Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 151
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GALES & BEATON'S REGISTER
National Penitentiaries.—Crimes against the U. States. [Jan. 7, 1825.
against me, and I would certainly sanction none in my
f vor. While here, I can furnish testimony, applicable
to any case, in both views, which a full investigation may
require; and the committee to whom the subject may be
referred, by reporting facts now, with -a view to a deci-
sion after my retirement, will allow time for further in-
formation, and due consideration, of all matters relating
thereto. Settlements with a person in this trust, which
could not be made with the accounting officers of the
Government, should always be made by Congress, and
before the public. The cause of the delay, in present-
ing these claims, will be explained to the committee to
whom the subject may be referred. It will, I presume,
be made apparent, that it was inevitable; that, from the
peculiar circumstances attending each case, Congress
alone could decide on it; and that, from considerations
of delicacy, it would have been highly improper for me
to have sought it from Congress at an earlier period than
that which is now proposed, the expiration of my term
m this high trust.
Other considerations appear to me to operate with
great force, in favor of the measure which I now propose.
A citizen, who has long served his country, in its high-
est trusts, has a right, if he has served with fidelity, to
enjoy undisturbed tranquillity and peace, in his retire.*-
tnent. This he cannot expect to do, unless his conduct,
in all pecuniary concerns, shall be placed, by severe
scrutiny, on a basis not to be shaken. This, therefore,
forms a strong motive with me for the inquiry which I
now invite. The public may also derive considerable
advantage from the precedent, in the future movement
of the Government. It being known that such scrutiny
was made, in my case, it may form a new and strong
barrier against the abuse of the public confidence in
Washington, 5th January, 1825.
The Message was read, and ordered to lie on the ta-
ble and be printed, Mr. INGHAM for that purpose waiv-
ing a motion, which he had made, to refer it to a Select
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES—Jasuabv 7, 1825.
Mr. COOK, of Illinois, presented the following reso.
" Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary be
instructed to inquire into the expediency of establishing
one or more National Penitentiaries for the confinement
and punishment of persons convicted of offences against
the laws of the United States, to be located at such
place or places as shall be most convenient to the differ-
ent sections of the Union. "
In support of this resolution, Mr. COOK observed,
that a bill was now before the committee of the whole
House, which provided for the punishment of crimes
against the United States, and which made between
thirty and forty different offences punishable by death.
He did hope that, in the Dresent advanced state of hu-
man society, those principles which had been handed
down from a barbarous antiquity, and embodied in so
many of the codes of European legislation, were suscep-
tible, under her Government, of improvement and miti-
gation—that the sevfrity with which crimes are punish-
ed in the old countries, might be diminished consistent-
ly with the protection of society against crimes. The
bill referred to, besides its long list of capital punish-
ments, assigned to an almost innumerable amount of dif-
ferent offences, the punishment of imprisonment and
hard labor. This presented a subject, which would call
lor the inquiry and reflection of Congress; it opened a
wide field, and one which, though often and long ex
plored by jurists and legislators, had never enjoyed so
fair an opportunity to be investigated asunder a Govern-
ment like ours, in which so much more of sympathy ex-
isted between the governors and' governed than was to
be found under the systems of the old world. He hop-
ed the resolution would be agreed to ; and that, if the
committee should not have time and opportunity to ma-
ture a perfect system for the management of convicts
sentenced to imprisonment and hard labor, they might
at least be able to report some preliminary steps to-
wards the attainment of a wise and salutary system for
effecting so interesting a subject.
The resolution was adopted.
NIAGARA CLAIMS, &c.
On motion of Mr. TRACY, the House took up the bill
for the relief of the Niagara sufferers.
The question being put on engrossing the bill for a
third reading, it was decided in the affirmative—Ayes
81, Noes 67;
And the bill was ordered to be read a third time on
Mr. WILLIAMS gave notice that, on the third read-
ing of the bill, he should require the question of its pas-
sage to be taken by yeas and nays.
CRIMES AGAINST THE UNITED STATES.
On motion of Mr. WEBSTER, of Mass the House
went into committee of the whole, Mr. CONDICTinthe
ch.iir, on the bill more effectually to provide for the pun-
ishment of certain crimes against the United States, and
for other purposes.
[The following is an abstract of the provisions of this
bill, as originally reported:
I he first section provides, That, if any person or per-
sons within any fort, dock yard, &c. he. shall, wilfully
and maliciously, burn any dwelling house, or mansion
house, or any store, barn, or stable, within the curtilege
thereof, every person so offending, his or her counsel-
lors, aiders, and abettors shall be deemed guilty of fe-
lony, and shall, on conviction thereof, suffer death.
1 he second section provides, That, if any person or
persons, in any of the places aforesaid, shall, wilfully and
maliciously,set fire to, or burn, or otherwise destroy, any
beacon, or any other building, than is in the first section
of this act mentioned, or any timber, &c. 8tc. every per-
son, so offending, his or her counsellors, aiders, and abet-
tors, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall, on con-
viction thereof, be punished by fine, not exceeding five
thousand dollars, and by imprisonment and confinement
to hard labor, not exceeding ten years, according to the
aggravation of the offence.
The third section provides, That, if any offence shall be
commuted in any of the places aforesaid, the punishment
of which offence is not specially provided for by any law
of the United States, such offence shall, upon a conviction
in any court of the United States, haying cognizance
thereof, be liable to, and receive the same punishment
as the laws of the state, in which such fort, dock yard,
navy yard, arsenal, or magazine, or other place, ceded
as aforesaid, is situated, provide for the like offence,
stafn comm'"e<^ "ie body of any county of such
The fourth section provides, That, if any person or
persons upon the sea, or in any arm of the sea, or in anv
river, haven, creek, basin, or bay, within the admiralty
and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, shall,
commit the crime of wilful murder, or rape, every person
so offending, his or her counsellors, aiders or abettors,
shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall, upon con-
The fifth section provides, That, if any person or per-
sons, upon the sea, or in any other of the places afore-
said, within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction
aforesaid, shall commit theft by force or violence, &c.
or run away with vessels, &c. every person so offending,
his or her counsellors, aiders, and abettors, shall be deem-
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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/m1/80/: accessed April 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.