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selling stock, was authorized, who were to be allowed of one per cent. on the amount sold or subscribed.
4. The treasury note bill was likewise passed. It authorizes the issuing of notes to the amount of five millions within the year, and an additional five millions, if the president deem it expedient, to be in part of the loan of sixteen millions before authorized. The notes bear interest at the rate of 5 per cent. per annum, to be reimbursed at the treasury, one year after the day on which they are respectively issued. The appointment of agents for the sale of the treasury notes (not under par) was authorized, to be allowed a commission of of one per cent. on } such sales. These notes are made receivable for all public dues, and credit is to be given for both principal and interest due on the day of such payment: the interest to be computed at the rate of a cent and a half per day on every $ 100 of principal, each month to be computed as containing 30 days.
$5. On the 15th of February, the committee of ways and means made a report to the house, accompanied with a bill partially suspending, for a limited time, the several non-importation acts, laying a duty on foreign tonnage, and prohibiting the judges from giving up property under judicature, on the owners giving bonds for refunding its value. The committee state in their report, that they have deemed it to be their duty, that the public service may not suffer, and that the public credit may be duly supported, to look beyond the ways and means of the present year, and to take into consideration the revenue which may be wanted for the year 1814. That an estimate of the probable amount of the revenue which will accrue under existing laws and be receivable within that year, has been submitted to congress in the annual report of the secretary of the treasury, made during the present session. That, comparing the amount thereof with the sums which will probably be required by a prudent regard to the public credit, it appears to the committee indispensably necessary to make a further provision. That this may be done by a partial suspension of the non-importation acts, which will not greatly lessen their injurious effects upon the enemy, by an additional duty on foreign tonnage, and by the imposition of internal taxes and duties. That, in their opinion, all these means will be necessary to supply the revenue which will be wanted. That it is impracticable during the present session, consistently with a due attention to the other business of the nation, to enact the laws necessary to embrace the last mentioned object; but that this may be done, without difficulty, and without a delay which will be injurious either to the public credit or the public service, by an earlier meeting of congress
than the constitutional period, which it will be the duty of congress, or the executive branch of the government, to fix at such time as shall be deemed most proper and expedient.
On the 17th Mr. Little introduced the following resolution with some remarks in favour of the policy of the non-importation act, to which he avowed himself to be very friendly, and to the suspension of which he was opposed :
Resolved, That the committee of ways and means be, and hereby are instructed to report to this house a bill or bills laying taxes for the support of the war.
This motion was opposed on the ground of the impracticability of acting on the subject properly at the present session.Sitting day and night, and passing by all other business, a proper system of taxation could not be digested and put into the form of a law before the end of the session. Two only, out of fourteen of the bills it would be necessary to pass to carry the system proposed at the last session into effect, would require the whole of the present session to perfect them. The passage of a system of taxation, besides, would not obviate the necessity of the passage of the law for suspending partially the non-importation act. It would require both.
It was then moved to strike out the whole of the resolution, for the purpose of inserting an instruction to the committee of ways and means to report a bill or bills, pursuant to the report of the committee of ways and means on this subject, which passed the house on the 4th of March, 1812. This modification of the motion was accepted by Mr. Little, but the motion was still opposed, as going to cast censure on a committee which had laboured day and night in its vocation, and requiring them to originate measures which they had already declared it impracticable to act on at the present session.
The question on its adoption was decided in the negative, 47 to 69.
On the 29th, in committee of the whole, a motion was made and carried, 63 to 23, to strike out the first section, which was concurred in by the house, 70 to 24. The 2d, 3d, and 4th sections, being connected with and depending upon the first, of course fell with it, so that all that related to the suspension of the non-importation was stricken out. The remainder of the bill, prohibiting the judges from restoring goods on bond, and laying a tax on foreign tonnage, after being amended, at the suggestion of Mr. Milnor, by a clause limiting its duration to the end of the war, was passed by the house, but postponed by the senate to the next session. VOL. I. PART I.
Two other bills passed the house and failed in the senate, the proceedings thereon being cut short by the constitutional period of the session, viz. a bill prohibiting the use of foreign licenses, and a bill prohibiting exportation in foreign bottoms.
On the 22d a resolution was offered, in consequence of the rejection of the suspension of the non-importation act, instructing the committee of ways and means to report a bill laying a duty on distilled spirits. This resolution, after some debate, was negatived, 46 to 75.
96. On the 19th of February, Mr. Grundy, in the house of representatives, offered the following resolution for consideration:
Resolved, That it is expedient that the thirteenth congreess of the United States should assemble on the
Monday in May next, and that a committee be appointed to bring in a bill accordingly.
Considerable debate arose on this resolution, which turned principally on the practicability of providing the revenue necessary for 1814, at the present session. Those who voted for it contended that it was not practicable ; and many who voted against it declared their impression that an early session would be necessary, but that they would not vote for it now,
because the effect of the adoption of the resolution would be, to postpone the discussion of the bill for repealing the non-importation act, and the subject of taxes, beyond the present session. When the question was taken on the adoption of the resolution, it was decided in the negative, 70 to 53.
On the 22d, after the rejection of the suspension of the nonimportation act, Mr. Grundy offered a resolution to the following effect, which was agreed to by a large majority.
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to enquire into the expediency of providing by law for an earlier day for the next meeting of congress than that fixed by the constitution.
A bill was accordingly reported and passed into a law,sappointing an extra session to be held on the 4th Monday of May.
7. A number of petitions were presented early in the ses sion, praying for the imposition of a duty on the importation of iron wire, in order to encourage its manufacture, in conformity to which an act was passed imposing thereon the same duty paid on the importation of iron, steel, or brass locks, &c. with an addition of io per cent. when imported in foreign vessels.
98. An act was likewise passed granting to purchasers of public lands a further term of three years to complete their payments, provided that all arrears of interest should be paid before the expiration of the period formerly allowed by law for pay
of the pur
ment, and that the residue of the principal should be paid with interest in three annual instalments.
The committee on public lands, who recommended this additional credit, also recommended, that such parts of the laws for the sale of the public lands as allow a credit on part of the chase money, be repealed ; and that the price at which lands be offered in future be one dollar and twenty-five cents per acre ; and that in future sales a portion of the public land be offered in tracts of 80 acres. “ From the view they have taken of the subject,” say the committee, “they cannot but believe, that important advantages would result from so modifying the present law as to require cash payments. The frequent application of purchasers for indulgence, and the frequent recurrence of circumstances which necessarily induce the legislature to mitigate the general operation of the law, has inclined the committee to believe, that the system of credit is not well adapted to the circumstances of the country, and does not produce the effects intended by it. It is believed, judging by the experience of the past, that the present system cannot be continued, and the laws rigidly executed, without occasionally producing great injury to the purchasers. Men are seduced by the temptation which the credit holds out them, to extend their purchases beyond their means of making payment. The unfavourable Auctuations of commerce cannot be foreseen, and the pretty general disposition in men to-anticipate the most favourable results from the produce of their labour, are the general causes of the failure of purchasers in making their payments.
“ By abolishing the credit in future sales, every subsequent purchaser would, without any liability to error, be able to calculate his means of making payment. If his purchase should not be so extensive, he will at once be secure and quiet in his possession. In future those fertile sources of discontent and disquietude, which arise from disappointment, and from the exercis of the measures necessary to enforce the payments, as also the frequent distress occasioned by the forfeiture of lands on which settlements have been made, would be removed. The measure would also tend to facilitate the collection of the public monies, and simplify the business in the land offices.
“ It has been alleged that monopoly and large speculations would be promoted by abolishing the credit, and reducing the price of the public lands. Any measure that would produce that effect should be carefully guarded against. A monopoly of land for the purpose of settlement hy tenants, threatens with palpable injury the pecuniary and political independence of the agricultural class of society; and speculation in wild lands is at
least an employment unproductive to society, the speculator adding no new value to the article in which he trades. It is believed that the proposed measure would not have the alleged effect; the price being still higher than can be afforded for any other purpose than that of improving the land, or securing it for the use of the purchaser's family. While government dispose of their lands for a valuable consideration, he who possesses the means to afford that consideration will have the advantage of him who does not, in the purchase of lands. While, however, large quantities are in the market, and offered for sale in small tracts, little may be apprehended from the evils of monopoly and speculation, whether the lands be sold for cash, or on credit.
"Of all expedients that have been resorted to for preventing the public lands from being engrossed by capitalists, that of offering them for sale in small tracts has been the most successful. Holding them at a high price has also had that effect, but attended with the disadvantage, that the industrious poor man is also by the same means precluded from becoming a purchaser. But the sale in small tracts facilitates the purchase by those who are by habit or inclination disposed to cultivate the soil, while it prevents the lands being engrossed for the purpose of speculation. The experience of many years under the present system, with all the aid of remedial laws for the relief of purchasers, does not promise it a successful operation in future, and it cannot be correct policy to persist in a system so much affected by circumstances, that it appears to operate by the means of frequently deviating from itself. It appears by the report of the se.cretary of the treasury, that the receipts on account of forfeitures to the United States, from delinquent purchasers within the state of Ohio alone, for the year ending 30th Sept. 1811, amounted to $49,561 74, and it is believed (from information not official) that they will exceed that amount for the present year. Say the receipts on account of forfeitures for two years, are $100,000. The forfeiture is generally one fourth the purchase money; so that the prime cost of the lands forfeited with their improvements, in two years, in the state of Ohio, will amount to $400,000. Such a quantity of land property, brought into market, and frequently at an under value (the land being always first offered at auction for what is due on it), must eventually induce the employment of a capital different from that possessed by the agricultural class of the community.
"These extensive forfeitures are no doubt much owing to an unfavourable state of things; but, under the most favourable circumstances, the present system cannot operate to the advantage of the poor. An individual who takes the whole term of