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MARCH, 1822.

The Bankrupt Bill.

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viz:

Farrelly, Floyd, Gilmer, Gist, Gross, Hall, Harvey, 47th line of the first section, the following words, Hobart, Hooks, J. S. Johnston, Jones of Virginia, Kirkland, Lathrop, Leftwich, Lincoln, Long, Lowndes, McCoy, McNeill, McSherry, Mallary, Matlack, Matson, Mattocks, Mercer, Mitchell of Pennsylvania, Mitchell of South Carolina, Nelson of Virginia, New, Overstreet, Patterson of New York, Patterson of Pennsylvania, Phillips, Pierson, Plumer of New Hampshire, Plumer of Pennsylvania, Poinsett, Rankin, Reed of Massachusetts, Reid of Georgia, Rhea, Rogers, Ross, Russ, Sloan, Arthur Smith, W. Smith, Alexander Smyth, Stevenson, Swan, Tatnall, Thompson, Tucker of South Carolina, Tucker of Virginia, Upham, Vance, Van Rensselaer, Van Wyck, Whipple, White, Williams of North Carolina, Williams of Virginia, Wilson, Woodson, and Worman.

Mr. EDWARDS, of North Carolina, then moved to amend the said bill, by inserting after the word "act," in the 47th line of the first section, the following provision, viz:

And provided, also, That no certificate of discharge under the provisions of this act, shall operate to discharge any bankrupt from any debt or debts, except such as may be due or owing to persons who may be liable to become bankrupts under this act.

And the question being taken thereon, it was determined in the negative-yeas 71, nays 87, as follows:

YEAS-Messrs. Alexander, Allen of Tennessee, Archer, Ball, Barber of Ohio, Bassett, Bateman, Blair, Breckenridge, Brown, Buchanan, Burton, Campbell of Ohio, Cannon, Condict, Darlington, Edwards of North Carolina, Floyd, Gilmer, Gist, Hall, Hooks, Jackson, F. Johnson, J. T. Johnson, Kent, Keyes, Leftwich, Litchfield, McCoy, McNeill, McSherry, Matlack, Mitchell of Pennsylvania, Moore of Alabama, Murray, Neale, Newton, Overstreet, Patterson of Pensylvania, Phillips, Plumer of New Hampshire, Reid of Georgia, Rochester, Ross, Scott, Sloan, Arthur Smith, W. Smith, Alexander Smyth, J. S. Smith, Sterling of New York, Stevenson, Stewart, Stoddard, Swan, Swearingen, Thompson, Tracy, Trimble, Tucker of South Carolina, Tucker of Virginia, Van Wyck, Walker, Walworth, Williams of North Carolina, Williams of Virginia, Wilson, Woodcock, Woodson, and Wright.

"Unless with their consent; and they, and all other classes of the community, shall have the privilege, at their election, of becoming voluntary bankrupts, with the consent and approbation of a major part in value of all the creditors of such voluntary bankrupt, previously obtained and duly certified, and that such bankrupt shall be subjected to the same proceedings, and liable to the same penalties, fines, and forfeitures, and be entitled to all the privileges, benefits, and advantages, as are provided for, and made applicable to, all other bankrupts, by the regulations of this bill.

Mr. BRECKENRIDGE said, he did not rise for the purpose of discussing the merits of the amendment proposed by his colleague, (Mr. WOODSON.) He felt that, to enter now into that discussion, would be an unpardonable consumption of the time of the House. He only desired to inform the honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. SERGEANT,) and the friends of the bankrupt bill, that without some such provision as that offered by his colleague, the bill would not be supported by many who would advocate a law, embracing, under proper restrictions, all classes of the community. You have a right, sir, to pass uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcy. But are you bound to confine its operations to merchants only? And does not policy and justice alike require that the remedy should be commensurate with the evil? Will you not extend it to the mechanic, or any other class of your citizens, who may be subject to the vicissitudes of fortune? The citizens of the West are a trading people; they are all more or less engaged in that species of traffic, from which pecuniary embarrassment may arise. The East and the North desire that merchants only shall be embraced by the law. But, whilst they are relieved from the pressure of misfortune, will they not also lighten the burden of their brethren? He warned the friends of the bankrupt law, that if they rejected the proposed amendment, the bill itself would, in the end, be also rejected. Those opposed to the bankrupt bill, would not aid in its amendment-it must be done by the friends of the measure, or the whole is lost.

NAYS-Messs. Allen of Massachusetts, Baldwin, Barber of Connecticut, Baylies, Bayly, Bigelow, Blackledge, Borland, Burrows, Butler, Cambreleng, Cassedy, Causden, Chambers, Cocke, Colden, Conkling, Conner, Crafts, Cushman, Cuthbert, Dane, Dicki son, Durfee, Dwight, Eddy, Edwards of Connecticut, Edwards of Pennsylvania, Eustis, Farrelly, Findlay, Fuller, Gorham, Gross, Harvey, Hawks, Hill, Hobart, Hubbard, J. S. Johnston, Jones of, Tennessee, Kirkland, Lathrop, Lincoln, Little, Long, Lowndes, McCarty, Mallary, Matson, Mattocks, Mercer, Milnor, Mitchell of South Carolina, Moore of Pennsylvania, Moore of Virginia, Morgan, Nelson of Virginia, New, In all general propositions, said Mr. SMITH, Patterson of New York, Pitcher, Plumer of Pennsyl-containing principles offered for legislative sancvania, Poinsett, Reed of Massachusetts, Rhea, Rich, tion, which are to operate as rules of conduct Rogers, Ruggles, Russ, Sanders, Sawyer, Sergeant, throughout a whole nation, there must necessarily S. Smith, Spencer, Sterling of Connecticut, Tatnall, be a concession of judgment and interest to a Taylor, Tod, Tomlinson, Upham, Vance, Whipple, Otherwise, in a Government like White, Whitman, Williamson, Wood, and Worman. given extent. ours, diversified at first by the hand of nature, proMr. WOODSON then moved to amend the said pelled by contrarient interests in different direc

Mr. J. SPEED SMITH said that, as he had consumed no portion of the time of the House upon the motion to strike out the first section of the bill, and as he had no wish to go into a discussion of the constitutionality or expediency of the proposed system, he expected to meet the indulgence of the House whilst he offered a few remarks in support of the amendment offered by one of his colleagues, (Mr. WOODSON,) to those already presented by his friend from Kentucky,( Mr. BRECKENRIDGE,) who had just taken his seat.

bill by inserting, after the word "act," in the said I tions, and chequered by the operations of municipal

The Bankrupt Bill.

MARCH, 1822.

merchants and traders, have been undone, not by adventuring, said Mr. S. beyond their means, in commerce and trade, for the accumulation of wealth and the enjoyment of splendor; not with the hope of buying principalities and erecting palaces; no, sir, by yielding to the influence of those noble and generous feelings which adorn our nature-the feelings of friendship-many beyond the mountains, who, but a little while back, were liv

regulations, it would be impossible to advance the great common interest of the nation. It should not, therefore, be expected by the friends of the measure, that the interest and advantage of their immediate constituents alone, are to be consulted; nor should it be concluded by the advocates of the bill, that no other views but their own are worthy of consideration. Upon this floor, continued Mr. S., the feelings and interests of every class are, or should be, represented. It would most surelying upon their farms in ease and independence, if not affluence, have found themselves suddenly ruined, and brought to poverty and want-not by their own prodigality, sir, but by bank endorsements and other securityship-for whom? Men engaged in commerce and trade. Can it be right, sir, can it possibly be right, that he who has been urged on by cupidity or ambition, and in the furtherance of those passions has surrounded himself, in his progress, by individuals drawn to him by feelings of partiality and friendship, when he sinks into ruin, and overwhelms his friends in his fall-can it be right, sir, I ask, to redeem him, and leave them hopeless, despondent, undone? If the individual thus redeemed looks with gratitude and love to his country, what must be the reflections of those whom he has undone, and their country leaves in ruin, when they draw a comparison of their situations? If you strengthen the attachment of the first to his country, you alienate the affection of the other.

be unwise, and a violation of our duty, to legislate for the benefit of any class, to the exclusion of all others, unless in some special cases. This, sir, is a proposition to create, by legislative enactment, a uniform system of bankruptcy throughout the United States. The policy, and, in the opinion of some most respectable gentlemen, the necessity, of this measure, grow out of the embarrassments and difficulties of a very large and meritorious class of our fellow-citizens, who have been engaged in commerce. Whilst I admit, said Mr. S., the great advantages which the country has received, and will continue to receive, from the enterprise and industry of commercial men; and whilst I recognise their right to be represented here, and declare my sympathies for their misfortunes, and readiness to lend my aid in all legitimate measures for their relief, I cannot forget that they constitute but a very small portion of the whole community, to all of whom the principle of the bill should be applied, whenever it shall pass into a law.

The bill should also be clearly retrospective in its operation and power of redemption; otherwise, thousands of meritorious citizens will derive no benefit from its passage; and, if you do interpose, do it efficiently-let us have a general jubilee.

I do not speak, said Mr. S., of the situation of those who wish this law, in the large commercial cities of the Union. I speak of those in the West, the causes of whose embarrassments I better understand, and whose claims to all the advantages proposed by the bill are at least equal to the claims of any other portion of this great community.

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The avowed object of the bill, sir, is to dissolve from all legal liability for debt the unfortunate man who has been overwhelmed by adversity, and thus redeem him from what has been pronounced cruel, unnecessary, and unmerited vassalage. Why confine the operation of your benign intention to persons designated in the bill? I affect not to know, sir, much about the wants and interests of commerce and trade, in our large cities and seaport towns; but I claim some knowledge of the situation of farmers and other persons not included in the bill, and, without undertaking to say that a bankrupt law is desired by them, I will venture the assertion, that it would be unfair and unequal to pass one without giving them the benefit of it. We are told, continued Mr. S., that commerce and trade demand the passage of this bill. Would you exclude agriculture, sir, upon which they both depend? If, from the operation of causes over which persons engaged in commerce and trade had no control, hundreds and thousands of our fellow-citizens have been ruined

and undone, does it necessarily follow that those engaged in agriculture and other pursuits have not met with like calamities? In that country which has honored me with a seat here, and which is essentially an agricultural country, men engaged in commerce and trade do not constitute any thing like a majority of those who ought to be benefited by the provisions of the bill upon your table? From the paper system, which has been sanctioned not only by Kentucky and many other States in the Union, but by the Federal | Government itself, many individuals, other than

In conclusion, sir, there is no punishment unaccompanied with ignominy, which I would not undergo rather than give my support to a measure which, if it does pass, should operate for the benefit and advantage of the whole people, but which, as the bill now stands, will be partial and unjust. I shall, therefore, with great pleasure, vote for the amendment.

Messrs. Ross and Cook spoke against the motion; when

The question being taken on thus amending the bill, it passed in the affirmative-yeas 86, nays 78, as follows:

Barber of Connecticut, Bateman, Bayly, Bigelow,
YEAS-Messrs. Allen of Massachusetts, Baldwin,
Borland, Breckenridge, Burrows, Cambreleng, Camp-
bell of New York, Cannon, Causden, Chambers,
Cocke, Colden, Condict, Conkling, Crafts, Cushman,
Darlington, Durfee, Dwight, Eddy, Edwards of Con-
necticut, Edwards of Pennsylvania, Eustis, Findlay,
Fuller, Gorham, Hawks, Herrick, Hill, Holcombe,
Hubbard, Jackson, F. Johnson, J. T. Johnson, Kent,
Keys, Litchfield, Little, McCarty, Metcalfe, Milnor,

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The Bankrupt Bill.

MARCH, 1822.

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Moore of Pennsylvania, Moore of Virginia, Moore of Alabama, Morgan, Murray, Neale, Nelson of Massachusetts, New, Patterson of New York, Pitcher, Plumer of Pennsylvania, Rankin, Rich, Rochester, Rogers, Ruggles, Ross, Russell, Sanders, Sawyer, Scott, Sergeant, S. Smith, J. S. Smith, Sterling of Connecticut, Sterling of New York, Stoddard, Swan, Swearingen, Taylor, Tod, Tomlinson, Tracy, Walker, White, Whitman, Williamson, Woodcock, Woodson, and Wright. Nars-Messrs. Alexander, Allen of Tennessee, Archer, Ball, Barber of Ohio, Bassett, Baylies, Blackledge, Blair, Brown, Buchanan, Burton, Butler, Campbell of Ohio, Cassedy, Conner, Cook, Cuthbert, Dane, Denison, Dickinson, Edwards of North Carolina, Floyd, Gilmer, Gist, Gross, Hall, Harvey, Hooks, J. S. Johnston, Jones of Virginia, Kirkland, Lathrop, Leftwich, Lincoln, Long, Lowndes, McCoy, McDuffie, McNeill, McSherry, Mallary, Matlack, Matson, Mattocks, Mercer, Mitchell of Pennsylvania, Mitchell of South Carolina, Nelson of Virginia, Overstreet, Patterson of Pennsylvania, Phillips, Pierson, Plumer of New Hampshire, Poinsett, Reed of Massachusetts, Reid of Georgia, Rhea, Ross, Sloan, Arthur Smith, W. Smith, Alexander Smyth, Stevenson, Tatnall, Thompson, Trimble, Tucker of South Carolina, Tucker of Virginia, Upham, Vance, Van Rensselaer, Van Wyck, Whipple, Williams of North Carolina, Williams of Virginia, Wilson, and Worman.

Mr. FULLER then moved further to amend the said bill, by inserting, after the word "commission," in the 7th line of the 35th section of the printed bill, the following, viz:

"Except, however, all debts from the bankrupt for supplies of provisions, wearing apparel, household furniture necessary for himself and his family, and for laborers' wages; but all such debts shall remain and may be recovered, so much as may be due after any dividend or partial payment therein, notwithstanding the certificate aforesaid, or any thing done pursuant to this act: Provided, however, That no single debt, so excepted, shall exceed two hundred dollars."

And on the question to agree to this amendment, it was determined in the negative.

Mr. WALWORTH then moved further to amend the said bill, by inserting, after the word "debts," in the 26th line of the 2d section of the printed bill, the following, to wit:

"And prove to the said judge, by the affidavit of such petitioner or petitioners, or by the oath of one or more credible witness or witnesses, that an act of bankruptcy, as mentioned in the first section of this act, has been committed by the person petitioned against within six months then last past."

And on the question to agree to this amendment, it was determined in the negative.

No further amendment having been offered to the bill, the question recurred upon ordering the bill to be engrossed for a third reading; on which question Mr. RHEA called for the yeas and nays, which were thereupon ordered.

Mr. BUCHANAN, of Pennsylvania, addressed the Chair as follows:

Mr. Speaker: Before the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Kentucky had obtained the sanction of this House, the question whether the bill should be engrossed for a third reading, was 17th CoN. 1st SESS.-41

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one of very great importance. That question has, however, dwindled into insignificance, compared with the one at present under consideration. We are now called upon to decide the fate of a measure of awful importance. The most dreadful responsibility rests upon us. We are not now to determine, merely, whether a bankrupt law shall be extended to the trading classes of the community; but whether it shall embrace every citizen of this Union, and spread its demoralizing influence over the whole surface of society.

The amendment which has been adopted to-day, makes it my imperative duty, even at this protracted period of the debate, to trespass upon the patience of the House. I have the honor, in part, of representing an honest, a wealthy, and a respectable, agricultural community. I owe it to them, to my conscience, and to my God, not to suffer this bill to pass, which I conceive to be now fraught with destruction to their best interests, both moral and political, without entering my solemn protest against its provisions.

We have heard it repeated over and over again, by the friends of a bankrupt bill, that it should be confined to the mercantile classes. One of the principal arguments urged in its favor, by its eloquent supporters, was, that merchants, from the nature of their pursuits, were exposed to the vicissitudes of fortune more than other men; and that therefore their situation required a peculiar system of laws. That, in this country, their fortunes had not only been exposed to the dangers commonly incident to their profession; but, that the commercial regulations of the Government, the embargo, the nonintercourse laws, and finally the war, had brought ruin upon thousands. It was, therefore, inferred, that Congress were under a moral obligation to pass a bankrupt law for their relief.

The policy of all the modern commercial nations in the world, was presented before us for our imitation. England, France, Scotland, Ireland, Holland, and Spain, we had been told, each extended a bankrupt law to the merchant, and absolved him from the payment of his debts, upon certain conditions. Indeed, a great portion of the argument consisted in drawing a line of distinction between traders and the remaining classes of society.

Judge then, Mr. Speaker, of my astonishment, when to-day I found those very gentlemen voting in favor of introducing an amendment, extending the provisions of this bill to every individual in society, who might ask to become its object.

Will you pass a bankrupt law for the farmer? Will you teach that vast body of your best citizens to disregard the faith of contracts? Are you prepared to sanction a principle by which the whole mass of society will be in danger of being demoralized, and it will be left to an election by every man's creditors, in which a majority of two-thirds in number and value, against the consent of the remainder, shall have the power of discharging him from the obligation of all his contracts? Surely the House of Representatives are not prepared to answer these questions in the affirmative. No nation in the world, whether commercial or

The Bankrupt Bill.

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agricultural, whether civilized or savage, has ever for a moment entertained the idea of extending the operation of their bankrupt laws beyond the class of traders. Fortunately for our constituents, we have not the power of doing so. The Constitution, correctly expounded, has proclaimed "hitherto shalt thou go, but no farther." Nothing but a desperate effort to revive this expiring bill, could have ever induced its friends to have adopted the amendment which has just now been carried.

In the discussion of this question, I can assure the House, it is not my intention to travel over the ground which has been already occupied, or to repeat the arguments which have been already urged. The subject naturally divides itself into two questions the one of Constitutional power, the other of policy. On the first, as the bill stood before the introduction of the last amendment, I had not a single doubt. Much as I would have deprecated the passage of the then bill, I should have been infinitely more alarmed if this House had determined that the enactment of such a law transcended the Constitutional power of Congress. Upon this branch of the subject, the ingenious arguments of the gentleman from Virginia had not created a doubt in my mind. Where doubts before did exist, the argument of the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. LowNDES) and of my honorable colleague (Mr. SERGEANT) were, in my opinion, calculated entirely to remove them, and to carry conviction to every understanding.

A new question of Constitutional power has now arisen on the amendment. The Constitution declares that "the Congress shall have power to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States." To this provision I am willing to give a fair and a liberal construction. Congress have the power to discharge from their debts, on the terms prescribed by the bill, all persons upon whom a law, emanating from this clause of the Constitution, may legitimately act. But can Congress make a law extending the penalties and the privileges of a bankrupt system to every individual in society? Can they embrace in its provisions the farmer, the clergyman, the physician, or the lawyer? Such a proposition was never seriously contended for before this day.

By considering the meaning of the term bankrupt, we shall be able at once to solve the difficulty. In adverting to its origin, we find the literal signification of the word to be a broken counter; which by a figure of speech has been applied in our language to a broken merchant. In the commercial laws of all the nations of the continent of Europe, bankruptcy is confined to merchants, in the strictest sense of the word. The operation of the bankrupt laws of England has been extended, by judicial construction, somewhat further; and they now embrace within their grasp not only the merchant, properly so called, but all persons who are traders, and re concerned in buying and selling any kind of merchandise, unless they have been expressly excepted by some positive legislative provision. This exposition of the law extends not only to those who sell any commodity in the

MARCH, 1822.

same State in which they purchased it, but also to the manufacturer and the mechanic who bestow upon it their favor and their skill, and thus render it more valuable. The bill as it formerly stood confined itself strictly within this range. Indeed it was more circumscribed as to the persons on whom it would have operated than the bankrupt laws of England.

I am willing then to expound the power of Congress upon the subject literally. In construing the Constitution, Congress ought not to be fettered by nice technical rules. I admit that they have the power, whenever they think proper to call it into exercise, of establishing a system of bankruptcy which shall embrace all persons who have ever been embraced, even by the bankrupt laws of England. Further than this they cannot proceed, without extending the plain meaning of the word bankruptcy as it has been received by every commercial nation of Europe, and violating both the letter and the spirit of the Constitution.

In making this admission, I am sensible that many may suppose I am giving a latitude of construction to the instrument which is not warranted by its spirit. The authority "to establish uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States" is contained in a clause of the Constitution which immediately follows that "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes." The power over bankruptcy evidently originated from, and is closely connected with that over commerce. This commerce, which Congress has the power of regulating, is chiefly if not exclusively conducted by merchants in the strictest sense of the term, and principally by that class of them denominated importers. They are the men most exposed to the vicissitude of trade, and on that account are more properly the objects of such a law than people of any other description. It might therefore with much plausibility be contended that the power of Congress over bankruptcy is confined to that description of merchants.

Another argument, which would give additional strength to this construction, arises from the general spirit of the federal institutions. They do not propose to embrace the internal policy of the States. The jurisdiction of the federal courts is confined by the Constitution to controversies between citizens of different States, and between foreigners and citizens of the United States. To such suits the merchants who carry on the intercourse with foreign nations, and between the different States, are most generally parties.

The object which I have in view in using these arguments is not to prove that the Constitutional power of Congress is confined to such merchants; but to show that it is contrary to the nature and the spirit of our Government to extend it to all classes of people in the community. The bill as it stood before the amendment went quite far enough. It would even then have brought the operation of the law and the jurisdiction of the federal courts into the bosom of every community. The bill, however, as it now stands, if it should pass, will entirely destroy the symmetry of our system

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and make those courts the arbiters in almost every case of contract to which any member of society, who thinks proper to become a bankrupt, may be a party. It will at once be, in a great degree, a judicial consolidation of the Union. This was never intended by the framers of the Constitution. Some of the terrible evils which would flow from such a system I shall have occasion to delineate, when I come to speak of the policy of its adoption.

The Bankrupt Bill.

Before, Mr. Speaker, I proceed to expose to the view of the House those objections against this bill which have presented themselves with peculiar force to my mind, permit me to answer some of the principal arguments which have been urged in favor of its passage. My friend and colleague from Pennsylvania, in his concluding speech, has made such a clear, forcible, and eloquent argument in favor of the bill, that I fear it has produced a considerable effect. Upon this occasion he was listened to, as he always is, and always deserves to be, with the most profound attention. It is painful for me to be under the necessity of differing from him in opinion, and when I do so, I am almost inclined to distrust my own judgment. Nothing, therefore, but an imperative sense of duty could have induced me to take any part in the debate upon the present

occasion.

It has been urged that, as the framers of the Constitution gave to Congress the power of passing a bankrupt law, we are bound to put that power into practical operation, and not suffer it to remain dormant.

In answer to this argument I would reply, that power and duty are very different in their nature. Power is optional, duty imperative. The language of power is that you may, that of duty you must. The Constitution has, in the same section, and in the same terms, given to Congress the power to declare war, to borrow money, to raise and support armies, &c. Will any gentleman, however, undertake to say, we are under an obligation to give life and energy to these powers by bringing them into action? Will it be contended that, because we possess the power of declaring war and borrowing money, that we are under a moral obligation to embroil ourselves with foreign Governments, or load the country with a national debt? Should any individual act upon the principle that it is his duty to do every thing which he has the legal power of doing, he would soon make himself a fit citizen for a madhouse.

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It has been said that the passage of such a bill as the one now before us is necessary, on account of the numerous frauds which are perpetrated under the insolvent laws of the States, and the preference which they authorize a failing debtor to give to particular creditors.

From the forcible manner in which this argument has been urged, one would be induced to suppose that the legislative authority of the States, upon this subject, had been entirely prostrated by the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Sturges vs. Crowninshield. This is, however, altogether a mistake. The citizens of the States have not been left exposed to the mercy of fraudulent debtors. They can look to their own Legislatures for relief. Their power to pass bankrupt laws is as ample within their several States as that of Congress, with one single exception: which is, that such laws shall not contain a provision " impairing the obligation of contracts." This tremendous power the people have decreed that the States shall not exercise. With the exception, therefore, of that portion of this bill which discharges a bankrupt from his debts, the Legislatures of the several States might, if they thought proper, enact all its provisions. They have the same power to pass every law for the prevention and punishment of the frauds of insolvent traders which Congress possess. They can equally annul all preferences which a failing debtor may give to a favorite creditor, whether by deed of trust, by judgment, or in any other manner. This principle is expressly recognised in the opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States in the case which I have cited. There is then no necessity that Congress should interfere for the purpose of securing the creditor; yet this has been urged as one of the principal reasons in favor of the passage of a bankrupt bill.

It cannot be denied that many of the States have neglected to exercise the authority which they fully possess over this subject. In the State, one of whose representatives I have the honor to be, a failing debtor of every description possesses too much power in the distribution of his property. He may, if he chooses, secure one creditor at the expense of all the rest. He is the sole judge of the propriety of any preference which he may think proper to make. The Legislature of that, and of every other State where a similar evil exists, can however apply the remedy, if they think proper. Why then has it been urged upon us, that it is absolutely necessary Congress should pass this bill, to secure creditors against the frauds and the preferences which exist under the insolvent laws of the States, when the States themselves possess ample powers to attain the same ends?

It has been said, truly, that Congress alone can pass a bankrupt law which will be uniform over the United States. But, I would ask, whether the benefits resulting from the uniformity which the law must possess would not be more nominal than real, whilst, on the other hand, it would be a source of the most serious inconveniences? Is it correct legislation to force upon the citizens of one State a system of internal policy, deeply affecting the rights

Power, whether vested in Congress or in an individual, necessarily implies the right of exercising a sound discretion. The Constitution was intended not only for us, and for those who have gone before us, but for generations yet to come. It has vested in Congress ample powers, to be called into action whenever, in their sound discretion, they believe the interest or the happiness of the people require their exertion. We are, therefore, left to exercise our judgment on this subject, entirely untrammelled by any Constitutional injunction.

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