[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

uting these notes to the country. But that measure had failed, and with it a great portion of the ground for issuing these notes. It was his opinion that specie payments would not be resumed for the present, if the measures now before the House were adopted; and he also wished it to be known that, in his opinion, the period of distress had not passed over. It still existed, and, under the present state of things, must increase. Some gentlemen had attributed the distress to over-trading; but, although he would admit that might have had some influence, yet the great evil which they were called on to remedy was that of obstruction to our credit, both at home and abroad, and to restore the currency to its former state, and the banks to that confidence they enjoyed before the suspension of specie payments. It was desirable that they should make the notes of the banks receivable for public dues; and, when they had done that, they would have done all that was expected from Government; fur, when such notes were so receivable, confidence would be restored, and nothing more would be wanting. He could not vote for the bill to its present amount; and, if Treasury notes were issued at all, he would suggest the expediency of issuing them without, rather than with interest. Mr. HOWARD said he would make a few remarks in reply to the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Phillips.j upon the point which had been very zealously pressed upon the House by him. It was proposed to raise the money which the Treasury wanted, by a sale of the bonds of the Bank of the United States, instead of issuing Treasury notes. As a financial measure, Mr. H. said, his understanding was not convinced of its propriety, although he freely admitted that the gentleman from Massachusetts was much more conversant with such subjects than himself. It seemed to him that this plan of selling the bonds of the bank was urged upon the House with great pertinacity. During the discussion of the bill to postpone the fourth instalment, it was the policy of the opponents of that measure to show that the Treasury had ample resources at command, and the conversion of those bonds into cash was directly in the track of the argument. But that matter had been decided, and the question now was merely whether the Government should use its own credit, or that of the bank, in order to raise funds. If the proposition to sell had been brought forward by the adversaries of the bank, and sustained upon the ground that it would be wise to part with the bonds for whatever they might bring, because the bank had not paid the first bond at maturity, it would have been an argument that he could understand. Mr. H. said he begged to inquire from the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means whether the first bond, which was due on the first of October, had been paid ' [Mr. CAM baileNg replied, that no notice of its payment had been received, and that the Secretary of the Treasury had been obliged to write to the president of the bank about it..] Mr. H. said it was generally reported that the bank intended to set off certain Treasury warrants or drafts which had been issued, in payment of the third instalment, to some State under the deposite act, into the correctness of which step he would not now enter, as it would lead him out of his way. The reason why he mentioned it at all was to show, that if the bank thought itself entitled to discharge the first bond in this way, it might think it just to pay the others by the

same set-off; because the assignee of a bond would take it subject to all the equity which attached to it in the hands of the obligee. What would these bonds sell for at the risk of being paid off in this manner " It was true that we might direct otherwise by law ; but then it would be a harsh measure, deprive the bank of a privilege which belonged to every body else—that of paying its debts to the Government in such paper as was received from all other persons. If this course had been recommended by the Committee of Ways and Means, might it not have been deemed severe, and tending to embarrass the operations of the bank 1 But to consider it strictly as a financial measure, what did it amount to . When we had to choose between using the credit of the Government and the credit of the bank, why should we prefer the latter He admitted that the credit of that institution stood high, both in our own country and Europe, and he had not the slightest wish to impair that credit. But it was not equal to that of the Government. Would the gentleman from Massachusetts contend for this? He apprehended not. But let us follow out the operation. Suppose the bonds put up for sale in New York. In what money would payment be required In specie or notes of non-specie paying banks! The existing laws forbade the reception of the latter, and specie must therefore be required. Where would six milions of dollars in specie come from ? It would be unwise to tempt the banks to bring it out of their vaults, in order to purchase these bonds, because the abstraction of such a quantity would retard a resumption of specie payments, which all agreed in wishing to hasten. Would the hoards of individuals be brought out, and vested in these bonds ! Perhaps they might, but they might more reasonably be expected to be enticed from their hiding places by Government securities. Even if the bonds should be thus sold, the currency of the country would remain just as it now is, and no sacility be afforded for domestic exchanges, which was one great object of the present bill. Treasury notes would be a valuable addition to the existing circulating medium, because they would enable remittances to be made from one part of the country to another. The plan of the gentleman from Massachusetts, on the contrary, just left things as they were without moving a single inch towards the relief of the mercantile community. But it had been said that these bonds might be sent to England and sold there, and the specie brought here. This might be true. He would pass over the delay which must be experienced in the remittance, sale, and importation of the specie, in order to call the attention of the gentleman from Massachusetts to the singular situation in which this proposal placed him. Gen. Jackson had been severely censured by the opposition with interrupting the course of commerce and forcing exchange, by causing large importations of specie; and here was a proposition to do the same thing, except as to amount. The only difference was, that Gen. Jackson imported thirty millions, and the gentleman proposed to import six. He was actually treading in the footsteps of General Jackson. But what would be the consequence of such an importation 1 The Bank of England had become alarmed before, when it found its bullion reduced from eight millions sterling to between three and four, and had taken vigorous measures to prevent further loss, by discountenancing American bills and lowering the price of cotton, the consequence of which was a necessity of ship. ping specie from the United States. It had now regained its usual amount, and the price of exchange was g adually falling. But the sudden abstraction of a million sterling from London could not do otherwise than reproduce the alarm which had now subsided, or was subsiding, and thus we should have fresh trouble. But the gentleman from Massachusetts had also said that the Secretary might draw bills of exchange upon the proceeds of these bonds, and thus bring down exchange. True, this could be done; and he would concur cheerfully with the gentleman in any

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

measure which could restore the par of exchange, and at the same time relieve our people from their domestic difficulties. But when the bills were sold, the same question arose as about the bonds. In what was payment to be received It must of course be in specie, and nothing would be added to the currency as a means of making remittances from one State to another. This was the great advantage which the present bill possessed over the amendment, and he should therefore adhere to the bill. Mr. 'I'OUCEY contended that the bill under consideration was well adapted to the wants of the country, and well calculated to afford relief to the Government and the people; and that, if we attempted to draw the money from the deposite banks while they owe the Government, it will force them to press their creditors, and add to the distress of the community. The country stood in the relation of creditor to the banks and the merchants, and it was its duty to deal with them in such manner as to afford the greatest relief to them. In relation to sending bonds abroad, he must say that he felt a great repugnance to sending them into a foreign market, to raise money upon them to carry on the operations of the Government; besides, if they were sent abroad, it would have the effect of increasing our foreign debt, which now presses so heavily upon us. He supported the bill at some length, and answered the arguments of the gentleman from Massachusetts in relation to the constitutionality of the measure. Mr. BELL said he had some remarks to make upon the bill, but he would decline doing so, if gentlemen were disposed now to take the question on the amendinents; he would not stand in the way of the question being taken. After that, however, he desired to have the opportunity of addressing the House on the merits of the bill, and would then move to strike out the enacting clause for that urpose. Mr. CAMBRELENG suggested to the gentleman to allow the question to be taken on the amendment, and on the engrossment of the bill; and then he would have the opportunity of discussing the whole merits of the bill on its third reading. After a few remarks by Mr. WISE, the question was taken on the amendment of Mr. RhETT, and it was rejected. - Mr. UNDERWOOD then moved to strike out all aster the enacting clause, and insert: “That the Secretary of the Treasury be authorized to sell and transfer to the purchaser or purchasers the bonds or evidences of debt executed by the president, directors, and company of the Bank of the United States of Pennsylvania, for and in consideration of the stock held by the United States, in the late Bank of the United States, and to apply the money arising from such sale and transfer in payment of any demands upon the Treasury: Provided, however, That no sale and transfer of said bonds or evidences of debt shall be made for a less sum than the nomimal annount of said bonds or evidences of debt exclusive of interest.” Mr. WHITTLESEY, of Ohio, called for the yeas and nays on the adoption of this amendment; which were ordered. Mr. PATTON then suggested an amendment to the gentleman from Kentucky, which he hoped the gentleman would accept as a modification, which was a provision directing the Secretary of the Treasury to draw drafts on the deposite banks, for the balances due the Government, in favor of public creditors; directing the Secretary also to receive such drafts in payment of all dues to the Government. He explained his object to be to prevent the issue of Treasury notes, except in cases of very great emergency. He thought this to be the proper course of proceeding, and took it to be extraordinary that the chairman of the Conmittee of Ways and Means should not have brought forward

a proposition of this kind, when, on a late occasion, at the time a war with France was expected, that gentleman had brought forward a proposition to sell the stock in the Bank of the United States. Now, however, the gentleman had left this proposition to be brought forward by a friend of the Bank of the United States. He went into an argument of some length in support of the proposition he had brought to the notice of the House. Mr. UNDERWOOD accepted of the gentleman's amendment as a modification. Mr. CAMBRELENG. The gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Patto N] had referred to a period some years since, when the country was upon the eve, or supposed by some of us to be on the eve, of a French war, when an amount of money was due from the Bank of the United States, and which money the Committee on Foreign Astairs at that time (the same being actually due, and not then converted into bonds) supposed might be applied to the public emergency. The gentleman had expressed great surprise that a friend of that bank should make this proposition now, and that Mr. C. and others, who were so much opposed to the bank, should oppose it. Now he had attributed to that gentleman a little more sagacity. He did not suppose that any gentleman opposed to the Bank of the United States would wish to adopt a proposition which, if adopted, would compel them to alter the title of the bill under consideration, and make it read, “a bill for the benefit of the Bank of the United States.” What was the proposition but to sell the bonds of the bank, with the endorsement of the United States upon their back; thereby making them, in effect, the bonds of the United States ? And that the gentleman called “ a divorce and separation of this Government from the Bank of the United States " They were to endorse the bonds of that bank, and then go into the market as merchants and sell them, with the endorsement of the United States upon them. We might with equal propriety dispose of the merchants' bonds in the same manner. What, then, would be the next operation Why, that the Bank of the United States would itself indirectly buy them. Where were six millions of dollars to be raised? Was there any capitalists in this country, or any association of capitalists, or any institution, except the Bank of the United States, that could, at the present crisis, purchase this stock 1 There was not. The bank would have no competitor, and would itself purchase her bonds, not directly, but by an agent, who would pay for them by drafts on some banker in London, aided, perhaps, by the Bank of England. They would be transmitted to London, and the bank would realize an immense profit by the operation. Mr. C. had no doubt that every friend of the bank upon that floor would vote for the proposition, since it would put at least $100,000 (more, probably half a million) into the pockets of the stockholders of that institution. But how is it proposed to realize this amount 1 When is it to be paid—where, and in what description of money ! In the mean time, where were the Government debtors to procure money to pay their debts to the Government Or where was the Government itself to get the means of paying its current expenses in every quarter of the Union Was any body to be benefired by such an operation 4 Nobody, but the Bank of the United States. Mr. C. said there were two extremes to this proposition for supplying the Treasury with means. Before he would consent to put forth the bonds of the Bank of the United States with the endorsement of the Government upon them, and then send them through the agency of the bank itself to England for disposal, he would infinitely prefer at once an issue of Government stock. It would be degrading to this country to issue its credit in the form of an endorsement. Their credit was amply sufficient without any con

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

nexion with that of the Bank of the United States. The proposition for stock was the extreme on one side. It would suit very well the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Fletchen..] It would suit very well the great capitalists of this country who wanted to make investments. To them it would give relief, very great relief, and profit too; but let him tell the gentleman from Massachusetts, that the merchants who owe their bonds to the customhouse, and others who have debts due them from other States, would not thank the gentleman. Neither would merchants in the West and Southwest, and in the interior, thank the gentleman for substituting a stock in place of supplying them with a medium of remittance to their creditors in the Atlantic cities. An issue of stock was one extreme of the proposition.

The other extreme was the proposition of the gentleman from South Carolina, [Mr. Rhett,) to issue Treasury notes without interest. Mr. C. spoke not then of the character of notes of that description; but in effect it was best for our internal circulation. We had, however, bills before us, which would undoubtedly pass, postponing almost all our Treasury receipts till the next year. There was danger, therefore, that such notes would become depreciated. As Mr. C. said, when up before, he did not wish this Government to issue Treasury notes of any description, in any form whatsoever, liable to depreciation. There was already an outcry throughout the country against depreciated paper. We had too much of it now; and the evil would be augmented, if the credit of the Government should become depreciated. He was anxious to guard against that event. For this reason, among others, he had therefore come to the conclusion that it was better, taking all interests into consideration, to adopt the issue of Treasury notes bearing a moderate rate of interest.

The beneficial effect of these notes would be felt from one end of the Union to the other. Take the southwestern country alone. They would be paid out for the expenses of the Florida war, and for other expenditures in the interior. This would enable the merchants, through them, to liquidate their debts in the Atlantic cities. When, in the form of remittances, they reached these points, they would be paid into the custom-houses, or remitted abroad. The amount issued in the northeast, either for expenditures or to raise means for the Treasury, would also be in part purchased for remittances abroad. But the two gentlemen from Massachusetts, [Messrs Fletchen and Phillips, ) or at least one of them, tell us that they will not be sent abroad; and why? Because the certificates were not in duplicate! Why, sir, are certificates of bank and State stocks, of which millions are remitted to Europe, issued in duplicate 3 But these Treasury notes were payable in twelve months, and could not therefore be negotiated. Sir, what have we seen within a few months past? Have we not seen the twelve months' bonds of the United States Bank remitted to London and sold there? Nay, have we not even seen the bonds of the Morris Canal Company—an institution, by the way, not of the most unquestionable credit—have we not seen even the bonds of that company remitted and sold abroad? Yet, sir, gentlemen tell us that five per cent. Treasury notes, issued by the Government ofthe United States, cannot be remitted to discharge any portion of our foreign debt!

In conclusion, Mr. C. said he hoped the House would adopt such a measure as would go to maintain the credit of this Government, by authorizing the issue of Treasury notes with interest. The sale of the bonds might be very profitable to the Bank of the United States. The issue of a stock might be advantageous to our banks and capitalists. The Treasury notes without interest would relieve our internal trade from much embarrassment; but Treasury notes with interest would essentially afford relief to every part of the Union, and aid in equalizing our internal and external exchanges.

Wol. XIV.-80 *

Mr. THOMAS thought it extraordinary that gentlemen should bring forward proposition after proposition to authorize the Secretary of the Treasury to issue drafts on the banks, which would be bought up and thrown back on the hands of the Secretary immediately. It was well known that we must borrow money in some way or other, and this being the case, he took it that the better plan would be to have as many bidders as possible. The bank bonds could not be bought by any but large capitalists, while the Treasury notes could be taken up by every merchant; so that the simple question was, whether we should put those bonds in the market, which would command but few bidders, or whether we should put in the market the notes which every merchant in the country could take. He thought it perfectly plain that the notes would answer the best purpose. Mr. BOULDIN rose and addressed the House as sollows: Mr. Speaker: I will not detain the House with apologies for doing that which is the duty of every member of this House, as well as his privilege—I mean, to express his opinions to the House and to his constituents. I would not, however, trouble the House with any remarks of mine, were it not for what the honorable gentleman from New York, the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, {Mr. CAMBRELENG,) had said in regard to those who might vote for this amendment. He said, sir, if I understood him, that any man who might vote for it, at the same time being a hearty opponent of the Bank of the United States, was wanting in sagacity. Sir, I mean to vote for the amendment of the gentleman from Kentucky, and also for the addition to that amendment offered by my colleague; and I thought I had sagacity enough to know that it will have no tendency to recharter that bank. If it has any such tendency, I would be glad to be informed how, and will go against it. The gentleman from New York has not shown how. He has shown that if any profit can be made, the Bank of the United States of Pennsylvania will make it. This I knew. If there be any profit to be made of consequence, that bank, or some bank, or some capitalist, or some association of capitalists, will make it. But that is not a recharter of the bank. Sir, I am against a bank of the United States, from the heart outward. I am not one of those who would have the constitution altered to allow one. I am not one of those who, while they are against a bank of the United States, will ransack new and old—heaven and earth—to find reasons to show we cannot do without one. I am opposed to it on the ground of unconstitutionality, for reasons often urged, familiar, and not necessary to be repeated here. I am against it, because I am against privileged orders in this country. I am not willing to give any heartless corporation the right and the power to raise the price of property to what it pleases, and depress it to what it pleases, without the consent, or even the knowledge of the owner. This corporation, the Bank of the United States, certainly had this power, and as certainly exercised it, by expanding or contracting its issues. Issue a great deal, property sells high; contract a great deal, property sells for nothing, or next to nothing. Sir, I listened with the attention due to talent and character to the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Seng EANT,) as I had opportunity for several days. I did so, with that pleasure that a display of talent always gives me. He spok with great earnestness of the condition of his constituents, who, it seems, are mostly merchants, and it made me feel more sensibly for my own. He spoke of their enterprise and perseverance, skill and success in trade, and I feel a pride in their character as citizens of my own country. Sir, I knew that they had taken to themselves wings and flown to the uttermost parts of the earth, and over the most dreary and dangerous re

[ocr errors]

gions of the sea. He said they were in great distress, and I was sorrowful to the heart that they should be so. I have inquired into.the cause of that distress, and understand that, in a regular course of trade, they endeavored to purchase the produce of the farmer and planter—of my constituents, who are farmers and planters—at a price at which they could make a profit, and behold they made a loss, and were obliged to sell for half what they gave. If they had made a profit, as they anticipated, we should have heard nothing of their afflictions; they have made a hard bed for themselves, and their faithful and talented representative argues, as I understand the effect of his proposition, to have a United States bank, or, rather, the same one rechartered, to take his constituents off that hard bed and put mine on. Now, sir, I have regard for the merchants, as I have for all the citizens of the United States: but when the question is simply, whether his constituents shall lie on this hard bed of their own making, or mine shall; when the question is simply between his constituents and mine, which shall be in affliction, I prefer mine should not be. Sir, I have listened to the various arguments coming from

a certain large portion of this House, friends of a bank of

the United States, and they appear to resolve themselves into this, “there is no other name given under heaven whereby a man might be saved,” excepting only by and through a bank of the United States! Sir, if I believed that it would relieve the people, or even the merchants, and not hurt the other people, and was not unconstitutional, I should be greatly tempted to go for it; for it gives me pain to see any suffer. But, sir, I cannot believe it will relieve the people in general, or fail to ruin a vast proportion of them—whatever it may do with the merchants. Its paper, truly, might enable the merchants to pay their debts in Europe. But how ! By restoring specie payments. And how is this to be done when there is, proportionally to the engagements now due, or to become due shortly, from the banks and their customers, scarcely any specie in the country Sir, it must be by substituting the paper of the United States Bank for that now in circulation. How can they pay specie without reducing the quantity of paper circulation ? This might enable the merchants to pay their debts in bank notes of the Bank of the United States; and probably would, if they be prudent, without trouble. But what would become of my constituents? Sir, they would be put upon the hard bed, and those of the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. SERGEANT) be taken off it. Mine would be sold out, instead of his, to raise this specie—to make a currency to pay debts abroad. To make a fit currency for a man to travel from one ehd of the world to the other without suffering discount, wearing their pockets out with specie, or be troubled with changing notes. Sir, my constituents owe no debts abroad beyond seas, and few of them travel beyond their own credit; much fewer beyond the credit of their own bank paper. Why, then, should they, or I for them, take steps that will reduce all their paper contracts to specie settlements, and thus sell themselves out? Sir, it was against the wish and will of the people that banks, such as we have them, were created. They were made by their agents, and they with their love of peace and order submitted, and submit to it. The people were then compelled, by the laws of the United States, to make their contracts, in effect contrary to the constitution of the United States, and to that of every State, in paper. Sir, the contracts, whether cash or credit, are all in paper prices. If you have your gold, and I have my paper, and you bid and I bid, my paper fixes the price, unless the paper is above par with the gold. All contracts, executors' bonds, guardians' bonds, and all, are in paper valuation; and, while a man has money out on loan, and thinks himself safe, he may be sold out; his bed may be sold from under his wife, to pay off some security

[blocks in formation]

debt in gold and silver, for a debt contracted as security for some prudent man possibly some twenty years since; and which debt, when contracted, was contracted in paper. Or it might possibly be, as security for some guardian of an infant, having the utmost confidence in the prudence of the guardian, as well as of his solvency and integrity, who might be himself a money lender, and who, with the consent of the security, had received the sales of produce on property, all at paper prices; and, however worthless and extravagant the ward might be, the guardian and security, both money lenders, both prudent men, might be sold out to raise specie, if suddenly called upon, to make a better currency, or, for other reasons, just as this ward came of age. A public creditor, in order to get his money in United States Bank notes, liable neither to discount nor overburden a man, to the amount of a thousand dollars, may and will find, in many instances, his bed sold from under him to pay some other contract, made perhaps years ago, either his own, or as security for some one, who, let things go on gradually, could pay. Many a man, to save five or ten per cent. discount on the transfer of a note from one distant State to another, would have me vote for a United States bank, when, were I to do it, and mine were the casting vote, it would, for other contracts made at paper prices and resolved into specie settlements, now when there is a great debt beyond the seas, sell the bread out of the mouths of his children. I think I know a case of this sort. Sir, I am against selling the people out in this way, either by the help of a bank of the United States, or without it, in order to make a better currency for merchants and travellers, or for the next generation. As to banks, I never would have originated them, and would get rid of them all, if I could do so without ruining the people or greatly injuring them. They came on gradually. Let them go off gradually. If one lose five per cent., and another the like, until the bank note is lost, it does not press as hard as for one to lose all and be sold out. Let them go off by depreciation by degrees, as it came on by appreciation by degrees. Sir, I view a bank of the United States, compared to a State bank, as a royal Asiatic tiger to a cat. The same in species, nature, and manner of doing mischief; differing only in the power. They have, generally, as far as I have looked into their charters, this other odious exclusive privilege. The property of the stockholders is exempt from execution by a creditor or a bank, while a co-partner of a mercantile company, or an individual, is liable in his property to the last cent, and his body liable to be incarcerated, put in prison. This, then, may happen: a stockholder in one of these banks may buy your whole estate, worth one hundred thousand dollars, and take possession of it and hold, and, together with his brethren who may have done the like with others, declare the bank broken, taking care to have no tangible property, and leave you with their notes. You cannot touch them or their property. Nay, worse, the one that bought your property and holds it in defiance of you, may, with one of the notes of this bank, have bought your bond for a thousand dollars, more or less, and put you in jail for it, and, sir, walk at large himself. Sir, they have, at this time, the hitch upon us: not we upon them. Much as I dislike such exclusive privileges and monopolies, and unjust advantages, I am not willing to sell the people's beds from under them for the benefit of one of them, to the exclusion of all the rest, or to spite them all by requiring settlements of paper contracts now in existence, at specie prices, now when there is none in the country, or next to none. Sir, I understand that, in a very short time past, forty millions have been laid out in land in the wilderness; that, clear of interest on the purchase money, will not yield forty cents profit to the present holders in forty years to come. That something like fifty millions are lost on the last crop of cotton, and proOct. 5, 1837.]

portionally in tobacco and rice, amounting, in the whole, to something like one hundred millions. This, of itself, has created a great debt abroad, and a consequent demand for specie at this time, and must put our banking institutions to much difficulty, is relation to specie, without any thing else. Authorized as they are to issue three or four, or more times as much in notes as they have specie in their vaults, it is obvious, if they do any profitable business, and are tried by their ability to pay debts on demand in specie, they are broken from the first. Their solvency, in that view, depends on the accidental circumstances of their creditors all coming at once. If too many do not call at an unlucky time they can pay in specie; otherwise not : so that our security depends wholly, in good times or bad times, upon the accidental circumstance of all their creditors, or even of less than a moiety of them, calling upon the banks all at once. When, then, there is such a demand for specie to pay this great debt abroad, and when there is one great corporation with such vast resources, still clinging to the name of Bank of the United States, endeavoring to convince us by all possible means—I will say all Proper means—that she alone can keep on a good currency ; and when there is a powerful party fully persuaded, and by all laudable means endeavoring to show that this administration has produced, and is producing, confusion and mischief in all our fiscal concerns, is it strange that so many should call at once that these banks cannot pay specie for their notes ? Certainly it is not; and the people do not consider it strange. Their notes, in their respective districts, will buy more property than specie would have bought last year. This shows the people are not surprised or alarmed at the fact of their stopping payment of specie. Yet, we are told by gentlemen that there is great distress, and it is intimated that there is no relief but by a bank of the United States. Where is the distress What is it ! These land speculators and merchants have bought at high prices and sold at low prices. They have often bought at iow prices and sold at high prices, and have stopped payment, and the banks stopped paying specie, but not making money by shaving the people. Travellers are pestered with shin-plasters; yet, the bulk of the people are yet unhurt, except by the dread that, by a bank of the United States being created, or in some other way, their paper contracts will be forced to be adjusted in specie, and thus sell their property for little or nothing, as was done in 1818, 1819, and 1820, and to make a nice currency. Sir, the Bank of the United States then made it, but how and at what expense It was my hard fortune to taste some of the bitter fruits of relief then offered and now offered, by a bank of the United States. Having encouraged speculation in that day, as banks have done in this day, so much that the president was so disapproved of that he was dismissed and another one chosen, that bank began to make a good currency; such an one as is now offered us, having less specie than almost any other bank of any credit in her vaults; but, backed by the Congress of the United States, and the receipts of the revenue of the United States, to the amount of some twenty or more millions, she required all other banks, but herself, to pay specie, needing not to do it herself except nominally, because she had the receipt and disbursement of the revenue. Her stock stood at something like a hundred and fifty ; and that of a bank, having more specie, and under better management, sunk to sixty. Then it was, sir, that, the State banks being called on to resume specie payments, which could be done in no way but by drawing in their own notes to give place for some few in proportion of the United States Bank, I tasted the full, no, sir, not the full, for others got greater benefits and relief than I did—then it was that I myself enjoyed a portion of the relief now offered by the Bank of the United States and its friends, having just before purchased property, land, at the previous paper prices. To make a good

[merged small][ocr errors]

currency for travellers and merchants, the relief I obtained was that I found infinite difficulty of getting either specie or paper to meet these engagements. Others of my friends, prudent but less fortunate, had their property sold out entirely to meet engagements which were as prudent and circumspect, but for this relief, as could well be. Then it was that a vast proportion of the land owners on the Roanoke, from the mountains to the ocean, were relieved of the further trouble of their estates which had been in the hands of them and their forefathers for ages before. Some had bought an advancement for a child; some owed a small store debt; some one small matter and some another, nothing unusual; when this relief came and they enjoyed the whole benefit of it by being, with their families, turned adrift upon the world, to make a good currency for others. Sir, a traveller is a good deal plagued to change his money, and it is very comfortable to have money that is not heavy and will pass any where if convenient. It is not so wonderful, considering the nature and frailty of man, that such men should be willing to give every thing up to the control of a bank of the United States for convenience. A man goes to a certain place hereafter, which from all accounts is not desirable for convenience, still he cannot deny himself the present gratification to avoid the distant but great evil before him. Interest never carried a man there; but what think you, sir, of a man who has no occasion to travel, no debts beyond the seas, nor out of his neighborhood, no debts at all; suffering all these privations and sacrifices, availing himself of this kind of relief, and beggaring his whole family and his neighbors ? This may happen to a man out of debt. There are few who have not been guardian or executor, administrator or security, for some of them who may, though ever so prudent, be called on to suffer this kind of relief. I cannot speak for days, I leave statistics to periodicals, and details to those who may choose to indulge in them; but I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, whether the previous banks that have been chartered, and especially the Bank of the United States, have not taken the people rather by surprise Whether the people have not, when they were informed that one was contemplated, generally refused to elect men who went for them I will not assert that this is true in every case, but I believe it to be true generally. To come more closely to the amendments now under immediate consideration. Having said enough, I hope, to satisfy any one that I have not only voted and spoken hitherto against a bank of the United States, but am against it, I have little veneration for our banking institutions of any sort. I will now come more closely to the consideration of the amendments immediately before us. Sir, I said, a few days ago, that I preferred to make sale of these bonds due for the stock of the Bank of the United States, as a means of raising money, but did not think there was any chance to get it through this House. I am for it still; I am for getting clear of all the money in the Treasury not necessary. I want as much there as is necessary and no more. I want the administration to have its constitutional patronage and no more. Sometimes, it seems, we have millions on millions; then we have none; which is it, sir! If these bonds are of no value, let them go; do not tantalize us with them as means. If our deposites in the State banks are of no value, let us know it; if they are, let us use them. They are certainly considered as of value; for the bill to withhold the payment of the fourth instalment put every State in the Union, as it appears to me, in a state of duress but a few days ago. The money being, in any way, under the control of the Executive to such an amount is dangerous in the extreme. The mere supposition that it is there, should it not be really there, is capable of producing all this duress and confusion. Let us in some way get clear of it if we have it, and of the mischievous delusion if we have it not. If we sacrifice some

« 上一頁繼續 »