« ZurückWeiter »
employment, and honorable services to which you are called in your native country.” This pertinent reply to Mr. Fur. stonwether's application being communicated to him, and made public, extinguished his hopes, and those of many other foreigners, by giving them clear and precise information of what was to be expected from an emigration to this country.
Second meeting of the fifteenth congress. Pursuant to a law of the last session, the second meeting of the fifteenth congress commenced on the 16th of November, 1818. A quorum of both houses appeared in their respective chambers on the same day, and received the president's message on the next.
It contained a pleasing view of the state of the nation, both in relation to its foreign and domestis
In times of tranquil prosperity, the head of the government finds few subjects of interest to communicate to the national representatives. With a fruitful and healthy season; with a revenue exceeding the estimates and adequate to all the exigencies of government; with a well replenished treasury; with peace at home, and a favorable aspect of affairs abroad; and with a population rapidly increasing, and expanding itself in every direction, the United States appeared “in the full tide of successful experiment."
Matthew Lyon's memorial. The incidents of the Seminole war; the situation of the bank of the United States ; the conduct of its officers, and the expediency of directing a prosecution to vacate its charter, formed the principal subjects of deliberation this session. Private applications for pecuniary relief were numerous. That of Matthew Lyon, formerly a representative from Vermont, and afterwards from Kentucky, was of a singular character. It stated that he was unjustly prosecuted under the sedition law of 1798, for a publication made before the passage of the law, of a paper expressive of his sentiments of the manner in which the executive branch of the government ought to be conducted, and for reading in the hearing of several persons a letter written by Joel Barlow, then in France, to a member of congress, in which the American government were severely censured for their conduct in relation to France. That by force of this prosecution, which he complains was conducted with great partiality and unfairness on the part of the prosecutor and the court, he was fined a thousand dollars, imprisoned several months, and finally compelled to pay the fine, and several hundred dollars costs.
That during his imprisonment, he was elected a 'member of congress, and thereby prevented from attending. His claim was for a reimbursement of his fine and costs, with the interest, and a compensation for the losses and injuries sustained by his imprisonment. From the peculiar character of this application, it was referred in the senate to the committee on the judiciary, who reported unfavorably, and the petition was negatived.
Mr. Calhoun's report on roads and canals. In compliance with a resolution of the house of representatives, at their former session, directing the secretary at war to report plan for the application of such means as are within the power of congress, for the purpose of opening and constructing such roads and canals as may deserve and require the aid of government, with a view to military operations in time of war, the transportation of munitions of war, and also a statement of the works of that nature which have been commenced, the progress which had been made and the means and prospect of their completion;" the secretary, on the 7th of January, presented an elaborate report to the house, stating, that in his opinion, a judicious system of roads and canals, constructed for the convenience of commerce, and the transportation of the mail, only, without reference to military operations, is itself among the most efficient means of defense; as the same roads and canals, with few exceptions, would be required for the operations of war, such a system, by consolidating the union, increasing its wealth and fiscal capacity, adds greatly to the resources of war.
“ There is,” remarks the secretary, “ no country to which a good system of roads and canals is more indispensable, than to the United States. Great as is the military capacity of the country, compared with the number of people, yet, when considered in relation to its vast extent, it must be obvious that it is difficult for the government to afford adequate protection to every part. This difficulty is in a great measure overcome by a good system of military roads and canals.” According to his views, in all questions of defense, there are three points which require special atten. tion: the castern, or Atlantic frontier, the northern, or Canadian border, and the southern, or the frontier of the gulf of Mexico.
For the first object, Mr. recommends opening a line of inland sloop navigation, from Boston to Savannah, which he estimates may be done by excavating one hundred
miles of canal, at an expense of three millions of dollars. Another measure of defense, reciprocal for both the Atlantie and Canadian frontier, is the opening a communication by canals, where practicable, and by artificial roads, where canalling is not feasible, between the Atlantic and the west. The points specified in the report, for this object, are, from Albany to the lakes; from Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond, to the Ohio; and from Charleston and Augusta, to the Tennessee river.
As particularly applicable to the defense of the Canadian frontier, a canal communication from Albany, to lake. George and lake Ontario, the secretary remarks, are necessary, both of which are in progress by the state of New York. A communication, also, from Pittsburgh to lake Erie, by the Alleghany river, which, in its main navigable branch, approaches within seven miles of the lake, is im. portant for the same object.
“ The real strength of the southern frontier,” the secretary remarks, " is the Mississippi, by the aid of which, assisted by the force of steam, an irresistible force can at once be concentrated at the point of danger.” The improve inent of the navigation of that river, therefore, is the most important measure of defense, for the south. Most of the improvements suggested, are of the first importance to the commerce, agriculture, manufactures, and political prospe. rity of the country; but are not, on that account, the less necessary for military purposes. Scarcely a road or canal can be designated, which is useful for the operations of war, which is not equally required for the industry and prosperity of the community.
The secretary recommends a survey the routs, and an estimate of the expenses, to be done principally by the en. gineers attached to the military service; and the employment of the army, to a certain extent, in the construction of the works, with a provision for extra pay, while employed in that service.
In answer to that part of the resolution which required information of what already had been done, he states, that a road from Plattsburgh to Sacket's harbor, opening a direct communication, on the most convenient roat between lakes Champlain and Ontario, had been commenced; one from the southern boundary of the state of Tennessee, to Madisonville, on lake Ponchartrain, within twenty-seven miles of New Orleans, fifty miles of which were already completed; and one from Detroit, to the rapids of the
Miami, seventy miles of which were finished. The course of the latter road lying through the public lands of the Michigan territory, brought into view, and rendered accessible, a large portion of fertile, country, which was rapidly settling
Employment of soldiers on roads and canals. This report of the secretary, brought under discussion an interesting question, how far the military could, with propriety, and consistently with the views with which the soldier enlisted, be employed in constructing roads and canals. The appropriate business of a soldier, is to fight, and not to labor; and fatigue duty had usually been confined to the erection of temporary fortifications, and the opening of military ways, necessary for immediate operations. The construction of a road, over which it might be convenient for an army to pass, at some future period, in case of a war, it was admitted, was but remotely connected with the military. On the ground, however, that employment was better than a state of idleness, and that for extra pay the soldier's consent might be obtained, a resolution passed the senate, by the casting vote of the president, appropriating ten thousand dollars to this object. The session terminated by the expiration of the period for which the house of representatives, and one third of the senate, were elected, on the third of March, 1819.
First session of the 16th congress-Message Admission of Maine and Missouri-Preparatory proceedings of Maine-Her case connected with Missouri-Proposed restriction-Origin of African slavery-Arguments in favor of allowing it in Missouri-Against its further extension-A compromise-Excitement occasioned by the discussion-Proceedings of several state legislatures, and of the corporation of the city of Savannah upon the subject-Tariff-Separation of the committee of commerce and manufactures-Report of the committee on manufactures-Tariff bill--Bill abolishing credit for duties--Auction bill-A navigation act-An act prohibiting intercourse with the British American colonies-Fourth census.
First session of the 16th congress. The first session of the 16th congress commenced on the 6th of December 1819. Mr. Clay was elected speaker by an almost unanimous vote. The president's message, communicated on the 7th, was a plain business-like state paper, the prominent parts of which were a detailed account of the Spanish negotiation; and of an unsuccessful attempt with the British cabinet to obtain a participation in their colonial trade.
Maine and Missouri. The subject of the admission of two new states, one at the eastern and the other at the western extremity of the union, and distant from each other about two thousand miles, from the importance of a question incidentally raised respecting Missouri, occupied almost the whole attention of congress. The question assumed a sectional character, and towards the close of the session was attended with more asperity, than any which had agitated that body since the declaration of war.
Proceedings of Maine. The district of Maine is separated from Massachusetts proper by the intervention of New Hampshire. The local situation of the two sections, clearly indicated a division, whenever the population and the wishes of the inhabitants of Maine should call for it. In June, 1816, an act passed the legislature of Massachusetts, making provisions for taking the votes of Maine, upon the subject of a separation; and providing for that event in case fiveninths of the whole number of votes returned were in favor of the measure. The act also provided for calling a convention of delegates from the towns in that district, by whom the votes should be received and counted; and on