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appertaining to the King of Great Britain as King of this country; and even whether the rupture of Great Britain and Spain could deprive, in justice, the United States of rights which they held under the Treaty of 1763, whilst they remained a part of the British Empire ? Whether, in case no such rupture had happened, the Treaty between Spain and that part of the Empire would have been dissolved by the Revolution ? &c., &c. He did not seem well to understand the principles into which such questions resolved themselves, and gave them the go-by, referring the claim of Spain principally to her conquests of the British possessions in North America.
He betrayed strongly the anxiety of Spain to retard the population of the Western country; observing that whenever sufficient force should arise therein, it would be impossible for it to be controlled; that any conciliating measures that might be taken now, would have little effect on their temper and views fifty or an hundred years hence, when they should be in force.
When we rose to take leave, he begged us to remember what he had said as to the inflexibility of Spain on the point of the Mississippi, and the consequences to America of her adherence to her present pretensions.
Nothing noted till
TUESDAY, MARCH 20TH.
Mr. Jay's report on the Treaty of Peace taken up.
Mr. Yates objected to the first resolution, which declares the Treaty to be a law of the land. He said the States, or at least his State, did not admit it to be such until clothed with legal sanction. At his request he was furnished with a copy of the resolution, for the purpose of consulting such as he might choose.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 21st.
The subject of yesterday resumed.
Mr. YATES was now satisfied with the resolutions as they stood. The words “constitutionally made," as applied to the Treaty, seemed to him, on consideration, to qualify sufficiently the doctrine on which the resolution was founded.
The second and third resolutions, urging on the States a repeal of all laws contravening the Treaty, (first, that they might not continue to operate as violations of it; secondly, that questions might be avoided touching their validity,) underwent some criticisms and discussions.
Mr. Varnum and Mr. Mitchell thought they did not consist with the first, which declared such laws to be void, in which case they could not operate as violations.
Mr. MADISON observed, that a repeal of those contravening laws was expedient, and even necessary, to free the courts from the bias of their oaths, which bound the judges more strongly to the State than to the Federal authority. A distinction too, he said, might be started possibly between laws prior and laws subsequent to the Treaty; a repealing effect of the Treaty on the former not necessarily implying the nullity of the latter. Supposing the Treaty to have the validity of a law only, it would repeal all antecedent laws. To render succeeding laws void, it must have more than the mere authority of a law. In case these succeeding laws, contrary to the Treaty, should come into discussion before the courts, it would be necessary to examine the foundation of the Federal authority, and to determine whether it had the validity of a Constitution, paramount to the legislative authority in each State. This was a delicate question, and studiously to be avoided, as it was notorious that, although in some of the States the Confederation was incorporated with, and had the sanction of, their respective constitutions, yet in others it received a legislative ratification only, and rested on no other basis.
He admitted, however, that the word “operate” might be changed for the better, and proposed, in its place, the words “be regarded," as violations of the Treaty,—which was agreed to without opposition.
Mr. King, in the course of the business, observed, that a question had been raised in New York, whether stipulations, as they might affect citizens only, and not foreigners, could restrain the States from legislating with respect to the former; and supposed that such stipulations could not.
The resolutions passed unanimously.
FRIDAY, MARCH 23RD.
The Report for reducing salaries agreed to, as amended, unanimously. The proposition for reducing the salary of the Secretary of Foreign Affairs to three thousand dollars was opposed by Mr. King and Mr. Madison, who entered into the peculiar duties and qualifications required in that office, and its peculiar importance. Mr. Mitchell and Mr. VARNUM contended, that it stood on a level with the Secretaryship to Congress. The yeas
nays were called on the question, and it was lost. A motion was then made to reduce the salary of four thousand, to three thousand five hundred. Mr. CLARK, who had been an opponent to any reduction, acceded to this compromise. Mr. King suffered his colleague to vote in the affirmative. There being six States for reducing to three thousand five hundred, and Mr. CARRINGTON being on the same side, in opposition to Mr. GRAYSON, Mr. Madison gave up his opinion to so great a majority, and the resolution for three thousand five hundred passed. The preceding yeas and nays on the motions for reducing to three thousand was then withdrawn, and no entry made of it. It seemed to be the general opinion that the salary of the Secretary at War was disproportionately low, and ought to be raised. The Committee would have reported an augmentation, but conceived themselves restrained by their commission, which was to reduce, not to revise, the Civil List.
Nothing of consequence till
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28th.
Mr. King reminded Congress of the motion on the nineteenth day of February for discontinuing the enlistments, and intimated that the state of things in Massachusetts was at present such that no opposition would now be made by the Delegation of that State. A committee was appointed, in general, to consider the military establishment, and particularly to report a proper resolution for stopping the enlistments.
The Virginia Delegates laid before Congress sundry papers from the Executive of that State relating to the seizure of Spanish property by General Clark, and the incendiary efforts on foot in the western country against the Spaniards, &c. No comment was made on them, nor any vote taken.
THURSDAY, MARCH 29TH.
The committee appointed to confer with the Treasury Board on the great business of a fiscal settlement of the accounts of the United States, reported that they be discharged, and the Board instructed to report an ordinance. Mr. King, in explanation, said, that it was the sense of the Committee and of the Treasury Board both, that commissioners should be appointed with full and final powers to decide on