Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 13
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
OP DEBATES m congress:
Dec. 20,1824,3 Virginia Claims—Occupation of the Mouth of the Oregon.
[H. of R.
question, its proper direction was rather to the Commit-
tee on the Judiciary, than to that on Military Affairs.
Mr. STEVENSON observed that he felt no peat so-
licitude as to what direction the resolution should take;
but he thought his friend from South Carolina was mis-
taken in supposing that the resolution embraced a ques-
tion of a purely legal character. It was a question
■which arose entirely out of military transactions. In send-
ing it to the Military Committee, he had been guided by
the suggestion of some of the oldest members of this
House, whose opinions he had consulted, and also by
the reference of a similar question in the other House of
Mr. HAMILTON adhered to bis amendment, being
persuaded that the resolution could in no case pertain to
the Military Committee. If it did not properly belong
to the Committee on the Judiciary, it ought to go to the
Committee on Claims.
Mr. P. P. HARBOUR thought that, from the nature
of the functions of the Committee on the Judiciary,
(which had cognizance of courts and of laws,) this sub-
ject could not belong to them. The principle of the
gentleman from South Carolina would send every ques-
tion in which law was concerned to that committee. This
was a question concerning disbursements for military
service, and, as such, properly pertained, he should sup-
pose, to the Committee on Militaiy Affairs.
The question was then taken on Mr. HAMILTON'S
amendment, and lost-, when \
Mr. SHAUPE, of New York, moved to amend the re-
solution, so as to refer the subject to the Committee of
Claims ; which was carried,—ayes 94, noes 63.
Thus amended, the resolution was agreed to.
Mr. MALLAltY, of Vermont, then offered the follow-
ing resolution :
Resolved, That the Committee on Naval Affairs be
instructed to inquire into the expediency of making an
appropriation for collecting materials, and preparing for
the building of a steam vessel of war for the defence of
Mr. MALLARY observed, that it was well known to
the House, that the Government had, some time since,
erected fortifications, on an extensive scale, with a view
to the defence of Lake Champlain; but that, owing to a
dispute or error with respect to the boundary line,
which separates that part of the United States from Ca-
nada, those works had been abandoned. The lake was,
in consequence, now left destitute of any defence what-
ever, as the navy, which, for a time, floated on its wa-
ters, was now dismantled, and fast going to decay. It'
the general principle of defence on which the country
was acting, in relation to our Atlantic seaboard, was a
just and wise principle, it surely applied with additional
strength to a case where the country of the enemy was
not on the other side of the Atlantic, but in immediate
adjacency to our territory.
The resolution was adopted.
Mr. FLOY!), of Virginia, moved that the House go
into committee of the whole on the state of the Union,
with a view to take up tiie hill " Cor the occupation of
the mouth of the Columbia (or Oregon) Iiiverwhich
was agreed to, and the House went into committee ac-
cordingly, Mr. A. STEVENSON in the chair.
I'he bill was read by sections, and the several blanks
Mr. FLOYD, of Virginia, said, so much, Mr. Chair-
man, lias been said ami written on this subject, that I
will be as concise as possible, as 1 do not wish to con-
sume the time of the committee. This subject has been
so long before the House, that I presume the mind of
every gentleman must be satisfied as to the propriety of
the measure; 1 will, thsrefore, only present a few Rew
ideas and additional facts which are in my possession,
and my inferences from those facts, and content myself,
with that defence of the measure, to leave the bill to its
I know, that it is an opinion much urged, and gene-
rally adopted, that we should keep our population as,
much condensed as possible j that there would be dan-
ger in erecting a territory at so great a distance, as pro-
tection would be difficult, if not impossible, and that
there would be danger of separation; that, in-all milita-
ry operations, the frontier to be protected should be as
small as the nature of the case would permit, and that
In replying to all these objections, I would not wish to
be understood, as urging my own opinions. I will can-
didly state to the House, that, to me, it seems very
doubtful, whether military posts and fortified places are
at all necessary in a country situated as ours is. Not-
withstanding these are my opinions, I am willing to
grant anything in reason which the administration of the
country may think necessary to its defence. We often
receive opinions from others, and from books, taking
the subject up as presented by writers, rather than using
them as the means of becoming acquainted with the
matter, and, by our own mature reflection, apply them
to the existing state of things. This, I believe to be
the case, as it regards our notions of military defences.
It is indeed true, that, in the early ages, Europe was held
by some powerful nations, who fortified their cities. At
that day, the nation, was almost altogether in the city,
the country being tilled by the poor sent out for the pur-
pose, or by slaves; and, when it was overrun by the
northern barbarians, they were obliged to defend them-
selves in these fortresses as 'hey coald; it was not war,
but conquest and extermination.
The fierce contest was soen over; the country was
parcelled out among the barons who followed their dar-
ing chief, or king, the great baron of the invading force.
Thus placed amid a new and beautiful country, fertile
and abounding in wealth, these fierce and haughty bar-
barians soon engaged in acts of strife and mutual ag-
gression. It became a matter of importance to each, to
secure himself against the sudden attack of his neighbor,
which, by means of beacon fires, kindled on the tops of
mountains, a blast from the trumpet, or other signals of
co-operation, irruptions were frequently made on each
other's dominions, without an hour's notice; hence,
strong castles or fortresses became necessary, or rather
indispensable. Warring with each other, and sometimes
with the king, filled up the space of many years. The
executive, however, gradually increasing its power, vio-
lating the rights of the people, and constantly encroach-
ing on the power of the barons, established itself more
firmly; yet, the castles were not finally destroyed on
the continent, until about the reign of Henry IV. As
the barons were subdued, and their fortresses demolish-
ed, standing armies, by degrees, were introduced, and
each king maintaining an army, greater perhaps than
the actual state of things required, compelled his neigh-
bor to resort to the like means for security and defence: '
thus the circle of the kingdom was fortified instead of ■
the barony, and the nations of Europe came to fortify
themselves against each other, just as the petty barons
had done; the frontier was enlarged, but the system not
changed ; hence, the rnultitiide of fortresses that cover
Europe. Here, however, we have nothing of this sort
to fear; our country is of such vast extent, that we ar«
protected by it from the broils of petty powers, torment-
ing by their intrigues, and secure from the Unwarranta-
ble ambition of the great states, by being removed from
them. We have no enemy, nor can have any, but such
as comes from Europe—Europe, the disturber of the
Should we,at any time, unfortunately, find ourselves
involved in war with any power in Europe, we shall al-
ways have time enough to prepare for the event; ami.
Here’s what’s next.
This book can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Book.
Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/11/: accessed February 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.