Imágenes de páginas
[blocks in formation]

The engrossed bill to authorize the people of the Territory of Missouri to form a constitution and State government, and for the admission of such State into the Union on an equal footing with the original States, was read the third time, and passed.

A message from the Senate informed the House that the Senate have passed bills of the following titles, to wit: An act for the relief of Pierre Dennis de la Ronde; an act for the relief of Rees Hill; an act for the relief of Gabriel Godfroy; an act for the relief of Nathan Ford; an act for the relief of David Henley; an act for the relief of the heirs and legal representatives of Nicholas Vreeland, deceased; an act to authorize William Prout to institute a bill in equity before the circuit court for the District of Columbia, against the Commissioner of the Public Buildings, and to direct a defence therein; an act authorizing the purchase of live oak timber for naval purposes; and an act to regulate the pay of the army when employed on fatigue duty; in which bills they ask the concurrence of the House.


The bill from the Senate, "supplementary to the acts concerning the coasting trade," which had been referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, was reported by Mr. SMITH, of Maryland, without amendment. [This bill proposes to divide the seacoast and rivers therein into four districts, as heretofore stated in detail.]

Mr. SILSBEE moved an amendment to the bill, which proposed, in effect, to divide the seacoast of the United States into two districts, instead of four, as contemplated by the bill; the first district to extend from the eastern limits of the United States to the southern limits of the State of Georgia; the second district from the river Perdido to the western limits of the United States.

This motion gave rise to a discussion of the merits of the bill, as well as of the particular proposition; in which Messrs. SILSBEE, SMITH, of Maryland, ORR, LIVERMORE, and WHITMAN, took part; and the debate had proceeded for some time, when

Mr. TRIMBLE, to give further time for considering a proposition so important in its character, moved to lay the bill on the table; which motion prevailed, and the bill was laid on the table.


Mr. SPENCER, from the committee appointed on the tenth day of April last, to inquire into the official conduct of William P. Van Ness, judge of the southern district of New York, of Matthias B. Tallmadge, judge of the northern district of New York, and of William Stephens, judge of the district of Georgia, made a report on the case of Judge Van Ness; which was read, and ordered to lie on the table.

Mr. S., from the same committee, also made a report, in part, on the case of Judge Tallmadge; which was read, and ordered to lie on the table. The reports are as follows:

15th CoN. 2d SESS.-39

H. of R.

That, in reference to the conduct of William P. Van Ness, Esq., judge of the southern district of New York, the committee have endeavored, by the examination of voluminous documents and of a number of witnesses, to arrive at a knowledge of the transactions to which their attention was necessarily directed by the report of the Judiciary Committee made to this stated that $117,307 01 of the funds of the district House on the 5th day of March last. That report court of the southern district of New York was unacand that it has been most grossly and nefariously purcounted for by Theron Rudd, the late clerk thereof, loined. As the resolution under which this committee was appointed emanated from the Judiciary Committee, it became the first object of inquiry to ascertain how far Judge Van Ness was implicated in the misconduct of the clerk. After a diligent examination, no evidence has been discovered to establish any participation by Judge Van Ness in the embezzlement of the funds of the court; nor does it appear that he has received any of those funds, or derived any benefit from them. That there was, however, a remissness on the part of Judge Van Ness, a want of constant vigilance of the money of the court, and of rigor in enforcing the provisions of the law and the rules of court, will, in the opinion of your committee, appear from a statement of the facts. Rules had existed in the court from the 1st day of November, 1811, requiring the clerk to keep a distinct account in the of the court, subject to the inspection of the judge bank where the court moneys were deposited, as clerk and the district attorney, and forbidding the withdrawing any such money from the bank without an order signed by the clerk and countersigned by the judge, stating the title of the cause, and the party to whom the same was to be paid. Soon after Judge Van Ness took his seat on the bench, he repealed that part of the rule requiring his signature; the reasons for which, as assigned by Judge Van Ness on a former occasion, were, that the clerk was the responsible and accountable officer, in whose custody the law placed the funds of the court; and that the check contemplated by the rule would give great and unnecessary trouble to the judge in adjusting the claims of individuals, and to the suitors who might apply to him during the vacations, at his residence, one hundred and thirty miles from New York. The committee, however, think that, in most cases, the claims of suitors must have been ascertained in the judgment of the court; and to them it appears that, although cial occasion, yet the object of security to the funds the rule may have been originally adopted on a spewas so great as to supersede all considerations of inconvenience, and to require its continuance. The rule subjecting the clerk's account to the inspection of the judge and the district attorney was also so modified by Judge Van Ness as to confine the right to the judges only.

It had been one of the rules of the court, and was

adopted by Judge Van Ness, that the clerk should exhibit to the court on the first day of each August and February term a full account of all the moneys in his hands, or standing to his credit as clerk, to be examined by the court or a judge, and to be filed in the office of the clerk of the northern district. From the certificate of the clerk of the southern district, it appears that no such account has ever been rendered. His certificate embraces a portion of time in which Judge Tallmadge presided in the southern dis


[blocks in formation]

trict, and the whole time when Theron Rudd was clerk.

An old act of Congress requires the clerks of district courts to give bonds in the sum of $2,000 for the faithful discharge of their duties. Although this sum is altogether inadequate to the security of such large amounts as were paid into the district court of New York during the time Theron Rudd was clerk, yet the hazard of losing even that amount would induce some watchfulness on the part of the clerk's sureties. Theron Rudd had been clerk of the district of New York some time previous to the act dividing the State into two districts, which passed 9th April, 1814, and, pursuant to that division, on the 11th April, 1814, he was appointed clerk of the southern district. From the certificates of the clerk of that district, and of the northern district, it appears that there has not been filed, in either of their offices, any bond by Theron Rudd for the faithful discharge of his duties as clerk of the southern district. The omission is the more remarkable as Mr. Rudd had previously given several bonds as clerk, under various reappointments, after having been removed.

It appears from the statements of the honorable Mr. Daggett and the honorable Mr. Hunter, of the Senate, that so late as the last of February, 1817, Judge Van Ness appeared to be ignorant of the perilous condition of the funds of the court, at a time when apprehensions were entertained by several gentlemen of the city of New York, who had communicated them to their friends in Congress. Judge Van Ness appeared before the Judiciary Committee of the Senate on the 1st March, 1817, and stated his objections to the passage of a bill then pending before that committee, and which afterwards became a law, by which moneys in the courts of the United States were directed to be deposited within sixty days from the 3d of March, 1817, in the office of the Bank of the United States, when there should be one within the district, and requiring the signature of the judge to an order for the payment of such moneys. The objections were substantially the same as the reasons urged for the repeal of the rule before mentioned, viz: that it would be unnecessary, and would give much trouble. He assured the committee of the Senate that the money was perfectly safe; that it was in the Middle District Bank, north of the highlands, where it had been carried from apprehensions of danger during the war; that the bank was respectable, and the clerk was responsible under his bond; and that it became his duty to see to the security of the money. The law passed, making it the duty of the judges of the different courts to cause the payment of the money, as before stated, and directing that any officer refusing or neglecting to make such payment should be proceeded against by attachment for contempt. On the 30th April, 1817, a rule was entered by Judge Van Ness, directing the clerk to pay over the moneys of the court, according to the provisions of the law, within sixty days from the 3d day of March then last. On the 16th day of June, 1817, an order was entered for an attachment against Theron Rudd for not complying with the rule of the 30th April. A copy of an attachment is furnished the committee, dated the 30th day of June. It appears from a rule of the court, entered on the 23d day of June, that the clerk had then absconded. On the 8th January, 1818, Thomas Morris, the marshal of the district, returned that, by virtue of several writs of attachment, he had arrested Theron Rudd, but found


him in the custody of a sheriff by virtue of an execution issued out of one of the State courts of the State of New York, and had therefore committed him to the common jail of the county where he had found him. Further proceedings on the attachment were discontinued by direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, who instructed the district attorney to proceed by action against the clerk. The great delay in these proceedings is apparent, and it cannot be ascribed wholly to the district attorney, as the law seems to have made it the special duty of the judge to cause the money to be deposited according to its provisions.

According to the fair import, if not to the letter of the act of April 18, 1814, it became the duty of every court of the United States to designate a bank where its money should be deposited, if there should be any incorporated bank within the judicial district. On the 3d August, 1814, Judge Van Ness made a rule that all moneys which should thereafter be paid into his court should be paid to the clerk, who should deposite the same to his credit in some bank or banks to the north of the highlands, in the State of New York, until the further order of the court. The reason given for this rule was, the apprehension of danger from invasion by the enemy. Your committee do not perceive how that reason could operate to prevent the designation of some certain bank or banks. The report of the Judiciary Committee, made at the last session, states the inability of that committee to prosecute its inquiries, from a want of knowing the particular bank where the money was deposited. It is obvious that the omission of such a designation removed a considerable check upon the improper disposition of the funds by the clerk. The committee cannot discover any satisfactory reason to account for the money being suffered to remain in that situation for two years after the peace was known in this country, or for its not being deposited in some bank in the city of New


The report which this committee have already made respecting the official conduct of Judge Tallmadge will exhibit the courts held by Judge Van Ness, in the northern district, during the time he received an additional allowance for his services in that district. Those services do not appear to have been so great as Congress expected. With regard to the southern district, Judge Van Ness appears to have given great attention to its business. He has held all the stated terms of that district, excepting two, which have occurred since his appointment, and he has also held many long and arduous special terms.

There have been complaints against some decisions and orders of Judge Van Ness. But the respect which this committee entertain for the Constitutional rights of a judge, and for the laws, which provide adequate remedies for any errors he may commit, forbids their questioning any judicial opinions.


One instance, however, appears, from the papers they have examined, to partake more of the ministerial than judicial character. It was the case of a cargo which was a prize to the privateer Tickler, which had been sold, and the money brought into court. judge authorized the clerk to draw out the money, exceeding $145,000, and to pay it over to the claimants, instead of directing the payment to be made to the claimants immediately; and he ordered the duties and the two per centum belonging to the navy pension fund, exceeding $15,000, to be paid to the clerk, who was to pay it over to the collector, whenever the court

[blocks in formation]

determined the amount due to that officer. It is not perceived why the money was not as secure in the bank as in the hands of the clerk. It appears to have been entirely lost; and, from the papers before the committee, it cannot be discovered that the court has yet determined what amount should be paid to the collector.

Under a sense of the duty imposed upon them, the committee submit these facts and observations, although, in their opinion, they do not furnish any ground for the Constitutional interposition of the House.

H. OF R.

On the 7th September, 1815, and the 21st October 1816, Judge Tallmadge held special courts, and the stated term in October, 1816, at Salem. He held the stated terms in July and October, 1817, a special court in May, 1818, and the stated terms in May, June, and November, 1818.

It appears satisfactorily, from the testimony of several physicians, and of the honorable Nathan Sanford, given on a former inquiry into the conduct of Judge Tallmadge, that in 1810 his health became extremely delicate, and that very great exertion of body, or any unusual agitation of mind, invariably produced severe sickness, so as to disqualify him for any official duties; and that his life was prolonged by visiting a more genial climate in the Winter season.

On entering upon the duties of his office in 1805, Judge Tallmadge encountered a mass of business which had accumulated from the ill health and the death of his predecessor, and from the want of any judge in the court for the time immediately preceding his appointment. The sickness of Judge Patterson, who should have presided in the circuit court, materially increased the labors of the district judge.

Respecting the official conduct of Matthias B. Tallmadge. The committee have not been apprized of any other charge against the official conduct of Judge Tallmadge than his having omitted to hold the terms of the district court for which he was appointed, according to law. It appears that Judge Tallmadge took his seat on the bench as judge of the district of New York on the 16th day of July, 1805. From that time until May, 1810, he held all the stated and regular terms of the court, (excepting that the August term in 1809 was postponed two days,) and held thirty-five special sessions. The May and August terms, 1810, were not held; the November term was held, and he presided at a special court in December of that year. In 1811, the stated terms of February, August, and November, were adjourned without being opened; the May term was held, and special courts also were held in June, October, and November, of that year. The February and May terms of 1812 were not opened, The House then resolved itself into a Commitbut two special courts were held in May. On the 29th tee of the Whole, on the bill to provide a Terof April, 1812, the act passed authorizing the appoint-ritorial government for the southern part (the ment of an additional judge of the district, and on Arkansas country) of the Missouri Territory. the 3d of July, 1812, Judge Van Ness, who had been

The committee are of opinion that there is nothing established in the official conduct of Judge Tallmadge to justify the Constitutional interposition of the House. They have deemed it their duty, however, to present the facts, to enable the House to form an opinion on the merits of the case.


the bill by inserting a clause (similar to that inMr. TAYLOR, of New York, moved to amend corporated, on the motion of Mr. Tallmadge, in the Missouri bill) to prohibit the existence of slavery in the new Territory.

appointed under that act, took his seat on the bench. After that period, Judge Tallmadge held eight stated terms and special courts at New York; two of the special courts with Judge Van Ness. Special courts were held in August, September, October, and December, of that year, and also the stated November This motion gave rise to a wide and long-conterm, by Judge Van Ness, who held a special court tinued debate, covering part of the ground prealso in January, 1813. The February and November viously occupied on this subject, but differing in terms of that year were adjourned, the latter by Judge part, as the present proposition was to impose a Tallmadge, the former by Judge Van Ness, who held condition on a Territorial government, instead special courts in March, April, May, June, July, Sep-of, as in the former case, to enjoin the adoption of tember, and November, and the stated terms in May and August.

the principle in the constitution of a State, and as it applied to a more southern Territory.

On the 9th April, 1814, the district was divided, and Mr. TAYLOR, of New York, in rising, said he Judge Tallmadge was assigned to the northern district. regretted being obliged to vote on this bill with Three stated terms and one special court had been so scanty information. The select committee held in the northern part of the State previous to the which reported it, had laid on our table no statedivision in September and October, 1812, by Judgement of facts-no census showing the different Van Ness. The May, one of the September, and the kinds of population in the territory, nor even the October terms, in 1813, had been adjourned; a special aggregate of all descriptions. The situation and court was held in June, and one of the September condition of existing settlements are as little terms in that year was held by Judge Van Ness. No known. It, however, is generally understood courts appear to have been held in that district after that the climate and soil are suited to the culture that period, until September, 1814, when Judge Van Ness held the stated term in that month, and also the of wheat, corn, cotton, and tobacco. stated terms in October, 1815, and April, 1817, and a gate from Missouri now informs me that the numspecial court in November, 1817. One of the Sep-ber of inhabitants, exclusive of Indians, may be tember terms, and the October term of 1814, were adjourned, and also the September term, 1815, and the September and October terms, 1816, and the January and Utica May terms, in 1818. The May terms in 1814 and 1815, the September term, 1815, and the May and September terms, 1816, in that district, entirely failed.

The dele

estimated at 20,000, of which one-tenth are probably slaves. Mr. T. said he was unwilling to allow the introduction of any more slaves: it could not be necessary for agricultural purposes. All the productions before mentioned, could be brought to perfection, and raised in abundance, by freemen. Cotton, and tobacco, for exportation, had

H. OF R.

Arkansas Territory.


been chiefly produced by the slaveholding States. does unhappily prevail in another section of this But is it not reasonable, asked Mr. T., that at least country; that it haunts its subjects in their dreams, one small portion of our country, capable of grow- and disturbs their waking hours. You, sir, have ing these staples, should be left open to the enter- lately seen its influence on one honorable gentle prise and industry of the North and East. He man, (Mr. COLSTON,) who considered the appearsaw no good reason why that portion of the Union ance of a black face in the gallery, pending yeswhich he had the honor, in part, to represent, terday's discussion, of sufficient importance to should be excluded from participating in this justify a grave address to the Committee, and an valuable species of agriculture. That such would animated philippic upon the impropriety of this be the effect of allowing a free introduction of debate. To such gentlemen it may be "a delicate slaves, he had fully demonstated to the Commit- subject;" but to me I confess it is not. In my tee when the bill for the admission of Missouri estimation, said Mr. T., the delicacy of the subinto the Union was under consideration. Mr. T.ject is lost, and ought to be forgotten in its imsaid it must be evident from the present ratio of mense importance. "A delicate subject!" in population, as stated by the delegate from Mis- which is involved the security and happiness of souri, that the labor of the territory was now per- unborn millions; a subject too delicate for disformed chiefly by freemen. He hoped this state cussion!-because our debate may be overheard of things might not only continue, but improve. by a negro in the gallery. Sir, it is a subject He therefore, could not consent to render labor vastly important to my children, and the children disgraceful to connect it, in public sentiment, of my constituents, who shall hereafter emigrate with servility, and thereby degrade the condition to Arkansas; and, while I have the honor of a of laboring men. seat on this floor, I will discuss it freely whenever public duty, in my judgment, requires it.

The gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. CLAY,) has asked, said Mr. T., what the people of the South have done, that they are to be proscribed, and had expressed his deep regret at the introduction of this amendment. We, sir, said Mr. T. do not proscribe them; we leave them in the full enjoyment of all their rights; we only forbid them to practise wrongs: we invite them to the territory in question, but we forbid their bringing into it a population which cannot but prove its misfortune and curse; a population which, if once introduced, will fasten like an incubus upon all its energies, and from which it can never be relieved.

I regret, said Mr. T., the pertinacity with which gentlemen maintain their opposition. To my mind the amendment is both reasonable and necessary; and, if the welfare of the territory were alone consulted, I should entertain no doubt of its adoption by an almost universal vote. But other interests are to be protected; and it is said that, as the country was purchased with our common fund, it ought to inure to the common benefit. This, said Mr. T., may be considered a truism; but, unfortunately for the argument of the gentleman who adduced it, it has no application to the case before us. If it were proposed that the proceeds of the public lands in Arkansas should be appropriated to the use of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, the objection would have weight. But, said Mr. T., nothing like it is contemplated. The money to arise from the sale of lands in that territory, as in all others, will go into the National Treasury, and be expended on national objects.

The gentleman from Kentucky, (Mr. CLAY) has charged us, said Mr. T., with being under the nfluence of negrophobia. Sir, he mistook his mark. I thank God that the disease mentioned by that gentleman, is unknown to my constituents; and it is because I wish to exclude it from Arkansas, that I have moved this amendment. But, sir, the excitement which this motion has produced, too clearly shows that the negrophobia

The honorable Speaker, said Mr. TAYLOR, has asked, if we wish to coop up our brethren of the slaveholding States, and prevent the extension of their population and wealth. Mr. Chairman, cast your eye on that map; survey the immense and fertile regions which stretch from the Sabine to Georgia; count, if you can, the millions of rich acres in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, lying uncultivated and waste. If gentlemen wish to disperse their slaves, here is an abundant opening. In all these States, new as they are, slavery has already planted its roots too deep, I fear, to be ever eradicated. With this opening I hope gentlemen will be content. Let them not carry the pestilence beyond the Mississippi, into a country where its existence, as yet, is but little known. Let them agree to the amendment, and every vestige of slavery will soon disappear from the territory in question.

A gentleman from Virginia (Mr. TYLER) has added his lamentations on the existence of slavery in this country to those of his colleagues who preceded him. He informed us, too, that the Legislature of that State had passed resolutions, now in this House, requesting the aid of Congress to mitigate its evils. He nevertheless took care to give notice that he too should vote against the exclusion of slavery from Arkansas. It is not my province, said Mr. T., to question the consistency of any honorable member of this Committee, but certainly, Mr. Chairman, I should not have anticipated such a conclusion, from the evidencebefore him. If Virginia has found slavery an intolerable burden; if she seek the aid of Congress to alleviate its evils, confessedly too great, and too inveterate for cure; if she deplore the policy by which it was introduced, I should not have expected to find a representative from Virginia legislating for the prosperity of Arkansas, and unwilling to exclude it from that territory.

Another gentleman from Virginia (Mr. HUGH NELSON) has charged us with fighting behind a masked battery. He considers this amendment

« AnteriorContinuar »