Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 177
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
OF DEBATES IN CONGRESS.
JAN. 11, 1825.]
Accounts of the President of the United States.
[H. of R.
unjust and unkind to refuse to the President the appoint-
ment of a select committee upon the subject.
Mr. TKIMBLE, of Kentucky, said, he thought that
light enough had been thrown upon the subject to ena-
ble the House to vote a reference to some committee,
standing or select; and it did not apnear to him that any
further discussion would be useful. There must, of
course, be some delicate considerations involved in any
matter of account brought up for settlement on the
part of the Chief Magistrate. Some members propose
to treat it as a claim made by a private citizen—and no-
thing could be more correct, as a general rule but that
did not establish the propriety of referring the case to
any of the standing committees. How would it be if a
claim was set up against the President for moneys due
the Treasury ? Would an inquiry moved against him
be sent to a standing committee ? Certainly not. And
why should his demand against the Treasury be treated
otherwise than it would be, if it were a demand by the
Treasury upon him. Perhaps it was just to say that
something in the shape of courtesy was due to the per-
son who claims this inquiry into his accounts. He ought
at least to have the facilities of other citizens, and here-
tofore it had been usual to refer miscellaneous claims of
this description to select committees. Standing com-
mittees were established by the rules of the House, for
convenience, and the despatch of business, but, after 40
years of public service, a request to raise a select com-
mittee, and refer the accounts to it, was but a small fa-
vor, and probably not more than was due to the House,
and the nation, and the claimant, and the station which
he fills. The name of the committee would not change
the responsibility of the members placed upon it, and
there could be no doubt that any select committee would
do full justice to the claimant and the nation.
Mr. MERCER again rose, and said, that, the President
having deferred an exposition of the nature of his claims
until the appointment of a committee on the subject, it
seemed to be due to him, on the part of those who might
be in possession of any information on the subject, to
withhold it. But, after what had been said, he might be
excused both by the House and the President, for refer-
ring to facts which came to his knowledge twelve or
fourteen years ago, long before Mr. Monroe became
President, the statement of which might serve to remove
the only objection which had been seriously urged to an
investigation of the subject of the message. Mr. M.
here gave a brief statement of the rendition, by Mr.
Monroe, of his accounts for settlement, after his return
from his diplomatic service in Europe—of the settlement
of them being deferred, &c. You very well know, said
Mr. M. (addressing the chair, then temporarily occupied
by Mr. P. P. Barbour,) how unwilling the state which
we represent has been at all times to present any claims
of hers to this House—how sensitive every individual
Representative of that State on this floor has been in pre-
venting the presentation of the claim of that common-
wealth for interest on money advanced by her for the
use of the United States during the late war, and that
for five or six years it has been kept back, from that con-
sideration alone. The very same motive must have in-
fluenced Mr. Mokroe in refraining from presenting to
the then President, an inhabitant of his own state, a dis-
puted account for settlement. 1 know, said Mr. M. that
this consideration alone prevented him from doing it.—-
Some time afterwards, Mr. Mercer said, in a list of per-
sons reported to Congress as indebted to the govern-
ment, had appeared the name of James Monroe, as in-
debted some #80,000. In a wretched state of health, he
had immediately mounted his horse and come hither
from his residence in Albermarle county. He presented
his vouchers, and his accounts were settled, and a bal-
ance found due. to him, although a large amount of his
account against the United States yet remained suspend-
ed. That, Mr. M. hoped, would be considered a suffi-
cient reason for a reference of this subject to a commit-
tee, which, from the miscellaneous character of the ac-
counts of the President, ought to be a select committee.
What other course, Mr. M. asked, would gentlemen have
the President to pursue ? Would they' have him pre-
sent himself before an Auditor of his own appointment,
and present a claim for settlement ? What character
would the settlement of such a claim wear to this House?
Would not such a course be indiscreet in the President,
in reference to his own character ? That course, it must
be admitted, he could not have taken; and, if not, this
was the only other left open to him.
Mr. FARRELLY said, he hoped the message would
go to a select committee. Such a reference would only
be complying with the wishes of the President as ex-
pressed in it, (here Mr. F. quoted the message, and com-
mented on its several clauses.) It was manifest that the
subject, if not referred to a select committee, must go
to various standing committees of the House, each of
which might report a bill. Thus, there might be half a
dozen bills before the House at once, and as many differ-
ent reports. The gentleman from Delaware, (Mr.
M'Lake,) wishes to know the nature of claims, and what
they are founded on, before he refers them to any com-
mittee; but, Mr. F. said, the President purposely avoided
this, and said that he would disclose the nature of the
claims to the committee, when it was appointed. The
Presidentalso expressly desired that whatever was done,
might be done before the session was closed, and he had
stated a good reason why he had called on this House,
as the only proper and competent tribunal, to pass upon
his integrity in the pecuniary trusts which the nation has
committed to him. Mr. Monroe had received the high-
est trust upon earth ; and in relinquishing it, he demand-
ed an investigation of his conduct. Shall we not gratify
him, said Mr. F. ? Is it not an honorable request ?—
Surely; and the proper respect due to it, is the appoint-
ment of a select committee to make the investigation.
Mr. INGHAM rose for the purpose of satisfying the
gentleman from Delaware. He was able, from inquiry,
to assure that gentleman, that no balance existed on the
books of the Treasury against the President. It could
not be expected, from his situation, as having brought
forward the present motion, that he should press for the
appointment of a select committee.* He would, how-
ever, make one remark on what the gentleman from
New Hampshire (Mr. Bahtlett) had said, in relation to
improper bias operating on select committees. The re-
mark must either have relation to the honorable Speak-
er, (whose duty it would be to appoint the committee,)
or to himself. But the Speaker could not be alluded
to; his conduct, in the discharge of the duties of the
chair, was notoriously such as to forbid such a thought:
it must then be himself, to whom the gentleman alluded.
But, Mr. 1. said, he would assure that gentleman, that he
was as independent, in the discharge of his duties, as a
Representative of this floor, as the gentleman himself;
and he thought it was too much, for any one member of
the House to assume the guardianship of the independ-
ence of all the other members. For one, lie could not
suffer the exercise of such guardianship, as respected
Mr. REYNOLDS observed, that the gentleman from
Pennsylvania, (Mr. Buchastak,) had told the House
much about the faithful services of the President for
forty years, &c. All this, Mr. R. said, was well enough
known. But the question was, whether there was any
thing on the face of this document which required the
appointment of any committee at all ? Is this House,
asked Mr. H. constantly to be interrupted for every squib
that may be thrown, in the House or out of it, at the con-
duct of the President ? He believed, for his own pail,
* By custom of the House, the person moving such a Cont-
mittee, is, himself, nsually put at the head of it.—[Editors.
Here’s what’s next.
This book can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
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/m1/93/: accessed December 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.