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the comfort of the declining years of the veterans of the Revolution. Something not inconsiderable, too, has been done for internal improvement. And, during the same period, as he had already stated, seventy millions bad been paid off of the principal of the public debt. Of this amount, he thought it proper to add, more than sixteen millions, (principally of public debt) had been paid during the present administration.
A government which has effected this, he said, would seem to be entitled to the praise of being wise and economical, at least until the contrary appeared by some proof of extravagance. And what is our position now? There is no internal tax-no direct burthen; the expenses of our government are entirely defrayed by the indirect taxation of the customs. We are in the full enjoyment of civil, religious and political liberty, to an extent without example; and last, not least, there is as much abstinence on the part of the government, in the exercise of its powers over individuals, as can possibly be observed: much greater than any known government ever did, or now does observe. We enjoy under it ample protection, and yet we never feel its pressure. We know of its existence only by the benefits it confers.
Out of the income and revenue of the 'country, ten millions a year are irrevocably destined as a sinking fund to extinguish the public debt. The process is rapidly going on. He would not repeat the accurate and satisfactory statement which had been made by his colleague, (Mr. Stewart). The annual appropriation is more than sufficient to pay off the debt at the periods when by the terms of the several loans it is redeemable. The whole may be paid off in the year 1835, and a large surplus accumulated in the treasury. Aster that period, the present revenue will exceed, by at least ten millions of dollars, the wants of the government, and may be accordingly reduced. Such is our condition, and such our prospects.
But there is other proof more precise, and in some respects more satisfactory, upon this point of a wise economy. What are the total expenditures of the government, the public debt included? Let us take the year 1826. It affords a better basis than the year just ended, because it is all matter of cxact knowledge, and no part estimated. The whole expenditure is about twenty-four millions of dollars. The population of the United States at the present moment is not exactly known. But, upon the lowest estimate that can be reasonably formed of it, this expenditure is less than two dollars for each individual composing it. How then can it be supposed, as it seemed to be by the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Floyd) that the comparison with other countries would be disadvantageous to us? There is no comparison in the case. Take the government of England, for example. The taxation there, according to the latest statement I have seen, taking an average of five years, ending in 1823, is no less than fiftythree millions sterling, and the parochial taxes are stated at seven millions more, making a total of sixty millions. This is equal to three pounds sterling a head of the whole population, or, at the present rate of exchange, fifteen dollars a head. But he understood the member from Virginia (Mr. Floyd) to say, that we must add the expense of our state governments and local charges, and, these being added, our government would appear to be an expensive one. In the state which he (Mr. Sergeant) had the honour in part to represent, there were no taxes for the support of government. The only state taxes existing, were some which had recently been imposed, for the purpose of carrying on a great system of beneficial improvement, which could not, with any propriety, enter into the calculation. The proper expenses of the state government did not, according to his recollection-he spoke merely from recollection-exceed ten or fifteen cents for each of the people. As to local charges, of various kinds, it would be sufficient
to say, that if they were to be added on one side, they must also, for the purpose of comparison, be added on the other. They existed every where. If we pay in our cities and towns for paving, lighting, cleansing, are they exempt from similar charges in England ? If we pay for water, do they not pay too? These charges are, in fact, only equivalents for comforts we obtain, and which are better and more cheaply obtained by common contribution. No one is exempt from them. He who lives in the country must either forego these things, (some of them he cannot dispense with) or procure them at his own expense. He must sink his own well to get water, and it will cost him more. He must go unlighted in the dark, or he must carry his own light. He must make his own path. If he come to a place where he cannot put down his foot, he must himself lay down a log or a stone to step upon. He repeated, therefore, that those charges-local ones—were only equivalents for comforts, which could not be so cheaply had in any other way. They were not part of the present calculation. He then said, this was far the cheapest government—it made less exaction of any sort from the citizen. This was a fair ground for presuming that it was not wasteful or extravagant.
Now, sir, he said, let us see how this annual expenditure is distributed. That will be coming nearer to the very point in question, and will afford satisfactory information. The total expenditure, rejecting fractions, was twenty-four millions. Of this amount, nearly one half, that is, eleven millions, were applied to the payment of the principal and interest of the public debt. For the military establishment, including fortifications and military pensions, six millions two hundred thousand dollars. For the navy, four millions two hundred thousand dollars. All these are expenditures necessary for carrying into effect laws made upon deliberate consideration, and they will continue to be necessary until congress, upon the same deliberation, shall think
proper to reduce these establishments, or (which will speedily arrive,) the public debt shall be paid off. When that day comes, the necessary expenditure, and of course the requisite revenue, .will be reduced nearly one half. For the civil, diplomatic, and, miscellaneous expenditure of the government, it appears, therefore, that there is left only about two millions six hundred thousand dollars, or a little more than one tenth part of the whole expenditure.
This expenditure, of a little more than two millions and a half of dollars, or rather more than one tenth of the whole expenditure, provides for the following objects: The whole of the legislature of this Union of twenty four states, contingent expenses included : The whole of the executive, including the State, Treasury, War and Navy Departments: the expenses of the Post office Department, covering a greater extent of territory, and diffusing a greater amount of accommodation than any other known establishment of the kind : the surveying of the public lands: the mint establishment of the United States: the government of three territories: the whole judiciary of the United States; the light-house establishment: the whole of the expenses of our foreign intercourse : and some miscellaneous items, which not belonging properly to any other head, are placed under this.
Is it not rather amazing, that the government, extending over twenty-four states and three territories, embracing so large a space, and so great a population, and providing adequately for all, should be carried on at so small an exexpense ? In other parts of the world, it would scarcely be credited.— It does the highest honor to the government, congress included. It seems to me to show most satisfactorily, that the government, instituted by the people and for the people, has up to this moment been true to its appropriate and characteristic principle, of promoting the public welfare-and that instead of being surrounded here, as some have appeared to imagine, by extravagance and
abuse, we are still in the pure days of the republic. If, hereafter, abuses should occur, if corruption should grow up, and our institutions be perverted or overthrown, the patriot, for even then there will be patriots, will look back to our time, with mixed admiration and regret, as a portion of the happy and honest period of our history.
He said, he had been very much struck with a remark made by a gentleman whom he was obliged to designate as one of the opposition, that this was not a favourable time for retrenchment-lf retrenchment were necessary, he (Mr. S.) thought there could be no more favourable timeThe people could never have higher security than they now have. · For we are sure that this administration will be closely watched, and that no error, however slight, will be left undetected and unexposed. There is the most unceasing vigilance. There has not been, there will not be, a single particular that will escape the watchful attention of congress. He did not mean to say that it ever slumbered. But, assuredly, it can never be more wide awake and active than when stimulated as it now is by the feelings which are admitted to exist. There is all the ordinary vigilance and something more. How then can abuse, always obnoxious to the censure of congress, hope at this time particularly, to escape examination and exposure ? How can it be believed, that it has so escaped ?
These were some of the reasons why he would not have felt himself bound to offer such a resolution. They were not reasons for opposing it when offered by another, but rather for giving it the fullest and freest course. If in any quarter of the country there is an impression of extravagance or abuse, let it be removed. If, said he, any member of this house desires to institute a general inquiry, however unpromising I may think it on account of its aiming at too much, I for one will not withhold from him the opportunity, though the mere inquiry seems to imply a censure upon the government, or upon some branch of it. Such