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diffused — he thought it would be a great error to suppose that the expenses would increase only according to the increase of the number of representatives. He rather thought, that, like the price of plate-glass or diamonds, they would increase in somewhat of a geometrical ratio. The greater part of the expense, it was obvious, was incurred for the purpose of giving information, and this was an object of too much importance to be sacriticed, for the purpose of saying expense.
The establishments of the country have been formed in the same way—the army, the navy, the foreign intercourse. On what basis do they stand ? Each on the footing upon which it has been deliberately placed, by congress, after carefully considering what the public service required, and what they were respectively worth. There may have been error-nothing human is exempt from liability to error. Sometimes, however, it is imputed with unjust severity. But if there be error, let it be pointed out, examined, and corrected. There let the wisdom of congress apply the remedy at the point where the evil exists.
There was an additional reason why, he would not have offered such a resolution, and especially at the present moment. He would state it freely. At the same time, he thought it proper to say that he had no doubt the resolution was fairly and honestly meant, and for the direct purpose which the mover had himself stated. He (the mover) thought, and some of his constituents thought, that there were points in which reform was necessary, and that they might be embraced by a general inquiry. But his (Mr. S.) objection to himself bringing forward such a resolution was this—a general allegation of extravagance and abuse-such as the resolution seems to imply, cannot be accurately and satisfactorily met. It is impossible, whatever may be the fact, to give it a demonstrative refutation, because it presents no specific subject for discussion. It may do harm; it is calculated to spread abroad an opinion that abuse and
extravagance exist, and are allowed, here, at the seat of government, under the very eye of congress—It is calculated to weaken the attachment of the people to the government—not to the administration—he did not mean that -not to this set of men in power, or to that set of menbut to the government itself—and to give point to an inquiry he had seen in a newspaper with great regret-of what advantage or use is this government to the people? This is especially the case where the allegation includes ourselves.
There was one part of the resolution to which he had the strongest repugnance as a subject of discussion. He never had discussed it, and he did not think he ever would. He referred to the inquiry about our own pay. The amount of the pay of members of congress has never been altered but once since the adoption of the constitution, (Mr. Randolph-twice). Twice altered the mode of compensation, the amount but once. The per
diem now allowed was intended to be about equal in substance (he had made no exact calculation) to the per annum allowed by the compensation law. Two dollars a day-and no more-had been added, to the pay fixed at the organization of the government. This could not be deemed an extravagant or exorbitant addition. He looked back, he said, to the period of that law (compensation law) with great regret. Not that he thought the per annum compensation injurious in principle or wrong in amount—but he regretted extremely that the public mind should have been agitated as it was, by such a question. He would rather have foregone any advantage to himself. No: the advantage was not worth estimating-he would rather have foregone the whole pay for the time, than have been instrumental in furnishing such a cause for regret.
Dismissing this subject of the pay of the members (always accompanied with unpleasant feelings, he said he was, on general grounds, prepared to believe, from some
examination, that the suggestion of extravagance of abuse, and the consequent necessity of reform, as applied to this House, to the executive departments, or to any branch of the service, was not supported. He did not mean to say that there was no useless office. But there was no proof, por no reason to believe, that there is any such office. Nor would he say that there was no useless expenditure. But he would say, that he knew of none, and, in this debate, none had been designated. As all the offices are created by the constitution, or by act of congress, as even the clerks were numbered and their salaries fixed, and both were in the power of congress, he could not suppose, until some ground for the belief had previously been laid, that there was in these particulars extravagance or abuse.
On the contrary, he said, there was the strongest general evidence of a wise and economical administration of the affairs of this country. He did not mean the present administration merely-he meant the government in general, giving to the present administration their just portion of credit. As far as they were concerned, they were entitled to the praise of fairly contributing to give effect to a wise system of economy. Much of the merit belonged to congress.
Matters of revenue and expenditure, necessarily sounded in figures. He would not contradict those who seemed to think that even figures might deceive ; but he would say that he did not know how such a subject could be understood without resorting to them. It was a matter of calculation after all, and nothing but calculation, however tedious the process, would lead to sure results. He did not intend to restrict himself in his inquiry to the term of the present administration. Beginning with the peace, when the nation was liberated from the extraordinary demands of war, he would embrace the whole period of the last administration, (which one gentleman had said he thought was wasleful and prodigal,) and as much of the time of the present
administration as had already expired, in order to show that there had been, and still continued to be, a wise and economical management of the affairs of the country. What had been accomplished during that period ?
From the treasury report of 1816, it appears that the public debt was then estimated (30th September, 1815) at
$119,635,558 46 Subject,” the report adds, “ to consider. able changes and additions," estimated at
7,000,000 00 Making a total of
$126,635,558 46 There were, besides, large floating claims, growing out of the war, for which congress has been obliged from time to time to make provision. The public debt, therefore, in January, 1816, was, in round numbers, one hundred and twenty-six millions and a half of dollars. What is it now? Nominally, sixty-seven millions. But of this aggregate, seven millons were the subscription to the bank of the United States, for which we have the same amount in stock, of equal, or of greater value. Deduct that sum, and the total debt is but 60 millions. So that during the period of about twelve years, beginning immediately after the war, there has been an extinguishment of debt to the amount of rather more than sixty-six millions. But this is not all. There has been created, during the same time, a debt of five millions of dollars, to purchase Florida, that is, to pay the claims of our own citizens, stipulated by the treaty with Spain to be paid as the price of that purchase. This sum being added, as it ought to be, there is an aggregate of seventy-one millions, or nearly six millions of dollars a year, during the whole of that period, besides paying the interest of the debt, the expenses of government, and making liberal provisions for the public service. This is something. But much more had been For what he was about to say, he referred to the report of the committee of ways and
means in the year 1816. At the head of that committee was a gentleman, who could not be remembered without a feeling of deep regret at the public loss sustained by his early death. He possessed, in an uncommon degree, the confidence of this House; and he well deserved it. With so, much knowledge, and with powers which enabled him to delight and to instruct the House, there was united so much gentleness and kindness, and such real unaffected modesty, that you were already prepared to be subdued before he exerted his commanding power of argument. He spake, he said, of the public loss—As to the individual himself (the late William Lowndes, of South Carolina,) he had lived long enough to acquire the best possible reputation-a reputation earned by a well-spent life. But to return to the immediate subject. It appeared from the report, that at the period referred to, (1816,) there was a direct tax of more than five millions and an half, there were internal taxes, consisting of licenses, to distillers, tax on carriages, licenses to retailers, auction duties, tax on furniture, on manufactures, excise on distilled spirits, and increased postage, to the amount of seven millions, making an aggregate of more than twelve millions and a half of dollars. From all this weight of burthen, the people of this country had been relieved. Above twelve millions and an half of revenue had been surrendered; yet the interest of the public debt, amounting, at the beginning of the period, to more than six millions of dollars per annum, had been duly paid—the claims growing out of the war, of very large amount, had been paid—the army establishment supported—the navy maintained and augmented—a system of fortifications established and prosecuted, commensurate with the wants of the country—the claims under the treaty with Spain had been satisfied—the regular operations of the government carried on—and beside occasional appropriations by congress, a permanent provision (a heavy draught upon the treasury, but well applied) had been made for adding to