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Skkbtaky-Tbbasuher FRANK H. SEVERANCE 


Term expiring January, igo8. 

Albert H. Briggs, M. D., George B. Mathews, 

Hon. Peter A. Porter, Lewis J. Bennett, 

Chas. J. North. 


Term expiring January igog. 

Robert W. Day, Henry A. Richmond, 

Hugh Kennedy,^ Charles W. Goodyear, 

G. Barrett Rich. 

Term expiring January, igio. 

Hon. Henry W. Hill, Henry R. Howland, 

J. N. Larned, Charles R. Wilson, 


Term expiring January, igii. 

Andrew Langdon, James Sweeney, 

Frank H. Severance, George A. Stringer, 

Ogden p. Letch worth. 

The Mayor of Buffalo, the Corporation Counsel, the Comptroller, 
Superintendent of Education, President of the Board of Park Com- 
missioners, and President of the Common Council, are also cx-oMcio 
members of the Board of Managers of the Buffalo Historical Society. 

2. Elected June 6, 1907, for the unexpired term of Joseph P. Dudley, 
died February 14, 1907. 




*MiLLARD Fillmore, 1862 to 1867 

*Henry W. Rogers, 1868 

*Rev. Albert T. Chester, D. D., 1869 

*Orsamus H. Marshall, 1870 

♦Hon. Nathan K. Hall, 1871 

♦William H. Greene, 1872 

♦Orlando Allen, 1873 

♦Oliver G. Steele, 1874 

♦Hon. James Sheldon, 1875 and 1886 

♦William C. Bryant, 1876 

♦Capt. E. p. Dorr, 1877 

Hon. Wiluam P. Lbtchworth, 1878 

WiLUAM H. H. Newman, 1879 and 1885 

♦Hon. Elias S. Hawley, 1880 

♦Hon. James M. Smith, 1881 

♦William Hodge, 1882 

♦William Dana Fqbbs, 1883 and 1884 

♦Emmor Haines, 1887 

♦James Tilunghast, 1888 

♦William K. Allen, 1889 

♦Gbobgb S. Hazard, i890andi892 

♦Joseph C. Greene, M. D., 1891 

♦Julius H. Dawes, 1893 

Andrew Langdon, 1894101907 



THE following pages contain such of the speeches, debates, 
official and private correspondence, and miscellaneous writ- 
ings of Millard Fillmore, as the editor has been able to bring 
tc^ether, without undue postponement of this publication. 

On the evening of December 15, 1905, the Rev. William Elliot 
Griffis, D. D., addressed the Buffalo Historical Society at one of its 
regular meetings, his theme being "Millard Fillmore and his part 
in the opening of Japan." In 1906, in revising his address for pub- 
lication by the Buffalo Historical Society, Dr. Griffis announced his 
purpose of collecting material for a biography of Mr. Fillmore, and 
solicited the cooperation especially of those who had personally 
known him. Certain reminiscences were therefore prepared, with 
a view to including them as an appendix in the volume containing 
Dr. Griffis* paper. It was soon perceived, however, that the best 
service that could be rendered, preliminary to the preparation of any 
adequate biography of Millard Fillmore, was to bring together as 
fully as possible, his own words, as found in speeches, correspond- 
ence, official or personal utterance of whatever sort. 

This, then, was the purpose which has brought about the present 
collection. The editor is under no illusion as to its completeness. So 
far as Mr. Fillmore's utterances in official life are concerned, there 
are for the most part official records to turn to, and these have been 
faithfully gleaned. But of his personal correspondence, there appar- 
ently exists nowhere any considerable collection; and though the 
editor has prosecuted his search in many places, and through the 
obliging courtesy of many individual owners, and many custodians 
of institutions, has brought together a considerable body of material, 
it is obviously impossible to assert that nothing of importance 
remains undiscovered. 

Partisan abuse and misrepresentation have been the lot of every 
President of the United States since Washington; but no President 
has been more maligned in his time, or in some respects more mis- 
represented, both in his own day and in after years, than has Millard 
Fillmore. In the passion of contemporary criticism, this was but 


natural. But now the time has arrived when judgments may be 
revised, and the historian's quest for truth pursued in calm temper 
and impartial mood. Towards such an end, the documents and 
speeches here printed, as matter of convenient record, may prove 
a helpful contribution. 

No adequate biography of Millard Fillmore has jret been written. 
Several books devoted to his career appeared in i^, when he was 
the candidate of the American party. In all of these exist foults 
inherent in partisan work. Mr. Fillmore's span of life continued 
for eighteen years after they appeared, and although his public 
career was ended, he was by no means an indi£Ferent or silent 
spectator of public a£Fairs. To those who would know his character, 
his attitude during the Civil War, and his well-considered utter- 
ances on many topics in his later years, cannot be ignored. 

The material gathered in these volumes will not in any wise take 
the place of the thorough, dispassionate study of Mr. Fillmore's part 
in American history which is his due. But it is a contribution — 
an indispensable contribution — ^toward such a study. It is fitting, 
too, that such a record should be made by the Buffalo Historical 
Society, which owes to his men^ory all the recognition it can give. 
He was largely instrumental in founding the Society, was its first 
president, and several times reelected to that ofiice; and was active 
in its behalf from the day it was formed until his death. He drew 
to it as well the interest and help of the representative men and 
women of Buffalo. A service in which he was especially active was 
to induce the elderly people of Western New York, those who had 
shared in the pioneer and war-time experiences of Buffalo in its 
days of beginning, to write down their recollections; and he thus 
began the manuscript collections which have since been drawn on 
with profit for the Publications of the Society. 

Since his death, many articles formerly belonging to Mr. 
Fillmore, or his family, have come into the possession of the Society. 
Among these are his desk, an inkstand, a gold pen— one which he 
is known to have used for many years, and which may be the verita- 
ble one with which he penned his most important state papers, or 
signed the Fugitive Slave Act — and especially many of his books and 
some of his manuscripts. 

The destruction of Mr. Fillmore's papers, by the executors of 
his son's estate, has been noted in connection with Dr. Grifiis' paper. 
(Publications, Buffalo Historical Society, Vol. IX, p. 65.) The 
facts, briefly restated, are, that Millard Powers Fillmore, the Presi- 
dent's only son, directed in his will that his executor "at the earliest 


practicable moment . . . bum or otherwise effectively destroy all 
correspondence or letters to or from my father, mother, sister or me," 
and this was done, soon after the son's death in i88p. President 
Fillmore's will contained no clause directing or even suggesting the 
destruction of his papers. On one occasion, when visited at his 
Buffalo home by Gen. James Grant Wilson, Mr. Fillmore had pointed 
to a cabinet of papers in his library and remarked to his visitor: 
"In those cases can be found every important letter and document 
which I received during my administration, and which will enable 
the future historian or biographer to prepare an authentic account 
of that period of our country's history." These papers included cor- 
respondence with Henry Qay, with Daniel Webster, Edward Everett 
and other members of Mr. Fillmore's Cabinet, and many other dis- 
tinguished contemporaries; as well as copies of Mr. Fillmore's let- 
ters, on many topics of vital importance, with very many persons. 
So far as known, none of these papers now exist. 

The loss of this material is in large measure irreparable to the 
cause of history. To do what it can, to offset the loss, the present 
collection is offered. And here is a striking thing: The more we 
find of Mr. Fillmore's correspondence, the less occasion can be dis- 
covered for its concealment or destruction. If ever a man held 
steadfast to the dictates of conscience, in the discharge of public 
duty, that man was Millard Fillmore. His memory and his repu- 
tation apparently have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by the 
fullest possible publication of his views, especially as expressed in 
his confidential correspondence. 

Mr. Fillmore's autobiography of his early years, written in his 
old age and committed under seal to the keeping of the Buffalo His- 
torical Society until he should have passed away, has been deemed 
the most fitting introduction for this collection. There is no obvious 
reason why it should have been made a sealed document, except that 
the writer had reached a time of life when publicity was shunned 
rather than courted. The narrative was penned in the same spirit 
that had impelled him to solicit similar memoirs from others, that 
certain facts connected with Buffalo's early years might not be lost. 
But Mr. Fillmore's sketch of himself virtually ends with his entrance 
upon public life. Had he chosen to continue his memoirs, through 
his terms of service in fjhe New York Legislature and in Congress, 
how useful a record would they prove to the student of those times I 
But something of his part in affairs, and a great deal of his charac- 


teristics, may be gathered from the record of his participation in 

By what process, among Judge Wood's law-books, was awakened 
the ambition for a public career, or to what suggestion was due the 
impulse that made the ill-trained country boy strive for distinction, 
can no more be specified than any other subtle manifestation of the 
laws of growth. Ill-trained he surely was; with certain deficiencies 
of education which he never wholly overcame. But that there was 
''something to him," even as a youth, is equally certain. It is not 
every boy of twenty-one who feels qualified to make the Fourth of 
July speech in his village ; but such was young Fillmore's first public 
address, at the Independence Day celebration in Montville in 1821. 
No record of this speech is known to exist; and although Mr. 
Fillmore's after-estimate of it was that it "had no merit," ^ the eflFort 
is still of the sort to prejudice favorably the impartial student of his 

Certain incidents connected with his early years of school- 
teaching, when he took his pay in wheat, are preserved in his let- 
ters ; but there is little to build on until after his removal to Buffalo, 
on Mayday, 1830. He had already served in the Legislature, if not 
with distinction, at least with discretion, intelligence and fidelity. It 
was entirely natural that he should be called on in December, 1831, 
as one of a committee of eighteen residents of Buffalo, who were 
charged with the important commission of drawing up a new charter 
for Buffalo, or amending the old one. The result of their labors 
was an application to the Legislature for an Act of Incorporation, 
which became a law April 20, 1832, and signalized the birth of 
Buffalo as a city. 

Both in Congress and out of it, in these active early years, Mr. 
Fillmore was industrious in promoting the welfare of his home city. 
Scarcely a public enterprise was afoot, but his name is found in 
connection with it. Note has been made of his share in drafting 
the first city charter. In those ante-railway days, the harbor was 
Buffalo's one great interest and its improvement was a perpetual 
aim. In the House, January 31, 1835, on motion of Mr. Fillmore, 
it was 

- Resolved, That the Committee on Roads and Canals be instructed 
to enquire into the expediency of causing a survey to be made of the 
best mode of enlarging and improving the harbor of Buffalo for 
the reception and security of vessels navigating Lake Erie. 

I. Sm the AtttoUogrsphy in this ▼olome, p. 13. 


A great question in Buffalo in 1835 was the enlargement of the 
Erie Canal. A Citizens' Meeting was held at the Court House, Sep- 
tember 30th, at which resolutions endorsing the projected enlarge- 
ment were adopted; and a standing committee, of which "Millerd" 
Fillmore was a member, was appointed to act as a committee of cor- 
respondence, "to adopt and use the most efficient means in behalf of 
the citizens of Buffalo, to promote the objects of this meeting." 

Later in the same year — in December — another meeting of Buf- 
ialo citizens adopted resolutions remonstrating against any exten- 
sion of the city limits and providing committees to consider and 
report on various local matters. Mr. Fillmore was a member of a 
committee to which was referred "the present and contemplated 
obstructions in the Niagara river, and the connection of the harbor 
of Buffalo creek with Black Rock," his associates on the committee 
being Samuel Wilkeson, chairman, Charles Townsend, P. A. Barker 
and R. B. Heacock. 

Mr. Fillmore's name — this time printed "Filmore" — ^is one of a 
score or more appended to a call for a "publick meeting at the 
Farmer's Hotel" on the evening of December 3, 1835, "to discuss 
the measures adopted at a meeting of a few of our citizens on 
Saturday evening last, and other objects and movements connected 
therewith, which are calculated to divert our business from its nat- 
ural channel, or unite our DESTINY with, or transfer our COM- 
MERCE to Black Rock." A poster proclaiming this "Crisis," with 
the signers' names in bold type, is one of the relics preserved by 
the Buffalo Historical Society. 

In yet other ways Mr. Fillmore served Buffalo. In April, 1835, 
be was appointed by the Common Council "to assess $2200 on prop- 
erty benefited by working and grading Delaware street, from Tupper 
street to North street"; also, at various times, to assess $300 on 
property benefited "by working and gravelling East Genesee street, 
from Main street to the easterly bounds of the city" ; again, to assess 
$680 on Oak, from Genesee to Goodell ; $210 for grading Commercial 
street, widening Tan alley, Tupper street and opening Norton street, 
opening Tupper and Washington streets, etc. There is no question 
as to his intimate identification with the growing town. 

A more notable service was in connection with the famous Rath- 
bun failure, some note of which will be found on a subsequent page. 
In August, 1836, Benjamin Rathbun assigned all of his large prop- 
erty to Hiram Pratt, Lewis F. Allen, Joseph Clary, Thomas C. Love 
and Millard Fillmore. The schedules of Rathbun's real estate 
showed a valuation of $3,337,150, and of his personal property of 


$854,500. It was all vastly over-estitnated, the personal property 
finally realizing $115,000. Messrs. Fillmore and Love resigned as 
assignees before the estate was settled. Mr. Fillmore's sketch of 
Joseph Gary, in pages following, shows how heavy the burden of 
the Rathbun interests fell on that worthy and devoted citizen. 

During his last year in the Legislature Mr. Fillmore had origi- 
nated the tax law to tax debts due to non-resident debtors. He had 
the bill reported and made every exertion to bring it before the 
Assembly, but as it came from the Committee of Ways and Means, 
which had charge of all financial matters, it was reported too late 
to receive the action of the House that session. The next year the 
subject was renewed and the same bill became a law. The Buffalo 
Commercial Advertiser of October 25, 1836, commenting on it, said : 
"It divided the burdens of taxation with the people of this county, 
and gave them the only substantial relief they have felt from this 
load of evils." 

On March 30, 1836, a convention was held in Buffalo, made up of 
delegates from twenty-five towns in Erie, Chautauqua, Genesee and 
Niagara counties, comprised in the Holland Purchase, "to resist the 
unjust oppression of the late purchasers of the Holland Company, 
in exacting an additional price, beyond that expressed in the con- 
tract, from all those unfortunate settlers on the Holland Purchase 
who are unable to make prompt payment." Jacob LeRoy and 
Heman J. Redfield had acquired certain rights of the Holland Land 
Company, and it was against their attempts to enforce contracts 
that the settlers rebelled. On March 5th, of this same year, a "large 
and respectable meeting" of settlers had been held at John 
Dunham's tavern in the town of Clarence, at which Millard Fillmore 
and four others were appointed a committee to arrange for a fur- 
ther meeting. Mr. Fillmore evidently wrote the call for that meet- 
ing—at any rate it "sounds like him" — ^and his name stands first 
of the five which were signed to it. It was published in all the 
newspapers of the Holland Purchase, and the above quotation is a 
part of it. The second meeting, as above stated, was held in Buf- 
falo. Dyre Tillinghast presided, Millard Fillmore was one of the 
eighteen Buffalo delegates, and drafted and presented the follow- 
ing, one of a long series of resolutions adopted by the meeting: 

Resolved, That the law taxing debts due to non-residents, is in 
the opinion of this convention, a just and equitable law, and should 
by no means be repealed, and that members of Assembly and Sena- 


tors from the western part of New York, be respectfully requested 
to oppose any attempt to repeal said law. 

That his service in the Legislature had drawn especial attention 
to him is shown repeatedly in the files of the State papers of that 
period. In 1836 it had become a saying — so wrote a correspondent 
of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser — "Fillmore says it's right — 
well go it." 

In the old files of Buffalo newspapers some trace is found both 
of Mr. Fillmore's early private business and his political advance- 
ment. In the 30's he was a director of the old Buffalo Mutual Fire 
Insurance G>mpany; and in 1836, in addition to his various interests, 
he added life insurance, as the following advertisement (Commercial 
Advertiser, February 13, 1836) testifies: 

LiFS Insurance. — ^The subscriber has been appointed Agent for 
Life Insurance, by the New York Life Insurance and Trust Com- 
pany, and will effect Insurance upon Lives with said G>mpany, on 
application at his office. 

All persons having running policies with said Company, through 
the agency of H. Morris, Esq., the former Agent in this city, upon 
which premiums are now due, are requested to pay the same at the 
law office of Fillmore, Hall & Haven, No. 304 Main street, Buffalo. 

M. Fillmore. 

In the meantime, we find him sustaining many pleasant and hon- 
orable relations in his home community. On September 2, 1840, Mr. 
Fillmore was chairman of a meeting of the Erie County bar which 
adopted resolutions thanking the Hon. Philo Gridley "for the dig- 
nified and impartial manner in which he has presided at the present 
Circuit in this county." Judge Gridley had attended the Erie Cir- 
cuit to dispose of business which had accumulated during an illness 
of Judge Dayton, and had disposed of a calendar of 279 cases, "most 
of which were seriously litigated," adds Mr. Fillmore in the resolu- 
tions which bear his signature. Mr. Fillmore named a committee 
who should invite the judge "to partake of a public dinner," but 
this honor was declined. 

In Buffalo in the early '40's the Mechanics* Association was an 
intellectual center; and here we find Mr. Fillmore, on the evening 
of December 29, 1843, lecturing on "Promissory Notes and Bills of 
Exchange" — hardly a sensational subject, but no doubt practical. 
On December 29, 1845, and January 7, 1846, he lectured on "The 
General Powers taken from the States and vested in the United 
States." No record or report of these addresses is known. Mr. 
Fillmore was a member of the Buffalo Horticultural Society, and in 


1845, at Its annual exhibition, a member of the committee on flowers ; 
bnt that he had any special taste for flowers is not known. On 
June 24, 1845, with other citizens, he signed a call for a public meet- 
ing at the G>urt House, "to take action on the death of General 
Jackson" ; and about this time we find new evidences of his business 
interests. In July, i845» with others, he signed a public card rec- 
ommending the Great Western Railroad securities as good invest- 
ment. In October of that year he was one of a committee to promote 
the affairs of the Niagara & Detroit Rivers Railroad projected "from 
Bertie on the Niagara to Windsor on the Detroit." 

He was in earlier years, a devoted worker for his political party. 
At the "Harrison" State convention, held at Albany, February 4» 
1856, Millard Fillmore and Lewis F. Allen were delegates from Erie 
county, and Mr. Fillmore was a vice-president of the convention. 
He was one of the committee delegated (February, 1836) to notify 
Francis Granger of his nomination for Vice-President. 

In November, 1837, ^^ headed a letter to Squire S. Case, asking 
him to withdraw his name from the canvass as a candidate for 
Member of Assembly. Mr. Fillmore's intervention was in the 
interest of an undivided Whig vote. Now, after ten years of strife, 
the Whig party was dominant, and carried the State. At the Whig 
celebration in Aurora, November 22d, the following toast was drunk : 
"Millard Fillmore, our Representative in Congress. The favorite 
son of Western New York. His abilities and integrity ought to and 
will be known and felt throughout the whole of the Empire State." 

Mr. Fillmore was chosen, August 30, 1838, a delegate to the 
Whig State convention. It met at Utica, September 12th, Hugh 
Maxwell presiding. Mr. Fillmore was made a member of the com- 
mittee on resolutions and addresses. William H. Seward was nomi- 
nated for Governor, and "the convention was addressed thrillingly"^ 
by Millard Fillmore; but no detailed report of his speech is found. 

On October nth of that year Mr. Fillmore was renominated by 
the Democratic Whig convention for Representative and on Novem- 
ber 6th was reelected, receiving 5414 votes against 2831 for George 
P. Barker. The head of the ticket, Seward, received in the same 
district (Erie county) but 3448 votes. There was no question as to 
Mr. Fillmore's popularity. He was supported for Speaker in the 
Whig caucus preliminary to the organization of the House at the 
extra session of i84i» by the Whigs of the New York delegation. 

X. Albany Evening Jonmol. 


and recdved the next highest number of votes to John White of 
Kentucky, who was nominated and elected Speaker. Following the 
practice usual in such cases, Mr. Fillmore was given the chairman- 
ship of the Finance Committee. 

In June, 1842, Gay for President and Fillmore for Vice-President 
was a strongly-advocated ticket. The Poughkeepsie Eagle, June 
18th, '^spread this banner to the breeze/' using Mr. Fillmore's name 
without consulting him, and commending him for the certainty of 
his principles, and his political resemblance to Mr. Clay. 

At the great Whig meeting in New York City, October 6, 1842, 
the following was adopted: 

Resolved, That Millard Fillmore and his Whig colleagues in 
Congress, by the ability, fidelity and zeal, with which they have 
sustained and promoted the true interests of the country, have richly 
merited the commendation which their constituents are pronounc- 
ing, of "Well done, good and faithful servants!" and their honest, 
patient and ultimately successful struggles against extensive fac- 
tiousness and unparalleled treachery will long be remembered with 
gratitude by the people. 

The Whigs of Buffalo naturally felt called upon to express their 
appreciation of Mr. Fillmore's efforts in behalf of a revised tariffs i 
On the evening of September 13, 1842, a great meeting was held in 
the Court House Park — the Court House itself proving too small 
for the occasion. Complimentary resolutions were adopted and a 
committee sent to inform Mr. Fillmore and invite his attendance at 
the meeting. In response, says the Commercial Advertiser's report 
of the occasion, "Mr. Fillmore rose and addressed the meeting in a 
masterly manner upwards of an hour, giving with great clearness 
and ability the history of the late session, and lucidly explaining 
the many and great obstacles which the majority had to encounter 
from the combined action of the Loco Focos and the peculiar 
friends of the President, and the President's himself, in their efforts 
to enact such laws as were imperiously demanded by the necessities 
of the country." No other report of Mr. Fillmore's address on this 
occasion is found. Before adjournment, the meeting adopted a long 
series of resolutions, thanking Mr. Fillmore and his associates for 
their services in the passage of the tariff law ; condemning President 
Tyler as "vacillating and dishonest, incompetent as a statesman, 
mfaithful as a politician, and false and dishonest as a man an() / 

gentleman"; and the assemblage wound up, as was frequently the 
case at this period, with enthusiastic cheers for Fillmore and Henry 


At the Erie G)unty Whig convention in Buffalo, October 6, 1842, 
Mr. Fillmore was renominated and acknowledged the honor by 
addressing the convention at length, thanking them for their renewed 
expression of confidence, but appealing to his friends in phrases that 
could not be misunderstood, to consult his wishes and excuse him 
from being a candidate. While he was, therefore, obviously, the 
first choice of the convention of '42, his name was not voted on, 
and William A. Moseley received a unanimous nomination 99 his 

Not being himself a candidate in the ensuing campaign, Mr. 
Fillmore felt at liberty to share in the work as a speaker. There are 
references in the newspapers of the time to numerous speeches made 
at this period in Buffalo; at Alden, on November ist, where he is 
said to have addressed the meeting for nearly three hours; and at 
other county towns, where he gave such help to the ticket as no one 
but him could give. But for the most part, no verbatim record of 
these speeches is preserved. 

In November, 1843, the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser (Whig) 
put up the ticket of "Qay and Fillmore," "subject to the decision 
of the National convention." In January, 1844, the Clay Club of 
Buffalo was formed, which adopted an elaborate constitution and 
pledged its support to the Clay-Fillmore ticket. Similar clubs in 
other towns did the same; and the Democratic Whig General Com- 
mittee of New York City adopted resolutions strongly endorsing 
Mr. Fillmore for Vice-President. Though defeated in the conven- 
tion he worked loyally for the success of the ticket 

In September, 1844, he was nominated by the Whig New York 
State convention for Governor. He was regarded as a strong can- 
didate. It was the Albany Evening Journal which at the close of 
the convention, formulated a eulogy of Mr. Fillmore, with unquali- 
fied praise of his career and character, which was reprinted and 
echoed in every Whig newspaper of the country. "Mr. Fillmore," 
wrote Mr. Weed on this occasion, "has secured this high place in 
the regard of his fellow-dtizens by a faithful devotion of his time 
and talents really and truly to their service. He has been some 
fourteen years in the legislatures of the State and Union, where his 
voice and votes have ever been heard and recorded for right meas- 
ures" — ^and much more in the same strain. But Mr. Fillmore was 
defeated, receiving a total vote of 231,057, against 241,090 for Silas 

In September, 1846, although he had publicly declared his inten- 
tion not to become a candidate again, his friends put forward his 


name for the same ofiBce. He had not been before^^jp AuUicigr 

two years, having devoted Ja^dOtBSlSlM^ 

practTce of liis profession ; ^t at the Utica convention, on September 

^^' iS^fifiSh die firsTlhformal ballot for Governor, Mr. Fillmore 
received 65 votes to 44 for John Young, of Livingston county. It 
was a splendid compliment, since it must have been known in the 
convention that Mr. Fillmore's mind was thoroughly made up. Had 
he chosen to reenter the field, it seems probable that he could have 
had the nomination, which, in that year, would have been equivalent 
to an election. Refusing, however, to be considered a candidate, his 
name was dropped and Mr. Young was nominated on the third 
ballot. On October ist, when the Whigs of Buffalo assembled in 
the Court House to ratify the State ticket, Mr. Fillmore was fore- 
most in speaking in Mr. Young's behalf and in giving his support 
to the ticket. In the resolutions adopted by this meeting occurs the 

Resolved, That we have an abiding confidence in our distin* 
guished fellow -citizen Millard Fillmore; we believe he is fitted to 
add luster to any office in the gift of the people; ^f hp"^^ him.aa 

hihcT of *^^v^l!^ff of /4<^i ''"'^ Wf ^'*^^'**^'^ *^^*' wf ran ^"<^ TTnw,f^"^ 

hi m a gi ' tai enShdness than by joining with him in a hearty support 
of John Young, his distinguished Whig colleague in the ever memor- 
able and patriotic Twenty-seventh Congress. 

Before the long list of resolutions, of which the foregoing is a 
part, was submitted to the meeting for adoption, Mr. Fillmore 
spoke at length. The only known report of these remarks is the 
following synopsis printed in the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser of 
October 2d: 

Before the adoption of the resolutions, Hon. Millard Fillmore 
took occasion to say that he gave his entire concurrence in the nomi- 
nations which had been made, and that they should receive his hearty 
support. Feeling that he had devoted himself long enough to public 
life, and that he must either relinquish his profession or his political 
position, he had chosen the latter and had steadily declined being 
a candidate for the office of Governor, and had consequently felt it 
his duty so to state in the public prints. 

He heartily rejoiced in the nominations which had been made, 
and would ask every friend who heard him or to whom his words 
might extend, to join with him in the most strenuous exertions to 
secure their triumphant election. Mr. Fillmore than reviewed the 
acts of the General Government, remarking upon the fulfillment of 
the predictions made at the last presidential campaign in case Henry 
Qay were defeated, and then asked who was desirous for a continu- 
ance of the present state of things. The time he thought was come 
for a glorious change. Even dark New Hampshire, the last resting 



place of Loco Focoism, had been illuminated with Whig lights; it 
was burnt again in Maine and Indiana, and New York must not be 
behind her to guide our beloved State from the darkness which 
now surrounds her into the noon-day of a Whig triumph. 

Mr. Fillmore had known Mr. Young in the public councils of the 
state and nation. He had ample opportunity to know him in the 
trying period of the memorable Whig Congress which enacted the 
tariff of '42, and he knew no man more worthy of confidence. He 
trusted in his purity — ^he confided in his patriotism. After a few 
remarks in relation to the Harbor Veto, in which he stated that in 
his opinion the Constitution was not a salt water animal, but could 
live as well in fresh as in salt water, and was worthy of respect 
by sea and land, Mr. Fillmore took his seat amid prolonged expres- 
sions of gratification from his hearers. The resolutions were then 
unanimously adopted. 

On May 19, 1847, the Whigs of New York State held a conven- 
tion at Syracuse for the nomination of four judges and a clerk of 
the Court of Appeals, Mr. Fillmore was present as a delegate, 
was a member of the committee on conference, and took an active 
part in the proceedings. In the informal ballot for candidate for 
judge, Mr. Fillmore received eight votes, although, apparently, it 
was known that his name was not seriously to be considered. The 
convention chose Messrs. Frederick Whittlesey, Marcus T. Reynolds, 
B. Davis Noxon and Daniel Lord, Mr. Lord subsequently declining 
to accept, and Ambrose L. Jordon being nominated instead. 

Mr. Fillmore entered Congress in 1833, serving one term; then 
was out one term; then again elected and served six years, making 
eight in all. He was generally in the minority — ^andt of course, 
chairman of no committee — until 1841, when the memorable Twenty- 
seventh Congress assembled, having a large Whig majority. In this 
Congress, Mr. Fillmore was made chairman of the House Committee 
of Ways and Means, thus becoming leader of the House, a position 
in which, all things considered, he gained, if not his highest honors, 
at least his highest regard in the opinions of all of his countrymen. 
Later, when fortune carried him still higher, he enjoyed no such 
Luniversal esteem as was his when, at the close of the famous 
Twenty-seventh Cong]:ess, he declined a reelection and proposed to 
retire from public life. ) 

The session of 1833-34 has always been cited as the one in which 
that system of politics known as Jacksonism, was fully developed. 
During his first term General Jackson, and those who shaped the 
policy of the Administration, pursued a comparatively cautious 
course. But the ordeal of the election of 1832 having been passed. 

iNnuHiucnoN. xvii 

the mask was thrown off. The reelection of General Jackson was 
construed into a popular approval of all his acts. 

It was in the stormy session of 1833-34, immediately succeeding 
the removal of the deposits, that Mr. Fillmore took his seat. In 
those days the business of the House was conducted and debates 
were led by old and experienced members; new ones, unless they 
enjoyed an exceptional reputation, rarely taking an active or con- 
spicuous part. Little chance, therefore, was afforded Mr. Fillmore, 
a member of the opposition, of displaying his abilities. By the time 
his second term was entered upon, Jacksonism and the pet bank 
system, had in the march of ''progressive Democracy'' given place 
to Van Burenism and the Sub-Treasury. It was but another step 
toward the practical repudiation of old Republican principles, and 
an advance to the Loco-Focoism of the later '40*s. In this Congress, 
Mr . Fill gigytLwas assignifd ■t<» -i^-placft,on thg ■ ElectiQn&^^JommTttee. 
It was this post that brought him into prominence, both, jn the House 
and before the country at large in connection with the famous New 
Jersey contested election cases. 

On this, and one or two other long-dead issues, the following 
Images do not undertake to record all of Mr. Fillmore's utterances. 
In the New Jersey case, for example, the minority report to the 
House and the "Address to the country" cover substantially the same 
ground, and the latter only is here printed.^ On other topics, too, 
Mr. Fillmore's desultory remarks are sometimes omitted, especially 
on purely routine or tactical points. But whenever he spoke on 
leading issues, or based his remarks on broad principles of right or 
advantage to the country, an abstract, more or less full, is given. 
His formal speeches are printed as complete as possible, except as 
to the introduction of quotations, statistical exhibits, etc. It should 
be borne in mind, however, that the only existing reports of many 
of these speeches and debates, are exceedingly imperfect. They 
have been drawn from the official record of Congress — in Mr. 
Fillmore's day, the Globe — from Gales & Seaton's "Register of 
Debates in Congress," and, in one or two cases, from subsequent 
revised publication in pamphlet form. These are noted in the 
bibliographical list appended. 

The especial design of the editor has been to give Mr. Fillmore's 
words on important issues, where they are preserved; and to make 
apparent his part in legislation, and his motives of conduct. 

From the beginning of his public career he made the Constitu- 
tion of the United States his sole guide in all matters which could 

I. Seg pp. 148, 151 gt seq. 

xviu umoDUcnoH. 

be referred to it or regulated by it If a thing were not clearly con- 
stitutional, he could oppose it with a pertinacity which was none 
the less resolute, because always courteous and considerate of the 
viewpoint of others and the rights even of his most implacable 

One of the measures, relatively of minor importance, which 
received Mr. Fillmore's attention was a bill "to establish the Western 
[». e, Indian] Territory." Mr. Fillmore was disposed to support the 
measure, but did not regard it as properly an act of legislation, as 
it only made proposals to the Indians, which they might accept or 
reject. In fact, it approached nearer to an act of the treaty-maldng 
power, although in a form which would not, as other treaties did, 
require the assent of two-thirds of the Senate for its confirmation.^ 
Prior to this (June s) Mr. Fillmore had taken a slight part in debate 
on bills in relation to the territories of Michigan, Arkansas and 
Florida; he had opposed a bill of sundry citizens of Arkansas, on 
the ground that it encouraged squatters to violate the law and 
invade the public lands; and had discussed the repeal of certain 
acts of the legislative council of Florida. It was not however until 
the disturbances of the Upper Canada Rebellion brought his own 
home region suddenly into national notice, that his advocacy of 
measures began to have new ardor and weight. He introduced reso- 
lution after resolution, calling on the President for information, 
calling on the Committee on Military Affairs to proceed at once 
with the fortification of the Northern frontier. On December 15, 
1837, he had written to Brig.-Gen. Charles Gratiot, chief engineer of 
the Army, enclosing a communication from the Buffalo Common 
Council, relative to the exposed condition of the harbor of that 
city in consequence of damage done by a recent storm; and as a 
result of his representations, a survey and estimates for repairs 
were ordered. A few weeks later, we find him presenting to the 
House a memorial which the citizens of Buffalo had adopted, Feb- 
ruary 12, 1838, under the stress of the Caroline excitement; and so 
effective was his plea for better protection on the frontier, that by 
June 13th the War Department reported its determination to place 
an armed steamboat on Lake Erie. In 1842 he personally urged 
before the Navy Board that an iron vessel for the lakes be btult at 
Buffalo. The outcome of this was the construction of the man-of- 
war Michigan, not at Buffalo, indeed, but at Pittsburg, followed hf 
an arduous transport in sections to Cleveland, and thence by steamer 

X. Remarks in the House, June %i^ 1834. The bill was lost 


iimtoDucnoN. xix 

to Erie, where she was rebuilt, and in 1843 launched on her long 
term of service. 

The New Jersey contested election cases have been referred to. 
With the €«c€j)tioa..of.bi5..sbarc in tariff rwsipn^nqthinjgdu^ 
Mr.'l^iilmore's terms in G)ngress received more attention from him, 
or 'brought him more prominently before the country, than these 
famous cases. At the opening of the Twenty-sixth G)ngress, in which 
New Jersey was entitled to six members of the House of Represen- 
tatives, it was found that five of the six had certificates of election 
from the Governor of the State, but that the validity of their election 
was questioned, and the Clerk of the House declined to call their 
names as members until he knew the pleasure of the House. Had 
the political balance of that body been less nearly even, no doubt the 
Governor's certificates would have been satisfactory proof of elec- 
tion. The Whigs claimed that these certificates should be regarded 
as conclusive proof of election until the House was regularly 
organized. The Democrats contended that the House should decide 
die question before proceeding to elect a Speaker. John Quincy 
Adams was chosen temporary chairman and two weeks were con- 
sumed in discussion as to whether the New Jersey members were 
entitled to their seats. At the end of this period, a Speaker having 
been chosen, the discussion of the New Jersey contested scats was 
resumed and occupied the greater part of the time of the House for 
some weeks, so that the standing committees were not named until 
near the close of December. ( Mr. Fillmore was made a member of 
the Committee of Elections, which owing to the contest, at once 
became for the time being the most important committee of the 
House.' With his colleagues he worked over this case "from seven 
to ten liours a day in committee." The investigation ran on until 
the middle of March, 1840. But a majority of the committee, as well 
as of the House, were Democrats. Mr. Fillmore in the House, on 
February 19th, spoke at length on the history of the case and of its 
consideration by the committee. On reading (or attempting to 
read), on a motion to print, a resolution adopted in committee, 
but not reported to the House, he was called to order, and pre- 
vented from completing his remarks. The decision of the Chair 
being appealed from, Mr. Fillmore persisted in his right to the floor, 
but on vote of the House, the Chair was sustained, ruling that Mr. 
Fillmore could not read the resolution. Mr. Fillmore still claimed 
the floor, and after a hot contention gained leave to explain the 
situation of the question on which he was called to order. He 
claimed that although he might not read the resolution, he was 


entitled to continue his remarks. The Chair ruled that he might not, 
except by permission of the House. Mr. Fillmore retorted that he 
would never submit his right to be heard on that floor and the 
right of his constituents, to the vote of a majority, '^e spoke by 
right and not by permission." The House, however, saw it other- 
wise. Being thus prevented from reading a minority report, and 
silenced while attempting to make a speech, Mr. Fillmore's indigna- 
tion at what he felt to be unjust and unlawful treatment led him 
to address a long letter to his constituents, in which he argued all 
the questions involved in the New Jersey case. That letter, with 
an abstract of his remarks during the debate covering several days, 
will be found in their place in the following pages. The tenacity 
f and ability with which he fought for his party and position in this 
case did much towards winning him the leadership of the succeed- 


ing Congress. 

Mr. Fillmore's speech of January 15, 1842, against the arbitrary, 
unparliamentary and oppressive measures resorted to by those in 
favor of repealing the Bankrupt Law, brought him more prominently 
than ever before to the attention of the country. The following 
passage from the report of the speech by the Washington corre- 
spondent of the New York American, well states the estimate which 
many friendly minds formed of him at that period: 

One of the finest passages which I ever witnessed in a legislative 
hall, was when Fillmore, on Cushing's appeal from the Speaker's 
decision, that a bare majority might peremptorily order an immedi- 
ate report of the repeal, rose in the midst of an uproar which would 
have borne down many a bold man, and in a tone that hushed the 
tempest to a breath, and rang through the vast hall with a thrill 
that seemed to readh every heart, appealed to even the precedent 
of the odious New Jersey case, and shamed the Whigs of the major- 
ity by showing them that in that case, the only one on record of a 
peremptory order "to report forthwith," the decencies of debate and 
the rights of a minority were better respected than now. 

He rose above himself and gave evidence of powers of a higher 
order than I believed him to possess. Dignified, cool, self-possessed, 
conciliating, clear, concise and indefatigable, he always was; but 
now he shone out in a majestic, high-toned eloquence, that aston- 
ished and even convinced. The vote was loi for the decision, 98 
against it. On all other questions the votes stood about 115 to & 
"Fillmore," as some one remarked at the moment in my hearing, 
"is a great man; but it takes a strong pressure to make him show 
out his highest powers." 

On February 13, 1843, President Tyler sent a special message to 
Congress, calling upon that body to provide means against an 
alleged probable deficiency of revenue from the current year. It 


was tmderstood at the time that the intent of the message was to 
pave the way for a special session of Congress. The message was 
referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, and Mr. Fillmore, 
chairman of that committee, promptly made a report, showing con- 
clnsxyely that, unless there was a wide departure from the practice 
d preceding Administrations, there would be a large surplus in 
the Treasury on the first day of January, 1844. The balance of 
receipts over expenditures on that day, as estimated by Mr. Fillmore, 
would exceed five millions. The Whigs did not fail to use the inci- 
dent to ridicule the President for having formally proclaimed the 
Government to be on the verge of bankruptcy. 

A curious issue of this campgige was the. persistentr-aod in the 
outcome, successful—attack made on Mr, Fillmore by the Loco 
Focos. They resorted to a method of attack which has been used 
more than once since — ^that of attempting to represent a candidate 
as the tool or ally of the rich, and as conspiring with them against 
the interests of the poor. In 1844, this stock recourse of demogog- 
ism assumed the form of gross misrepresentation. Mr. Fillmore was 
charged with being in favor of protecting the products of wealthy 
manufacturers, and at the same time of taxing "the poor man's tea 
and coffee." It was in vain that Mr. Fillmore's friends, and the 
press of his party, called attention to his record on the tariff. That 
record may be in the main gathered from Mr. Fillmore's words in 
the following pages, but some note here of the situation may be 

In the summer of 1842 it became apparent that the National 
treasury was virtually bankrupt. It owed more than it had resources 
for paying, and existing conditions made the situation daily worse. 
It was Mr. Fillmore, for the House Ways and Means committee, 
who reported a tariff bill to meet the emergency. In this bill, a 
duty on tea and coffee was proposed. The bill, in support of which 
Mr. Fillmore made his famous speech of June 9, 1842 (pp. 196-235), 
was vetoed by the President. Subsequently a tariff bill was passed, 
admitting tea and coffee free, although the duty on those articles 
was by no means a party issue, many Loco Focos favoring their 
taxaticm. At the next session of Congress a message was received 
h-om the President, urging the necessity of further provisions for 
revenue; and in an accompanying letter from the Secretary of the 
Treasury, tea and coffee were among the articles suggested for 
taxation. In the report made by Mr. Fillmore on this message and 
the Secretary's letter, he said: 


The committee never have nor will they now shrink from any 
responsibility incident to their situation. As an evidence of this, 
it is proper to remark that they have twice recommended a duty on 
these articles, and twice has the House of Representatives fearlessly 
sustained them in this reconunendation, and passed a bill imposing 
the duty. And this self-sacrificing devotion, on the part of the 
House, to what they deemed the wants of the Treasury and the 
good of the country, under the peculiar circumstances of discourage- 
ment and embarrassment, is a strong proof that the same body might 
be confidently relied upon again to do the same act whenever they 
are convinced that the good of their country requires it But both 
of these patriotic efforts proved abortive — the first by the refusal 
of the Senate to concur, and the latter by the veto of the President 
At that time the House doubtless entertained the same sentiment 
that the President has expressed in his recent message, that the 
"proper objects of taxation are peculiarly within the discretion of 
the Legislature." They believed that the good of the country, that 
the welfare of a suffering community, would be best promoted by 
putting a duty on tea and coffee, and distributing the proceeds of 
the public lands to the several States. But the President, differing 
in opinion with Congress, refused to submit this matter to legisla- 
tive discretion, and by his veto prevented the tariff bill from passing, 
until G)ngress, to save the honor and credit of the nation, was 
compelled to yield up the proceeds of the public lands to the Treas- 
ury of the United States by passing a law which suspended the dis- 
tribution. But they did not then consider that it was necessary for 
an economical administration of the general Government that the 
proceeds of the public lands should go into the public Treasury, 
and, in addition thereto, that a duty should be imposed on tea and 
coffee. And they still hope that a judicious retrenchment, in which 
Congress has been actively engaged, may save the people, who are 
suffering almost beyond endurance, from any increased burdens of 
taxation. The committee will, however, proceed to examine the 
state of the Treasury, and if the result shall show that this addi- 
tional tax will be necessary to maintain the credit of the country, 
they will not hesitate to recommend its adoption by the House, in 
the full confidence that the House, when equally convinced, will, as 
it has done heretofore, fearlessly and patriotically meet the emer- 
gency and take the responsibility. 

It was found that no further tax was necessary; the tariff as 
fixed at that time proved adequate, and under its provisions, once 
they were fairly in force, trade and manufacturing flourished. 

To his duties as State Comptroller, regarding which he had in 
correspondence expressed doubts as to his fitness, Mr. Fillmore 
brought habits and qualifications which would appear to have been 
an ideal equipment for his task. His experience in Congress had 
strengthened his natural aptitude for financial affairs; caution, his 


most pronounced trait, served him admirably in these duties; and 
his characteristic industry, love of system, and honest devotion to 
the good of the G)mmonwealth, still further contributed to make 
his administration of the office conspicuous for economy and effici- 
ency. That portion of his only annual report which is printed in 
the following pages, will be found a valuable historical treatise on 
the systems of banking in vogue in New York State for well nigh 
half a century, with practical suggestions for better methods. 

One conspicuous service performed by Mr. Fillmore as Comp- 
troller was in the handling of the canal funds. In 1848, the joint 
canal committees of the Assembly and Senate recommended that 
$1,258^653 be appropriated to the prosecution of work that year on 
the Erie, Genesee and Black River canals. It was shown that of 
this amount, $489,000 was obtained by a decision of Mr. Fillmore 
that an erroneous withdrawal of the amount had been made by a 
former administration, from the sum set apart for public works. 
**It is the difference," said an Albany correspondent of the New York 
Courier and Enquirer, ''in construing the Constitution. The enlight- 
ened and liberal policy pursued by Mr. Fillmore in this case will 
be appreciated by the people of all sections of our State, for they 
will see in the rapid progress of the system of internal improvement, 
the evidences of the clear and comprehensive statesmanship of that 
eminent man. The people of the country benefited by the Genesee 
Valley canal, who had almost given up every hope of seeing their 
great avenue completed, will be delighted at the unexpectedly large 
appropriation given to it — and so too with the Black River canal, 
which will soon by its usefulness refute the charges which it was 
the fashion, among those who knew no better, to make against it. 
The State has been exceedingly fortunate in calling to its public 
service, a statesman who neglects nothing — sees thoroughly to every- 
thing, and deems no interest of the State unworthy of his close and 
careful attention." 

In the Whig National convention at Philadelphia, June 9» 1848, 
Gen. Zachary Taylor of Louisiana was nominated for President on 
the fourth ballot. The final vote stood: Taylor, 171; Clay, 32; 
Scott, 63; Webster, 14. Mr. Fillmore's name was presented by the 
Hon. John A. Collier, a delegate-at-large from New York; he was 
nominated for Vice-President on the second ballot. On the first 
ballot he received 115 votes, against 109 for Abbott Lawrence, and 
scattering votes for half a dozen others. On the second ballot Mr. 
Lawrence's support fell to 87 and Mr. Fillmore received 173 of the 


a66 votes cast. His letter of acceptance, written at Alt>any, June 
17, 1848, addressed to the Hon. J. M. Morehead, ex-Governor of 
North Carolina, who had been the president of the convention, will 
be found in due order in the following pages. 

As Vice-President, Mr. Fillmore was an ideal presiding officer. 
Always urbane, dignified, judicial in bearing as in habit of mind, 
he ruled with impartiality and imbued his associates with a new 
sense of the dignity of their office and the service they were looked 
upon to perform. His most notable address, during this period, was 
made unexpectedly one morning in the Senate when he rose at his 
desk, and before the orders for the day were entered upon, delivered 
a dissertation to the surprised Senators on the necessity of a courte- 
ous observance of order in their deliberations, and announcing his 
purpose to depart when necessary from a custom that had been in 
vogue since the days of John C. Calhoun, and call a Senator to order 
for words spoken in debate, whenever he deemed the occasion for it 
had arisen. It was a wholesome assertion of authority, and con- 
tributed to a better dispatch of business in the body over which he 

Mr. Fillmore came to the Presidency at a period of extraordin- 
ary perplexity and difficulty. Congress had been in session for an 
exceptionally long period, involved in abortive efforts to adjust the 
sectional questions which had been thrown upon the country by the 
acquisition of extensive territories from Mexico. There was per- 
petual and increasing conflict between the extremists of North and 
South. When he took the helm, Mr. Fillmore saw the breakers 
ahead. Their ominous roar sounded '^Disunion" in his ears. He was 
an Abolitionist, yet not such an Abolitionist as were many in the 
North. It took courage, in such a crisis, to defy alike the ravings 
of Southern Disunionists and the curses of extreme Abolitionists at 
the North. Mr. Fillmore determined on a middle course, and held 
to it. Under his auspices, the Compromise measures then pending 
in Congress became laws. For the time being the crisis was past 
When forcible opposition to the execution of the Fugitive Slave law 
was threatened in the North, he firmly announced his purpose to 
enforce the law — relying, as he never failed to do, on the sanction 
and support of the Constitution. When South Carolina proclaimed 
it to be her purpose to secede, he was equally ready to declare his 
firm purpose of upholding the supremacy of Federal authority. 

iimtODUcnoN. xxv 

Into the great issues of his term as President, on his attitude 
towards which Mr. Fillmore's reputation as a statesman chiefly 
rests, it is not the province of these notes to enter. Attention should, 
however, be called to the suppressed portion of his Message of 
December 6, 1852, relating to slavery. It is, apparently, little known 
even to those who have made an especial study of the political his- 
tory of our country at that period. It was omitted from the Mes- 
sage, as finally sent to Congress, by the counsel of Mr. Fillmore's 
nearest advisers. It shows that he had considered the question of 
slavery, and the future of the institution in America, deeply and 
without prejudice. He sought a peaceful solution — ^a way out of the 
difficulty that could be defended by the Constitution — a way with- 
out disunion. It was not in his vision that the solution would come 
in a way of upheaval and bloodshed; would come by the hand of 
one who would rise above the Constitution in remembering humanity, 
one who was great enough to strike the shackles from the slave, 
keeping in view the eternal principles of right, rather than the 
hampering obstacles of law. Millard Fillmore was a conscientious 
man; but he was no Lincoln. 

With the exception of appending his signature to the Fugitive 
Slave law, probably no act of Mr. Fillmore's Administration was 
more harshly criticised than his appointment of Brigham Young 
as Governor of Utah. It is still a subject of much misconception. 
Utah was erected into a territory by an Act of Congress, passed in 
September, 1850. Mr. Fillmore was in office for two and a half 
years after the passage of that act. During the whole of this time, 
the Mormons were, however, quiet and orderly. In 1850, they were 
known as a people who professed a peculiar, and to most citizens 
of the country, an absurd religion; but they were not known at 
the time as a community of polygamists. They had been persecuted 
in Missouri and Illinois, had been driven out of their famous estab- 
lishment at Nauvoo, and had sought a refuge beyond the Rocky 
Mountains. They were, naturally, bitter towards the Gentiles who 
had persecuted them, and towards the Government. Having to deal 
with the problem, Mr. Fillmore followed his usual course of seeking 
conciliation if possible. In his judgment conciliation was better 
than attempted coercion. He thought that by the appointment of 
some of their prominent men to an important office in the new ter- 
ritory, the Mormons might be won back to loyal allegiance to the 
Government, while still maintaining the form of worship which 
they had chosen. He selected the Governor and one of the three 
territorial judges from the Mormon sect. The secretary of the ter- 

XXVI iNntoDUcnoN. 

ritory, two judges and other officers were sent to Utah from the 
States and were not Mormons. Before appointing Brigham Yonng 
Governor, Mr. Fillmore with his invariable prudence, took pains 
to learn from authentic and respectable sources whether the diar- 
acter of the candidate would justify the appointment. Being assured 
in the matter, Brigham Young was duly appointed. That the Mor- 
mon organization was to bear the stamp of polsrgamy, was not 
known until near the close of Mr. Fillmore's Administration. The 
reader who may be curious in the matter is referred to an article 
published by the Edinburgh Review for April, 1854, in which is 
given an account of Brigham Young's revelation in July, 1843, by 
which he received Divine authority for himself and followers to 
have an unlimited number of wives. This, it will be noted, was 
the first promulgation of this feature of Mormonism — ^long after 
Mr. Fillmore had appointed Young as Governor; nor does it appear 
that there arose during Mr. Fillmore's term as President any occa- 
sion for Young's removal. 

The Compromise measures of 1850, and slavery and the Fugitive 
Slave Act, were the greatest questions which his Administration 
had to confront. Of the other matters of which he wrote, especially 
to Webster, the mission of Kossuth and the Hiilsemann correspon- 
dence, the Lopez filibustering expedition to Cuba, the Amistad affair, 
the Lobos Islands contention, matters relating to the Mormons, the 
Perry expedition to Japan, our relations with Peru, with Mexico, 
with Nicaragua— on these and other subjects, to which Mr. Fillmore's 
letters relate, there already exists historical record, for the most part 
of convenient access to the student ; but there has not existed here- 
tofore, any gathered material showing Mr. Fillmore's views on these 
matters, or recording his uniform effort and desire for just and 
honorable dealings with all, whether at home or abroad. 

Among the achievements to be credited to his Administration, 
besides the Perry expedition which opened Japan to the world, were 
the expedition into Africa under Lieutenant Lynch, the Ringgold 
expedition to China, the Hemdon & Gibbon expedition up the 
Amazon; the inauguration of cheaper postage, the establishment of 
an agricultural bureau, the extension of the Capitol ; and in general,, 
prosperous conditions at home, and harmonious relations with the 
rest of the world. A mere allusion to these features of his Admin- 
istration is adequate for the present purpose. 

Nor is it necessary here to go into the details of his break with 
Thurlow Weed, which resulted in an estrangement lasting for years,. 


finally to end, as Mr. Weed has recorded in his own memoirs, 
throagh the overtures of Mr. Fillmore, so that in their last years 
amicable relations were restored. Something of it — not much — ^is to 
be traced in Mr. Fillmore's letters to Mr. Weed; the reader will 
not fail to note the change of tone — and then their total cessation. 
Mr. Weed's version has been given to the world in his "Memoirs," 
and has no doubt influenced the views of others who have written 
on the subject. Mr. Weed claimed to be responsible for Mr. 
Fillmore's nomination for Comptroller. Mr. Fillmore's friends main- 
tained that Weed's was a hollow friendship— that believing Mr. 
Fillmore would not accept the nomination, he wished to force it 
on him, and then, in the event of his declination, charge him with 
refusing to serve the Whig party, and claim that all obligations to 
him were absolved.^ On the origin of the estrangement, little can 
be gathered from Mr. Fillmore's own writings; but its effect can 
be traced in the course of both National and New York State poli- 
tics. When on General Taylor's death, Mr. Fillmore succeeded to 
the Presidency and reconstructed his Cabinet, he was freely charged 
with playing false to the party that had elected him. He had acted 
contrary to the advice of Mr. Seward,^ and entered upon a policy 
of compromise and conciliation. The President's independent course 
in regard to New York State patronage, especially the Canal Board 
appointments, still further embittered Mr. Seward. Throughout his 
administration as President Mr. Fillmore had nowhere greater politi- 
cal hostility to contend with than in his own State. 

It had been Mr. Fillmore's purpose, at the close of his term as 
President, to make a long tour through the South, accompanied by 
several members of his Cabinet. That he hoped by so doing to 
check the tendency to disunion, is certain. But these plans were 
changed by the death of Mrs. Fillmore, in the same month in which 
his term ended, and a year passed before Mr. Fillmore had the heart 
to travel. A part of the tour then undertaken was made in com- 
pany with Judge Hall, but for the greater part of it, the Hon. John 
P. Kennedy of Baltimore was his traveling companion. Mr. Fillmore 
and Judge Hall set out in March, 1854, Their first stop appears to 
have been at Columbus, Ohio, where they visited the Senate and 
House of Representatives. The Ohio State Journal said of this visit 

I. On the We«d-FiIImore affair, set Dr. Foote's full and explicit state- 
ment, Buffalo Commercial Advertiser, August 2$, 1853. 

a. Set Seward's Works, Vol. IV., p. 19. 


that "they attracted much attention, both from their high position 
among the leading men of the nation and the fact that they ranked 
among the best-looking men of the comitry." In Cincinnati, a few 
days later, a public reception was arranged for them. Mr. Fillmore's 
tour through Kentucky was marked by general ovations of friend- 
ship and admiration at every place at which he stopped. He visited 
Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, Ashland, the home of Henry Qay, 
the latter being, perhaps, the chief objective point in Mr. Fillmore's 

Mr. Fillmore was called upon to speak at every point he visited. 
While on most occasions his remarks were merely those of com- 
pliment and thanks for his reception, yet on two or three occasions 
he took the opportunity to dwell on political issues, both past and 
present; some of these speeches, either through inadequate report- 
ing or through malice, utterly misrepresent his views; and notwith- 
standing his subsequent corrections and denials, had wide currency 
in distorted form among his political opponents at the North. No 
other record of most of these speeches is known to the present editor 
than the contemporary newspaper reports. Sometimes |hese are 
mere abstracts, a form of reporting which is seldom just to the 
speaker; and at other times they undertake to give verbatim Mr. 
Fillmore's words. As printed in their place aiQong his speeches in 
this collection, they are drawn from these various Southern news- 
papers, and the reader should bear in mind the conditions under 
which they were written. 

Mr. Fillmore's tour embraced Vicksburgh, New Orleans and 
Mobile. He contemplated a visit to Cuba, but abandoned it and 
passed on to Savannah, and thence to Charleston, S. C, early in 
April, his visit being coincident with the session of the Southern 
Commercial convention. He reached Montgomery, Alabama, April 
15th and made his way north by way of Augusta, Atlanta, Nashville, 
reaching New York May i8th, and his Buffalo home the evening 
of May 20th. 

Nine days later, accompanied by his son and numerous other 
citizens of Buffalo, he set out for Chicago, from which point the 
tourists made an extended jaunt over the new line of the Chicago 
& Rock Island railway. Among other points visited was St. Louis, 
where an enthusiastic reception was arranged for the ex-President 
on June 12th. He went up the Mississippi to St. Paul, an incident 
of the trip being a meeting on board the steamer "Golden Era," at 
which Mr. Fillmore presided and resolutions were adopted express- 
ing the appreciation of the excursionists for the enterprise and cour- 




tesy of the company, whose guests they were. Among Mr. Fillmore's 

companions on this jaunt were the Hon. George Bancroft and 

Postmaster-General Hall. 
The European tour of 1855-56 is but scantily recorded, and of 

the second visit to Europe in 1866 there is even less to report. Of 
the former, an exceedingly interesting letter to his old friend, the 
Hon. Solomon G. Haven, printed in the present collection, preserves 
a pleasant glimpse. To his long-time friends and traveling com- 
panions for a portion of the tour, Messrs. Foote and Jewett, it is 
probable that graphic letters were sent, but none of these have been 
fonnd.^ The visit of 1855-56 was not without its honors, though Mr. 
Fillmore traveled as a private citizen, and on many occasions 
declined receptions and other marks of distinction. He has recorded 
his interview with Baron von Humboldt. Of his presentation at the 
Court of St. James nothing is found in his letters or speeches, 
though this honor was his, and the tradition lives that her Majesty, 
Victoria, pronounced him the handsomest man she had ever seen. 
He attended the International Exposition in Paris; and it was dur- 
ing his stay in that city that Horace Greeley was shut up in a French 
prison for debt. Mr. Greeley wrote a characteristic account of this 
episode, but failed to mention, what is said to be the fact, that it 
was Mr. Fillmore who came to his relief. Mr. Fillmore visited him 
in prison, and is said to have supplied the money that gained him 
release.* During his stay in Paris, Mr. Fillmore was presented to 
the Emperor Louis Napoleon, and subsequently, in Rome, was 
granted an audience by Pope Pius IX. 

1. Acknowledgment is due to Mr. William P. Northrup of Buffalo, who» 
at the request of the editor, made search among the papers of his uncle, the 
late Elam R. Jewett; but contrary to expectation, no letters from Mr. Fillmore 
were found. 

2. In reply to an inquiry from the editor of this volume, regarding this 
incident, the Hon. Andrew D. White writes: **I was in Paris at the time, saw 
Mr. Greeley and remember the circumstances well; but I cannot state whether 
Mr. Fillmore supplied the funds for Mr. Greeley's release, or not. All that 
I heard was, as regards Mr. Fillmore, that he called on Mr. Greeley when the 
latter was in Clichy prison." President White adds: "My remembrances of 
Mr. Fillmore are remarkably vivid in view of the fact that I saw him but 
once or twice. This vividness is probably due to the great respect in which 
be was held in my father's family during his connection with the State, but 
possibly even more by the impression his personal appearance made on me. 
He was certainly one of the finest looking men I ever saw, and when after- 
wards I saw Pope Pius IX at Rome, saying Mass at the High Altar of St. 
Peter's and giving the blessing to the crowd in the front of that church, I 
was struck by what appeared to me, a striking resemblance in the appearance 
&nd bearing of the two men, especially in the remarkably kindly character of 
their faces." 


Soon after his return to America, an Englishwoman's report of 
a conversation with Mr. Filhnore was widely published. The fol- 
lowing extract may be preserved here, by way of illustrating certain 
of Mr. Fillmore's views.^ 

We were one day talking of the almost impossibility (I mean 
as a genera] rule) of the negro becoming an intellectual being; and 
as their intellectual faculties are unused, so their senses are quick- 
ened; their sight how keen, finding the trail where European eyes 
discerned no trace of feet. From this we passed to society at large. 
I said: "In England the intellectual classes most certainly belong 
to neither the highest nor the lowest." 

"Precisely," said Mr. Fillmore, "they are of those who have 
been most obliged to cultivate their faculties; it is with the mind 
as with the body, if any muscles are unused, they contract and grow 
smaller; and every power of mind increases in like measure with 
its use. And as with the mind so with the spirit, also; the ten 
talents gain other ten, while the hidden treasure lies useless." 

Spesiking of agriculture, he said, he had been greatly struck in 
England by the way in which the land was urged to the utmost — 
every bit of ground being cultivated to the greatest extent "Our 
implements," he added, "are perhaps the best, but it is necessity 
with us, as labor is scarce, and we have to provide otherwise." He 
then contrasted the activity and life of England with the decay and 
langour of Italy. Of the religion, he said: "There is much to 
captivate many minds — the music, the painting, the devotion, the 
equality, high and low kneeling side by side, before their common 

"Yes, that is very striking," said I. 

He looked up earnestly and added — in, I believe, these words: 
"The more we forget station in religion, the nearer we are to 

The ex-President admired our writers in the most hearty way; 
he remarked that Macaulay's description of the trial' of Warren 
Hastings was a "perfect daguerreotype of the scene." Carlyle and 
the German school did not come in for much praise; but he liked 
Gray's "Elegy" so entirely, that he had been to Stoke Pogis to see 
his grave. 

For many years, before he was President as well as after, Mr. 
Fillmore was the citizen of Buffalo most likely to be called upon 
to receive and welcome distinguished visitors. It was in this capac- 
ity, as the following pages in some cases attest, that he welcomed 
ex-President John Quincy Adams in 1843, President-elect Abraham 
Lincoln in 1861, President Andrew Johnson in 1866. In September, 
185 1, he shared in entertaining Sir Samuel Morton Peto, whose 
visit to Buffalo preceded a great work which he promoted, the 

I. Buffalo CoMmtrcial Advertiser, April 9, 1857. 


construction of the International Bridge across the Niagara. He 
shared in entertaining the Japanese Ambassador, Tomomi Iwakura, 
and his suite at Niagara Falls, and H. R. H. Prince Arthur in 
Buffalo; and was chosen to arrange for a reception in 1861 to the 
Prince of Wales, who was, however, unable to extend his American 
tour to Buffalo. 

By reason of his known lack of sjrmpathy with the Northern 
cause, Mr. Fillmore's reception of President Lincoln was the sub- 
ject of much gossip and speculation. But there was no occasion, 
then or ever, to mistrust his courtesy and sincerity. He was unable 
to endorse everything in Mr. Lincoln's policy, but he esteemed Mr. 
Lincoln as a man, and no one outdid him in the cordiality of his 
welcome. He entertained the President at his home, and paid him 
every attention, consistent with the simple, unostentatious hospital- 
ity that both guest and host preferred.^ 

In shameful contrast with this was the indignity offered Mr. 
Fillmore on the death of Lincoln, his house being smeared with 
ink because it displayed no signs of mourning. No matter that the 
simple and sufficient explanation was promptly made — ^the omission 
being due to the fact that Mrs. Fillmore was ill and Mr. Fillmore 
for the time being unaware that residences were hung with black— or 
that at earliest opportunity the house was appropriately draped; the 
affair was magnified by hostile tongue and press, until one might 
judge, from some of the reports, that a vast throng of his respect- 
able fellow-townsmen gathered in front of his house and vied with 
each other in insulting its venerable occupant. That the affront was 
the work of but a few, and they of the most ignoble, is the testi- 
mony of living witnesses. This, and the alleged hanging of Mr. 
Fillmore in effigy, form evil episodes in the war-time history of 
Buffalo, but leave no stain on the character of the man against whom 
the outrages were directed. 

And a few days later it was Mr. Fillmore's name which headed 
the citizens' committee appointed to meet the Lincoln funeral train 
at Batavia (April 26, 1865) and serve as escort to Buffalo. 

I. Mr. Lincoln arrived in Buffalo, Saturday, February 16, 1861. On Sun- 
day, Mr. and Mrs. Fillmore accompanied him to the First Unitarian church, 
where they listened to a sermon by the Rev. Dr. Hosmer. In the evening, the 
President and Mrs. Fillmore attended a public meeting at St. James Hall, in 
behalf of certain Western Indian tribes. Numerous anecdotes, some of them 
very likely based on truth, exist to this day in Buffalo, regarding this visit; to 
record them here would be to impart too much of a Boswellian character to 
our chronicle. 


In its place among Mr. Fillmore's miscellaneous addresses in 
Buffalo will be found his remarks on receiving a flag for the Union 
Continentals (July 4, 1861). This was an organization of well- 
known men of Buffalo, whose chief functions were to stir up enthu- 
siasm and act as escort for the young recruits when summoned to 
the front Mr. Fillmore was the first commander of this useful and 
representative Home Guard.^ 

The first departure of Buffalo volunteers for the Civil War, May 
3, 1861, was an incident important enough to warrant the remark of 
the Commercial Advertiser, the next day: 

Of all the noble events that mark the history of the Queen City, 
not one can match with that of yesterday. Not one possessed so 
much of proud display, excitement and significance, or contained 
one half its touching pathos. The departure of the first companies 
of volunteers for the war of 1861, will be an ineffaceable memory 
in every heart among the throng that waved them adieu, and bade 
them godspeed with ringing cheers. 

The four companies of Buffalo youths who marched away on 
this occasion, were escorted to the station by the "Old Guard," or 
Continentals, under the command of ex-President Fillmore, "holding 
the rank of major." "The venerable and honored commander,'* says 
the report just quoted from, "ex-President Fillmore, marched stately 
and erect, at the head of the column, wearing a sword and plume, 
and looking like an emperor." 

At the depot, "ex-President Fillmore, uncovering his white locks, 
and raising himself to his full height, cries, 'Old Guard, attention! 
Three cheers for the Buffalo Volunteers !' Every head in the ranks 
is bare, every arm is lifted, and every voice shouts a stentorian 
'hurrah, hurrah, hurrah!' Again the soldiers hoarsely respond — all 
but a few who, with faces turned from the scene, were soothing the 
sorrowful females who cling to their skirts, or are bidding good-bye 
to friends." 

The Union Continentals, under Mr. Fillmore's imposing com- 
mand, figured in many of the stirring scenes of those sad, excited 
days. On one Washington's Birthday Mr. Fillmore led his com- 

I. The original officers of the Union Continentals of Buffalo, as organized 
in the spring of 1861, were as follows: Captain, Millard Fillmore; first 
lieutenant, Lewis F. Allen; second lieutenant, Aaron Rumsey; third lieutenant, 
Henry W. Rogers; orderly sergeant, Justus Spertzell; second orderly sergeant, 
Asher P. Nichols; third orderly sergeant, Samuel W. Hawes; fourth orderly 
sergeant, Orlando Allen; fifth or color sergeant, M. Cadwallader; first corporal, 
Nathaniel Wilgus; second corporal, John L. Curtenius; third corporal, William 
Williams; fourth corporal, Valorus Hodge; surgeon, Horatio N. Loomis; 
chaplain, Rev. John C. Lord, D. D. 


pany in full uniform to Dr. Lord's church (the Central Presby- 
terian), where, after prayer by the chaplain, Captain Fillmore read 
Washington's Farewell Address, and national airs were sung by 
the choir. 

Mr. Fillmore's speech at the great Union rally at the Metropoli- 
tan Theater, in BufiFalo, April i6, 1861, is included in these volumes. 
It is recorded that at the adjournment of that meeting the happy 
finale was added by "ex-President Fillmore, the chairman, rising, 
swinging his hat, and leading off in three glorious cheers for the 
Union and the Constitution." But the proper conclusion is only 
reached with the added fact that Mr. Fillmore contributed $500 to 
the support of families of volunteers, and that his was the first 
money paid for this cause in Buffalo. 

Mr. Fillmore was chairman of the Buffalo Committee of Public 
Defense, which in 1862 called the attention of the Federal and State 
governments to the need of defense on the Niagara Frontier. The 
very interesting letters on this subject, signed by Mr. Fillmore, will 
be found in place among his miscellaneous correspondence. 

As a citizen of BufiFalo Mr. Fillmore was always, in a high sense 
of the term, public-spirited. He was devoted to whatever made for 
better conditions of living or higher levels of thinking. In 1832 we 
find him active in the Buffalo Lyceum. In 1841 he became a life 
member of the Young Men's Association, and gave liberally to 
the collection of books which was the basis of the present Buf- 
falo Public Library. Although away from Buffalo much of the 
time, he maintained a singularly active part in many local en- 
terprises. The Bar Association always enlisted his interest and 
on various occasions he presided at its meetings, notably on Sep- 
tember 9, 1847, when memorial exercises were held on the death 
of Latham A. Burrows, and Mr. Fillmore wrote the resolutions. 
In 1850, various honors came to him in consequence of his official 
position. He was made chancellor of the Smithsonian Institution; 
but with unfailing regard for Buffalo, we find him, January 19, 
1850, presiding at a public meeting for the relief of the poor of the 
city, and contributing to the work. His addresses in the follow- 
ing pages testify to his interest in the Buffalo General Hospital, of 
which he was a founder, and president in 1870; in the University 
of Buffalo, of which he was chancellor, 1846-74; of the Fine Arts 
Academy, at the inauguration of which he presided, February 16, 
1865, as at other annual openings ; of the Society of Natural Sciences, 
for which, February 8, 1868, his name headed a list of Buffalo citi- 


ztns who constituted a committee to devise a plan to relieve the 
necessities of the society — the plan hit upon being a ball» whidi 
seems to have been truly "a brilliant social event." He was one 
of the directors of the Buffalo Qub, 1867, and its first president ; an 
organizer of the Society in Buffalo for the Prevention of Cruelty to 
Animals, presiding at several of its meetings in 1867; and one of 
the founders of the Buffalo Historical Society, in 1862, and iU 
president, 1862-67 ; his inaugural address was given at old American 
Hall, July I, 1862. 

In May, 1857, Mr. Fillmore's name headed a list of citizens who 
invited Capt. H. A. De Riviere, a veteran of the French army in 
the Crimea, to lecture on the battles of that campaign. In December, 
1863, he was one of a number of Buffalo gentlemen who were 
selected as trustees for a boys' school which it was proposed to 
establish. In the following January he presided at a meeting of 
the executive committee of the Great Central Fair, to be opened 
February 22d, and later was made its president. It was his address 
on this occasion which brought upon him the maledictions of his 
enemies and embittered many who theretofore had been his friends. 
His words, as printed at the time, are given in their place in this 
collection, with some quotation from contemporary comment Mr. 
Fillmore could not have failed to feel the chill in the sodat 
atmosphere, but he kept the even tenor of his way among his old 
neighbors, holding for the most part to an admirable silence. 

In 1866 he went abroad again for a few months. He had scarcely 
returned, in July, when Lieutenant-General Sherman arrived in Buf- 
falo, and Mr. Fillmore was among those who welcomed him — but 
others made the speeches. In August of that year Mr. Fillmore was 
an active and cordial host, as one of the local committee which 
entertained delegates to a notable meeting in Buffalo of the Ameri- 
can Association for the Advancement of Science. It was in this 
month also that he headed the citizens' committee for the reception 
of Andrew Johnson, and was chairman of the joint committee of 
^citizens and the Common Council. 

In July, 1867, at a meeting held under the auspices of the Buf- 
falo Historical Society, Mr. Fillmore was appointed president of 
the Soldiers' Monument Association of Eric County, "formed to 
take measures to ensure the erection of a suitable monument to the 
heroic dead of Erie county who have fallen in the recent war 
against rebellion, and to cooperate with the public authorities and 
other organizations or individuals to consummate this work." The 
vice-presidents included representatives from each town in the 


county, and it was proposed to turn into the fund a surplus of $5000 
from the Union Continentals fund. The project was not at that 
time successful, and when after some years the monument was 
erected it was by the efforts of another organization.^ 

Among other public functions, more or less notable in the annals 
of Buffalo, which as matter of record should be included here, were : 
The complimentary dinner to Ma j. -Gen. William F. Barry, at the 
Tifft House, Buffalo, October 24, 1867, attended by some eighty of 
Buffalo's citizens, and presided over by Mr. Fillmore. On Decem- 
ber 9, 1870, also at the Tifft House, the Buffalo Board of Trade gave 
a banquet to the National Board of Trade, on which occasion we 
find Mr. Fillmore responding to a toast in his honor. Later in the 
same month, he shared in the entertainment of the Grand Duke 
Alexis at the Buffalo Club, and escorted him to Fort Porter. Two 
years later (November 28, 1872,) Mr. Fillmore presided at a Thanks- 
giving dinner to the newsboys and bootblacks of Buffalo, given in 
Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, under the auspices of the Young 
Men's Christian Association; and on December 23d of that year, at 
the tenth anniversary of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, he unveiled 
a portrait of the artist L. G. Sellstedt which had been bought for 
the permanent collection. This enumeration of Mr. Fillmore's activi- 
ties, even to the last year of his life, might be extended; but the 
foregoing may suffice to show his active share in the worthy enter- 
prises of his home city, and the character of his interests. 

An incident of a late year of his life, not without its illustrative 
value, was his signing (November, 1868) a petition addressed to 
(iovemor Reuben E. Fenton, asking for a commutation of a sentence 
of death to life imprisonment for Kate Johnson, convicted of mur- 
der in the first degree. 

Mr. Fillmore was not an eloquent speaker, nor a felicitous writer. 
His use of metaphor or simile was seldom happy; but his expression 
was never obscure, and it reflected, in spite of minor flaws, his 
suavity of manner, his consideration of others, and his high respect 
for himself. His one guiding star, his criterion of political right, 
throughout his public career, was the Constitution. It is curious to 

I. The Buffalo Historical Society never lost sight of the project, and it 
was finally under its auspices that the cornerstone of the Soldiers' and Sailors' 
Monument, erected by the city of Buffalo and the Ladies' Monument Associa- 
tion, was laid on July 4, iBSz, in the fiftieth year of Buffalo's existence as a 


note his allusions to it, time and again, in speeches and in cor- 
respondence. That it was an honest devotion to the fundamental 
law of his country, is beyond doubt. "Whatever may be my fate 
personally," he is quoted as saying, "is not worth a thought, if the 
integrity of the Constitution can be maintained, and we can transmit 
this glorious heritage unimpaired to our posterity." 

Of his engaging personality, much has elsewhere been written, 
and much might be added, were this the place for it And of his 
habits, the following in his own words — as quoted from a conversa- 
tion with a friend, about 1870— may suffice: 

"I have taken but one dose of medicine in thirty years, and that 
was forced upon me unnecessarily. I attribute my good health to 
the fact of an originally strong constitution, to an education on a 
farm and to life-long habits of regularity and temperance. I never 
smoked or chewed tobacco. I never knew intoxication. Throughout 
all my public life I maintained the same regularity and systematic 
habit of living to which I had previously been accustomed. I never 
allowed my usual hours for sleep to be interrupted. The Sabbath 
I always kept as a day of rest. Besides being a religious duty, it 
was essential to health. On commencing my Presidential career I 
found that the Sabbath had frequently been employed by visitors 
for private interviews with the President. I determined to put an 
end to the custom, and ordered a door-keeper to meet all Sunday 
visitors with an indiscriminate refusal. While chairman of the com- 
mittee on Ways and Means in Congress, and during my entire Presi- 
dential career, my labors were always onerous and even excessive, 
but I never suffered a hour of sickness throughout them all." 

Mr. Fillmore's fatal illness dated from February 13, 1874. On 
the morning of that day, as he was shaving, his left hand suddenly 
fell powerless, and the paralysis soon extended to the left side of 
his face. Two weeks later he had a second attack, and the end 
came on March 8th. 

Mr. Fillmore's letters, here collected, have been copied for this 
publication from the originals in many places. Those drawn from 
the Departments at Washington are duly indicated as printed. The 
Chase, Clayton, Corwin, Crittenden, Pierce, Polk and Webster col- 
lections in the Library of Congress have all yielded something. 
Other sources that have proved fruitful are the New Hampshire 
Historical Society, with its valuable Webster manuscripts; the His- 
torical Society of Pennsylvania, the Historical Society of Wisconsin, 
the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston; the Virginia Histori- 
cal Society, Richmond; the Tennessee Historical Society, Nashville; 


the Albany Institute, Albany, N. Y.; the Chicago Historical Society; 
the New York Public Library, Lenox branch; the Oneida Historical 
Society, Utica, N. Y., and the public libraries of Utica and Buffalo. 
The Buffalo Historical Society, the natural heritor of many of Mr. 
Fillmore's papers, owns of his original manuscripts, the autobiog- 
raphy, three addresses, and a few letters. 

Special and grateful acknowledgment, for the use of Fillmore 
letters, is due to Mrs. Emily B. Alward, Miss Ida Haven, Mr. 
Harvey Putnam, Mr. Walter J. Shepard, and heirs of the late R. B. 
Adam, Buffalo ; Mrs. Emily Weed Hollister, Rochester, N. Y. ; Miss 
Hilda Millet, T7 Mt. Vernon street, Boston, Mass. ; Miss G. Adelaide 
Sladc, Hamilton, N. Y.; Mr. William Slade, Kelloggsville, N. Y.; 
Mr. Thos. R. Proctor, Utica, N. Y. ; Gen. Jas. Grant Wilson, Mr. 
Adrian H. Jolinc, Mr. H. L. Ehrich, and Mr. Geo. B. Richmond, 
New York City; Miss Anna L. Riley, East Aurora, N. Y.; Mrs. 
Geo. W. Patterson, Westfield, N. Y. 

It should be noted, that where Mr. Fillmore's original manu- 
script has been available, for this publication, his own spelling and 
style of capitalization and punctuation have been followed. 

F. H. S. 



Omens OF the Society iii 

List op Pdesidbnts of the Society . , \ iv 

iNnoDucnoN to Fillmore Papers v 

MiLLAiD Ftlluosol Chronology xliii 





TURE 41 



On the case of Abraham Fobes 86 

On the General Appropriation bill 89 

On the Specie Tender bill 98 

On the Fortification bill 99 

On the National Bank loi 

On viva voce Elections 102 

On the abolition of Slavery in the District of Colum- 
bia 108 

On the Surplus Revenue bill 109 

On the Treasury Note bill 133 

On the Upper Canada Rebellion 135 

On the late Hon. William Patterson 137 

On Lake Navigation interests 139 

On Northern Frontier protection 141 

On viva voce voting 146 

On the New Jersey contested Election Cases .... 148 

On Frontier Defense 156 

On the Caroline affair 158 



On thb Rights of Members op the House op Represen- 
tatives i^ 

On the case of McLeod i6i 

On Frontier Defense 165 

On the Twelve Million Dollar loan 167 

On the Fortification bell 168 

On the Revenue bill, July 24, 1841 170 

On Tea and Coffee duties 190 

On Powers of the Executive 190 

On a Uniform Bankrupt Law 191 

On the Bankrupt bill, January 15, 1842 194 

On the Tariff bill, June 9, 1842 196 

On the plan of an Exchequer 237 

On various Measures 245 


Letters as Comptroller 252 

On Banking in New York State 275 


Inaugural address to the Senate 287 

Address to the Senate, on Rules of Order 289 


Calendar of Messages and Proclamations 300 

Suppressed portion of the Message of December 6, 1852, 

regarding Slavery 311 








Portrait, Millard Fillmore, after ail ptnnting by F, 

B, Carpenter Frontispiece 

Portrait, Abigail Powers Fillmore Faces page 17 

Portrait, Millard Powers Fillmore " " 25 

Portrait, Mary Abigail Fhxmore " " 41 

Portrait, Mhxard Fillmore, aet. 42 '* " 193 

Harrison and Tyler Log Cabin, Buffalo .... " " 403 

Ekrata. — Page i8. The allusion to Millard Fillmore as John 
Fillmore's "grandson," should read "great-grandson." 

Page 235, third line from bottom : "The Madisonian of the same 
<3ty" [New York] should read: "of Washington." 



1800. Jan. 7. Born at Locke, now Summerhill, Cayuga county, 

New York. 
1815. At work wool-carding and cloth-dressing. 

1821. Moved to Aurora (now East Aurora, Erie county), New 


1822. Read law in Buffalo, but lived in Aurora till spring, 1830. 

1823. Admitted to practice, Court of Common Pleas, in Buffalo. 
i823-5a Practiced law in Aurora. 

1826. Feb. 5. Married Abigail, daughter of Rev. Lemuel Powers. 

1827. Admitted to the bar, as attorney of the Supreme Court. 

i828w May 22. Delegate to the Erie county convention of the Na- 
tional Republicans; member of the county committee from 
Aurora ; endorsed John Quincy Adams. 

1828. Nov. Elected to the New York Assembly, as candidate of 

the Anti-Masonic party. 

1829. Admitted as counsellor. New York Supreme Court. 

1829. Reelected to New York Assembly. 

1830. Reelected to New York Assembly. 

183 1. Jan. 4. Took seat for third time in New York Assembly. 

Distinguished himself by drafting and advocating act to 
abolish imprisonment for debt; bill passed April 26, 1831. 

1832. April. Law firm of Clary & Fillmore formed. 

1832. Elected Representative in Twenty-third Congress. 

1833. Dec. 2. First took seat in House of Representatives. 

1834. Law firm of Fillmore & Hall formed. 

1836. Jan. 10. Law firm of Fillmore, Hall & Haven formed. 

1836. Oct. 4. Renominated for Representative in Twenty-fifth Con- 
gress; later elected. 

1838. Reelected Representative in Twenty-sixth Congress. 

1840. Reelected Representative in Twenty-seventh Congress; chair- 
man of Ways and Means committee ; "leader of the House." 

1842. June 9. Made his famous tariff speech in the House. 

1842. Declined renomination to Congress. 



1844. May. Candidate for Vice-President in the Whig National 

convention at Baltimore. 
Sept II. Nominated for Governor of New York; defeated 

by Silas Wright. 
1846-74. Chancellor, University of Buffalo. 
1847. Oct. 6. Nominated for Comptroller, New York State, in the 

Whig State convention at Syracuse. 

1847. Nov. 2. Elected Comptroller, New York State. 

1848. Jan. I. Assumed office as Comptroller. 

June 9. Nominated for Vice-President by the Whig National 

Nov. Elected Vice-President. 

1849. Feb. 20. Resigned as New York Comptroller. 
March 4. Inaugurated Vice-President 

1850. July 10. Took oath of office as President of the United States. 
Sept. 18. Approved Fugitive Slave Act. 

1851. July 4. Laid the corner-stone of the Capitol extension. 

1852. June 16-21. Unsuccessful Whig candidate for Presidential 

nomination in the Whig National convention at Baltimore. 

1853. March 4. Retired from the Presidency. 
March 30. Mrs. Fillmore died at Washington. 

1855. May 17. Sailed for Liverpool. 

1856. Feb. 22. Nominated for President by the American party at 

May 21. Wrote his letter of acceptance at Paris. 
1856. June 22. Arrived in New York. 
1856. Nov. Overwhelmingly defeated in the election, receiving only 

the eight electoral votes of Maryland. 
1858. Feb. 10. Married Mrs. Caroline C. Mcintosh. 
1862. Chairman, Buffalo Committee of Public Defense. 
1862. One of the incorporators, Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. 
1862. May 20. Chosen president, Buffalo Historical Society, which 

he had helped to found; reelected yearly, 1862-67. 

1865. Dec. 8. Executed his last will and testament. Codicils dated 

September 19, 1868, and April 28, 1873. 

1866. Visited Europe with his second wife. 

1866. July 13. Arrived in Buffalo, from his second European trip. 
1867-68. First president, Buffalo Qub, and one of its founders. 
1870. President, Buffalo General Hospital. 
1870-74. Trustee, Grosvenor Library, Buffalo. 
1874. March 8. Died at his home in Buffalo. 







• • « 

I • 

• » • 




I have been requested to state some of the early incidents 

of my life for the benefit of the Buffalo Historical Society ; 

and in compliance with that request I proceed at once to the 

task. Believing that an humble origin aflEords no just cause 

of concealment or shame, — and certainly not, even when 

fortune has smiled, for vain-boasting and self-glorification, 

—I shall content myself by stating that I am the second 

child and eldest son of Nathaniel Fillmore and Phoebe 

Millard. I was born in Locke (now Summer Hill), Cayuga 

County, New York, on the seventh day of January, 1800. 

My father was a native of Bennington, Vermont ; and my 

mother was a native of Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They 

were early settlers in what was then known as "The Military 

Tract." At the time of my birth, my father and his brother 

Calvin, and their wives, occupied the same log house in the 

midst of the forest, having no neighbor nearer than four 

miles. About two years after my birth, my father met with 

what seemed at the time a great misfortune; but was (at 

least so far as I was concerned) a blessing in disguise. He 

I. This autobiography of the late Millard Fillmore was written in 1871, 
at the request of the Buffalo Historical Society, and deposited by him in its 
archives, under seal, not to be opened until after his death. It is printed in 
Vol. II of the Society's Publications, issued in 1880, but for some years out 
of print. 

• • .. . • 

• « • •• 

• • *• • * • 

• « • 4* • 


lost all his property through a bad title to the property 
which he had purchased. I say this was a blessing in dis- 
guise, as the township where he had located, being high and 
cold, was one of the poorest in the whole Military Tract, 
and far removed from any thoroughfare or central point of 
business. In other words, it was completely shut out from 
all the enterprises of civilization and advancement, and re- 
mained so for more than half a century. My father then 
left the town, and removed into what was then Sempronius 
(now Niles), in the same county. Here he took a perpetual 
lease of a small farm of about one hundred and thirty acres, 
wholly imcultivated, and covered with heavy timber. He 
built a small log house and commenced clearing the land; 
and it was at this place and in these pursuits that I first 
knew anything of life. That farm is about one mile west of 
Skaneateles Lake, ten miles from its outlet, and about one 
mile east of a little hamlet called Newhope. 

I had, like most boys, a great passion for hunting and 
fishing, but my father was very unwilling to indulge it. He 
used to tell me that no man ever prospered who spent much 
of his time in hunting and fishing ; and that those employ- 
ments were only fit for Indians, or white men no better than 
they. Consequently, I had no gun, and could only enjoy the 
sport of shooting when I could borrow of a neighbor. 
Nevertheless, when I had any spare time I used to go down 
to the lake, and fish and bathe in its limpid waters. It was 
indeed one of the clearest and most beautiful lakes which I 
have ever seen. The canoe seemed suspended in mid-air, 
and the fish could be seen at great depths. 

The town of Niles, and especially that part of it, was 
then very sparsely settled. There were no schools, except 
such as were improvised for the summer, and taught by a 
woman of very limited education. The first that I recollect 
was at Newhope, in an old deserted log house, which had 
been furnished with a few benches without backs, and a 
board for writing upon. In this school I learned my alpha- 
bet, at the age of six or seven. Of course nothing was 
taught but the most simple lessons in spelling and reading. 


When I was about ten years old, a man was employed by 

the name of Amos Castle, who gave us some instruction in 

writing and arithmetic, and drilled us most thoroughly in 

Webster's spelling-book. I think I went through that book 

without missing in the spelling of a word; but I did not 

leara the definition of a single one. In fact, there was no 

such thing as a dictionary in school, and I had never seen 

one. From about the age of ten or eleven, I could not be 

spared from the farm during the summer, and therefore, 

only attended school for two or three months in the winter. 

Consequently, I forgot nearly as much during the summer 

as I learned in the winter. I, however, acquired some 

knowledge of arithmetic, and read Dwight's old geography 

of questions and answers enough to have acquired some 

knowledge of geography, had there been any such thing as 

a map or atlas in school ; but I never saw either till I was 

nineteen years of age. 

When I was about twelve or thirteen, some effort was 
made to organize a school under our present admirable sys- 
tem of common schools; and after that there was some 
improvement in our teachers. One scholar had a copy of 
Morse's geography, which he permitted me to look at, and I 
devoured it with the greatest avidity. I recollect well the 
impression made upon me by the account given of Bruce's 
travels in Abyssinia. 

I continued thus to work upon the farm in summer, till I 
was in my fifteenth year. During that time, being large of 
my age and unusually strong, I learned to plow, to hoe, to 
chop, to log and clear land, to mow, to reap, and, finally, to 
do all kinds of work which is usually done in clearing and 
cultivating a new farm. But my father's misfortune in 
losing his land, and the scarcely less misfortune of having 
a hard, clayey soil for cultivation, gave him a great distaste 
for farming; and he was, therefore, anxious that his sons 
should follow some other occupation. His means did not 
justify him or them in aspiring to any profession, and, there- 
fore, he wished them to learn trades. In the fall of 1814, 
a neighbor had been drafted into the military service for 


three months, and he offered me what I regarded as a very 
liberal sum to take his place as a substitute. I was foolish 
enough to desire to accept the offer, but at the same time a 
man by the name of Benjamin Hungerford, formerly a near 
neighbor, but then living in Sparta, Livingston County, N. 
Y., where he had established the business of carding and 
cloth-dressing, came to my father and proposed to take me 
on trial for three months ; then, if we were both suited, I 
was to become an apprentice to the business. My father 
persuaded me to abandon the idea of becoming a soldier, 
and to go home with Mr. Hungerford to learn a trade. He 
had come with an old team to purchase dye-woods and other 
materials for his business — ^his load was very heavy and 
the roads very bad— -consequently I had to go on foot most 
of the way, something like a hundred miles ; but I endured 
this very well. 

Up to this time I had never spent two days away from 
home, and my habits and tastes were somewhat peculiar. 
For instance, I was very fond of bread-and-milk, and usually 
ate it three times a day, regardless of what others ate. And 
here I will say, I think that this early habit, and the thor- 
ough training afforded by out-door exercise on a farm, gave 
me a constitution and digestive powers which have enabled 
me to preserve my health under all the vicissitudes of a 
varied life; and to my uniform good health and temperate 
habits I am chiefly indebted, under Providence, for any suc- 
cess I have attained. But I found, when I got to Sparta, 
that milk was a luxury in which I could but seldom indulge. 
On the contrary, I was compelled to eat boiled salt pork, 
which I detested, with, occasionally, pudding and milk, and 
buckwheat cakes, or starve. This was very hard, but I did 
not complain. I was, however, more disappointed at the work 
I was required to do. I had become anxious to learn the 
trade, and supposed I should be put at once into the shop ; 
instead of which I was set to chopping wood for a coal pit. 
I probably manifested some disappointment, but I was 
reconciled to the work by being told that charcoal was indis- 
pensable for cloth dressing ; that I might be so situated that 


I could not purchase, and that therefore it was necessary to 
know how to make and bum a coal pit. 

I was the youngest apprentice, and soon found that I had 
to chop most of the wood, having very little opportimity to 
work in the shop ; and as it seemed to me that I was made 
to enslave myself without any corresponding benefit, I 
became exceedingly sore under this servitude. One day 
when I had been chopping in the woods, I came into the 
shop just before dark, tired and dissatisfied ; and Mr. Hun- 
gerford told me to take my ax and go up on the hill and cut 
some wood for the shop. I took up my ax, and said (per- 
haps not very respectfully) that I did not come there to learn 
to chop ; and immediately left without waiting for a reply. 
I went on to the hill, motmted a log, and commenced chop- 
ping. Mr. Hungerford soon followed me up, and, coming 
near, asked me if I thought I was abused because I had to 
chop wood. I told him I did ; that I came there for no such 
purpose, and could learn to chop at home ; and that I was 
not disposed to submit to it. He said that I must obey his 
orders. I said: "Yes, if they are right; otherwise I will 
not; and I have submitted to this injustice long enough." 
He said : "I will chastise you for your disobedience" ; and 
stepped towards me, as I stood upon the log, with my ax 
in my hand. I was burning with indignation, and felt 
keenly the injustice and insult, and said to him, "You will 
not chastise me"; and, raising my ax, said, "If you ap- 
proach me I will split you down." He looked at me for a 
minute, and I looked at him; when he turned and walked 
off. I am very glad that he did so ; for I was in a frenzy 
of anger, and know not what I might have done. I had 
dwelt in silence and solitude upon what I deemed his injus- 
tice, until I had become morbidly sensitive; and his spark 
of insolent tyranny kindled the whole into a flame. I do 
not justify my threat, and sincerely regret it; but the truth 
must be told. 

The next day he asked me if I wished to go home. I 
told him I was ready to go, or would stay the three months 
for which I came, if I could be employed in the shop. He 


said I might be> and so I remained until the time was up ; 
when I shouldered my knapsack^ containing bread and dried 
venison, and returned to my father's on foot and alone. 
Mr. Himgerford came after me next year, but I refused to 
go with him. 

I think that this injustice, which was no more than other 
apprentices have suffered and will suffer, had a marked 
effect upon my character. It made me feel for the weak and 
unprotected, and hate the insolent tyrant in every station of 
life. Some acts of tyranny during the late rebellion, have 
made my blood boil with indignation; but perhaps I was 
wrong, since the country at large seems to have borne them 
with more than Christian patience and humility. 

One other incident that occurred during these three 
months of servitude, may be mentioned. The only holiday 
which I was allowed was the first day of January, 1815; 
when I went, with the other employes of the shop, to the 
house of a Mr. Duncan, where the day was to be celebrated. 
There I witnessed for the first time the rude sports in which 
people engage in a new country; such as wrestling, jump- 
ing, hopping, firing at turkeys and raffling for them, and 
drinking whisky. I was a spectator of the scene ; taking no 
part, except that I raffled once for the turkey that was 
perched up in one comer of the room, and won it. No per- 
suasion could induce me to raffle again; and that was the 
beginning and end of my gambling, if it might be called 
such, as I have never since gambled to the value of a cent.* 

In 181 5, I commenced my apprenticeship with Zaccheus 

X. Apropos of this trait of Mr. Fillmore's character is an anecdote long 
current in Buffalo. When Mr. Fillmore was practicing law in the local courts, 
he was known as a pretty formidable antagonist. On one occasion a witty 
lawyer by the name of Talcott was his opponent Wishing to show to the 
jury how strongly the rival side of the case was fortified, he made use of a 
phrase which he presumed would come home to their feelings. *'Not only," 
said he, "have my client's rights been thus invaded, but also, in order to sus- 
tain that inroad, you find arrayed against him the best talent in the country 
— I may say, the right bower of the profession!" 

"What does the gentleman on the opposite side mean by the 'right bower'?" 
asked Mr. Fillmore, who had never played a game of euchre in his life. 

"Why," said Talcott, with a sly wink at the jury, "I thought everybody 
knew what that meant — the biggest knave in the pack!" 


Cheney and Alvan Kellogg, who carried on the business of 
carding and cloth-dressing at Newhope, near my father's 
residence. I was not indentured, but the verbal bargain 
was, that I was to serve during the season of wool-carding 
and cloth-dressing — ^which usually lasted from about the 
first of June to the middle of December — ^until I arrived at 
the age of twenty ; for which I was to be taught the trade, 
and receive fifty-five dollars for each year, except the last, 
when the amotmt was to be increased. This was thought to 
be sufficient for my clothing and spending money, and all 
the rest of my time and earnings belonged to my father, 
who had a large family and a sickly wife to support. I was 
well pleased with my situation, and all things went on 
smoothly and satisfactorily. The apparent impossibility of 
anything better or higher suppressed hope, and enforced 
contentment. I went to school some, during the winters of 
1816 and 1817, and worked on the farm during the spring. 
I had thus far had no access to books, beyond the school- 
books which I had ; as my father's library consisted only of 
a Bible, hynm-book and almanac, and sometimes a little 
weekly paper from Auburn; but in 1817 or 1818 a small 
circulating library was established in the town, and I man- 
aged to get a share, which cost me two dollars. Then, for 
the first time, I began to read miscellaneous works. Still, I 
had very little leisure to indulge in this luxury. I read 
without method or object; nevertheless, I read enough to 
see the need of a better knowledge of the definition of 
words. I, therefore, bought a small dictionary, and deter- 
mined to seek out the meaning of every word occurring in 
my reading, which I did not understand. While attending 
the carding machines, I used to place the dictionary on the 
desk — by which I passed every two minutes in feeding the 
machines and removing the rolls — and in this way I could 
have a moment in which to look at a word and read its 
definition, and could then fix it in my memory. This I 
found quite successful. 

The winter that I was eighteen years of age, I was em- 
ployed to teach a country school in the town of Scott, at the 


head of Skaneateles Lake. This was at that time a very 
rough and uncultivated place, where the boys, the winter 
before, had driven out the teacher and broken up the school. 
It was not long before I saw that the question who was 
master, had got to be decided. One of the boys set my 
authority at defiance — evidently with the intention of bring- 
ing on a fight. I ordered him up for chastisement. Imme- 
diately, the larger boys sprang to their feet, and one at- 
tempted to seize the wooden poker, but I was too quick for 
him, and raising it, I stamped my foot, and told them to sit 
down — and they obeyed. I punished the guilty one without 
further interference ; but it raised a breeze in the neighbor- 
hood. A school meeting was called, which I was invited to 
attend, and did. I then found it to have been represented, 
that I punished scholars with the poker. I stated the facts, 
and told them that I was ready to quit the school if they 
desired it; but that while I remained, I should be master, 
even if I used the poker in self-defense. After some dis- 
cussion they concluded that the school should go on, and I 
had no further trouble. After my school closed, finding 
nothing better to turn my hand to, I attended a saw-mill for 
a month or two, and then shouldered my knapsack, and came 
out to Buffalo, to visit some relatives and see the coimtry. 
That was in May, 1818, and Buffalo then presented a 
straggling appearance. It was just rising from the ashes, 
and there were many cellars and chimneys without houses, 
showing that its destruction by the British had been com- 
plete. My feet had become blistered, and I was sore in 
every joint and muscle ; and I suffered intensely. I crossed 
the then Indian reservation to Aurora, and recollect a long 
rotten causeway of logs extending across the low groimd 
from Seneca Street nearly to the creek, over which I paddled 
myself in a canoe. I staid all night at a kind of Indian 
tavern about six miles from Buffalo, kept by a man by the 
name of Lane. A number of drunken Indians and white 
men kept up a row during most of the night. Next day I 
went through the woods alone to what is now Willink, and 
thence into the town of Wales ; where a couple of weeks of 


rest healed my blistered feet and restored my suflfering 
muscles. I then traveled back through Geneseo, with great 
ease, making, one day, forty miles. Then, for the first time, 
I saw the rich bottom-lands of the Genesee river, and the 
beautiful viUage of Canandaigua, which seemed to me an 
earthly paradise. 

I returned to my apprenticeship in June, and improved 
every leisure moment in studying and reading. My attempt 
to teach had made me conscious of my deficiency. I, there- 
fore, decided to attend school, if possible, the next winter. 
But the best school was in a different part of the town from 
that in which my father lived, and I had no means to pay 
my board. Nevertheless, I was determined to go to school, 
and I effected an arrangement with a farmer, by which he 
was to board me, and when the school closed I was to work 
for him, chopping two days for every week's board, which 
I did. I then, for the first time in my life, heard a sentence 
parsed, and had an opportunity to study geography with a 
map. I pursued much of my study witii, and perhaps was 
unconsciously stimulated by the companionship of, a young 
lady whom I afterward married. 

About this time my father sold his farm, and removed to 
Montville, Cayuga County, where Judge Walter Wood re- 
sided. He was a gentleman somewhat advanced in years, 
and reputed to be very wealthy. He had farms and tenants 
scattered over several counties on the Old Military Tract. 
The titles were often the subject of litigation, and his pro- 
fessional business was mostly limited to actions of eject- 
ment. He had a good library, and was a man of remarkable 
energy and of methodical business habits; and from his 
example and training I derived essential benefit, especially 
from his scrupulous punctuality. He was in religious senti- 
ments a Quaker ; using the Quakers' plain language, dress- 
ing in their style, and punctually attending the ''Meeting" 
twice a week, and his office the other days of the week from 
sunrise till nine o'clock in the evening. 

Some persons, without my knowledge, had suggested to 
my father that it was possible for me to be something more 


than a carder of wool and dresser of cloth; and he was 
induced to apply to Judge Wood to know if he would receive 
me into his office on trial, for a little time, before I went 
back to my apprenticeship, and he consented. I knew noth- 
ing of this, until, at the dinner table, my mother informed 
me of it; and the news was so sudden and unexpected that, 
in spite of myself, I burst out crying, and had to leave the 
table, much mortified at my weakness. Suffice it to say, I 
went immediately into Judge Wood's office, and he handed 
me the first volume of Blackstone's Commentaries, and said, 
"Thee will please to turn thy attention to this." I com- 
menced reading, but without understanding much that I 
read. I soon, however, discovered, that I was reading the 
laws of England, and not of the State of New York. Not 
having been told that the laws of New York were founded 
upon the English law, I felt sadly disappointed, as my study 
seemed a waste of time. I, however, continued to read, as 
directed; but received no instruction or explanation from 
Judge Wood. I was occasionally sent out to attend to some 
business in the country, among the Judge's numerous ten- 
ants ; and so far as I know I discharged the duty satisfac- 

When I was about to leave the office and return to my 
apprenticeship, the Judge said to me, "If thee has an ambi- 
tion for distinction, and can sacrifice everything else to 
success, the law is the road that leads to honors; and if 
thee can get rid of thy engagement to serve as an appren- 
tice, I would advise thee to come back again and study 
law." But I said, "I have no means of paying my way 
during the long clerkship of seven years that I must serve, 
before I can be admitted to practice." He said, "I can give 
thee some employment in attending to my business in the 
country; and, if necessary, I will advance thee some money 
and thee can repay it when thee gets into practice." All this 
seemed very generous and kind; but how was I to get 
released from my engagement to serve as an apprentice? 
To serve out my time, was to waste a precious year and a 
half in learning a trade that I never intended to follow, and 


to lose so much precious time for the study of the law. I 
had not the money to buy my time, nor any friend from 
whom I could borrow it. True, I was not bound by any 
lq[al indenture, but I had g^ven my word, and that in my 
estimation was equal to my bond. So I saw no way in which 
my rising ambition could be gratified; and I returned, 
rather dejected, to my apprenticeship. In the mean time, 
one of my employers, Mr. Cheney, had quit the business 
and gone to farming. During the stmimer and autumn I 
sounded Mr. Kellogg on the subject of purchasing my time ; 
and, finally, he consented to give up my last year, if I would 
relinquish any claim I might have for the increased com- 
pensation which I was to receive for that year, and pay him 
thirty dollars. I agreed to this, most willingly, and was to 
pay him as soon as I could earn it. I was then in my 
twentieth year, and immediately took a school for the winter, 
borrowing one or two law books from Judge Wood, to read 
mornings and evenings. When my school closed, I went 
into his office again, and continued my studies until the next 
winter, when I took the same school, and at its close, re- 
turned to my law studies. During the summer of 182 1, the 
Fourth of July was celebrated in the village of Montville, 
where I was living, and by request I delivered a short ad- 
dress. I am sure it had no merit, but it gave me a little 
notoriety in the vicinity, and a gentleman having a suit 
before a justice of the peace in the adjoining town, came 
and offered me three dollars to go and pettifog for him. I 
got leave of absence, and went; but, fortunately for my 
untried powers, the suit was settled, and I got my first fee 
without exposing my ignorance. 

Judge Wood, however, soon got wind of it, and enquired 
of me about it ; and I frankly told him the whole truth. He 
said he did not approve of my attending causes before 
justices of the peace. He instanced several cases of the 
injurious effect of this, and among others that of Elisha 
Williams, "who," he said, "would have been an able advo- 
cate were it not for the slang he acquired in attending causes 
l^fore justices of the peace." 


I pleaded my poverty, and the necessity I was under of 
earning a little something when such opportunities presented. 
But he was inexorable, and said I must promise not to do it 
again or we must separate. I became suspicious, and per- 
haps unjustly, that he was more anxious to keep me in a 
state of dependence, and use me as a drudge in his business 
by looking after his tenants, than to make a lawyer of me. 
But I was resolved to be a lawyer and nothing else. I, 
therefore, after expressing my gratitude for his favors and 
my regret at leaving, for it seemed to dash all my hopes, told 
him with great emotion that I would go. We settled, and I 
owed him sixty-five dollars, for which I gave him my note, 
afterward paying it with interest ; and this is the only aid I 
ever received in obtaining my profession. 

My father had then become a resident of Aurora, in the 
County of Erie ; and with four dollars in my pocket — ^three 
dollars of which was my fee aforesaid — I started for his 
house, and arrived there the last of August or first of Sep- 
tember, 1821 ; hoping, like Micawber, that something would 
"turn up." Nevertheless, I was very much discouraged. It 
so happened that a relative of mine had a suit pending be- 
fore a justice of the peace, which was to be tried in a few 
days after my arrival, and he requested me to attend to it, 
which I did, and succeeded. This brought me somewhat 
into notice in that vicinity, and I had several other cases 
during the winter. As the rules of the Court then stood, it 
required seven years' study in an attorney's office before I 
could be admitted to practice, and I was therefore desirous 
of getting into some such office; but no opportunity pre- 
senting, I took a school at East Aurora for the winter, and 
managed to attend several suits before justices on Satur- 
days, without neglecting my duties as teacher. In the spring 
of 1822, I came to Buffalo, where I was an entire stranger, 
and took a district school. This I did to enable me to pay 
my way, as nothing was then allowed to clerks for their 
services in lawyers' offices. I soon entered as a clerk in the 
office of Asa Rice and Joseph Clary in this city. I continued 
to teach and study until the spring of 1823, when the Court 



of Common Pleas (as a matter of grace), at the solicitation 
of some of the older members of the Bar, whose acquaint- 
ance I had made, admitted me to practice. But, not having 
sufficient confidence in myself to enter into competition with 
the older members of the Bar here, I opened an office at 
East Aurora, where I practised till May, 1830; when I 
formed a partnership with Joseph Clary and removed to 
Buffalo, which has ever since been my place of residence. 

I was first elected to the Assembly in the fall of 1828; 
and the rest of my public life is a matter of public record and 
need not be noticed here. 

I was admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court, in 
1827, and as counselor in 1829; and continued my practice 
up to January i, 1848, when I relinquished my profession, 
and entered upon my duties as Comptroller of the State of 
New York. 

I was married to Miss Abigail Powers, daughter of the 
Rev. Lemuel Powers and Abigail Newland, at Moravia, 
Cayuga County, on the fifth day of February, 1826; and 
she died at Washington, March 30, 1853. 

I was married again to Mrs. Caroline C. Mcintosh, 
daughter of Charles Carmichael and Tempe W. Blachly, of 
Morristown, New Jersey, at Albany, February 10, 1858. 



In l8S2y tq^lying to an inquiry regarding his ancestry, Millard 
HUmore wrote: "Little I believe is known of the genealogy of the 
FiUmorety as the httuly has been quite too obscure to make it an 
object to trace its pedigree. I know nothing beyond my great- 
grandfiUlwry John Fillmore, who was a native of Ipswich, Mass. 
It is not ifliqwobable, that the name in English was spelt Phillemore, 
or jftMStAf Rimer, but I have never thought it worth the trouble 
01 as Uivesuganofi. 

In ^Bsy, Dr. Ashbd Woodward of Franklin, Conn., contributed 
to the New Bitgkmd Historical and Genealogical Register a "Memoir 
of Captain John Fillmore, with a Genealogy of the Fillmore Family.** 
Although compiled fifty years ago, this is, so far as known, the 
fullest genealogical survey of the family that has been made, and 
is here drawn on for such data as appear essential to our purpose. 
The name is of English origin, and at different periods has been 
variously written, viz., "Filmer," "Filmore," "Fillamore," "Phill- 
more" and "FiUmore." 

The home of the Filmer family appears to have been East Sutton, 
Kent, England. The family more originally were from Herst, Par- 
ish Ottcrden, where Robert Filmer resided in time of Edward II., 
till a descendant, Robert, son of James Filmer, Prothonotary of 
Court of Common Pleas, in time of Elizabeth, had arms confirmed 
to him in 1570, viz., sable, three bars, three cinque foils in chief, or; 
died, 1585 : and had issue Sir Edward, of Little Charlton, who pur- 
chased East Sutton. He married Elizabeth, second daughter of 
Richard Argall, by Mary his wife, and grand-daughter of Thomas 
Argall, who died in the sixth year of Edward VI., heir of Sutton. 
The first of the name whom we find in this country, was John 
i^'illmore, or Phillmore, "mariner," of Ipswich, Mass., who pur- 
chased an estate in Beverly, Nov. 24, 1704, and who was, probably, 



the common ancestor of all of that name in America. He married, 
June 19, 1 701, Abigail, daughter of Abraham and Deliverance Tilton 
of Ipswich, by whom he had two sons and a daughter. 

The father, while on a voyage homeward bound, was taken by 
a French frigate, and carried a prisoner into Martinique, where he 
suffered incredible hardships, and, although ultimately redeemed, 
was supposed to have been poisoned, with many others, by the 
French, during his passage home. He died before 171 1, when his 
wife, Abigail, is called widow. 

The elder of the two sons, John, bom March 18, 17012, was early 
placed by his mother as apprentice to a ship carpenter in Boston. 
Like most New England boys for many generations — at least, like 
most of those bom within smell of salt water — ^his one ambition 
was to go to sea; but it was not until he was nearly twenty-one 
years of age that his desire was gratified, by shipping in the sloop 
Dolphin, Captain Mark Haskell of Cape Ann, for a fishing voyage. 
What therefore befell him is so remarkable that it is worth while 
to print John Fillmore's own narrative of it, especially as that 
narrative is one of the curious early publications of Western New 
York. It appears to have been printed, perhaps in Bennington, Vt, 
as early as 1804; but the earliest form in which it is known to the 
present editor is a pamphlet published in 1837 at Aurora, Erie Co., 
New York, by A. M. Qapp, later a prominent printer and pub- 
lisher of Buffalo. In 1837 this John Fillmore's grandson, Millard, 
had removed from Aurora (now East Aurora) to Buffalo; but this 
publication of his grandfather's adventures was of a certainty known 
to him. The "Narrative" is reprinted in following pages of this 
volume from a copy which was in Millard Fillmore's possession 
for more than thirty years. 

Finally free from his pirate companions, Captain John Fillmore, 
on Nov. 28, 1724, married Mary Spiller of his native town, Ipswich; 
and having disposed of the paternal home in Beverly, removed to 
Norwich, now Franklin, Conn., where he had already made a pur- 
chase of real estate. His first deed, from Samual Griswold, Jr., con- 
veying some seventy acres on Plain Hill in Norwich, bears date 
Nov. 9, 1724, in the eleventh year of his Majesty's reign, George 
the First. The consideration was £103, current money. 

Here he resided for many years. About 1734 he married a second 
wife, Dorcas Day of Pomfret, who died March 16, 1759; a third 
wife, Widow Mary Roach, survived him. In May, 1750, he was com- 
missioned captain of the 7th Military Company in Norwich. His 
standing in the community is further testified to by the fact that 


on July 2g, 1729, he joined the church under the pastoral care of 
the Rev. Henry Willes, predecessor of the distinguished Dr. Samuel 

Captain John Fillmore died Feb. 22, 1777, and was buried in the 
ancient cemetery at Franklin. In his will, dated Sept 19, 1774, he 
mentions wife Mary and fourteen surviving children. Most of the 
articles given to him by the court of admiralty, as the property of 
the pirate captain, Phillips, were bequeathed to his children; his 
sword, which had served him in the French war and the Revolu- 
tion, passed to his son Nathaniel, the father of Millard. 

The following genealogy presents the line of descent from the 
first John Fillmore whose name is found on the records in this 
country, to the generation of Millard. 


(i) John^ Fillmore, (2) "mariner," m. June 19, 1701, Abigail, 
dau. of Abraham and Deliverance Tilton, of Ipswich, Mass., where 
he purchased an estate. He died on his homeward passage from Mar- 
tinique, before 171 1. His widow m. 2d, Nov. 7, 1717, Robert Bell, 
and about 1720 removed to Norwich, Conn., having there purchased 
a tract of forty acres of land of John Elderkin, Jun. Both died the 
same year, he on the 23d of August, and his wife on the 13th of 
Nov., 1727. 

John' Fillmore (i) and Abigail had: 

(2) I. John,* (5) (whose Memoir is given in following pages) 

was b. in Ipswich, March 18, 1702, and m. ist, Nov. 
28, 1724, Mary Spiller, also of Ipswich; m. 2d, about 
1734, Dorcas Day, of Pomfret, Conn., who died March 
16, 1759; and m. 3d, Wid. Mary Roach, who sur- 
vived him. He d. in Norwich (now Franklin), Feb. 
22, 1777. 

(3) II. Ebenezer,2 (21) was b. in Beverly and baptized in Wen- 

ham, July 21, 1706; m. Feb. 15, 1732-3, Thankful Car- 
rier, in Norwich, Conn. 

(4) HI. Abigail,* was b. in Beverly, and bap. in Wenham, Aug. 

I, 1708; died young. 

John^ (2) and Mary had children b. in Norwich: 

(5) I. John,3 b. ; united with the 2d church in Nor- 

wich (now Franklin), April 18, 1742; m. Leah , 

in Norwich, and settled in Nova Scotia. 


(6) II. Abigail,* b. March 28th; m. Nathaniel Kimball, Jon. 

(7) III. Mary,* b. Aug. 17, 1731, and m. John Taylor and resided 

in Norwich (now Franklin). 

(8) rV. Henry,* b. June 26th, and bap. Dec 2, 1733; m. April i, 

1756, Thankful Downer, in Norwich. About 1760^ 
he resided in Ashford, Conn., but subsequently emi- 
grated to the State of New York. 

Next follow children by wife Dorcas: 

(9) V. Dorcas,* b. Feb. 13, i73S-6i and bap. April 11, 1736; m. 

Abel Page, blacksmith, and resided in Haverhill^ 
Mass. She inherited the gold rings which were worn 
by Capt. Phillips, the pirate. 

(10) VI. Jemimiah,* b. April ist, and bap. May 8, 1737; d. Dec 

I, 1741. 

(11) VII. Miriam,* b. Nov. 22, 1738, and bap. Jan. 14, 1739; m. 

Nathan Colgrove, and settled in Middletown, Vt 

(12) VIII. Nathaniel,* (30) b. March 20th, and bap. March 23, 

1739. '40; ni- Oct. 20, 1767, Hepzibah Wood, who was 
b. April 14, 1747. He settled early in Bennington, Vt, 
then called the Hampshire Grant, where he resided till 
his death in 1814. He served in the French war, and 
on being wounded and left in the woods subsisted for 
near a week on a few kernels of com and upon his 
shoes and a part of his blanket which it is said he 
roasted and ate. He was finally discovered and as-^ 
sisted by his party. He also served in the war of the 
Revolution, and distinguished himself as a Lieutenant 
under Stark in the battle of Bennington. 

(13) IX. Comfort,* (36) b. January 25th, and bap. March 14, 

1742; m. June 22, 1763, Zerviah Bosworth, who was 
b. Feb. 26, 1748. He resided in Norwich (now 
Franklin), where he died Jan. 24, 1814; by occupa- 
tion a farmer. 

(14) X. Amaziah,* b. Nov. 23, 1743. He joined the expedition 

against Cuba in 1762, and was present at the reduc- 
tion of Havana, where he died shortly after of fever. 
(is) XI. Mimee,* b. Jan. 3, 1 745-6, and m. Nathan Dillings. 

(16) XII. Lydia,* b. Nov. 15, 1747, and m. Jacob Pember, and 

resided in Norwich (now Franklin). 

(17) Xin. Luther,* (50) b. Jan. 14, 1749, '50, and m. about 1770, 

Eunice . He emigrated early to Middletown, 


I) I. 


2) II. 

(23) III. 


4) IV. 


Vt.y where he continued to reside till the time of his 

death in February, 1809; a farmer. 
(18) XIV. Calvin,* b. Feb. 24, 1752, and d. March 14, 1753. 
(ip) XV. Deborah,* b. June 21, 1755. 
(ao) XVI. Deliverance,* b. Jan. 2, 1757. 

EbenezerB (s) and Thankful had children h. in Norwich: 

Hannah,* b. Nov. 14, 1733. 
Thankful,* b. Nov. 22, 1736. 
Ebenezer,* b. August sth, and bap. Sept 21, 1740. 
Richard,* b. July 28, 1742. 
(25) V. Benjamin,* b. Jan. 25, 1744. 

John^ (5) and Leah had children b. in Norwich: 

(26) I. Margaret,* b. May 16, 1748, and d. April 26, 1753. 

(27) II. Abigail,* b. April 21, 1750. 

(^) III. Spiller,* b. Feb. 6, 1752, and d. April 27, 1753. 
lag) IV. 2d Spiller,* b. March 6, 1754. 

Nathaniels (12) and Hepsibah had: 

(30) L Simeon,* (59) b. in Bennington, Dec. 13, 1768, and m. 

1st, Susanna Glezen, who d. Dec 31, 1825; m. 2d, 
March 18, 1828, Wid. Lucy Pelton. Early in 1790, he 
removed to Paris (now Kirkland), N. Y., at which 
time Fort Schuyler (now Utica), contained but two 
families. In 181 1, he removed to Garence, Erie Co., 
where he d. April 30, 1848. Early in life he spent sev- 
eral years in teaching, and afterwards acted as Town 
Clerk, Supervisor, Justice of the Peace, etc. 

(31) II. Nathaniel,* (64) was b. in Bennington, April 19, 1771, 

and m. ist, Phoebe, dau. of Doc. Abiathar Millard, also 
of B., who d. May 2, 1831 ; m. 2d, May, 1834, Wid. 
Eunice Love, with whom he still lives. He is by occu- 
pation a farmer and has resided successively at Locke, 
Sempronius and Aurora, N. Y., which last is now his 
home. He has been for many years a Civil Magis- 
trate, and as a citizen has been much respected. 

(32) III. Philippia,* b. March 22, 1773. 

(33) IV. Calvin,* b. in Bennington, April 30, 1775, and m. Dec la, 

I797» Jerusha Turner, who d. in Aurora, Jan. 4, 1852^ 
s. p. Is by occupation a farmer, and resides in Au- 


Ton, N. Y. During the last war with England he had 
command of a company which was frequently called 
into service upon the Niagara frontier. On one occa- 
sion he volunteered with a part of his company to 
cross the lines, and was engaged in a picket fight back 
of Fort George, in which they were successful and 
took some prisoners. He was subsequently pro- 
moted to a colonelcy. Has acted as Coroner, Deputy 
Marshal, and in 1824, was a member of Assembly. Is 
fond of books, especially of the class of Shakespeare 
and Peter Pindar. [Died at East Aurora, Oct 22, 

(34) V. Elijah,* b. in Bennington, April 8, 1778. 

(35 ) VI. Darius,* b. in Bennington, Sept 26, 1781. 

Comforts (is) and Zerviah had children h, in Norwich: 

(36) I. Artimesia,* b. Feb. 9, 1764; m. September, 1782, Isaiah 

Armstrong, and resided in Franklin. 

(37) II. Amazial,* (73) b. Sept. 26, 1765, and m. Dec 21, 1786, 

Hannah Ladd. Resided in Franklin, where he d. 
April 5, 1847. He was for many years a local preacher 
of the M. E. church. 

(38) III. Liaivius,* (82) b. Oct i, 1767, and m. Sept 8, 1791, 

Philura Hartshorn. Resided in Middlebury, Vt ; was 
by occupation a master builder, and was at some 
periods extensively engaged in erecting church edi- 

(39) IV. Brunetta,* b. Nov. 16, 1769; m. Dec 16, 1787, Levi 

Hazen, and resided in Rome (now Lee), N. Y. 

(40) V. Earl,* b. Sept. 26, 1772, and d. June 6, 1776. 

(41) VI. Septa* (92) b. Oct 13, 1774; m. Dec 21, 1797, Eunice 

Edgerton, and resided in Chazy, N. Y., where he was 
the proprietor of a large hotel, during the last war 
with England. He held the command of colonel at 
Plattsburg, and was not only actively engaged in 
repelling that assault of the enemy, but continued in 
the service to the end of the war. While in the field 
his own house was plundered by the enemy, and his 
family impelled to seek refuge by flight. 

(42) VII. 2d Earl,* b. Dec. 21, 1776; m. February, 1799, Betsey D. 

McHeague. He resided in Rome (now Lee), N. Y., 
where he d. Sept 28, 1814. He served as a Captain 


in the early part of the war of i8ia, his post of duty 
being at Sackett's Harbor. 

(43) VIII. Zerviah,* b. Feb. 28, 1779; m. May 7, 1798, Joshua Bush- 

nell, and resided in Rome (now Lee), N. Y. 

(44) IX. Adam,^ b. March i, 1781; m. September, i8di, Anna 

Hartshorn, and resided in Rome (now Lee), N. Y., 
by occupation a farmer. 

(45) X. Eunice,* b. Aug. 29, 1783; m. Oct. 3, 1802, Asa Kingesley. 

(46) XI. Theodosia,* b. Nov. 21, 1785; m. Jan. i, 1804, Thomas 

Pember, and resided in Franklin, where she d. Jan. 
26, 1831. 

(47) XII. Harriet,* b. Nov. 14, 1788; m. John Humiston, and set- 

tled in Vienna, N. Y. 

(48) XIII. Laura,* b. July i, 1790; m. June 31, 181 1, Walter GJid- 

dings, and continued to reside in Franklin, where she 
d. July 30, 1827. 

(49) XIV. Comfort Day,* (1Q3) b. July 8, 1792; m. March 16, 1813, 

Annice Bailey. He has till within a few years resided 
upon the paternal homestead which was also the resi- 
dence of Capt. John* Fillmore. He has in his pos- 
session the "gun" which was once the property of the 
pirate Phillips. He held many civil offices, having 
represented his native town several times in the State 
Legislature. Is also a local preacher of the M. £. 
church. His present house is in Lisbon, Conn. [In 
this and other cases, the data are not continued 
beyond 1857.] 

Luther 2 (17) and Eunice had: 

(so) I. Esther,* b. in Norwich, Oct. 8, 1772. 

(51) II. Ethni,* b. in Middletown, Vt. ; d. in , JeflFerson 

Co., N. Y., a few years since; farmer; had one son 
and seven daus. 

(52) III. Daniel,* b. in Middletown, and now resides in Highgate, 

Vt. ; farmer; has two sons and two daus. 

(53) IV. John,* b. in Middletown, Sept. 25, 1781 ; m. February, 

1803, Huldah Whitmore. By occupation a blacksmith ; 
d. Feb. 23, 1822, leaving seven sons and three daus. 

(54) V. Amaziah,* b. in Middletown; removed to JeflFerson Co., 

N. Y., in 1812, where he d. lately, leaving children. 

(55) VI. Bulah,* b. . 

(56) VII. Lavinea,* b. . 

(57) VIII. Eunice,* b. 

(58) IX. Deliverance,* b. 


Simeoni (30) and Susanna had: 

(59) I- Glezen," b. in Bennington, Dec 22, 1789; m. Sept to, 

1809, Lovina Atwill, in Whitestown, N. Y. He wai 
licensed as a local preacher in 1809^ which constituted 
him, we believe, the first licensed minister of any de- 
nomination west of Genesee River, in the State of 
New York. He joined the Genesee Conference in 
1818, and three years after was appointed Presiding 
Elder. He now resides in Clarence, and travels Niag- 
ara district.^ 

(60) n. Sherlock," b. in Paris, N. Y., Jan. i, 1793; m. ist, Jan. 

9, 181 7, Lois Slosson, who d. Fd). 21, 1844; m. 2dt 
Orra Hamlin. Was on the Niagara frontier repeat- 
edly during the war of 1812, and served as a Captain. 
He has been a magistrate. Is now a farmer, and 
resides in Clarence, N. Y. 

(61) in. Hiram," b. in Paris, April 6, 1801; m. Dec 13, 18138^ 

Julia A., wid. of Doct. Webster, and dau. of Dr. Bald- 
win, of Onondaga Co., N. Y. Now resides in Michi- 

(62) IV. Asahel Norton," b. in Paris, Oct. 19, 1807; m. ist, April 

8, 1833, Lydia A. Webster, of Bu£Falo, who d. July 26^ 
1836; m. 2d, Aug. 22, 1837, Lovina F. Atwill. In 
1830, was licensed to preach, since which he has been 
successively ordained as a deacon and Elder by Bishop 
Redding. In 1839 he became secretary of the Gene- 
see Conference, which case he continued to fill till the 
Conference was divided in 1848, when he was ap- 
pointed Presiding Elder on the Seneca Lake Dist id 
East Gen. Conf. Is the author of a work on "Church 
Polity." Present res. Waterloo, Seneca Co., N. Y. 

(63) V. Harriet," b. in Paris, Jan. i, 181 1; m. April 17, 1827, 

John Conly. 

NathanieU (31) and Phoebe had: 

(64) I. Olive Armstrong," b. in Bennington, Dec 16, 1797; m. 

March 7, 1816, Henry S. Johnson ; farmer at Sempro- 

2. The reader must bear in mind that these records were prepared in 
1857. The Rev. Glezen Fillmore died at Clarence, N. Y., Jan. a6, 1875. His 
wife, Lavina, survived until Sept 3, 1893, passing away at xo6 years, the oldest 
resident of Erie County at the time of her death. 



nius ; has had five sons and dau. ; now resides in Dex- 
ter, Mich., a wid. 

(65) II. MILLARD,« b. in Locke (now Summer Hill), Jan. 7» 

1800; m. Feb. 5, 1826, Abigail Powers, at the village 
of Moravia, where she then resided. She d. March 
dPt i8S3> at the City Hotel, Washington, and was 
buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, in the City of Buf- 
^o. Her genealogy will be found in the Leland 
MagoMine, at pages 113 and 114. The incidents in the 
life of President Fillmore are also correctly narrated 
in the same sketch, and also in the fourth vol. of the 
Statesman's Manual, p. 1917 of the edition of 1852, 
published in New York, by Edward Walker, and like- 
wise in the Lives of the Presidents, published by G. 
H. Salisbury, at Brattleboro', Vt., 1852. He has had 
a son and daughter, the former Millard Powers* was 
b. at Aurora, April 25, 1828; is by profession a lawyer, 
and acted as private secretary for his father during 
his Presidential term. Mary Abigail,* the daughter, 
was b. in Bu£Falo, March 27, 1832.'* 

(65) IIL Cyrus," b. in Locke, Dec 22, i8di; m. May 19, 1825, 
Laura Morey, in Holland, N. Y. Resides in Green- 
field, Ind.; a farmer; has had three sons and three 

(67) rV. Almon Hopkins,"^ b. in Sempronius (now Niles), April 

13, 1806; and d. at Aurora, Jan. 17, 1830; a student 
at law. 

(68) V. Calvin Turner,"^ b. in Sempronius, July 9, 1810; m. 1830, 

Miranda Waldo. Resides near Ann Arbor, Mich.; 
by occupation a carpenter. 

(69) VI. Julia,"^ b. in Sempronius, Aug. 29, 1812 ; m. Oct. 27, 1840, 

A. C. Harris ; a lawyer by profession, and res. at To- 

(70) Vn. Darius Ingraham,' b. in Sempronius, Nov. 16, 1814, and 

d. at Aurora, March 9, 1837 ; a student at law. 

I. The following data relating to Millard Fillmore's own family, may 

be added: His father, Nathaniel, died at East Aurora, N. Y., March 28, 1863. 

Millard's daughter, Mary Abigail, died at East Aurora, whither she had gone 

)n a brief visit, July 26, 1854. Millard Fillmore died in Buffalo, March 8, 

874. His second wife, Caroline C, survived until Aug. 11, 1881; and his 

nlj son, Millard Powers, remained a bachelor, making his home in Buffalo, 

itil bit death, Nov. 15, 1889. 


(71) VIII. Charles DeWitt,' b. in Sempronius, Sept as, 1817; m. 

Feb. II, 1840, Julia Etta Green; is by occupation a 
mason, and res. at St Paul, Minn. [Died July 27, 

(7a) IX. Phodbe Maria,* in Sempronius, Nov. 23, 1819; d. un- 
married at Adrian, Mich., July 2, 1843. 


or TBB 






If ilk m Aceaunl €f Uuir daring Enierprite, and happy Htcapit 

'4e tyroBmf of thai de9per/aU Creuulfy 
cOfdurmg their Vessel. 

Let ficttoa drop, let scenes like these be reed. 
Ami rtnue thiMlder while ii reads wiih dread : 
YeC realize • sovereign Power presides, 
And for the tempted orders and provides— 
Rcsf rains the wrath of man, and guides the ways 
Of desperate gangs to issue in his praise. 




[Facsimile of title-page of John Fillmore's "Narrative,** 1837.] 



Mk. John Fillmore, the principal subject of the following nar- 
rative, was an early settler in Norwich, Connecticut, where he sus- 
tained the character of a xnrtuous and industrious citisen, and by a 
relation of the incidents of his unfortunate seafaring excursions, 
frequently raised the admiration and excited the sympathetic feel- 
ings of his neighbors; while by ascribing his deliverance to the over- 
ruling hand of Providence, his solemnity induced praise, and the 
agitation of his bosom occasioned the feeling tear to Aow from his 
own eyes, and the eyes of his audience, 

Mr. James Cheeseman, returned to England, where he was re- 
warded by the British government, and enjoyed until his death, the 
place of quartermaster in the King's dock yard at Portsmouth, He 
sustained thro' all the character of a serious man, and like his fellow 
sufferer, Fillmore, lived beloved, and died respected. 

Bennington (Vt.), Sept., 1804. 


The depravity of the human mind is so universally acknowledged 
in the present enlightened age, and the belief of the universal presi* 
denqr of Providence over the affairs of men so evidently established, 
u to need no argument to enforce the reception of a narrative in 
which both are peculiarly manifest 

Convinced of the truth of the above sentiment, I shall proceed in 
my narrative, endeavoring on the one hand to avoid tedious repeti- 
tions, and on the other to omit no incident that may afford enter- 
tainment to my courteous reader. 

My father dying when I was yotmg, my mother put me apprentice 
to leara the trade or occupation of a carpenter. On the other side 
of the road, opposite to the house where I lived, there dwelt a tailor, 
who had an apprentice named William White, with whom I was 
intimate during the time of his apprenticeship; but he was out of 
his time, and went to sea some time before I was free, being about 
three years older than myself. 

White did not return as was expected, nor do I remember that I 
ever saw or heard of him afterwards till I found him among the 

From my youth I had an almost irresistible desire for undertaking 
a voyage to sea, which I resolved at all events to gratify, as soon as I 
obtained a right to dispose of myself. In establishing this resolu- 
tion, a love of novelty, joined to a secret delight I enjoyed in hearing 
sailors relate the curiosities they met with in their voyages, doubt- 
less had a great effect, and the older I grew, stronger became the im- 

But however strong my desire was to follow the sea, a sense of 
duty I owed my surviving parent, so far overbalanced my inclination, 
as to occasion me to form a determination not to gratify it until I 
should be of age, unless I could gain her consent. The propensity, 
however, was so strong, as to induce me at the age of seventeen, to 
apply to my mother, and request her liberty to go a voyage to sea. 
My mother was very uneasy at the request, and used every art of 
persuasion that maternal tenderness could dictate, to induce me to 



relinquish the design; expressing some surprise that I should enter- 
tain any idea of following the sea, as it was a life most evidently at- 
tended with innumerable fatigues and dangers ; urging as a particular 
reason for her disapprobation of the measure, the melancholy £ate of 
my father, who, being a seafaring man, was taken by a French 
frigate, on a voyage homeward bound, and carried into Martinico, a 
number of years before, where he underwent all the hardships of a 
close and cruel confinement, and although ultimately redeemed with 
many others, was supposed to be most inhumanly poisoned by the 
French, on board the cartel, as they principally died on their pas- 
sage home. 

However strong an argument this might have appeared to my 
mother, it failed of its desired effect on me; it only lulled my desire 
for a while, but by no means eradicated it I waited, however, with 
a great degree of patience about two years longer, when I again 
asked leave to go a voyage to the West Indies, and my mother finding 
my resolution unabated, concluded she could as well part with me 
then as when I became of age, after which she imagined she should 
not be able to detain me. Upon the whole, she told me she was un- 
willing I should go to the West Indies, but that the sloop. Dolphin, 
Gipt. Haskel, was then in the harbor, fitting out for a fishing voyage, 
and if I would go with him she would give her consent To this 
proposal I readily assented. 

I accordingly shipped on board the sloop, and had a tolerable pass- 
age to the fishing ground ; but soon after our arrival there, we were 
surprised by the appearance of a ship which, from external signs, we 
suspected to be a pirate. We were not by any means prepared to 
oppose so formidable an enemy, and she was so close upon us before 
we suspected her, as to render it impossible for us to escape by run- 
ning away, we were therefore obliged to abide our fate peaceably, let 
^he consequence be what it would. 

The pirate soon came up and sent a boat on board our sloop, de- 
manding who we were, and where we were bound? To which our 
Captain gave a direct answer. By this boat's crew we learned that 
the noted pirate. Captain Phillips, commanded their ship. This in- 
telligence, it will readily be conceived, gave us great uneasiness, most 
of our crew being quite young. Having often heard of the cruelties 
committed by that execrable pirate, made us dread to fall into his 

The pirate's boat soon boarded us again, demanding the name of 
every hand on board. In this boat came WHITE, the tailor, with 
whom I had been acquainted during his apprenticeship, as before 
mentioned. I was greatly surprised to find him employed in so 


criminal a course of life, though I said nothing of the matter to him. 
On the return of the pirate's boat with a list of our names. White, as 
I was afterwards informed, acquainted Phillips of his knowledge of 
me, informing him, that if he could engage me in his service, he would 
gain a good, stout, resolute fellow, every way, he supposed, such a 
hand as he wanted. 

On receiving this information, as he stood in need of a hand, and 
found we had no property he wanted on board, he sent his boat once 
more, with orders to Capt. Haskel, to send me on board his ship, and 
the rest of his crew, with the sloop, may go free. My worthy com- 
mander, with much visible concern in his countenance, took me aside, 
and informed me of Phillips' orders, adding, that although it would 
be exceedingly disagreeable and painful to him to let me go, yet we 
were entirely in the power of a bloody, merciless ruffian, and had no 
hopes of escape, but by giving me up, I believe, says he, you must go 
and try your fortune with him. 

The thought of being sacrificed, as it were, to procure liberty for 
the rest of the crew, operated greatly upon my spirits, and the con- 
clusion I drew up was, that I would not, on any conditions, agree 
to go on board the pirate. I therefore told my Captain that I had 
ever been faithful to his interests and commands, that I had always 
wished to do my duty punctually and well, but that I was determined 
not to go on board the pirate, let the consequence be what it would. 
Our conversation ended here, for that time, and the boat returned ' 
without me. 

Phillips was greatly incensed when the boat returned without me, ' 
and sent again, with orders to bring me either dead or alive. My 
Captain took me aside again, and told me the pirate's resolution and 
message, adding, that he believed I should do well to go with them, 
for if I refused to go, and made resistance, it would be inevitable 
death to me, and probably to our whole crew. He urged further, 
that my submitting would prove the certain release of the rest of the 
crew, and there would be at least a probability of my making an 
escape from them at some time or other; but if I could not find a 
way to escape, it was not impossible but Phillips might discharge me, 
for he had sent word that if I would agree to serve him faithfully 
for two months, he would then set me at liberty. 

Those only who have been in similar circumstances can form any 
adequate idea of the distress I experienced at this time. If I ob- 
stinately refused to join the pirates, instant death stared me and my 
comrades in the face ; if I consented to go with them, I expected to 
be massacred for refusing to sign the piratical articles, which I had 
fully determined never to do, though I should be put to the extremity 



of torture for refusal. Into so critical a situation had my bad for- 
tune plunged me, that inevitable destruction seemed to stare me in 
the face from every quarter. 

I took the matter, however, into serious consideration, and after 
the most mature deliberation determined to venture myself amoog 
them, rather than bring the vengeance of the pirates upon my com- 
rades; I therefore went with them, seemingly content, and the dp- 
tain renewing his promise to set me at liberty in two months^ I en- 
gaged to serve him to the best of my abilities during that term. 

I was likewise agreeably disappointed in their not urging so 
strenuously as I expected, the thing I most of all dreaded, viz., the 
signing of the articles. To induce me to join them, they used more 
arguments of a persuasive than a compulsory nature, judging, I sap- 
pose, that youth would be more easily enticed than compelled to join 
in sharing their ill-gotten gain. 

X' When I first went on board the pirate, their crew consisted of ten 
men, including the Captain; and the whole of them I think, as stoat, 
daring, hardy-looking fellows as I ever saw together. As I was then 
the only hand on board who had not subscribed to their articles, the 
Giptain assigned me the helm, where I kept my station during the 
greatest part of the time I stayed with them. 

No captures of any consequence were made during the first two 
months. Some small vessels were taken, but their loading was too 
inconsiderable to satisfy the insatiable disposition of the pirates. 

The period being now arrived, when I had a right according to 
agreement, to demand my liberty, I thought it a proper season at 
least to remind the Captain of the manumission he had engaged me. 
For this purpose I went to him, and in language the least ofiFensive 
that I could frame, reminded him of his promise and requested him 
to fulfill it. Phillips, in tolerable good humor, replied, that we had 
done but little business since I came aboard ; that he could not well 
spare me yet, but if I would stay with him three months longer, he 
would then set me at liberty, upon his honor; and I was obliged 
quietly to comply with his demands, and trust to his honor, though it 
turned out in the end that he did but mock me. 

Nothing of importance occurred during these three months. Some 
few small vessels were taken and plundered; their cargoes were of 
no great value, and their hands were dismissed with their vessels, 
except two or three robust, stout looking men, whom Phillips picked 
from among them, and compelled to sign his articles. 

When the three months were expired, I went to the Captain, and 
once more reminded him of the expiration of my servitude, and hand- 
somely requested him to set me ashore, according to his promise, that 


I might go to my mother, who had not heard from me since my first 
Captain returned from his fishing voyage. 

"Set you at liberty I damn you; you shall be set at liberty when 
Tm damned, and not before," replied Phillips, in a rage more com- / 
patible with the diabolical disposition of an infernal fiend, than a/ 
bemg endowed with a rational soul, susceptible of human sensations/' 
It is evident, and experience daily evinces, that persons by habitu- 
ating themselves to any particular vice, become so familiarized 
thereto, as to be unable to distinguish it from a real virtue; and in 
such case, conscience ceases to alarm the understanding, and sufiFers 
the culprit to pursue it to its extremity. This was undoubtedly the 
case with Captain Phillips, who was not addicted to one particular 
▼ice, but to every vice. 

Having now lost all hope and probability of being liberated, there 
was no alternative more eligible for me than to sustain my servitude 
with as much patience, resolution, and fortitude as possible. 
Although the Captain had asserted that I should not be set at liberty 
till he was damned, I was still in hopes that we might be taken by 
some vessel, or that we might take more prisoners, who, in concert 
with myself, might be able to contrive some plan whereby we might 
take the ship, and thereby incapacitate Phillips to determine whether 
I should obtain my freedom before he received his final doom or not. 
As we were sailing one day, we came within view of a fine 
merchant vessel, the appearance of which pleased the Captain much, ' 
who swore by Heaven he would have it. I was ordered to bear off 
for her as direct as possible. Phillips, being extremely anxious for 
taking this vessel, walked the deck with his glass in his hand, view- 
ing her the greatest part of the day, and damning me because, as he 
said, I did not steer so well as I might. 

Eleven holes he cut through my hat and the skin of my head, 
without the least provocation, with his broad sword. But the 
merchantman being light built, and completely rigged, left sight of us 
before night. Phillips exclaimed in a horrid rage, that the loss of 
that fine ship was all my damn'd doings ; adding, that he wanted the 
damn'd thing just long enough to sail to hell in. 

We had several prisoners on board, Frenchmen and negroes; we 
had also an American, with whom I had been intimately acquainted 
when young, and whom the pirates could not persuade or compel to 
sign their articles. Thus fortune had sent me one friend with whom 
I could sympathize under my almost insupportable calamities ; though 
our sympathy was chiefly confined to looks and private gestures, for 
we durst not complain in the hearing of the crew. 


About the end of the seventh month from my entering on board, 
we took a merchantman belonging to Boston, Captain Harridon 
commander, a young man about twenty-two jrears of age. The 
fother of this young man was a merchant in Boston, and had ghren 
his son the education requisite for a mariner, and sent him to Ae 
West Indies, Captain of this vessel, in which he was returning home 
when we took him. 

All except Harridon, James Cheeseman, a ship carpenter, and a 
Spanish Indian, who was taken with Harridon, the friend alluded to 
above, and myself, had been compelled to sign the pirate's articles. 
We had been enjoined to sign them, but had utterly refused, choosing 
rather to be killed by the villains than to be taken, condemned and 
executed, for being their associates. But I suppose they thouj^t we 
might be serviceable to them, and therefore deemed it best not to 
dispatch us yet 

One day we took a large vessel after considerable trouble in 
chasing, but found nothing on board worthy the attention of the 
pirates, except their provisions and water, which being in some want 
of, Phillips stript of it entirely, took out one or two of their hands, 
and let them go. 

Some of the pirates having been sent on board of Harridon's 
vessel, there remained only six of the old pirates on board, besides 
those who had been forced to sign their articles; and as there were 
five of us who wished to escape from them, we began to think and 
even suggest trying some scheme to effect that purpose. There was 
no time that we could confer together without being discovered, ex- 
cept in the dead of night, and even then we durst not be all together, 
and consequently could not, without great difficulty succeed in form- 
ing any regular plan to effect our escape. 

One day we came in sight of a merchantman which Phillips 
imagining would prove a valuable prize, gave orders for chasing. 
His orders were put into execution immediately, but the merchant- 
man being light built, and a prime sailor, we chased her three days 
before we were able to capture her. Having made what disposition 
he pleased of the hands, &c, he found on board the new prize, 
Phillips ordered one Fern, a daring, resolute fellow of the old pirate 
crew, to go on board of her, and take command, taking some of the 
old crew along with him. 

Phillips had now become so extremely arbitrary as to be hated by 
his own crew, but they stood in such dread of 'k.ti that they durst 
no more contradict his orders than they dursc to die. Soon after 
night came on, Fern proposed to the pirates with him, that as they 
were now in possession of a fine vessel, every way fitted for a 


craizer, and as good sailor as Phillips', if they would join him, he 
would put out his lights and steering by the light of the old pirate, 
make their escape from the tyranny of Phillips, and set up for them- 
selves. The crew accordingly joined, and they began to execute 
their plan, but Phillips suspecting their design, on finding they dark- 
ened their ship, put out his own light, and endeavored to follow 
them ; in which design he succeeded so well as to be in sight of them 
the next morning. We continued to chase the new pirate till the 
third day, before we came up with her, when a fierce engagement 
ensued; but Fern soon finding himself overpowered, and no hope of 
escape, sent word to Phillips, that if he would grant him pardon, he 
would strike to him, and once more serve him faithfully; but if not, 
they would all fight till they died. Phillips immediately complied - 
with their demand and sent orders for Fern to come aboard his ship, / 
which he did; and Phillips, not regarding his engagement to pardon, ^ 
immediately ran his sword through his body, and then blew his > 
brains out with his pistol, and thus glutted his own vengeance, and ^ 
ridded us of a desperate enemy. 

I mentioned before, that there were five of us who had not signed 
the pirate's articles ; and as Phillips, by killing Fern, had left but five 
of the old pirate crew alive, we began to conceive it a proper oppor- 
tunity to make our escape. We were, however, exceedingly cautious, 
and had not yet an opportunity to communicate our plans to my 
New England friend before mentioned; yet conscience made the 
pirates suspicious of something of the kind being in agitation, and 
• from the consequent murderous procedure of Phillips, we had reason 
to apprehend they had in reality discovered our intentions. 

My friend, the American before mentioned, being on board the 
vessel lately taken from Captain Harridon, Phillips ordered out a 
boat, and went on board, where he accused him with joining a plot, 
assisted by me, to kill him and all his crew, and take the vessel. My 
friend solemnly denied the accusation, and declared he knew nothing 
of such a plan, (which was in fact the case ; for I afterwards learned 
that there had been nothing said to him about it). This reply, how- 
ever true, did not mitigate the Captain's passion in the least, for he 
damned him, and swore he would send him to hell, and instantly ran 
him through the body with his sword, in such a manner that he 
twisted the point of it off, leaving it in his back bone. 

My friend, I suppose, not being conscious of having received his 
death wound, still denied the charge, and with great earnestness 
begged that his life might be spared; but the Captain, whose in- 
satiable thirst for slaughter was not sufficiently gorged, damned him, 
presented his pistol and shot him through the head, exclaiming, I 


have sent one of the devils to hell; and where is Fillmore? he shall 
go next I was then ordered to go aboard Harridon's vessel 

My long familiarity with, and constant apprehension of death, 
rendered its near approaches less terrifying than formerly; bat I did 
not receive this sentence without heart rending sensations, and 
thrilling emotions of trepidation and fear. But Phillips was com- 
pletely despotic and there was no such thing as evading his com- 
mands ; I therefore drew up a resolution, that if I found he was bent 
on my death, I would sell my life as dear as possible, and endeavor 
to kill him first With this resolution, and as much fortitude as I 
could muster, I went on board to Phillips, and stood by a handspike 
that lay on the deck. Phillips charged me, as he had done my friend^ 
with contriving to betray him, and take the ship. The accosatioa 
was true enough, but I concluded a lie was warrantable in that case^ 
and consequently replied, that I knew nothing of any conspiracy 
either against him or his crew. I had prepared to make resistance, in 
case he offered any abuse; but he had a pistol concealed under his 
coat, which he presented to my breast, and snapped it, before I had 
time to make any evasion; but happily for me it missed fire. He 
drew it back, cocked, and presented it again, but I struck it aside 
with my hand, so that it went off by my side, without doing any 

I thought of knocking out his brains with the handspike that lay 
near me, but I knew it would be instant death for me, and therefore 
concluded if he would leave me, I would not meddle with him at that 
juncture. He then swung his sword over my head, damned me, and 
bid me go about my business, adding, that he only did it to try me. 
These last words raised my spirits one degree higher than they had 
been before; for I confess I thought that snapping a loaded pistol 
at a man's breast, was a harsh mode of trial, and such an one as I 
had by no means been accustomed to before. I stopped to take up 
the handspike, thinking to try him with the butt end of that; but 
upon a moment's consideration, concluded to let the matter rest a 
little longer, and watch for a more convenient opportunity to resent 
the injury. The pistol missing fire when snapped at my breast and 
then going off by my side, was a strong indication to me that Provi- 
dence had interposed graciously in my preservation, that our final 
deliverance from the barbarity of the savage Phillips, and his 
abandoned banditti, might be more speedily effected, 

A few weeks now ensued which were spent in tolerable good 
humor and peace among all hands on board, and myself and friends 
put on the semblance of content as much as possible, though we were 
incessantly seeking opportunities to confer with each other upon 


some mode of escape; but no proper opportunity occurred, nor indeed 
irere our measures properly concerted as yet 

Again we were called upon to sign their flagitious articles, and 
htcome willing members of the piratical band, with menaces of imme- 
diate death in case we still refused ; but we had heard their threats 
too often to be frightened into compliance with them now. 

A short time after this, being about nine months after I was taken, 
and about two from the time we fell in with and made prize of the 
vessel on board of which Harridon was taken, the crew, in com- 
memoration of some signal advantage which they had obtained, had 
a grand carouse, eating and drinking, and spending the day in such 
diversions as their gross inclinations required. A favorable oppor- 
tunity now seemed to offer to extricate us from our suffering, and 
we determined to improve it if possible. Cheeseman was ordered 
by Phillips, to bring some tools on deck, and do something towards 
repairing the ship early next morning, and the master was ordered 
to take an observation next day at noon, to find out where we were. 
Thus far Providence seemed to favor our design, and we felt firm in 
the determination of executing it the next day. 

It was late in the evening before the pirates retired to rest, and 
White and one more of the pirates got in the caboose, as drunk as 
beasts, and lay down before the fire; a favorable opportunity now 
seemed to offer for us to improve in conferring upon some means for 
oar escape. We got together, held a consultation, and concluded to 
risk our lives in trying to work our deliverance, concluding that we 
had better die in so just a cause, than share the fate of our New 
England friend, which we had no doubt would soon overtake us, if 
we persisted in our determination never to sign their articles or share 
in their unlawful gain. 

When I mention that we had determined on an immediate execu- 
tion of our design, I would inform the reader that there was but three 
of us, Cheeseman, myself, and the Spanish Indian before mentioned ; 
for poor Harridon declared, that his heart was broken, his resolution 
and courage gone by a series of ill usage, and that he durst not en- 
gage to assist, but would not discover our plot. Thus there remained 
only three of us to engage the whole crew, and the Indian we felt 
rather dubious about, though we gained a confidence in him from his 
having firmly refused several times, though threatened with imme- 
diate death, to, subscribe the piratical articles. However, I must do 
him the honor to say he was true to his trust; and had it not been 
for him, our plot would most probably have failed in the execution. 

Cheeseman, the Indian, and myself, got together, and agreed that 
Cheeseman should leave his broad axe on the main deck when he had 


done using it, and when I saw Cheeseman make ready to grmsp the 
master, I was to catch it up, and make the best use of it I ooold^ 
cutting and slashing all that offered to oppose me, while the Indian 
was to stand ready to help, as occasion might require. And each one 
of us, in the mean time, was to do everything he could think of to 
. forward the design. 

Our plan being thus concerted, I went down into the caboose, 
/ where White and John Rose Archer, a desperate fellow who had 
^- been taken in one of the prizes, and immediately joined the pirates, 
i laid on the floor, as before mentioned, drunk as beasts. I took fire 
1 and burnt these two villains in the feet, while they lay senseless, ao 
t badly as to render them unable to be upon deck next day. There 
\ were only four now left of the old pirate gang, and five who had 
\ joined them since, besides the two I had rendered incapable of injur- 
ing us. 

We were up early in the morning, and Cheeseman used the broad 
axe, and left it as agreed. It was very late in the morning, and the 
pirates were none of them up, and we were afraid they would not 
arise until too late to take an observation, and our plan of conse- 
quence must fall through. To prevent this, about ten o'clock I went 
to the cabin door and told the Giptain the sun was almost up to the 
meridian. Damn you, said he, it is none of your business. This was 
all the thanks I got, and indeed all I expected for my service. How- 
ever, it answered the end designed, for the Giptain, Master, Boat- 
swain, and Quarter-master, came upon the deck, a little after eleven 
o'clock. Enquiry was made for White and Archer and their bums 
imputed to accident. Harridon was nearly dead with fear, and the 
Indian became so near as white as any of us. Phillips took notice of 
Harridon's paleness, and I cloaked the matter by informing him, 
that Harridon had been sick all night, and I believed a dram would 
help him. Phillips told me to go to his case and get a bottle of 
brandy; which I did, and we all drank heartily except the Indian, 
who refused to taste a drop, though something apt to drink at other 

The important crisis drew near, when three of us were to attack 
the whole crew; the Master prepared to take his observation, and 
Cheeseman was walking the deck with a hammer in his hand. The 
Quarter-master was in the cabin, drawing out some leaden slugs for 
a musket, and the Spanish Indian stood by the cabin door. The Cap- 
tain and Boatswain stood by the mainmast, talking upon some mat- 
ters, and I stood partly behind them, whirling the axe around with 
my foot, till my knees fairly smote together. 

/ The Master being busied, I saw Cheeseman make the motion to 
^heave him over, and I at that instant, split the boatswain's head in 


twain with the broad axe, and dropped him upon the deck to welter 
in his gore. Before the Captain had time to put himself in a posture 
of defence, I gave him a stroke with the head of my axe, which 
partly stunned him ; at which time Cheeseman having despatched the 
Master overboard, came to my assistance, and gave the Captain a 
. blow with his hammer, on the back side of his head, which put an 
\ immediate end to his mortal existence. 

The Quarter-master hearing the bustle, came running out of the 
cabin with his hand up to strike Cheeseman with his hammer, and 
would probably have killed him, had not the Indian catched him by 
the elbow, as he was bringing the hammer down, and there held him, 
ontil I came up and gave him a blow on the back side of his head, 
cutting his wig and neck almost off, so that his head hung down 
before him. 

We had now despatched all the old pirates except White, and de- 
manded a surrender of the vessel, which was granted, and the poor 
Frenchmen and negroes came to us and embraced our legs and feet, 
begging for their lives. 

We carried the vessel safely into Boston, where White, Archer, 
and one more of the pirates were tried, condemned and executed; 
the three other pirates were sent to England, with the vessel, with 
whom my friend Cheeseman and the Indian went likewise, whom 
government liberally regarded for their services, and gave Cheese- 
man an honorable berth in one of the king's shipyards; the three 
pirates who went home with the vessel, were hung at execution dock, 
and the vessel was made a prize of by government. 

I never saw any of the human species more spiteful than White 
was, from the time he was taken till he was executed. I believe he 
would have killed me at any time in that interval, had it been in his 

The honorable court which condemned the pirates gave me Cap- 
tain Phillips* gun, silver hilted sword, silver shoe and knee buckles, 
a curious tobacco box, and two gold rings that the pirate Captain 
Phillips used to wear. 

When we came in sight of the castle near Boston, we hoisted our 

pirate's colors and fired a gun, as a signal for them to come off to us. 

At this time some of the pirates were on deck, and one of them asked 

leave to fire another gun, which being granted, he would not swab 

the gun out nor have the vent stopped, but put in the cartridge, and 

stood directly before the muzzle to ram it down, by which means 

. the cartridge took fire and blew him into pieces ; it is supposed he did 

\ this purposely, in order to escape the punishment which he knew 

^ must be his lot in case he was carried into the harbor. 







In the fall of 1828 Mr. Fillmore was elected member of 
file New York State Assembly from Erie County. During 
bis service in that body, the county, which then consisted of 
two districts, was represented as follows : 

1829. David Burt, Millard^ Fillmore. 

1830. Millard Fillmore, Edmund Hull. 

183 1. Millard Fillmore, Nathaniel Knight. 

So far as the Assembly journals for 1829 record, Mr. 
Fillmore did little speaking in the House. January 9th, he 
was made a member of the committee on bills; and on 
February 9th, as chairman of a select committee, to which 
was referred a "petition of sundry inhabitants of the town 
of Aurora in the county of Erie, praying for the passage of 
a law to authorize them to apply a part of their poor funds 
to the improvement of roads and bridges in said town," he 

I. In the legislative mantials published during Mr. Fillmore's terms of 
terrice, his name is spelled "Millerd." It is usually so spelled in the printed 
journals of the Assembly. The same spelling was used in the early advertise- 
ments of his law business in BufiFalo. The editor has not found any auto- 
graph of Mr. Fillmore giving that spelling of his first name, though appar- 
ently he sanctioned it for some years, while usually signing himself *'M. 



made the following report, which is the first document 
known to have been written by him in his public service : 

MR. Fillmore's first legislative measure — to repair 

AURORA bridges. 

''Mr. Fillmore, from the select committee to which was 
referred the petition of sundry inhabitants of the town of 
Aurora in the county of Erie, reported: 

"That the following facts appear by said petition (the 
truth of which the committee have no reason to doubt), to 
wit: That there are in said town of Aurora several large 
and expensive bridges, situated on important roads leading 
across the western and middle branches of the Buffalo 
creek: That the said town has for some years past, raised 
by tax as large a sum as the present law will permit them to 
raise, and found the same insufiicient to defray the expenses 
of building said bridges, and keeping them in repair: That 
there is now in the hands of the overseers of the poor of 
said town, the sum of about three hundred and fifty dollars, 
belonging to the poor funds of said town ; and that there is 
not now, nor has there been for some time past, any paupers 
chargeable to, or supported by said town. The petitioners 
therefore pray that a law may be passed, authorising and 
requiring the overseers of the poor of said town, to pay over 
so much of said money now remaining in their hands, to the 
commissioners of highways of said town, as the inhabitants 
thereof, at their town meeting, shall by vote direct, to be by 
said commissioners expended in like manner as other monejrs 
coming into their hands are by law to be expended. 

"However sacred this fund should in general be held, yet 
under the circumstances of this case, where there appears to 
be no special object in want of this charitable fund, or likely 
to require it, as it is a notorious fact that the said county ha^ 
lately erected a poor-house ; and where the conveniences of 
the town and public at large will be greatly promoted by 
appl3ring a part of it to the repairs of the bridges in said 
town, which without it will soon be impassable; the com- 
mittee are of opinion that the prayer of the petitioners ought 


to be granted, and have directed their chairman to ask leave 
to introduce a bill accordingly. 

"Ordered, That leave be given to bring in such a bill." ^ 

Not long before this, it will be remembered, Mr. Fillmore 
had been the village school-teacher at Aurora — ^now East 
Atirora. To a select committee of which he was chairman, 
the Assembly, February 9th, referred a petition of Joseph 
Howard, Jr., and other inhabitants of Aurora, on which 
Mr. Fillmore made the following report for his committee : 


"That it appears from said petition, the truth of which 
is verified by the certificate of the trustees of school district 
number one in the town of Aurora and county of Erie, that 
said district were the owners of a certain piece of land, 
which had been conveyed to their predecessors in oiffice, for 
a lot on which to erect a school-house in said district: That 
a school-house had been built thereon, and occupied by said 
district, until a little more than a year since, when the house 
had become so dilapidated that it was found necessary to 
erect a new one : That the inhabitants of said district were 
of opinion that a better site for a school-house could be pro- 
cured than this, as it was situated so near the centre of busi- 
ness in the village, that the school was frequently inter- 
rupted by noise ; and they accordingly got the consent of the 
school commissioners to remove the site, and voted to re- 
move the same: That they there voted that the old lot 
should be sold to the one who would give the most for it ; 
and it was accordingly sold to the said Joseph Howard 
junior, for the sum of 34 dollars, and conveyed to him by a 
quit claim deed from the trustees of said district ; and that 
the consideration money therefor has been duly paid by him 
to the trustees of said district, and by them duly applied 
towards the building of the new school-house : But on inves- 
tigation, it was found that the said district could not convey 

I. Assembly Joarnal, 1829, p. 403-4- 


their real estate, without being specially authorised by an 
act of the Legislature; and therefore, as well the trustees 
as the inhabitants of said district, have united with the said 
Joseph Howard junior, in his petition, praying that said 
conveyance may be confirmed and rendered valid by an act 
of the Legislature : And the committee are of opinion that 
justice and equity require that the prayer of the petitioners 
should be granted, and have directed tfieir chairman to ask 
leave to introduce a bill accordingly. 

"Ordered, That leave be given to bring in such a bill." ^ 

There is also record that on February loth, on motion 
of Mr. Fillmore, 

Ordered, That the report of the comptroller on the peti- 
tion of William Williams, receiver of the Bank of Niagara, 
together with the documents accompanying the same, be 
referred to the committee on the incorporation and altera- 
tion of the charters of banking and insurance companies. 

The foregoing indicate the character of matters which 
engaged his attention at the outset of his public career. 

In the session of 1830, he came, naturally, into more 
prominence. The following memoranda are from the 
Assembly journal of 1830: 

On motion of Mr. Fillmore, 

Resolved, That the committee on the judiciary be in- 
structed to inquire into the constitutionality of the law 
passed at the last session of the Legislature, relative to the 
election of justices of the peace, and report their opinion 
thereon to this house. 

On motion of Mr. Fillmore, 

Resolved, That the memorial of Qhiristopher P. Bellinger 
and others, praying an investigation into the conduct of the 
Grand Chapter of Freemasons of the State of New- York, be 
referred to a select committee, and that such committee have 

X. Assembly Journal, 1S29, p. 409-1 o. 


power to send for persons and papers, and be required to 
report to this House by bill or otherwise. 

On motion of Mr. Fillmore, 

Resolved, That this House will, after this day, hold an 
afternoon session to commence at four o'clock, at which all 
petitions shall be presented and all reports from standing 
and select committees shall be received.^ 

One other subject that received Mr. Fillmore's special 
attention, in the session of 1830, was a petition of John I. 
Van der Kemp, general agent of the Holland Land Com- 
pany, pra3ring for the passage of an act to enable Wilhem 
Willink and others "to purchase, take and hold certain real 
estate," etc. Another issue was a memorial praying for an 
investigation into the conduct of the Grand Chapter of 
Freemasons in the State of New York. Mr. Fillmore (an 
Anti-Mason) sought to have it referred to a select conunittee 
of the House, but the charges were finally placed in the 
hands of the attorney general. 

In the Legislature of 1830, Mr. Fillmore was a member, 
but not chairman, of the committee on subjects relating to 
the public defense. 

January 22d, he voted for the bill to incorporate the 
Buffalo and Hamburgh Turnpike Company ; January 23d, 
he gave notice that he would ask leave to introduce a bill to 
change the name of "The Buffalo High School Association" 
to that of "The Buffalo Literary and Scientific Academy." 
Granted January 26th, and referred to the committee of the 
whole; February 17th, he introduced a bill "to authorize 
the supervisors of the town of Holland in the County of 
Erie, to collect certain moneys from his predecessor in office, 
and pay the same over to the commissioners of common 
schools of said town" — referred to a select committee of 

I. Assembly Journal, 1830, pp. 83, 344, 486. 


which Mr. FOfaiiore was dBirman; March 3d, ''An act 
rdatire to die Court of General Sessions of At Q>unt7 of 
Erie," was referred to a select committee consisting of Mr. 
Fillmore, Mr. Edmnnd Hull and Mr. Samuel DeVeaux; 
Mardi igtfi, as chairman of a select committee, Mr. Fillmore 
reported ^An act coocemii^ die State Road from Fredonia 
in the County of Chatanque, to the village of Perry in tiie 
County of Genesee." April 3d, "An act relatiye to the 
Court of General Sessions of the County of Erie," was 
referred to a select committee of which Mr. Fillmore was 
chairman. April 6th, "An act to authorize Clark Hilton to 
erect a dam and lock upon Tonawanda Creek," was referred 
to a select committee of which Mr. Fillmore was chairman. 
In die session of 1831, Mr. Fillmore was chairman of die 
committee on two-thirds bills. Matters referred to him in 
this capacity, or as chairman of special committees, included 
a petition of Erie County supervisors for permission to sell 
die jail lot and erect a new jail; a petition of inhabitants 
of the town of Clarence and Amherst in Erie County rela- 
tive to burying-grounds, which led Mr. Fillmore to prepare 
a bill applicable to the county at large; a petition for the 
incorporation of the BuflFalo Female Seminary; a bill 
relating to the support of common schools in the city of New 
York; etc., etc The following reports are signed by Mr. 
Fillmore as chairman, and probably were written by him : 

In Assembly, January 18, 183 1, Mr. Fillmore, from the 
select committee to whom was referred the petition of the 
supervisors of the County of Erie, reported: 


"That they have had said petition under consideration; 
and it appears from the facts stated in said petition, the 
truth of which the committee have no reason to doubt, that 


the jail in said county was erected at an early period, and is 
now much too small to answer the purposes for which it 
was erected. That its internal arrangements are bad, and 
cannot be remedied without entirely rebuilding it ; and that 
its location is not convenient. They therefore pray for the 
passage of a law authorizing them to sell and convey the 
same, together with the lot on which said jail is situated, 
and apply the proceeds towards the erection of a new jail, 
to be erected on the lot upon which the court house stands 
in said county, in rear of ^e same, and also for authority to 
raise by tax such further sum as may be necessary, not ex- 
ceeding three thousand dollars, to build and complete such 

"Believing that it would be for the interest of said county 
to build such new jail, instead of attempting to repair the 
old one, and that a new jail is necessary, the committee have 
come to the unanimous conclusion that the prayer of said 
petitioners is reasonable, and ought to be granted, and have 
directed their chairman to report a bill accordingly, and ask 
leave to introduce the same." 

February loth, Mr. Fillmore, from the committee on two- 
thirds bills, reported at length on "An act amendatory of 
the 'Act for the relief of the heirs of Christian Guthrie'," a 
soldier of the New York line in the War of the Revolution, 
who was killed in battle, July, 1778. He was returned as a 
dead soldier by the name of Christian Gutrick ; and a patent 
was issued to him by the name of Gutrick, for lot No. 90 in 
the town of Milton ; in 1820 this lot escheated to the State. 
Mr. Fillmore, for his committee, made a long report on the 
case, holding that the State had not discharged its obligation 
to Guthrie, by conveying land to "Gutrick." The case has 
no general interest; but the length and logic of the report 
illustrate Mr. Fillmore's conscientious thoroughness, and 
judicial attitude of mind.^ 

I. Assembly Docs., 1831, Nos. 144, 146. 


In Assembly, February 14, 1831, Mr. Fillmore, from tiie 
select committee to which was referred the petition of Henry 
F. Penfield, reported : 


''That they have had said petition under consideration; 
and it appears from die petition that an act was passed in 
1826 by which the said petitioner and Ogden Edwards, Ae 
proprietor of Squaw Island, in Niagara river, were author- 
ized to establish a ferry from said island to the Canada 
shore ; the duration of which act was limited to the term of 
five years from the first day of May, 1826. 

"The said petition also states that the petitioner and his 
associate have complied with the provisions of the act of 
1826, establishing said ferry, and have a good horse-boat m 
operation at said ferry; and for reasons which are stated 
in the petition, said ferry has hitherto afforded very little 
income ; they therefore pray that the provisicms of said act 
may be extended for the term of ten years beyond its present 

"It appears from the papers before your committee, that 
notice of this application has been published in the State 
paper and in a paper printed in the county where said ferry 
is established, for six weeks ; and although your committee 
are of opinion that this notice is unnecessary, yet as no 
remonstrance has been sent in to oppose the application, it is 
very strong evidence that there is no opposition to the prayer 
of the petitioner. 

"Your committee have therefore come to the conclusion 
that the prayer of the petitioner is reasonable, and ought to 
be granted, and have directed their chairman to ask leave to 
introduce a bill accordingly." 

In Assembly, March 12, 183 1, Mr. Fillmore, from the 
select committee to whom was referred the petition of the 

z. This should not be mistaken for the old Black Rock ferry further up 
the river. For a history of that, the most important ferry on the Niagara, M9 
Buffalo Historical Society Publications, VoL I, pp. px-xop. 


inhabitants of the town of Erie, in the County of Erie, 
reported : 

"That they have had said petition under consideration, 
and the petitioners allege, that they suffer great inconveni- 
ence in the transaction of business through the postoffice, 
inasmuch as there is a town and county of the same name, 
in the State of Pennsylvania, to which letters intended for 
persons residing in that town in this State, are frequently 
sent, to the great injury and detriment of the persons for 
whom they were intended. These mistakes, it seems, some- 
times occur through the ignorance of the postmasters, and 
sometimes through the neglect of persons directing their 
letters, in omitting to mention the name of the State. The 
mistakes, however, are so frequent, and the remedy so easy, 
that your committee have come to the conclusion, that the 
prayer of the petitioners to change the name of said town, 
is reasonable and ought to be granted; and they have there- 
fore directed their chairman to ask leave to introduce a bill 


In Assembly, March 15, 1831, Mr. Fillmore, from the 
select committee to whom was referred the petition of the 
inhabitants of the village of Buffalo, reported : 

"That they have had said petition under consideration, 
and the petitioners allege that the village of Buffalo is very 
much exposed to fire, and the provisions to guard against it 

I. There have been two towns of Erie in Western New York, but they 
were six miles apart at the nearest point. The old town of Erie was one of 
the ori^nal towns of Genesee County (then embracing present Erie County), 
established by the Holland Land Company in 1804. It comprised the seventh, 
eighth, ninth and tenth ranges, and stretched the whole width of the State, 
from the Pennsylvania line, where it was twenty-four miles wide, to Lake 
Ontario, its northern half being from eight to twenty miles. The Buffalo 
Historical Society owns the original *'Town Book of the Town of Erie, 1805 
and 1806," but the few entries refer only to license fees and money for the 
poor. This town of Erie was obliterated from the list of political organirations 
in 1808. The Legislattire in 1823 erected a new town of Erie, from a part 
of Clarence, which is the one referred to by Mr. Fillmore. The petition was 
granted, and the town of Erie became Newstead, which name it still bears. 


are totally inadequate to effect that object; and that by tiie 
present law they can only raise the sum of $2,000 annually, 
for all the expenses of said village. They therefore pray 
for the passage of a law authorizing them to raise the fur- 
dier sum of $3,000 for the construction of wells and reser- 
voirs for water, and the purchase of fire engines and other 
apparatus for the extinguishing of fires in said village. The 
petition is signed by the principal inhabitants of said village, 
and your committee are of opinion that the prayer of tiie 
petitioners is reasonable and ought to be granted, and they 
have therefore ordered their chairman to ask leave to intro- 
duce a bill accordingly."^ 


In Assembly, March 28, 183 1, Mr. Fillmore, from tiie 
select committee to whom was referred the petition of the 
citizens of Buffalo, for the incorporation of a literary society 
for the education of females, reported : 

"That they have had the same under consideration ; and 
the petitioners allege, what is known to a part of your comr 
mittee to be true, that Buffalo is a point that presents many 
and peculiar advantages for the location of a seminary for 
the education of females; its climate is salubrious and 
healthy ; its position is central and pleasant ; and the canal 
on the one hand, and the lake on the other, open communi- 
cations that render it of easy access to a vast extent of 
country. The petitioners also allege that there is no insti- 
tution of the kind within one hundred miles of that place; 
that the academical institutions in the western part of this 

z Under the law the enactment of which followed this report, there were 
constructed in Buffalo, in the fall of 1831, four reservoirs, or cisterns, at the 
intersections of Main with Seneca, Swan, Eagle and Court streets. These rear 
ervoirs held some 10,000 gallons each, and for many years served their purpose 
well. Others were constructed later. In 183 z also two fire engines and neces- 
sary hose were purchased. The first regular fire company in Buffalo was 
organized Dec. 16, 1824. Mr. Fillmore does not appear to have been active 
as a volunteer fireman, but in 1832 the Fillmore (also called Fulton) Engine 
Company No. 3 was given his name, presumably in recognition of his legisla- 
tive service. 


State are principally attended by males, and particularly the 
one in Buffalo is attended by young gentlemen exclusively. 

'Tfour committee deem it unnecessary to enter into any 
arguments, to show the duty of the Legislature to encour- 
age, by all means in their power, so laudable an object as the 
education of females in the higher departments of litera- 
ture. This question has long since been settled by public 

"The petitioners pray for an act of incorporation, to aid 
them in this praiseworthy undertaking ; and your conunittee 
are of opinion that their prayer should be granted and have 
directed their chairman to ask leave to introduce a bill ac- 

The foregoing show how Mr. Fillmore at this period 
sought to serve his home community. But the chief service 
to the State during his legislative career at Albany was as 
champion of the movement to abolish imprisonment for 
debt. The history of that movement, or rather of the evolu- 
tion of public sentiment in the matter, is perhaps a theme 
which may some time receive the attention of Mr. Fillmore's 
biographer. For the present purpose it must suffice to 
record that Mr. Fillmore was the principal author of an act 
which passed the Assembly April 2, 183 1, was amended and 
finally signed by the Governor on April 26th, and which 
appeared on the statute-books of the State entitled : "An Act 
to abolish imprisonment for debt, and to punish fraudulent 

I. No immediate result is known to have come from this effort. The 
Buffalo Female Academy was not incorporated until 1851. An early educational 
movement with which Mr. Fillmore waa connected was the formation, in 1827, 
of the Buffalo High School Association. A meeting was held at the Eagle 
Tavern, on November 226, of that year, at which an act of incorporation waa 
drawn up, and a board of trustees were authoriaed to procure subscriptions 
to an amount not less than $10,000. Their efforts met fair success. On Jan. 
8, i8a8, a prospectus of Buffalo's first high school was issued. The first Buf> 
falo Directory, issued in 1828, said: **The Buffalo High School, incorporated 
in 1827, capital not to exceed $25,000, $xo,ooo of which is already subscribed 
and the school commenced, in rooms temporarily fitted for the purpose, ia 
January last. The buildings of this institution are to be erected the coming 
Kaion." The achool was successful for some years. 


debtors." The bill as passed was written by Mr. Fillmore, 
except the portions relative to proceedings in courts of 
record, which were drawn by John C. Spencer. 


An Act to abolish imprisonment for debt, and to punish fraudulent 
debtors. Passed April 26, 1831.^ 

Section i. No person shall be arrested or imprisoned on any 
civil process issuing out of any court of law, or on any execution 
issuing out of any court of equity, in any suit or proceeding insti- 
tuted for the recovery of any money due upon any judgment or 
decree, founded upon contract or due upon any contract express 
or implied, or for the recovery of any damages for the non-perform- 
ance of any contract. 

Sec. 2. The preceding section shall not extend to any person who 
shall not have been a resident of this State, for at least one month 
previous to the commencement of a suit against him; nor to pro- 
ceedings as for contempts to enforce civil remedies; nor to actions 
for fines or penalties, or on promises to marry, or for moneys col- 
lected by any public officer, or for any misconduct or neglect in 
office, or in any professional employment. 

Sec. 3. In all cases where, by the preceding provisions of this 
act, a defendant cannot be arrested and imprisoned, it shall be law- 
ful for the plaintiff who shall have commenced a suit against such 
defendant, or shall have obtained a judgment or decree against him, 
in any court of record, to apply to any judge of the court in which 
such suit is brought, or to any officer authorized to perform the 
duties of such judge, for a warrant to arrest the defendant in such 

Sec. 4. No such warrant shall issue, unless satisfactory evidence 
be adduced to such officer, by the affidavit of the plaintiff, or of 
some other person or persons, that there is a debt or demand due 
to the plaintiff, from the defendant, amounting to more than fifty 
dollars, and specifying the nature and amount thereof, as near as 
may be, for which the defendant, according to the provisions of 
this act, cannot be arrested or imprisoned; and establishing one or 
more of the following particulars: 

X. This Act» "chapter 300, Laws of 1831," was repealed by Law of x88o, 
chapter 245, sec. i, paragraph 9. 


1. That the defendant is about to remove any of his property 
out of the jurisdiction of the court in which such suit is brought, 
with intent to defraud his creditors; or 

2. That the defendant has property or rights in action, which 
he fraudulently conceals, or that he has rights in action, or some 
interest in any public or corporate stock, money or evidences of 
debt, which he unjustly refuses to apply to the payment of any 
judgment or decree which shall have been rendered against him, 
belonging to the complainant; or 

3. That he has assigned, removed or disposed of, or is about 
to dispose of, any of his property, with the intent to defraud his 
creditors; or 

4. That the defendant fraudulently contracted the debt or 
incurred the obligation, respecting which such suit is brought. 

Sec 5. Upon such proof being made to the satisfaction of the 
officer to whom the application shall be addressed, he shall issue a 
warrant, in behalf of the people of this State, either with or with- 
out seal, directed to any sheriff, constable, or marshal, within the 
county where such officer shall reside, therein briefly setting forth 
the complaint, and commanding the officer to whom the same shall 
be directed, to arrest the person named in such warrant, and bring 
him before such officer without delay ; which warrant shall be accom- 
panied by a copy of all affidavits presented to such officer, upon 
which the warrant issued; which shall be certified by such officer, 
and shall be delivered to the defendant, at the time of serving the 
warrant, by the officer serving the same. 

Sec. 6. The officer to whom such warrant shall be delivered, 
shall execute the same, by arresting the person named therein, and 
bringing him before the officer issuing such warrant; and shall 
keep him in custody until he shall be duly discharged, or com- 
mitted as hereinafter provided. 

Sec 7. On the appearance of the person so arrested, before the 
officer issuing such warrant, he may controvert any of the facts and 
circumstances on which such warrant issued, and may, at his option, 
verify his allegations by his own affidavit; and in case of his so 
verif3ring the same, the complainant may examine such defendant 
on oath, touching any fact or circumstance material to the inquiry, 
and the answers of the defendant on such examination, shall be 
reduced to writing and subscribed by him; and the officer conduct- 
ing such inquiry, shall also receive such other proof as the parties 
may offer, either at the time of such first appearance, or at such 


other time as such hearing shall be adjourned to; and in case of 
an adjournment, such officer may take a recognizance, with or with- 
out surety, at his discretion, from the defendant, for his appearance 
at the adjourned hearing. 

Sec. 8. The officer conducting such inquiry, shall have the same 
authority to issue subpoenas for witnesses, which is now conferred 
by law on any officer empowered to hear applications of insolvents, 
for the purpose of exonerating their persons from imprisonment, 
and shall have the same power to enforce obedience to such sub- 
poenas, and to punish witnesses refusing to testify; and witnesses 
wilfully disobeying any such subpoenas shall be liable to the penal- 
ties prescribed in the seventh article of title first and chapter fifth 
of the second part of the Revised Statutes. 

Sec 9. If such officer is satisfied that the allegations of the 
complainant are substantiated, and that the defendant has done, or 
is about to do, any one of the acts specified in the fourth section 
of this act, he shall by a commitment under his hand, direct that 
such defendant be committed to the jail of the county in which 
such hearing shall be had, to be there detained until he shall be 
discharged according to law; and such defendant shall be com- 
mitted and detained accordingly. 

Sec. 10. Such commitment shall not be granted, if the defendant 
shall either, 

1. Pay the debt or demand claimed, with the costs of the suit 
and of the proceedings against him; or 

2. Give security to the satisfaction of the officer before whom 
the hearing shall be had, that the debt or demand of the plaintiff, 
with the costs of the suit and proceedings aforesaid, shall be paid 
within sixty days, with interest; or 

3. Make and deliver to such officer an inventory of his estate 
and an account of his creditors, and execute an assignment of his 
property as hereinafter provided, on which the same proceedings 
shall be had as upon a petition of such defendant in the manner 
hereinafter directed, except that no notice to the plaintiff shall be 
requisite; and no adjournment shall be granted for more than 
three days, except at the instance of the defendant ; and a discharge 
shall be granted in the like case, and with the same effect ; or 

4. Enter into a bond to the complainant, in a penalty not less 
than twice the amount of the debt or demand claimed, with such 
sureties as shall be approved by such officer, conditioned that such 
defendant will, within thirty days, apply for an assignment of all 




his property, and for a discharge, as provided in the subsequent sec- 
tions of this act, and diligently prosecute the same until he obtains 
such discharge; or, 

5. If such defendant shall give a bond to such plaintiff, in the 
penalty and with the sureties above prescribed, conditioned that he 
will not remove any property which he then has, out of the juris- 
diction of the court in which such suit is brought, with the intent 
to defraud any of his creditors ; and that he will not assign or dis- 
pose of any such property, with such intent, or with a view to give 
a preference to any creditor for any debt, antecedent to such assign- 
ment or disposition, until the demand of the plaintiff, with the costs, 
shall be satisfied, or until the expiration of three months after a 
final judgment shall be rendered in the suit brought for the recovery 
of such demand. 

Sec. II. Any defendant conunitted as above provided, shall 
remain in custody in the same manner as other prisoners on crimi- 
nal process, until a final judgment shall have been rendered in his 
favor, in the suit prosecuted by the creditor at whose instance such 
defendant shall have been committed, or until he shall have assigned 
his property and obtained his discharge, as provided in the subse- 
quent sections of this act; but such defendant may be discharged 
by the ofiicer committing him, or any other person authorized to 
discharge the duties of such officer, on such defendant paying the 
debt or demand claimed, or giving security for the payment thereof, 
as provided in the tenth section of this act, or on his executing 
either of the bonds mentioned in said section. 

Sec. 12. Any person committed as above provided, or who shall 
have given the bond specified in the fourth subdivision of the tenth 
section of this act, or against whom any suit shall have been com- 
menced in a court of record, in which such person, by the provi- 
sions of this act, cannot be arrested or imprisoned, may present a 
petition to a justice of the supreme court, a circuit judge, any judge 
of a county court, or any supreme court commissioner in the county 
in which such defendant resides or is imprisoned, praying that his 
property may be assigned, and that he may have the benefit of the 
provisions of this act. 

Sec. 13. On presenting such petition, such defendant shall 
deliver an account of his creditors, and an inventory of his estate, 
similar in all respects to the account and inventory required of a 
debtor, by the sixth article of title first and chapter five of the 
second part of the Revised Statutes; and shall annex to the said 


petition, account and inventoiy, an affidavit, which shall be taken 
and subscribed by him, before the officer to whom such petition is 
presented, similar in all respects to the oath required by the fifth 
section of the sixth article of the aforesaid title and chapter. 

S£C 14. Fourteen days' previous notice of the time and place 
at which, and of the officer to whom such petition will be presented, 
together with a copy of such petition, and the account of the inven- 
tory thereto annexed, shall be served personally on the plaintiffs 
by whom such defendant shall be prosecuted, their personal repre- 
sentatives or their attorney ; and proof of such service shall be made 
at the time of presenting such petition. 

Sec. 15. Any creditor of such petitioner may oppose such appli- 
cation, and may examine the petitioner, his wife or any other wit- 
ness, in the manner prescribed in the third article of the aforesaid 
first title and fifth chapter, and shall be entitled to the like ptx>ces8 
to compel their attendance and testimony; and such witnesses shall, 
in all respects, be subject to the provisions of the seventh article of 
the said title, for their neglect to obey subpoenas, or to testify. 

Sec. 16. Upon sufficient cause shown by the petitioner, or by any 
creditor, the officer to whom such petition is addressed, may adjourn 
the hearing thereof, not exceeding thirty days; and if, at any hear- 
ing of such petition, the opposing creditor shall fail to satisfy such 
officer that the proceedings on the part of the petitioner are not just 
and fair, or that he has concealed, removed or disposed of, any of 
his property, with intent to defraud his creditors; such officer shall 
order an assignment of all the property of such petitioner, in the 
same manner as provided in the fifth article of the first title of the 
fifth chapter of the second part of the Revised Statutes, except such 
as is therein exempt; which assignment shall be executed with the 
like effect as declared in the said article, and shall be recorded in 
the same manner. 

Sec. 17. Such officer shall appoint one or more assignees, tg 
whom such petitioner shall assign all his estate; and upon produc- 
ing to such officer, evidence that such assignment has been recorded, 
and a certificate of the assignees, that all the property of such peti- 
tioner, specified in his inventory, has been delivered to them, or 
that he has given satisfactory security for the future delivery of the 
same, such officer shall grant to the petitioner a discharge, which 
shall exonerate him from being proceeded against by any creditor 
entitled to a dividend of the estate of such petitioner, as hereinafter 
provided, under the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth and 


ninth sections of this act, for any fraud committed or intended 
before such discharge. 

Sec. i8. The assignees to whom such assignment shall be made, 
shall be vested with all the rights and powers over the property so 
assigned, which are specified in the eighth article of the first title 
of chapter ^t of the second part of the Revised Statutes, and shall 
l>e subject to the same duties, obligations, and control, in all respects, 
and shall make dividends; and vacancies in their number, shall be 
supplied as therein directed. 

Sec 19. The general provisions applicable to proceedings under 
the several articles of the said first title, and which are contained 
in the seventh article of the said title, shall be deemed to apply to 
the proceedings herein directed, so far as the same are not incon- 
sistent with the provisions of this act ; and the officers and assignees 
performing any duties under this act, shall be entitled for their ser- 
vices, to the same fees and compensation as are provided by law, 
for similar services under the fifth article of the aforesaid title of 
chapter five, and as are provided by law for services in criminal 

Sec 20. Every person imprisoned on civil process, at the time 
of this act taking effect as a law, in any case where, by the preceding 
provisions of this act, such person could not be arrested, or impri- 
soned, shall be entitled to be discharged at the expiration of three 
months after this act shall take effect as a law, unless the creditor 
of whose suit such person shall be imprisoned, shall, within the 
time aforesaid, make application and complaint to some judge of 
the court in which such suit was brought, or to some officer author- 
ized to perform the duties of such judge, as specified in the third 
and fourth sections of this act; and upon such application being 
made, if a warrant is not issued as herein provided, such imprisoned 
person shall be entitled to be discharged from imprisonment; and 
if such warrant be granted, the same proceeding shall be had thereon, 
as herein before provided; and the removal of the defendant from 
any jail in which he may be imprisoned by any warrant in such pro- 
ceedings, shall not be deemed an escape. 

Sec. 21. Every person imprisoned, as in the last preceding sec- 
tion specified, may give a notice to the creditors at whose suit he is 
imprisoned, and present a petition and inventory, as specified in the 
twelfth and thirteenth sections of this act; and the same proceed- 
ings shall be thereon as herein before provided, and a discharge 
granted on such petition as therein directed, shall entitle such peti- 
tioner to be discharged from his imprisonment. 


Sec 22. Whenever any complaint shall be made under the third, 
fourth and fifth sections of this act, and the same shall be dismissed, 
the party making the same shall be liable for all fees to officers, and 
for all costs and expenses which the defendant shall have incnrrcd. 

Sec 23. Whenever in this act, the removal, concealment or dis- 
posal of any property is declared to be the ground of any oompUint 
or proceeding, and where any bond is required in reference to sudi 
concealment, removal or disposal, the same shall not be deemed to 
apply to any property which shall be expressly exempted by statute 
from levy and sale under execution. 

Sec 24. Whenever a bond, given under the tenth section of this 
act, shall become forfeited by the non-performance of the conditioo 
thereof, the plaintiff shall be entitled to recover thereon the amount 
due to him, on the judgment obtained in the original suit instituted 
against the defendant giving such a bond. 

Sec 25. The foregoing provisions of this act shall not extend 
to suits or proceedings before justices* or other courts, for the recov- 
ery of any debt or demand of fifty dollars or less. 

Sec 26. Any person who shall remove any of his property out 
of any county, with intent to prevent the same from being levied 
upon by any execution, or who shall secrete, assign, convey, or 
otherwise dispose of any of his property, with intent to defraud any 
creditor, or to prevent such property being made liable for the pay- 
ment of his debts, and any person who shall receive such property 
with such intent, shall, on conviction, be deemed guilty of a mis- 
demeanor; and where the property so removed, secreted, concealed, 
assigned, conveyed, received or otherwise disposed of, shall be worth 
fifty dollars or less, such offence may be tried by a court of special 
sessions of the peace in the manner directed in the third title of 
chapter second of the fourth part of the Revised Statutes, and in 
such case, the punishment for such offence shall be limited as pre- 
scribed in the said title. 

Sec 27, Whenever any person shall have been convicted of a 
misdemeanor under the last preceding section of this act, the same 
proceedings may be had for the appointment of trustees to take 
charge of the estate of such person as are authorized by the second 
article of the first title of chapter five of the second part of the 
Revised Statutes; and the trustees so appointed shall possess all 
the powers, rights, and authority, be entitled to the same compensa- 
tion and be subject to the same duties, obligations and control, in 
all respects, as trustees appointed under the said second article; and 


in addition thereto, if such trustees suspect that the person so con- 
^cted has concealed about his person or otherwise, money or evi- 
dences of debt, upon making oath of the same before any judge of 
a county court, and on such judge being satisfied that such sus- 
picions are well founded, he may issue a warrant authorizing and 
commanding any sheriff or constable to search the person of such 
<lefendant, and any place occupied by him, or any trunk or other 
article owned or possessed by him, for such money or evidences, 
and to deliver what shall be so discovered to such trustees. 

Sec. 28. When it shall appear to any officer authorized to enter- 
tain any proceedings under this act, that any misdemeanor or per- 
jury has been committed by any party or witness, it shall be his 
duty to take the measures prescribed by law to cause the offender 
to appear at the proper court having jurisdiction of the offence, to 
answer for the same. 

Sec 29. No person shall be excused from answering any bill 
in equity, seeking a discovery in relation to any fraud prohibited by 
this act, or from answering as a witness in relation to any such 
fraud ; but no such answer shall "be used in evidence in any other 
suit or prosecution. 

Sec 30. No execution issued on any judgment rendered by any 
justice of the peace upon any demand arising upon contract, express 
or implied, or upon any other judgment founded upon contract, 
whether issued by such justice or by the clerk of the county, shall 
contain a clause authorizing an arrest or imprisonment of the person 
against whom the same shall issue, unless it shall be proved, by the 
affidavit of the person in whose favor such execution shall issue, 
or that of some other person, to the satisfaction of such clerk or 
justice, either, 

1. That the person against whom the same shall issue, had not 
resided in this State for the space of thirty days immediately pre- 
ceding the commencement of the suit upon which such judgment 
was rendered, or immediately preceding the rendition of such judg- 
ment, if the same was rendered upon confession without process ; or, 

2. That such judgment was for the recovery of money col- 
lected by any public officer; or, 

3. For official misconduct or neglect of duty; or, 

4. For damages for misconduct or neglect in any professional 

Sec. 31. No warrant shall issue against a defendant in any case 
in which, by the provisions of the last preceding section, an execu- 


tion on the judgment recovered, could not be issued against his 
body, and whenever a warrant in such case shall issue, the like affi- 
davit shall be required as for the issuing of an execution by the 
provisions of said section. 

Sec. 32. Whenever by the provisions of the last preceding sec- 
tion no warrant can issue, and the plaintiff shall be a non-resident 
of the county, and shall give the like proof of the fact, and tender 
to the justice the security now required by law to entitle him to a 
warrant, the justice shall issue a summons, which may be made 
returnable not less than two nor more than four days from the 
date thereof, and shall be served at least two days before the time 
of appearance mentioned therein; and if the same shall be returned 
personally served, the same proceedings shall be had, and no longer 
adjournment granted, than in case of a warrant at the tnKfa«#^ ol 
a non-resident plaintiff. 

Sec 33. Whenever by the provisions of the thirtieth section ol 
this act, no warrant can issue, and the defendants shall reside oat ol 
the county, he shall be proceeded against by summcms or attachment, 
returnable not less than two, nor more than four days from the 
date thereof, which shall be served at least two days from the date 
thereof, which shall be served at least two days before the time ol 
appearance mentioned therein; and if such defendant be proceeded 
against otherwise, the justice shall have no jurisdiction of the cause. 

Sec 34. In addition to the cases in which suits may now be com- 
menced before justices of the peace by attachment, any suit for the 
recovery of any debt or damages arising upon any contract, express 
or implied, or upon any judgment, for fifty dollars or less, may be 
so commenced, whenever it shall satisfactorily appear to such jus- 
tice that the defendant is about to remove from the county any of 
his property, with intent to defraud his creditors, or has assigned, 
disposed of or secreted, or is about to assign, dispose of or secrete 
any of his property, with the like intent, whether such defendant be 
a resident of this state or not. 

Sec. 35. Before any attachment shall issue in such dse, or in the 
cases provided for in article second, title fourth, chapter second, 
part third of the Revised Statutes, the plaintiff shall by his own 
affidavit, or that of some other person or persons, prove to the satis- 
faction of the justice, the facts and circumstances to entitle him 
to the same, and that he has such a claim as is specified in the last 
preceding section against the defendant, over and above all dis- 
counts which the defendant may have against him, specifying, as 


near as may be, the amount of such claim or the balance thereof; 
and such plaintiff, or some cme in his behalf, shall also execute in 
the cases provided for by this act, a bond in the penalty of at least 
one hundred dollars, with such sureties, and upon such condition 
as is required in section twenty-ninth of said article; and so much 
of said article as requires any other or different proof for the issu- 
ing of an attachment, than that required by this section, is hereby 

Sec. 36. Every attachment issued by virtue of this act, or of the 
provisions contained in the said second article, shall be served in 
the manner now provided in said article, except that if the defendant 
can be found in the county, the copy of such attachment and inven- 
tory, shall be served upon him personally instead of leaving the same 
at the place now prescribed in said article: and the return of said 
officer, in addition to what is now required, shall state specifically 
whether such copy was or was not personally served upon the 

Sec. 37. If such attachment was issued in one of the cases pro- 
vided for by this act, and shall be returned personally served upon 
the defendant, the justice shall, on the return day, proceed to hear 
and determine the cause in the same manner as upon a summons 
returned personally served. 

Sec 38. If such attachment was issued in one of the cases pro- 
vided for by this act, and at the return day it shall appear by the 
return, that property was attached, and that a copy of such inventory 
and attachment was not personally served, and the defendant shall 
not appear, the plaintiff may take out a summons against the defend- 
ant; and if such summons shall be returned that the defendant can- 
not be found after diligent inquiry, or that the same has been per- 
sonally served upon the defendant, in either case, the justice shall 
proceed to hear and determine the cause in the same manner as 
upon a summons returned personally served. 

Sec. 39. A judgment obtained before any justice, in any suit 
commenced* by attachment, when the defendant shall not be per- 
sonally served with the attachment or summons, and shall not appear, 
shall be only presumptive evidence of indebtedness, in any suit that 
may be brought thereon, and may be repelled by the defendant ; and 
no execution issued upon such judgment, shall be levied upon any 
other property than such as was seized under the attachment issued 
thereon ; nor shall any defendant in such case, be barred of any set- 
off which he may have against the plaintiff. 


Sic 40. A defendant, against whose body, by the provisions of 
this act, an execution cannot be issued from a justice's court, shall 
not be required, in order to obtain an adjournment of a cause^ to 
give a bond with the condition now required by Iaw, but instead 
thereof, the condition of such bond shall be, that no part of his 
property liable to be taken on execution shall be removed, secreted, 
assigned, or in any way disposed of, except the necessary support 
of himself and family, until the plaintiff's demand shall be satisfied, 
or until the expiration of ten days after such plaintiff shall be entitled 
to have an execution issued on the judgment obtained in such dLUse» 
if he shall obtain such judgment, and if the condition of such bond 
be broken, and an execution of such judgment be returned unsatis- 
fied in whole or in part, the plaintiff, in an acticm on such bond, 
shall be entitled to recover the amount due on such judgment. 

Sec. 41. Sections one hundred and thirty-seven, one hundred and 
thirty-eight and one hundred and thirty-nine of title fourth, chapter 
second and part third of the Revised Statutes are hereby repealed. 

Sec. 42. When judgment shall be rendered against the defendant, 
no more than two summonses, and the service of the two sum- 
monses, shall be included in the costs of such judgment. 

Sec. 43. All the provisions of said title fourth, not her^ 
expressly repealed, and not consistent with the provisions of this 
act, are hereby declared to be in full force, and to apply to the pro- 
visions of this act, so far as the same relate to proceedings in courts 
before justices of the peace. 

Sec. 44. All persons imprisoned at the time this act shall take 
effect as a law, by virtue of any execution issued upon a judgment 
recovered before any justice, upon any contract, express or implied, 
shall be discharged from such imprisonment, as in the next section 
provided, unless the plaintiff in such execution shall, on or before 
that day, file with the jailer an affidavit, stating such facts as wouHI 
authorize an execution against the body of the defendant, according 
to the twenty-ninth section of this act. 

Sec. 45. To entitle such imprisoned debtor to such discharge, 
he shall present to the jailer or sheriff in whose custody he shall 
be, an affidavit setting forth that the execution, by virtue of which 
he is imprisoned, issued upon a judgment obtained on a contract, 
express or implied, or obtained on a judgment founded on such 
contract; and thereupon he shall be discharged, and the sheriff shall 
not be liable to any action for such discharge. 



Sbc. 46. Any person imprisoned on any process issued out of 
any court, who shall be entitled to be discharged from such impris- 
onment under the provisions of this act, may bring a writ of habeas 
corpus or certiorari for that purpose, in the manner provided in the 
ninth chapter of the third part of the Revised Statutes. 

Sac 47. The provisions of this act, from the twenty-ninth section 
inclusive, shall apply to executions, warrants and other process 
issued by the marine court in the city of New York, by the assistant 
justices for wards in the said city, and by the justices of the justices' 
courts in the city of Albany and of the city of Hudson, tod to all 
proceedings in the said courts and by the said justices, in the like 
cases and in the same manner as herein provided in respect to jus- 
tices of the peace. 

Sic 48. This act shall take effect as a law on the first day of 
March, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two; but the secretary 
of state shall immediately cause a sufficient number of copies of this 
act to be printed by the state printer, to supply every justice of the 
peace in the state, and every town clerk and sheriff with a copy, 
which shall be transmitted by him to the clerks of the different 
counties, and by them distributed to the officers entitled thereto: 
the expense of which printing and transmission to the county clerks 
shall be paid out of the treasury, in the manner provided by law. 






In the autumn of 1832 there appeared in the Bufiik 
Patriot a series of letters, afterwards issued as a sixteen- 
page pamphlet with the following title-page: ''An examina* 
tion of the question, "Is it right to require any religious tea: 
as a qualification to be a witness in a court of justice?* B] 
Juridicus. Buffalo: Printed by Charles Faxon. 1832.' 
Whether the authorship of this pamphlet was generall] 
known at the time, cannot now be stated ; but on the title 
page of a copy which was for many years in Mr. Fillmore's 
library, and is now owned by the Buffalo Historical Society 
is written, in Mr. Fillmore's well-known hand, "By Millarc 
Fillmore." He was not the man to thus claim a work unless 
he was its author. Furthermore, the style of compositioc 
is such as to remove all doubt from a mind familiar wid: 
the characteristics of his writing. Chronologically, it stands 
between his service in the Assembly of New York State, 
and the national House of Representatives. The text of the 
pamphlet, with the title-page in facsimile, follow. 












UttSalo : 





The following numbers appeared in the Buffalo Patriot during the 
winter of 1832, over the signature of JURIDICUS. They treat upon 
a subject of vital importance to eveiy citizen. Many, whose char- 
acter and religious faith are a sure guaranty, not only to their com- 
petency but credibility as witnesses, suppose they have no interest in 
a rule of law that prevents their neighbor from testifsring. Bat in 
this they are entirely mistaken. It is their interest as well as the 
civil rights of their neighbor, that suffer by this unjust rule. They 
have an interest in their neighbor's testimony, — he may be the only 
witness by whose evidence a right can be established, or an unjust 
claim repelled. And if any improper rule of law prevents his testify- 
ing, an innocent person may suffer for want of his evidence, and 
justice be defeated. It may be truly said that in all moral revoln- 
tions, public sentiment must precede legislative action. The repre- 
sentative is seldom in advance of his constituents. If you would 
therefore successfully attack ancient prejudices, or overturn long 
established errors, enlighten the people, and the work is accom- 
plished. These considerations are thought to be a sufficient apology 
for re-printing the following numbers, and distributing them to the 
world in a more extensive and substantial manner than the limited 
circulation and evanescent nature of a country newspaper would 
permit. They are brief, considering the extent of the subject upon 
which they treat, yet it is believed they are sufficiently long for the 
man who thinks, and more would be thrown away upon the reader 
who never thinks. The absurdities mentioned will suggest more to 
the reflecting mind, and if many more were added, they would weigh 
nothing in the mind of that man who never reflects. 

It is proper to add in conclusion, that in the winter of 1831, a bill 
was introduced into the assembly of the State of New York for the 
purpose of amending the law in this respect, a copy of which is 
annexed. Its friends had strong hopes of its passage, but the press 
of other important business which had a preference, prevented any 
action upon it during that session ; and the subject was not resumed 
the ensuing year. 

Buffalo, October sth, 1832. 


IN ASSEMBLY, February i, 1832. 

An act relative to the competency of witnesses. 

The People of the State of New York, represented in Senate and 
Assembly do enact as follows: 

I I. No person shall be deemed incompetent as a witness in any 
court, matter or proceeding, on account of his or her religious belief, 
or for the want of any religious belief ; nor shall any witness be ques- 
tioned as to his or her religious belief ; nor shall any other testimony 
be received in relation thereto, either before or after such witness 
may be sworn. 

No. I. 

Mr. Salisbury^ — I ask the favor of your columns to discuss a 
question of great importance, to the rights of every citizen. And 
when I speak of rights I mean those legal and admitted rights that 
the constitution and laws profess to guaranty to every person. The 
question is this, "Is it right to require any religious test to qualify 
a person to be a witness in a court of justice?" 

It may appear like presumption in any person to assume the nega- 
tive of this question. He will undoubtedly be told, that the wisdom 
of ages has sanctioned the doctrine, that if a person be deficient in 
certain articles of established faith he ought not to be permitted to 
be sworn in a court of justice; that no testimony ought to be given 
without the sanction of an oath; that the oath itself in such case 
would be but a mockery, and therefore, the witness ought not to be 
heard at all. 

All will readily admit that it is of infinite importance to the 
due administration of justice, that the rule by which testimony is to 
be admitted or rejected, should be the one best calculated to develop 
the facts which are necessary to be known, to arrive at a correct de- 
cision of the matter in controversy. 

I. Herekiah A. Salisbury, publisher of the Buffalo Patriot. He and his 
brother Smith H. Salisbury were the pioneer printers of Buffalo. In 1832 the 
Patriot was a weekly. January 7, 1834, it was renamed the Buffalo Patriot 
and Commercial Advertiser. The first number of the (Uily Commercial Adver- 
tiser was issued Jan. i, 1835, with H. A. Salisbury as publisher. He died 
March 14, 1856. 



The best and most perfect laws are bttt a dead letter, if there be 
no adequate means provided to obtain a knowledge of the focts upon 
which they are to cerate. How does it benefit me, thoufl^ the law 
has declared that the man who takes my horse shall pay me all the 
damage whidi I may sustain by snch taking, if, at the same time, it 
has provided no means by which I can satisfy the tribunal i^pointed 
to administer justice, that the horse has been taken and I have ins- 
tained damage? Injustice must alwajrs be done, when for any caoae, 
the true facts can not be brought to light Evidence is the medium 
through which justice is always to be administered— and if by adopt- 
ing an improper rule we exclude from our knowledge a part, or all 
of the facts, which are necessary to be known to decide correctly, we 
must in our decision necessarily and unavoidably do injustice. 

The rule of exclusion in the dark ages when men were punished 
for "opinion's sake/' was very broad indeed. Gilbert lays it down 
generally, "That infidels can not be witnesses, because they are under 
none of the obligations of OUR religion." 

In 1744, the Chancellor of England, assisted by the Chief Justice 
of the King's Bench and Chief Baron of the Common Pleas, decided 
in a case originating in India that a Gentoo might be sworn accord- 
ing to the forms of his own religion, and was a good witness. This 
was the first indication of returning sanity in the judicial tribunals 
of England, and the first step towards the adoption of the true rule 
for admitting or rejecting witnesses for religious belief. This umo- 
vation was strongly opposed ; and nothing more appears to have been 
done by the courts of that country till after our revolution, when by 
the constitution of this State, we adopted the laws of Great Britain, 
and took the law on this subject as it then stood. 

No reported decision was made in our courts on this subject until 
1820, when the question was raised as to a witness who had declared 
his disbelief in a Deity, and a future state of rewards and punish- 
ments. He was declared to be incompetent, and Chief Justice 
Spencer, who delivered the opinion of the court, said, "By the law of 
England which has been adopted in this State, it is fully and clearly 
settled, that infidels who do not believe in a God, or if they do, do 
not think that he will cither reward or punish them in the world to 
come, can not be witnesses in any case, nor under any circumstances, 
because an oath cannot possibly be any tie or obligation upon them." 
— 18 Johnson's Rep., 103. 

By this decision it would appear, that to render a man a com- 
petent witness, it is not only necessary that he should believe in a 
God, but also in a future state of rewards and punishments. This 
would exclude most of that class of Christians called Universalists 


from the right to testify. In 1823, this authority was questioned by 
Mr. Justice Sutheriand, in delivering the opinion of the Supreme 
Court, and he decided the true test to be "whether the witness be- 
lieves in a God, who will punish him if he swears falsely." — 2 Cow- 
en's Rep., 432. Within this rule, that class of Universalists who be- 
lieve that the Supreme Being will punish them in this world for 
^se swearing would be competent witnesses. 

In 1824, the question again arose before the present Chancellor 
of the State then acting as one of our Circuit Judges, on the trial of 
a criminal in Otsego county. A witness was objected to on the 
ground ''that he did not believe in any future punishment after this 
Hfe." The judge decided, that the witness was competent and mi^^t 
be sworn ; and that the true test was, that he should believe in a God 
who would punish him either in this world, or the world to come, if 
he testified falsely. — 2 Cow. Rep., p. 432, note a. 

This last rule as laid down by Judge Walworth, was recom- 
mended by the Revisers and adopted by the Legislature as a part of 
the Revised Statutes of this State, in the following words : 

"Every person believing in the existence of a Supreme Being who 
will punish false swearing, shall be admitted to be sworn, if other- 
wise competent" — 2 Revised Statutes, p. 408, 1 87. 

This is now the existing law on this subject, with a brief history 
of its mutations from time to time ; and it is not a little remarkable 
that every change has been in favor of admitting persons to testify 
who were before excluded. The narrow feeling of prejudice and 
bigotry have gradually given way to more enlightened and liberal 
views. And since the doctrine has received the assent of all in- 
telligent minds, that men do not deserve to be punished on account 
of the peculiarity of their religious faith, it is strange that they con- 
tinue to deprive themselves of the benefit of their neighbor's testi- 
mony, merely because his faith in certain unknown things, is a little 
weaker or stronger than theirs. 

In my next number I shall consider the objection, that an infidel 
ought not to be sworn because there is no tie upon his conscience. 

No. 2. 

In my last number, I proposed in this "to consider the objection 
that an infidel ought not to be sworn because there is no tie upon 
his conscience." Technically speaking, a witness is said to be incom- 
petent, who is not permitted to be sworn or to testify; and to be 
incredible when, from any cause, his testimony, though received, is 
not entitled to belief. 


A child too young to understand the nature of an oath, is said to 
be incompetent He can not be allowed to testify at alL A man 
who is a notorious liar, may not be competent — he may be sworn; 
but nevertheless from his infamy of character, he may not be en- 
titled to belief, and he is, in such case, said to be competent, bat not 

The question therefore is, "should a witness be deemed incom- 
petent on account of his infidelity?" 

I shall not now stop to inquire whether the term infidel includes 
all who do not possess the true faith or not. My object is not a 
justification of the belief or want of belief, of infidels in general, or 
any particular class of them, but to ascertain, if possible, whether 
their errors of opinion in matters of belief, should disfranchise them 
from the protection of our laws, and deprive others of the benefit of 
their testimony. 

I shall therefore take the strongest possible case of infidelity, that 
does or can exist, that of the atheist, and if I am able to prove, that, 
even in this case, the due and just administration of the laws would 
be promoted by permitting his erroneous belief to go to his credibil- 
ity instead of his incompetency, it is presumed that no other shade of 
infidelity will be deemed sufficient to render a witness incompetent 

But why is the atheist incompetent? Because, say the courts, 
there is no tie upon his conscience. But this is not true in point of 
fact : there are many ties, and many inducements, and many motives 
yet to speak the truth, when under oath, though he may and does 
lack one which operates upon the person who believes that he will be 
punished in the world to come for false swearing. The belief or dis- 
belief of the existence of a Supreme Being or of the divinity of onr 
Saviour, proves neither integrity nor the want of it. Men believe in 
proportion to the evidence which they have, or suppose they have. 
Their culpability, if any, lies not in the belief or disbelief, of the 
existence of an over-ruling Providence, but in their neglect to search 
out such evidences of the fact within their reach, as shall satisfy them 
of such existence. There can be no other merit or demerit, in believ- 
ing or disbelieving. If it were in the power of men to believe accord- 
ing to desire, who would indulge for a moment the melancholy reflec- 
tion, when surrounded by friends, and in the full enjoyment of 
youth, health and happiness, that soon, very soon, the unsparing 
scythe of time, would lay these beloved associates, one by one, in the 
solitary grave ; that the buoyancy and delights of youth, must soon be 
damped and chilled by the autumn and winter of old age, and the tide 
of health and joy that now pours around the heart, must soon be 
clogged by disease, and become the stagnant pool, whose exhalations 


produce pain, misery and death? I ask who would believe these 

things, if belief were a matter of choice? and I answer none. Yet 

adl do believe them. The virtuous and the vicious — ^the honest and 

the dishonest; and why do they believe? Not certainly because they 

are ▼irtuons or vicious, honest or dishonest, but because the evidences 

that constantly force themselves upon our notice and observation are 

such, that we can not avoid the conclusion that this must inevitably 

be the result, and from these evidences, in regard to this matter, our 

faith and our belief is fixed. So that a man's belief or disbelief of a 

particular fact, in no wise depends upon his character for moral 

honesty, or truth, but his character for truth does, in some measure, 

depend upon his belief or disbelief of the certainty of punishment if 

he shall tell a falsehood. And this is, in some measure, the view 

which the courts of modem times have taken of this subject. They 

have not made the competency or credibility of the witness depend 

apon the correctness or feUacy of the witness' belief. The pagan 

who believes that his little wooden god which he carries in his bosom, 

will punish him in the world to come for false-swearing, is, so far as 

I matter of faith is concerned, just as good a witness as the most 

devout Christian. So far as the fear of punishment goes, he is 

equally restrained from the crime of perjury. And the want of this 

belief only shows that one inducement out of a great many is wanting 

to insure virtuous conduct and moral honesty. 

Now should the want of this one inducement to speak the truth, 
render him incompetent as a witness? So far as the fear of punish- 
ment to be inflicted by human laws can operate to prevent falsehood, 
this fear must operate upon him with the same force as upon the most 
devout believer. The dread of shame and infamy that necessarily 
attaches to the man who gives false testimony, has the same influence 
upon the atheist as the believer. The pride of character, the love of 
justice, that sense of right and wrong that is implanted in every 
human breast, all operate with the same force upon the atheist as 
upon any other individual. Truth is much more easily told than 
falsehood. The relation of truth requires no effort. The invention 
of a falsehood calculated to gain credit with an intelligent jury, is an 
undertaking of great labor and hazard. Indolence itself is a barrier 
against wilful false-swearing; and the very fear of detection whilst 
on the stand, in the presence of the court and surrounding audience, 
is a strong preventive of falsehood. All these are so many assur- 
ances and so many guaranties for the truth of the testimony of every 
witness. They operate equally upon the believer and unbeliever, 
pagan and Christian, Jew and Mahometan. 


Now men in the performance of every voluntary act are governed 
by some motive. They have in view some advantage, real or im- 
aginary; and whenever the motives to commit perjury in the opinion 
of the witness outweigh those to speak the truth, he will testify 
falsely, no matter how strong the motives in favor of truth may be. 
The preponderance against them in his opinion fixes the result 
Therefore all the restraints which can be imposed, are not sufficient 
in all cases to prevent perjury. Yet, in a great majority of cases, 
one-half of them would be amply sufficient. The bare absence of a 
motive to swear falsely would of itself be a sufficient guaranty for 
truth. The fear of future punishment for false swearing has much 
less influence on the great majority of people than may be at first 
imagined. No specific punishment for the breach of an official oath 
is prescribed by our law. Sheriffs, judges, justices, constables, and 
other officers, take an oath faithfully to discharge the duties of their 
respective offices. A violation of this oath is moral perjury. Yet in 
the great majority of cases, it is no sooner taken than forgotten. It 
is scarcely thought an obligation. It is taken by the recipient as a 
mere ceremony, to show that he intends to enter upon the duties of 
his office. Custom house oaths and test oaths are still stronger in- 
stances of the almost perfect indifference with which false swearing 
is viewed, when there is no other penalty than the punishment to be 
inflicted by the Supreme Being for false swearing. 

When all these instances of moral perjury, with many others that 
might be enumerated are taken into view, it must be apparent, that 
the fear of future punishment is in fact of but little use in preventing 
perjury. The witness who makes up his mind to commit perjury 
views it as too remote to affect him much. He calculates on repent- 
ance and forgiveness before he dies; and it is but a feeble restraint 
All must concede, that the fear of future punishment with the great 
majority of witnesses, is not half as powerful to prevent perjury, as 
the fear of punishment inflicted by human laws. If so, then why 
should the witness be competent when the fear of human punishment 
is removed, and incompetent because the fear of future punishment is 
removed ? A witness is called upon the stand and asked if any other 
person was present and saw the fact that he is about to testify to. 
He replies,, no. Then of course if the witness should testify falsely, 
there could be no evidence by which he could be convicted of perjury. 
He therefore testifies without the fear of human punishment for that 
offence. This powerful inducement to speak the truth is wanting. 
Why is he not set aside as incompetent? Why is not the presump- 
tion immediately raised in this case, as in the other, that he will 


swear ^sdy, becaase there is no fear of human punishment — ^no tie 
upon his conscience? Yet this is never done. 

But again — ^we want the testimony of a witness in our courts who 
lives in India, or Russia. The court send out a commission to take 
the testimony, without ever inquiring whether that government 
where the witness resides, has made any provision to punish the wit- 
ness for perjury, or ^se swearing in a case depending in our own 
courts. Why should we not presume the witness will conunit perjury 
on account of this restraint being removed, and therefore declare him 
incompetent He knows the laws of Russia where he resides have 
made no provisions for punishing him for perjury in this case. He 
therefore, not only believes that he will not be punished by those 
laws, but he knows to a moral certainty that he cannot be. Yet with 
all this restraint taken off, he is a competent witness. Then is it not 
absurd to say what our law now says, that a man can not be a wit- 
ness unless he believes that the Supreme Being will punish him, 
either in this world, or the world to come, for false swearing? That 
unless he swears under this fear, which may be a fear limited to pun- 
ishment in this life, he will most assuredly commit perjury. 

I have devoted more time to this point, than I intended; and in 
my next, shall endeavor to point out some of the absurdities of this 
rule of exclusion. 

No. 3. 

Agreeable to my promise in my last number, I now proceed to 
point out some of the absurdities and inconsistencies of the rule that 
renders a witness incompetent on account of his religious belief. 

FIRST. This rule of exclusion is inconsistent with the constitu- 
tion of the State; and is at war with some of the most valued and 
most sacred principles, embodied in that charter of our liberties and 
civil rights. The constitution after prescribing the oath or affirm- 
ation taken by every officer, and which is merely to support the con- 
stitution of the State and of the United States, and faithfully dis- 
charge the duties of his office, then declares in the most express and 
unequivocal language, that "no other oath, declaration, or test, shall 
t>e required as a qualification for any office or public trust.'' From 
this it is clear that by the constitution, the most stubborn infidel is 
eligible to the highest office in the State. He may be elected gov- 
ernor or appointed to the office of chancellor, or that of Judge of the 
Supreme G)urt, and his infidelity is no disqualification whatever. 
Then this strange absurdity is presented by the constitution and laws 
of this State. They permit a man whose oath or affirmation would 


not be received in a Justice's Court to establish an indd>tedness oi 
one dollar, in a case where he had no possil^e motive or interest to 
testify falsely, to sway the whole executive influence of this great 
State ; to nominate and appoint most of the important officers of the 
State; and in times of war, when not only the property and bi^pi- 
ness of a million and a half of souls may depend upon the integrity 
and patriotism of that man who has the direction and command ol 
the public force, I say at that perilous crisis, this same man, who 
would not be permitted to testify in a Justice's Court, is by the ooo- 
stitution, commander in chief of our armies and admiral of our 
navies. Is not this a gross absurdity? Is it not perfectly ridicaloas 
to say that a man may take an oath or affirmation, and that too ^idicn 
none of the pains and penalties of perjury are inflicted for its viola- 
tion, that shall insure a faithful performance of all these responsible 
trusts, and yet the same man shall not be permitted in a court of 
justice to testify that he saw one of his nei^ibors lend another one a 
dollar, for fear he will swear falsely? But again, by the constitution 
of the State, your Governor may be a professed atheist, whose oath 
by the laws of the State would not be received to convict a man of an 
assault and battery, or petit larceny, and yet by the same constitution 
this same Governor has the power of pardoning the criminal for the 
highest crimes after conviction. But to place the subject in a still 
stronger light, let us suppose a case that might occur by the laws and 
constitution of this State. A. is indicted for murder committed in 
the village of BuflFalo on the ist day of January, 1832, and he alleges 
that on that day he was in the city of Albany, transacting business 
with the Governor of the State ; and it so happens that the Governor 
is an atheist or infidel of that character that he is not allowed to be a 
witness : — Witnesses are called to testify that they think the man at 
the bar is the same person whom they saw run out of the house when 
the murder was committed ; and if so, there can be no doubt that he 
was the one who committed it. The governor is called upon to 
prove the man's innocence, by showing that he was with him in 
Albany on the day the murder was committed, and that therefore he 
must be innocent. He is objected to on account of his infidelity, and 
declared incompetent; his testimony is not heard, and the man is 
convicted. Yet this same Governor, who could not, by the laws of 
the land, testify to the man's innocence, with all the horrors of a 
State prison before him if he testifies falsely, turns round and makes 
out a pardon for the convicted murderer, that sets him free whether 
guilty or innocent Let every candid person look at this case and 
see if it does not present a most gross absurdity in the constitution 
and laws of the State. 


But let lis look at this subject in another point of view. By the 
coostitiitiofi an infidel or atheist may be elected to the office of 
justice of the peace and take the office and discharge its duties. If 
in infidel, he sits and administers an oath to each witness that the 
law of the land would not permit him to take. But this is not all ; as 
tnch justice, if he certifies that a judgment has been rendered before 
hxm in lavor of A. against B. for fifty dollars, that certificate will be 
OQodttsive evidence of such fact, and if A. should bring a suit against 
B. before another justice to recover the same, this certificate would 
be conclusive evidence in his favor, and at the same time if this 
justice had produced his docket and offered to swear to it, to estab- 
lish such judgment, under the pains and penalties of perjury, his oath 
would not have been received. And the case presents this strange 
absurdity, that a man's bare certificate may be received in a court of 
justice to establish a fact, when his testimony under oath would not 
be received, either to establish it or contradict it. If a justice of the 
peace happens to be an atheist, or lack the legal faith, his bare certifi- 
cate will be received to establish a judgment, which is the highest 
evidence of indebtedness, when his testimony under oath would not 
be received to show that it had been paid. Look at it. Is it not 
absurd? But I forbear to pursue the subject farther. Every reflect- 
ing man's mind will suggest to him a thousand such absurdities in the 
application of this rule ; and it appears to me that every candid mind 
must be satisfied that it is entirely inconsistent with the principles 
of the constitution— opposed to all the free principles of our govern- 
ment — and supremely ridiculous when compared with the official dis- 
tinction and confidence which the constitution has conferred upon 
this class of our citizens. 

I shall note other inconsistencies and absurdities of this rule in 
my next. 

No. 4. 

At the conclusion of my last number I proposed to consider in 
this, other inconsistencies and absurdities of that rule of law that 
renders a witness incompetent on account of his religious belief. 

Why is the witness declared incompetent? The reason assigned 
is, that if he should be sworn, he would be more likely to testify 
falsely than truly, and for that reason his testimony would be more 
likely to cause injustice than to aid in doing justice. This is the only 
reason that is, or can now be assigned for rendering a witness in- 
competent on account of his religious belief. 

But how are you to know what a witness' religious opinions are? 
They are not exposed to the view of mankind. They are not per- 


oei>tible to any seiue with which the author of onr being has endoiwed 
OS. It is utterly impossible in the very natnre of things for one 
man to know another's religious sentiments. They are comprised in 
his thooghts, in his opinions — ^whidi he may or may vM publish to 
the world, u he pleases. But yet you must have evidence of those 
thoughts and those opinions before you can exclude him as m wit- 
ness. Where will yon seek for the evidence? You nmst find it in 
the declarations of the witness, for it can not be found elsewhere. 
Then let us look at the process by which this inqwrtant fact is to be 
established, and the absurd deductions which are drawn from it. 

The witness is called upon the stand, and before any oath is ad- 
ministered to him, he is asked if he believes in the existence of a 
Supreme Being, who will punish him for false swearing? He 
answers, No. Now this answer is either true or false. If ^se, why 
then he should be admitted as a witness, and would be legally com- 
petent by the laws of the land ; but if true, then he is to be rejected. 
This is admirable logic! beautiful consistency! and when placed in 
due form, reads thus: — A. was introduced as a witness, and it be- 
came necessary to prove by him a certain fact, to wit, that he did not 
believe in a Supreme Being. He stated without being under oath, 
or feeling any apprehension of having inflicted upon him the pains 
and penalties of perjury for stating a falsehood, that he did not. The 
court concluded that he had spoken the truth, and that the fact was 
established that he did not believe; and he having spoken the truth 
in this instance with strong temptations to tell a falsehood and no 
restraints to prevent it, thereupon they arrived at this natural and 
logical conclusion, that if he should be put under oath, and be therd>y 
subjected to the infamy and punishment inflicted for perjury, that he 
would most assuredly testify falsely, and therefore, he should not be 
permitted to testify further. In brief, he has told the truth when 
not under oath, — ^and this induces a legal presumption, that he would 
commit perjury if put under oath, and therefore he shall not be 
sworn at all. 

But look at the absurdity of this process in another point of view. 
The honest, honorable, upright man, who would not tell an untruth 
to save his right arm, whether under oath or not; when questioned 
as to his belief, though it varies from the common standard, freely, 
candidly and fearlessly confesses it, and is rejected; while the dis- 
honest, lying hypocrite denies what his real sentiments are, tells a 
falsehood, and is admitted to testify. 

But says the objector, we have reconciled these absurdities and 
obviated these difficulties, by not questioning the witness on the stand 
as to his religious belief, but by requiring the fact to be proved by 


other witnesses. Let us look at this a moment and see if it be so. 
What is the fact to be established to exclude the witness? It is, that 
at the time he is o£Fered as a witness, he does not believe certain 
things. For it is of no consequence what his belief or disbelief may 
have been before. If it then comes up to the legal standard, he is to 
be admitted, if it is then deficient, he is to be rejected. Now the 
declarations of the witness objected to are to be the evidence of his 
belief, whether those declarations be made directly to the court, or 
be made to some other person who states them to the court. They 
are in either case nothing but his declarations. And their truth is 
not in the least verified or strengthened by having another witness 
swear to them. All the witness can say, is, that the man made such 
declarations as to his religious belief. But whether he spoke the 
truth or not, it is impossible for him to tell, and the court would 
never inquire. But in this case they take it for granted he did speak 
the truth, that the witness who has testified to what he said, has 
been enabled to recollect distinctly and does now testify truly, and 
that the proffered witness since that time has not changed his belief. 
This is making a great many very liberal presumptions to establish 
the existence of that all important fact, that shall render the witness 
incompetent. And this is the way, after the court have piled pre- 
sumption on presumption, they at last arrive at that fancied degree of 
certainty that they refuse testimony to shew that they can be mis- 
taken. When the fact to be established is that the proffered witness 
is now an infidel, they receive proof that he said he was six months 
ago, and would refuse to receive his own oath to shew that he had 
since changed his mind, and was now an orthodox Christian of the 
"straightest sect." 

If a witness says out of court that he is interested in the event of 
a certain cause, the court will not take his declaration out of court as 
proof of the fact. They will require other proof of the fact in court, 
in order to render the witness incompetent on account of his interest. 
Why? Because, say the court, he is not under oath and may there- 
fore state that he has an interest, when he has none, merely to avoid 
testifying against a friend. This is undoubtedly good reasoning and 
sound law, yet the courts do not appear to have noticed that the 
cases are precisely parallel. In the one case you wish to establish the 
fact that the proffered witness is interested, to prevent his being 
sworn. You offer to prove that he has said he was interested, and 
the court will tell you that it is not sufficient evidence to establish the 
fact. In the other case you wish to establish the fact that the wit- 
ness disbelieves in the existence of a Diety, to render him incom- 
petent. You prove that he has said so, and the court tell you that is 


sufficient to establish the fact And the mischief to be apprehende<! 

in the one case is precisely the same as in the other; and the sami 

policy that should exclude that kind of evidence in the one case 

should in the other. 

Let us see the frauds that may be practised under this rule of ex< 

elusion. Such things are best understood by their practical operation 

We will therefore suppose a case. A. is indicted for murder, and B. 

his relative, or intimate friend, happens to be the only witness by 

whose testimony the crime can be established. B. does not wish tc 

commit perjury, nor will he, even to save his friend ; but by a mutnal 

understanding between them, he will go and tell some third penoc 

that he does not believe in a Diety, or a future state of rewards and 

punishments. This third person will be subpcenaed as a witness, an<! 

when B. is called upon the stand, he will be objected to on account oi 

his religious belief, and then the third person will be called upon tc 

swear to what B. told him, and having testified to it, B. is decUre<! 

incompetent, and A. is acquitted. This is no imaginary case, but om 

which I am credibly informed, actually occurred in one of the easteti 

counties of this State. Should not the bare fact that this rule of Ian 

opens sudi temptations and facilities to frauds of this kind, be inffi* 

cient to insure its abrogation? Look at it candidly, and dispassioo- 

ately, and decide for yourself. 







Mr. Fillmore took his seat in the Twenty-third Congress, 
as a member of the House of Representatives, December 2, 
1833.* The first session continued till June 30, 1834. Mr. 
Fillmore was a member of the standing committee on the 
District of Colimibia. On December 23d he offered his first 
motion in the House, as follows : 

'^Resolved, That the Committee on Military Affairs be 
instructed to inquire into the expediency of so modifying 
the existing law in relation to the militia of the several 
States, as to permit each State, in time of peace, in the dis- 
cretion of its Legislature, to require no person to bear arms 
under 21 or over 40 years of age; and to permit the inspec- 
tion of arms to be taken by companies, instead of by regi- 
ments or battalions; and also into the propriety of provid- 
ing arms and accoutrements at the public expense for those 
liable to bear arms; and that they be required to report to 
this House by bill or otherwise." 

Mr. Fillmore subsequently, by unanimous consent, 
changed the reference of the foregoing resolution to a select 

I. In 1832 Erie County was made the Thirty-second Congressional Dis- 
trict of New York State, and Mr. Fillmore was the first Representative of the 
district as so constituted. His predecessor in the Twenty-second Congress, 
Sates Cook, of Niagara County, represented the Thirtieth District, which then 
comprised Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties. In the Twenty-fourth 
Oongress, March 4, 1835, to March 3, 1837, Erie County was represented by 
Thomas C. Love. Mr. Fillmore was reelected to the Twenty-fifth, Twenty- 

»ixth and Twenty-seventh Congresses, serving from March 4, 1837, to March 

3. 1843. 



committee, previously appointed on subjects of like char- 
acter. The constmcticm of a bridge over the Potomac, bdng 
under consideration, Mr. Fillmore spoke in favor of refer- 
ring the subject to the committee on District of Columbia. 
He shared in discussion on the Army Appropriation bilL 
He presented, among other memorials, one signed tqr 700 
citizens of Buffalo, "without reference to party, adopted on 
the 19th of February," in favor of a restoration of the public 
deposits' to the Bank of the United States. His first ex- 
tended remarks in the House were on a bill for the relief 
of Abraham Fobes, a veteran of the War of 1812, propos- 
ing to give him 640 acres of Government land. Mr, Fillmore 
sought to have the bill amended so that Fobes could take up 
ttie land in quarter sections. This motion being lost, Mr. 
Fillmore on January 6th said in substance, in further debate: 


Abraham Fobes, the petitioner, being a constituent of his, 
with whom he was well acquainted, he felt it a duty to an- 
swer some of the objections which had been made to the 
bill for his relief. He regretted that he was not more 
familiar with the documentary evidence upon which the 
bill was reported ; but, from what had been read, it appeared 
that this man, before the last war, removed into Canada in 
affluent circumstances. That, after the declaration of war, 
he returned to his native country, and took up arms in her 
defence. That his family returned to this country destitute, 
and he could bear witness that he was yet poor. During the 
war, he rendered services of a peculiar Idnd, most hazardous 
and dangerous in themselves, and most important to the 
Government. He acted as a spy. He had the confidence of 
his commanding officers, Colonel Christie,' and discharged 

1. The contemporary ipdiint for tbc dcaicaalion of tbcK fondi wu 
tamrbUjr "Depotlwi." 

LleaHDant'C:^lMkcl Jobn Cbrrttie, died it Fort George in CUuda July 


this delicate and dangerous trust to his entire satisfaction. 
He was promised by Colonel Christie a handsome reward, 
but that officer's premature death had prevented his ever 
realizing it. 

"He now asks justice, and only justice, at our hands. 
But it is insisted that, if we give him anything, we shall only 
allow him the same that was given to a Canadian volunteer. 
When we legislate for a whole class of citizens, we must 
necessarily bring them within the same rule. It is impos- 
sible to make a distinction, and graduate the reward accord- 
ing to merit. This man's case does not come within that 
general rule. He was not provided for by that general act, 
and, as we have to act upon his case individually, it is cer- 
tainly right to look into the merits of the case. These ser- 
vices, then, were not the ordinary services of a soldier. 
They required information and qualifications of a peculiar 
kind, to enable him to perform them; and their perform- 
ance exposed him to great and imminent danger. Can a 
man say this compensation, thus long delayed, was ample?" 
He thought not ; and thought the case fairly distinguishable 
from that of an ordinary volunteer. 

As to the objection that we were liable to be imposed upon 
by false testimony at so great a length of time after the 
occurrence, Mr. Fillmore admitted that the objection had 
its weight when you present a case to which it is applicable. 
But the evidence in this case was not subject to that objec- 
tion. It has been read, and appeared to have been taken 
immediately after the transaction ; and, unless those written 
affidavits and certificates have changed, they are as good 
evidence of the facts now, as they were when taken. 

As to the objection of the honorable gentleman from 
Ohio [Mr. Vance], that the name of this poor petitioner 
sounded familiar to him, he said, he hoped that that circum- 
stance would not prejudice the rights of this unfortunate 
claimant. He doubted not the name was familiar to the 
honorable gentleman — not for the reason supposed by him, 
that he had already been compensated ; but from the fact 
that he had long been a petitioner at the bar of that House 


for the compensation which this bill proposed to give. He 
could not say positively, but he understood that the petitioner 
had never yet received any compensation for these services ; 
and he hoped this act of justice would be no longer delayed. 




APRIL 17, 1834 

April 17th, the question being on a general reduction of 
salaries in the Departments, Mr. Fillmore said, in substance : 

Having voted thus far in favor of the amendment, he 
wished to give the reasons which had influenced his vote. 
It was his belief that the salaries at present paid by this 
Government were too high. He did not possess knowledge 
enough to enable him to judge with accuracy, but it was 
apparent to him that the course of the Government had been 
such as must raise the value of money, and depreciate in 
proportion that of all other things. This, indeed, seemed to 
be conceded on all hands ; and if the fact were so, and the 
community were suffering by the act of the Government, he 
deemed it no more than right and just that the legislators 
themselves, and all public officers, from the President down, 
should in this respect be put upon an equality with the 
people. If the same amount of money would now purchase 
more of all the necessaries and comforts of life than it 
would formerly, then the salaries, though reduced in 
amount, would still be in effect the same. It had been said 
that this was not the proper time or place to introduce such 
a reduction. Most of the gentlemen who had spoken pro- 
fessed themselves to be in favor of the measure at some 
time, and under other circumstances, but not just now. Mr. 
Fillmore was ready to grant that a bill of supplies was not 



the most appropriate bill in which to introduce this reduction 
of salaries; but, according to the opinion which had been 
advanced by the chairman of the Committee on Ways and 
Means, sudi a bill was a fit place both for rabing and 
diminishing the annual allowance of persons emplo]red by 
the Government; for he observed, that in the fortieth line 
of this bill there was an item for an additional watchman 
at one of the Departments, and for an increased compensa- 
tion to watchmen now employed. If an appropriatioo bill 
was a fit place to increase salaries, it was equally a fit place 
to diminish them. It might be said that these were only 
individual cases, and not a general provision; yet, if the 
principle was sound, it applied equally to all cases of the 

But there was a still stronger reason why the reduction 
should be introduced now. It would be improper to appro- 
priate the amount of money proposed by this bill, if in fact 
it was not to be received. If the salaries were to be reduced 
at all, it ought to be known, and the rate ascertained before 
the bill was passed. In fixing the rate of compensation for 
persons in the employ of the General Government, it might 
be well for Congress to look a little about them, at what 
was allowed to those under the State Governments. He 
was best acquainted with the salaries of his own State (New 
York), and he would for a moment compare some of the 
amounts allowed to the Federal officers with those which 
were paid there. 

The four heads of Departments under this Government 
received an annual salary of $6,000 each, while the Governor 
of his State, which had not inappropriately been denomi- 
nated the Empire State, received but $4,000. Here the Gov- 
ernment paid many of their clerks a salary of $1,600, and 
some of its commissioners received $2,000 and $3,000. 
Now, the judges of the Supreme Court of New York, who 
were not only to decide in all causes of common law, but 
who occupied seats in the Court of Errors, which was the 
court of highest and last resort in that State, and whose 
duties occupied them continually throughout the whole year. 


received but $2,000, and no perquisites of any sort. This 
had been the case for more than twelve years ; and yet, with 
no higher salary, these stations had commanded the best 
talents of the State. There was but one court of chancery 
for that whole State, the most commercial State in the 
Union, and yet the chancellor received but $2,000, and the 
place was sought by the most talented men of the profession. 
Was it not grossly unjust that the same amount should be 
allowed by this Government to a mere cop)rist, a scrivener, 
whose occupation required neither learning nor talents? 
Mr. Fillmore would not say but that the salaries in New 
York were too low. It had been proposed to augment some 
of them by adding $500, but not more. Admitting they 
were too low, it must still be acknowledged that the salaries 
under this Government were too high. Mr. Fillmore was in 
favor of the amendment, for another reason. Some gentle- 
men spoke of raising a committee to graduate the salaries 
generally ; but let him tell those gentlemen, from his small 
experience, that if they wanted to see who were receiving 
too much, and who too little, the most effectual plan would 
be to reduce the whole, and that would bring before the 
House speedy applications from those who could make out 
a good case. But as long as Congress should pursue a course 
which made it the interest of all office-holders not to expose 
each other, lest their own compensation should be reduced, 
nothing in the way of reduction could ever be effected. 

[The debate being shared in by various members, at a 
later hour Mr. Fillmore continued:] 

The honorable gentleman from Alabama [Mr. McKinley] 
seemed to think that it would be a violation of the public 
faith to those persons now in office to reduce their salaries. 
This, he confessed, was a novel doctrine to him. He had 
supposed that the salary of every officer, except that of the 
President and those of the judiciary, were entirely under 
the control of the legislative authority. The very fact that 
the Constitution had declared that you should not reduce 
the salaries of the President and those of the judges, during 


their continuance in office, left the strongest possible inq>li« 
cation to his mind, that the salaries of all other officers were 
tinder the entire control of Congress. This was the first 
time that he had ever heard that doctrine seriously contro- 
verted. What would be the consequence of the doctrine con- 
tended for by that honorable gentleman? Why, that one 
Congress after another may go on, from time to time, in^ 
creasing the salaries of your officers to any amount, and it 
would be out of the power of any subsequent Legislature to 
reduce them, unless they should chance to be in session, and 
the office should happen to be vacant at the same time. 
These two fortuitous circumstances might not occur simul- 
taneously in many years ; the consequence of which would 
be, that the mistake, or even corruptions of one Congress 
could not be corrected in many years, if ever. He thought 
the honorable gentleman must be mistaken, and that there 
could be no doubt that they possessed the right, without any 
violation of faith, to reduce these salaries at any time. 

But he had been charged by that honorable gentleman 
with saying that his object in reducing these salaries was 
to relieve the people from burdens which the present state 
of affairs rendered them ill able to bear ; and the honorable 
gentleman says, if relief to the people is intended, it should 
be afforded by reducing taxation, not by reducing the 
salaries of officers. He had taken a very different view of 
that subject. He had supposed that, in order to give actual 
and permanent relief to the people, it was necessary to 
reduce the expenditure of their money. Cut down the 
expenses of your Government so as not to require so much 
to be raised by taxation, and then you can reduce your 
taxes; but if you reduce your income without retrenching 
your expenses, you will only gain temporary relief by nm- 
ning in debt. The gentleman seems to have imbibed an 
impression that it was necessary to expend all the money 
you raise in paying salaries of officers. He [Mr. Fillmore] 
admitted no such necessity. He could see no reason why 
the whole revenue of the nation should be lavished upon its 
officers. He thought they ought to be allowed a fair com- 


pensation for their services, and then, if there were any 
surplus funds, they could be well and advantageously applied 
in the improvement of harbors, and in the construction of 
roads and canals, and other public works in which the people 
have a direct and deep interest. 

The honorable gentleman has also said that, if the cur- 
rency be deranged, the office-holders suffer equally with the 
people. This, Mr. Fillmore said, he denied — ^that the de- 
rangement of the currency was of that nature that it had a 
direct tendency to. in jure the people and benefit the office- 
holder, who received a fixed compensation in cash for his 
services. What was the derangement complained of ? Why, 
it was this : the action of the Government had been such as 
to decrease greatly the amount of the circulating medium, 
by which the value of all property is measured. The conse- 
quence of this is, that money, in consequence of its scarcity, 
has greatly increased in value, as compared with the ordi- 
nary products of the country. Or, which is the same thing, 
the property of the country has greatly decreased in value, 
when that value is to be estimated in money. He said he 
had not the means of telling precisely what was this in- 
crease in the value of money, and corresponding decrease in 
the value of other property. He had reason to believe, 
however, that it was one-fourth or more. He believed, 
from the best information which he could obtain, that $ioo 
would buy as much wheat now as $125 would six months 
since, and probably more. If this be so, and other property 
has fallen in the same ratio, then a salary of $100 is as good 
now as one of $125 was six months since ; and, so far from 
the officers having suffered equally with the people, they 
were direct gainers by it. While the products of the farmer 
and mechanic had been reduced one-fourth in their money 
value, while the wages of the day laborer have been reduced 
from one dollar to seventy-five cents per day, all the salaries 
of all your officers have been, for all practical purposes, 
increased in the same ratio. And yet, shall we be told that 
the officers suffer equally with the people? His constituents, 
he said, were too intelligent to be deceived by such an asser- 


tion. They felt too sensibly the embarrassments under 
which they were laboring. 

But, said Mr. Fillmore, another honorable gentleman, 
from Pennsylvania [Mr. Galbraith], has said, that the re- 
duction of salaries in this way would be impracticable, and 
lead to great confusion; that officers could not tell what 
they were entitled to when their salaries or compensation 
was reduced 25 per cent. This was a most singular objec- 
tion. It had struck him with no little surprise. What were 
the facts? 

Why, your officers are paid either by fees or salaries. 
You pass a law declaring that in all cases hereafter they 
shall receive but three-fourths of what they were hereto- 
fore entitled, by law, to receive. Knowing what they were 
entitled to receive before this law was passed, how will they 
ascertain what they are hereafter to receive? He said he 
supposed there were few of those officers who did not under- 
stand the fundamental rules of arithmetic. If so, they had 
only to divide the amount they were heretofore entitled to 
receive by four, and subtract that quotient from the original 
sum, and the difference would be tfie compensation allowed 
by this amendment. Were the proposition to increase these 
salaries and fees one- fourth, he thought they would have no 
difficulty in finding out how much the law had permitted 
them to add ; and the arithmetical process was equally easy, 
though the inclination might vary, to ascertain how mudi 
the law had compelled them to subtract. 

But he said he had been told by his honorable colleague 
[Mr. Vanderpoel], that he was altogether mistaken in his 
facts, and that there was no such depreciation in the value 
of property, and relative increase in the value of money, as 
he had supposed ; that the whole assumption, in the peculiar 
classic language of the honorable gentleman, was "all a 
hiunbug." Mr. Fillmore said he might be mistaken, but he 
thought not. It was but a short time since, that certain 
honorable gentleman said that the great embarrassment and 
distress that prevailed in the country was "all a humbug." 
Many of those gentlemen had since been compelled to hold 


a different language. Now the honorable gentleman says 
that the scarcity of money and the depreciation in the value 
of property is "all a humbug." Mr. Fillmore said that wheat 
was the staple product of that part of the State of New 
York where he resided. He had understood that the 
farmers, who heretofore had been in the habit of receiving 
about one dollar per bushel, had, within a few months, 
found it difficult to obtain cash for it at sixty-three cents per 
bushel. If so, the depreciation in its value was more than 
thirty-three per cent. And shall they be told, when suffer- 
ing in this way, that it is "all a humbug"? Shall their 
sufferings be mocked with language like this ? However 
lightly the gentleman may be disposed to treat this matter, 
he could assure that honorable gentleman that the people 
who were groaning under these oppressions — ^the farmer, 
the laborer, and the mechanic — regarded them as "hum- 
bugs" of a most serious and afflicting nature. 

Mr. Fillmore said his honorable colleague had said he 
should not have spoken, had not he [Mr. Fillmore] alluded 
to the State of New York. Yet the gentleman had not con- 
tradicted a single statement which Mr. Fillmore made in 
relation to the salaries of the officers of that State. But he 
had said that the judges of the Supreme Court and the 
chancellor accepted these offices under an expectation that 
their salaries were to be increased. He should like to know 
where was the evidence of any grounds for such an expec- 
tation? on what the expection was founded? It was new 
to him. But one thing was very strange, and that was, if 
there were any grounds for such expectations, that they had 
not been realized. The party to which that honorable gen- 
tleman was now attached had long had a decided majority 
in the Legislature. They had had it in their power to meet 
these just expectations of the judges, if they thought best. 

But the gentleman says, an increase of the judges' sala- 
ries has been opposed because one of them, when in the 
convention for framing the Constitution of the State, advo- 
cated a low compensation to the members of the Legisla- 
ture. This, Mr. Fillmore said, might have had an influence 


with some. Those who had the power to pass the law, and 
did not» could tell best what motives prevented. But he 
would like to know why or how that prevented the increase 
of the salaries of the circuit judges, who only received 
twelve hundred and fifty dollars per annum, with some 
perquisites ? One of these offices was filled, and he believed 
ably filled, by a brother of the honorable gentleman. He 
should like to know why these able judicial officers of that 
State, who performed arduous and responsible duties, were 
permitted to receive this small compensation, when the party 
to which they and the honorable gentleman belonged had 
the entire ascendency in the legislative councils of the State, 
and yet pay a mere clerk in this place the sum of sixteen 
hundred dollars per year ? Something was evidently wrong 
about this. He would not say that the salaries of the judges 
and the circuit judges of the State of New York were or 
were not enough. He believed, however, that their most 
ardent friends had only proposed to raise them about five 
hundred dollars each. Even that increase has not been 
made, and they have stood as they now are for about 
thirteen years. And during that time, he believed, diere 
had been no difficulty in commanding the best judicial talent 
in the State. Then, said he, is there not something grossly 
unjust in allowing these enormous salaries to the commis- 
sioners and clerks in the General Government? 

He saw no reason why the Government should not adopt 
the same rule in employing its servants that every man 
adopted in his own business; to pay that amount which 
would command the services of a person of competent tal- 
ents, skill, integrity, and qualifications, to discharge the 
duties of the office, and no more. While you pay such large 
salaries to your officers of the Federal Government, and 
such low salaries to the officers of the State Governments, 
it is offering a bribe for every man of talents and enterprise 
to abandon the service of the State Governments, and 
obtain an office in the General Government. He thought 
the compensation for similar services ought to approximate 
nearer than what it did. He thought the salaries of the 


officers in the General Government too high. It would be 
difficulty he thought, to make a laboring man, who toils hard 
from stmrise to simset for seventy-five cents, understand 
what justice there was in giving to one of your secretaries 
almost seventeen dollars a day, or to a clerk, who labors 
only five or six hours, five dollars per day. But even if they 
were made to see and acknowledge the justice of this extra- 
ordinary difference, they must still think it extremely unjust 
to have the Government, by deranging the currency, reduce 
their small pittance one- fourth, and yet continue these large 
compensations to the public servants at their full amount. 
He did not see the injustice in this reduction of salaries, of 
which the gentleman complained. He thought it the highest 
act of justice. He believed Members of Congress were paid 
less for their services and sacrifices than any other officers 
of the Federal Government, with but few exceptions. Yet 
he was willing, for one, to participate in the reduction. He 
would not ask another to do that which he would not do 

Though he felt that he was guiltless in producing the 
distress and embarrassments under which the people then 
labored, yet he was no more innocent than they were ; and, 
without charging intentional wrong to any one, he could 
only say that, for himself, he was willing to participate with 
the community in the privations under which they suffered. 
He was willing to suflFer a reduction of his compensation, in 
the same ratio that he asked the other officers of the Gov- 
ernment to reduce theirs. And while he doubted, somewhat, 
the form or manner of making these reductions, he did not 
doubt the justice and duty of the act; and believing that 
form should always yield to substance, the clear conviction 
of duty to that which was doubtful in manner, he should 
most cheerfully and cordially give his support to the amend- 
ment offered by the honorable gentleman from Ohio [Mr. 
Tance] . 



On May 2d, a bill for making certain foreign silver coins 
a legal tender in the United States, was before die House. 

Mr. Fillmore objected to the provisions of the bill as he 
understood them. Its object was to provide that, in pay- 
ment of all siuns over one hundred dollars, certain foreign 
coins should be legal tender, according to their weight and 
fineness. Now, in practice, it would be very inconvenient 
for the person making a payment, not only to weigh, but 
assay the coin. He thought it should be provided that if 
the coin bore a certain recognized stamp, the burden of 
showing its inferiority to the standard of that stamp should 
be cast upon the objecting party. Besides, the weighing was 
very inconvenient. He would much prefer having foreign 
coins made a legal tender by tale, as they were now, in the 
ordinary circulation of the country. 

Mr. Fillmore said that the bill before the House proposed 
to make foreign coin legal tender to a certain amount. But, 
imder what circumstances was this coin to become a tender? 
If a man owed a debt, and had a quantity of this foreign 
money, what must he do? He must first get it assayed, to 
see if it was of the requisite fineness, and then he must have 
it weighed, to determine whether it was of the full legal 
weight, and then, after all this trouble and ceremony, he 
might tender the money in payment of his debt. But why 
did men coin money ? To what end ? That it might, in the 
public stamp it bore, carry with it prima facie evidence both 
of fineness and weight, and that thus the constant necessity 
of weighing and assaying might be saved. The present bill 
threw this advantage quite away. The friends of the bill 
themselves admitted that the coins of Mexico were usually 
of the requisite fineness, and they ascribed great credit to 
the Government of Mexico that such was the fact. Now, 
all he asked was a law to give this credit in a substantial 
form ; to allow that coin to pass, prima facie, as the requisite 
weight and quality, and to throw the proof to the contrary 
on the individual who should refuse it when tendered. Why 


should not this money be a legal tender in payment of small 
debts as well as larger ones? Why allow banks and rich 
capitalists to pay their large debts in a way the small debtor 
cannot pay his ? It was said, that the value of our metallic 
currency must be raised: he had no objection to this; but 
let it be a whole currency, and not a partial one. Let it be 
a universal tender for sums great and small, and not a cur- 
rency for only a part of the community. 


Much debate was held in the House, in June, 1834, on the 
bill providing or improving certain fortifications. On a 
motion to strike out an item of $100,000 for the fort on 
George's Island, Boston harbor, Mr. Fillmore spoke at 

The gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Hawes], he said, 
seemed to congratulate himself on obtaining his vote against 
the appropriation, because some of the members from 
Massachusetts had voted to lay the harbor bill on the table ; 
the gentleman would find himself mistaken. Mr. Fillmore 
should vote on every bill or motion submitted in that House 
upon its own merits ; and should not be governed by what 
might have been the course of particular gentlemen on other 
bills. He had at first supposed that there was some differ- 
ence in the estimates of the War Department and the gentle- 
man from Tennessee [Mr. Polk] as to the cost of this fort. 
He now fotmd that there was none; but that it was only 
intended to omit the appropriation for the present year. 
And for what reason was it to be omitted ? Brof essedly, on 
a recommendation by the Secretary. But the Secretary 
recommended no such thing. The Secretary had recom- 
mended the appropriation; the Committee of Ways and 
Means had agreed to it, and had reported it to the House ; 
and now, after months had elapsed, an informal letter to a 
member of the House was produced. And what did it 
state? That the Secretary had changed his mind? That 


he had discovered some reason why it was imprc^r to make 
the appropriation ? No : nothing like it All the Secretary 
said was, that if the House were determined to reduce die 
stun asked for, they might omit this fort That was the 
whole of this letter, so much relied upon. But if it was 
proper in peace to prepare for war, and if this work of de- 
fence was important and necessary, what was diere in tiiat 
letter to induce the House to withhold the appropriation? 
Had any new state of things arisen to induce the Secretary, 
the committee, or the House, to change their views? It was 
said that no war threatened us. But had we not as much 
reason to expect war now as we had a few months since? 
Had anything occurred, since then, to impair the ability of 
the nation to defend itself ? Was there any wisdom in omit- 
ting to fortify when fortification was needed, and tfie 
treasury able to bear it? Why, then, was not some good 
reason advanced in support of the motion to strike out? 
Why were the House to be told, the Secretary recommended 
it? Because a work had not yet been commenced, did that 
prove that it was imimportant ; or even that it was less im- 
portant than other works which had been commenced? 

Mr. Fillmore said he would not allude, as a gentleman 
had done, to the expenditure under a preceding Administra- 
tion. Should gentlemen go into that subject, subjects of 
profligacy would not be wanting ; but he did not admit that 
works of internal improvement, or works of military de- 
fence, were to be numbered among them. The gentleman 
seemed to consider all such expenditures as mere profligacy. 
But Mr. Fillmore would rather point to high salaries, and 
to the enormous system of pensions. Money judiciously 
applied in the erection of fortifications was anything but 
wasted. The gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Hawes] 
might not fear any injury he should sustain from an attack 
on Boston harbor; but that did not render it the less his 
duty to provide for its defence. The country was one; its 
safety was one. It was then his 'duty to provide for the 
security of every part of it. Had the nation ever objected 
to pay the expenses of the late border war to protect the 

• ^ 1 


West from the ferocity of the Indians? Had it refused to 
erect forts upon the frontier? Ah, but all these were na- 
tional expenditures. Indeed ! and was not a fort to protect 
a harbor in the East as national an object of expenditure as 
a fort to protect the frontiers of the West? Mr. Fillmore 
should vote for the item. Local feelings had nothing to do 
with it. He went alike for Boston, New York, and New 


The following resolution being before the House : 

"Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be 
directed to communicate to this House whether, in his 
opinion, it is practicable or convenient for that Department 
to collect, safely keep, and disburse the public moneys of 
the United States without the agency of a bank or banks ; 
and if so, to report to this House the best mode, in his 
opinion, by which that object can be accomplished," 

Mr. Fillmore, on January 3, 1835, spoke in substance as 

follows : 

He regretted extremely, he observed, to see this con- 
troversy on the subject of a national bank renewed at this 
time. He was willing that every species of information 
which was desired should be obtained, but he was not aware 
that it was either proper or common to ask the opinion of 
the Secretary of the Treasury as to the effect of legislative 
measures. His limited experience in the House would not, 
however, justify him in asserting that such a call was un- 
usual and improper. But it appeared to him to be undig- 
nified to call upon the head of a Department for an opinion. 
It had been said that there was no difference between the 
power of creating a fiscal agent and employing one already 
in existence : but to this he would not assent. The power 
to create and the power to contract with or employ an agent, 
were, in his view, separate and distinct from each other. 
This opinion he illustrated by various instances. We might. 

• • • 

• • • •• 

■ ■ • 



for example, employ a company in the transportation of 
stores or munitions of war, without having the power to 
incorporate a transportation company. He did not under- 
take to contradict the power, on the part of the Govern- 
ment, to incorporate a bank, but was clearly of the opinion 
tfiat we could, constitutionally, make use of the State insti- 
tutions as fiscal agents. At all events, he was unwilling to 
call upon the Secretary of the Treasury for an opinion, es- 
pecially as that opinion had already been furnished. 


On January 24, 1835, the House having under ccmsidera- 
tion the following: 

"Resolved, That hereafter, in all elections made by the 
House of Representatives (for officers), the votes shall be 
given 7wa voce, each member in his place naming aloud the 
person for whom he votes," 

Mr. Fillmore said : 

This resolution seems to involve some new and important 
principles, and since its introduction, I have found little 
leisure to reflect upon or investigate them. From the little 
consideration, however, which I have been able to give this 
subject, I am induced to believe that an appointing power, 
vested in a legislative body, may be divided into two kinds. 
One, is that exercised by every legislative body in appoint- 
ing its own officers, whose power and authority are limited 
entirely to the body which appoints them, and who exercise 
no general jurisdiction or authority whatever over the rights 
of the citizen. The other is that often conferred upon and 
exercised by the legislature in appointing officers for the 
nation or State. The former may, with equal propriety, be 
exercised either by ballot or by an open nomination t/iva 
voce. It partakes of the nature of the sovereign authority 
of the citizen when exercising the elective franchise. In 
my State, when exercised by the citizens at large, it is always 


by ballot ; and it is the same in the State Legislature. We 
elect our Speaker by ballot, and I am not aware that any 
inconvenience has been found to result from this rule, or 
that there has been any attempt made to change it. 

But when the appointing power is exercised by a legisla- 
tive body, for the State or nation, I am clearly of opinion 
that it should always be done by open nomination. It is 
then an exercise of delegated power, in which the constitu- 
ent is interested, and he has a right to know how the trust 
has been discharged. 

The appointing power which this House can exercise is 
entirely of the former kind. It appoints no officer having 
general authority over the citizen, and merely those whose 
jurisdiction is limited to ourselves. The words of the Con^ 
stitution are : "The House of Representatives shall choose 
their own Speaker and other officers." Our power, then, is 
limited to the choice of a speaker, clerk, sergeant-at-arms, 
etc., each and all of whom are peculiarly officers of this 
House, and not of the nation. This will appear more clear, 
and the distinction which I have taken more palpable, by 
reference to another part of the Constitution where the ap- 
pointing power for officers of the nation is expressly vested 
in a diflFerent department. Speaking of the power of the 
President, it says : 

"He shall have power, by and with the advice and con- 
sent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of 
the Senators present concur. And he shall nominate, and, by 
and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint 
ambassadors or other public ministers, and consuls, judges 
of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United 
States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise pro- 
vided for, and which shall be established by law. But the 
Congress may by law invest the appointment of such infe- 
rior officers as they think proper in the President alone, in 
the courts of law, or in the Heads of Department." 

Here the Constitution clearly points out the distinction 
which I have taken between officers of the United States, 
and officers of this House. The one is to be appointed by 


the President, by and with the advice and consent of the 
Senate, and can in no event be appointed by this House. It 
is not even in the power of Congress to confer this power 
upon the House. Congress may create an ofSce, and declare 
its duties, and if it be an inferior one, may confer the ap- 
pointing power to fill it upon the President alone, the courts, 
or the heads of Department ; but in no event can they confer 
that power upon this House. The Constitution has given 
no such discretion, and our authority is limited simply to 
the appointment of officers for our own body, and not, in the 
language of the Constitution, for the United States, And 
whether these officers of our own body shall be elected by 
ballot or viva voce, I think not very material. Unless there 
be some good reason for changing the rule at tills time, I 
should be disposed to let it remain as it is. 

But, sir, I suppose the fact is that this change is to be 
eflFected for the purpose of having some influence in the elec- 
tion or appointment of a printer to this House. It can have 
no influence on any other appointment. All others, which 
we have the power to make, are already made. We may as 
well, then, meet the question fairly, and see whether the 
resolution will reach this subject, and if it will, whether we 
have the power to effect it. 

The first inquiry is this : Is the printer to this House an 
officer f If he be not, then the resolution will not reach his 
case, or affect the mode of his appointment. This is rather 
a difficult question to determine, but from the consideration 
I have been able to give the subject, I am inclined to think 
that he is not an officer, but a mere contractor. He takes no 
oath of office. He exercises no authority, but merely con- 
tracts with the Government to perform certain services, and 
gives security for their performance, and, if he does not 
comply with his contract, he is liable to be prosecuted upon 
it, and be compelled to respond in damages. But, perhaps, 
a better criterion for determining whether he is an officer 
or contractor, is this: Can he resign? Every officer on 
whom authority is conferred may resign his office at pleas- 
ure and restore the power to the fountain whence he re- 


ceived it. Not so with the contractor — ^he has received no 
power, he has none to resign. He has entered into a con- 
tract to perform services, and must perform his contract or 
subject himself to a right of action for a breach of it. 

I am further confirmed in this opinion by a reference to 
the joint resolution or law under which this person is ap- 
pointed by this House to perform these services. That 
resolution provides that in the case the printer with whom 
we contract to do the printing of this House shall fail to 
perform his contract, that then the Clerk of this House may 
employ another printer to execute any portion of the work. 
Now, if this person be an officer, and an officer of this 
House, then he must be chosen by the House. The Consti- 
tution expressly declares that we shall choose our "Speaker 
and other officers/' and gives us no authority to delegate 
this power of choosing our officers to the clerk, or any other 
officer or department. But if it be said that he is an officer 
of the Nation, and not of this House, then it is equally clear 
from that part of the Constitution which I have read, that 
we have no power to appoint him. Congress itself could not 
confer that power upon us. The Constitution has expressly 
invested this power of appointing "officers of the United 
States" in other departments. 

The legislative authority of the nation has, by this joint 
resolution, created us an agent to contract with any person 
whom we shall designate by our votes to do the printing for 
this House. This power to make this contract might have 
been vested in any other body or officer. In a certain con- 
tingency it is now vested in the Clerk of our House. Does 
the Clerk, when he exercises this authority, act as an officer 
of this House, or as an agent of the United States, under 
the authority conferred upon him by the joint resolution? 
Clearly in the latter capacity. As Clerk he is authorized to 
make no contract. The authority comes from both Houses 
of Congress with the assent of the President, and has the 
force and effect of a law. It is the same to him and to us, 
derived from the same source, and might be conferred, as 
well to enter into a contract to build this Capitol, as to do 


the printing for this House ; and in my opinion the printer 
is no more an officer in the one case than the builder in the 

But suppose I am mistaken in this, and that the Printer is 
an officer of this House, then, Sir, by the Constitution we 
can not elect him for the next Congress. "Each House is 
to choose its own officers'' The authority of this House 
will soon be at an end, and another is to succeed it Can we 
elect a Speaker for the next House, or Qerk? No one will 
pretend it. And by parity of reasoning we cannot choose a 
Printer, if he be an officer of the House. This question was 
a good deal agitated last winter. It was then said that the 
Printer was an officer of this House, and that by the Con- 
stitution each House was to elect its own officers, and that, 
therefore, the appointment of the Printer by the last House 
of Representatives was not binding upon us, and we might 
go on and choose another for ourselves. I have some curi- 
osity to see how those who maintained these doctrines will 
act now. Will they be inclined to choose a Printer from 
the next House of Representatives, and if so, by what au- 
thority will they do it ? Clearly, they cannot, under the Con- 
stitution, for each House elects its own officers. Then they 
must under this joint resolution, and we will look to its pro- 
visions again. It was passed in 1819, by both Houses of 
Congress, and approved by the President, and is, in reality, 
a law of the United States, so far as it has not been re- 
pealed. It first provides for the form and manner in which 
the printing of Congress — not of this House — shall be 
done. It then establishes the prices which are to be allowed 
for composition, and presswork; and then provides as fol- 

"That as soon as this resolution shall have been approved 
by the President of the United States, each House shall 
proceed to ballot for a printer to execute its work during 
the next Congress ; and the person having the greatest num- 
ber of votes shall be considered duly elected, and shall give 
bond with sureties, to the satisfaction of the Secretary of 
the Senate, the Clerk of the House of Representatives, re- 



spectively, for the prompt, accurate, and neat execution of 
the work, and in case any inconvenient delay, should be at 
any time experienced by either House, in the delivery of its 
work, the Secretary and Qerk, respectively, may be author- 
ized to employ another printer," etc. 

Now, sir, it is clear that this resolution can only be altered 
or repealed by an authority equal to that which enacted it. 
We cannot, by a simple resolution of this House, repeal a 
law of Congress. No one will pretend this ; and I &id no 
subsequent law or joint resolution altering the mode here 
pointed out for electing a printer. This resolution declares 
expressly that it shall be by a "ballot" Can we then say 
that it shall be viva vocef We must either elect this person 
under the resolution, by virtue of the authority there con- 
ferred, and in the manner there prescribed, or else under 
the authority conferred upon us in the Constitution to elect 
our own officers. If we take the former, we must pursue 
the authority given to us. We can no more alter the mode 
of executing that power than we can add to the power itself. 
But if we take the latter, then we cannot elect at all. Each 
House must elect its own printer, and we cannot elect one 
for the House that is to succeed us. So gentlemen may 
take either horn of the dilemma, and I do not perceive that 
the resolution under consideration is calculated to aid the 
objects which they have in view. If we will alter this mode 
of appointment, it must be done by a joint resolution. It 
cannot be done by a simple resolution of this House; and 
as that is evidently the intent, I shall be compelled to vote 
against the resolution as it now stands. 

In this session Mr. Fillmore participated in debate on 
the Alabama two per cent, fund bill ; on allowances to the 
committee on the post-office; and in a discussion which 
developed on the presentation of a memorial, signed by 
citizens of Rochester, praying Congress to abolish slavery 


within the District of Columbia. Mr. Fillmore's remarks 
on this subject, February i6, 1835, are reported in abstract: 


Mr. Fillmore said, as it was understood that the Com- 
mittee on the District of Columbia would not act on this 
subject at the present session, it was certainly due to the 
petitioners that the motion which had been made by his 
colleague [Mr. Dickson] should prevail. It was not un- 
reasonable that the memorial should be printed and pre- 
served among the documents of the House. He disavowed, 
most unequivocally, now and forever, any right on his part 
to interfere with the rights, or what was termed the prop- 
erty, of the citizens of other States. While he did this, he 
conceived that, as a citizen of the State of New York, and a 
member of this House, he was interested in the claim to 
property in man within the District of Columbia. He re- 
ferred to the effect which was produced in the North by the 
advertisements in the papers of this city connected with the 
purchase and transportation of slaves. The people of that 
section of the country believed slavery to be improper, and 
that it should not be tolerated. This was a great national 
question. There was nothing in the memorial which should 
prevent its being printed and placed on the files of the House 
for future reference. Whenever petitions should be pre- 
sented here from the slave-holding States, of a different 
tenor, and which might advocate the establishment or con- 
tinuance of slave markets in this District and city, if they 
could satisfy the people of other sections that this was 
proper, he would treat their petitions with respect. He was 
willing that each party should be fully heard, and that 
each should have the privilege of spreading their views be- 
fore the people generally. 


Sq)tember 25, 1837, Mr. Fillmore addressed the House, 
in Committee of the Whole, on the bill to postpone the 
fourth instalment, opposing the measure on the ground that 
it impaired a contract, and that the condition of the Treasury 
did not warrant it, or that if it did, means should be found, 
either by loan, or by withholding other appropriations, to 
comply with the obligations of the deposit law. He doubted 
the expediency of incorporating a United States Bank as a 
relief to the financial situation. Mr. Fillmore said : 

It is with extreme reluctance that I venture to throw 
myself upon the indulgence of the committee, at this late 
hour of the day, and after such a protracted debate. But 
it is not my fault, sir, that I address you at this time. I have 
made every reasonable effort, that a modest man could make, 
for some days, to obtain the floor; and now, for the first 
time, I have been successful. I am now prepared, notwith- 
standing the lateness of the hour, to offer what I have to say 
on this subject; but if the committee prefer to rise, and 
continue the discussion tomorrow, it will suit me quite as 
well. For the purpose of testing the sense of the committee 
on that point, I will cheerfully yield the floor for a motion 
to rise. [A motion was made to rise, which was negatived, 
and Mr. Fillmore proceeded.] I am content with the deter- 
mination of the committee to hear me tonight. 

What then, sir, is the history of this surplus revenue, 
upon ^ich the bill upon your table is to operate, and which 
has elicited such warm discussion? It is this, sir — our 
revenue had been graduated upon a scale sufficiently large, 



for many years, to collect from the people, chiefly duties, a 
sum, whidi, together with the moneys received from the 
sale of public lands, not only defrayed all the expenses of 
Government, but left annually a large surplus to be applied 
in payment of the national debt. This debt, sir, which at 
the adoption of the Federal Constitution, was upwards of 
$75,000,000, had by the operation of this system been gradu- 
ally reduced, so that by 1812, before the commencement of 
the last war, it was only about $45,000,000. The expenses 
of that war again increased this debt, so that in 1816 it was 
upwards of $127,000,000. A wise forecast had made ample 
provision for its payment, and year by year it has lessened, 
tmtil 1834, when it was finally extinguished. 

It was apparent, sir, to all, before this debt was finally 
liquidated, that when that event did occur, the same system 
of indirect taxation, which could not suddenly be changed 
without injury to our manufactures, must throw a large 
amount of surplus revenue into the Treasury. This money 
having been tiius collected from the people, or being the 
avails of the public lands, it was thought no more than rea- 
sonable, as it was not wanted for Government purposes, to 
return it again to the people, from whom it had been taken, 
and whose it was. I shall not now stop, sir, to inquire into 
the justice or constitutionality of the measure. It was clearly 
just. The Government had this fund as the agent of the 
people. I hold, sir, that the Government, in all cases, is but 
the agent and instrument of the people, constituted to exe- 
cute their collective will. 

To restore this large amount of money to the use of those 
from whom it had been taken, with as little injury as pos- 
sible to the country. Congress passed a law on the 26th day 
of June, 1836, by which it was declared that the Secretary 
of the Treasury should, on the ist day of January, 1837, 
ascertain how much money there was in the Treasury, and 
deduct from the whole sum thus found $5,000,000, and that 
the remainder should be deposited with the several States, 
or such of them as should consent to receive the same, one- 
fourth on each of the ist days of January, April, July and 


October, in 1837, upon the conditions prescribed in the act ; 
which were, that the States should keep it safely, and return 
it again to the United States, in sums not exceeding $10,000 
per month from any one State, and so in the like proportion 
from other States, when wanted for the use of the Govern- 
ment, and demanded by the Secretary of the Treasury. But 
the Secretary was authorized to draw for $20,000 on giving 
thirty days' notice. I do not pretend, sir, to g^ve the words 
of the act verbatim, as I have it not before me, and I only 
speak from recollection. But this is the substance of the 
act of Congress. 

This, sir, was the proposition on the part of the United 
States, of the terms upon which they were willing to deposit 
this money with the States. This too was a proposition 
emanating from the highest — ^nay, from all the separate — 
Departments of this Government. It was pledging the na- 
tional faith in the most solemn manner that it could be 
pledged, by a law which received the assent of both Houses 
of Congress and the approbation of the President. 

The State of New York, by an act of its Legislature, 
passed I think in January, 1837, agreed to accept this propo- 
sition made by the United States, and to receive the money, 
and safely keep and return the same when called for, accord- 
ing to the terms of said Act of Congress ; and pledged the 
faith of the State for the faithful performance of these 
acts. This, then,, constituted the contract or compact be- 
tween the parties. 

The Secretary of the Treasury, as directed by the act of 
Congress, ascertained on the ist day of January the amount 
of money in the Treasury, and after deducting, as he sup- 
posed, $5,000,000 from that sum, found there remained to 
be deposited with the States $37,468,859.97. I say as he 
"supposed," sir; for it now appears by his late report to 
this House, that there was $1,670,137.52 in the Treasury 
(that is, sir, in the pet banks), on that day, of which he had 
received no account. So tiiat, in reality, he reserved 
$6,670,137.52 instead of the $5,000,000, as directed by the 


Well, sir, the portion of this which belongs to the State 
of New York by the terms of the compact was $5,352,694.28» 
three- fourths of which has been received by that State ; and 
the bill now on your table proposes to postpone the payment 
of the remaining $1,338,173.57, to which the State will be 
entitled on the ist day of October next, by the terms of 
the compact. 

Now, sir, let it be borne in mind that this is one entire 
contract, in reference to one entire sum of money, and that 
it has been partially performed. I say, sir, the sum is entire. 
Although it was to be paid at different times, yet the appro- 
priation was of the entire sum that should be foimd in the 
Treasury on a certain day. That simi, when ascertained in 
the manner prescribed by the act, was the money set apart 
for this specific purpose. It was in legal intendment as 
definite and fixed as though the money had then been counted 
out at the several banks where it was deposited on that day, 
and laid aside for this object. True, it was to be paid out at 
different times. But this was to accommodate the banks, and 
prevent a derangement of the currency, and consequent dis- 
tress of the community, by calling for too large sums at once. 

But, Mr. Chairman, I am opposed to the bill upon your 
table. I am opposed to it first, sir, on the ground that it is 
hypocritical and false in its language. The title of the bill 
is an "act to postpone" the payment of this fourth install- 
ment. This is a false label, sir, to the door through which 
we are to enter into the mysteries of this bill. But let us 
look to the bill itself. It declares that the payment of this 
installment "shall be postponed until further provision by 
law." What is this then, sir, but a repeal of so much of the 
Act of 1836 as authorizes the payment of this fourth install- 
ment ? It does not merely postpone the payment to a definite 
time, then to be made without any further legislative action ; 
but postpones it until further "provision by law," that is, 
until by a new law Congress shall direct this payment to be 
made. If this bill pass, nothing short of a new law can ever 
give this money to the States. Then the effect of this bill is 
to repeal the law of 1836. 


Why not say so, then ? Why profess to postpone, when 
you absolutely revoke? Why not call things by their right 
names? Is there some iniquity in this transaction that it is 
necessary to conceal? Is it intended to excite expectations 
among tfie people that are never to be realized ? Sir, I dis- 
dain such a course. I will never give my vote for a law 
that, on its face, bears evidence of fraudulent concealment 
and hypocritical designs. 

I am aware, sir, that an amendment has been offered by 
the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Pickens], that, if 
adopted, would obviate this objection. But as that amend- 
ment is undoubtedly intended to sugar over this nauseous 
pill, to make it a little more palatable to some who loathe it 
now, and as I should still be opposed to the bill if the amend- 
ment were adopted, for reasons which I shall hereafter give, 
I am inclined to let those who are prepared to swallow any- 
thing, take the dose as it is, and vote against the amendment 
as well as the bill. If this money be not now paid, I have 
no idea that the States will ever receive it. Let us have it 
now, according to the promise, or tell us at once that we 
have nothing to expect. Do not tantalize us by exciting 
further hopes that are never to be realized. 

But, sir, I am also opposed to the bill for another reason ; 
and that is, that this sudden change of the destiny of near 
ten millions of dollars is calculated still further to derange 
the currency and business operations of the country and add 
to the accumulated distresses of the community under which 
they now labor. If there be one truth, above all others, well 
settled in political economy, it is this: that if you would 
make a nation prosperous and happy, give them a uniform 
and unchangeable currency. It is as essential as uniformity 
and stability in your weights and measures. This currency 
is the life-blood of the body politic. Its supply should be 
equal and uniform. Every throb of the heart is felt to the 
utmost extremities. If the regular flow and pulsation fail, 
languor and faintness follow; but "over-action," as the 
President calls it, often produces instantaneous paralysis 
and prostration. The political empirics have administered 


dose upon dose, and tried experiment after experiment, until 
the patient is prostrate and helpless, writhing in agony, and 
imploring for relief. If ever there was a nation or an indi- 
vidual to whom that famous epitaph was peculiarly appro- 
priate, It is this nation and this administration : 

I was well; I wished to be better; 
I took physic, and here I am." 

I am opposed to this bill, sir, for another reason. Its 
object and intent is to violate the plighted faith of this 
nation. I shall not enter into an examination to see whether 
the oflFer on the part of the United States, which was acceded 
to by the State of New York, in the manner that I have al- 
ready stated, was or was not a pecuniary contract, according 
to the strict rules of the common law, which might be en- 
forced in a court of justice. This point has been most fuHy 
and eloquently discussed by my colleague immediately In 
front of me [Mr. Sibley]. I could add nothing to what he 
has said on that subject. It is said that the United States 
have received no consideration for the promise. But, sir, I 
am disposed to place this question upon higher grounds. 
Does it become this nation, or the American Congress, to 
stand here paltering about the redemption of its plighted 
faith to one of the daughters of this Union, on the ground 
that it has received no consideration for the promise which 
it made? Has this nation indeed sunk so low, that it takes 
shelter from its engagements, when it finds it inconvenient 
to perform them, behind the statute of frauds? The reason 
why a consideration is required to enforce a contract between 
individuals does not apply to tliis case. That is a rule 
adopted by the courts, to protect the inconsiderate and the 
unwary from the consequences of their own folly in making 
hasty promises without consideration. But even as be- 
tween individuals, if the manner in which the contract has 
been made evinces a due degree of deliberation, then the 
courts will enforce it. If, for instance, the contract be 
sealed, that is regarded as a solemn act, and evidences such 
caution and deliberation, that the courts, by the common law, 


preclude all inquiry into the consideration, and compel the 
obligor to perform his contract. This case shows the reason 
of the rule, and I submit that it has no applicability here. 
Will the gentlemen say that Congress was surprised into 
this promise? that there was not due deliberation had on 
the subject? or that the congregated wisdom of this nation 
requires such a miserable subterfuge as this, to justify to its 
own conscience the violation of its plighted faith ? Sir, was 
not the contract sufficiently solemn ? It is among the sacred 
archives of your nation. It is of the same high and solemn 
character with your treaties with foreign nations. Nay, if 
possible, sir, it is still higher, and more obligatory upon the 
nation. A treaty is only sanctioned by the President and 
Senate. This, sir, has been sealed with the national honor, 
and attested by the national faith of both branches of Con- 
gress and the Executive ; and you may call it contract, com- 
pact, or treaty, it is clearly a promise by the nation, in the 
most solemn form that a promise can be made. 

Sir, have the gentlemen who are in favor of this bill duly 
reflected upon its nature and consequences ? Have they duly 
considered the value of the national honor ? Would any one 
dare to make a proposition to break our national faith, if it 
had been pledged to a foreign power, as it has been to the 
several States of this Union ? I trust not. Then, sir, is the 
obligation less sacred to the various States of this confed- 
eracy, especially when made for the benefit of the people 
themselves, in reference to their own money? I hope not. 
But, sir, if we violate our plighted faith here, may we not 
do it in other cases? Your pension laws, passed for the 
relief of the war-worn veteran and the hardy mariner, 
promise to those individuals a mere gratuity. It is the 
bounty which a generous nation bestows upon its brave de- 
fenders. But it has no elements of a pecuniary contract. 
There is no such reciprocity in those cases, as in this, to 
constitute a contract. No promise or service is required 
from the pensioner as a quid pro quo for the bounty which 
you bestow. But in this case you have required and jeceived 
t:he plighted faith of the State of New York to receive this 


money, keep it safely, and repay it in certain proportions. 
Would any member of this House have the hardihood to 
propose a bill to withhold the payment of these pensions, 
and then assign as a reason that tihere is no valid contract for 
paying them? I presume not. Sir, there is something of 
more value to a nation than money. It is untarnished honor 
— imbroken faith. They should be as spotless as female 

"One false step in vain we may deplore; 
We fall like stars that set to rise no more." 

The reason why every promise should be performed, is, 
that it has raised expectations which in justice ought not to 
be disappointed. The whole business of life is an endless 
chain of confidence growing out of these promises, express 
or implied. And frequently the breaking of one link sunders 
a thousand. 

''Whatever link you strike, 
Tenth or ten-thousandth, breaks the chain alike." 

Look at its effects, in this case, upon the single State of 
New York. That State, relying upon the plighted faith of 
this nation, has gone on and agreed to loan out all this 
money to citizens throughout the State, giving to each town 
and ward their ratable proportion. Bonds and mortgage^ 
have been taken for the whole amount; and the three- 
fourths which has been received by the State from this Gov- 
ernment, has been paid over to the borrowers, and promises 
in the shape of certificates given to pay over the remaining 
fourth on the ist of October. The State has relied upon the 
promises of this Government for the money to pay these cer- 
tificates. Now, sir, unless the money can be raised in some 
other way by the State, if this be withheld, all those numer- 
ous borrowers must be disappointed. Those who have strug- 
gled from day to day, and from week to week, to bear up 
against the pressure of the times, until they could obtain 
this pittance of relief, are to sink down in utter despair. 

But, sir, what is the difference between the promise on 
the part of the State to loan this money to individuals, and 


the promise on the part of this Government to deposit this 
money with the States ? A deposit is a loan ; and the person 
^with whom the deposit is made becomes the borrower, 'liable 
to repay the money according to the terms agreed. This 
Government, then, has agreed to loan the money to the State 
of New York; and has taken the bond and mortgage of 
-that State, in the shape of a solemn act of its Legislature, to 
repay it on certain terms. The State has agreed to loan the 
same sum to individuals, and has taken their bonds and 
mortgages for the repayment of the same. Then if this 
Government can be justified in breaking this agreement, 
much more will the State of New York be justified in the 
breech of the agreement to the individual borrowers. The 
State may not only plead the high example of this nation 
in the breach of its promise, but may urge, with perfect jus- 
tice, that the breach of faith by the United States, on which 
the State had unfortunately relied, had prevented the State 
from fulfilling its engagements. 

Will any of my colleagues who now urge a breach of 
faith on the part of the United States, in withholding this 
instalment, say that they believe that the State of New York 
will be guilty of a similar breach to the borrowers of this 
money? I know they will not stain her honor by such an 
insinuation. Then how can they justify themselves to their 
God or their country, in lending their votes or their voices 
to dishoner this nation, in such a manner as would be re- 
garded a reproach and disgrace to the State in which we 
live? I hope gentlemen will pause and reflect before they 
finally act. 

But, sir, one of my colleagues [Mr. Parker] has at- 
tempted to justify this breach of faith on the part of this 
Government, by saying that the State of New York would 
sustain no damage, because there was a large amount of 
money belonging to the canal fund of that State, now on 
deposit in the banks, drawing an interest to the State of only 
iour or five per cent., and this money could be taken to make 
up the fourth instalment of the loans to individuals ; which 
^ould thereby be invested on interest at seven per cent., and 


the State, instead of being a loser, would be a gainer of two 
or three per cent, per annum on this money. Sir, this is not 
a question of damages. It is a question of national honor. 
It is a question of national faith. Can you measure the 
value of these by the base standard of dollars and cents ? 

But, sir, if this statement be true, that this immense treas- 
ure belonging to the canal fund in our State has been for 
years loaned to the banks at four or five per cent, interest, 
when it could have been loaned to the people on bond and 
mortgage at seven per cent., then it does not reflect much 
credit upon the financial skill of those in our own State who 
have had charge of this fund. But, leaving them to the 
tender mercies of their friends upon this floor, let us see 
whether my colleague is correct in his inferences. If his 
reasoning be correct, the whole sum that has been deposited 
with the State has been an injury instead of a benefit. This 
must appear a strange paradox indeed. The State had it 
from the United States without interest, and loaned it out 
at seven per cent., thereby making annually upon the whole 
sum of $5,352,694 the no less sum than $374,688.58, being 
nearly four times as much as is annually distributed from 
the State treasury for the support of common schools in 
that great State, where about 500,000 children are annually 
educated. I think my honorable colleague, on reviewing his 
calculation, will see that he has made a slight mistake in 
arriving at this result, and that it is somewhat better to have 
money for nothing, than to pay even four or five per cent, 
for it. 

But if my colleague [Mr. Foster] is right in the construc- 
tion which he gives to the Deposit Act of 1836, then it is 
equally clear, that in no event is this money, if once deposited 
with the States, to be repaid again to the General Govern- 
ment. I believe that no one ever expected it would be re- 
called. The money was deemed the property of the citizens 
of the several States. It had been collected from them in 
the shape of duties, or was the avails of the public lands. In 
either case, if not wanted for the uses of the Government, it 
was deemed just to return it to the people, to whom it be- 


longed. To avoid constitutional objections, the law by which 
this return was made, was christened "a deposit act," instead 
of "a distribution act." But I care not what form or shape 
it assumes. Do justice — restore the money to whom it be- 
longs ; and let it be appropriated to the sacred object of edu- 
cation — an object dear to the heart of every patriot. If we 
sue [ ?sow] due economy here, our revenue is abundant. If 
it is to be squandered, the less there is, the better for the 

Let my colleagues who believe in the infallibility of the 
Argus listen to an extract which I will read from that paper, 
and then vote against this bill. Remember that this extract 
is the honest, unbiased opinion of that oracle of wisdom, in 
view of an exhausted Treasury, before party prejudice 
began to operate. It is as follows : 

"A remedy for any such contingency may be provided by Con- 
gress by an issue of Treasury notes, or some other expedient meas- 
ure, that would be less objectionable than any interference with 
the arrangements made with the States for the disposition of the 

Sir, we are told that this bill should pass, because there is 
no money in the Treasury to make the payment. This, then, 
is a distinct admission that your Treasury is bankrupt. Yes, 
sir, in less than one short year from the time this Govern- 
ment, through all its official organs, and its hundred presses, 
was boasting of its wealth and prosperity, with an overflow- 
ing Treasury, and no national debt, it now comes like an 
humble suppliant to the Representatives of the people, and 
says it is bankrupt, and cannot pay. If the Treasury be 
empty, why pass this law? Will it withhold what you have 
not got ? Will it postpone what does not exist ? Our legis- 
lation seems to be a work of supererogation. It is making 
laws for a nonentity. But some say we should pass the law 
as a direction to the Secretary of the Treasury. Why pass 
it for him? He is not bound to furnish the money, if it 
does not exist. His duty is discharged, if he pays it over 
when we provide it. But, sir, we have passed one law, dis- 


tinctly appropriating this identical money then in the Treas- 
ury, to this object, and directing him to pay it over. Why 
has he not obeyed that law, and kept the money to be applied 
to this object? He had no authority to take this and apply 
it to any other purpose. The act was imperative, that the 
identical money in the Treasury on the ist day of Janua^ 
last should be deposited with the States. I think, sir, instead 
of attempting to legalize this breach of trust on the part of 
the Secretary in using this money, not only without \zyif but 
against law, we had better institute an inquiry into his con- 
duct for laying his hands upon this sacred treasure, and see 
if he has any justification. 

But is the pretence true, that the money is not in the 
Treasury ? This seems to be a difficult question to answer. 
I shall not venture into that labyrinth of mysteries, the Sec- 
retary's report. The bewildered senses and contradictory 
reports of those who have attempted to pass through its 
intricate windings and involutions, admonish me to beware 
how I venture. No two have been able to agree as to what 
they saw there. Some saw treasure; others saw nothing 
but "confusion worse confounded," and in this state of doubt 
and uncertainty it becomes us to inquire if there be no collat- 
eral aid, by the light of which the mysteries of this report 
may be unravelled. In the absence of positive proof, let us 
look at probabilities. The last Administration professed to 
be one of "retrenchment and reform"; and the present 
Executive has declared that he intends "to follow in the foot- 
steps of his illustrious predecessor." We have, therefore, a 
right to expect, and the people did expect, economy in both. 
Have they been deceived ? Has this "promise been made to 
the ear and broken to the hope"? Have these professions, 
that elevated the present dynasty to power, been hollow and 
hypocritical ? Let us look at the facts, and see how the mat- 
ter stands, if the Treasury be now bankrupt, as is alleged by 
those in this House who support the Administration. 

From a careful examination of the expenses of this Gov- 
ernment for twelve years, that is, from 1819 to 1833, ex- 
clusive of the national debt, I find that they averaged about 


$13,000,000 per year. I give them in tabular form as fol- 
lows, from the best estimates I can make : 

Ymmr Expenses of Whole amount Average per Whose 

^^** Government for four years year Administration 

1822 $6,534,39409 

1823 9,784,15450 

1824 10,328,141 71 

1825 11490459 94 $38,137,150 33 $ 9,534.287 58 Mr. Monroe 

1826 13,062,316 27 

1827 12,653,095 65 

1828 13,296,041 00 

1829 12,659490 62 51,670,943 54 12,917,735 88 Mr. Adams 

1830 13,229,533 33 

1831 13364,067 90 

1832 16,516,388 77 

1833 22,713,35511 66,323,745" 16,580,93628 Gen. Jackson 

Average expenditure for the whole twelve years, $13,010,903.25. 

Now, sir, let us see what money has been received into 
the Treasury since the ist day of January, 1835, and then 
we may form some conjecture whether there is any there 
now ; or at all events, we and the people may know whether 
this and the last administration have been economical in the 
use of the people's money, or whether they have squandered 
it with a profusion and extravagance never before equalled. 

There was received into the Treasury, during the years 
183s and 1836, together with what there was in the Treasury 

on the 1st day of January, 1835 $ 88,461,942 04 

And during the first half of the present year 13,687,182 00 
And if we estimate the receipts of the pres- 
ent quarter, ending on the ist of October, at 
one-third of those for the first half of the 
present year, they are 4,562,394 00 

Making a total amount of $106,711,518 04 

Deduct from this the amount deposited with 
the United States, being the first three in- 
stalments 28,101,644 99 

And it leaves no less than $ 78,609,863 05 


applicable to the ordinary expenses of Government, which 
has been poured into your Treasury within two years and 
three-fourths, averaging nearly $29,000,000 per year. 
Where is it, sir ? The empty vaults of your Treasury echo, 
Where ? I will tell you, sir, where it is. It has been wasted, 
squandered, and profusely lavished upon party favorites and 
parasites; and the people, frcmi whose hard earnings you 
collected it, are now to be cheated out of it. Sir, the people 
will look into this matter. They will scrutinize this un- 
paralleled profligacy of their public servants ; and in making 
up their minds, they will not forget that all these extrava* 
gancies have been the bitter fruits of an administration in 
both Houses of Congress, and constantly uttering the hypo- 
critical cry of "retrenchment and reform" ! 

Sir, there is one more proof that the money is in the 
Treasury, notwithstanding we are told that it is not, by the 
Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means [Mr. 
Cambreleng], which I hope will be entirerly satisfactory to 
him and the Administration members of this conmiittee; 
and that is, the statement of the President himself in his 
message. I will read it : 

"There are now in the Treasury $9,367,214 directed by the act 
of 23d of June, 1836, to be deposited with the States in October 

These, sir, are the words of the Message itself. To those 
who credit the veracity of their author, I hope they will be 
satisfactory. They are too explicit to admit of doubt or to 
require comment. 

But, sir, my chief objection is this, and all the other 
measures recommended in the President's message, and pro- 
posed by the Committee of Ways and Means, is, that they 
hold out no prospect of permanent relief to the country. 
True, sir, the issuing of Treasury notes, on which you are 
to borrow money to replenish your exhausted Treasury, 
may afford a little temporary relief to those who owe the 
Government, and indirectly to the community ; and the ex- 
tension of time for the payment of the merchant's bonds to 


the Government will afford present relief to that class of 
citizens, or enable them "to put off the evil day" a little 
longer. But these are mere expedients, temporary and par- 
tial in their operation, and do not reach the seat of the dis- 
ease that now afflicts the body politic. That disease, sir, 
had its origin in the derangement of our currency ; and that 
derangement, in my opinion, was produced by the unwise 
conduct of this Government. I will not charge this Admin- 
istration with a design to bring all these evils upon us. But 
I do charge them with an unholy ambition that grasped at 
power, regardless of the means by which it was attained; 
with a war upon the United States Bank, for political effect ; 
and with enlisting and arraying against that institution all 
the feelings of rivalry and avarice on the part of the State 
banks, and of jealousy and distrust on the part of the peo- 
ple; and that a consequence of this war has been, all the 
evils of over-banking, over-trading, and ruinous and gam- 
bling speculation described in the Message, and the final 
depreciation and derangement of the currency, and the 
bankruptcy of the Government and people. 

Let me not be misunderstood in what I am about to say. 
I have never been a particular friend of the United States 
Bank. I regard it as I do all other banks, as a necessary evil. 
I have never been its advocate, and am not now. It has gone 
down to "the tomb of the Capulets" ; let it rest in peace. 
And I should have great doubts of the expediency of estab- 
lishing a new United States Bank at this time, for the relief 
of the community. I fear that an attempt to put it in opera- 
tion would rather aggravate than mitigate our sufferings. 
But on this point it is not necessary to express an opinion. 
I only allude to it, to prevent any improper inference, and 
that the committee may understand that all I Jiave to say of 
the United States Bank is as a matter of history, and not of 
opinion as to its expediency or usefulness at this time. 
Times have essentially changed ; and what might have been 
proper or useful then, may be wholly improper and useless 
now. Then, such a bank, with the confidence of the Gov- 
ernment and people, might be useful in regulating the cur- 


rency. Since the war upon that institution^ banks have mul- 
tiplied beyond all former example. To add another at this 
time, and collect together the requisite specie to put it in 
operation, would, I fear, add greatly to our present em- 
barrassment. People must learn from actual suffering that 
it is much more easy to tear down than to build up, to 
destroy than to create, and to derange than to restore. 
Ignorance and folly may accomplish the one ; wisdom, pru- 
dence, and time can alone perform the other. 

But, sir, I said I was opposed to these measures because 
they promised no permanent relief to the country. Why has 
the President, after witnessing the suffering of this com- 
mimity — rafter calling us together, as every one supposed, 
to propose some measure of relief — turned thus coldly away, 
without recommending anything to restore a uniform cur- 
rency? Are the prayers, and tears, and groans, of a whole 
nation, suffering all the horrors of impending bankruptcy, 
not worthy of his consideration? Are members of the 
Administration prepared to return and look their constitu- 
ents in the face, without making one effort for the relief of 
the country ? We of the minority can do nothing. We are 
powerless. But you have all power. Then why not exert it 
to bring back the days of prosperity and sunshine that 
existed before this fatal war upon the currency, and com- 
merce, and business of our country ? 

Sir, do the President, and those who support him, expect 
to find a justification for the apathy they manifest towards 
a suffering country, by charging all our distresses to the 
follies and extravagance of the community, and by care- 
fully concealing ever}iiiing which shows that those very 
follies and that very extravagance, which are held up for 
universal reprobation in the President's message, had tlieir 
origin in the wickedness or folly of this Government? So 
it would seem. The President, after adverting to the dis- 
tresses and embarrassments of the country in his Message, 

"The history of trade in the United States for the last three or 
four years affords the most convincing evidence that our present 


oondition is chiefly to be attributed to over-action in all the depart- 
ments of business ; an over-action deriving, perhaps, its first impulses 
from antecedent causes, but stimulated to its destructive conse- 
<3uences by excessive issues of bank paper, and by other facilities for 
the acquisition and enlargement of credit." 

Sir, I agree with him, that excessive issues of bank paper 
have stimulated to destructive consequences. Of this fact 
there can be no doubt ; and it is a precious confession from 
the head of that party that, for years past, have wielded the 
legislative power of this nation, and also the legislative 
-power of most of the States in this Union, and constantly 
charged their opponents with being the bank party. I say, 
sir, this is a precious confession from the head of that party, 
that banks have been multiplied by this no-bank party, until 
their "excessive issues have produced destructive conse- 
quences." If it were decorous to the Chief Magistrate, I 
would ask if ever such shameless hypocrisy, when exposed, 
was met by such imblushing impudence ? 

But, sir, what are those "antecedent causes" that gave the 
"first impulse to this over-action" ? Why are they concealed 
from the people ? They are the true causes of all our suffer- 
ing; and, sir, let me tell you, they had their origin in the 
war against the United States Bank. That was to be put 
down; and, to effect that object, and reward the pure pa- 
triotism of this no-bank party, new State banks were char- 
tered. Let us look at facts. In 1830, all the banks in the 
United States were only 320. They have been increased in 
seven years to 677, and 146 branches, making in all 823 
banks! The capital of all the banks (January i, 1830) was 
$145,192,268. It has been increased in seven years to 
$378,719,168. Add to this the $40,000,000 of surplus rev- 
enue that has been bestowed on the pet banks since 1833, 
when the deposits were removed from the United States 
Bank, and you have the antecedent causes that stimulated to 
that over-action, and those destructive consequences, men- 
tioned by the President. And all these, sir, are chiefly 
chargeable to the dominant party in these United States. 
They removed these deposits without law, and gave them 


to the pet banks. They invited these pet banks to extend 
their accommodations. They have created nearly Airee times 
as much banking capital in the United States, since General 
Jackson came into office, as all that existed before. Yes, 
sir, as strange as it may appear, this no-bank party, that has 
for seven years cried out against the bank monster, until 
the people trembled for their liberties, have, within the same 
time, created nearly three times as much bank capital as all 
that existed in the United States before. Was there ever 
such unparalleled hypocrisy? 

But, sir, this war against the United States Bank, got up 
for political effect, regardless of the peace of society or the 
interests of the country, was made to unite the extremes of 
society. The more intelligent of the middle class never 
engaged in it ; or were drawn into it, from political associa- 
tions, with reluctance. It was really a war of the State banks 
against the United States Bank, got up by artful politicians 
to elevate Mr. Van Buren to the Presidency. They tempted 
the cupidity of the thousand officers and stockholders inter- 
ested in these banks, with the brib^ of the public deposits 
and the prospect of destroying a hated rival tiiat kept them 
in check, and loaned money at six per cent. It w^ a Shy- 
lock feeling of avarice and revenge. On the other hand, all 
the affiliated presses connected with tliese State batiks cried 
out against the monster, until the morfc ignorant part of the 
community thought their liberties in danger, and joined the 
strong bank party against the weaker, to put down the 
United States Bank. Having effected this, and brought the 
country to the verge of ruin, and overwhelmed these State 
banks with infamy and disgrace, is it strange that the same 
unprincipled course should be pursued against them, that 
has been pursued against the United States Bank? It is 
what they had a right to expect. It is but "commending the 
poisoned chalice to their own lips." We may pity their 
folly; we may condemn the heartless perfidy that first se- 
duced them from their duty, and prostituted them to the 
vilest purposes of partisan warfare, until their infamy has 
rendered them useless, and now casts them aside; but we 


cannot deny that the retributive hand of justice is seen in 
their suflFerings. 

Sir, in corroboration of what I have said about this being 
a war of the State banks against the United States Bank, 
got up by designing politicians, I will mention a few facts 
connected with a little secret history on this subject in my 
own State. 

It is known, sir, that we have a peculiar system of bank- 
ing in the State of New York, called the safety-fund system. 
It had its origin with Mr. Van Buren, when Governor of 
that State in 1829. Although he did not claim the merit of 
an original inventor, yet he adopted it as his own, and recom- 
mended it to the Legislature. This system, sir, establishing 
a community of interest between banks, and being under the 
immediate supervision of three bank commissioners, is ad- 
mirably well calculated for use as a political engine. It was 
no sooner put into operation, than it was brought to bear 
upon the Legislature of that State. In 1830 or 1831, while I 
was honored with a seat in the Legislature of that State, 
resolutions were introduced in that body against a recharter 
of the United States Bank. These resolutions originated 
with the banks in that State. Not one solitary petition from 
the people on that subject had been presented to the Legis- 
lature. The bank then had three branches in that State: 
one at New York, one at Utica, and one at Buffalo ; and the 
people were contented with the currency which they fur- 
nished. No murmur, no complaint, was heard from the 
people. But, sir, day by day, as these resolutions were under 
discussion in that Legislature, the birds of ill-omen, that 
deal in bank stock, hovered round that hall, and watched the 
progress of this unholy proceeding with an intense anxiety. 
But no farmers, no mechanics, were there. They had not 
been consulted; they took no interest in the proceeding. 
They had no share at that time in this conspiracy of the 
State banks against their interest. They were delving at 
their labor, and slumbering in security, while these banks 
were forging the chains with which they have since bound 
them. Yes, sir, I was informed, and I believe it, that nightly, 


dttiing the diacasrion of those resoliitiofis» their aup porter s 
in the Legislatnre met in ooodave, in one of the princyd 
benkt in that city, to devise wiys and means to cany diem 
through. They were carried. These banks, with the aid of 
the party screws, proved too powerful for the indqiendence 
and honesty of that body ; and tfie result was prochimed as 
the sense of tfie people of that great State against the Unibed 
States Bank. This State bank, sir, had its reward — it shared 
the spoils. 

Bnt, sir, my colleague [Mr. Foster] has taken occasion to 
eulogize this safety-fund system. He says it works like a 
charm. I shall not deny, sir, that it has some good qualities; 
but I am far from thinldng it so charming as my honorable 
colleague. I doubt not it appears so to many who share in 
its golden harvests, and enjoy its exclusive privileges; but 
to the great majority of the people, who, like myself, deal 
not in bank stock, but occasionally see or fed the tyranny of 
these little monsters, the workii^ of this political engine is 
anything but charming. Sir, I conceive it had its origin in 
the foul embraces of political ambition, and cunning, heart- 
less avarice. "It was conceived in sin, and brought forth in 
iniquity." It has spread its baleful influence over tiiat 
State, corrupting the fountains of power, and demoralizing 
the whole community, by the manner in which its privileges 
have been granted and its stocks distributed. Banks have 
been granted, and the stocks distributed, to party favorites, 
as a reward for party services. They have been the mer- 
cenary bribe offered to the community to sap the foundations 
of moral honesty and political integrity. 

But I will not enter into the disgusting details. As to 
those who wish to see the workings of this charming system 
of my colleague, I will refer them to an examination of our 
State Legislature last winter, and the proceedings of that 
body upon the report of their committee upon a single bank. 
I believe the very day on which the report was made, it 
showed such abominable corruption and abuses, that a bill 
was introduced to repeal its charter, and, within one or two 
days, passed through all the forms of legislation in the popu- 


lar branch without a dissenting vote; and also passed the 
Senate with but three or four votes against it. 

Does my honorable colleague think that a system which 
produces banks like this, works like a charm? I perceive 
that this incestuous connection between the politics and 
banks of that State has been festering and corrupting until 
it is about to fall asunder from its own rottenness. I, for 
one, have no tears to shed at the dissolution. I only regret 
that many of these banks, since they were chartered, have 
passed into the hands of honest and honorable men. I fear 
that the odium which rests upon this corrupt system, and 
which in my opinion, is nowise necessarily connected with 
banking, will sink the whole, without discrimination. The 
vengeance of an insulted and oppressed community is ter- 
rible and overwhelming in its course. It stops not always 
to discriminate between the just and the unjust, between the 
proper use and the improper abuse of a particular system ; 
but, in the wild madness of popular fury, they hurl the whole 
to destruction. I warn them to stay their desolating hands. 
All sudden changes are dangerous. Let us not destroy, but 
purify this odious system. We cannot live without banks 
and banking. Credit in some shape is indispensable to our 
prosperity. Were we reduced to a specie circulation, as now 
proposed by the President, property would not be worth 
twenty-five per cent, what it now is, and would soon be 
^vholly absorbed by the wealthy capitalists of our country. 
The debtor part of the community would be utterly ruined. 
TTien let us purge this vile system of its corruptions and 
abuses, and strip it of its odious monopoly, and open the 
privilege of banking to all who comply with such prescribed 
:rules of the Legislature as secure the bill-holder and public 
generally from fraud and imposition. I hope, sir, to live to 
see the day when this shall be done, and the moral pestilence 
of political banks and banking shall be unknown. 

[Mr. Fillmore here went into an examination to show 
"tJiat the pretence in the Message, that there had been the 
same over-banking and over-trading in England as in this 


country, was not true. He exhibited tables that show the 
following results : 

October i, 1833, drcuUticm of the Bank of Eogland |ift8ooyooo 

December 27, 1836^ ctrculatioa of the Bank of England. .. i7,3pOfiOO 
December a6» 1833, circnlatton of all the banks in England 

and Wales 97j6ax»iQ4 

Jmie 2$, 1836^ circulation of all the banks in England and 

Wales flM8Spi95 

Mr. FiUmore then spoke of the hostility of the Adminis- 
tration to the deposit law, and its attempts, by means of the 
specie circular and transfer drafts, to oppress the banks, and, 
through them, the people, and render the law odious ; and 
that the last effort was to declare the Treasury bankrupt, 
and withhold the funds. 

He then exhibited a statement showing that the banks in 
the State of New York had as follows: 

In circulation Specie Diicoanti 

January i, i837 $24,1^^8,000 $5,557/»o l79>3i3>i8B 

September i, 1837 I3»740,3i8 ^747 fiA^ 5M67>IBx5 

Reduced in 8 months $10457,682 $33o9,378 $i9t945»373 

September i, 1837, United States deposits $ 728,571 

September i, 1837, individual deposits 15,134,968 

Now, sir, it appears from these facts that the banks in the 
State of New York, in eight months, have reduced their 
discounts one- fourth ; their circulation nearly one-half ; and 
their specie almost two-thirds. The people of that State are 
literally gasping for breath, like an animal under the ex- 
hausted receiver of the experimentalist. And if you pass 
this bill, you authorize the United States to take all but 
$2,000,000 of the specie now remaining in that great State, 
and lock it up in your vaults of this new sub-treasury sys- 
tem. And you leave the bill-holders and individual deposit- 
ors of that State with upwards of $25,000,000 due them 


from the banks, and only $2,cxx),cxx) of specie to pay them 

Sir, however solvent these banks may be, it is impossible 
that they should ever resume specie pajrments under circum- 
stances like these. This sub-treasury scheme, which I regard 
as a germ of a Treasury bank, will draw the specie from 
our banks faster than they can collect it. The Post Office 
now acts as an absorbent of all the small change in the coun- 
try. Where the edict of the officer at the head of that 
Department is faithfully executed, all the specie is gathered 
into the Post Office, paid out to the mail contractors, and by 
them sold to the brokers, by whom it is sold as a commodity, 
and shipped out of the country. In this way it daily grows 
more and more scarce, and has almost ceased to be used as 
a circulating medium among the people. This sub-treasury 
system is calculated to carry out this infamous distinction 
between the Government and the people — ^to absorb all the 
specie for the use of the Government and its favorites, and 
leave the people to irredeemable bank paper, and this bill, 
with the bankrupt law recommended by the President, is 
calculated to take, "peaceably if they can, but forcibly if 
they must," all the specie from the banks, and hoard it up 
for the use of the office-holders under this Government. Sir, 
there are evils between which a man is not bound to choose ; 
he may reject both. And I regard this sub-treasury system, 
and the union of the Government with the State banks, as 
evils of this character. I will not choose ; I am opposed to 

But have my colleagues, who profess to be the guardians 
of these State banks, who call themselves "conservatives," 
duly considered the awful precipice upon which we stand in 
the State of New York? Are you willing, instead of adding 
$1,300,000 to our circulation in this time of distress, to pass 
tiiis bill, and thereby not only withhold that, but take from 
us the $700,000 now there in specie ? Recollect that all our 
safety-fund banks are incorporated under a law that de- 
clares that they shall be deemed insolvent, and their charters 
dissolved by the Court of Chancery, if they neglect, for 


ninety days after demand, to redeem any evidence of debt 
issued by them in specie. The effect of that law has been 
suspended for one year, and for one year only, from the nth 
day of May last. It will then expire by its own limitation, 
and can then only be renewed by the concurrence of each 
branch of the Legislature. Is there not much reason to 
doubt whether this law will be extended? It was passed in 
a moment of alarm, when the cry of bankruptcy and ruin 
broke upon the astonished ear of the Legislature like a peal 
of thunder from a cloudless sky. But they and the people 
have since had time to reflect. This is a state of things that 
cannot be endured, and most of the measures here recom- 
mended are calculated to aggravate it in a tenfold d^^ee. 
Men become desperate, and already the deep sea of popular 
commotion begins to heave its rising billows. I confess I 
watch its motions with solicitude and alarm. And I have 
been surprised to find, in the papers of the day, a letter from 
General Jackson, the former patron and eulogist of these pet 
banks, speaking of them in the following language : 

"The history of the world has never recorded such base treachery 
and perfidy as has been committed by the deposit banks against the 
Government, and purely with the view of gratifying Biddle and the 
Barings, and, by the suspension of specie payments, degrade, enAar- 
rass, and ruin, if they could, their own country, for the selfish 
views of making large profits by throwing out millions of depreci- 
ated paper upon the people, selling their specie at large premiums, 
and buying up their own paper at discounts of from 25 to 30 per 
cent., and now looking forward to be indulged in these speculations 
for years to come, before they resume specie payments." 

But, sir, although I have been surprised to see the fore- 
going charge, I must confess that I have been more sur- 
prised to see it published to the world week after week, and 
meet with no response or denial from any man on this floor 
or elsewhere. Are gentlemen conservatives aware of the 
effect of such a publication upon the popular mind ? Let me 
tell them it bears upon its tainted breath, if false, a charge 
too foul for honest and honorable men to submit to it in 
silence. It distils into the ignorant and credulous mind a 


poison more dangerous to the peace of society than foreign 
invasion or individual treason. And is there no honorable 
man connected with these institutions, or who stands upon 
this floor as their guardian, that will deny the foul charge 
of treachery and perfidy thus made against them? Why 
this unaccountable silence under a charge so infamous and 
revolting? Is it the deep contrition of guilt and merited 
condemnatipn that has sealed your mouths ? or are you trans- 
fixed with superstitious horror, and struck with silent awe at 
the Greatest and Best, who uttered the anathema? Then 
prostrate yourselves in the dust, and let this mighty Jugger- 
naut roll over you without a groan or a tear. But if there 
be one independent and honorable man — as I trust in God 
there are many — ^let him stand forth and deny this base 
charge. Let this little band of conservatives upon this floor, 
if they are fighting for principles, and not for spoils, raise 
the banner of independence, and meet their destiny like 
men ; otherwise, they must soon sink into utter oblivion and 
merited contempt. Already a black cloud hangs impending 
over your heads, and its sulphurous fires, lighted up by the 
midnight torch of locofocoism, will soon burst upon you, 
more terrible than that storm of fire and brimstone that over- 
whelmed the devoted cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ; and, 
without independence and firmness, you will go down to 
your political graves 

"Unwept, unhonored, and unsung." 

October 4, 1837, the House having under consideration 
^ bill authorizing an issue of Treasury notes, an amendment 
^^as proposed declaring, in substance, that the banks of 
:»iierchants indebted to the Government might settle their 
respective balances in Treasury notes before they fell due. 
^r. Fillmore supported the amendment, contending that it 
"vras the right of the creditor to set oflf Treasury notes, if 
l^e could get them, against his debt to the Government. This 


would hold out a strong inducement to all creditors of Gov- 
ernment to take these notes, and they would thus be sooner 
brought into circulation. Mr. Fillmore later sought, unsuc- 
cessfully, to amend tiie bill by striking out tiie clause which 
provides a penalty for a man having in his possession paper 
similar to that used for the Treasury notes, wttfi intent to 

October 17th his vote is recorded against the trill "to 
authorize the issuing of Treasury notes,'' etc. 


The disturbances caused by William Lyon Mackenzie and 
his followers on the Niagara frontier in 1837-8 naturally 
compelled the attention of Congress, and Mr. Fillmore, as a 
member from the disturbed district, was foremost in urging 
protective measures. On January 12, 1838, he offered the 
following amendment to a pending resolution : 

And that the President be requested to communicate to this 
House any additional information in his possession, of acts endan- 
gering the amicable relations between this government and that of 
Great Britain either by the subjects of Great Britain, or by our own 
citizens, on the Canadian frontier, and what measures have been 
adopted by the Executive to preserve our neutrality with said 

Mr. Fillmore in support of this amendment, remarked 
that the House were probably aware that there had been, and 
now was, a great excitement existing on the Niagara fron- 
tier, and that there had been movements in Buffalo in ref- 
erence to the revolution now raging in Canada. They were 
also probably aware that an armament had been fitted out, 
mostly by American citizens, which had made a stand on 
Navy Island, which is within British territory, in Niagara 
river, 20 miles from Buffalo, and two or three miles above 
the Falls; the lowest point at which a crossing can be 
effected, safely, from the main shore. The line between the 
two countries passes between Navy Island, which is well 
fortified, and Grand Island, which is in the territory of the 
United States. 

Mr. Fillmore understood from letters and papers of very 
late dates, then before him, that there were upon Navy 


Island, some 1,500 men, who are midergoing a course of 
military discipline. He had letters to the 30^1 ult advising 
him that a small steamboat called the Cardine had been 
taken down the river fromBuffalo,to run as a ferryboat from 
the American shore to Navy Island It seemed that on the 
agth an armed force came from the British side, in Qinada, 
and attacked this steamboat, which had been running 
through the day, and which was then lying within the United 
States lines, Idlled some and wound^ others, tiben setting 
the boat on fire, and sending it over the falls, and, as some 
accounts allied, with the wounded still remaining on board. 
And here Mr. Fillmore read extracts from the letters, which 
he averred were from the very highest and most responsible 
sources, confirming his statements as to these incidents. 
Having done which, he observed that his object now was to 
ascertain if the Executive had any information on the 

Mr. Fillmore on March 9th presented a memorial, 
adopted at a meeting in Buffalo, on the 12th of February, in 
relation to the burning of the Caroline, and the murder of 
citizens on board. He said : 

What the British Gk>vemment will say to this, remains 
yet to be heard. Charity and the friendly relations existing 
between this Government and that, induce me to hope that 
the act will be disavowed by that Government, and that satis- 
faction, so far as it can be made, will be immediately 

It is proper that I should state that the deep and univer- 
sal feeling of indignation which this outrage has called forth 
in that community is entirely distinct from, and independent 

z. February 13, 1841, Mr. Pickens, from the Committee on Foietgn 
Affairs, made an elaborate report on the burning of the Caroline and tiie case 
of McLeod. It is to be found in the Congressional Globe, February 19, 1841; 
also reprinted. In this report, as in Mr. Fillmore's speech, and most other con- 
temporary utterances on the subject, there is more or less of misstatement. It 
has never been shown that any one except Amos Durfee was killed in the 
seizure of the Caroline. The number of Mackenzie's followers that gathered 
in Navy Island is also usually much overstated. 


of, that excitement which has been so universally con- 
demned, as an improper interference in the Canadian re- 

The memorialists pray that our Navy and Army may be 
placed on a proper footing, and that our fortifications may 
be placed in a proper state of defence, and particularly that 
the city of Buffalo and the Niagara frontier, now in a per- 
fectly defenceless state, may be immediately fortified, and 
that the Government demand and obtain redress for this 

Mr. Fillmore moved that so much of the memorial as 
relates to the defence of the country, be referred to the 
Conmiittee on Military Affairs; and so much as relates to 
the violation of our national honor, and redress therefor, to 
the Committee on Foreign Affairs. It was finally referred 
to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, without a division. 

On motion of Mr. Fillmore June nth: 

Resolved, That the Committee on Military Affairs be instructed 
to inquire into the expediency of authorizing the immediate surveys 
and estimates for suitable fortifications for the protection and 
defence of the Northern frontier. 


In the House, December 5, 1838, Mr. Fillmore delivered 
the following eulogy in memory of a colleague : 

Mr. Speaker, the painful and melancholy duty has de- 
volved upon me of announcing to this House the death of 
my lamented friend and colleague, William Patterson. He 
died at his residence, in Warsaw, New York, on the 14th 
day of August last. 

The last time I saw him was in this Hall, at the close of 
the late session. He was then in the prime of life, and ap- 
parently in the full enjoyment of health. Blessed by his 
Creator with a constitution that never felt disease, environed 


by a temperance and rq^ularity of habit that ordinariljr bid 
defiance to its approach, no man left this House with fairer 
prospects of returning to it again. But the untiring aaaidu- 
ity with which he devoted himself to the dsacliaige of his 
duties here during tiiat long and arduous sessaoQ, dou b tles s 
sowed the seeds of tiiat disease which so soon terminaied 
his earthly existence. Beneath the external glow of heaMi 
that then mantled his cheek was insidiously prqring the 
canker worm of death. He was barely enabled to return to 
the bosom of his family when his strength gave way, his 
reason wandered, and, in a few short days, all Omt was 
mortal of William Patterson ''slept beneath the dods of the 
valley.'' Would that this melancholy tale ended here. But 
it does not The partner of his earthly joys and scnrrowi, 
worn down with the watchings and anxieties of his last 
illness, with a constitution too feeble to support the accu- 
mulated distress of a sensitive mind, sunk beneath the weight 
of her sorrows, and, in a few days after his interment, she, 
too, "slept the sleep of death'' by his side. What an appalling 
bereavement to his infant children I They are now orphans 
in this wide world, exhibiting in their changed condition an 
awful reality of the uncertainty of life and of all earthly 

But, sir, though gone, he has left behind him a name and 
reputation dear to them that knew him. Modest and unas- 
suming in his character, kind and generous in his disposition, 
honest and inflexible in his purpose, to know him was to 
respect and esteem him. His heart was without guile ; and, 
though he made no professions, yet he habitually practiced 
all the virtues that adorn the life of a most exemplary 

He made no pretensions to literary acquirements or states- 
manlike qualifications, and his native modesty naturally in- 
duced him to seek the quiet retirement of private life. But, 
blessed with good sense and a strong and retentive memory, 
he found leisure, amid the daily toils of a laborious occupa- 
tion, to cultivate a taste for reading, which stored his mind 
with useful facts. At the unsolicited request of his fellow- 


citizens, he reluctantly yielded his assent to occupy a seat 
on this floor. How he discharged that important trust, dur- 
ing the short time he participated in our deliberations, is 
known to you all. During a protracted and uncommonly 
arduous session, when many fainted by the wayside, he was 
always at his post During a time of uncommon excitement 
and political acrimony, he was firm in the support of what 
he deemed to be right, yet tolerant to the opinions of others 
with whom he differed. In one word, he was constant and 
patient in the discharge of all his official duties, and untiring 
in the more humble but useful labors of his station. Natur- 
ally frank, honest, and confiding, he drew around him a 
circle of friends, and by the unadulterated goodness of his 
heart, disarmed even political opposition of its rancor. 
Finally, in all the relations of life, as a father, husband, 
brother, friend, citizen and legislator, he was blameless. 
That no testimony of respect for his many virtues may be 
wanting, I offer for the adoption of the House the resolu- 
tions which I send to the Chair : 

Resolved, unanimously, That this House has received with deep 
sensibility the annunciation of the death of Hon. William Patterson, 
a Representative from the State of New York. 

Resolved, unanimously, That the members of this House will 
testify their respect for the memory of the deceased by wearing 
crape on the left arm for thirty days. 


December lo, 1838, on motion of Mr. Fillmore, it was 

Ordered, That the drawings illustrative of the condition of cer- 
tain improvements in navigation on Lake Erie, which accompany 
the annual report from the Topographical Bureau, and forming a 
part of the documents with the President's message, be printed. 

January 14, 1839, on motion of Mr. Fillmore, it was 

Resolved, That the Committee on Commerce be instructed to 
inquire into the expediency of authorizing accurate surveys and 
charts to be made of such parts of Lakes Ontario, Huron, Erie, 


Michigan and Superior, and the riven and atrahs oonnecdnf the 
same, and the bays and hari>on diereolt as lie within the boundaries 
of the United States. 


January a8, 1839, on modon of Mr. FUbnore, it was 

Risokfid, That the President be requested to comnmnicatr to 
this House, if not, in his opinion, incompatible with the public inter- 
est, what demand has been made upon the British Gover nm ent, for 
satisfaction for the outrage committed under its authority, in burn- 
ing the steamboat Caroline, and murdering our unarmed citizens 
on board; and what reply said Government has made to sodi 
demand; and all the correspondence on the subject of said outrage^ 
between this Government and that, or the officers or agents of 
either, or the officers or agents of this Government and die Presi- 
dent, or any of its Departments, which have not heretofore been 
communicated to this House. 


On March i, 1839, the House having before it the bill 
giving the President additional power for the defence of the 
United States, etc., involving the Maine boundary question, 
Mr. Fillmore spoke at length. 

It was with extreme reluctance, he said, that in his feeble 
state of health, he added a word to protract this debate ; nor 
should he have done so, but that he felt that his own con- 
stituents might have as deep an interest in the results of this 
bill as the inhabitants of any portion of the United States. 
This bill, if he could credit what had been said by the gentle- 
man from Maine [Mr. Evans], or read by the gentleman 
from Maryland [Mr. Howard], was neither more nor less 
than a contingent declaration of war with Great Britain. In 
such an event, his constituents had a deep and obvious in- 
terest. It was true that, on the face of the bill, and in the 
wording of the first, second, and the third sections, it seemed 
to be contemplated that our collision with that power would 
be confined chiefly to the frontier of Maine ; but such would 
not turn out to be the fact. If resort was once had to arms, 
the matter would not end in a brief skirmish in Maine. That 
little tract of territory, cold and barren as the Siberian 
desert, was of but small value but for the timber it con- 
tained. That would not be the battlefield on which this con- 
test must be settled ; the scene of conflict would extend along 
the entire Northern frontier of the Union, and its chief seat 
would be upon the great northern lakes. 

If it were true, as the gentleman affirmed, that even the 
President himself did not fully appreciate the urgency of 
the crisis, what must be the consequences, upon that crisis, 
of passing a bill like this? What did the bill contemplate? 



What was the very first step it proposed? It went at once 
to commit us to war de facto. The first section went oo the 
supposition that Great Britain would enforce the claim she 
had set up by a resort to arms. Was there any reason to 
suppose tfiat this would be done? The gentleman from 
Maine had to{d the House that it would be attempted at 
once, and that a collision had already taken place. 

[Mr. Evans explained, stating his view that die bill if 
passed, would prevent, instead of produce, hostilities.] 

The gentleman then concedes that it is probable a collision 
may have already taken place. We are, tfien, acting on a 
contingency, with little time to deliberate, and none to retract 
any step we may take. Suppose there shall be a collision 
before the result of our deliberations is known. Congress 
would be defunct, and what will be the duty of our Presi- 
dent? To wait till he can lay propositions before the Gov- 
ernment of Great Britain? To pause and negotiate, and 
then go to war ? No. The nation is irretrievably committed, 
and it will be his duty at once to expel the invading force. 
No alternative is left him. There is no chance or space for 
repentance or advice. We have assumed that the act* of Sir 

I. Sir John Harvey, Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, claimed 
British jurisdiction for territory on the Aroostook which was claimed by 
Maine. Mr. Fox, the British Minister, backed him up in the claim, main- 
tained that the disputed territory had been placed under exclusive British 
authority, and demanded the withdrawal of American troops therefrom. Presi- 
dent Van Buren, Feb. 26, 1839, made the matter the occasion of a Message to 
Congress, in which, and in accompanying documents, it was set forth that a 
"numerous band of lawless and desperate men. chiefly from the adjoining 
British Provinces," had invaded the disputed territory and were cutting the 
timber. The Governor of Maine sent the land agent of the State, with a body 
of men, against the trespassers. These latter captured the agent, and two 
other citizens of Maine, and carried them prisoners to Frederickton; where- 
upon the Governor dispatched another and stronger armed posse, to disperse 
or arrest the offenders. Certain British subjects were seized. The resultant 
correspondence, with its demands and counter-demands, became very belligerent. 
Military movements began on both sides. Governor John Fairchild of Maine 
soon had a force of 100 men on the frontier and issued a draft for 1,000. At 
this point, before there was acttial warfare, a friendly agreement was arrived 
at by Secretary of State John Forsyth and Mr. Fox, the British Minister, by 
which the border troubles were allayed, and the disputed claim was left for 
settlement to calm deliberations in the future. In the House of Representa- 
tives, as was to be expected, the incident developed much oratory of a type 
not unfamiliar, even in 1839. Mr. Fillmore's share in the disctission was 
chiefly, as appears from his remarks herewith, to seize the occasion that he 
might emphasize the need of more protection on the Northern frontier, and 
especially on the Lakes. 


John Harvey is the act of his Government, and the President 
is at once to proceed to hostilities. I am not prepared to say 
that even this may not be necessary. From tfie Httle exami- 
nation I have given the subject, I have no doubt whatever 
that Maine is in the right. The only question is as to the 
manner and the time in which her right is to be enforced. 

In this question the whole country is interested and espe- 
cially the people in my own district. It appears to me that 
the Committee on Foreign Affairs have directed their atten- 
tion exclusively to the interests and rights of Maine, and 
have, to a great extent, overlooked the great interests of 
other portions of the Union in this matter. Ought they to 
have forgotten the defenceless position in which the whole 
Northern frontier would be placed in case of war? 

I am surprised to find not only solitary provision in this 
bill for the defence of a lake frontier of fifteen hundred 
miles: with not a single fort upon the whole line, nor a 
single armed vessel owned by the Government. Is it right 
thus to make a contingent declaration of war, and make no 
provisions whatever for the defence of that frontier, at the 
same time that ample provision is made for the sea coast? 
It may be said that we entered into a treaty with Great 
Britain in 1817 or 1818 limiting the number of armed ves- 
sels that should be maintained by either Power on those 
lakes. I admit it, but Great Britain has not invariably felt 
herself bound by that conviction for she has at least, I am 
informed, an armed steam vessel in her employ on Lake 
Ontario, two or three on the upper lakes, and one on Lake 
Champlain, by which, during the season of navigation, 
every lake town from Buffalo to Detroit may be utterly de- 
stroyed in less than one week, while we have nothing pre- 
pared to resist. I have been struck very forcibly with the 
singular, and to me unaccountable, omission in this bill to 
make any provision for a case of such imperious necessity. 
1 believe we have not one piece of ordnance on the whole 
frontier that could be pointed against an invading foe. I 
beg pardon of the House for asserting that we are wholly 


I have just been told by the honorable gentleman from 
Michigan, who sits near me, that the Government, in its 
magnanimity, has given to the State of Michigan one nine- 
pounder. All I ask of the House is that if they deem it 
necessary to the national honor to make a contingent decla- 
ration of war, they will insert in this bill some provision for 
the defence of the Northern frontier tfiat shall at least put 
us on a level with the Atlantic cities. We ask no more. I 
know there is not time to erect forts ; but I ask while the 
President of the United States is authorized in this bill to 
equip and employ the whole naval force of the United States 
for the seacoast, will not Congress authorize him, at the 
same time, to purchase, arm and equip the necessary number 
of steamboats for the defence of our Northern frontier? 
Surely it is the duty of the House to do so. Will they apply 
a torch which must set our whole Northern frontier in a 
flame, and make no provision for our defence? 

It is true we have a bill authorizing the erection of forts 
along the boundary line of Maine, and another for repairing 
a few of the dilapidated works on Lake Ontario ; but f r<Mn 
the report of the War Department, after sleeping a Rip Van 
Winkle sleep of thirty of forty years, it seems they have at 
length waked up to some apprehension of our exposed con- 
dition ,and they now propose to commence at Fort Niagara 
a fortification now comparatively useless, and to proceed 
thence eastwardly, as if there were nothing west of that 
point worth defending. I shall be pardoned for saying that 
there are more people west of a meridian line drawn through 
Ontario, inhabiting states which border upon the lakes, than 
existed within the whole limits of the United States at the 
time of the Revolution ; but it seems that war is to be de- 
clared, and all this portion of the Union is to be abandoned 
to its fate. Why this odious distinction? 

[In reply to an interruption by Mr. Howard, chairman of 
the Committee on Foreign Relations, Mr. Fillmore read the 
3d section, as follows : 


"Sec 3. And be it further enacted, that in the event of either 
of the contingencies provided in the first section of this act, the 
President of the United States shall be authorized to complete the 
public armed vessels now authorized by law, and to equip, man, and 
employ, in actual service, all the naval force of the United States." 

Mr. Fillmore continued:] 

The honorable chairman of the committee says that the 
committee understood that the Northern frontier might be 
defended in one or two ways: the President might fit out 
the vessels of the navy and employ them in the defence of 
the lakes. Now, there is one objection to this : those vessels 
may find it very difficult to ascend the Niagara Falls. It is 
said that a certain Secretary of War once directed vessels 
to be built on Lake Ontario which were to be used on Lake 
Erie, entirely forgetting that the Falls interposed. It cer- 
tainly will not answer to fit out vessels on the Atlantic 
'whidi are to be used on the lakes. The bill only allows the 
President to complete vessels already commenced. It is 
true that we had some vessels of war on Lake Erie ; part of 
them built by ourselves, and another portion consisting of 
those taken from the British by Perry ; but, after the last 
vrar, these vessels were sold to private citizens, and they are 
now navigating the lakes as merchantmen. The Govern- 
ment has not a single vessel upon that lake moved either 
"by sail or steam. 

I will not enter further into this argument. I trust it is 
quite sufficient to apprise the House of the actual state of 
the case to induce them to make some provision for the de- 
fence of the Northern frontier. It surely is not necessary 
for me to refer to the exasperated state of feeling which has 
for some time prevailed on both sides of the line, or to 
remind the House that, with all the exertions of both Gov- 
ernments, it has been scarcely possible to preserve national 
peace. If war shall come upon us without previous prepara- 
tion, we have nothing else to expect but to see our cities and 
our villages laid in ashes, and our citizens murdered. Let 
me not, however, be misunderstood. We are fully ready to 


stand by Maine in the maintainment of her just riglits. We 
are willing to bare our bosoms to the shafts of war whenever 
the honor of the nation shall require it All we ask is, that 
you shall make what provision is in jrour power for our 
defence. Put us upon the same footing as tiie Atlantic 
coast The British Government has in the Canadm eighteen 
thousand troops, among the best that the world affords, and 
there is no preparation on our part for defence. True, we 
have the militia, prompt and brave, and ever ready to meet 
and repel an invading foe; but how are we to transport them 
to the spot where their services may be required? You have 
scarcely a vessel in Government employ, and yoa urge as an 
argument our treaty with England ; but I pray you gende- 
men to remember that, as soon as the two nations get to 
blows, all treaties are at end. 

Mr. Fillmore asked in conclusion, that his amendment 
mig^t be read, and it was read accordingly in the words 

Add to the second section as follows: 

"And to build, purdiase, or charter, arm, equip and man. inch 
vessels and steaxnboats on the Northern lakes and rivers whose 
waters communicate with the United States and Great Britain, as 
he shall deem necessary to protect the United States from invasion 
from that quarter." 

[Agreed to.] 


On December 21, 1839, the House engaged in discussion 
on a motion doing away with viva voce voting for officers. 
Mr. Fillmore, who had formerly debated this subject, again 
spoke in substance as follows : 

He had not supposed [he said] that a constitutional 
lawyer ^ would have contended that the viva voce mode of 

X. The allusion it to Caleb Cushing of Maaaachuaetts, who had been a 
representative in Congress since 1835. An ardent Whig and a aldUful debater, 
his relations with Mr. Fillmore appear to have been intimate. They had the 
common bond of profound knowledge of and admiration for tiie Constitution 
of the United States. 


voting was the constitutional mode. He thought, if any 
inferences could be drawn from the Constitution, they were 
decidedly in favor of the ballot. It was well known that the 
Liberal party in England had long contended for the vote by 
ballot; and why? Because the influence exercised by the 
aristocracy and the rich land-holders renders voting there a 
mere form, a mockery. And though these influences were 
not felt here, there was an unseen influence pervading this 
hall — ^the influence of party drill and party organization — 
that Moloch upon whose altar we are offering our first-bom 
daily, and whose grasp was quite as strong and as merciless 
as the despotism of the old world. If in England men were 
deterred from voting in accordance with their sentiments, by 
the fear of their landlords, he would ask if, in this House, 
there were not men who were deterred from voting as their 
consciences dictated, by the fear of the denunciations of the 
party press? The writ of ejectment would be issued as 
promptly in one case of disobedience, as in the other. If 
the ballot were necessary in England and France to protect 
the voter from the vengeance of the aristocracy or the 
sovereign, it was just as necessary here; we had only to put 
the President in place of the Crown, and the necessity was 
the same. He thought the ballot was a good system ; and it 
was the old and long-tried system, having been the only one 
in practice until within the last year.^ 

I. At the opening of the Third Session, Twenty-fifth Congress (December 
3* 1838), the Speaker announced the death of Col. Walter S. Franklin, late 
Clerk to the House; it was the necessity of choosing his successor that pre- 
cipitated the debate over rtt'a voce voting. Mr. Dromgoole of Virginia offered 
a resolution amending the House rules of procedure so that *'in all cases of 
election by the House the vote shall be taken viva voce." The remarks of 
Mr. Fillmore fairly show the issue that was raised. The new clerk, Hugh A. 
Garland, was elected viva voce, — on the first day of the session; but the prin- 
ciple was contended for more than a month until finally, January 17, 1839, 
the House adopted a resolution which established the ballot as the method to 
be employed in the choice of House ofiicers, special committees, etc. 


In March, 1840, Mr. Fillmore led the most strenuous 
contest in which he had up to that time engaged The sub- 
ject was the New Jersey contested election. He had pre- 
viously (February 19th) spoken on the history of the case^ 
and its consideration in committee. On March 6thy the 
whole day was spent on points of order raised for the pur- 
pose of preventing him from speaking. The Speaker finally 
gave Mr. Fillmore the floor, when an appeal was taken from 
his decision and the discussion continued on the following 
day, when a vote was taken and the decision of the Chair 

March 5th Mr. Fillmore had offered the following reso- 
lution : 

Whereas, The House did, by a motion adopted on the 28th day 
of February, 1840, among other things direct the Committee of 
Elections to report "forthwith" which five of the ten individuals 
claiming seats from the State of New Jersey received the greatest 
number of lawful votes from the whole State for Representatives in 
the Congress of the United States, at the election of 1858, in said 
State; and whereas this House had previously referred evidence to 
that committee, tending to show that the poll at South Amboy, in 
said State, at said election, was not held according to law, and that 
the numerous votes given at said election were unlawful, because 
the persons voting had no legal right to vote, and the parties to 
said contest are now absent from the city, with the consent, and 
under the authority of said committee, taking testimony in said case, 
for the purpose of ascertaining who received the greatest number 
of lawful votes at said election in said State; and whereas certain 
depositions alleged to have been taken by one of the parties to said 



contract, in pursuance of the directions of said committee, have 
been transmitted to the chairman of said committee in a sealed 
envelope, addressed to the Speaker of this House, tending to show, 
as is alleged, that the polls at South Amboy were not held accord- 
ing to law, and that unlawful votes were taken at said poll; and 
i^hereas said committee, in acting on said resolution of this House, 
refused to consider any portion of said evidence, but determined to 
report, and have reported, simply the number of votes adjudged 
to have been given to the several claimants by the Governor and 
Privy Council of New Jersey, together with those returned by the 
election officers of the townships of Millville, in Cumberland county, 
to the clerks of said counties respectively without inquiring whether 
said votes were lawful or not; therefore, 

Resolved, That said report be recommitted to said committee, 
with instructions to inquire and report to this House, with all con- 
venient despatch, which five of the ten claimants to the vacant seats 
in this House from said State received the greatest number of law- 
ful votes at the last Congressional election in said State. 

Mr. Filhnore spoke with much interrupting debate on the 
6th, 7th, loth and I2th of March. As his views on the 
subject are clearly presented in his letter to his constituents, 
it is deemed unnecessary here to give this debate in extenso. 
The following passages, however, have especial interest as 
showing the vigor with which Mr. Fillmore could maintain 
his position when he felt that the principles of right were 
at stake : 

It is my misfortune to be connected with a subject on 
which a majorit>' of this House seem determined to hear 
nothing, but are, apparently, ready to decide anything. I 
have scarcely alluded to the New Jersey election but that 
some rule of this House has been made to yield to the im- 
perious necessity of closing my lips. Gentlemen seem de- 
termined to stifle all debate, to suppress all information. 
They may succeed ; they have the numerical force that has 
been found sufficient heretofore and may be again; but I 
will never tamely and passively submit to yield a right which 
I hold in trust for others. The right of speech is guaranteed 


by the Constitution. It is the sacred and important right 
upon which all others depend. Deprive us of this and we 
are slaves to the veriest despotism that ever crushed a pow- 
erless minority. If this principle is to be established here, I 
should conceive it no loss to exchange my seat for one in 
the dark cells of the Spanish inquisition. All that we shall 
have left will not be worth contending for. It will soon 
be a disgrace to any man of honorable sentiments to have it 
known that he was ever a member of this body. Sir, I 
would as willingly be the slave of one master as of a thou- 
sand. I would as soon consent to hold my right of debate 
here as a mere tenant at sufferance to the arbitrary will of 
the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Petrildn], as to hold 
it at the will of a majority who follow his lead. I will never 
consent to hold it at the arbitrary will and pleasure of airjr 
man, or set of men. It is a constitutional right which I 
bring with me into this hall, equally inviolable in myself 
and those whom I represent, and I will never consent — no 
never — basely to betray it 

I beg gentlemen of the majority to pause, to reflect, 
before they establish this dangerous precedent Its effect 
may be only to crush a weak and humble minority, but this is 
a changeable world and especially the political portion of it 
A few years may find those who now exult in streng^ and 
lord it over this body, in a defenceless minority like myself. 
Let them beware lest these bloody treasons which they now 
teach us return to afflict themselves. I conjure them to 
pause before they inflict so deep a wound upon the Constitu- 
tion of our common country. 

I beg them to respect some rules, observe some order, 
even in the New Jersey case. It is not necessary to carry 
out the wishes of the majority to trample upon the Constitu- 
tional right of debate. The rules of the House well admin- 
istered are sufficient in all conscience. The majority pos- 
sesses all the power; the minority have nothing to protect 
them but the Constitution and the rules of the House ; and if 
these are broken down then farewell to freedom, farewell to 
all that is dear to an American citizen ! This hall becomes 


the temple of despotism, and you, Mr. Speaker, its high- 



March 7th Mr. Fillmore moved to reconsider the vote by 
which certain testimony had been taken. After the usual 
obstructive tactics by his opponents, Mr. Fillmore spoke at 
length on questions of order. He also undertook to recite 
the facts of the case, as they had developed before the com- 
mittee. On calling for the reading of certain evidence, 
objection was raised; and although some depositions were 
read by the Clerk, March loth, partisan tactics prevented 
Mr. Fillmore from getting his report relating to the pro- 
ceedings of the Committee on Elections, before the House. 
In consequence, Mr. Fillmore printed the minority report 
of that committee, prefacing it with an address to "the whole 
country." Both the address and the report are signed by 
Millard Fillmore, Jno. M. Botts, George W. Crabb and Tru- 
man Smith. Although both were probably in large part 
if not wholly written by Mr. Fillmore, the address is deemed 
as sufficient presentation of the subject.^ 

We desire to call the attention of the whole country to 
the statement herewith exhibited, as a report prepared and 
presented to the House of Representatives, by the minority 

I. These documents were printed in pamphlet form with the following 
title: "Address and suppressed report of the minority of the Committee on 
Elections on the New Jersey case. Presented to the House of Representatives, 
March io» 1840, together with the remarks of Mr. Fillmore. "For every one 
that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds 
should be reproved.*" Washington: Printed at the Madisonian office, 1840; 
8vo., pp. 16. The title of the minority report runs: *The suppressed report 
of the minority of the Committee on Elections on the New Jersey case; pre- 
sented to the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, 
March 10, 1840 — and contrary to all precedent, excluded from the House (its 
reception and reading being refused, with the previous question pending, and 
all debate shut off), by a party vote in the negative." 


of tiie Cotonuttee on Elections, to which was referred the 
contested electioB from the State of New Jersey ; and we 
eqiectally desire to call tlieir attention to the novel, extraor- 
dinary and appalling circumstances, which have driven us to 
the necessity of this appealing to our fellow citizens, from 
one end of tfie Union to the other ; and we do it with the con- 
fident assurance that they will give to the subject that careful 
and unprejudiced consideration which its importance de- 
mands, and their own future safety and interests, imperi- 
ously require; tliat they will unite with us in the belief, 
which in the honest sincerity of our hearts we entertain, that 
the Government under whicli we live, must soon become 
worse than a Turkish despotism, unless the People, in the 
majesty of their strength, shall arise and rebuke the perpe- 
trators of the outrage which has been committed on the 
Constitution of the United States, the laws of one of the 
sovereign States of this Union, and the rights of the great 
body of the People themselves. 

We will not enter into a minute detail of the means by 
which five of the Representatives of the State of New 
Jersey, furnishing the highest evidence known to tlie laws 
of that State, that they had been regularly and constitu- 
tionally elected, were driven from their seats, previous to 
any investigation whatever, and denied all right to partici- 
pate in the organization and proceedings of the House, and 
much less will we undertake here, to pronounce upon the 
motives which led to this unparalleled proceeding. 

We wish to take up this subject at another point, and let 
the country know what are the circumstances under which 
five other gentlemen from the State of New Jersey have 
been voted into seats in the House of Representatives, who 
have presented no return, no credential, no commission: and 
this too when the members holding the commissions of the 
Governor of that State, under the Seal of that Common- 
wealth, were at home by leave of the committee, taking de- 
positions to prove — what they had at all times averred they 
could prove — that they had received a majority of the lawful 
votes g^ven at the polls. 


The proceedings of the committee having charge of this 
subject, will be seen by reference to the report below, up to 
the time that the report of the majority of the committee was 
presented, and we now proceed to give a statement of what 
has since transpired. 

But it must be remarked in advance that the Committee, 
having determined that if an investigation was to be prose- 
cuted behind the commissions of the Governor, every prin- 
ciple of equity and fairness required that there should be a 
thorough search into the legality of the votes given for each 
party, and finding that there was no sufficient testimony 
before them by which it could be ascertained for whom a 
majority of the qualified voters of New Jersey had cast their 
votes, such time was granted as the parties themselves 
deemed requisite to enable them to take such testimony as 
they might think advisable to establish their respective 
claims, and that accordingly the parties severally left Wash- 
ington for the State of New Jersey, where they now are en- 
gaged in the prosecution of this work. 

During their absence, and shortly after their departure 
from the city (no complaint and no application coming 
from them to the House), the Chairman of the Committee 
submitted a proposition to have the documents relating to 
the contested seats printed for the use of the Committee. 
This furnished a pretext for the introduction of another 
proposition, that the Committee should be instructed to re- 
port forthwith which of the parties had received a majority 
of all the votes given at the election. After long debate, 
this was so modified as to require them to report upon the 
lawful votes, which expressly, as a matter of course, ex- 
cluded, all unlawful votes. 

The subject went to the committee and with a precipita- 
tion which we deem in a high degree exceptional, the ma- 
jority of the committee adopted a resolution directing all the 
votes given to be reported as lawful, under a most extraor- 
dinary mental delusion that the instruction required it, be- 
cause the committee were required to report forthwith. All 
efforts to have the testimony then before them examined 


were successfully resisted — ^reasonable time to tiie minority 
to report these and other facts to the House, denied. The 
report was prepared, presented and received, without delay, 
the title to which is well adapted to create the impression 
that the votes reported were all lawful votes, while the body 
of the report itself (which few comparativdy of those w1k> 
see the tide will read) labors to excuse tiie committee for 
not ascertaining whether the votes were lawful or unlawful 
— a member of the minority of the committee attempted to 
explain the facts to the House — ^the Speaker decided that he 
was entitied to the floor — ^the majority of the House over- 
ruled the decision of the Chair, and refused him the privilege 
of speaking — ^the previous question was demanded, all de- 
bate stifled — in the meantime a counter-report is prepared 
and offered to the House — ^they refused to receive it, and 
proceeded at once, wholly ignorant of what the testimony 
established, with a madness and blindness belonging to des- 
peration only, to vote by the entire strength of their party, 
that the non-commissioned members had received a ma- 
jority of lawful votes, and were, therefore, duly elected, and 
entitled to occupy their seats as the representatives oi: the 
State of New Jersey ; and while the public funds are to be 
freely used for the distribution of the report of the five ad- 
ministration members of the committee, private means are 
to be resorted to, to distribute the report of the four minority 

It is a circumstance, not the least remarkable in this 
extraordinary case, that the individual members of the 
majority, refused to recognize, or adopt the reasoning of the 
report, but were entirely satisfied with the conclusions drawn 
from it, while the author of the report was equally well 
satisfied with his own reasoning but could not adopt the 
conclusions, as evinced by his refusal to vote for the resolu- 
tions based upon it, though present at the time. 

For every fact here stated, we pledge ourselves to produce 
the proof whenever called on, either before the House or the 
country ; they are facts on record, to be found on the jour- 
nals of the committee and of the House. 


And now, we ask by whom these five gentlemen have 
been elected? By the people of New Jersey, or by the 
friends of the administration in Congress? And have we 
said too much in characterizing this proceeding as novel, 
extraordinary, and appalling ! Have we done more or less, 
than our duty as citizens of this republic, and as Representa- 
tives of the people, in thus calling your attention, emphati- 
cally, to this subject; in warning you of your danger, and In 
asserting the necessity of an immediate interposition of the 
majesty of the people, at the ballot boxes, to correct such 
monstrous abuses in future. 

It has been said, and was generally understood, that the 
party in power, had, in secret caucus, resolved on the 
necessity of admitting the administration claimants, to carry 
through some of the odious schemes of the present admin- 
istration; still we hoped that before they struck the final 
blow, they might be induced to listen to reason and to justice. 
We appealed, but we appealed in vain ; their resolution was 
as determined as it was unjust; they voted, and succeeded, 
and that by a boasted majority of thirty. 

How was that majority obtained ? Only because some of 
the members regarding the outrage as highly gross and 
violent, refused to vote, or contribute to the formation of 
a quorum, for the adoption of a report and a resolution not 
founded, as we all conceive, on the testimony of the case, 
and not warranted or justified by any consideration what- 

A noble subject for boasting, truly. Let them make the 
most of it. It is a matter of pride to us, that we, at least, 
resisted it, and resisted to the last. 

We feel that we have discharged our duty ; if you are too 
indifferent to your own liberties, to discharge yours, be it so 
— the consequences must fall partially on yourselves, but 
mainly on your posterity; but as citizens of this Republic, 
we tell you we are mournfully apprehensive for the future, 
and that you may not think we are too grave and too sol- 
emn, on this vitally important question, we beg leave respect- 
fully to invite your attention to the proceedings in several 


of the State Legislatures, particularly those of New Jersey, 
Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia, and to Ibt Special 
Message of the Executive of the last-mentioned Common- 
wealth, and if all this does not arouse you to the importance 
of this subject, all further effort on our part will be vain. 

But we will not permit ourselves to indulge in any appre* 
hensions — ^we are not old enough — we have not yet come to 
that pass when those who are clothed with power for the 
protection of our liberties, can be sustained in such an en- 
croachment on the rights of the people, either for the pur- 
pose of propitiating Executive favor on the one hand, or of 
perpetuating political power on the other. 

We respectfully ask that our report, whkh those who 
should have acted upon it have refused to receive (the first 
instance of the kind, as we believe, that has occurred in the 
government), may meet with that calm, temperate and un- 
prejudiced deliberation to which it is entitied from the 
importance of the question involved. 

Millard Fillmore. Geo. W. Crabb. 

Jno. M. Botts. Truman Smith. 

Washington, March 12, 1840. 


March 23, 1840, on motion of Mr. Fillmore, it was 

Resolved, That the committee on Military Affairs be instructed 
to inquire into the expediency of fortifying the Niagara frontier, 
and especially of providing for the protection and defense of the 
harbor and city of Buffalo. 

On motion of Mr. Fillmore: 

Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to report to 
this House what machines, tools, or implements, if any, belonging 
to the United States, or used in the construction or repair of the 
harbors or piers or other public work on the great northern and 
western lakes, or the water connected therewith, have been sold 
since the first day of January, 1840, and the cost of such machines, 
implements, or tools, respectively, and the price for which they 


were respectively sold, and the authority by which such sales were 

The second session of the Twenty-sixth Congress was 

begun on December 7, 1840. On December 21st Mr. 

Fillmore offered the following : 

Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested 
to communicate to this House (if not in his opinion incompatible 
with the public interest) all the correspondence between this Gov- 
ernment and that of Great Britain, or the officers and agents of 
either, or the officers and agents of this Government with the Presi- 
dent or any of its Departments, which has not heretofore been com- 
municated to this House, on the subject of the outrage of burning 
the Caroline on the Niagara frontier; and whether there is any 
prospect of compensation being made to the owner of said boat 
for the loss thereof; and also whether any communications have 
been made to this Government in regard to the arrest and imprison- 
ment of 1 McLeod, by the authorities of the State of New 

York, for being concerned in said outrage; and if so, that he com- 
municate a copy thereof to this House. 

On the same day Mr. Fillmore submitted the following 
resolution, which was referred to the Committee of the 
Whole on the State of the Union, and ordered to be printed : 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives in Con- 
gress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses deeming it necessary), 
That the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the 
several States, as an amendment to the Constitution of the United 
States, which article, when ratified by three-fourths of the said 
Legislatures, to be valid, to all intents and purposes, as part of the 
said Constitution : 

"The six years' term of service prescribed in the Constitution 
for United States Senators, and the two years' term for which 
members of the House of Representatives are to be chosen, shall 
commence on the first day of December, instead of the fourth day 
of March. 

"Those Senators and Representatives who shall be in office when 
this amendment shall be adopted as a part of the Constitution, shall 
hold their offices respectively until the first day of December next 
after the fourth day of March when their offices would expire had 
this amendment not been made." 

I. Alexander. 


On January 2, 1841, President Van Buien sent a Message 
to the House, with correspondence whidi had passed between 
the Secretary of State, John Forsytii, and the British Min- 
ister, Mr. H. S. Fox, concerning tiie imprisocunent of 
Alexander McLeod of Upper Canada on a charge of murder 
and arson in omnection with the destruction of Ibt steam- 
boat Caroline on the Niagara in December, 1837. Mr. 
Fillmore shared in several debates r^;arding Great Britain's 
demand for McLeod's liberation, and other subjects related 
to the border disturbances of 1837-8. On January 4^1 he 
moved that President Van Buren's Message, with accom- 
panying documents, be referred to the Committee 00 
Foreign Relations, and that five thousand extra copies be 
printed. Before resuming his seat, Mr. Fillmore spoke in 
substance as follows in relation to the communication from 
the Mmister of Great Britain, "and in regard to the facts 
as stated by that functionary in connection with the outrage 
upon the steamboat Caroline" : 

"That boat, as I am informed on good authority, belonged 
to a man in the city of Buffalo, named William Wells, who 
was, and is now, considered a very peaceable and respectable 
citizen of that city. The boat did not belong to the 'Pa- 
triots,' or the insurgents of Canada, nor was it in any way 
whatever under their control or authority." This being the 
case, he could not conceive why the appellation bestowed 
upon it by the minister of Great Britain could have been 
given. There was no reason for it. Yet, said Mr. Fillmore, 



he has thought proper to call the boat a piratical vessel, in 
the employ of those persons denominated Canadian Patriots. 

Mr. Fillmore then proceeded to state what he maintained 
were the real facts in relation to the burning of the Caroline : 
Mr, Wells, at the time the insurgents were in the occupation 
of Navy Island, in Niagara River, on the Canadian side, was 
then in the city of Buffalo, twenty miles above. He there 
applied to the custom-house authorities for permission to 
run a boat, as a ferry boat, from Schlosser across to Navy 
Island. Permission being given, the Caroline commenced 
running, simply as a ferry boat, being totally unarmed, and 
having no connection with the insurgents. Neither did the 
boat carry any arms or munitions of war of any kind to 
those on Navy Island, but was engaged merely in the carry- 
ing of passengers. After making several trips, the boat was 
at night safely moored and secured within the wharf on the 
American side — ^not within the "nominal" territory of the 
United States, but within the undoubted territory of this 
Government; "as much so," said Mr. Fillmore, "as this 
hall, in which we are now assembled, is in the territory of 
the United States. After being thus safely moored at the 
wharf in our territory, it was left in the charge of a watch, 
unarmed, and without any arms whatever being on board, 
except a single pocket pistol, not loaded. Well, while the 
boat was thus lying within our territory, it was attacked in 
the night by an armed force in Canada, sent, as it now ap- 
pears, by the authority of her Majesty. One man was mur- 
dered, others injured, the boat then set on fire, turned adrift, 
and sent over the falls. This was the 'arson' complained of ; 
this was the 'murder' complained of. One of our citizens 
^was attacked, unarmed, and had his brains knocked out; 
and there was every reason to believe that others were killed, 
or so injured as to be unable to leave the vessel before it 
^went over the falls. 

"Now, by the laws of the State of New York this was 
murder, and nothing less than murder ; and the perpetrators, 
on being apprehended, would be tried by the laws of that 
State for the crime. It was a matter pertaining to the State ; 


and neither this Government nor the Executive of the Gov- 
ernment, could have any control over it, unless, indeed, the 
Government of Great Britain should see fit to repeal its 
present law, and, entering into treaty stipulations, make laws 
which should be truly applicable to the case.** If so, Mr. 
Fillmore was understood to say, the matter might perhaps 
be compromised. But, apart from that, if tiie same spirit 
was manifested by the powers at home as was exhibited by 
the British Minister here in relation to this matter, he (Mr. 
Fillmore) conceived that the necessary consequences of tiie 
conviction of McLeod would be serious indeed. He had no 
doubt but that McLeod would be put upon his trial, when 
he sincerely hoped he would be found innocent But if he 
should be found guilty, he had no doubt but that he would 
be executed, unless, indeed, a force much larger Han com- 
mon should be brought from the Canada side to his rescue. 
Mr. Fillmore concluded by showing that his reason for 
making these remarks was to show that there was a false 
impression entertained by Mr. Fox in regard to the facts of 
the case. 


January 5, 1841, Mr. Fillmore shared in debate on a 
Pennsylvania contested election case,^ the gist of his argu- 
ment being that any person contesting the right of a member 
to a seat, had a right to be heard. He contended that the 
right to be heard did not result from the fact of a man being 
a candidate or not. 

z. The case was that of the third Congressional District of Pennsylvania, 
Charles Naylor and Charles J. Ingersoll being rival claimants for the seat— 
the former being the occupant, the latter the contestant. Mr. Fillmore's argu* 
ment was that Ingersoll was entitled to a hearing. On the day following- 
January 6th — ^he introduced a bill entitled: "An Act regulating the taking 
of testimony in cases of contested election, and for other purposes." Mr. 
Naylor was finally declared entitled to the contested seat. 


In February, 1841, the House Committee on Foreign 
Affairs made a report on the burning of the Caroline and 
the case of McLeod. In the lively debate which ensued, Mr. 
Fillmore shared. His principal remarks, February 13th, 
were in substance as follows : 

I may have mistaken the purport of this report ; I have 
only heard it read once at the Clerk's table, and I have had 
no opportunity to examine its contents. The gentleman from 
South Carolina [Mr. Pickens] says it is conciliatory; that 
it will add nothing to the exasperated feeling already exist- 
ing on the frontier. I believe that he thinks that his report 
will have that effect; but I much fear, from what other 
gentlemen of the committee say, that he is mistaken. I voted 
in favor of laying the motion to print on the table because I 
thought the effect would be such as the gentleman antici- 
pated, and I wanted the report laid on the table that I might 
have time to look into it, and see if my original impressions 
should be confirmed. If, upon examination, I had found 
that it was not calculated to produce the results I appre- 
hended, no man would vote for its printing more freely than 
I would. The House, however, has refused to lay the motion 
to print on the table, and has thought proper to decide that 
the report shall be published. 

Having, as I have stated, only heard the report once read, 
and judging from what others say of it, I concur in the 
opinion of the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Adams] 
that the subject should be recommitted to the Committee on 
Foreign Affairs. I had hoped from the Committee a calm, 
deliberate, and dignified report in the case of the burning of 



the Caroline and the arrest of McLeod ; that it would have 
been limited to that matter alone, instead of embracing, as it 
apparently does, all our subjects of controversy with Great 
Britain; and that it would have set the country right widi 
reference to the facts in that case. I may be mistaken as 
regards some of those facts, but upon a careful examination 
of the testimony, subsequent to the time when I last sub- 
mitted a few remarks on this case, I observe I was mistaken 
in some of the facts connected with the transaction. As I 
was not present on the occasion, all the knowledge I have 
I derive from the newspapers and from public documents, 
as others may, and probably do. But upon this quesdoo, 
which, as I have said, is one of vital importance to that part 
of the country where I reside, we must recollect, in the first 
place, that there is a judicial question depending. And I 
was in hopes that in this report, exciting and inflammatory 
in its character as I now think it is, nothing would have been 
said, and that so far as this House was concerned, nothing 
would have been done, calculated to increase the excitement 
which already exists. I confess that I have heard wifli 
r^;ret and shame the reports from that part of the country 
in regard to the treatment of this individual, who is so soon 
to be put upon his trial for murder. I cannot for any consid- 
eration countenance for a moment the idea that the laws of 
this country are to be basely trampled on by any authority 
whatsoever. I cannot countenance the idea that the judiciary 
of the country shall for a moment be overawed, directed, or 
controlled, by any other authority than that of the laws 

And, whilst I say this, I am also unwilling to countenance 
anything there, or to do anything here, which may tend to 
such results. I hope that we may have been misinformed as 
to the nature of the proceedings there; I am unwilling to 
believe that, in a community of citizens such as that, and 
with many of whom I am well acquainted, and who arc 
highly respectable and intelligent, such things have occurred. 
I say, I hope we have been misinformed ; I trust we have. 
I have seen different statements of those transactions, and 


some of them thave been of an exculpatory character. But 
one thing, at all events, should be borne in mind by all whose 
duty requires them to act on this subject here. There is a 
gpreat state of excitement on that frontier, which might by 
possibility lead to an outbreak. My objection to the printing 
of the report was, that it was calculated to inflame the 
public mind; and I was governed in that vote by three 

In the first place, I did not wish that Bxiything should be 
done here which might have a tendency to do injustice to the 
individual who is soon to be tried by the laws of the State 
of New York. I desire that the law should have its free 
action ; that no excitement should be raised against McLeod 
which might prevent a fair and impartial trial. In the second 
place, I do not desire that any action on the part of this 
House should compromise or control the Executive of this 
nation in the negotiations now pending between the Govern- 
ment of the United States and the Government of Great 

I have all confidence in the incoming Administration. If 
this controversy can be amicably and honorably settled 
between the two Governments, I desire that it should. But 
there is a third and very strong reason in my mind against 
anything being done to exasperate the public mind on the 
subject of war with Great Britain. It is this : for three or 
four years I have used all the exertions in my power to 
induce this Administration, which is responsible to the 
country, to provide some means of defence on our Northern 
frontier. But all my efforts were in vain. And yet the gen- 
tleman from South Carolina [Mr. Pickens] now tells us that 
the course to be pursued to avoid war with Great Britain is, 
to stand up to her — ^to threaten her — to take a high stand ; 
and that, he says, will avert a war. I may have been mis- 
taken in the meaning. I know that those were not his words. 
But I would submit to him that the best way to avoid a war 
with Great Britain, is to show that we are prepared to meet 
her, if there is to be war ; because reasonable preparations 
for defence are better than gasconading. 


Mr. Fillmore then alluded to the defenseless condition of 
the Northern frontier. He desired, and believed the whole 
coimtry desired, that we should yield nothing to the demands 
of Great Britain, to which she was not fairly entitled. But, 
at the same time, he regarded it as rather the act of a mad- 
man, to precipitate the country into a war before it was 
prepared for it, than the act of a statesman. In his section 
of tihe country, the people would yield nothing to Great Bri- 
tain to which she was not justly entitled ; or they would yield 
it only with the last drop of their blood. But he did not 
wish prematurely to be drawn into war ; he did not wish to 
invite Great Britain to invade our defenseless coast. The 
true plan was to prepare for war if we had yet to come to it, 
but to do nothing in the way of bragging. If it did come, 
gentlemen would not find his [Mr. Fillmore's] people 
shrinking from their just share of responsibility. All they 
had — their property, their lives, everything — ^they were 
willing to devote, if need be, to the service and honor of 
their country. But, was it not the part of wisdom and pru- 
dence, before we made a declaration of war, to prepare for 
it? This was all he desired; and if this report was calcu- 
lated to stir up a war feeling, without corresponding prepa- 
ration being made to meet the consequences, he, for one, was 
opposed to it. He did not wish the country to be disgraced 
by defeat. When she must go to war, he desired to see her 
prepared for it ; he desired to see her placed in a situation 
which would enable her to bid defiance to the power of any 
government on earth. 

Mr. Fillmore then alluded to the Fortification bill reported 
from the Committee of Ways and Means. That bill con- 
tained appropriations to the amount of nearly half a million 
dollars (though that, he believed, was only about half of the 
amount usually appropriated for such purpose) ; and yet 
there was not a solitary fortification on the Northern fron- 
tier to which any part of that money was to be applied. Was 
this the way in which we should prepare for war ? Did the 
gentleman from South Carolina who presented the report, 
desire to declare war against England, before the new Ad- 



ministration came into power? If so, he [Mr. Fillmore] 
would oppose it. He was for war, if necessary, but not until 
we were prepared for it. He wished, therefore, that the 
gentleman from South Carolina, would permit the report to 
be recommitted to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and 
^t that committee might be instructed to confine themselves 
to the subject originally referred to them, and to that alone. 
For his own part, he trusted and he believed that the right 
of this matter was with the American people ; and it ought 
at all hazards to be maintained. But he was unwilling at 
the close of a session, and when the present Administration' 
had but something like two weeks to remain in power, to 
precipitate the nation into war without any preparation on 
our part to meet it. And it was for this reason mainly that 
he objected to the report. But as he said before, he might 
be mistaken as to its contents. He hoped he was; for he 
was at all times prepared to go with him who went furthest 
in maintaining the honor of the nation and punishing insult 
or aggression. 


February i6, 1841, Mr. Fillmore introduced the follow- 

Resolved, That the Committee on Military Affairs be instructed 
to inquire into the expediency of reporting a bill making the neces- 
sary appropriations for fortifications, naval armaments, and other 
necessary preparations to place the country in a proper state of 
defence. (Adopted.) 

He subsequently (February 26th) sought, unsuccessfully, 
to have the Naval Appropriation bill so amended that 

"in case the Government of Great Britain shall build any naval arma- 
ments for any of the lakes or rivers separating the United States 
from the Canadas, then it shall be the duty of this Government to 
build vessels on our side of at least a corresponding size; and so 
much of the money hereby appropriated as may be necessary, shall 
be applied to that object." 

This resolution, however, was ruled out of order. 



June 22, 1841, on the Sub-Treasury Repeal bill, Mr. 
Fillmore spoke at length. There seemed to him to be some 
doubt whether the enacting of the second clause of the 
Senate's bill would not revive the State Bank law of 1836. 
This was a serious question ; for he believed that the State 
Bank system was almost as universally condemned by llie 
people as the Sub-Treasury. 


June 24, 1841, Mr. Fillmore from the Committee on 
Ways and Means reported a bill authorizing a loan not to 
exceed $12,000,000. 

In the House July 7th, Mr. Fillmore annoimced his inten- 
tion of oflFering an amendment when the fourth section 
should be imder consideration. Before reaching that section 
he spoke at some length, giving a general analysis of the 
bill. It authorized the President to borrow twelve millions 
of dollars at an interest not to exceed 5% reimbursable at 
the end of eight years, with an additional authority to the 
Secretary of the Treasury, when there should be a surplus 
in the Treasury, to buy up the stock. 

The first question would be, said Mr. Fillmore in sub- 
stance, is such a loan necessary? or any part of it? For it 
did not follow because the President was empowered to 
borrow twelve millions that he must therefore borrow the 
entire sum. In order to ascertain whether the loan was 
necessary, it would be requisite to resort to the report of the 
Secretary of the Treasury, from which it appeared there 
would be a deficit on the ist of September next of $5,251,- 
388.30. This was the most immediate and pressing want of 
the Treasury. This deficiency now existed, and the money 
would be wanted to meet the demands on Government be- 
tween now and the ist day of September next. Mr. Fillmore 
quoted at length from the Secretary's report and went on, 
item by item, explaining each briefly, concluding with a com- 
parison between a loan and treasury notes as a measure of 



siq>p1y, and dcdaiing his preference for a kiao as nure ood- 
venient, "and also tsore open and manly." 

Jvly latfa he spckit furtiwr oo die same measure : calling 
«9>ecial attentioo to the fallil^ off in revenue under the 
Com p ro mi Be Act 

From over six millions, they had fallen down to three 
miUion, one hundred and fif^-eigfat thousand, only four- 
tentlts of which fell in before tlw ist of July. He stated 
tlw total redaction on tlie customs amount to seven and a 
half millions. The previous Administration had used up all 
ttie current revenue, besides seven millions extra, which had 
been in store when th«y came into power. They had thus 
used up fourteen millions extra, and still left the Govern- 
ment in debt By what sort of magic did they suppose the 
Government was still to meet all demands after such a re- 
duction? Then, besides, there were three million and a half 
taken off by the Land Bill for distribution. With a diminu- 
tion, then, of from sixteen to eighteen millions, gentlemen 
still expected to make the country believe that the means of 
the Secretary of the Treasury were ample and abtmdant A 
great confusion of ideas seemed to prevail as to the terms 
appropriation and indebtedness. There might be appropria- 
tion without indebtedness, and there might be indebte^ess 
without appropriation. Suppose Congress should appro- 
priate a large sum for works not to be begun till some future 
time, during that interval there would be an appropriation, 
but not strictly a debt. On the other hand, a work might be 
very necessary, and the Government under actual obligation 
to perform it, and yet no appropriation made for it. There 
would be a debt but no appropriation. There was now a 
large amount of debt to be appropriated for. 


On the Fortification Bill. July 14, 1841, Mr. Filbnore 
opposed an amendment appropriating $50,000 for fortifica- 


tion on Pea Patch Island, Delaware river, or elsewhere, if 
Government title to said island could not be obtained. 

He apprehended there was little danger than an enemy 
would venture to advance so far up the river as to strike at 
Philadelphia, and there were other points besides this which 
might be availed of as points of defence. "To appropriate 
unconditionally $50,000 towards the works on the Pea Patch 
Island would only augment the difficulty of settling the 
title ; the demands of the claimant would grow with every 
such addition to the value of the property." 

The island in question was in itself of no value ; all its 
value was from the expenditures of Government upon it; 
the more these were increased the harder it would be to 
deal with the owner. Mr. Fillmore was opposed to a for- 
cible seizure imder the right of eminent domain. A consti- 
tutional question might arise, whether the Constitution, in 
allowing private property to be taken for public use, contem- 
plated real estate, or only personal. Besides, when a piece of 
ground was ceded by a State to the General Government for 
a fort or dockyard, not only the title went over but the juris- 
diction also ; but should Government, by its eminent domain, 
seize land within a State for public use, a question would 
arise whether it thereby obtained the jurisdiction at all, 
though it might get a title. Jurisdiction would depend on 
the assent of the State Legislature. And did you wish 
the Government to own a fort where it had no jurisdic- 
tion? . . . 



JULY 24, 184I. 

Mr. Fillmore arose and said in substance, that he wocdd 
avail himself of that occasion to speak of tfie necessity and 
object of the bill. What he had to say on tfie merits of the 
bill mig^t as well be said at that time as any otfier. Indeed, 
the principal provisions of the bill were embraced in tiie first 
section. The other parts of it were merely intended to carry 
out in detail the principles ttiere asserted, and prevent some 
frauds that were now practiced upon the revenue; and he 
would explain those, if desired, when they came up for con- 

In the first place, he continued, I desire to solicit tiie tm- 
divided attention of the members of this House to the facts 
and figures to which I feel it my duty to call their attention. 
I deem the subject under consideration of vast importance to 
the country, and one that demands the sober deliberation of 
every member of this committee. It is a business matter — 
of facts and details — and were I ever disposed to make a 
speech for "Buncom" * this is certainly not the time or the 
occasion which I should select for that object. The little 
that I have to say will be unadorned with the flowers of 
rhetoric, and confined directly to the subject under considera- 
tion, and addressed to those who hear me. 

I. An incorrect but frequent spelling. The uae of the word, to indicate 
empty talk, originated in the Sixteenth Congress, near the close of the debate 
on the Missouri question. Felix Walker, an old North Carolina mountaineer, 
whose district included the county of Buncombe, rose to speak. An ontery 
against his continued remarks being raised, he protested that in behalf of his 
constituents he was bound to talk "for Buncombe." 



The first section of the bill declares, in substance, that a 
duty of 20 per cent, ad valorem shall be levied on all articles 
imported which are now free, or which bear a less duty than 
that proposed in the bill, except certain articles which are 
left at their present rates of duty, and certain other excepted 
articles which are to remain free. These duties are to be 
levied and collected in the manner now provided by law, with 
some slight modification as to teas. It will therefore be seen 
that the main object and scope of the bill is to raise revenue, 
and that its provisions are strictly within the terms of the 
Compromise Act. 

The chief questions, therefore, that present themselves 
for our consideration are : 

First. Will there be a deficit in the revenue for the cur- 
rent four years under the laws as they now stand, and if so, 
what additional amount will it be necessary to provide to 
meet the ordinary demands upon the Treasury? 

Second. What is the best mode of supplying this deficit, 
and to what extent will the bill under consideration do it? 
and is it necessary or expedient now to act upon this subject? 

I proceed, then, in the first place, to consider the probable 
amount of deficit for the four years of the present Adminis- 
tration, and in doing this, I shall take no notice of the loan 
of $12,000,000 that has been authorized, but not yet made, to 
relieve the present urgent wants of the Treasury, because, 
if it is made, it is intended to be repaid during the current 
four years, and it therefore adds nothing to our means for 
the whole time. 

In judging for the future, we must draw instruction from 
the experience of the past ; and as our object now is to ascer- 
tain, if practicable, the probable demands upon the Treasury, 
for the four current years, we will see what they have been 
for the four past years during the preceding Administration. 

Before proceeding to this investigation, it is proper that 
I should here observe that, in the remarks which I may have 
occasion to submit in reference to the past Administration, 
no party allusions are intended. I shall speak of that Ad- 
ministration freely as matter of history, without one op- 


probrious epithet or one unkind allusion. The People have 
passed upon it, and I am content with their verdict. It i& 
also proper that I should say that, in stating amounts, E 
shall generally content myself with giving the round num 
bers, seldom going below thousands, as a multiplicity o 
figures in debate rather serves to confuse than enlighten 
And I shall proceed slowly, that every member who desir 
may have time to take down my statements, for I neithe 
desire to deceive myself nor the members of this House 
and if I have committed any error, either in fact or infer 
ence, no one will be more gratified than myself to have 

What, then, have been the ordinary expenses of this Gov^ 
emment for the past four years? I have before me House 
Document No. 31 of this session, which, at page 18, contains 
a table headed as follows : "Statement of the appropriations 
and expenditures each year, from 1829 to 1840 inclusive, for 
the civil list, foreign intercourse, and miscellaneous objects, 
for the military establishment, pensions, fortifications, inter- 
nal improvements, Indian department, and the naval estab- 
lishment, exhibiting also the excess of appropriations over 

At page 25, the total expenditure for these objects in each 
year is given, and I desire to call the attention of the com- 
mittee to them for the past four years. They are as follows : 

In 1837 $ 31,610,000 

In 1838 31,544,000 

In 1839 25,443,000 

In 1840 22,389,000 

Making a total in four years of $110,986,000 

Averaging for each year $ 27,746,000 

Thus showing, if the experience of the past is to be a 
g^ide for the future, that our annual expenditures for the 


current four years will be near twenty-eight millions of 

The next inquiry is, what amount of revenue we may 
reasonably expect for the current four years imder existing 
laws, assuming, as I do for this purpose, that the bill for the 
distribution among the States of the proceeds of the public 
lands will become a law. Our only source of revenue, it will 
be recollected, will then be from customs. We have no avail- 
able debts due us worth mentioning, and no funds on hand 
worth taking into account; but over and above the ordinary 
current expenses of the Government, we owe several millions 
of Treasury notes, and there are large arrearages and un- 
liquidated claims, which accrued under the past Administra- 
tion, many of which will doubtless have to be provided for 
during the present. Besides, liberal appropriations have 
been called for and made by this House during the present 
session for fortifications and for the navy, and to put the 
country in a proper state of defence. But I pass by these 
for the present, and proceed at once to consider the probable 
amount of revenue that will come into the Treasury from 
customs under the laws as they now stand. In order to 
determine this, it must be borne in mind that the Compromise 
Act goes fully into effect on the first day of July next, and 
that, after that day, no article imported will pay higher 
duty than 20 per cent, ad valorem, and it must also be 
borne in mind that there is a long list of articles that 
pay a duty, and are therefore classed among dutiable ar- 
ticles, nevertheless, by existing laws, the duty is less than 
20 per cent. 

But even if we should suppose that all goods imported 
that pay any duty paid one of 20 per cent, ad valorem, what 
would be the probable amount of revenue derived from this 
source? Here again we must recur to the past to judge for 
the future; and, in determining this, I think it more safe 
and just to rely upon the average amount of imports for a 
series of years than to attempt to select for any one year. 
In Docimient No. 2 of the House of Representatives for the 
present session, usually called the "Finance Report," at page 


ao, may be found a table gmng the whole amount of im- 
ports from 1834 to 1840, mdtuh-e, distinguishing between 
tboae "free of duty" and those "paying duty," and giving the 
average result for the whole seven years. 

[The taUe is omitted. It shows the value of imports. 
1834 to 1840, amount free of doty and amount paying duty. 
year by year.] 

I am the more disposed to rely upon tlie average result 
of this statement because the seven years embrace some of 
the most prosperous and some of the most disastrous known 
to our commercial history in times of peace. It will be seen 
that the fiuctuations in different years have been very great, 
ranging from %ia^jCXOjxx> to near $190,000,000. But the 
average result shows that the whole amount of imports 
"paying duty" over and under 20 per cent, is only $69,- 
748,000, being a little less than $70,000,000 ; and when all 
these duties are reduced to 20 per cent., as they will be on 
the first day of July next by the Compromise Act, then, even 
supposing all paid that duty, which all will not, the whole 
amoimt of gross revenue derived from this source would be 
$l3i959iOOO, or less than fourteen miUions of dollars. 

But even all this, limited and small as it is, is not avail- 
able for the ordinary wants of the Treasury, That the com- 
mittee may see the amount of drawbacks, deductions, botm- 
ties, and expenses of collection, all of which ought to be 
taken into the account, in determining the net amount of 
revenue received into the Treasury, applicable to the ordi- 
nary expenditures of the Government, I beg leave to call 
tiieir attention to a table, to be found in Document No, 31 
of this House, of the present session, at page 29. 

[The table is omitted. It shows, itemized by years, 1834 
to 1839 inclusive, the amount of duties which accrued on 
merchandise imported ; the deduction under the Compromise 
Act of March 2, 1833 ; the "drawback" paid on foreign mer- 
chandise exported; on domestic sugar, spirits, etc, exported; 
allowances to vessels in the fisheries ; expense of collection, 
and net revenue.] 


From this table it will be perceived that the average 
amount of "actual duties" for six years, from 1834 to 1839, 

inclusive was $23,176,000 

And the net amount only 18,404,000 

Making a diflFerence of $ 4,772,000 

If the same diflFerence should exist after the first day of 
July next, then from these facts the matter would stand 

Gross amount of duties $13,950,000 

Deduct for drawbacks, expenses of collection, etc. 4,772,000 

And it leaves for net amount of duties $ 9,178,000 

But I do not conceive this to be precisely the mode of 
coming at the diflFerence between the gross and net amount 
of duties as reduced under the Compromise Act. It is true 
that the "expenses of collection" will remain the same, as 
the oflRcers employed in the custom-house are all salaried 
oflicers, whose compensation is not graduated at all by the 
amount of revenues collected. And at many ports where 
there are many oflRcers, and where they are indispensably 
necessary — not to collect the revenue, but to prevent smug- 
gling — ^the whole amount collected is not suflficient to pay 
the oflScers employed. The "bounties on pickled fish ex- 
ported" and the "allowances to vessels employed in the 
fisheries" being in nowise dependent on the amount of rev- 
enue received from duties, will also remain the same, but we 
may reasonably suppose as the amount of duties falls oflF 
under the Compromise Act, the amount of "duties refunded" 
under the decisions of the courts, and the amount of "draw- 
backs" "on foreign merchandise exported," "on domestic 
refined sugar exported," and "on domestic distilled spirits 
exported," will also fall oflF in something like the same pro- 
portion. But this cannot be in reference to the drawback 
on refined sugar and distilled spirits without some further 
legislation, for the drawback on those articles was gradu- 


ated by the high rate of duty imposed upon them prior to 
the Compromise Act ; but by the operations of that act die 
duty has been omstantly dhninishing, while the drawback 
remains the same, so that it now operates by way of bounty 
on the manufacture of those articles, and as a consequence 
the manufacture has greatly increased, being, as am>ears 
from the table to which I have referred, more than double 
in 1839 what it was in 1838. But this bill is intended to 
remedy that evil, and to reduce the drawback to the amount 
of the import duty. 

Trusting that the committee will pardon this digressioo, 
I return again to the question I was considering-*-what sum 
should be deducted from the gross amount of duties, esti- 
mated under the Compromise Act at near $14,000,000, to 
ascertain the net amount applicable to the ordinary expenses 
of the Government? I had shown that the 

"Expenses of collection" $1,422^000 

''Bounty on pickled fish exported" 7^000 

Allowances to vessels employed in the fisheries 2gSflOO 

Making in all %ijS^flOO 

must remain the same. The remaining items are : 

Duties refunded $ 671,000 

Drawbacks on exports 2^56,000 

Drawbacks on refined sugar 148^000 

Drawbacks on distilled spirits 9»ooo 

Making a total of $ 3,084,000 

The annual average gross amount of duties at 

that time was 23,000,000 

Under the compromise act it will be about 14,000,000 

a little less than two-thirds, but it will be near enough for 
my purpose to call it two-thirds. 

Then, one-third of $3,084,000 is $1,028,000; which de- 
ducted from $3,084,000, leaves $2,056,000 

Which, added to the above, makes $3,741,000 



Then, according to this calculation, taking the law as it 
now stands, and judging of the future by the past, the cal- 
culation stands thus: 

Probable annual expenditure $27,697,000 

Gross amount of duties after July i, 1842 $13,950,000 

Deduct for expenses of collection, drawbacks, 

etc 3,741,000 

Making your net revenue per annum 10,209,000 

And leaving an annual deficit of $17,488,000 

And this, too, independent of the public debt created by 
the past Administration, and which ought to be paid off 
during the present. 

The revenues will be more than this for the current year, 
as the avails of the public lands are to be paid into the 
Treasury until the first day of January next, and the re- 
ducing effect of the Compromise Act, of which I shall have 
occasion to speak more particularly hereafter, will not be so 
sensibly felt until the first day of January and the first day 
of July next. 

But it may be asked, if the amount of accruing revenues 
under existing laws are to be so small, and the expenditures 
of the past Administration have been so great, how have 
they been enabled to meet the demands upon the Treasury ? 
This is a very natural and fair inquiry, and I therefore 
anticipate it, with the view of answering it. The truth is, 
that the past Administration had certain resources and 
means, which are either exhausted or upon which we can no 
longer rely, or to which we do not desire to resort, from 
which it derived the means of making the expenditures to 
which I have alluded. And I desire to call the attention of 
the committee particularly to three particular and extraordi- 
nary sources of revenue which the past Administration en- 
joyed, and upon which we can no longer depend. 

The first is the amount of money which was in the Treas- 
ury on the 1st day of January, 1837, and the debts then due 

im ON THE REl 

ttie Government whidi have been collected and the money 
nsed) and Ac amount borrowed on Treasury notes and used 
up, whkh had a double e^ect. by increasing the means of 
the past Administration, and throwing an undue burden 
opon the present. The amount of these means in round 
numbers was $31,310,000; and that the committee may see 
a clear statement of them. I call their attention to House 
Document No. 2 of the present session, being "Finance 
R^KUt," at page 5, where they will find the following state- 
ment on this subject : 

From the year 1816 to 1837, a period of twenty-one years, 
the revenues constantly exceed«l the expenditures. The 
average annual surplus during that time was $11,464,226.57 
(see tables l and 3), making an zggngate e.Ycess of $240,- 
748,764^. Within that time ttiere was applied to the ex- 
tinction of the national debt $308792,137.44, and there was, 
under the provisions of the act of die 23d June, 1836, de- 
posited widi the States $28,101,644.91, and there remained, 
on the 1st of January, 1837, in the Treasury of the United 
States, including the fourth instalment due to the States, a 
surplus of $17,109,473.36. 

There were also outstanding debts due and falling due to 
the Treasury arising from other sources than those of the 
ordinary revenue, and which were paid between the 1st of 
January, 1837, and 4th of March, 1841, to the amount of 

There were also issued within that period, and outstand- 
ing on the 4th of March, 1841, Treasury notes to the amount 
of $5,648,512.40. 

Making the a^jtegate available means which were in the 
Treasury on the ist of January, 1837, and which came into 
it prior to the 4th of March, 1841, over and above the cur- 
rent revenues, $31,882,732.66. 

From which deduct the amount (less the trust funds) 
remaining in the Treasury on the 4th of March, 1841, 

And there appears an excess of expenditure over the 
current revenue of $31,310,014.20. 


Here, then, is an amount of more than $31,000,000 re- 
ceived and expended by the past Administration from 
sources from which we have little or nothing to expect. 
They had in the Treasury, on the ist of January, 1837, more 
than $17,000,000, all of which has been expended ; and they 
only left on the 4th of March last, as appears by the above 
statement, the small sum of $572,000, a sum comparatively 
too trifling to be worth mentioning. 

But this is not all. We had then due us a large debt for 
the sale of our stock in the United States Bank, and of that 
they have collected and expended during the past Adminis- 
tration more than $9,000,000 ; and the little balance, if any, 
that is due is too trifling to be taken into the account. This 
is also gone. But even this is not all ; they borrowed more 
than $5,000,000 on Treasury notes, and have expended the 
money, and left the debt to be paid by the present or some 
succeeding Administration. We have nothing to expect 
from this source, unless we are willing to go on and increase 
this public debt. For one, I am not ; I rather prefer to pro- 
vide the means to pay it off. Here, then, are $31,310,000 
received by the past Administration from sources from 
which we have nothing to expect ; but in striking the balance 
between the two Administrations, and estimating the means 
that ought to be provided for the present to put it on a par 
with the last, we ought to add this Treasury note debt to the 
above sum, which would make it $36,958,000, for, although 
we have charged it to their means above, yet it is to take so 
much from our ordinary means if we pay it; and I trust 
we shall. 

This, then, sir, is one item, and I now call the attention of 
the committee to another. I mean the avails of the public 
lands. As the bill that passed this House distributing them 
among the States has not been rejected by the Senate, I 
feel bound to assume, and so must this House, in estimating 
for the ways and means to carry on the Government, that 
that bill will become a law, and will, after the first day of 
January next, restore the proceeds of these lands to the 
People of the several States, to whom they justly belong. 


And, in passing, I may be permitted to say, sir, that I voted 
for that bill, not as a financial measure, but as a matter of 
right to the States, and as a great conservative measure, 
rendered necessary by the course of events to preserve this 
great and rich patrimony for the people to whom it belongs, 
and to prevent its being squandered and gambled away by 
trading politicians and reckless demagogies. It was fast 
becoming a g^eat corruption fund that it was necessary to 
restore to its rightful owner, that it might be guarded from 
the corrupt temptations of avarice, and the still more baneful 
and dangerous influences of inordinate and time-serving 
ambition. I only regret that this could not have been done 
at a more auspicious moment for the public Treasury. But 
the object to be attained was, in my mind, far above any 
temporary inconvenience that might arise to the Treasury, 
and, therefore, I gave it a most cordial support 

During the four years of the past Administration, there 
was paid into the Treasury from the avails of the public 
lands, $20,226,000. At page 3, dociunent 2, the Secretary 
estimates the amount to be received from the public lands 
this year, from March 4th to January ist, at $2,500,000; 
which, deducted from the receipts of the preceding four 
years, leaves $17,726,000; being almost $18,000,000 more 
from this source than the present Administration can calcu- 
late upon. 

But this is not all. There is another source of revenue of 
vast importance, which was enjoyed by the past Administra- 
tion, which is about to be cut off under the operation of the 
Compromise Act. In order that I may explain this fully, it 
is necessary that I should go something into detail as respects 
the provisions of that act. We all know that this act was 
passed on the 2d of March, 1833, being the final compromise 
between constitutional power on one side and nullification 
on the other. I do not propose to speak of its merits, much 
less of the merits of the controversy out of which it grew; 
and I only intend now to speak of its provisions so far as 
they affect the revenue arising from duties. 


With the view of reducing all duties to a maximum of 20 
per cent, ad valorem, this act provided that, on the ist day 
of January, 1834, one-tenth of the duties over 20 per cent. 
on all articles imported should be taken oflE, and on the ist 
day of January, 1836, another tenth, and on the ist day of 
January, 1838, another tenth, and on the ist day of January, 
1840, another tenth, and on the ist day of January, 1842, 
three-tenths more, and on the ist day of July, 1842, the re- 
maining three-tenths should be deducted ; so that after that 
day no article imported should bear a higher duty than 20 
per cent, ad valorem. It will thus be perceived that, under 
the operations of this act, four-tenths of the duties above 20 
per cent, have already been deducted, and that three-tenths 
more will be deducted on the ist day of January next, and 
the remaining three-tenths on the ist day of July next. 

In order to determine how this affects the revenue, it is 
necessary to ascertain how much these deductions take oflE 
from the duties on imports. By a reference to a table to 
which I have already called the attention of the committee, 
in House Document No. 31, at page 29, in the second 
column of that table, it will be seen what the deduction has 
been under this act from 1834 to 1839 inclusive. 

Let us first see what the average deduction has been for 
every loth, and then see its average for every year. The 
table furnishes the following basis for this estimate : 

In 1834, i-ioth was deducted, amounting to $ 689,723 12 

In 1835, i-ioth was deducted, amounting to 959,255 50 

In 1836, 2-ioths were deducted, amounting to 2,086,281 04 

In 1837, 2-ioths were deducted, amounting to 1465,182 20 

In 1838, 3-ioths were deducted, amounting to 2,630424 40 

In 1839, 3-ioths were deducted, amounting to 3,158460 51 

Total deducted $10,889,326 77 

Total of loths — 12. 

Now, if we divide the aggregate of deductions by the 
tenths which produced it, the average amount of each tenth 
vrill be $907,444. 

This, then, furnishes an easy rule by which to determine 
-what was deducted during the past Administration, and 


what will be deducted during the present, and the difference 
will be the amount which tiie past Administratioa received 
and expended from a source from which the present can 
recdve nothing. 

In 1837, 2-ioths were deducted, bekig twice $907,444 $ i3i4f888 

In 1938^ 3-ioths were deducted, being three times $907^44 2,723.332 
In 1839, 3-ioths were deducted, being four times $S07AH ^^7^^,33^ 
In 1840, 4-ioth8 were deducted, being four times $907,444 ZfiaMT^ 

Making a total of deductions during the past Admin- 
istration of $10^889^328 

Now let us see the amount of deductions by the same 
process for the current four years : 

In 1841, 4-ioths are to be deducted, being four times 

$907,444 %ZfiaM76 

In 1842, 7-ioths for half a year, being seven times $453,722 3fiy6fiSi 
In 1842, lo-ioths for half a year, being ten times $453,722 4,537,2^ 
In 1843, lo-ioths for the whole, being ten times $907444 9^074,440 
In 1844, lo-ioths for the whole, being ten times $S07MA 9/74*440 

Making a total of $29^ii930 

From which take the amount deducted during the past 

Administration 10,889,326 

And it leaves $18,502,602 

which the past Administration has received from customs, 
more than can be received by the present Administra- 
tion as the law now stands : all of which is gone. 
Add to this the first sum mentioned, minus the debt they 

left for their successors 31,310,000 

Add also the amount which they received from the public 
lands more than can be received by the present Ad- 
ministration, as I have stated 17,726,000 

Making in all $67,538,602 

All of which has been received and expended during the 
past Administration ; and that too from sources from which 
the present Administration has nothing to expect. This is 
equal to $16,884,000 for each year of that Administration. 


In other words, had they come into power with no other 
means or resources than what the present Administration 
has — ^assuming that the land bill becomes a law — they would 
have left the Treasury empty, and incurred a national debt 
of $67,538,000. 

Comment upon this state of things is unnecessary. It is 
clear that the Administration cannot go on so. Something 
must be done to replenish an exhausted Treasury and to 
maintain the good faith of the Government. I shall not 
assume to say what the amount of deficit in the Treasury 
will be, but the bare statement of the case shows that it must 
necessarily be very large. It calls loudly upon us for re- 
trenchment and reform — ^not that retrenchment that is heard 
in strong professions before election, and is never heard of 
afterward, but for thorough, practical retrenchment, by 
which every unnecessary office shall be abolished, and every 
salary that is too high cut down, and a system of rigid econ- 
omy and accountability in the expenditures of the public 
money adopted. I hope my friend from Virginia [Mr. 
Gilmer] will, by the investigations of his select committee, 
show us how much money may be saved. But all this is a 
work of time. Investigations must first be had and then 
laws passed before any of these retrenchments can be real- 
ized. In the meantime our expenses are accruing, and we 
have no means of meeting them. We must look these things 
in the face. We must meet this crisis as best we can. No 
matter by whom the governmental machine has been per- 
xnitted to get out of repair and run down, it is now in our 
charge, and we are bound to repair it, and set it in motion. 
On us, whether friends or foes to the present Administra- 
tion, rests this responsibility, and we cannot absolve our- 
selves from it. Our country's honor is involved, and I have 
^o apprehensions that my constituents will not cheerfully 
and promptly meet the additional demands which it may be 
xiecessary to make upon their means to supply the wants of 
"this Government when it is economically administered ; and 
"When they think it is not, they will turn out the unfaithful 
stewards and put more trustworthy ones in their places. But 


they will pay tiie hooest creditor of the Government, even 
ttKNlg^ Htut steward may have proved unworthy of his trust 
And I claim no more patriotism or magnanimity for my con- 
stitnents in this matttr tlian I am nilhng to grant to tliose of 
every other member open this floor. 

But, before I pass from this subject, I beg^ leave to say. 
tiiat, in making up our minds as to the amount of additional 
revemte diat may be wanted to meet the probable demands 
open the Treasory for flie airrent years, while we Satter 
oorselves with the retrenchments we may effect, not only in 
the few expenditures to which I have alluded, but possibly 
t^ putting an end to that most inglorious, unfortunate, and 
>ruinous of all wars — I mean that with the Florida Indiam — 
. yet it must also be borne in mtnd that we have to provide lor 
the dd)t incurred during the last four years, and diat the 
practice has been for several years past to stave off all pri- 
vate claims without much regard to didr merit, many of 
which are doubtless just and shotdd be paid, and that several 
of the States, particularly Maine, Georgia, Alahama, and 
Lonisiana, have large claims accruing under the past Ad- 
ministration, which, if just and legal, must be paid, inde- 
pendent of the nameless and numberless unliquidated claims 
growing out of the Florida war and the removal of the 
Indians, many of which are doubtless just and must be paid. 
I barely mention these among the numerous demands that 
may be made upon the Treasury of an extraordinary char- 
acter during the current four years, to show that we cannot 
estimate the probable amount. 

But the next question is. How is this deficit to be sup- 
plied, whether you call it $i6,ooo,ooo or $18,000,000 per 
year, or more or less ? It is clear there must be a lai^ deficit 
that must be supplied from some source, and I know of but 
three modes in which it can be done. First You may bor- 
row. Second. You may lay a direct tax upon tfie proper^ 
of the country. Or, third, you may lay a duty upon goods 
now imported free, and upon those bearing a less duty than 
20 per cent. — equal to 20 per cent. — and in tiiat way supply 
the wants of the Treasury to tiie extent of those means. 


I shall enter into no argument to show that we ought not 
to depend upon borrowing to supply the ordinary wants of 
the Treasury. We have tried that, more or less, for the last 
four years, and have finally funded the debt with a view of 
paying it off during the current four years. A public debt is 
justly odious to the people of this country, and I am un- 
willing to see it increased, except from absolute necessity. 

The next mode is by a direct tax. The gentleman from 
South Carolina [Mr. Rhett] and my colleague from New 
York [Mr. McKeon] spoke in favor of this mode of supply- 
ing the Treasury a day or two since ; and I apprehend there 
are very few members on this floor who would advocate that 

[Here Mr. McKeon rose to explain, but as Mr. Fillmore's 
hour was nearly exhausted, he declined yielding the floor.] 

I shall be happy to hear that I have mistaken my col- 
league. Let those who prefer direct taxation to indirect by 
customs, look at England, where they both prevail, and see 
the picture of inquisitorial intrusion and official insolence 
and violence to which their excise system naturally leads, 
and I think he will prefer duties to excise or direct taxation. 

The only remaining mode is by duties as proposed in this 
bill ; and this brings me to speak directly upon the merits of 
the measure itself. I beg leave to call the attention of the 
committee to the views entertained by the present Secretary 
of the Treasury on this subject. They will be found in 
Document No. 2 of this House, usually called the "Finance 
Report," at page 6, where, after speaking of the embarrass- 
ments of the Treasury and the public debt already accrued, 
and the constant increase of both, he says : 

"But as it may not comport with the views of Congress to go 
into a revision and adjustment of the customs so long before the 
act of March 2, 1833, comes to have its final and permanent opera- 
tion, the undersigned would respectfully recommend, as a temp or- 
€Ery measure, the levy of a duty of 20 per cent, ad valorem on all 
articles which are now free of duty, or which pay a less duty than 
20 per cent., except gold and silver, and the articles specifically 
enumerated in the 5th section of the act of March 2, 1833. 

"1{ this measure be adopted, il is csliuialed thai there will bo 
eived into the Treasury from customs, in ihe last quarter of Ibe 
preeeni year, about $5,300,000; in all of the year 1842, about $22,- 
SOOXJOo; and in the year 1843, after the filial reduction under the 
act of March i, x&a. about $ao.8oo.DOO. The details of ■ 
will be found in the accompanying paper, marked E. and enclosures." 

These are the views of the present Secretary, Mr. 
Ewing : and the Committee of Ways and Means have, in the 
main, concurred in tliem, and the bill under consideiation is 
mtended to carry tliem out. But the memhers of this House. 
on a measure of so much importance, may desire to know 
what were the views of the late Secretary of the Treasury 
on this subject. I am happy to have it in my power to 
gratify them in this respect. Mr. Woodbury, the late Secre- 
tary of the Treasury, made a report to the Senate on this 
subject, dated January 18, 1841, which is No. 93 of State 
Documents, second session of the Twenty-sixth Congress, 
and to which I invited the special attention of every member 
of this committee, that he may see how well tliese two secre- 
taries agree on this subject. Indeed. I cannot well see how 
they could disagree, for both knew the exhausted state of 
the Trea.sury, and no rational man could doubt as to the 
mode of replenishing it. The only chance of difference 
among statesmen and financiers must be as to the particular 
articles that should be selected from the free list on which 
to impose duties. Mr. Woodbury gives what he calls a list 
of all free articles, and then says a duty of 15 per cent, cm 
them would raise the required amount, but thinks it objec' 
tionable, and finally says, at page 6 : 

"Another mode of raising the same amount of revenue would 
therefore be preferable, if it could be accomplished without includ- 
ing those articles. Suppose, then, that there should be selected from 
the free articles those which may be regarded most as luxuries, 
though not in every respect belonging exclusively to that class ; sucfa 
are tea, coffee, and silks; should we then add to them others, con- 
flicting with similar American productions, such as worsteds, linens, 
&c.. and the aggregate deducting the amount re-exported would be 
$29,026,448. See the second Cable B. A duty of 30 per cent, on 
those, after paying the expenses of collections, would yield about 


the same amount of five millions. This, seems to contain the gen- 
eral data for the most eligible and unexceptionable revision." 

[Mr. Fillmore here presented statistics from "table B," 
with a list of articles on which a twenty per cent, duty was 
recommended to be levied,] 

Thus you have the plan of the late Secretary of the 
Treasury, Mr. Woodbury, for the revision of the tariff, in 
order to supply the deficiency in the Treasury, which he has 
styled "the most eligible and unexceptionable revision." 

I now call the attention of the committee to so much of 
tables Nos. i, 2, 3 and 4, in House Document No. 31 of this 
session, as is necessary to show the articles upon which the 
proposed bill will operate, and the probable amount of duties 
to be raised thereby. The tables explain themselves, and are 
arranged in this manner, because, as I am informed, this is 
the mode in which the accounts are kept at the Treasury. 
The first table gives those articles now free that usually pay 
an ad valorem duty. The second, those now free that 
usually pay a specific duty, with the estimate of a specific 
duty equal to the ad valorem duty. The third, those wines 
that now pay a specific duty, with the increased revenue that 
would arise from an ad valorem duty. And the fourth, 
gives a list of those articles that now pay a less duty than 20 
per cent, ad valorem, which, under this bill, will be raised to 
that amount. These tables have been prepared at the Treas- 
ury Department by order of the Committee of Ways and 
Means, and are presumed to be correct, and so much of them 
as is necessary to illustrate this subject I here give: 

[A mass of figures drawn from the reports of the Treas- 
ury Department, was here introduced. The tables give in 
detail the value of articles imported free, in 1840, and the 
amount of duty which would accrue on the same articles, 
under the proposed tariff. The Secretary of the Treasury 
estimated a net annual revenue, under the bill, after 1842, 
of $20,890,000.] 


I cannot nou' enter into the reasons for or against the 
selected articles for the imposition of duties. Though all 
would agree in the propriety of some discrimination, no two 
would perhaps think alike as to every article. No uniform 
rule can be established on tliis subject. Every case must 
stand or fall upon its own merits ; and what might be very 
proper at one time might be equally improper at another, I 
doubt not some will be for including many articles which are 
exempt, and others will be for exempting many articles that 
are included. The committee were not unanimous on these 
subjects, and it cannot be expected the House will be, I 
anticipate a motion to exempt tea and coffee, and I will say 
one word on tiiat subject. Tea and coffee are hardly neces- 
saries ; they rather belong to the class of luxuries. So Mv. 
Woodbury considered them, and therefore recommended 
them for taxation. We can hardly justify ourselves in tax- 
ing the necessary food and clothing of the poor man, both of 
which are indispensable to sustain life, and still exempt tea 
and coffee. Let us also consider that the duties on these 
articles, by the proposed bill, is so light that those who 
luxuriate over a good cup of tea or coffee will never know 
il. it will be seen, by table No. 2, that a duty ot 20 per cent 
on tea is less, on an average, than five and a half cents per 
pound; whereas, by the act of 1816, the duty ranged from 
twelve, to sixty-eight cents per pound. And on coffee it is 
less than two cents per pound; but, by the act of 1816, it 
was five cents. These are duties that will never be felt by 
the consumer. Were he not told of it, he would never know 
it. A^in: if you exempt these articles, you cannot raise 
means enough to carry on the Government. They will be 
quite inadequate, I fear, with them in; and by subtract!:^ 
them you take away near three million dollars, and almost 
one-third of the whole amount proposed to be raised. In 
Great Britain, where about $100,000,000 is annually raised 
from duties, more than one-half of this enormous sum is 
raised on three articles — ^tea, sugar, and tobacco — none of 
which is produced in Great Britain. It appears also that we 
consume more than five times as much coffee, per head, as 


the inhabitants of that country. But I have not time to 
dwell upon it. 

I have a few words to say as to the form of the bill. Con- 
trary to our tariff laws heretofore passed, it names the 
articles excepted from duty instead of those on which the 
duty is imposed. This would be impossible when specific 
duties are imposed, and can only be done when the duties are 
ad valorem. It is done in this case to prevent fraud. Ex- 
perience has shown that where you name the articles on 
which duties are laid, there is a constant effort on the part 
of the foreign manufacturer to invent some new article and 
give it a new name, that can be imported free, and which 
may come in as a substitute for the dutiable article. This 
bill takes away all temptation to commit that fraud ; for the 
article, unless excepted in the free list, must pay a duty. 

I have one word to say as to the necessity of immediate 
action. If we do not act now, but postpone this indispensable 
revenue measure until the next session, and then mingle it 
up with the tariff, it is not at all probable it will become a 
law until a year from this time. A whole year will thus be 
lost, which is of vast importance where the fruits of a meas- 
ure are so slow in coming to maturity, and the demand is so 
pressing. Nothing can be realized under this act after it 
takes effect short of three months, and half of it not short 
of six; and on teas, one of the most important articles, a 
year's credit may be given. I deem it, therefore, indis- 
pensable, unless we would disgrace the country and the 
Administration, and this act should be passed at this session, 
that an exhausted Treasury may derive some benefit from it 
next winter and spring, and not suffer it to be postponed a 
year longer. 

I beg leave to say, in conclusion, that I hope this revenue 
measure will not be mingled up with questions of protection, 
home valuations, and cash duties. I hope all those important 
but perplexing questions will be postponed to the next 
session, when we shall have more time and more informa- 
tion, and may be in a better situation to dispose of them 
properly for the interest of all concerned. 



July 26, 1841, on the bill ''in relation to duties and draw- 
backs," it being proposed to amend by including tea and 
coffee among articles exempted from the operation tfiereof , 
Mr. Fillmore said : 

He understood his friend from Pennsylvania [Mr. Law- 
rence] to say that the duties he proposed to strike out might 
be levied on other articles. The gentleman did not say what 
articles, but he referred to articles of luxury generally, and 
specified watches and jewelry. Now these articles had been 
taxed for years, and the policy of the Government had been 
to tax them to the utmost ; but they were of such value, and 
so light and portable, that they were liable to be smuggled 
if a high rate of duty were placed upon tiiem. In short, it 
would be impossible to prevent the smuggling of watdies 
and jewelry and particularly of gold and silver and dia- 
monds. It would defeat the object in view to impose a high 
duty on these articles, for it would gfive encouragement to 
the knave and injure the business of the honest importer. 
It had been found from practical experience, that a high 
duty could not be safely put on these articles. It was dif- 
ferent, however, with tea and coffee. They entered into the 
general consumption of the country, and were so bulky as to 
present a formidable obstacle to smuggling. He did not see 
why tea and coffee particularly should be exempted while 
food and clothing were taxed; and a duty of 20 per cent 
would be so light on these articles as to be scarcely felt. 


On the bill making further provision for the suppression 
of Indian hostilities in Florida (July 29th), Mr. Fillmore 
spoke, urging its reference to the Committee on Military 
Affairs. The subject of giving this power [to raise volun- 
teer forces] to the President had been very much discussed 
at the last Congress. The President already had power, 
under standing laws, to call out the militia when he should 


deem it necessary, and the question was whether that power 
should now be so changed as to authorize the President to 
receive volunteers. He knew that this might create a great 
charge upon the Treasury, but he thought the bill should 
imdergo consideration of a standing committee. 


Discussion arose, August 5, 1841, over the fact that the 
French Minister had addressed a communication in regard 
to certain pending legislation, to the Secretary of the Treas- 
ury, instead of to the Secretary of State, the proper diplo- 
matic channel for such communication. Mr. Fillmore spoke 
at some length, stating in detail the circumstances of the 
case, exonerating the French Minister from discourtesy. As 
the communication referred to commercial affairs, the 
French Minister, Mr. Fillmore presumed, had thought it 
should properly be sent to the fiscal officer of our Govern- 
ment. After further statement, the subject was tabled. 


On Monday, August 16, 1841, Mr. Fillmore spoke in 
substance as follows : 

I had no expectation, until the introduction of the resolu- 
tion this morning, to take this bill out of committee at 12 
o'clock, that the debate was to cease so soon. I had intended 
to submit some remarks on the subject, but this morning 
others have been more fortunate than myself in catching 
the eye of the chair. We have now but twenty-five minutes 
left, and for this I am mainly indebted to my friend from 
Massachusetts [Mr. Saltonstall], and even this I must divide 
with my friend from Georgia [Mr. Dawson]. 

Under these circumstances, I can go into no constitutional 
questions, nor can I discuss the details of this measure. I 
can only say that I deem it one of great importance, and that 
I feel a great anxiety for its success. 


The labors inqjosed upon me as chairman of the Conj' I 
mittee of Ways and Means have left little time to investi- 
gate this subject. But I have carefully gone through with 
the details of this bill, and I regret to say that I do not think 
it as perfect as I could desire. ! 

The original bill introduced 1^ Mr. WdMter m Ae 
Senate, which has evident^ formed Ae bans of tiiis, wat 
omsistent in its provisions if not perfect in its dctaSs. I 
have understood from very good auttumty tiiat diat biO was 
the joint producticm of Mr. Webster and Judge Story. But 
amendments have been introduced in the Senate that have 
greatly marred its beauty and obscured its provisions. It it 
in some respects contradictory, and I think it vrill be veiy 
difiKcult to carry it into effect Nevertheless, as it is noir 
conceded on all hands that it is too late to ^ttenq>t to perfect 
this great measure at this sessitm, the questi<»i presents itself 
whether we will take the bill as it is, pos^Kxiing its operatioa 
long enough after the commencement of Ae next session to 
enable us to correct any defects at that time, or adjooia 
without any l^slation vpoa this subject I cannot hesitate. 
I am for the bill as it is, rattier than nottiing. I take it *SriA 
all its imperfections on its head," rather than have no legis- 
lation on the subject. One great point is gained to the 
friends of this measure by the passage of this bill: It at 
least compels legislation on this subject at the next session. 
It is to me a subject of deep regret that our legislation at 
this time cannot be so perfect as to give ample and imme- 
diate relief to those for whose benefit this bill is intended. 
But as it cannot, the next best thing is to ensure it hereafter. 

I know that this bill is imperfect, and in voting for it I 
mean simply to declare that I am in favor of a bankrupt law, 
and I hope every gentleman on this floor who is in favor of 
this measure will vote for this bill and trust to the next 
session to perfect it. We must make a beginning, and those 
who are looking for this relief have been tantalized with 
anticipation until "hope deferred has made the heart sick," 

I hope before the bill goes into effect that whatever is 
obscure will be made clear, for I regard obscurity that leads 




o litigation a great evil. I hope also to see suitable provi- 
ions as to the insolvent laws of the several States, and espe- 
ially do I hope to see all jurisdiction taken from the United 
>tates courts for the collection of debts due the bankrupt. 
>uch a jurisdiction will prove an intolerable grievance. It 
/ill overwhelm the country with costs and litigation. . . . 


August 22, 1841, Mr. Fillmore spoke in favor of neces- 
ary appropriations for certain diplomatic agencies. Sep- 
ember 3d he offered the following, which was adopted : 

Resolved, That the Secretary of State be required to report to 
lis House, as soon after the commencement of the next session as 
racticable, a statement of the privileges and restrictions of the com- 
lercial intercourse of the United States with all foreign nations 
milar to that communicated to the Senate December 18, 1837 (Doc 
, 1st sess. 26th Cong.), only changing the denominations of the 
)reign money, weight and measures into those of the United States, 
wording to the custom-house entries of domestic exports, and 
dding columns showing the average amount and value of the arti- 
les exported to each country for the years 1838, 1839 and 1840, 
ad of the duties on the same; together with a summary of the 
verage aggregate value of exports to each country for those years, 
f articles the growth, produce or manufacture of the United States, 
rith the average amount of duties thereon accruing to each country. 


There was a stormy scene in the House, January 15. 
184s, ttw Bankrupt Bill being under discussion. The journal 
of proceedings is a jumble of interrupted speeches and hot 
retorts. The Speaker quite lost control for the time being. 
Vt^KD Mr. Gushing appealed from a decision, the presiding 
officer made the remarkable reply, "I expected it." Mr. 
Filfanore gained tfie floor and began to speak. "I have once 
witnessed a scene in this House," he said, "of even more 
Yldence than that which has taken place this day. I recol- 
lect when an effort was made" — 

Here he was interrupted, his voice drowned by many 
cries. Finally he manned to make himself heard again. "I 
refer," he continued, "to the odious New Jersey case, when 
an effort was made on the part of the majority" — 

Here he was again called to order and it was some time 
before he was able to proceed. He finally gained the consent 
and ear of the House, saying he would use milder language 
in relation to that precedent, if it was desired, although the 
country had long since pronounced its judgment upon it. 

He desired to say in reference to that case, that it would 
be recollected by those who were members of this House, 
that a majority ordered a committee to report forthwith; 
that the committee, in obedience to that order, presented a 
report at the bar of the House, and asked leave to present it 
at the table. Objection was made ; and, notwithstanding the 
strong party violence then pervading this hall, there was yet 


found independence and integrity enough here to sustain 
the rules of the House, and to prevent that report being 

The report was retained in the possession of the com- 
mittee three, four, or five days, before the committee was 
called in its order to make a report; and, till they were so 
called, it could not be made. The last report which was 
made in that case, just before the adjournment, was also 
attempted to be made at various times. It was suggested at 
that time that it was a privileged question, having reference 
to the seats of the members, although no effort was made to 
break down the rules; and although the speaker decided 
that it was not, yet an appeal was taken, the decision over- 
ruled, and the report made, but made upon the ground that 
it was a privileged question, and not upon the ground that it 
was within the rules of the House to make it out of order. 

Was it necessary, he would ask, in a case like this, that 
this extraordinary proceeding should be had, and that the 
rules of the House should be broken to reach the object? 
He knew that the Bankrupt Bill was doomed in this House. 
He regretted that it was necessary that resort should be 
had to the Opposition here, by those who made this move- 
ment, to accomplish it in such great haste. He regretted 
that the House should suffer its rules thus to be broken 
down and trampled upon when the object was within the 
rules ; and he called upon the members on all sides of this 
House to come forward now and sustain its rules and its 
character. If this decision of the Chair was to be sustained, 
all that was wanting when there was a wish to break down 
the rules, would be to introduce a resolution, to pass it by a 
majority, to make it imperative to act forthwith ; and thus 
the whole order of business would be changed. Was the 
House prepared for this? We had passed through more 
violent scenes without doing it, and he called upon the 
House to pause before doing it now. 


The House of Representatives being in Committee of the , 
Whole on the TariflE Bill June 9. 1842, Mr. Fillmore, as 
I Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, who 
reported the bill, opened the debate with the following re- 
marks : 

Mr. Cbainnan: I r^ret that the time allowed the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means for the consideration of this im- 
portant measure was so short, tliat they were prevented from 
safatnitting to the House a written report on the subject. 
Had time permitted, I doubt not that such a report, deliber- 
ately and cautiously prepared, would have been far more 
satisfactory to this House, and the country, than any undi- 
gested and brief explanation of mine. The truth is, the com- 
mittee were so pressed for time on this bill, that no member 
of it had any which he could spare for the consideration of 
the general subject; but our whole time was necessarily 
devoted to the details of the bill, and we were compelled to 
sit from five to seven hours a day, besides attending the reg- 
ular sessions of this House. 

Every one must admit that the question tmder considera- 
tion is one of the greatest magnitude. Nothing of a purely 
domestic character, affecting more interests, and calculated 
to excite more universal feeling for or against it, could be 
submitted to an American Congress. It involves the exer- 
cise of the highest legislative power — that which compels 
the people at large, who have established this Government, 
to contribute the necessary means to sustain it, and provide 
for the common welfare and general defence of the nation. 
Surely nothing short of the questions of war and peace can 


be of more importance to this country than the mode in 
which we shall exercise this highly responsible and delicate 
trust of raising revenue for the wants of the Government. 
I am free to confess that the subject is so vast in extent, and 
so complicated and multifarious in its details, that I approach 
it with doubt and distrust of my own powers, and unfeigned 
regret that this duty has not been assigned to more able and 
experienced hands. 

I regret that, on a subject of so much importance, neither 
the committee nor this House has been furnished with proper 
authentic information on which to base its action. Since 
the passage of the Compromise Act, in March, 1833, all had 
known that this time there must be a revision of our laws 
for the collection of duties ; and yet, nearly ten years have 
been suffered to pass away without one step being taken, 
either by Congress or the Executive Departments of the 
Government, to collect well-authenticated facts, on which 
to base future legislation. All we have on the subject is 
the statistical information collected with the last census — 
as yet hardly published — and the reports annually made to 
Congress on commerce and navigation, showing the amounts 
of imports and exports, and the value of the articles at the 
custom-house, but wholly omitting to show the value of the 
articles in the principal markets of this country, or the 
amount produced here: all of which is indispensable to 
enable us to proceed correctly in revising this complicated 
and delicate system. 

It is known to this House that, for the purpose of supply- 
ing this want of information, a resolution was moved by my 
honorable friend from Massachusetts [Mr. Winthrop] — I 
regret to say no longer a member of this body — for the ap- 
pointment of a committee with authority to sit during the 
recess, and to send for persons and papers, that they might 
collect, on oath, the information so much wanted on this 
subject. All know the fate of that resolution, and the 
sources of opposition to it. I can only say, for myself, that 
I regret extremely that it is not adopted and the committee 
appointed ; and I fear that this House and the country will 


tiao have cause to rcgiet it. I care not from wbat quarter 
d the Utucn they might have come, or of what trade or 
profesMon Hie conmuttee might have been composed, or 
whom ttiey might have represented, whether manufacturers, 
merdiaiits oc agriculttirists ; one thing, certainly, would 
have been accoaq>!ished, and that of great importance : they 
woald have collected and presented to this House and the 
country authentic information, obtained from practical per- 
sons, in all the various professions and occupations of life, 
showing tiie working of our present system of revenue laws, 
its defects and advantages : and on this we could have based 
our action in flie revision of the tariff. But jealousy of a 
favorite interest here, and a Iong;-cherished theory there. 
ooe of which might be injured, and the other exploded, by 
exposing tiiem to fl»e test of facts, prevented the appoint- 
ment of that committee; and, for the want of the informa- 
tion which it could have given, we are now compelled to 
grope our way in tiie dark, and substitute conjecture and 
fiieory for fact and experience. 

I do Aink we sacrifice more to favorite theories Aan any 
other nation in the world. From our course of proceeding, 
one would suppose that every man was bom a legislator, and 
possessed all the requisite knowledge by intuition. How 
different the course pursued by Great Britain. Would it 
not be wise to imitate, in this matter, her caution, prudence, 
and sagacity? When she was about to change her tariff 
laws, an intelligent committee was appointed by the House 
of Commons, which called before it practical men, interested 
on both sides of the question, whose evidence was taken, laid 
before Parliament, and published to the world. Mr. Hume's 
celebrated report last year was the result of such an investi- 
gation. It is in these collisions of interest and intellect that 
you are to find truth — not in the fine-spun theories and tm- 
practiced political economists, or of mere useless declaimers 
for popular effect upon this floor. 

But, sir, what has been our course on this subject in tiiis 
country? Why, for all political, commercial, and financial 
evils, some gentiemen on this floor maintain that free trade 


IS the great panacea. It is with them the philosopher's 
stone : it would prevent revulsions in commerce, supply the 
wants of your Treasury, and promote the prosperity of the 
community. Others again, from other parts of the country, 
maintain that protection to home manufactures is the great 
desideratum, and the true remedy for all these evils. Each 
has his own peculiar theories, and adheres to them with the 
blindness of prejudice and the tenacity of self-interest — 
each omitting, if not unwilling, to investigate the facts on 
which his own cherished theory is based ; and the thunders 
of popular commotion produced by the storm of nullification 
have hardly died away in the distance, when the horizon 
gives ominous signs that another storm is approaching, and 
that this House and the country are again to be agitated by 
a fierce and blind contest about mere abstractions, while 
truth is obscured by the smoke of the fight, and lost sight 
of by the contending parties. 

Early in this session this subject, after a long contest, 
was conmiitted to the able committee of this House on 
manufactures; but I regret that this House saw fit, after 
this subject was referred to that committee, to withhold 
from it some important powers to enable it to obtain the 
information now so much needed by the House. That com- 
mittee was denied the power to send for persons and papers, 
and the assistance of a clerk to aid in the collection of in- 
dispensable facts. Notwithstanding all these discourage- 
ments, it is due to that committee to say that it went forward 
with diligence and energy, and collected many facts useful 
to the House and the country ; but, nevertheless, falling far 
short of what ought to have been supplied, and would have 
been furnished, had the committee been appointed at the 
extra session, with permission to sit during the recess, and 
power to send for the persons and papers. I speak of this 
subject now "more in sorrow than in anger" — not by way 
of complaint or reproach, but because I feel most sensibly 
the want of the information which these committees might 
have furnished ; and I doubt not that this House, before it 
has disposed of this subject, will also feel the want of that 


information, and unite with me in tlie deep regret which 1 
have expressed that it was not obtained. 

I trust I may also be permitted to add, by way of apology 
for any defects in the bill before the House, arising from 2 
hasty action of dne Committee of Ways and Means, that, 
while I impute no blame to any one for the delay that ren- 
dered this haste unavoidable, it is nevertheless due to the 
committee to say, that it did all in its power to avoid it. It 
was but too apparent, after this subject was referred to the 
Committee of Manufactures, that the House might expect 
some action from the Committee of Ways and Means; and 
as this committee had no time itself for collecting and ar- 
ranging the necessary statistical information, it had to 
depend upon the Treasury Department to supply it. I had 
fretjuent conversations with the Secretary of the Treasury. 
almost from the commencement of the session, and under* 
stood from him that he was collecting information to lay 
before the House or the committee on this subject. Tlie 
committee, having gone through with most of its laborious 
business oa the appropriation bills, and not having received 
tfie desired information from the Department, did. on th ■ 
26th of February, direct its chairman to address a letter to 
the Secretary of the Treasury, calling on him for this infor- 
mation. This was accordingly done on (hat day ; and, after 
waiting until the 29th of March without receiving 3 re- 
sponse, but instead of getting a gentle hint from the Execu- 
tive that there was some neglect, the committee reported a 
resolution to the House, which was adopted, calling on the 
Secretary for the requisite information. Still the committee 
continued to wait with the utmost anxiety until the 9th of 
May, before the Secretary's report came in. In the mean- 
time, the Committee of Manufactures had reported, and then 
only a little more than a month and a half remained before 
final action must be had on the subject, as it was thought no 
duties could be collected after the ist of July, without fur- 
ther legislation. Thus it will be perceived that the commit- 
tee had but a few days (during which they were required to 
attend the sessions of this House from five to six hours 


each day) to review and revise a measure that it had taken 
five months, with all the facilities and force of the Treasury 
Department, to prepare. 

I speak not this by way of complaining of the Depart- 
ment. Far from it. I am satisfied that, in the present em- 
barrassed state of the Treasury, the head of that Depart- 
ment has done everything in his power to collect and arrange 
the matters on this subject and lay them before this House, 
and that he could not accomplish it before; but I recite 
these facts with a view of vindicating the Committee of 
Ways and Means, not only from what I deemed some unjust 
and ungenerous attacks on this floor for delay in reporting 
this bill, but for any defects which may be found either in 
its principles or details. I much regret that the Secretary of 
the Treasury did not communicate to this House the infor- 
mation he had collected during the five months of the session 
before the report was made. Why it was withheld, I do not 
know. I presume it was not through any default in the head 
of that Department, but either because there was not time 
to arrange or abstract it, or because it was deemed unneces- 
sary to communicate the mass of details on which the report 
and bill were based. I shall neither arraign the prudence 
nor discretion of the Secretary, yet I regret that the House 
and committee have not the benefit of that information, if 
it could be of any use in guiding them through this dark 
labyrinth. It is, nevertheless, due to the Department to say, 
that applications for information as to several parts of the 
bill were promptly and satisfactorily answered. Indeed, the 
Department kindly furnished to the committee the assistance 
of the gentleman, who, it was understood, had been chiefly 
instrumental in collecting and arranging the facts, and pre- 
paring the bill, under the supervision and direction of the 
head of that Department ; and the committee derived essen- 
tial aid from this gentleman. I therefore make no complaint 
of the Department, and, as I have often repeated, only state 
these facts by way of justification of the Committee, and by 
way of apology for any defects in the bill, arising from the 
want of more accurate information. 

Thus much in self-Justification, and by the way of 
f apology for the manner in which the bill has been presented 
. for your consideration : not that I expect or desire to avert 
' Knitiny, or because I hope to escape censure for any sins oi 
omission or commission. Far from it : I have stated the dis- 
advantages under which the committee labored, with a view 
to invite such an examination as shall detect errors, and cor- 
rect tliem ; and I have been too long a member of this House 
to suppose, for a moment, that, even if the bill were perfect, 
which it cannot be, the committee could escape censure. 
Tliat is impossible. There will be an honest difference of 
opinion, and I shall be happy if our contests are limited to 
those differences. 

I now proceed to the consideration of the bill itself, its 
design and object. It has been framed with a view of rais- 
ing revenue to supply the wants of the Treasury, and I pro- 
pose to consider it mainly as a revenue measure. 

The first question, therefore, is : What amount of revenue 
is required to carry on the Government? For on this, in 
some measure, must depend the rate of duty imposed on 
every article in this bili. It is preliminary to all other ques- 
tions, and should be first settled. In determining this, He 
opinion of the financial officer of the Government should 
have great weight, and I beg leave to call the attention of 
the House to his recent report to this House, submitting tiie 
project for this bill.* 

From this it will be perceived that the Secretary estimates 
the ordinary expenses of the Government for each of the 
years 1842, 1843, and 1844, at $25,356,358.95, besides fte 
liabilities of the Government for debts, Treasury notes, etc, 
which swell the amount some seven or eight millions more 
for each of those years, making the total required for Ae 
three years $98,242,953.73. 

The debts and other liabilities mentioned may be easily 
and certainly calculated, as their amount is known and must 

I. Mr. Fillmott ben subi 
for 1843, 1B4J tod 1844. under 
miliury and n***l, rtdtmptiDD 
poft> of hi* BTEonicDt, hii own 

nat« of cscpcnditnTtl 


be paid ; but not so with the ordinary expenses of the Gov- 
ernment. They vary from year to year, and will depend 
much on the administration of affairs. It may not, however, 
be expedient to recur to the past to enable us to judge of the 
future. Indeed, experience is the only true test in these 
matters. I therefore call the attention of the House to Docu- 
ment No. 31, furnished to this House at the extra session 
from the Treasury Department, and at page 26 of that docu- 
ment you will find the following statement of disbursement, 
during the four years of Mr. Van Buren's Administration, 
for the ordinary expenses of Government, viz. : 

In 1837 $31,610,003 09 

In 1838 31,544^96 19 

In 1839 25,443,716 94 

In 1840 22,389,356 31 

Total $110,987472 S3 

Being an average per year of $27,746^68 13 

If this past experience affords a guide for future action, 
we may calculate that the annual expenses of the Govern- 
ment hereafter will be between $27,000,000 and $28,000,000 
independent of the amount necessary to be raised for the 
public debt now existing ; but I trust that we shall hereafter 
have more economy in the administration of public affairs, 
and that we shall not only expend less, but make a more 
beneficial application of what we do expend. 

But there has been much discussion on this subject, both 
in this House and in the other, and some of the oldest and 
ablest statesmen in both branches have gone into laborious 
and ingenious investigations to show the probable expendi- 
tures hereafter. Their results, varying from $18,000,000 to 
$26,000,000, show how difficult the task is, and how little 
reliance can be placed on their estimates. Where so much 
must be left to conjecture I shall not attempt to follow them. 

For the indications which we have seen here for a few 
days past, one might infer that a spirit of retrenchment had 
come over this House, and that the army and navy are to be 


greatly reduced. However I may regret the inconsideratt 
haste witli which those acts were perpetrated, which, to my 
mind, savored more of destruction than judicious refonn, 
yet it must be admitted by all, if the Senate concur with this 
House in those measures, the annual expenditures of Gov- 
ernment will be diminished. Taking all these things into 
consideration, I am willing to assume the ordinary expenses 
of Government will, for some years, if peace continue, he 
reduced some $3,000,000 or $4,000,000 annually ; and. if so. 
we may reasonably calculate that they will not exceed about 
$24,000,000, and may probably come as low as $23,000,000; 
but this is rather to be desired dian expected. But allowing 
$24,000,000, which I think is the safest estimate, and add to 
that $3,000,000 to pay the interest on the public debt and 
provide a sinking fund for the ultimate payment of it, and 
you will require an annual revenue of $27,000,000 to meet 
the demands upon the Treasury. I shall therefore assume 
that the amount must be provided. 

This being the amount, the next question is, how shall it 
be raised ? In what mode can these $27,000,000 be supplied 
to the National Treasury with least inconvenience to the 

Let us turn to the great charter whence all our power is 
derived, and see what that says. The very first grant of 
legislative power in the Constitution is an authority to supply 
the requisite revenue to carry on the Government The 8th 
section of the ist article of the Constitution is in the follow- 
ing words : 

"The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, dirtio 
imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the comnoa 
defence and general welfare of the United States; but all dnties, 
imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.' 

There is the grant of power by which the Treasury is to 
be supplied. We can take our choice from three modes, and 
three only. First, we may lay a direct tax ; or, secondly, we 
may lay excises ; or, thirdly, we may lay duties or imposts. 
Now, to which shall we resort? We must select one, as no 
other power is given, unless it be to borrow money; and 


will think of that for the ordinary wants of the Gov- 

I recollect right, when we last had this subject under 
leration, an honorable gentleman from South Caro- 
Mr. Rhett] suggested that the best mode of supplying 
ants of the Treasury was by direct taxation. The sug- 
n had a very good circulation in the country, and, it 
d to me, appeared, without much consideration, to find 

favor in this House. That we have the power to 
f the Treasury by direct taxation none can deny ; but 
re any gentleman here who will risk his reputation as a 
man and a financier by insisting that we should resort 
ect taxes under any circumstance short of the direst 
>ity ? We have tried this system once, nay, twice ; and 
e that honorable gentlemen who indicate a willingness 
ort to it again, will at least look into the legislation on 
ubject before they attempt, for a third time, a system 
las heretofore proved so signal a failure. 

early as 1798, when, I believe, we were under a little 
hension of war, and had a heavy debt pressing upon 
id an inadequate revenue, a law was passed directing 
lation of real property and an enumeration of slaves, 
a view to lay a direct tax; and, by another act, the 
year, an annual tax of $2,000,000 was directed to be 
L Any gentleman now disposed to go into this system 
lising money would do well to look into these volumin- 
cts, and their minute details, and see the complicated 
inery which it is necessary to put in motion, and the 
tful hoard of officers it spreads through the country 
urn the valuations and collect the tax. Act was piled 

act to supply deficiencies, until 1802, when the law 
rizing the tax was finally repealed. This law was in 

long enough to have produced $8,000,000, and yet, up 
13, when the second law was passed, the whole amount 
ed to the Treasury was only $1,761,047.36, being about 
uarter of the sum which it directed to be levied, 
iring the last war, when our revenue from imposts was 

diminished by the interruption of our commerce, and 


our expenses greatly augmented, another attempt was made 
to raise money by direct taxation. New valuations and 
assessments were provided for; and, in August, 1813, an 
Act passed directing $3,ooo/xx> to be raised by direct tax, 
which was apportioned out even to the several counties 
throughout the United States. On the gtfa of January, 18151 
another long act was passed increasing the amount to 
$6,000,000 annually. In March, 1816, after tiie close of die 
war, this last Act was repealed, and the tax reduced to 
$3^000,000 for that year. The whole amount collected under 
these last acts, up to 1840, was only $10,983,690.20; and I 
believe that no attempt has since been made to lay a direct 
tax. No one can be aware of the tremendous addition that 
would be made to Executive patronage by this enormous in- 
crease of officers. They would be spread over the land, like 
the frogs of Egypt, until they would be found in every 
man's bedchamber. 

If gentlemen will take the trouble to look into the annual 
printed account of receipts and expenditures for 1840, at 
page 242, they will find a tabular statement of all the money 
received into the Treasury, from every source, from the 
commencement of the Government upon the present Consti- 
tution, on the 4th of March, 1789, up to and including the 
year 1840. The whole amount received from all sources, 
except loans, was upwards of $900,000,000. And from 
what sources do you suppose this vast amount was drawn? 

[Mr. Foster, of Georgia, was understood to inquire If 
the amount collected by direct taxation was included in the 
statement of the gentleman ?] 

Mr. Fillmore: I speak of the whole amount collected 
from the commencement of the Government down to 1840, 
inclusive, for the purpose of paying the debts and defraying 
the necessary expenses of the Government. During that 
time, there have been periods when the ingenuity of man 
was taxed to its utmost to devise ways and means for sup- 
plying the Treasury; and the history of our Government 
for more than fifty years is worthy of consideration on a 



ct like this. I will therefore give you the sources 
ce this immense amount was received. They are as 

customs or duties $746,923,302 20 

excise or internal revenue 22,265,242 06 

direct taxes 12,744,737 56 

postage 1,092,227 52 

the public lands 109,314,223 69 

ends and sale of bank stock and bonus 2o339,977 75 

[aking a grand total of $913,179,710 78 

At, Rhett wanted to understand if the gentleman, in 
dng of what was called direct taxation, included all 
had been collected by the post-office, or merely direct 
ion during the last war.] 

r. Fillmore : I have not taken the ordinary receipts into 
deration, regarding that as an independent Department, 
lying its own means to defray its own expenses. I am 
aware that the Post-Office Department has generally 
looked to as a source of revenue, 
appears, from the statement to which I have referred, 
for many years after 1793, that Department yielded a 
1 revenue to the Treasury, and, if I recollect right, a law 
passed during the war increasing the rate of postage 
per cent, for the benefit of the Treasury. The whole 
mt received, however, was comparatively small, being 
a little over $1,000,000, from the commencement of the 

ou perceive, then, from this statement, that the great 
mt of our revenue from the commencement of the 
jmment has been derived from duties on goods im- 
?d. Nearly $747,000,000 of the whole amount have come 
I that source. A little over $22,000,000 from excise, 
a little upwards of $12,000,000 from direct taxes. From 
;)ublic lands, over $109,000,000, and from dividends of 
: stock, etc., more than $20,000,000, being $8,000,000 
e from this "odious monster," a United States bank. 




than from all our direct taxes, and almost as much as was 
ever derived from excise duties. I merely allude to tiiesc 
results for the purpose of showing that the experience of 
more than fifty years would seem to demonstrate tliat direct 
taxation is not the mode by which revenue can be raised to 
meet the wants of the Treasury. 

But, it may be said, if direct taxes will not answer, try 
excises. Raise the necessary amount by excises. Let us 
understand what is meant by excises. I understand excise> 
to be a duty levied upon our own products and manufac- 
tures; whereas duties and imposts are levied upon goods 
imported from foreign countries. One is a tax upon our 
own labor, the other upon the tabor of foreigners; and, 
though both may in part fall upon the consumer, yet all of 
one is paid by our own citizens, and part of the other falls 
upon the foreign producer or manufacturer. I am there- 
fore surprised that this mode of raising revenue finds advo- 
cates anywhere in time of peace, when tlie requisite amount 
can be supplied by imposts. I fear, gentlemen have not well 
considered this subject. Let them look through the Unan- 
cial reports and legislation on this subject, from the com- 
mencement of the Government down to this time, and then 
see if they are prepared to recommend excises in time of 
peace. The name of excise has long been odious in Great 
Britain, a nation that has long been inured to taxation in 
every form that human ingenuity could devise. The name 
was so odious that it has never been introduced into the 
legislation of this country. Though a duty in the shape of 
excise was early recommended by Alexander Hamilton, and 
authorized by law, yet he felt the odium attached to the 
name, and adroitly changed it, and called it "Internal 
Revenue" ; and by this name have these duties always been 
known to this country. Tell me not now "there's something 
in a name," or that "a rose by any other name would smell 
as sweet." I tell you the offensive odor attached to an un- 
popular object is often changed by the mere change of name. 

Let us for a moment turn our attention to the history of 
these excise duties in the country whence we derived them. 


Whsit does one of Great Britain's own subjects say? I read 
From McCulloch's "Commercial Dictionary"; and first let 
IS hear his definition. He says : 

"Excise, the name given to the duties or taxes laid on such 
irticles as are produced and consumed at home. Custom duties are 
hose laid on commodities when imported into or exported from a 

There is the distinction to which I before alluded. One 
ronsequence of the imposition of excise duties is, that we 
ihall have a swarm of officers pervading every part of the 
xwmtry to examine who are engaged in the manufacture of 
iny article liable to excise duty. To prevent evasion and 
Fraud, searches must be made, which are odious to our 
>eople. Another evil is, a complication of legislation, which 
eads to frauds and endless litigation. If we impose duties 
ipon the manufactures of our own citizens, we prevent them 
Tom competing fairly in the markets of the world with 
foreign nations. To avoid this, these duties must be re- 
funded whenever the goods are exported. This is the prac- 
;ice of Great Britain; and, as a necessary consequence, 
here must be an examination, at every port, to see if the 
joods have paid excise duties, that they may be refunded. 
rhis drawback offers a strong temptation to defraud the 
Treasury, by evading the payment of excise, and yet claim- 
ng the drawback on exportation. If these frauds are com- 
non in Great Britain, where the population is dense, and 
ilmost every man is under the eye of a revenue officer, what 
nay we not anticipate here, where our population is thinly 
cattered over an immense territory, offering facilities for 
'rauds which no official vigilance could prevent or detect? 

Another difficulty grows out of these excise duties in 
Ingland, and that is, to determine precisely the amount to 
>e repaid. The excise may be paid on the article in a raw 
)r unmanufactured state. The drawbacks are to be re- 
funded on the manufactured article, or, perhaps, on the 
irticle combined with some other material. Take, for in- 
itance, glass, for illustration. The law imposes an excise 

duty on the article wlien manufactured, and allows a draw- 
back when exported. It would seem from the law that the 
amount of excise paid upon the articles manufactured was 
about three cents per pound less than the drawbacks paid on 
exportation; thereby paying a bounty out of the Treasurj- 
on tlie exportation of the article. 

I will give you another instance tliat illustrates the same 
principle; tliough the duty paid is an impost instead of an 
excise duty, yet, the drawback on exportation is the sjimc. 
and calculated in the ^ame manner. It is refined sugar. 
Some intelligent gentlemen engaged in refining sugar in this 
country came before the committee, and asked for higher 
duties, saying, that the sugar refiners of England could 
export the refined article at six cents per pound, while tljc 
raw material for each pound of refined sugar costs eleven 
cents. I told them there must be some mistake. No such 
trade could exist for any length of time, as no man could 
afford to buy the raw material for eleven and sell for six. 
especially when you added the labor of refining, and expense 
of transportation. But there was an explanation, in part 
growing out of these duties and drawbacks. The law im- 
posed a certain duty on the raw article imported, and allowed 
a certain drawback on the article exported. A suspicion 
arose that the drawback exceeded the duty, and the law was 
finally changed, so as to require the importer to give security 
that the sugar imported should be exported, and then he paid 
no duties and received no drawbacks; in other words, flie 
sugar was refined in bond ; and the consequence was, that 
out of sixty-five sugar refineries in London, only four con- 
tinued their operations under this law; thereby showing 
conclusively that the drawbacks exceeded the duty. It is 
true that, in this case, there was another thing to be taken 
into account. The refiner had the benefit of tiie residuttm, 
or molasses, which remained after the refining process, on 
which he paid no duty, and which brought a high price, in 
consequence of the high duty on molasses. 

These are some of the illustrations of raising revenue by 
excise ; but, as I said when I was diverted from the subject. 


I will read a brief history of excise duties from McCulloch. 
He says: 

"Excise duties were introduced into England by the long Par- 
liament in 1643; being then laid on the makers and venders of ale, 
beer, dder, and perry. The royalists soon after followed the example 
of the republicans; both sides declaring that the excise should be 
continued no longer than the termination of the war. But it was 
found too productive a source of revenue to be again relinquished; 
and when the nation had been accustomed to it for a few years, 
the Parliament declared, in 1649, that the 'impost of excise was the 
most easy and indifferent levy that could be laid upon the people.' 
It was placed on a new footing at the Restoration; and, notwith- 
standing Mr. Justice Blackstone says that, 'from its first origin to 
the present time, its very name has been odious to the people of 
England,' (Com. book i. c. 3,) it has continued progressively to 
gain ground, and is at this moment imposed on a variety of most 
important articles, and furnishes nearly half the entire revenue of 
the kingdom." 

Thus you have the history of excise duties. They origi- 
nated with the long Parliament which was afterwards dis- 
solved by Cromwell. Both parties promised to abolish them 
at the close of the war. We need hardly be told by Black- 
stone that, from their origin to the present time, their name 
has been odious. Yet they have been continued in Great 
Britain, and must be ; for there every source of revenue has 
been exhausted, and every mode of taxation resorted to 
which ingenuity could invent to raise the necessary means 
for carrying on an expensive Government, and paying the 
interest upon their enormous public debt. And, finally, the 
recent proceedings in Parliament show that they have been 
compelled to adopt the war measure, and tax incomes to 
supply the deficiency. 

But I trust the necessities of such a nation are not to 
furnish precedents for us. Direct taxes and excises may be 
necessary and unavoidable in time of war, but those who 
would resort to them in time of peace would do well to read 
the legislation and reports on these subjects, and especially 
a report made by Mr. Randolph, in 1802, as Chairman of the 
Committee of Ways and Means, in which he states that the 


expenses of collectioo are more dun one-fifth, or twenty per 
cent.; dut die duty is oppressive and vexatious, and peculi- 
arly obnoxioas to our citizens; tiut the nature of excise \^ 
hostile to the genius of a free people, and its tendency is to 
muhiply offices and increase the patronage of the Executive : 
and he finally recommends a total repeal. If other evidence 
was wanted that excise is odious to our people, it may be 
found in the insurrection of Pennsylvania against this very 
tax. With all these facts staring us in the face, is there any 
one here so bold as to propose excise duties on our own 
manufactures, to supply the necessary means of carrjing 
on the Government? If not, what remains? Nothing but 
the duties and imposts; and to lay these duties is the object 
of the bill upon your table. This being the only remaining 
mode anthorked by the Constitution, I deem it unnecessary 
to go into any argument to show that it is the best mode. 
All our aq^eneact proves that fact, and I owe an apology 
to the House for having occt^iied so much of its time to 
showing the objections to direct taxes and excise duties. 

The next question is, will this bill, if it becomes a law, 
supply the wants of the Treasury? Is it sufficient? Here I 
take the liberty of stating to the House that the bill is, in 
substance, the project that came from the Secretary of the 
Treasury. Although the Committee of Ways and Means 
have changed many of its details, sometimes increasing and 
sometimes reducing the rate of duty, as they thought most 
likely to increase the revenue; and although they have 
added some important provisions to secure to the States their 
just interest in the proceeds of the public lands, and to obtain 
valuable statistical information for future legislation on this 
subject ; yet the main features of the bill are as they came 
from the Secretary, and it will probably produce about die 
amount of revenue contemplated by that project. 

What, then, will this bill produce? For the purpose of 
estimating the probable amount, the Secretary of the 
Treasury has taken the importations of 1840, and calculated 
the amount of duty prescribed by this bill on every article 
imported, and the result shows a gross amount of $32,603,- 


335.27, from which deduct drawbacks, etc., and expenses of 
collection, amounting to $5,160,000, and it leaves a net 
revenue, applicable to the ordinary expenses of Government, 
of $27,443,335.27. 

Here I would remark that the Secretary has made his 
estimate of drawbacks in gross. It would have been more 
satisfactory to me, and I doubt not it would be so to the 
House, had he given the amount of exports of each article 
on which drawbacks were allowed : not that it is necessary 
to show the amount of revenue, for the gross amount of 
drawbacks deducted show that ; but it is important to show 
whether any article was imported for consumption, or was 
again exported for drawback. I doubt not the House is 
aware of the rule that allows goods imported beyond a cer- 
tain amount to be exported ; and, when exported, the amount 
of import duty which they paid is refimded in drawbacks. 
Hence it is not only necessary to know the amount imported, 
but the amount exported, of any article, to know whether 
the duty is too high to permit it to be imported for consump- 
tion ; and hence, also, an estimate of duties based upon our 
imports, without taking into consideration our exports of 
the same articles, forms no guide for ascertaining the 
amount of revenue. Thus we may, for any given year, have 
importations that show an apparent amount of revenue equal 
to $50,000,000, and yet, when we come to deduct the expor- 
tations and consequent drawbacks, it may be reduced to 

Although the Secretary has estimated that this bill will 
raise $27,000,000 and upwards, yet I am satisfied, on a close 
examination, that it cannot be relied on to produce that 
amount. In the first place, I am prepared to concede that 
the Secretary has selected a year when the importations 
were below the average for the last seven years. His esti- 
mates are based upon the importations of the year 1840, 
which were, in round numbers, only $107,000,000, while the 
average importations for seven years, from 1834 to 1840 
inclusive, were $141,000,000; and yet, notwithstanding the 
great disparity between the year 1840 and the average of 



tboM seven years, I am satisfied that the Secretary's bill 
cansot be relied oo to produce the requisite amount of 
revenue for each year. For a succession of years it may, and 
doubtless will, produce the amount which he estimates. 

One reason why the average of the seven years is so 
great, and so much above tliat of 1840, is in consequence of 
flw excessive importations of 1836 and 1S39, they being, 
in those jrears, nearly double what they were under ordinary 

{Mr. Fillmore here introduced tables showing imports by 
years from 1834 to 1840 inclusive, with value of portion 
admitted free, value of ponion on which duties were paid, 
total values, and average value for each year of the period 
named The segregate value of imports for the seven years 
was $990,337^1, the valuation of goods on which duty was 
paid being but $488,239,195.] 

It is unnecessary to advert to the causes of these ex- 
cessive importations. They vary much from year to year, 
and doubtless that in 1836 was caused in part by die gnaA 
fire in New York, that destroyed immense quantities of 
goods, causing a deficiency that had to be supplied by fresh 
importations. But another cause of excessive importations 
during all these years is, that more than half came in free 
of duty. It cannot be supposed that the importations will be 
so great when goods are subjected to duty. It should also 
he borne in mind that, during most of the time, the currency 
was greatly inflated, prices were high, offering a strong in- 
ducement to import, and leaving a heavy debt due abroad, 
that must be met by our exportation before our importa- 
tions can again equal these amounts. All these things should 
be taken into the account in estimating the amount of rev- 
enue which this bill will produce. 

I therefore conclude, that although the Secretary has 
taken a year, below the average of the seven years, yet even 
that has furnished a higher amount of importations than we 
can rely upon annually, for the reasons which I have men- 


tioned. I believe all will concede that, for the present, and 
probably the next year, there must necessarily be a great 
depression in trade, and that our importations must unavoid- 
ably fall off. Hard times have made people economical — 
luxuries have been retrenched and necessaries supplied with 
provident care — and it must be some time before we can 
expect or desire such excessive importations as we have had 
for several years past. 

But for a series of years I think we may rely upon this 
bill producing, on an average, about $27,000,000 annually. 
Yet, after all, any person who will look over the past years, 
and see how the revenue from customs varies, must be 
satisfied that we cannot calculate with any certainty for any 
particular year. All we can rely upon is a general result 
for a series of years. The deficiency of one is supplied by 
the excess of another, and so vice versa, each compensating 
the other. The amount has varied, within a few years past, 
from $13,000,000 to $24,000,000. Assuming, then, that this 
bill will only produce from $25,000,000 to $27,000,000, it 
seems to me there is an end of the question, unless some 
gentleman can show that the duty on any particular item 
should be increased or diminished with a view of adding to 
the amount of revenue. It is unnecessary to talk about levy- 
ing duties for protection. If it is not expedient to resort to 
direct taxation or excises to supply the Treasury, then we 
have no alternative but impost duties, such as this bill pro- 
poses to lay, and protection to a reasonable extent becomes 
an accident which need not be sought, for it cannot be 
avoided. It results as an inevitable consequence from a 
necessary and unavoidable act, and the bill becomes, as it 
was designed to be, a revenue bill, and a revenue bill only. 

Although this is the view which I am disposed to take of 
this bill, and although I am willing to listen to any amend- 
ments to add to or diminish the duty on any article, with a 
view of increasing the revenue, yet I have no disguise of my 
own sentiments on the subject of protecting our own indus- 
try. I am free to admit that I am not one of those who 
either feel or profess to feel indifferent to our own inter- 


ests. I prefer my own country to all others, and my opmkm 
is that we must take care of ourselves ; and while I would 
not embarrass trade between this and any foreign country 
by any illiberal restrictions, yet if, by legislation or negotia- 
tion, an advantage is to be given to one over Obit other, I 
prefer my own country to all the world besides. I admit 
that duties may be so levied, ostensibly for revenue, yet de- 
signedly for protection, as to amount to prohibition, and 
consequently to the total loss of revenue. I am for no such 
protection as that. I have no disguise of my opinions on 
this subject. I believe that if all the restrictive systems 
were done away with, here and in every other country, and 
we could confidently rely on continued peace, tiiat would be 
the most prosperous and happy state. The people of every 
country would then produce that which their habits, sidll, 
climate, soil, or situation enabled them to produce to ibt 
greatest advantage; each would then sell where he could 
obtain the most, and buy where he could purchase cheapest; 
and thus we should see a trade as free among the nations 
of the world as we now witness among the several states of 
this Union. But however beautiful this may be in tiieory, 
I look for no such political millenium as this. Wars will 
occur until man changes his nature : and duties will be im- 
posed upon our products in other countries until man shall 
cease to be selfish, or kings can find a more convenient mode 
of raising revenue than by imposts. 

These, then, form the true justification for laying duties 
in a way to protect our own industry against that of foreign 
nations: First, a reasonable apprehension of war, for no 
nation can always hope for peace. If, therefore, there i> 
any article that is indispensably necessary for the subsistence 
of a nation, and the nation can produce it, that nation is not 
independent if it do not. If it is necessary, the production 
should not be encouraged by high duties on the imported 
article. This should be done, not for the benefit of persons 
who may engage in the manufacture or cultivation of the 
desired article, but for the benefit of the whole community: 
what though each pays a little higher for the article in time 


of peace than he otherwise would, yet he is fully compen- 
sated for this in time of war. He then has this necessary, 
of which he would be wholly deprived had he not provided 
for it by a little self-sacrifice. We all act upon this principle 
individually ; and why should we not, as a nation ? We ac- 
cumulate in time of plenty for a day of famine and distress. 
Every man pays, from year to year, a small sum to insure 
his house against fire, submitting willingly to this annual 
tax, that, when the day of misfortune comes, if come it shall, 
the overwhelming calamity of having all destroyed may be 
mitigated by receiving back from the insurer a partial com- 
pensation for the loss. It is upon the same principle that we 
maintain an army and a navy in time of peace, and pour out 
millions annually for their support: not because we want 
them then, but because it is reasonable to apprehend that 
war may come, and then they will be wanted; and it is a 
matter of economy to provide and discipline them in time of 
peace, to mitigate the evils of war when it does come. The 
same reason requires us to encourage the production of any 
indispensable article of subsistence. I shall not now stop 
to inquire what these articles are. Every one can judge 
for himself. But that there are manv such no one can 

But, secondly, there is yet another case where I hold that 
we are not only justified but required to encourage and pro- 
tect our own industry ; and I regret to say that this is a case 
which, for obvious reasons, always has [existed] and I fear 
always will, exist: it is where foreign nations, by their 
own legislation, exclude our products from their markets. 
We are an agricultural nation, occupying one of the broad- 
est and most fertile tracts of country in the world. The 
South produces sugar, cotton, rice, and tobacco, and the 
North and West produce beef, pork and bread-stuffs. It 
appears, by the last census that we have 3,717,756 persons 
engaged in agriculture, and only 791,545 in manufactures 
and trades, being near five to one employed in agriculture. 
Our lands are cheap and our soils productive; but if other 
nations prohibit the introduction of our agricultural products 


to their markets by high duties, what is our remedy ? We 
want their manufactures; we offer them our bread-stuffs 
in exchange ; but tliey refuse to receive them : what shall 
we do? I say, meet restriction by restriction. Impose duties 
on their manufactures, and thereby encourage a portion of 
our own people, now raising wheat and corn to rot in their 
granaries, to engage in manufactures; thus lessening the 
amount of agricultural products, by converting a part of 
your producers into consumers, thereby creating a home 
market for your agricultural products, and thus raising tiieir 
price. Is not this just? Great Britam has no right to com- 
plain that we meet restriction by restriction. We ofTer her 
our flour, pork, and beef for her iron, cloths, and otlier 
manufactures. She refuses our products, and draws upon 
our specie, crippling our banks, deranging our currency, and 
paralyzing our industry. We must protect ourselves, create 
and preserve a market for our own products, until she will 
OMiscnt to meet us on equal terms ; and tliis, not by way of 
retaliation, but in self-defence. 

But it may be said that this protection is given for the 
purpose of benefiting those engaged in manufactures. I am 
wholly opposed to legislating for one part of the communitj' 
at the expense of another. AH are equally entitled to our 
protection ; and, if duties are so levied as to protect any par- 
ticular manufacture, it must be because the nation has an 
interest in encouraging it, and not for the benefit of those 
engaged in it. It is all idle to think of benefiting any par- 
ticular class by protection. This can only be done by giving 
a monopoly to a few individuals. No monopoly can be 
created by laying duties. If the duties raise the price so 
high as to tempt the persons to engage in the manufacture, 
every one is at liberty to do so, and the consequence usually 
is, that so many engage that they soon compete with each 
oflier, and, instead of its being profitable to themselves, tiiey 
cheapen the article to the consumer, while the manufacturer 
makes little or nothing. I say, therefore, again, that it is all 
idle to talk of protection for the benefit of particular classes. 
It should never be given but for the benefit of the com- 


munity ; and, if designed for any other object, an overruling 
law of trade, as I have shown, will inevitably defeat that 

But I take a distinction between the encouragement and 
protection of manufactures. It is one thing for the Govern- 
ment to encourage its citizens to abandon their ordinary pur- 
suits and engage in a particular branch of industry, and a 
very different thing whether the Government is bound to 
protect that industry by laws similar to those by which it 
encouraged its citizens to embark in it. In the first case, 
there is no obligation on the part of the Government. Its 
act is entirely voluntary and spontaneous. It may or it may 
not encourage the production or manufacture of a particular 
article, as it shall judge best for the whole community. Be- 
fore attempting it the Government should weigh well the 
advantages and disadvantages which are likely to result to 
the whole, and not to the particular class which may be 
tempted to engage. If a particular branch of industry is so 
important in its bearings upon the public wants, on account 
of its providing in time of peace for some necessary article 
in time of war, then, as the strongest advocates of free trade 
themselves admit, the Government may and should legislate 
with a view to encourage its establishment; and so, like- 
wise, if it be necessary to provide a home market for our 
products in consequence of the prohibitory duties levied 
upon them by foreign countries. But all these are questions 
to be decided according to the circumstances of each par- 
ticular case; and, as I said, the decision should be made 
with a view to the benefit of all and not of a few, or of any 
particular class or section of the country. But when the 
Government has decided that it is best to give the encourage- 
ment, and the citizen has been induced by our legislation to 
abandon his former pursuits, and to invest his capital and 
apply his skill and labor to the production of the article thus 
encouraged by Government, then a new question arises, for 
another party has become interested, and that is, whether 
we will by our subsequent legislation withdraw our protec- 
tion from the citizen whom we have thus encouraged to em- 


bark his all in a particular branch of business for fhe good 
of the public, and overwhelm him with ruin by our unsteady, 
not to say perfidious, l^slation. I can consent to no such 
thing. It seems to me to be manifestly unjust Our act in 
tilt first instance is free and voluntary. We may give tfie 
encouragement or not ; but, having given it, the public foith 
is to a certain extent pledged : those who have accepted oar 
invitation, and embarked in these new pursuits, have done so 
under the implied promise on our part that the encourage- 
ment thus given should not be treacherously withdrawn, and 
that we would not tear down what we had encouraged them 
to build up. This I conceive to be a just, clear and broad 
distinction between encouragement before-hand and pro- 
tection afterwards. The former is voluntary, depending 
wholly upon considerations of public policy and expediency; 
the latter is a matter of good faith to those who have trusted 
to the national honor. 

These are my views on the subject of encoun^ng and 
protecting home industry by legislation; not that I deem 
them of any importance to the bill under consideration, for I 
regard this as a revenue bill and to be passed and justified 
on that ground. I do not deny that the eflFect will be to en- 
courage and protect home manufactures, and thereby create 
a home market for our agricultural products, and others as 
well as myself may vote for it the more willingly on this 
account ; yet all tliis is a mere incident of raising revenue by 
imposing duties on goods imported. It depends not on 
design or intent : it results as a necessary and inevitable con- 
sequence. We cannot avoid it if we would. If we impose a 
duty of one dollar on every yard of cloth imported, the duty 
is laid, not to increase the value of the cloth, and thereby 
protect the home manufacturer, but to supply the wants of 
the Treasury ; yet, as a consequence, it encourages and pro- 
tects the home manufacturer, and we cannot avoid it. No 
human foresight can prevent it : no ingenuity can avoid it ; 
and. indeed, no design can aid it. Intention has nothing to 
do with the matter. 


Whether we discriminate for the protection of home 
industry or not, it must be apparent to all that some dis- 
crimination is necessary, even for the purposes of revenue. 
I am, therefore, surprised to see the amendment of my 
friend from Georgia [Mr. Habersham], which proposes a 
horizontal duty upon all articles imported of about twenty- 
five per cent, ad valorem. This not only disregards all the 
interests of our own country, but seems to set at defiance the 
immutable laws of trade. It seems to contemplate that you 
can collect as high a duty upon diamonds, or a gold watch, 
as you can upon a cargo of iron or mahogany. But a mo- 
ment's reflection must satisfy any one that it is impossible 
to collect a high duty on articles of great value and small 
bulk. Take, for example, a watch, or the minuter parts of 
watch machinery. They are so easily concealed about the 
person, in a way that you cannot discover them without an 
indecent search, that when the duty is high it offers so strong 
a temptation, with so slight a chance for detection, that they 
will be smuggled, and you get no revenue at all. Hence, on 
small articles of great value, the experience of all nations 
has concurred in imposing a light duty to take away the 
temptation to smuggle. Great Britain imposes no duty, and 
France but a nominal one, on diamonds ; and yet both these 
nations lay high duties where they can, both for protection 
and revenue. The same observation is applicable to jewelry 
and laces, and many other articles of luxury. I regret that 
it is so. Great injustice grows out of it. I should like a 
heavy duty on these articles of luxury, for those who use 
them are able to pay. But we are overruled by a law above 
all human legislation, and we are compelled to submit. A 
high duty but aggravates the evil. It drives the honest 
importer out of business. He cannot compete with the 
lawless smuggler. No revenue is collected. Whatever is 
paid by the consumer goes into the pockets of the smuggler, 
and thus you tax the community to reward crime and en- 
courage a violation of law. 

There is a further necessity for discrimination ; and this, 
I suppose, will be strongly urged by the anti-protection men. 


It arises from the fact that the article on which you impose 
the duty can be produced as cheaply, or nearly as cheaply, 
in this coimtry as in any other. In such cases a small duty 
becomes prohibitory. Take for instance raw cotton or flour. 
We produce more of these articles than we consume. They 
can hardly be imported without duty, and a very small duty 
is entirely prohibitory ; and when we become a manufactur- 
ing nation it will be so with regard to all our manufactures. 
Great Britain has reached this point ; and hence we witness 
the strange phenomenon of Sir Robert Peel, as the leader of 
the British House of Commons, declaring himself in favor 
of free trade, and against the imposition of any duty on 
manufactures over twenty per cent. And why is this? 
Simply because Great Britain manufactures more than she 
wants for her own consumption. Any duty, however high, 
is merely nominal, as nothing can be imported ; and no duty 
affords any protection in the foreign market, where she has 
to meet and compete with all the world. The truth is, she 
has practiced the protective system so long that her home 
market is supplied by her own manufactures, and now, for- 
sooth, she pretends to great merit in reducing duties which 
she can no longer collect. But mark the caution with which 
Sir Robert Peel speaks of the duty on sugar. He declines 
explaining why he does not recommend a reduction of duty 
on that article. Is not the reason obvious enough? The 
climate of England is too cold to produce that article. No 
duty, however high, can operate as a prohibition so long as 
people will use it : and it may therefore be taxed to almost 
anv extent for revenue. This, doubtless, is the true reason 
why the duty is not reduced. Mr. Hume, in his celebrated 
report on the British tariff, made last year, states a curious 
fact on this subject, which, as it goes to confirm the truth of 
my argument, I beg leave to bring to the notice of the 
House. He says the whole amount of revenue received 
from customs in 1840, was £22,962.610, and that more 
than one-half of this was derived from three articles, 
neither of which was or could be produced in England, 


Sugar and molasses i 4,826,917 

Tea 3»658,763 

Tobacco 3,495,686 


being more than 500,000 pounds sterling over half of the 
entire revenue, from duties on imports. Could these be 
produced at home, does any one suppose they would not be 
when subjected to a duty that increases their price — ^as is 
the case of tobacco — to ten times their original cost? Cer- 
tainly they would! It is only because the Ministry know 
that these articles cannot be produced at any premium, and 
that a vitiated taste of luxury will have them at any price, 
that they continue to tax them so enormously. Thus you 
perceive that there must be a discrimination even for revenue 
between those articles which we cannot produce and those 
which we can. One will bear any duty that does not raise 
its price too high for consumption, or tempt to smuggling. 
The other will not bear a duty so high as to raise the price 
much above what it will cost to produce it in this country ; 
for, in that case, it will be produced here, and importation 
and revenue must cease. The true theoretical point at which 
duties should be laid on articles imported which we can pro- 
duce is, to raise the price of the foreign article just to the 
point at which it can be manufactured in this country, that 
both may compete together in our markets. If it were pos- 
sible in practice to reach this point, our importations and 
manufactures would then cease to fluctuate; we should 
obtain the greatest amount of revenue for the Treasury; 
and the competition would reduce the article to the lowest 
price to the consumer. I admit the difficulty of doing this in 
practice, not only for want of accurate information, but 
because the value is constantly changing; nevertheless, I 
conceive the doctrine theoretically correct, that such a point 
must exist, and our efforts should be to approximate as near 
it as possible. I therefore conclude that no duty in this bill 
is too high, unless it amounts to prohibition, or will induce 


smog^ling, or is annecessary to ruse the amount of reveniM 
reqt^vd to supply tlK wants of Ac Treasury. If it can be 
shown Ifaat ttwre are any soch dotk-s, as I doubt not there 
may be some, tfien I shall cheerfully go for rerlucing them 
to tiK true standard whidi I have indk^ted. 

[Mr. Roosevelt here niquired whether there was oo dul^ 
in this biU so high as comparatively to dinrinidi die ""yw^ 
of revenue, so that lowering the duty would augment tte 

Mr. Fillmore : It is possible that there may be ; but H, 
diere be I am not aware of it. As I said before^ the oom- 
nuttee has acted upon imperfect informatiOD — in some casea 
far from being satisfactory; and, therefore, I can oidy 
repeat that if there be any such case, point it oat, prodoce 
die proof, and I am ready to vote to reduce. But let tne not 
be misunderstood. While I am willing to reduce to increase 
revenue, I am unwilling to so reduce any duty as to ghit tiie 
market with the foreign product and break down our own 
manufactures, and thus compel our citizens to purchase all 
from abroad at any price the foreigner may see fit to de- 
mand. I am opposed to this, but I am for graduating the 
duty so as to keep up competition and keep down prices. 
This I conceive to be the only true course for supplying the 
National Treasury, and protecting those who buy as well 
as those who produce. 

As an additional evidence that this bill should be consid- 
ered only as a revenue measure, I beg leave to call the atten- 
tion of the House to a few statistical results. They are re- 
sults merely, as I shall not detain or weary the House by 
going into details. They are unnecessary for the purposes 
of my argument. Permit me to call your attention to the 
amount of revenue realized under the act of 1832, as modi- 
fied by the act of March 2, 1833, usually called "the com- 
promise act." This last act, it will be recollected, required 
one-tenth of all duties over 20 per cent, to be deducted on the 
ist of January, 1834; one-tenth more on the 1st of January, 


1836; one-tenth more on the ist of January, 1838; one- 
tenth more on the ist of January, 1840; three-tenths more 
on the 1st of January, 1842; and three-tenths more on the 
1st of July, 1842. 

The first reduction, therefore, took place on the ist of 
January, 1834; and if any one will look at the amount re- 
ceived from customs since that time, he will find that in no 
case, save in a single year, has the revenue received from 
that source equalled the expenditures of the Government. 
One year (1835) when the receipts were large and the ex- 
penditures unusually small, this was not the case; but in 
each of the other years the amount received from customs 
was not enough to carry on the Grovemment. The receipts 
and expenditures in round numbers, rejecting all below 
thousands, were as follows : 

[Mr. Fillmore here introduced statistics showing the 
receipts from customs year by year, 1834 to 1840 inclusive, 
the total being $122,979,000. The offsetting expenditures 
for the same period were $176,067,000, leaving a deficit for 
the seven years of $53,088,000, an average per year of 

Here, then, is the result of our wise legislation in reduc- 
ing the duties on imports. The receipts in 1837 were a little 
more than one-third of the expenditures, and in 1840 not 
two-thirds. During the seven years of reduction, when only 
four-tenths were taken off in all, our whole receipts from 
customs were only $122,979,000 while our expenditures were 
$176,067,000, leaving a deficit from this source of $53,- 
088,000, averaging $7,584,000 annually. As we shall now 
have no other revenue than that derived from customs — 
unless, indeed, we repeal the land distribution act, which I 
trust we shall not, but consider that question as settled for- 
ever for the benefit of the States — I think our great diffi- 
culty will be in so adjusting the several rates of duty as to 
get the requisite amount of revenue. 


It is known to the House that there are two modes of 
imposing duties— one ad valorem, the other specific; one 
looking to value, the other to quantity merely. I am aware 
that there is a f eeling» which has pervaded the community 
ever since the Gimpromise Act, in favor of ad valorem 
duties, as the preferable form of the two. Now, I do not 
know, and cannot pretend to say, how far prejudice or mis- 
conception may operate in this matter. Prdbably a little 
further examination of the subject would change opinicms 
hastily taken up. I concede that, in theory, which often 
holds out to us a false light, 


"That leads to bewilder, and dazzles to blind," 

the ad valorem mode may seem the best, because it may be 
argued that, in this mode, the duty is in proportion to the 
actual value of the thing taxed, which is the most conform- 
able to justice. In theory it seems very plausible. But by 
experience, which, after all, is the best teacher, it is found 
that this apparently just mode of taxation leads to the most 
dangerous and the most mischievous results. If gentlemen 
will look at the tariff proposed in England, they will find that 
the duties are specific wherever it is possible to make them 
so. And why ? Why was this done by so wise, and experi- 
enced, and cautious a nation? Because, in imposing an ad 
valorem duty, regard is always had to the cost of the article 
abroad, and not where the duty is paid. It may be asked 
why this is ? Why not calculate the duty on the value of the 
article where imported? Because it is found impracticable. 
There are different qualities of the same article, and men's 
opinions as to those qualities are always found to differ. 
Hence, ad valorem duties cannot be made uniform. Thus, 
a gallon of wine imported into New York may there have 
one value; a gallon of the very same wine, imported into 
Charleston, may have there a higher or a lower value : it Is 
a matter of opinion. And if the duties are to be levied on 
this "home valuation," as it is called, the duties will not be 
uniform, as the Constitution requires them to be. 


To avoid this, the value is taken as in the foreign market 
whence the article is imported, or where it is made ; to which 
is added the freight and other charges, save insurance. But 
how is this foreign value ascertained ? First, by the invoice, 
which ought to be the best evidence possible ; but every one 
must see that there is a very strong temptation to the pro- 
duction of fraudulent invoices; and such is the weakness, 
not to say wickedness, of human nature that experience 
proves the temptation often to be too strong to be resisted. 
The importer is supplied with two invoices: one in which 
the real value of the goods is set down, another in which they 
are charged far below the true amount. The latter is pro- 
duced to the collector, and thus the revenue is defrauded; 
and so shamefully common has this become that an honest 
man cannot compete in this branch of business without com- 
promising his conscience and character ; hence it has fallen 
chiefly into the hands of a set of foreigners who thus 
exclude our own citizens from the honest and honorable 
profits which their enterprise would otherwise secure to 
them, and drive them out of their own trade in their own 

There remains, then, the other mode of levying the 
specific duties. And what are the objections urged against 
it? It is said, first, that it exacts the same amount of duty 
on the same quantity of goods, whether of a poorer or a 
better quality ; and on this point an appeal is often made to 
popular prejudices. I admit that, so far as variation in 
value is concerned, it is unavoidable, under a specific duty, 
that the same tax should be paid on a poor article as on one 
more valuable. But is there no compensation for this? 
Certainly there is : it often protects the poor from frauds ; 
and, what is of great consequence to the general welfare of 
the country, it induces the importation of a better article, 
because it pays more duty on account of its increased value. 

Another objection against specific duties is, that the duty 
continues at one fixed rate, while the value of the taxed 
article fluctuates from time to time, either in consequence of 
the investment of more capital, or of improved machinery 


and greater skill in its manufacture. By this means a duty 
which, when first laid, might be very proper, in process of 
time becomes prohibitory. As the value of the article falls, 
the relative amount of duty increases, and vice versa. 

I admit there is somediing in this. The committee felt 
the force of the objection, and to meet it they have done in 
this bill what never was done before: they have required 
the collectors of the several ports to report the monthly value 
of goods imported, both the custom-house value and the 
wholesale market value. The Secretary of the Treasury b 
required to make from these returns a monthly abstract, and 
to publish it to the country ; and, in addition to this, he is 
required to ascertain whether any article is charged over 
thirty per cent, on the market value, and if so, to report the 
fact to G>ngress: so that, should there be any gross in- 
equality growing out of the specific duty, it shall annually be 
brought to the notice of Congress and of the country. 

We have been induced to impose specific duties wherever 
it was possible, with a view to avoid frauds. For although 
frauds may not exist to anything like the extent which has 
been supposed, yet the mere suspicion and general persua- 
sion that they do is nearly as bad in its practical result. I 
wish that the citizens of this country should feel entire con- 
fidence that they are not paying a higher duty than the 
foreign mercenary who has no conscience in his way. 

There is one other subject on which it is proper I should 
say a few words, and that is the subject of cash duties. All 
know that heretofore a credit of three and six months has 
been allowed on most articles; but the Secretary of the 
Treasury has recommended the cash system, and the com- 
mittee has, to a great extent, adopted his recommendation. 

Every one will, therefore, see that this change is a matter 
of the greatest consequence. Opinions in regard to its 
eflFects are widely different. Some say that its operation 
will be to destroy commerce entirely ; others insist that its 
effect will be highly salutary in preventing the European 
manufacturer from getting rid of his surplus stock by throw- 
ing it into our auction rooms, while he is getting a credit at 


the custom-house, and thus injuring all fair trade. My 
own opinion is, for several reasons, in favor of adopting the 
system. I have looked into the documents and records on 
this subject, to discover what amount has been lost to the 
Treasury from the effects of the credit system, and I find 
from a report made in 1837-8, that it was there stated at 
about seven millions; and this, I think, was before the 
effects of the great revulsion which took place in 1836-7, 
because the payment of the bonds then due was postponed 
by Congress. By giving the merchants credit on their duties, 
the Treasury has lost seven millions. And why should this 
risk be run ? Why should this special favor be extended to 
the importing merchant? What right has he to claim it? 
Why should Government run the risks of his business any 
more than that of another man's? There can be no reason, 
so far as I can see, unless it is our policy to encourage 
excessive importations ; and this is a policy which I, for one, 
cannot approve. I think our importations have been vastly 
too great, and have involved us in a debt which presses 
heavily upon the nation. I would do nothing to encourage 
or aggravate such a condition of things. 

Although I am in favor of cash duties, in preference to 
the practice which has heretofore prevailed, I am also in 
favor of a modified warehousing system. This I consider as 
the true substitute for the credit system. The Secretary of 
the Treasury has not, indeed, made any recommendation on 
this subject, because, as he states, he has not had the time 
to examine it. He leaves it entirely to Congress. The 
warehousing plan forms no part or feature of his project, 
and therefore the Committee of Ways and Means have not 
considered it their duty to enter into the subject, as they 
otherwise would have done. 

What are the benefits it is calculated to produce? 

The plan has been adopted in Europe for many years. 
Indeed, it is about a century since the first attempt was made 
to introduce it into England, under the administration of Sir 
Robert Walpole ; but so great were the clamors of the mer- 
chants, who had been so long in the habit of defrauding the 


Government by obtaining credit on their bonds, that the 
Administration was finally forced to abandon the scheme. 
Indeed, Walpole was at one time in danger of losing his 
life by a mob, in consequence of his endeavors to carry it 
through Parliament. Since then, it never had been success- 
fully attempted, until 1803, when it was adopted by the 
British Government, and has been practised ever since. I 
have here a synopsis of the acts in reference to it. The 
warehousing system is a provision of lodging imported 
articles in warehouses, until they are taken out and entered 
and duties paid for home consumption: if they are re- 
exported, the duty is remitted. 

[Here Mr. Fillmore read to some extent from McCulloch, 
giving a history of the warehousing system, as practised in 

Thus, it is seen that the scheme has worked well in Eng- 
land. In this country it was introduced in 1791, and has 
been in use ever since in reference to teas and some other 

But there is an objection urged against it which, if estab- 
lished, is like to prove fatal. The experience of Great 
Britain, it is said, has proved that it will not do to establish 
warehouses in all the small ports of the kingdom, and they 
have therefore selected certain of the greater importing 
towns where alone the system is in operation. Now, our 
Constitution declares that no preference shall be given to the 
ports of one State over those of another in the imposition 
of duties, which must be uniform throughout the United 
States ; and it is said that, if we shall pursue the British 
plan of establishing warehouses only in certain of the 
greater sea-ports, or if Congress shall by law authorize the 
Secretary of the Treasury to do so, it will, in effect, be giving 
a preference to those ports, and so will be a violation of the 
Constitution. With all due deference to gentlemen who 
urge this constitutional objection, to me it does not seem 
that such a consequence will follow. We have the system 


now, in regard to some articles, and we may extend it ; and 
if we do, the operation, in regard to the small ports and the 
large, will be like that of the post office system in regard to 
the great mail routes and the small — the one compensates 
for the other. 

The great collections at New York, for instance, will 
supply the means of paying for the system in smaller ports ; 
and thus, by a general system, the whole country will col- 
lectively be benefited. No plan seems to me so well calcu- 
lated to secure the dues of the Government, while at the 
same time it extends accommodation to the merchant. At 
all events I am in favor of trying it. I do not think that it 
involves any violation of the Constitution. The object of 
that provision in the Constitution which is said to prohibit 
it was manifestly to prevent a preference of one State over 
another, by exacting less duties in the ports of the one than 
in those of the other. It certainly could not be to make the 
advantages of every port in the United States equal : Nature 
herself has rendered thkt impossible. The intent was to 
guard against a combination of some of the States to take 
advantage of others — to prevent the great States from op- 
pressing the smaller. But this has nothing to do with that 
question. I am, as I said, in favor of trying the plan. 
Indeed, I apprehend it will be unavoidable if we introduce 
the system of cash duties. It might be very proper to make 
some difference as to goods coming from beyond the Cape 
of Good Hope; but that is easily arranged. I hope the 
committee on Commerce will report us a bill presenting a 
matured plan. 

When I say that this bill contains nothing of it, I do not 
mean to be understood that there is not here some substitute 
for it. The bill provides that, when goods are imported 
from beyond the Cape, they may remain in store ninety days 
before the duties are exacted, and in all other cases sixty 

Although there are in this bill some other subjects of a 
general nature, I have detained the committee so long that 
I will not now go further into its provisions. 


I most, howe wr, before condtidii^, say a word or tmo 
"taadaag the item in the cbuse now wider c om ride r aticm: I 
mean ibt article of wooL Some gentleman wifl pnlbMf 
differ from the views of the committee on tins sobjecL 
There seems, indeed, to bare been some doubt in tfie mind of 
the Secretary of the Treasury in r^;ard to it The di^ 
heretofore has been forty per cent ad vahrwm, and foor 
cents per pound on wool worth over eight cents. This was 
or^finally equal to about fifty per cent ad vaicrmn; but it 
has been gradually coming down under the Compr o mise 

I have had some trouble in findit^ Ae amount of impor- 
tation under the high duty. There is this difference between 
wool and many other articles; being produced not in one or 
two confined spots and by comparatively few persons, but m 
a wide-spreading r^on and by great numbers of peopte, &r 
separated from each other, there can be no combinations and 
conspiracies to keep up its price. Such comlnnations not 
only may but do exist in r^;ard to other things. I have 
lately heard of some very strange facts on dutt subject I 
have found that the iron-makers in England zgmt to tegot- 
late the quantity of iron produced, and thus to keep up its 
price to a certain fixed standard, just as the proprietors of 
our steamboats, in some places, agree to run only so many 
boats at a prescribed rate of fare. 

If it is found that there is a surplus number of forges, 
the proprietors get together and make a decree that only a 
certain quantity of iron shall be produced ; and this is eitfier 
distributed pro rata among all the forges, or some of the 
forges are suspended from working. Nay, I have heard 
what is still more extraordinary. In Sweden, the Govern- 
ment annually regulates the amount of iron produced in the 
same manner and on the same principle, and also with a view 
to prevent the forests being too much invaded for the manu- 
facture of charcoal ; and the proprietors quietly submit to 
the regulation. 

The same thing can at any time be accomplished where 
there are but few engaged in the same branch of work, and 



where they are concentrated into a narrow space ; but this 
cannot be the case in regard to wool. Its product is spread 
over different States; there is and can be no combination. 
The price of the article is regulated by the fixed laws of 
demand and supply, and by these alone. We should be 
careful to put the duty as high as we can, but not so high 
as to be prohibitory. We have nothing to apprehend from 

I have received a statement from the Treasury Depart- 
ment on this subject, which I will lay before the House. It 
will be recollected that, since 1832, all wool worth less than 
eight cents per pound at the place whence imported has been 
free. This will account for the large importation of that 
article, while that paying so high a duty has been constantly 
falling off. I regret that the table does not furnish the 
exports of that paying duty, that we might judge how much 
remained for home consumption. 

[The table here submitted exhibits the quantity and value 
of manufactured wool imported into the United States annu- 
ally from 1822 to 1841, with the amount of duty thereon.] 

It will be perceived by this table that the importations of 
the free article for the last four years have been gradually 
increasing; that in 1831 more than 5,000,000 pounds of that 
paying a duty was imported; if I recollect right, the duty 
then was fifty per cent, ad valorem, and four cents a pound. 
For the last three years, notwithstanding the duty under the 
Compromise Act has come down to about thirty-seven or 
thirty-eight per cent., yet only a little over half a million has 
been imported — an amount certainly quite too small to affect 
the general price. It appears from the last census that there 
are about 20,000,000 of sheep in the United States, and it has 
been estimated that they produce annually about 50,000,000 
pounds of wool. Much of this is manufactured by families. 
Nevertheless it is apparent that most of our woollen manu- 
factories are supplied from this source, with very little 
competition from abroad, as it is understood that the coarse 


wool under eight cents does not come in competition with 

There is a statement at page 72 of the proceedings of the 
•^National Convention for the Protection of American In- 
terests," held at New York in April last, purporting to give 
the average price of wool in Windsor, Vermont, from 1835 
to 1841, inclusive. I know not how far it can be relied on, 
but it^ shows a very great reduction in the price of the 
article, wholly independent of foreign importations. The 
committee, after considerable deliberation, did not think it 
advisable to change the duty recommended by the Secretary 
in his bill, and left it thirty per cent. It may be too high or 
too low ; but, if I can be satisfied that we can go still higher, 
and not render the duty prohibitory, I am ready to do it. It 
is due to this large and meritorious class of agriculturists, 
and is necessary for the purpose of revenue, to raise this 
duty as high as can be done and make it available; but it 
must not be so high as to prevent the manufacturer from 
purchasing, for in that case you destroy the home market 
for the wool, and your duties will neither produce revenue 
nor protection, but the wool grower will have to seek a 
market in foreign countries, where no duties can aid him, 
but he will meet the competition of the whole world. I 
therefore warn my friends who are interested in this not to 
overreach themselves, by raising the duty too high, lest they 
lose all. It may be difficult to ascertain the exact point ; but 
probably the intelligent gentlemen from Vermont, who take 
a deep interest in this question, may afford us some facts 
and arguments that will settle the question to the satisfac- 
tion of the House. 

But, sir, I will not dwell upon it. I feel exhausted myself, 
and fear I have worried the patience of the House with this 
long and imperfectly digested statement of the provisions of 
this bill. I feel that I owe the House an apology for the 
very imperfect and unsatisfactory manner in which I have 

I. The statement cited shows the price of wool per pound to have ranged 
as follows: In 1835, 62 cents; 1836, 65 cents; 1837, 50 cents; 1838, 40 cents: 
1839, 42 cents; 1840, 40 cents; 1841, 36 cents. 


been able to discharge the duty devolved on me ; but constant 
and unwearied attention in the committee room to the details 
of the bill has prevented that attention to the general subject 
that was due to its importance. It only remains that I return 
my most sincere and grateful thanks to the House for the 
kind and patient indulgence with which it has listened to my 
remarks, for which I feel that I am indebted rather to the 
interest felt in the subject itself than to anything in my 
manner of presenting it. 

December 15, 1842, Mr. Fillmore shared in the debate on 
the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, his remarks 
relating chiefly to clerk hire ; at his instance, certain salary 
appropriations were reduced. January 7, 1843, he offered 
the following, which was adopted : 

Resolved, That the Secretary of War be directed to communi- 
cate to this House any reports in relation to the lake harbors which 
may have been received since his annual report. 

Later he offered resolutions discharging the Committee 
of Ways and Means from further consideration of appro- 
priations for certain lighthouses, of certain measures re- 
ferring to Wisconsin Territory, etc., etc., sometimes with 
remarks in explanation. An item in the Army Appropria- 
tion Bill for completing an arsenal at Fayetteville, N. C, 
precipitated debate which ran through several days, in 
which Mr. Fillmore shared. 

On January 23, 1843, M^- Fillmore asked and received 
the permission of the House that he might make a personal 
explanation in reference to himself and the Committee of 
Ways and Means. He submitted to the House editorial and 
other articles from the New York Union, an Administration 
paper of the city of New York, and from the Madisonian, 
of the same city, in which serious charges were made 
against the integrity of Mr. Fillmore and his committee. It 


was alleged that the Exchequer bill was defeated by a Wh^ 
caucus^ and that Mr. Clay had sent to the committee a letter 
hostile to Administration interests. It was claimed that by 
these means the Exchequer bill was defeated by the caucus. 
Mr. Fillmore denied that any caucus was held as aliened in 
the reports ; denied that the Whig leaders made any furious 
attack on the President and the Administration ; and that a 
letter irom Mr. Clay had been read during the caucus. He 
concluded in substance as follows : 

Having denied, as he did peremptorily and emphaticaUy, 
any knowledge of the subject, he had only to say furdier, 
that all the statements contained in the two articles to whidi 
he had called the attention of the House were, so far as he 
had any knowledge of the subject, unequivocally false. If 
any members here knew any facts or drctunstances sustain- 
ing them, he begged that they would bring them out. It was 
due to the subject, and due to the country, that they should 
speak out, if diey had anything to say on the subject In 
justice to the Committee of Ways and Means, he would say 
that they took up tlie subject of the exchequer with a sincere 
desire to recommend it, or some similar measure, to the 
House ; and it was after the most mature and serious con- 
sideration that they came to the conclusion that they could 
only perform their duty to the country by recommending its 
rejection. He did not know that his duty to himself, or to 
the committee, required that he should say more. 


On January 27, 1843, Mr. Fillmore called up the report of 
his Ways and Means Committee on the subject of the 
Exchequer, the question being on the motion of Mr, Gushing 
to amend the resolution concluding that report by striking 
out the word "not" ; that is, making the affirmation that it 
was expedient to adopt the Executive plan of the exchequer. 

Mr. Fillmore spoke at length. He commenced by refer- 
ring to the charge which had been put forth that the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means, in proposing no affirmative 
action on the subject of the exchequer had neglected to 
discharge their duty. In order to test whether they had, he 
should content himself by referring to the manner in which 
the question was presented to the committee, and in which it 
now stood before the House of the country, as admitted by 
the gentleman from Massachusetts. More than a year ago 
the scheme was first submitted to Congress, and then re- 
ferred to a Select Committee, a majority of whom were the 
friends of the President. After two and a half months of 
reflection, this committee reported a substitute for the plan 
of the Executive, dispensing with its main features. If, 
then, any modification of the exchequer were wanted — if 
the Committee of Ways and Means had neglected to dis- 
charge their duty in reporting modifications, he referred 
gentlemen to these reported by the friends of the Adminis- 
tration. The gentleman, too, who made the objection that 
the Committee of Ways and Means had neglected their duty 
in not reporting modifications, since they could agree to the 
plan itself, had given notice that he would move to substi- 



tate the trill of the Secretary of the Treasury for his own 
bQlt for the purpose of bringing the subject befofe the 
House in every possible shi^. Now, he submitted it to tfie 
consMeration of the House, whether the Gmimitlee of Ways 
and Means had not presented the subject in every dope' 
posstble, by not fovoring either of the schemes? llie gen* 
tkman from Massachusetts [Mr. Gushing] had moved to 
strike out the word ''not" so as to malce Ae resolutioo of the 
committee an affirmatiye proposition. He would stale, in 
reference to that matter, that he had himself risen and pro- 
posed the word be stricken out, thereby making the rescdu- 
tion an affirmative instead of a negative proposition. He 
could not see the difference between voting in favor of a 
resdution declarii^ that the exchequer should '^not*' be 
adopted, and voting 'against a resolution declaring that it 
should be adopted. If, indeed, there were any in the Ifouse, 
who, after the many discussions which had taken place, were 
unprepared to say whether they were in favor of, or 9g^kuX, 
the exchequer, he was sorry for it He could not but admire 
the manly independence of the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. 
Pendleton] who yesterday told the House tfiat, altiio^g^ 
many of his constituents had petitioned for it, he must, after 
a close and careful examination of the subject, give his vote 
against the proposition. It was a determination resulting 
from an honest conviction of the heart, which he admired. 
He could not do otherwise than commend the spirit of the 
man who, when he found a measure to be right, resolved to 
hold himself ready to sustain it ; and if wrong, to condemn 
it. Nor could he think that there were men in the House 
who would take shelter of their opinions under a negative 

After some further remarks upon this head, Mr. Fillmore 
proceeded to an explanation of a position which was taken 
in the report of the Committee of Ways and Means, and 
which, he understood, was misconceived by some of his 

He alluded to that portion of the report which spoke of 
the power of removal from office. It was in 1835, when 


le whole subject was under debate in the Senate, and when 
e also examined the subject, that he came to the conclusion 
liat, where the power of appointment was vested in the 
Resident and the Senate, in that case the President and the 
Senate together alone had the power of removal. In sup- 
ort of the position, he maintained, he cited the reasoning 
n the subject contained in the Federalist, which was at the 
ime of its adoption held to be the true construction of the 
Constitution. In that work it was argued to the people, 
/hen the Constitution was pending before them for their 
doption, that where a concurrence of the President and 
ienate was necessary to appointment, the same was also 
equisite to removal from office. The Constitution pro- 
ided no power of removal. That only resulted from the 
ower of appointment. He stated as a remarkable fact, that, 
Ithough such a debate took place in 1835, he had not, after 

diligent search, been able to get a printed copy of Mr. 
Calhoun's bill. He found a manuscript copy, together with 
he amendment proposed, among the archives of the Gov- 
mment; and as it passed the Senate, the only principle 
sserted was this : it repealed the law limiting the tenure of 
iffices to four years, provided that the only limit should 
le in case of defalcation; and declared that the President 
hould assign his reasons to the Senate for any removal he 
light make. There was no principle in it which tended to 
imit the power of removal. Now, his own opinion was, 
hat the President possessed no such power. 

He noticed the objections which had been raised to tk 
ontinuance of the present regulations of the Treasury 
)epartment, on the ground that the laws in force did not 
rovide any place of security for public money, and also that 
lere were not sufficient provisions of law for the punish- 
lent of embezzlement. The gentleman from Massachusetts 
ad argued that there were no provisions for the punish- 
lent of defaulters, except such as might be contained in the 
^ct of 1789, and the resolution of 1816. 

[Mr. Cushing said his proposition was more qualified.] 


Mr. Fillmore alluded to the supposition entertained by 
some, that the Committee of Ways and Means had omitted 
their duty. He feared the House had forgotten their own 
action on the subject. 

There were already existing by law ample checks and 
guards for the security of the public money. In the first 
place, there was the law of 1789, which provides that it 
shall be the duty of the Treasurer of the United States to 
receive and keep the moneys of the United States, and dis- 
burse them upon warrants drawn by the Secretary of the 
Treasury. Mark the words : "disburse them upon warrants 
drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury." Then, what 
next? As to the medium in which the public dues shall be 
paid, we have the joint resolution of 1816, which prescribes 
that they shall be paid in gold and silver, treasury notes, and 
the bills of specie-paying banks. Thus we have the provision 
designating the officers who shall keep the public money; 
and next, we have the medium in which it shall be paid. 
Now, he wanted to know what more there was in the famous 
exchequer bill which came from the Treasury, or that of 
the Select Committee of this House, to secure the public 
treasure from embezzlement? Instead of calling the officer 
who is to have the custody of the public money, the Treas- 
urer of the United States, the bill proposes to call them a 
board of exchequer, though one of them is to be this same 
Treasurer. First, there is to be the Secretary of the 
Treasury ; second, the Treasurer of the United States, and 
then there are to be three commissioners to constitute this 
board of exchequer. The system now in operation was but 
a part of that "one idea" which provides for five officers 
instead of one to do the same thing, and who are to be ap- 
pointed in the same manner, viz., by the President of the 
United States, by and with the advice and consent of the 
Senate. But it had been said that there was now no security 
for the faithful custody and disbursement of the public 
money, and therefore the Committee on Ways and Means 
neglected their duty in failing to provide for it. 


Let us, said Mr. Fillmore, look a little into the law on 
this subject. Gentlemen seemed to have forgotten that, in 
repealing the independent treasury, they left untouched the 
penal part of it providing for the security of the public 
money. They repealed the act so far as it relates to the 
receivers general, and the pubHc buildings for the deposit of 
the public money, together with the provision requiring the 
public dues to be paid in gold and silver ; yet the penal part 
of the act — ^which secures the faithful custody, transfer, and 
disbursement of the public money — ^this House had not the 
folly to repeal. Not only did they retain it, but they added 
to it. There were the most ample and the most penal pro- 
visions against anybody who should use the public treasure. 
In addition to the penalty imposed by the sub-treasury act, 
they had also provided for the evidence by which guilt 
should be ascertained — ^which the independent treasury act 
did not do. 

[Mr. Fillmore here read from the Act of August 13, 
1841, repealing the independent treasury Act; section two 
of which provides as punishment for embezzlement, that 
the convicted person shall "forfeit and pay to the United 
States a fine equal to the amount of the money embezzled, 
and shall suffer imprisonment for a term not less than six 
months, nor more than five years." He continued:] 

There was the law as it now stood. Were not these pro- 
visions penal enough to satisfy the gentleman? Had the 
Committee of Ways and Means neglected their duty, in not 
imposing greater penalties ? If so, he would point them to 
the provisions of the famous exchequer bill, and then see if 
that measure provided better securities for the public money 
than now existed. Instead of prohibiting the public officers 
from using, investing, or loaning the public money, they 
were expressly authorized to do it. He asked if the Com- 
mittee of Ways and Means had neglected their duty, when 
\ht^ said that these penalties for the unfaithful application 


of the public money were ample, and far better than the 
exchequer bill. 

But he had occupied more time on this subject than he 
had supposed he would, when he commenced. He had a 
word to say to the gentleman from Massachusetts, Mr. 
Gushing, and others, who had contended that this exchequer 
was not a Government bank. 

That he might not misrepresent the honorable member 
from Massachusetts, who spoke first, and denied that this 
was a Government bank, he would read his remarks as pub- 
lished ; and, if there was any mistake in the report of them, 
he desired that he would correct it. 

[Mr. Fillmore here read an extract from Mr. Cushing's 
speech on the exchequer bill, and continued:] 

On this assertion that the President had come to that 
House, and asked to be relieved from the discretion vested 
in him, and asked to have his power defined and limited, 
he would appeal to facts for an answer. How had the 
President asked to be relieved? The laws, as had been 
shown, required the public treasure to be kept in the cus- 
tody of the Treasury of the United States. The law, as it 
stood, declared that if that Treasurer, or any other officer 
intrusted with any public money, should use it, or lend or 
invest it, or in any other way dispose of it, or who should 
refuse or neglect to pay it over when required to do so, the 
act should be taken and deemed to be an embezzlement, and 
should be punished with a fine to the amount of the whole 
sum embezzled, and imprisonment for not less than six 
months, nor more than five years. Now, what did this bill 
propose? Did it propose to put the public money in the 
hands of any other person or persons than those appointed 
by the President of the United States? No. On the con- 
trary, it proposed to put the public money into the hands 
of a host of receivers ; and not only that, but to put in their 
custody at the same place the hoards of private individuals. 
Did that look like a desire on his part to be relieved from 
responsibility? Thrice did Marc Antony offer the crown 


to Caesar oo the Lupercal, and thrice did he refuse it; but 
he apprehended that the Executive had come to that House 
with no such feeling, when he asked to be relieved from his 
resp(»isibility. He only asked to have it increased in a ten- 
fold di^jee ; so that not only might he have the control of 
the public treasure, but of all the private funds and banking 
of the nation. But to return to the speech of the gentleman 
of Massachusetts. The gentleman said: ''Again the com- 
mittee insisted that the treasury board was virtually a Gov- 
ernment bank.'* Yes [said Mr. Fillmore] we did insist that 
it was. 

[Mr. Fillmore again quoted at length from Mr. Gushing, 
showing that he had denied "that the exchequer was a 
bank," although it "did perform acts which were in them- 
selves the same as the acts of a bank." He continued :] 

But the gentleman said that this was no bank. Had he 
attempted to give his definition of what a bank was? He 
said, to be sure, that it performed the functions of a bank ; 
but still it was no bank. "Sir," said Mr. Fillmore, "I have 
been somewhat puzzled myself to know what a bank is." 
He had a definition of a bank here, which he had tran- 
scribed from a work lately published, called "The History 
of Banking in the United States." According to that defini- 
tion, a bank was "a commercial institution or repository for 
the purpose of receiving the money of individuals, and to 
improve it by trafficking in merchandise, bullion, or bills of 
exchange ; and may be of a public or private nature." Now, 
if this wa? the true definition of a bank, the exchequer cer- 
tainly was one. 

In the first place, it was an institution or repository, in 
the language of the definition, for the purpose of receiving 
the money of individuals. This exchequer proposed a bank 
of deposit for the purpose of receiving the funds of indi- 
viduals, and either to keep them in security professedly — 
how far it might do that, he would not pretend to say— -or 
to improve them by trafficking in goods, bullion, or bills 


of exchange. This, it would be perceived, it was expressly 
authorized to do ; for it was to deal in bills of exchange, by 
buying and selling them. There was the definition from one 
of the standard works of the country, which showed that 
this exchequer was a bank, and was irom a writer who was 
disinterested, and, so far as he had g^ven evidence of it, 
without prejudice on the subject. But Mr. Fillmore did not 
press this definition of a bank. A long time ago they had a 
discussion on the sub-treasury, which was created for the 
collection, safekeeping, transfer, and disbursement of the 
public money, by means of the Government's own officers. 
This went far beyond the sub-treasury. That did not pro- 
pose the buying and selling of bills of exchange ; this did. 
That did not propose the receiving the deposits of indi- 
viduals. That did not propose a board of directors ; this did. 
That did not propose branches in the States; this did. It 
would, therefore, be perceived that it went beyond the sub- 
treasury in its likeness to a bank. 

[Mr. Fillmore quoted again and at length from Mr. 
Cushing's speech, turning that gentleman's words upon him- 
self, to the amusement of the House. After further scatter- 
ing debate, Mr. Cushing's amendment (to strike out the word 
**not" from the resolution which affirmed that it was "not" 
expedient to adopt the Executive plan of the exchequer), 
was withdrawn ; and the resolution : "That the plan of an 
exchequer presented to Congress by the Secretary of the 
Treasury at the last session of Congress, entitled 'A bill 
amendatory of the several acts establishing the Treasury 
Department' ought not to be adopted," was adopted.] 

February 2d, Mr. Fillmore shared in the discussion of 
a bill "Concerning the Legislative Assembly of Wisconsin." 
He stated the action of his committee relative thereto, in 
eflfect, as follows : 

At the last session of Congress an appropriation was 
made for Wisconsin Territory for the year 1842. In 


recommending the appropriation, however, the Committee 
of Ways and Means found claims for very large arrearages, 
which they refused to allow, and they only recommended the 
amount of appropriation that had been made the year before. 
When the bill came up in the House a motion was made to 
insert an appropriation for arrearages, which was rejected. 
The bill then went to the Senate, and finally for the purpose 
of avoiding these arrearages in future a section was inserted, 
providing that, hereafter, no sessions of the territorial legis- 
latures shall be held without an appropriation from Congress 
to pay them. 

In the concluding days of the third session of the Twenty- 
seventh Congress, Mr. Fillmore was exceedingly active in 
the discharge of his duty as chairman of the Committee of 
Ways and Means. On a large number of the bills reported 
he spoke at some length. The range of subjects covered is 
considerable, but few of them are of a character to demand 
attention here. 

February 8th, he argued at length in behalf of the Navy 
Appropriation Bill, stating in detail the reductions recom- 
mended by the committee. 

On the 13th of February, he led the debate on the Army 
Appropriation Bill. This led him into a statement of the 
labors that had fallen to his committee during that session. 
The present, he said, was the third session and during its 
continuance the Committee of Ways and Means had to per- 
form the duty of examining a double set of appropriation 
bills for the half calendar year and for the fiscal year ; they 
had also before them a proposition to bring back into the 
Treasury money which was said to have been hitherto 
squandered; also the recommendation of the Secretary of 
the Treasury that means should be provided for, to carry the 
Department through the year to the ist of January next; 
and also an exchequer project, which had occupied much of 
their time. He defended at length his committee from the 


charges that they had abandoned all measures to carry the 
Government through the year. It was only necessary, he 
said, for the President in the exercise of his power to control 
the expenditures of these appropriations not to exhaust the 
Treasury by paying them over before they were absolutely 
needed, and thus create the necessity of an extra session. If 
there should be no more expense during the year than what 
was appropriated by Congress for that period, in his opinion 
the ways and means of the Treasury would be sufficient 
He only asked that the Government might be administered 
as it had been in years past. . . . 

February 20th, he explained at leng^ the object of a bill 
"To bring into the Treasury certain moneys received by 
public officers before they can be disbursed and for other 

February 23d, for his conunittee, he made report on a 
Message of the President, with a letter of the Secretary of 
the Treasury accompanying on the subject of finances, and 
offered resolutions relating to the same. On the same day, 
the question being on the passage of "An Act to provide for 
the better security of the lives of passengers on board of 
vessels propelled in the whole or part by steam," Mr. 
Fillmore opposed a proposed exemption of any kind of 
steamboat machinery from the operation of a law to whidi 
others were subject.^ 

I. It had been proposed to exempt steamboats propelled by Ericsson's pro- 
pellers from the law requiring steamboats to be provided with fire-buckets and 
engines. Mr. Fillmore's opposition to this proposed exemption elicite<l from 
Mr. David P. Brewster of Oswego a statement which embodies interesting 
facts of lake history. 

In the summer of 1842, several enterprising citizens of Oswego constructed 
a number of vessels, to be impelled partly by sails, and partly by Ericsson's 
propellers, for the trade of the lakes, and particularly for the purpose of going 
through the Welland canal. Steamboats constructed in the ordinary way not 
being able to go through that canal, these gentlemen, together with a number 
of other citizens, petitioned Congress that the vessels of the above description, 
thus intended for the lake trade, should be exempted from the penalties of 
the Act of 1838, requiring steamboats to be provided with additional boats and 
fire-engines, on the ground that they were intended solely for freight boats, and 
not for passengers. In the year 1838, when this law was first enacted, pur- 
porting to be a law to secure the safety of passengers in steamboats, Mr. 
Brewster was presiding over an insurance company; and the question arose 


Other subjects on which Mr. Fillmore spoke in these last 
days of his last session in Congress, were: Contract labor 
for convicts in State penitentiaries, appropriations for Cus- 
tom-houses, for the Brookl)m dry dock, for defraying the 
expense of printing the Compendium of the Sixth Census ; 
and the Treasury Note Bill. His labors as Representative 
in Congress closed on March 3d, the final day of the session, 
by reporting the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, 
explaining its provisions at length and moving its adoption. 

whether this law was so calculated to effect the object in view, as to authorize 
them to diminish the rates of insurance; and, after a full debate, this question 
was decided in the negative. The prevalent opinion of the board, however, 
was that the law, so far from diminishing the hazard of human life, increased 
it. The opposite opinion evidently prevailed in the House of Representatives 
at the time of this debate. Mr. Fillmore, replying to Mr. Brewster, intimated 
his good will toward the commerce of Oswego, but took the ground that one 
class of steamboats should not be exempted from restrictions imposed on the 
others. **It was well known that all the steamboats navigating the lakes were 
propelled, in part, by sails, as well as those which were fitted with Ericsson's 
propellers; and that numbers of the emigrants took passage in these freight 
boats, because they could travel in them at a less expense." It was to protect 
the lives of this numerous class, that he thought the restriction should be 
imposed on the freight boats as well as the passenger boats. The bill passed 
with Mr. Fillmore's amendment. 

Ericsson's first use of the screw propeller in this country, in the warship 
Princeton, was in 1841. In that year Capt. James Van Cleve of Lewiston 
saw Ericsson's model in New York. Ericsson offered Van Cleve a half interest 
in his patent for the great lakes if Van Cleve would place on Lake Ontario, 
within a year, a steam vessel equipped with the new wheel. Van Cleve 
assented and a contract was signed. This was in December, 1840. Van 
Cleve went to Oswego, interested others in the enterprise, and built and 
launched the Vandalia, of 138 tons, the first vessel on the lakes to use the 
screw propeller. She made her first trip in November, 1841, and proved a 




JANUARY 1, 1848, TO FEBRUARY 20, 1849 



JANUARY 1, 1848, TO FEBRUARY 20, 1849 

Mr. Fillmore took up his duties as Comptroller of the 
State of New York on January i, 1848. In June of that 
year he was nominated for Vice-President, and elected in 
November. He resigned his office as Comptroller February 
20, 1849. 

The greater part of his correspondence as Comptroller 
was of a routine character, in the discharge of the regular 
business of the office. The following only are selected either 
because they supply data for local history — usually that of 
Buffalo — or because they throw light on matters of New 
York State history; or because they reveal somewhat of 
Mr. Fillmore's character — ^his thoroughness, his devotion 
to the task in hand, his unassailable integrity. 




Comptroller's Office, Albany, Jan. 26, 1848. 

Dear sir : On the 4th of February, 1840, a judgment was 
rendered in the Supreme Gnirt for $805.63 against Jacob 
A. Barker and Horatio A. Holt at tiie suit of tiie Buffalo 
City Bank. This judgment has been duly assigned to ibt 
Comptroller, for the benefit of the Bank Fund,^ by an order 
of the Court of Chancery. 

I have thought best to have the matter enquired into, and 
write you for that purpose. You will confine your enquiries 
for the present to the responsibility of Mr. Barker and to his 
ability to pay the judgment, should an effort be made to 
enforce its collection and communicate to me the informa- 
tion you may be enabled to obtain ; and if he cannot pay the 
whole amount, state to me the terms upon which it would 
be best to compromise the judgment with him. 

Respectfully yours, 

M. Fillmore, 

E. C. Sprague, Esq., Buffalo. 

TO increase the comptroller's powers. 

Albany, January 29, 1848. 

To THE Legislature of the State of New York : 

I respectfully represent that by reference to the 4th and 
5th sections of the act entitled "An Act to authorize the 

X. So in original. 


•usiness of banking," passed April i8, 1838, it will be seen 
[lat in case any person or association possessing banking 
rivilcges under said act, shall fail or refuse to pay their bills 
T notes, the Comptroller is authorized, after public notice, 
to sell, at public auction, the public stocks pledged, or the 
onds and mortgages assigned" for the security and pay- 
lent of such bills or notes. There is no power in the Comp- 
roUer to foreclose the mortgages, but only to sell them; 
nd there may be a sacrifice on such sale, to the loss of bill- 
lolders, when the land itself would be abundant security, 
irhich might be available if there was a power in the Comp- 
roller to sell the lands when deemed essential to the safety 
if the bill-holders or public. 

The notes of the Atlas Bank of New York, at Clymer, 
[liatauque Co., are now under protest, and a resort to the 
ecurities will probably be necessary. In this case there is 
ne large mortgage for $65,000, covering several lots of land 
/hich might be sold separately on a foreclosure. It is 
bvious that there can be but few competitors for so large a 
lortgage. It is not susceptible of division, and the conse- 
uence will probably be that the mortgage will be sacrificed 
nd the bill-holders injured. If the Comptroller had the 
ower of foreclosure, he could sell the land in parcels, 
lany would become competitors for a lot, that could not for 
lie whole mortgage, and in this way the amount to be 
ealized from the property would be greatly increased for 
lie benefit of the bill-holders. 

The only objection to this would seem to be the delay 
ccasioned by a foreclosure, and the consequent depreciation 
f the bills in the market. This would be a reason why the 
'omptroller should never resort to a foreclosure instead of 
sale, when he was not likely to realize much more by a sale 
lian by a foreclosure. But there may be cases, and I believe 
[lis is one, in which the power to foreclose would be highly 
eneficial. I am, therefore, of the opinion, that sound policy 
equires a discretionary power in the Comptroller, either to 
ell or foreclose the mortgages, as the safety of the bill- 
olders may in his opinion require, not only in the cases 


above stated by me, but in all others which may arise ; and 
I would respectfully suggest that a law to such effect be 
passed as soon as the pleasure and convenience of the Legis- 
lature will admit. 

M. Fillmore, 


powers of county judges. 
Comptroller's Office, February 26, 1848. 

Messrs. Wood & Fish, 

Gentlemen : Your letter of the :93d inst. stating that you 
are Loan Commissioners of the County of Monroe and that 
the Governor and Senate have assiuned to appoint others to 
fill the places now held by you and requesting my opinion 
whether those appointed to succeed you are legally author- 
ized to do so, first because you doubt the power of the Gov- 
ernor and Senate to make the appointment, and secondly 
because the bond of the new commissioners is approved only 
by the County Judge instead of two Judges of the Common 
Pleas as required by the 3d section of the act of 1837. 

First then as to the power to appoint. The Act of April 
4th, 1837, section 2d, expressly authorizes the Governor and 
Senate to make the appointments. The new Constitution 
(Act I, Sec. 17) declares that such acts of Legislature of 
the State as are now in force shall be and continue the law 
of this State subject, etc., but such of said acts as are repug- 
nant to this Constitution are hereby abrogated. I see noth- 
ing in the act authorizing this mode of appointment, that is 
repugnant to the Constitution, I therefore think the appoint- 
ment constitutional and legal. 

The next question is, was the bond properly approved by 
the County Judge? 

By the Act to amend the Judiciary Act passed December 
14, 1847, Sec. 2yy "Every county judge within the county 
within which he shall have been elected shall have power and 
it shall be his duty to perform all such duties and do all such 
acts, when not holding a County Court as might have been 


done or performed, by the laws in force on the I2th of May, 
1847, by the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, or by 
any one or more of them," etc. 

This seems to confer ample power upon the County 
Judge to approve their bond. I am therefore of opinion that 
their appointment is legal, the approval of their bond suffi- 
cient and respectfully advise that you deliver to them the 
books, papers and money in your hands, belonging to the 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 


Comptroller's Office, March 7, 1848. 

Hon. Wessell S. Smith, 

Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, 

Sir : On examining into the business of this office, I find 
that portions of it are much in arrears, for want of sufficient 
assistance to do it promptly. While the business has in- 
creased nearly one third, no provision has been made for an 
increase of clerks since 1840. Believing that the public 
interest requires that all the business in the Comptroller's 
Office should be done with promptness and dispatch, and 
that it is bad economy to suffer it to accumulate, I beg leave 
to call the attention of your committee to the subject and to 
surest the propriety of a permanent increase of appropria- 
tions for clerkhire in this office of one thousand dollars per 

I also find that some preparation was made for a sale of 
lands for taxes during the past year, but learn that the force 
of the office (though clerks worked and were paid for extra 
hours) was found insufficient to effect it, and it was finally 
abandoned. It is apparent that the interests of the State 
require the sale to be made as soon as possible. The last sale 
was made in 1843, and was for all taxes assessed up to and 
including the year 1839. The State has therefore advanced 


from the Treasury to tiie several counties returning non- 
resident lands, the taxes for 1840, 1841, 1842, 1843, 1844, 
1845 and 1846, amounting in all to more tban $420/xx>y and 
tiiis amount with interest can only be reimbursed in part, bjr 
sale of tiie lands returned. To effect this object witiiin the 
present year will require the assistance of two additional 
clerks frcxn six to nine months each and to enable me to 
employ them, I would recommend that an appropriation of 
twelve hundred dollars be added to the supply bill for that 

I append hereto the form of a section for each object 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore, 


The annual appropriation for derk hire in the G>inptroller's 
office, shall be six thousand eight hundred dollars in lien of the mm 
heretofore appropriated, to commence on the first day of April, 184& 

The G>mptroller is hereby authorized to employ audi additiooal 
assistance as he may deem necessary to bring up the businets in 
arrears in his office, and to prepare for and make sale of landi 
returned for arrears of taxes; and twdve hundred dollars or so 
much thereof as may be necessary is hereby appropriated to defray 
the expenses of the same. 


Comptroller's Office, March 23, 1848. 

Dear sir : Yours of March 20th in relation to a sale of 
your bank to Mr. Tiffany came duly to hand and I received 
one from him on the same subject by the same mail, to which 
I have given a more full response, and to which I beg leave, 
to refer for an answer to yours. 

I am strongly inclined to think, that it would be a fraud 
upon the community to permit the bank to proceed in your 
name after your personal responsibility was withdrawn. 
Suppose John Jacob Astor should establish an individual 
bank, issue and sign his bills and then sell out to John Doe, 
would it not be a fraud upon the community to permit John 


ye to proceed with the Bank without changing its name? 
xir case is diflferent, but I put this to show, what might be 
ne if the thing were permitted. 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 
N. Pratt, Esq., 

Buflfalo, N. Y. 

Comptroller's Office, March 23, 1848. 

jcius F. Tiffany, Esq., 

Dear sir : Yours of the 20th came to hand yesterday, in 
lich you say that you have taken some steps towards pur- 
asing the interest of E. N. Pratt, in the Pratt's Bank of 
iffalo ; and you desire to know 

1st, Whether there would be any objection to such sale 

2d, Would I approve it? and 3 would the Canal Board 
here to it sresolution to give the Bank one sixth of the 
Is collected at Buffalo in 1848. 

In answer to these interrogatories I must say that I am 
t aware that any objection from me could [prevent] a 
e, or that any approbation of mine is at all necessary to 
^e it validity. This is an individual Bank. Mr. Pratt can 
doubtedly sell all his reversionary interest in the stocks 
Id by this department in trust for the payment of the bills 
lich he has issued, and any other property that he deems 
part of the establishment. But no sale can impair the 
:ht vested in this Department to apply the securities held 
trust to the redemption of the circulating notes — or 
eave * Mr. Pratt from his personal liability on every bill 
ued by him and every contract entered into by him. This 
not like an association under the general banking law, 
len a man holding stock may sell it and incur no personal 

But were my assent necessary I know of no objection to 
I purchase ; and should not hesitate to give my approba- 

I. So in original. 


tion. I am not, however, prepared to say that I should be 
willing to assent to the issuing of bills in Pratt's name, for 
which he is not personally liable. This is a question which 
I must reserve for future consideration. 

As to the deposit of tolls, I submitted the question to the 
Canal Board. They declined giving any intimation on the 
subject. If Mr. Pratt did not give the security, they said 
they should consider the matter open and the tolls to be dis- 
posed of as if no award had been made. There seemed to 
be a strong aversion to satisfying any negociation ^ for the 
sale of the right to these deposits. The Board will not 
countanence - any such arrangement. 

I am truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 


Comptroller's Office, April 17, 1848. 

Dear sir: The Legislature having authorized me to 
employ temporarily two additional Clerks, I am happy to 
offer you an appointment if you see fit to accept it. 

You can come on trial for one month. If we are both 
pleased, I shall probably want you from 4 to 6 months and I 
will allow you at the rate of $600 per year for the term you 
may stay. Should you accept the appointment, please to 
notify me immediately. I wish you to commence as soon 
as possible. It is proper that I should say, that our usual 
office hours will be from breakfast to tea-time, but when 
business presses you may be required to work longer. 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Edwin R. Reynolds. Esq. 

1. So in original. 

2. So in original. 


ON bankers' liabilities. 

Comptroller's Office, Albany, April 25, 1848. 

To Messrs, Charles Clark, N. Wiley & W. H. Robinson, 
Assessors of the Village of Watertown. 

Gentlemen: Just as I was leaving for New York I 
received a letter from Wooster Sherman Esq. dated on the 
13th instant, making some inquiry as to his liability for 
taxes as an individual Banker and on my return I received 
yours of the i8th making similar inquiries. I should have 
submitted the questions to the attorney general but he is 
not here and may not be for some time to come. As I have 
not time to write two answers I shall endeavor to embrace 
in one, a reply to all inquiries in your letter and Mr. 

I know nothing of the motive for passing the act of 
December 4, 1847, beyond what appears from the face of it, 
and shall construe it accordingly. 

The act (Laws of 1847, p. 521, Sec. 4) declares that all 
bankers and banking associations shall be subject to taxation 
on the full amount of actual capital paid in or secured to be 
paid in, as such capital by them severally at the actual market 
value of such securities to be estimated by the Comptroller 
without any deduction for the debts of such individual 
banker or banking association. 

What is meant here by the word Capital ? Does it mean 
simply the securities deposited with the Comptroller, or does 
it mean to include also any fund in addition thereto, belong- 
ing to the association and appropriated to Banking purposes? 
It may include either or both, but judging from the context 
I am inclined to think it is limited to that in the hands of 
the Comptroller. 

The Act of 1838 nowhere speaks of capital as connected 
with an individual Banker. He deposits his security and is 
thereby authorized to issue his notes to that amount to cir- 
culate as money. They are, however, his own promissory 
notes for which he is personally liable, as for any other indi- 


vidual debt He may be sued on them and any property 
which he hold liable to execution may be taken to pay them. 
The securities deposited witii the Comptroller are entirely 
collateral, and are intended as an additional security for the 
Billholder.^ But they constitute all that can properly be 
called capital applied to that object and are doubtless flie 
capital intended to be taxed by this law. And I think it 
must be tiie same in the case of an associaticm. 

If these securities consist of Bonds and mortgages the 
Banker or assodaticm is to be taxed for tiiem as so much 
capital, and if the [ ]* happens to own tiie land also on 

which the mortgage is given he may be taxed for that also, 
as real estate in the proper town. And I do not think either 
of these taxes can be diminished in consequence of any debt 
due from the Bank or individual banker. This may seem to 
be hard but I think it is the expressed will of the Legisla- 

If, however, the association owns real estate not mort- 
gaged as security for its bills, though such real estate be 
purchased with and be deemed in common parlance a part 
of its capital, I do not think it is taxable as capital under the 
Act of 1847, but will be taxable as real estate in the proper 

The truth is that the Legislature regard the securities 
filed here, as forming an independent subject for taxation. 
If the mortgage were given by one man and held for bank- 
ing purposes by another, it is quite clear, that one would be 
taxed for the land as owner and the other for the mortgage 
as capital and it can make no difference that the owner of 
the land happens also to be the owner of the mortgage. This 
double taxation occurs in other cases. If A own a lot of 
land worth $2000 and mortgage it to B for $2000, A will 
be taxed for the land as real estate and B for the mortgage 
as personal property. This is manifestly unjust yet it has 
long been the law, which taxes a man for his land whether 
he owes for it or not, as it does a banker for his capital. 

1. So in original. 

2. Word lacking in original. 


I know of no way of reducing the amount for which a 
banker or association is liable to be taxed but by a surren- 
der of the securities as specified in the 4th section. 

Any proof that satisfies the assessors that this has been 
done would doubtless be sufficient, but they are not bound to 
take the owner's affidavit as in the case of personal property. 

I send enclosed a statement of the securities deposited 
here. Their estimated value here is as follows: 

Black River Bank $97,564 

Woostcr Sherman's Bank 43,372 

Henry Keeps Bank 52,000 

Bank of Watertown 29,138 

All being estimated at par except the latter. 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore, 


to a derelict assessor. 

Comptroller's Office, Albany, May 11, 1848. 

O. D. Huntley, Esq., 

Brice P. O. Montg'y Co. 

Sir : In answer to the enquiries contd in yours of the 8th 
inst. I would respectfully state, that the real estate occupied 
by any minister of the gospel or priest of any denomination 
and his personal property amounting in the aggregate to 
one thousand five hundred dollars are exempt from taxation, 
and should not be included in the assessment roll ; but for all 
property which he may possess over the $1500, and for all 
real estate which he may own, but which he does not occupy, 
he is to be assessed. (Revised Statutes, p. 388, Sec. 4 
and 5.) 

No law was passed during the last session of the Legis- 
lature affecting the duties of assessors. 

Your last question is in the following words: "Is it 
lawful to tax (assess) real estate, (as is the custom) for 
one third its real value, and personal for half its value?" 


How such a custom as fhat to which you allude can have 
grown up among a class of officers sufficiently intelligent to 
understand tiie English language and sufficiently conscien- 
tious to regSLTd the obligations of an oath, is to me incom- 

Every assessor is required, before he enters upon die 
duties of his office, to take an oath "faithfully to discharge 
the duties of his office according to the best of his ability." 
(Constitution, Article 12, Sec. i. — i Revised Statutes, p. 
34S» Sec. 13.) 

The duties of assessors in fixing ttie values of taxable 
property are declared by statute in language too plain 
to be misunderstood, and too peremptory to be honestly 

The statute says (i Revised Statutes, p« 393, Sec. 17): 
"All real and personal estate liable to taxaticm, ttie vsihie 
of which shall not have been specified by the affidavit of 
the person taxed, shall be estimated by the assessors at Us 
full value, as they would appraise the same in payment of a 
just debt due from a solvent debtor." 

The 26th Section requires that they should append to the 
assessment roll, an official certificate in which they declare 
substantially that they have estimated the value of the 
property mentioned in the roll as above required. 

These duties cannot be faithfully and honestly performed 
without an exact compliance with the statute. The prop- 
erty should be estimated at its full value. If all assessors 
discharge this duty fearlessly and faithfully, then a proper 
basis will be laid for the just apportionment of all State 
taxes, as between county and county, and of all county taxes 
as between town and town, and of all city taxes as between 
ward and ward. But any departure from this rule is calcu- 
lated to do injustice, and no motive of favor to your town, 
should induce you for a moment to depart from your duty 
as prescribed by law, and as you have sworn to perform it 
It can be no excuse for you, that you apprehend others may 
do it. The only true rule for every public officer is to dis- 
charge his duty faithfully and fearlessly and if others do 


not, they must incur the blame, whilst he will stand acquitted 
not only by his own conscience but by every virtuous man. 
I have said more on this subject in consequence of your 
remark that this dereliction of duty has grown into a cus- 
tom. Such a custom is calculated to impair the morals of 
community, sap the foundations of civil society and bring 
into cpntempt the administration of the laws. Hoping that 
wherever this custom has prevailed it may be corrected, I 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore, Compt. 


Comptroller's Office, Albany, June 13, 1848. 

W. P. Angel, Esq., 

Dear sir: I have yours of the loth in answer to one 
written by my Deputy to Dr. Wilson of the 31st ulto. on the 
subject of paying the annuity to the Cayuga Indians. 

It is not easy to determine the duty of this department in 
reference to this annuity. It seems to me, however, that 
certain propositions must be admitted by all. 

1st. That a treaty between the State and a nation of 
Indians is a compact which cannot be changed by either 
party without the assent of the other. All would concede, 
that the Indians could not change it without the assent of 
the State, and it seems to me, equally clear, that the State 
can not change it without the assent of the Indians. If 
therefore a law has been passed by the State without the 
assent of the Indians conflicting with a previous treaty 
between the State and Indians, then as but one can be valid 
and the other must be void, I think the treaty must prevail. 

2d. That a treaty made by the State with a part of a 
nation of Indians is void so far as it attempts to affect the 
rights of the other part of the nation, which never gave its 
assent to the treaty and probably such a treaty is a mere 


nullity from the beginning, as a nation in all its negotiatioos 
with other nations is a unit and from its very nature indi- 
visible. It is a corporation and its corporate rights are 
blended and united in one, and as they exist only in contem- 
plation of law, are indivisible — ^tfae whole constitute in law 
but one person. 

Now it appears that several treaties have been made witfi 
the Cayugas by which they are entitled to two annuities 
from this State amounting in all to $2300, and that by a 
Treaty made Sept. 8, 183 1 (3 book of Treaties, Sec'y of 
States Office, page 105), the whole nation consented and 
agreed that $1700 of that sum should be paid to that portion 
of said nation, then residing at Sandusky and about to 
remove beyond the Mississippi, and the remaining $600 to 
those residing upon the Seneca Reservation near Buffala 
This treaty stands unrepealed and unchanged, and is there- 
fore obligatory upon me as the agent of the State in the 
payment of this Annuity. 

From what I have heard, I have no doubt that the distri- 
bution is now quite unequal, and therefore unjust ; and were 
it in my power to correct it, I would cheerfully do so; but 
a treaty is too sacred a thing to be changed at the will of 
one party only whenever such party may think it unjust or 
unequal. No one has any right to complain but the Indians 
and they cannot as we are carrying out their expressed zvill 
by executing the treaty. 

If anything were wanting to strengthen this conclusion 
it would be found in the fact, that this annuity has since 
the treaty of Sept. 8, 183 1, been uniformly paid in pursuance 
of that treaty and that in July, 1846, that portion of the 
Cayugas still remaining on the Seneca Reservation, a part 
of whom were then about to emigrate west of the Missis- 
sippi, presented a memorial to the Commissioners of the 
Land Office, claiming only the $600 given them by the treaty 
of 183 T, and then entered into a new treaty with the State 
to distribute that $600 equally among those who should 
remain on the Seneca Reservation and those who should 
emigrate. (See 3 Book of Treaties, p. 273 to 281.) 


But you say, a similar treaty was made with the Onon- 
dagas at the same time, and that a law passed in 1847 has 
been executed though conflicting with the treaty as the law 
of 1848 conflicts with the treaty made with the Cayugas. I 
find no such treaty at that time and I apprehend you refer 
to the treaty of February 28, 1829. But I do not consider 
either of those treaties as binding, especially in regard to 
the apportionment of the annuities, as they show on their 
face that they were not made with the whole nation but only 
part. That with the Cayugas was made only with that 
portion "residing at Sandusky," and that with the Onon- 
dagas with that portion only "residing at Buffalo." Hence 
they could have no binding effect upon the nation at large, 
and this being the only treaty attempting to apportion the 
distribution of the Onondaga annuity and being void for 
the reason stated, I feel at liberty, and in duty botmd to 
distribute that annuity according to the law of 1847. 

These in brief are my reasons for the distribution I have 
made in the two causes, and for the decision of this depart- 
ment as to the mode of paying and distributing said an- 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore, 



Comptroller's Office, Albany, June 28, 1848. 

Hon. O. Allen. Mayor of Buffalo, 

Dear sir : I have yours of the 26th and in reply thereto 
am happy to inform you, that I rec'd your communication 
in reference to the Bridge over the Canal on Prime Street, 
and laid the same before the Board. The papers were re- 
ferred to the Canal Commissioners as they alone by the Act 
of 1839 (ch. 207, Sec. i) are authorized and required to 
construct such bridges. But the Commissioners have had 
no meeting since the reference. The Board seemed to think 


it wu « matter of coarse almost for Hit Commissiotwrs Ut 
erect such bridges. 

The Canal Board tocdc up the sabject of our iiDpr ow- 
ments at Buffalo and after examining die subject came to 
tin conclusion, that the Board had no power over the aob- 
ject, that it was the du^ of the Canal Oxnmissictiers to go 
on and perform the work as fast as it could be ecMiomkdljr 
done, and Commissioner Hinds gave us to understand . dut 
be should immediately put under contract portioas of tbe 
work from Hamburgh Street Canal to Big Buffalo. Oeek 
and also the Erie Basin, leaving that portion of the lattet 
work nearest the harbor till tfie last, with the view of obtain- 
ing a legislative sanction to a change of the location there, 
so as to enable ships more easily to enter the basin. I pre- 
sume he will advertise immediately. 

Commissioner Hinds also presented to the Board a pro- 
ject for enlarging the Erie Canal from Erie Street to die 
Black Rock Harbor, to the width of 120 feet; and said be 
had already advertised the letting of the work for the 5th 
July on learning from him, that our citizens had not been 
consulted in regard to this, the Board postponed any action 
on the subject to enable me to write to Buffalo and see 
whether our citizens had any objections to urge to the 
measure. The letting will be postponed till the izth of July. 

I write in great haste while sitting at the Board, but hope, 
you will let me hear from you as soon as possible. 

It is uncertain how long the Board will sit. It may sit a 
week. It may not two days. 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 


Comptroller's Office, Albany, July 25, 1848. 
Sir: The Statutes makes it your duty, to portion and 
pay to each of the heads of families of the St. Regis tribe 
of Indians, under the direction of the Trustees of said tribe. 


their equal share of the Annuity, payable on the first Tues- 
day of August next. The construction to be given to this 
language is very important, for if the agent is without dis- 
cretion, and is bound to pay the Annuity, as the caprice or 
ill htunor of the trustees may dictate, it is apparent that 
great injustice might be done and that many might be thus 
arbitrarily excluded from a participation in the Annuity. 
Altho' this construction might be contended for with some 
plausibility, it is not reasonable to suppose, however, that 
the Legislature designed to make the agent a mere automa- 
ton. I am therefore of the opinion, that in the distribution 
of the Annuity you should be governed as well by the sober 
advice of the unprejudiced trustees, as others, both whites 
and Indians, who are known to be of good reputation, and 
acquainted with the customs and usages of the tribe. And 
I wish it to be distinctly understood, that you can take no 
part in any religious controversy, which may unfortunately 
divide the tribe. yours respectfully, 

Millard Fillmore, 
Wm. a. Wheeler, Esq., Comptroller, 

Agent, &c., Malone, N. Y. 

forced sale of buffalo creek INDIAN LANDS. 

Comptroller's Office, Albany, Oct. i8, 1848. 

Charles L. Mayer, Esq., Buffalo, 

Dear sir: I have yours of the 6th in reference to the 
lands advertised to be sold on the 20th of November next 
for taxes, on the Buffalo Creek Reservation, in which you 

"ist. For what taxes are the said lands advertised for 

An answer to this question will appear by the enclosed 

"2d. What shall we do in the premises to save our land 
from being sold for taxes accrued prior to our title to the 
land r 


If the tax be valid I know of no other way but to pay 
it and then compel your grantors to pay it to you on tfieir 
covenant aaginst incumbrances. As to the vadidity of tibe 
law, I should not from the slight examination whidi I have 
been able to give it be willing to express an opinion. I have 
however, received notice from Richard H. Ogden of New 
York that they intend to contest its validity and tfiat tfiqr 
will commence proceedings for that purpose at once. 
Should they do so that may prevent a sale. Should the sale 
proceed I shall be willing as far as in my power to protect 
the innocent purchaser. But in the first place I have no 
description of the lands yet unsold by the Company, and if I 
had, possibly no purchaser would be willing to take those 
and pay the tax and expenses. I cannot therefore give aiqr 
assurance on that point 

Respectfully yours, 

MiLLASD Fillmore. 

interests of the cayugas. 

Comptroller's Office, Albany, N. Y., Nov. 7, 1848. 

Hon. W. L. Marcy, Sec'y of War, 

Sir: About 183 1 a portion of the Cayuga Indians re- 
moved west of the Mississippi, and a stipulation was then 
entered into. l)etween them and their brethren here and the 
State, by which the annuity due the nation was apportioned 
between those West and those who remained. It is now 
said by those here, that all who emigrated west are dead, 
and that a census has recently been taken by your depart- 
ment showing that fact. 

I should esteem it a favor if you would give me any 
information you may possess on that subject. 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore, 



a tax sale ruling. 

Comptroller's Office, Albany, Nov. 22, 1848. 

Messrs. E. & S. Croswell, 

Gentlemen : I beg permission, through your paper,^ to 
state for the information of all interested, that the Sale of 
Land for Taxes commenced on Monday last, and will pro- 
gress by counties in alphabetical order until completed. I 
find that with the clerical force in my office, it is impossible 
to continue to receive taxes during the sale, and keep the 
books posted up. I am therefore compelled to say that no 
more taxes will be received for the years 1840, '41, '42 and 
'44, until the sale closes, which will probably be in about 
four weeks. But those owing taxes need have no appre- 
hension of losing their lands by a sale, as they can redeem 
them at any time within two years from the close of the 
sale, without additional charge, except interest at ten per 
cent, per annum. 

Millard Fillmore, 


ogden company's suit against the state. 

Comptroller's Office, Albany, Nov. 23, 1848. 

Jacob A. Barker, Esq., Buffalo, 

Dear sir: I omitted answering your letter in reference 
to the employment of counsel by the County of Erie, to 
defend the suit commenced by the Ogden Co. against me to 
avoid the taxes imposed on the Indian Reservation prior to 
1844 till I could see the Attorney General. He is now here 

I. The Albany Argus. The editor's name is often improperly spelled, 
even in the encyclopaedias, "Crosswell." Edwin Croswell became State printer 
and editor of the Argus in 1824. For some thirty years of his editorial charge 
of that journal, which he made a daily, it was perhaps the chief organ in 
the State of the Democratic party. In 1840, upon the accession of the Whigs 
to power, Thurlow Weed succeeded Mr. Croswell as State Printer. Mr. 
Croswell continued in journalism, and a potent factor in New York State 
politics, tmtil 1854. He died at Princeton, N. J., June 13, 1871. 


and has the papers, and would be happy to have assistant 
counsel if the County will employ it. The order to restrain 
the sale is served, and a hearing is to be had here on die 
1st Wednesday of December. The land of course will not 
now be sold. We shall resist the motion for a continuous 
order to stay, and if we fail, then answer and defend. 

Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 


Albany, January 19, 1849. 

S. Draper, Esq, 

Dear sir : I have yours of the 17th inst. saying that some 
of the auctioneers have spoken with evident feeling on the 
subject of my report. I infer from what you say, that they 
think I intended to charge them with fraud. Certainly it 
was not my intention to charge any one with that offence; 
and to avoid any unjust, inference against any individual I 
published the name of every auctioneer with the amt. paid 
by them for the year ending June 30, 1848. You will per- 
ceive by reference to that statement that 9 Houses paid 
$94,924.71 of the $103,942.23, paid by the whole State, as 
per memorandum enclosed. I may have been wrong in 
supposing that any auctioneer sold goods without making 
due return of duties or that any person not an auctioneer 
assumed to sell without authority. If so I should deeply 
regret it. But I humbly conceive that no man who is con- 
scious of having faithfully discharged his duty as an auc- 
tioneer, can have any just cause of complaint of my report. 
I say expressly that it admits of no doubt that there are 
high-minded and honorable men engaged in this business; 
and that my object is to protect these men by detecting any 
of a different class or those unautjiorized who defraud the 
revenue. That there were such, 4 inferred from the falling 
off of the revenue. Perhaps I did not make allowance 
enough in considering this subject for the exemption of 


certain articles and the reduction of duties in 1846. But 
that reduction & exemption could only affect the year 1847- 
8, and yet the revenue has been declining since 1^7^ as will 
be seen by the table annexed to my report at page 165 and 
the last ten years shows a diminished revenue of more than 
half a million of dollars over the teii years preceding. 
Every one must draw his own inference from these facts, 
and I am the last person inclined to draw an unfavorable 
one against * Gentlemen who have uniformly borne a good 
reputation and have made fair and prompt returns to this 
department of their auction sales. No such person need 
suppose that he is alluded to in the suspicion thrown out in 
my report, and so far from any intention to injure such a 
person my object has been, to sustain and protect him. I 
am confident you could never have entertained the jealousy 
alluded to in your letter ; and I trust no other man will who 
has acted with conscious integrity. 

I am truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 


Comptroller's Office, Albany, January 31, 1849. 

To THE Legislature of the State of New York : 

Gentlemen : Anticipating that my duty may soon com- 
pel me to resign the office which I now hold, and being 
anxious to avoid any inconvenience which might result from 
a vacancy, I have thought that the public interest would be 
best consulted by a resignation to take effect at some future 
day, which should not only give time for the Legislature to 
pass a law for filling the vacancy, but also enable it to ap- 
point a successor, and allow him to reach the Capitol before 
I leave. I therefore respectfully resign the office of Comp- 
troller, to take effect on the 20th day of February next. 

I cannot suffer the opportunity to pass, without express- 
ing to you my heartfelt thanks for the courtesy and kind- 

I. So in original. 



ness whicb, on your part, have marked all our official infter- 

I have ibt honor to be, your obedient servant, 

MlLUOO) FifJ.llOBB, 



Hon. Jno. L. Lawrence, 

Chairman of the Finance Committee, 

Sir: I believe there is a bill pending in the Senate to 
supply deficiencies in the appropriations for i848-'9. I have 
just discovered that the clerk hire for this department is 
fixed by law at $6,800 (Laws of 1848, ch. 313, p. 442), and 
that tfie appropriation was only $6,000 (do. p. 371). But I 
have been compelled to employ additional clerks whose ag- 
gregate salaries amount to $7,300 as will 24>pear by my 
annual report (p. 154). I think all these clerks will be 
required for the year. The tax sale has added largely to 
the labors of the office, and should the resolution of die 
assembly, passed some time since, requiring a report of 
lands sold for taxes, remain unrescinded, there will be as 
much or more than all the clerks can do within the year. I 
would therefore recommend that you add $1800 to the 
appropriation of $1500 extra for clerk hire in this depart- 

Respectfully yours, 

Millard Fillmore, 


A parting note to his assistants. 

Albany, February 20, 1849. 

Gentlemen: Your kind note of the 19th inst. was 
handed me last evening at the moment I was leaving the 


Comptroller's Office for the last time. It was as unexpected 
as it was gratifying, but I can assure you that every expres- 
sion of respect and esteem which you were pleased to ex- 
press towards me is fully and most cordially reciprocated. 
We have toiled together many months in the public service, 
and nothing could be more grateful to my feelings than the 
high appreciation which my fellow laborers have placed 
upon my services. But I am bound to say that if I am en- 
titled to any credit for the manner in which the duties of 
that arduous office have been discharged, you are entitled to 
your full share ; and I am happy of this opportunity to bear 
my testimony to the ability and fidelity with which you have 
performed every duty assigned you. 

We met as strangers — we part as friends ; and the only 
regret I feel at leaving the office is in separating from those 
with whom my intercourse has been so agreeable and for 
whose future prosperity and welfare I feel so deep a solici- 
tude. But, wishing you all health and happiness, I reluct- 
antly bid you adieu, and subscribe myself. 

Your sincere friend, 

Millard Fillmore. 

P. Phelps, Esq., Deputy, and Peter Keyser, and others. 
Clerks in the Comptroller's Office. 

As Comptroller, Mr. Fillmore made but one official report 
to the Legislature.^ [Report dated Albany, Dec. 30, 1848 ; 
Svo, pp. 94.] It is the required review of the fiscal affairs 
of the State, and treats of the various funds under these 
heads : General ; Canal ; Literature ; Common School ; U. S. 
Deposit ; and the following trust funds : Bank ; Free Bank 
securities ; Mariner's fund ; Sinking fund of the Auburn & 
Rochester R. R. Co. ; Sinking fund of the Tonawanda R. R. 
Co. ; Sinking fund of the Hudson & Berkshire R. R. Co. ; 
Sinking fund of the Tioga Coal, Iron, Mining & Manufac- 

I. Assembly, January 4, 1849; printed Albany, 1849. 


turing Co.; Sinking fund of the Long Island R. R. Co.; 
School and Gospel fund of the Stoddmdge Indians ; Indian 
annuities ; New York ft Erie R. R. Co. interest fund. The 
report is particularly full on banking and bank funds, sale 
of lands for taxes, and tax on mutual insurance companies. 
In print and not difficult of access, its publication here in 
full would not be justified. The portion here given is 
deemed as of chief historical value. 


FROM MR. Fillmore's report as comptroller for 1848. 

There are now two systems of banking carried on in this 
State. One is called the Safety Fund System, which was 
first authorized in 1829. Every bank belonging to this sys- 
tem has received a special act of incorporation from the 
L^slature. These charters were for a limited period, 
generally having about twenty years to run. There are 
seventy-eight of these banks and two branches now in 
operation, with an aggregate capital of $29,638,860. The 
charters of some of them will expire in each year until 
1866, when the last will terminate. 

This system was regulated by a general law (Laws of 
1829, ch. 94), which was incorporated into every charter, 
by which each bank was required to have all its capital paid 
in before it commenced business, and it was also required 
annually to contribute one-half of one per cent, upon its 
capital to a common fund, deposited with the State Treas- 
urer, until such fund should amount to three per cent, upon 
the capital of each bank, which fund was denominated the 
"Bank Fund," and was to be applied to the pajrment of the 
debts of any insolvent bank contributing to the same; and 
in case the fund was at any time diminished by payments 
from it, the banks were again required to make their annual 
contributions, till each had in deposit the three per cent, on 
its capital stock. This fund, in common parlance, has been 
called the "Safety Fund," which has finally given name to 
the system. Another feature of this system was, that three 
bank commissioners were to be appointed, with large 
powers, to supervise and inspect the several banks: the 



State, as rq>resenting the whole people, and the banks of a 
certain district which included the ci^ banks, and the banks 
of another district which included all the other country 
banks, each presumed to have antagonistic interests, were 
to be represented in this commission. It was supposed that 
each would be a check upon the otfier. To effect this, the 
Governor and Senate were to appoint one commissioner, and 
the banks in the southern part of the State another, and the 
remaining banks a third. Whether this mode of appcmit- 
ment was found not to answer the expectations of the orig- 
inal projectors, or the dominant party desired to use this 
power as a political engine, is unknown to the Gxnptndler; 
but the law was changed in 1837 (ch. 74), so as to give the 
appointment of all three to the Governor and Senate. 

This, of course, brought them within the vortex of the 
great political whirlpool of the State; and the place was 
sought for and conferred upon partisan aspirants, without 
due regard in all cases to tiieir qualifications to disdiarge 
the delicate trust committed to them. This state of things, 
under the administration of both the great political parties 
of the State, continued until 843, when the L^slature 
abolished the office, and conferred the power of examining 
these banks upon this department, whenever there was 
reason to suspect that a bank had made an incorrect report, 
or was in an unsafe or unsound condition to do banking 

The Free Bank System, as it is styled, was established in 
1838 (ch. 260). By this system every individual and asso- 
ciation was authorized to engage in the business of banking, 
and on depositing with the Comptroller the stocks of the 
United States, or of any State which should be, or be made 
equal to a five per cent, stock, or such stocks, and bonds and 
mortgages to the same amount or less, on improved, pro- 
ductive, and unincumbered real estate, worth double the 
amount secured by the mortgage, over and above all build- 
ings thereon, and bearing interest of at least six per cent 
per anniun, the Comptroller was required to deliver to such 
individual, or association, an equal amount of bank notes 


for circulation, duly numbered, registered, and counter- 
signed in his office. 

Associations under this law were a species of corporation. 
They could contract, sue and be sued in the name of their 
president, and the shares were transferable at the pleasure 
of the shareholders, who were not liable in their individual 
capacity for the debts of the association. But there was 
nothing in the act that required individual bankers to deposit 
any particular amoimt of securities before they commenced 
banking. The country was then flooded with stocks from 
almost every State, and the consequence was that numerous 
banks sprung into existence under this law. Repudiation 
soon followed. Many States that did not repudiate, failed 
to meet their obligations, confidence was impaired, credit 
was shaken, and stocks generally depreciated in the market. 
The consequence was that many banks failed, and the Legis- 
lature partially retrieved its errors, in 1840 (ch. 363), by 
excluding all stocks except those issued by this State and 
required those to be, or to be made, equal to a five per cent, 

Finding the small banks unsafe, the Legislature in 1844, 
required individual bankers to deposit securities to the 
amount of at least $50,000 ; and associations, to the amount 
of $100,000, before they were entitled to any notes for cir- 
culation. The stringency of the money market in 1847, 
admonished the Legislature that the security of these banks 
was not sufficient; and in 1848, they required the stocks 
deposited, to be stocks of this State, and equal to a six per 
cent, stock ; and the bonds and mortgages to bear an interest 
of 7 per cent, per annum, and that they should not be for. an 
amount exceeding two fifths of the value of the land covered 
by the mortgage. This is the free hank system, as it now 
stands, and it takes its name from the fact that all are freely 
permitted to embark in it who comply with the rules pre- 
scribed. It is no monopoly — no exclusive right granted by 
the Legislature to a favored few, but is open to all who can 
give the requisite security. 


Both of these systems have been in operation long enough 
to test their merits. It is presumed that no one would 
advise the continuance of both. Two rival systems cannot 
exist without creating jealousies among those interested, 
and adding much to the complexity and labor of this depart- 
ment The time has come when the Legislature must choose 
between them. That both have defects, no one can doubt 
That some of these defects admit of a remedy, is equally 
clear. Which then is, or can be made Ae safest and best 
system under the Gmstitution as it now stands? 

In order to determine this question properly, several 
things are to be taken into consideration, and the first is, 
What is the duty of the State in reference to banking? It 
would, doubtless, be desirable to create banks which would 
be able to discharge every obligation, not only to the bill- 
holder, but to the depositors, and all others to whom it 
should incur any liability. But this is impossible. The 
safety fund, which was intended to provide such security, 
would have been ample to redeem all the circulation of At 
banks which have failed, but it has been exhausted in pay- 
ing depositors and other creditors of the insolvent banks, 
and is now mortgaged for all it will probably produce for 
eighteen years to come. Thus by attempting more than 
could be accomplished, the Legislature failed to secure the 
bill-holder, which was in its power, and, for the remaining 
eighteen years that some of these charters have to run, the 
safety fund yields him no security. It is apparent, then, 
that security for all liabilities can not be provided, and the 
State is under no more obligation to attempt this impossi- 
bility than it would be the equally absurd one of making 
every merchant capable of meeting all the obligations he 
should incur. 

It is humbly conceived the duty of the State in this case 
begins and ends with furnishing a good and safe currency 
to the people. To furnish this currency, so far as it con- 
sists of paper or credit, is an exclusive privilege granted by 
the State, and the State should take care that in granting it 
the people are secured from imposition and loss. Any man 


may receive deposits, or discount a note, or loan money, or 
draw a bill of exchange. 

These, it is admitted, are banking operations. But they 
are open to all. Those who engage in them enjoy no ex- 
clusive privilege. But not so with those who are authorized 
to issue bank notes to circulate as money. This is a banking 
operation confined to the few. It is a prerogative enjoyed 
exclusively by the money kings of the country, and they 
should not enjoy it without giving the most ample security. 
This duty is justly imposed for the privilege which is 

Assuming, then, that the great object of legislation on 
this subject is to provide a sound currency by giving ample 
security to the bill-holder, the question is, how can this best 
be accomplished? It must be borne in mind that safety 
fund banks derive much of their credit from the individuals 
who were incorporated. By granting a special charter in 
each case, the Legislature had in its power in some measure 
to control this matter. 

But there was an attendant evil that in the opinion of 
many outweighed the good. The practice of granting ex- 
clusive privileges to particular individuals invited competi- 
tion for these legislative favors. They were soon regarded 
as a part of the spoils belonging to the victorious party, and 
were dealt out as rewards for partisan services. 

This practice became so shameless and corrupt that it 
could be endured no longer, and in 1838 the Legislature 
sought a remedy in the general banking law. This was the 
origin of the free bank system. Since that time no safety 
fund bank has been chartered; and in 1846 the people set 
their seal of reprobation upon this practice of granting 
special charters for banks, by providing in the new Consti- 
tution that "the Legislature should have no power to pass 
any act granting special charter for banking purposes, but 
that corporations or associations might be formed for such 
purposes under general laws." 

Would it be safe, then, to provide by general law that 
voluntary associations or incorporations might be formed 


anywhere and by any persons for banking? The Gxnp- 
troUer thinks not Suppose they were required to pay in 
all their capital, and the most satisfactory proof should be 
required of this fact Even this is no security to die bill- 
holder. They can withdraw it at pleasure. It would only 
be necessary for those who wished to practice a fraud upon 
the creduli^ of the community, and reap a golden harvest 
to associate together and form a bank, pay in a large capital, 
appoint one of their associates president and anodier 
cashier, to take charge of it; prove to this department these 
facts, and obtain bills for circulation to an equal amount 
and then pay them out for property easily transported^ 
take their capital and leave for California, and in one week 
would be beyond the reach of process or the power of 

But it has been suggested that each bank might be re- 
quired to deposit a certain amount, say ten per cent, in the 
treasury, to constitute a fund for tht redemption of its 
bills. So far as this deposit goes it may be safe. It is on 
the principle of the free bank system. But if the deposit be 
intended for the redemption of the bank only which makes 
the deposit, it is wholly inadequate. It is no more than the 
banks under the old safety fund system paid to the general 
fund. Their charters had twenty years to run. They paid 
half of one per cent, per annum, making in all ten per cent. 
To say that one dollar is deposited as a security for the 
redemption of ten, is a mockery. 

But it may be said that the bills constitute a common 
fund for the redemption of the bills of the insolvent banks 
only. Then as many which are solvent will not want it 
there will be enough to redeem all the bills of those which 
shall prove insolvent. This is doubted. This fund, instead 
of being sufficient to redeem the notes of all insolvent banks, 
would probably for a time give jusl credit enough to the 
fraudulent associations which would be formed, to enable 
th^m to get their notes in circulation, and then by withdraw- 
ing their capital the more effectually defraud the com- 


mtinity. It is believed to be wholly inadequate for the 
object intended. 

The Comptroller believes that the safest way to make a 
sound paper currency, is to have at all times ample security 
for its redemption in the possession of the State. In order 
to make this security ample, it should not be only sufficient 
in amount, but should be of such a nature that it may readily 
be converted into cash without loss. It is not enough that 
the security be ultimately good or collectable; delay in re- 
deeming the circulation causes it to depreciate, and is almost 
as fatal to the poor man who can not wait, as ultimate in- 
solvency. He becomes at once the victim of the broker. 

A bond and mortgage may be good — that is, the whole 
amount secured by them may be collectable. But the bill- 
holder can not wait for this. They must be convertible into 
cash by sale, and if for any reason this can not be promptly 
done, they are not of that kind of security which should be 
required. All the experience of this department shows that 
bonds and mortgages are not the best security for this pur- 
pose, and while better security can be had it is deeply to be 
regretted that they were ever received. The apprehension 
that there may be a defect of title, that the lands mortgaged 
may be appraised too high, or that there may be some legal 
defense to a suit of foreclosure, all conspire to depreciate 
their value in the estimation of purchasers, when offered for 
sale at auction on the failure of a bank. 

Capitalists are cautious about purchasing, and the conse- 
quence is that they have sometimes sold for less than twenty 
per cent, on the amount received by them, and the average 
amount for which all have been sold, for the last ten years, 
is only thirty-seven and seventy-one hundredths per cent., 
while the average amount for which the five per cent, stocks 
of this State have sold is ninety-two eighty-six one-hun- 
dredths per cent., or ninety-two dollars and eighty-six one- 
hundredths for every one hundred dollars of stock. This 
shows that a six per cent, stock, such as is now required, 
would doubtless have sold at par, and the bill-holder would 
have received dollar for dollar for the circulation. 


Should the country remain at peace, it can not be doubted 
that the stocks of the United States will be a safe and ade- 
quate security. The Comptroller would therefore recom- 
mend that the law be so changed as to exclude bonds and 
mortgages from all free banks which shall hereafter com- 
mence business, and to prevent the taking of any more from 
those now in operation, and to require that ten per cent per 
annum of those now held as security be withdrawn, and 
their places supplied by stocks of this State, or of the United 
States. If this recommendation be adopted, at the end of 
ten years the whole security will be equal to a six per cent 
stock of this State or of the United States, which it is pre- 
sumed will be ample security for the redemption of all bills 
in circulation. 

Could this system of banking be generally adopted in At 
several States, it can hardly be doubted it would prove 
highly beneficial. It would create a demand for dieir own 
State stocks. The interest paid upon them would be paid to 
their own citizens. Every man who held a bank note, se- 
cured by such stock, would have a direct interest in main- 
taining inviolate the credit of the State. The blasting cry of 
"repudiation" would never again be heard, and the plighted 
faith of the State, would be as sacred as national honor ; and 
lastly, it would give them a sound and uniform currency. 

If, then, in addition to this. Congress would authorize 
such notes as were secured by stocks of the United States, 
to be received for public dues to the national treasury, this 
would give to such notes a universal credit, co-extensive 
with the United States, and leave nothing further to be 
desired in the shape of a national paper currency. This 
would avoid all objection to a national bank, by obviating all 
necessity for one, for the purpose of furnishing a national 
currency. The National Government might be made amply 
secure. The law might provide that all bills secured by 
United States stock should be registered and countersigned 
in the Treasury Department, as the notes circulated by the 
banks in this State are registered and countersigned in this 
office. This would enable every collector, postmaster, or 


other receiver of public moneys, to know that they were 
receivable for public dues. 

The stock of the United States by which their redemption 
was secured, might be so transferred to the State officer 
holding the same, that it could not be sold or transferred 
by him without the assent of the Secretary of the Treasury, 
and in case of the failure of the bank to redeem its notes, it 
might be optional with the Secretary of the Treasury to 
exchange the notes held by the Government for an equal 
amount of United States stock held for their redemption, 
or let it be sold and receive the Government's share of the 
dividends. In this way the National Government would 
always be secure against loss. 

But this suggestion is foreign from the chief object of 
this report, and is merely thrown out to invite attention to 
the subject. But in conclusion, the Comptroller has no hesi- 
tation in recommending that the free bank system be modi- 
fied in the particulars above suggested, and that it be then 
adopted in preference to the safety fund system, as the 
banking system of this State. 

It can not be supposed that the banking under this system 
will be as profitable as it has been under the safety fund 
system. It is therefore desirable that every facility should 
be given to capitalists who engage in it that can be granted 
consistent with the security of the public, and that no un- 
reasonable or unjust system of taxation should be adopted 
which discriminates invidiously against them; but persons 
engaged in banking should be taxed like all other citizens. 





As Vice-President, Mr. Fillmore was presiding officer of 
the United States Senate. At the opening session, March 4, 
1849, he addressed the Senate as follows : 


Senators : Never having been honored with a seat on this 
floor, and never having acted as the presiding officer of any 
legislative body, you will not doubt my sincerity when I 
assure you that I assume the responsible duties of this chair 
with a conscious want of experience and a just appreciation 
that I shall often need your friendly suggestions, and more 
often your indulgent forbearance. 

I should indeed feel oppressed and disheartened did I not 
recollect that the Senate is composed of eminent statesmen, 
equally distinguished for their high intellectual endowments 
and their amenity of manners, whose persuasive eloquence 
is so happily tempered with habitual courtesy as to relieve 
your presiding officer from all that would be painful in the 
discharge of his duty, and render his position as agreeable as 
it must be instructive. 

Thus encouraged and sustained, I enter upon the duties 
assigned me, firmly resolved to discharge them with impar- 
tiality and to the best of my ability. But, I should do in- 
justice to the grateful emotions of my own heart, if I did not 
on this occasion express my warmest thanks for the distin- 
guished honor that has been conferred upon me in being 
called by the voice of the nation to preside over your delib- 



It will not, I trust, be deemed inappropriate to congratu- 
late you on the scene now passing before us. I allude to it 
in no partisan aspect, but as an ever-recurring event con- 
templated by the Constitution. Compare the. peaceful 
changes of chief magistrate of this Republic with die recent 
sanguinary revolutions in Europe. 

There the voice of the people has only been heard amid 
the din of arms and the horrors of domestic conflicts ; but 
here in our favored land, under the guidance of our Consti- 
tution, the resistless will of the nation has from time to time 
been peaceably expressed by the free will of the people, and 
all have bowed in obedient submission to their decree. 

The Administration which but yesterday wielded the des- 
tinies of this great nation, today quietly yields up its power, 
and, without a murmur, retires from the Capital. 

I congratulate you. Senators, and I congratulate my 
country upon these oft-recurring and cheering evidences of 
our capacity for self-government. Let us hope that tiie 
sublime spectacle we now witness may be repeated as often 
as the people shall desire a change of rulers, and that this 
venerated Gmstitution and this glorious Union may endure 

In the discharge of his duties as Vice-President, Mr. 
Fillmore does not appear to have made any other formal 
address, although on various occasions his remarks from 
the chair, especially in regard to rules of order, were of 
marked significance.^ 

I. On retiring from the Vice-Presidency, in consequence of tlie death of 
President Taylor, Mr. Fillmore addressed a short letter to the Senate. This 
will be found in place among his official correspondence, in pages foUowiag. 




On April 3, 1850, Vice-President Fillmore asked the 
indulgence of the Senate, before proceeding to the orders of 
the day, to submit the following remarks in relation to his 
own powers and duty in preserving order : 

On assuming the responsible duties as presiding officer of 
this body, I trusted that no occasion would arise when it 
would become necessary for the Chair to interpose to pre- 
serve order in debate. I could not, however, disguise the 
fact, that by possibility such a necessity might arise. I there- 
fore inquired of some of the Senators to know what had 
been the usage on this subject, and was informed that the 
general practice had been, since Mr. Calhoun acted as Vice- 
President, not to interfere unless a question of order was 
made by some Senator. 

I was informed that that distinguished and now lamented 
person had declined to exercise the power of calling to 
order for words spoken in debate, on the ground that he had 
no authority to do so. Some thought the rule had been 
since changed, and others not; but there still seemed to l)e 
a difference of opinion as to the power. Under these cir- 
cumstances, though my opinion was strongly in favor of 
the power — with or without a rule to authorize it — I thought 
it most prudent not hastily to assume the exercise of it, but 
to wait until the course of events should show that it was 
necessary. It appears to me that that time has now arrived. 


and that the Senate should know my opinion on this subject, 
and the powers which, after mature reflection, I Aink are 
vested in the Chair, and the correqxmding duties whidi they 
impose. If I am wrong in the conclusions at which I haW 
arrived, I desire the advice of the Senate to correct me. I 
therefore think it better to state them now, when Ibere is an 
opportunity for a cool and dispassionate examination, rather 
than wait until they are called into action by some some of 
excitement which may be unfavorable to dKspassipnate de- 
liberation and advice; for while I would shrink from no 
responsibility which the oflSce with which I am honored 
imposes upon me, I would most scrupulously avoid Ae 
assumption of any power not conferred by the Constitution 
and rules of this body. 

The question, then, presents itself, ''Has the Vice-Presi- 
dent, as presiding ofiicer of this body, the power to call a 
Senator to order for words spoken in debate?" 

The 6th rule of the Senate is in the following words: 

"When a member shall be called to order by the President, or 
a Senator, he shall sit down; and every question of order shall 
be decided by the President without debate, subject to an appeal 
to the Senate; and the President may call for the sense of the 
Senate on any question of order." 

It will be seen that this rule does not expressly confer the 
power of calling to order either upon the President or a 
Senator, but impliedly admits that power in each, and de- 
clares the consequences of such call. 

The constitutional provisions bearing upon this subject 
are very brief. The first is : 

"The Vice-President of the United States shall be President 
of the Senate, but shall have no vote unless they be equally 

The next is : 

*'£ach house may determine the rules of its proceedings, 
punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the con- 
currence of two-thirds, expel a member." 


The first clause which I have quoted confers no express 
powers; yet the general powers and duties of a presiding 
officer in a parliamentary body were well understood by the 
framers of the Constitution, and it can hardly be doubted 
that they intended to confer upon the Vice-President those 
powers, and require of him the performance of those duties. 
But the power expressly conferred to make rules to regu- 
late its proceedings, clearly conferred upon the Senate au- 
thority to make rules regulating the conduct of all its 
members, including its presiding officer. What, then, are 
we to understand from this rule? 

I have availed myself of the leisure afforded by the last 
recess to look into the history of this rule, that I might, if 
possible, gather from it the intent of the Senate in adopting 
it. I find that one of the first acts of this body, in 1789, was 
to appoint a committee to "prepare a system of rules for 
conducting business in the Senate." 

That committee reported a number of rules, which were 
adopted, and among tfie rest the two following: 

"i6th. When a member shall be called to order, he shall sit 
down until the President shall have determined whether he is in 
order or not; and every question of order shall be decided by 
the President without debate; but, if there be a doubt in his 
mind, he may call for the sense of the Senate. 

"17th. If the member be called to order for words spoken, 
the exceptionable words shall be immediately taken down in 
writing, that the President may be better enabled to judge of the 


These rules remained the same until 1828; but in 1826 
Mr. Calhoun, then Vice-President, declared that, in his 
opinion, he had no authority to call a Senator to order for 
words spoken in debate. In 1828 the rules were referred to 
a committee for revision, and were reported without any 
amendment to these rules ; but, when they came up for con- 
sideration in the Senate, they were amended so as to read 
as they now do, namely : 

"6th. When a member shall be called to order by the Presi- 
dent or a Senator, he shall sit down; and every question of order 


•ban be decided bsr the Pftsidciit witlioot debet^ enWecft to 
^peel to the Senate; and the President any call for tbc 
of the Senate on any qnestion of order. 

'^th. If the member be caUed to order bsr a Senator for 
words spoken, the exceptionable words shall immediately be 
taken down in wiitini^ that the President may be better mabkd 
to jndge of the matter.** 

It will be seen, by comparison, tfiat the proposed lule 
express^ reoognized the aatliority in the President to call to 
order, and gave an appeal from his decision, which the 
former rtdes did not It also made a distinction bdwecu a 
call to order by the President, and by a Senator, for words 
spdcen, by requiring in the latter case tfiat the objectionable 
w<»^ should be reduced to writing, but not in tfie former. 
On diis amendment a long and interesting debate sprung 
up, which may be found in Gaks & Seaton's ''Register <rf 
Etebates,'' vol. 4, part i, pages 278 to 341; and in tins 
debate, though Senators differed widely as to the power of 
the President to call to order without the amendment, and as 
to the policy of adopting it, yet all seemed to concede that, 
if adopted, he would have such power, and the amendment 
was finally agreed to by a vote of more than two to one; 
and thereupon it is reported that Mr. Calhoun, 

"The Vice-President then rose and said he took this oppor- 
ttinity to express his entire satisfaction with that portion of the 
amendment giving to Senators the right of appeal from the de- 
cision of the Chair, as it was not only according to strict prin- 
ciple, but would relieve the Chair from a most delicate duty. 
As to the power conferred upon the Chair^ it was not for him 
to speak; but he assured the Senate that he should alwajrs 
endeavor to exercise it with strict impartiality." 

It appears to me, then, with all due respect to the opinions 
of others, that this rule recognized the power to call to order 
in the Vice-President, and by implication, at least, conferred 
that power upon him. 

The next question is. Does the possession of the power 
impose any duty to exercise it? The power, it will be seen, 
is conferred equally upon tiie Chair and every member of 


the Senate, and in precisely the same language. Is the duty, 
then, more imperative upon the President than upon any 
and every member of the Senate to perform the unpleasant 
but necessary task of exercising it? There is a marked 
distinction between this rule and the corresponding rule of 
the House of Representatives. By the 22d rule of that body, 
a member may call to order, but it is made the imperative 
duty of the Speaker to do so. The words are : 

"If any member, in speaking or otherwise, transgresses the 
rules of the House, the Speaker shall, or any member may, call 
to order," etc. 

It is perhaps to be regretted, if the Senate desires that its 
presiding officer shall perform this delicate and ungracious 
duty, that its rule had not been equally explicit with that of 
the House. The reason why Senators so seldom interfere 
by calling each other to order is, doubtless, because they fear 
that their motives may be misunderstood. They do not like 
to appear as voltmteers in the discharge of such an invidious 
duty. The same feelings must, to some extent, operate upon 
the Chair, unless his duty be palpable. But, upon mature 
reflection, I have come to the conclusion, though the au- 
thority be the same, yet that the duty may be more impera- 
tive upon the Chair than upon a Senator; and that, if the 
painful necessity shall hereafter arise, I shall feel boimd to 
discharge my duty accordingly. I shall endeavor to do it 
with the utmost impartiality and respect. I know how diffi- 
cult it is to determine what is and what is not in order — 
to restrain improper language, and yet not abridge the free- 
dom of debate. But all must see how important it is that 
the first departure from the strict rule of parliamentary 
decorum should be checked, as a slight attack, or even in- 
sinuation, of a personal character, often provokes a more 
severe retort, which brings out a more disorderly reply — 
each Senator feeling a justification in the previous aggres- 

There is, therefore, no point so proper to interpose for 
the preservation of order as to check the first violation of it. 

juomuss to Tma SMUArm. 

If, ID va$ HUDBty to do tfdl, I ibooM NOKtimes make a 
mutake, Z ttn h^py to knoir dut tiie Sante has the remedy 
in its own handt, and diat by an qipeal my error may be cor- 
rected willuiiit injnry to aiqr one. Or if I have wholly mis- 
taken 1117 da^ in this ddicate matter, ttie action of the 
Senate will aoon oooYince me of Oat fact, and in that event 
I thall dMerfnlly kave it to the diapoeition of the Senate. 
But I have an nndoobtbg confidence that, while I am ri^ 
I shall be fully sustained. 

I trust I ^all be pardoned for nnldi^ one or two aog- 
gesdoos on some points of minor inq>ort8noe. T^ bo^ 
has been so long and so justiy distingidshed for its digni^ 
and decormn, that I cannot bat iqipnhend that so 
on my part renders these remarla ne ce ssary. We all h 
diat many little irTq:tilarities may be ttricrated in a snuU 
body, that would cause much diswder in a large one. the 
Senate has increased from twenty-nx to six^ maidters. 
The natural teodeoqr of die increase of members is to rdax 
tiiedisc^line; so tiiat when fte strict obsemmoe of rules is 
most essential to tiie digniQr and comfort of die body, it b 
die most difficult to enforce it 

The second rule is a very salutary one, but perhaps too 
stringent to be always strictly observed in practice. It reads 
as follows: 

"No member shall speak to another, or otherwise interntpt 
the business of the Senate, or read any newspaper, while the 
jonmals or public papers are reading, or when any member it 
speakiDg in any debate." 

Mr. Jefferson, in his "Manual" (p. 140), which seems to 
be a code of common law for the regulation of all parlia- 
mentary bodies in this country, says that no one is to disturb 
another in his speech, etc., nor to pass between the 
Speaker and the speaking member. These are comparatively 
trifling matters ; and yet the rules and law of the Senate 
would seem to require that its presiding (^5cer should see 
them enforced. I trust, however, that it is only necessary 


to call attention to them, to insure their observance by every 

But a practice seems to have grown up of interrupting a 
Senator when speaking by addressing him directly, instead 
of addressing the Chair, as required by the rule. 

The "Manual" declares that it is a breach of order for 
one member to interrupt another while speaking, unless by 
calling him to order if he departs from it. It seems to me 
that the case should be a very urgent one, indeed, that can 
justify one member in interrupting another while speaking, 
and that all would find it to their advantage if this rule 
were more strictly enforced than it has been, and that in all 
cases the Senator rising to explain should address the Chair, 
as required by the rule. 

As presiding officer of the Senate, I feel that my duty 
consists in executing its will, as declared by its rules and by 
its practice. If those rules are too strict, it would be better 
to modify than violate them. But we have a conmion in- 
terest and feel a common pride in the order and dignity of 
this body ; and I therefore feel that I can appeal with con- 
fidence to every Senator to aid me in enforcing these salu- 
tary regulations.^ 

I. The Senate Journal records no other action taken by the Senate, on the 
above remarks, than to order them entered on the Journal and printed. It is mat* 
ter of record, however, that certain disorderly tendencies in the Senate were 
checked, and the rules more scrupulously observed, in consequence of Mr. Fill- 
more's remarks. 




JULY 10, 1850, TO MARCH 4, 1853 



JULY 10, 1850, TO MARCH 4, 1853 

The Messages and Proclamations of Millard Fillmore, 
during his term as President, are easy of access in print and 
need not be republished here. They can readily be consulted 
in Vol. V. of the "Messages and Papers of the Presidents," 
compiled by James D. Richardson, published by authority 
of Congress, 1900. The following calendar of them, how- 
ever, will be found useful in the present connection, for it 
indicates the range and character of subjects which came 
before Mr. Fillmore, and on which he wrote, while he was 
President. Many of the special Messages are mere formal 
memoranda stating that reports and documents are trans- 
mitted. Even in those cases, however, the subject-matter 
may be presumed to have received more or less of study 
from the Executive. On many of the matters indicated he 
wrote at length, and with his customary clearness and im- 




JtAr lO. R ffownwntfhi g ndMble mtMnia oA ^ dcsib of AmI- 
dent Zk1iu7 Tb^ot. 

Aug. 6. Tmuodtdv lettcts from the Govenxir of Tcxu^ tad 
ducnsnng the Mtdioii^ of the LcgiiUtare of tfau State 
to extend hs cml jnrUdictioD over nnocpintied coHft- 
tin on in BorAwcatera UaiiU; tbe dum Of Texu to 
tenitorr cut of the Rio Grande; the itatii* of Kor 
Mexico; and allied U^cs. [A long and im portaat con- 

8. Stvplemcntaiy to the meu»g/t of Augiut (A. 
Las. Infomiac Coocreu that it waa tbc wi*b of P ie aWt 
Tajlor'a Hnaij that hii rcsnina be buried xm KcatiKh j . 
[Tbe bodr of General Ta]4or wat taken from WaA- 
ingtoa to Loaiarflle, Ky., October «9, 185a] 

a. ^rat amnial metaage. [Piindpal topica diacoaaed: Tha 
appointing power of the Bxecative; conatntctioii of a 
ship canal betwecq the Atlantic and Padfi^ throoih 
Nicaragua; commerce with Giili; treaty with the IGiif 
of the Hawaiian Islands; adjustment of import duties; 
need of a mint in California; need of opening a line of 
communication between the Mississippi and the Pacific; 
extension of land laws to California, Utah and New 
Mexico; problems of the Mexican frontier; reductioa 
of domestic postage rates; need of various internal 
improvements ; recommending the establishment of an 
agricultural bureau.] 

13, Regarding the northern and western boundaries of Texas. 

Second annual message. [Principal topics discnsaed: 
Cuban filibustering operations of August, 1S51 ; trade 
reciprocity with Canada; the mission of Louis Kossutb 
and the case of the Hungarian prisoners in Turkey; 
advocating independence of Hawaii ; outbreaks on the 
Mexican frontier; Tehuantepec railroad enterprise; 
Panama railroad; commerce with China; the Batiou'i 
finances; relations with Texas; modification of the 


tariff ; need of an agricultural bureau ; need of improve- 
ments of harbors of the Great Lakes and seacoast; pro- 
tection of the southwestern frontier ; the Arctic expedi- 
tion of Lieut. DeHaven, in search of Sir John Franklin ; 
needs of the Navy; of the Postoffice and other Depart- 
ments; urging a revision of the Public Statutes of the 
United States; on the enforcement of existing laws 
relating to the return of fugitives from labor (so-called 
"Fugitive Slave law").] 


Jan. 19. Relative to payment of Mexican indemnity. 

20. Respecting recent political occurrences in France. 

Feb. 10. Respecting the attack on the United :5tates steamer Pro- 
metheus in the harbor of San Juan de Nicaragua by the 
British brig of war Express. 
10. Transmitting report of Thomas U. Walter, architect, for 

the extension of the Capitol. 
16. Relating to delays in completing the convention with 

Mar. I. Transmitting documents embodying rules and regulations 
for masters, officers and seamen of United States ves- 
sels at the free ports of China. 
4. Relating to erection of public buildings in the Territory 

of Minnesota. 
26. Regarding the "fraudulent abstraction" of papers relating 
to the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo. 

Apr. 19. Relating to the conflict among the authorities in the Ter- 
ritory of Oregon in regard to proper construction of 
Acts of Congress, affecting location and erection of 
public buildings. 

June II. On the disorders on the Rio Grande frontier. 

14. On claims of Spanish subjects in New Orleans, injured 
by the mob, consequent to the unlawful invasion of 
Cuba in August, 185 1. 

July 2. On the relief by Congress of Americans and others asso- 
ciated with them, lately imprisoned and pardoned by 

Dec. 6. Third annual message. [Principal topics discussed : Death 
of Daniel Webster; fisheries on the British- American 
coasts; affairs of Cuba; treaties and conventions with 
Central and South American States ; our growing inter- 
ests on the Pacific; the tariff; treaties with Indian 

W 9n c 

I tribes ; 

I '« I" 



tribes ; icmonl a< Ibt Scnlnaln: mtvej of the North- 
I<nn bowndiry; wamf ol At Rio Grande; the 
enibellUvWBt of fhe ckf of Wuhington ; reotganiu- 
tkm at tbe Hsnl Aodonr; rcMmrini recommendationi 
of tonaa nu Migw , and i 
widi tflUn of oAer Batiom.] 

[The wij pw M rf pottioa of Ati MeMtg^ rrlalim b> 
■laveiT, U prioted U the end of Aia Uat of Mfttiffi 



Jan. 17. Relatire to the cax of the naiel Amittad. 

18. Kdathc (o At faflnrc of effort* to tndnce Florida Ibdiani 
to mignte west of the Miiitwlpgi. 
Feb. 7. Relatirc to Sihcrica and commercial re d prodty wiA the 
Btitiah~Amencaii praviocca. 
g^ TfananittiiiB UeaL Hemdoo'i r^ott on die c^locttioB 

of the Taller trf the Amaaon and ha tnbntariea. 
i& Rdatioc to die tnteioceanic canl by the Nkaragna nwtc. 



Julj 15. Tnmmitting treaty between the United States and Pen. 

17. Relating to proclaniation by the military officer conunand- 
ing in New Mexico. 

17. Relating to coast survey, mouth of the Rio Grande and 

30. Transmitting for ratification a convention between the 
United States and Mexico for the extradition of fugi- 
tives from justice. 

23. Relating to a treaty with the Wyandott Indians. 

30. Relating to alleged stopping and search of American ves- 
sels on the high seas by the British. 
Aug. 2. Relating to the removal of Fort Polk. 

10. Transmitting results of investigations by Henry R. School- 
craft, relating to history and condition of Indian tribes 
in the United SUtes. 

24. Relating to commerce of the district of Brazos Santiago in 

a6. Relating to coast survey at mouth of the Rio Grande and 


Sept. 2. Relating to resignation of Edward C. Anderson, a lieu- 
tenant in the Navy. 

9. Relating to certain provisions of the treaties between the 
United States, China and the Ottoman Porte. 

g. Transmitting a copy of the constitution of New Mexico, 
with a digest of the votes for and against it. 

16. Relating to nomination of John Howard Payne as consul 

to Tunis. 
27. Transmitting papers relative to the Hungarian exiles. 
28; Relating to Lieut. Edward C. Anderson. 
Dec. 12. Transmitting report of Secretary of State on the African 
slave trade. 

17. Relative to creating additional grades of commissioned 

officers in the Army, and regarding civil functions of 
Army officers. 
30. Transmitting report of Secretary of State, and correspond- 
ence with the Austrian chargi d'affaires regarding the 
condition and prospects of the Hungarian people during 
their struggle for independence. 


Jan. 10. Regarding discipline of the Navy. 

Feb. 3. Transmitting report and papers relative to the possessory 
rights of the British Hudson's Bay Company in Oregon. 

12. Transmitting report of Secretary of State, and correspond- 

ance with Spain relative to the claim of the owners of 
the schooner Amistad for compensation on account of 
the liberation of negroes on board said vessel. 

13. Relating to drafts on the Treasury of the United States 

by Mexico on account of indemnity due that Govern- 
ment in persuance of the treaty of Guadaloupe Hidalgo. 

13. Relating to the British ship Albion, seized in Oregon 
for alleged violation of revenue laws. 

15. Relating to seizure of the Albion. 

15. Relating to taxation by New Grenada on United States 
citizens when in transitu across the Isthmus of Panama, 
and to the United States mail service at the Isthmus. 

19. Relating to the forcible resistance to the execution of the 
laws of the United States, in Boston. 

25. Transmitting a convention between the United States and 

Mexico for the protection of a transit way across the 
Isthmus of Tehuantepec. 

26. Relating to claims of certain citizens of Portugal. 


iirn to prisoners ap- 
tVKd by ^uiiib Mrtboritict M or near the island of 
CoBt09% iiid to prej6Ct0d 09™''™^ '^ Cuba- 
A la rdadea to 4iffiatltica bd we ai the British authoHtiei 
•nd Sn Salndor. 
Mir. 3. Trawmktim n^oit of dw SecnUiy ai Stele and dK»- 
Bcnta r et ^dn g forcible abdndkn of war citfa^ of 
the United State* from the Tenhory of New Madat 
and tdi co nv eyance within Ae limita o< te Modctt 
4. Renewing nomiitBtieiu pending before p reoed i in acMiMi 

of the Senate, 
to. Trantnutting report and correfpoadcnce wM die tWlcd 
Statei If inister at Conatantipople ■ — f^t*^ Ibe Hfceta- 
tioe of Koaanth and hia eompanietia. 
Dec IK Snbmittioi a treaty betweoi Ae United Statca and Cotta 

15. Rclatinf to the free naviptioa of tbe St. Lawrence, St 

Jcdm, and other riven, and to die free e Bj oy ui e nt of Ae 
British North Americas fisberie* by United Stataa dli- 
1$. Relatinc to the aeitore of die Am er i can cteamdiip Vio- 
methena by a Btititk Tend of war on Ae UoaqiAa 

16. In regard to imprisonment of John S. Thrasher at 

16. On the subject of a ship canal between the Atlantic and 
Pacific oceans. 


Jan, 3. Nominating Indian commissioners. 

6. In relation to certain donatimis in aid of the reconstruc- 
tion of the library of the Canadian Parliament. 
22. Regarding claims of citizens of California for services 
rendered and (or money and property furnished in 1846 
and 1847 in the conquest of that country. 
Feb. 9, Transmitting a treaty between the United States and the 
Republic of Peru. 

12. Relating to the mission to Eastern Asia of Mr. Balistier, 

late consul at Singapore. 

13. Transmitting treaties with Indian tribes. 

16. Transmitting a treaty of commerce and navigation with 


Mar. 29. Relating to the extension of the Capitol. 

29. Relating to appointment of George C. Laurason as collec- 
tor of customs for the district of New Orleans. 
Apr. 8. Relating to the relations between the United States and 

May I. Transmitting a convention between the United States and 
the Free and Hanseatic Republics of Hamburg, Bremen 
and Lubeck. 
5. Concerning relations between the United States and Guate- 
29. Regarding claims of certain citizens of Texas against the 
Mexican Government. 
June I. Transmitting eighteen treaties negotiated with Indian 
tribes in California. 
II. Transmitting for ratification a convention between the 

United States and the Sultan of Borneo. 
22. On the subject of the apprehension and imprisonment by 
the Austrian authorities of Rev. Charles L. Brace, an 
American citizen. 

22. Transmitting a convention for the mutual delivery of 

criminals, fugitives from justice, in certain cases between 
the United States on the one part and Prussia and other 
States of the Germanic Confederation on the other. 

23. Relative to the withdrawal of Mr. Hulsemann, chargi 

d'affaires from Austria to the United States. 

26. Regarding mutual extradition of fugitives from justice in 
the United States and Mexico. 

26. Regarding relations between the United States, Great 
Britain, Nicaragua and Costa Rica. 

26. Respecting proposed propositions of the King of the Sand- 
wich Islands to convey the sovereignty of those islands 
to the United States. 
July I. Relating to unauthorized publication in public journals 
regarding pending negotiations between the British Min- 
ister and the Secretary of State for the adjustment of 
certain claims to territory between Nicaragua, Costa 
Rica and the Mosquito Indians. 

[This publication roused Mr. Fillmore out of his ac- 
customed serenity. He wrote to the Senate: "I have 
caused immediate inquiry to be made into the origin of 
this highly improper publication, and shall omit no 
proper or legal means for bringing it to light. Whether 


it shall toni Old to have been caused by unfaithfulness 
or brcMli of <Stlkr in any officer of this Govemment, high 
or loKf, or b]r x TioUtion of diplomatic confidence, the 
appropriate rtmtSf will be immadbtdj t f ti o^ n 
being due not only ta (baa GoreniBwiiC but to olhw 
Goveramoitt. ... An occ u r r ence ol dua Uad OB 
not but weaken Ae faith ao deiinble t» be g r m twd 
between diffenitt Government! and to faijnre the im|o- 
liationi now pending, and it meritt die a evereat tcffo- 

2. Transmittinc a trca^ with the Qnchmw ontiaB at 

36. Relating to die boondaiT line between tbe Uidted Staica 

and Mexieo. 

37. Respecting a rigfat-of-«nur acrow the bdunm o< Tduiaa- 

aik Upon the ttdiject of the American and Uedcan faona^ w y 

Ang. a Regarding fidieriea en the ooaiti of firttiih VotA Annett 
can poeieiaiona. 

10. Regarding relations with San Salvador. 
I 12. In regard to controversies between the consul of the 
United States at Acapulco and the Mexican authorities. 

13. In regard to relations between the United States, Nicara- 

gua and Costa Rica. 

14. Declining to give information regarding the alleged propo- 

sition of the King of the Sandwich Islands to transfer 

his sovereignty to the United States. 
21. Transmitting documents concerning the Ltdjos Islands. 
37. Transmitting documents relating to service of Mr. R. M. 

Walsh as special agent of the United States in the island 

of San Domingo. 
27. Transmitting report relative to the Lobos Islands. 
S7. Relating to Mr. R. M. Walsh. 
37. Transmitting a convention relative to commerce and lUTi- 

gation between the United States and the Netheriands. 
37. Transmitting a convention between the United States and 

Belgium, for regulating the ri^t of inheriting and 

acquiring property. 


31. Relating to foreign postal arrangements and cheap ocean 
Dec. 7. Transmitting a treaty between the United States and Uru- 
8. Relating to criminals, fugitives from justice. 


Jan. 4. In regard to a new British colony in Central America. 

4. Relating to Cuba. 

12. Relating to investment of funds of the Chickasaw Indians. 

12. Relating to the Mexican boundary commission. 

17. Relating to the imprisonment of the United States consul 

and other American citizens in the castle at Acapulco. 
21. Relative to Central America. 

24. Relative to the award of the Emperor Louis Napoleon of 

France in the case of the brig General Armstrong. 

27. Relative to Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and the territory 

claimed by the Mosquito Indians. 
Feb. 3. Transmitting a new draft of the convention of 1850 with 
the Swiss Confederation. 
3. Relating to the postal convention between the United 

States and Great Britain. 
14. Relating to the extradition of fugitives from justice — 
convention between the United States and Belgium. 

18. Transmitting convention between the United States and 

Great Britain for the establishment of international 

19. Relative to fisheries on the coasts of Florida. 

21. Relative to a water supply for Washington and George- 

21. In reference to the reinvestment of moneys belonging to 
the Chickasaw Indians. 

23. Transmitting a convention between the United States 
and Great Britain for the adjustment of claims of citi- 
zens of those countries. 

25. Transmitting a convention between the United States and 

the Emperor of the French. 

26. Relative to an extraordinary session of the Senate. 

28. In regard to fisheries on the coasts of British North 

American provinces. 
28. Transmitting a treaty with the Apache Indians in New 



special messages to the house of 

July I& TrmMtaMag infomtfioa rdrtbc to tbe British s 

Ike iibad of Tlgre, *te Ac State of Nicaragua"- 
nctad to tmO, In the GoU of PooKca, in the State of 

9. Rdktive to jnomiaai of Indkn of the United Stalci 
upon uie popnution of the -Mesoon fninticf. 

Jan. 3. Aa to compomtioa for extn help In the ofliee of At 

AttonuT GcaenL 
14. At to rdMtre nnk, precedence and coounand wmoag of- 

ficen of the Anny end Ntvy. 
liar. I. TnuumittinE o^nkau of tbe Attorsey»-Gener>L 
Dec 33. RehtiTc to the oaidnikMi of a. treatr between Spdn, 

Ftaoce and Great Britain b reqiect to die iiland of 

' as. In regard to the impriaooiBent, trial and aentence of John 

S. Thraaber in tbe iaiand of Cuba. 

Jan. 3. In relation to certain donations in aid of the reconstmc- 
tion of the librair of the Caiudian ParliamenL 
9. Transmitting infonnation in regard to the Territory of 

12. Relating to a circular issued by the Secretary of State for 
the British Colonial Department relative to the employ- 
ment in the British West India colonies of free blades 
and hherated slaves from the United States. 

16. Relating to affairs of the Territory of Utah. 

33. Relating to the Mexiian indemnity. 

38. Relating to the seiiure and confiscation of the hark 
Georgiana of Maine, and the brig Susan Loud of Massa- 
chusetts, by Spanish or Cuban authorities. 

28. Relating to claims of citizens of the United States on the 
Government of Portugal. 
Feb. 12. Relating to the seizure of the brig Arve at Jeremie, St 
Domingo, by Haytien authorities. 

18. Respecting an alleged misunderstanding between Capt 
Long of the United States Navy and Lonis Kossuth. 


Idar. 4. Relative to accounts of Prosper M. Wetmore, late Navy 
agent in the city of New York. 

25. Transmitting documents relating to the encouragement of 

the emigration of colored laborers from the United 
States to the British West Indies. 

26. Relative to the seat of government of the Territory of 


Apr. 6. Transmitting documents on the best mode of improving 
the navigation of the Ohio River at the Falls of Louis- 

July 13. Relative to the policy of the Government in regard to the 
island of Cuba. 

Aug. 9. On fisheries, and the dispatch of the U. S. steam frigate 
Mississippi to the fishing-grounds on the coasts of Brit- 
ish North America, to protect the rights of American 


Jan. 19. Relative to the claims on Spain in the cases of the bark 
Georgiana and brig Susan Loud. 
24. In reference to claims of custom-house officers for addi- 
tional pay. 

27. In reference to the compensation of weighers and gangers. 



Nov. I. Suspending and discontinuing tonnage and impost duties 
on vessels and goods from Chile, to continue during 
a reciprocal exemption on the part of Chile, in regard to 
vessels and goods from the United States. 

Dec. 13. Declaring in full force an act of Congress of Sept. 9, i?50, 
said act relating to the northern and western boundaries 
of Texas ; stipulating the cession by Texas to the United 
States of all claim to territory exterior to those limits; 
relinquishment of all claim by Texas on the United 
States for liability for the debt of Texas; the pajrment 
to Texas by the United States of $10,000,000 in stock, 


Feb. 18. Calling on civil and military officers, and all citizens in 
the vicinity of Boston, to resist lawless violence and 


help restore to the authorities a fugitive slave, unlaw- 
fully taken from the custody of officers on Feb. 15th 

Apr. 25. Warning the public against violation of our laws and 
national obligations, on the occasion of an armed inva- 
sion into Cuba by foreigners and others from the United 
States (the Lopez expedition). 

Oct. 22. Warning the public against participation in a military 
expedition into Mexico, a country at peace with the 
United States. 


Feb. 25. Convening an extraordinary session of the Senate. 

26. To make public a commercial convention between the 
United States and the Netherlands. 



May 17. To the Secretary of War, announcing that the President 
has authorized Hugh Maxwell, collector at New York, 
to arrest any unlawful expedition that may attempt to 
fit out in his district, and calling for issuance of proper 
instructions to military officers. 

June 29. To the heads of the several Departments, announcing the 
death of Henry Clay, and suggesting that the Depart- 
ments be closed for the day. 

Sept. 13. To Gen. Joseph G. Totten, regarding water supply for 
Washington and Georgetown. 

Oct. 25. To the acting Secretary of State, and heads of other 
Departments, announcing the death of Daniel Webster, 
Secretary of State, eulogizing him and suggesting suit- 
able action. 





DECEMBER 6, 1852 



The suppressed portion of President Fillmore's annual 
message to Congress, on the 6th of December, 1852, relating 
to slavery, is as follows* : 

This is the last time that I ever expect to address my fel- 
low-citizens generally, from any official position. There is 
one subject vitally affecting the perpetuity of our institutions, 
and the prosperity of our common country, upon which, in 
taking my final leave of public life, I feel it my duty briefly 
to express my sentiments. I know that the subject is a 
delicate one. I know that the difference of sentiment — ^not 
to say conflict of opinion — which pervades the Republic, 
forbids me to hope for anything like a unanimous concur- 
rence in my views ; and prudence might therefore admonish 
me not to express them. But I feel that I owe it to myself 
— that I owe it to the country which gave me birth, and 
which has honored me with its highest trusts — frankly and 
fearlessly to take my share of the responsibility which 
naturally attaches to my position by placing on record, now 
and forever, my views on the subject of slavery. 

I. Here reprinted from a pamphlet without title-page, or any indication 
of place or date except "Thomas, typographer/' on the cover, which fixes it 
as a Buffalo imprint. The cover-title is as follows: "The suppressed portion 
of President Fillmore's Annual Message to Congress, on the 6th December, 
1852, relating to slavery." Although suppressed, it evidently was not entirely 
withheld from the public. Newspaper allusions to it are to be found, though 
the present editor has not seen it elsewhere in print in its entirety, nor do 
the authors of histories embracing the time of Mr. Fillmore's Presidency 
appear to have knowledge of it. 



In doing so, however, I shall fed compelledt from the 
brief space which can be devoted to any one subject, to caor 
fine mysdf to its political aspect, leaving tiie moral and re- 
ligions views of tibis great question to tiie casuist and the 
divine. And even as a political question, affecting the social 
organization, my views must necessarily be limited to the 
inquiry, whether its existence among us is a blessing or an 
evil, and, if an evil, whether tiiere are any means by wUdi 
the country may hope to be relieved from it Were thfe 
question now for the first time presented, whether slavery 
should be introduced into the Republic, there would, beyond 
all doubt, be an overwhelming majority against it But it is 
here. It was planted by the mother country ; maintained bj 
her laws, and protected by her arms. It had a feeble growtfi 
in the Northern colonies, and was easily eradicated after 
the Revolution ; but its roots struck deep in Sou&em soil, 
and its luxuriant strength defied the storm of freedom whid 
swq>t over the land in 1776. It is now manifest ttiat, if it 
shaU be prostrated by any external force, it will bury be- 
neath its sturdy trunk and falling branches the millions who 
have taken shelter beneath its spreading shade. Let us, 
then, look at it as it is — see what has been its operation upon 
our social organization heretofore, and thence infer what 
are to be its effects hereafter. 

In 1620 the first slaves were brought to the country which 
now constitutes the United States. Frpm what we know of 
the degradation and suffering of the native races of Africa, 
it is hardly to be doubted that their condition was greatly 
improved by the transfer. Here was the commencement of 
African slavery in this country. For more than two hun- 
dred and thirty years it has formed a part of our social 
system. It has "grown with our growth and strengthened 
with our strength," and it has left among us as its fruits, 
according to the computation of the census of 1850, 3,203,867 
slaves, and 428,051 free people of color — ^being a fraction 
more than seven slaves to one free person of color through- 
out the whole Union. Our entire population, free and slave, 
was by the same census 20,191,088, being a fraction more 


than six free persons, including black and white, to every 
slave. These are the elements which now constitute our 
nation; and in looking into futurity to see what such ele- 
ments are likely to produce, the nation must be regarded 
in its corporate capacity and be considered immortal. It 
may change its form of government, as it has done before; 
but this alone will not materially change its constituent ele- 
ments. It may enlarge its dominion by the addition of slave 
territory, but such an addition is likely to bring with it more 
slaves in proportion to the free population than now exist 
in the slaveholding States, and would consequently afford 
no relief for this class of our population. The slave popu- 
lation may be scattered over a broader surface, perhaps, or 
it may occupy other districts than those which now confine 
it ; but by a law of its condition, of which the operation is 
now apparent, it manifestly must continue to retire from its 
old habitations as it extends toward new settlements. What- 
ever changes may take place, slave territory is more likely 
to become free by the extinction of slavery where it now 
exists, than to increase by the establishment of it where it 
does not. 

Assuming, then, that slavery hereafter is to be restricted 
to a territory not greater than that which it now occupies, 
and that both the free and slave population will increase as 
fast for the next fifty years as they have done for the past 
fifty, the whole population of the slave States in 1900, less 
than fifty years hence, will amount to 35,636,045; and at 
the end of the next succeeding half century, 1950, it will 
amount to 131,425,376. Causes not now in operation, or the 
effect of which cannot now be calculated, may change this 
anticipated result; but if it should be realized, then it is 
necessary to observe that the whole area of the slave States, 
exclusive of Texas, is estimated at 617,131 square miles, 
and that of Texas at 237,321 square miles, making an aggre- 
gate of slave territory of 854,452 square miles. If the popu- 
lation of only fifty years hence should be settled upon this 
^ggreg3Lte territory, it would average a fraction less than 
forty-two to each square mile ; and in 1956 it would amount 


to a fraction less than 154 to each square mile ; whereas ttie 
whole population of Virg^ia, black and white, averages bat 
a fraction more than twenty-three to each square mile ; and 
that of Great Britain, including all its large cities and im- 
mense manufacturing establishments, averages only two 
hundred and thirty- four to the square mile. By the contem- 
plation of such a result, it becomes necessary to inquire 
what is to become of the population in the slave States, for 
it is clear that the two races cannot long continue to subsist 
together. One hundred years will not elapse before a contest 
must commence between them for the means of subsistence, 
which will assuredly end in the destruction of the weaker 
party. It is only necessary to look at the pauperism of 
Great Britain to read our future history. With resources 
beyond those of any other nation, she sends forth annually 
hundreds of thousands of emigrants to seek food and rai- 
ment in distant climes. 

But this view of the case presupposes a continued state 
of peace, or at least as much of that blessing in proportion as 
we have enjoyed for the last fifty years. But a civil war, or 
a servile insurrection, or even a foreign war, may suddenly 
change the whole aspect, and hasten a crisis which time 
alone would seem to render inevitable. What effect such 
wars might have upon the institution of slavery no human 
sagacity can foresee. 

But there is another consideration connected with this 
subject which no friend of this Union can look upon without 
anxiety and dread. I allude to the hostility to slavery which 
is manifested by some portion of the population of the free 
States, and its threatened aggressions upon the slave 
States, and the apprehension and consequent efforts on their 
part to defend themselves against it. The number in the 
free States who could be induced to disregard the guaran- 
tees of the Constitution, and attempt the abolition of slaver>' 
in other States, is comparatively small. Yet it is not to be 
disguised that their constant agitation has increased the 
prejudice of the North against that institution, and alarmed 
the South for its safety. This constitutes a disturbing ele- 


ment in the harmonious action of this Government, which 
naturally increases our anxiety for the future. I speak not 
of the merits or demerits of the sentiment in which this agi- 
tation originates, but look only to its effects upon the body 
politic; and, for all the purposes of this argument, it may 
be conceded that the g^eat majority who entertain this senti- 
ment are entirely sincere and honest in their convictions; 
but this sincerity, so far from lessening, actually increases 
the danger. 

But, independent of this, the natural rivalry between the 
slave-holding and free States is unavoidable. It commenced 
with the formation of the Constitution. At that time it was 
chiefly a question of power. The Representatives in Con- 
gress were to be apportioned among the States according to 
their population, and the electors of President and Vice- 
President in each were to be equal in number to its Senators 
and Representatives. The slave-holding States, for the pur- 
pose of increasing their representation in Congress and tfieir 
electors of President and Vice-President, insisted that their 
slaves were persons, and should be counted as such in appor- 
tioning the Representatives among the States ; but the free 
States insisted that they were property, liable to taxation, 
but not entitled to representation in Congress. The differ- 
ence was finally compromised, by providing in the Constitu- 
tion that five slaves should be equal to three free persons, 
and then that the "Representatives and direct taxes should 
be apportioned among the several States according to their 
respective numbers." Thus was this question settled, giving 
according to the last apportionment, twenty Representatives 
in Congress, and the same number of Presidential electors 
to the slave States, based upon their slave population. If 
the principle contended for by the free States at that time 
had been adopted, the slave-holding States would have been 
denied the whole representation now derived from the enu- 
meration of their slaves. If the principle now announced by 
many in the free States, that slaves are to be regarded as 
persons, had been adopted, the slave-holding States would 
at the present time be entitled to a representation of thirty- 


one instead of twenty members, based upon their slave popu- 
lation. Notwitfistanding tibe mode of apportionment fimallf 
determined upon, tiie free States have always had a majority 
of Representatives in Congress, and a corr e s p o n d in g num- 
ber of Presidential electors; and for sixty years past, until 
tiie admission of California; tiie number of free and sbie 
States has been kept equal by admitting alternately into the 
Union a free and a slave State, and as each State was repre- 
sented by two Senators only, tiie consequence has been that 
tiie Senate has been equally divided between the free and 
slave-holding States. 

The contest for supremacy between the NorA and the 
Soutii growing out of tfiis question, whidi was t emp o r a rily 
settled by tiie adoption of the Constitution, was le ne wcd on 
tiie admission of Missouri as a State, and was agam com- 
promised by admitting her as a slave State, and ezdndiqg 
slavery from certain other parts of our ler r ito i- y. Again 
the agitation of it was permitted to slumber for some fifteen 
years, when, without any apparent contest for political power 
which had marked its previous recurrence, it displayed itsdf 
at the North by a few fanatics in the open declaration of war 
against slavery, however guaranteed, accompanied with 
demonstrations of a purpose to abolish it in the States and 
Territories where it existed. The South took the alarm, and 
sought to strengthen itself by the acquisition of additional 
slave territory. After a long and fearful struggle it suc- 
ceeded, by annexing Texas ; but even this apparent success 
brought with it a war that resulted in the acquisition of new 
territory which will doubtless add more than enough free 
States to the Union to counterbalance all the slave States 
that will ever be formed from Texas. These last acquisi- 
tions stirred up a sectional controversy between the Nordi 
and the South that shook this Republic to its centre. But 
again the controversy has been fortunately compromised, by 
admitting California as a free State and giving to the 
South the full benefit of that constitutional provision for 
the rendition of fugitive slaves, and by agreeing to admit 
into the Union any other new States formed from the re- 


cently acquired territory, with or without slavery, as the 
people of each State shall determine on its application for 

We perceive, therefore, that this element in our polity 
has been a constant source of irritation and controversy; 
that every acquisition of new territory, if not stimulated by 
a desire to increase the power of one section of the Union 
as against the other, is viewed with increasing jealousy by 
one side or the other. It is manifest from all our past his- 
tory that this agitation is to be renewed with increased vio- 
lence as often as any new State shall apply for admission 
whose Constitution tolerates slavery. 

When the several colonies declared themselves free and 
independent States, and each adopted its own Constitution, 
it is clear that it had the sole control over the question of 
slavery within its limits. The Union of the States was 
formed by the establishment of a General Government, to 
which certain powers were given; but the Federal Consti- 
tution expressly declared that "the powers not delegated to 
the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it 
to the States, were reserved to the States respectively, or to 
the people." / This power over the institution of slavery in 
the several States not having been conferred by the Consti- 
tution upon the United States, nor prohibited to the States, 
was consequently reserved to them, and they alone can pro- 
vide for its abolition whenever they may deem it expedient 
and proper. Congress has no power over the subject of abo- 
lition. Yet it is not to be disguised that the avowed aboli- 
tionists in the free States, regardless of the sacred obliga- 
tions of the Constitution, are prepared to do everything in 
their power to abolish slavery in the several States where it 
exists. Yet so signally have they failed to produce any result 
favorable to their declared object, that all their efforts, thus 
far, have only tended to rivet the chains of slavery, and to 
deprive the bondman of many indulgences which, before the 
era of this mischievous effort, had been cheerfully accorded 
to him by his master. 


m svmtBsssD raws oh slavi 

The nusdiTcctn snd pcnucioiit mm oi nu vbiuiUbmIb 
Mct bu tcaqited tfie itarc to ibnae Us prmk«M, and omb- 
pdled fait muter, far hit own secnrt^. to ahridke Acol tb 
. oouvioce lu of ttds, it it ooljr sccenuy to ncnr ID diB net 
ttiat prior to the conmienoeownt of this pofitical ai^tHiai k 
1835 for ttw iboiition of skvei?, the laws of most of te 
Statet oppowd no obiticle to the tnttractkn of alsvtt 1m 
readily md writing, nor fothtde tlietr mamumarioB wt 
l^euure. But now, to prevent semle nuuiieutiani, ftt 
danger of whidi is grea^ enhanced by sodi a degree of 
cdnotioo as mi|^ render the slave popaktioii aceeaailite to 
ttw incendiary publications of abcrfitianists, tfw ii i tU iic lk tt of 
ttw slave m rcadii^ and writing is, in screral of the StMn, 
hod under a severe interdict. Andaaa ireeMackpopotatioB 
BM been fobnd to contribute to uie saine ^yrgienswtt w oft* 
tsrbanee, uw power of manumission has been ciruunacnblB 
t^conditioatwhidi greatly restrict its exerdte. ThtantsA 
returns of die census which faave been made dnring ibe latt 
half century, aooordingly show tiiat the free bhdci atlWi 
die last ten years have increased at a rate less dian dema 
per cent, i^iile for die ten years from i8ao to 1830 tfaqt 
increased at the rate of more than thirty-six per cent ; and 
for the ten years from 1830 to 1840 — during which time this 
abolition movement had but partially produced its baneful 
eiTects — it may also be seen that the increase was a fraction 
over twenty per cent. ; yet, during all this time from 1800 
to 1850, slavery went on with an almost uniform increase, 
averaging more than twen^-nine per cent, for every ten 
years. This is a most truthful but sad exhibition, as shown 
by figures and facts, of the injurious effects of political 
abolition upon the slave himself, independently of all the 
injury which it has done the country in stirring up strife 
between brethren of the same great family, and endangering 
the perpetuity of the Union itself. 

These facts warrant the conclusion that slavery must, in 
less than half the time that has elapsed since its introduc- 
tion into this country, overwhelm the slave States with its 
numbers, unless something be done to check its increase; 


and that it will give birth to a conflict of races with all the 
lamentable consequences which must characterize such a 
strife. This terrible event may be precipitated, as it was in 
St. Domingo, by the well-meant but indiscreet and fatal 
poUcy of foreign interference to abolish slavery. It must be 
apparent that the nation is fast approaching that horrid gulf 
the danger of which is not to be lessened — ^but, on the con- 
trary, rendered more destructive — ^by refusing to give it a 
timely and dispassionate consideration. The terrific scenes 
of St Domingo are sooner or later to be reenacted here, 
imless something be done to avert it. When that war com- 
mences it will doubtless end, not as in St. Domingo, in the 
total destruction of the white, but in the utter extermination 
of the black race. I need not say that, before this is accom- 
plished, the nation must wade through seas of blood, and 
the helpless and the innocent fall victims to the most cruel 
of wars — ^a civil war — a war of races, embittered with the 
ferocity and malignity peculiar to a servile war. These are 
the impending dangers of slavery which invoke the gravest 
deliberation of the nation, and invite the wise and the good 
\of every section to inquire and resolve what is best to be 
none to provide against evils not the less deserving of our 
attention because they are yet remote. 

I am satisfied that all unsolicited interference with slavery 
from other States or other countries will but aggravate the 
evil. It is a law of htunan nature, as universal as the 
instincts and pride of man, that no family, municipality. 
State, or nation, ever did or ever will tolerate the unasked 
intervention of a foreign power in reference to its own do- 
mestic policy. To attempt it, is ever regarded as an indig- 
nity and an insult, and the officious intermeddler is invari- 
ably repelled with resentment. Whatever, therefore, is done 
to rid the country of this evil must be done chiefly by the 
slave States themselves. They must first appreciate the 
danger, indicate the remedy, and lead the way; and then 
the free States and the General Government can aid them. 
But all efforts from the free States to force abolition upon 
the slave States, or to dictate the mode by which, or the 


time whoi, it ir Id be aeennpliiiied* are worse Ihaii 

es Ihqr tend to cndingef ewtry^Uog ibtA 

ISbaty, and die pmaoit of happineaa^ to tiie wiite maa^ or 

lliat can poeaibfy benefit tibe shve Unudf . 

There is anodier qocs t ioii ooonectsd wtik this wUcfc 
des s nrcs coosidtfatioo, andtiiat is, tiie oooditloB and pn» 
pacts of the free people of color. It is not to be dbpdsed 
tint flieir ootiditkm and Aeir prospects are alike dep lo iai h . 
As tbey become dangerous in tibe slave States ibef wffl be 
expdled by rigorous enactments; for sdf -preservation 
knows no law but necessity. Will tiie free States consent Id 
be burdened witii sudi a population Ifaat must nrceiflarBjy 
fin Ibeir poor-houses and penitentiaries widi tfie mfottn- 
nate» tfie he^less, and tlie vicious? It cannot be cap e c te d ; 
•and one State has abready exduded tfiem by a oonatitoilldttBl 
provision. But even if they were admitted, thqr nmst soon 
come into competition for subsistence with the white maa, 
m a climate more congenial to tibe latter, and Ibej cannot 
succeed The very fsct that then- increase, ^nt^htMng fjjgnogit 
manumitted, and fugitives, for the last ten years, haa baea 
less tfian eleven per cent, while that of the slave populaliaiB 
which has no addition by immigration or otherwise except 
the natural increase, has been more than twenty-eight per 
cent., would seem to be conclusive proof that the free black 
in this country is not, upon the whole, as well off as the slave. 
Mantunission, therefore, without colonization, cannot benefit 
the black, while it would create a worthless population that 
would ruin the South, and could hardly be endured at the 

Thus having stated the evil, I am bound to offer my 
views of the remedy. This I do with unfeigned diffidence, 
and with a most sincere declaration that I will cheerfully 
concur in any other constitutional mode of relief whidi 
Congress may see fit to adopt. But after the most anxious 
and mature consideration of this perplexing question in all 
its bearings, I confess that I see no remedy but by colonizing 
the free blacks, either in Africa or the West Jndies, or both. 
This, it appears to me, is all that G>ngress can do. It can* 


not abolish slavery, it can only invite emancipation by re- 
moving the free black from his dangerous proximity to the 
slave. But this would, beyond all question, offer a strong 
inducement to mantunission, and would enable many to 
emancipate their slaves who are desirous of doing so, but 
are restrained by the laws of their States, which forbid 
emancipation unless the slave be removed beyond its boun- 
daries. Such persons would thus be enabled to gratify their 
benevolent wishes, at the same time that it would be left 
entirely to the slave-holding States' themselves to determine 
when manumission should be permitted, or slavery abolished. 

This is where the Constitution has left this perplexing 
subject, and I am convinced that it is where the peace of the 
country requires that it should remain. But the bare re- 
moval of the free blacks would be a blessing to them, and 
would relieve the slave and free States from a wretched 
population, that must ever be kept in a state of degradation 
by the prejudice of color and race, whether they reside in 
the slave or free States. There can be no well-grounded 
hope for the improvement of either their moral or social con- 
dition, until they are removed from a humiliating sense of 
inferiority in the presence of a superior race, and are enabled 
to feel the wholesome stimulus of a social equality. 

Assuming, then, that colonization is the true remedy, is 
it practicable? It appears by the census of 1850 that there 
were 428,051 free persons of color in the United States; 
and the annual increase of the slave population for the last 
ten years has averaged 71,673. It is therefore manifest, 
that if emigration could take place at the rate of 100,000 per 
annum, that would soon remove the present free colored 
population, and not only prevent the increase of the slave 
population, but constantly diminish it, and at last either wipe 
it out entirely, or reduce it to such an inconsiderable num- 
ber that there would be no danger or inconvenience in its 
emancipation, when its place should be supplied by free 
labor, as it doubtless would be eventually by emigration 
from Asia, which has already commenced in California. 
But to accomplish this, it must be a national work; and I 


know of no morte aiefol purpose to mbkh a portion of Ae 
pidblic rcvcnoct ooold be devoted Iban diis* 

Apoofding to the prke now paid bj the Coloniciitiott So- 
ciety for trttiqwrtiiig cmignusts to Liberia, jj^oooyooo wiB 
remove icofioo, and ^a/ioojooo win subsist Aem for sis 
monflis after tlieir arrival at Liberia; and of course the ck- 
pense would be modi less for tfiose wbidi should e mjgiat s 
to the West Indies. And should gold be di scove red in tlie 
mountains of Africa, as it has been in California and Ana- 
tralia» of which tibere is eveiy indication from the amount 
gaAored in Ae streams, it would greadjr facilitate die pto- 
cess of colonization* 

It is true that tiiis must be the work of many years, not 
to say centuries, for it can only progress as die slave-holding 
States, who are diiefly interested, shall find it for ttieir ad- 
vantage to encourage emancipation. It cannot be expect ed 
that a social evil like this, which has been accumulating fqt 
more than two hundred years, and b now intertwined with 
all die industrial pursuits of one-half of the States of the 
Umon, can be eradicated in a day. Its increase has been 
insensible, and its decrease should be so gradual as to create 
no shock. But it cannot be commenced too soon for die good 
of the country; for the rational philanthropist will see in 
its gradual accomplishment the only sure mode of relieving 
the country from this increasing evil without violence and 
bloodshed, and instead of joining in the fanaticism of aboli- 
tion, he will patiently await its fulfillment ; and the devout 
Christian, who has longed for the conversion of Africa, and 
mourned over its heathen idolatry and degradation, will sec 
in these Christian slaves, emancipated and returned to their 
own country, the true missionaries to Africa, and recognize 
in this whole transaction the mysterious wisdom of an All- 
wise Being, who by these means will bring benighted Africa 
to a knowledge of the Gospel. 





YEARS 1849 TO 1853 


The following letters were written by Mr. Fillmore while 
he was Vice-President and President, chiefly to the heads of 
Departments. The sources from which they have been 
copied for this publication are indicated in small type, fol- 
lowing each letter. In the great majority of cases, the orig- 
inals are wholly in Mr. Fillmore's handwriting. 

The editor's quest for the oflicial correspondence of Mr. 
Fillmore, as Vice-President and President, was prosecuted 
at the various Departments at Washington which were in 
existence during Mr. Fillmore's terms of office; at the 
Library of Congress, and in a few other depositories, as 
duly noted. The War Department, following its usual 
course, refused access to its archives. Nothing was found 
in the Patent Office, nor in the files of the Postoffice De- 
partment. President Fillmore's letters to the Secretary of 
the Treasury for the most part relate to appointments, are 
short and usually of a formal routine character. A brief 
syllabus of them is appended, which it is believed will suffi- 
ciently serve the purpose of the present compilation. 

Numerous other letters written by Mr. Fillmore, while 
Vice-President or President, but which are not strictly 
official, will be found in a succeeding group of his writings 
in this collection. 





Capitol, Dec. 27, 1849. 

Dear sir : I have the honor to enclose you a letter from 
Mr. John Hollister, who is a highly respectable merchant 
and ship-owner of Buffalo, wanting a permit from the 
British Govt, to pass certain vessels through the St. Law- 
rence to the Ocean. Will you do me the favor to inform me 
how such a permit can be obtained. 

Very respectfully, 

Millard Fillmore. 
Hon. J. M. Clayton, 

Secy. State. 

Department of State. 

Endorsed: "Reed 28 Dec. '49, Ansd 29th Dec. '49." Enclosure mentioned 
is not found. 


Jany. 10, 1850. 
To THE Secy, of State. 

My dear Sir: I have read and herewith return Mr. 
Harris' despatch of the 24th of Oct. (No. 55). 

Would it not be well to bring this matter to the notice of 
the Argentine Minister here, and intimate to him very de- 
cidedly that we could not longer suffer our appeals to his 



Government for justice to be treated with silent contempt 
or protracted evasion ? Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmo&e. 

Webster collectioii. Library of Congress. 


Washington, Jany. ii, 1850. 

Sir: I have the honor to enclose you two communica- 
tions which I have just received from Com. [William D.] 
Salter in reference to the reinstatement of Charles S. Bell 
as a midshipman in the Navy. 

His application places me in a situation of some delicacy, 
as I wish to oblige him if I can, but have doubts about the 
propriety of saying a word in a case like the present. I by 
no means wish to interfere with the discipline of the Navy, 
even in the most remote degree. But if it can be done, 
without producing mischief to the service, I should be much 
gratified if the order dismissing Mr. Bell could be so far 
modified as to operate only as a postponement of his time 
for examination, or in any other way short of his expulsion. 

I have no acquaintance with the young gentleman, and 
have only been introduced to his father. But I do not now 
intercede in favor of the son at the instance of either of 

I have the honor to be, Sir, 

Yrs. respectfully, Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 

A statement of the case and Commodore Salter's letter are enclosed, but 
the Secretary of the Navy declined to reinstate Mr. Bell. Mr. Fillmore's letter 
is endorsed: "Answer, I decline to reinstate him. Also send report of the 
Board in reference to his case. VV. B. P." 


Washington, Apl. 15, 1850. 
Hon. Jno. M. Clayton, 

Secy, of State. 

Dr. Sir : I have the honor to enclose you a letter from 
Wynkoop Packard, Esq., a respectable lawyer of the City 


of New York. If anything can be done for the relief of 
his client I shall be gratified if you will take the proper steps 
to have it accomplished. Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Department of State. 

Endorsed: "Reed 17 April, Answered 19th April." 

Wynkoop Packard's client referred to in above was Ramon Montaloo, a 
Cuban by birth but a naturalised dtixen of the United States, who was seised 
by order of the Captain General of Cuba when on the steamship Georgia about 
leaving Havana. The enclosure giving these and other details is with the letter 
of Fillmore. Packard's letter te of April 13th. 


On July 9th Mr. Fillmore received formal notification, 
through the Cabinet, of President Taylor's death. He re- 
plied as follows : 

Washington, July 9, 1850. 

Gentlemen: I have received your note conveying the 
melancholy and painful intelligence of the decease of 
Zachary Taylor, late President of the United States. I have 
no language to express the emotions of my heart. The 
shock is so sudden and unexpected that I am overwhelmed 
with grief. 

I shall avail myself of the earliest moment to communi- 
cate the sad intelligence to Congress, and shall appoint a 
time and place for taking the oath of office prescribed to the 
President of the United States. You are requested to be 
present and witness the ceremony. 

Respectfully yours, Millard Fillmore. 
[Addressed to the Cabinet.] 

Washington, July 10, 1850. 

Fellow-citizens of the Senate and House of Repre- 
sentatives : 

I have to perform the melancholy duty of announcing to 
you, that it has pleased Almighty God to remove from this 
life Zachary Taylor, late President of the United States. 
He deceased last evening, at the hour of half past ten 


o'clodc, ia die midst of his fimily and sarroaaded bur sffccf 
tionate friends, calml]r and in the foil possession of afi U> 
faculties. Among hU last words were theae, which he 
uttered widi emphatic distinctness : "I have always done my 
dn^. I am ready to die. My only rc^et is for the friends 
I Irave bdhind me." 

Having announced to you, feUow-citizais, this most 
aflficting bereavement, and assuring you ^t it has pene- 
trated no heart with de^>er grief ttian mine, it remains for 
me to say, that I pnqx>se this day at twelve o'ctock, in die 
Hall of the House of Representatives, in the pnacBce of 
both Houses of Congress, to talK the oath prescribed by the 
Constitution, to enable me to enter on tfie execution of die 
office which this event has devolved oo me. 



In consequence of the death of the President of the 
United States, I direct that the several Executive Depart- 
ments be closed until after the funeral of the illustrious 
deceased, and that they, as well as the Executive Mansion, 
be placed in mourning ; and that the several officers of the 
Government wear the usual badge of mourning for the tenn 
of six months. Millard Fillmore. 

Washington, July lo, 1850. 


Washington, July 10, 1850, 
To THE Senate of the United States: 

In consequence of the lamented death of Zachary Taylor, 
late President of the United States, I shall no longer occupy 


the chair of the Senate ; and I have thought that a formal 
communication to that effect, through your secretary, might 
enable you the more promptly to proceed to the choice of a 
presiding officer. 

Millard Fillmore. 


Millard Fillmore, President of the United States of 

To all to whom these presents shall come, Greeting: 

Know ye, that, for the purpose of confirming between 
the United States and the Republic of Peru perfect harmony 
and good correspondence and of removing all grounds of 
dissatisfaction, I have invested John M. Clayton, Secretary 
of State, with full power and authority and also with gen- 
eral and special command, for and in the name of the United 
States, to meet and confer with Senor Don Jose Manuel 
Tirado, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary 
of that Republic to the United States, and with him to agree, 
treat, consult and negotiate of and concerning general com- 
merce between the two Countries and all matters connected 
therewith, and to conclude and sign a treaty touching the 
premises for the final ratification of the President of the 
United States by and with the advice and consent of the 
Senate thereof. 

In testimony whereof, I have caused the 
seal of the United States to be hereunto 
affixed. Given under my hand at the City 
[seal] of Washington, the thirtieth day of July, 
A. D. 1850 and of the Independence of the 
United States, the seventy-fifth. 

Millard Fillmore. 
By the President, 

J. M. Clayton, 

Secretary of State. 

Clayton collection, Library of Congress. 



Washington, Augt 2, 185a 

To THE Secy, of the Navy, 

Sir: Surgeon Wood of the United States steamer ICidii- 
gan on Lake Erie, caOed on me when I was too modi occu- 
pied to attend to his request and conq>lained of an order 
which had been made assigning, the staterooms of the vessd 
in a different manner from what had been usuaL I asked 
him to leave a statement of facts and I would refer it to 
you for investigation and if wrong for correctioo. I now 
hand his statement annexed. 

I have die honor to be 

Your obt. servt, 


Nary Deptitment. 

Endonement appean to thow tiiat William M. Wood waa a ■luifiiiiiiwmj 
oOoer on tUa veaael and for thia fcaaon had no right to caq^eet aof of the 
fsgnlarly attached oAoera to aoirender hia room to him. Filed with Aia leliar 
and evidently in anawer to the Secretary's reply is: **The Preaidcnt will thaik 
the Secretary of the Navy for a copy of the Navy Register and of the rales 
and regulations for the Navy and any other compilation of laws, etc, on the 
subject. Wed. Augt. 7." 


[Washington] Sept. ii, 1850. 

The Secy, of the Navy. 

Dr. Sir: I presume the enclosed request of Jos. Smith 
to supply the Navy Yard with water is correct, but I have 
been unable to find the law that requires my approval ; and 
if it be necessary it appears to me that I ought to know some 
facts on which to base it ; as for instance, How is the Yard 
now supplied? What will the proposed improvement cost? 
Will it interfere with individual rights, either by depriving 
them of the water or carrying the pipes through their 


lands? I therefore return the papers for further informa- 
tion. Your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 

Endorsed: "The Chf. of Bureau will give a reference to the Act of 
Congress requiring the Pres'ts approbation, and also say how the Navy Yard 
is now supplied with water. W. A. G[iabam].'* 

The above letter is in reply to Graham's of September xoth enclosing 
request referred to. Other letters on file with the above are two from Smith 
requesting the right of running pipes from a spring on a public reservation 
to the Navy Yard (September 9th) and stating reasons why approval of the 
President is ne^ssary, etc., (September 13th). Smith was Chief of the 
Bureau of Yards and Docks and his letters are to the Secretary of the Navy, 
Graham, the last being in reply to the request endorsed on the letter from 
the President to the Secretary. 


Washington, October 7, 1850. 
Isaac Doughty, Esq, 

Dear Sir : I have to acknowledge the receipt of yours of 
the 2d inst., in reference to your being appointed one of the 
Deputy Appraisers, in New York. In reply to which, I 
would state, that they are not appointed by me but by the 
Secretary of the Treasury; and as I have made it an in- 
variable rule not to interfere with the appointments of the 
Heads of Departments I can only regret that it is not in my 
power to further the success of your application, otherwise 
it would give me much pleasure to serve you. 
Very respectfully & truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Corwin collection, Library of Congress. 


Washington, Oct. 23, 1850. 
[To Daniel Webster] 

My dear Sir : Your letter of the 19th came to hand yes- 
terday, & I am much gratified to hear of your improved 


I hsfc noAnd a oofj of JtMi(e Woodbwy^s cluufs m 
the Fugftife Steve Lmw, and the Report of Judfe Gttei^ 
opinioD in a caw before Um, all maiifiilfy wwl a iiiiB t te 
oou aUtHt io n a Hty of the tew, and manifesltiigr « itetrrwhed 
leaolittkm to carry it out I bave alao just reoehed a |oinl 
letter from Judge Grter and Judge Keane, atali^f Aifc a 
caie has oocttrred before a comniimiop in Petmsylviiate 
iHiere the emoition of a warrant under Aat act waa '^or^ 
ODijr ana suocegs nuiy resisieciy ine poaae sufninopen aoaMi 
the officer baviog refused to actt** and ^ioquirbiig wheAcr 
upon the recurrence of an obstructioo to bis Frooeaa ha wffl 
be entided to call for Ae aid of such troops of the IMted 
States as may be accessible.*' 

This you perce ive presents a very grave and d^eate 
question. I have not yet Imd time to look into it and regret 
much tiiat so many of wj Cabinet are absent* and especially 
yourself and the attomqr general These judges adc lor a 
general order authoriiing the employment of die troops te 
socfa an emergency; and I am dispo&td to escert whatever 
power I possess under the Constittttion and tews, in enforc- 
ing this observance. I have sworn to siqiport iht Consliln- 
tion. I know no higher law that conflicts widi it; and that 
Constitution says, "the President shall take care that the 
laws be faithfully executed." I mean at every sacrifice and 
at every hazard to perform my duty. The Union must and 
shall be preserved, and this can only be done, by a faithful 
and impartial administration of the laws. I can not doubt 
that in these sentiments you are with me. And if you have 
occasion to speak I hope you will give no encouragement, 
even by implication, to any resistance to the law. Nullifica- 
tion can not and will not be tolerated. 

It seems to me, with all due deference to your superior 
wisdom, that the true grounds for our friends to take is this : 
that the law, hav'g been passed, must be executed. That so 
far as it provides for the surrender of fugitives from labor 
it is according to the requirements of the Constitution and 
should be sustained against all attempts at repeal, but if 
there be any provision in it endangering the liberty of tfiose 


who are free, it should be so modified as to secure the free 
blacks from such an abuse of the object of the law, and that 
done we at the North have no just cause of complaint. 

We must abide by the Constitution. If overthrown, we 
can never hope for a better. God knows that I detest 
Slavery, but it is an existing evil, for which we are not re- 
sponsible, and we must endure it, and give it such protection 
as is guaranteed by the Constitution, till we can get rid of 
it without destroying the last hope of free government in 
the world. But pardon me for saying so much. I thought 
possibly you might desire to know my sentiments, and I can 
assure you, I am very anxious to know yours, as to the 
answer to be given to the Judge's letter. I will, finally, send 
a copy of it. 

I will add something in another letter. 

With the highest consideration & Respect, I am in great 

Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

"The Utters of Daniel Webster." edited by C. H. Van Tyne, pp. 437. 438. 


Washington, Oct. 28, 1850. 

[To Daniel Webster] 

My dear Sir : I have yours of the 24th. from Franklin, 
N. H., and am greatly gratified to hear of your improved 
health ; and hope soon to learn that your cough has entirely 
left you. I infer that you have not received my letters of 
the 23d inst. addressed to you at Boston. 

We have had two Cabinet meetings, the last this morning, 
on the authority and duty of the President to use the Mili- 
tary force in aid of the civil officer to execute the fugitive 
slave law, and have concluded, when necessary, to do it. 
.We were somewhat embarrassed by the legislation of Con- 
gress on the subject, in 1807, and subsequent Acts, which 


woald wtaa to uaflfy itmt OoB wasapoirar tobecmienped) 
bgr Congress, Imt after a cvefol exanmiattoa of die satfocl,' 
I came to die coiichisiop Aat it was an mherait Bnen- 
thre pcywer enforced bgr the Gnititntion, when it made tlie 
Ihrcsidbit oommander-iift-diief of the Amgr and Na:v7» and | 

' ^ ; nSf tibis, liowever, the whole CaUbMt were not agreed* 
tfaink Aat tfie M ff'^^ ^'ifl m^^t ffi' m twof fc the Aranr at 
dtiaens and part of the Camitaius, but all agree that die aid 
shonid be given, and the only question was, iriien? We 
oonduded to give it to tlie Marshall whereas, he was unaMe 
to sustain the laws by the dnl authority, and to die ^eciat 
deputies in the same cases when a judge of the INstrict or 
Justice of the Sup. Qmrt, should certify tliat in his opinion 
it was necessary. This direction is given to the cominMidlng' 
officer of the Marines at Philadelphia. 

Congress having authorized the Marshall to provide tem- 
porary jails, where the SheriflF refuses to admit die U. & 
prisoners, we did not think it advisable to grant die use of 
the Reoriving ship at Boston for that purpose. But I mean 
at all hazards to do my part toward executing diia law. I 
admit no right of nullification North or South. My object, 
however, has been to avoid the use of military force as far 
as possible, not doubting that there is yet patriotism enough 
left in every State North of Mason's and Dixon's line to 
maintain the Supremacy of the laws ; and being particularly 
anxious that no State should be disgraced, by being cont- 
pelled to resort to the army to support the laws of the Union, 
if it could be avoided. I have therefore commenced mildly 
— ^authorizing this force only in the last resort, but if neces- 
sary, I shall not hesitate to give greater power, and finally 
to bring the whole force of the government to sustain the 
law. But the mail is closing and I can not say more. 

I have also yours of the 25th inst. and am gratified to 
hear that you are preparing an answer to the Dist. Atty. of 
Missi[ssippi] and to the Austrian minister. 

I can sjrmpathize with you in the melancholy feelings 
which are inspired by looking upon the gjave of your ances- 
tors and kindred but I hope soon to welcome you back to 


the busy scenes of active life where your absence is so much 
deplored and your counsels so much wanted. 

I am truly your friend 

(Have not time to read over) Millard Fillmore. 

•The Letters of Daniel Webster," edited by C. H. Van Tyne, pp. 438, 439. 

AS TO "fugitives FROM LABOR/' 

Washington, Jany. 10, 1851. 
To THE Secy of State, 

My dear Sir : Accept my thanks for the 2 R. S. of N. 
Y. which I herewith return. It appears to me that the act 
is not broad enough to prevent the issuing of a Habeas 
Corpus, to bring up a fugitive from labor, when the process 
under which he is detained is issued by a commission and 
not by a judge — p. 659, S. 36- (22). But if the process be 
regular, it prevents his discharge and he must be remanded 
—p. 663, S. 56 (41). 

As to the power of the Jailor to keep such a fugitive in 
the county jail there may be some doubt — p. 872, S. i. He 
is only authorized to receive persons duly committed "for 
an offence against the United States/' Can an absconding 
of a slave from his master, be deemed an offence against the 
U. S. ? It seems to me very doubtful. Indeed my impres- 
sions are against it. But would it not be well to take the 
opinion of the Atty. Genl, that we might be prepared to 
give prompt advice on the subject? 

Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Webster collection. Library of Congress. 


Jan'y 16 [1851]. 
To THE Secretary of the State, 

My dear Sir : I have read & herewith return, the copies 
of Mr. Clayton's letter, and yours to him and the Austrian 
Instructions of the 5th. of Nov. 1849, ^o Mr. Hiilsemann. 

- ; • • " » • , . • ' ! 


I am m Uttte ntrpiiaed at die clwiige niade in tfie printed 
GOfqr of Mr. Mami's instroctions. But as yoa mxtpoct, Aqr 
most haw had access to the originaL 

I sotioed, yoa dianged the original Draft of jonr ktler 
and denied the use of tfie phrase "•rofi rule/* and si^ p po ae d 
that yon had made a nustake at first. But if I reooOect 
right they predicated tfieir complaint, on iSbt coneapooAeoct, 
as published. If so tfiey cannot go bdiind the printed copy; 
and we at hst [fUasi] are fr^ from any inqmtatioo of 
mutilation. j^^y y^^^^ 

"The Lttleri of 0uikl Woteter,** MtnA bjCn. Vta Tft^ pp. ^jf^ 4ff . 


The President herewith returns Mr. Demusoo^s letter 
with many thatdcs for its perusal 

January i8, [1851I 



Mr. Webster: I have read and herewith return the 
papers. It is an unpropitious time to urge this claim upon 
Congress even if it be just, but I do not know enough about 
it to give any opinion. I only recollect it is a judicial ques- 
tion before the court. 

I think to present it even, could do no good and would 
do harm. But I am willing to examine the case, and if our 
treaty stipulations require it, I am for complying with them 
at any and every hazzard (sic). But I must confess my 
prejudices are against the validity of the claim, but they are 
based upon no certain knowledge. 

Truly Yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Jan'y2S, [1851] 

Webster collection, Library of Congress. 



The Secretary of State submits for the President's con- 
sideration the enclosed note from the Spanish Minister of 
the 8th instant, and a former one of the 14th Augt last, 
referred to, on the subject of the Amis tad. 

Washington, Dept. of State, 25 Jany, 1851. 

Webster collection. Library of Congress. Notes referred to not accom- 


The President understanding from Mr. Hunter yesterday 
that the Secretary of State desired to see him before the 
meeting of the Cabinet this morning, will be happy to see 
him now, either at the Secretary s office or Executive Cham- 
ber as may best suit the convenience of the Secretary. 

Wed. Feby 4. 10 A. M. 

Webster collection, Library of Congress. 


To THE Hon. Salmon P. Chase, Senator from Ohio, 

Sir : Whereas divers and weighty causes connected with 
Executive business necessary to be transacted create an 
extraordinary occasion requiring that the Senate be con- 
vened, you are therefore requested, as a member of that 
body, to attend a meeting thereof, to be holden at the Capi- 
tol, in the City of Washington, on the fourth day of March 

Millard Fillmore. 

Washington, March 3d, 1851. 

Chase collection. Library of Congress. 


The President has the honor herewith to return the 
despatches from Mr. Lawrence together with Lady Frank- 


lin's letter, and to suggest in regard to the latter that it 
might be well to have a joint consultation with the Secre- 
tary of the Navy, before answering his letter. 

March 8. [1851] 

[To Daniel Webster] 

Webster collection, Library of Congress. 

Lady Jane Franklin wrote from London, April 4, 1849, to President Taylor, 
setting fortb the facts relating to the Arctic search expedition commanded by 
her hnsband, Sir John Franklin, and the Tarious relief measures which had been 
undertaken. She called the attention of the President to the reward of 
£20,000, offered by the British Board of Admiralty, to any ship or exploring 
party "which should render efficient assistance to the missing ships, or their 
crews." Sir John Franklin had sailed in May, 1845, in quest of the North* 
west Passage. His ships were Tictualled for only three years; no word had 
come from him, and there was reason enough for the solicitude, not only of 
Lady Franklin and her daughter, but of all humane nations. Lady Franklin's 
object in writing to the President was to beg that American whalers mi^t 
be informed of the offered prize, and share in the search for the lost expedi- 
tion. The Hon. John M. Clayton, Secretary of State, assured her ladyship 
that the American Government would grant her wish in the matter. There was 
subsequent correspondence on the subject, as referred to in President Fillmore's 
note, aboTC. 


The President returns to Mr. Webster, the letter to Mr. 
Hiilsemann and though he has not the vanity to think it 
improved by his suggestion, he certainly thinks it very well. 

March 14 [1851] 

Webster collection, Library of Congress. 


The President would be happy to see the Secretary of 
State at his earliest convenience in reference to the letter 
of the Mexican Charge on the Tehuantepec route ; and 
desires the Secretary to bring with him the protocol for 
extending the time for the interchange of ratifications of 



the treaty, and the projet submitted by the Mexican Secre- 
tary of foreign aflFairs to Mr. Letcher as a Substitute. 

April 2 [1851] 

Webster collection, Library of Congress. 


Washington, April 16, 1851. 
Hon. D. Webster, 

My dear Sir: Yours of the 13th came to hand to day, 
and I congratulate you and the cotmtry upon a triumph of 
law in Boston. She has done nobly. She has wiped out 
the stain of the former rescue and freed herself from the 
reproach of nullification. 

I am gratified to hear that your health is improving and 
we shall be happy to welcome your return to the counsel 
board whenever it may suit your convenience. 

Movements are evidently making for another piratical 
descent upon Cuba. Letters and telegraphic despatches speak 
of armed men in motion in Georgia, but as yet we can not 
ascertain where they are to rendezvous or whence embark. 
We have issued circulars to the Collectors and orders to 
the Army and Naval officers to arrest any movement. But 
unfortunately we have few vessels now at the south. 

South Carolina is far from tranquil as you will see by 
the enclosed slip. I can not but hope that Senator Butler 
has been misrepresented. 

I have gone through with the voluminous testimony taken 
on the Charges preferred against the collector and surveyor 
of the Port of Philadelphia, and am clearly of opinion that 
the charges are not sustained. I requested Mr. Corwin to 
send for Mr. Lewis and inform him of the result, but that 
the proof was such as to require a purgation of the weigher's 
office, and I suggested to him that I wished he would turn 
out Loco focos and put good competent Whigs in their 
places wherever it could be done without prejudice to the 
public service, and that in making his new appointments he 
would as far as practicable select from that portion of the 


pKtf ifWdl cbmphiiwd of lamiiK beoi overlooked, and he 
promiied to do sa 

I levn bjr tel^rtidi that Petm^lTania bu lepeahA ber 
law whidi reftued tlie tue of her jiils for fugitives. 

I nodentand efforts are maldag to induce die Whigs is . 
the L^ilatnre of N. Y. to tssae an address against die 
compromise tneasttres; and espedally against the Fa^tire 
Slave law. Sraald this be done a counter address will abo 
be israed. 

Hearing nothing frooi Mr. Chandler as to a ondtdMe 
for the consulate at Bdfast I have written him to day calbic 
bis attention to die subject 

I see 1^ the paper that Sir Henry is in Cbarkstoo. lbs 
bis visit any connexion with die movement of the Briti^ 
consul as to the imprisonment of black seamen? 

I hope ]ron may make some satisfactory arnuq^emait fix 
the trial of the rescues. It is very important that diese 
criminals should be punished. Thar crime is contagions, 
and tbey most not cac^w with inQiuni^. 
I am truly yours. 


Wcbiler collection, Library of Congreu. 


Executive Mansion, Washington, April 30, 1851. 
Hon. J, J. Crittenden, 

Sir: I have this moment received from the Commis- 
sioner of the Land office the letter of Mr. Bates Dist Atty 
of Mich in relation to the Mormon settlement on Big Bear 
[Beaver] island in Lake Michigan with maps and explana- 
tions, which are respectfully referred to you for your 
opinion as Atty General, and having given that, I wish you 
as acting Secretary of the Interior to issue such instructions 
to the Marshall and District Atty of Michigan for carrying 
them out, as may be necessary. 


If necessary the Revenue Cutter or Naval vessel on the 
upper Lakes, will be put under the control of the Marshall 
to enable him to execute any process or order. 

I am your obedient servant 

Millard Fillmore. 

Crittenden collection, Library of Congress. 

The letter referred to above is as follows: 

DsTBOiT, March 12, 1851. 
Hex. G. [I] Daniel Wsbstes. 

Sia: All the facts, contained in the within statement, can be got at by 

legal evidence by a complaint, under the 8th Section of the act of Sept. 1850 

against the person who sent the telegraphic despatch referred to and who 

then prevented the Master from wresting the fugitives. If Atty General will 

instruct me to make the complaint, before a Commissioner I am satisfied, that 

I can get hold of the peraons who sent the despatch and in the examination of 

him show precisely what was the real conduct of the Officera. If the Atty 

Gen. concludes to send me such instructions please ask him to telegraph me 

"To procged," 1 can get all the testimony except Cheaters in a week. 

Your obedient Servant, Gbokgs C. Bates. 

June 15, 1850, a memorial was presented to the United States Senate, 
signed by James J. Strang, George J. Adams and William Marks, "presidents 
of the Church of the Saints, apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, and witnesses 
of His name unto all nations," asking that Congress would pass a law giving 
the consent of the nation that the Saints "might settle upon and forever 
occupy all the uninhabited lands of the islands in Lake Michigan," and cease 
to sell the same to other persons; and asking of the people of the United 
States, "as they have not allowed their brethren to remain in peace with them, 
that they will at least suffer them to remain there, separate from them." The 
memorial set forth that ten thousand men, women and children were illegally 
expelled from the State of Missouri, plundered of their possessions, exiled from 
their homes and driven in destitution, hunger and want, in midwinter, to a 
distant land, passing much of the way in the midst of foes who not only 
refused them shelter and food, but kept them in continual danger. "If you 
tell us," it ran, "as some of your predecessora told our martyred prophets 
while they were yet alive, that you have no power to redress our wrongs, 
then there is presented to the world the melancholy spectacle of the greatest 
Republic on earth, a Christian nation, acknowledging itself powerless to judge; 
unable to protect the right; a nation on whose righteousness half the earth 
rests the hopes of man, confessing that there is a power above the law, riding 
down the Constitution, which stalks abroad to plunder and banish the citizens, 
and none to rebuke; murders the unoffending innocent, and none to say, 'Why 
do ye so?' Which sanctifies its deeds of violence even in the eyes of religious 
men, by blackening the fame of their glorious deeds with the name of crimes, 
which in their lifetime it dared not attempt to prove, even in its own tribunals." 
This curious memorial, which accused and indicted the Government from 
which it solicited favors, was referred to the Committee on Public Lands, 
which reported that the Government did not own the lands the Saints coveted. 

George C. Bates was appointed United States District Attorney by Presi- 
dent Harrison, in 1841, and was serving in this capacity at Detroit when the 
above letter was written. To the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune of July 12, 


It •( lk( g to w li m fer tW Conraistal ■itinM 
I Und and of at trial ta Detroit of "King" Stncg 
d oa bttalf of ll« GoTcrnncM br UsMeU. la this inklc 
~ " ■ e the Mor 

in Dctroft. Pioldeot Faimore leui»L tl 

J*sics J. Struc hwl ffbHihtd wkat be termed t 
what WW ectaall; ■ neit of frecboMen caami in mtbing the mails am) 
conterfeMni UnlEed State* cotD. Mr. FtllBore Jip at c b Bn tbe iteamcr Midii- 
(•a to Beaver Uland for tbe arreat of Straof on a dwitc of treatDo. Tbe 

Lahei. Strnw wu icqaitted U hli trial, and enbaeqtKDily aerved in tin 
Mieb^in LeglilatBrei hot wee finally ntndered and Ae Uormon calonr dir 
perecd, after manr epieode* of Mnodihed. 

From alluiioia in tte paper* br Hr. Leckr, Mr. Batea and others, it woulil 
•eca probable that Frcridenl PWnore earned in eoaaidaahle correspandenn 
in the matter, bM the letter here printed ia the only one fonnd br Um bt^l^ 
Dpoa it. It abonid be noted Uut the nemorial pnaented to Coosraaa in Jwm, 
ilio, wa* not 10 prewnted imtll after Sirani'i colonr of Homona had now- 
pied B ea Ter laland for aooa three jrtara. 


Millard Fillmore, President of the United States of America, 
to His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Japan, 

Great and Good Friend: 

I send you this letter, by an Envoy of my own appoint- 
ment, an officer of high rank in his country, who is no mis- 
sionary o£ religion. He goes by my command to bear to 
you my greeting and good wishes, and to promote friend- 
ship and commerce between the two countries. 

You know that the United States of America now extend 
from sea to sea, that the great countries of Or^on and 
California, are parts of the United States, and that from 
these countries, which are rich in gold and silver and pre- 
cious stones, our steamers can reach the shores of your 
happy land in less than twenty days. 

Many of our ships will now pass in every year, and 
some perhaps in every week between California and China; 


these ships must pass along the coasts of your Empire; 
storms and winds may cause them to be wrecked on your 
shores, and we ask and expect from your friendship and 
your greatness, kindness for our men and protection for our 
property. We wish that our People may be permitted to 
trade with your People, but we shall not authorize them 
to break any law of your Empire. 

Our object is friendly commercial intercourse and noth- 
ing more. You have many productions, which we should be 
glad to buy, and we have productions which might suit your 

Your Empire hath a great abundance of coal, this is an 
article which our steamships, in going from California to 
China, must use. They would be glad that a harbour in 
your Empire should be appointed, to which coal might be 
brought, and where they might always be able to purchase it. 

In many other respects commerce between your Empire 
and our Country would be useful to both. Let us consider 
well, what new interests arise from these recent events, 
which have brought our two countries so near together; — 
and what purposes of friendship, amity and intercourse they 
ought to inspire into the breasts of those who govern both 
countries. — Farewell. 

Given under my hand and seal at the 
[Seal] City of Washington, the loth day of May, 

185 1, and of the Independence of the 
United States the seventy-fifth. 

Millard Fillmore. 
By the President 

Daniel Webster, 

Secretary of State, 

Connarroe collection, Historical Society of Pennsylvania. 

The foregoing letter is not included in the "Narrative of the Expedition 
. . . under the command of Commodore M. C. Perry/* etc., published in 
three quarto volumes at Washington, 1856. Compare with President Fillmore's 
letter of November 13, 1852, to the Mikado. The above document, written by 
Mr. Fillmore and countersigned by Daniel Webster, bears no indication of 
having been presented to the Mikado of Japan. It is probably the first letter 
drawn up for the purpose, the letter of November 13, 185a, being substituted 
for it. 

A gnEsnoN of salt. 

Washikoton, Jane 17, 1851. 
Hon. W. a. Graham, Secy, of the Navy. 

Dr. Sir : I send herewith for your coosideration, a copy 
ot a Report made to the Gen'. Assembly of the State oi N. 
York 00 the manufacture of salt — as complaints are made 
that the regnlations of yoor Dq>artment, requiring that salt 
provisions for the use of the Navy should be pat tip in 
Turks Island salt, unjustly depreciate the value of the coarse 
sah of that State. 

Truly yours, 


r of Navj, Jolr IT, iSSa. 


The President will be happy to see the Secretary of State 
at 12 to day with the Charg^ of Peru as su^ested. 

Wednesday, June 18. [1851] 

Webster colleciion. Library of Congnii. 


To Hon. Chakles M. Conrad, Secretary of War: 

You are hereby appointed Acting Secretary of the Navj 

during the temporary absence from the Seat of Government 

of the Hon. William A. Graham. 

Millard Fillmore- 
Washington, July II, 1851. 

Navy Department letter-boolis. 

A HcoDd letter to sane effect May ig. iGji: jd letter to nmc cfled 
(abienee of Kenoedj) September 3, iBja; *th letter, A. H. H. Stuart, to 
utoe effect, Septembfr 15, 1853; jib letter. Cbarlei W. Skiniter, amt tBtCU 
September ij, iSsi. All in letter books. Navy Department. 



Washington, July 19, 1851. 
Hon. D. Webster, 

My dear Sir : I am happy to see by the Telegraph that 
you arrived safely in N. York last evening and was "enthu- 
siastically received." 

Mr. Benjamin from N. O. called here yesterday, express- 
ing great anxiety about the Tehantepec {sic"] treaty. Says 
it is all important that Mr. Letcher should return by the 
1st of Sept, as there is to be an extra Session of the Mexican 
Congress at that time, and that Mr. L. has said that he 
never intends to return and he does not believe that he does. 
He further says that the Rail Road Co. intend to insist on 
the validity of their grant. That they will send out 500 men 
to prosecute the work, and they will be prepared to resist 
any attempt to drive them off ; and that a collision with the 
Mexican authorities will force this Government either to 
sustain its own citizens, or declare that they are violating 
the law of neutrality, and unite with Mexico in punishing 

I deem this a very important national enterprise; and 
am prepared to do any thing we can honorably to sustain 
it. I have accordingly directed Mr. Derrick to ascertain 
from the Mexican Minister if there will be an extra session 
of the Mexican Congress in Sept, and if so to write Mr. 
Letcher and ascertain from him whether we can certainly 
rely upon his being there, and if not we must appoint 
another person. If a new man is to go, it is even more 
important that he should be there at the Extra Session than 
if Mr. Letcher returned. I doubt not the British minister 
is doing what he can to defeat the grant, and the Treaty, 
and I fear that all will be virtually settled at the Sept. Ses- 
sion. I fear all will fail, but there must be no failure on 
our part to accomplish so desirable an object. 

While, however, I am willing to do all we can legiti- 
mately to accomplish this object, I am not willing to see 
the nation involved in war with Mexico to gratify the wishes 


or cniHdtty of an^ printe ooBOpmy. And I tluok tir. Bcb- 
junin idioald be given diitiiict^ to tudentand (if 700 ooe- 
canrithme) thatdieMareoar Tiews and that we dtallnot 
be coerced into any other line of conduct 

Mr. Benjamin will visit yott soon- I enclose some slips 
on tbia mbiect froni the "Tnu Deltt^ of Uie 9 and loth inst 

Since I commenced diis letter I have received through 
O^ Bomky a tel(srq>hic deipatch from Mr. Letcher, dated 
OD die 17^1 saying: "I have received important communt- 
catiooa from Mexioa . Hope no action will be taken till I ^ 
read] Washingtcm ci^ in five days." 

When he arrives, should I dean it imptxtant far joa to 
be here I will telegraph yon. 

I write in haste and hardly l^ble but I am 

Truly yours, Millahd Fuxmokb. 

Wdiur colkctko, Ubnrr of Cootttw. 


Washington, July 19, 1851. 
Hon. D. Webster: I wrote you yesterday at N. Y. oo te 

stabject of the Tehuantepec Treaty, and this morning re- 
ceived your note of yesterday saying that you were to leave 
for Boston last evening. 

We had only Messrs. Stuart ' and Conrad at our Cabinet 
meeting to day, but fortunately no business. Mr, Corwin 
is expected tomorrow. 

I enclose you a very excellent letter from "Kossuth" in 
which he does no more than justice to you for your unan- 
swerable and unanswered letter to the Austrian Mission. 
You will note his su^estion at the close. 
I am truly yours. 

Millard Fillmore. 

Wtbster collection, Libmr of CODgrCM. 

I. Alenndcr Hugh Holmea Stuart wu ■ppointnl br Praideol Fillman 
to be SccrctarT of the Interior, lod held that office from July ». iSja, ta dw 
close of Ht. Fillniore'a AdmmiiiiatiDa. Thomu Conrin, rafeired to in tUi 
leltec. wu Sccretatr of the Treuuij. Chirle* M. Connd, the Secrettir «f 
War. took office Ja\j ij, 1850, and serred till Much j. i8ss. wbea he WM 
aacecedcd bj JttUnoa DtrU. 



Washington, July 26, 1851, 

3 P. M. 

My dear Sir: The Cabinet has just adjourned. Mr. 
Corwin is extremely anxious to see you before you go North. 
When will you return here? 

I think we were misled by Mr. Letcher's despatch of the 
17th. He should have been here two days since. But instead 
of that I now have one dated yesterday at Frankfort saying 
that he "will be in Washington in a few days, ready to obey 
the President's wishes." 

This is a hot day here, and I have concluded to leave 
for our Virginia Springs in company with Mr. Stewart 
[ ? Stuart] on the 5th of August. 

I received yours of the 23d this morning, giving a most 
interesting account of Marchfield [sic'\ and its vicinity. It 
was so refreshing this hot day that I read it to Mrs. F. and 
the Cabinet and we all envied you your delightful retreat. 
It must be a perfect paradise ; and if I could annihilate an 
intermediate space I should be very happy to look in upon 
you. But our messenger waits. 

Adieu. I am as ever truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Hon. D. Webster. 

Webster collection. Library of Congress. 

relations with MEXICO, ETC. 

White Sulphur Springs, Va., 

Sunday, Augt. 17, 1851. 
Hon. D. Webster, 

My dear Sir: Yours of the loth from Franklin came 
to hand last evening, and I was much gratified to hear that 
your health is no worse, but I look forward with great 
anxiety to the 25th which if I recollect right, is the fatal 
anniversary of the return of your annual disease. I do 


hope it ma/ ptss leaving you in health ; for if it does I shall 
think you hive found a remedy that may save you from this 
terrible afRictiaa for all time. I am glad to hear that your 
"s with you. 

Time piMOi htn as nmul M a watering-place. I leave 
in the morning for tbe "Swtgt Springs" 17 miles distant, 
and shall Uxn for Wadiington tin the Natural Bridge, 
Lexington, Lyndibn^ and Cfaarlottesville a week from 
tomorrow, and hope to be there on the 30th. 

Genl. Scott estiniated tbe expense of maintaining our 
treaty stipalations wiA Mexia^ by defending her from the 
Indians, at $lo,O0O/X)0 per anntim : and that this must con- 
tinue for 10 or IS yt$,n, I do not myself suppose that we 
shall actuattjr csq>end tiiat, but I fear that it will be a con- 
stant source of iritatioa and complaint, and I am therefore 
aaadoiu to get rid of it Mexico nia>' spend the money fool- 
U1I7, and neglect the defence of her own citizens, but we 
can hartUy be reapcnaible for tint 

I Mill hope tint Mr. Corwin will oooMnt to reimia. I 
believe the whole Cabinet think he ibottld. It win be var 
't to tnpply bia place. 

I am truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

WctMtCT collect iai 

Library of Congreu. 

the cuban affair — various hatters. 
Hon. D. Webster, 

My dear Sir ; I returned somewhat prematurely and in 
much haste on Saturday evening, and have been very busy 
with Cuban matters ever since. 

I was not satisfied with the excuse made by the Collector 
at N. Orleans for suffering the Steamer Pampero to sail 
for Cuba without any effort to stop her, and I have removed 
him and appointed Mr. Adams in his place. 

I have issued new powers either to the Collectors or 
Marshalls under the 8th Section of the act of 1818, at New 
Port, N. York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, Savan- 


nah, St. Augustine, Key West, Mobile, N. Orleans & Gal- 
veston, and a new circular enjoining vigilance upon the dis- 
trict attorneys at those places, and requiring all the collec- 
tors, district attorneys and Marshalls at those places who 
may be absent from home to return forthwith, and attend 
vigilantly to prevent any expedition from being fitted out 
against the provisions of that act. The army and Navy 
have also been called into requisition at any place where 
we have troops or vessels to aid in arresting any such expe- 

In times like this, the tel^raph in the hands of irre- 
sponsible and designing men is a tremendous engine for 
mischief, aided as it is in many places by a mercenary and 
prostituted press. Agitation and excitement seem to per- 
vade all the large cities, and this is greatly aggravated by 
unscrupulous partizans who desire to turn it to political 
accotmt against the Administration. I think the summary 
execution of the 50 prisoners taken in Cuba, was unfor- 
tunate. This wholesale slaughter of officers and men in 
so summary a manner, naturally excited the sympathy and 
indignation of the community. But I still hope to prevent 
any further violation of our neutrality laws, and to save our 
young men from a similar fate. 

Lopez seems still at large. But making no head way. 
Reports are so contradictory we know not what to believe. 
He can not remain in Statu quo. He must advance or fail. 

I have yours of the 19th & 23d, and saw the one of a 
later date to the P. M. Genl, and I have hardly words to 
express the gratification I feel that you have thus far escaped 
your annual catarrh with a prospect of avoiding [it] entirely. 
Do make yourself perfectly easy and enjoy the quiet of your 
resting place. Your presence at the cotmcil board would be 
very acceptable, especially just now ; but it is not indispensa- 
ble, and I hope you will feel no anxiety on the subject. 

I am willing that Mr. Forward should be recalled at once, 
and the place remain open till the meeting of Congress. 

I still faintly hope that Mr. Corwin may conclude to 
remain. At any rate he will not resign till after the October 


have dioi^^ of none better Uma Joieph G. XngeraoOL Bal 
Pa. if all in coofariott, and I can not tdl till after the d0^ 
tioQ wiidiier it wiU do to appoint hini* 


I am told tfiat Mr. Wahh wiU dedine the ly poi n t mc i ^ of 
Seqr of legation to Mexioov nnless he can lurre aome anmr* 
anoe tfiat wlwn die Mission is vacant, he diall be dwrg^ Ae 
I tfiink I will wait a little and see if I can not find another 

I endose you two private letters from Bnchingham SonAf 
the localiiy of onr enibassy seems somewhat dngnlar, and 
the statement as to Mr. Tasistro is worthy of conaideratiQB. 
I fear from what I have heard of Us di a ract e r Oat it nmj 
be true. But yon can judge best 

I write in great haste but am, my Dear Sir, 

Truly ft sincerdy yours, 


P. S. If die present troubles continue I diink I diaB 
appoint Mr. Crittenden acting Secy of State as soon as he 

returns. Mr. Derrick is very feeble and it is important for 
one to execute many of the orders well, that he should hear 
their discussion in council. 

Webster collection, Library of Congress. 


Washington, Sept lo, 1851. 
Hon. Daniel Webster, 

My dear Sir: I was much alarmed last evening by 
hearing that a telegraphic despatch had been receivedv say- 
ing that you were very sick, but was relieved this morning 
by another in the Republic, saying that you were in Boston 
and very well. 

I infer however from yours of the 8th which has just 
come to hand, that neither despatch was entirely correct. 
But I am greatly gratified to learn that you have thus far 


escaped the catarrh, I am sorry however to hear that you 
are threatened with the gout. I know nothing of the dis- 
ease except by report, but if not dangerous, it must be 
extremely painful. I hope soon to hear that you are entirely 
restored. I shall be happy to see you here at your earliest 
convenience, but not so soon as to endanger your health. 

The telegraph brings us the afflicting intelligence of Mrs. 
Crittenden's death. This will be a severe blow to Mr. Crit- 
tenden, and may delay his return for some time. I feel 
that it is a very great loss to our circle of friends. She was 
a most remarkable woman, and I should think almost indis- 
pensable to her husband's happiness. 

I have declined the invitation to Boston. I feel unwilling 
to leave the city while the Pampero is yet at sea. Should 
she be captured by a Spanish man of war, before landing in 
Cuba, it might present a very delicate and embarrassing 
question, and I should prefer being here where I could act 

The vacancy occasioned by the death of Judge Woodbury 
will soon have to be filled ; and I should be happy to see you 
that we might converse freely on the subject. 

I believe that Judge McLean is the only Whig now upon 
the Bench; and he received his appointment from Genl 
Jackson. I am therefore desirous of obtaining as long a 
lease and as much moral and judicial power as possible from 
this appointment. I would therefore like to combine a vig- 
orous constitution, with high moral and intellectual quali- 
fications, a good judicial mind, and such age as gives a 
prospect of long service. Several distinguished names have 
occurred to me, but I do not consider myself so intimately 
acquainted with the N. England bar, as to be able to form 
a competent opinion. I have however formed a very high 
opinion of Mr. B. R. Curtis. What do you say of him? 
What is his age? constitution? & l^al attainments? Does 
he fill the measure of my wishes ? 

The weather is extremely hot and uncomfortable. Noth- 
ing new. I am truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Webster collection, Library of Congreat. 

Wasbinotimi, S^t xa, 1S5E. 
Horf. Haxol Wmgnx, 

My nuH Sik: I hare joan of tfae lotb and regret Is 
hear of the acddeot which ezpOMd yon to dw night ^ (o 
the injury of yoor hethh. 

I am happy to see ^t we concur in opinion as to Mr. 
B. R. Curtii. I shall wait antQ yon can see Mr. Choate. 
and if all ii satisfactory^ I will issue Hit commission at once. 

Since declining the invitation to Boiton, we have intelli- 
gence that the Pampero is at Jacksonville, and probably she 
will make no farther effnt on Cuba. Learning from lele- 
grapb that the motives for my. declining were likely to be 
misimderstoodand misrepresented, and this change in public 
aflUrs leaving one at liber^ to attend, I had a Cabinet meet- 
ing this morning, and most of the Cabinet thought upcm 
the whc4e I had better go, and I have concluded to do sa 
I am also urged to diis by a desire to visit my tenfly who 
are detained at N. Port, by an accident, by whidi Mn. F. 
has sprained her foot so serioosly as to be tmable to toncft 
it from the floor. I fear she will have great difficulty in 
returning to Washington. 

But I shall desire to see you very much, and if you can- 
not be at Boston, I shall try to go to Marshfield. 

I write in haste but am 

Truly yours, 

MiEXARD Fillmore. 

WdHtcr cotlcctioo, Librirj of Congntt. 


WASHiNGTON CiTY, Oct. 2, 185I. 

Hon. D. Webster, 

My DEAR Sir: Yours of the 28th enclosing the appli- 
cation of Julius C. Kretschmar for the consulate at Palermo 


came to hand yesterday, and I regret to hear that you are 
not yet free from your afflicting catarrh. 

I intended to have seen you again before I left Boston 
but when they sent for me to go to the dinner, I understood 
you were engaged in receiving the ladies, and I went directly 
from the dinner to the cars. 

My visit was a very agreeable one, but very fatiguing. 
I am gratified to hear that it passed off satisfactorily to 
the Bostonians, for really they are a very remarkable people. 
No other city, I think, could have made so fine a display, 
and I was particularly gratified to see the unequivocal dem- 
onstration of respect and esteem for you which were mani- 
fested at the State House. 

Since writing the foregoing I have seen a telegraphic 
statement in the Philadelphia papers of the 30th saying that 
there was a rumor in Boston that you were dangerously ill. 
I hope and trust that this is not so. I have sent to the 
Department of State and they have no such intelligence; 
and as the telegraph lies very much I sincerely hope it lies 
in this instance. 

Our weather here is very fine, and I really wish you 
could be here to enjoy it with us. 

I will wait until I hear from you again before filling the 
consulate at Palermo. 

I wish we could fill the commission at China. Genl. 
Edna is pressing and Palmer from N. York is here again. 
Mr. Graham thinks Edna is not fit and recommends Wad- 
dell if we go to N. C. but I think some commercial town is 
most likely to furnish a proper man. 

Nicaragua you see is in a state of Revolution. I think 
it would be well that our consul was at Realigo, and if Mr. 
Boone is not going should we not appoint another. 

Mr. Rives writes that a treaty has been entered into 
between France, Spain and Great Britain to guaranty Cuba 
to Spain, but does not send it, or its contents or date. The 
English Charge gives verbal notice that England has ordered 
her vessels to protect Cuba against the unlawful invasion 
from this country, but says he knows of no treaty. Mr. 


Rives hu been written to for fortlKr iofomntiaa. It qtpcm 
to me that such a step oo the part (rf G. Britaia a iM adviaed; 
and if tfie attenipt» apoa Cuba AkQ be renewed (whicfa I 
tmat they will not be) any attempts to prevent sad e^>edi- 
tiooi by British cruisers oMist necessarily invdhre a rigU 
of search into our whole mercantile marine in tbose aeai, 
to ascertain who ought to be arrested, and who ougfat to 
pass, and this would be extremely annoying and well cako- 
lated to disturt) the friendly relati(ms now exoting bet wee n 
the two governments. 

But I have been interrupted and the mail is doamg' a*d 
I have not time to say more. When may we hope to bafc 
the pleasure of seeing you in WashingtcBi? Thoo^ your 
presence would at all times be very acceptaUe; yet give 
yourself no uneasiness. Renuin quiet until yoo fed dde 
to come. 

In hopes that your health may be spee<fily restore*^ 
I remain sincerdy yours, 

Miujum FtLLUon. 

WchMer eoIlKtioa, Ubmr of Co^nw. 


Washington City, Oct, lO, 1851. 
Hon. D. Webster, 

Secretary of State, 

My dear Sik: Yours of the 4th from Marshfield, came 
to hand on the 7th and I am much gratified to learn that 
your catarrh is in its last stages ; and that we may expect 
you here by the twentieth. 

An insurrection or Revolution seems actually to have 
broken out in Tamaulipas, Mexico. In anticipation of this 
I had issued authority to Generals Twiggs and P. F. Smith, 
with instruction to prevent any infraction of our neutrality 
laws on the Mexican frontier; and I have as yet received 
no information that any armed or military expedition has 


been fitted out from our territory against Mexico. It appears 
from the newspaper report that Texans are ei^;aged in the 
fight, but whether they meet this as an organized* military 
body or individuals does not appear. 

The Mexican Minister has, however, requested that a 
proclamation should be issued, because it was done to pre- 
vent the Cuban expedition. The cases are by no means 
parallel, and I doubt some the policy of issuing these procla- 
mations too often. When the public mind becomes familiar- 
ized to them, they lose their effect as a warning to prevent 
crime. Still, there is danger that Mexico may feel jealous 
if not done, and may, if the revolution should prove success- 
ful, distrust the sincerity of our friendship. I shall, how- 
ever, consider and settle it in Cabinet council to day. 

Since writing the foregoing the Cabinet has met and we 
have concluded that there is not sufficient information of an 
intent to violate our laws to justify a proclamation at this 

Since I wrote you before I learn that the French minister 
has intimated, rather reluctantly, that his government had 
issued similar orders to its fleet in the West Indies, to those 
issued by Great Britain in reference to Cuba. A despatch 
irom Mr. Rives, states a conversation with the secy of For- 
eign Affairs, in which he denied all intention of interference 
by the French government. 

This presents a singular state of things, and looks as 
though there was a little finessing between G. Britain and 
France, to court favor with Spain, and if possible not offend 
us, or at least it looks as though France intended this. 

Joseph Blunt of N. York, whom you must know, a law- 
yer and batchellor [sk] and author of the Historical Regis- 
ter, and a work on commercial law desires some foreign 
appointment. Would it not be best to offer him China. I 
think him every way qualified except perhaps a want of 
knowledge of foreign languages, and I can not say he has 
met this : He is the best man I can think of for this place. 

Our weather is uncommonly fine and I wish you were 
here to enjoy it. 

• ofPtaAL usmtis. 

Mr. Corwia hu coadwled to renHda till the metdag ol 
I CaagttMtt aad I tratt that bjr tint tune he will see ao oect- 

I am truly yours, 


p. S. I enckwe an article from the Republic of Hik 
I morning wbidi does yoa good justice and no more. 

WibMO' coDcctioa, Ufenir of Omgrim, 


[Washington, Not. ii.? 1851.] 
[To TBS Secsbtasv (w the Navy.] 

I do not understand Capt Dulany as objectiDg to tte 
eonimand to whkb he is now ordered but he desires some 
assuiwKe that junior officers shall not be placed in co mman d 
of a fleet in preference to himself, because of tiiis service. 
It appears to me that each selection should be made when 
the exigency arises requiring it and that the department 
should not be tramelled by any previous committment. It 
must be presumed that when a vacancy occurs, if under all 
the circumstances Capt. D. is the proper person, that he 
will be selected. But I think no assurance should be pven 
in advance to any officer. Please notify the Capt. of tfiis 

Millard Filluore. 

P. S. I return all the papers. 

Nnr Deparlment. 

Tlie forcgoiag letter wu wriiten bj Pmidenl Fillmore on the bub of i 
letter from Willuin A. Gnbim. Secretarr of the Navy, dited Novemlter is. 
1851, in which the Secteury lUtei hit reply lo ■ requeiE from CUptiia Bladn 
DnUnj. who on November 7, iSji. ipplied for a ehinge in command. There 
■re (lis filed with the abore in the Navy Department aevernt letter*, beiaf 
cone*pondeDce between Diplsia Dnluij and tbc Department, to one oi whid 
a note of leference baa been added b; the Pretident. 



[Washington], Dec. 7, 1851. 
Secretary of State, 

My dear Sir : I cut the enclosed from an editorial of the 
N. Y. Herald yesterday. It seems to me to be in direct vio- 
lation of the treaty. Is there any information on the subject 
in the State Dept. ? 

Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 


It is highly desirable, and it is high time to have an interpreta- 
tion of the Nicaragua treaty. It either means something or nothing. 
That the British agents in Nicaragua regard it as a dead letter, we 
have the satisfactory proof in the late outrage and in the author- 
ity upon which it was committed. We have upon our table a 
pamphlet, entitled "Municipal Ordinances, for the government and 
regulation of the city and port of Greytown, in the kingdom of 
Mosquito; also, the harbor regulations and schedule of port charges, 
as adopted by the City Council of Gre3rtown. Printed by J. de 
Cordova, Kingdom, Jamaica, 1851." The preamble to this pamphlet 
is as follows: 

"Whereas, On the 15th day of April, Anno Domini, 1851, at 
Gre3rtown, in the kingdom of Mosquito, did assemble, at the request 
of his Majesty's agent, James Green, Esq., her Britannic Majesty's 
Acting Agent and Consul General, the house-holders, residents of 
the said town; and in public Convention did agree to a town gov- 
ernment for Greytown, upon the following basis," etc. 

Then follows a statement of the election of the five aldermen of 
the corporation, who were sworn in by her Majesty's agent, and 
the validity of this organization is certified by James Green, Chair- 
man, the Council. The city constitution and the laws and regulations 
of the port, bear the same endorsement of ratification. 

Webster collection. Library of CongreM. 

giving a reference to VATTEL. 

Dec. II, '51. 
To the Secretary of State : 

My dear Sir : In answer to your note I would say that 
my edition of Vattel is 1849. 


0»p. 19 tnsts OB Ae n^jcct, it pige ioo-iq}. In Stt- 
tkns 3i8-aao ft note b. to tfie litter. 

Tn^ yours, 

Mm Alt FlLLMOn. 

See ibo Whman'i Swe trials, p. 89 lor JflffasonVkb 
ter to Mr. Morris. Sime 3 Jeffennn's Con-, ^i. 

wkjOOHE to kossdth. 

Dec 16 [1851]. 
The Prendent herewiA tniumtts Ae Hon. Seqr of Stite 
die joint resfdatioa of welcome to Kossirth. 

The Preskteat would soggest Hut a copy be sent bf die 
diief clerk or qiecial mesaaiger, and diat tlie letter ezpRM 
simply ms cordnl coucui reuce m ttie Resnittioti. 


Tlie President desires to see the Secretary of State on a 
confidential matter and will call at his convenience. 
Friday l P. M. Jany. 9 [1852]. 


January la [?i852). 
The President has the honor herewith to return to the 
Secretary of State his despatch No. 38 to our Minister at 
Paris, with his approbation of its general tenor. But begs 
leave to suggest that a sentence be marked on the 3d page, 
would seem to convey the idea that the United States would 


not consider a government as lawfully established unless it 
was founded by the consent of the people. This may not be 
material in this case as the people seem to have ratified the 
Revolution ; but is the sentiment quite correct? Do we ever 
require more than that implied assent, which is to be in- 
ferred merely from the stability of the new government, and 
its apparent power to maintain itself? and would not any 
scrutiny beyond this to ascertain whether it was founded by 
the consent of the people be difficult and inconvenient? I 
make these suggestions because this despatch will undoubt- 
edly form a model for all despatches hereafter in similar 
cases; and some may arise where the government is per- 
manent, but was not founded by the consent of the people. 
If I am right in these suggestions, the sentence might be 
transposed so as to read, 

*'Whatever form of government may exist in a country 
which appears to be settled and permanent, or which as in 
this case has received the sanction of the people, the United 
States regard as legitimately established.'* 

Qiieref Will not the allusion to wars and bloodshed to 
establish liberty, and the failure of the object, as mentioned 
on the 4th page, give unnecessary offence to the French gov- 
ernment and nation ? 

Webster collection. Library of Congress. 
Autograph letter, not signed. 


Washington, Jany. 22, 1852. 


My dear Sir : I received the inclosed copy of the address 
of the Baltimore Committee just as I was retiring to bed 
at II, last night. 

I think you had better draft an answer, and say by the 
bearer when you can have it ready, and I will call a meeting 
of the Cabinet. 


r will see you It yotir ofike if you will let nie know when 
you come. 

MiLLAiD Fnunm. 

Webtui coTlMtloa. Larary of 


The President hu die honor to enclose to the Secreteiy 
of State a copy of tbt Atty. Gen's ofMnion as to die powtr 
to remove the Terrttorial Jndge in Min&esola, raqttestad t; 
Ihe Judiciary committee of Hk Senitte and would be ^ad ID 
have the Secretary add any suggestkns or arguments of 
his own. 

Jany. 24 i?l853]. 

; Ubnry o( CoofrcM. 


Washington City, April 17th, 1852, 
The Attobney General, 

My dear Sir: Some time in March, 1S51, an application 
was made to me to pardon Daniel Drayton and Edward 
Sears, convicted in this District of assisting slaves to escape. 
My impression is that I referred the papers to you for a 
legal opinion on the power of the Executive to grant a par- 
don in such a case. The application is again renewed and 
on inquiry at the State Department the papers cannot be 
found, hut according to my recollection they were convicted 
of the offence under an old law of Maryland hy which they 
were suhject to a fine for each slave, one half to the use of 
the master and the other share to some charitable institu- 
tion, and that the amount of this fine was some fourteen 
thousand dollars and that they were to stand committed 
until it was paid. If I am right in this state of facts, which 


you will be able to ascertain from the papers if they are 
with you, I then wish your opinion on the constitutional 
power of the Executive to gjant a pardon which shall release 
these convicts from their liability to pay this fine to the use 
of the owner of the slaves and the benefit of the charitable 
institution. And in determining this matter I should like 
also your opinion on the question, Whether this conviction 
deprives the owner of the slaves of his civil action for the 
injury which he has sustained ; and, Whether, if I grant a 
pardon, which releases the convicts from imprisonment, a 
civil action could be maintained by the master against the 
convict on the adjudication in this criminal prosecution. 
These latter questions are only material in case I have the 
power to grant a pardon at all. 

I shall be happy to have your opinion on the subject at 
your earliest convenience. 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Crittenden collection. Library of Congress. 


Washington City, May 17th, 1852. 

The Secretary of the Navy, 

My dear Sir: I have just issued an authority to Hugh 
Maxwell, Collector at New York, under the 8th section of 
the Act of April 20, 1818, to arrest any unlawful expedition 
that may be attempted to be fitted out within his district, 
and I have given him power to call upon any military and 
naval officers, that may be there, to aid him in the execution 
of this duty, and I will thank you to issue the necessary in- 
structions to the Naval officer in that district. 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 



IIn Pnadett ic^iectjEi% nqaefts tfac Seci<eti«7,o£Sttle 
to attend Ac Cabioet HediDg toAtj tf la o'dodt- 

[By A Sttrtlmy^ 


WAsaiHonnr Cmr. Majr ij^. iSs^t 

My DBAS Sn: I hemritfa retain Mr. H«^'a letter* wfapA 
jou handed me diis nKMning, and shall gire his qiplkatioB 
doe conuderatioa. 

I amyoor obt Benrt* 


RoBEiT Bbalb, Esq., 

Se^fcant at Anns to the Senate. 


Washihgton City, May 20th, 1852. 
[To Daniel Webster] 

My dear Sir : Yours of the 12th inst. came duly to hand, 
but I have delayed answering it, for the purpose of seeing 
a translation of Mr. Htilsemann's letter, which I did not get 
imtil yesterday. I am exceedingly gratified to learn that 
your injury was not so severe but that we may soon hopt to 
see you with us again. The anecdote, which you relate of 
your old friend who watched you so intently in the moment 
of danger, is truly touching, and the graphic manner in 
which you have described it presents a scene, which would 
form a beautiful subject for a painting. It must have been 
some gratification, at least, amid your afflictions to witness 
the universal sympathy at your misfortune, and the deep 


interest which everyone took in your recovery. I perceive, 
by the papers, that you are soon to speak at Faneuil Hall, 
and I therefore infer, that, with the exception of your hands 
and arms, you are quite recovered. 

In regard to a further reply to Mr. Hiilsemann's letter 
we will consider of that when you return. My own impres- 
sion is, however, that the most dignified as well as expedient 
course for us, will be, to limit the reply or communication 
to Mr. McCurdy to that part of it which complains of the 
disclosure of his communications by the State Department. 
Mr. Bodisco expressed a doubt to me whether he is the 
"Hiilsemann," the Author of the Travels in America, which 
were so justly and severely criticised in the North American 
Review. But whether he be or not, it seems to me that he is 
hardly worth, as you say, "a discharge of the lower tier," 
and it might serve further to irritate the Austrian Govern- 
ment, with which it is our interest, if possible, to be on good 

The Mexican Minister has not yet been received, but 
probably will be on Saturday. I have a copy of his address, 
which is quite general with warm professions of friendship 
and a desire to maintain amicable relations between the two 
Governments. I am a little apprehensive, from what Presi- 
dent Arista says in his letter to me, that Mr. Letcher went 
farther than was intended, in threatening the Mexican 
Government with an interruption of our peaceful relations 
in case she did not ratify the treaty. By assuming to treat 
with her, we certainly conceded, that she had a right either 
to adopt or reject the treaty. It was our duty, as well to 
the Tehuantepec Company as to the United States, to make 
every reasonable effort to secure this right of way and pro- 
tect whatever rights the Company might have under the 
Garay grant, but the rights of the Company, like the rights 
of every other contractor with a foreign nation, or its sub- 
jects, are rights growing out of a private contract, and if 
the Mexican government refuses to fulfill that contract, the 
proprietors doubtless have a claim for pecuniary indemnity, 
but that is to be settled, like every other claim of this kind 


diat our citizens amy hare agtHntt a fatngn goven^HBL 
President Arista tunits, tint ibejr ue wBUog to (laMt Ac 
right of way to oar cHinns. or odiers, who wffl a w mi a rt 
the railroad. But I infer, fl»t ttie great objection lo the 
Garay grant cOlittSts m tbe fatt, that a large territory was 
granted with it, on eacb side of Ihe proposed railroad, and 
a much larger teirit ot y wu to be open to colonization, and 
that the Mexicans were justiy apprehensive, that if the 
Americans established BO large a colony on the Southern 
boarders of thek ttrrttory, diat it nught turn out to be an- 
other Texan c<>loa]r which would involve their nation in war, 
and might result in anotfitr annexation; and. considering - 
whal has passed, diese apprehensions were not unreasonable. 
Since you left, Mr. Hargout has submitted a proposition on 
the subject, which if aAoptei by tfie Administration, and 
sanctioned by Congress, would, I doubt not, finally result 
in a war between Ac two coontries. Certainly notttn^ bit 
been left undone, that could have heea done, to secmc the 
rigfati of the Company, and giurantee than by a trea^ 
between Mexico mi the Unit^ States ; but the treaty hu ' 
biled, and under sod) circumstances, that I am "H't^nt^ 
that it can never be ratified, and I shall therefore now wut 
to see what propositions the new Mexican minister is authcv- 
ized to make, and I doubt not you will be here before it is 
necessary to consider them. 

I banded your letter to Mr. Hunter that he might copy 
for you that part of it which you desire. The weather is 
yet quite cool, and a fire is not uncomfortable in the morn- 
ing. It would be agreeable at all times to have you here, 
and especially at the Council board, but yet there is nothii^ 
particularly pressing, and I beg of you, to make yourself 
contented and happy, without any unnecessary anxiety about 
matters here, until you shall feel yourself perfectly restored 
and able to return, when I shall be most happy to welcome 
y^"' I am your obt. servt,, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Iter . . . edited hj C. H. Vu Trt,' 




Washington City, June 3rd, 1852. 

The Secretary of the Navy, 

My dear Sir : I have the honor herewith to inclose you 
a report of the Fourth Auditor, received through the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury, stating the delinquents under the 
Act of January 31st, 1823. I beg leave to call your atten- 
tion to the delinquency of Mr. Sutherland*, and shall be 
happy to have your advice in reference to that, or any other 
delinquency, under the act of January 31st, 1823. 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 

There are other letters from the Treasury Department to the Navy Depart- 
ment on this matter. One of June 8» 1853, was referred to the President and 
bears his endorsement: "Have steps been taken to compel a settlement of this 
account? H. F." 

Lieut. J. D. Sutherland of the Navy was acting as Paymaster of the 
ICarine Corps at the time mentioned. The Fourth Auditcft- referred to above 
was A. O. Dayton; the Secretary of the Treasury, Thomas Corwin. 


Washington City, 
Tuesday I2j^ o'clock P. M., June 29th, 1852. 

The Secretary of the Navy. 

Sir: The tolling bells announce the death of the Hon. 
Henry Clay. Though this event has been long anticipated, 
yet the painful bereavement could never be fully realized. I 
am sure all hearts are too sad at this moment to attend 
to business and I therefore respectfully suggest that your 
Department be closed for the remainder of the day. 
I have the honor to be 

Your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 

This letter is followed by the order of Secretary Graham closing the 
Department as suggested. 


■man A1I0M or acaxiAKi "1^^**^ 

GxBomn Mahbiok, WASHmoraf Cmr, Jane scA, 1851. 

Sis: I received lut eveniiief witli onftigiied ngnt, 700 
letter of die aSth iiut, tendering your resignatioa u Secre- 
tarjr of die Navy. Our official intercouraeliu been iQiafr 
mste and ao entirdy. hannonious that it seema Uke pliliflK 
witti one o< nty own fimi^ to lose you from tfaeConm 
Board; and I am quite rare that every mendicr of die Cd^ 
net win thare widi me in diia feding. 

I owe you many thanka for the ablc^ &^fiil and aaft» 
tial manner in whidi you have admia^stered your atfut* 
ment;and I take thia occasimi toiaydiat yoor offidal eoft* 
duct has at all times met my cntin approraL 

I ^q>reciate, most fully, the hig^ sense of ddkacf and 
p r o p r i e ty on your part whidi induces you to separate fvon 
the Administratioo at this time, lest it mig^ be tteimiTUteS 
by your axmection with it in the coming contest I aui: nbt 
regret die canse which compels yon to diis act h owwtr f 
may regret die act itself. It would have been gratifying^ 
me, if die Constitutional advisers with whom I conuncBced 
my administration, and who have acted so cordially tc^ether, 
could have remained a unit in person and sentiment until 
its close. But fate and the sovereign people have ordered 
otherwise. I yield to the necessity of the case, and shall 
but not without great reluctance, comply with your request 
by accepting your resignation as soon as I can find a suc- 
cessor "to supply your place. 

Hoping that the Country may appreciate your merits as 
I hare done and reward you accordingly, I remain 
Your sincere friend, 

MiLLAKD Fillmore. 
Hon. W. a. Graham, 

Secy, of Ntwy. 



Washington City, July 6th, 1852. 

Hon. John J. Crittenden, 

Attorney General: 

My dear Sir: I have received from Alderman [J. 
Franklin] Reigart of Lancaster City, Pennsylvania, a letter 
complaining most bitterly of the conduct of the First Comp- 
troller, Mr. Whittlesey, in not allowing to the full extent 
his and other claims upon the Treasury of the United States 
for alleged services in arresting the reputed murderers of 
Mr. Gorsuch at Christiana. I felt it my duty to refer the 
letter at once to the First Comptroller for consideration and 
report ; and I have just received his report on the subject, 
dated on the 29th ult., accompanied by voluminous copies 
of letters and accounts, numbered from one to four inclu- 
sive, all of which, together with the Alderman's letter, I 
respectfully refer to you. It appears by the report of Mr. 
Whittlesey, which I have read, that you have had some 
knowledge of this affair heretofore, and I have not time 
to go through with the documents which accompany the 
report. Will you therefore do me the favor to examine the 
whole, and give me your opinion as to whether the First 
Comptroller has, or has not, faithfully discharged his duty 
in the premises, and if he has not, please to specify in what 
particular he has failed to do so. Your report on this sub- 
ject at your earliest convenience will much oblige 

Your obt. servt., Millard Fillmore. 

Attorney General's Oflke, Department of Justice. 

The papers mentioned are filed with this letter in the Attorney General's 
office, Department of Justice, but Crittenden's report is not with them. 


Washington City, July 8th, 1852. 

Hon. Daniel Webster, 

Secretary of State, Boston, Mass. 

My dear Sir : Messrs. Crampton and Sartiges asked an 
interview which I granted day before yesterday, at which 


they renewed their former suggestkms in reference to OdML 
I found they had misunderstood our views as to the proper 
time for considering this subject, and I repeated tiiem, willi 
which tfiey appeared to be satisfied. Mr. Cramptm has 
today addressed a note on the subject to die DqiartsieBt, 
whidi I have just read. It is merely an argomem a lillk 
more in extenso than his verbal coommnicatioii ia lavor of 
the proposition which France and England had sofaRiitfced 
It occurs to me, on further reflection, that the Sandwkh 
Islands are likely to present about the same difficnhy as 
Cuba, and that whenever the subject is taken up for con- 
siderati(m it might be advisable to consider and settle bolb 
at the same time. Please think of diis subject, and give me 
your views. There will be ample time to consider the whole 
before we shall be called upcm to act 

Mr. Hunter has sent up the draft of a reply to the Peru- 
vian Minister's note on the subject of die islands of Lobos. 
I confess that I have some doubts, whether the partial occu- 
pation of the islands by the inhabitants of Peru for fishing, 
hunting, and gathering tggs, and the assumption by the 
state to regulate these subjects by legislation, as alleged in 
the Peruvian Minister's note, if true, has not given to Peru 
a better claim to these islands than can be possessed by other 
nations. Perhaps I am a little over-scrupulous on this sub- 
ject, in consequence of the weakness of Peru to defend her 
rights. I shall be very unwilling to exact from her what I 
would be unwilling to claim, vender similar circumstances, 
from Great Britain or France ; and I wish to take no posi- 
tion on this subject that shall be either unjust before the 
world, or from which I may be compelled to recede hereafter. 
It is true that the islands do not lie within a marine league of 
the Peruvian coast ; consequently, their proximity is not such 
as to make them a part of the Peruvian Republic. I know 
not that she claims anything as first discoverer, but even 
such claim can amount to nothing, unless it be followed by 
occupation or possession. In this case it is manifest that 
the islands themselves are uninhabitable, and perhaps it is 
equally clear that the Peruvians have occupied them in the 


only way they are susceptible of occupation, — that is, by 
occasional visits to them for hunting, fishing, &c., and the 
assertion of a right to control them by l^slation. The 
question, therefore, narrows itself to this; — Can any one 
nation appropriate a barren desert island to its own use, 
which is uninhabitable for want of water, by occasionally 
occupying it for specified objects of a brief and transient 
character? If it can, then I think Peru has an exclusive 
right to control these islands, but if not, then they must, 
like the ocean, be deemed common property to all nations, 
to be used by each for its own convenience in such a way 
as not to prejudice the rights of all others. The latter I 
perceive is contemplated by your reply to the Peruvian Min- 
ister, but I shall withhold it, until I hear further from you 
on the subject. j ^^ ^^^ ^^t. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Collections, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, N. H. 


Washington City, July i6th, 1852. 

Hon. Daniel Webster, 

My dear Sir: I received yesterday three letters from 
you, all dated at Franklin, N. H., on the 13th inst., and am 
gratified to learn that you have reached that cool retreat 
without accident, and that you seem to be enjoying the 
scenery of your early days with a relish that few can appre- 
ciate. I am pleased to see that the Bostonians have honored 
themselves, in honoring you, by a splendid and cordial recep- 
tion. It is quite manifest that a change has come over the 
spirit of their dreams within the past year. 

The Mexican Minister has replied to your last note to 
him, as I am informed, that he has no propositions to submit, 
but as his letter is not yet translated I have not seen it. I 
think the Senate will, in a few days call for the whole cor- 
respondence, and as the matter may now be considered as 
closed, I see no objection to giving it to them. They have 

ta^KtAL utrtats. 

Jttst tailed for Mr. WaUi's eonw^andoice, in refereaeetD 

HtTli I viab you woidd consider serioodyiriatobjecliom 
be to die recogiri t ioii of the independence of 
Ibyti and Ae Domiiticta R^ifl^ ud of Ubcria. Sow 
trei^ it^MiIation» woold gTeatly {adlitate oar growing 
Cotnwcfce witli Qrm puces. 

Welisve jost recdved the correspondenoe trattSndtted to 
Plriitment, in reference to the L6bos ishnds, wfaidh cxfeaidi 
from die years '33 to '5a. I hare glanced at it, and $mi 
fbat the British Government was stron^y pressed by Ac 
commercial and agricnttoral interests to take Ae fpoaai, 
tint Pern had no exclusive right to those islands, and AM 
an nations had an equal right to take goaoo from Aem, and 
Aey aslred Aat their metdiant vessels might be protected 
by a man of war in the exercise of this rig^; but AeGov^ 
emment refnsed to grant ttie request, considering that Fera 
bad a claim wi A whidi England bad no right to interf en 
Under Secretary Lord Stanley expresang the views of Lord 
Fabnerston in bis letter of May lOA, 1851, says: "tSt 
Lordship does not find in Ac IVruvian Constitations ptd>- 
Usbed after Pern had separated itself fnmi Spain, any men- 
ti<Hi of those islands as being dependencies of Peru ; but it 
appears to Lord Palmerston that their proximity to Peni 
would give to that state a prima facie claim to them. 

"But be this as it may. Lord Palmerston fears that there 
is no ground upon which the British Government would be 
justified in claiming for British subjects the right to appro- 
priate at their pleasure the guano to be found on those 

The same sentiment was reiterated by Under Secretary 
Addington as late as April 26th, 185a. You may desire 
to see this document before you reply to the Peruvian Min- 
ister's letter. 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Hon. Daniel Webster, 

Secretary of Stale, Boston, Mass. 

CallcctiiHU, New Himpihire Hulorical Sodelr, CoaEOtd, N. H. 



Washington City, July 17th, 1852. 

The Secretary of the Navy, 

My dear Sir : Will you be so kind as to refer Mr. [N.] 
Randall's letter, addressed to me, which I sent to your 
Department, requesting that provisions might be packed in 
Onondaga solar salt, to the Secretary of War for a report 
from his Department upon the same subject. I have received 
your report and shall forward it to Mr. Randall. 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 
Endorsed : "Done July 19." 

The Secretary of War acknowledged the receipt of the above on July 
24, 185a, and returned the letter of Randall at that time. See Fillmore to 
Graham, June 17, 1851. 

OUR fishermen off NEWFOUNDLAND. 

Washington City, July 20th, 1852. 

Hon. Daniel Webster, 

Secretary of State. 

My dear Sir: Your note of the 17th dated at Frank- 
lin came to hand this morning, inclosing a copy of yours of 
the same date to Mr. Crampton, and Mr. Hunter has shown 
me your telegraphic despatch of yesterday, requesting him 
to ask me whether it was not best to send one of our naval 
ships to Newfoundland to look after the disturbances among 
the fishermen. I have also perused your article in the Bos- 
ton Courier of yesterday, and sincerely hope that these dif- 
ficulties will not prove as serious as you seem to anticipate. 
I have seen Mr. Crampton who informs me that he will leave 
for Boston to-morrow morning, for the purpose of having a 
consultation with you upon the subject of the fisheries. He 
informs me also, that he has addressed a circular to the 
several governors of the British Provinces of North America 
advising moderation and forbearance upon this subject. I 

OfFtCtdL LSTT^tS. 

dcNibt not dut when yon ind he meet yoa win be aUe tn 
afree tipoa «oaie tine of piooeeding that will allq^ the pn*- 
oit oEOtement and prevecl any bloodsTied. 

I woald toggest that you unite in a publication in which 
yon should expnu yoor regrets that any misunderstanding 
had ariaen between our fishermen engaged in the fisheries 
at Newfoundlind, and the colonial subjects of Great Britain; 
diat the <Kfferences of opinion which have arisen between 
die two govemmeots, in reference to their respective rights 
onder the Convention of 1818. have called the attention of 
both Goveminents to die mbject, and that togedier with the 
SQbjcct of reciprocal trade between Her Majectjrs Prarinoci 
of North America and the United St^es, wiU doobtkfll 
becmne the immediate subject of n^otiation between the 
two countriet ; that in the mean time and tmtil these maOxn 
can be amtcaUy adjusted you bodi concur in die of^aiao 
diat under die Treaty of 1818 our citizens had the uDqaca- 
tioned right of fishing on the sodthers and western Shore 
of the island of Newfoundland, lying between Qtt islands 
of Ramea on the south and the i^and of Quiperon on the 
North, and of entering npon any unoccupied lands upon 
the shore of said island between Cape Ray and said island 
of Ramea, for the purpose of drying and curing fish ; and 
also of fishing upon the shores of the Magdalen island ; and 
with regard to all the rest of the island of Newfoundland, 
and the other islands and main land of Nova Scotia and 
New Brunswick, the English Government, so far as they 
have not conceded it to the French, have the exclusive right 
of Ashing in all the waters adjacent to such islands or main 
land and within three marine miles of the Shore ; but as for 
those waters in the several bays and harbors which are more 
than three marine miles from the shore of such bay or har- 
bor upon either side, and within three marine miles of a 
straight line drawn from one head land to the other of such 
bay or harbor, that you as the representative of the United 
States conceived that our fishermen' have the right under 
the treaty to fish therein, but the British Government having 
held that by a true construction of the Treaty such right 


belonged exclusively to British subjects, and as those waters 
were thus in dispute between the two nations, you respect- 
ively advised the citizens and subjects of both countries not 
to attempt to exercise any right that either claimed within 
the disputed waters until this disputed right could be ad- 
justed by amicable negotiation. 

I perceive by the papers that your publication in the 
Boston Courier is somewhat misunderstood, and has conse- 
quently created unnecessary alarm; and some such joint 
publication as I have suggested above will, I think, quiet the 
apprehensions of the country, and be generally acquiesced 
in and obeyed by the parties engaged in the fisheries. I do 
not, of course, intend to indicate the precise words of such 
a declaration, as I write in much haste, and you are much 
more competent to prepare the article than I am. As to the 
subjects of negotiation, beyond those growing out of the 
construction of the Treaty of 1818, I will write you more 
fully hereafter. I do not know whether our citizens engag^ 
in the fisheries seek for anything more than what they would 
obtain under the Treaty of 1818 if it received the construc- 
tion for which we contend. If they do, then that will be one 
additional subject of negotiation ; the right of navigating the 
St. Lawrence and the Welland Canal will of course be 
another ; but the reciprocal trade between us and the British 
Provinces is one which I greatly prefer should be settled 
by legislation. If however that cannot be done, it may be 
best to settle it by a treaty for a limited time. But as I said 
before, I will write you more fully upon this subject when 
I have had more time for reflection. 

I have seen the Secretary of the Navy, who says the 
Mississippi Steam Frigate, Capt. McCluney, is now at New 
York and could be sent to the Banks of Newfoundland, if 
desired. She is however as you are aware intended as the 
flag ship of Capt. Perry and of course will soon be wanted 
for that Expedition. I thought however that I would wait 
until you and Mr. Crampton had settled upon something 
definite, from which proper instructions might be drawn, 
before I ordered the vessel to proceed to that destination. 


Regretting that this unfortunate business compels you to 
leave the mountains and valleys of your native stale, but 
hoping that it will detain you but a short time, I remain. 
Truly & Sincerely Yours, 

Millard Fillhoke. 
Hon, Daniel Websteh, 

Secretary of State, Boston, Mass. 

Collccliotu, New HsDipshiic HiMoricmt Socklr. Caaeord, M. H. 


Washington Citv, July Z4th, 1852. 
Hon, Dakiel Webster. 
_ Secretary of State, 

Boston, Masstts. 
. MydbakSik: I wrote you hattily on the aotfi uuI ye»- 
terday received yours of die 21st, dated at Boston, faun 
which I infw that yoa had not receircd mine at the tteieof 
wrttin;. I promised in tiiat commanicatioo to write 70a 
farther oa »e subject of the proposed reciprocity of tnde 
between us and the British Provinces, and with that view 
I consulted the members of the Cabinet at our weekly meet- 
ing on Wednesday, all of whom seemed to be averse to 
making it the subject of treaty stipulation. I have reflected 
much on the subject since, and with a view of obtaining 
some necessary information have requested the Secretary 
of the Treasury to report to me the amount and value of 
the articles proposed to be interchanged free of duty, which 
had been exported or imported into Canada within the last 
three years. I have not yet received his report ; but this 
subject involves questions of such delicate and vital import- 
ance that I think if the negotiation is to be entered upon at 
all, it will be indispensible that it be done here, where the 
whole matter can be weighed in alt its bearings. The fol- 
lowing questions well deserve consideration : 

First. The express power having been given by the Con- 
stitution to Congress, to regulate commerce with foreign 


nations, and to lay and collect duties, has this deprived the 
treaty-making power of authority so to regulate commerce, 
as to declare that no duty shall be collected on a particular 
article imported into this country from abroad? 

Secondly. Assuming that the treaty-making power may 
stipulate to admit certain articles free of duty, is it expedi- 
ent to exercise that power at this time and in this case? 

Thirdly. What effect would such a treaty stipulation 
have upon that clause in our commercial treaties which 
declares, that no higher duty shall be imposed upon any 
goods imported from the country with whom the treaty was 
made, than is charged upon goods of the same kind imported 
from any other country ? For instance, would such a stipu- 
lation as this which proposes to admit hemp and wool free 
of duty from Canada justify Russia or England in claiming 
the same privileges for their hemp and wool ? 

Fourthly. What will be the effect upon the wool grow- 
ing and hemp raising portions of the United States, if we 
permit the hemp and wool from Canada to come in free ? 

Fifthly and lastly. What is to be the effect of such a 
measure upon the general principle of protection, which it 
has been our policy to maintain, so far as necessary to 
encourage the industry of the country? 

It seems to me that these questions require such con- 
sideration before we enter upon a negotiation of this kind 
as can only be had by a mutual and free interchange of sen- 
timent at the council board, and I am rather averse to nego- 
tiating upon this subject under a state of things that looks 
a little like coercion on the part of Great Britain, in refer- 
ence to our fisheries. I had intended to have written you 
more fully but have been too busy. These questions, how- 
ever, will suggest to you the difficulties that surround this 
case. You will recollect that our opinion has been that the 
question of reciprocal trade should be settled by legislation 
and not by treaty. 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Collections, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, N. H. 


■KtRAiv cbahak's usiGirAiKHr Aooorani 

WASHuraroK Cm, Jvfy a^fh, iflss. 

Ifoll. W. A. C^AHAM, 

S§entary of the Nary, 
Snt: In my letter to joa of Ae jotfa nlL acknowledging 
the ree^it of yours tendering yoor rei^mtion as Secretary 
of Hie Navy. I imraued to aocqrt it, as soon as I could find 
a successor to 8tq>pty yoor jdace. Having now accomplished 
Aat object I rehictantty ooaply wilfa that prcnnise, and 
herd^ accept your resignatian to take effect on and after 
the 35th instant 

■ I am yoor obt senrt, 


Skwj Dtftitmnm. 

Washjxgton, July 05. 185a. 
Hon. Daniel Websibb, 

Secretary of State, Boston, 

My dear Sir: I wrote you hastily at 2 p. m. yesterday 
suggesting some of the difficulties that wiU present them- 
selves in any negotiation to settle by treaty a reciprocal free 
trade with tfie British Provinces, in certain specified articles, 
and concluded that if the matter was attempted at all it 
should be done here, after a full and free interchange of 
sentiments at the Council Board. 

At 6 p. m. I received your telegram from Boston, saying 
you had written me, and enquiring if you should notify the 
Colonial authorities that we would not submit to the seizure 
of our fishing vessels. I immediately convened a Cabinet 
council at 8 last evening, when we discussed your proposi- 
tion, and I replied in substance that I thought all our com- 
munications should be to the British Government, or its 
Minister and not to the Colonial authorities ; but that it was 
impossible to settle these matters by telegraph, and though 


I regretted to trouble you, I thought the whole matter ought 
at once to be transferred to the seat of government. I hope 
you concur with me in this view of the case and that you 
may be able to give me the benefit of your counsel here, on 
this troublesome matter, without delay. But if it be incon- 
venient or your health will be likely to suffer by the journey, 
then I beg you to remain, and we will do the best we can 
without you. 

I could not, in a telegram, inform you why I thought it 
not best to make your proposed communication to the Colo- 
nial authorities. But they were, first, Because by saying 
that we would not submit to a Seizure, might be saying that 
we would not submit to abide by the Stipulations of a treaty 
to which we had voluntarily assented, for some signers 
might be perfectly legal and just, others doubtful, and then 
again others clearly illegal and imjust. Therefore while we 
would submit to the former, and contest the doubtful, we 
would resist the latter not by remonstrance merely but by 
force if necessary. Secondly. I could not explain these 
shades of difference by telegraph, and a general refusal to 
submit might be deemed a threat, that would unnecessarily 
stir up anger, cause popular agitation and premature com- 
mitments on both sides, and finally place us in the wrong by 
appearing before the world to have claimed that to which 
we were not entitled. 

Thirdly, the Colonies had no power to settle this matter, 
and it seemed to me therefore somewhat irregular for us, 
officially, to communicate with them on the subject. I know 
not that it would be deemed disrespectful by the home gov- 
ernment, yet nations are apt to be sensitive on any point 
that touches their national honor ; and perhaps we can best 
appreciate this by imagining how we should feel if G. 
Britain in a National controversy growing out of treaty 
Stipulations should address herself, officially, to state au- 
thorities, and declare to them that [ ? what] she would or 
would not do. 

But, lastly, I thought this matter had become so import- 
ant, and delicate that nothing more should be done, until we 

■» OPiPiadS, LETTERS. 

bad irtttrt at Mdeam ecBdntt prociMif irint our rigito 
. in reiocnce to the matter m coBtnncrsy. It if aA 
inqmrtut tint die ptdrik nuai Aoold not be mUcdondm 
sabjcct We mut, evem at tfa* ncrifice of self interest, gi\-e 
to Gnat Kitain all that die baa a riffiit to claim under the 
TUb beaig done, oar omt rig^ must be main- 
taned at every baiard and at any sacrifice. 

We must clearly distinguish between rights under the 
Treaty and tiie «ni<9ittent of prrrikges, which have beeo 
tadtl^ conceded, by G. Britain by not iaststiiig upon a strict 
oooq^ianoe wiA its provivans. We can sot be deprived of 
^ former wi tho u t our own consent, bst dte latter we must 
enjoy at the mer^ oi Ax ri^tfal owner, li. however, she 
has permitted us to enjc^ ihem ao long that the uninter- 
rupted use of tftem, has justiy created a confidence, that this 
permissioa was to ooathme, and our peof^e have been in- 
duced to mala gntt ocpenditures in antictpation of it, then 
certainly we faave an equkaUe claim upon the government 
of G. Britain, that it should give reasoiable notice of her 
intention to resume her rights under the treaty that our 
people may not be more injured by her gracious indulg:ence 
which she has extended than they would have been had she 
exacted with the utmost rigor all she was ever entitled to 
claim under the treaty. But for this, we must appeal to her 
magnanimity, her sense of justice, — and not to arms — and I 
can not believe the appeal will be made in vain. 

Finally, let us first settle our respective rights, and then 
enforce our own. I fear G. B. is right in her construction of 
the treaty, but at all events it is sufficiently doubtful for ar- 
bitrament. But the bell rings for church and I must close. 
Excuse errors for I have not time to review or copy. 
Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

CoIIcctioDi, New Hampsbife Hittorical Sodctr, Omcord. N. H. 



Washington City, July 29th, 1852. 

Hon. Daniel Webster, 

Secretary of State, Boston, Massts., 

My dear Sir : I received two letters from you yesterday, 
both bearing date at Marshfield July 25th ; and in reference 
to the one of a private character, I think you offer very 
satisfactory reasons for the course which you have concluded 
to adopt, although my first impressions were otherwise. I 
wrote you on Saturday and on Sunday, but of course you 
had not received either of them. I have concluded to send 
Capt. Perry with the Mississippi to the fishing grounds to 
give protection to our fishermen, if any be needed, and to 
inquire into the whole matter and report here. He received 
his instructions and left yesterday. I informed Senator 
Mason that I should send in the Convention between the 
United States and Great Britain, which had been prema- 
turely published by Mr. Harvey, but Mr. Hunter brought to 
my recollection the fact, that you desired to accompany my 
message with a report of the reasons, which induced the 
Government to enter into that arrangement; and he said 
that you had been furnished with the requisite papers to pre- 
pare such a report during your absence. I am anxious to 
send this to the Senate as soon as possible, lest the delay may 
take away the grace of the act, and I shall therefore be 
happy to receive your report at your earliest convenience. I 
think I will accompany it with tfie evidence which has been 
collected to show that the publication did not take place 
through any connivance or negligence of the officers in your 
Department or of the Diplomatic Corps. I shall wait with 
some solicitude for your decision on the other matter to 
which you refer in your private note. 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Collectioni, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, N. H. 



Washington City, July 30th, 1852. 
Hon. John J. Chittenden. 

Mv DEAR Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith, an 
Act of Congress to grant the right of way through the pub- 
lic lands of the United States to certain roads, and I desire 
your opinion, whether the provisions of the Act will extend 
to lands which have been purchased by the United States 
for lighthouses, barracks, hospitals, arsenals, armories, 
navy-yards, and other like purposes. I will call your atten- 
tion particularly to the proviso to Section third of the Bill 
As the Bill is sent down for my approval, I shall be happy 
to have your opinion at your earliest convenience. 
I am truly yours, 

complications in NICARAGUA. 

Washington, Aug. 23rd, 1852. 
The Secretary of State, 

My dear Sir: I herewith return the despatch of Mr. 
Kerr from Nicaragua, and regret to see that all our efforts 
to settle the territorial question have been frustrated by the 
insolence and folly of the Canal agents in that country, and 
the perverscness of Marcoleta and his associates operating 
upon the prejudices, hopes and fears of the people of Nica- 
ragua. I do not myself perceive that anything more can be 
done while these adverse agencies are in operation. I do 
not see that Mr. Walsh has made any report, but he informed 
me that before he arrived in Nicaragua the hostility of the 
Senate to the proceedings of the Administration was made 



known there, and evidently had a very unfavorable influ- 
ence upon our efforts. The similarity of sentiment which 
has manifested itself in our Senate here and in the Nica- 
raguan Legislature shows that it had a common origin, to 
wit, Marcoleta, and increases the suspicion that he was the 
person who disclosed the convention. Is the proof strong 
enough to justify a request for his recall? Certainly he can 
be of no further use here. 

I am truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Webster collection, Library of CongreM. 


Washington, Augt. 27th, 1852. 

The Secretary of State, 

My dear Sir : I herewith return the papers for the ap- 
pointment of a judge in Oregon. I perceive that your son 
Fletcher says, that it is doubtful whether Mr. Train will be 
able to go. I perceive also that Mr. Sanderson, the editor 
of the Philadelphia News, is very strongly recommended by 
the whole Pennsylvania delegation for the Chief Justiceship. 
That paper has done good service to the Administration and 
been especially devoted to you. If he is willing to take the 
Assistant Judgeship, and is all that he is recommended to 
be by the delegation, I would submit whether he had better 
not be nominated. But before it is done I should like that 
you should have a conversation with Mr. Chandler, or some 
other member of the delegation on whom you can rely, to 
see whether he is in all respects a suitable man for the place. 

Have you thought of any candidate for the consulship at 
Acapulco? If not, please send up any good name, such for 
instance as George W. Slacum, and we will appoint him so 
as to be able to fill the place during the recess if he should 
not accept. 

I should be glad to send in the rest of the papers in regard 
to the Lobos Islands today, if possible. I learn from the 


younger Brooks of Ae New York Express, who arrived 
here last evening. A>t iOnie 40 vessels have sailed for those 
islands under the ffl^ecttttion of being protected in obtatninf 
guano. Their cItiqipOiBtTnent will consequently be very 
great. Is it possible to obtain from the Peruvian Minister 
some recommendatioii to his government to permit tiiose 
vessels, which have lailed under this misapprehensicm, to 
take their cargoes? 

I Km tnily yuunt 

, WttNKr coltrciion, tJbniy of 


Washingtor, Sept 8tfi, i8$a. 
The SBOBTJUtT op the Navy, 

My kab Sie: I hemndi Fdnrn to Ae DefMrtmaBt 
Coamiodore Peny't deqiatches on the subject of tte M^ 
eriM, togetiwr wMi tte chart I wouM sngyst the p ropri<| 
of eending aq>ie3 to die State Department. 
I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillhore. 

Navy Depattimnt. 

Endoraed: "Done Sept. jd. Ack. k uy: That in confonoilr to iht •Bf 
gotion conttiincd bert copic* of Ok popeim will be prepared & Knt to the D^t. 
of State. Done Sept. 10." 

The directioiia are in pencil but tbe "Done." etc., arc in ink aad hi Ibc 
handwritins of a cleth, while tbe pencil direction* appear to be is tbc hud 
of tbe Secretary binuelf. 


Washingtom, Sept. 8, 1852. 
The Secretary of the Navy, 

My dear Sir : Our Minister to Russia, under date of the 
17th ult., informs me that information had been received at 


St. Petersburg that two armed vessels bearing the American 
flag had recently appeared off Queen Charlotte's Island. 
Please inform me if any of our vessels were probably in 
that region at that time, or previous thereto. 

I am truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 


Washington, Sept. lo, 1852. 

Hon. Daniel Webster, 

Secretary of State, 

My dear Sir : I went up to Berkeley Springs on Satur- 
day, with the intention of bringing my family home, but 
finding that Mrs. Fillmore was deriving some benefit from 
the water I left her and returned on Tuesday evening. 

Nothing of importance from your Department has been 
brought to my notice since you left, nor have I received any- 
thing from you, or heard from you, except that I saw by the 
papers that you had left Boston for Marshfield. I sincerely 
hope that your health may be improved. 

I have received some letters from different places, stating 
that the writers had sent out vessels to the Lobos Islands 
for Guano, under the assurance of protection from the gov- 
ernment, and complaining that protection was withdrawn. 
These letters, however, are so identicle [sic] in language that 
I cannot doubt that they have a common origin, though 
they purport to come from different localities. They are 
doubtless prompted by a desire, either to embarrass the 
Administration for political effect, or to lay a fotmdation 
for a future claim against the Government for pecuniary 
indemnity. I hardly think they are entitled to any considera- 
tion. I received this morning the inclosed private letter 
from A. G. Benson which I have thought upon the whole 
it was my duty to forward to you, as he speaks of things of 


Plcue to ictuTD tbe iMber siltr p 
I Uq, truly yoon. 


[Washikgioh] Septonber aad, 1853; 


The Navy Depsrtnnnt will take diai^ of die transporta- 
tion of Mr. Greeooug^i'i gnmp of rtatuuy, now at Leghorn. 
awuting to be transferred to the Capitid of the United 
States, and wilt give tbt necessary directions for the ship- 
ments of tbe groaps, to be ddivoed at tfie Navy Yard at 

MnxABD FnxamK.. 

TUa » 

"The RcKue," occupied him, at hii itudio mt Kome, it intcrnto nnUI i8ji. 
and i> piobtbly the group referred id in Mr. Fillmore'i letter. Grecnon^'t 
(tatue of Wubinglgn vts an earlier work. 


Washington, Sept. 24th, 1852. 

Hon. J. P. Kennedy, 

Secretary of the Navy. 
Sir : I have your communication of yesterday inclosing 
a list of several oflicers of the Navy, who had been promoted 
by appointment during the recess before the last session of 
Congress, and who were nominated to the Senate duri&g 
its last session, but upon which nominations the Senate failed 
to act, and showing that the Naval service is greatly enUtsr- 
rassed, in consequence of the peculiar conditicm in which 


these officers were left, many of whom are now at sea, and 
in the performance of important duties. It appears to me, 
on looking at this subject, that the promotion of a naval or 
military officer from one grade to another and the accept- 
ance by him of the higher grade necessarily vacates his 
office in the lower, as the two positions, implying rank and 
command, cm the one side, and subordination on the other, 
are incompatible with each other. As the commissions which 
promoted these officers to the higher rank expired at the 
close of the last session of Congress, the inevitable conse- 
quence would seem to be, that these officers are out of com- 
mission. They lost their first rank on promoticm to and 
acceptance of the higher, and the commission to the higher 
having expired, they are no longer officers of the Navy. 

The question then presents itself, whether I have the 
power to commission them again, until the termination of 
the next session of the Senate. The Constitution declares, 
that, "the President shall have power to fill up all vacancies, 
that may happen during the recess of the Senate, by grant- 
ing commissions, which shall expire at the end of their next 
session. ["] In Gen^ Swartwout's case, in principle pre- 
cisely like this, Atty. Gen^ Wirt gave it as his opinion to 
President Munroe [sic], on the 22nd of October, 1823, that 
the President had the power to fill such a vacancy, by grant- 
ing a new Commission which would expire at the end of 
the next session of the Senate. See ist Vol. Opinions of 
the Attornies General p. 631. 

Attorney General Roger B. Taney, now Chief Justice of 
the Supreme Court of the United States, on the 19th of July 
gave a like opinion to President Jackson, in the case of Mr. 
Gwinn, without appearing to have been aware of the opinion 
of Attorney General Wirt. In that opinion, however, he 
states that President Adams had filled a similar vacancy in 
the Navy Agency at Boston by the appointment of Amos 
Binney. 2nd Vol. Opinions of the Attornies General p. 525. 

Attorney General L^are gave a similar opinion, Octo- 
ber 22, 1841, without appearing to have been aware of the 
previous decisions of his predecessors ; and in 1846, Presi- 


dent Polk filled a similar vacancy in the Post Office at Buf- 
falo, where he had nominated to the place during the ses- 
sion of the Senate, and the Senate had failed to act apaa 
his nomination. 

All this concurring testimony in favor of the authority, 
without any judicial or executive opinion against it, would 
seem to leave no reasonable doubt on this head. Yet the 
intention of the framers of the Constitution evidently was, 
that these appointments should be submitted to the consid- 
eration of the Senate at the first session after they were 
made. This it is true was done in all these cases, and the 
Senate had an opportunity to approve or disapprove those 
appointments, but it is difficult to see how that fact can 
effect [sic] the authority of the President of appointing lo 
fill the vacancy without its approval, and we must there- 
fore conclude that the President might exercise this power, 
without having previously nominated the officer to the Sen- 
ate; the consequence of which would be that by continued 
temporary commissions and an omission on the part of the 
President to nominate to the Senate he might continue to 
fill these offices without its concurrence. This would e\'t- 
dently be a violation of the spirit of the Constitution. But 
it would certainly be in the power of Congress to make 
such an omission a high crime or misdemeanor, and then to 
impeach the President for his neglect of duty in (Mnitting to 
nominate the officers to the Senate. 

Seeing the facility with which this salutary provisioo 
may be evaded, not to say the strong temptation which may 
arise to evade it, I shall exercise this power with great 
reluctance. But C(»isidering the serious consequences that 
may arise to innocent perscms, who had reason to suppose 
they were exercising a legitimate authority in the service of 
their cotmtry, and the injury which might result to the 
public service by suffering this state of things longer to con- 
tinue, I have concluded that I have the authority, and that 
it is my duty to exercise it by giving to Hiose several officers 
of the Navy who were appointed during the last recess and 
nominated to the Senate during its last session temporary 


commissions, to expire at the end of its next session ; and 
you will please to make them out and send them up for my 

I herewith return you letter No. i and your List of 
Officers, No. 2 and the list from the Secretary of the Senate 
No. 3 from which you will be able to make out the com- 

I am your obt. servt., 

Millard Fillmore. 

Navy Department. 

List No. 2, forty-one nominations, enclosed in letter. Of these eight are 
other than positions in the Navy. An inserted note states that commissions 
were issued September 2$, 1852. 


Washington, Sept. 27, 1852. 

Hon. Daniel Webster, 

Secy, of State, Boston, Mass. 

My dear Sir : Your favor of the 22nd came to hand on 
Saturday the 25th, and I am pained to hear that you are suf- 
fering so much. I would not presume at this distance to 
advise, but I could not help fearing, on perusing your letter, 
that you were too abstemious. Is there not danger that a 
change so great and so sudden may prove more injurious 
than a little indulgence in your regimen? I can well con- 
ceive, that in your situation, you do not desire to be called 
upon even to "think," and I shall therefore not trouble you 
with any reference to business, farther than to say that all 
things appear to be going on very well in your Department. 

The new Minister from Peru has been received, but has 
as yet made no communication beyond his letter of credence, 
by which I learn that he is fully authorized to treat on all 
subjects of difference. If we escape a collision, I think we 
will have no difficulty in obtaining permission for our ships 
to load on usual terms. 

I regret almost as much as you do, that I am not able to 
confer a diplomatic appointment on our friend Fay. I 


hardly anlicipaled that the Dr. would accept it, but I find 
there are few Whigs in these times to refuse such an offer. 
I believe, however, that this is the last personal obligattoa 
] feel bound to discharge, and should anything hereafter 
occur I shall remember Mr. Fay. 

I sincerely hope that the next intelligence we receive will 
show you convalescent. The weather at this place is now 
very fine ; but whether it will be better for your health than 
your present locality I am unable to say. 

With sincere respect and esteem, I remain 
Truly Yours. 

MiLLABD Fillmore. 

WcbsItT colJ«lion. Library of Congrrss. 


Washihoion, October t, 1853. 
[To Daniel Wbbstee] 

My dear Sir : I have this mcnnent received yours of fte 
28th ultimo, and have perused it with a good deal of solici- 
tude. I am not competent to judge whether such a violent 
attack of constipation as you have been suffering from can 
be regarded as dangerous, but I hope not I shall not cease 
to feel the utmost solicitude until I know that you are re- 
stored to health. I sincerely hope that you may have the 
benefit of the advice of your old physician from Boston, and 
after he has paid you a friendly visit, and one which I ear- 
nestly desire may be the means of restoring you to health, 
may I anticipate the satisfaction of hearing from you again. 
It is a source of great gratification to know that, at the time 
you wrote, you were free from pain. 

All things are going on as well as usual, but I have not 
been able as yet to obtain any proposition in reference to the 
Lobos affair from Mr. Osma, the new minister. He left 
for New York immediately after his reception, and I have 


requested the acting Secretary to ask him to return, and he 
may be here today. 

Hoping soon to hear of your restoration to health, 

I remain, truly and sincerely, yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

"Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster," edited by Fletcher Webster, 
PP- 555. 556. 


Washington, October 13, 1852. 

[To Daniel Webster] 

My dear Sir : Your favor of the 8th instant came duly 
to hand, from which I learn the favorable report of your 
physicians, which has relieved me of much anxiety. I hope 
now that you may soon be with us. 

On inquiry today, I was informed that Mr. Bradley had 
not yet returned. All matters are passing on here much as 

The filibusters, you perceive, are endeavoring to get up a 
new controversy with Cuba, but I hardly think they will 
succeed. The Lobos affair is yet unsettled, but I trust we 
are making some progress. I do not, however, feel justified 
in troubling you on matters of business, and therefore con- 
tent myself with expressing the hope that you may soon be 
restored to health, and that we shall, ere long, have the 
pleasure of meeting you at the council board. 

Please to make my kindest regards to Mrs. Webster and 
believe me. 

Sincerely your friend, 

Millard Fillmore. 

"Private Correspondence of Daniel Webster," edited by Fletcher Webster, 
p. 558. 


Washington, Oct. 13, 1852. 
Hon. E[lisha] Wh [ttlesey, 

Mv DEAR Sir: I have your letter of the 12th requesting 
my decision as to my power over the absences of territorial 
officers prior to the Act of August 31st, 1852. My attention 
had not before been called to the 7th section of the act to 
which you refer, but I confess that it appears to me that 
the Act of August 31st. 1852, takes away the power on this 
subject granted by the Act of June 15th, 1852. I have no 
doubt of the reasonableness of the absence of Judge Watts 
from his territory. He has been a most faithful officer, 
asked and received permission to leave the territory, and was 
detained in consequence of the illness of his wife, and re- 
turned within the time required by me. This permission 
was. of course, granted while the .\ct of June 15th was in 
force, and as he has acted is good faith, I sboaid regret that 
he should be dqnived of his saiaiy. Bat the law most be 
executed whatever it is. I do not propose to express way 
opinion on that point. 

I am truly yours. 

Millard Fillmore. 


ExEcxmvE Chamber, October 29th, 1852. 
There being an absolute necessity for an increase of the 
rank and fife of the Marine Corps, to insure efficiency in the 
vessels of the Navy and to guard the public property at 
Navy Yards — as reported by the Commandant of the 
Corps and submitted to me by the Secretary of the Navy; 


and Congress having by its "Act making appropriations for 
the Naval Service for the year ending the tiiirtieth of June 
one thousand eight hundred and fifty," approved March 3d, 
1849, "provided, That the President of tiie United States 
may substitute Marines for Landsmen in the Navy, as far as 
he may deem it expedient to promote the efficiency of the 
service" ; 

Now, therefore, the Secretary of the Navy is hereby 
directed to increase said Corps of Marines by substituting 
two hundred Marines, including the requisite number of 
non-commissioned officers, in lieu of the same number of 
landsmen in the Navy, and the said two himdred non-com- 
missioned officers and privates are to be enlisted under the 
provisions of law for the better organization of the United 
States "Marine Corps." 

Millard Fillmore. 

Signed document. Navy Department. 

to the mikado of japan. 

[Washington, Nov. 13, 1852.] 

Great and good Friend: I send you this public letter 
by Commodore Matthew C. Perry, an officer of the highest 
rank in the navy of the United States, and commander of 
the squadron now visiting your imperial majesty's do- 

I have directed Commodore Perry to assure your imperial 
majesty that I entertain the kindest feelings toward your 
majesty's person and government, and that I have no other 
object in sending him to Japan but to propose to your 
imperial majesty that the United States and Japan should 
live in friendship and have commercial intercourse with 
each other. 

The Constitution and laws of the United States forbid all 
interference with the religious or political concerns of other 

nations. I have particular!)- charged Commodore Perr>- 
10 abstain from every act which could possibly disturb the 
tranquility of your imperial majesty's dcaninions. 

The United States of America reach from ocean to ocean. 
and our Territory of Oregon and State of California lie 
directly opposite to the dominions of yxiur imperial majesty. 
Our steamships can go from California to Japan in eighteen 

Our great State of California produces about sixty mil- 
lions of dollars in gold every year, besides silver, quick- 
silver, precious stones, and many other valuable articles. 
Japan is also a rich and fertile coumry, and produces many 
very valuable articles. Vour imperial majesty's subjects are 
skilled in many of the arts. I am desirous that our two 
countries should Irade with each other, for the benefit both 
of Japan and the United States. 

We know that the ancient laws of your imperial majesty's 
government do not allow of foreign trade, except with the 
Chinese and the Dutch ; but as the state of the world changes 
and new governments are formed, it seems to be wise, from 
time to time, to make new laws. There was a time when 
the ancient laws of your imperial majesty's government were 
first made. 

About the same time America, which is sometimes called 
the New World, was first discovered and settled by the 
Europeans. For a long lime there were but a few people, 
and they were poor. They have now become quite numer- 
ous ; their commerce is very extensive ; and they think that 
if your imperial majesty were so far to change the ancient 
laws as to allow a free trade between the two countries it 
would be extremely beneficial to both. 

If your imperial majesty is not satisfied that it would be 
safe altogether to abrogate the ancient laws which forbid 
foreign trade, they might be suspended for five or ten years, 
so as to try the experiment. If it does not prove as bene- 
ficial as was hoped, the ancient laws can be restored. The 
United States often limit their treaties with foreign States 
to a few years, and then renew them or not, as they please. 


I have directed Commodore Perry to mention another 
thing to your imperial majesty. Many of our ships pass 
every year from California to China ; and great numbers of 
our people pursue the whale fishery near the shores of Japan. 
It sometimes happens, in stormy weather, that one of our 
ships is wrecked on your imperial majesty's shores. In all 
such cases we ask, and expect, that our tmfortunate people 
should be treated with kindness, and that their property 
should be protected, till we can send a vessel and bring them 
away. We are very much in earnest in this. 

Commodore Perry is also directed) by me to represent to 
your imperial majesty that we understand there is a great 
abundance of coal and provisions in the Empire of Japan. 
Our steamships, in crossing the great ocean, bum a great 
deal of coal, and it is not convenient to bring it all the way 
from America. We wish that our steamships and other ves- 
sels should be allowed to stop in Japan and supply them- 
selves with coal, provisions and water. They will pay for 
them in money, or anything else your imperial majesty's 
subjects may prefer; and we request your imperial majesty 
to appoint a convenient port, in the southern part of the 
Empire, where our vessels may stop for this purpose. We 
are very desirous of this. 

These are the only objects for which I have sent Com- 
modore Perry, with a powerful squadron, to pay a visit to 
your imperial majesty's renowned city of Yedo : Friendship, 
commerce, a supply of coal and provisions, and protection 
for our shipwrecked people. 

We have directed Commodore Perry to beg your imperial 
majesty's acceptance of a few presents. They are of no 
great value in themselves ; but some of them may serve as 
specimens of the articles manufactured in the United States, 
and they are intended as tokens of our sincere and respect- 
ful friendship. 

May the Almighty have your imperial majesty in His 
great andi holy keeping. 

In witness whereof, I have caused the great seal of the 
United States to be hereunto affixed, and have subscribed 

the same with my name, at the city of Washington, in 
America, the seat of my government, on the thirteenth day 
of the month of November, in the year one thousand ei^t 
hundred and fifty-two. 

Your good friend, 

Millard Fiij-more. 

[seal] Edward Everett, 

Secretary of State. 

-Kimtin of tb* 

EipcditiOB . . 

lo the 

Chini Scu and Japan 

. . . soda the en 


M. C 


■B]6l Vol. I, pp. is6. 

The Tolume from wliicfa thu lellei a 

h, fol] 

wing were 

niuciibed for 

in tbe libriiry e 




Sodetr. cm- 

Uici Ihe (ollowing aulopiph inicripitom 

For Pr 

ndcnt Filln 

ore, wKh the 

bol rtMficett oS IL C Parr." "MiUuil 

i8s6." Tie- 

MSMd ts dw Ba<alo 

mnofiad Socfalr by 

Hllbrd FDlBoie, 

FebrwT ••. 


[November 13, 1852.] 
MiLLASD FiLLHORE, President of the United States of 
To His Imperial Majesty the Emperor of Japan: 
Reposing special trust and confidence in the integrity, pru- 
dence and ability of Matthew C. Perry, a captain in the 
Navy of the United States, I have invested him with full 
power, for and in the name of the said United States, to 
meet and confer with any person or persons furnished with 
like powers on the part of your Imperial Majesty, and with 
him or them to negotiate, conclude and sign a convention or 
conventions, treaty or treaties, of and concerning the friend- 
ship, commerce, and navigation of the two countries; and 
all matters and subjects connected therewith which may be 
interesting to the two nations, submitting the same to the 
President of the United States for his final ratification, by 
and with the advice and consent of the Senate of the United 


In testimony whereof, I have caused the seal of the 
United States to be hereunto affixed. 

Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, the 
thirteenth day of November, in the year one thousand eight 
htmdred and fifty-two, and of the independence of the 
United States of America the seventy-seventh. 

MiLLASD Fillmore. 

By the President: 

[seal] Edward Everett, 

Secretary of State. 

"Narrative of the expedition . . . under the conunand of Commodore 
M. C. Perry," Vol. I, p. 259- 

to the attorney general. 

[1852, ?Nov.] 

Dear Sir : I have written the enclosed declension adapt- 
ing it to the message and as you requested send it again for 
revision. I am not satisfied with it myself and should be 
happy if you would write one entirely new, instead of revis- 
ing this. 

Truly yours, 

Millard Fillmore. 

J. J. Crittenden, Atty. General. 

Crittenden collection, Library of Congress. 



The undersigned and representatives from the State of 
New York recommend to the Secretary of the Navy, Wil- 
liam Seaver of said State, for the office of Midshipman in 
the United States Navy, and solicit his appointment when- 
ever a vacancy may occur. 

Millard Fillmore. 

Collection of Mr. George C. Thomas, Philadelphia. 

to gi^-ing commission to the [new] collector at Sew 
Orleans. Senator (Salmon W.] Downs (of La.] requcsu 
1 be not issued imtil after the reading of 
the President's Message in Congress. 
To Thomas Corwin: Requests information regarding de- 
faulter; in service of Treasury Department, asks list of 
ofiidalj bdiindhand in accounts for past year and not 
of past quarter alone, and recommendation as to dis- 
missal of, or a further indulgence to each person on tisL 

13. To Thomas Corwin ; Requests thai reports on the dis- 
bursement of public money be made quarterlr, with 
names of persons delinquent in reporting to the Trea*- 
ury Department. 

f 4. To Thomas Corwin : Requests information regarding the 
appointment of a Collector of Cus lotus at New Orleans 
and the conditions existing at that place; a report rela- 
tive to the condua of Collector [ ] Kii^ at Sao 

Francisco, and information as (o defalcation of the Col- 
lector at Astoria. 

14. To Thomas Corwin : Encloses letter from "A Claj Whig" 

of San Francisco complaining against [ ] Jones, 

disbursing agent at that place, and asks rejKirt on same. 

25. To Thomas Corwin : Encloses letter from David Taylor. 
presenting claims against the United States Treasury, 
but the President refuses to interfere in the matter. 
6. To Thomas Corwin : Relative to appointments. The 
Governor of California is in Washington and in con- 
sultation with him [Fillmore) as to these matters. The 
President desires list of names of all candidates for 
offices in the Customs service or in the Mint. [Presum- 
ably California candidates, but not definitely stated in 

22. To Thomas Corwin : Endorsement on letter of Secretary 

as to appeal of Capt. [ ] Fraier for restoration to 

Marine Revenue service. Approves the appeal and rec- 
ommends favorable action thereon. 


Sept. 2. To Thomas Corwin: Relates to the removal from office 
of the 2d Auditor, of [official] papers which had been 
under the custody of John S. Neely; asks for further 
22. To Thomas Corwin: Relates to claims in case of Charles 
G. Sherman under Article g of the Florida treaty; the 
President does not feel authorized to set a precedent in 
the case now presented. 

Dec, 2. To Thomas Corwin : Is awaiting the appointment of reve- 
nue officers [by the Secretary] ; has something to say 
regarding the report of [? Julius] Rockwell as to 



1840 TO 1856 

'Ml' •< t t 


No adequate reports are known to exist of several of Mr. 
Fillmore's earlier addresses. An occasion when his readi- 
ness and ability attracted wide notice, was a meeting in the 
log cabin which the admirers of "Tippecanoe and Tyler too" 
had erected in> BuflFalo,* in the campaign of 1840. Here, on 
the evening of October 23d, the Hon. William Patterson of 
Warsaw was expected to speak on the issues of the hour; 
but he being detained by bad roads and a slow stage, Mr. 
Fillmore was called upon to fill the gap. Of his speech the 
Commercial Advertiser of the following day contained only 
the following inadequate summary: 

Mr. Fillmore related many facts and circumstances of 
which he had been an eye-witness during several of the last 
sessions of Congress, of Executive dictation and usurpation, 
and servile obedience on the part of a truckling majority of 
the Representatives of the people, which excited the deep 
and just indignation of every freeman present. Matters have 
got to such a pass at the Federal Capitol, that the friends 
of the Administration in Congress dare not permit an open 
and searching investigation into the reeking corruptions of 
the reigning D)masty. Mr. Fillmore said our National laws 
must be very severe on our Federal rulers, as it seemed to 
compel them, in their present hopeless Sub-Treasury bank- 
ruptcy, to sell at auction and at an immense sacrifice their 
very mechanic tools and implements for constructing public 
works ; while the humane laws of the States, allowed insol- 

I. This log cabin stood at the northeast comer of Main and Eagle streets. 
An old lithograph of it, with the original inscription, is reproduced herewith. 


vent mechanics to retain tlieir tools, exempt from the ham- 
mer of the auctioneer, to commence business with again. 
"But," said the speaker, "Mr. Van Buren doubtless does 
not expect to have any use for pile-drivers and scows after 
this season ; hence he is selling these articles at one-tenth 
their cost to replenish an exhausted treasury." 

A day or two later Mr. Fillmore spoke at Albion ; of that 
speech we find only the following report. It must have been 
a remarkable effort, if the summary does it justice (Buffalo 
Commercial Advertiser, October 28th) : 

Mr. Fillmore spoke for about two hours and a half. He 
analyzed' the Sub- Treasury — showed its origin, character, 
and consequences upon the people, in the most clear, forci- 
ble and convincing manner. Never were the odious features 
of this "Child of Despotism," more correctly mirrored forth, 
and never were they made to look more detestable to free- 
men. It wu ttie hififHest tnd most auccessfnl effort, to 
strip tfiis tHuttlinsr of Vao Bnren of its false tnppii^t, ud 
to show it np as the iUegitiDiate offsprmg of an ilficit inter- 
course with twentjF^two prostitute despotisms of the (dd - 
world, that we ever heard made. And in the name and 
behalf of the Whigs of Orleans County, we return Mr. 
Fillmore their hearty thanks for his highly eloquent, argu- 
mentative and interesting speech, on the occastcm. 


Mr. Fillmore was an unsuccessful candidate for Vice- 
President in the Whig convention at Baltimore in May, 
1844. He was not present at the convention, but attended 
a great ratification meeting in New York City, May i8th, 
where he was enthusiastically greeted, and spoke as follows : 

Fellow-Citizens: This is an unexpected gratification 
that I have in meeting so many of my Whig friends here, 
and of having such a welcome frcnn them. When I look 
over this sea of heads I cannot help being reminded of 1840, 


and of the scenes of 1840 ; and, although I have not been to 
Baltimore, I feel that that spirit is revived which carried 
us so successfully and> so gloriously through the scenes of 
that ever-memorable campaign. It was not my good fortune 
to participate in the magnificent display of Whigs, Whig 
feelings and Whig principles, which many of you have wit- 
nessed elsewhere, but I have heard the result of their delib- 

I did not come here to make a speech ; I did not till lately 
expect to be calkd upon ; but as I was about saying, when 
I heard the nominations made at Baltimore, I knew they 
must be satisfactory to the people — not to Whigs alone, not 
to the Whig party alone, but to a large majority of the 
people, and particularly to those classes whom an ordinary 
election does not call out to vote. The candidate whom you 
have selected that "Justice shall be done" — he of all others 
is the man to excite, to strengthen, and to unite the Whigs 
of the Union. And as for the gentleman whom you have 
selected for the Vice-Presidency, I think him the very best 
man you could have got. I stand not here to represent the 
West, that g^eat section of the State whence I came, and 
whence come an army of Whigs irresistible in array. I 
have no right to undertake to represent them; I have no 
authority delegated to me ; but, if I might speak for the man 
who had never bowed the knee to Baal, I should say that 
in Theodore Frelinghuysen you have hit upon the man of 
their heart, and upon the man to whom they will give their 
cheerful, unbounded support. 

Fellow citizens, I cannot talk here. My voice is not able 
to fill this Park — it is not loud enough to reach the ears of 
the multitude here. I can promise you that I will do my 
duty in the campaign that has now begun. I can speak, too, 
for the Whigs of the West in this respect. They will come 
out, when the great day of trial comes, with a spirit as 
stirring as ever fired the bosoms of enthusiastic men, and 
with a voice as loud, and as resistless, too, as their own 
Niagara. Let us meet on that day — ^the East and the West 
— ^the City of New York and the City of New York of 
the West. Buffalo is but New York in miniature. You, 

ihen. of the Empire City, lead the way and we will fol- 
low. Perched on thai proud banner over our heads I see 
the names of Clay and Frelinghux-sen— Henry Claj' for 
President, and Theodore Frelinghuyscn for Vice-President. 
Never were better names enrolled together. Never were 
better men. Be it our duty to ratify at the polls the ratifica- 
tion we arc making here. 


The following September Mr. Fillmore received the Whig 
nomination for Governor of New York State, bm was de- 
feated at the polls by Silas Wright. At a meeting in Buf- 
falo ratifying his nomination, September 13th, Mr. Fillmore 
spoke, his remarks being preserved only in the following 
abstract :' 

He said to be thus honored, not only by the citizens of 
the Empire State, but by those in whose midst he came a 
poor and almost friendless boy — to whom he owed all that 
he was, and all that he expected to be in the future, from 
whom he had already received the highest testimcmials of 
their confidence in his honor and integrity — language was 
powerless to express the feelings of his heart which was 
now overpowered with gratitude. He said, had he con- 
sulted his own wishes and pecuniary interests, he should not 
now occupy the position in which he was placed, but the 
voice of the State of New York, which was only second 
to the voice of God, must be obeyed, and should he be 
elected, he would' endeavor to carry out these great and 
vital principles, which are and ever have been the embodi- 
ment of the Whig party and which are essential to the wel- 
fare and prospects of our State. 

He said he hoped that no friend of his, however warm 
his attachment might be, would be guilty of any dishonor- 
able act to effect his election ; so that when the Whig flag— 
which is now proudly and fearlessly unfurled, destined in 

I. Buffalo CommtTciat AdvtrtUtr, Seplcmber 14, 1844. 


November to float in triumph and victory over a large por- 
tion of our Union — so that the joy and happiness that they 
might experience, would not be marred by an unworthy or 
a dishonorable reflection. He entreated them to enter the 
contest with zeal and enthusiasm; but as they valued the 
sacredness of their cause, and the stability of their principles, 
to resort to no unfair means : that an honorable defeat was 
better than a dishonorable victory. 


The Vice-President-elect being in New York, shortly 
after the election of 1848, the Whig General Committee 
waited on him in a body, November 14th, and through the 
Hon. Philip Hone, chairman of the General Committee, 
tendered him their congratulations. In reply Mr. Fillmore 
spoke as follows: 

Mr. Chairman : A compliment from a city like yours, 
the Empire City, not only of the Empire State, but the com- 
mercial emporium of our whole common cotmtry, could 
never be properly replied to by me, even if I had time to 
prepare; but the suddenness of your announcement, and 
the warmth and heartiness with which you have welcomed 
me, quite unfit me to make any reply at all. I can only 
thank you, in my embarrassment; but I am sure it is not 
to me this tribute is rendered, but to the illustrious man 
under whose name and whose principles we have achieved 
the brilliant civil victory that the telegraph for the week past 
has been sending to us. In that man, and his simplicity, 
energy and straightforwardness, I have the highest confi- 
dence. I have never had the honor of taking him by the 
hand, or of meeting him face to face, but I have studied well 
his character, and I feel, therefore, that I know him well; 
for it is a character plain and open, to be read by every- 
body, and not of that complex nature that deludes and 
puzzles the observer. 


I have no doubt that under his Administration you will 
realize all the hig:h and patriotic expectations that you en- 
tertain, and that the country will receive an impetus and a 
direction, under his honest hands, that will go far, not only 
to make it flourish, but to make its institutions endure. I 
look to him with conBdence for a restoration of sound repub- 
lican principles, and for an Administration of honest men; 
and with him. I am sure, we shall have the government of 
the popular voice — not the expression of the arbitrary will 
of one man. What the people demand, the people will have, 
and upon them will depend the success of the Administration 
of Zachary Taylor. 

Gentlemen, I thank you heartily for the kindness with 
which you have welcomed me, and I wish you all happiness 
and prosperity. 




The New York & Erie Railroad was opened to traffic 
from the seaboard to Lake Erie, in May, 1851. The direc- 
tors invited President Filhnore, his Cabinet and many other 
distinguished officials and men of affairs, to make a tour 
over the line. President Filhnore accepted the invitation, 
as did Mr. Webster and others of his Cabinet. On May 
13th the President and party arrived at Amboy, N. J., where 
they were met by President Loder and other officials of the 
Erie. They were conducted on board the steamboat Erie, 
and on the way to New York, Mr. Charles M. Leupp, chair- 
man of the arrangements committee, made an address of 
welcome to the President and his party, to which President 
Fillmore responded : 

I beg to return to you, dear sir, and the committee of 
arrangements, my thanks, and through you, to the Directors 
of the Erie Railroad Company, for the very cordial welcome 
you have given me and my associates, on the occasion of my 
visit to my native State. I assure you that we fully appre- 
ciate the great enterprise you have now so happily com- 
pleted. I know full well the difficulties under which you 
have labored in the accomplishment of this important work, 
and it is due to you, as the representatives of the Board of 
Directors, that the chief officer of the Nation should recog- 
nize it. It is the most costly and greatest work of its kind 
on this continent, and in the world, with one exception. You 
say that the work is designed to connect Lake Erie with the 



ocean. It is designed to do more — ^to bind the aflfections of 
distant sections in one indissoluble bond of the Union. I 
need not say that I feel proud of an achievement in my 
native State which adds dignity and glory and strength to 
the whole country. 

On reaching New York on the afternoon of the 14th, Ae 
party disembarked at Castle Garden, and the President was 
conducted to a platform, where, after a National salute was 
fired, he was introduced to the assemblage by Mayor Kings- 
land. Replying to an address of welcome, President Fill- 
more said : 

Mr. Mayor and Fellow-Citizens: I have neither the 
voice nor the language to express the grateful emotion of 
my heart, for this cordial reception of the citizens of my 
native State. If this be a day on which you have reason to 
congratulate yourselves, how much more reason have I to 
do so, the guest of a city which is the grand emporium of 
the Union, whose commerce whitens every sea, and which is 
now connected with the last link of the West. I congratu- 
late you, fellow-citizens, that we now stand on consecrated 
ground. Here in this city the immortal Washington took 
his oath to support the Constitution of the United States; 
here the first Congress assembled ; and here I see the same 
city, and patriotism, as bright and as brilliant as they were 
on that auspicious day. If I could for a moment appropriate 
these honors, I should be overwhelmed by my feelings ; but 
I know it is not intended for me. 

I know that this exhibition of feeling and patriotism is 
only an evidence of your devotion to your country, and of 
your loyalty to the Union. 

Mr. Mayor, you have done the noble spirits with whom 
I am associated, no more than justice, in attributing to them 
all that I have been able to accomplish for the benefit of our 
common country ; and, sir, I beg leave to return to you, and 
through you, to the citizens of this great city, my most 
grateful thanks for the kind assistance which they gave me 


under the most trying circumstances — ^at all times true to 
themselves, true to the Constitution, and true to the country. 
I again return you, and them, my most grateful acknowledg- 

The excursionists set out for Lake Erie on the morning 
of the 14th.* At Piermont, the Erie's terminal opposite New 
York, the President made a brief address, as he did at a few 
other points on the line. At Binghamton, where a great 
throng surrounded the train, the President appeared on the 
car platform and in the course of brief remarks, said : 

The poet says, 

"Full many a flower is born to blush unseen 
And waste its fragrance on the desert air." 

but this can no longer be said of Binghamton, or of the otRer 
flashing villages on the track of a railroad which connects 
the Atlantic with Lake Erie. 

On May i6th President Fillmore and several members of 
his Cabinet and other distinguished guests arrived in Buffalo 
by steamboat from Dunkirk. They were received at the 
wharf by Mayor James Wadsworth, by Maj. Gen. Randall, 
marshal of the day, and the 6sth Regiment, N. Y. State 
Militia, which acted as escort. A great civic and military 
procession accompanied the President through the streets. 
At the Court House Park the Mayor made an address of 
welcome, to which Mr. Fillmore responded : 

I. Probably the best account of this famous excursion is that given by 
Edward Harold Mott in his book, **Between the Ocean and the Lakes. The 
Story of Eric," New York, 1899; 4to, pp. 511. A large number of Govern- 
ment and State officials, and other prominent men, were the guests of the rail- 
road company and made the trip either in whole or part, between New York 
and Dunkirk, the western terminus. Mr. Fillmore was the guest of chief 
distinction, but popular enthusiasm along the route was equally shown towards 
him and Daniel Webster. The latter set out on the jaunt '*on a flat car, at 
his own request, a big easy roddng-chair being provided for him to sit on. 
He chose this manner of riding so that he could better view and enjoy the fine 
country through which the railroad passed." 


Mr. Mayor and Fellow-Citizens: I need not say that 
I feel grateful for this reception from my friends and neigii- 
bors. I am oppressed and overwhelmed by the cordiality— 
by the unanimity with which you have come to greet me on 
my return home. It is a reception with which any Roman 
General, in the palmiest days of the Commonwealth, might 
have been satisfied. I can hardly persuade myself that it is 
a reality. It seems more like some hallucination of iht 
mind. But no I — here is the reality, in the thousands of this 
mighty throng. 

I came among you, not many years ago, a friendless boy. 
For all that I am, for all that I hope to be, for al! that I can 
hope to do for my country, I am indebted to you. And I 
hope to be permitted to return to you and spend my days 
with you, and at last to sleep in yonder graveyard and mingle 
my dust with yours. Tlie tempest-tossed mariner, the mer- 
chant who journeys in distant climes in search of wealth, 
the Califomian miner who leaves his home to dig for gold 
far away, return to their early associates to enjoy the fruits 
of their labor. So with me. Whatever of honor I may 
have acquired, whatever of distinction among my country- 
men has fallen upon me, would be valueless unless enjoyed 
with you. But I am aware that all this honor, all this gener- 
ous enthusiasm, all these marks of respect and confidence, 
are not intended for me personally. It is the high oSice, 
which through an afHicting dispensation of Providence I 
now fill, that has called forth this spontaneous gatherii^ of 
thousands. All classes are mingled before me, all political 
considerations are thrown aside, and I receive this tribute 
as I did the "Welcome" stretched across your main street — 
as I did the flowers that were thrown into the carriage as we 
passed along, as the offerings of patriotism to tiie high 
office of Chief Magistrate of the country. 

Your Mayor has generously and with general approval 
referred to my Administration. I was called to my present 
position by a painful dispensation. It was at a time of great 



peril to the Constitution and to the country. In the course 
which I have felt compelled, from a firm conviction of duty, 
to pursue, I am not unaware that I have lost the confidence 
and support of many whose friendship I highly value. But 
there was no alternative left me — ^no other path to pursue, 
and preserve our cherished institutions, and hand them and 
their blessings down to posterity. And it is gratifying to 
know, and it is with pleasure that I am permitted to speak 
of it, that this spirit was not confined to any class. It is 
not to me alone, nor to those distinguished gentlemen to 
whom I owe whatever of success has attended my Admin- 
istration, that the country is indebted for the happy termina- 
tion of our difficulties. As partizans we may differ— ques- 
tions as to the manner in which the Government shall be 
administered may divide us. But when the Union is en- 
dangered — when treason stalks abroad at the Soutli and 
rears its snaky head at the North, all rally to its support. 
All classes, all parties forget their differences and make a 
common cause against the common foe. Distinguished 
Democrats, one of whom [Senator Douglas, of Illinois] is 
by my side now, gave me their confidence and support, and 
came forward nobly in the cause of patriotism to save the 
Union and the Government. It was then that they stood by 
me in my humble efforts to preserve the integrity of the 

Your Mayor has alluded to the measures adopted by the 
Administration to preserve our neutrality and to prevent the 
invasion of the territory of a friendly power. In doing what 
I have, I was but discharging my duty, and acting upon 
those principles which have governed the policy of the Gov- 
ernment from the beginning, in its intercourse with other 
nations. If we depart from this policy we shall array all 
the other Powers against us. There is no liberty, no se- 
curity, without law. The law, whatever it is, must be en- 
forced. If any portion of our people are permitted to rush 
headlong to the conquest of Cuba, it would weaken or 
destroy the confidence of other nations in the integrity of 
our neutrality, and we should soon find ourselves placed 


bcy(»d the pale of tntenntioiul taw and inteniatiaaal 
comin-. Omgress wisely made soch invasioa of the terri- 
tory of friendly nations a criminal oflfencc And I have 
sworn upon the Holy Evangelists to execute the law?, of all 
kinds. — I have endeavored to the best of my alnlity to exe- 
cute them. I intend to execute them, and, God helping nie, I 
win execute them. 

Bat I did not rise to make a lipeech. This is not a 
fitting occasion to dwell upon grave affairs of state. I rise 
to give vent, fully, to the gratefnl emotions of my heart. 
But in the oi'erpowering strength of the feelings, caQed into 
action by the scenes around me — by the warm confidence of 
my fcIIow-citizens. as shown in the thousands before me — I 
can but faintly tell you all I feel. When I look upon jrour 
familiar faces they seem to me like die fac^s of brothers and 
sisters. I again thank you for this reception. I thank you, 
Mr. Mayor, for the cordiality with which, on behalf of your 
feUow-dtizcDs, yon have wefcomed roe to this my cherished 


Retaining East from Bu&Io, President FillmoFe readied 
Rochester on May 20th. There he spoke to a great throf^ 
in Washington Square, May 2i5t, as follows: 

Whoever can look upon a spectacle like this unmoved, 
must be more than mortal. For myself, I thank you from 

I. "NcTtr.** miid tbe BaEalo Cummitrcial Atwlitrr, ra e 
Ihs tour. -BBCE the loni d{ Hohiik id 1B17 
throufbonl tke coostiy vilk tath IvMprttblc v 
ud h if t iam ." OtWr ipcaten cm tU* orrMJim bwlmlcd Sccmaiji Gnhn 
of tbc NiTT. P tnUimm .General Hall, Garemor HnsI ud "li [ifci ii A. \>a^m. 
"^ 'Bpated in ■ Toaderfnl banqpct mt the I' 

"Tc th* Hn. Jimit, tCHbmrtJk. Uaj^ir .f Bafat*.- 

-Wc ilutl be in New Yoffc oa TmdiT- Rectnc ytmr a 
kiHi on TlnindiT. and leave that ercDtiii or Fridir b 
Whb Ittraj ihank* for jDur proScml hoafHtalitT, 


the bottom of my heart, for this generous and hearty recep- 
tion, both to myself and to the distinguished gentlemen, who 
form a part of my Administration. That flag [pointing to 
the American flag stretched out before him, and upon which 
was painted in large letters, "The Union Forever"] speaks 
for the common country, of which you, fellow-citizens, are 
a part. I have to thank you again and again, for this wel- 
come to my native State and to my Western home. 

You have alluded to the fact, that I have attended the 
opening of a most important public work, the New York & 
Erie Railroad. It is one of the most stupendous works in 
the world, and I rejoice that it is my own native State, 
which has displayed the zeal, which has been manifested in 
the completion of this work, and in others which have dis- 
tinguished our people. 

As a general rule, it has been supposed that nations and 
states alone could accomplish such works as these, but the 
Erie Railroad has been built at a cost of $23,000,000, and 
accomplished all of it by the enterprise of individuals in 
this State. It was a work which excelled in magnitude that 
begun by the Autocrat of all the Russias, for the road 
between St. Petersburg and Moscow was commenced ante- 
rior to this, and the Erie road is now completed before the 
Russian road is finished. 

The completion of the Erie Canal is another public 
improvement, to which the Mayor has alluded. This is a 
work of which the citizens of Western New York and all 
the citizens west of New York, ought to be proud, and 
which they all ought to hasten to completion. I have 
watched the progress of this work from its incepticHi by 
DeWitt Clinton, down to the present time. I have seen 
with regret how much capital has been lost from the non- 
completion of the whole work, from the abandonment of 
certain parts while in process of completion. Gentlemen, 
while one lock remains unfinished, or one division uncom- 
pleted, it is the loss of the labor and capital which may have 
been expended in giving a start to the work. The only way 
to make it profitable is to complete the whole work, and then 
it will be alike available and valuable to all. 

It ha& been said that the Erie Canal would be completed 
before the expiration of another Presidential term. Sin- 
cerely was I glad to hear the remark, and whoever may be 
my successor in office, I hope he may deem the enterprise 
of sufBcienl importance to countenance and encourage such 
a work by his presence,' 

You have alluded to the humble part I have taken in 
defence of the Constitution and the Union. I feel, gentle- 
men, that the highest honor for any success which has 
attended the measures of my Administration, belongs rather 
to the distinguished gentlemen called around me for advice. 
The honor belongs mainly to thera. 

Regardless of party consideration, when the great public 
measures of the day were before Congress, they and I acted. 
They were men selected by me for their wise discretion, and 
I have been most happy to know that my choice met with 
the public approval and expectation. 

Whatever has been done to avert the public calamity 
which threatened the country, belongs to men of all parties, 
who, within Congress and out of it, rallied around the 
Administration in order to strengthen the arm of Govern- 
ment and maintain the supremacy of the laws. 

Again I return you my most cordial and profound thanks 
for the honor of this most brilliant reception. 

At a banquet given at Rochester in the President's honor, 
some 200 persons attended. The Hon, N. E. Paine propos- 
iti the toast : "The President of the United States and his 
Cabinet," Mr. Fillmore responded. He said in substance, 
that he felt himself in the mid^t of friends ; he begged all 
to wait before pronouncing judgment on his course, and 
"still award me the credit of having been governed by dis- 
interested convictions of duty to my country." 



A new Minister of France, M. de Sartiges, having 
arrived at his post at Washington, was received by the 
President, May 29, 1851, with these words: 

Sir: I am happy to welcome you as the representative 
of France, and to receive from you as such, the renewed 
assurance of friendship and sympathy on the part of your 
Government and country towards the United States. Our 
friendship for France originated with our struggle for a 
national existence, and was cemented by the mingling of 
the blood of our revolutionary sires with that of their allies 
the heroes of France ; and, through all the various political 
changes of your great and enlightened country, a deep senti- 
ment of national sympathy has pervaded this people, rejoic- 
ing in your prosperity, and hailing with unaffected delight, 
your recent advent among the nations of the earth as a sister 
republic. I beg leave to assure you that nothing shall be 
wanting on my part to maintain and strengthen the friendly 
relations which now exist between the two Governments, 
and to draw more closely the ties which bind them to each 
other. As one means of accomplishing this desirable object, 
I again welcome you to our shores as the diplomatic agent 
of the leading republic of Europe. 


President Fillmore presided at the ceremony of laying the 
corner-stone for the addition to the Capitol, July 4, 185 1. 
The programme called for no formal address by him, the 
orator of the occasion being Daniel Webster.* 

I. In his address on this occasion Mr. Webster, turning to the President, 

"President Fillmore, it is your singularly good fortune to perform an act 
such as that which the earliest of your predecessors performed fifty-eight years 
ago. You stand where be stood; you lay your hand on the corner-stone of a 
building designed greatly to extend that whose comer-stone he laid. Changed, 
changed is everything around. The same sun, indeed, shone upon his head 
which now shines upon yours. The same broad river rolled at his feet, and 
bathes his last resting place, that now rolls at yours. But the site of this 



In August, 185 1, President Fillmore sought a brief rest 
at White Sulphur Springs, Va. Here he was welcomed by 
the citizens, at a formal reception. To the chairman's greet- 
ing the President replied : 

Mr. Chairman: I left Washington with the intention 
of seeking in this beautiful and romantic retreat among the 
mountains of Virginia a little relaxation from the weari- 
some round of official labors. I desired a few days to ex- 
change the heat and dust of the city for the cool breezes and 
health-giving fountains of this delightful region. My inten- 
tion was to pass quietly along, avoiding all ceremony and 
all display ; but that man must be more or less than human 
who could be insensible to the flattering attentions and gen- 
erous hospitality which I have received everywhere since I 
entered the State of Virginia ; and for this most unexpected 
but cordial welcome, from my fellow-citizens here assem- 
bled, I beg leave to return my heartfelt thanks. 

I concur with you in the just encomiums which you have 
been pleased to bestow upon those distinguished genttemen 
who forgot party animosities when they saw their countr}' 
in danger, and nobly rushed to the rescue. I trust that a 
grateful country will duly appreciate their patriotic efforts 
and disinterested devotion. To them we are chiefly indebted 
for the returning peace and quiet that now pervade the 

You have been pleased to speak of my humble eflForts in 
this great and glorious work. I claim no merit for myself; 

city was then mainly an open field. Streets and avenues have since been 
laid out and completed, squares and public grounds enclosed and ornamented, 
until the city which bears his name, although comparatively inconsiderable in 
numbers and wealth, has become quite fit to be the seat of government of a 
great and united people. Sir, may the consequences of the duty which you 
perform so auspiciously today equal those which flowed from his act. Nor 
this only; may the principles of your Administration, and the wisdom of your 
political conduct, be such as that the world of the present day, and all history 
hereafter, may be at no loss to perceive what example you have made your 


my duty was a plain one, however difficult it was to perform. 
I determined from the moment I entered upon the admin- 
istration of the Government, to take the Constitution and 
laws for my guide, and, in the execution of the powers con- 
fided to me, to know no North, no South, no East, no West, 
but my country, my whole country, one and indivisible. 

Having no selfish objects to subserve, I have steadily 
acted upon this principle, and, next to the approbation of 
my own conscience, is the gratification which I feel at know- 
ing that it meets the approval of my fellow-citizens. 

If any merit be due for the manner in which my Admin- 
istration has been conducted, give it to those with whom I 
am associated, who have at all times, and under all circum- 
stances, unitedly stood by me and sustained me in every 
eflfort to maintain our glorious Constitution. 

I am most happy to meet here the social representatives 
from so many States. This may well be deemed a social 
Congress, composed of representatives from all parts of the 
country — Whigs and Democrats, and ladies, who know no 
party distinction, but are united in support of our glorious 
Union. I anticipate much pleasure in my intercourse with 
such a Congress, and beg leave, most cordially, to unite with 
you in the expression of the hope that, from this moment 
forward, during the few days which I shall have the pleasure 
of remaining with you, all official distinctions may be for- 
gotten, and that we may meet upon the common level In thcj 
enjoyment of that unreserved social intercourse which con- 
stitutes the highest enjoyment of life. Again I thank you 
cordially for the very kind and flattering manner in which 
you have been pleased to receive me as a guest among you. 


In Sq)tember, 185 1, President Fillmore visited New 
England, accompanied by Hon. A. H. H. Stuart, Secretary of 
the Interior, and Hon. C. M. Conrad, Secretary of War. 
The especial occasion was the opening of new railway lines, 
connecting Boston with Canada and the West. At Newport, 
on the i6th, he was welcomed by Lieutenant-Governor 
William B. Lawrence, then acting Governor of Rhode 
Island, to whose address the President responded : 


I feel most happy in having this opportunity of visiting 
Rhode Island, a State which, though the last to come into 
the Union, has ever been among the foremost in sustaining 
the Constitution, and maintaining the fundamental prin- 
ciples upon which our Republic was founded. Toward her 
have all eyes ever been steadfastly turned, in the full con- 
fidence that her anchor will continue to hold firm and fast. 

Later, being waited upon and addressed by committees 
appointed by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
Massachusetts, the President replied: 

Gentlemen : This very unexpected and certainly unde- 
served compliment on the part of your Legislature in thus 
sending a committee to welcome me to the bounds of your 
favored State, I can assure you is deeply appreciated by me. 

The occasion you are about to celebrate is one in which 
I feel a great interest, both personally and politically. In 
such works as these you now propose to commemorate, we 



all have an immediate concern. And allow me, sir, to re- 
mark, that in these very works and enterprises, your State 
has won a noble and an enviable reputation. She has 
stretched forth her iron arms and embraced not only the 
Great West, New Hampshire, and New York, but Vermont 
and the Canadas. I am glad to see this annexation, although 
I am not in favor of annexation in a certain sense, because 
I think we have territory enough. I am, however, in favor 
of all these enterprises which are instrtmiental in developing 
our present almost illimitable resources and extending our 
commerce. In fostering and building up the advantages we 
already possess lies, I am inclined to think, our true course. 
And it is on account of her progress in this path, that I think 
your city to be especially deserving of commendation. She 
originated those vast schemes of internal improvement, their 
private enterprise, which have redounded to her profit and 
credit and which New York has so successfully emulated 
and which other cities with a noble rivalship, have not failed 
to imitate. 


At Fall River, on the 17th, the President was again met 
by reception committees. Henry Wilson, President of the 
Massachusetts State Senate, in a speech of some leng^, 
extended to him the official invitation of the Commonwealth. 
Mr. Fillmore replied : 

Mr. Chairman: This unexpected welcome and cordial 
reception meets a most grateful response in my bosom. I 
know full well that this reception and these honors are not 
intended for me personally, but are rather accorded to the 
public office which it is my duty to fill. As such I receive 
them ; and with more pleasure than if tendered to me per- 
sonally, because I see in them a guarantee of devotion of 
Massachusetts to the Union and the Constitution of her 
beloved country. I rejoice in this event and am most happy 
to be among you. Deeply did I regret that on a former occa- 
sion it was not in my power to accept your gracious invita- 


tion. I am now traveUng over what is to me, new country, 
and am truly gratified to view this flourishing town which 
has sprung into beauty and wealth, almost in a day, exhibit- 
ing in its every structure results of an intelligent and liberal 
enterprise. Myself and associates are indeed happy to meet 
you here upon the soil of the Bay State ; we know its history 
and are proud of it as one of the sisters of our Federal 
Union. It will afford us much pleasure to spend some time 
with you, and become acquainted with your people, your 
institutions and your public works. .Again I return my 
heartfelt thanks for the kind attentions you have shown us. 


At Dorchester, on the way to Boston, the President was 
again called on to acknowledge the courtesies of the Mayor 
and local reception committee. He said : 

Mr. Chairman : On behalf of myself and associates I 
return you profound thanks for this cordial greetir^. I 
know that we stand in sight of those heights which defended 
us in the days past from the despotism of Europe, and I 
can well understand that I am in the land of those who re- 
ceived a Constitution which they were prepared to defend. 
As such I accept your welcome. 


The entrance to Roxbury was in an open barouche drawn 
by six gray horses. An escort was supplied by the National 
Lancers of Boston and a cavalcade of some two hundred 
citizens of Roxbury. A thousand children, "all having their 
dresses trimmed with evei^eens," were drawn up in line 
on Meeting House Hill, There were arches, bands of 
music, a vast throng, and floral decorations all along the 
route. To the address of welcome by Mayor Walker of 
Roxbury, Mr, Fillmore responded : 


Mr. Mayor: Permit me to return to you, and through 
you as the Chief Executive officer of this City, my thanks for 
this cordial welcome. I cannot doubt its sincerity. When I 
see your streets lined with people and strewn with flowers, 
and behold the bright and joyous eyes turned towards the 
carriage as we pass, I am sure I am welcome. I r^jet that 
time will not permit me to reply properly to your allusion to 
your sister city. Though not equalling her in population, 
you have a pleasant location, and present evidences of pros- 
perity and happiness. I have been gratified with much that 
I have seen since I entered your State, and especially with 
your common schools, those institutions which supply our 
youth with education and instill those principles which will 
lead them, as they succeed us, to receive, support, and main- 
tain the Constitution, the Union and the laws. 


The procession passed on into Boston, where bodies of 
troops gave a military character to this triumphal progress. 
Surrounded by a squad of artillery, the President listened 
to the address of welcome by Mayor Bigelow, and responded 
as follows: 

Mr. Mayor : I receive from you, as representative of this 
proud city, the flattering welcome you oflfer me, with pro- 
found gratitude and deep emotion. You have alluded to 
the fact that this is the anniversary of the completion of the 
Constitution, and of the first visit of Washington to this 
spot. What a contrast is presented now, to the day when 
the Father of his Country visited you, not to receive your 
attention and welcome, but to defend you from the despotism 
and oppression of the Mother Country! If I mistake not, 
the son of Virginia was appointed Commander-in-Chief of 
the forces of the United Colonies, and proceeded at once to 
locate his headquarters in the vicinity of Boston. He made 
the journey in eleven days, and the people of Dorchester met 
to congratulate him on the remarkable speed with which he 


had traveled! How is it tliat that space which Washington 
by U5e of an express traversed in eleven <tays, is now over- 
come by me as a matter of pleasure in about as many hours? 
It is because of yonr intelligent, far-seeing and far-reaching 
enterprise. You have stretched out your iron arms towards 
New York, and have laid her under contribution. In every 
direction is your enterprise impelled by that intelligence 
which your system of universal education gives to all your 
people, almost annihilating time and space, building up com- 
merce, facilitating domestic and social enjoyment, securing 
your own wealth and happiness and doing much for all who 
surround you. 

I rejoice to be among you ; I am sure from the welcome 
with which I have been received that you are a people who 
will maintain the city and the laws at every hazard. Boston 
may well be proud of such a military display as this and of 
the many other evidences of her greatness, which around 
present themselves on every hand. It only remains for me 
to return my thanks for the kindness you have manifested 
towards myself and associates. 

.At a subsequent reception, replying to an address of wel- 
come by the Governor, Mr. Fillmore said : 

Governor of Massachusetts: Under no circumstances 
could I have received such a welcome as through the Execu- 
tive head of this great State, without the deepest emotions of 
gratitude. From the moment that I crossed the line of this 
great State, it has been one scene of welcome. You have 
said that your institutions of every kind are open to be in- 
spected by myself and those associated with me: it is grati- 
fying to be permitted to look into the institutions of this 
State, which is perhaps the most flourishing in the Union. 
Sir, as I passed through this city I saw your streets lined for 
miles with multitudes of people ; to witness the extreme 
order that prevailed, I could never for a moment believe that 
this community could be brought, under any circumstances, 
to commit treason against the United States. 


Sir, it is my duty, and sometimes it has been a painful 
one, to execute the laws of this Union against those who did 
not approve of them. This must be the case with all who 
occupy the position which I now do ; but I see manifest in 
this community evidence that as far as this city and State 
are concerned, this duty will hereafter be performed with 
ease and satisfaction. Sir, I congratulate you on the proud 
eminence which this State occupies in the great world of 
internal improvements. You have spread your railroads 
and invited the commerce of the West and North, and you 
are now pouring rich tributes into the lap of this great State. 
May you and those associated with you long enjoy these 
blessings. You have taught your sister States that, although 
you do not possess the power of inviting commerce by 
canals, yet that there is another mode of stretching forth 
your Briarean arms to the farthest part of the land, and 
bringing her riches into your State. 

Sir, it does not become me to express gratitude for the 
reception you have extended to those associated with me. 
They are more capable of doing it for themselves than I am. 
Permit me, however, to say that I receive this testimony 
of the inhabitants of Boston and Massachusetts not as a 
personal respect to myself, but as an evidence of their duty 
to the Constitution and our glorious Union, and their deter- 
mination to sustain both. 

There were various receptions and much speech-making 
during the following days of the Boston jubilee, but no more 
extended addresses by the President. He was the guest of 
honor, with Lord Elgin, at a gjeat banquet, where the 
President of the United States was duly toasted. Hastening 
away before the programme of festivities was concluded, he 
returned to Washington. 



On December 31, 185 1, the Hungarian patriot Louis 
Kossuth was presented lo the President by Secretary 
Webster, and Senators Seward and Shields. M. Kossuth 
read a short address to the President, in which he expressed 
his gratitude for himself, his associates, and his country, 
for the encouragement and sympathy shown by our Gov- 
ernment toward the Hungarian cause. President Fillmore 
replied as follows: 

I am happy, Governor Kossuth, to welcome you to this 
land of freedom ; and it gives me pleasure to congratulate 
you upon your release from a long confinement in Turkey, 
and your safe arrival here. As an individual, I sympathized 
deeply with you in your brave struggle for the independence 
and freedom of your native land. The American people can 
never be indifferent to such a contest ; but our policy as a 
nation, in this respect, has been uniform from the c«n- 
mencement of our Government ; and my own views, as the 
chief magistrate of this nation, are fully and freely ex- 
pressed in my recent message to Congress, to which you 
have been pleased to allude. They are the same, whetiier 
speaking to Congress here, or to the nations of Europe. 

Should your country be restored to independence and 
freedom, I should then wish you, as the greatest blessing 
you could enjoy, a restoration to your native land; but, 
should that never happen, I can only repeat my weltXHne to 
you and your companions here, and pray that God's blessing 
may rest upon you wherever your lot may be cast. 


At the close of Mr. Fillmore's term of office as President, 
in March, 1853, his Washington friends gave him a farewell 
dinner. The Mayor, the Hon. Mr. Maury, in a cordial 
address, expressed the respect and good wishes of the com- 
munity toward the President. Mr. Fillmore responded : 

Mr. Mayor and Gentlemen : This is an honor which I 
did not anticipate, and am therefore unprepared to express 
in suitable language the grateful emotions which it naturally 
inspires. I can assure you, however, that I feel that I am 
entitled to the congratulations of my friends at the approach- 
ing termination of my official labors and responsibilities. 
While I shall retire from this exalted station without a single 
regret, I cannot leave your delightful city, where I have 
ever been treated with so much kindness and consideration, 
without feeling a pang of r^ret at the severance of so many 
social ties which have been to me sources of unalloyed happi- 
ness. If, in the course of my brief Administration, I have 
been able to accomplish an3rthing to promote the prosperity 
or add to the attractions of this lovely city, bearing the name 
of the immortal Washington, this reflection will ever be to 
me a source of sincere gratification. 

This city stands upon a spot recently selected from the 
wilderness, and consecrated to the exclusive use and control 
of this great nation, and rendered an attractive object of 
love and admiration to the whole people. It is the emblem 
of our union, and should be the pride of every patriot. 
Acting upon these views, I have cheerfully lent all my efforts 
to beautify and adorn it, not merely for the sake of the 


residents of the city, but as the object of just national pride, 
and as a means of strengthening our glorious Union. 

With my profound acknowledgments for tliis signal mark 
of your respect, and my sincere prayers for the continued 
prosperity of your city, I bid you an affectionate farewell I 

Early in 1854 several citizens of Buffalo interested them- 
selves in the establishment of a public liospital. At a meet- 
ing held at the Clarendon Hotel, February 2d, the project 
was discussed. Mr. Fillmore's share in the deliberations 
was reported by the Commercial Advertiser as follows: 

Hon. M. Fillmore wished to know whether this was to be 
a private institution, or whether it was to be like our other 
eleemosynary institutions — the Poor House, etc. — supported 
and controlled by public officers. If the latter, would it not 
be proper to ask of the Legislature power to levy a Ux for 
the purchase of a site, and the erection of buildings? This 
he thought was the best plan. All are interested in it — it 
should be supported by all. If, as has been suggested, it is 
specially to receive aid from the Government, then the Sec- 
retary of the Treasury might wish to have some voice in its 
management. He has the disposal of the moneys collected 
from seamen for hospital purposes, and of the apprc^ria- 
tions made by Congress for the same object, and it is not 
expended in private hospitals except in places where there 
is no public institution. He merely threw out this su^es- 
tion as a matter for <x>nsideration. 


In March, 1854, Mr. Fillmore set out from Buffalo on a 
long tour through the South. He was called on to speak 
at many of the cities visited. The following reports of his 
remarks are drawn from the newspapers as indicated, and 
are usually but a fragment or abstract of what was said. 

At Lexington, Kentucky, March 13th, he was given a 
civic reception, and spoke on two occasions. On the same 
day he visited Ashland, and the tomb of Henry Clay. 


March 14th, at Frankfort, among other hospitalities Mr. 
Fillmore was given a public dinner, at which, in due course. 
Col. Thomas L. Crittenden proposed "the health of Millard 
Fillmore, ex-President of the United States." The Frank- 
fort Commonwealth reports: 

After the rapturous applause with which the sentiment 
was received had a little subsided, Mr. Fillmore arose and 
in a few graceful and appropriate sentences acknowledged 
the honor that was done him upon the present occasion, and 
expressed the gratification he felt in the kind greeting he 
had received here, and in fact wherever he had been in 
Kentucky. In response to Col. Crittenden's complimentary 
allusion to his Administration, he said a great part of what- 
ever credit it deserved was owing to the assistance of the 
noble men who sat in council with him, and that in regard 
to his brief career as President he asked no other favor of 
friends or enemies, but that its history should be correctly 


At a public dinner, March 15th. at Louisville, Mr. 
Fillmore spoke at length. The following report is from the 
Louisville Journal of the 16th' : 

Mr. Fillmore said on rising that lie felt exceedingly em- 
barrassed in being called on, for the first time in his life, to 
address an audience like the one before him. and tliat he 
sincerely hoped there was no "chiel" present "takin' notes." 
but that what he should utter might be forgotten with the 
occasion. He was at a loss to understand what motive could 
have prompted such a great and unexpected expression of 
regard on the part of the citizens of Kentucky. If he were 
in the actual possession of the power which it was once his 
fortune to wield, or even again seeking that position, he 
might see an object for such a manifestation, but here I am. 
said he, neither holding nor seeking office, with nothing as a 
private or public man, which, in my own estimation, should 
call forth such a testimonial as this. To nothing, said he, 
can I attribute it but real Kentucky hospitality, which seeks 
an object whether worthy or not, and lavishes on that object 
its own generosity. 

Mr. Fillmore said that it was his misfortune to be, with- 
out his solicitation and certainly against his wishes, called 
to the administration of the Government, He had not even 
sought the nomination for the Vice-Presidency, and none 
could be more surprised than he when he learned that he 

T. The JmrHat preftcei in report witli the folloHiDc: "We obtuned * 
foil report of the speech nude by Mr. inilmore . . . but in confonnitr 
with whit we undentind to be his wiih. we coDGoe ouimItci Io the pab- 
licition of 1 mere skctcb of what be uid. Judge Nichotu. who wu daicnited 
hy the committEC of arrangementi to nuke ■ ipeech aUins Mr. FjUmore oat, 
dwell eloquent!; (Dd powerfuUj upon the nitlr importint Krriec which the 
diBliniuithMt gueit, *■ Prctident of the United Stale* in 1B50, rendeied to 
the lounlry by h<9 noble »land in fivor of the djemon " 
Ihal ye.r." 


was nominated. It was only ten hours before General 
Taylor's death that he had any thought that his illustrious 
friend was in danger. The knowledge came upon him like a 
peal of thunder from a clear sky. He felt wholly unprepared 
for the great responsibilities about to devolve upon him. 
Though he had been for many years a politician, he could 
say that the only sleepless night he ever passed on accotmt 
of political anxiety was that on which General Taylor died. 
His sleeplessness arose from his deep feeling of the weight 
of duties unexpectedly devolved upon him. 

He reviewed during the hours of that night his own 
opinions and life. He was sensible that he had drunk in 
with his mother's milk and had cherished from his youth up 
a feeling, even a prejudice, against slavery. He endeavored 
to look upon this whole country, from the farthest comer of 
Maine to the utmost limit of Texas, as but one country, the 
country that had given him birth. He saw in the gathering 
clouds in the North and in the South a storm which was 
likely to overwhelm him, and he feared, his country also, 
but he took the Constitution and the laws as his only guide. 
He well knew, that by so doing, he must lose the friendship 
of many prominent men of the country, especially in his own 
State, and encounter their reproaches, but, said he, to me 
this is nothing. The man who can look upon a crisis 
without being willing to offer himself upon the altar of his 
country is not fit for public trust. 

On the night of General Talyor's death the members of 
his Cabinet presented to me their resignations. I declined 
to look at them, first, because I deemed it respectful to the 
honored dead that I should not consider by what means I 
was to carry on the Government until he was decently in- 
terred, and secondly, because this avalanche of responsibility 
had fallen upon me unprepared. I desired at least a few 
hours to reflect on what it was my duty to do. Here was a 
Cabinet selected by General Taylor, several of them my 
personal friends, whom I would do anything in my power 
to serve short of endangering the peace of my country. I 
knew, however, that their policy was not such as I could 


approve. I saw that the executive power of the Govcmmcnt 
and the legislative were in opposition to each other, and that, 
while this state of things continued, peace could never be 
restored. The question therefore presented itself to me, 
Shall I retain this Cabinet or select a new one ? 

The latter course was adopted, but you can scarcely con- 
ceive the difficulties of the position in which this decisicxi 
placed me. When our Presidents are elected, they have 
three or four months, before taking their offices, to select 
men suitable to act as heads of department, but this duty 
came upon me in half a day. I requested the members of 
the Taylor Cabinet to stay thirty days and so give me an 
opportunity to look around and select their successors, but 
they respectfully declined. Thus, while the storm was 
coming up in the North, and in the South, I was suddenly 
called to administer the Government without a Cabinet and 
without time to select one, but, thank God, I was not long 
in this situation. I was so fortunate as to obtain a Cabinet, 
the members of which and myself always agreed in opinion; 
and, in all our acts, we acted together. In that Cabinet your 
own honored Kentucky was honorably represented. 

The great difficulty remained. The question arose, what 
was to be done? In Texas and New Mexico a civil war was 
threatened. Texas made preparations to take possession of 
New Mexico. He felt it his duty to maintain the laws of 
his country. One of those laws required that the people of 
the territory of New Mexico should be protected. As a 
means of protection, he immediately ordered a portion of 
the army and munitions of war to the frontier of Texas to 
do duty there. The army was put in motion, and then, and 
not till then, did Congress act upon the subject. Texas and 
New Mexico acquiesced in the action of Congress. 

Mr. Fillmore spoke of the adoption of the compromise 
measures of 1850, and especially of the fugitive slave law. 
This law, he said, had some provisions in it to which he had 
objections. He regretted the necessity of its being passed at 
all ; but the Constitution required the giving up of fugitive 
slaves, and it was not for him to decide whether this was a 


wise provision of the Constitution — it was a bargain, it was 
a compact, he had sworn to maintain it, and he would do so 
to his last hour. When the bill came to him from the two 
Houses, in the midst of hurry and confusion and difficulties, 
he examined it, and a doubt came up in his mind whether it 
was not unconstitutional as denying the right of habeas 
corpus to the fugitive slave. He referred the question to our 
accomplished Kentucky lawyer, his Attorney General; he 
gave his opinion that the law was not a violation of the 
Constitution, and therefore, said Mr. Fillmore, I gave my 
signature to the bill, but in doing so, I drew down upon my 
devoted head, as I knew I should, the vials of wrath from 
abolitionism and free-soilism. 

Mr. Fillmore regretted that he had felt called on to say 
so much of himself, and went on to speak of those who stood 
by him in the great struggle of 1850. He said that he would 
gladly name in that connection many living persons, not 
Whigs merely, but Democrats, as true patriots as ever lived. 
This work of pacification, said he, was by no means the 
work of one man or five men or ten men — the crisis was one 
in which the true patriots of the nation, no matter what 
they had been called, Whigs or Democrats, or any other 
name, rose above all personal and partisan considerations, 
and looked only to the good of the country. He referred 
beautifully to the noble parts taken by the illustrious dead, 
Mr. Clay, Mr. Webster, and the late Vice-President King. 

The speaker said that though he had by his efforts in 
behalf of the compromise lost for a time the confidence of a 
portion of his fellow-citizens, and especially in his own 
State, he loved that State as a dear mother, and was un- 
willing to believe that he had proved a recreant son. He 
trusted that the excitement of the moment would pass away 
and that she would at last see that he had at least acted with 
honest intentions if he had not acted the better part. But, 
fellow-citizens, said he, let me refer you to your own State. 
When the gathering tempest of fanaticism, abolition fana- 
ticism, was rolling up from the North, an equally violent 
tempest of fanaticism, secession fanaticism, was rolling up 

Proceeding by steamer from New Orleans to Mobile, 
Mr. Fillmore was met down the bay. April 7th, by a 
of excursion boats. On shore a military and civic reception 
was held, and in the public square the Mayor tendered to 

Mr. Fillmore the hospitalities of the city. 

In response, Mr. Fillmore said he was taken by surprise 
at the unexpected and brilliant reception tendered him, and 
at the eloquent remarks of the Mayor welcoming him to the 
city, and he hardly knew how to reply. 

He spoke of having just sailed, for the first time, upon 
the Gulf of Mexico, and the eagerness with which he looked 
for a glimpse of the .shores of Alabama. The fog, 
however, of the morning prevented this for a long time and 
he beg;an to despair of obtaining even a view of the dty 
before entering it, when, as if the blessing of heaven, for 
some reason he knew not, rested upon him in his visit here, 
the thick curtain that environed them was suddenly lifted, 
revealing to his admiring gaze the gallant steamers crowded 
with manliness and beauty, coming to welcome him — the 
shipping in the harbor, with banners streaming in the wind, 
and soon the city itself in all its loveliness. He referred 
very happily to the adventures of De Soto in this State, par- 
ticularly to his account of the aborigines, whom he pro- 
nounced the bravest and most hospitable of men, and the 
women of the tribe of Mobile the most beautiful of their 
sex ; and said that from what he had heard and witnessed 
of his white brethren and their wives and daughters, their 
successors, he thought the mantels of the aborigines had, 

t. The report i^ncludcs: "His euloey of Kentacky «w execedinglr hwd- 
soinc, and tfaig portion of his ipHch, Hkc ill the other portioiu, vu ncebwl 
wilh the most cnthiuiulic ippliuw. Few public tpetlien ertr made M Sac 


in these respects, fallen upon them. He then referred to the 
remarks of the Mayor, respecting his public service, and 
said that he claimed little credit for the good that was accom- 
plished. When called by a mysterious dispensation of 
Providence to assume responsibilities from which he would 
gladly have shrunk, he formed the resolution to take the 
Constitution for his guide, and no matter with what preju- 
dices or friendships it might conflict, or what it might per- 
sonally cost him, to do his duty fearlessly to the whole 
country. He dwelt some time with much feeling and elo- 
quence upon the crisis to which the Mayor referred.* 


At Montgomery, Ala., acknowledging a reception by the 
citizens, Mr. Fillmore made some remarks afterwards much 
quoted by a portion of the press at the North. This speech, 
April 15th, was reported by the Montgomery Journal as 
follows : 

Mr. Fillmore responded in a feeling, appropriate and 
eloquent manner to tfie reception which had been extended 
to him by our citizens. He confessed that he was over- 
powered by the demonstrations of regard which had met 
him at every step in his journey through the South. He 
said that it was more like the triumphal march of a con- 
quering general, than the reception of a private citizen. He 
felt the more overpowered by the manifestations of regard, 
because he was satisfied that he did not deserve them. He 
had only performed his duty, and said that next to the appro- 
bation of his own conscience, the assurance that his course 
received the sanction of the people, was a source of the 
highest gratification. He alluded to the circumstances 
which surrounded him when called to the Presidency; the 
excited condition of the country; the raging storm which 
had been engendered by opposing factions ; to the fact that 
he had been bom and educated in a free State, and as hav- 

I. Abstract of speech in the Mobile Advertiser, April 8, 1851. 


ing necessarily imbibed prejudices against the institution of 
slavery ; the resolution to examine for himself and take 
the Constitution for his guide, and rising above all narrow 
sectional feeling and prejudice, to administer tlie Govern- 
ment with a strict regard to the rights and interests of every 
section. North. South, East and West; "but," said he, "I 
should feel that I had dishonored myself if I had adminis- 
tered the Government for the benefit of the South, at the 
expense of the North. I did no such thing, but acted hon- 
estly and sincerely for the benefit of the whole countr\'." 
He briefly alluded to his course in regard to the Texas difB- 
culty, which at that time assumed a fearful and threatening 
aspect ; said that he feh it to be his duty to protect the 
citizens of New Mexico from the threatening invasion of 
Texas, and while he knew that his course was tmpalatable 
to the South, he believed it to be his sworn duty to protect 
New Mexicans in accordance with the provision of our 
treaty stipulations, and he had determined to do so. This, 
he stated, brought about the compromise measures which 
had so happily settled the whole controversy. 

He alluded to the passage of the Fugitive Slave law as 
particularly obnoxious to his own section, and said he knew 
that his approval of that measure would lose him many 
friends, but the Constitution said that fugitives from labw 
must be given up ; and as he had swom to support the Con- 
stitution, he signed the bill that they should be surrendered. 
Then came the onerous and responsible duty to enforce the 
law. We could not know or understand the difficulties which 
attended the discharge of this duty, but he had sworn to 
enforce the laws, and he did enforce this, notwithstanding 
he had been threatened by the fanaticism which r^;ed at 
the North against it. 


Mr. Fillmore arrived at Savannah, Ga., April 2i5t, where 
he was welcomed in a cordial address by Mayor Ward. 

In reply to this address Mr. Fillmore expressed his gra- 
tification at the kind welcome with which he was greeted and 



which he had so uniformly received throughout the South, 
proving as unexpected to him as it was gratifying. He 
thanked Mayor Ward for his complimentary expressions, 
though he claimed no merit for anything he had done in his 
late position, dictated as his course had been, by a single eye 
to the welfare of our common country. 


[In response to the official welcome:] 

Ex-President Fillmore, evidently and deeply affected, 
replied in a most happy manner. He had gratified a long- 
cherished wish in visiting this ancient and time-honored me- 
tropolis, and he had thereby incurred a new obligation, which 
he had gratefully acknowledged throughout his Southern 

The hospitalities and generous welcome he had every- 
where received, were none the less grateful to him from the 
consideration that he could not attribute them to his claims 
or merits. While serving in the Representative branch of 
Congress, it had been his pleasure to be associated officially 
and personally with representatives of South Carolina, and 
he had often acknowledged the high stand occupied by the 
State in both branches of Congress. He had been disposed 
sometimes to attribute this marked pre-eminence to the at- 
tention bestowed on education here — ^at other times he had 
traced it back to the generous and habitual reliance reposed 
by the State in her great men — ^a trait which he considered 
among the most noble that could characterize any people. 

He paid a feeling and touching tribute to the genius, 
patriotism and purity of our lamented Calhoun (whose 
statue was overlooking the ceremony of reception), and 
stated that, whatever differences of opinion had existed as 
to his measures, none who knew him ever hesitated to accord 
him these merits in a paramount degree. The tears of the 
whole Union swelled the tribute which Carolina had dropped 
on the grave of her lamented son and statesman.^ 

I. Report in Charleston Courier, April 37, 1854. 



Mr. Fillmore expressed his grateful sense of the kind 
reception he had met and replied in most appropriate terms 
to the allusion to his administration of the Government. 
He referred in complimentary terms to the State and city, 
their progress, etc., to the monument (in his view) to the 
memory of the signers of the Declaration of Independence 
from Georgia, and concluded by repeating his grateful ac- 
knowledgments of the many courtesies extended to him.* 


At Atlanta, Ga., May 8th, the President made an ad- 
dress of which the following is preserved by the Atlanta 

Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen : That being 
who can look upon a scene like the one before me unmoved, 
must be more or less than human. The cordial welcome 
which has been so eloquently expressed by you, Mr. Chair- 
man, though it finds a warm response in my heart, cannot 
be expressed in language. I had heard of Atlanta as a 
beautiful village, in the center of your State, which had 
recently sprung into existence — but until I heard the elo- 
quence of the steam whistle, the neighings of the iron horse 
of your railroads, and looked on the multitude congregated 
to welcome me, I had no adequate idea of the extent and 
population of your city. A thousand thanks for the cordial 
and unexpected welcome extended. And although it may 
not become me to say a word about your State policy and 
home affairs, yet I must think if your Legislature, when 
they come to vote, could look on the fair faces and bright 
eyes of the beautiful array of female loveliness before me, 
they would not hesitate to locate the State Capitol at Atlanta. 
I am hoarse, as you perceive, with much speaking. But I 
will carry the remembrance of this hour not only to my 

I. Report in the Augusta Chronicle, April 3i8t. Mr. Fillmore was at 
Nashville, May 4th, and spoke, but no report of the address is found. 


Northern home, but to my grave. Accept my grateful 
acknowledgments for the generous welcome extended to me. 


Arriving in New York City, May i8th, Mr. Fillmore was 
for some days the recipient of honors. A delegation from 
the Clay Festival Association visited him at his hotel, and 
told him they were the surviving members of the Clay Asso- 
ciation formed in 1844, "in the day of Mr. Clay's political 
adversity," and they had always considered Mr. Fillmore 
as his friend. 

Mr. Fillmore briefly responded and said he was taken 
quite by surprise by this demonstration. He said he had 
met with many of the friends of Henry Clay during his 
recent tour, and some who were now his friends, but never 
before avowed it. During his journey he had visited the 
home of Mr. Clay, and dropped a tear over his grave. He 
was happy to see the Clay men of his own State. He did 
not desire any public reception, but he would be most happy 
to receive all his friends. He was happy for the enthusiastic 
reception he had received from the South, but it gave him 
more satisfaction to be thus welcomed at home. He felt 
proud of his native State, although he would receive a citizen 
of Texas or the farthest extremity of the Union with the 
same cordiality. He did not make these remarks to be pub- 
lished, as it might be thought to be a political harangue. He 
returned his sincere acknowledgments to all.* 


At Randall's and Blackwell's Islands, New York, May 
19, 1854, Mr. Fillmore inspected the institutions, and ad- 
dressed the inmates of the former place : 

My young friends: I take great pleasure in visiting 
this institution at this time, and although I have always been 

I. New York Tribune, May 19, 1854. 



proud of the charitable institutions of my own Suie, I had 
no anticipation of finding here so much inlelligcnce and 
happiness, and all this high state of discipline and order. 
When I saw your marching I was particularly struck with 
the order that prevailed in your ranks. It gave evidence 
to my mind that you were disciplined rightly, and that you 
obeyed your instructions, and this was a gratifying thought 
to me. During my occupancy of the highest public station 
of the country I have often had occasion to be present at 
parades and have reviewed many a regiment that did not 
display half ihe military order that you did when we met 
y«u this morning. Everjihing seemed in its proper place, 
and this is the first thing a boy should learn — to do his dut> 
— and then he may expect to rise to usefulness, and perhaps 
to eminence. I am happy that New York has provided such 
an institution, and that there is not a place, however high, 
that each boy in this institution may not aspire to ; and I do 
sincerely hope that we may be spared to see many 3 boy 
now here filling the most important offices in this city or 
even of the United States. This would be a high gratifica- 
tion for me. and would reflect high credit on that noble city 
that has so wisely provided for your education. I thank you 
for the pleasure you have given me in witnessing your 


Early in June, 1854, Mr. Fillmore was one of a numerous 
party who visited Chicago and made a tour over new lines 
forming a part of the Rock Island railway system.^ The 
excursionists reached St. Louis on June 12th, where, as at 
other smaller places, an enthusiastic reception was given to 
Mr. Fillmore. Arriving by steamboat, he was met at the 
levee by Mayor How and other city officials, and there was 
the usual exchange of complimentary speeches. Later, at 
the Planters' House, responding to a speech of welcome by 
Major Uriel Wright, Mr. Fillmore said : 


Sir : I confess I am taken by surprise at this magnificent 
reception, so unexpected to me. Were I the President of the 

I. With Mr. Fillmore on this famous excursion, were the Hon. N. K. 
Hall, Hon. George R. Babcock, Millard Powers Fillmore and several other 
gentlemen from Buffalo. New York, Philadelphia and other principal cities 
were represented. The programme included a trip by steamboat up the Mis- 
sissippi to St. Paul. "At Galena, 111., Mr. Fillmore, the Hon. John A. Dix and 
others, made speeches. Mr. Fillmore also spoke, in acknowledgment of recep- 
tions tendered him, at Dubuque, la., and at St. Paul, Minn., where a grand 
ball was one feature of the entertainment and Mr. Fillmore addressed the 
dancers, as did the Hon. George Bancroft. Mr. Fillmore in the course of his 
speech likened the Mississippi to a tree; the Ohio, the Missouri, the Arkansas, 
and other tributaries, its branches, with New Orleans at its foot naturally 
receiving the fruit as it dropped from the tree. "Messrs. Sheffield and Farnam, 
in building the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad, have set up a great ladder 
with its base at New York, to bear the fruit safely and securely to another 
commercial point." A meeting of the excursionists was held, June 9th, on 
board the steamer Galena, attended by passengers from the Golden Era 
and War Eagle, on which the Mississippi trip was made, at which Mr. Fillmore 
presided and spoke, as did others, in acknowledgment of the courtesies they 
had received from railway and steamboat companies. 


442 WESTERN TOUR, 1834^ 

United States, or even a candidate for the Presidency, I 
could in a measure conceive of the honor which has been so 
generously tendered me; but I am a private citizen, and 
come among you as such. You have been pleased to allude 
to my Administration in terms of commendation; for my 
official action, I claim no merit, as I determined to faithfully 
administer the Constitution and laws regardless of all con- 
sequences and sectional animosities or prejudices. 

I never knew the resources of the Mississippi Valley until 
my visit to the South. I had often heard of its boundless 
prairies and its rich lands, so well and peculiarly adapted to 
the wants and necessities of man ; and my visit at this time 
has peculiarly impressed upon me its great importance. 
Coming from St. Paul, on this occasion, from the far North, 
I view St. Louis not only as the commercial emporium of 
this valley, but the great central city of this Union, the half- 
way house, it might be termed, between the Atlantic and 
Pacific seaboards. One thing is yet wanting to complete 
and fill the measure of our country's glory, and without it 
our broad lands and great resources will be of no avail : It 
is, that iron bands, for the purpose of commercial transit and 
as a conservative element, shall connect the two oceans. 
We must have a railwav across the continent; for without 
this, we will be. and feel, like the old colonies, that we are 
too far away from the central power. If we would preserve 
this Union with all its inestimable blessings, all sections of 
the country must feel that they are one common brother- 
hood ; and to do this, space must, in a measure, be annihil- 
ated, and every part of the country brought in contact and 
fraternize with each other. 

I congratulate the citizens of St. Louis upon their pros- 
perity, and I may be pardoned for drawing a contrast with 
my own beloved city of BuflFalo. A few years since, we 
equalled you in point of population, and, I say it not in envy, 
we had some pretensions to being your rival ; but you took 
a sudden leap and are now far ahead of us. 

I congratulate you upon your commercial importance — 
upon the enterprise of a population which, I am told, is now 


WESTERN TOUR, 1854- 443 

near one hundred and twenty thousand — upon the beauty of 
your public buildings and tfie taste displayed in the mag- 
nificence of your private residences, for I confess I had no 
conception of these things; and, what is more, from the 
vast throng that now surrounds me and the volunteers with 
their glittering uniforms, I see you have the spirit and the 
military power to defend and protect the city. Once more, 
allow me to tender to the citizens of St. Louis my heartfelt 
thanks for this cordial reception; and believe me, I shall 
ever cherish with gratitude the generous welcome which has 
been extended to me this day. 

May 17, 1855, Mr. Fillmore sailed for Liverpool. He 
traveled and rested in Europe for a year, returning lo 
America in June, 1856. Being in London, July 4. 1855. he 
was the guest of honor at an entertainment given by George 
Peabody at Willis's famous resort. The following note is 
from an English source;' 

The festivities closed with Mr. Fillmore (late President 
of the United States) rising, and saying he was about to 
propose a toast, in which he felt sure every one present 
would, with one accord, join him in drinking. He would 
propose "The health of our generous host." Mr. Fillmore, 
with an intonation of voice, that at once attracted the atten- 
tion of his hearers, described Mr. Peabody as a noble speci- 
men of American enterprise, and of whom his countrymen 
were justly proud. Transplanted to British soil, he still 
maintained the characteristics of his country, and cherished 
for her the fond recollection which he had so generously 
illustrated on this day of our national independence. With 
a beautiful allusion, he pointed to the eagle at the end of the 
hall, and touchingly described his gratification at the oppor- 
tunity afforded him of meeting so many of his fellow-coun- 
trymen on foreign soil. He should always be proud to join 

[' "A report of proceeding al an rntert«mnienl given on the 4tb of JnlT. 
iSjs, t>r Mr. George Peabody, >| Willia't Rooma, London, on the occuion ot 
eelebraling the 791I1 annlverurr of the Indepcndenc* of the United Ststet 
of America ..." [London, i8$j.] 41a. pp. 4. 


in celebrating the day of our national independence, whether 
at home or abroad. Mr. Fillmore sat down amidst the most 
enthusiastic cheering, the band playing " Auld lang syne."^ 

I. Mr. Fillmore and Mr. Van Buren appear tu have been in the House 
of Commons at the same time; for John Bright, in a speech delivered in the 
House at the time of Mr. Fillmore's visit, said: "Only on Tuesday night the 
very remarkable circumstance occurred — and I think the House will be of 
opinion that it is one worth notice — of two of the distinguished men being 
present listening to the debates in this House who have occupied the position 
of President of the United States, a position I venture to say, not lower in 
honor and in dignity than that of any crowned monarch on the surface of 
the globe," and he passed on to a eulogy of the United States and some sur- 
vey of its importance. 

£«</ 0/ Fillmore Papers, Felume One. 

Buffalo Hitt9ri€al Society 
Publication Series^ Volume X, 

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