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must have lost by the change of ratio, the sum of $774,048, and Virginia $1,165,384. It would be an easy matter to show the effect which this measure had upon every State in the Union; but it would be foreign to my purpose, and I shall therefore decline it, with barely observing, that it is evident a considerable majority of the States were gainers by the measure.
others who had paid full price for them; and in order to effect their object, they passed certain acts by which they depreciated even their specie certificates to four shillings on the pound. And by way of recompense to the soldiers for the loss they had sustained from the depreciation on their certificates, they made them very liberal donations of the unappropriated lands of the State, giving In addition to the injury sustained by the State to the common war soldier six hundred and forty of North Carolina from the change of ratio, I must acres. And here, sir, I will beg leave to remark, beg leave to mention another, which I have un- that these were not what are commonly called derstood from the Commissioners who attended Crown lands, but lands which had been granted to the settlement of her accounts with the Union, by the Crown before the Revolution. I make this she suffered from having her vouchers for currency remark, because I know it is the opinion of some certificates first reduced to their specie value, and of the Committtee that all the States had a right then these as well as her specie certificates scaled to any lands which, previous to the Revolution, at four shillings in the pound. By what authority, belonged to the Crown, while all admit that lands or upon what principle of equity or justice, the which had been previously granted by the Crown Commissioners felt themselves justified in doing belonged properly to the State within whose limthis, I am at a loss to determine. The only rea-its it lay. Now, sir, if the Commissioners in setson assigned for it, as I have understood, was, that tling the accounts of this State with the Union, this was the rate at which the Legislature of the did not think she ought to be credited at a higher State had valued them. Now, sir, I admit that price for her certificates than she, for the reasons this was the sum at which the Legislature had just mentioned, had thought proper to set upon rated her certificates; but it by no means follows them, they should at least have given her credit as a consequence that the Commissioners, in the for the lands which she had given her soldiers as settlement of her accounts with the Union, did a recompense for the depreciation of their certifijustice to her in giving her credit for them at the cates. It will not, I presume, be pretended that same rate. For, sir, it will be recollected that they were ignorant of any advance having been under the Articles of Confederation each State made on lands to her soldiers, because, in searchraised from its citizens, in the way most suitable ing for the laws by which she had rated her certifito themselves, the different sums of money or sup-cates, they could not fail seeing the one by which plies which Congress might require of them. It is also well known, that the great scarcity of specie rendered it necessary to resort to some expedient to supply the place of it, and that the first attempt was by issuing a paper currency, which depreciated rapidly, and in a short time fell upon the hands of those who held it. The next step was to issue certificates to those who either performed services, or furnished supplies in support of the common cause, purporting that the bearer was entitled to the amount thereof, either in currency or specie, from the State on whose account the service was performed or the supplies furnished. The paper currency which had been issued, having borne at the same periods in different States very different rates of depreciation, it was necessary, in order to do justice, that the Commissioners should be vested with power to scale the currency certificates in the different States, according to the value which the currency had borne in them respectively, and this power by the ordinance of May, 1787, was given them. Such, however, was the scarcity of cash in that State, that by far the greater part of the soldiers as well as others who had received even her specie certificates for services performed, or supplies furnished, had, some from necessity and others from a want of confidence in the Government, parted with them to speculators at about two shillings and six pence in the pound. This being a fact notorious to all, the Legislature of the State determined to do full justice to the speculator who had purchased the certificates at one eighth of their value, without oppressing the soldiers and
she had granted the lands to her soldiers. The operation of this principle of the Commissioners must have been very partial, as few of the States had adopted similar measures for paying off their certificates; and that its operation must have been unjust, will be obvious to the weakest mind when it is recollected, that the Union had received from the citizens of North Carolina full value in the services and supplies for which these articles had been issued by the State. If the citizens of any State thought proper by their Representatives in their Legislature to consent to give up to the State sixteen shillings in every pound of the debt, which the State in complying with the requisitions of Congress had contracted with them, and which the State alone under the Articles of Confederation stood responsible to them for; could this justify the Commissioners in adopting a rule by which they were to be compelled to pay to the other States the sums they had consented to give up to their own? Certainly not. And yet, sir, no man will say that this is not the obvious effect of this principle adopted by the Commissioners in the settlement of these accounts. The exact amount of the injury sustained by the State of North Carolina, by this rule of the Commissioners, it is impossible to ascertain; but when we recollect the enormous quantity of certificates which from the scarcity of specie were obliged to be issued for the pay of the army, and purchase of supplies, we may fairly conclude that the loss to her from this measure, fell very little short of that which she suffered from the changes of ratio.
These, sir, were the two principal injuries sus
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tained by the State of North Carolina in the settle- by the settlement, why was it not objected to, ment of her accounts with the Union, and are the and the error pointed out at first, when they might whole that I should have troubled the Committee have been examined into and corrected with ease? with, had not the gentleman from Rhode Island, Why has it been let alone till this late period, (Mr. STANTON,) with a view, I presume, of show-when there is not the most distant hope that, were ing that the settlement was as fair for one State as another, inasmuch as all suffered by it more or less, told us that his State had lost a very considerable sum by the operation of that part of the act of Congress of the fifth of August, 1790, which prohibits the Commissioners allowing any claim, which had not been allowed by the State producing it previous to the twenty-fourth day of September, 1788. By the operation of the same part of that law the State of North Carolina also lost nearly $100,000, which she has felt herself bound to pay principally to the heirs of those who had either fallen in the service or died soon after the close of the war, and had not come of age to claim their rights as early as the year 1788. The truth of this can be vouched by one of the present Senators from that State, as he was one of the board of auditors appointed by the Legislature to settle with the claimants, about the year 1791 or 1792.
the accounts opened anew, a settlement could be effected, that would prove even as satisfactory as the one already made, and against which we so loudly complain? I am convinced that the gentleman has not examined this subject with his usual accuracy, or he would never have asked such questions. The fact is, that the settlement has been complained of by the Representatives from the State of North Carolina, as well as several other States, ever since the report was made; and at the very session when it was first published an attempt was made to bring to light the principles upon which the Commissioners had settled the accounts, with a view, no doubt, that the errors which had arisen from them might be corrected, and justice done to those States which had been injured by them. To prove this fact, I must beg leave to read a resolution which will be found in the Journals of the first session of the third Congress, page 247, in the following words:
"Resolved, That a committee be appointed to examine into, and report on, the practicability of obtaining a statement of the principles on which the accounts of the individual States with the United States have been settled, and a statement of the several credits allowed in the said settlement."
I have now, sir, gone through the principal objections taken by the State which I have the honor to represent in part, to the settlement of her accounts with the Union, and I think it must be obvious to every candid person who has heard me, that if she had been settled with agreeably to the principles of equity by which the Commis- This resolution, sir, it appears was lost on taksioners under the ordinance of 1787 were directed ing the question by yeas and nays, and among to be governed, she must in the result have proved those who voted in favor of it, will be found the to be a creditor to a much larger amount than whole of the Representatives from North Caroshe has been reported to be in debt. By the lina, as well as many members from other States. change of ratio, admitting the aggregate of all the In the Journals of the same session it will be found charges of the several States to have been but that when the bill was on its passage providing $24,000,000, she lost better than $770,000; by the for the payment to the creditor States of the balvery unjust rule adopted by the Commissioners ances reported in their favor, an attempt was in scaling her certificates she must have lost made to extinguish the balances reported to be nearly as much, if not more; and by claims which due from the debtor States, by adding a section to were barred under the act of Congress of the 5th the bill in the following words: "And be it further of August, 1790, she lost about $100,000, making enacted, that the balances reported by the said in the whole better than $1,500,000. The sum Commissioners, and carried to the debt of certain reported against her is but little better than $500,- States, be and the same are hereby relinquished." 000, from whence it results that instead of being The section was rejected, but the yeas and nays reported a debtor she should have been a creditor not having been taken on the question, we are not for about $1,000,000. I feel myself bound to make able to say, to a certainty, who voted for it or this statement, after what has fallen from gentle against it. There can, however, be but little doubt men, in the course of the debate, who have opposed as to who were the advocates or opposers of this the resolution upon the principle that they believe section, when we attend to its objects, and see the settlement to have been just, or at least that it who voted for and against the resolution just read. was made upon principles which operated nearly The Committee I hope are now satisfied that the alike upon all the States. This, sir, it is evident report of the Commissioners has never been tawas not the fact, for by the change of ratio a ma- citly acknowledged to be just, by the State of jority of the States were gainers to a very large North Carolina, as well as several other States; amount, while the others were as largely losers; they have seen that at the very session of Conand the rule by which the specie certificates of gress to which the report was first communicated, North Carolina were scaled could not have ap- an attempt was made to bring to light the principlied generally, because there were but few of the ples upon which the settlement had been made, States that had adopted the same method for ex-in order that its errors might be exposed and justinguishing this part of their debt. But, sir, we tice done; and this attempt, they have seen, failed have been asked by a gentleman from Massachu- of success. The reasons why it failed I leave the setts, (Mr. HASTINGS.) if there were such enor- Committee to conjecture for themselves. It also mous injuries done to the States reported debtors | appears that at the same session an attempt was
made to extinguish the balances reported against the debtor States, and the Journals will show that repeated attempts have since been made for the same purpose, but that these attempts have uniformly failed of success.
The reasons which may have induced Congress formerly to reject the measure I know not. But I doubt not in the least, that the ingenuity and industry of the gentlemen who have on this occasion with so much zeal opposed the resolution, have enabled them to assign every reason against the measure which the nature of the case would possibly admit. In the first place all agree that the General Government does not possess the power of enforcing the payment of the balances, against the consent of the States. But the gentleman from Maryland thinks that, by continuing to refuse to extinguish the balances, the States may at length be induced to accept of offers to lay out either the whole or a part of the sums they owe, either in turnpikes, fortifications, or some other work of public utility within their own limits, as has been done by the State of New York formerly. What the State of New York or any other State may be induced to do, I cannot pretend to say, but I think I can venture to predict, that the gentleman will to a certainty be disappointed in any expectations of this nature which he may have calculated on from the State of North Carolina, and that for the reasons I have already mentioned. And really the gentleman must be much more sanguine in his expectation than I am, if he entertains any serious hopes of ever getting anything more, voluntarily, from the State of New York. Another plan has been hinted at by a gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. ELMER,) by which the balances might be collected, which is by funding and apportioning them among the different States; but the gentleman had not the goodness to tell us how large a sum we should have to fund, or how it would have to be apportioned among the several States to carry his plan into effect. I wish he had done it, because I am convinced, if he had, it would have furnished one of the strongest arguments in favor of the resolution that could possibly have been adduced. My reason for thinking so is, because I do believe this is the only way in which the balances ever will be collected; and should the reins of this Government ever fall into the hands of men who believe, as some great men do, that a national debt is a national benefit, this will become a pretext for making a very large addition to the national debt; a thing which I conceive a very considerable majority of this Committee would not only discountenance, but would use their utmost exertions to prevent, and would of course advocate the resolution for extinguishing the balances altogether, rather than leave a pretext to those who may succeed them, for adding so largely to our national burdens. These are the only plans which have been suggested for collecting the balances; there are few I believe of the Committee who have any hope of ever getting them upon the one suggested by the gentleman from Maryland, and a still smaller number who would ever wish to see them collected upon the plan suggested by the gen
tleman from New Jersey. What injury then can possibly arise from the adoption of the resolution? I confess I can see none. It is true, some gentlemen have said that it would excite in the States reported creditors a fear that attempts would be made to wipe off the balances which have been funded for them. The weakness and fallacy of this argument has been so ably shown by a gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. SMILIE,) that I will not take up the time of the Committee in attempting to refute it; but will proceed to state what in my humble opinion will be the good effects resulting from an adoption of the resolution. In the first place I believe it to be certain that the State of Delaware will be relieved from the most distressing embarrasments. In the next place we shall remove a bone of contention, which in all probability would, on some future occasion, be the cause of some legislative bargain, that in effect may be extremely injurious to the Union. The unusual anxiety of the members upon this subject, at this time, justifies a belief that this will be the case, particularly should any attempt ever be made to collect the balances. In the third place we shall prevent a future waste of much of the precious time of this House on a subject which tends to excite too highly the feelings of a large portion of its members; and lastly, we shall take from those who may succeed us, and be disposed to add to the national debt, a pretext which would be but too favorable to their design.
As then I do not see that any real injury can, but on the contrary, that very considerable benefits certainly will follow, from carrying the object of the resolution into effect, I shall conclude with expressing my earnest hope that it may meet with the support of a majority of the Committee.
The resolution was further supported by Messrs. SMILIE, MACON, and MITCHILL, and opposed by Messrs. HASTINGS, GREGG, BOYD, SLOAN and DAVIS.
The Committee now rose, without coming to a decision, and obtained leave to sit again.
WEDNESDAY, January 18.
Mr. DENNIS, from the committee appointed, presented a bill to incorporate the Washington Building and Fire Insurance Company; which was read twice and committed to a Committee of the Whole on Monday next.
The House proceeded to consider the amendment proposed by the Senate to the bill, entitled "An act for the relief of the captors of the Moorish armed ships Meshouda and Mirboha:" Whereupon, the said amendment, together with the bill, were committed to the Committee of Ways and Means.
Mr. NEWTON observed that Congress having assumed jurisdiction over the Territory of Columbia, it became their duty to prevent laws existing therein from being oppressive in their operation. At present a person, though a citizen of a particular State, and prosecuted in his State for debt, might be held to bail in the Territory, without obtaining relief. Mr. N. after stating a recent
case of this nature, moved the appointment of a committee to inquire whether any, and if any, what alterations are necessary to be made in the laws of the District of Columbia relative to holding persons to bail.
The resolution was agreed to, and a committee of five members appointed.
The House again went into a Committee of the Whole on Mr. RODNEY's motion to extinguish State balances.
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same impure air, and had died alongside of each other, and their bones are now bleaching on the same shores. That such was the intention of the | framers of the law appears from this strong circumstance: It provides for the payment of the balances due to the creditor States, while there is no provision for the payment of the balances of the debtor States. For is there in that law any provision to compel the payment? Is there any direction to the Attorney General, or to any other organ of the Government, to prosecute the recovery of them? While there is a provision for funding the balances of the creditor States, the law is altogether silent as to any provision to coerce the payment by the debtor States of their balances. Am I not fully justified, therefore, in saying that coercion was never intended?
Mr. RODNEY. I hope I shall receive the indulgence of the Committee in replying, in a very concise manner, to the remarks of gentlemen against the resolution which I have had the honor of submitting. The strong ground taken by the friends of the motion has not, in my opinion, been shaken I fear that on one point I have been misunderby anything which has fallen from those who are stood. I stated yesterday, in the outset of my opposed to it. We have stated that there exist on remarks, that it was my decided opinion, that the the books of the Treasury certain balances against Commissioners had acted to the best of their particular States, which are productive of great judgments and according to honest consciences. injury to them, while they do not and cannot bene- I did not impeach their motives. I did not mean fit the United States one dollar. Have gentlemen to be understood as desiring to touch the settlepointed out any mode in which the amount of ment they made. I afterwards, however, stated these balances is to be obtained? Have they that from the nature of the country, comprehendshown the way in which the United States can ing an extensive range of communities of various legitimately obtain a single cent? Have not gen- habits, engaged in a revolution in which they tlemen admitted that so far as these balances ap- were contending for the rights conferred upon ply to the State I have the honor of representing, them by God and nature, it was impossible, or they affect her citizens most oppressively-that extremely improbable to avoid the commission of they sit like an incubus upon her, producing a honest mistakes: and that if this reasoning were stagnation in the culture and improvement of her supported, it would afford an additional reason lands, in the increase of the trade and commerce, why the United States should extinguish these and thereby checking the vital current of the coun-balances. But did I question the justice of the try? And when the United States reap no bene- proceedings or the motives of those who made fit, will gentlemen say it is politic or just to keep the settlement? I did not. The utmost extent to them suspended over her head? What is their which I went was that which I have just stated. worth to the United States? If they should be taken to market, what would they bring? Is there a visionary speculator in the land that would bid sixpence for them? Do gentlemen contemplate compelling the payment of these balances? The amendment to the Constitution, inhibiting the suability of States, has put that remedy out of their reach forever. Do they expect that any State will voluntarily pay them? No. If then this is the situation of the business, is the object worth the candle consumed in discussing it on this, or on any other occasion? When the United Sates cannot pocket a cent from the continuance of these balances, and they are so injurious to some of the States, will the Government of the Union suffer the interests of those whom they are bound to protect to be thus seriously sported with?
By attention to the law passed by Congress on this subject, it will abundantly appear that it was never contemplated that the debtor States should make payment. For it appears to have been believed that every State in the Union had exerted itself in the common cause to the utmost; that the blood of the citizens of Delaware had been mingled with the blood of the citizens of South Carolina; that the citizens of the different States had fought, bled, and died together; that they had been confined in the same prison-ships, had inspired the
There is another point on which my remarks have been misconceived. I observed that by keeping in suspense these balances consequences might take place, by which the interests of States, now hostile to the extinction, might be seriously compromitted. I did not say a bargain and sale might be made of these interests. I hope no such thing as this can take place. Bnt I said a compromise might be effected, and I spoke of what might happen from what has happened. In this I find myself supported by the language of a respectable member in this discusssion. I did not use this argument in the way of a threat; but I stated a fact, and, reasoning from experience and from human nature, I calmly inquired of the intelligence of the Committee whether such a thing might not possibly occur, and whether the possibility of its occurrence was not a strong reason for removing everything of the kind.
As long as these balances remain suspended over the heads of the debtor States they will be monuments of the imbecility of the General Government, and will, in the eyes of the world, present an unfavorable aspect of the disposition of several of the States to that Government. They will show that several States refuse to comply with the demands of the General Government, and that the General Government has not power to make
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Mr. SOUTHARD.-I rise, Mr. Chairman, to give a reason for the vote I shall soon be called upon to give. Every member of this House who has preceded me on this question has drawn conclusions, and founded his opinion in favor of the State he represents, arising from the partial and circumscribed knowledge he has of the subject under consideration.
Gentlemen appear to have formed their judgment of the justice of the report of the Commissioners from what they themselves have seen or heard of the sufferings of the respective States from whence they came, during the Revolutionary war with Great Britain.
Were I, Mr. Chairman, to take the same ground and point out to you-by taking a view of the sufferings of the State I have the honor to represent-the supplies she furnished and the services she rendered, it would appear that she would not yield to any other State in the Union.
them comply. Ought not the Government, on this ground alone, when it is acknowledged on all hands that she is unable to exact these debts, and when their continuance operates so injuriously to several of the States, to abandon them? I will take the liberty of noticing one or two other remarks which have fallen from different gentlemen in the course of this discussion. In this notice it is my wish to be brief, as the subject is so clear to my mind. My only wish is that I were the Representative of one of the creditor States, that I might plead with the greater effect the cause of the debtor States, believing, as I do, that this circumstance would not alter my opinion. While gentlemen repel the charge made by us against the equitable operation of the settlement of the Commissioners they acknowledge that settlement, so far as it regards their own States, to be unjust. Because they have not been allowed a full indemnity for the services and supplies they have rendered, they are unwilling to suffer But I acknowledge my information is too limthese balances to be extinguished so far as they ited to form my opinion from this source. I conbear hard upon the debtor States. They say, be- sider the Commissioners who settled the accounts cause they have suffered, they desire some com- between the United States and the individual panions in their misery. I do not think this a strong States, and who reported those balances, as havargument in their favor. On the contrary, I con- ing been men of talents, knowledge, and integsider it as one of the strongest arguments for an ex-rity, mutually chosen by all the parties concerned; tinguishment, as by the acknowledgment that the and that each State, by their agent, furnished operation of the settlement is unequal, it lessens the them with the evidences of their respective claims, obligation of the Government to adhere rigidly to it. and therefore as standing on higher ground than Let us then put this subject on its true grounds, any member on this floor, and possessed of more let us view these balances, as they ought to be information on this subject than this House colviewed, as not worth a pepper-corn to the Union, as lectively. not worth the time that is spent in this discussion; and, under this view, let gentlemen be asked what. they sacrifice by giving them up. They abandon nothing that is valuable; while on the contrary they throw away the last apple of discord, and pave the way to the final closing of this unpleasant business.
But it is contended that the moment you extinguish these balances, you revive a right in the United States to call on the creditor States for a repayment of the balances funded in their favor. But surely this cannot be considered as a natural inference. Is such a principle assumed as the ground on which our arguments in favor of the extinguishment rest? Have we not, on the other hand, declared and pledged ourselves, that so far as regards the balances reported in favor of the creditor States, it is our desire that they may remain sacred forever. Those balances have been funded, and interest has been and is now receiving on them. They were given for their exertions in the common cause, and ought therefore to remain untouched. Besides, in the bill which will be brought into the House should this resolution pass a clause can be inserted making the stock now held by creditor States transferable to whom they please. Forgive us our balances and you heal the only remaining wound of the Revolution. With this view of the subject we ask gentlemen, yielding to a liberal and magnanimous spirit of accommodation, to agree to extinguish that debt whose continuance cannot benefit them, while it seriously injures us.
It was well observed by the gentleman from Delaware who introduced this resolution into the House, that those balances were occasioned by, or grew out of the war. It was a common danger, sir, that pressed these States into the Union for their mutual defence against a powerful enemy. The old Congress under these circumstances entered into a Confederation, and resolved, that to defray the expense of the war, on final settlement, each State should bear its just proportion of the expense of the war, according to the principles therein prescribed. In pursuance of this object Commissioners were appointed, and several laws have been passed by Congress for the purpose of carrying those resolves into effect.
I consider, Mr. Chairman, the settlement just, from the subsequent acts of the National Legislature. The report of the Commissioners was accepted by the parties concerned, and the balances due the creditor States funded. But they went further; the State of New York actually paid about $250,000 in part of the debt due from her. The Legislature of Pennsylvania made provision for the payment of the whole sum due from that State. North Carolina, another debtor State, and who was so much opposed, if I am rightly informed, when she ceded to the United States a part of her territory, now the State of Tennessee, bound the citizens of that district to pay their proportion of this debt. This, however, I am not certain of; I have it only from information. If I am wrong, the gentlemen from that State will correct me.