Slike strani

Article X on the “mode of amending or revising the constitution," was taken up, read the third time, and passed.

The “ Miscellaneous Provisions of the constitution, were taken up, read the third time, and passed.

On motion, adjourned to 10 o'clock, A. M., to-morrow.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11, 1849. In Convention. Prayer by Rev. Padre Antonio Ramirez. Journal read and approved.

The Secretary submitted a report in reference to the duties and pay of the clerks, asked for by Mr. Brown's resolution, which was read, and ordered to lie on the table.

Mr. STEUART called for the consideration of the resolutions in relation to the mineral lands of California, submitted by him on the 9th inst.

Mr. Crosby. I should like to know what authority we have to pass such a reso. lution as this? As I understand it, it is merely recommendatory.

Mr. STEUART. I shall not detain the House by any argument in support of the resolutions. I believe they carry on their face a sufficient argument to in. duce every gentleman to vote for them. I will only say that, in bringing forward these resolutions, I was not influenced in any degree by the singular position in which this Convention is placed, but solely by the known desire of my constitu. ents, and the people in the gold mines. I will further say that, in conversation with some of the most intelligent merchants, the views expressed in these reso. lutions as regards the advantage of the gold dust being cast in ingots or bars, so as to form an article of commerce, were fully concurred in. I could also present to the House, but it must be a subject familiar to the minds of every one, some argu. ments as to the time and cost that it would require to establish a mint in California. It would require several years, if we look to the time required for the establishment of mints in other parts of the United States. The establishment of an assay office is preliminary to the establishment of a mint. But the chief object I have in view is to save to the people of California this source of revenue. There is one general feeling among all that class of persons who are engaged in mining operations, to make every person pay for the privilege of working the mines. They go further; they would exclude all classes who would refuse to pay. I have put this proposition in its simplest form. I ask merely an expression of opinion of this Convention as individual members. I believe that such an expression of opinion of the gentle. men now present here, known to be possessed of the best information as regards the sources of revenue of California, will have a very important bearing upon the action of Congres. I believe it is a measure so reasonable and so well grounded that Congress will not refuse to grant what we desire. They can do it without infringing any of the existing laws of the General Government for the col. lection of revenue. I leave it to the consideration of the House, with this single rëmark—that by the adoption of the article with respect to the public lands granted to California, you have tied up every source of revenue, and the whole burden of supporting the government-a burden very onerous in itself is thrown 'immediately, and as soon as taxation can be laid, upon the people. You have to resort to a measure more pregnant with mischief --more calculated to shackle the energies of the State than any other you could possibly adopt-I mean the exer. cise of that authority given to the legislature to borrow money to pay the expen. ses of the government.

Mr. MeČARVER. I rise to a point of order. There was a resolution offered hore a few days ago declaratory of the views of this House in relation to the pub. lic lands ; claiming from Congress the right to these lands on the part of the peo. ple of California. This resolution, it seems to me, should have the precedence, having been referred to the Committee of the Whole. I do not know that the

proposition of the gentleman from San Francisco, (Mr. Steuart) comes directly in conflict with it; but the resolution proposed by me covers the ground of the mi. ning country. I rise to inquire whether it is not entitled to the precedence ?

Mr. STEUART. I was not aware that any proposition of the kind had been offered. Why did not the gentleman make a motion to have his resolution taken up? I asked the House to take up the resolutions which I had offered on the subject of the mineral lands, and they are now the subject before the House.

The CHAIR. It seems to the Chair that these resolutions come before the House as a memorial, to be signed by the members.

Mr. McCARVER. I move to lay them upon the table. Mine certainly has the preference. The object of the two is very nearly the same.

Mr. Borts. The gentlemen are disputing about the preference of their resolu. tions. I hope the House will give neither the preference by postponing both of them indefinitely. As to the principle, which is necessarily involved in the pro. position of the gentleman from Sacramento, (Mr. McCarver,) I am much in favor of it in the right place; but I hope we will go on to make a constitution, and I hope that the Legislature, at its very first session, will pass a resolution request. ing the members of Congress from California and instructing the Senators to in. troduce such a plan, and vote for it, in the Congress of the United States. That course is infinitely more efficacious, sir; the Legislature can do what we cannot do; they can instruct those whom they elect; and they can at least do all we can do-request others. We have usurped very many of the powers of the Legisla. ture, but none to such an extent as this. To pass such a resolution here would be simply a petition to Congress signed by forty-six individuals. There is another objection. The Congress of the United States cannot prohibit the exportation of gold from California, without prohibiting it from every State in the Union. I cer. tainly would not like to sign a paper to send to Congress recognising the right of Congress to pass a law prohibiting the exportation of gold from this State. If they can pass a particular law for our benefit, remember, sir, they can pass a particular law for our oppression also. I think we had better lay all these matters on the table, never to be raised from it.

Mr. STEUART. It was a principle established in the formation of the constitution, and held from that time to the present, as regards the public lands, that they were held in trust by the General Government for the benefit of the whole United States. Congress is the guardian of that public property. This principle holds good in regard to any public property acquired at the expense of the blood and treasure of the United States. I thought the gentleman from Monterey, (Mr. Borts,) looking to the State from which he came, would be the last to deny such a principle. I do not propose to ask Congress to give us in perpetuity these pub. lic lands; but for a short period and for a specific object. Congiss having failed to give us the benefit of a territorial government, the least that we can expect is that she will grant us this source of revenue for the support of our State govern. men until we can adopt some system of taxation that will not be onerous to our citizens. The gentleman says that this will merely be a petition. Sir, he rather overlooks the fact that it proposes to be a series of resolutions adopted by this Convention, representing the people of California. We ask that a copy of these resolutions be placed in the hands of our Senators and Representatives, that they may be laid before Congress and receive the early hearing and speedy action of that body.

Mr. McCARVER. I beg leave to differ materially from my friend from Monte. rey (Mr. Botts.) The matter contained in both of these resolutions is a subject which I think the members of this Convention should take into consideration, and which comes very appropriately within their province. It is right and proper that the delegates of the people here assembled should declare their opinion that they believe this to be a portion of the public domain that they ought to have. We do not do it in an official capacity, but as the representatives of the wishes of the people, on our own responsibility. We know what the wishes of the people are on this subject, and if by the influence of this Convention we can carry out those wishes it is unquestionably our duty to do so.

Mr. McDougal. The proposition of the gentleman from San Francisco, (Mr. Steuart,) as I heard it read, struck me very forcibly as one of great interest and importance ; but inasmuch as the House is very anxious to get through with the constitution, I hope the gentleman will postpone his resolutions till to-morrow, when their minds will not be so much burdened with other matters.

Mr. STEUART. I called up the resolutions this morning at the request of a number of gentlemen. There was nothing else before the House that we could act upon. I would make one explanation in regard to the objections of the gen. tleman from Monterey (Mr. Botts.) There is not one word in all these resolu. tions about taxes or duties. The Constitution of the United States well provides that “ Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises; to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general wel. fare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."

Mr. Borts. I call the gentleman's attention to the 5th article to the 9th sec. tion, which says:

No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State. No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over those of another; nor shall vessels bound to or from one state be obliged to enter, clear, or pay duties in another.

Mr. STEUART. I am ready to meet the gentleman on that ground. I say it is not proposed to lay any tax or duty upon any article exported from this State. There is nothing of the kind in the resolutions. As well might the gentleman say that Congress has no right to establish a mint and make persons pay for hav. ing their gold assessed and coined. It is nothing more than the inspection laws of the State. Mr. Borts. The gentleman says there is no duty laid upon the exportation of

say there is a duty of one hundred per cent. ; a forfeiture of the whole amount—the largest duty I ever heard of.

Mr. ARAM. So far as relates to the leasing of the mines, I recollect in the old mines of the northwest, the United States endeavored to collect revenue from the mines situated there, and established agencies from the year 1826 up to 1844. But from the report of the Secretary of War on that subject, it appears that the expense of keeping up these agencies has overrun the income. That satisfied Congress that it was utterly impracticable for the General Government to make anything out of the public mines, and in compliance with memorials from the people of those districts the lands were sold. I think myself that Congress would willingly relinquish all claim to the gold regions; at least give the State the privi. lege of drawing an income from the working of the mines. It would be a source of very considerable revenue to the State. Those who worked them could be obliged to take out licenses at so much a month ; and they would be very willing to pay for the privilege, which would at the same time secure to them the protection of a good government.

On motion, the resolutions were laid upon the table.

The Schedule was then taken up, amended in the 5th section, by adding at the close thereof the words, “and on the question of the adoption thereof;" and thus amended, the article was passed.

The article on the Boundary was taken up, read a third time, and passed.

Mr. Gwin moved to take up the ordinance heretofore submitted by him ; but the motion was decided in the negative.

On motion, the Convention took a recess till 3 o'clock, P. M.

any article. I


AFTERNOON SÉSSION, 3 O'CLOCK, P. M. On motion of Mr. WOZENCRAFT, the Committee on Printing were discharged from further duty in relation to that subject.

Mr. TEFFT offered the following resolution, which, after some discussion, was adopted :

Resolved, That certified copies of this constitution in English and Spanish, be presented to the present Executive of California, and that 8,000 copies in English, and 2,000 copies in Spanish, by ordered to be printed and circulated.

Mr. STEUART then called up his resolutions relative to the mineral lands of California.

Mr. McDougal said he was opposed to that portion of the resolution fixing a penalty; and also to that portion relating to the establishment of an essay office instead of a mint. While he was in favor of obtaining revenue from this source, he did not entirely approve of the mode proposed by the gentleman from San Fracisco. He thought if these lands could be obtained from Congress, the neces. sary regulations in relation to them should be made by the Legislature.

Mr. STEUART recapitulated his former remarks in defence of the resolutions.

Mr. SEMPLE. The most important objection I have to these resolutions, is in reference to the establishment of an essay office instead of a mint. It is said here that we do not want a mint ; that it would be impracticable for the Government of the United States to get one up and put it in operation short of three or four years. Now, sir, I contend that we could get a mint almost as soon as we could get an assay

office. It will take no such time to erect one as the gentleman supposes. I judge from the private mints established here by individual enterprize ; if they can get up mints in a few weeks, the Government of the United States certainly can in a few months. What object is there in getting an assay office? What protection will it afford the community ? Every gold digger knows what gold is, and there are very few, if any in California, who have not seen enough of gold dust to tell it at a glance. There is no danger of imposition. Again, you require a forfeiture of the entire amount of gold to prevent smuggling. If any man under. takes to carry off his own bag of gold dust because he does not choose to pay a duty of one per cent. to have it cast in ingots, or because he may be ignorant of the law of Congress upon the subject, he is compelled to forfeit the entire sum, which

may be all he possesses. This seems to me to be a very improper restriction, and I think it would be very inexpedient for us to ask Congress to pass such a law. I think, instead of having cause to be grateful to the Government at Washington for such protection, we would find it to be a curse.

I see no objection to the first resolution, soliciting Congress to give up for a series of years, all the revenue which may be derived from the renting, leasing, or otherwise authorized occupation of the gold placers. That; I think, we are en. titled to, and I believe the unanimous opinion of the Convention is in favor of ob. taining from Congress, as a matter of justice, what revenue can be derived from these lands, though there may be some difference of opinion as to the mode.

Mr. STEUART. I do not know, sir, what kind of mints the gentleman refers to; but we have only one reliable way of judging of these things, and that is, by reference to operations at home. We well know that the establishment of a mint in North Carolina and in Louisiana, has been attended with immense expense, and they are not yet in as successful operation as the mint in Philadelphia. We all know that for years and years back, with all the commercial influence of the great emporium of the United States, they have in vain sought to obtain from Congress the establishment of a mint at the city of New York. I have no doubt that the Congress of the United States will establish a mint in California. But this will not interfere with it. An assay office is part and parcel of it. The es. tablishment of a mint will require much time, and will be very expensive in such a country as this where every species of labor is so high. We want something

in the meantime, An assay office can be set in operation in a short time. In regard to the advantage of having the gold cast in ingots, I have only to say this: that in conversation with the most intelligent merchants, they all concurred in the opinion that the ingots so cast, would be a much better article of commerce than either the gold dust or the coin of the country. We all know the vacillating character of the coin of the country.

When I left the United States, two years ago, the ounce was $15 45; in Panama, $19; in Lima, $18; and at Valparaiso, $17 25. This is the case all over the world. I am perfectly persuaded that the plan proposed in the resolution would be the nseans of a large commerce directly into the country.

Mr. SHERWOOD. I am in favor of the mines being left free for everybody to work under certain regulations; but I am not in favor of the United States owning them. I want the State of California to own them. I am in favor of a mint, and I am opposed to bars or ingots or any thing of the kind. I want the round dollar, sir, or the $5 or $10 or $20 gold pieces to circulate here. I want the coin of the United States. In regard to the penalty of forfeiture fixed by the gen. tlemen, I am opposed to determining the fine here for any infraction of the laws regulating this matter. I think we should pass a general resolution in regard to opening these mines for everybody, asking Congress to grant them to the State of California, and then making such regulations in regard to them as we may deem proper. Believing, therefore, that the gentleman is entirely mistaken as to the ground which this Convention and the people of California should take, I shall vote against the resolutions, and I hope they will not receive the sanction of the House. Mr. WOZENCRAFT. I do not think it would be at all

to throw


the mines to everybody. The American population should be protected in their right to the profits resulting from these mines. The gentleman himself (Mr. Steuart) does not design that they shall be thrown open to foreigners, without restriction, nor do I believe such is the desire of any person here. The resolution provides that they shall first become naturalized. It is very proper that they should be thrown open to all American citizens; but we see already that thousands are coming from Europe, to draw wealth from these mines and carry it out of the country. They have no right to do it; they contributed in no measure to the ac. quisition of this territory, and they have no permanent interest in its welfare.

Mr. GILBERT. As this is a question of considerable importance, and as I agree in part with the gentleman from San Francisco, (Mr. Steuart,) I will endeavor to state in what I disagree with bim. He says in the first resolution :

That the Congress of the United States be, and they are hereby respectfully but earnestly solicited to give up to the people of California for a series of years, or so long as may be deemed expedient, all the revenue which may be derived from the renting, leasing, or otherwise authorized occupation of the gold placers.

Now, sir, if I understand the gentleman, by that, he means that the United States shall give up the mines to the State of California ; but he goes on to say :

That in order to secure to the people of California a certain, immediate, and abundant revenue from the working of the gold mines, it is hereby recommended,

1st. That the Congress of the United States throw open for a given time the whole placer country to the thousands who are pouring in by every ocean port, as well as inland communica. tion, requiring by proper enactments and under regulations to be established by law, every gold. seeker to take out a license or permit for a given and stipulated time, from offices to be established for that purpose at convenient places; and further requiring every such operative, if not a citizen of the United States, to take the oath of allegiance, so long as he shall be a resident of California. The fee or charge for such license or permit not to exceed five dollars per month, and the net proceeds arising therefrom to be paid into the treasury of California,

I'apprehend, sir, that if the Congress of the United States should consent to give to California these mines, they would at the same time be willing to give us the whole control of them; that we and not the Congress of the United States

« PrejšnjaNaprej »