HALL, Mr. ALSTON, Mr. TALIAFERRO, and Mr. TAGGART, were appointed the committee. The bill from the Senate "to enlarge the lim-space of ninety days, it is understood, the country its of the State of Louisiana" was read twice, and ordered to be read the third time to-morrow. The House proceeded to consider the message from the Senate insisting on their amendments, disagreed to by this House, to the bill for the relief of the officers and soldiers who served in the late campaign on the Wabash :" Whereupon, the House receded from their disagreement to the said amendments.
The House proceeded to consider the engrossed bill providing for the Government of the Territory of Louisiana: When, Mr. McKEE moved that the said bill be postponed until the first Monday in December next-negatived.
The question was then taken that the said bill do pass, and resolved in the affirmative.
RECESS OF CONGRESS.
Mr. BIBB said he rose for the purpose of submitting to the House a proposition on the subject of an adjournment for a short time. He believed in doing so he should consult the feelings and opinions of a considerable majority, although it might be his fortune not to receive the concurrence of some gentlemen whom he highly respected. The motion he was about to make was the result of the most deliberate consideration he had been able to bestow on the present state of our public affairs. Every effort. said Mr. B., which the love of peace could suggest, every sacrifice which national independence could permit, has been made to induce the belligerents to ab stain from violating our rights. Having been made in vain, we have now solemnly determined to seek that redress by arms which has been refused to negotiation, and he would add, to supplication. With that determination, all the important measures preparatory to war, which it belonged to Congress to adopt, have been taken; and before we can proceed further, it is necessary that the Executive branch of the Government shall have raised to a certain extent, organized, and distributed the different species of force which the National Legislature has authorized. Considering the widely extended territory over which the people of this country are scattered, and va
rious other circumstances connected with this subject, it could not be expected that the raising, organization, and distribution of a large army should be the work of a day. Time must and would be required to perfect a system on which we are about to rely for the defence of the nation, and for redressing the multiplied wrongs it has already suffered. The passage of the embargo law ought to remove all doubts from every mind in regard to the question of war. That question he considered settled. The stand was taken, and it would be maintained. Viewing, then, the measure of embargo as intended to keep our property at home, and to notify our citizens abroad of the storm which is approaching, its duration had been fixed with reference to the present state of
will be prepared to embark in the contest-a contest which the American people are convinced could not have been avoided without an abandonment of their essential interests. If, then, all the legislative acts are passed, which, for the present, it is important should be passed, he could perceive no substantial objection to a recess for a few weeks. Will such recess retard the preparations for war? Certainly not. On the contrary, it appeared to him calculated to expedite them. The Head of the War Department would be relieved from the daily interruptions to which during the session of Congress he is liable, and the other members of the Administration would be enabled to unite their exertions in the important duties which at this moment press so heavily on that Department. Will a continuance of the ses than if a recess be had? Obviously not. Congress sion now, enable us, eventually, to adjourn sooner must be in session at the termination of the embargo, and the only question to be decided is, shall we remain here with nothing to do, or spend a part of the intermediate time at our respective homes. The considerations in favor of the latter course were so imposing and so apparent that it could not be necessary for him to use them. tained by some as to the impression which a recess might produce on the public mind, but thought they were altogether groundless. The people of this country possessed a great share of intelligence, and would judge correctly upon the subject. They would have before them the evidence of busy warlike preparations throughout the nation; and with the information that Congress had adjourned only for a few weeks, to convene again under peculiar circumstances, at an unusual and inclement season, they could not fail to perceive, what he believed time would confirm, that their representatives intend not to disappoint their expectations.
Mr. B. said he was aware of the fears enter
Mr. B. said the few remarks he had offered his views. His object was, to adjourn from about were intended to prevent any misconception of the 20th of the present month to the 15th of June. The resolution, however, only proposed an inquiry on the subject.
The following resolution was submitted:
Resolved, That a committee be appointed, to join such committee as the Senate may appoint, to consider tention of Congress, and whether a recess be comand report what business demands the immediate atpatible with the public interest, and the term of such
IMPORTATION OF BRITISH GOODS.
The House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole on the bill to authorize the importation of goods, wares, and merchandise, under certain circumstances, from Great Britain, her colonies, or dependencies.
[This is the bill which proposes to authorize
Importation of British Goods.
Mr. NEWTON stated that he had called up this bill at the pressing instance of others; that he was incapacitated, by indisposition, from now discussing it himself; but that he had always doubted the policy of such a measure.
Mr. RHEA said this bill having, contrary to his expectation, travelled so far as to arrive to be considered in a Committee of the whole House, and he being desirous to arrest its progress, and put | an end to an expectation which had partially existed, he intended to make a motion to try the principle thereof. The object of this bill was, to admit the importation of British products and merchandise into the United States. He considered this bill directly opposed to, and a virtual repeal, to a certain extent, of the non-importation law. If it be the object of any gentleman to repeal directly or indirectly the non-importation law, let a resolution on that subject be presented, and then there will be an opportunity to meet the question fairly in the face, whether the non-im portation law shall be repealed. He hoped this question would be taken as speedily as possible. Hesitation in this case was dangerous; and, being desirous to put an end to this bill, he now moved to strike out the first section.
the importation of all goods, wares, and merchan- to ascertain it by inspection of the goods themdise, being the growth, produce, or manufacture selves. The honest merchant indeed who has of Great Britain, her colonies, or dependencies, money in England would not himself invest it in and which were actually contracted for in Great goods which under this bill could not be imported Britain, her colonies or dependencies, anterior to into this country without fraud. But his money the first day of February, 1811.] would not be allowed to remain unproductive. If he could not use it, it would become (by the sale of his bills) the property of those who could. The full amount of American property in England would still be imported; but imported not for the benefit of the conscientious merchant, but of the fraudulent_speculator. It would be a trade in perjury. But if you could apply the distinction without danger of being deceived in favor of those who purchased English manufactures at a time when they say they knew not of any legal impediment to their importation, what is their claim of justice to this distinction? They have exported the produce of their country, and obtained in exchange for it English manufactures, which to them must be altogether worthless unless you permit their importation into America. But those who have not purchased English manufactures, who have exported the produce of your country and exchanged it for English paper, must be equally deprived of an equivalent for what they have sold, if the importation of those articles of value which alone their paper can procure them be prohibited. If indeed the property which our merchants hold in the currency of England could be transmitted to this country, that which they hold in manufactures might be readily exchanged for that currency (although perhaps some loss would be incurred) and might also be transmitted. Both classes of cases then or neither deserve the interposition of the Legislature, and the amendment which shall place both upon a footing will probably be concurred in by those who think that in the expectation of war every facility should be afforded to the return of our property from abroad, and even by such gentlemen as believe that American property ought not in any case to be admitted into America if it consist of articles "of the growth, produce, or manufacture of England." The amendment of which I have spoken will substitute for a condition of importation (the date of contracts in a foreign country) admitting of endless doubts and frauds, the simple condition of arriving within a certain time (I shall propose the first of August) at some port of the United States. It will bring fairly before the House this question, Shall such citizens of the United States as may have property in the country with which we expect soon to be involved in war, be compelled to retain it there until war occur?
Mr. LOWNDES assured the honorable gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. RHEA) that the injunction which had issued against long debates would not be disregarded by him. He would not complain of any restriction which might be imposed on the length of his spec. But he regretted that the honorable gentleman should have thought it fair and decent to prevent, by the motion which he had made, the production of those amendments which he knew to have been prepared; that he should have endeavored to direct the discussion of the bill not to the improved shape in which the proposed amendments might present it, but to that the defects of which were acknowledged, and would, perhaps, if the gentleman had permitted it, have been removed. Yet I believe, said Mr. L., that the object of the honorable gentleman, however reasonable and candid it may be, will not be attained by the plan which he has adopted. In arguing that the first section of the bill ought not to be stricken out, no rule of debate will be infringed by showing both the advantage which it may produce in its present form, and those which the intended amendments may give it. The bill as it stands proposes to admit the importation of such articles of English production or manufacture as were purchased or contracted for by American citizens before the first day of February, 1811. This distinction, dependent on the date of purchase or of contract, would not be practicable if it were just, nor just though it were practicable. How could the time of purchase be ascertained? By inspection of the merchant's papers? You might as reasonably expect 12th CoN. 1st Sess.-41
Is it not the interest of the country that all the property of its citizens should be secured? Is not national the mere aggregate of individual wealth? And in the contest in which we shall be engaged, will there not be as large a demand upon the pecuniary resources as upon the military prowess of the nation? An addition of twenty or thirty millions worth of articles of the first utility to such as we now possess, an addition for which we shall have to pay nothing, cannot be a