網頁圖片
PDF

Feb. 2, 1831.] all the federal judges, their marshals and district attorneys, and the cost of their court rooms; the expense of missions abroad, and of territorial governments at home. These were the items of the civil list; comprehending the whole expenditure of the administration for all objects, except the army; there being at that time no navy. The administration of the bank, therefore, actually involves an expenditure, rivalling that of the Federal Government in 1792, '93, '94 and '95; omitting the single item of the army, which was then on a war establishment. The next item of bank tax, is that of the profits, in the shape of annual dividends. These profits are now seven per cent; but have been less; and at one time, owing to an explosion produced by stock jobbing, were nothing. Assuming six per cent. for the average of twenty years, and the aggregate will be $42,000,000. In the third place, the contingent fund, reserved to cover losses, is near 5,000,000 dollars. Fourthly, the real estate, including banking houses, is above 4,000,000 dollars. Fifthly, bonus, reimbursed to the bank, is 1,500,000 dollars. Sixthly, the interest on the public deposites, which the bank was receiving from the United States or individuals, while the United States were paying interest on the same amount to the bank or to others, was six millions of dollars on the standing deposite of about five millions. The aggregate is sixty-six millions of dollars; to say nothing of the profit on the stock itself, which is now twenty-six per cent., equal to $9,000,000 addition to the original capital. The annual average of this aggregate levy of sixty six millions, is above three millions and a quarter of dollars; being very nearly as much as the whole expenditure of the Federal Government in the second year of Mr. Jefferson’s administration, which was but 3,737,000 dollars, the army included, and the navy also, which had then sprung into existence. Will Senators reflect upon the largeness of this levy, and consider how much it adds to the multiplied burdens of our complicated system of taxation? I say complicated: for, under our duplicate form of government, every citizen is many times taxed, and by various authorities. First, his State tax, then his county tax, then his corporation tax, (if he live in a city,) then his federal tax, and, since 1816, his bank tax. The amount of each is considerable, of the whole, is excessive; of the bank tax, in addition to the others, intolerable. The direct tax of 1798, which contributed so much to the overthrow of the men then at the head of affairs, was an inconsiderable burden compared to this bank levy. Not so much as one million was ever paid in any one year under the direct tax; while the annual levy of the bank tax is three millions and a quarter. The one is as truly a tax as the other, and as certainly paid by the people; and, as the reduction of taxes is now the policy of the country, I present this contribution to the federal bank, as the fit and eminent item to head and grace the list of abolition. I say, to head and grace the list! For it is a tax not only great in itself, and levied to support a most dangerous and invidious institution, but doubly and peculiarly oppressive upon the people, because no part of it is ever refunded to them in the shape of beneficent expenditure. In the case of every other tax, in all the contributions levied for the purposes of Government, there is some alleviation of the burden--some restitution of the abducted treasure--some return to the people—some reinfusion of strength into their ranks-—in the customary reimbursement of the revenue. The Government usually pays it back, or a portion of it, for salaries, services, and supplies. But, in the case of the bank tax, there is nothing of this reimbursement. The bank refunds nothing; but all the money it makes out of the people is gone from them forever. 1t goes into a corner of the Union, and remains there: it goes into private hands, and becomes individual property. The stockholders divide it among themselves. Twice, in every year, they make the division of these modern spolia opina--these dearest spoils—not of the enemy's general

Bank of the United States.

[SENATE.

killed in battle, but of American citizens flecced at home. This is a grievous aggravation of the amount of the tax. It is the aggravation which renders taxation insupportable. It is “absenteeism” in a new and legalized form. It is the whole mischief of that system of absenteeism, which drains off the wealth of Ireland to fertilize England, France, and Italy, leaving Ireland itself the most distressed and exhausted country in Europe, instead of remaining, as God created it, one of the richest and most flourishing. Eternal drawing out, and no bringing back, is a process which no people, or country, can endure. It is a process which would exhaust the resources of nature herself. The earth would be deprived of its moisture, and changed into a desert, if the exhalations of the day did not return in dews at night. The vast ocean itself, with all its deep and boundless waters, would be sucked up and dried away, if the vapors drawn up by the sun did not form into clouds, and descend in rain and snow. So will any people be exhausted of their wealth, no matter how great that wealth may be, whose miserable destiny shall subject

them to a system of taxation which is forever levying, and .

never refunding: a system whose cry is that of the horseleech, more! more!’ more!—whose voice is that of the grave, give! give! give!--whose attribute is that of the grave also, never to render back!—and, such precisely is the system of taxation to which the people of these States are now subjected by the federal bank. Of the three great divisions, Mr. President, into which this question divides itself, I have touched but one. . I have left untouched the constitutional difficulty, and the former mismanagement of the bank. I have handled the question as if the constitutional authority for the bank was éxpress, and as if its whole administration had been free from reproach. I have looked to the nature of the institution alone; and, finding in its very nature insurmountable objections to its existence, I have come to the conclusion that the public good requires the institution to cease. I believe it to be an institution of too much power; of tendencies too dangerous; of privileges too odious; of expense too enormous, to be safely tolerated under any Government of free and cqual laws. My mind is made up that the present charter ought to be allowed to expire on its own limitation; and, that no other, or subsequent one, should ever after be granted. This is my opinion; I may add, my belief; for I have the consolation to believe that the event will not deceive my hopcs. I am willing to sce the charter expire, without providing any substitute for the present bank. I am willing to see the currency of the Federal Government left to the hard money mentioned and intended in the constitution; I am willing to have a hard money Government, as that of

France has been since the time of assignets and mandats.

Every species of paper might be left to the State authorities, unrecognized by the Federal Government, and only touched by it for its own convenience when equivalent to gold and silver. Such a currency filled France with the precious metals, when England, with her overgrown bank, was a prey to all the evils of unconvertible paper. It furnished money cnough for the imperial Government when the population of the empire was three times more numerous, and the expenses of Government twelve times greater, than the population and ..". of the United States; and, when France possessed no mines of gold or silver, and was destitute of the exports which command the specie of other countries. The United States pos. sess gold mines, now yielding half a million per annon, with every prospect of equaling those of Peru. But this is not the best dependence. We have what is superior to mines, namely, the exports which command the money of the world; that is to say, the food which sustains life, and the raw materials which sustain manufactures. ... Gold and silver is the best currency for a republic; it suits the mon of middle property and the working people best; and if I

[merged small][ocr errors]

was going to establish a working man’s party, it should be on the basis of hard money; a hard money party against a paper party. I would prefer to see the charter expire without any substitute; but I am willing to vote for the substitute recommended by the President, stripped as it is of all power to make loans and discounts. Divested of that power, it loses the essential feature, and had as well lose the name, of a bank. It becomes an office in the treasury, limited to the issue of a species of exchequer bills, differing from the English bills of that name in the vital particular of a prompt and universal convertibility into coin. Such bills would be in fact, as well as in name, the promissory notes of the United States of America. They would be payable at every land office, custom-house, and post office, and by every collector of public moneys, in the Union. Payable every where, they would be at par every where. Equal to gold and silver on the spot, they would be superior to it for travelling and remittances. This is not opinion, but history. Our own country, this Federal Government, has proved it; and that on a scale sufficiently large to test its operation, and recent enough to be re. membered by every citizen. I allude to the Mississippi scrip, issued from the Treasury some fifteen years ago. This scrip was no way equal to the proposed exchequer bills: for its reception was limited to a single branch of the revenue, namely, lands, and to a small part of them; and the quantity of scrip, five millions of dollars, was excessive, compared to the fund for its redemption; yet, as soon as the land offices of Alabama and Mississippi opened, the scrip was at par, and currently exchanged for gold and silver, dollar for dollar. Such, and better, would be the proposed bills. To the amount of the revenues, they would be founded on silver. This amount, after the payment of the public debt, (post office included,) may be about fifteen millions of dollars. They would supply the place of the United States' notes as they retired; and, issuing from the Treasury only in payments, or exchange for hard money, all room for favoritism, or undue influence, would be completely cut off. If the Federal Government is to recognise any paper, let it be this. Let it be its own. I have said that the charter of the Bank of the United States cannot be renewed. And in saying this, I wish to be considered, not as a heedless denunciator, supplying the place of argument by empty menace, but as a Senator, considering well what he says, after having attentively surveyed his subject. I repeat, then, that the charter cannot be renewed! And, in coming to the conclusion of this peremptory opinion, I acknowledge no necessity to look beyond the walls of this Capitol—bright as may be the consolation which rises on the vision from the other end of the avenue!—I confine my view to the halls of Congress, and joyfully exclaim, it is no longer the year 1816! Fifteen years have gone by; times have changed; and former arguments have lost their application. We were then fresh from war, loaded with debt, and with all the embarrassments which follow in the train of war. We are now settled down in peace and tranquillity, with all the blessings attendant upon quiet and repose. There is no longer a single consideration urged in |. of chartering the bank in 1816, which can have the least weight or application, in favor of rechartering it now. This is my assertion! a bold one it may be; but no less true than bold. Let us see! What were the arguments of 1816? Why, first, “to pay the public creditors.” I answer this is no longer any thing: for before 1836, that function will cease: there will be no more creditors to pay. 2. “To transfer the public moneys.” That will be nothing: for after the payment of the public debt, we shall have no moneys to transfer. The twelve millions of dollars which are now transferred annually to the Northeast, to pay the public creditors, will then remain in the pockcts of the people,

and the reduced expenditures of the Government will be made where the money is collected. The army and the navy, after the extinction of the debt, will be the chief objects of expenditure; and they will require the money, either on the frontiers, convenient to the land office, or on the seaboard, convenient to the custom-houses. Thus will transfers of revenue become unnecessary. 3. “To make loans to the Federal Government.” That is nothing: for the Federal Government will want no loans in time of peace, not even out of its own deposites; and the prospect of war is rather too distant at present to make new loans on that account. 4. “To pay the pensioners.” That is something now, I admit, when the pensioners are still fifteen thousand, and the payments exceed a million per annum. But what will it be after 1836? When the hand of death, and the scythe of time, shall have committed five years more of ravages in their senile ranks. The mass of these heroical monuments are the men of the Revolution. They are far advanced upon that allegorical bridge so beautifully described in the vision of Mirza: They have passed the seventy arches which are sound and entire, and are now treading upon the broken ones, where the bridge is full of holes, and the clouds and darkness setting in. At every step some one stumbles and falls through, and is lost in the ocean beneath. In a few steps more the last will be gone. Surely it cannot be necessary to keep up for twenty years, the vast establishment of the federai bank to pay the brief stipends of these fleeting shadows. Their country can do it--can pay the pensions as well as give them—and do it for the little time that remains, with no other regret than that the grateful task is to cease so soon. 5. “To regulate the currency.” I answer, the joint resolution of 1816 will do that, and will effect the regulation without destroying on one hand, and without raising up a new power, above regulation, on the other. Besides, there is some mistake in this phrase currency. The word in the constitution is coin. It is, the value of coin which Congress is to regulate; and to include bank notes under that term, is to assume a power, not of construction—for no construction can be wild and boundless enough to construe coin, that is to say, metallic mo: ney, melted, cast, and stamped, into paper notes printed and written—but it is to assume a power of life and death over the constitution; a power to dethrone and murder one of its true and lawful words, and to set up a bastard pretender in its place. I invoke the spirit of America upon the daring attempt! 6. “To equalize exchanges, and sell bills of exchange for the half of one per cent.” This is a broker's argument; very fit and proper to determine a question of brokerage; but very insufficient to determine a question of great national policy, of State rights, of constitutional difficulty, of grievous, taxation, and of public and private subjugation to the beck and nod of a great moneyed oligarchy. 7. “A bonus of a million and a half of dollars.” This, Mr. President, is Esau’s view of the subject; a very seductive view to an improvident young man, who is willing to give up the remainder of his life to chains and poverty, provided he can be solaced for the present with a momentary and insignificant gratification. But what is it to the United States'—to the United States of 1836! without a shilling of debt, and mainly occupied with the reduction of taxes! Still this bonus is the only consideration that can now be offered, and surely it is the last one that ought to be accepted. We do not want the money; and, if we did, the recourse to a bonus would be the most execrable form in which we could raise it. What is a bonus? Why, in monarchies, it is a price paid to the King for the privilege of extorting money out of his subjects; with us, it is a price paid to ourselves for the privilege of extorting money out of ourselves. The more of it the worse; for it all has to be paid back to the extortioners, with a great interest upon it. It is related by the English historian, Clarendon, who cannot be Feb. 3, 1831.]

Indian Annuity.

[SENATE.

suspected of overstating any fact to the prejudice of the Stuart Kings, that for £1,500 advanced to Charles the First in bonuses, not less than £200,000 were extorted from his subjects: being at the rate of £133 taken from the subject for £1 advanced to the King. What the Bank of the United States will have made out of the people of the United States, in twenty years, in return for its bonus of $1,500,000, (which, I must repeat, has been advanced to us out of our own money,) has been shown to be about sixty-six millions of dollars. What it would make in the next twenty years, when secure possession of the renewed charter should free the institution from every restraint, and leave it at full liberty to pursue the money, goods, and lands of the people in every direction, cannot be ascertained. Enough can be ascertained, however, to show that it must be infinitely beyond what it has been. There are some data upon which some partial and imperfect calculations can be made, and let us essay them. In the first place, the rise of the stock, which cannot be less than that of the Bank of England, in its flourishing days, (probably more, as all Europe is now seeking investments here,) may reach 250 per cent., or 150 above par. This, upon a capital of 35 millions, would give a profit of $42,500,000; a very pretty sum to be cleared by operation of law!—to be added to the fortunes of some individuals, aliens as well as citizens, by the mere passage of an act of Congress! In the next place, the regular dividends, assuming them to equal those of the Bank of England in its meridian, would be ten per cent. per annum. This would give $3,500,000 for the annual dividend; and $70,000,000 for the aggregate of twenty years. In the third place, the direct expenses of the institution, now less than $400,000 per annum, would, under the new and magnificent expansion which the operations of the bank would take, probably excecd half a million per annum; say $10,000,000 for the whole term. Putting these three items together, which is as far as data in hand will enable us to calculate, and we have $122,500,000 of profits made out of the people, equal to a tax of $6,000,000 per annum. How much more may follow is wholly unascertainable, and would depend upon the moderation, the justice, the clemency, the mercy and forbearance of the supreme central directory, who, sitting on their tripods, and shaking their tridents over the moneyed ocean, are able to raise, and repress, the golden waves at pleasure; who, being chief purchasers of real estate, may take in towns and cities, and the whole country round, at one fell swoop; who, being sole lenders of money, may take usury, not only at 46, but at 460 per cent.; who, being masters of all other banks, and of the Federal Government itself, may compel these tributary establishments to ransom their servile existences with the heavy, and repeated, exactions of Algerine cupidity. The gains of such an institution defy calculation. There is no example on earth to which to compare it. The bank of Fngland, in its proudest days, would afford but an inadequate and imperfect exemplar; for the power of that bank was counterpoised, and its exactions limited, by the wealth of the landed aristocracy, and the princely revenues of great merchants and private bankers. But with us, there would be no counterpoise, no limit, no boundary, to the extent of exactions. All would depend upon the will of the supreme central directory. The nearest approach to the value of this terrific stock, which my reading has suggested, would be found in the history of the famous South Sea Company of the last century, whose shares rose in leaps from 100 to 500, and from 500 to 1,000 per cent.; hut, with this immeasurable and lamentable difference that that was a bubble! this, a reality! And who would be the owners of this imperial stock? Widows and orphans, think you? as ostentatiously set forth in the report of last session? No, sir! a few great capitalists; aliens, denizens, naturalized subjects, and some native

citizens, already the richest of the land, and who would

avail themselves of their intelligences, and their means, to buy out the small stockholders on the eve of the renewal. These would be the owners. And where would all this power and money centre’ In the great cities to the northeast, which have been for forty years, and that by force of federal legislation, the lion's den of Southern and Western money—that den into which all the tracks point inwards; from which the returning track of a solitary dollar has never yet been seen. And, this is the institution for which a renewed existence is sought— for which the votes of the people's representatives are claimed! But, no! Impossible! It cannot be! The bank is done. The arguments of 1816 will no longer apply. Times have changed; and the policy of the Republic changes with the times. The war made the bank; peace will unmake it. The baleful planet of fire, and blood, and every human woe, did bring that pestilence upon us; the benignant star of peace shall chase it away. Having concluded—

Mr. WEBSTER demanded the yeas and nays on the

question to grant leave for the introduction of the resolu

tion; and the vote being taken, was decided, without further debate, as follows: YEAS——Messrs. Barnard, Benton, Bibb, Brown, Dickerson, Dudley, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Iredell, King, M’Kinley, Poindexter, Sanford, Smith, of S. C., Tazewell, Troup, Tyler, White, Woodbury—20. NAYS-Messrs. Barton, Bell, Burnet, Chase, Clayton, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Johnston, Knight, Livingston, Marks, Noble, Robbins, Robinson, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, of Md., Sprague, Webster, Willey––23. So the Senate refused leave for the introduction of the resolution. Mr. GRUNDY said, that, in the select committee appointed to examine into the condition of the Post Office Department, a serious difference of opinion existed in relation to the description of testimony to be brought before them; and that he, for one, was unwilling that the opinions of part of that committee should prevail, without the concurrence of the Senate. He, therefore, submitted the following resolution: Resolved, That the select committee appointed on the 15th day of December last, to inquire into the condition of the Post Office Department, are not authorized to call before them the persons who have been dismissed from office, for the purpose of ascertaining the reasons or causes of their removal. Adjourned.

Tii U as pay, FEB n U ARY 3. The resolution of Mr. GIRUNDY, on the subject of certain witnesses proposed to be examined in relation to the causes of their removal from the Post Office Department, was taken up, and again, in consequence of the absence of the honorable Senator, laid on the table.

INI). IAN ANNUITY.

On motion of Mr. DUI) LEY, the bill from the IIouse granting an annuity of $6,000 to the Seneca tribe of Indians was taken up, together with the amendments of Mr. SMrth, of Md., and considered as in Committee of the Whole.

Mr. SMIT! I, of Md., said, that, when this bill was laid on the table, some days ago, he had addressed a letter to the Secretary of War, asking information on the subject, and, in consequence, he had received an answer from the Secretary, cnclosing a letter from a Mr. Nourse, , one of the clerks in the Register's Office, addressed to him, containing all the facts that were necessary for a proper understanding of the matter. There would be some little confusion, Mr. S. said, in the accounts be

SENATE.J

tween the Indians and the United States, in passing the
bill in its original shape, as it came from the House, inas-
much as it would be giving an annuity of $6,000 without
any equivalent for it. He had, therefore, introduced the
amendment to transfer the stock, which was now held
for the use of the Indians, to the United States, inasmuch
as they required nothing more than the annuity, and the
United States would be justly entitled to the stock for
guarantying it to them. Upon the tribe's becoming ex-
tinct, the stock would, of course, revert to the United
States; and it would therefore be better to transfer it at
once than pursue the course originally pointed out in the
bill. It would be simplifying what was complex; the
subject would be put an end to; and the Indians and
the Government would be relieved from any further diffi-
culties in relation to it.
Mr. FORSYTH said he could not perceive the neces.
sity of any legislation upon this subject. It is now, said
Mr. F., well understood that the Government of the
United States has never received any benefit from the
Seneca tribe of Indians, for which this claim is made.
The President of the United States has been made their
trustee—has assumed a guardianship, in which the Con-
gress of the United States has no concern; and all he
has to do with it is to see that the stock entrusted to him
is vested in the best possible manner, and that they duly
receive the amount accruing from it. There was a time
when these Indians received more than six thousand dol-
lars per annum for their hundred thousand dollars worth
of stock; that is, when their fund was invested in Bank
of the United States' stock, when they received seven per
cent. When their stock produced more than six thou-
sand dollars, the whole amount was paid to them; but,
since that stock had been less productive, since it had
been invested in three percents, all that had been done had
tended to impose on the United States a pecuniary bur-
then. The terms of the contract were not, that the Pre-
sident of the United States should see that the fund al-
ways yielded six per cent. per annum; but that he should
make the best disposition of it in his power; and this, it
was admitted, had been done. There was then no fur-
ther obligation on him, or on the Government. But it
seemed the United States were considered as bound to
these Indians, because the President of the United States
had become the trustee of funds paid by the Holland
Land Company for lands sold by the Indians to that
Company.
This matter had already cost the Government a very
considerable amount over and above the product of the
stock, and now the question arises, are we bound to do
more, after doing all we have already gratuitously per-
formed? But it is said the Indians have been given to
understand that the full amount of six thousand dollars
should be paid to them. Who gave them to understand
this? Who had a right to do so? And yet it was on
such loose declarations that the whole merits of this claim
seemed to rest. It is contended that the Government is
bound to realize to these Indians any expectations they
may have been induced to entertain. It is true, it is said
that the late President of the United States, when the
subject was before him, had given them these assurances.
This, however, did not establish the justice of the de.
mand. He could see no sort of obligation on the part of
the Government to pay them more than the amount pro-
duced by their stock. The original arrangement (which,
by the way, he considered a very foolish one, though it
was made by the authority of Congress,) was to create
the President of the United States a trustee or guardian
for the safe keeping of this fund of one hundred thou-
sand dollars, which they had undoubted right to—it was
theirs; and it remained between them and their trustee,

[blocks in formation]

the President of the Unitad States, to settle the disposition of it. The same authority that constituted him a trustee, and enabled him to invest or transfer that stock, would also authorize him to sell it, and make such disposal of it as might be deemed expedient. But there is another view of this subject, said Mr. F. The letter from the War Department, just now submitted to us by the gentleman from Maryland, [Mr. SMITH,) informs us that the Holland Land Company, looking forward to the extinguishment of this tribe, contemplated, on the consummation of that event, setting up a claim to this $100,000 of stock. . They say it then belongs to them. Suppose, after our making this compulsory contract with the Senecas to pay them $6,000 annually, the Holland Land Company lo establish their claim to the reversion of this $100,000; in what light would the proposed measure be viewed, if adopted? Mr. F. concluded by repeating, he saw no sort of necessity for further legislation upon this subject. If the Indians were willing to take the product of their stock, as it is, in the three per cents., let them, in Heaven's name, have it. The matter, according to his views, laid just where it should lay, and he hoped it might remain so. He, therefore, moved an indefinite postponement of the bill. Mr. SANFORD said the gentleman from Georgia supposed that there was no obligation on the part of the Government of the United States to do justice to the Seneca Indians; that the fund belonging to them had been placed in the hands of the President, as trustee, in his individual, and not in his official, capacity. Pray, sir, said Mr. S., how comes it, then, that this subject has been brought before us by the President himself? Is it not to be found in his message of the last session, in which he says he cannot do justice to these Indians without the intervention of Congress? If the gentleman would please to refer to the message of the President, and the report of the Secretary of war, he would find that those officers of the Government deemed it a matter in which the United States was concerned. The gentleman was mistaken in supposing that the trusteeship of the President imposed no obligation on the Government. The President, as the official organ of the Government, became the voluntary trustee. The Indians sold their lands to Robert Morris, with the consent and approbation of the Government, and the Government voluntarily assumed the office of trustee for the safe investment of the purchase money. It was well known that it never was the practice of the Government to suffer any treaty to be held with the Indians without becoming a party to it; and, in the treaty held for the sale of these lands, the agent of the Government attended and sanctioned the whole proceedings. The gentleman from Georgia remarked, that the President might sell the stock, pay the Indians their $100,000, and get rid of the business. Mr. S. did not know, but he believed the Indians would be as glad to get their $100,000, and get rid of the business, as the gentleman from Georgia; that is, if they were to have no income, they would rather have their money. But this could not be done without legislation. The President had presented the subject to the consideration of Congress; and, even if the Indians were to be paid back their money, the action of Congress would be necessary. But it had been urged that various changes had been made; the money had first been invested in stock of the Bank of the United States, then in six per cents., and lastly in three per cents. Suppose we refuse to pay the Indians, because of these changes; would that be just? Who made those changes? Not the Indians, but ourselves. The investments were made by the trustee, according to his

Feb. 3, 1831.]

best judgment, without the knowledge or consent of the
Indians; and they were always contented as long as they
received what they considered a sufficient interest on
their money. Mr. S. then urged that the amendment
was unnecessary; he hoped it would not be persisted in,
inasmuch as it would again change the relations between
the United States and the Indians without their consent.
After some further arguments in favor of the bill, and
against the amendment, Mr. S. concluded, by expressing
his hope that the Senate would do full justice to the Sen-
eca Indians, and not leave them in a situation to receive
only two or three thousand dollars interest on their capital,
when they had always been taught to believe themselves
fairly entitled to an interest of six thousand dollars.
Mr. FORSYTH said, perhaps he did not understand
this subject so well as the gentleman from New York,
[Mr. SAN for nil but he must repeat, that he did not yet
see a necessity for any legislation on this subject. The
stock is invested at the discretion of the President, as the
trustee of the Indians. He is bound to render them an
account of it, and is ready to do so. He has the power to
sell out the stock, and return them their money, if they
wish it. This would, probably, be the most simple and
cquitable method that could be adopted. At all events,
said Mr. F., we have nothing to do with it. He con-
demned the foolish plan by which the President was in-
volved in such guardianships. It was imposing upon him
duties and responsibilities which did not rightfully pertain
to his station. The gentleman from New York supposes
that there was an obligation on the part of the United
States to guaranty that the stock yield perpetually the
annual sum of six thousand dollars. Where did the gen-
tleman get that idea? He, Mr. F., could find nothing of
it in the documents belonging to the case. If the original
contract was that the Indians should receive six per cent.,
why did they for so many years get seven per cent. ” On
the reasoning of the gentleman, the Government was as
much bound to give seven as six per cent. But the honor-
able gentleman says the subject has been brought to the
notice of Congress by the President himself! Well, sir,
in so doing, the President has but done his duty. He
found, on coining into office, that his predecessor had
been paying out of the coffers of the treasury $6,000, in-
stead of $3,190, without the shadow of authority; and
finding that the Indians expected a continuance of a prac-
tice he could not sanction, he very properly brought the
affair before Congress. Does any one, said Mr. F., ques-
tion the correctness of the course pursued by the Presi-
dent in this matter? No one did. It had becn admitted
on all hands to be perfectly correct. Well, sir, shall we,
by legislation, sanction a proceeding which the President
condemns? It is not pretended that the Government is in
any way bound, except by the guardianship of the fund so
thoughtlessly undertaken. But, at that time, these Indians
were the wards of the United States; that wardship has
ceased, and they are now, with the exception of those
going to Green Bay, under the guardianship of the State
of New York. Mr. F. was for leaving the matter as it
stood. If the Indians were dissatisfied, it was not the fault
of the Government. The same authority that vested the
stock in the President's hands, could authorize him to sell
it. It would now bring one hundred and four thousand
dollars. If they preferred the money to the stock, let
them have it. He did not know whether this would be
proper, but, for his own part, he would willingly vote for
an appropriation for the purchase of the stock. If they
wish to sell, the Government has as much a right to buy
as any other individual.
Mr. Bi BB said, he conceived this to be a most just and
equitable claim. It accrued under the superintendence of
the Government, by its agents, in the purchase of the In-
dian lands. Massachusetts, New York, and the General

[blocks in formation]

ment of the Indian title to these lands. A treaty was en-
tered into, and the lands were sold to Robert Morris for
one hundred thousand dollars, which was invested in the
stock of the old Bank of the United States. The whole
matter was reported to Congress, and approved of by that
body. By the terms of the treaty itself, the guardianship
of this money was invested in the political personage de-
nominated by the constitution, the President of the United
States. The arrangement did not contemplate entrusting
the money to a Washington and Adams, or to any other
individual. It was, therefore, an act of the Government,
and an officer of that Government was made, ea officio, the
repository of the fund in question. And are we, the Go-
vernment of the United States, to lead these poor savages
astray? Shall we take advantage of their ignorance, sim-
ply because we have them in our power? Now, if there
is a principle on earth, said Mr. B., that I hold more sa-
cred than another, it is that the Government should act
with magnanimity, justice, and equity, towards these sava-
ges. The Government make treaties with them, in their
own form; they write them down, in their own way; and
shall we write articles of agreement with them in our own
language, and interpret them to suit our own purposes?
God forbid! This stock, to be sure, was first invested in
the stock of the Bank of the United States; but what did
they know of the nature of the Bank of the United States?
They supposed that, by the terms of their treaty, they had
secured to themselves, and their tribe, a permanent fund
of six thousand dollars per annum. Iłut how are their ex-
pectations realized? I call it an act of the Government,
said Mr. B., as it undoubtedly is. The President is the
agent, ex officio, and the fund is vested, in good faith, in
the hands of the Government. Inasmuch as they have
done all this, shall we not preserve our faith towards them?
What do they know of five or six per cent. stocks?. It is
utterly beyond their comprehension. Mr. B. said he
looked upon it as a mere matter of equity, that the Go-
vernment should be willing to abide by the rules which
she metes out to others. It was no more than just that
she should allow the same rate of interest for debts due
from her, as she demands from those indebted to her.
From public debtors she exacts an interest of six per cent,
and I know of no better rule to be applied to the present
case. Mr. B. also disapproved of the attempt on the part
of the gentleman from Maryland, [Mr. SM1th, to de-
crease the amount to be paid to the Indians, as this seem-
cd to be the purport of his amendment. . He contended
that the Government had already received this money. It
was already paid into the treasury, and he trusted that a.
majority of the Senate would come to the just conclusion
of guarantying to the Senecas a permanent annuity of six
per cent. on their stock, or six thousand dollars per an-
hum, and thus preserve that justice, good faith, and scru;
pulous integrity towards them, which it, was so essential
to the national honor should be preserved.
Mr. WHITE observed, that he did not think it made
much difference to the parties, whether the bill passed as
it came from the House of Representatives, or as amended
by the gentleman from Maryland, [Mr. SMIth.] He, for
his part, would prefer the original bill, inasmuch as it
would, if it passed here with the amendment, be embar-
rassed, by having to undergo the revision of the other
House. It had been stated that, when the treaty was
held with the Seneca Indians for the sale of their lands,
the agent of the United States was present, and sanctioned
the agreement by which the President became the trustee
for the disposition of the purchase money. This, he be:
lieved, was correct. The Indians being about to sell, and
wishing to make some permanent arrangement by which
the sum to be paid them should be safely invested, agreed
that the President of the United States, not as an indi-
vidual, but describing him in his official character, should,

Government, were severally anxious for the extinguish-
Vol. VII.--6

as their trustee, invest this money in stock of the Book of

« 上一頁繼續 »