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remove the restrictions on the importation of British manufactures.
Mr. M‘Kim's motion was opposed by Mr. Calhoun, on the ground that the war and the double duties formed a sufficient protection for our manufactures. It was well known, too, he said, that nothing was more difficult to execute than a non-importation law, as well by direct smuggling as by false papers. This hazard ought not to be encountered, unless there was a prospect of very powerful good to result from it. Whatever there might formerly have been, there certainly was no such prospect now, all Europe being open to British manufactures.
Mr. M.Kim's motion was negatived, yeas 34, nays 110.
Mr. Oakley, of New York, made two successive motions, the object of which was to do away all penalties and forfeitures which shall have been incurred under the acts proposed to be repealed.
These motions were supported by Mr. Oakley and Messrs. Gaston, King, of Massachusetts, and Ward, on the ground that the continuation of prosecutions and collections of fines and forfeitures would answer no end, the laws being repealed, but to enrich informers, without producing any salutary effect, as the object of penalties was not to avenge but to deter' from violation of law, &c. and especially in cases of offences which were constituted by temporary laws; and were opposed by Messrs. Wright, of Maryland, and Calhoun, of South Carolina, on the ground of the necessity of enforcing general respect to the government and laws generally, as well as of particular statutes, and on the argument that the magnitude and evil of any wanton violation of law was in no degree lessened by the repeal of the law violated, but ought to be as rigidly punished as if the law were still in existence.
These proposed amendments were negatived, the first by 3 large majority, and the second by the following vote : For the amendment
52 Against it
88 Mr. Bradley, of Vermont, moved to strike out the third section of the bill, which prohibits any foreign vessel from leaving the United States, whose officers and crew shall not consist wholly of the citizens or subjects of the country to which the vessel may belong, or of a country in amity with the United States, and also prohibits citizens of the United States frona leaving the United States in foreign vessels without passports from government, during the continuance of the war.
The motion was opposed by Mr. Rhea, of Tennessee, as opening a door to the enticing away of our seamen, &c. and, if it were agreed to, our seamen would be taken off by neutrals, used by them as long as convenient, and then turned adrift without any provision for their return; that our seamen would besides be liable to impressment by the enemy; and that these evils were too great to be endured merely for the sake of conciliating neutrals.
The motion was supported by Mr. Robertson, of Louisiana, Mr. Lowndes, of South Carolina, Mr. Grosvenor, of New York, Mr. Duvall, of Kentucky, and Mr. Murfree, of North Carolina, on various grounds, among which were the following: That it was in the nature of a sanction to the principle of impressment; that it would have an effect very different from that which was expected from it, because the appearance of restraint would tend to drive our seamen from our service; that it would in fact act oppressively on those seamen who, not being employed in our own marine, might be left destitute of employment by the retention of such a provision ; that there was no occasion for this section to facilitate the manning of our public ships, because there would be no difficulty in manning them, nor ever had been of late, except for the fear in the seamen of being employed in the lake service ; and that, if there were any difficulty, the very passage of such an act, going to make a prison of our country, would increase rather than diminish it. Mr. Grosvenor intimated also a doubt as to the constitutionality of this section.
The question on striking out the section was determined in the negative by a majority of 8, the yeas being 70, the nays 78.
The bill finally passed the house without any amendments affecting its principles, by 115 yeas to 37 nays. After the first reading
of this bill in the senate, a motion was made by Mr. Horsey, of Delaware, to dispense with that rule of the senate which requires that bills shall receive their three several readings on different days. Mr. Horsey said, that he did not wish to precipitate this bill through the senate in a day, but merely to refer it to-day to the committee of foreign relations, that the house might act on it definitely to-morrow, which is the last day of the week. If this course were not pursued, the house could not act on the bill till Monday. Meanwhile a painful state of suspense would prevail in the community in relation to its fate; and great speculations would go on during the pendency of the question, because many might be incredulous enough to believe that the bill would not pass this body, though no gentleman on the floor could entertain a doubt of it.
Mr. Dana, of Connecticut, said that, for himself, he had no idea of that sort of legislation which resembled a race. The rules of the house had been often enough suspended; it was time
a stop should be put to the procedure. Be it that there are speculations, said he; be it that merchants are enduring unpleasant suspense; are we to forget the principles on which we ought to make laws, merely because men are impatient in the coffeehouses ? It was time this rapidity of legislation should be arrested, and that this house should not suffer its proceedings to be regulated by a regard to speculations among the merchants. It was in cases of importance like the present, that this rule ought to be most adhered to, &c.
Mr. Bibb, of Georgia, said, if this question to suspend the rule turned on the point whether the bill which was before the senate should or should not pass without consideration, the remarks of the honourable gentleman from Connecticut would certainly be entitled to very great weight. But the object of the motion was, if he understood it, to enable the senate to deliberate on the measure without delay, by referring it to a select committee for the very purpose of deliberation, which would be delayed under the ordinary rule of proceeding for one day.
Mr. Giles, of Virginia, was opposed to a suspension of the rule in question. If that rule meant any thing, it was intended as a check against the excitement of particular occasions, like the present. Dispense with the rule, said he, and you yield to that excitement, against the effects of which the rule was intended to guard. He had no objections to this bill's going to a committee in the usual form, though there were peculiar and strong reasons, growing out of the nature of the bill, against its going to a standing committee, as well as against dispensing with the usual rule of proceeding. There were three distinct, separate, and independent principles contained in this one bill, in regard to which it might be a subject of very serious deliberation whether they ought all to be included in one bill. The first of these was the repeal of the embargo, a principle important enough of itself to form one bill; the second was a repeal of the whole non-importation system, a very important measure ; and the third was a prohibition to our seamen from going out of the United States, which would also operate as a prohibition on their coming in. Every one of these subjects required a separate and distinct consideration. Mr. Giles said he had always observed that legislation was most correct, when the bill before the legislature embraced distinct principles, and least so when it contained a combination of principles frequently at war with each other. He therefore objected to the suspension of the rule, first, because it would be treating the rules of the house with unnecessary levity; and, secondly, because of the generality of the reference it was proposed to give to this bill embracing several distinct provi
sions. There was, he said, a great difference between a repeal of the embargo and a repeal of the non-intercourse; and, though he might favour both, he inclined to think that they ought to be separated into distinct bills.
Mr. Taylor, of South Carolina, spoke in favour of a suspension of the rule. The ordinary business of legislation, he said, required such a rule as a remedy against surprize. On all great subjects, the reason of the rule ceased, and there might be a propriety in dispensing with the rule. The provisions of this bill had been a subject of conversation ever since the reception of the president's message ; and, even if the bill contained as many more principles as had been enumerated, gentlemen had made up their minds on it. Even the opposition to the progress of the bill might give a false colouring to the views of this house in relation to it, and tend to deceive and injure not the coffee-house politicians, but the honest citizens throughout the country, who are not generally as well informed as the merchants on public matters.
Mr. Dana said, that he wished time to reflect on this billa bill containing more in a small space than any bill ever before presented to the house, some of the provisions of which were in his opinion very objectionable. As to the idea of referring the bill to a committee for the purpose of deliberation, he did not for his part wish to deliberate by delegation. He wished time to deliberate ; for, although he was perfectly fixed in the principle of repealing our commercial prohibitions, he wished time to deliberate on the other provisions—and especially since the president had referred the decision of the question to the discretion of congress, &c.
Mr. Horsey said, as it appeared, from the remarks of gentlemen, that they were not prepared, as he had supposed all were, to act on the bill to-day, he would withdraw his motion.
The bill being the following day referred to the committee of foreign relations, was reported by them with an amendment striking out the two last sections, which prohibited the departure of any American seaman or citizen on board of foreign vessels, without a passport from the secretary of state. This amendment was agreed to, yeas 29, nays 3, and the bill passed the senate, yeas 29, nays 4.
The bill being returned to the house of representatives for concurrence in the amendment of the senate, the question was decided by that body without debate as follows:
For the amendments 68
52 This bill, which received the signature of the president on the 14th of April, repeals the embargo and non-importation acts, but provides that all penalties, &c. incurred by virtue of those acts shall be recovered, &c. in like manner as if they had remained in full force. It also provided, that nothing contained in the act should be construed to authorize the importation of any article belonging to the enemies of the United States.
| 12. The same day that the bill repealing the embargo was reported to the house by the committee of foreign relations, the committee was discharged from the consideration of that part of the message relating to the double duties, and a resolution was subsequently passed, on motion of Mr. Ingham, directing the secretary of the treasury to report to congress at their next session a general tariff of duties, conformably to the existing situation of the general and local interests of the United States.
13. A bill was reported in the house of representatives by the committee on foreign relations, agreeably to the recommendation of the president, prohibiting the exportation of gold and silver coin and bullion, but it was indefinitely postponed on its third reading, 63 to 60.
The opposition to this bill was grounded on the futility of attempting to arrest the exportation of specie, which no government, even the most despotic, could carry into effect. A law to prevent the ebb and Aow of the tide, it was urged, might as rationally and almost as certainly be expected to be effectual, as a law to prevent specie finding its level.
Mr. Calhoun, the chairman of the committee that reported the bill, said, that no person, he believed, conceived the bill could be completely effectual. The only question was, would it deaden the current of exportation of specie? Some appeared to think it would ; and this was the opinion of many of the banks in the country. Others thought differently, however, and, for himself, he had not made up his own mind on the subject.
The bill, as already mentioned, was indefinitely postponed, which is tantamount to a rejection.
14. The following day, Mr. King, of Massachusetts, rose to make a motion on the subject of the law now in existence, prohibiting the use of foreign licences. He thought that it ought to be repealed for several reasons which he assigned, viz. That as, in pursuance of the recommendation of the president, every feature of the restrictive system had been abolished, it was important to put our own vessels at least on an equality with those of neutral nations trading with us; that for this purpose a repeal of this law was necessary ; that there were absent from the United States, and shut up in European ports, many American vessels, which could not return, except under the protection of