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of eight and a half millions per annum, and did not particularize any one branch of expenditure in which a considerable practical deduction could be made, (unless so far as it might take place in the pension list, by the gradual decease of the pensioners,)- and when he proposed no new measure as a means of replenishing the exhausted Treasury, the question for Congress and for the nation to consider was, whether this was a course safe to be pursued in relation to our fiscal concerns. Was it wise, provident, and statesmanlike?
There was another point in which (Mr. W. said) the honorable member from New York had entirely misapprehended him. He (Mr. Wright) had said that Mr. W. appeared to desire to avoid, as a critical and delicate subject, the question of the tariff; or, rather, had complained that this Administration had not taken it up. Now, he (Mr. W.) had not said a word about the tariff, further than to state that another great reduction was immediately approaching in the rate of duties, of which the Message took no notice whatever; while it did not fail to refer to two reductions which had heretofore taken place. What he (Mr. W.) had said on the subject of imposing new duties for revenue, had reference solely to silks and wines. This had been a delicate point with him at no time. He had, for a long period, been always desirous to lay such a duty on silks and wines; and it did appear to him the strangest thing imaginable, the strangest phase of the existing system of revenue, that we should import so many millions of dollars' worth of silks and wines entirely free of duty, at the very time when the Government had been compelled, by temporary loans, to keep itself in constant debt for four years past. So far from considering this as a matter of any delicacy, had the Senate the constitutional power of originating revenue bills, the very first thing he should move, in his place, would be to lay a tax on both these articles of luxury.
Were Mr. W. to draw an inference from the speech of the honorable member, it would be that it rather seemed to be his own opinion, and certainly seemed also to be that of the President, that it would be wiser to withdraw the whole or a part of the money deposited with the States, than to lay taxes on silks and wines. In this opinion Mr. W. did not at all concur. If the question were between such a withdrawal and the imposition of such a tax, he should, without hesitation, say, lay the tax, and leave the money with the States where it is. He was greatly mistaken if such a preference did not meet the public approbation. He was for taxing this enormous amount of twenty or thirty millions of foreign products imported in a single year, and all consumed in the country, and consumed, as articles of luxury, by the rich alone, and for leaving the deposits in possession of the States with whom they had been placed.
Mr. W. said he believed he had now noticed so much of the honorable Senator's speech as required a reply; and he would resume his seat with again repeating that it had been no part of his purpose to ascribe either extravagance, or the opposite virtue, to the Administration in the purchase of Indian lands, or other transactions. That was not his object, or his point, on this occasion. He only wished to present true financial view of the condition of our affairs, and to show that our national debt was much greater and more serious than a hasty reader of the President's Message might be led, from its perusal, to conclude; and, however warmly it admonished the country against a national debt, yet these admonitions were all uttered at a moment when a national debt had already been begun, and begun in time of peace.