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Address to the President.
[H. OF R.
FREEMAN, Mr. IMLAY, Mr. SPRIGG, and Mr. Van Mr. THATCHER, from the Committee of Revisal ALEX.
and Unfinished Business, made a report in part, Ordered, That a Committee of Commerce and which was ordered to lie on the table. Manufactures be appointed, pursuant to the standing rules and orders of the House;
COLLECTION OF DUTIES. And a committee was appointed, of Mr. SAM- Mr. S. Smith moved that a letter, received from TEL SMITH, Mr. Sewall, Mr. Wáln, Mr. Rot- the Secretary of the Treasury, during the last LEDGE, Mr. SCHUREMAN, Mr. Tillinghast, and session, accompanying a plan for regulating the Mr. BLOUNT.
collection of duties on imports and tonnage, be A message was received from the Senate, in- referred to the Committee on Commerce and forming this House that they had come to the Manufactures. following resolution, to which they request a con- Mr. Macon thought, as it was the intention of currence :
this report to provide a new law on this subject, Rezolved, That two Chaplains be appointed to Con- it would save time if the committee were empowgress for the present session, one for each House, who ered to report by bill or otherwise. Agreed to. shall interchange weekly.
UNIFORM BANKRUPTCY. The resolution was taken up and concurred in;
Mr. HARPER said it would be recollected that, at ! and the House proceeded, by, ballot, to the ap- an early period of the last session, the House took
pointment of a Chaplain on its part, and upon into consideration an important subject relative enanining the ballots, a majority of the vote was found in favor of the Rev. Asubel GREEN ; and to a uniform system of bankruptcy. The bill pro
posed, it was well known, was then passed over, he was declared duly elected.
on account of more pressing concerns; but, as he ADDRESS TO THE PRESIDENT. considered the business of great importance, he On motion, the House resolved itself into a wished to call the attention of the House to it at Committee of the Whole on the Speech of the an early period of the present session, and, therePresident of the United States, Mr. Dent in the fore, proposed the following resolution for adopChair ; when
tion : Mr. SPRAGUE proposed for adoption the follow- “ Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prei ing resolution :
pare and bring in a bill for establishing a uniform sysResolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, tem of bankruptcy throughout the United States.” that a respectful Address ought to be presented by the The resolution was agreed to, and a committee House of Representatives to the President of the Uni- of five appointed. ted States, in answer to his Speech to both Houses of Congress at the commencement of this session, con
ALIEN AND SEDITION LAWS. taining assurances that this House will take into con- Mr. HARPER said no member of this House sideration the various and important subjects recom- could be ignorant of the use at this moment made mended to their consideration.
of two acts passed during the last session of ConThe resolution was agreed to without objection, gress. He meant the acts commonly called the and the committee rose and reported the resolu- alien and sedition laws. No one could be ignortion. The House took it up, concurred in it, and ant of the ferment which bad been raised, and appointed a committee of five to prepare an an- sedulously kept up on account of those laws. "I do swer accordingly.
know, said he, of a certainty that this ferment The committee consists of Messrs. Dana, Ve- has been raised, and is kept up, in many places, by KABLE, HARPER, HOSMER, and Baldwin. a misrepresentation of the contents of those laws.
The possibility of doing this will be readily alPRESIDENT'S SPEECH.
lowed, when it is recollected how little newspaMr. J. Williams moved that the Speech of the pers are circulated in some parts of the Union, President be referred to a Committee of the Whole and even where they do circulate, how liable the on the state of the Union ; which motion being readers of them are to pass over, without much carried, the House adjourned.
attention, any law which may appear in them.
A law, he said, is not an article of news, which, Tuesday, December 11.
if a person remember in part, he may rccollect the
rest-of a law a man ought to have precise and Two other members, to wit: Thomas Sin- accurate ideas ; and, in order to attain these, it NICKSON and MARK THOmson, from New Jersey, must be read at leisure, and he must have it by appeared and took their seats in the House. him so as occasionally to refer to it. This cannot
A message was received from the Senate, in- be done, at present, with respect to the laws of forming the House that they had elected Bishop the United States. ' A comparatively small numWarte as their Chaplain.
ber of copies only are printed; of course, they are The SPEAKER laid before the House a letter far from being generally circulated, and the great from the Secretary of the Treasury, enclosing a mass of, the people have no opportunity of bestatement from the Commissioners of the city of coming acquainted with them. I know, continued Washington, of their receipts and expenditures, Mr. H., that the most unfair misrepresentations from May 18 to November 18, of the present year, have been practised. I know an instance where, which was ordered to be printed.
in a large assemblage of people, the bill which
H. OF R.]
[DECEMBER, 1798. originated in the Senate on the subject of sedition,
Wednesday, December 12. and which was never passed into a law, was read Several other members, to wit: from Rhode as the sedition law complained of, and resolutions Island, ChristOPAER G. CHAMPLIN; from Pennwere founded upon it. I also know that, in another sylvania, Thomas Hartley; and from Virginia, State, resolutions have been passed, not upon the CARTER'B. HARRISON ; appeared, and took their laws which are reprobated, but upon a letter from seats in the House. a member of Congress, which contained, not perhaps wilful misrepresentations, but certainly mis
STATE BALANCES. representations of the laws in question. In order Mr. HARPER wished to lay a resolution on the to counteract these evils, Mr. H. said, he held a table, the subject of which had engaged the attenproposition in his hand which he meant to sub- tion of Congress at their last session; and, as it mit to the House. And, as an additional reason was in substance the same with a bill which then for moving it, he mentioned that, in the course of passed this House, he trusted no objection would an excursion he had lately made of many hun- be made to it. It was as follows: dred miles, he had met with no individual (who was • Resolved, That if any State against which a balnot himself actively employed in spreading the ance was reported by the Commissioners appointed to misinformation which he complained of) who did settle the accounts between the United States and the not approve of these laws. He had, indeed, met several States, shall, within either pay into the with many who had been misinformed with respect Treasury of the United States, or expend, or by a Leto them. But all of these, without exception, gislative act engage to expend, in executing, enlarging, have expressed themselves satisfied that the laws or completing, any fortifications for the defence of the are wise and Constitutional measures, when made said State, at such place or places, and according to such acquainted with their contents. In order, there- plan or plans, as shall be approved by the President of fore, to enable the people to judge for themselves the United States, and under his direction, a sum of upon this subject, to do away the misrepresenta- money, or in stocks of the United States, equal to the tions so industriously propagated respecting them, the sum assumed by the United States, in the debt of
balance reported as aforesaid against such State, or to and to defeat the attempts which he believed were such State, such payment or expenditure, when so made in some places to produce an armed opposi- made, shall be accepted by the United States as a full tion to them, he offered a resolution to the House acquittance of all demands on account of the said balto the following effect :
ance; and the President of the United States shall be, “ Resolved, by the Senate and House of Representa- and he is hereby, authorized to cause credit to be given tives, That the Secretary of State be, and he is hereby to such State, on the books of the Treasury of the Uniauthorized, to cause to be printed and distributed ted States, accordingly : Provided, however, That no throughout the United State, copies of two acts more than one-third part of the whole payment or expassed during the last session, the one entitled “ An penditure that may be made by such state, shall be act respecting aliens," the other “ An act in addition to made in three per cent. stock, nor more than one-third an act for the punishment of certain crimes against the part of the remaining two-thirds shall be made in den United States, and for other purposes.”
ferred stock: And provided, also, That any such State Ordered to lie on the table.
may obtain a full acquittance, as aforesaid, by the pay.
ment or expenditure of a sum of money sufficient, in PRESIDENT'S SPEECH.
the opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury, to pur
chase, at market price, the different species of stock, Mr. Sprague called for the order of the day the payment or expenditure of which would be acon the President's Speech.
cepted, as a full acquittance as aforesaid : And proviMr. Macon said it was unusual to enter upon ded, further, That if any such State as is indebted as this business until an answer was returned to it. aforesaid, shall have expended, since the establishment The Speech was, at present, before the committee of the present Government of the United States, any appointed to draught the answer.
sum of money in fortifying any place since ceded by
such State to the United States, or which may be so Mr. SPRAGUE replied that his intention was to
ceded within refer the several matters contained in the Speech ascertained and proved to the satisfaction of the Secre
such expenditure having been to select committees, which he thought no way tary of the Treasury, shall be taken and allowed. connected with the answer to the Speech. The motion was negatived.
Mr. H. moved to have it referred to a CommitMr. Thatcher moved an adjournment, which tee of the Whole this day; but Mr. THATCHER was negatived; only 14 votes appearing for it. wishing that it might be printed, it was made the
order for to-morrow. But in a short time after, Mr. RUTLEDGE observed that, as he supposed
STAMP DUTIES. the motion for an adjournment had been nega- Mr. HARPER moved that a committee be aptived from an idea that the committee appointed pointed to bring in a bill further to amend the act to draughtan answer to the Speech of the President for laying a duty on stamped vellum, parchment, might be ready, in the course of the sitting, to and paper. A bill of this kind, he said, was bemake their report, he could inform the House, as fore the House at a late period of the last session, one of the committee, that they would not be which the Senate postponed. As he understood ready to make their report this day. He then re- the gentleman who brought forward the subject newed the motion for adjournment, and the House at the last session did not mean to renew it in the adjourned accordingly.
present, he wished himself to do so. The purpose
Alien and Sedition Laws.
(H. OF R.
of this bill is to correct that part of the law which lieved he did not before mention where they were subjects all the copies of foreign bills of exchange passed, but he did vot hesitate pow to do it. He and bills of lading to the same stamp with the stated that these resolutions had every appearance originat, and of course makes the duty on those of being founded upon a letter written by a memkind of transactions fall heavier than upon any ber of Congress, which letter he had read, and other.
which contained what, perhaps, were not wilful Mr. Macon suggested the propriety of appoint. misrepresentations; indeed, from the character of ing a Committee of Ways and Means, to which the gentleman, he mustsuppose them unintentional this and all other subjects respecting revenue misconceptions; but the letter certainly containmight be referred.
ed gross errors, for the law is stated as laying the Mr. HARPER had no particular objection to the most unjustifiable restraints on speech, which was business taking the course which the gentleman not within the purview of the act.' The third from North Carolina suggested, if he thought pro- fact came within his own observation. It was, per to move for the appointment of a Committee that in no instance had he met with any individof Ways and Means; but he saw no objection to ual, not himself actively employed in misreprethe course he himself had proposed-ii was that senting these laws, or a most zealous party man, taken last session.
who was not, upon hearing their contents simply A committee of three was appointed.
stated, convinced of their wisdom and propriety.
He had, indeed, met with many well intentioned ALIEN AND SEDITION LAWS.
people who had conceived prejudices of so strong Mr. Harper then called up the resolution which a nature against these laws that they could not be yesterday laid upon the table respecting the view them but through a perverted medium; but pablication of an extra number of copies of the every man not of this description, or still worse, Alien and Sedition Laws, to be distributed gratis expressed his astonishment that such pains should throughout the United States.
have been taken to produce so much discord with Mr. Nicholas had no objection to the publica- respect to them. tion of the laws in any manner which might be Though, said Mr. H., the gentleman from Virthought proper. The reason which had been ginia may not have met with persons of this degiven for the extraordinary publication of the laws scription, yet he himself had, and upon this statein question were founded upon facts which had ment of facts he had founded his motion. And come within the mover's own knowledge, and he believed it to be of primary importance, for from others which he said he had learned from whatever may be the intention of gentlemen who bis friends. Mr. N. could not help suspecting the promote the measures which he complained of — gentleman had been misinformed; but as be had whether the persons who stand by and say these stated that certain public meetings had acted upon resolves pass unanimously, intend to follow them false information, rough draughts of bills, and other up by acts he knew not; but, said he, if these papers, which discovered the extremest ignorance, measures have any meaning, or the persons any he would be glad if the gentleman from South consistency in their conduct, they must mean, and Carolina would indulge the House with the evi-| he supposed they did mean, an armed opposition dence which he possessed upon this subject. to these laws, and consequently to this Government.
Mr. Harper had no objection to indulge the He hoped these effects would not take place; but gentleman from Virginia, and, if an indulgence, it had been beretofore seen that similar proceedthe House, with the information which he requir- ings in another part of the Union, in reference to ed. When he introduced this motion, Mr. H. a former law, had produced the same lamentable said, he stated three matters of fact, two of which catastrophe. He saw the same steps pursuing he asserted to be within his own knowledge, the now that were then pursued; the same inflamother he mentioned to have received from author- matory resolutions, and the same tumultuous asity which he could not doubt, which was, that at semblages of the people. The best way of counta pablic meeting, when resolutions of an extraor- eracting these designs, in his opinion, was to give dinary and hostile complexion were passed upon the people correct information with respect to the subject of these laws, in one of the harangues these laws. He believed that the great body of which preceded these resolutions, and upon which the citizens of this country are ready to give a the resolutions were apparently founded, a person hearty support to these and all the other acts of read
. not the law commonly called the Sedition Government; but he knew the laws in question Law, but the draft of a bill which was reported in are not understood in various parts of the Union, the Senate, which there underwent a total alter- and that discontents exist, which would be removation, and was in this House further amended. ad by a simple publication of them. He was also This fact, though not founded upon his own in- convinced, that if even this should not be the case, formation, was told him by an eye-witness. The the publication could have no other than a good meeting, he said, was held in Louisa county, Vir-effect. In a matter, however, which so materially ginia; and if the gentleman wished to know the concerns the rights of the people, they ought to name of the man, he would give it to him when have full information, which must, he was conhe sat down, but he did not think it proper to vinced. produce general content. But on the mention names on that floor.
contrary, these laws are as full of mischief as they The other two facts were these : One related to are represented to be, their publication will incertain resolutions passed in Kentucky. He be- crease the present discontent on account of them,
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Alien and Sedition Laws.
so that gentlemen who have always been opposed parts of the Constitution which, it is alleged, are to them ought not to object to their publication; infringed by those laws. With respect to the for his own part, he wished truth to have its full county of Louisa ; he believed he had spent more force, and therefore did he advocate this motion. of his time in that county, during the recess, than
Mr. Nicholas said he had not the least ob- the gentleman from South Carolina, and yet this jection to the proposed publication. As to the was the first time he had heard of the circumstance general charge of ignorance, which the gentleman which had been mentioned, and not having heard from South Carolina had made against the people of it, he did not believe that such a thing existed ; whom he had conversed with in his travels, he and though he did not doubt the gentleman from expected it, as he knew that gentleman had al- South Carolina had received the information, he ways been in the habit of setting down all oppo- did not think the fact was sufficiently ascertained sition to his own opinions to the account of ignor- to be brought forward on this floor. He concluded,
With respect to the fact, it had turned out by moving a postponement. also as he expected. Upon the information of a Mr. J. Williams wished this motion bad not single man, that a certain public meeting had act- been made. It appeared to him that, whatever ed upon the first draught of a law, instead of the laws are passed, the more they are promulged the law itself
, he has thought proper here to assert the better. Even those who wish for a repeal of the fact. He could inform the gentleman from South laws in question, ought not to be against the proCarolina, that there were, in the quarter alluded posed publication of them, since, according to their to, friends of the Administration as respectable for ideas, the more they are known, the more they accuracy and information as himself, and that a will be disliked. They were passed at the close man of this description was chairman of the meet- of the last session after he had been called home ing in question. With respect to the Kentucky reso- by the indisposition of his family; and if gentlelutions, the gentleman from South Carolina states, men meant to attempt a repeal of them, he should he is induced to believe, from concomitant circum- be glad to hear the arguments they had to offer in stances, as he now understood, that they must have favor of the measure; but, in Republican Governbeen founded upon the letter of one of their members, ments, too much information could not be given though he understood him as saying, yesterday, to the people at large, and he should therefore be that he knew it was the fact. As the gentleman, in favor of any motion which had that for its however, has been so successful in his justifica object. tion of these laws on his travels, he would advise The question on a postponement was put and him to suspend this matter for a time, until his negatived—42 to 29. own observations accompanied a publication of The original motion on the resolution then rethe laws; for, if nobody else does it, he would curredassure him, that, as soon as the seats of the House Mr. Macon was of opinion that, as this meashall be a little better filled, he would himself sure would involve an expense, the subject ought move a repeal of these laws. For his own part, to be committed. He thought it ought also to be he had never met with a man in Virginia, favor- done by a law. When the laws of the United able to these laws, who was not possessed of all States were ordered to be printed, it was effected the arguments which had been used in sup- by a special law, and though this will by no means port of thein in this House; however, since the be so expensive, yet it involves the same principle. gentleman from South Carolina supposed them He submitted it, therefore, to the mover, whether so grossly ignorant, he had no objection to their it would not be best to refer his resolution to bring receiving all the light he could throw upon the in a bill. subject.
Mr. Harper knew no essential difference beMr. Dawson inquired, whether it would be in tween the two modes of proceeding. The mode order to suspend the consideration of this motion. which he proposed was the same with that adoptOn being informed that it would, he moved for a ed last session in the extra publication of the depostponement of it for a month, not, he said, be- spatches from our Commissioners in France, and cause he was opposed to the resolution, but be- he saw no reason for departing from it. cause he wished to give every information on the Mr. Thatcher was in favor of the principle of subject, as he was convinced that the more the this resolution ; but was doubtful whether the laws in question are known, the more they will be mode of publication proposed was the best. He reprobated by the citizens of the United States, and thought, if these laws were ordered to be printed more especially by the friends of the Constitution. in all the newspapers of the United States once a It must be understood, from what had fallen from week for three or four weeks, it would better anhis colleague, that an attempt will be made, in the swer the purpose, than publishing them in a pamcourse of the present session, to obtain a repeal of phlet. As to the principle, it could not be objectthose laws, and, whenever the subject came up, ed to. The gentleman who proposes an adjournhe trusted there would be found a majority of ment, acknowledges that the information may be Congress in favor of the measure. Should he be proper a month hence. disappointed in this hope, he would join as hearti- Mr. Harper believed, if one hundred thousand ly as any other member, in supporting the present copies of these laws were struck off, it would anresolution, after having attempted to amend it by swer the purpose. With respect to the idea of the adding to it, as was proposed during the last sess- gentleman who was last up, it is better calculated ion, by a gentleman from North Carolina, those for a particular part of the Union than for the DECEMBER, 1798.]
Alien and Sedition Laws.
[H. OF R.
Continent at large. Indeed, it is owing to the im- any laws had been published throughout the Unitperfect and limited circulation of newspapers, in ed States more than others; or if there were any certain parts of the Union, that it is necessary for laws upon which less information is required, they the Legislature to take a step of this kind. Where were the two laws selected by the gentleman from newspapers are abundantly circulated, and post South Carolina for an extraordinary publication. ctices are numerous, there is no necessity for other He has selected these laws for publication, because information; but there are parts of the United he says the people of the United States do not unStates, and the part where he lived is one of them, derstand them. What sort of evidence has he where the circulation of newspapers is extremely adduced in support of this resolution ? His own. limited, and that is the reason why these laws are He has said that, in travelling through the counso little understood in those parts.
try, he has met with misinformed individuals. He Mr. H. said, he must be indulged in a single had no doubt of this; he might have met with word of reply to the gentleman from Virginia who five, ten, or fifty persons who did not properly was first up. In the first place, he denied that he comprehend the sedition law. But, said Mr. G., had said the facts which he stated were all within because one member of this House, in travelling bis own knowledge. If that gentleman had at- through the United States, has found individuals tended to what he said, he would have known misinformed, are we to conclude that the people tbai he stated, part were within his own knowl of the United States generally want information? edge, and that he had the other from a person Are there not one hundred members on this floor, opon whom he could depend.
and is there one among them, besides this gentleThe gentleman from Virginia next spoke of man, who says the people in his district are misacolher matter of fact; he had stated the uniform informed with respect to these laws ? tenor of his, Mr. H.'s, conduct to be, to consider But, said Mr. G., let us take the evidence of the all differences of opinion from his own to be proofs gentleman himself. The resolution embraces two of ignorance. If so, he must always have treated laws, yet his evidence only relates to one of these the gentleman from Virginia as the most ignorant laws. The alien law, he does not pretend to say of mankind; yet this House, and that gentleman the people do not understand. It is impossible to himself, must remember the acknowledgments say so." It cannot be misunderstood. It gives the which he had always been ready to make to that President power 10 send out of the United States, gentleman's superior talents, which was a proof any foreigner whom he thinks dangerous, which against the assertion. But the gentleman from is too plain to be misunderstood. What does his Virginia, in order to make this witty remark upon evidence amount to ? That resolutions have been him, bad misstated the fact. He did not say that passed in one of the counties in Virginia, pot the persons of whom he spoke differed in opinion founded upon the sedition law, but upon a bill from himself, but that they had taken up miscon- which never passed the Legislature. ceptions of the law; nor did he say that he had Mr. Harper explained, by saying he did not convinced them of their errors by his arguments, say the resolutions were founded upon the bill, but bat that this was effected by the bare reading of that it was read there by a person speaking on the the law.
subject, as the law. Mr. H. concluded by saying, that from the Nr. Gallatin said, he was going to state what knowo urbanity of the gentleman from Virginia, he understood to be the fact, but the gentleman he supposed he would have suffered the first three himself had saved him the trouble. He supposed or four days of the session to have passed, without the gentleman who read this bill did so merely to a personal attack of this kind; but because he show what were the views of the supporters of hoped the gentleman would speedily return to that this law, as an incident in the history of the busigood humor for which he was always remarked, Dess. If the resolutions were really founded upon Icept driven from it by the heat of debate, (when that bill, and not upon the law, let the resolutions It is perhaps excusable) he should forbear making be produced in proof of the assertion. It would any further observations upon what had fallen be readily discovered whether they were founded from bim.
on misinformation or not. From what the gentleThe question was then put for filling the blank man had himself said, there appeared to be no with 100,000; which was negatived, 12 votes foundation for the opinion. only being in favor of it; then upon 50,000 ; The next part of the gentleman's evidence rewhich was negatived—36 to 31 ; then upon 40,- lates to resolutions passed in the State of KenW0. in favor of which only appeared 40 votes'; tucky. He mentioned that a letter, written by one then upon 20,000; which was carried ; 42 votes of the members from that State, contains some being for it.
misrepresentations, and that the resolutions passThe question was now on the resolution as ed there were founded upon those misrepresentaamended.
tions. This is mere matter of supposition, nor Mr. Gallatin believed that every one was does he show, if it be true, how sending the law agreed as to the propriety of giving all necessary will correct ihe misrepresentation. We are ininformation to the people of the Ŭnited States; formed, said he, that the Legislature of that State and he believed they wanted it in relation to the are now acting upon these laws, and, therefore, if laws of last session generally, more than on any copies of the laws were sent to that body, it would other, for he found on his arrival at this city, the answer the gentleman's object. If his arguments laws of last session are not yet printed. But, if have any weight, not only individuals are misin