The House met pursuant to adjournment.
Mr. McVay of Laud. presented a Memorial of Cyrus Chapter NO. 6 of Royal Arch Masons, and Florence Lodge, No. 14 of ancient Free Masons in the town of Florence, praying the passage of a law to raise by lottery, a certain sum of money therein mentioned, which was read and referred to a select committee, consisting of Messrs. McVay of Laud. Greening and Craig.
On motion of Mr. Moore, of Jackson, Resolved, That Alexander M. Robinson be admitted a seat within the Representative Hall, for the purpose of taking notes of the proceedings of the House of representatives, for publication.
Mr. Ross presented a memorial of sundry citizens of the city of Mobile, praying the passage of a law to authorize the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, to pass an Ordinance prohibiting, after a given time, the construction of any building of wood, or of other materials that of brick or stone, east of St. Joseph and St. Emanuel streets, north of the city boun-
dary street, and south of Canal street; fixing, or authorizing the Board of Aldermen to fix a suitable penalty for the violation of such law or ordinance; which was read and referred to a select committee, consisting of Messrs. Ross, Stone, Wiggins, and Lewis.
On motion of Mr. Coopwood, Resolved, That a committee of two members be appointed on the part of this House, to act with such committee as may be appointed on the part of the Senate to wait on his Excellency the Governor, and inform him that the two Houses of the General Assembly are now organized, and ready to receive any communication he may please to make. Whereupon Messrs Coopwood and McVay of laud. were appointed said committee.
On motion of Mr. Coopwood, Resolved, That the following standing Committees be appointed to wit:
A committee on Privileges and Elections: on Propositions and Grievances: on Enrolled Bills, on Inland Navigation: on Roads, Bridges, & Ferries: on Ways and Means: on the Military; on the Judiciary; on County Boundaries: on Schools, colleges, and Universities: and School and University Lands: on Accounts: on Divorce and Alimony: on the State Bank.
Mr. Bridges moved to amend the resolution by adding the words and a committee on apportionment, which was carried.
Mr. Walker offered the following resolution: Resolved, that Messrs Collier, Ellis, and Jack, be appointed a committee on the part of this House, to procure and contract for stationary, for the use of the present legislature- which was lost.
On motion of Mr. McVay of Laud. Resolved, That there be committee of three members appointed to enquire into the expediency of revising, consolidation, and regulating Constables and Justices fees whereupon Messrs McVay, of Laud. Perkins and Martin, were appointed said committee.
On motion of Mr. Moore of Jack, Resolved, That a standing committee be appointed on the state Capitol.
Mr. Anderson presented the petition of the Grand Jury of Marengo county, praying the passage of a law altering the mode of trying slaves charged of capital offences: also praying that accounts contracted for spirituous liquors purchased in small quantities, upon the same footing with claims founded upon a gambling consideration; which was read and referred to the committee on the Judiciary.
A message from the Senate by Mr. Lyon, their Secretary.
Mr. Speaker-- I am instructed to inform your honorable body that the Senate have appointed Messrs Crabb and Casey a committee on their part, to act with such committee as may be appointed on the part of the House of Representatives, to wait on his Excellency the Governor, and inform him that the two Houses of General Assembly are now organized, and ready to receive any communication he may think proper to make them.
Ordered, that said message lie on the table.
Mr. Vaughan presented the petition of sundry citizens of Blount county, praying the passage of a law to incorporate the town of Blountsville in said county: which was read and referred to a select committee, consisting of Messrs Vaughan, Rather, and Lawler.
Mr. Anderson presented the petition of sundry inhabitants of Marengo county, praying the passage of a law changing an election precinct.
from the residence of John Gilmore Esq. to James Hildreth's grocery, which was read and referred to a select committee; consisting of Messrs Anderson, Moore of Jack and Bridges; to consider and report thereon.
On motion of Mr. McVay of Law, Resolved, That a committee of three members be appointed to enquire into the expediency of amending the constitution so as to have biennial instead of annual sessions of the legislature.
On motion of Mr. Daniel Resolved, That eighty copies of the rules of this House be printed for the use of the members thereof.
Mr. Craig presented the petition of sundry inhabitants, Grand Jurors of Lauderdale county, praying the passage of a law altering the mode of punishing criminals convicted of the crime of Forgery; which was read and referred to the Judiciary committee.
Mr. McVay of laud from the select committee appointed on the part of this House, to act with the committee appointed on the part of the Senate: Reported, That they have discharged that duty, and received for answer, that his Excellency will communicate by message in thirty minutes.
Mr. Durrett presented the petition of sundry inhabitants of the sixteenth section of Township first, Range No. 8 west of the meridian of Huntsville, in Lauderdale county, praying the passage of a law authorizing commissioners to lease said section; which was read and referred to a select committee, consisting of Messrs Durrett, Craig, and McVay of Laud. to consider and report thereon.
A message was received from the Governor, by James I. Thornton, Secretary of State which be handed in at the Speaker's chair and then withdrew the said communication was in writing and is as follows:
FELLOW CITIZENS:- It is not idle ceremony, or an expression of mere formal usage, to congratulate you on your arrival at the theatre of your public labors. Should such an assemblage be regarded without solemn and patriotic emotions, it would afford evidence that the blessings of the government which we enjoy were but imperfectly apprehended, and that there had been but little reflection, on the numerous and essential interests, which are entrusted to the management of the Representatives of a Free People. Filling a co-ordinate branch of the same high and responsible service, and pursuing alike the dictates of sensibility and duty, I tender to you my sincere and hearty congratulations. The diversified concerns of civil society, extending into numerous ramifications and dependicies, some heeding the cherishing hand of sound policy, and others, requiring to be brought forth, and sustained to vigorous maturity, call for the exercise of more than common powers, and need the efforts of the most sedulous diligence. With these labors in view, it is most reasonable as well as most natural, to look up with humility, to the Great Source of light and wisdom for the necessary aid. from thence may be obtained the knowledge to devise, and the Providence to conduct to an happy issue. And here let us cherish the feelings of a duty no less incumbent than pleasing, and joint our devout aspirations of gratitude, to the Great Author of all Good, for past favors, for present circumstances, and for future prospects.
It may long continue doubtful to what degree of perfection the affairs of human society may possibly attain, and upon this subject we can have
no satisfaction data but those which result from experience. It is however, very clearly out duty, to provide by all possible means for the happiness of our own community, to receive and to communicate to others, a portion of light on the science of free government. Man is by nature destined for action and for enjoyment- He has powers to employ, and passions to restrain. Progression enters into the constitution of his nature, and is essential to his happiness. The principles of a good and wise policy would therefore seem to be these; that his energies should be properly directed to a wise and useful objects; that the injurious impulses of passion should be strained by moral dissuasive, and more positive sanctions, and that continual prospects might be opened to him, of greater progress in virtue, respectability and happiness.- although much of all this must be done by every individual for himself, yet the influence of government, upon the pursuits and moral energy of men is great and undeniable. Government is he great law, if I may so speak, to which all look up with reverence and submission. It regulates the great outlines of our course, and frequently descends into the minutia of our character. The object of these remarks, necessarily brief and imperfect, is simply this; that whatever concerns man, in the entire range of his pursuits, and the whole circle of his enjoyments, whatever properly restrains him or beneficially excites him, is the legitimate subject of a liberal and enlightened legislation. Legislation should not be confined alone to the repressing of crimes, the adjustment of rights, the security of property from the violence and injustice of selfish feelings, and the regulation of things necessary for the establishment of government itself, but should take in also the hollow scope of human interests, and should be a pillar of cloud and of fire to conduct to the maximum of individual and social happiness. In deposit governments less than this will necessarily be sought, because the attainment of the whole would subvert the principles upon which they are founded; but in free institutions, this universal concern, composes their highest honor and recommendation.
In the existing condition of our own government, we have to regret the occasional commission of insulated outrage, which the administration of the laws will punish and restrain; but are consoled by many unerring indications that our civil and moral condition is greatly improving. The laws are obeyed and respected; a very large majority of the population give their weight and influence to support them. In common with the other happy states to which we are united, we have no popular commotions, nor the distractions of conflicting interests and designs, as the law which governs the whole has a sanction equal to that of the universal will.
But in the midst of these blessings, it is believed, that there is, from various causes, and that, there is impending, an unusual pressure of pecuniary distress. Coming from the bosom of the people, and charged with their wants and their wishes, you will have more certain and extensive information of this subject, that this Department has had an opportunity to obtain. The present remarks, however, will proceed upon the supposition, that there is, and will be, pecuniary difficulty of a temporary duration; and it will be a source of much happiness, if the impression should prove to be erroneous. Human society, in all ages of the world, and in all countries, has been subjected to unexpected reverses and difficulties, which the ordinary exercise of prudence was not able to avert. In addition to the common mutability of human things, there is something in the nature, incidents, or use of money, as being the medium through which
all the necessary exchanges of society are effected, that independently of the real condition of any community, frequently of occasions peculiar embarrassment. It is one of the most humane and endearing operations of Government, to afford remedy for these evils whenever they unfortunately arise. In our own continuity they threaten us, not from luxury and extravagance long and gradually induced, and from slothfulness in business, or remissness if devising the ordinary means by which competence, comfort, and wealth are secured. But they have originated in general, from the reverse of all these- from the excess of enterprise and industry, balked and borne down by unforeseen contingencies, and disappointed, if not misguided calculations. Those who were lead by there are dent devotion to the interest of their families, to anticipate their future labors, in order to obtain more ample means for the present prosecution of that sacred object, find themselves subject to ruin, or to great loss, by events which no ordinary prudence could foresee, and which did not enter into calculations which were deemed temperate and judicious.- The most arduous labor, aided by the most exact and rigid economy, has not proved sufficient to afford a remedy. A fond, a lingering hope of better times, has only rendered the crisis more difficult. The case would not seem to be much variant from the following simple statement; a laborious, enterprising, economical, and judicious community, have become embarrassed, by the sudden and continued fall in the price of the staple productions of the country. The times which immediately preceded, were prosperous in the extreme. They allured the better passions to aim at means more speedily to acquire competence and comfort for our families. This illusive, but endearing phantom was cherished in the imagination, and assumed to itself the high attributes of sober reason, and accurate judgment. The anxious enquiry remains, what remedy can be applied to the present state of things? If, by any sage means, the present pressure might be mitigated, the extraordinary industry and resources of the country would speedily redeem all past errors. If time could be given, much distress might be alleviated, and many valuable citizens saved, not, perhaps, from loss or sacrifice, but from absolute rain. If any of the causes of distress be within the control of the Pubic Authorities, they should be diligently removed. Our circulation medium is deficient, and the annual drain from the purchase of Public Land, will cause it to continue so for some time to come. The money goes into the public coffers, and very slowly returns. It operates as if the balance of trade were against us, to its entire amount. The county does not become poorer by the purchase of Public Land, but the greater the quantity of land which is purchases, the more deficient the circulation medium becomes, and the more distressed the country therefore appears. We have not money left sufficient for our home, or internal trade. It is evident, that while we continue to be purchasers of land from the United States, the quantity of circulating medium ought to be greater than would be necessary under other circumstances; that its, if we purchase land one from another. When it is found that money is scare, or, in other words, that there is not a sufficient quantity for the transactions of the country, on a fair and equitable scale, and that therefore it has acquired an adventitious value, the fears of some are alarmed; the cupidity of others excited- the consternation spreads- and in a short time, a small sum of it is sufficient to purchase property far exceeding its permanent value. The deficient of our circulation is already felt, and may be much more so, if a remedy is not provided. And here the difficult
question naturally arises, what remedy shall be resorted to? The increase of the capital of the State Bank, if found convenient and practicable, would seem to the most obvious and effectual remedy, and that best suited in the present circumstances of the community. The increase of the circulating medium thus occasioned, would pass into the hands of the debtor part of the population, and enable them to keep up their property at something like a fair price, property pledges for the payment of their debts, or pay the creditor off without ultimate sale or sacrifice. It would prove, in many cases, beneficial to the creditors also. When the property of the debtor is sold at a very inadequate price, a few of the most pressing creditors are paid, and the means of paying the rest consumed, when there was enough to pay all at a fair price, and perhaps a residium left for the debtor. Should the General Assembly find occasion seriously to contemplate this subject, their wisdom will suggest the safest and most adequate expedients. The people might thus be accommodated, requiring of them the most undoubted security. It is not supposed that a large and dangerous sum would be necessary, to afford a very extensive and essential relief.- The pressing debts of individuals are probably not so great, but they compose a sum unknown. The impression gets abroad that there is a large amount of money which must be raised in the country; the capitalist holds back and increases the apprehension of the scarcity of money; the debtor becomes alarmed and submits to ruinous sacrifices, or is forced to make them under the Sheriff's hammer.- The ruin of the debtor involves nothing more immoral or corrupt than the usual operations of self interest. The man who would cheerfully become his security, to save him fro ruin, or even great lost, would perhaps be content to buy his property at a very inadequate price, when offered at public Auction. It satisfies the sensibility of ordinary friendship to be the last bidder, and to give more than others were inclined to do. any accommodation which could be safely extended, would not, and perhaps ought not to prevent the sale of much property, and some sacrifice on the sale, but it would make the sale better, and the sacrifice less. It would operate as so much direct competition to save the debtor from ruin. The dispensation of Divine Providence, which has lessened the annual means of the State, but to which, a cheerful and humble submission should be given, renders it the more necessary to interpose relief, if relief indeed can be afforded. The subject is submitted to your wise and patriotic consideration.
In May last the Tombeckbe Bank failed to make payment of its notes in Specie. This was attended by a speedy depreciation of its paper. By this unfortunate failure, the circulating currency of the State, at all times insufficient, was greatly reduced. The tax collectors received the earliest notification. Many persons who had prepared money in those Bills, in order to avail themselves of the benefit of the Act of Congress in regard to the public lands, were ultimately disappointed in their views, as the money would not be received at the land offices, after the failure to pay specie. This forms a just and necessary ground, upon which an application should be made to the Congress of the United States for a revival of the Act, or the passage of one with similar provisions. In pursuance of the Act of the General Assembly of this State passed in the year 1821, I directed the solicitor of the first judicial circuit to institute proceedings in the nature of a quo Warranto against the Tombecbe Bank, and associated with him assistant council. The recent session of the court of Washington county has prevented a report from being yet received. I have the honor to for
ward herewith a statement of the affairs of the Bank, which was forwarded to this Department by order of the President and Board of Directors. Any expedient which the wisdom of the General Assembly may devise to secure the rights of those who hold the paper of the Bank, will receive a most ready co-operation.
I beg leave to recommend such revision of the criminal law, as will, more effectually ensure the proper application of it. The principal inconvenience seems to result from the manner in which the jury to try criminals is obtained. The employment of talismen would also seem to be too frequent in civil cases. The purity, as well as the sound intelligence of the jury, is obviously essential, and the greatest caution should be used to ensure these necessary qualifications. any error or defect here, will tend to affect justice in one of its principal sources. I would also recommend to at some proper mode may be devised for the trial of slaves with the least necessary delay. This may be done, it is presumed, in perfect consistance with the rights and justice, which are secured to them under the humanity of the laws. There may be perhaps a saving of expense to the community, and of loss to the owner, without any disadvantage to the accused.
The administration of justice both civil and criminal, in the purest and ablest manner, is essential to the best interests of the country. Our growing population, and consequent increase of business, devolve heavy duties on those who are entrusted to administer it. The Judges of the circuit courts are exclusively engaged in the duties of their offices. The expense attending their itineration in their several circuits is very considerable, leaving a reduced amount of nett compensation. I beg leave to recommend that their several salaries be raised to two thousand dollars per annum. The solicitors also do not appear to receive adequate compensation. They claim justice on the part of the State, against every class of public offenders. They are excluded by their office from a very lucrative branch of their profession. In a single criminal case, fees are not infrequently obtained by other lawyers, which exceed the amount of their annual compensation. The fees which they are allowed by law for the conviction of criminals, are in general badly paid. Those who trespass upon the good order of society, are seldom provident in their own affairs, and want ability, as well as inclination to pay. These officers should have high talents to gain respect, and elevation of character to inspire awe. I beg leave to recommend, that their salary be increased to five hundred dollars, or that the fees allowed them on convictions, which cannot be rendered from the parties, be paid out of some public fund, provided for that purpose. The design is, some suitable way, to increase their completion and should the General Assembly be inclined to do so, they will judge of the best means.
Connected with these in another subject which I deem of great importance. we have no adequate and permanent report of Cases adjudicated in the Supreme Court of the State.--- The decisions of the Supreme Court become the law of the land, and are most important to be known. They include, as a matter of course, those doubtful cases upon which men may be expected to differ in opinion. They involve the more intricate arrangements of business, and the more doubtful principles of right and obligations. Hence they become, if possible, more necessary to be know than any other law. But as it is now, they can only be know to professional men, and very imperfectly, or with much difficulty, even to them.
I beg leave, therefore, to recommend the creation of the office of a State Reporter of legal cases adjudicated in the last resort. To this office might be connected the periodical Digest of the laws, and perhaps other duties which might there be safely committed, will from time to tome present themselves. In order to command sufficient talents, there should be attached to the office a suitable compensation, which the sale of the reports, and other services, will part repay.
In any communication like the present, it would be highly improper to omit the subject of Education. In our recent establishment, much must be left for the present, to the wisdom and good sense of the individuals composing the community; still the public authorities ought to be engaged in devising and maturing the plans which will hereafter be carried into effect: The whole body of the people must be educated. This is alike the dictate of humanity, morals, and sound policy. For this purpose, no doubt different systems will be adopted, accommodated to the difference of local circumstances. In dense settlements, schools may be obtained for all, and afford them the advantage of going from their homes. In other places, schools must be provided upon the most improved plans, and the students boarded at the places of their instruction. We have many examples before us, and an opportunity of ascertaining their respective results. It is incumbent on us also, to devise new systems to obviate, if possible, the imperfection of those in actual operation. There should be great freedom of thought and enlargement of design, in the accomplishment of beneficial purposes. I do not believe that the present situation of the country is favorable to the immediate adoption of general systems. Individuals must, perhaps, be left for a short time, to act without any very efficient public aid. But every indication ought to be given, that at the shortest possible period, this aid will be afforded with all practicable effect. The University must be considered of primary importance in any general system. It will furnish instructors, and disseminate the love of literature. From various causes, the location of this Institution has been delayed. It is not doubted that this delay will contribute to its ultimate effect and prosperity. A much longer procrastination however would be unnecessary and injurious. The principal difficulty now seems to be, to select the most favorable position. It must be confessed, that much of the prosperity of the Institution, will depend on a judicious location of it. Should the general Assembly from any cause, postpone the location beyond the period of their present session, I beg leave to recommend, that suitable persons be appointed to examine and report the best situations. Such an appointment may afford valuable information derived, as it must be, from actual inspection, with reference to a special object, and given under the highest sanctions of honor and patriotism. One Commissioner from each Judicial Circuit, would, perhaps, be a sufficient number. The examination should be made in conjunction, but each individual commissioner report his own separate views.
I cannot but again bring to your view the interests of agriculture, and recommend that the be brought, in every practicable degree within the range of your public deliberations. I have the honor to transmit you, a letter from Gen. Lafayettee, and a letter from a Swiss gentleman who wishes to settle, with a small colony, in some part of the Southern States. To these letters immediate attention was give. Some such opportunity as this might be improved, and means perhaps might be devised, to obtain skilful cultivators of staples almost unknown to us, or at least very imperfectly cultivates. It must contribute to the comfort, independence
and wealth of our citizens to multiply productions, and raise their own supplies as much as possible.
Great attention to internal improvement marks the genius and progress of the present age. Canals and rail roads have become the objects of very general interest. It will be worthy of enquiry and observation whether this state does not afford peculiar facilities for the last mentioned kind of improvement. The vallies which traverse the elevated part so the country, in the direction of the sea coast from the Tennessee River, and the valley of the Tennessee river itself, may be found to afford very great convenience and facility. Rail Roads are supposed not to yield the palm of utility even to artificial water communication. They are comparatively cheap, safe and expeditious.- We shall have it in our power, aided by the light derived from the experience of others, to select in every case the kind of improvement which may seem most advisable. Means which the wisdom of the General Assembly will suggest might be usefully employed to obtain information of these interesting subjects.
The Solicitor of the First Judicial Circuit, instituted proceedings against the St. Stephens' Steam Boat Company, to determine the question of their Banking privileges. The case remains undecided in the supreme Court of the State. At the next session, in all probability the question will be determined.
The boundary line between this State and the State of Georgia, remains unadjusted. Some more effectual measures for the settlement of the controversy, and the establishment of the line, would no doubt be desirable to both states; and the sooner it is done the less difficulty will probably attend it.
I received a communication from the Ordinance Department of the United States, that one thousand one hundred and thirteen muskets or arms of an equal estimated value, were due to this State, as the quota of the public arms for the years 1823, 4, 5, and 6, and that they were ready for delivery according to order. I thought proper to direct, that two six pound pieces, or artillery should be furnished, on hundred and twenty artillery swords, one hundred and twenty rifles with accoutrements complete, five hundred cavalry sabers, and the residue, in muskets without accutrements. The cannon were ordered to encourage the formation of artillery companies, the rifles for flank companies of that description, the sabers for the equipment of cavalry. It was thought inexpedient to order pistols for the present, as the State was entitled but to a small quantity of arms, and that they were not absolutely necessary to the discipline of calvary. They are besides, a species of private arms very common in the country, and therefore not so necessary as the sabers, when a sufficient quantity of both could not be procured. There is a company of artillery at Claiborne. The formation of them should be encouraged at the Seat of Government, and at our principal towns----- the General Assembly will direct the distribution which will be made of these arms.
The report of the Directors, and annual examination of the affairs of the State Bank, will give to the General Assembly, and to the public, ample information in regard to that Institution. In this communication, I deem it wholly unnecessary to anticipate, in any degree, the information which will be fully obtained form these sources.
The system of protecting duties which occupied the attention of Congress at the last, and which will probably be urged upon their consideration at the present session, may well deserve your serous reflection. It
is the duty of every member of the confederation, to have their full weight of counsel and advisement in all great measures of national policy. There is too much reason to believe that the proposed Tariff will prove to be highly impolitic unequal and oppressive. It is not the intention to enter into the argument which has been so ably managed by other, but to suggest the subject to your careful and impartial consideration.
The following persons have been appointed to fill vacancies which occurred during the recess of the General Assembly, viz:
Benjamin Wilkinson, Judge of the County Court of Clarke County, vice Edward Kennedy, resigned; Nimrod E. Benson, Judge of the county Court of Montgomery county, vice Benajah S. Bibb resigned; Thomas Owen, Judge of the county court of Tuscaloosa county, vice Hume R. Field. resigned; John M Coll, Judge of the county court of Pike county, vice ---------- Sikes resigned; J. M. M. White, Solicitor of the 5th Judicial Circuit, vice James G. Birney resigned. James Davis, Solicitor of the 4th Judicial Circuit, vice David Hubbard resigned, John B. Hogan, Adjutant General, vice Isaac Welborne, resigned; The Judges of the county Courts of St. clair, Fayette and Dale, have recently resigned, their commissioners and no appointment has been made.
I have the honor herewith to transmit the Resolutions of several States, to be submitted to your consideration.
In the labors of the present session, the greatest possible unanimity, consistent with unbiased thinking and free discussion, should distinguish as heretofore the representatives of the people. In the public service, there cannot be ground upon which serious or permanent dissensions can rest, it being the end, and aim and duty of all, to promote the common interest, and strengthen the ties of the common connection which bind us together. A generous pride in the several parts which compose our civil association, will lead to acts of mutual conciliation and esteem. The bond cemented by affection will increase in strength and continue for ever. I invoke the blessing of Heaven on your public labors.
Ordered, That said Message together with the accompanying documents lie on the table.
Ordered, That five hundred copies of the Message be printed for the use of this house, and then the House adjourned until tomorrow morning 10 o'clock.