Imágenes de páginas


Bankrupt Bill.

H. OF R.

to 33.

be had not.

thing to answer certain purposes, those purposes their votes on its numerous provisions, that they ought also to be considered. Had it not been for consult a great number of authorities

, perhaps two acts of last session, he did not suppose the more than on any other subject which could come House would have heard of this motion, or of the before the House; at the very threshold of the arguments used in support of it. If the resolution business, innumerable English authors must be was referred, this difficulty would be removed, and consulted; he was not, therefore, ready to underthe question would be considered on a future day take the bill at present. However, he would enwith coolness and candor.

gage that he would not make any opposition to the The question for a reference of the resolution progress of the business, if the committee would to a select committee, was put and carried—38 agree to rise for the present, in order to postpone

it till Monday, which he moved. As the bill conMr. W. CLAIBORNE wished this committee to templated so great a change in the system, and be further instructed to inquire how far the law embraced such a multiplicity of objects, a few for the promulgation of the laws of the United days could make no difference, and he hoped it States had been carried into execution, and whe- would be granted. ther any, and what, further provisions are neces- Mr. SEWALL was not averse to agreeing with sary on this subject? The laws passed at the last the gentleman's desire; be agreed with him that session, he said, had not yet been forwarded to the it had not hitherto had that serious attention paid several States, though several of the Legislatures to it which it demanded. He believed the act were in session; nor did he believe the members exceedingly necessary, and, therefore, if he should of this House had got copies of them. He knew give his vote for: a postponement, he would not

wish it to be supposed that he did it with a view Mr. GOODRICH wished the resolution to em- to pass it over as heretofore. brace another object. At present, the laws of the Mr. HARPER said, if by going through the first United States are inserted, by order of the Secre- section, and progressing forward with the bill, tary of State, in five newspapers in the Union. could preclude the gentleman from Virginia makThis he did not think sufficient. He supposed, ing any amendments, or striking out any part of when this was ordered, it was expected that other the bill he was averse to, he should think the postpapers would copy the laws without being paid ponement of it altogether reasonable; but, since for their insertion; but this has not been found to making some progress could not have thai effect, be sufficiently the case, and it is necessary the he could see no reason for agreeing with the moprovision should be extended.

tion. From the number of sections the bill conThe Speaker said the present resolution would tained, and the number of provisions made in it, comprehend this object.

it might readily be conceived that two or three

days would be iaken up in its discussion, in which THURSDAY, December 20.

time the gentleman could look into the innumera

ble authorities” he spoke of. But he would take BANKRUPT BILL.

upon him to say it was not so; it required only a Mr. Sewall called for the order of the day on reference to two acts of Great Britain, which are the bill for establishing an uniform system of bank- the foundation of the bankrupt system of that naruptcy throughout the United States.

tion as it now stands. No doubt but he is well The House went into Committee, Mr. Dent in acquainted with them; but if not, he can be in the Chair.

three or four hours as well as with any question Mr. Hartley moved to dispense with the first that comes before him in his professional line. reading, as it was a lengthy bill; and beside, he said, By those kind of delays, Mr. H. said, one time several members were opposed to the passing any after another, and on various grounds, this bill bill for establishing a general system on that sub had been postponed. A gentleman from North ject; he thought it would save much time of the Carolina had said there was no necessity for printHouse if those who were opposed to it would ing, but after it had been made the order for a at once come forward and move to strike out certain day, it was found necessary to print itthe first section, and then it would speedily be that delayed it three or four days; and yesterday, determined whether such a bill was to pass or just as it was going to be called up, a gentleman

who was opposed to it, at 1 o'clock, moved to adMr. Otis thought the provisions of the bill were journ; and now a farther delay till

' Monday, was excellent

, and it would be more proper that the asked, in order that the mover might examine a bill should be read, as he declared he had not ma- bill which had been before the House five or six

years! If this should be delayed till Monday, who Mr. Hartley withdrew his motion, and the could foresee what might occur to force it out, bill was read through. It contained 59 sections. and postpone it farther? He said he could foresee

Mr. Nicholas said this bill had been before that those repeated delays would operate to enCongress a number of years, but he believed it danger the bill passing at all, though he did not would generally be agreed that it had not been mean to charge any gentleman with an intention seriously entered upon. From its complexity, it to destroy it. He wished gentlemen would state could not be supposed to be understood so soon as their objections at once to the passing of this bill, taken up. He thought it was absolutely necessa- and not delay it day after day. "It would be much ry, before geotlemen could be prepared to give better to begin the bill to-day, and discuss its

5th Con.-79


tured it.

H. OF R.]

Bankrupt Bill.

[DECEMBER, 1798.

provisions, and to-morrow the gentleman may be how many doors are open to fraud. This provimore acquainted with it, and his object would be sion is the most infallible remedy possible to disanswered. If it was delayed till Monday, the cover it; you have every opportunity to discover House would delay thinking of it till then, and no the truth by it. If the possessor has fairly puradvantage would arise ; whereas, a thing being chased the property, he has pothing to do but show constantly kept in mind would have a tendency his receipt, and he is paid the purchase-money on to mature it.

returning the property; and thus, having his own, Mr. Hartley hoped that, if it was postponed, he is not injured; but if the property has been gentlemen would have the candor, if they were fraudulently conveyed, it is, by this means, easily opposed to the bill, at that time to move to strike discoverable. This practice, he said, had been the out the first section. It was too much the custom object of judicial and legislative inquiry in Engof the House to go into detail on a bill, and con- land for 500 years, and, upon experience, was found sume considerable time in its discussion, without best to answer the purpose. any settled motion being made; such, he said, was Mr. Otis said there was a considerable diffithe case with the militia bill, which never passed. culty in this provision, as the property may have He thought, if a general system of bankruptcy been bought and sold several times, and thus bewas expedient, that this contained as good proví- come scattered abroad; so that it would be imsions as could be.

possible to return it; and yet, a purchaser iş liable Mr. S. Smitu thought it would be advisable in to a suit from the assignees, and ordered by a jury the House to get through some business or other. to return the articles. Suppose it should be a farm The gentleman from Virginia had said that this that a man had purchased, and made considerable bill had been before the House several years. He improvements on it; the asignees would compel had made the same observation; it had been serv- the purchaser to return it, and it would be out of ed up constantly almost every session, and as con- his power to obtain satisfaction for the improvestantly passed by as a matter of no consequence. ments he had made. We ought to pay great reHe thought, if it was intended to be decided on in spect to the experience of a great commercial the present session, the House could spare no time country, but we ought also to avoid the errors towards it better than now. By its undergoing a which ancient practice and prejudice might have discussion at this time, gentlemen would be much established. better acquainted with it than by retiring to their Mr. Sewall said the difficulty intended to be chambers to read it. He said he had read the bill obviated was one of those which most required with some attention, and, from its general appear attention, because a reasonable lenity was genance, he was much pleased with it. He could erally taken advantage of, mostly by a debtor, for not pledge himself to vote for or against it; for, his own benefit, to the injury of his creditors. The when it came to be argued, he might see as much disadvantage to purchase was not so great under reason to vote against it as he at present did in its this provision as was imagined; for if the property favor. He did not wish those delays to be made, was purchased at a fair price, it would not be to the by putting off business from day to day; he did benefit of the creditors to have it back, as it must not know what kind of an appearance it would afterwards run the chance of a vendue before the have with their constituents.

dividend could be made; it must be purchased very The question for postponement was taken-low, indeed, to make it worth their attention. ayes 33, noes 37.

But another part of the law so provided that it In the 10th section it is enacted, that in case a could be only during six months that such an bankrupt had sold any of his property, the assign- advantage could be taken; so that the inconveniees were empowered to demand back such pro- ences could not be very great in that time. This perty, on payment of the purchase-money. law, he said, was vastly more moderate than in

Mr. Otis moved to strike out that part of the Great Britain, because there the purchaser, after section, as he said great inconvenience might a certain time, loses all the property. attend 'a bona fide purchaser returning property Mr. Harper enforced his former arguments by which had fairly become his own, and particularly saying, that in the course of his experience he had if it had been transferred into other hands.

witnessed more frauds respecting bona fide sales Mr. HARPER said it was an object of particular than in all other causes put together. He hoped attention, in Great Britain, 10 guard against frauds the gentleman who wished to suspend this, would in their bankrupt lays. He would allow that inform the House in what manner those difficulties great inconvenience attended the return of pro- could be removed, but by the provision in the bill. perty from a bona fide purchaser, but the difficulty Mr. Goodrich said he was not prepared to vote of discovering the various means which were con- on this question. The difficulties in it were so stantly practised by fraudulent persons to evade great, and the subject so delicate and important. the law made this provision necessary. Though, ihat he would move a postponement of the parain an abstract view of the subject, it did not seem graph, in order to have time to reflect on it, and reasonable that they should be deprived of pro- also that the committee rise. perty fairly paid for, yet in practice it had been Mr. Otis hoped the committee would not rise. found necessary. After all that is or can be done, Rather than it should, on that account, if the memit is too general a complaint that bankrupt laws ber would withdraw his motion, he would also are made use of to evade the payment of debts. withdraw his, for the present, and the bill might go After all provisions, it is impossible to discover on. He proceeded to mention the inconveniences DECEMBER, 1798.]

Impeachment of William Blount.

[H. of R.

of the clause, which he particularized in certain ALTERATION OF STAMP DUTIES. articles of commerce, (as sugar or coffee,) which

Mr. S. SMITH, from the Committee of Comfrequently experienced, in a short time, a consider

merce, reported a bill to alter the stamp duty imable advance; which, if a purchaser had bought posed upon foreign bills of exchange and bills of low, would it be right, he asked, at the advance lading, by an act laying a duty on stamped vellum, for the assignees to have power to demand its

parchment, and paper, and further to amend the return, when perhaps it had been transferred into

same; which was committed for to-morrow. many hands ? Certainly not.

The motions were both withdrawn, and the committee proceeded with the bill.

Friday, December 21. Several sections were postponed, and a number of blanks enacting fines, &c., filled.

Mr. MORRIS proposed to the House a resolution, Mr. EGGLESTON said, if gentlemen were not pre

to the following effect : pared to vote, who had had the bill before them

Resolved, That a committee be appointed to prefor a number of years, it would not be wondered pare and report a bill preseribing the compensations if new members were unprepared also. In order, jurors

, and witnesses, in the Courts of the United States,

which shall be allowed to marshals, clerks, attorneys, therefore, to give every one an opportunity to examine the subject, he moved that the commit- and to repeal the present law on this subject.” tee rise.

The resolution was agreed to. The committee rose, reported progress, and ob


A message was received from the Senate, com

municating to the House certain rules, which the Mr. HARPER, from the managers appointed to Senate think fit to be obeyed in the trial of Wilconduct the impeachment against William Blount, liam Blount, impeached by the House of Reprereported that the said managers had, pursuant to a sentatives of highcrimes and misdemeanors against resolution of this House, attended before the Sen- the United States. They are, that, ate, to request that a further day might be assigned for proceeding with this business; and that Mon

“At the next opening of the Court of Impeachment, day next, at iwelve o'clock, was assigned. The the President shall inquire whether the Managers have report further stated that the managers, having con- any request to make, before the counsel of the defendant sidered the subject, conceived that it would not be are called to put in his answer. consistent with propriety, or the solemnity which counsel shall be required to put in his answer or plea

“If no motion or request is made, the defendant's ought to be observed on this occasion, to proceed to the articles of impeachment. to The trial of the said William Blount in his ab

“The answer or plea shall be read by the Secretary, sence; and that having failed in his appearance, and communicated by him to the House of Representathe

managers on the part of this House ought, tives. when they next appear before the Senate, to re- “ The President shall then inform the managers that quest that further order may be taken to compel the Senate is ready to hear any reply or motion which the attendance of the said William Blount. The they may think proper to make. managers, therefore, submitted a resolution to the

“ All questions arising in the course of the trial shall House for adoption, to the following effect : be decided with closed doors. The decisions shall be by

Resolved, That the managers appointed on the part ayes and noes, which shall be entered upon the Judiciary of this House for conducting the impeachment against

Journal. When the question is decided, the doors shall William Blount, be instructed to request, at their next be opened, the parties called in, and the result made attendance before the Senate, that further order may be known to them by the President. taken to compel the attendance of the said William • Witnesses shall be sworn by the Secretary, and shall Blount at the bar of the Senate.”

take the following oath : Mr. VENABLE hoped that the gentleman who

“I, A. B., do swear (or affirm, as the case may be) made this report would suffer it to lie till to-mor

that the evidence I will give to this court, touching the Tow. He conceived that the question whether the impeachment of William Blount, now here depending, Senate ought to proceed in the trial of William shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the Blount in his absence, is a question which ougbt

truth-So help me God. to be settled by themselves, and not by the House and then cross-examined, in the usual form. If a Sen

• Witnesses shall be examined by the party producing, of Representatives. However, as this was an entirely new subject, he hoped an immediate deci- the President.

ator wishes any question to be asked, it shall be put by sion the report would not be desired.

“If Senators are called as witnesses, they shall be On the question for taking up the report being sworn, and give their testimony, standing in their put, it was negatived without a division.


Mr. HARPER moved to postpone the unfinished The Speaker laid before the House a letter business of yesterday, in order to take up the refrom the Treasurer of the United States, enclosing port of the managers of this House for conducting his specie account, and his account with the War the impeachment of William Blount, before the Department—the one up to the end of June, and Senate. This would appear necessary, when genthe other to the end of November; which were tlemen recollect that the Senate has fixed Monday ordered to be printed.

next for the managers to appear again at their bai,

[ocr errors]



H. OF R.]
Impeachment of William Blount.

[DECEMBER, 1798 as the managers do not think themselves com pe-ately proceed to trial, if the Senate are ready to tent to take what they think ought to be the next try the cause. step in this business, until they have received the Mr. Sewall said, the managers of the impeachinstructions of the House.

ment submitted it as their opinion to the House.. The motion for postponing the unfinished busi- almost unanimously, that it would be proper to ness was put and carried.

request the Senate to take further order for comThe report of the managers was then read, as pelling the attendance of William Blount, to anfollows:

swer to the charges brought against him, as, in all " That, pursuant to the resolution of this House, of cases of impeachment and criminal proceedings, the eighteenth instant, they did attend before the Senate personal appearance is necessary before a trial can of the United States, and request a further day for pre- take place. It may be argued that

, in some cases paring their proceedings in the said impeachment ; where- of impeachment, it would be expedient to dispense upon, a further day was granted till Monday next, at with a strict adherence to this rule, as it might, as twelve o'clock.

the gentleman from Virginia has suggested, pre“That the managers, having carefully considered the vent judgment from being obtained against the subject, are of opinion that it is neither consistent with party impeached. But, then, some substitute ought the solemnity which ought to attend this high Constitu- to be provided ; and still the question recurs, that tional proceeding, nor with the principles, which, as far if it be an established principle of law that no crimas they have been able to discover

, have invariably ob- inal shall be tried, except he be present in person, tained in impeachments, and all other trials of a criminal shall this principle be dispensed with at the will of nature, to proceed to trial against the defendant, in this case, in his absence : and that the said William Blount, the Senate could proceed in this trial, as there

a court? He believed not. He did not see how having failed to make personal appearance, as has been is nothing in our laws to direct them; and they notified to the House by the above-mentioned message from the Senate, the next step, on the part of this House, could not certainly go on to trial in defiance of ought to be a motion before the Senate that further order the established rules of common law, or proceed be taken by them for compelling his personal appearance to judgment without a trial. Is it not, then, said at their bar, to answer to the articles of impeachment Mr. S., becoming the dignity of this House to make, exhibited against him by this House.

at least, an application to the Senate, requesting “The managers, however, do not think it proper for that they will take further order to compel the them to take a step involving so important a principle, attendance of Mr. Blount ? without the direction of the House ; for the purpose of

When the House first instituted this impeachobtaining which, they beg leave to submit to its con- ment, they requested the Senate would take order sideration the following resolution :

for the personal appearance of Mr. Blount. They Resolved, That the managers appointed, on the part have summoned him to appear, and given him of this House, to conduct the impeachment against Wil personal notice of the charges exhibited against liam Blount, late a Senator of the United States, be in him, but he has not appeared ; and if, in this case, structed to request, at their next attendance before the the House departs from the established rule ot law, Senate, that further order be taken for compelling the without substituting a rule in place of it, in some personal appearance of the said William Blount, to an- future case the Senate may deem less than a perswer to the articles of impeachment exhibited against him sonal notice sufficient in similar cases, which might on the part of this House."

prove extremely injurious to the party accused. Mr. Nicholas hoped this resolution would not Let us not, said Mr. S., consider this question be agreed to. It was very different from his ideas merely as it has reference to William Blount, but on this subject. It was requiring a step to be as relating to all future cases of this kind. It caotaken which might altogether defeat the prosecu- not be doubted the present Senate are disposed to tion; for, if a capias was issued, Mr. Blount might do

justice; but, at some future day, there may be not be taken, and the agreeing to this report would a Senate which, availing itself of a bad precedent

, affirm the principle that no further proceeding may injure and oppress citizens who may be so could be had until he appeared in person ; and it unfortunate as to come within their power

. We he is taken, the Senate can do no more than they ought, therefore, said he, by a statute, which shall can now do. In his opinion, this kind of proceed- be known to the people, to declare what shall be ing would be the reverse of dignified, by requir- the consequence of a neglect and contempt of the ing a thing to be done, as essential, which is per- summons of a court in such a case. He must, he fectly immaterial, but which, if it fails

, may put said, consider William Blount as guilty of a conthe whole business to hazard. The dignity of a tempt of court, in failing to appear

before the Senproceeding of this kind depends upon its certainty. ate ; and if he is to suffer no inconvenience on this The managers state, as their reason for this appli- account, it cannot be expected that any future sum. cation, that all other impeachments and criminal mons will be better obeyed; for, if a person improsecutions require a personal appearance ; and, peached shall be suffered to enjoy all the adranin order to this, said Mr. N., they require a person tages, by an appearance of counsel only, that he to be in custody in order to secure the due execution would have if he appeared in person, every imof the law; but where it is not necessary to secure peached person will hereafter avoid the inconvethe person in order to carry into effect the judg. bience and suffering of being personally present ment of a court, the appearance of the person is at his trial, and all cases of impeachment will be not essential. As it was unnecessary, therefore, managed by attorneys, and of course be much to issue a capias, he would not do it, but immedi- diminished in their consequences, and become a

DECEMBER, 1798.]

[ocr errors]

Impeachment of William Blount,

[H. of R. mere farce or play, to be acted before the public. Mr. O. said he did not know what had been the But he had said it was an established principle, rule observed in similar cases in England; he had that in all impeachments and criminal cases, the not had leisure to examine; nor did he think we party accused ought to be present at his trial. He ought to be bound by British precedents in a case had not the books by him to prove this; but Black- of this kind. It is, said he, a new case, and he store

, and all the other English authorities, con- saw no difficulty in determining to prosecute this firm this position. In England, indeed, they have man to conviction, and in obtaining for him the a process of outlawry which does not exist with punishment which he deserves. There is some us; but in no case do the courts proceed to trial analogy between this process and a process (well when the party does not appear.

known in common law) agaiost a man's property, li is objected, however, by the gentleman from distinct from his person. Every one knows that Virginia, that if the mode recommended be pur- such a prosecution is a prosecution of forfeiture. saad

, it will tend to defeat the prosecution. In For instance, we libel a vessel, and notice is given saying this, he anticipates what may be the views to all the parties to defend. If they do not appear, of this House and of the Senate. The Senate may judgment and execution are obtained. The prerefuse to grant the request proposed to be made to sent process is against the office of William Blount; them. They may say the trial shall proceed. But it has nothing to do with his person ; he is afterthe Senate may do something else; they may not wards liable to a prosecution at common law for issae a capias, but may pass a law, saying what any crime which he may have committed. And shall be the process in similar cases in future. Or, is it for us to start difficulties on the threshold of if the Senate does not originate such a law, it may the business, and, in arguing thus, take the same be originated in this House. He could wish a side, perhaps, with the defendant's counsel, when law passed, declaring that if a person impeached they come before the Senate Public opinion, does not appear, when duly summoned, the facts said Mr. O., requires that this man should be restated against him shall be taken as true, and the moved from office, and rendered incapable of holdcourt shall proceed to judgment, admitting coun-ing any place under the Government in future; sel to argue only points of law. The consequences but if the course proposed by the managers is taken, of a contempt of court being thus known, every he may be elected to office again, before judgment infocent man will cheerfully attend a summons; can be obtained against him. but if a contrary course is pursued, the dread of It had been said, by his colleague, that a law impeachment will be greatly lessened, and it will ought to be passed on the subject; but, if this was grow into disrepute.

done, a question might arise whether it was not The gentleman from Virginia had endeavored retrospective as to the present case ; and he saw to do away the common-law principle, by suppos- no necessity for providing for any future case. It ing the preference of the party as only necessary is our duty, said he, to be ready to appear before to insure an execution of judgment. Mr. S. pre- the Senate, and insist upon a trial. If, indeed, on sumed this was not the reason. He would men- hearing counsel, the Senate shall determine they tion some circumstances to show that it was not. cannot proceed to judgment without the personal Lo common law, where a man is charged with a appearance of the accused, we must submit; but I crime, he alone is concious of the crime, and he see no propriety in our taking that side of the ought, therefore, to be present. The court should question, at all times see him, that they may know that they Mr. Dana said the Senate had doubtless a right are not trying a man who may not be in existence. to summon the party accused to attend before In the case of a person standing mute upon his them. They have a right to issue process for trial

, he is called upon to answer; and if he refu. the attendance of witnesses ; and if the party ses, he would ask whether any court could proceed chooses to appear, he has a right to require proto judgment or trial ? They could not. Yet be is as cess for his witnesses, and they may be excused liable to the penalties of the law as if he plead; but from all other service; but when the party, accused because he does not plead, no trial can take place. does not choose to appear, shall he be compelled

Mr. S. concluded, by saying he hoped the sub- to appear ? For what purpose shall he be comject would be coolly considered-tbat he had no pelled to appear? Whether an offence is comparticular reference in what he had said to the mitted against the public, or a man is guilty of a present case, but he had an eye to all future simi- civil injury, it is easy to decide what is the legal

inference arising from the truth of the fact. It Mr. Otis said, the respect which he entertained would be idle in courts of justice to proceed in trials for the members of the committee of managers led where judgment cannot be effectual; and, therehim to express an opinion different from theirs fore, in criminal prosecutions the security of the vith some degree of diffidence; but, from the short person is necessary, and is always enforced. Let view which he had taken of the subject, he be- gentlemen who say that a person, in a case like lieved the managers had propounded a question the present, should be required to appear, answer, which it is not proper for this House to decide ; for, if a sentence can neither affect a man's person nor said be, being prosecutors for public justice, it is his property, why he should appear in person? If oar duty to present ourselves before the Senate, and a man were liable to be punished with imprisonthere to insist upon our prosecution. If our cause ment, fine, or ransom, his person ought to be seshould be overruled, we must submit; but it is not cured; and it is because courts will have security, for us to start difficulties.

that in such cases persons are either imprisoned

h cases,

« AnteriorContinuar »