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TO JOHN ADAMS.
ALBEMARLE IN VIRGA, Aug. 21, 1777. Dear Sir,-Your favor of May 26 came safely to hand. I wish it were in my power to suggest any remedy for the evil you complain of, tho' did any occur I should propose it to you with great diffidence after knowing you had thought on the subject yourself. There is indeed a fact which may not have come to your knolege out of which perhaps some little good may be drawn.
The borrowing money in Europe (or obtaining credit there for necessaries) has already probably been essayed & it is supposed with some degree of success. But I expect your applications have as yet been only to France, Holland, or such other states as are of principal note. There is however a small power, well disposed to our cause, &, as I am informed, possessed of abilities to assist us in this way. I speak of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The little states of Italy you know have had long peace, & shew no disposition to interrupt that peace shortly. The Grand Duke being somewhat avaricious in his nature has availed himself of the opportunity of collecting & hoarding what money he has been able to gather. I am informed from good authority (an officer who was concerned in the business of his treasury ') that about three years ago he had ten millions of crowns, lying dead in his coffers. Of this it is thought possible as much might be borrowed as would amount to a million of pounds lawful
money. At any rate the attempt might be worth making. Perhaps an application from Dr. Franklin who has some acquaintance in that court might be sufficient, or, as it might be prudent to sound well before the application, in order to prevent the discredit of a rebuff, perhaps Congress would think it worth while to send a special agent there to negotiate the matter. I think we have a gentleman here who would do it with dexterity & fidelity. He is a native of that Duchy; well connected there, conversant in courts of great understanding & equal zeal in our cause. He came over not long since to introduce the cultivation of vines, olives, &c among us.
Should you think the matter worth a further thought, either of the Cols. Lees to whom he is known can acquaint you more fully of his character.
If the money can be obtained in specie it may be applied to reduce the quantity of circulating paper & be so managed as to help the credit of that which will remain in circulation. If credit alone can be obtained for the manufactures of the country, it will still help to clothe our armies or to increase at market the necessaries our people want.
What upon earth can Howe mean by the manæuvre he is now practicing ? There seems to me no object in this country which can be either of utility or reputation to his cause. I hope it will prove of a piece with all the other follies they have committed. The forming a junction with the Northern army up the Hudson's river, or taking possession of Philadelphia might have been a feather in his cap, & given them a little reputation in Europe. The former as being the design with which they came, the latter as being a place of the first reputation abroad & the residence of Congress. Here he may destroy the little hamlet of Wmsbgh, steal a few slaves, & lose half his army among the fens & marshes of our lower country or by the heat of the climate. I am, dear sir, yours, &c.
FIRST REPORT OF CONFERENCE COMMITTEE.'
Thursday, Dec. 4, 1777. Mr. Jefferson reported, from the Committee appointed to draw up what is proper to be offered at the conference proposed with the Senate, on the subject matter of their amendments to the resolution of this House for paying to Thomas Johnson the sum of 15£ 5s 6d. that the committee had accordingly drawn up what they think would be proper to be offered at the said conference, which they had directed him to report to the said House ; he read the report in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the clerks table, where the same was read and is as followeth, viz :
The House of Delegates has desired this conference, in order to preserve that harmony and friendly correspondence with the Senate, which is necessary for the discharge of their joint duties of legislation, and to prevent, both now and in future, the delay of public business, and injury which may accrue to individuals, should the two Houses differ in opinion as to the distinct office of each.
Though during the course of the last two, and also of the present session of Assembly, they have acquiesced, under some amendments made by the Senate to votes for allowing public claims and demands, yet they are of opinion that an adherence to fundamental principles is the most likely way to save both
· This and the following paper are from the Journal of the House of Delezates.
time and disagreement; and a departure from them may at some time or other be drawn into precedent for dangerous innovations, and that therefore it is better for both Houses, and for those by whom they are entrusted, to correct the error while new, and before it becomes inveterate by habit and custom.
The constitution having declared that “money bills shall in no instance be altered by the Senate, but wholly approved or rejected," the delegates are of opinion the Senate had no authority to amend their late vote for allowing to Thomas Johnson the sum of fifteen pounds five shillings and six pence; and should the term money bills " in the constitution not immediately convey the precise idea which the framers of that act intended to express, it is supposed that its explanation should be sought for in the institutions of that people, among whom alone a distinction between money bills and other acts of legislation is supposed to have been made, and from whom we, and others, emigrating from them, have indisputably copied it.
By the law and usage of their parliament then, all those are understood to be “money bills" which raise money in any way, or which dispose of it, and which regulate those circumstances of matter, method and time, which attend as of consequence on the right of giving and disposing. Again the law and customs of their parliament, which include the usage as to “money bills" are a part of the law of their land ; our ancestors adopted their system of law in the general, making from time to time such alterations as local diversities required ; but that part of their law which relates to the matter now in question, was never altered by our legislature, in any period of its history; but on the contrary, the two Houses of Assembly, both under our regal and republican governments, have ever done business on the constant admission that the law of parliament was their law. When the delegates, therefore, vote that fifteen pounds five shillings and six pence, whether raised or to be raised on the people shall be disposed of in payment to Thomas Johnson for losses sustained by him on the public behalf, this is a vote for the disposal of money, which the Senate are at liberty to approve or reject in the whole, but cannot amend by altering the sum.
The delegates, therefore, hope that the Senate will concur with
them in a strict and mutual observance of those laws by which both houses are bound, and they are well assured, that this subject being properly stated to the Senate, they will forbear in future, to exercise a practice which seems not authorised, but, if there should be found any difference of opinion on this point, the delegates will be ready to join in any regular proposition for defining with precision, the subject of their difference, so as to prevent all doubts and delays in future.
SECOND REPORT OF CONFERENCE COMMITTEE.
Friday, Jan. 9, 1778. Mr. Jefferson reported from the Committee, appointed to prepare reasons to be offered to the Senate, at the conference to be desired of them on the subject of the last conference ; that the committee had accordingly prepared, what they thought would be proper to be offered at the said conference ; and he read the same in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the clerk's table, where the same was read, and is as followeth, viz :
Reasons, to be offered at the conference to be desired of the Senate, in answer to their reasons delivered at the last conference :
The House of Delegates, not being satisfied with the reasons urged by the Senate, in support of their amendments to the resolution for allowing Thomas Johnson the sum of 15£ 5s. 6d., have desired this second conference to shew the insufficiency of the said reasons, and to propose that some expedient may be adopted by the two Houses, for reconciling their difference of opinion.
The resemblance between the constituent parts of our legislature, and that of Great Britain, is supposed by the Senate, so faint, that no ground remains for those jealousies, which have prompted the Commons of Great Britain against their House of Lords. This might have been, and doubtless was, urged, at the time our constitution was formed, as a reason why the Senate and Delegates should have equal powers of money bills. But the argument having been overruled, and the powers of the Senate, as to this point, being fixed, by the constitution, on the same restricted footing, with those of the Lords in the British legislature,