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Removal of the Seat of Government.
H. OF R.
On the motion to consider this resolution, being sons which must so obviously influence the mind a question of course previous to disposing in any on the subject. manner of any motion, and on which, by the rules The objection first in magoitude appeared to of the House, there can be no debate, the question him to be of a Constitutional nature. The Conwas decided by yeas and nays-yeas 68, nays 47, stitution having provided for the establishment of as follows:
a seat of Government of the United States, cerYEA8—Ezekiel Bacon, Wm. W. Bibb, John Blake, tainly intended it to be permanent; it was one of jun., John Boyle, Peter Carlton, Epaphroditus Cham- those provisions which was to act in the prospectpion, Martin Chittenden, Matthew Clay, George Clin- ive, and being once acted on by law, the provision ton, junr., Howell Cobb, Orchard Cook, Samuel W. so made was carried into effect, and became a part Dana, Joseph Desha, Daniel M. Durell, James Elliot, of the Constitution itself. Such was the proviWilliam Ely, William Findley, James Fisk, Barentsion of the Constitution for taking the census of Gardenier, Francis Gardner, Edwin Gray, John Heis- the people of the United States, it was to be acted ter, William Helms, William Hoge, Benjamin Howon prospectively; but would the gentleman from ard, Reuben Humphreys, Robert Jenkins, Richard M. New Jersey, or any other, say that when the cenJohnson, James Kelly, Edward St. Loe Livermore, Nathaniel Macon, Josiah Masters, William Milnor, once fixed for ten years, that it would be compe
was taken, and the ratio of representation John Montgomery, Thomas Moore, Jonathan 0. Mosely, Gurdon S. Mumford, Thomas Newbold, Wilson c. tent for Congress to alter it by law? Nicholas, John Porter, John Pugh, Josiah Quincy,
In another point of view, Mr. L. considered the
measure unconstitutional; it would have the effect John Rea of Pennsylvania, John Rhea of Tennessee, Jacob Richards, Matthias Richards, Samuel Riker, John of impairing the obligation of contracts. It was Rowan, John Russell, James Sloan, Dennis Smelt, true this was a restriction expressly only on the John Smilie, Jedediah K. Smith, Samuel Smith, Rich States, but was any gentleman ready to say, we ard Stanford, William Stedman, Clement Storer, Lewis had the power to do an act of iniquity, which had B. Sturges, Peter Swart, Samuel Taggart, Benjamin not been expressly authorized by ihe Constitution, Tallmadge, John Thompson, Jabez Upham, Nicholas and which it had inhibited by a positive declaraVan Dyke, Robert Whitehill, Alexander Wilson, and tion. The more correct course, Mr. L. said, would James Witherell.
certainly be to modify the resolution so as to proNars-Lemuel J. Alston, Willis Alston, jun., David pose it as an amendment to the Constitution. Bard, Joseph Barker, Burwell Bassett, William Black- When that should be done, it would be time enough ledge, Thomas Blount, William A. Burwell, William to enter into this kind of discussion, which must Butler, George W. Campbell, John Chandler, Richard have the most banesul effects; it would then be Cutts, John Dawson, John W. Eppes, Meshack Frank- time enough to determine whether we should lin, Charles Goldsborough, Peterson Goodwyn, Isaiah sanction the violation of obligations solemnly enL. Green, James Holland, David Holmes, Daniel Ilsley, tered into, and destroy the contracts made with Walter Jones, Thomas Kenan, P. B. Key, Wm. Kirkpa- individuals under the faith of the seat of Governtrick, J. Lambert, Jos. Lewis, jr., Edward Lloyd, John ment being permanently fixed at this place; who Love, Matthew Lyon, Robert Marion, Wm. McCreery, have under this view made conveyances of their John Montgomery, Nicholas R. Moore, Jeremiah Mor property, and that same property has ia innumerrow, John Morrow, Thomas Newton, Ebenezer Sea- able instances been again conveyed in fee simple ver, John Smith, Henry Southard, John Taylor, Abram
to other persons. Trigg, George M. Troup, James I. Van Allen, Daniel
It will under such a motion be considered C. Verplanck, Jesse Wharton, and Richard Winn.
whether it is proper to sanction the objection Mr. Love feared the House bad sacrificed too wbich has been so often opposed to popular Govmuch to politeness in agreeing to consider the res- veraments of the instability of their councils, and olution before them; for he would attribute to no whether all these important considerations are to other cause the motion just agreed to, than the give way to the arguments of the author of the usual disposition discovered by the House, to hear resolution, of convenience and cheap living to with patience the proposition of any of its mem- ourselves, and that it is better we should eat our bers, be that proposition ever so wild and extra- beef in Philadelphia than in this place. vagant.
For these reasons (some of the many he could So many, indeed, were the objections to the res- offer,) Mr. L. said, he should move that the resoolution under consideration, that he found it lution be now rejected. more difficult to know where to begin with them, The SPEAKER declared that such a motion was than how to make them. The time was certainly not now in order, and could not be received. the most inauspicious, which could be conceived Mr. Lewis then moved that it be postponed inby any gentleman to offer such
a subject for con- definitely, and called the yeas and nays on the sideration. While the nation might be expected motion. daily to be called on to defend itself against for- Mr. SLOAN rose with a view of moving that the eign invasion, and to combat for its independence resolution be referred to a Committee of the whole itself, the gentleman has thought proper to intro- House, and be made the order of the day for this duce a question which of all others is best calcu- day, and promised that they would not then call lated to divide and distract its councils. It was a it up to interfere with public business. I trust, subject on which he felt himself unprepared to said be, we have as much regard for the importact, and was taken by surprise; but in any situa- ant business of the nation as the gentleman from tion he should be ready to offer some of the rea-Virginia, (Mr. Love,) or any other gentleman.
H. OF R.
FEBRUARY, 1808. To that gentleman I shall make some reply, but having been brought here, I looked about me, though I shall be very brief. He has undertaken like a farmer about a new farm; I endeavored to to suppose that the large majority of this House dress it up, to build improvements on it, and make in favor of consideration of the motion, was not it better, and I have acted in that way ever since. from a belief of the propriety of passing it; I hope What has happened since then? We have ache will be convinced that the decision proceeded quired a new world to the Southward and Westfrom a sense of duty and a firm conviction of the ward of this place. If it was then proper to fix propriety of the measure. I shall never call any- the seat of Government here, what is it now? I thing extravagant which the interest of my coun- cannot see how Federal gentleman can look or try calls for—a removal of the seat of Government talk of the subject without blushing. What can from a place which has everything against it and they think of their predecessors for bringing us nothing in its favor—which is exposed to sickness here when we had not that country! Kentucky and to death.
too, which now sends six and which at the next The gentleman from Virginia has mentioned census may send ten members to this House, then the danger of division. I am as much in favor of only sent iwo. unity as that gentleman or any other on the floor, While I am up I will tell gentlemen a story. and shall always aim at it. Members of this A question similar to this is now pending in KenHouse who are at least of equal standing with tucky. The seat of Government is now at Frankhim and myself, consider it essentially necessary fort. The people in the Southern and Western that this should not interfere; it is not our desire to part of the State have joined to move it Eastward; call it up to interfere ; we wish to progress with and why, do you suppose ? In order that they harmony—to give our aid to every measure. may hereafter carry it Westward. It is now im
The gentleman supposes I have not read the moveable except by a majority of two-thirds; and Constitution. I may not possess the ability or in order to carry the seat of Government Westnice discernment of that gentleman ; but plain ward by and by, they agree to carry it Eastward common sense will show to every observer, as The Kentucky policy prevails here; no that gentleman and some others want to stifle dis- kind of doubt of it. Gentlemen from the Southcussion on the subject and to prevent us from ward and Westward intend to humor those Eastshowing it by fair reasoning, that the contract is ward, that they may nove it Westward hereafter. unconstitutional. This is what we wish to show Carry it to Philadelphia-how long will it stay at a future day, and what we shall show if we are there? The next census will give us ten or fifteen not prevented.' I will submit it to the good sense additional members from the Westward. Will of this House, of the citizens in the galleries, and they be willing to retain it at Philadelphia, or will to the impartial determination of all the people of they carry it to Pittsburg or farther West? It is the United States, whether those who feel them- mere trifling to suppose it will be fixed at Philaselves laboring under a great national grievance, delphia. The only object is to destroy this place, and have brought it before the National Legisla- on which so much money has been expended. ture, and declared that they do not mean to urge Now I have been obliged to come here, very reit, but will give a full and fair opportunity for luctantly I must say; but when I got here, the discussion, and every opportunity for argument- more I looked at it, the more I thought this was whether these, the friends of the resolution, act the proper site. It is one hundred miles nearer fairly and impartially, or those the opponents of to the Western country than Philadelphia, with a it, who wish to smother the investigation of it. water communication upon which improvements
I will now barely observe that that gentleman are daily making. It has been said that the mermay think as be pleases, and on a future day I will chants from the Western country can manage enlarge upon the subject, and show that it is the their business much better at Philadelphia. I duty of this House, and I hope to God we shall know that, if I were sent to Congress for myself fulfil it, to remove the seat of Government. alone, I should wish to go to Philadelphia; but I
Mr. Lyon said the gentleman from New Jersey have constituents, friends, children ; and it is had endeavored to have it understood that this much better for the country that we should be was a subject of great importance. Mr. L. be- here, and aid the improvement of the place. Bring lieved it was all-important to that gentleman; he here the Bank of the United States; we shall soon appeared to think of nothing else. The matter have a large city; no doubt of it. The reason was growing too serious now to talk of hobby- why you have not now a large population or great horses. It seemed that gentlemen who bad helped improvements, is, that you are always talking him on his hobby-horse found it necessary to ad- about moving. I wish it to stand at least sixty or here to him too closely. He was in hopes they one hundred years as it is; I am convinced that would have left him and his hobby-horse iogether. this of all places in the Union is the best. It is The gentleman, said Mr. L. has ialked about eat- said we ought to be near the seashore, near the ing and drinking; everybody knows what is his water. Here is water. Some say we should go to profession—but I will drop all this sort of talking. New York. Here is a good place. Some sneer Ít looks serious-twenty-one in a majority, by at the navy yard, and why? Because they resuse yeas and nays to consider this resolution. I will to do what ihey' ought towards clothing it, and say that I am one of those who was dragged here then laugh at its nakedness. against my will by a Federal majority. I then We have heard it said that if we move to Philthought it was not time to come ihis far South ; adelphia we shall have a commanding lobby; we
Removal of the Seat of Government.
H. OF R.
shall learn the sentiments of the population! The Could gentlemen expect that a treatment of this only inducement which influenced me to be a kind will be submitied to hereafter, or that any little satisfied at moving from Philadelphia, was, session of Congress would pass by without agibecause Congress were almost overawed by the tating this question ? He submitted to the oppopopulation of that city; measures were dictated nents of the motion whether it would not be betby ihatcity. I had rather move into a wilderness; ter to enter fairly into the discussion--to govern I do not want to go among these people; I have gentlemen who wished for removal by argument seen too much of them, I have seen the time when and not by force of numbers. He trusted there members of this House could not walk the streets were very few gentlemen on the floor who were in safety. I have seen the time when men with not open to conviction, even against their own cockades in their hais would say " there goes one wishes. It struck him that, if they were forced of the d-d minority.”. I can never forget the into silence, it would only be making discontent insalts I received in Philadelphia whilst in the worse ; if put down by fair argument, they would minority.
have nothing to complain of. The proper and Here too is a Constitutional provision with re- regular course of debaie would then be pursued. gard to the seat of Government, whether held in This question once fairly agitated and negatived, this or any other place—a feature in the Consti- if that should be the result, would have the effect tution, and on thai feature a contract is built; on of putting the question more permanently at rest, which subject the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. and more substantially answer the purpose of the Love) has dwelt very ably. I will not answer gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Lewis) than the the observation of the gentleman from New Jersey mode now pursued by that gentleman, who he (Mr. Sloan) about contracts; he knows how to had no doubt was acuated by honest motives, make a contract about a cow or an ox; but as to and Mr. G. honored him for it. He again reany other contract he knows nothing. (Mr. Lyon peated, would it not be better to promote discuswas here called to order.] I do not mean to be sion than thus to force them to silence-to smodisorderly, I assure you. One word more as to ther the matter ? He did not say this was the the healih of this place. The gentleman from intention, for he believed the gentleman was influNew Jersey has unfortunately compared it with enced by better motives. Philadelphia. Have we not been compelled to He had avoided making any observations on suspend business and leave Philadelphia on ac- the main question, because he did not consider count of the yellow fever? I have been a little this the time for them. If the House were so persick here; and so I should perhaps any where fectly satisfied on this subject, and thought so litelse. Has any member of Congress lost his life tle was due to those who wished a discussion, he here in consequence of the unhealthiness of the must submit; but this procedure would not satplace? They have died of consumption or other isfy the minority or the public. Without comdiseases brought with them from bome. I have mitting himself on the question one way or the seen or heard nothing of the unhealthiness of this other, because the vote which had already been place. It is really unfortunate to compare the taken did not commit any one, he wished to have iwo places together. In Philadelphia Congress the matter discussed, that those for it and those sat one year till July, and would not then have against it might have an opportunity to offer aradjourned but for the yellow fever; and it is a ri- guments. In his own mind, he felt a difficulty in diculous story to talk of changing the seat of Gov- declaring how he should vote, and therefore wisheroment from this place to Philadelphia, on ac- ed a discussion. count of its superiority in bealthiness. 'I have Mr. Lewis assured his friend from New York gone through the observations I mean to make. that he had no iotention to stifle investigation.
Mr. GARDENIER said he should not indulge The subject was now before the House, and as himself at this time in following gentlemen in perfectly open to discussion as if before a Comany remarks they had made. He could easily mittee of the Whole House. My object, said Mr. conceive that there were members in the House L., in making this motion, was to invite discusto whom the proposition of the gentleman from sion, but to invite it at this moment; because New Jersey must be disagreeable, and who were every moment that the subject is pending is death impelled to oppose it more by their feelings than to the interest of the District. I wish it to be astheir reason. A very considerable and respecta certained at once whether a majority is in favor ble portion of the House had manifested a dispo- of removal or not. I wish this investigation, and sition to hold the question open to discussion was in hopes that the gentleman from New York, not that they were determined on removal, but or some other, would offer some reasons for that it was a case in which discussion might en bringing forward this measure, so fraught with lighten and could not do harm. The present mo- mischief and distraction to the District. It is no tion was designed to stifle discussion; he would reason with me to remove to Philadelphia because submit it to his friend from Virginia (Mr. Lewis) |I and others can be better accommodated there whether he could calculate upon any permanent than at this place; it is no reason that beef or good to result from this procedure. Would they any other article sells cheaper than at this place, not prosper their cause infinitely more by reason- or that we can get information from the lobby at ing with those gentlemen who were doubtful, than Philadelphia which we cannot get here. If memby telling them that they would give no oppor- bers of this House should ever become so detunity to satisfy their minds on the subject? | pendent that they must be indebted to persons out
10th Con. Ist Sess.-49
H. OF R.
Removal of the Seal of Government.
of doors for information as to the course of con- manent seat of Government. Could the people duct they should pursue, it will be time for the calculate on its being but a temporary seat of Govpeople to call us home, or to alter the Constituernment? Those things called public contract tion, and elect the whole representation of the and public faith do not seem, in the present quesUnion from the city of Philadelphia, because Phi- tion, to come into consideration. If public faith ladelphians alone are capable of directing legis- is violated in small things, it will soon be violated lation for the public good. Is the gentleman, so in great ones. Violate it as respects the City of full of economy, ready to answer to ihe nation for Washington, and we shall soon violate it in other the sacrifices which he will make by a removal? and greater matters. I consider the faith of the Does he not know that the nation has expended Government as much pledged that the seat of Govhere twelve or fifteen millions of dollars ? ernment shall be permanently fixed here, as it can
If gentlemen will bring forward any reasons in be to any contract under the sun. favor of a removal, or show why this sacrifice As to living, Mr. M. said, it is possible they might should be made, I shall be prepared to meet them. live better in Philadelphia than here, but not If there be necessity for removal, why is it to cheaper. Gentlemen board here for precisely the Philadelphia, from which place we were a few same as formerly in Pbiladelphia. "He bimself years ago obliged to remove on account of our boarded for the same sum here as he paid there. lives being endangered by the unhealthiness of If we were to remove, said Mr. M., I should be the place, independent of other and not minor opposed to going to any large city. True, I have considerations. I do not believe that in the whole more acquaintance with Philadelphia than any United States there is a more healthy place than other, but they are all much alike, I believe. There this. My object, however, is not now to enter is scarcely a place in the United States to which into a discussion, for I am totally at a loss to I had not rather go than to Philadelphia-I had know what grounds gentlemen can take to sup- rather go to Fredericktown, Hagerstown, or Winport this motion.
chester. We may talk about our independence, Mr. Macon said the present motion brought the but every man in Congress, when at Philadelphia, resolution regularly before the House, and it was knew that city had more than its proportionate now in order for the of the resolution to weight in the representation of the Union. Go justify it. It was not proposed to postpone it in- to any city, and the same influence will be expedefinitely, with a view io stifle discussion. If gen- rienced. Do genilemen recollect what was ihe tlemen recollected that the friends of the measure state of the public mind there during the years were prepared, (as he had no doubt they had bad 1797 and 1798—he time (as before said by the genit under consideration long enough to be prepared,) tleman froin Kentucky) when the name of Rethere was no occasion for further time. As the publican and Democrat was accounted a disgrace? question was now regularly before the House, he There are gentlemen in my hearing who were would state his objections to the resolution, and then associated with me in legislation, and who to a removal.
know and will attest the truth of what I say, that A greater question than this, said Mr. M., has we were shunned as a pestilence-the yellow fever not, in my opinion, been agitated since the adop- could not be more carefully avoided. I do not tion of the Constitution. If I understand it, the mention this as any reflection on the then AdminConstitution requires that this shall be the perma-istration, but as an evidence of what may be exnent seat of Government. Though the word per- pected in large cities. We may do very well in manent is not contained in the clause of the Con- peaceable times. but come to the times which try stitution relative to this subject, it is clearly im- men's souls, and we should have to desert them plied. The Congress shall have power "to exer- for Princeton or some other convenient village. :cise exclusive legislation, in all cases whatsoever, There is another evil which I dread, and which
over such district (notexceeding ten miles square) may have influence as an objection to the resolu4 as may, by cession of particular States, and the tion. I have lived in a State where for some years acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the the government was always on the wing-where Government of the United States," &c. Can the Assembly, at each session, determined where language be more explicit? Would gentlemen they would sit the next. What I saw there fully say that the addition of the word permanent would satisfied me of the propriety of a permanent seat make it more so? It only requires reading to be of Government. This question, should the House convinced that the Consijution contemplates a determine on moving, will undoubtedly work itself permanent seat of Government.
into your elections for President and Vice PresiA great many objections had been offered to this dent. Give us this seat of Government for so place, instead of a demonstration of the right of many years, it will be said, and we will give you Congress to remove from it. The sickness of the a President. It will go to corrupting your Legisplace has been much relied on. I am not sure that lature by making this a contracting Government; this place is more or less sickly than any other: and I believe, as much as I believe in anything, this is a mere matter of opinion, on which men that it will have this effect. will differ. In examining ihis question, my mind I have another reason, why I think Philadelhas been forcibly turned to the situation of the phia the wrong place, and this the wrong time for people in Washington and its neighborhood, who removal. The charter of the Bank of the United gave up their landed properly to the Government States expires in 1811. In 1809, it is proposed -On what terms? That this was to be the per- that we shall be in Philadelphia. We shall then
Removal of the Seat of Government.
have two years before us to talk and be talked to this, I shall vote for a removal. If the crisis will about this bank. Let us be as far from them as not justify a removal, or I shall be convinced that possible. If we must remove, let us go over the these inducements for removal do not exist, or that Alleghany. Remember that these large cities are it will be a breach of the faith of the nation, I shall the places where every advantage will be taken vote for staying here: whatever my private inconof our proceedings. Recollect the speculations, at veniences may be, I care not for them. If, in the the conclusion of the war, on the claims of our course of discussion, I shall be convinced either brave soldiers and officers. These large cities have way, so shall I vote. If I am convinced that it is always had too much influence in this body: go expedient and for the public good, and that it is among them, and it will be increased an hundred consistent with the Constitution and good faith fold.
to remove, I shall vote for the resolution in spite The gentleman from New York seems to think of all that can be done to prevent me. If, on the that those opposed to the resolution are influenced contrary, I shall be otherwise convinced, I pledge in their opposition more by their situation than myself to myself and to my country to vote against by their judgment. This is one of those argu- removal and every breach of public faith. ments which works both ways—which applies as Mr. Lyon restated the circumstance of the rewell to the supporters as to ihe opponents of the moval of the seat of Government of Kentucky. resolution, If it is a good argument because I He did not mean to charge his colleague or any live in Carolina that I have a local prejudice others with these designs; he had merely stated against a removal, is it not equally good because facts and reasoned from those facts. But he did he lives in New York that he is for it? I should say, that it was no more than natural that when not have poticed this, had not the novelty of the the Eastern interest was joined by the Western, idea drawn my attention to it.
when the latter was increased by ten or fifteen I do not agree with the gentleman from New additional Representatives, they would have the York, that by a decision in any way, this question whole of this interest to carry the seat of Governcan be put finally to rest. The subject has been ment hereafter Westward. always spoken of more or less, and for my part I Mr. Key rose to offer some observations on the am ready to meet it here, or go to a committee on all-important question now before the House. He the subject; but I can always say in twice speak- was most decidedly in favor of an indefinite posting all I wish to say on any subject.
ponement of this question, because he himself I am so satisfied that this proposition contem- was opposed to it in every shape, and as those plates a breach of public faith, (which in free whom he had the honor to represent on this floor governments ought to be as sacredly adhered to as were unanimous in their opposition to the mea. anything among men,) that I should not hesitate sure. He should therefore violate his own princito give my vote against it. But, in addition to ples if he did not in every stage of the business this, when gentlemen consider the effect it will give this his utmost opposition. He had not, have upon the election of President, if we shall be when he casually came into the House this mornset at liberty to go East or West, North or South, ing, the smallest expectation that this subject was it must appear best to stop it here; for, unques to be agitated; but as he considered that the first tionably, talk as much as we inay of independence view of the matter furnished ample reason to deand integrity, when the thing is once afloat-when feat the measure, he should without preparation the Government is once started-it will be said endeavor to give his sentiments upon it. by each, since it is to be removed, we have as much I believe, said he, that we are now about to give right to the benefit of it as any one else; and thus all that the friends of the measure can ask-not a may it be made a matter of bargain or compro- stifled, but an ample discussion. I understand the mise.
resolution now to be fairly before the House, as if Mr. JOHNSON rose to notice an observation of in Committee of the Whole, or in any other state. bis colleague (Mr. Lyon) relative to intrigues in if I am correct in the opinion that it is the proper Kentucky concerning the removal of the seat of time to make observations on the merits of the goveroment of that State. If he who has so lately question, I must be permitted to express my surcome into the State knows of this intrigue, said prise that gentlemen in favor of the measure Mr. J., I who drew my first breath in that coun- should require farther time to make up their minds. try am ignorant of it. I can say that I believe the Had we, the opponents to it, asked for time, it citizens of Kentucky do not manæuvre in that might have been reasonable; but that others who way.
had been so long in preparation should wish to proI voted for the consideration of this resolution crastinate, has really astonished me. I believe because I wished a discussion ; but if the interests that the sooner a question of this sort receives of the people of this District are to be sacrificed, the decision of the House the better, because on and no remuneration made, I certainly shall not it depends the fortunes of thousands. To us it is agree to the resolution; and I would rather spend of very little moment whether it is disposed of on my time while here in a dungeon than violate the this day or on some weeks hence; to those over public faith. But I wish an investigation of the whom the dagger is suspended by a hair, it is of subject. I go out of this Hall, and what do I hear? moment. Let them immediately know the worst. That Government can carry on its operations in I do not know what may have been said before Philadelphia at a saving of $250,000, annually, I arrived here; but no reason has been offered less than at this place. If I am fully satisfied of since to justify the resolution on the table. The