The Congressional Globe: Containing the Debates, Proceedings, Laws, Etc., of the Third Session, Thirty-Fourth Congress Page: 265
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APPENDIX T© THE CONGRESSIONAL GLQBE.
34th Cong....3d Sess.
The Tariff and the Treasury—Mr. Covode.
'Ho. of JIefs.
between the receipts into the national Treasury
and the disbursements out of it, during the past
fiscal year, were less than a million of dollars; or,
in other words, we received less than a million
more than was paid out. And it is a fact, preg-
nant with instruction, that the whole amount of
money now in the Treasury, would not supply
the necessities-of the Government for more than
three months. And yet gentlemen are eternally
devisng expedients to lessen the supplies, on the
ground that we are growing too rich! Would
it be the part of a good business man, or a good
head of a household, to reduce, on principle, his
own means of conducting his affairs, to limits so
narrow that any accident could beggar him in the
course of a few months? Or do the alarmists,
on this subject, wish to cripple the beginning
operations of the incoming Administration by
depriving it of the means of providing for the
rapidly growing wants of the country?
This cry of alarm,: therefore, at the fullness of
the national Treasury, let me say, with perfect
respect to those who make it, seems to me a
practical absurdity, and is the poorest of all pos-
sible excuses for a change in our revenue policy.
If the Treasury be too full, there is a very
honest way of depleting it, without wasting it in
practices of corruption, as the alarmists think, or
rather say, is the use to which it is and is to be
put. The money in the Treasury belongs to the
people; and there is not a dollar now there which
is not justlv due and owing in debts to our own
citizens. Prom the Revolution down our Gov-
ernment has been indebted;and these debts have
been ever since, and are now, accumulating in
numbers and amounts scarcely believable by those
ignorant of the fact.
The history of this Government, so far as its
own citizens arc concerned, has been almost one
of virtual repudiation. The wrongs done by it
to its own citizens, in this respect, are unexam-
pled in the history of nations. Whilst it exacts
with the ligor of a nrser every dollar that may
be due to it by one of its own people, it practi-
cally has begun to look upon even a bare demand
of the citizen for his rights against the Govern-
ment as a crime. Almost every day's experience
in this House proves this. The words " fraud''
and " plunder" and "robbery" are not unusual
expressions in this Hbuse, made in reference to
those who demand rights against the United
States; and these opprobrious epithets applied to
our own citizcns, to whom wo are indebted—are
not only uttered, but they are printed at the ex-
pense of the nation, and scattered broadcast over
the country, to blacken the characters and dis-
turb the peace of those whose money we have
locked up in the Treasury, and to whom we deny
all right to receive payment. This is a deep,
grievous, and growing wrong, and one that cannot
fail, at an early day, to command the attention of
the people of the whole nation ! Our Government
is shamefully dishonest and unjust towards its
creditors when they are its own private citizens.
Let us begin by being hnne^i; poy our debts; and
the cry will shortly he, not one of alarm at the
fullness of the national Treasury, but rather one
of apprehension because of its emptiness; and our
wits will be taxed, not for expedients to empty
our coffers, hut for the more honqrable ones to
fill them, and keen them full for all honest and
honorable t nds.
Is it not a shame oil the administration of our
Government that there is a revolutionary debt of
nearly live millions duo to the men who won our
independence; that we suffered these heroic men
to go down in poverty and suffering to the grave
"with this debt unpaid; and that we still deny it
to their descendants ? The five millions, of which
I speak, is the principal; besides which, the in-
terest from that time to the present remains unli-
quidated. This debt is one of no ordinary char-
acter. It is the unredeemed [pledge of a Govern-
ment, then banktupt, but now groaning under
the burden of its wealth and resources ! When
the faith of the Government, plighted to these
brave, trusting men, by the resolves of October
21, 1780, is redeemed, those fearful forebodings,
of which we hear so much, resulting from an
overflowing Treasury, will cease to exist!
And so of your French spoliations of the prop-
erty of American citizens more than half a cen-
tury ago, and of which the Government of the
United States assumed the payment. These,
principal and interest, are obligations to its own
citizens, t^ie payment of which would abstract
nearly every dollar of surplus revenue in your
And so, too, of the sums due under the act of
February 3, 1853, giving pensions to the few
remaining widows of the officers and soldiers of
the Revolution—an act, one would suppose, not
possible to be misconstrued; so plain that" he
that runs may read." This act, when presented
to the Court of Claims for consideration, was
deemed so clear in its meaning that the solicitor
on behalf of the Government could not even make
the effort to sustain the interpretation made of it
by the Secretary of the Interior, which interpre-
tation, in fact, virtually repealed the act. Reverse,
theiefore, this repeal, effected by the Secretary
of the Interior, and it alone will draw more than
a million of dollars from the Treasury, and scatter
it broadcast over the land on those meritorious
objects of our regard!
Still pursuing this subject with a view to quiet
the alarms of the anti-protectionists, arising from
the fullness of the Treasury, let me invite gentle-
men to look at the Private Calendar of this House
alone, (saying nothing about the Senate's,) having
upon it more than two hundred bills matured for
action, the greater part undoubtedly as just as
were ever presented to the justice of the country.
having had the laborious investigation of a com-
mittee, are some of them as old as the country's
independence —the dead impersonations of our
country's injustice. Iloware these things treated ?
The jusiest claim on the Calendar may be defeated,
and probably will be; and the suffering claimant,
broken-hearted, sent home at the close of the
session by the words, "I object," uttered by a
There is another class of our citizens to whom
the Government is largely indebted. I allude to
the soldiers of the war of 1812, nowaged.decrepid,
and last falling into the grave—not one of them
under sixty, and many of them over seventy years
of age. Let them or their widows receive the
bounties and justice of the Government so richly
due to them, and your Treasury will groan less
under its burdens, and the alarmists will sleep
more quietly Duting the last session, while lis-
tening to the statements relative to the number of
troops furnished by South Carolina and Massa-
chusetts, I thought that Pennsylvania had fur-
nished some also; and I will now take occasion
to say that, if justice is done to the soldiers of the
war of 1812, Pennsylvania will receive, probably,
more than any State in the Union. And I speak
advisedly when 1 say that, in my own district, as
well as other portions of the State, many persons
who have served their country faith Sully, and
never received a dollar from the Government, are
in a suffering .condition. .
Tln-ie is"another way that the Government
has of keeping up a full Treasury, to which it
may not be amiss to invite attention; and that is,
by setting up one code of morals for itself and
another for its citizens.
The absurd and unjust idea that Government
shall exact interest, from its citizens and pay none,
is mole in keeping with dishonor and bankruptcy
than with justice and an overflowing Trea^-uty.
The exercise of the common sense principle of
sound justice prevailingamong men on tins subject
of intei est will, alone, extract nearly all the prese.it
surplus from the Treasury. Many just claimants
hang around the door of Congress, petitioning for
relief, for a lifetime. Their descendants next
appear, and after fruitless efforts they become
worn out with disappointment. Next, an agent
appeals in their behalf, and what is your answer
upon this floor5 For fear some faithful agent,
whose service the delays in legislation has cre-
ated a'necessity for, should get a share for his
services, you pronounce it a stale claim, or a claim
for the benefit of the agent.
In order partially, at least, to obviate some of
these difficulties thrown m the way of the justice
of the country, Congress constituted a Court of
Claims, and the President appointed some of the
country's purest and ablest jurists as its judges,
for the purpose of deciding upon the rights of the
citizenand tKe Government. After great expense -
to the claimant, and after the-fullest examination'
and discussion, these decisions come to us; and
however able they may be, and however clearly
they may define the rights of the respective) par-
ties, the objections to awarding justice so 'long
deferred are not less Violently urged than if they '
had never been judicially decided. There, is ofne
class of these cases, however, that always .meets ,
the approbation of Congress, '^mean those de-.
cided by the court in favor of the Government.'
Those decisions made in favor of the Government
are taken for final; those in favor of the citizen
are as if they had never been made.
Is it a wonder, in view of all these facts, that
our Tieasury remains so full? Instead of attrib-
uting its overflow to a tariff producing too much,
ought we not to have the courage of mere common
candor, to say that what it contains is kept there
by our holding on to whatdoesnot belong to us?
I say guard the Treasury with the utmost vigi-
lance; but let the channels of justice be unob-
structed, and its streams flow freely, purely and
equally towardsall alike—the powerful nation, as
well as the humblest citizen. Let not the fear of
making a mistake withhold us from acting at all.
Error accompanies human action; and vigilantly
as 1 would watch the Treasury, I would rather
infinitely see occasional wrong to the Government
than that justice should be denied to the citizen.
" Be just and fear not."
The same code of governmental morals to&hich
I have referred prevails in most of the public ex-
ecutive offices. Whenever a technical objection
can be interposed against the allowance of a claim,
however much its justice may be admiited, all the
force of the ordinary forms of evidence is denied,
and the intended recipients of a nation's bounty
or a nation's justice are refused.
Mr Chairman, I have introduced this part of
my argument to meet the complaints made by the
enemies of protection relative to the overflowing
Treasury; and conclude by saying that if the
Government pays its just debts, qud redeems its
plighted faith, there will be no money in the
Treasury to be alarmed about; and if it should
auuin accumulate, it would be well to use some of
it in repairing dilapidated fortifications, improv-
ing rivers and harbors, and opening up a great
thoroughfare to the Pacific, without which we can-
not reasonably expect to retain the affections of
our people on that coast. Nor,until that is accom-
plished, by at least two railroads extending across
the continent within our own territory, shall we
approach the realization of the grand idea of
Columbus that led to the discovery of the western
continent—the opening a more diiectand expedi-
tious route for the commerce of Asia. As in all
cases time is the great element in commercial
transactions, we then shall obtain a tim'J-saving
power which will blend Europe's two hundred
and fifty millions of people with the seven hun-
dred millions of Asia in harmonious intercourse
across tins continent; make New York the great
commercial center of the woild; people our own
interior and our Pacific States with scores of mil-
lions of happy and industrious citizens, and build
up a commercial marine upon the Pacific ocean,
giving to this people and their Government the
control of that ocean for all future time, %vitliout
the fear of a rival.
Mr. FLOIIENCF,. Yes; and my collegue may
properly state that the appropriation for building
war steamers is another item which may well
challenge the favorable consideration of this
II ovsc, not only as a peace measure, but as a sum.
means of defense 111 time of need. The Father of
his Country admonished us 4< in time of peaco
to prepaie for war."
iir. COVODE. I fi-el thankful, Mr. Chair-
man, to my friend and colloaguf, the.member from
the first district, who is familiar with naval af-
fairs, for calling my attention to that subject.
The Navy certainly deserves the favorable con-
sideration of this House. The glory and honor
of our country are earned and defended upon the
decks of our men-of-war; and the commerce-of
the United States, whitening every sea, requires
additional protection. Let the House pass the
ten steamer bill now upon the Calendar—where
it has been for months—and while adding to our
means of defease, it will give employment to
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United States. Congress. The Congressional Globe: Containing the Debates, Proceedings, Laws, Etc., of the Third Session, Thirty-Fourth Congress, book, 1857; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30796/m1/279/?q=expulsion: accessed October 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.