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at length at this late period of the session. I too well know, sir, that a reference to the strict letter of the federal constitution is too apt to excite the laughter and mirth of a majority on this floor; and the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. B. DDLE, ) the other day, with truth, alluded to an observation of a late distinguished citizen from Virginia, (John Randolph,) that “the time was not far off when a man would be called to order on the floor of Congress for speaking of the constitution of the United States.” I am not, therefore, disposed to press that argument, but still I take occasion here to say, that the framers of the coustitution never intended to confer such a power. What chonges might have taken place, could they have foreseen what has since taken place, is a question not for me to decide. I lay down this position, from the history of the federal convention, that the framers of that instrument never intended to confer this power. And why Because the proposal was distinctly made, first to create corporations generally, and then to incorporate where the general good required. These propositions were referred to a committee, and that committee never reported. Afterwards a proposition was made to confer the power to make canals, and a motion to amend it, by conferring the power to create corporations, was made, and it was expressly rejected. One argument used in debate was, that, if this power were conferred, the Government would incorporate a bank, and that, therefore, the large cities would then be opposed to the adoption of the constitution. As far, then, as history is concerned, it is clear the framers of the constitution never intended to confer that power. I know, sir, there is an argument upon this point which appears very specious. It is this: that in looking into that instrument, we cannot look dehors the preamble and the specific provisions for its sound construction, but are bound to confine ourselves to the instrument itself. Sir, if this were a court of justice, I would yield to the general soundness of that rule; but we are a political tribunal, not sitting in judgment upon the law already made, but to make the law itself, according to the instrument under which we hold authority. I know that, in a judicial tribunal, in a case arising between meum and tuum, where vested rights are concerned, a judge can only look to the preamble and the act; he cannot look beyond the law itself. This is a sound and wise rule, as applied to a judicial tribunal, but will not hold in its application to a political tribunal, where we are bound to look at the circumstances under which the constitution was formed, and we are to decide on the powers contained in that instrument by the circumstances under which it was itself adopted. IIere we have no case arising under the law, no vested interests. That which is a wise rule when applied to a judicial tribunal, has no application to a political tribunal. The creation of a corporation is the exercise of a substantive independent power, and to attach it by construction as a vagrant power to this or to that clause in the constitution, is establishing a loose generality of reasoning which must end in the total overthrow of that noble instrument. I am not unaware of the ariument, that, in fact, the constitution of the United States intended to confer the power in this Government over the currency of the country, and that the State banks have been created since the formation of that instrument, which have substantially-created a new currency, and thereby usurped that power from the General Government. It is a questio veratur whether the States have not committed a fraud upon that clause in the constitution which forbids them “to emit bills of credit, directly or indirectly.” They have created local institutions, which, to a great extent, have set afloat a new currency that the sramers of the constitution never contemplated ; and now it is contended that it is constitutional to counteract and control this currency by the creation of a corporation under the style and title of a bank of the United States. Now this argument proves
too much, if it proves any thing; because it is clear that if this evil has arisen since the formation of the constitution, the framers of that instrument never c uld have intended to counteract it. The evil is admitted to be a new one, and has arisen since the formation of that instrument, and they never could have intended to confer a power to eounteract that which they never understood or knew would exist. Sir, I say the argument proves too much; but I am not disposed to press this matter. I will only say that, as far as experience goes, (and it may seem strange to some gentlemen, but I am disposed to lay down and maintain the proposition, strange as it may appear to some,) the bank of 1816 never did restore the currency of the country, and could not; that it was not the bank which restored the deranged currency at that time, but it was the power and credit of this Government, under the constitution, by enforcing the collection of its dues in specie. If this power had been simply enforced, it would have compelled an unsound currency to be withdrawn, or to fall to an ascertained value. The United States Bank was the agent to carry on the fiscal operations of the Government, and what gave it power was the credit given to it by this Goverment, declaring that its bills should be received as gold and silver. It was the credit of this Government endorsed upon its bills, without reference to their convertibility at all, but simply and absolutely receiving them as gold and silver. . The Government, being the great and universal money dealer, had practically surrendered up its power to coin money, and to receive nothing else, into the hands of a corporation, and made its notes the same as coined money, so far as the Government demands were concerned. But even then, in 1817,-718, and "19, that bank was brought to the brink of insolvency, and all the other banks were made to feel, its power, while many fell prostrate before it. And what alone sustained that bank then . The power of this Government, declaring that its bills should be received in payment of its dues as gold and silver. While other banks had to sustain themselves upon their capacity to convert their bills into coined money, this bank sustained itself by the Government converting its credit to the use and benefit of the bank, and that credit serving as a specie basis. T he great confusion that has occurred on this subject arises from the fact that many have confounded the power and credit of the Government with that of the bank. The power to “coin money and regulate the value there: of,” and the prohibition of this power to the States, and also the prohibition that prevents any thing but gold and silver bing made a legal tender, is all the power conferred by the constitution over the currency. Whether it be desective or not, it is all the power given. But if it be rigidly adhered to, without temporizing, it must, of necessity, create a general standard by which the local or paper currency can be compared. It is immaterial what a bank bill purports to be on its face; if it have an ascertained value, by comparison with specie, it is all that can be required. And the Government, collecting its dues in this standard, and habitually disbursing its equivalent, would create centres at different points, around which the local currency would revolve, and receive a fixed and known value. Sir, to all intents and purposes, this would be a measure of currency. I am aware that it is not as exact a measure as weights and measures are applied to other things, but it is the best ever invented by man, and comes nearer to it than any other standard yet created by Government, or which, I believe, can be created. As to exchanges, this is not a subject within the legitimate object of this Government, except as it may be incidentally affected. They must be left, as they are in other countries, to be regulated by the interests of the commercial community, and conducted by banks or bankers, who have acquired credit by long economy and prudence, based upon real capital, and resting upon the productions of different sections.
Sir, the difficulty in 1814 and 1815 was, that the Government became embarrassel and involved. Individuals could not advance to it. The local banks did advance ; and upon the faith of the debts, in the shape of stocks, they beld against the Government, these banks went on discounting as if they had that amount in specie instead of Government stock: and what was the result 4 Why, when those delts became due, the Government itself was unable to make payments, and the inevitable consequence was, that these local bank notes fell below par, as they could not be converted, and the Government then, in turn, sustained those institutions it had borrowed from. And, although it never was, I believe, sanctioned by law, yet the Government received their notes in public dues on a par with gold and silver. This produced a demand for depreciated paper; and that which was most depreciated was sought after to pay into the custom-houses, as it could be purchased with the least coined money. The result of this was that the Government would have had finally all the depreciated paper of the country forced upon its collectors. it was the policy the Government adopt d of receiving adwances srom the local banks, and then pursuing the temporizing expediency of receiving their depreciated paper, after they had discounted upon what they had no right to discount upon, (because they were, at the same time, receiving interest upon the Government stocks,) that involved us in the depreciated paper of that day. It was the folly of this Government, not its impotency under the specific powers of the constitution. It was this state of things which the Government felt bound to stop the progress of, and they therefore adopted the joint resolution of 1816, declaring that they would receive in payment of the public does nothing but gold and silver or the notes of speciepaying banks. This, of course, threw depreciated paper out of circulation, and stopped the irsues of spurious banks. The Government was enabled to enforce this resolution, because peace had been restored, and the resources of the country became expanded; and if they had adhered to that resolution, und never adopted the policy of receiving other notes, you could have had, for all practical purposes, a sound currency, according to the intent of the constitution.
..It is the only control over the currency which the constitution contemplates; whether enough or not, has been questioned. I contend that it is enough for all safe purPosts. . You receive nothing but gold and silver or its equivalent, and the result is, that the local banks are comPelled to have that which is as good as gold and silver, or their paper will be run back upon them. I admit that if you receive by law, as the permanent policy of this coun. try, the paper of local institutions, the result will be that you are compelled to resort to a bank of the United States. I maintain that if you receive paper, you cannot control it and make it a sound and equal currency under the constitution, except by and through a national bank. There are but two feasible modes by which you can regulate the currency. The one is the mode provided for under the constitution, in the clauses to which I have referred, and which is the mode intended and pointed out by our ancestors. And if you attempt to throw this Government upon that supendous system of currency which has grown up in modern times, by receiving the paper of banks in Government dues, then there is no other possible regulation of it but by a bank of the United States.
But, sir, what a monstrous proposition is contained in the second mode " You declare that you will receive the paper of banks, and you charter a bank of the United States, and give it power to control all other banks; and, by subjugating the State institutions through the creation of this check, you at the same time part with the power given to you by the constitution, and conser it upon a set of men wholly irresponsible, except to the stockholders of their bank, and reckless and regardless of every thing, save
the interests of the institution. Sir, in creating such an institution as this, you create a greater evil than that which you intend to counteract. What would have been the result in 1813 and 1814 if a bank of the United States had been in operation ? Why, the Government being in difficulty, instead of borrowing from the local institutions, as it did, it would have borrowed, in all probability, from that bank; that bank would have discounted upon the credit of the Usovernment, as the others did, and the Government being unable to meet its debt, the notes of the institution would havo fallen below par, as those of the local banks did, and you would have had precisely the same state of things as did take place. And thcn nothing could have sustained the bai,k but the power of the Government to receive its notes as gold and silver, although not convertible; and this Government credit would have given it power and control over other banks without the slightest merit. It is absurd to talk about the bank sustaining the Government. The Government can sustain the bank, but not the reverse. The credit of restoring the currency is due to the Government, under that noble instrument, the constitution, and not under the bank. But, sir, will you part with your power—the power to coin money and regulate its value—a power that is one of the greatest and highest attributes of sovereignty 1 And if you make paper money the currency of the Government, then the power that regulates it is as high and sovereign as the power that now makes coin and fixes its value. And let gentlemen recollect that, if they once part with it on the policy of creating a bank institution, it is not to last for this year or the next, but forever; for that which is sound policy in regulating the currency now, will be so fifty years hence; and it must become a branch of Government, permanently engrafted upon the institutions of the country. And are we prepared to say that those who aro to manage it are forever to be pure and enlightened men 1 Recollect that the power that holds the sway over the currency, holds a sway over the fortunes of every man in this republic. Sir, if we once part with this power, my deliberate and firm conviction is that we shall centralize a moneyed action in this country, which will, in the end, make the labor of the confederacy virtually and forever tributary to those who will have but little interest in it. I believe that nothing tended so much to this as the establishment of the last institution. It is its natural and inevitable course. Now, sir, what would be the results upon the exporting sections of the country Where would you locate your institution ? Why, you must place it where nine-tenths of the banking capital of this country already exists. And what can be a greater or more tremendous engine of power than this, located in a particular section, organizing with system, and creating dependence in all the banking and stock interests of the country You do nothing more or less than give away the power to regulate the money and exchanges of the whole country to an institution located in the non-exporting section, and thus deprive forever the possibility of the exporting region of the country doing its own importing trade Identify it with Government, by receiving in public dues its notes as gold and silver, and you in effect loan the credit of this Government, which is equal annually to its revenue and disbursements, to capitalists in stocks for their benefit; thus creating an artificial credit, instead of letting all interests, resting upon their natural resources and credit, rely finally upon the productive industry and bona fide capital of each individual or section. Is it not an extraordinary fact that nearly all the exports and imports of the exporting region of this confederacy touch, both going and coming, at Northern ports? Why is this? It has arisen from the fiscal action of this Govern
ment, which has heretofore sustained, and been identified with, the banking capital of this country. We have raised the articles demanded in foreign countries, and they compel us to touch, both going and coming, at their ports. This does not arise from their holding the tonnage, or their bottoms, but they hold the credit or banking system, and, by their connexion with the Government, create exchanges against us, and force us to touch for tribute. Suppose, for a moment, we were separate States, would it not be absurd for us then to touch at foreign ports : Let there be no central moneyed power with which the fiscal action of the Government shall become identified, and the export region will do its own imports through its own ports. With our local currency, resting, as it does, on those articles which go into the markets of the world, fifteen per cent, discount in New York, we can never afford to sustain the state of things that has existed heretofore. Without a bank, identified with Government, the exports of the country must, to a great extent, become a substitute for all foreign and even domestic bills. Mr. Chairman, in looking over the statistics of the past, I find that, in 1769, Virginia and Maryland imported, in amount, 851,140 pounds sterling; the New England States, 561,034; New York, 188,976; Pennsylvania, 399,820; South Carolina, including part of North Carolina, 535,714 pounds sterling, &c. In 1774, the exports from Virginia and Maryland to England were 738,356 pounds sterling; South Carolina, 579,549; Pennsylvania, 175,962; New York, 187,018; New England, 116,588, &c. This general proportion is sustained, with no great variation, whenever things were not deranged by war, up to 1788 and 1789. The export region did its imports; and, although it was, of course, generally in foreign or British bottoms, yet it never touched at two ports, but went and came directly through our own ports. But things have now changed, and we have lost our relative proportion. Trade was then suffered to take its natural channel. Since then, however, the political power, together with the moneyed power, has been worked against us, and our trade is now compelled to touch where nature never intended. I contend that, as far as the fiscal action of the Government is now concerned, we are where we were under the articles of the confederation; and I, for one, desire for the present to keep there. And, sir, it is under these convictions, and believing this to be the operation of things, that I feel bound to make the true issue now presented by the bill under consideration. I contend that this organization of the banking power of the country connected with the Government tends directly to the result which I have attempt. ed to show ; that is, to make the labor of the exporting region of the country tributary to those who hold nine tenths of the banking capital in their hands I call upon gentlemen to consider well before they make this plunge. We have sonne deeply interesting questions before us, intimately connected with the power and ascendency of sections, and the destiny of this republic. Sir, I have been here for three years, and watched the progress of this abolition feeling, which is now spreading itself over half of this confederacy. When it was first brought into this hall, it was viewed with indifference, as the excitement of a few bigots and fanatics. But now, in the short progress of a few years, we find that it has pervaded all society with intense anxiety. That speck, which was at first scarcely visible to the naked eye, has now grown blacker and deeper, until over one half of our horizon hangs a dark and gloomy cloud, through which the thunder rolls and the lightning flashes, and this temple, under which we all have heretofore gathered for common protection, is destined to rock and totter amid the desolating whirlwind and rushing tornado. It has assumed of late sonmewhat a different shape. But gentlemen need not be deceived by the color given to the Texas question. Do you suppose it is opposition to
Texas? No. It is opposition to that vital interest in this confederacy with which we are identified—a deep, pervading opposition, grown up from education and infancy, and partaking now even of the religious sympathies of the community ; and I call upon gentlemen to pause before they are willing to throw the power and the credit of this Government into the hands of capitalists who are at war with us, not only in interest, but in feeling and in sympathy. Organize again the banking interests of this consederacy, and connect thern with Government, and you cannot escape from the grasp. I cannot look upon the future without feeling the deepest (unless we are true to ourselves at this juncture) and most solemn apprehensions that that persecuted and slandered country, which now stretches itself from the banks of this noble river to the mouths of the Mississippi, rich in character, rich in intelect, rich in the glory of the past, rich in all those qualities which make a great and a gallant people, will, in progress of time, be laid low in ruin and desolation, with only here and there a sol
itary inhabitant to trace out, upon deserted tomb-stones,
those obliterated letters which transmit to posterity the names of our mighty dead, and then to shed over them a burning tear. Sir, it is the fiscal action of this Government, connected with the banking power, that has tended to draw from us our substance for forty years. It is the vampire that has fed upon our life-blood and our vitals, and I, for one, am not prepared to perpetuate it, or sanction its renewal. But, Mr. Chairman, gentlemen say, in opposition to this bill, that is impracticable, and that the Government will find great difficulty in getting along with it. Sir, that furnishes no objection in my mind. I love a Government the better that moves with difficulty. Despotisms only move. in untramelled power. Free Governments live and move in difficulty. Collect your taxes with difficulty, and the consequence is that you never will find people willing to pay taxes for distribution upon lawless and unconstitutional objects. No, sir, the difficulty presents no obstacle to. the passage of this measure to me. When Mr. Fox visited Paris, at the time Napoleon was in the height and pride of his glory, the First Consul desired to know something of the operation of the trial by jury, with a view to introduce it into France. Ejut when Fox told him that its fundamental principle was that no man could be deprived of his rights but by the judgment of his peers, and those peers twelve of his fellcow-citizens, the First Consul immediately replied it would not do for him, “his Government would find too much difficulty to get along with it.” Mr. Chairman, many may suppose that I am unnecessarily apprehensive in my fears as to the connexion of the banking system with the power and credit of this Government; but, sir, I have seen enough to fear and dread it. In 1832, when the cor test, as we supposed, was about to arise for the very existence of our peculiar rights and liberties, we felt its power. And, though I shall forbear to dwell upon particulars now, yet I will take occasion to say to those gentlemen who are deeply identified with that institution—those gentler men who were the bitter political opponents of the then President of the United States, what was the spectacle they exhibited When he asked for the sword of this Government, to be buried in the vitals of our . people, they came forward and gave it to him freely. And why? Because they dreaded a revulsion which would shake the credit system, and that institution, with those who depended upon it, to the deepest foundation. Sir, no part of this country, under the influence of a bank of the United States, will ever resist the encroachments of this Government, or the Giovernment itself, however despotic it may be. Such an institution, then, connected with this Government to control the moneyed power of this country, I confess I dread. I confess I do look with dread and terror upon its influences. Sir, if you want to make the
Government of this Union despotic, create a bank of the United States, and connect it with the destinies of this Government, and, my life upon it, you can never escape. . You can never resist this Government in the hands of the moneyed power of the country, and the result will be that the fairest portions of this Union will become tributary to other and more powerful sections. Mr. Chairman, while making these observations, I confess that I will go as far as any gentleman to sustain those peculiar local institutions organized by the States for their benefit, and to carry on their commerce with the different sections of this country. If they be properly organized, and limited within proper bounds, I will go as far as any man to sustain them, and give them vigor, as long as they act upon bona side capital, for the good of the community, as well as for their own individual interest: such institutions are essential to the present state of commerce. But, while I say this, I am compelled to say that I believe the banking system of modern times, as organized in different sections of this country, has any thing but a tendency to elevate or give liberty to man. Even this very session we have heard gentlemen upon this floor, from the State of New York, denounce the manner in which things have been conducted there as disgraceful and outrageous: charters granted, stocks distributed to political partisans for political power and ascendency. The minority there, as in many other scetions of the country, have been practically reduced to political vassalage; and it is idle to discuss or question the fact that stock operations have been organized with a sole view to sustain political power, and make the labor of the country tributary to themselves. Now, sir, a gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Cush1NG, J not many days ago, warned Southern gentlemen, and declared that the “progress of radicalism at the North was nothing more than the progress of abolitionism.” Sir, I have thought of this matter... I have considered it with painful anxiety, and I feel bound to present what I conceive to be the true interests of this country. We are a peculiar people, I admit. We own nearly one-half of our population. We hold them by physical force, and the law of necessity. I make this frank and candid avowal. And I will here take the occasion to say, that the connexion which exists between the slave laborers and capitalists of the South is one of the deepest interest to the Northern and Middle sections of this Union. We are interested in the bona side profits of daily labor, for we own not only the proceeds of labor, but labor itself; and that Government which interferes as little as possible, by any artificial arrangements, with the management or proceeds of labor, is the Government for us, because it leaves us in undisputed and undivided control over all profits of labor. We are, then, in fact, capitalists standing in the place of laborers, and are, to all intents and purposes, laborers. There is little or no separation with us of capitalists and laborers. They are, in fact, one and the same. The laborers of the non-slaveholding States are interested also in the bona fide (not spurious or doubtful) profits of daily labor. The struggle of their capitalists (I speak of pecuniary interest, and it is nature) is to divide those profits with them. Hence they resort to all the artificial modes known to Government, by which they are brought to act with system and energy as one man, through corporations of all sorts, and the most important of which is the banking system. You pretend to give universal equality and equal power to all ; and, if this were practically carried into effect, after society has gone through an era long enough to be pressed down into its natural classifications, the inevitable result would be is a conflict that labor would make capital tributary, until it would, in the operation, change hands. To prevent this, where you profess to make all equal in political power, you are compelled to resort to those artifi
cial combinations created by the Government, to give you that control which will enable you to sustain yourselves, and make your capital profitable, by the management of labor which your political professions forbid you to own. Now, sir, when gentlemen preach up, as they have done for the last three years, insurrection to the slaves of our community, I warn them that their own institutions are not so-pure as they might at first suppose; and that I will preach up insurrection to the laborers of the North, when the tendency of things is such as to swindle them out of their power, by the fraud, duplicity, and cunning of modern times. As far as mere pecuniary interest is involved, the relation of capital and labor is the same as that which exists there, in Great Britain, and every where else; that is, just to allow labor as much as is necessary for subsistence, and to take the balance to divide among themselves, by all the inventions which the fraud of Government can create. This will be finally the interest of our Northern capitalists. They have no standing armies to perpetuate this state of things, as in other countries; and the consequence is, that though they cannot keep the laborers in physical subjection, they are compelled to resort to banking corporations and chartered institutions. While they preach to us universal equality and universal emancipation, they thenselves are destined, if unreformed, to hold in tribute not only the labor of their own section, but also of this confederacy. The two systems of subjugation which now divide the world seem to be a resort either to fraud or force, by which one-half of mankind may rule the other half. Mr. Jefferson proclaimed, thirty years ago, that the democracy of the North were our natural allies, and there was profound philosophy in that declaration. When we contend for the undivided profits and proceeds of our labor, do you not see that we stand precisely in the same situation as the laborer of the North ! We are, to all intents and purposes, in the place of laborers. We are the only class of capitalists, as far as pecuniary interest is concerned, which, as a class, are identified with the laborers of the country, while, at the same time, we shall ever form a bar. rier against breaking up the laws and foundations of society. I know this is a proposition which will strike some inen with astonishment, and I know, too, that I utter words which burn. But I know, sir, it is the truth; and, when these gentlemen expect to preach up insurrection and rebellion to the slaves of our country, I will preach back to them the same doctrine, by proclaiming universal equality, universal privileges, a universal right to Northern laborers to be redeemed from the fraud, duplicity, and cunning by which they are destined to be made tributary to those who wield capital, connected with political power. The whole banking system there is a political substitute for the standing armies of Europe, without which the capitalists of the North would be compelled to submit to a loss of power. Sir, these are my sentiments, and I believe that, as far as our people are concerned, we are not compelled to resort to those artificial institutions of society by which non-slaveholding regions seek to delude and deceive their victims. No, sir, we avow to the world that we own our black population, and will maintain that ownership, if needs be, to the last extremity. Mr. Chairman, in maintaining these peculiar sentiments, and in proclaiming the peculiar identity of interest existing between the capitalists of the slaveholding region and the democracy of the North, I am aware that I come under denunciation, and am liable to the charge, from certain quarters, of being a “locofoco.” For inaintaining my own rights and interests, and the rights and interests of those I represent, I may be called a “locofoco ;” but this name shall never terrify or deter me, when the question arises, from maintaining the interests of those with whom I ex
pect to live and hope to die. And, sir, when gentlemen tell me these things, I tell them. I proclaim the doctrines of Jefferson, that the democracy of the North are the natural allies of the South ; and this arises from peculiar interests, which I, for one, am not disposed to sacrifice on this floor. “Locofoco" Gentlemen seem to raise up that name as a ghost to create terror and alarm. The progress and tendency of things to be carried away by prejudices and party feelings are monstrous. Why, sir, it was but the other night, that, while holding a portrait of John Milton in my hand, a very estimable friend of mine looked at it, sneeringly, and denounced him as a “locofoco'" John Milton a locofoco ... And pray, sir, who was he but a man, the grandeur of whose soul, and the splendor of whose genius, breathed not only inspiration into poetry, but threw a halo of glory over those burning pages which he devoted to English liberty Sir, it is nature for those small birds that hop from branch to branch in the shrubs of the forest to gaze with envy and hatred upon the noble eagle as he soars aloft in the sunbeams of heaven, whose brow defies even the concentrated fury of the elements, and whose eye scans in scorn the earth beneath him. If John Milton was a “locofoco,” then I, too, glory in catching, if I can, one live coal from off that altar which he hallowed and consecrated to the everlasting rights of man. Sir, if I maintain the universal freedom of the white race, and the Inalienable rights of man, shall I be deterred from my position by the contemptible name of “locofoco 1." The scribbling writers of the day may call me what they please; their denunciations have no terrors. I scorn and despise them. Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, in the sentiments I am about to utter, I inay be considered as behind the age, and they will be regarded as very singular, if not unpalatable, by gentlemen raised from their infancy in large cities, or under the controlling influence of newspaper essays. But my excuse for entertaining them is, that the people among whom I was educated and trained up are also peculiar in their habits and their institutions, and partake more of the impress of antiquity than of modern improvements. And I consess to you, sir, that I feel for them a lingering affection and attachment, because they were the customs and the habits of those ancestors who have given to us all that we inherit in virtue and freedom. I do not believe much in the great blessings of your modern forms of society, and the great “improvements of the age.” I do not believe the intellectual and moral endowments of man have been advanced or elevated of recent years. Sir, I admire the people who have gone before us, and bequeathed and transmitted examples worthy of our admiration. It is true we have more wealth, more enterprise, more speculation, and more of the gaudy show and pomp, and temptations of commerce and luxury ; but, as far as the heart is concerned, as far as intellectual and moral qualities are concerned, I do not believe man has advanced for the last ten years. No, sir. It may be srom my peculiar situation that I entertain these sentiments. You have drawn together the world ; you have made your splendid works of improvement, by which contented and remoter parts of society have been drawn under the temptations and vicissitudes of speculation ; you have your credit and banking system, by which all christendom has been concentrated into one consolidated living mass, and we have been brought by that system to bow in subjection before the banks and bankers of London and Wall street; and we look with more interest and admiration upon the movements of Shylocks, gathered together in the exchanges of commercial cities, than we do to those noble pages of history which transmit to us the glory of arms or oratory. Our people are consumed with avarice, deep, absorbing, unfeeling, mean avarice. Yes, sir, selfishness, hypocrisy, fraud, and cunning, secm to me to be the great character
istics of modern times, instead of that losty heroism, that devoted valor, that burning patriotism, which characterized former and better days. True, sir, we develop more physical resources; but is there more sentiment, more virtue, more honesty What is it that constitutes a great people Is it power—is it wealth—is it numbers! No, sir. It is virtue—valor—devoted patriotism—arms—elcquence, and letters. These are qualities that have covered others with immortality, and kindle in the heart of man all that is noble and spirit-stirring.
All society seems now to receive its hue and cast from those who hold the moneyed power of the world. Even our interior villages, painted as they are, and dressed up in all their show, receive in submission their fashions from the dandies of Broadway, and kneel in reverence before the molten images that idolaters raise up for worship in Wall street and London. The tendency of all these things is to constitute society into one living mass; and I war against it because, if it succeed, my peculiar section, and the peculiar institutions existing in it, will be overwhelmed.
In reference, Mr. Chairman, to the details of the bill under consideration, I will only say that upon that point I have my own peculiar notions. But the bill asserts a great principle for which I contend—the principle which I believe to be identified with the liberties of this country. I will go for it, and hold the administration responsible for its details. I do not choose to propose any amendment in those details, for if it be bunglingly or injudiciously arranged I will not be held responsible. I go for it, sir, because it asserts those principles which belong to the constitution of my country; but I leave the details to the administration to execute, and I shall hold them responsible for it. I go for that great leading feature which separates this Government from all connexion whatever with State banks, or any great money institution here. I am for it, because I have seen the fatal consequences upon the Government and banks themselves. "
Sir, we have had these institutions, as I said before, entering directly and indirectly into the political canvass of the day, dispensing power, and controlling, as I believe, to a great extent, the elective franchise; and we have seen the results, and have heard the shouts of triumph raised around the funeral pile here upon which the constitution was placed, and a fiendish joy seemed to light the countenances of hundreds, even while the smoke thereof rose as a sweet incense to that popular idol which we were all called upon to kneel down and worship before, as the only true and living image of democracy. And am I now to put this Government in the same position again? Let gentlemen beware how they unite the political with the banking power again. Have we not seen enough to give us lessons of wisdom in the dreadful consequences that have resulted from warring upon the institutions of the country 1 And, sir, in this conflict, who have been the greatest sufferers? The industry of the country—men who have vested their all in the enterprise of the day, and who have been left to the mercy of contending foes. It is to separate these, and to avoid this result in future, that I am for this bill; for who can look at the future, and not see how some bold and designing demagogue may desire to rise into power, and contend for political influence, by calling up the basest passions and prejudices against any institution which you may deem to be stable and fixed He may wage a war of extermination, and may ride over the laws of his country. I desire no such conflict, in which the honesty, the industry, and the enterprise of all will be lest to the mercy of factions contending for power over an institution in which the destinies of this country, through its currency, are to be placed. And is such a contest should come, I could not with any heart sustain an institution which I believe to be against the constitution and the liberties of the country.