The house met pursuant to adjournment. Mr. Samuel Dale, a representative from the county of Monroe, & Mr. A. S. Lipscomb a representative from the county of Washington, appeared and took their seats.
Mr. Clay from the joint committee appointed to wait on his Excellency the Governor, and inform him, that a quorum of both houses had met, and were ready to receive any communications
he may be pleased to make, reported that they had performed that service, and received for answer, that he would made his communication in writing to both houses in the Representative Hall, at 12 o'clock this day.
Mr. Everitt from the joint committee of both houses, to examine and report the most eligible and convenient rooms that could be obtained, made the following report, viz.
The committee appointed with one from the Council, to ascertain and report the most eligible house for the accommodation of the General Assembly, have instructed me to report, that the only house to be obtained, calculated for such accommodation, is that of Mr. Alston's two rooms of which, with the necessary furniture and fuel, can be had at twelve dollars per day; therefor respectfully recommend to the house, the adoption of the following resolution.
Resolved, That with the concurrence of the Legislative Council, both houses will as soon as the rooms can be prepared adjourn to the house of Mr. Alston.
Mr. Clay presented the petition of sundry planters, merchants and gin holders of the county of Madison, praying that suitable regulations may be adopted for the inspection of Cotton-which on motion of Mr. Clay, was referred to a select committee of five members, and Messrs. Clay, S. Walker, Lipscomb, King and Brown were appointed.
Mr. Clay presented the petition of sundry persons residing in the immediate vicinity of the town of Huntsville, praying an extension of the corporate limits, which on motion of Mr. Clay, was referred to a committee of three members, and Messrs. Clay. S. Walker and Everitt were accordingly appointed.
On motion of Mr. Clay.
The following standing committees were appointed in conformity to the forty-first rule, (viz:)
A committee of Elections, consisting of Messrs. Walton, Warren and Vaughan.
A committee of Ways and Means, consisting of Messrs. S. Walker, Sims (of Cahaba ) and Slade.
A committee of Claims, consisting of Messrs. Fitzpatrick, Murrell and Sims (of Tuskaloosa.)
A committee of Revisal, and unfinished business, consisting of Messrs. Brown, Wilson and Hudspeth.
A committee of Accounts, consisting of Messrs. Robishow, Smith and Anderson.
A committee of Proposition and Grievances consisting of Messrs. King, Dale and Brown.
A committee of Enrolled Bills, consisting of Messrs. Clay, Lipscomb and Everitt.
William Walton returned as a representative from the county of Clarke, in the room of John M'Grew, resigned-appeared, produced his credentials and took his seat.
A message from the Legislative Council by Mr. Martin their secretary.
I am instructed to inform the house of Representatives, that the Legislative Council have concurred in their resolution, to adjourn to Mr. Alston's house, as soon as the rooms can be prepared."
And then he withdrew.
On motion of Mr. Lipscomb,
Ordered that the clerk inform the Legislative Council, that this house is now ready to adjourn to the house of Mr. Alston.
On motion of Mr. Lipscomb.
Resolved, That this house do now adjourn forthwith, to the house of Mr. Alston.
The Council appeared in the Representative chamber, preceeded by the door-keeper, and took the seats assigned them.
A message from his Excellency the Governor, by Mr. Lyon his private secretary, who delivered to the speaker, a written communication, addressed to both houses. and then he withdrew.
The message was then read as follows:
THE events of the present year furnish flattering evidence of the increasing prosperity, and distinguished advantages of our Territory. Attracted by a genial climate, productive soil, and navigable rivers - numbers have been added to our population, and crowds from all quarters are exploring our forest in search of situations for their future residence.
The demand for the public lands is unprecedented; and prices are obtained, which would be deemed more than adequate for improved farms in many of the states. Places which were lately the wretched abodes of the unfortunate savage, now present fruitful fields and flourishing towns; and, withal, a degree of health prevails, which probably has not been exceeded in any country. I am satisfied, from observation in the various directions I have been called by the public concerns, that in estimating the character of this portion of the union, a salubrious atmosphere may be justly regarded among its prominent traits. Amid these peculiar blessings and cheering
prospects, for which we are so much indebted to a kind Providence; we have, however, to lament, the murderous incursions of a misguided enemy, on a portion of our southern frontier. Hostilities were commenced on the part of the Indians, whose residence has been occasionally on either side of the Florida line, in the month of Jan'ry last, and have been since continued with marks of cruelty almost unexampled. Many of the inhabitants were compelled to seek safety in the interior, and not until within a few weeks have they been permitted to return to their dwellings.
Extensive swamps and the adjoining Spanish possessions, furnished retreats for the Savages, whence, in despite of the utmost vigilance, they might annoy our scattering settlements. The regular troops being inadequate to afford the necessary protection, it became indispensable to station militia at the most exposed points, and to employ detachments in scouring the neighboring woods. In September last, an expedition was arranged under the command of the gallant Colonel Dale, when most of the party which had so long disturbed the repose of the frontier, crossed the Alabama, and pursued their course through the neighborhood of the Falls of Tuskaloosa, towards the Mississippi. This very extraordinary movement may be justly ascribed to the occupation of Pensacola by the American forces.
You will readily imagine the extreme labor and embarrassment to which the Executive has been subjected - without funds, and at a period when the organization of the civil and military system of the Territory required his constant attention. In a newly settled country, moreover, it was ruinous to call the militia from their homes; and nothing less than the most imperative obligations, could have justified the measure.
The occasion nevertheless, has afforded numerous instances of patriotism, worthy of the highest commendation.
I have been authorized to draw on the war department for the necessary funds to defray the expenses incurred in defending the country; and the accounts are now in a train of adjustment. Notwithstanding these unfortunate occurrences, which were calculated to make impressions abroad unfavorable to emigration, it is probable the whole number of our in habitants at this time, exceed seventy-five thousand. In the year eighteen hundred and sixteen, this portion of the then Mississippi Territory contained only twenty-eight thousand six hundred and seven; and it appears by the census taken the present year, that, excluding the counties of Lawrence and Marion, from which no returns have been received, our population amounts to sixty-seven thousand, five hundred and ninety-four. So soon as the lists are completed, they shall be laid before you. There can be no doubt, that an application on the part of the Territory for admission into the Union, will be readily granted by the National Legislature. That subject, so interesting to us all, and the apportionment of representation, will doubtless attract your early attention.
Pursuant to resolutions passed at the last session of the General Assembly, I addressed a letter to the Governor of Mississippi respecting the monies in the Treasury of that state, claimed by this Territory, under the act on Congress, and at the same time, adopted measures for procuring one hundred companies of the Digest of the Laws of the late Mississippi Territory. The correspondence which is herewith transmitted, will shew, that, although it has not been
practicable to obtain the Digests in due season, they will be forwarded in a few weeks. In the mean time, aware that the officers in the newly created counties could not proceed, without the means of ascertaining their respective duties; and desirous to afford them every possible aid, I called on the clerks of the neighboring counties for such copies of the laws as had not been distributed. I have been thus enabled to transmit a small number to each county. It is also desirable that some legislative provision should be made for furnishing the officers of the militia with copies of the militia laws.
An act of Congress passed at their last session, vests in the Territorial Legislature, authority to appoint, change, and regulate the times and places of holding Courts; and it is probable, the public convenience may be promoted by directing your attention to the subject. Permit me also to recommend an extension of the powers of the County courts. The number of the Judges of the Superior Courts and the amount of their salaries, are inadequate to the duties they are required to perform; and the difficulties of travelling from county to county, are frequently insuperable. Failures in holding Courts, and delays in the administration of justice are therefore the unavoidable consequence.
In some of the states, the County Courts are clothed with civil and criminal jurisdiction to a certain extent; and in my view, the system appears suited in a peculiar degree, to the situation of our country. I would submit, moreover, the propriety of fixing, as far as practicable, permanent limits to the respective counties. With the knowledge acquired by the surveys of various parts of the Territory, that object may be now judiciously accomplished, and many considerations urge its importance.
So long as the seats of justice are temporary, it is not to be expected that convenient accommodation for the Courts, will be provided. It may also be proper that the Legislature should adjust the rates of ferriage on our principal rivers. At present the power of establishing and regulating ferries is vested in the County Courts, and it is believed, that different rates on the same stream, are prescribed in different counties. I learn, that, owing to the ambiguity of the provisions of the act imposing a tax on lands, the construction has not been uniform among the assessors. An amendment, therefore, is necessary.
The acts of congress prohibiting the importation of slaves from any foreign country, leave the disposition of such as may be unlawfully in-produced, to the legislative authorities of the states and territories, in which they may be found; and it may be important that the subject should occupy your consideration.
I have received a commission of George Philips, John Gayle, Jun. Matthew, D. Wilson, Lemuel Mead and Henry Chambers, as members of the Legislative Council; the two last in the place of Robert Beatty, resigned, and Joseph Carson, deceased; and I have to inform you that it will expire on the fifteenth day of February next.
You are apprized of the distinguished spirit of liberality which was manifested on the part of the Nation Legislature, during their last session, towards our Territory. An act passed authorizing the reservation of an entire township of land for the support of a Seminary of Learning; and also, of "any one entire section" to be located under the direction of the Governor, for the Seat of Government. Fully aware of the public sensibility which selection
of a scite for the seat of Government always excites, and of the influence of local feelings in the determination of the question. I could not expect by any choice, however judicious, to afford universal satisfaction. And the delicate task assigned to the Executive has been rendered the more embarrassing by a combination of accidental circumstances. A copy of the act did not reach me until the month of June when the town of Cahawba, which, among other scites, had attracted the attention of our fellow-citizens, was offered for sale, on the first Monday of October. Should that place be considered the most eligible; not to have examined its claims in due season, would have deprived the Territory of their choice-while on the other hand, it was possible that the selection made by the Executive might not be approved by the Legislature. That I should endeavor to prevent the former, appeared to me an imperative duty; while at the same time, to avoid the injurious consequences of a collision of opinion between the public functionaries, was much to be desired. In this dilemma, I was disposed to confer with the commissioners appointed at the last session of the General Assembly to report the situation they might deem most eligible; and, without delay, addressed a letter on the subject to the gentleman first named in the act. Owing to causes beyond their control, they were unable to meet me, and I lost the benefit of their views.
Anxious only to promote the general interest of the Territory, and guided by an impartial judgment, I was pursuaded, that the scite which might present the best prospect of permanency, and of avoiding, hereafter, those unpleasant discussions which have so much disturbed the repose, and distracted the councils of our sister states, ought to be selected. Considerations
residing from our future prospects, and connected with the general convenience, were not to be overlooked; nor the gratification of a part of our population to be regarded, in opposition to the rights and interest of the whole.
The experience of other states has shown, that to consult as far as practicable in the choice of position, the convenience of every portion of the country, is the surest method of rendering that choice, permanent. In pursuing that principle, the nearest eligible scite to the centre of the Territory, presented the highest claim, while the probable future population of the different parts, was also to be considered.
The latter, however, being necessarily a matter of conjecture only, and liable to be estimated according to various impressions, furnished a criterion altogether uncertain; and therefore, was entitled to the less attention. With such views I proceeded to examine the junction of Cahawba and Alabama. The bluff on the west side of those rivers, presents a beautiful scite, with springs of good water, and the prospect of health. Situated on a river capable of being navigated by boats of great burthen, and supported as it will be, by the abundant productions of an extensive land for the back country on the Alabama and Cahawba, and their tributary streams, the town of Cahawba promises to vie with the largest inland towns in the southern country. Possessing, in my judgment, the necessary advantages,- approaching certainly, nearer to the centre of the Territory, and probably of its future permanent population than any place otherwise equally eligible, I communicated the result of my examination to the President of the United States, with the request, that such parts of sections as I thought best calculated for the seat of Government, might be reserved from sale. The request has
been granted, and I herewith transmit a copy of the correspondence, together with a letter from the commissioner of the General Land Office to the Register and Receiver and a report signed by three of the Commissioners appointed at the last session of the General Assembly, "to examine and report to the Governor the most eligible scite for the seat of the Territorial Government." It is possible that the geographical views presented in my communication to the Secretary of the Treasury, may not be entirely accurate; but should there be any error, your liberality will find an apology in the very limited means of information which were within my reach.
In submitting the further, disposition of the subject to the wisdom of the Legislature, I feel no other solicitude, than that the course may be pursued, which shall best promote the welfare of the country and the happiness of our fellow citizens. And I have the fullest confidence that such will be, the object of your deliberations.
On motion of Mr. Clay,
Resolved, That one hundred copies of the message of his Excellency the Governor, and the accompanying documents be forthwith printed for the use of the members of this house.
On motion of Mr. Lipscomb.
Resolved, That this house will on tomorrow resolve itself into a committee of the whole house on the Governor's message.
On motion of Mr. Clay.
The house then adjourned until tomorrow morning ten o'clock.