Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 113
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OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS.
Jan. 3, 1825.]
[H. of R.
feated? He felt convinced that such had been the case
in the present instance. It was the connexion of his
proposition with other features in the naval bill, which
had prevented its being taken up by the House. He,
therefore, submitted whether, under this view of the
subject, his motion for a separate inquiry into this sub-
ject, was not in order. ,
The SPEAKER adhered to his decision, and explain-
ed the rule of order, but suggested that other modes of
attaining the same object might be resorted to.
The question was then put, and the resolution was
laid upon the table.
Mr. ARCHER, of Va. from the joint committee ap-
pointed to communicate to General Lafayette the
act passed for his benefit, asked and obtained leave to
report—when he submitted copies of a letter from the
committee to the General, and his reply, (as v.' 111 be
seen in the account of the Senate proceedings,) which,
on motion of Mr. CONDICT, were entered at large on
the Journals of the House.
The House then proceeded to the order of the day,
and went again into committee ot the whole, Mr. CAMP-
BELL, of Ohio, in the chair, on the bill for the relief of
the Niagara sufferers.
Mr. CADY, of New York, then rose, and observed, it
was but seldom that he obtruded himself upon the at-
tention of this House, but being a citizen of the slate of
New York, and having had an opportunity of knowing
something of the merits of the petitioners in this case, he
could not consent to give a silent vote. I once, said
Mr. C, entertained an opinion nearly similar to the one
expressed by tile honorable gentleman from North Ca-
rolina. I once believed that exa^g-eration had magnified
the sufferings and multiplied the losses of these peti-
tioners—but, sir, that.day of ignorance has gone by. It
was once my duty, in the Legislature of New York, to
examine this subject, and I do assure the honorable gen-
tleman from North Carolina, and this committee, that,
as regards the losses of these petitioners, ai,d the mise-
ries they endured, the truth has never been half told. 1
am not now disposed to enter into a disquisition whether
this claim is to be classed under the head of a perfect or
imperfect obligation; the black letter reading of Coke
or of Blackstone, will have but little influence in deter-
mining my vote. Nor, sir, shall I consult the musty
pages of Grotius or Puifendorf, to know for what losses
those gentlemen are pleased to say, Governments are
bound to pay. But, sir, I have asked my conscience
whether I believe this Government ought to do some-
thing for these claimants, and whether we are prohibited
from doing it. I have also read the Constitution of my
country, and in the preamble I am told that it was adopt-
ed "to promote the general welfare." I believe our
right to do something has not been disputed. Why
not then do it ? One honorable gentleman seems to
suppose that the occupancy by our army of the build-
ings destroyed, was not the cause of their destruction.
What then, supposing it to be true, will you furnish no
Are our hands tied down and manacled, so that we
dare not touch one cent in the Treasury ? This has not
always been the case. The moneys heretofore given to
alleviate great calamities, the grants heretofore made
and appearing on your statute books, speak a different
language. The select committee, in their report upon
this subject, has called our attention to some other
$8,500 to the citizens of Pennsylvania, who suffered
losses by the wanton violence of some of her misguided
and misinformed inhabitants.
24,000 acres of land to the settlers at Galliopolis, be-
cause some speculators had cheated them.
§15,000, to unfortunate emigrants from flispaniola.
$50,000, to the inhabitants of Venezuela, whose ef-
fects were swallowed by an Earthquake.
And, sir, within a few days we have paid a debt of
$200,000, as due to Republican principles, and the cause
of liberty. But, sir, have gentlemen read the proof ac-
companying the report of the committee ? If they have,
1 fondly hope their doubts, as to the cause of the de-
struction of the buildings, have been removed. The pre-
sumption is so strong, sir, as to amount to what is called
a violent presumption. I think honorable gentlemen
ought not to entertain any doubts on this subject. The
destruction of the buildings, however, is said to have
been an act of "retaliation," and if so, this Government
ought not to pay for them. And to prove this, a Royal
Proclamation of a Royal Governor of his most Royal
Majesty, has been read. But, sir, I intend to spend no
time in examining that wonderful production; my
honorable colleague and friend has disposed of that,
satisfactorily, I trust, to the minds of this committee. I
will only say, that it was a " Salvo," a contemptible
ebullition, to satisfy the compunctious visitings of a
guilty conscience. Humanity has already passed judg-
ment upon the act, irrevocable as time, lasting as eter-
I have been instructed by the Legislature of New
York, of which I am a citizen, to advocate these claims.
I do it most cheerfully, regretting only my feeble pow-
ers. She asksyou to alleviate, in some degree, he losses
of a portion ot her citizens. She has long since extrud-
ed her charitable hand—she asks you to do equal and ex-
act justice—she has seen you pay for losses in the West
and in the South—she has seen your western dragoons
remounted, and the negroes of the southern planter re-
stored. Will you now listen to her application ? Are
there any more "constitutional objections" in the way ?
I well remember the time when she applied for your as-
sistance, in the formation and completion of a work
which history has already recorded as the proudest mon-
ument ot the age. But, sir, I do not wish to digress ;
rest assured, that, in the stale of New York, from Erie
to Long Island, there is an universal prayer that we shall
do something for these Niagara sufferers. If gentlemen
suppose the bill to be too broad, let us amend it in the
spirit ot charity—let us say, " come let us reason toge-
ther," but do not let us any more, with a cold tombstone
charity, say to those suffering petitioners, " be ye fed
and be clothed." The honorable gentleman from Ohio
has, in a warm, vivid, and glowing manner, peculiar to
himself, described some of the sufferings of these peti-
tioners. About two hundred inhabited dwellings were
entirely consumed; they contained, probably, upon an
average, from six to eight souls. From 12 to 1600 hu-
man beings, with the aged father, the helpless mother,
the infant in the cradle, were involved in one promiscu-
ous labyrinth of woe. At that most inclement season,
when the cold northern blasts of winter chill to the very
soul, were these claimants bereft of a home, without a
shelter but. the broad canopy of Heaven, the cold earth
their bed. Their sufferings may be. imagined—they
cannot be described. Many, to be sure, have gone to
their long home, but many still remain looking up to us,
and fervently imploring us to alleviate, in part, their
distresses. Let us do it; we need not fear the conse-
quences. No nation ever suffered by doing great, humane,
and generous acts. They tend to engage the affection,
and rivet the attachments of the people. Let us, then,
sir, do something worthy of this nation, and rest assur-
ed that the American people will not only hail you as
upright and able statesmen, but also as noble, generous,
Mr. SHARPE, of New York, expressed a wish that
the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. 1'. P. Bjuuiorti,)
would withdraw his motion to strike out the enacting
clause of the bill, as the time spent in discussing it would
prove, in a great measure, timo lost, if the House re-
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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/m1/61/: accessed February 25, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.