Slike strani

H. OF R.

Military Courts.

MARCH, 1808.

no occason for it-let each man act upon his own ground." And yet, this alleged inconsistency in opposition is a reason for inferring that no opposition ought to be made. It is expected, it seems, that those who with so little success have attempted to make proselytes from the majority, should at least convert each other. Suppose it done, the result is still the same. For if one gentleman oppose the bill for one reason and I for another, whether he embraces my opinion or I his, we are both still in opposition; unless indeed the arguments are so balanced as by a sort of political equation to annihilate each other, or, like bodies of equal momentum, meeting in opposite directions, both fall to the ground-thus leaving each party without any opinion whatever. It is urged that an objection on the score of accommodation to witnesses being removed, by reducing the sphere of personal attendance to one hundred miles, opposition should cease. But, from what quarter did that objection come? From a gentleman who, now that he has obtained his amendment, may, and probably will, support the bill. Certainly that gentleman has not been so unreasonable as to cavil against his own proposition. But does it follow that this very amendment, so desirable to him, may not be a cause of exception to another?

of the mere say so of the person who uttered this, and equally sensible of the little weight that my opinion would have in this House, opposed to his naked assertion, for the gentleman did not condescend to tell us how the bill does not enlarge the powers of military courts. Yet, I aver that it does. And as I feel myself under the necessity (from which that gentleman is happily exempt) of supporting my opinions in this House by reason, (or perhaps as the gentleman would choose rather to style it, by "clamor,") I will proceed to state why. I am extremely happy, if the epithet was intended for me, that I am able to clamor loud enough to be heard in this spacious Hall, when I say that this bill does increase the power of the military court, inasmuch as it subjects to its commands the person of the citizen, heretofore exempt from them, by giving the military authority not merely the aid of the civil, but committing the civil authority, as it were, into its custody. The civil authority is the mere puppet of the military court in bringing the witness before it; and this was one of my principal objections to the bill yesterdayone which has since been illustrated and enforced much more ably than I could pretend to do it. This bill was brought in for the express purpose of providing for an existing defect of power in military courts; and shall we be told, by those too who have presented it as a remedy for that defect, that it contains no such remedy-that it does not enlarge their power! But this clamor that we are "clamoring" against public measures, and against this bill as one of them, is totally lost upon me. It is not the first time that I have heard the charge -not within these walls, but within the walls of Congress. I recollect the time-perhaps the gentleman himself recollects it; we then sat in Philadelphia-when, on an occasion not unlike the present, a learned gentleman, who now presides upstairs, in the other House, (Mr. MARSHALL,) accused me of "clamoring" against a bill that went But it is said, that you do not propose to give to enlarge the privileges of the military at the ex- the military, authority over the person of the citi pense of those of the citizen. It has always been zen to bring him before them, in the first instance, the fashion with those "who feel power and for- nor to punish him for disobedience in the second; get right," to speak of all opposition to their un- that the process is civil, and the punishment to be lawful measures as a mere popular catch; and if inflicted by the civil court. Upon this reasoning the gentleman should ever get out of the major- the most terrible and infernal court that ever exity, (a case, indeed, hardly supposable,) he will isted, a religious court martial, may be justified— find this artillery turned against himself; as in a the Inquisition! The holy fathers never imbrue fortress it is always turned, by those who have their hands in the blood of their victims; not they. gained possession, against those excluded from it. Their monkish garments are never stained with It is a coarse instrument, which the most clumsy such heretical dye. They only hand over the may wield. But it seems that these "clamors" wretch to the civil authority, and the secular arm are at war with each other, since some oppose the is raised to inflict their merciful sentence. Now, bill on this ground, some on that. And the gen-in like manner, suppose an obstinate witness handtleman (Mr. NICHOLAS) asks, how are these con- ed over by the military to the civil power, in this tradictory arguments to be reconciled? I thought case the mere pandar, the cat's-paw (to use a that, although not a very great while, he had stiil coarse but strong illustration) of the court martial. been long enough in opposition to know that it is He has stood mute, for instance, in their dread the chief benefit of that unhappy and proscribed presence. Shall the poor wretch suffer the punstate, that measures may be opposed on differ-ishment said to have been inflicted in times of ent grounds, whilst those who support them must yore upon those who stood mute before a civil do it consistently. I have often heard it said tribunal? Shall he undergo the peine forte et by my worthy friend, (Mr. MACON.) in former dure, with a weight upon his breast, giving him to times, when caucusses were upon the tapis, and drink of the ditch water nearest the jail, or rather enforced by the necessity of concert, "There is nearest to the halberts, and there left till he ex

Depositions, it is said, may be the means of saving the life of an innocent man-and as they may save, so also they may take it away, and, therefore, we object to them. The tone of voice and the expression of countenance of a witness is oftentimes more important than the naked words which he utters. It is for this that the law requires the witness to be confronted with the accused, and subjects him to cross-examination. But moreover, an artful and intriguing man, if depositions be admitted, has an opportunity to screen his guilt, or certainly may protract his trial to any indefinite period of time.

MARCH, 1808.

Military Courts.

H. OF R.

pires? This is said to have been the old common to be totally inefficient, the chief objection to it law practice, (although for the honor of humanity will be the precedent-the principle which it esI hope it never was,) and yet the old punishment tablishes. But I had rather see it stifled in its is hardly more monstrous than the new crime. I birth, than dying a lingering death from inherent do trust, however, that the courts of the United natural defect; a burden on our statute book. States will be found not to possess a mere discre- But we are told, over and over again, that this tion upon this subject, but to be under the obliga- bill is for the benefit of the militia. And I think tion of a solemn duty to refuse their aid in carry-one gentleman (to whom I really did not pay ing this unconstitutional and tyrannous law into very strict attention-as I could not conceive effect; and I venture to say that, should it pass, what relation the reports previous to the Presispirits would not be wanting sufficiently inde- dential election, seven years ago, or even the empendent to give them an opportunity of resisting bargo itself, although a more recent occurrence, the encroachment. It impossible (whatever could have to this subject,) mentioned some proargument it may be supposed to afford for his im- visions in his native State giving power to courts peachment, or removal) that any judge of the martial. How long is it since the State of MaryUnited States can so far prostitute his function land had a regular army? What are State courts and his oath, as to punish a man for contempt martial? Almost civil tribunals, really for the not of him nor of his court whence the process benefit of the militia. But if it were proved that nominally issues, but of an arbitrary tribunal, to there exists an extremely oppressive regulation in which the person of the citizen cannot be lawfully a particular State, even although worse (which I subjected, but by his voluntary consent. do not admit the one cited to be) than that contained in this bill, it is no more to the purpose than that, because by the law of South Carolina a witness may, as we are told, be committed to close jail if he cannot give security for his appearance, therefore, this bill ought to pass; nor can I any more comprehend the argument, that because the military code ought to be intensely severe in proportion as the people are free, therefore, we should extend to the soldier the privileges of the citizen. I can neither agree with the premises, nor with the conclusion. Of one thing I am certain, that few men (I was about to have said no man) can agree to both.

Among the various objections to the details of this bill (and I am almost ashamed to mention mine, after what we have heard) it is not the least with me, that when a freeman is summoned -a freeman, not a slave who has sold himself to be shot at for sixpence a day-when a freeman is summoned before a court of law, by a subpoena duces tecum, and gets into that court, he has not merely the aid of counsel, but is under the protection of the court itself. He may object to producing the paper in question, and state his reasons therefor, upon which the court must decide; not according to its arbitrary will, but by fixed, known principles of law, and upon that decision, accu- But when our militia are in actual service, how rately reported by professional men, the reputa- are courts martial to affect them? How are they tion of the judge is staked, not only as a man of to be tried? By their friends-by their kinsmenlearning but of integrity. If it be not evidence, by their neighbors-by their own officers; I might or if it tend to criminate the possessor, the court will say, and I do say, your articles of war to the connot compel him to produce it. But by this bill a trary notwithstanding-by their equals. For I man goes (ex parte) to a judge, and satisfies him believe that when the militia are in actual service that you have some paper in your possession rela- it would be more than any man's life is worth, tive to the point in dispute; and upon his state- whatever be his rank, to attempt to govern them ment the judge issues his subpoena duces tecum- by these articles of war-by the bloody scourge, to bring the paper before his court? Not at all. which may with impunity be whirled over the It is not ducere but ferre. You are not to bring heads of hapless slaves, of beings who have but to carry-and fetch and carry at the beck of sold their blood for halfpence-and sold it well military despotism. You are to be carried with too-base as the metal given in exchange for it. your papers into a court martial, where, without The regular army consists not of men like the the benefit of counsel, or law, your pockets may militia, but of the scouring of jails and lazarettos, be rummaged-rifled of their contents, whether not your own merely, but of Europe. On this evidence or not. This is a distinction which I subject I never had but one opinion, and I will meant to have taken yesterday between the mili-express it as long as it is agitated. This bill contary subpoena and the civil one; that when you cerns the militia! I am myself a militiaman and get into the court martial you are ruled by no ought not to be blind to my own benefit. The principles of law, for they are not bound to know militia have nothing to do with it; it was not inthem. A military man does not implicate his tended for them-it is for men of different, totally character by not having the qualifications neces- different character-men more susceptible of dissary for a judge-and accordingly, the civil court cipline; and that perhaps is the reason why, with becomes the blind instrument, whereby papers some, the militia is not a favorite instrument of may be forcibly extorted by the military tribunal, defence. Our substantial farmers and planters, which, if the parties were in the presence of the and their sturdy sons, cannot be managed like civil court, it would not suffer to be produced in brute beasts, cannot be driven by this favorite evidence. This is not only a supposable case, but discipline-discipline indeed with a vengeance— must and will happen, if there be any efficiency in and I trust in God they never will. this bill. If, on the contrary, it should turn outIt is a matter of very great surprise to me that 10th CoN. 1st SESS.-58

H. OF R.

Military Courts.

MARCH, 1808.

the first President of the United States-it is im-seph Calhoun, George W. Campbell, Richard Cutts, possible to pass over the name of that man with- John Dawson, Josiah Deane, Joseph Desha, John W. out some expression of respect, and yet it is im- Eppes, William Findley, James Fisk, Meshack Frankpossible to express not merely what we ought, lin, Peterson Goodwyn, Isaiah L. Green, John Heister, but even what we feel-I say it is a matter of William Helms, James Holland, David Holmes, Bensurprise to me that this great and good man, who jamin Howard, Daniel Ilsley, Richard M. Johnson, Walso long presided at the helm of this Government, ter Jones, William Kirkpatrick, Nehemiah Knight, and in its infancy, the most arduous period of it, John Lambert, John Love, Robert Marion, William too; who waged a bloody war on the frontier, McCreery, John Montgomery, Nicholas R. Moore, Jereboth with militia and regulars for then our situa- Newbold, Thomas Newton, Wilson C. Nicholas, John miah Morrow, John Morrow, Roger Nelson, Thomas tion was different from what it is now we were Porter, John Rhea of Tennessee, Matthias Richards, weak and the enemy was strong-with all his Ebenezer Seaver, Dennis Smelt, John Smilie, Jedehonest prejudices in favor of military life (for no diah K. Smith, John Smith, Henry Southard, Clemman more highly respects the real soldier than Ient Storer, John Taylor, George M. Troup, Daniel C. do, whatever I may think of those who sell their Verplanck, Jesse Wharton, Robert Whitehill, Isaac birthright of freedom for a mess of pottage-a Wilbour, Alexander Wilson, and James Witherell. bare subsistence) with all his well-founded military partialities, and no man had stronger, should have conducted this Government for eight years, and that then it should have fallen into the hands of a successor, of whom I will say no more than that he had a very strong penchant for military force; (as the books of our Treasury unfortunately will show) whether he was calculated to figure at the head of an army, it is not necessary to say: that during all this time and under such circumstances, it should never have been discovered until to-day that this power was necessary to courts martial. How happens it that this great truth has slept so long? We waged a seven years' active war against Great Britain, and yet this important truth never started into light under a Washington or Montgomery. It was destined to be ushered in under far different auspices. I wish to be understood as having no reference to any of the co-ordinate authorities about us. If I were disposed to take a range in that direction, which I certainly am not, ample opportunity has been afforded me by one of the friends of the bill, who has declared to you that the reputation of the Executive, as well as of the Commander-in-Chief, is staked upon the trial, to which this bill is intended to be auxiliary. A declaration of this sort, coming from a different quarter, would have met with a very different reception from this, then, almost slumbering assembly. Made by certain gentlemen it would have roused a spirit of general asperity. I, however, deny it-I do not believe it; I will not believe that the character of the President of the United States depends upon the trial, so often bandied about this House. I should be sorry that it did: or rather I ought to rejoice; for certainly no man's reputation could be in safer custody than the reputation of the President in such a case would be. It would be in the hands of those who are the breath of his nostrils, who live and breathe and have their very existence and being in the sunshine of his favor, and over whose decisions he must finally exercise complete and efficient control.

NAYS-Lemuel J. Alston, William Blackledge, Thomas Blount, Epaphroditas Champion, Martin Chitenden, Joseph Clay, Matthew Clay, George Clinton, jr., John Clopton, Howell Cobb, John Culpepper, Samuel W. Dana, John Davenport, junior, Daniel Murell, James Elliot, William Ely, Francis Gardner, Edwin Gray, John Harris, William Hoge, Robert Jenkins, James Kelly, Joseph Lewis, jun., Edward St. Loe Liv ermore, Edward Lloyd, Matthew Lyon, Nathaniel Macon, Josiah Masters, William Milnor, Daniel Montgomery, jun., Thomas Moore, Jonathan O. Mosely, Gurdon S. Mumford, Timothy Pitkin, jun., Josiah Samuel Riker, John Rowan, James Sloan, Samuel Quincy, John Randolph, John Rea of Pennsylvania, Smith, Richard Stanford, William Stedman, Samuel Taggart, Benjamin Tallmadge, John Thompson, Abram Trigg, Jabez Upham, Archibald Van Horn, Killian K. Van Rensselaer, David R. Williams, and Marmaduke Williams.

Mr. FISK supported the bill and Mr. J. CLAY opposed it, when the question was taken and the bill passed-yeas 61, nays 42, as follows:

YEAS-Evan Alexander, Willis Alston, jr., Ezekiel Bacon, David Bard, Joseph Barker, Burwell Bassett, John Boyle, William A. Burwell, William Butler, Jo

Resolved, That the title be, "An act concerning Courts Martial and Courts of Inquiry."

MONDAY, March 14.

Mr. VAN HORN presented a petition of sundry inhabitants of Washington county, in the District of Columbia, praying that so much of an act of Congress, passed the third of May, one thousand eight hundred and two, as directs that no writ of capias ad satisfaciendum shall issue within the said District, in any case where the sum does not exceed twenty dollars, may be repealed, for the reasons therein specified. The said petition was read, and ordered to be referred to the standing Committee for the District of Columbia, appointed on the twenty-seventh of January last.

Mr. MACON said, he held in his hand a resolution on a subject which he wished to present to the consideration of the House. It was, to direct a committee of the House to inquire into the propriety of allowing a larger discount for prompt payment of the purchase money for public lands. The present discount was eight per cent., not so great as the profit which was derived from some stock of the United States; and thus an inducement was offered to withhold payment. It seemed to him that it would be good policy at this time to allow a greater discount for payment of ready money. Influenced by these reasons he offered the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Committee on Public Lands be

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Mr. Love moved that the Committee rise, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

The motion was supported by Messrs. Love, LEWIS, KEY, and NELSON, and opposed by Messrs. ALSTON, MILNOR, LIVERMORE, J. CLAY, SMILIE, KELLY, and SOUTHARD.

The supporters of this motion wished the House to rise in order to give time for procuring calculations, &c., to show the policy and expediency of removing the Mint from Philadelphia to Washington. The arguments in favor of this motion were nearly the same as those in favor of the continuance of the seat of Government at Washington; in addition to that, the advantage of water for carrying on the works was stated, and which could not be had in Philadelphia. An objection to the passage of this bill also was, that a law is now in existence for prolonging the Mint at Philadelphia till the 4th of March next; and by now continuing that law it would appear that gentlemen were afraid to trust the merits of its continuance at Philadelphia to an inquiry which might be had in the meanwhile.

The opponents of the motion contended that a removal from Philadelphia would be impolitic in the extreme, inasmuch as bullion could not be had at Washington; that the banks there were too limited in their operations; that the United States now possessed property in Philadelphia, houses, vaults, &c., which could not be disposed of to advantage; that the superintendents and workmen were residents at Philadelphia, probably would not remove, and others certainly could not be had at the seat of Government; that the expense of removal, also, of materials, machinery, &c., and the erection of others here, would create a very great expenditure of money by the United States. It was also contended that the law for the continuance of the Mint at Philadelphia expired on the 4th of March last.

The motion for rising of the Committee was negatived by a large majority.

A motion was made by Mr. J. CLAY to strike out of the bill 1809, the time at which the bill provides that the further prolongation shall commence, and insert 1808, as the law was supposed to have expired on the 4th of March Carried.

H. OF R.

The House concurred with the term of five years for its further continuance at Philadelphia, after some observations of Mr. LEWIS against it, 58 to 28. And the bill was ordered to a third reading to-morrow.

The Committee rose and reported the bill as amended; when the House agreed to consider the report, 64 to 23.

Mr. Love moved that the further consideration of the report of the Committee of the Whole be postponed till to-morrow.-Negatived, yeas 29.


Mr. QUINCY. It is my intention to offer a resolution to be considered and adopted by this House. Its object is information concerning important public relations. And when it is recollected, that three times during the present session, motions, having a similar object, have been refused even consideration by the House, I shall not need an apology, if, availing myself of the common privilege, I make a preliminary elucidation of the principles which ought to induce the adoption of such a resolution.

When we take a view of those two great nations, both of which so deeply interfere with our interests, and so cruelly affect our rights, it is impossible not to perceive a remarkable difference in the state of our information concerning our relations with each. Respecting Great Britain almost every thing, respecting France almost nothing, has been officially divulged. As to the former, there is scarcely any information we can ask, which we do not already possess. As to the latter, there is scarcely any, of which we are not in want. So far as it respects this House, (for on the degree of last.-knowledge, which it is permitted the nation on this subject to obtain, I say nothing,) all the great points of controversy with Great Britain, except what relates to the rejected treaty, have been communicated. Portions of the instructions of our Government to the American Minister; their development of the negotiations and their view of the motives and principles of conduct of the Bri

At a period like the present, when the least experienced eye can discern the clouds on our horizon, and when every individual feels in his own embarrassments, and sees in those of others, ruin spreading over the country; if any principle be clear-if there be any, to which every man, of whatever party, must be compelled to assent, it is, that the official information, existing within the country, touching any of our legislative duties, should be in the possession of this House. We ought to rest content with the concealment of nothing which can throw light on our path, and aid us under the burden of a great legislative responsibility. This is no time for the refinements of Constitutional delicacy. If we have reason to think that we are suffered to remain in ignorance of important facts, there ought to be no further delay in asking for the communication of them. This is the twentieth week of our session. If it be ever to have a close, its period cannot be far distant, certainly it will not be considered untimely to ask ourselves these questions-what is the state of our information concerning our foreign relations, derived from official sources? In what respect is it complete; and in what is it deficient? In replying to these questions, I shall elucidate the principles of the resolution I mean to offer.

H. of R.

tish Ministers; even the official replies of these Ministers as to the affair of the Chesapeake, to the remonstrances of ours, have not been withholden. But altogether different is the state of things, in relation to France. Here all our information is the most scanty and meager. We have only very unsatisfactory and partial explanations of her policy or her decrees. And we have not had communicated to us any of the correspondence of our Minister at Paris, with the American Government, touching either the one or the other, or illustrative of any of his sentiments, concerning the projects of France. In stating this distinction between the state of our official knowledge respecting these nations, I would not be understood, as at this time uttering a complaint, or as impeaching the motives of the Executive in developing on the one side, and withholding on the other. Grant the ignorance, in which we have been kept, as to our French relations, has thus far been wise, ought we to be content to remain in it any longer? If it can be made probable, much more if it can be made certain, that important information is in the possession of our Government, which, from its nature, must have a material influence on our deliberations, can we fulfil our duty, if we fail, in a Constitutional way, to make an exertion to obtain it?

Foreign Relations.

MARCH, 1808.

past, and guilty of new injuries to us, obstructed the Mobile, threatened the Mississippi, and with her regular troops invaded the old territories of the United States, carrying away our citizens and their property. In all this annual development of our public relations, I observe but one omission. There is no mention of France. Yet then, as now, she was the chief arbiter among the nations of Europe; theopen ally of Spain; and in various particulars, both her conduct and her claims materially affected our rights. I should not notice this omission were it not characteristic. The same occurs, in every other annual Message of the President, from that time to the present. In none of them is there any direct allusion, much less statement of our relations with France. Yet Tunis and Tripoli, the Barbary Powers, and our Indian neighbors, occupy a wide space, and make a distinguished figure in all these communications.

With Great Britain we have now a specific negotiation depending, and there may be reasons of State at such a moment for refraining to give immediate publicity to our relations with her. But, with France, no such negotiation exists. The decrees of the French Government are public acts. Official explanations of those decrees ought to have been demanded, and doubtless have been given. Mr. Armstrong's views of the disposition and tentions of that Government, must have been transmitted to ours. It is impossible that there should be, in the nature of things, any good reason why this information should be concealed from this House; even supposing that it might be wise to withhold it from the public.

I would not be thought to notice this omission for the purpose of asserting it was wise, or the contrary, nor yet to excite any suspicion of improper motives; but I state it merely as a fact materially evincing our want of official light on the subject to which the resolution I offer refers. Happy would it be if the subsequent discoveries of the same session allowed us to believe that France even then was wholly inattentive to our national course, and neither interfered with our interests, nor attempted to exert any influence over them. But we are not permitted to indulge such a delusion. In the succeeding month, by a call from the Senate for documents concerning the complaints of France against the trade of St. Domingo, it was discovered that, previous to that Message, difficulties did exist between that Govin-ernment and ours relative to the exercise of our commercial rights. The character of the French Minister's language to our Government, communicated in the Message of the 10th of January, 1806, I shall not pretend to describe, but I will cite some passages from his letters to our Secretary of State contained in that Message. Concerning our trade with St. Domingo, Mr. Turreau says: "The only way open for the redress of these complaints, is to put an end to the tolerance which produces them." And again: "Your sitowards me, and that of your Government towards Congress, imposes upon me the duty of recalling to your recollection the said official note, and of renewing to you my complaints upon an abuse as shocking as contrary to the law of nations." It is very remarkable that Mr. Turreau himself makes the silence of our Government to Congress" on the relations of his nation a subject of official complaint. Even the French Minister is not satisfied that his great nation should make no figure in this Annual Message.

I fear the House do not realize the utter deficiency of our official knowledge, in this direction; we are in the habit of collecting facts and statements from letters and newspapers, and other general sources. We confound the result of these,lence with that which flows to us through official channels; from which we ought to draw the great certainties, on which should rest our public conduct. To enable the House to possess a general view of our official knowledge on this side, I shall recur to the first session of the Ninth Congress, and notice the Executive communications from that period. Our foreign relations began about that time materially to alter, from a peace to a war aspect. At the opening of that session, in December, 1805, the President of the United States, He proceeds: "France ought to expect from by annual Message, told us, that private armed the amity of the United States, and His Majesty ships, like pirates, were plundering our property, ( charges me, sir, to request, in his name, that they and committing on our citizens acts of atrocious'interdict every private adventure which, under barbarity; that public armed ships were hovering any pretext whatever, may be destined to St. upon our coast and annoying our commerce; that Domingo." And, last of all, Mr. Turreau, that new principles had been interpolated into the law a firm determination of his master's mind might of nations; that Spain, refusing compensation for not be mistaken by our Secretary of State, tells

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