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H. OF R.
Removal of the Seat of Government.

FEBRUARY, 1808. Smith,) sufficiently evinces that the United States result of the question, a removal would undoubtare not amply provided with arms.

edly be effected at some future period. Mr. S. Mr. S. SMITA, deemed it his duty to state that spoke above an hour. the fears of the petitioners, just alluded to, were Mr. TallMADGE said it was with extreme re. not chimerical ; he personally knew their situa- luctance that he rose to address the Chair on the tion, and was anxious that something should be present occasion, as he had from the beginning done for their relief.

determined to take po part in the debate. But Mr. Burwell having expressed a consent that the subject having taken so extraordinary a turn, it might lie on the table, the resolution was so and the opposers of the resolution now under condisposed of-42 to 34.

sideration, seemingly confident of their strength, REMOVAL OF THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT. ion on the main question, a sense of duty as well

having determined to drive the House to a decisMr. W. Alston moved that the unfinished bụ- as propriety forbade him to be silent. siness [Mr. Blount's renewal of Mr. Sloan's Since I have had the honor to be a member of motion for the removal of the seat of Govern the National Legislature, I can recollect no sub. ment] be postponed indefinitely. He presumed ject that has taken so strange a course as the resoevery gentleman must be convinced that sufficient lution now under discussion. It was introduced time had been occupied by it.

into the House by a gentleman from New Jersey, Mr. Sawyer opposed a postponement, because (Mr. Sloan,) on Tuesday last, stating that

it was he was in favor of the resolution. Mr. S. con expedient, and the public good required the received that the sober habits and patriotism of the moval of the seat of Government from Washinginhabitants of Philadelphia, offered an ample se. ton to Philadelphia. After a few remarks were curity against our being disturbed by riots and made by the mover of the resolution, a motion tumults. Philadelphia though containing twenty was made to consider the same. This occasioned thousand inhabitants more than New York, has considerable debate, after which a gentleman from not so many deaths anpually by two hundred. Virginia (Mr. Lewis) made a motion to postpone There is not a more changeable climate in the it indefinitely, which he afterwards withdrew. world than this of Washington. There is scarcely A motion was then made by the original mover a day without a storm. There is also something to commit the resolution to a Committee of the intolerable in the atmosphere of this Hall; and Whole, as well for the purpose of discussion, as if we choose to continue in this place, we must to obtain by the order of this House full informaagree to quit this elegant building. If not the tion on this subject. This was negatived by a cause, said Mr. S., of his late severe sickness, it majority of two. The gentleman from New Jerwas certainly the means of preventing his re- sey then withdrew his resolution. Encouraged covery.

by this decision, the opposers of the measure de. It was probable that Mr. CROWNINSHIELD would termined to try the question on its merits, and a owe his death to this place. If such should be gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Blount) the fact, not all the money lavished here could renewed the original motion. On ihe question to compensate for the loss; the place ought to be consider, it was negatived, 68 to 51. A new mo. destroyed and annihilated; and, if it were as opu- tion was then made by a gentleman from Virlent as Babylon, he would have the ploughshare gia, (Mr. Lewis,) of a negative principle, viz: run over it.

that it was inexpedient, and the public good did At Philadelphia was the best medical faculty not require a removal. This motion was debated, on the globe. If a man in ill health could be pos- and amended, and finally permitted to lie on the sibly cured, they would do it. But here was no table. The original resolution was again called medical assistance. If a member should only up by one of its opposers, until, having devoted faint, you must send all the way to the navy yard nearly a week in its discussion, and not being perfor a physician.

mitted to retire from the field partially vanquished, Mr. s. remarked on the extravagant prices of its friends determined to give battle. Until this everything at Washington. A common turkey time, Mr. Speaker, I had been on neutral ground, is sold here for a dollar and a half, butter for fifty although I had no doubt of the Constitutional cents a pound, and everything else in proportion. rectitude of the measure. In fact I should have The saving in hack-hire, by going to Philadelphia, been willing to have left the subject at rest where would amount to one hundred and seventy dol- it was; but when gentlemen show a disposition lars a day.

not only to defeat, but to triumph and prostrate In reply to Mr. Eppes, who said that the advo- their opposers, I feel somewhat indignani at such cates of removal treated this city as a capricious conduct, and will briefly state to the House some woman treats her lover, Mr. S. said, he hoped of the principal reasons which will govern my that gentleman did not speak feelingly on the sub- vote on this resolution. ject. He was the last man to deserve such treat- All that can be urged on either side of this ment, and probably spoke from the ardor of im- question may fairly be comprised under the two agination rather than from experience.

following heads, viz : Mr. S. then went into a consideration of the 1st. Does the Constitution interfere to prevent Constitutional objections to a removal, and con- us from legislating on this subject? and, if not, tended that they amounted to nothing. Mr. S. 2dly. Is such a measure expedient and proper ? was persuaded that, whatever might now be thel I beg the patient attention of this honorable


Removal of the Seat of Government.

H. or R.

House while I endeavor to place this momentous law of the Legislature could confer that power. question before them in a plain and familiar man-With equal force might it be urged that the law Der. If it shall be found ihat the Constitution is to collect taxes, or to organize the militia, were in imperative in this case, then must the measure be its nature permanent, because provision is made abandoned. This magna charta of our liberties, for them in the Constitution; and, especially, if this palladium of our rights, must be considered Congress had pleased to annex that enchanting as paramount to all law, and wherever its provis- word “permanent" to the title of the law, as the ions can be brought explicitly to bear, every legis- honorable gentleman so ingeniously urges to establative provision that may contravene, must be, lish this as the permanent seat of Government. ipso facto, null and void. In the eighth section of Indeed, Mr. Speaker, there seems to be an insuthis memorable instrument will be found all that perable objection to such a Constitutional provisis said upon this subject in the following words: ion as the gentleman contends for. I would in"To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases quire of him as a lawyer and a civilian, if the whatsoever over such district (not exceeding ten doctrine he contends for be correct, whether a miles square) as may, by cession of parlicular law enacted in any other place in the United * States and the acceptance of Congress, become States would be Constitutional? If his answer

the seat of the Government of the United States, should be in the negative, and I presume it would and to exercise like authority over all places pur- be, what would be the condition of our country in 'chased by the consent of the Legislature of the case of invasion, an epidemic, or any other public State in which the same may be, for the erection calamity, by which the Legislature would be preof forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and vented from visiting the permanent seat of Gov

other needful buildings.” I deem it all impor-ernment? tant to the present question to have it distinctly I hope by this time that some gentlemen who noticed that the aforesaid provision comes in un- hear me, and who have hitherto entertained doubts, der the power granted to Congress. “The Con- will be satisfied that Congress have a Constitu'gress shall have power to lay and collect taxes; tional right to legislate on the subject of the presTo borrow money ;

ent resolution. For my own part I have not the To regulate commerce;

shadow of a doubt resting on my mind. To coin money;

The next point which claims consideration is, * To declare war;

the expediency and propriety of the measure. I * To provide for organizing, arming, and discip- confess that difficulties present themselves here lining the militia;

which deserve the most mature consideration, and • To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases," unless the provisions of the bill which may grow &c.

out of this resolution (if one is brought into the This instrument was undoubtedly intended to House) should fully accord with my judgment on be as perfect as the nature of the case would ad- the subject, although I purpose to vote for the mit, and provided not only for the election and resolution, yet I shall feel at liberty to oppose and appointment of the several constituent branches reject the bill. of the Government, but also defined the duties It is said that this city was founded by WASHand powers of each. The Government thus or- INGTON, whose name it bears; a name which I ganized, and its political machinery put in mo- can never hear pronounced but with veneration tion, this great national compact became obliga- and respect. When I reflect on the illustrious tory in all its parts, and needed no subsequent act acts of this greatest and best of men ; when I view of the Legislature to give it a binding force. Here him in the character either of the soldier or the give me leave to inquire what would have been statesman, and recollect that I have been honored the consequence, as to the Constitution, if the ces with any share of his notice during the hardships sion of this District had never been made? Will and dangers of the Revolutionary war, I should any gentleman say that the Constitution would be cautious how ( tread on ballowed ground. have been violated, or even incomplete, by such Every public act of his life is calculated to fill the an omission? I trust not. If, then, the non-exe- mind with reverence and esteem, and every recution of this particular power would have left commendation seems to have been bottomed on Do breach in the Constitution, I infer most clearly his country's good. But that illustrious hero, who that ibe removal of the session of Congress to any now sleeps in his own humble tomb at Mount other place in the United States cannot be made Vernon, by submitting to the stroke of death,

has a Constitutional question.

proved that he was but a man, and all must acAn honorable gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. knowledge that no mortal man is perfect. PerKEY,) to refute this doctrine, quotes the act of haps his predilection for this place as the seat of Congress accepting of the cession from the States Government for the United States, was permitted of Maryland and Virginia, (see chapter 28th, 2d as a solitary blot on his escutcheon, which was session of Congress.) and remarks that, although adorned with such a bright constellation of virthe Constitution is silent upon the subject of per- tues. Could he have foreseen the extravagance manency, yet the act declares that it shall be the and waste which have since ensued, and the prodipermanent seat of the Government. The answer gal expenditure of treasure which has been lavto this objection must be obvious to every one. ished upon this favorite seat of republican empire, If the Constitution provides not for the perma- he would have lamented that he had ever fostered bency of the seat of Government, no declaratory lit, and that his name had been used to sanction

H. OF R.
Removal of the Seat of Government.

FEBRUARY, 1808. the measure. Before he or the Government gave two hundred and eighty miles from the sea. The any sanction to this establishment, assurances navigation of this river is very difficult, and, on were given, that, from the sale of city lots, every an average, would probably need twenty days to public accommodation would be provided for the take one of our frigates into Hampton roads. In Government. The original proprietors gave up doing this she cannot be prepared for sea, and one-half of these to the Government to bring most probably must be lightened even of her guns about this measure, and Virginia and Maryland and stores. I am informed from pretty correct made donations for the use of the city amounting authority that the pilotage alone of the frigate to $192,000. But what did all this effect? When Adams, when she returned from the Mediterrathe Government assembled here in the year 1800 nean, from the mouth of the Potomac to the pavy nothing was completed; everything remained 10 yard, cost $600; and that the expense of wages be done. An advance of $10,000 was made from and provisions to the officers and crew of one of the Treasury to prepare gravel walks and foot- the frigates, while passing from this navy yard, ways, that the members of Congress might assem- until she reached ihe Chesapeake Bay, cost the ble at the Capitol without sticking in the mire. United States $4,000. This, Mr. Speaker, is no The sales of the city lots proving insufficient, and trifling consideration, and if the frigates should the city funds being expended, a loan of $300,000 be needed on any emergency, how preposterous is was negotiated with the State of Maryland, pro- the idea that all this expense and parade must vided the Government would guaranty the repay attend their passage into the Chesapeake! I inment. The city lots were morigaged, and the quire further, from whence are you to be supplied Government of the United States finally acceded with sailors to navigate your ships? From Baltito the proposal. The consequence was, the whole more, Philadelphia, New York, and the Eastern sum was refunded to the State of Maryland from ports; and frequently this is atiended with no trithe Treasury of the United States. One fact is fling expense to the Government. From what here deserving of particular notice: the City Com quarter is the timber procured which is used at missioners consented to take the stock of the State this navyy yard ? Is it borne down on the streams of Maryland to the nominal amount of the sum of this noble river from the Alleghany mountains, thus loaned, and afterwards sold the same stock or the country above us bordering on its waters? to Maryland, without removing it from their Never have I heard that a single spar or stick of treasury, for $230,000, allowing the State a nettimber has been brought here from that quarter. premium of $70,000 for this negotiation. In De- These materials are ali to be brought up this river cember, 1799, another loan was obtained from the with a prodigious expense of freight. Even the State of Maryland to the nominal amount of tree-nails wbich are now piled up in the navy $50,000, for negotiatiog and paying which she yard, I am informed, were brought from New retained the moderate premium of $9,512. Here York. From whence do we obiain our naval are two negotiations, on which this infant estab- supplies, such as cordage, duck, or sail-cloth, iron, lishment was obliged to sacrifice $79,512 to en- &c. ? From the great maritime ports on the Atrich a parent State in her abundant benignity lantic; and when labor is bestowed upon any of towards this new seat of empire. The Govern those articles here, from the best information I ment of the United States, like many an honest have been able to obtain, it costs the Government endorser before it, was obliged to pay up the nomi- an advance of at least fifty per cent. In addition nal amount of its endorsement. [Here Mr. Mont- to all this, the basin or cove in which our frigates GOMERY, from Maryland, begged leave to explain are laid up in ordinary, is almost a stagnant water, by remarking, that the General and State Govo and from the nature of the case, during the hot ernment had passed laws authorizing the loan, season of the year, must be putrescent. To what &c.] Mr. T. did not dispute this fact, but still other cause can be imputed the unusual decay of questioned the correctness of the measure before our ships? Who that notices the heavy advances stated.

which are made by Government merely to repair The Treasury once having been opened in aid the few ships we have in this water, to prevent of this city, annual calls and appropriations have them from gcing to the bottom, (if, indeed, they been made, so that they have become as familiar did not rest upon it a part of the time,) but must as the supply of the civil list. The question be forcibly struck with the truth of this remark? then comes home to every member of this House, It has been urged that this is a safe place for a What has the Government got for this immense navy. So, indeed, would Marietta, at ihe confluexpenditure? The reply is short:- We have got ence of the Muskingum with the Ohio, or Pittsthe Presidential palace, ibe two public offices, the burg, where the Monongahela and the Alleghany two wings of the Capitol, and the navy yard, in- rivers unite, and vastly to be preferred for the cluding the marine barracks. With respect to the convenience of purchasing all the materials for President's house and the public offices, for aught shipbuilding. But this I do not consider to be the I know, they are now in a tolerable state of re- question, pair, and the north wing of the Capitol already The inquiry now before the House is, whether needs great repairs, and it requires something this navy yard combines most effectually the great more to finish it. Of the navy yard I scarcely principles of usefulness and convenience with know what to say. Situated at the head of tide- economy and the public good. I am far from water, at the confluence of the Eastern Branch wishing to depreciate those institutions, for I bewith the Potomac, it is at the distance of about | lieve them essential to our prosperity and existFEBRUARY, 1808.

Removal of the Seat of Government.

H. OF R.

ence as a commercial people. But when I re-tures made by citizens and others, who have purflect that this is made the great emporium of our chased or built here on the faith of Government. naval supplies, the place of anchorage for our frig. I am for making ample remuneration wherever it ates, and the residence of officers, clerks, and de- shall be deemed equitable and just. Nothing pendants, who might be usefully employed in a short of this will satisfy me. But it may not be better place, I am constrained thus publicly to amiss to inquire how far the faith of Government bear testimony against it. As I consider it'the is considered plighted to every man who may grave which swallows up a considerable portion have speculated for his own interest, or who may of our treasure, and an excrescence which ought have removed within the influence of its genial to be cut off; and as I fear this will not be effected beams, and sat down under its fostering influence. so long as the Government continues here, it fur- Is not the case familiar to most gentlemen who nishes a strong reason for the expediency of a hear me, that when a State erects a new county, removal.

builds a court-house, &c., that people immediAgain, sir: does any gentleman know, and will sately settle in its vicinity ? If the Government he inform this House, what sums are annually should find it necessary io remove the county buexpended by the Government to support the civil siness to another place, are the inhabitants entiadministration of this District, its courts, juries, tled to indemnification for their buildings and officers, and city commissioners? What will be other improvements ? The same may be said of the probable estimates for the year 1808, 10 com- roads and other public institutions. plete the expensive stone wall at the President's 3. Another objection against this measure is, square; !o repair the north wing of the Capitol, that it will argue a sort of instability in the Gove and to carry on the works at the navy yard ?' Weernment, which may prove injurious. That a are told that $100,000 will be wanted to repair Government should not be continually changing the Capitol alone ; a sum large enough to accom- its principles or location, is certainly important; modate both Houses of Congress in any city in but after the Governinent of the United States the United States north of the Potomac. have made an experiment of nearly eight years

Thus I have stated some of the reasons which continuance at this place, is it not reasonable to plead strongly in favor of the expediency of the suppose that they have had time to form some measure which I have been compelled to submit opinion whether ihe plan can succeed? I think to this House, from the zeal and intemperance I shall be safe in declaring that there were more with which this resolution has been opposed. I habitable buildings erected on private account will now endeavor to notice a few of the most when the Government removed here than at this prominent objections which have been made to day. Turn your eyes to Greenleal's Point, to the measure, and dismiss the subject.

Morris's Village, and to various other parts of this 1. The first objection urged against ibis meas- magnificent city, and what do you find but buildure, is, that the Government will sacrifice an im- ings tumbling to the earth. The two first menmense sum by such a step. To prove this, a gen- lioned places are but too apt a resemblance of the tleman from Maryland (Mr. Van HORN) has gone ruins of Palmyra. into a calculation, the prominent points of which 4. The opposers of this measure have attempted I will state, as far as I could note them at my dis- to make this a party measure, and, as usual, the tance from his seat. He stated the amount of cry of mad dog has been attached to it, and it lots sold by the city commissioners to be $644,000 has been called a Federal measure. Dodations from Maryland and Virginia 192,000 Mr. Speaker, that I have occasion to notice anyAdvanced from the Treasury - 732,000 thing of this sort; but a sense of duty obliges me

to reply to it. Give me leave, then, to inquire, $1,568,000 who is the mover of the resolution ? Its legiti

mate parent, (Mr. SLOAN,) I presume would feel Whether this last item includes the $350,000 greatly injured if he might not class himself loaned by Maryland to the Commissioners, 1 do among the most zealous Republicans of the modnot know. Perhaps he will condescend to in-lern stamp. By whom has it been opposed ? I form this House. If so, for the honor of the State, hope the delicacy of republicanism will not be we will suppose that on a restitution of her origi- wounded when I remark, that among its most pal donation she would deduct the premium which ahle opposers are to be found two gentlemen she retained on the loan, amounting to nearly (Messrs. Key and Lewis,) who lie under the im$80,000. I am willing, for argument's sake, to putation of being Federalists. I say, then, that admit that the public expenditures have amounted party politics have nothing to do with the subeven to $2,000,000 (and this I believe to be much ject; for I have rarely noticed a question agitated below the truth,) and then I ask the question in this House, when party distinctions have been whether the Government ought to sacrifice this more thoroughly lost in the subject. property for the sake of a removal? My answer 5. An appeal has also been made to the pasis, that the immense sums already advanced being sions, sufferings, and feelings, of the people, therebut the incipient steps towards prodigious expen- by exciting the popular odium. This, I am sorry ditures which must necessarily be made to keep to say, has been but too successful, for a member these buildings, &c., in repair, ihe sooner they are of this House (Mr. Sloan) bas publicly informed totally abandoned the better.

us that he has been grossly insulted in his person 2. Another objection arises from the expendi- and threatened with the loss of his life. While I

I am sorry, H. OF R.

Removal of the Seat of Government.



declare my opinion that the House ought not national affairs, I cannot pass over unnoticed so lightly to pass over such an outrage upon the general and so unmerited a censure. Surely that privileges of its members, I cannot refrain from gentleman must have been unfortunate in his sowarning gentlemen against such dangerous ap. ciety, or he could not have made such a declarapeals. This conduct, countenanced and pursued, tion. Give me leave to assure him that the merwould render a removal indispensably necessary. cantile gentlemen of the Atlantic States with

6. A gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. whom I have been acquainted are to be classed Blount) has told us, in his place, that if the ad- among the most useful and respectable citizens of vocates for this resolution should succeed, he will our country. Many of them, in point of talents lay a resolution on the table to repeal the law and literary acquirements, are to be found in the establishing the funding system. This is threat- first grade, and would not suffer by a comparison ening with a vengeance. It is hardly to be sup- with any honorable member on this floor. As ported by weak, frail men. However well this they are the medium through whose agency the may accord with the correct principles of modern surplus products of the planter are sent to a forlegislation, in morals I am sure it would be con- eiga market, so may they be said to be mutual demned. It reads to me somewhat like this: if aids to each other. To whose exertions, if not to you do a base action, I will immediately do a those of commercial men, are we indebted for forworse one to pay you for it. Does the gentleman eign supplies, which contribute so essentially to think that men are to be driven from their pur- the comfort and convenience of the citizens at poses of public duty by threats of this sort? Can large? And, above all, through whose hands does he discover no distinction between a legislative the revenue of the United States first pass into provision to locate the seat of Government, and a the chests of your collectors? The honorable solemn covenant entered into by the Government gentleman (Mr. C.) was pleased to remark, that with individuals to pay them for value received ! the speech of a very worthy member from PeonHas he carefully examined the sixth article of the sylvania, (Mr. Milnor,) would convince the Constitution, which says: “That all debts con- House that he was not a lawyer. In return, I tracted and engagements entered into before the would observe, that I believe no mortal could supadoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid pose he was a merchant. against the United States under this Constitu- Having occupied more time than I was aware tion as under the Confederation ?"

of in submitting my sentiments to this honorable I have too high an opinion of the integrity and House, I must necessarily omit enlarging on the good sense of this House, to believe that they peculiar benefits which would result from a re. would sustain such a resolution for a moment. moval to Philadelphia. If the accommodation of Having a little native obstinacy in my make, if the members of the Government, as well as of my mind hesitated on this subject, I think I could strangers and visiters, who may have business to bring myself to vote for the resolution, to give the transact, be of any importance; if domestic engentleman an opportunity to try his favorite dearments and society are of any avail; if speedy measure.

access to every useful source of information, wheThe accommodation of the members, the un-ther commercial or political, foreign or domestic, healthiness of this place, and various inconve- may be brought into the account; if, in fact, it is niences, have been stated as reasons for a removal. not absolutely necessary for the preservation of The uniform civility which I have received from republican liberty to pursue a new course, unwar. the people in general, and the polite attention from ranted by any precedent, to legislate in retirement my particular friends, demand and receive my ac- and solitude, rather than in some pleasant city or knowledgment. But it ought not to pass up no- town, then, sir, are we most imperiously called ticed, that during the autumnal season, ihe princi- on to weigh the subject maturely before we act, pal executive officers of our Goveroment deem it and not hastily and passionately to pass a neganot prudent or safe to tarry at this place.

tive upon the resolution now under consideration. Another circumstance worthy of notice, is the I cannot but consider the subject as vasily imwretched state of the roads over which you must portant to the honor, the welfare, and the prospass to the seat of Government from any quarter. perity of the country. Whether, at the present If the neighboring States had ever contemplated crisis, we are imperiously called on to decide this to repair them, time enough has been afforded for question, I will not pretend to determine; but if that purpose ; and if the Government of the Uni- gentlemen should persist in urging this House to ted Staies have this task to accomplish, it fur- a decision without further information, my vote nishes a strong argument in favor of a removal shall be given in favor of the resolution. to a country where these expenditures will not Mr. W. ALSTON withdrew his motion, as he be called for.

had not intended to cause a discussion by it; he How gentlemen have dragged in the revolt of had moved it for the purpose of getting rid of the the Army during the war, or the relative abilities subject altogether. of merchants and lawyers to administer the Gov- Mr. Quincy rising to speak under a belief that ernment, as bearing on the question. I cannot con- the question on the passage of the resolution bad ceive. Since the gentleman from Tennessee (Mr. recurred G. W. CAMPBELL) has been pleased to declare The SPEAKER declared that the House had not that merchants are the last men in the commu- yet agreed to consider the subject; and no debate nity to whose management he would confide our being admissible on a motion to consider, the ques

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