Sunday, May 12, 2013

Des Moines Correspondence

DES MOINES, Jan. 31.

This has been a day for the introduction of business and for instructing the committees.  Once in a while a good portion of the daily session will be taken up in passing resolutions of instructions.

In the House, Mr. Wetherall offered a resolution instructing the committee on constitutional amendments to inquire into the expediency of so amending the Constitution as to prevent the ingress of negroes and mulatoes [sic] into the State.  It is a continuation of the subject introduced yesterday, only it comes in a different form.  The resolution was quickly tabled.

Mr. Kellogg offered a resolution instructing the committee on charitable institutions to inquire into the expediency of removing the Deaf and Dumb Asylum from Iowa City to this place.  The lease of the building now occupied is nearly expired, and hence before any building is erected or another one leased, is the time to change, if at all.  The expense attending the removal would we trifling, since it is not intended, as one bright member supposed, to move the building up here.  If then, this is the place for the institution to be located, now is the time to provide for its removal.  There is a set of men who favor the location of these State institutions in different parts of the State.  They argue that the State at large is benefited by this distribution.  I cannot see how Davenport or any of the river towns is benefited by the location of this Asylum at Iowa City.  In reality, it is only the town in which such institution is located that is benefited, and in many instances the benefit conferred even upon a one-horse town is but trifling.  And, since each city cannot have a State institution located within its limits, all that are without the pale of their influence are losing by their being located away from the Capital.  Were they here, their condition and wants could be investigated at each session of the Legislature without heavy expenses to the State.  At present the appointment of an investigating committee is synonymous with a heavy knock at the door of the treasury.  During the last regular session two of these committees were appointed, one to visit the Insane Asylum, and the other the Penitentiary.  The amount paid out of the treasury to these committees for expenses, etc., was not far from $1,500.  And when these committees return and make a report, the members frequently know no better than before what course to pursue.  It is now proposed to send committees again to these institutions.  If such institutions are under the fostering care of the Sate, especially charitable institutions, were all located at the Capital, the members could at their leisure examine into their condition, wants, etc., and be prepared to legislate intelligently on the subject.  The state at large would be a great gainer by this plan.

The House has passed a few bills to-day. – Among them is one repealing the law creating the office of Commissioner of Emigration in the City of New York.  A second one related to Life Insurance Companies.  It make it unlawful for any such company, incorporated by another State, to do business within this State unless possessed of an actual capital of $100,000.

In the Senate Mr. Smith introduced a bill making liquor venders responsible for damages or losses incurred by any party through the intoxication of any person or persons. – This is capital.  I hope it will become a law.  It taxes the right parties for the support of drunkards and their families.  Intemperance is a costly vice, and let those who reap the profits pay the expenses.  This is but fair.

A usury bill has been introduced into that body.  It makes 6 per cent. the highest legal rate of interest.  The policy of this is questionable.  Money will sell for what it is worth.  If I wish money to invest when I see a clear return of 25 per cent., I will pay 15 per cent. for the money without any hesitation.  It is worth that to me, and more too.  The law can’t prevent me from paying it, neither can it prevent any creditor from collecting it.  If I say – one year after date I promise to pay Mr. So-and-so $115, for value received – when I only received of him $100, I evade the law and do not make a misstatement, providing the last named sum is worth to me to-day what the former one would be at the end of the year.  I know there are objections to letting money take the course of merchandise to be sold or loaned according to present value.  These objections will doubtless be presented by favorers of this bill.

To-day the stamp act went into effect.  This morning the members of the House were crowding around the clerk’s desk, like children around their presents on Christmas morning.  On examining the matter I found that the postage stamps were being distributed according to the provisions of the recent act on that subject.  Never before have I seen a sober set of men inaugurate a custom so ill suited to their wants, so inconvenient in every respect, so poorly calculated to accomplish the object aimed at as this same stamp act, which was hatched in the Senate and nursed in the house.  It has created no little amusement to-day and will be a constant annoyance so long as it lasts.

J. R. C.

– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport Iowa, Tuesday Morning, February 4, 1862, p. 1

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