Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 97
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OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS.
Deo. 30, 1824.]
LH. of R.
hold which Congress possesses over this Institution. It
is, said Mr. B. as absolute a despotism as any tyrant
could wish. By the charter, the moment you withdraw
your assent, they cease to exist—they live but in your
presence; and I beg leave to ask, what greater con-
trol you would wish than that ?
It has been remarked that this territory ought to be
extremely rich, and the gentleman from Maine says he
does not wish to see it represented in Congress; but
this does not involve the question before the Senate.
On that point, however, Mr. B. said, it is the genius of
the constitution that the American people should be re-
presented wherever they may be placed. Why should
you wish to disfranchise them, and have a race of peo-
ple placed beyond the scheme of the constitution?
I must now, said Mr. B., address myself to my friend
from Massachusetts, in regard to his quid pro quo. We
will take it, says he, for granted, that the trustees did
receive a compensation for the debt: nominally, indeed,
they did; but it was unavailable, and it has been a most
unproductive transaction. Thousands of contracts are
made, and prove ruinous ; and, in such a case, would not
every generous man do his utmost to relieve the suffer-
ers ? There has been no quid pro quo. It appeared at
first that there was something like equality in the con-
tract between the parties, but it was merely nominal,
and now we know that it was a total loss on the pan of
I have, said Mr. B., no talent for illustrating the sub-
ject of education ; but the fruits it has already brought
forth in this very college, must make an immense im-
pression on the public mind. An individual, without le-
gislative aid, establishes an institution without any pros-
pect to himself of earthly good, except the consciousness
of a good deed; he lays the foundation—it takes root,
and flourishes ; and, from such a beginning, it now con-
tains 120 of the future legislators of the country. From
the specimens which have been produced, there is un-
equivocal evidence of the superior manner in which this
institution is conducted. Yet it only asks release from a
debt which it cannot pay, and which bears heavy on it;
and is it a matter of fair argument to say that such an in-
stitution has no stronger claims than an individual ask-
ing tor relief! The subject is now before you I have
endeavored to acquit myself according to my view of it,
and I recommend it to the favorable consideration of the
Congress of the United States.
Mr. HOLMES, of Maine, could not agree with the
reasoning of his friend from Virginia, He says the cor-
poration is in debt, and cannot pay, therefore forgive-
ness must be extended to it. This is the last reason he
should have thought of applying to a corporation. The
next thing would be that the Bank of the United States
would be asking them the favor to cede stock. Every
corporation that comes to want is to be considered in
the light of an individual debtor; but, in this instance,
Mr. it. did not know who they were to forgive. The
honorable gentleman had spoken of the right of repre-
sentation in this District; but he would only answer him
in the words of the Constitution, and that was a sufficient
answer for him.
Mr. MACON observed that he still did not precisely
understand what was wanted. I)id the college want the
Government to give up every thing while they gave up
nothing > It mattered not whether the case applied to
individuals or to corporations.
Mr. HaYNE did not rise to argue the question, but
merely to discover whether he was correct in his idea
ot the subject. ^ He understood, from the statements
made, that the institution held certain buildings, and
that the United States held their obligation for the debt.
These building's were essential for the prosperity of the
institution, and it was not in the power of the officers to
force payment without ruining the institution Part of
the debt might be collected by the sale of the college
buildings, but all of it cannot be. What was then the
question ? Should the Government, by a rigid enforce-
ment of their account, involve this valuable institution in
destruction f He, for one, said No. On the ground taken,
that the District was within their exclusive jurisdiction,
that they had no representative, and were thrown on
Congress, he wished the debt should be remitted. They
had done much for education in other places, then why
hesitate in this instance ?
Mr. MILLS said he understood that the corporation
had assumed the debt amongst themselves since the
completion of the buildings. It was an unwise and un-
necessary speculation, which they ought not to have
Mr. JOHNSON, of Kentucky, in reply, assured him
that he labored under a misapprehension—that the
houses were purchased by Luther Kice, it) his own
name, for the use of the college. The proposition was
made to the trustees of the college, to take the proper-
ty, and give their note to a certain amount. The houses
stand mortgaged to the Government of the United States,
and the Secretary of the Treasury, knowing the debt
was for the benefit of the college in the first instance,
had placed it in the name of the college.
Mr. LLOYD, of Mass., requested to know with what
view the purchase was originally made.
Mr. JOHNSON, ir. reply, stated that they were bought
for the express purpose of accommodating the agents of
the college, and carrying on the aft'airs of the institution,
before the college buildings were erected.
Mr. MILLS was not satisfied with the information ob-
tained in this way, but desired to have precise informa-.
tion as to the subject in question ; and, tor the purpose
of obtaining it in a proper form, he moved the recom-
mitment of the bill, that a report of the facts might be
Mr. BAliUOUR stated that the buildings were bought
by I., lli-'e, the founder of the institution, because he.
thought it would promote the object in view. The Se-
cretary of the Treasury thought he could not be injured;
for what he took was so much gained. After the incor-
poration took place, the Secretary knew it was connect-
ed with this institution, and carried on the negotiation
to make the debt a deot due from the Columbian Col-
lege. These houses, said Mr. B., bear no proportion to
the amount of the debt; and, if it can be paid, it must
be by the sale of the college, and, even then, the pro-
ceeds would be insufficient to satisfy the demand, as the
college owes other debts having a prior claim. The very-
existence of the college is involved in the question, and
you may, if von please, have the college cried through
the streets, like a horse, and knocked down for what it
Mr. CHANDLER recommended that the bill should
be recommitted, and a report made to call on the Secre-
tary of the Treasury for precise information regarding
the debt. \s to selling the college, they would, he
hoped, never find it necessary to do that. The Govern-
ment would never press the institution to their injury.
Let them pay it when they pleased, but only give the
House the necessary information to act on.
Mr. LLOYD, of Maryland, observed, that his absence
had prevented him from becoming fully acquainted with
the facts on which this petition rested. He thought,
however, that, if the Government released the college
from the debt, the college ought, at least, to give up to
tiie Government the property for which the debt was
created. On these terms he would be willing to cancel
the contract; and he moved the recommitment of the
bill, with instructions to report to that effect.
Mr. NOBLE was opposed to the instructions.
The motion to instruct the committee was lost; and
The bill was recommitted without instructions.
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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/m1/53/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.