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amendment proposed. By the law, as it came from the senate, the intercourse was left open to British vessels for more than a year after it had been closed to American vessels; and no provision was made to close it after the time, although no concession should be made by Great Britain in the mean time.

With the view of effecting that object, the amendment was proposed, and similar grounds were taken, in its support and defence, as those urged in the senate, in behalf of the bill originally reported.

Mr. TOMLINSON, in supporting the amendment, said, that he should have preferred the 30th of September as the period when the interdict should take effect; but he was not disposed to insist on that day, and was willing, in order to secure the passage of the act, to extend the period to the 31st of December


He was, however, utterly opposed to the adoption of any measure, which did not establish an ultimate exclusion of British ships from the colonial trade, in case Great Britain should continue the provisions of her order in council; and he wished the British government distinctly to understand, that such is our determination.

Mr. FORSYTH thought, that by insisting on this amendment, the bill would be lost, and that the president would be compelled, by the

existing laws, to close the trade by proclamation at once.

Mr. WEBSTER objected to the bill as it came from the senate, because it was a measure of pure, unmixed concession. It also repealed, after the 31st of December, the discriminating tonnage duty, which, he presumed, was not the intention of the senate, inasmuch as it put it in the power of Great Britain to carry on the colonial trade, in her own vessels, after that period, upon better terms than even at present; and that without any concession on her part.

He thought the house could not be too prompt in repeating the declaration which this government


ever maintained, that we would have no trade with those countries, where our vessels were not permitted to go. While he would propose reasonable terms to the British government, and afford ample time for their acceptance, he would, at the same moment, express the determination of this government, that if those terms were not accepted, the intercourse must cease. For these reasons, he supported the amendment. He found it difficult to persuade himself, that the senate would not accede to it. He would, however, leave the option with that body, to assent to it, or to compel the president to close the trade immediately by procla mation. If the latter course was preferred, so be it. For his own

part, he could only say, that he thought the bill, in its present shape, was misunderstood by those who supported it, and was incompatible with the interest and honour of the country.

The house having adopted the amendment, by a vote of 80 to 56, passed the bill, and returned it to the senate for its concurrence on the second of March.

A short debate then ensued in the senate, but the amendment was finally rejected, by a vote of 26 to 18.

The disagreement of the senate having been announced to the house, it was resolved, by a vote of 71 to 47, to insist on the amendment, and to ask a conference, which was granted by the se


On the part of the house, the conferees were Messrs. Tomlinson, Webster, and Wurtz: on the part of the senate, Messrs. Tazewell, Smith, of S. C., and Johnston. The conferees not having agreed, the house, after an animated debate, in which Messrs. Cambreleng, McDuffie, Buchanan, Forsyth, and Ingham, opposed the amendment; and Messrs. Web. ster, Wright, and Wurtz, sustained it, determined to adhere to its amendment, by a vote of 75 to 65.

The senate, on the other hand, refused to recede from its disagreement to that amendment, by a vote of 25 to 20; and the bill was lost.

Congress having adjourned, with. out making any law, for the purpose of meeting the British restrictive measures, the president, in pursuance of the power vested in him by the act of 1823, issued a proclamation, dated March 17th, closing the ports of the United States, against vessels from the British colonies, which had been opened by the act of 1822.

The restrictive measures of the British government, were in this manner fully reciprocated, and the shipping of both countries, being excluded from the direct intercourse, the trade between the United States and the British West Indies, was carried on through the islands belonging to other European powers.

Some discontent was manifested by some classes of the community, at this interruption of their business; and the leading politicians, opposed to the administration, eagerly seized upon this subject, as a

popular topic of declamation against the president and the secretary of state. Public opinion, however, sustained the government in the stand taken by it in this controversy; and great regret was felt, that in the warmth of opposition, the members of congress, opposing the administration, should have lost sight of the interest and dignity of their own country; and defended the course taken by the British government.


Opening of Congress-Pankrupt System-Failure. of Law of 1800~~ State Laws-Postponement of Bankrupt Act of last session-Mr. Hayne's Proposition-Discussion in Senate-Mr. Branch's Amendment-Proceedings thereon-Defeat of Bill-Vice President's Appeal-Report of Committee-Publishing the Laws-Character of the Debate-Creek Controversy-Message of the President thereon-Proceedings in Senate-Debate in House-Report—Cession of Land by Creeks; and conclusion of Controversy.

PURSUANT to the federal constitution, the second session of the nineteenth congress commenced on the 4th of December, 1826, when the two houses were organized in the usual manner. In the senate, thirty-seven members attended. In the house, one hundred and seventy members were present at the call of the roll. The next day the president transmitted his annual message, which will be found in the second part of this volume.

This document gave a clear account of the foreign affairs of the country, and particularly alluded to the controversy with Great Britain, respecting the trade with her colonies. The death of the emperor Alexander, was mention. ed in terms, which were called for by the uniform friendly feelings

manifested by that monarch towards the United States. With France and the Netherlands, our commercial relations were described, as on a more favourable footing, than at the commencement of the last congress.

The state of the public finances were fully detailed, and while it appeared that the revenue was not so large as at the last annual report, its deficiency was not so great as to prevent the application of $7,067,039 to the reduction of the public debt, and $3,944,359 to the payment of interest. The receipts of the post office exceeded its expenditure nearly $80,000.

The president proceeded, in discharge of his constitutional duties, to recommend to the consideration of congress, a system for the per

manent increase of the navy; the unsettled land claims in Florida and Louisiana; the works of internal improvement, reported by the board of engineers; and particularly directed its attention to the irregularities of the Brazilian and Buenos Ayrean squadrons, towards neutral flags.

The estimates of appropriations for the different depart. ments of the government, were submitted, with the message; as was a system of cavalry tactics, prepared during the summer, under the direction of the war department. Other topics were introduced into the message, but as it will be found among the public documents, (page 1,) it is deemed unnecessary to give a more detailed account of its contents.

The evils growing out of the distracted condition of the country, at the close of the revolutionary war, and the unwise legislative expedients adopted by the state governments, under the old articles of confederation, to alleviate the pecuniary distresses of their constituents, induced the sagacious patriots, who framed the federal constitution, to vest in the national government the power to enact laws of bankruptcy, and to prohibit the state legislatures from passing any laws impairing the obligation of contracts. By these provisions, they hoped to remove from the lo

cal assemblies the temptation of rendering themselves popular at the expense of our national character, by sanctioning relief and appraisement laws, and all those various devices for temporary alleviation of pecuniary embarrassments, which disgraced the statute books of several of the states, previous to the adoption of the federal compact. At the same time they intrusted to congress, a body more dignified in its character, and, from the nature of its duties, more mindful of our national reputation, the delicate and responsible power of deciding, when the claims upon a bankrupt debtor shall be discharged, upon a surrender of his property; and thus reconciling the claims of the citizen to the enjoyment of personal liberty, with the effective obligation of private contracts. This power, from peculiar circumstances, was not exercised until the year 1800, when a bankrupt law was passed, and a short and unsatisfactory trial was given to the system, during a period of great political excitement.

In 1803 this law was repealed, and from that time until the decision in the case of Sturges v. Crowninshield, the state insolvent laws took the place of a general bankrupt act, and a system of local and temporary expedients, under the authority of the state legislatures, was introduced, for the relief of unfortunate debtors, which did

not differ materially in principle from those under the old confederacy, and which had similar effects in injuring the character of our legislation, and in impairing the mercantile credit of the country.

That decision, which was made in 1819, gave a fatal blow to this species of fraudulent legislation. The state legislatures could no longer enact statutes affecting the obligation of existing contracts; and as much doubt was entertained as to their power of passing laws operating prospectively upon future contracts, a very general expectation prevailed, that congress would exercise the authority specifically granted to that body, by passing a general bankrupt act. Until that was done, insolvent debtors were entirely at the discretion of their creditors, and in conformity with the wishes of a large majority of the nation, the president, in his first message to the nineteenth congress, recommended the subject to its particular attention.

At the first session, a bill was introduced into the senate, for the purpose of establishing an uniform system of bankruptcy, but on account of the great length of the discussion on the Panama mission, no time was allowed for the proper discussion of its details, and it was after some debate indefinitely postponed.

At the commencement of the succeeding session, Mr. Hayne, of

South Carolina, who had distinguished himself on a former occasion, as the eloquent and enlightened advocate of a general bankrupt system, introduced, pursuant to notice, a bill similar in its provisions to that which had been already indefinitely postponed.

After several amendments had been made to the bill, which were generally accepted without discussion, a motion was made by Mr. Branch, to strike out the ninetythird section, which authorized proceedings under the statute; upon the petition of creditors against bankrupts not engaged in trade or merchandise. It was, however, provided by this section, that a commission of bankruptcy could not issue in such cases, without the consent of the bankrupt. To this section it was objected by Mr. Branch, that it rendered the law unconstitutional. Congress had only the power of establishing an uniform system of bankruptcy; and as this section extended the benefit of the bankrupt system to agriculturists upon different terms from those applied to the traders, it was not uniform in its operation, and, therefore, was not within the terms of the constitution.

He could not be convinced, but that the only means of rendering the law uniform, would be to strike out that section.

Mr. Rowan thought that section the most valuable part of the bill,

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