Gazette of the United-States. (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, July 01, 1789, Page 90, Image 2

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    ("Thursday, June 25, 17&7.
tUhate upon the Billfor ejlablipiingthe Treasury Department.
Mr. Pace moved that these words '* Who frail digejl and report
flans jor the improvement and management of the revenue, and for the
Jupport of public credit" should be (truck out of the fecund clauf
oi the bill : He added some observations to (hew the impro
priety of any man's being impowercd to digest plans of revenue
or any other for the House : it was true, he said, that some fuc
officer as this did originate such plans and digests in other coun
tries, but then it mtift be remembered, that in England particu
larly, the minifterwas always a member of that House, wher
money bills originated ; and that from thence he derived the righ
to interfere with, and bring forward his proportions upon the
fubjc&ot revenue; but he hoped this House would never perm:
the head of any department to carve out work for them, and in
troduce an undue influence in the representative body.
Mr. Benson observed, that except this clause is retained in
the bill, we (hall have no plans at all; the person who is to fill tin
office, whoever he may be, has no power by the clause, to carry
any thing intoeffett* he caw only propose. The concurrence of thr
House, the Senate and the President, are neceflary to give efficacy
to his plans: Should this clause be ftruckout, it efte&ually defeats
the design of the bill.
Mr. Goodhue : This motion, Sir, I think is carrying jcalou
fy to a very extraordinary length indeed ; that we (hould be afrau
to receive information from any person who is not a member of
this House: this is as much as to fay, that we will not receive any
light from without these doors upon the fubjett of finance : Ttu
Secretary of thetreafory, is the only person from whom we can
receive that information in all its extent, which this House will 1
peculiarly want. ,
Mr. Page replied, It is the duty of the membersof this Houfr.
to inform themselves upon this, and every other fubjeft; a com
mittee of finance may be appointed, who can report the necefla
ry plans, and then the business will originate where it ought.
I would ask, whether it it not evident, that an officer of this
description, will have an undue influence and bias upon the mindi
of the members, by having the power to introduce measures mt<
the House? Let the Secretary form his plans, and let them be in
troduced by a member; but I never will agree that an officei.
who is not a member, (hall be admitted into this House with his
proportions, to advocate, urge and enforce them upon us: I
will be found at last, that the House has but the name of le^iflation,
and the power of originating money bills will be transferred to
the Secretary, and like the parliaments of France, we (hall bi
called together to exercise only the power of regiftenng edi&s;
this may be called jealousy, but 1 conceive it is the true language
of the constitution. I wish for an energetic government; but 1
"wish for a permanent one; and I will never consent to measures
in the infancy of the government, which will weaken that effici
ency byalarming my conftitucnts, by giving up any constitu
tional powers.
Mr. Ames: The gentleman last speaking, appears to be ap
prehenfive ofan infrattion of the formsof the House: This
consideration ; but this is not the question immediately before us.
I conceive there are two principles which present themselves to
guide the committee : The one, that the powers of this officer be
ufeful and efficient; and the other, that they fliould be fafe. The
firft enquiry then is, Whether this power will tend to general
utility. If the Secretary is to be presumed to have the best
knowledge of the finances of the country ; and if this House is de
firousof a&ing upon the best information, itfeems to follow lo
gically, that he is to be consulted; and the best mode will be, to
derive the information from him personally. It will not be de
nied, that it will come within his province to have more accurate
ideas upon this fubjett, than others who have no particular con
cern in it.
From the nature of his employment, he mud be supposed to
have a full and compreheniive knowledge of the ftateof the funds
of the United States—the demands that will be made upon th;
and the best mode of condudting tnem: bt
acquire this Ul 7'
miance are ot iuch a nature, that they never can
havejuftice done them by public afiemMies : This is a misfortune,
which appears indefeafibly attached to their very formation. The
interests of finance are so intricate, so complicated, and so diHi
cult toarrange, and the opinions of members so various and oppo
site, that ofie man may gain more knowledge by one hour's re
search, than a popular aflembly by an inveftigarion for years.
The knowledge of a financier will be ve.y desirable: Our fi
nances, compared with those of all other countries, are in a cha
otic state : I wish to let in a little sunshine upon them; and I
cannot but flatter myf If, that such an office will be eftabliflied,
as will put them in such a situation, as that we shall not be asha
med of them.
With refpett to the danger apprehended, I cannot conceive
from whence it is to arise: It is laid, that his opinion will have
an undue influence; but can he make that to be true, which is
not true? Can he report untruths, which the House cannot di
to£l? Truth may come in opportunely; it may destroy a favorite
hypoihtfis-—this truth we may want: What means of public in
fluence can he poflefs over the member:,? I can conceive of none;
and it is impofliblc that in a public communication, he can have
to improper an influence, as he may derive from out door in
trigue, and private conversation : It is therefore more fafe to re
ceive his communications publicly, than to give them to indivi
dual members : It will establish a legislative controul over this
officer, to call upon him to bring the details of his duty upon the
floor of the House : It is a most effectual way of making him res
ponsible; and will operate as a powerful check; and this is the
reason, why the prime minister of Britain is obliged to appear
on the floor of the House of Commons. In adduion to this, the
people are hereby with the state of their money
Mr. Amea concluded, by faying, that he hoped that gentlemen
would review their reaf'ons for ftrikingout the words, and not let
Tin unreasonable jealousy defeat the most salutary regulations.
Mr. Liver more : Mr. Chairman, I am for ftrikingout the
words in the clause : I suppose that no person has a right to make
propositions to the representative body, who is not a member of
this House : This would introduce a dangerous influence ; this
will make the members careless and indifferent about anattention
tothis neceflary and important part of their duty : The power to
originate money bills is a sacred deposit, that ought not to be alie
nated or violated : Giving the Secreta y this right will make him
the source from whence all systems of Finance and plans of Reve
nue will proceed. The Congrcfs, I remember, under the old
Confederation, had an Ordinance similar to this bill, and it was
then proper, as they had the power of removal ; but we shall not
have this power, accordingto what has passed, and therefore I give
my aflent to the motion for striking out those worcs.
Mr. Sf.dgwick : Sir, it does appear to mc f that if we intend to
realize the object of this bill, these words must not be struck out :
A consideration of the different plans of revenue in the several 1
States, renders it highly neceflTary to have an officer of this kind :
The methods that will be used to defeat the Revenue, renders it
neceflary that there fliould be an officer vcfted with fuflicicnt pow
ers to guard it : I cannot but think that the jealousy which anti
cipates an undue influence, is not well founded : The indepen
dence of this House will always be superior to an undue controul
of the Executive : If the plans which may be proposed, were al
ways of neceflity to be adopted, there would be some weight in
the obje&ion ; but when the plans are introduced into this House.
our various ideas will cause much time to be expended, before a
current will be farmed, in which the general opinion will set.
I do think it next to an impossibility, that a popular affemblv,
composed of so many different members from different States,
can be competent to form a good system of Revenue. It is a fuh- 1
which requires the closest application, the longest ftuay. and
the view of things, to render a person proper
ly adequate to it. We ftiatl always find amazing delay in wait
ing to collect the opinion of individuals, upon so various afubjeft.
I hope, therefore, the words will compose part of the bill.
Mr. Boudi not : Jealousy, Sir, is valuable under a proper di
-eftion; but there is danger of carrying it too far : Let us consider
whether to realize the object before us, the power of the Secretary
ought not to extend thus far : We are referred to individuals so
nformation—this is, I conceive, giving up the point. One of the
rand principles of the Conflitution is the responsibility of officers
low if secret intelligence is obtained from this officer, and intro
duced here, it will destroy that responsibility, Mid will be perni
ious and dangerous to the liberties of the United States : Wehav
eenthe incompetency of plans upon these principle in the indi
vidual States. This secret information opens the doors to th
;reateft impositions and abuses. It is therefore ivc Ifary that w
ould have anofficer, on whom we may officially call for this m
It has been faid,that the Committee of the whole is the propt
ourceof enquiry : This, Sir, I can by no means accede to. Th
Vlembers when they come together, are under the controul of I
il prejudices, and must be naturally ignorant of many things n'
effary to be known, in order to form a wife decision. Enormoi
xpence is continually accruing while this knowledge is acquir
i ig. It will require lome person to be continually employed •
this business ; his time, his attention, and talents, must all be di
voted : The fubjetl wili be a science, and his knowledge will b
tbfolutely necessary : I hope, Sir, the amendment will not tak
Mr. Hartley was in favor of the motion for striking out thr
words : The do&rine of the gentleman lafl speaking, proved to-,
nuch : That one person (hould have more knowledge of the F -
nances than all others, goes to fupercede the neceflitv of legislation.
The clause in the bill appears to me tooftrong. lam willingthat
the House (hould draw information from this officer ; but that n
hould have a right to obtrude his sentiments here at pleasure, is i
neafure productive of a dangerous influence, and will be introdu
cing an officer intothe government, unknown to the Constitution.
Mr. Gerry observed, that if the do£lrinr which he had heard
was eftablilhed, [refering to the Secretary] it ought to be extend
ed to all the other officers, and that th<*y ought to be
by a ribbon, or some other badge, which none of the members o
r he House should have a right to wear. He said that the powei
ontended for by some gentlemen, neceftanly included the ideaoi
originating money bills : What is this officer to do ? Why, he is
to digest and report plans for the improvement of the Revenue :
\' >w f this does not comprize the power of originating mone)
Hills v I do not know what does : This will be inverting the Pre
udent with a moll alarming power. Gentlemen have dwelt mud
»n refponfibiltty ; but what is the relponfibility of this officer i
Does it mean that he should be r fponfible for a deficiency in th<
R venue ? Could he be responsible for the effetts of a meafur<
which he had only prop.ifrd ? Is he to be impeached for an error
n judgment ? This would be unprecedented : For what thei
'hould wegive him such an enormous p >wer ? By some doctrine
which have been advanced, it (hould seem as if »g«. ntleman woulc
ofe his reputation by opposing this omnipotent officer ; for thef
aine arguments being used, whieh are now brought forward, whei
i plan of Revenue (hall be brought in by the Secretary, ihe mem
bcrs will be told, that they are not competrnt to judge of finances
that they came together with local views, and without any genera
knowledge ; that the system proposed by the Secretary is the reful
of gre»t study and observation, and it is not proper to oppose it
This will preclude examination, and give an undue influence, anc
from being told that it is his duty officially to bring m bills,
will be told it is his duty officially to pass them : The do£lrin<
omes tothis point, That it is impossible there (hould be any res
ponfibility in a collective body, and is to be found only in an in
dividual : Authorise this officer to originate money bills, anc
what becomes of that mofteffential claufcof the Constitution whici
\xrfix th: C 1.. , :.u 1A -..1.1 U- -1-. %-t|.
:umftance, and would raise a clamor among the people.
Mr. Gerry added a few more observations, and concluded b)
a y in g> he hoped the power would not bevelled in any manwhat
:ver, to palm his plans upon the representative body.
Mr. Laurance : When this fubjeft was under confideratior
before, there was nor difficulty Sir, about giving the power; al!
he difficulty then rose from the impossibility of finding-a compe
ent chai after to exercise the power : It was then contended with
£reat zeal, that boards ought to have the preference : Since then,
t seems that a wonderful discovery has been made, and every
member of the House is found to posT fs this knowledge ; and wc
ire all competent to forming systems of finance and revenue. I
rejoice at this discovery! but it gentlemen are competent to form
systems ot revenue, they certainly will be capable of judging ol
thein ; they will be able to detest the fallacy of a sentiment, and
will pofTefs fufficient sagacity to discover the impolicy of mea
sures that may be proposed : From whence then is the dangerous
Influence of this officer toanfe, when all are competent to detett
ing his machinations? Gentlemen appear to confound terms. To
propose, is not to decide : He is not to decide for us: This in
formation is to be under the controul of the legislature: Will gi
ving a power to recommend, be giving a power to determine?
1 hey are certainly diftinfl, and have no connection, and yet,
gentlemen talk of delegating a power to originate money bills. I
can conceive of no danger: When we have made it the business
of a man to acquire this knowledge, it will be valuable. Is it
probable that we can ever derive the necessary information from
the members, who are not stationary, who are continually com
ing and goine? It has been a misfortune to the United States,
that an individual has not been entruftcd with this power 5 Many
of the States, feperately, have fuffered from the fame cause; and
'•t is owing tothis, that the finances of the country are now in
such a Hate of derangement. Take away this power, and all the
reft is mechanical; genius, abilities and judgment, are entirelv
outofthequeftion. 1
Every member of this House, has a right to propose a bill ; but
it cannot be said with propriety, that a bill is originated, till it
has been matured and made a fubjea of difcuflion, by the aflent
ot the House.
Mr, Gerry observed, that if there was a person in the United
States, competent tothis duty, he had not heard of him : the
House (said he) has however determined that they will have such
an officer: Sir, I would alh whether the information of this
Houte would not be superior to that of any individual whatever?
It such powers are mentioned now, as ar? proposed to be given
this officer, what may wc not expett after he is established ? I
would a(k , is a power to digest plans, meerly giving information?
this is a wonderful discovery indeed! No Sir, an influence will fol
low, and if we give any person a power to influence the determi
nations of this House, do we not so far depart from the consti
tution? He then adverted to what Mr. lanrance said refm-ftine
originating bills, which if he understood the gentleman (he
said) was faying that a bill could be originated, and not origina
ted, at the fame moment.
Mr. Vi n 1 ng observed, that this officer would be an auxiliary
to the executive, when he reportshis plans : they will be before
'he f lou ' c jor their rejeflion or approbation :h; could fee no dif
nculty in the business whatever.
Mr. Jackson was in favor of the motion, for striking out the
words: He said, the other parts of the bill are fufficiem : This
■fficcr cannot be a check upon the President, as the President
.as the power of removal. lam willing this officer should have
power to digest plans, but never to report them, unless called
Mr. Fitzsimons moved, that the word report, should be
| struck out, and the word prepare inserted.
Mr. Madison said, he could not conceive where the dancer
ay that some gentlemen apprehended: The words objedtcd to
are fimila. to thole used in an ordinance passed by Congrcfs, in I
1782", in a subsequent ordinance to establish a treasury board- tf lff
fame persons are annexed to that board, as belonging to the ofl
sice of finance, To that this power nowexifts in the treasury board"
so far as that has an existence. There is a possibility that the powl
ei may carry some influence, but let us compare this with the
danger that will accrue from the want of this power. In my
opinion, there is more danger of a bad administration, from the
want of this power, than can refiflt from all the influence which
the Secretary can crcate; more has resulted from the want of this
►fficer, than from all other causes. The gentleman (Mr. Gerry)
aflcs what is meant by refponftbility? I anlwer, we fhalleftabhih
a refponfibihty? There will be a refponfibily in point of reputa,
tion: a refponfibihty to the public opinion. Men of talents and
dill n&ion, pay a greatregard to public opinion and the
>f pufb)ic duties, for which their reputation is pledged: they
vill take care to perform well : This officer upon this principle
vill cake a great interest m all laws that may pass refpe&ing the
evenue, and the duties of his department.
The communications from the President will always be accom
panied with alufions to revenue, if the doctrine is true that t»
nake propositions s to originate : the President may be said to
iriginate money bills : It the principle of the gentlemen is ad
nittcd, the House will be abridged of the right.
Mr, Page said, as to the argument derived from the proceed
ings of the late Congress—it is well known, they had no power
aid th. States accordingly reje&ed their doings. The President
he observed, is a representative, and therefore may claim the
•ght of making proportions : With refpe&to the clause, a plan
to be well digested, must be vrell supported : This will bring this
ificer into the House, and thus an influence will be created
which will finally destroy both House and Senate too.
Mr. Tucker supposed, that the amendment of Mr. Fitzfrmons,
amount to the fame thing as the other ; as to prepare wolild
'oe nugatory, w thout report was made in consequence : He was
therefore against it. 1 would ask, Sir, (said he) whythis princi
ple, should not be inserted in the other two bills-for
xecutive departments ? Why ihould not the Secretary for foreign'
affairs be called upon by the branches to which he is particularly
attached, to digest plans for carrying the bufinefsof the depart
ment into execution? It would be attrontive to them, and foof
he war department : Why then- is this House to be considered as
not qualified rodo theirduty ? but must have plans digested and
' ported for us ! If we are not competent to our duty, why do we
lit here ? If this principle is to be adopted, we shall divest our
selves of all power and authority whatever : We shall eventually
place ourselves under a master : We fhsill become more and more
rarelefs and inattentive to the business of revenue : We (hall more
and more confide in the judgment of the officer, supposing his
s ystems are uniform, till we become intirely ignorant of the
state of our finances.
Mr. Sherman : It appears to me, that this clause is one of the
molt important in the bill: What is the duty her.* enjoined ? It is
pdevife methods for the belt arrangement of the revenue: This
requires great thought, reflection, and calculation. —Let us refer
to France: They had a financier who was displaced ; but their af
fairs got plunged into such difficulties, that they have been obli
ged to recal and restore him. This department is pointed outia
the constitution, and the President may require the advice of the
officer. And though it lays with the legislature to form laws for
theraifing of the revenue ; yet they will want the information,
that the fecretarv may lav it before them, and it will lay with the
House whether to adopt it or not. There will be no other obliga
tion than whatarifes from the reason and nature of things: The
more light and information there is, the better will the legislature
be enabled to do their duty: What is every body's bufinef, is
nobody's business. The gentleman (Mr. Gerry), fays there is no
person qualified : I agree with him : And there never will be,
except this office is eitablifhed. We have men,whom experience
will make equal to any in the world.
Mr. Madison said, lam of opinion Chat the duty should be
<i tori j enjoined : I do not fear his influence: lam more
afraid of our own ignorance , of our instability and mif-informa
tion. The advantage of a single man of abilities, will befuperior
to that of having an hundred such men to perform the fame duty.
Upon the principle of some gentlemen, we must shut our doors,
and not accept even the reports of committees ; it lays with the
House to receive or reject these plans : If the officer should be
disposed to obtrude such as are unimportant upon the House, the
Speaker may be directed to keep them out of fight, or other mc
:hods may be devised "J
Sat u rl. ay, June 27.
The engrofled bill to eftabliih a;i executive department, to be
denominated the Department of War, was read a third time, and
paflFed the House.
,Mr. Boudinot of the committee appointed to confer with a
committee of the Senate, on the fubjcfl of »mendments to the Im*
post and Tonnage Bills, which amendments had been disagreed
to by the House, reported, That the committees had held a con
ference, and had agreed to recommend an accommodation 00
some of the points in dispute,
Rcfpc&ing the Impost Bill, the following amendments were
then taken into consideration and agreed to.
lo reduce the duty on Rum, of Jamaica proof, from 15 to 10
cents, pr. gallon.
The discriminating clause, laying a less duty on Rum imported
from States or Kingdoms in treaty with the United States, to be
struck out; and the duty on all spirits, below Jamaica proof, re
duced from 12 to 8 cents.
To reduce the duty on Beer, Ale, Porter, or Cyder, imported
in casks, from 8 to 5 cents.
To reduce the duty on Beer, Ale, Porter, or Cyder, imported
m bottles, from 25 to 20 cents.
To reduce the duty on coal from 3 to 2 cents.
Refpetting the Tonnage Bill, the following amendments were
agreed to.
That rnftead of wholly excluding foreign ships from the coafl
ing trade, they might be employed in it under certain reft rift ions.
That all ships built within the United States, and afterwards the
property of foreigners, should not pay more than 30 cents pr. ton.
The House then took up the next amendmeut of the Senate to
strike out the difcrimiriating clause. This gave rife to some con
versation, when, on the question to strike out the clause, the house
divided: Ayes 25: Nays 26. Adjourned.
Monday, June 29.
The committee to whom was referred the bill to regulate
collection of the revenue, reported a new bill, which was
read, and referred to a committee of the whole, to be taken into
consideration to-morrow.
A message was received from the Senate, informing, that they
had acceded to the amendments last proposed by the House to
the bill, laying an impost on goods, and merchandise, im
ported into the United States: The Secretary then delivered in
the bill. [This bill has parted both Houfes.J e
Mr. Parker introduced a petition from William Finney, °-
Virginia, which was raad and laid on the table. _ ' f
Upon motion of Mr. Th atch e r, it was voted that 100 copies o
thecolle&ion bill be printed for the accommodation of the members.
Mr. Scott moved that the report of the committee upon tie
state of the unappropriated lands, should now be taken up: This
motion was seconded, but upon being put, passed in the
In committee of the whole—
On the bill for establishing the Treasury department.
Several alterations and amendments were made to the bil'j buw
the difcuftion was not finifhed this day. . ,
Mr. Burke gave notice, that he should propose an additiona
clause, to prohibit any of the officers in this department, from
being either dirc&ly, or indire&ly concerned in trade, or com*
m erce. Adjourned.