Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 59
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GALES & SEATON'S REGISTER
H. of R.]
Occupation of the Oregon.—Niagara Sufferers. [Dec. 23, 27, 1824.
ing that, if any thing unpleasant should grow out of what
had passed, he might himself be referred to—he had en-
deavored to bring up the whole of what had occurred to
his recollection; he had also had some conversation witlr
other members of the committee, but had no reference
to the minutes. Me felt assured that there had existed
a misapprehension in the exposition of the language of
the gentleman from Virginia.
[The remarks of Mr. FLOYD were made in so law a
tone of voice, that our reporter lost much of what was
said ; but the above is believed to be the substance of
Here the conversation ceased.
OCCUPATION OF N. W. COAST.
The engrossed bill " To provide for occupying the
Columbia or Oregon River," was read a third time.
Mr. WHIPPLE, with a view to the amendment of
the bill, by striking out the third section, moved to
recommit it; and accompanied his motion by some
remarks on the impolicy of attempting the esta-
blishment of a Custom House, and the organization of a
Territory, on the coast of the Pacific.
Mr. FLOYD made some explanations in reply, and
concluded them by a request, that the gentleman from
New Hampshire would oblige him by withdrawing his
Mr. WHIPPLE repeated some of his reasons against
the third section, but would not refuse the request of the
gentleman, and therefore withdrew his motion.
But it was renewed by Mr. COOK, of Illinois, who
wished to press upon the House the question whether
the establishment of the contemplated post, taking form-
al and effectual possession of that region of countr),
would not be viewed by England as an infraction of the
Treaty of Ghent, by which it was agreed, that, although
the country on the Oregon should remain open to both
nations during ten years, (four of which are yet to come,)
the rights of neither to the soil should thereby be pre-
judiced. The establishment of a territory would, of
course, lead to an extinguishment of the Indian title, and
a permanent taking possession of the country for our
own. This he feared, as leading us into difficulties. He
thought it would be better to recommit the bill. Mr.
Cook replied to the views yesterday expressed by the
gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. TillmIt) in relation
to the operation of the Treaty, into which he went at
some length, in confirmation of the view lie had above
The question on recommitment was then put, and de-
cided in the negative. And the question then recurring
on the final passage of the bill, it was determined in the
affirmative—Ayes 113, Noes 57.
So the hill was passed. Its title was altered, at the
suggestion of Mr. FLOYD, by omitting the words " Co-
lumbia or" before the word Oregon, and then the bill
was sent to the Senate.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES—Dec. 27, 1824.
Mr. ELLIS, of Penn. submitted the following:
Resolved, That the Committee on the District of Co
lumbia be instructed to inquire into the condition of the
.tails of Washington and Alexandria, and the expediency
of directing any repairs or improvements on those build-
ings, or reformation in the present systems of conduct-
ing those institutions. And, also, that the Committee
on the District of Columbia be instructed to inquire into
the expediency of erecting a Penitentiary house for the
District of Columbia in the city of Washington.
In support of this motion, Mr. Et.lis wished \ ery brief,
ly to explain the object of his resolution. He said that,
in all well governed communities, tile means of repres-
sing and punishing crimes, had been a subject of the
first importance in their legislation ; that tile modes of
punishment and reformation of offenders against the
laws, had long been an object of great solicitude among
the most enlightened men of Europe. This subject had
drawn to its consideration the first talents of modern
times—I say, said he, the first talents, because I speak
of such men as Howard and Baccaria So early as 1785,
the labors of these great men were direct ed to this sub-
ject, and the best results have followed their exertions.
About the same time, the Legislature of his native state
engaged in the reformation of the penal cod? of Penn-
sylvania. In 1794, the Penitentiary system was adopted
there; this system is well known and duly appreciated,
not only in Pennsylvania, but in Europe—for reference
to the Legislature of this state, on this interesting sub-
ject, has been frequently made with high approbation,
by the most respectable European writers on the sub-
The experiment made in Pennsylvania lias led to the
melioration of punishments in New \ork, and many other
of the states.
He stated that he had visited_the gaol of this city, and
that, from the observations he had made, he was satisfi-
ed that legislative interference was necessary. And he
was persuaded, if gentlemen would take similar means
to acquire information on the subject that he had, they
would not differ materially from him in their conclusions.
In the system adopted here under the laws of Con-
gress, the debtor and criminal, the licensed and the con-
victed, are all placed upon the same footing. Punish-
ment and security amount to the same thing. In the
whole system there is nothing but simple force and con-
finement : reformation of the convict forms no part of
the system adopted here. No labor of the prisoners—
but all is actual force and confinement.
The object of all penitentiary punishments, is, at least,
two-fold—punishment and reformation. Here, it would
seem that the laws direct themselves but to one of these
views, namely, punishment.
He thought that, in this place, the seat of Govern-
ment of the United States, concentrating the experi-
ence and intelligence possessed in all parts of the Union,
that the legislation on this subject ought not to be be-
hind that of the several states.
Perhaps the peculiar population of the District re-
quired a revision of the present system. It is a rapidly
increasing population, and a portion of it is frequently a
transient and passing one ; thrown loose from those ob-
ligations which men feel to bind them in their original
and primary associations.
He thought the Penitentiary system, as opposed to
that.adopted here, required no defence. Yet, if it did, it,is
then susceptible of every defence. But he did not deem
the present as a proper occasion ©n which to make it.
He could not believe that the people of this District
were satisfied with the present modes of punishments
adopted liere. It is a system unworthy the authority of
Every humane and enlightened visiter, who comes to
remark upon the character of this place, and to carry
away a report and portraiture of the city and the admin-
istration of the government of the United States, would
say that reformation was necessary. To obtain this re-
formation was the object of the resolution which he had
The Resolve was then agreed to.
On motion of Mr. 1 RACY, the House went into com-
mittee of the whole, Mr. CAMPBELL, of Ohio, in the
chair, on the bill " further to amend the act authorizing
the payment for property lost, captured, or destroyed by
the enemy, while in the military service of the United
States, and for other purposes.
Mr. WILLIAMS, of North Carolina, rose in opposi-
tion to the bill. It the applicants on the present occa-
sion did not succeed, it would not be for the wunt of the
aid of the gentleman from New York, (Mr.Tiu.cx,) who
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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/m1/34/: accessed March 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.