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3. To show that this is not a strained or fancy sketch of the relative importance and consideration of the several Departments, I may be allowed to submit a brief estimate of the comparative proportion of legislation devoted to the different subjects appertaining to each, derived from an analysis or dissection, and contemplation of them, separate and apart, in their proper and distinct elements. After devoting a great deal of labor to this abstruse examination, the following may be taken as a reliable result; though, from the mixed and promiscuous character of many of the laws, exactness in their assortment is not attainable.
1st. About one-fourth of the acts of Congress, from the adoption of the Constitution in 1789, relate directly or indirectly to Revenue, as derived from the various sources of the Customs, Internal duties, Direct taxes, sales of Public Lands, Postage duties, and Duties on Patents for useful inventions, as well as provisions for Loans, Certificates of Stock, Treasury Notes, Scrip, and other means of extending the public credit, on account of anticipated Revenue, with acts for the organization of the Treasury Department.
2d. About one-fourth of the laws are devoted to appropriations for the various general objects of defraying the expenses of the Government, under the denominations of Civil, Miscellaneous, and Diplomatic appropriation bills, appropriations for the Naval service, appropriations for the Military service, appropriations for intercourse with Indian tribes, appropriations for Fortifications and Internal Improvements, appropriations for the construction of Light-houses and Floating lights, &c.; all of which presently become obsolete, except particular sections or provisions, whose objects and purposes are continuous.
3d. About one-fourth are private acts, for the relief and satisfaction of the claims of individuals, corporations, and States, on the Treasury; which likewise presently become obsolete, upon the settlement of those claims. Hence, it would appear, that about three-fourths of the laws of the United States owe their administration, in chief, to the Treasury Department; that is to say, the Treasury Department is charged with the execution of three-fourths of the laws, wholly or in part, both in providing the Revenue and in disbursing it for the benefit of the whole, (excepting the Post Office Department in some extent,) and in settling the accouuts, both of the receipts and expenditures of the Government.
4th. The other fourth part of the laws are devoted to the organization of the Department of State, the organizing and regulating our foreign relations, and providing for carrying treaties into effect; to the organization of the War Department, and the organizing and regulating the military establishment, together with our Indian and Territorial relations; to the organization of the Navy Department, and the organizing and regulating the Naval establishment and construction, together with the Marine Corps; to the organization of the Post Office Department, and the organizing and regulating the mail establishment of offices, post routes, and transportation; to the organization of the Judiciary establishment, and making provisions for the officers connected therewith: also acts providing for some miscellaneous matters, all of which in various proportions, only to be ascertained with exactness by extending the process of dissecting and contemplating them, separate and apart from other legal provisions (perhaps unavoidably) commingling with them, of which appropriation clauses or sections, properly appertaining to the Treasury, form a principal part.
4. This whole analysis of the laws, taken in connection with the analysis of the Treasury Instructions in execution of the Revenue laws in particular, (which latter process was a good preparatory school for the former,) has afforded an ample opportunity of ascerlaining an important fact, that the entire plan of the classified synopsis of those instructions is strictly applicable to the details of those laws; and that, by analogy, the like plan might be extended to the whole national code; nor can it but strike every discriminating mind, that such a classification of subjects would probably conduce much to infuse greater method in legislation, by distributing them into appropriate and distinct bills, whilst passing through the refining crucibles of primary or originating committees. As some evidence of the practicability of such an enterprise in regard to the Revenue laws, it need hardly be remarked, that the close analogy, and in many respects the perfect identity, which subsists between the subjects of the instructions for executing those laws, and the subjects of the laws themselves, would fully justify the assurance of its complete success; nor will it be denied that the like analogy would be found, tending the plan of classification to the whole code which would doubtless result in a proportionably increased extension of the like benefits, by affording a more facile and sure guide to method for all the Executive departments in preparing orderly instructions and decisions in execution of the laws, whereby those instructions and decisions would more likely prove to be a fair and accurate Mirror of the laws—or, in other words, not so frequently mar them, supersede them, or prove paramount to them, in practice.
The Collection law of the 2d March, 1799, (though a master-piece, as a treatise on the various subjects it embraces,) affords one of the many fruitful examples that might be cited, of the commingling of a number of subjects entitled to distinct legislation, not indeed brought together by a simple reunion of so many subjects into one act, but by so dispersing and intermixing the parts of the same subject, with the dispersed parts of other subjects, as to mislead the unwary reader when he peruses a part of a subject in this act, into the supposition that he has there seen all that is said on that subject; whereas, he finds, to his surprise, sundry other provisions on the same subject recurring in other parts of the act. I estimate these different subjects at thirteen in number', (so broken up and intermixed in their details, as above expressed,) each of which is fully entitled to the consideration of a separate act. And this reunion of so many subjects in one act has, in this case alone, given rise to a PROGENY of some hundred supplementary, amendatory, additional, partially repealing and reviving acts, referring to, and growing out of, this mammoth act; which produces an interminable confusion in unpractised minds not competent to grasp so many parts having no obvious identity to entitle them to enter into one and the same act. Whereas, if they were distributed and enacted into separate laws, all this confusion would be obviated; the incongruity in the progeny of supplementary acts would disappear; and the original acts, with the modifications of them, in every case, would be more accessible and facile of comprehension and execution, than in a state of combination, frequently incoherent, and running through a text of nearly one hundred pages, as in the original act of 1799, mystified too, with ten fold that amount of additions and alterations, the connections of which with the parent act are hard to trace.
5. All laws, and the regulations to execute them, may become null, in two modes-by being repealed, and by becoming obsolete. When repealed or rescinded, they are irretrievably dead, except they be resuscitated by re-enactment. When they become null by growing obsolete, this will be in one of two ways—either because there is no further subject for their application or exercise, in existing circumstances, or, although there be occasion, their application and exercise cease from official neglect to execute them. Laws or regulations becoming obsolete in the former way, revive of themselves whenever the circumstances that first called them into existence may recur; and a law or regulation, becoming a dead letter in the latter way, may again be enforced, whenever the official rernissness that suffered them to fall into disuse shall give place to official energy and circumspection in the discharge of public duties. So that, when laws and regulations become obsolete in the way first mentioned, they should nevertheless be kept under the continual watch of executive and administrative officers, in order to bring them again in play when the occasions for them are reinstated: but what should be done, when they become obsolete by neglect or non-user, I need not say. It is manifest, then, that a law or regulation not repealed or rescinded, but merely becoming obsolete, is no sufficient reason for consigning them to oblivion, whether they have become inoperative or obsolete in one way or the other: if in the one way, they may yet be in demand; if in the other, all know what should be done to resuscitate and to reinvigorate them.
Well, if the loose practice which has but too often prevailed were tested by these principles with a commensurate scrutiny, it would probably be found, that many of the laws and regulations which have become obsolete, have fallen into that supine condition by official default of some kind, either of oversight, or of wilful non-user; and I may dare assert, that very few will have the hardihood to contend that the fact of any portion of the Revenue Laws and Treasury Instructions, having thus become obsolete, (or, perchance, continued to be executed in any case after repeal,) should be deemed a good and valid objection to their receiving due notice in their proper connection in a work of this kind. But if, indeed, such a denunciation were to prevail, it might well astonish those who have been accustomed to repose under the broad panoply of that fundamental principle of Democratic government, which declares that the People have a right to know all the official acts and delinquencies of their public servants." For what other end is it, that Congress has ever taken so much pains to promulgate the Laws among the People? And what signifies a knowledge of the Laws, without the corresponding knowledge of the manner in which they are and have been executed? That there has, as yet, been a great failure in the efforts to afford them all facilities for the latter branch of information, will be readily conceded, when it is taken into consideration how little is known, even among their representatives, of the manner in which many of the Laws are executed by the subordinate officers of the Government, more especially the Revenue Laws, the most important of all, as they supply the sinews of war, and afford the nurture that prospers our institutions in peace.
Besides, to have those enactments and instructions retain their place and due notice, in a work like this, may serve to remind us that the chasm occasioned by their repeal, or becoming obsolete, should again be supplied by their resuscitation or re-enactment. And more, preservation of such memorials of past action by the Legislative and Executive departments may serve to elucidate, at convenient moments of calm reflection, the policy of those enactments, and the manner in which they have been executed, the due appreciation of which had been prevented by the distractions of the moment of their enactment, or their official execution.
6. A brief abstract of the grouping of the subjects which compose the several chapters, and a few examples of the manner in which the Laws and Instructions have been executed, neglected, or perverted, may be acceptable here, not only in sheer justice to the work itself, but to give a rapid survey of the whole scheme, which illustrates the same in a way heretofore unknown to Congress or to the Department, the one or the other having to rely upon the incidental development of isolated facts, for want of a proper classification and continuous review of them all under their appropriate heads.
The Synopsis of Treasury Instructions is divided into eight Chapters; those Chapters are subdivided into 28 Sections, in all; and each Section is devoted to a particular subject, embraced under the general head of the Chapter to which it belongs, or in some instances distributed into smaller divisions, as the details require. Upon such particular subject of each Section, or smaller division, the substance of every Instruction that has been issued by the Treasury Department, in execution of the laws on such subject, from 1789 to the end of 1844, is given; so that the action or experience of the Department, in relation to each subject, may be found embodied, in appropriate and brief abstracts, in each section, respectively, or smaller division, as the case may be; and, when greater detail is desired on any subject, it can be obtained by examining the original Instructions and the Laws, which are there specifically referred to.
Of the evidences afforded in every Section, respecting the official action of the Department and its subordinate officers of the Customs, and others, showing the efficiency or inefficiency of those officers in executing the Laws and the Instructions on the particular subject of such Section, or smaller division, from 1789 to the present time, it might be deemed invidious to select any particular facts, as examples for illustrating the rest. Nevertheless, the selection will be made, to show the action and experience of the Department on three principal subjects only, on account of their universality and importance, without reference to their greater or less enormity, in comparison with the other details of the work.
Chapter I, purports to give an “OUTLINE OF THE REVENUE OR FINANCIAL SYSTEM IN GENERAL.” But, even as an outline, it is necessarily very imperfect, owing to the entire absence of any purpose in the “Circular Instructions” to exhibit the operations of the Treasury Department as a system, leaving it to laborious research, and a resort to other materials, to make the best of them for such object. Therefore, independent of their insufficiency for that object, it would have been exceedingly difficult to make a passable development of the system, by selecting and arranging those Instructions and expositions of the Revenue Laws which might be most apt to the purpose, without encroaching too largely upon the details proper to the subsequent Chapters, where they would require to be again rehearsed, in order to illustrate the different branches of the system, so far as a discriminating classification of those Instructions and Decisions would serve. Taking that outline, then, with all its imperfections, though susceptible of being in some measure supplied by the details of subsequent Chapters, there would nevertheless remain very considerable deficiencies in some of its parts; which, however, being appropriate to the organization and operations of the Treasury Department and its various Bu. reaus, as set forth in the Supplement to this Synopsis, may there be found and consulted.*
* SUMMARY OF THE FISCAL DEPARTMENT OF THE GOVERNMENT.
This includes the regulations for the admeasurement of vessels, and granting | 1. System of COMMERCIAL MA-j them certificates of registry, of record, of enrolment, and licenses, &c., ac
cording to their employment in foreign commerce, the fisheries, or the lake and coasting trade, &c. See Ch. II, Sec. 1.
This includes the regulations for the maintenance and government of the 2. System OF REVENUE MARINE.
Revenue Marine, in protecting commerce and detecting violations of the
This includes the regulations respecting the establishment and maintenance 1. THE SYSTEMS OF | 3. Light-HOUSE SISTEM.
of light-houses, beacons, buoys, &c.; their superintendence, construction, COMMERCE AND
preservation, and supplies. See Ch. II, Sec. 2. NAVIGATION. 4. SYSTEM OF PROTECTION OF
This includes the regulations for the relief of destitute American seamen
abroad, their safe return to the United States, the registry of seamen, crew AMERICAN SEAMEN.
lists of all vessels going to sea, &c. See Ch. II, Sec. 3. 5. System Of NavigaTION PROPER,
This includes the regulations respecting the Custom-house entries and clearas existing in time of peace.
ances of vessels; their imports, exports, and tonnage; whence arrived or
whither bound, &c. See Ch. II, Sec. 5. 6. SYSTEM OF NAVIGATION PROPER, S This includes embargo regulations, the issue of Sea letters, Mediterranean
as modified in time of war or passports, letters of marque, neutrality regulations, &c. See Ch. II, Sec. 6. quasi war.
This includes the regulations for estimating, levying, and collecting the du
ties, regular and discriminating, whether ad valorem, specific, or mixed, 1. System Of Impost Duties.
cash or credit, with abatements, and refunding or reduction thereof, &c., &c. See Ch. III, Secs. 1 to 10, and extracts (b) and (d) post. Also, regulations for the extension and levying duties on the commerce of captured ports and
districts in time of war. See extract (c) post.
This includes the regulations for estimating, levying, and collecting tonnage 2. System Of TONNAGE Duties. duties, regular and discriminating, with abatements, or refunding thereof
&c. See Ch. III, Secs. 9 in part, and 10 in part. 3. System or LIQAT-MONEY Do- This includes the regulations for the estimate, levying, and collection of
Light-money, regular or discriminating, with abatements or refunding II. THE SYSTEMS OF
thereof, &c. See Ch. III, Secs. 9 in part, and 10 in part. REVENUE FROM 4. SYSTEM PASSPORT AND
This includes the regulations for the estimate, levying, and collection of CUSTOMS. CLEARANCE Doties.
passport and clearance duties or fees, with abatements or refunding there. of, (in case of error:) See Ch. III, Sec. 9 in part.
This, being the foundation of what is otherwise termed “the Marine Hos. 5. SYSTEM OF DUTIES OR Taxes pital system,” includes the regulations for the establishment and support of ON SEAMEN'S Wages.
Marine Hospitals by means of said lax. See Ch. II, Sec. 3, and Ch. III,
This includes the regulations for the deposite, under covering warrants of 6. System OF DEPOSITES the Secretary, and the transfer, under transfer drafts of the Treasurer, for SAFE-KEEPING OF THE REVE- safe-keeping of the Revenue, (formerly with incorporated companies or
banks, but recently substituted by Sub-treasurers,) to the credit of the
Treasurer. See Ch. V, and extract (a,) post. 11. System of DiseURSEMENTS, by ( This is done by warrant of the Secretary of the Treasury, on the Treasurer,
warrants and drafts, of money in pursuance of legal “requisitions” on the Secretary; which warrants are previously deposited to the credit satisfied by drafts* of the Treasurer on Depositaries or Sub-treasurers, and of the Treasurer.
paid out of money previously deposited to his credit. See Ch. VII, Secs. 1 and 3.
This is done by warrant of the Secretary of the Treasury, on the Treasurer, 2. System op DISBURSEMENTS, by in pursuance of legal “requisitions” on the Secretary ; which warrants are
warrants and drafts, of money satisfied by drafts of the Treasurer on Collectors and Receivers, and paid not previously deposited to the out of money in their hands, (having no depositories convenient,) to be credit of the Treasurer, but credited to them by covering warrants at the end of the quarter, as having subject to his control.
been deposited or placed in the 'Treasury on the payment of the Treasurer's drafts. See Ch. VII, Secs. 1 and 3. * For note on Drafts, see foot of next page. This is done in the instances of the Marine Hospital and Light-house establishments, the expenses of which are paid by Collectors, as superintendants, out of money in their hands; and, on settlement of the accounts there
of at the Treasury, a warrant and counter-warrant are issued, the latter reIII. THE SYSTEM OF 3. System Of DISBURSEMENTS, by
quiring them to pay the amount into the Treasury, and the former to meet DISBURSEMENTS. warrant and counter-warrant,
and satisfy it; whereby the transaction is adjusted on the books of the
Treasury. See Ch. VII, Secs. 1 and 2. The like process of warrant and of money previously paid on
counter-warrant is resorted to, for the purpose of effecting a transfer to public account, by agents of the Treasury.
their proper heads of appropriation, balances pro and con, found on the settlement of disbursing agents' accounts of moneys advanced to them, which they may have paid out under different heads of appropriation, and of disbursing to them, under the proper heads of appropriation, the amounts that they had so applied from other appropriations. See“ warrants” in the Supplement, Chaps. II, III, and IV. This is done by Collectors and Receivers, on account of the current or con
tingent expenses of their office, and the expenses of collecting the Revenue, 4. System Of DISBURSEMENTS, including their salaries, fees, and emoluments, &c.; also in pursuance of
without warrant or draft, of “orders” or “ directions” of the Comptroller or of the Secretary of the money never deposited to the Treasury, addressed to a Collector or Receiver, to advance or pay to a Colcredit of the Treasurer, nor lector or Receiver (whose receipts are not adequate) the sums required and subject to his control.
estimated for by them to pay the like expenses of their offices, &c., as just described; whích payments are deducted out of the public moneys in their hands, and allowed in their quarterly accounts. See Ch. VII, Sec. 2, (e.)
Chapter II, gives a “SYNOPSIS OF NAVIGATION AND COMMERCIAL REGULATIONS IN GENERAL, APPERTAINING TO THE REVENUE SYSTEM,” in six Sections, viz: Section 1. “Of the System of Marine Papers;"> Sec. 2. “Of the Light-house System;" Sec. 3. “Of the Marine Hospital System, for the relief of sick and disabled Seamen;" Sec. 4. “Of the Revenue Cutter System;" Sec. 5. “Of the System of Commerce and
As it may be of some utility to bring under one comprehensive view, in this connection, those scattered and hitherto disjointed parts which enter into and inake up the great Fiscal System of the United States, the foregoing table is presented, as probably the best mode of effecting that object. It will perhaps convey the most satisfactory conception of the subordinate systems and projets which have checkered the history of the great Fiscal Department of the Government, with their longer or shorter participation in it-frequently making their entrés and exits according to the caprice of political parties, or the exigencies of the times in which portions of them have fourished. This great system naturally distributes itself in three classes of subordinate systems—the initiative, the acquisitive, and the disbursive, or distributive-which are illustrated by their respective forms and details, with references to the Chapters and Sections of the work where they are more particularly treated. It is impossible, however, here to enter into a circumstantial history of those parts of the system which have had their day; such as the systems of Internal Duties and Direct Taxes; or the present fiscal systems of the General Land Office, of the Post Office Department, and of the Patent Office, of which it will be sufficient to say, that they would properly distribute themselves into three classes of subordinate systems, corresponding with those here described as more properly appertaining to the Customs. But, as the PRESENT promises to be a new era in the projets of improvement in several of the details of the latter, I have subjoined copious extracts from the financial report of the Secretary of the Treasury, the Hon. R. J. WALKER, who therein sets forth the most magnificent results of those experiments in financial legislation pursuant to his former official recommendations. Should time confirm their present propitious aspect, they will constitute a new era indeed, inevitably reconciling the conflicting opinions which have heretofore marshalled our greatest statesmen in opposite political phalanges :—These extracts are referred to in the foregoing table, at the respective subjects of each, marked (a,) (6,) (c) (d,) viz:
(a) The Constitutional Treasury-Secretary's Report to Congress, December, 1847. “The Constitutional Treasury went into effect on the 1st of January last ; and the business of the Government, under this act, during the last eleven months, has been conducted in specie; of which, as appears by table U, there was received during the last eleven months, for loans, customs, lands, and miscellaneous collections, the sum of $48,667,886 18 in specie, and the sum of $48,226,516 31 during the same eleven months disbursed in specie.
“ In New York, (see table Y,) during the month of August last, $3,340,706 48 in specie was received by the Collector of that port, and in the last eleven months by him, in specie, $18,615,422 26. During the same month of August, there was deposited (see table GG) the sum of $5,795,720 92 with the assistant treasurer of that city, and transferred from or disbursed by that officer. The receipts and disbursements of the Government in specie, during the last eleven months, have amounted, together, to the sum of $96,894,402 49°; and not a dollar has been lost to the Treasury, nor any injury inflicted upon any branch of commerce or business. The Constitutional Treasury has been tried during a period of war, when it was necessary to negotiate very large loans, when our expenditures were being increased, and when transfers unprecedented in amount were required to distant points for disbursement. During the last eleven months, the Government has received, transferred, and disbursed, more specie than during ihe whole aggregate period of fifty-seven years preceding, since the adoption of the Constitution. To render the system still more safe, useful, and economical ; to define more clearly the powers of the Department, and especially to render more secure“ the public money in the hands of disbursing agents,” the amendments suggested in my last annual repori, (including the establishment of a branch mint at New York,) and which received the sanction of the House of Representatives during the last session, are again recommended to the favorable consideration of Congress. During the year ending 30th June, 1847, our imports of specie were $24,721,289, (see table T,) most of which, under former systems, must have gone into the banks, to have been made the basis of issues of their paper to the additional amount of fifty or sixty millions of dollars. Such an expansion, during the last spring and summer, accompanied by still higher prices, and followed by a greater fall, and by bankruptcies in England to an extent heretofore unknown, finding our banks and credit greatly expanded, and reacting upon this expansion, would have produced a revulsion here exceeding any that has heretofore occurred in the couniry. A general suspension of the banks would probably have resulted ; depressing the wages of labor and prices of property and products; affecting injuriously the operations and credit even of the most solvent, and producing extensive bankruptcies. From this revulsion we have been saved by the Constitutional Treasury, by which the specie imported, instead of being converted into bank issues, has been made to circulate directly, to a great extent, as a currency among the people-having been recoined here during the last eleven months, by the new orders of this Department, under the act of 9th February, 1793, and the zealous co-operation of the able and efficient head of the Mint at Philadelphia, to the unprecedented extent of $20,758,048 12; and there are thousands of our citizens, now solvent and prosperous, who have been saved from ruin by the wholesome operation of the Constitutional Treasury. The banks, that so unwisely opposed the system, have been rescued probably from another suspension; their stockholders, depositors, and note-holders from severe losses; and the country and Government from the ruinous effects of a depreciated paper currency. If the union of the Government with the banks had continued, and their suspension and the depreciation of their paper occurred during the war, requiring large specie disbursements, which suspended banks could not furnish, consequences the most disastrous to the honor and the interests of the country must have ensued. The Government is now disconnected from banks, and yet its stock and notes are at par, although we have been constrained to contract heavy loans, and to keep larger armies in the field than at any former period. But during the last war, when the Government was connected with banks, its six per cent. stock and Treasury notes were depreciated twenty-five per cent., payable in bank paper twenty per cent. below par: thus amounting to a loss of forty-five cents in every dollar upon the operations of the Government. In my first annual report to Congress, on the 3d of December, 1845, in recommending the adoption of the Constitutional Treasury, the following observations were made :
“Nor will it be useful to establish a Constitutional Treasury, if it is to receive or disburse the paper of banks. If paper, in whatever form, or from whatever source it may issue, could be introduced as a circulation by the Constitutional Treasury, it would precisely to that extent diminish its use as a means of circulating gold and silver.? ”
“During and before the commencement of the last session of Congress, it was thought by many that this measure could not operate successfully during war, and that large loans could not be negotiated if the payments were required in specie. The Department, however, adhered to the recommendations of its first report, believing that the Government would be rendered stronger by the divorce, and that, if the Treasury should resort to banks to negotiate its loans, or supply its revenue, both, if the war continued, would be involved, as they were in the war of 1812, in one common ruin. During the months of June, July, and August last, (per table N,) the sum of $6,000,000 was transferred from the assistant treasurer of New York, for necessary disbursements at New Orleans and in Mexico. Heretofore, the public money being deposited with the banks, and loaned out to their customers, when such enormous transfers were made, a contraction of the banks, with ruinous losses, must have ensued; but the money of the Government is now transferred from New York to New Orleans, and scarcely affects business or the money market, because the transactions of the Government are disconnected from those of the banks. When the Government formerly received and disbursed only the paper of banks, whenever a revulsion and numerous bankruptcies occurred in England, they universally reacted upon our perilous paper system, so as to create a pressure in our money market, a large and sudden contraction of the paper currency, a calling in of heavy loans by the banks, and, as a consequence, many failures and most frequent suspensions of specie payments. Now, for the first time in our history, although failures in England of the most unprecedented magnitude have occurred, including banks and bankers, yet our banks and credit are sound and stable, and the business of the country is still prosperous and progressive.
Note to table, p. XV.- These drafts of the Treasurer are liable to be returned “not used," for various reasons; whereupon they are cancelled by him, and a "repayment warrant” is issued in each case by the Secretary of the Treasury, which restores the amounts on the books of the Treasury to the heads of appropriation from which they had been drawn, (treating them as repayments,) and renders them again available for disbursement as balances of unexpended advances.