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H. OF R.
Removal of the Seat of Government.
resolution itself is couched in captivating phrase- occupation here, being deprived of their regular ology, begins with expediency and the public good, habits and prevented from taking that exercise to high sounding words, but which should be well which they have been accustomed. And take weighed before they are acted on. We are all the population of the city, and I will undertake to desirous to do what the public good requires, al- say and prove that there never has happened a though we may differ as to what constitutes the proportionate number of deaths to those which public good. I had hoped to hear some advocate usually occur in other situations. But granting for this removal give some reasons for it; but in the assertion made, should we better our situation this I have been disappointed. Whenever a great by removal? Look at the times, at the crisis at and imperious public duty calls for the destruction which it is thought proper to propose a removal of a portion of a free country, that call and that a possibility of impending war, in which case may duty must be manifestly imperious, or not carried occur a Summer session of Congress; and wiil into effect to the ruin of individuals. What is any gentleman say that the disorder prevalent in the necessity which makes this a duty ? An hon- that city in the Summer months (whether native orable member from Kentucky, who has not made or not, is not necessary to inquire—it is sufficient up his mind, says he has heard that so much will to know that it exists,) does not leave a greater be saved. Why, in the name of sense, are not chance for ill health than the general salubrity of calculations produced ? Gentlemen, advocates of this place? No man can say that the prospect of the measure, must have thought on the subject sickness would be diminished by a removal to and made calculations. I cannot for my pari see Philadelphia ; by comparison it would be inhow such a saving can exist, I will reserve my.
creased. self to that moment when a statement is exhibited, This measure ought to be shown to be politic. to prove to the House that it is on false ground; | After seven years' stay in this place, what at this that there will result in time advantages which moment calls for a removal ? Is it the crisis of will more than meet any present expenditures, our political affairs ? Is there not as much safety that it is the statement of a person taking a nar- here as at Philadelphia ? Doubtless. If po imrow view of the subject, looking at the present perious necessity calls for a removal, I hold a betpopulation of the city, instead of taking a liberal ter opinion of the heads and hearts of the gentleview, and considering what its consequence will men composing this honorable body, than to supbe to our great and growing nation.
pose they will hesitate when they look at the subAn honorable member from New Jersey, whose ject. I am convioced that they would not sacrimotives no doubt are correct, (and here permit fice to personal inconvenience the welfare of ten me to say what I trust will always be found cor- times their number, that they might be fed on rect, that I consider the motives of every gentle more dainty food, see more company, or enjoy man to be correct, and will always suppose them somewhat more of personal gratification. They so, and endeavor to show that they are mistaken would not by a removal consult mere personal acin practice;) has said this is a sickly place. I commodation at the expense of those so greatly pray you where is the authority for the assertion ? to suffer. Have gentlemen that information which every But are we at liberty to remove ourselves? Can one ought to have before he pronounces on its we remove the seat of Government? Is there do sickness or health? There is no place possessing doubt on the constitutionality of a removal? a population so thin in which more instances of Does not this proposition contemplate a violation longevity can be produced. Those who come of the public faith, which imperiously calls upon from different parts of the Union with the seeds us to respect the honor of the country! The of disease in their frames cannot exist longer here faith of our Government, like Cæsar's wife, must than in their native clime. It is, I know, ridicu- be preserved not only inviolate, but unsuspected. lous to make comparisons, but I undertake to say How came we here? By the wisdom of the that this city has been as remarkable for health Convention which framed the Constitution. The as any spot in the United States. I will go far. framers of our Constitution selected a district of
my own knowledge of the fact, ten miles square, to be under the immediate and that, there is not in the United States an instance exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; they ingrafted of greater longevity or more health of natural it into the Constitution and authorized ihe acceptborn subjects or citizens than within this District. ance of a cession of this territory from one or Did the gentleman's observations flow from the more States; for what? For a temporary seat case of his late colleague? The gentleman must of Government? However it may be the fashion have been thus alarmed and had his fears thus of the present day to cherish this changing dispoexcited by his regret for his friend. But I will sition, those patriots who framed this instrument venture to say, that in a congregation of any given never did suppose that this was not to be the seat number of genilemen in the same stage of life as of Government. This District of ten miles square those here convened, that there is no portion of was intended when selected to be the permanent country where an equal number of deaths may seat of Government, the depository of the napot be expected as have taken place from this tion's archives. This spot was selected. By whom body in preceding years. The gentleman con- was the whole projected? By him who was invened here are not in the flower of youth; they ferior to no man living; by him whose judgment are gentlemen sent here from their experience will be venerated till the foundations of liberty and whose regularity at home is changed by their are sapped and gone. In the maturity of his judg
ther and say,
H. OF R. ment, experience, and attachment to his native Suppose, for the sake of argument, that I am land, he called the Constitution into effect by plac- mistaken in the Constitutional requisition; and ing the seat of Government on this spot; from its that the fixing the seat of Government was a simcentral situation, its health, its convenience to ple legislative act as all other acts, and predicated the Atlantic, and its easy access to the Western not upon the Constitution but upon expediency. waters—for all these causes combined together, I Reflect, and say, whether in consequence of that hold the most profound respect and place the act you would not by removal violate the public most implicit confidence in his judgment. And, faith. I mean not by this to say that any gentleappealing from his judgment, we are called upon men on this floor has less respect for it ihan me, to move from here before we are scarcely warm in or that any one would wantonly concur in vioour seats, from no better consideration than a lit- lation of it; but it is fair argument. When the tle personal inconvenience, without considering cession of the territory was accepted, and the City the merits of the question on public policy. of Washington designated as it was to become
The resolution on your table contemplates a the permanent seat of Government, I ask the honlimited fixture at Philadelphia. It is well known orable members of this House, being then a wiland calculated upon that the population of Phil- derness, whether on the faith of its being permaadelphia may do things which this poor place nently the seat of Government, individuals did cannot. They calculate upon the superior tal- not come forward and invest vast property in lots ents and overbearing wealth and influence of Phil- and improvements on it? Did you not by law adelphia, to retain the seat of Government there solemnly say that this should be the permanent not for a few years, but as long as Government seat of Government, and invite numbers of perexists. Expediency and the public good !-a man sons to come here, to build houses and make immust be hoodwinked who cannot look under the provements which necessarily grew out of that curtain and see what these words mean.
law? Was not the investment of their property I am for retaining the Government here, where a legitimate act, in pursuance of a public law? it was originally fixed by the sage whose name it Unquestionably 'it was. If you remove hence, bears, and the establishment of which may almost what will be the consequence? Are the people be considered as an act of the Constitution, because wh have reposed their confidence in the faith of the act was done by a law emanating from and a public law to be sacrificed? Have they no carrying into effect a provision of the Constitu- right to complain of a violation of the national tion. Ťhe erection of a permanent seat of Gov. faith by a removal, if agreed to ? I ask if this ernment was the only mode on earth by which law did not hold out to them a permanency? the Constitutional provision could have been ful. And if after a lapse of seven years the seat of filled. Did our predecessors consider this as a tem-Government is removed, if that act has not been porary seat of Government? Every word of the a decoy to all those people who, confiding in a law which they enacted, and which was consid- public act, have settled in the city? Say that ered as an interpretation of the Constitution, ex- we are capable of repealing that law; if we do it, presses the reverse. Refer to chapter 28, vol. 1. is not the repeal an infraction of good faith and of the Laws of the United States. Let us see the contract with those who advanced their money? contemporary construction given to the Constitu- Is it less a breach of contract to induce a man to tion by the members of that Congress, some of come here in hopes and confidence in the permawhom were members of the Convention who nency of the Government here, than it would be framed it, men distinguished for their vigilance to borrow money on the faith of the nation, and in guarding the Constitution. “That a district by a simple act of legislation to wipe away the • of territory, not exceeding ten miles square, to obligation to repay that money?". Foreigners
be located as hereafter directed on the river Powere by law competent to hold real estate. Large Stomac, at some place between the mouths of the sums were by these men vested in the property ' Eastern Branch and Connogocheague, be and is of this city, relying on the faith of the United
bereby accepted”-for what? “for a permanent States. How so ? Here is the law, I hold it in seat of the Government of the United Siates," &c. my hand, fixing a permanent seat of Government. And in succeeding laws on this subject the same If persons embark their property in this stock, language is repeated. No man living ever con- on what do they do it? On the faith of this law. strued that instrument to give exclusive jurisdic- Repeal this law, remove the seat of Government, tion over a certain territory for a temporary seat and our faith is gone in Europe ; for those nations of Goverment. We all know the disadvantages who hold stock in our funds will as soon expect attendant on a temporary situation; there are that the obligation to pay that shall be cancelled, gentlemen withiu the hearing of my voice who as that we should violate our faith by repealing know the contests which arose whether it should a law in which it is pledged. Take the question be held at Philadelphia, New York, or elsewhere, in this view, and it is all-important. previous to its being made stationary. Neither An honorable gentleman, whose liberality I the framers of the Constitution, or the Legislature approve, has no idea that ample compensation for who carried it into effect, ever did dream that these losses should not be made. If this measure this was to be any other than the permanent seat should carry, he would not find many seconders of Government. The expenses incurred here also of that motion; more especially at this time. Do incontestably demonstrate that to have been the gentlemen believe that compensation is seriously intention of the Legislature.
intended? No such belief can be cherished. Gen
H. OF R.
Remoral of the Seat of Government.
tlemen will not feel themselves bound to attend the best interest of the country, and leading us to to the dictates of conscience when they disregard war. These are evils likely to grow out of a rethe obligations of a law: they will not leave the moval; I do not say they will, but it is right to people as they found them ; they will leave them consider what may possibly exist in the one place, ruined, by coming forward with their property to and which cannot exist in the other. I do verilý furnish those accommodations which we now en- believe from my soul that was it not for the sinjoy. I trust, however inconvenient or dispersed gle circumstance of obtaining information from the situation of our places of residence, however Europe with greater ease, that the National Leindifferent our accommodations, that these minor gislature should sit in the heart of the agriculand petty considerations will be thrown out of lural interest instead of running into cities. A view, when gentlemen consider the situation of removal into a large commercial city, where all those who have a right to be remembered when the inhabitants would give us good dinners and this measure is considered.
handsome entertainments, operating on our prejuI do most ardently hope, that this question, dices and taking advantage of unguarded moments, when once agitated, may forever be laid to rest, would insensibly bias our better judgment. The so that a confidence in the permanency of the agricultural and commercial interests are not the Government may inspire persons with a dispo- same. Agriculture can never amalgamate with sition to settle here and better our accommoda-commerce, but commerce may involve agricultions ; for, so long as this question is agitated, so ture in the expense of a war. There is nothing long proportionably will confidence be diminished under Heaven to induce me to remove to Philaand hope extinguished. Accommodations will delphia. If the seat of Government must be grow worse from year to year, and at length be moved, take it to any considerable inland town, made a pretence for removal. From year to year where honorable gentlemen may long enjoy great you will prevent others from making improve health. If you wish for good health and living, ments, and then easily make it a pretext for com- go to Lancaster. But as in my heart and soul I plaint against accommodations. The House, I believe that almost all the benefits are enjoyed feel convinced, will not do this; they will act dif- here that could be enjoyed in any other place, and ferently; they will encourage and promote this as this is fixed as the permanent seat of Governplace from its peculiar situation ; for nothing has ment by the law and the Constitution, I think it yet been said to justify an act pregnant with such most unwise on any consideration to attempt a mischievous consequences to the people and the removal, supposing no individual injury to result nation.
from removal. But, says an honorable gentleman, you wish to An honorable gentleman from New York (Mr. stifle inquiry. I ask for discussion, for informa- GARDENIER) supposes that the motion of the gention, for calculations; and if any honorable mem- tleman from Virginia (Mr. Lewis) was intended ber will convince me that it is Constitutional and 10 stifle discussion. I would not for a moment proper, and that it is demanded of us by the pub- jeopardize the property of the citizen, or give rise lic good, I myself, for public good must be pre- to a supposition that we had an idea of violating ferred to private feelings, will vote for it. But the Constitution or the laws. Does the gentlethe case is so plain that he who runs may read. man suppose the minority could be convinced by If the affairs of Government be not better trans- reason or argument? I never yet saw a minority acted here than at Philadelphia, they will not be which could. The gentleman says if we now worse. Shall we gain by going to Philadelphia, strike it down, it will be brought forward next in preference to staying here? Shall we gain by year. If there be a minority they will no doubt removal to a large commercial town, whose capi- bring it forward next year, if they have the whole tal and interests are much in the hands of for- session now ailowed for discussion. It is neither eigners domiciliated among them, a motley crew, improper nor impolitic at this time to decide it. a heterogeneous mixture, coming from every por- The gentleman from New Jersey has mentiontion of the globe ? Are we likely to increase in ed society. If we remove to a place where there our attachment to republican habits, by such a are abundance of ladies and good cheer, it is likely change? Certainly not.
we shall now and then be remiss in our duty. That On another account I should object to a re- might be a reason why this of all others is the moval to Philadelphia, if no other objection ex- place to sit in. If ever you want men to do their isted. Honorable and independent men may be duty, I have found it a good thing to place them influenced and biassed by external objects without where they have nothing to take off their attenthemselves knowing it; and this would be greatly tion; and rely upon it, wherever you increase promoted by going to a large commercial town. temptation, you encourage neglect of duty. Shall we acquire more local information there? I have no doubt that the honorable member No. Can a member from Georgia there procure who made this motion has given the sense of his better information in relation to his duty to his constituents; but something of local interest is to constituents, than he can here? No. Informa- be given up to a Government of compromise like tion, then, he can give you none, except it be to ours; much was given up to its origin and much prejudice you in favor of commerce, for which must be surrendered now. If I am not mistaken reason it is the worst place you can go to, as it Philadelphia herself is now tremblingly alive, may insepsibly induce you to sacrifice agriculture watching the direction of a great western road at the shrine of that commerce now jeopardizing i which is contemplated to lead to Baltimore, and
(Removal of the Seat of Government.
H. Or R.
by which she will feel herself injured. The transact cannot do it without neglecting their honorable gentlemen who feel it their true inter- duty. This city, as it is called, is about sixteen est to have communication with the Western years old, and is yet apparently in its very infancountry by any road which shall terminate at cy. We are told that about from ten to fifteer Fort Cumberland, are, in the true spirit of com- millions have been expended in bringing it to its merce, looking for pecuniary advantage over each present state. I ask how long it will be before other. I see the honorable gentleman smile. Let we can possibly be accommodated with any conPhiladelphia yield her rights to where they are venience ? Is there to be no end to the expendibetter placed for the national security. This road ture? We have not only expended these large is the great connecting link between the Western sums for the erection of buildings, but after that country and the Atlantic waters; and the strug- we must appropriate more for watching them and gle is to remove it so as to go nearer to Philadel- keeping them in repair. This very House has phia. The same objection which applies to Phila- caused an increase of the contingent expense of delphia applies to Baltimore. No great commer- not less than $5,000 at this time, which must be cial town is suited for the seat of Government. continued and perhaps increased every session. The honorable members of the House, duly weigh- It is acknowledged by members and citizens, ing this question, will certainly find it their duty that the city is laid out on an impracticable plan, to give faith to a law which they themselves and that in its present form it never will assume have enacted.
the shape of a city. Is it possible to produce an Mr. Milnor said this was a subject of great instance of any city laid out on this plan arriving importance, as was evinced by the anxiety of to perfection 3 All the inhabitants, if gathered those who had spoken against removal. He should together in one spot, would not be able to pay have hoped that the importance of the subject the expense of paving, lighting, and watching, would have induced genilemen to wish for time the avenues and streets, on account of their great to consider it maturely, that every gentleman width. It is said that the city must be concenmight have an opportunity fairly io deliberate, trated, and it is allowed that it would be absurd weigh well, and decide wisely upon it. It ap- to expect it to grow into importance unless it is pears, however, that gentlemen are determined to concentrated. If, then, we consider the policy of bring the principle to immediate discussion and the measure, it will be considered as impolitic in decision. This looked to him as if gentlemen the extreme to go on expending millions from were afraid that the House should have an oppor- year to year in endeavoring to effect objects which tunity of deliberating upon this subject. He re- cannot be finally effected after all that is lavished. collected that the subject was introduced in dis- A comparison has been made between the healthcussion of another question a few days ago, and iness of this city and Philadelphia. I am not treated with lightness by a gentleman who has prepared with documents now to make the comthis day moved an indefinite postponement; an- parison; but one fact I will state which can be other gentleman, to-day, could scarcely believe it proven; that during the long sitting at Philadelserious. Thus some who were opposed to it told phia the deaths among the members of Congress them that they cannot believe it is seriously were but three, perhaps only two, and I need only meant, while others on the same side deem it very recur to the last session to show that as many serious indeed, and therefore wished to strangle it deaths have occurred here in one session as in in its birth without further discussion. He hoped Philadelphia during the whole time Congress sat the good sense of the House would induce them there. to pause and consider before they decided on the Having no documents, I cannot go into minupresent question. He did not propose now to en- tiæ upon the comparative healthiness of the two ier fully into a discussion of its merits, but just places; but having been born and brought up in reply to a few observations of the gentlemen who the city of Philadelphia, and having also resided bad spoken against the resolution.
several years in the neighborhood of this place, I A gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Lewis) has am seriously of the opinion that Philadelphia is asked, if we can think of giving up the place by far the more healthy place. afier so much money has been expended? I will It has been said by the gentleman from Maryin turn ask him a question; where have these ten land that he should be at all times opposed to the or fifteen millions been expended? Let us look seat of Government being fixed in any large city, around and see what we have for them. It is and he has alluded to the influence which it might true that here we are convened in a splendid mau- possess over members of Congress. I will ask soleum, in which we are buried alive for four or the honorable 'member whether he feels that he five hours a day, and which, notwithstanding all should be influenced by considerations of that pathe efforts of gentlemen in speaking, is so ill con- ture? I have put this question home to individstructed for understanding, that we might almost ual members who have made this suggestion, but as well be immured in the silence of the tomb. have never yet found the man who thought that We have a very splendid house also for the Presi- he himself should be influenced in that way. He dent of the United States; but where is it? A has no suspicion of himself, but mistrusts his mile and a half hence, in another village; for as weaker friends. I cannot suppose that the Rep. to city, it is a burlesque upon the term to call this resentatives of the nation can possibly be so weak a city. We have also public offices, so distant or wicked as to suffer considerations of this kind that members who have the slightest business to l.to influence their better judgment. But I will
H. OF R.
FEBRUARY, 1808. admit it for a moment, for argument's sake. Is it one case which would not restrain them in the not contemplated by the friends of this place that other. Suppose that the seat of Government it will become a large city? And do they not should be fixed in a place so extremely unhealthy bring forward as an argument that we will not that members would not go to the spot designated, give this city a fair chance; that if we cease to feeling such a degree of terror for its character agitate this question, the city will grow and flour- (this I state merely as a possible case) as to inish? Whenever that time arrives, agreeably to duce them rather to decline the honor of an electhe gentleman's argument. it will be necessary to tion than come to the seat of Government; or remove, because a large city is not the place suppose it should be found that the city or place where Congress ought to sit.
was in danger of immediate invasion, so that I have been always of opinion that the interests there was a probability that the Congress might of agriculture and commerce are intimately blend- be seized and carried off. Even this is a possible ed with each other; that the interests of the one case. Would there in these cases be no remedy? cannot be greatly promoted without essentially | A great many other reasons might be brought foraiding those of the other. This being the second ward to show that the place for the seat of Gorcommercial nation in the world, it is necessary ernment was not a proper one, and yet it is conthat the Legislature of the Union should meet in teoded that we must submit
, and no alteration a place where they can obtain the best commer- could be made. Nothing more is meant by this cial information. From the very nature of our provision of the Constitution than that during the Government there is no danger, nor can any be time in which the seat of Government shall be apprehended, but that the agricultural interest of fixed in any place, we should have exclusive juthe nation will be fully represented on this floor. risdiction of that place; it never could be underThe growing interest of the Western country, stood to tie us down to that district. and their rapidly increasing population, will assur- It has been said ihat this would be a violation edly give a full representation to the agricultural of private contract, and that if we remove we interest of the country; but I cannot believe, at must make all losses good? I do not believe that the same time not wishing to derogate from their an implied contract of this nature is strictly bindmerits, that gentlemen born and educated in the ing on the Government. But I believe that those interior can be as capable of legislating here on individuals who have made purchases and imcommercial subjects, or that they can so clearly provements on the faith of the Government ought discern the connexion between agriculture and to be remunerated, and I hope they will be, if it commerce as in a large commercial city. I am should be thought ihe interest of the United States sorry that, upon various occasions, I have dis- that the seat of Government should be removed. cerned a degree of prejudice on the minds of some This subject was not contemplated by myself gentlemen against ihe commercial interest of this as being likely at this moment io occupy the atcountry. It never can be dangerous to the agri- tention of the House. I certainly expected the cultural interest while the representation of the opponents of the measure would be willing to latter on this floor so greatly overbalances the for- postpone a discussion that every gentleman might mer, which must always be the case.
ipform himself, and that it might be fairly and It has been objected to this proposition by some deliberately decided. We have heard many gentlemen, that ihe Constitution has fixed this as things asserted which ought to be inquired into. the permanent seat of Government, and that with I have been informed that a high and responsible out a violation of the Constitution we cannot officer of Government has said that the Governchange it. The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. ment does sustain a loss by continuing here. I Key) did not seem to insist so strongly upon this wish this to be ascertained. Why are we to be as some others, while however he was inclined to forced into a discussion? Why are gentlemen so this idea. What says the Constitution on this averse to inquiry? It appears to me that their subject? "Congress shall exercise exclusive legis- fears are alarmed; that they are convinced that "lation in all cases whatsoever over such district a mature consideration will operate against them.
(pot exceeding ten miles square) as may, by ces- I must, therefore, conclude that those gentlemen sion of particular States, and the acceptance of so desirous of immediate discussion must be of Congress, become the seat of the Government of opinion that further time will operate against 'the United States. The same section also goes them and in favor of the measure. I hope the on and says, “ And to exercise like authority over House will see the propriety of postponing the all places purchased by the consent of the Legis- subject at least for a few days. lature of the State in which the same shall be, An adjournment was now called for, and car' for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, ried. dock-yards, and other needful buildings."
Thus the two subjects are blended in the same section. The same contract appears to be made
Wednesday February 3. in relation to the one as in relation to the other. A Message was received from the President I will ask gentlemen do they believe that Con of the United States transmitting certain orders gress has not a right to discontinue a navy yard of the British Government against the maritime or a dock-yard? Not a gentleman in the House rights of neutrals, bearing date the eleventh of will say that Congress has not full power to do November, 1807. The Message, and documents this. I can see nothing to restrain them in the l accompanying the same, were read, and referred