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HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 28
The SPEAKER announced that the first business in order, was the consideration of the memorial concerning our Indian relations presented by Mr. EVERETT.
Mr. HOFFMAN moved to suspend the rule, in order to take up certain appropriation bills which he specified, but he did not obtain the unanimous consent of the House.
Mr. SUTHERLAND then obtained the floor, and stated that there would not be time at the present session to discuss the Indian memorial. He therefore moved that the petition be laid on the table.
Mr. LAMAR asked for the Ayes and Noes.
Mr. POTTER moved a call of the House, and asked for the Ayes and Noes, which were ordered. The House then refused a call of the House.
The Ayes and Noes were then ordered on the motion to lay the Indian petition on the table.
The general appropriation Bill, with the amendments made by the Senate, was referred to the Committee of Ways and Means.
The amendments made in Committee of the Whole to the bill making appropriations for the Indian Department was concurred in.
Mr. BATES moved to amend the bill by adding a section, requiring the annuities to the Indians to be paid in the manner in which they had heretofore been paid.
Mr. BATES explained the manner in which the annuities had been paid from the foundation of the Government, until this policy was reversed by an order issued from the Department of War, in June last, which prescribed that these annuities shall be hereafter paid to the individuals composing the nation, each according to his proportion. There ought, he said, to be sufficient reason given to satisfy the House of the propriety of this change. He wished to know at what age individuals were to be regarded as entitled, whether the annuities were to be varied by rank, or number of family. How are the annuities to be paid? Is the agent to go in quest of the individual, or are the latter to come to the Agency. The individual share would be about 40 cents. The total amount of annuities is above, two hundred thousand dollars; and the whole, under the new arrangement, must be paid in specie. How is it to be transported? If the 18,000 Cherokees come to the agency for their money, they must be maintained while there. Some will have to come 200 miles, and the expense would more than consume the 42 cents due to each. The great mass of Indians have but one name each, the Fox, the Raccoon, etc. There are hundreds of the same name. Suppose 3 or 400 Raccoons come; how is the receipt to be given., Before half of the Raccoons are gone through, those already paid may put on a new coat of paint and come again. And so the young Raccoons may come in the same way. It will, therefore, be found impossible to execute this order.
He stated that a greater door for fraud could not be opened than by the adoption of this order. He denied the right of the government to issue this order. These annuities are not gratuities, donations of gifts -- but debts due, not to individuals of a nation or tribe, but the nations or tribes themselves. It has been the practice to pay the Cherokee annuities into their Treasury, and he wished to know by what right these debts are to be paid to individuals. The Executive might as reasonable refuse to pay the Massachusetts' claim to the State, and determine to pay it to the individual citizens; and there would doubtless be found citizens who would prefer this mode.
He would not state the object of the change, but he took a view of the effect of it; which would be to deprive the Cherokee Nation of the means of trying the force of the treaties which have been made with them by the United States, before the Supreme Court of the United States. Georgia desires that her courts shall decide the constitutionality of these treaties, and by those who have in their pockets tickets in the lottery by which the Cherokee possessions are to be parcelled out among their spoilers; but the Cherokees desire that the Supreme Court of the United States shall deine the question; and to obtain this decision, they must employ and pay Counsel. An order on the War Department by the Cherokee Nation has been disregarded, and they are thus deprived of the means of paying their Counsel. The Creek Delegates here on giving assurance that they are not in any way connected with the Cherokees have had their order on the Government for their expenses paid, while the Cherokee Delegates have not been able to obtain a dollar.
Mr. BATES are (sic) an extract of a letter from Mr. Jefferson in answer to complaints from some of the Cherokees that the annuities were partially distributed, in which he states that the distribution was made, according to the rule prescribed by the Cherokee Nation, and that the United States Government had no control over the distribution. He also read a letter from the Guerodee agent. Col. Montgomery, stating that no complaint on the subject of the annuities had been made to the United States Government through him.
Mr. POTTER spoke afterwards.
Mr. Buchanan moved ten previous question, which was seconded, Ayes 87, Noes 64.
The bill was then ordered to be engrossed, and read a third time today.
The bill was subsequently passed.
The bill to carry into effect certain Indian Treaties was read a third time.
Mr McDUFFIE moved an amendment making appropriation for carrying into effect the Choctaw Treaty.
After a few words from Mr. STANBURY and Mr. LUMPKIN --
Mr. STRONG asked for the Ayes and Noes on the question which was ordered.
Mr. McDUFFIE expressed his belief that the bill of the last session gave the President the means to carry this treaty into effect.
Mr. WAYNE and Mr. LEWIS dissented from this construction of the Indian Bill.
Mr. WICKLIFFE moved to amend the amendment by appending a provision that the appropriation shall be paid out of the 500,000 dollars appropriated by the Indian Bill of last session.
Mr. LEWIS asked for the Ayes and Noes, but the call was not sustained.
The amendment to the amendment was then agreed to.
The call for the Ayes and Noes on the amendment as amended was withdrawn; and the amendment being agreed to, the Bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time today.
WEDNESDAY, March 2.
The amendment which went to appropriate 80,000 dollars for the expenses of the Choctaw Treaty out of the Treasury, and not out of the sum of 500,000 dollars appropriated by the Indian Bill of last year, being read.
Mr. BELL explained, and strenuously advocated the amendment, answering several queries of Mr. VINTON in relation to the expenditure of part of the appropriation of last year.
Mr. ELLSWORTH opposed the amendment, insisting that the $500,000 of last year was intended to cover the expenses included in this sum.
Mr. STORRS took similar ground, and quoted the Indian Bill in support of his position -- comparing the treatment of the House by the Executive to the child's play of 'shut your eyes and open your mouth.'
Mr. POLK replied -- contending that the House had abundant light and insisting that the objects of this appropriation never were contemplated when the $500,000 were granted by the bill of last year Mr. HUNTINGTON further quoted the law, and argued to show that the object now proposed might be paid for out of the sum in that law; and, whether or not the House might now so direct.
Mr. BURGES earnestly argued on the same side.
MR. WICKLIFFE advised that no reply be made -- as the speeches would avail nothing, save for political effect.
Mr. BELL replied -- insisting on the distinct character of the objects now asked for; arguing with great warmth to show that the President would have violated the act of last session if he had applied the money then given him to the objects of education, farming utensils, rifles, council houses, etc., comprised in the present appropriation, and then the gentlemen would have taken opposite ground, and cried out aristocracy, etc., and repelling the idea suggested by Mr. BURGES that the fund in the hands of the President was to be reserved as a treasure for bribery.
Mr. STOORS replied and explained. Mr. WHITTLESEY remonstrated against the consumption of time in this debate.
Mr. WILDE demanded the question, and threatened a full discussion should debate be further pursued.
The question was taken accordingly, and decided in the affirmative, Ayes 92 so the House concurred and the clause was stricken out, which takes the 80,000 dollars out of the 500,000 dollars of the last year.