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Sufferers by Fire in New York.
[Jan. 19, 1836.
lector. Importations ordered before the fire are daily sanctioned. In that sense he was bound to refer to arriving, and men whose all has been consumed are several acts of Congress applicable to cases of the nacompelled to raise the means to pay their existing bonds, ture, but not of the extent, of the case under considerato enable them to enter the goods thus received. De- tion. These acts spread over a period from 1803 to lay, then, in the extension of the credits proposed by 1820, and the relief afforded by each was an extension this bill, might cause a conniencement of mercantile of time to the debtors of the Government for the payfailures, which, once commenced, could not be calcu- ment of their duty bonds. The acts to which he would lated, either as to their extent or number, or as to their
refer wereeffect upon the general mercantile community of the An act for the relief of the sufferers by the fire at country. He did hope, therefore, that the bill might Portsmouth, in the State of New Hampshire, in 1803; be acted upon without delay, and without being con- An act for the relief of the sufferers by the fire at the nected with other propositions of a more questionable same place, in 1807; character.
An act for the relief of the sufferers by fire at NorHe never spoke of legislative precedents as binding folk, in the State of Virginia, in 1804; upon legislative bodies, but he did speak of them as An act for the relief of the sufferers by the fire at Saworthy of the most grave consideration when they were vannah, in the State of Georgia, in 1820; found to be uniform, and not conflicting with principle. Together with sundry private acts for similar relief in He feared that the proposition to remit the duties upon individual cases of loss by fire. It was a duty he owed the burned goods would be found to be against the pre- to the Committee on Finance, of which he was a memcedents and practice of the Government for many years ber, to refer to these precedents as their justification in last past, and for that reason his own efforts, with that presenting the bill before the Senate. He was not aware of the committee representing the citizens of New that any question of partiality or favoritism towards these York, have been to have this bill presented by itself, afflicted ports bad been raised, or that it had been for disconnected from any such debatable question. It one moment supposed by any person that these laws had been so presented by the Committee on Finance, were infractions of the constitution, or that they disand he hoped it would not now be exchanged for so turbed, in any sense, the equality of the regulations of doubtful a mode of relief, by the adoption of the amend. commerce or revenue. He would add no more upon ment proposed by the honorable Senator from Ken- this point, but, with a single other remark, would subtucky, (Mr. CLAY,) or in any way connected with that mit the bill to the judgment and justice of the Senate. question. He wished each measure of relief prayed Was it not for the interest of the Government to grant for in the New York memorial might be acted upon sep- this extension? The means of its debtors to pay had arately and independently by Congress, and he must been swept away by the fire. Still they were struggling, entreat the Senate to adopt or reject the proposition to by every effort which enterprise and courage could extend the time for the payment of the duty bonds, and command, to sustain themselves, to sustain their credit not to change it for anoiber, and he feared it would as merchants, and to avoid bankruptcy, until the regular prove a less acceptable proposition.
restoration of business and the gains of trade should enMr. W. said it had been objected to the second sec- able them to pay their debts. If, in this state of things, tion of the bill, that it was unconstitutional, as being we press them with demands for immediate payment of within the meaning of the constitution, a regulation of our $3,600,000 of bonds, is there not greater danger of commerce or revenue, not general to all the ports of the loss to us than if we give them time, and permit them to country, but partial, and proposing to give an advantage make the struggle which they are now making with so to the port of New York. He could not himself see much credit to themselves and to the mercantile characany force in the objection. He could not view the bill ter? He would give it as his most deliberate opinion, as a regulation of commerce or revenue, in any manner that the bill was rather calculated to contribute to the to affect importations hereafter to be made, or the rev- security of the Government than to subject it to a loss, enue to be collected from such importations. It was a and that it should be passed as a measure calculated to mere regulation between the Government and a certain benefit the treasury, even if the sufferers were not to be portion of its debtors, whose means of payment had regarded. been swept away by a fire unexampled upon this conti- Mr. EWING confessed that his doubts had not been nent in its extent, and the destruction of property it removed by the observations of the chairman of the had caused. Could any gentleman consider a simple Committee on Finance. He believed that if the exten. forbearance of payment to debtors thus circumstanced sion were made general, it would be considered a reguas a regulation of commerce or revenue, and, as such, lation in relation to revenue. If, as a general proposipartial, unequal, and unconstitutional? He could not tion, then, said Mr. E., it would be considered as a think so, and surely he was entirely unable to see how regulation, in relation to revenue, when you make the this position was to be maintained by gentlemen who extension apply to a particular port, contrary to that proposed to remit the duties upon the burned goods, provision of the constitution before referred to, this and thus not to forbear payment upon the bonds mere- regulation applies to the port of New York alone, and ly, but to give them up to be cancelled without pay: gives that port a preference over other ports of the ment. He must suppose that, if Congress possessed Union. The fire in New York gave Congress no power the power to forbear payment upon any bonds taken for it did not possess before. Then, suppose there had been duties, they possessed equal power, so far as the consti- no fire there, and a bill was brought in to extend the tution was concerned, over all bonds so taken; and cer. credit on duty bonds, one, two, three, four, or five tainly he could not comprehend how it could be consti- years, touching New York, and no other city, would tutional to give up a bond to be cancelled without pay- it not then be contended that you were giving a preferment, and unconstitutional to forbear payment upon that ence to New York over the other ports of the Union? same bond for a term of years, or a few months, giving The fact that there was a fire did not change the nature nothing but the use of the money.
of the case at all. You are, said Mr. E., giving advan. Mr. W. said he had already observed that he did not tages to New York not given to others. It appeared to quote legislative precedents as binding upon legislative him that there were strong constitutional objections to bodies, but that he did refer to them as worthy of high the bill, and he therefore could not vote for it. He regard in cases where the power to act was clear, and would with pleasure give it his support, if these constiile practice of Congress bad been uniform and long l tutional objections were removed. The amendment pro
Jan. 13, 1836.]
Sufferers by Fire in New York.
posed by the Senator from Kentucky was equally ob value of the goods remaining on hand, then, will be enjectionable.
hanced, and though some few may suffer bankruptcy, Mr. WEBSTER could not go for the amendment of the mass will be benefited by their speculations. These the gentleman from Ohio, (Mr. Ewing.] It resolved results operated against the second section of the bill, itself into a question of constitutional power. Seeing a and supported the proposition of the Senator from practice of the Government for a period of twenty years, South Carolina, (Mr. Calhoun,) to strike out that secwe should be cautious, said Mr. W., in hazarding an tion. The Senator from Massachusetts agreed that it opinion against it. How did it happen that bills in 1803, would be a matter of prudence in Congress, as creditors, in 1804, and 1820, of sinilar tenor, passed Congress, and to extend the credit on the debts due them; but by what the question of unconstitutionality had not been dis stretch of argument could the Senator make this apply covered till this time? Was this a law to regulate reve to the provision in the first section of the bill, which nue, because it finds certain debtors to the Government, renews bonds already paid. The arrangement that genand gives them time? Was that a regulation of the reve tlemen contended for, was, as that of a prudent creditor nue of the Government? The constitution goes on, said to secure his debt. The first section was as follows: Mr. W., enumerating certain powers and restrictions. “ Provided, that those who are in the provision of this Congress had a right to regulate commerce with foreign section, but who may have paid their bonds subsequent Powers. It conferred no power to give a preference to to the late fire, should also be entitled to the benefit of importations in one State over another. In this provi- this section, and that the said bonds shall be renewed sion it had clearly a prospective view. A man has a from the day when the same were paid, and said pay. bond to pay, and Congress gives him time. Was this ments refunded;" that is to say, said Mr. K., that we are regulating the revenue of the country? On the ground to take money out of our pockets, and lend it for four of prudence, he thought the bill ought to be passed. It or five years without interest, for the purpose of secuwas an act of prudence for the Government to give re ring our debt. He admitted that the Senator from lief, as a prudent creditor. A prudent creditor would Massachusetts was perfectly correct in his constitutional always give time, rather than incur the risk of losing his argument, but he thought there should be some reasondebt. With respect to the proposition intended to be able affinity between the measures to be adopted, and introduced in place of this bill, first, it provides for a the end to be attained. He asked, therefore, if the bill return of duties, and an appropriation of a million and a was the prudent measure of a prudent creditor to secure half of dollars. That law must find out the loss. Here his debt. He should vote against the second section, is a man, said he, who has received the amount of ensui which extended the credit on the bonds of those who rance on his goods; should he receive the relief? He did had not suffered by the fire, and should also move to not say that was a case that might not be provided for; strike out that provision of the first section which rebut it was a case that was not provided for. It was said funds the money and renews the bonds already paid. that the original bill was unequal in its operations. He With these changes, he would vote for the bill. did not consider it a case of right; and it was, therefore, Mr. MANGUM was decidedly against the proposinot necessary that an exact amount should be given to tions to amend the bill. There was no gentleman there each, according to his loss. If it should be more favora prepared to say wbat would be the scope of its influence, ble to some than to others, no one had a right to com or the amount of money necessary to meet the cases that plain. The Senator from Kentucky (Mr. ClAy] seemed would occur. Both the gentlemen who bad proposed to regard this matter as a release. He thought the true amendments assumed the constitutional power of releasstate of the case had been stated by the gentleman from ing entirely. The honorable chairman of the Committee New York, (Mr. Wnight.] It was not a release, but an on Commerce had announced that if the power to release indulgence.
the whole could be assumed, we are well warranted in M:. KING, of Georgia, had no hesitation in saying assuming the fact, that for the safety of the debt, we that if there was any seaport of this Union deserving the are justified in giving an extension of time. In a conspecial favor of Congress, it was the port of New York. ference of the Committee on Finance, they had come But on this as well as on all other occasions, we should, to that conclusion. This Government had one precesaid he, act on principle. The principle they should dent much stronger than any one that had been referred act on with regard to this bill was one which should It was the case of the earthquake in Virginia, in govern them on all subsequent occasions of the like the days of her greatness. He should vote for it, on
The danger was of establishing a precedent the ground that it was to afford present and immediate which they might hereafter be called on to follow. On relief to the whole commercial community in the city of the subject of constitutional power alone, he confessed New York, and to others in different parts of the counhe had no difficulties. The Senator from Massachusetts try. The relief would be afforded to the whole com. (Mr. Webster] bad put that question on its true munity. Was it not compatible with the beneficence of grounds. We are, said he, dealing a creditor with our the Government to extend relief wherever it could be debtors, and we have the power to grant them the in- done constitutionally? He thought relief could be best dulgence contemplated in the bill. But, said Mr. K., administered according to the opinion of those who best we should not on all occasions use the power we possess understood the nature and extent of the calamity; and without due caution, lest we abuse it. The second sec he would vote against every amendment that was offertion of the bill was liable to serious objections. It pro. ed. Did the constitution justify it? He did not doubt vided not only to extend the credit on the bonds of it. Did the finances of the country justify it? They those who had suffered by the fire in New York, but on did, French war or no French war. all other bonds. It might be carried over the whole Mr. LEIGH rose to state his impressions on the concontinent. The credit might be extended to Liverpool, stitutional question that had been presented. It was of to Lyons, and to Leeds. The great difficulty was to no importance to any body but himself, but he wished extend the bounty of the Government to those who that his opinion should be understood, or rather that it were the proper objects of its bounty, and not to those should not be misunderstood. The constitution provided who had no claims on it. Now, as far as New York was that “no preference shall be given by any regulation of concerned, he ventured to say that not one in a hundred commerce or revenue to the ports of one State over would be the actual losers by the fire. Do we not those of another." And it was objected to this bill, know, said he, that the abstraction of so many goods and especially to the second section, that it made a regufrom the market will raise the value of the rest? The Ilation of revenue favorable to the merchants of New
Sufferers by Fire in New York.
(Jan. 13, 1836.
York, and not applicable to any other port. Now, the lief to the whole country, it was more objectionable word “regulation,” the phrase "regulation of com- than the other. Here was a great suffering they all merce or revenue,” meant general provision of law ap- knew of. Among those sufferers a large proportion plicable to all cases of the like kind. The gentleman were Americans. By adopting the amendment of the from Kentucky, sensible that generality of provision is gentleman from Ohio, (Mr. Ewing,] you propose to essential to the idea of regulation by law, said that there throw into the bands of foreign persons a large amount was such generality here; that !he provisions of this bill to inundate the country with goods. applied to all the merchants of New York. (Mr. CLAY Mr. WEBSTER said a few words in reply to his col. explained. He had said that they applied to all the im. league, (Mr. Davis.] The suffering of the commercial porters of New York.] Mr. L. said the difference, in community was great and was general, and his colleague his view of the question, was not material. The bill
well understood how, in such a community, the losses of proposed to relieve the importers who suffered directly one affected another. In a large community, mixed up by the late fire, and the other importers, as consequen- of buyers and venders, importers and retailers, all must tially implicated with those who suffered directly; it was have suffered more or less in such a calamity as that at probable, almost inevitable, that the other importers New York. Were those alone who came there the were implicated in so extensive and heavy a calamity. actual sufferers by this fire? The Senate would see that The relief was to be given by an extension of credit if the actual sufferers alone were interested, they would for the duties. This, he thought, was not the more a be debating about returning the duties on the burnt regulation of commerce or revenue, because of the goods, whereas they were discussing a bill to relieve the number of persons to whom the relief was extended. If commercial community. The application was in behalf that were so, the importers of New York would, in con- of the whole commercial community; those who were sequence of their vast numbers, be least of all importers scorched, as well as those who were not. Did any man entitled to such relief.
doubt that there were hundreds of sufferers, who did He thought that if this bill, instead of being confined
not lose a bale of goods, or the most inconsiderable tento relief on account of the particular calamity that had ement? While his colleague objected to this bill, he befallen New York, had been extended to all cases of had not pointed out a more appropriate mode of relief. the like kind that should hereafter occur there, as well | This bill was a mode of relief which operated on the as that which had occurred, this would have been such
whole community, though perhaps more on some than regulation of commerce or revenue, partial to that on others. It extended to those who had domestic goods, city, as the constitution interdicted. But this bill pro- and to those who had suffered by the fire; and those vided relief for a particular case of calamity, though whose warehouses were full of domestic goods would that calamity involved very many. Therefore, in his be among the most anxious to get this bill passed, in judgment, the bill was not obnoxious to the constitu- order to sustain the credit of those with whom they are tional objection. The gentleman from Kentucky had connected in trade. made some very imposing observations, which had Mr. NILES rose to say that he had prepared an made no slight impression on bis mind, as to the un. amendment, which he intended to offer if the several equal operation of the provisions of the bill; but Mr. amendments then under consideration should not be L. apprehended it would be found impossible to frame adopted. He had listened with attention and with profit, any provisions for such a purpose, which would not op- so far as his own action on the bill might be concerned, erate unequally; and he doubted very much whether to this discussion; he felt that there was much weight in any could be devised that would operate more equally some of the objections which had been urged against and fairly than those proposed by this bill.
the bill by the honorable gentlemen from Kentucky and Mr. DAVIS believed there was a uniform desire in Massachusetts, [Mr. Clay and Mr. Davis,) and the the Senate to afford relief, provide it could be done amendment which he had prepared would, lie thought, consistently with other duties. The bill purported to remove some of those objections. be a bill for the relief of sufferers by fire. He had [ Mr. N. here read his amendment, which was a prosome objections to the bill, but he would not say that viso to the bill to secure the payment of interest on the he would vote against it. It was his purpose at present bonds, the payment of which was to be extended.] to throw out some objections that had occurred io bim. There are two questions arising upon this bill: one, Gentlemen argued that the bill was not to relieve suf- whether the relief it provides is reasonable, and adapted ferers by fire, but to relieve the commercial communi. to the case; and whether it is equitable and just in its ty. If so, then the title was wrong. Do you, said he, distribution, so far as it is to benefit individuals. He propose that persons who have lost merchandise and thought there were objections to this part of the bill, property shall receive an extension of credit on bonds and its benefits would probably be very unequally disfor duties? We had lately introduced a more speedy tributed; and what gave more force to this objection method for the collection of duties. But by this bill was the fact, that the greatest benefit would be shared the time of collection was to be extended for four or by those least entitled to it, by the large and wealthy five years, without paying interest. Who were those importers. What is the object of this bill, and the nagentlemen to be benefited? The object all suppose to ture of the relief it provides for? It is the extension of be for the relief of citizens of the city of New York. credit to the merchants who are the debtors of the Uni. But a great amount of these goods were imported by ted States for duties. It is not, as I understood, the obforeigners. Suppose a man has his goods ensured ject of the bill to remit any part of them. It seems not in Liverpool, is he entitled to your beneficence? He to be designed to afford any pecuniary relief, further would ask what proportion of this property was of for-than by the extension of credit. This being the object eign manufacture, and what proportion of American? of the bill, he was not willing to give it an operation You do not, said he, propose to give relief to the Amer. by which it might put large sums of money into the ican manufacturer. You extend it to a class of persons pockets of merchants. All who have sustained a loss who have not asked it. It was not the principle he to the amount of $1,000 will be entitled to an extension complained of, it was the great inequality of distribu- of three, four, and five years' credit, on their bonds, ting the relief. You place (said Mr. D.) a fund in the without interest, so that a merchant having bonds to the hands of individuals who have not suffered, and to amount of $50,000, and having lost 1,000, would by this whom it is clear gain. As to the proposition of the bill be a gainer to the amount of several thousand gentleman from Ohio, (Mr. Ewing,) to extend this re. dollars.
Jax. 13, 1836.)
Sufferers by Fire in New York.
There was another question in relation to this bill, | After the merchant bad entered his goods at the customwhich was, whether there was any constitutional or house, and given bonds for the payment of the duties, other general principle which stood in its way.
he became a debtor to the Government, with whom we He had no difficulty as to the constitutional question might make any fair and reasonable terms, as we may which had been raised; he had felt no doubts at first on do, and have done, with our other debtors. This, he this point, and if he had they would have been removed was very clearly of opinion, would not be giving any by the lucid, and, to his mind, conclusive argument of preference, by any regulation of commerce or revenue, the honorable Senator from Massachusetts, (Mr. WEB- to the ports of one State over those of another. STER.] But this bill was by no means free from objec. What is the present condition of the mercantile comtion in regard to the principle on which it rests. This munity of New York? He had observed in the late pub. bill is a case of special or partial legislation to which I lic journals that money.was now worth one, one and a have a strong objection, as all special laws conferring balf, and two per cent a month. The pressure was either rights or immunities, or other benefits, on particu• very great. The present state of tension could not lar individuals, must operate in derogation of the com- long endure. Without some relief, some speedy relief, mon rights and interests of the community. The law it was probable the merchants must yield. Let a single will, as bas been observed, act on the debtors of the failure take place to the amount of a million, half a United States, yet not upon any general principle; it million, or a quarter of a million, and, in its consequen will not operate on all the public debtors, nor on all of ces, it would produce such ruin in New York as would any general class, as the debtors for the purchase of the be felt to the very extremities of the Union. We might public lands, or the debtors for duties on imported then see that the forbearance which the bill proposes to goods; but its operation will be local, and confined to a extend to the merchants is the very best bargain for particular description of debtors in a single seaport ourselves which we can make. This is, therefore, a clear case of partial legislation, and The Senator from Kentucky [Mr. CLAY] has proobjectionable in principle. The question in my mind is, posed, as a substitute for this bill
, the remission of the whether the extraordinary circumstances of this case duties upon the goods destroyed by fire. In this propare such as to form an exception to a sound general osition he entirely concurred. He had always been of principle. If there can be any exception to this principle, opinion that, when merchandise bad been destroyed by (and I am not prepared to say there cannot be,) this case fire before it had gone into the consumption of the must be one. It is not necessary to enlarge on that country, the Government ought not to exact the duties. terrible calamity, or the consequences of it, which in He certainly, however, could not vote that the gentleone night laid in desolation a large portion of our great- man's amendment should take the place of the bill; and est commercial city. I consider this, sir, an extraordi- more especially, as a remission of duties on goods denary case, and I am therefore prepared to vote for this stroyed by fire was a distinct mode of relief, asked for bill
, although it will require a departure from a sourd by the citizens of New York, which would yet come beprinciple which I am extremely unwilling to disregard. fore the Senate.
Mr. BUCHANAN said it had not been bis intention to To the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Davis) he say a single word upon this question. He would not would say that he felt as friendly to American manudo so now, but he distinctly perceived, if the friends of factures and American manufacturers as he or any the bill yielded to any one of the amendments which other gentleman could do, and would go as far to rehad been proposed, the bill was lost. We must take lieve them. But what can we do for them on the presthe bill as it now is, or none. For his own part, he ent occasion? We have not the power to do any thing. took a much more liberal view of the question than And shall we, because we cannot do all the good we some of those gentlemen who had addressed the Senate. desire, do nothing at all? He trusted this bill would What was the state of the case? On the 16th of De- pass without any amendment. cember last, a capital of between seventeen and eigh- Mr. CLAY said he perceived, what he was not aware teen millions of dollars had been in one day annihilated of when he offered his amendment; [Mr. C. here menby fire, in our greatest commercial emporium. Not. tioned some new light in which the matter had prewithstanding this calamity, not a single failure had since sented itself to his mind, not distinctly heard or undertaken place among the merchants of that city. He stood by the reporter;] and as there seemed to be a would say that he did not believe the history of the general disposition to grant the relief asked for, he commercial world presented an example of such punc- would withdraw the amendment he had offered. tuality, and such ability to comply with all engagements,
Mr. TYLER considered it rather supererogatory to in the midst of such distress. It was highly honorable, extend this discussion further. But, as a member of not only to New York, but to the American character. the Committee on Finance, he had found in investigaAt the time of this destructive fire, the merchants of ting the matter that it had been the uniform practice of that city were indebted to the United States about the Government to extend indulgence to its debtors. $3,500,000. And what does this bill, first and second He found, in the year 1803, an act for the relief of the sections and all, propose? To give them this amount, sufferers by fire in Norfolk, and the first section of this or any part of it? No, sir. All that is asked is, that you bill was like it. He could not go against this bill, when shall not, in the midst of their distress, extort this sum his own fellow-citizens of Virginia had been relieved in from them; which, at this moment, may save them from precisely the same case. Mr. T. mentioned the names insolvency and ruin, for the purpose of placing it in an of the committee to whom it had been reserred in the overflowing treasury, where it is not wanted. You are Senate; and, said he, in the House of Representatives, only asked to grant these suffering merchants time to Mr. Randolph was chairman of the commiltee who repay this money, provided they give you ample security ported it, who was always attached to strict constructhat the money shall be paid. Is there a single Senator tion of the constitution, and it was approved by Thomas who would not most cheerfully comply with this re. Jefferson; with these precedents before him, added to quest, if he did not believe the constitution to be in his the convictions produced by the argliments of the genway? Not one. He certainly should not go into the tlemen who had advocated the passage of the bill, he argument of the constitutional question, after what had could not vote against it. Mr. T. spoke of the respecalready been said. He felt confident that a large tive merits of the first and second sections of the bill. majority of the Senate were already convinced that it afforded relief to the whole commercial community the constitution had nothing to do with the question. I involved in this sweeping calamity; said he, it is not alone SENATE.)
Sufferers by Fire in New York.
(Jan, 13, 1836,
the drawer, it is the endorser, who stands in danger he must vote against the bill, unless his objections to the of losing the amount. The effect reached, to a great second section were removed. extent, every person in the commercial community. Mr. KING, of Alabama, was entirely at a loss to see There was one difference between the precedent he what it was that caused the gentleman from South Carhad cited and this bill. There it was not limited as this olina [Mr. Calhoun) to deprecate the principle of the
In this bill they had extended a guard over it, Government extending relief to sufferers by fire or and, as it now stood, it was better guarded than the earthquakes. Had they not a constitutional power of bill granting relief to the sufferers at Portsmouth and extending relief to them? He had no constitutional difNorsolk.
ficulties in his way, and would not for his part inquire Mr. HENDRICKS observed that it was obvious that whether the right to legislate upon the subject had been the bill would be reported to the Senate without amend established by precedent or not. He consulted his own ment, and that he was prepared to vote for it as it was. common sense upon the subject. He had no doubt that He would resist all amendments that might be offered, granting the relief asked for was a duty they owed to believing that they would only tend to prolong dis- themselves, to the country, and to the sufferers in this cussion and embarrass the passage of the bill.
great calamity that had befallen that noble city. He Mr. EWING thought it necessary to say a word or would go as far as any one in support of the measure. two in relation to the first section, before taking the He would not withhold the relief under technical obquestion on his amendment, as it was supposed there jections. It was true he would prefer confining the remight be some discrepancy between them which might lief to American citizens alone; and the objections sug: be removed by another amendment he would then suggested by the gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Da. gest. The first section of the bill provided that the vis,) had some weight with him. But he was not going collector of the port of New York should be authorized to oppose the bill because he did not see its operations to extend the credit on the bonds, payable in New in all its complex and intricate bearings. The commerYork, of those who had suffered by the fire. Now, he cial connexion was ramified and extensive in its characproposed that each collector, in the different ports of Touch one single street in this great commercial the United States, should have the same authority given emporium-touch Wall street--and you give a shock to him. It would have this effect. It would operate in fa- the whole country. He should vote for the bill. vor of none who had not suffered by the fire, and it The question was then taken on Mr. Ewing's amend. would not give a preference to one port over another. ment, and lost, without a division. To illustrate this, he would state a case.
A and B are Mr. WHITE had intended to vote for this bill, and as sufferers by the fire in New York, and both have bonds the yeas and nays were called on the amendment by the becoming due; the one resides in New York and the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Calioun,) he other in Philadelphia, so that the bill extends relief to would state the reasons why he should vote against it. the first and not to the last. Now, he would ask, what The first section provided relief for those who had act. good reason there was for making this distinction? The ually suffered by the fire, and the second section gave amendments he had suggested would remove all his relief to those who had suffered a consequential loss. constitutional objections to the bill, and, if made, it Now, was it possible that they had the power to indulge would give him pleasure to vote for it.
their debtors in the first case and not in the second? Mr. CALHOUN said he had listened with great at. Here a great calamity bad befallen a great city, and they tention to those gentlemen who had taken part in this were asked not to forgive the debts of those indebted debate, but his objections to the second section still re- to them, but to grant indulgence by extending the time mained unchanged. It was admitted on all hands that of payment to those who had actually suffered by this this second section contained a novel principle, and that great calamity. This was proposed to be done by the no precedent for it was to be found on our statute first section. There was another class of debtors, said books. Here indulgence was extended to those who Mr. W., not immediately sufferers, and we apply tu had not suffered by the fire, and the argument in support them for payment; they answer that they have lost by of it was that it was not a regulation as to revenue, but those who have suffered by the fire, and that if we do that we were as creditors dealing with our debtors. But not indulge them also, they would be put to great in. might not this apply as well when the commercial com. convenience and distress. The loss of the one class as munity of a city had suffered by any other calamity, by much deserved relief as the other; for, in such a calamthe breakage of banks, or by shipwrecks? You may ity, no man could tell how far the losses extended. He at no time (said Mr. C.) say that this particular city has confessed he had no hesitation in extending relief in suffered and we must extend relief to it. Let it be rec. both cases, and he had no constitutional scruples as to ollected that it was not for the misfortunes of small the bill. Suppose the case of the commercial commutowns that so much sympathy was excited; but that the nity suffering by the breaking out of a war, or great calamities of large cities create an excitement which losses have been occasioned by inundations of the Misis apt to cause the constitution to be overlooked, and a sissippi. One half of your debtors under such circumdangerous precedent established by giving a preference stances apply for relief, and you grant it; the other half to that city over the other ports of the Union. You tell you that they bave suffered as much in consequence must (said Mr. C.) extend relief only to those who have of the losses sustained by those to whom you have grantsuffered, or you will establish, a dangerous precedented relief: how would you make the distinction between He felt deeply for the losses sustained by this great them? As there was a direct loss, and also a probable commercial city, and he would with the greatest pleas- loss in consequence of it, they had a right to grant the ure vote for the bill if its objectionable features were relief, and he was prepared to vote for the bill, and removed; but principle with him was stronger than against the amendment. feeling, and he was compelled to oppose it. He was Mr. PRESTON said the second section of the bill was not sent there to exercise his sympathies, but for a virtually a regulation of commerce, and gave a prefhigher purpose. He would much prefer leaving this erence over the port of New York. It was, therefore, money in the hands of the merchants to placing it in the to his mind, unconstitutional, and he could not vote for monopolizing banks, wbich made such great profits by it. Mr. P. read the clause of the constitution on that the use of it; for he believed the merchants would make subject, which says, “no preference shall be given by a better use of it. He would vote for the amendment any regulations of commerce or revenue to the ports of of the gentleman from Ohio, but even if thui preyailed one State over those of another."