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and if the concurrence of any department of the Government, or that of the other branch of the Legislature, be withheld, let the responsibility rest on those who interpose the obstacles. For the last six months it has been iterated and reiterated, until we have been almost stunned and deafened with the clamor, that the public money was unsafe; that it was in the unlawful possession and control of the Executive. Let those who have agitated the public mind by these declarations, if they choose so to do, leave things as they are. I trust that here the effort to give this matter the go-by, will not be successful. I am not particularly attached to the particular provisions of the bill reported by the committee. But let us take it up, amend it, if necessary; make it as perfect as possible, and decide directly upon it. The difficulty suggested by the honorable gentleman from Massachusetts, that there is not time to give the subject due consideration, need not alarm us. And I should have supposed he would have no apprehension on the subject, if he would only recall to mind the scenes which took place here about this time two years ago, when the bill for the recharter of the Bank of the United States was forced through the House by him and his friends, in the course of one day, I think, by the aid of the parliamentary instrument now so odious to him, and which he denominates the “screws.” All the important questions then proposed—the amount of bonus to be paid; the obligation to pay interest on the deposites; the right of the States to tax the branches; the time of the charter; and perhaps other questions, were discussed as long as the majority, in its discretion, thought to be judicious and proper; and then the disposition to prolong debate unnecessarily was corrected by the exercise of that parliamentary privilege which majorities always exercise, and minorities always endeavor to render odious. [Mr. Rern, of Massachusetts, called Mr. P. to order, and said it was not in order to discuss the bank bill. The SPEAKER said the gentleman from Virginia was not out of order: he was replying to arguments made by others.] Mr. PAT to N said he was under obligation to the gentleman from Massachusetts for his admonition, as he was very unwilling at any time to transgress the bounds of order. He was pleased, however, to find that the gentleman’s admonition was uncalled for. There need be no apprehension that the bill will not be sufficiently con: sidered. All its provisions may be fully examined, and dispassionately and deliberately decided. The example I have referred to, in relation to the bank charter, ought to satisfy those gentlemen at least who have expressed the apprehensions alluded to. Mr. POLK said that, to prevent the whole day being taken up in discussing the order of the business, and, at the same time, to test the sense of the House whether they were disposed to entertain the deposite bill, he would withdraw his motion to postpone the fortification bill, and simply move to lay it on the table; pledging himself, the moment the deposite bill (if taken up) should be gone through, that he would himself call it up. Mr. REED called for the yeas and nays on the motion to lay on the table; which were ordered. Mr. DICKSON wished to know, if the motion to lay the other on the table prevailed, how the deposite bill came next in order? Mr. POLK explained; after which, Mr. PATTON rose to state that he wished to prevent any misapprehension as to his vote on this motion, for he was not opposed to the fortification bill, although he desired the deposite bill to be taken up immediately. Mr. E. EveRETT also desired to state that he was not against the deposite bill, although he was against its being taken up at a period of the session when there was no likelihood that it could be passed into a law.
Mr. J. Q. Al)AMS would inquire from the honorable member from Tennessee, [Mr. Polk, who made the motion to lay the bill on the table, if he did not know that its effect was to deprive him of the possibility of replying, as he was desirous of, to the observations of the member from Virginia, [Mr. Pattox,] who had just sat down? He would ask him to withdraw his motion, to give him that opportunity.
Mr. POLK having declined to withdraw—
The motion to lay the fortification bill on the table prevailed: Yeas 119, nays 68.
Mr. LANE moved to reconsider the vote laying the bill on the table; and, on his motion, the motion to reconsider was postponed till to-morrow.
THE DEPOSITE BILL.
The IHouse resumed the consideration of the “bill regulating the deposites in the local banks,” when Mr. COULTER obtained the floor, but yielded it to Mr. DUNCAN, who offered an amendment, to come in after the enacting clause of the bill, by way of substitute for its provisions. [The amendment of Mr. DUNcAN proposed to continue the act incorporating the present Bank of the United States for twenty years, with certain limitations and regulations.] Mr. COULTER then took the floor and addressed the House as follows: Mr. Speaker: The object which every member of this House pursues is the public good, and the guide which he adopts to conduct his steps, is the constitution of the country. But, unfortunately, the imperfection of the understanding is so great, and the influence of passion and prejudice so prevailing, that, like the pursuit for the prize of a higher and more glorious calling, we are found in different paths. It is admitted on all hands that there has fallen upon the country a disturbed state of public opinion, and that the late measures of the Executive have put the revenues and the currency of the country to a new and hazardous experiment. Something like consternation and dismay is manifested on one side at the progress and probable result of this experiment, whilst on the other there is nothing but hope and exultation. I have always believed that the dangers supposed to lurk in what is called the marble palace of the bank were greately magnified by the somewhat hysterical apprehensions, real or affected, of the anti-bank politicians, and I have not doubted but the fears of the zealous friends of the institution were much exaggerated in their calculations about the ruin of the country from its sudden and unwise destruction. The exacerbation of the fever is, I hope, passed, and the country will soon look with calmness at its own condition, and adopt the suitable remedy. The various propositions which the crisis has introduced, and which are now on the Clerk's table, show that all sides of this House think some legislation necessary in the present attitude of public affairs. Although they are all fairly opened to discussion by the present motion, I shall remark upon two of them only. For no one here is more sensible than I am of the value of time at present; and as my sole object is to throw out some considerations explanatory of my votes on these two propositions. I voted, some days since, to lay one of these propositions on the table. The rule of proceedings did not then allow me to state my reasons, which I will do now. You understand, of course, that I allude to the second resolution of the Senate, which proposed to restore the deposites to the Bank of the United States after the first of July, 1834, according to the terms of the charter, Although I was in favor of continuing the United States Bank as the depository of the public treasure, until by its recent course it placed itself in an attitude of direct hostility to the legislative authority of the country in re
lation to that treasure, I never would have adopted this
mode of effecting that object, as either adequate to remedy the evils complained of, or calculated to allay the apprehensions of the country. By the sixteenth section of the charter, it is enacted that the moneys of the United States shall be deposited in the bank, unless the Secretary shall otherwise direct. The great evil complained of, was that this discretion of the Secretary had been abused— that he had removed the deposites unwisely, and without sufficient reasons; which impaired the confidence of the country in the stability of the paper currency. This opinion was in my judgment correct, and a discretion, liable to be controlled by a power superior to the Secretary, in a mode not amenable to the law, and capable of effecting the commercial interest, and deranging the currency of the country, ought not, in my opinion, to have been restored. The manner in which the 16th section of the bank charter was constructed introduced all the existing evils. It was the original sin from which proceeded all our present wo. The forbidden fruit hav. ing been once plucked, should never have been placed by me in the same situation to tempt again human ambi. tion and human love of power. The resolution to which I allude, when put into plain English, is this, and no more: that the deposites shall be made in the United States Bank after the first of July, unless the Secretary of the Treasury shall otherwise direct, which, if not a mere nullity, would only invite a repetition of occurrences which have disturbed the country. I would have sought a remedy, and found it, on the statute book, among the last acts of a class of men, whose enlarged political sagacity, and whose patriotism, have been too much forgotten, whilst their faults have been too grievously remembered. I allude to the act of 10th May, 1800, which operated upon the collectors of public moneys, and makes it their duty to pay them into the Bank of the United States, where they were to remain, subject to the control of Con. gress alone, until they were appropriated by law. Every one here knows that Mr. Jefferson was more thoroughly opposed to the old Bank of the United States than the present Executive is to the existing one. Yet this law, simple in its enactments, and stable in its operations, carried the financial operations and fiscal concerns of the country tranquilly through his administration, and until the expiration of its charter. With whatever intent this fatal 16th section of the present charter was framed, its effects may teach even great men how much safer it is to rely upon experience, than trust to new experiments, however seducing. But candor requires me to say that I have stronger objections to the resolution. They are found in the fact of the refusal of the bank to submit itself to legislative scrutiny. . The constitution vests in Congress the power of imposing taxes, the highest function of sovereignty. The custody and care of the amount, when levied, is part of the same power. Indeed, the power to create public treasure would be useless, and only oppressive, without the power to preserve it. It is not only the business but the absolute duty of Congress to look after its safety. It was for this reason that so great an outcry was raised against the President for taking it into his keeping. Every form of denunciation, and every mode of imprecation, has been used, which might designate him as a tyrant, because he directed the public money to be placed where Congress cannot inspect it. Now, without adopting all the extravagancies on this subject, I agree that the Pres. ident acted unwisely and improperly. But can the bank lawfully, and wisely, and meritoriously, take from Congress this highest of all its rights, when it amounted almost to treason in the President of the United States to do it? It need not be alleged that the bank will squander the public money. All may be right, and I hope is. But it has refused the evidence of it; and while it continues in this state of contumacy, it much more effectual
ly, and more dishonorably to this body, withholds the public treasure from the custody and dominion of the legislative power, than the President has attempted to do. It is a matter of no import with me, that specious pretences have been set forth to justify this line of conduct. The argument of the President to justify his interference with the treasury, is more imposing than the excuses and evasions of the bank. The transcendental and absolute control which Congress has, by the constitution, must not be permitted to be frittered away by any process of reasoning, however subtle. Let us examine briefly the positions taken by the bank. It alleges that its charter is a contract with the Government, and that, as one of the parties, it has a right to put its own construction on its provisions, and, in such case, that the judicial tribunals are the only power which can rightfully determine between it and the Government. It is certainly true that acts of the legislative power, creating private or eleemosynary corporations, have been regarded, both in Eng
land and in this country, in the light of contracts between
the Government and those to whom the private franchise was granted. But not so in relation to public corporations, in which the whole community is concerned, and especially corporations for the purpose of executing the powers of Government. That the interests, finances, and prosperity of a great people could be converted into a private franchise, and subject to judicial control, is a proposition sufficiently absurd on its face. The law never was so in England, and never will be so here. The language of Chief Justice Marshall, in the case of Dartmouth college, is sufficiently distinct. “If the act of incorporation be a grant of political power, if it creates a civil institution to be employed in the administration of the Government,” it does not partake of the nature of a contract. In the case of McCullough and the State of Maryland, it was determined that the State could not tax the bank, because it was an instrument of the federal Government to carry on its fiscal operations. It is not contended by any class of politicians that the Government of the United States have power to create private franchises for any purpose. The bank can exist only by the constitution, because it is a public fiscal agent of the Government for the purpose of collecting and disbursing the public revenue. And is it to be allowed that an institution, so created and existing, can set up its charter as a contract, and say to the legislative authority of the country, thus far shalt though go and no further? Congress cannot contract away its power over the public treasure. If it ever had done so, the act would be utterly void. By the charter of the bank, its notes are made a legal tender to the Government for all taxes and debts. It is not, therefore, the safety of the funds of the Government in its vaults, but the entire revenue of the country, which depends upon this institution. And yet the legislative authority of the country shall not be allowed to overlook its proceedings and its books, except in the mode and for the purpose determined upon by the bank itself. Sir, the position is monstrous, and could never be tolerated except in a moment of excited political feeling. But it is said that private interests are mingled with those of the Government. Such is the condition of our nature that it can never be otherwise. The public officer cannot be separated from the individual man. His feelings, his fame, his character, and reputation, are blended with his official functions, and although they may all be wounded by a legislative scrutiny, the imperious interest of the public demands that they must be subjected to the ordeal. No individual, I presume, ever supposed that the Legislature was about to purloin the books or private treasure of the corporation or of its directors, or subject them to a forcible search or seizure, as the directors seemed to apprehend. It was civil inquiry merely, without the array or power of criminal
prosecution. and conduct would they might contract away the whole. The regulations of have done well to answer to such inquiry. Investigation the charter are directorial and obligatory upon the officers always honors the guiltless. I know not, and I care not, of Government; but, as a contract, are utterly incompewhat the views of others were in voting for the inquiry. tent to bind the legislative power, and control the prosMine were that those in whose integrity and usefulness I perity of the country. The issuing of the scire facias, had full confidence should have an opportunity of wiping spoken of in the charter, was never designed, certainly, all dishonorable imputations from their proceedings and for the protection of the Government; for no one will
The directors have chosen differently pretend that, if the bank had suspended specic payments,
o: chosen well, but they must abide the result or been guilty of any act tending to show insolvency, before that public tribunal which will be too apt to say still it must remain the custodian of the public treasure,
“they chose darkness rather than light, because their until the charter was forfeited, on a trial at law.
deeds are evil.”
The clear intention of that provision was, that, whenever a
Mr. Speaker, I derive strong confirmation in these committee of Congress was of opinion, from an examina
views from the proceedings of the British Parliament in relation to the Bank of England. In the charter of that bank there is, or rather there was, (for I have not been able to get the renewed charter of last year,) no reservation of the right of parliamentary investigation, and the institution has no material connexion with the Government, except in the loans it makes. But it exercises an important influence on the currency, and both Houses of Parliament institute the most rigid inquiry into its proceedings and affairs. In 1797 an order of council was issued by the ministry, authorizing the bank to suspend specie payments. The matter was immediately taken up in both Houses, and committees of inquiry appointed. In the House of Lords the inquiry was resisted, by one individual alone, on the ground that Parliament “ had no right to pry into the affairs of the bank,” but he received no countenance whatever. The inquiry was voted in both Houses by overwhelming majorities. The great statesmen of the time—Mr. Fox, Mr. Pitt, Mr. Windham, and Mr. Wilberforce—all concurring. The resolutions of inquiry were all without stint or limit; and in the progress of it, the governor, deputy governor, and directors, were examined separately upon oath; they were ordered to produce such books and papers as the committees thought proper, and they were ordered to produce, and did produce, the letters to and from the chancellor of the exchequer. This inquiry was instituted and prosecuted with rigor, although it might have resulted much to the injury of the directors, because, by the statute of William III., a heavy penalty is imposed upon lending money to the Government without parliamentary security and authority. Now it does not appear where the committees sat, whether at the Crown and Anchor, or at the bank; but, I presume, in the committee rooms of St. Stephen’s. It is not my purpose to examine the contested ground between the majority and the minority of the cemmittee of inquiry. It is not necessary for my purpose. It is sufficient for me that the bank resisted the inquiry, unless it was conducted according to the terms of the charter, as construed by the directors. I will not examine whether their interpretation of that instrument is plausible or not. . In voting for the inquiry, I looked to the constitution alone, and to the right and duty of Congress to look after the security of the public revenue. The authority of Congress, within the scope of its delegated powers, is as transcendental as that of the British Parliament. All public agents, whether corporations or individuals, must be subject to its plenary and full power of examination. Whenever it shall cease to be so, not only the finances, but every branch of the ublic service, will become the refuge of peculators, lood-suckers, and oppressors.
The charter granted to the bank cannot control, or limit, or qualify, the right of legislative inquiry. It might as well be said that the courts could not compel the production of the books of the bank where they would be competent evidence, except in the single case specified in the charter. But no lawyer, I apprehend, would risk his reputation upon such an assertion. If Congress could contract away one essential right under the constitution,
tion of its proceedings, that the bank had violated its
| |charter, the score facias should issue, for the protection of
the citizens—of the community. These views are not of recent origin in my mind. I voted for the inquiry, in pursuance of long-settled principles. . Two years ago, when the renewal of the charter was before Congress, I offered an amendment, providing for the appointment of a joint committee of both Houses annually, to make the most thorough examination of the bank and its proceedings, upon whose report Congress might alter, modify, or annul the charter. This amendment, like all others offered in this House, was rejected; but that did not alter my opinion of the necessity or usefulness of the measure. The power of control, examination, and correction of abuses, must abide in every well-regulated Government somewhere. By our constitution, it undoubtedly belongs to Congress. How or where does the other branch of the Legislature derive its authority for making the close |and searching inquiry into the Post Office establishment, and the proceedings of contractors, that is now going on? Not in any reservations in the law creating that establishment: and yet the whole fortunes of contractors are embarked in their contracts with the Government, and their private interest and dealings connected with them: not in the power of that branch of Congress to institute any criminal proceeding against peculators and offenders, for it has no such power: but it is found in the high transcendental legislative power to examine into abuses in the concerns of Government, in order that it may be enabled to correct them. Let me ask what the opinion and feelings of the country would have been, if the officers of the Department had refused an inspection of their books to the committee of the Senate, on the ground that the Senate had no right to institute an impeachment against them? And if contractors had refused to answer, upon the ground that their private interest and affairs were concerned, and that they were not bound to answer, as they might perhaps criminate themselves, and jeopard their own private rights, the whole country would have cried shame upon them. And if it had happened, as it might have happened in the course of human affairs, that too close an intimacy existed between the bank and some of the executive officers of the Government, the Secretary of the Treasury, for instance, and that it was rumored and suspected that the money of the bank was used to obtain improper advantages for this functionary or from the Treasurer, and an inquiry had been instituted by this House to examine whether any such corruption existed, sir, I will not offend this House by asking what would be its feelings and that of the country, if the bank had, in such case, set up its corporate privileges, as interpreted by itself, to prevent disclosures, and its president and directors had refused to answer on oath. The bank, then, in my judgment, having declined legislative scrutiny, and withdrawn the finances from the inspection of Congress, first, by the refusal of the president and cashier, in whose legal custody the books were of right, to produce these books to the committee for examination, when demanded in the business-room of the bank: secondly, in the president and directors re
fusing, in a body, to produce certain books, because they were not in their custody, individually and severally refusing to be sworn: thirdly, in demanding specifications from the committee, when the only specification necessary, or which they could give, was the resolution of the House—I cannot, consistently with my judgment, make it the custodian of the public treasure. No man regretted its course more than I did, because I considered it a valuable public institution. But it has no dominion over me, politically or otherwise; and whilst I oppose, on the one hand, what I believe to be executive invasions of legislative rights, I will not, on the other, surrender them to a moneyed corporation. Having now, Mr. Speaker, stated why I did not vote for the resolution of the Senate, I shall proceed to state the reasons of my opposition to the bill making the State banks the depositories of the public money. The 16th section of the United States Bank charter, so fatally vague in its provisions, did not give to the Secretary of the Treasury absolute dominion over the public money. . He might direct that it should not be put in the bank; this was the extent of his power. The moment he did so, the law of ’89, still in full force, attached to it. The whole Treasury establishment is the creation of that law, and by its provisions the Treasurer is the keeper of the public moneys. He gives bond, with sureties, for their safe-keeping. The collectors of the customs and the receivers of money for the public lands, are directed to pay him, and to receive their acquittances from him. The money is directed to be paid out by him on warrants drawn upon him, as provided by law, and he is bound “at all times to submit to the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Comptroller, or either of them, the inspection of the money in his hands.” This law, in all its parts, has been continuing and unrepealed; and when the Secretary, under the 16th section of the charter, directed otherwise, that is, that the money should not be put into the bank, it of necessity went into the hands of the Treasurer, he being the only other custodian appointed by law. It is true that he might deposite it in any place for safety; but still he is responsible, for one of the conditions of his bond is “for the fidelity of the persons to be by him employed.” Gen. Hamilton, I admit, upon a question put to him by a committee of Congress, gave it as his opinion that, when the Treasurer deposited money in the State banks, they were first accountable to the Treasurer, and ultimately accountable to the United States. But highly as I respect his authority, I doubt whether the United States could maintain any suit upon a contract by its agent or officer, which was not authorized by law. The State banks, under such circumstances, are, in my opinion, the depositories of the Treasurer, accountable to him, and he and his sureties accountable to the United States. This gives the Government not only the security of the banks, but the assurrance of the increased diligence and watchfulness of the officers of the Government, arising from their ultimate accountability. I prefer this state of things to the provision of the bill reported by the Committee of Ways and Means. The executive authority voluntarily assumed this responsibility. I prefer holding them to it, until the great question between a fiscal agent of this Government, and the employment of State banks, shall be decided by the people, who must at last decide all such questions. There are other reasons why I cannot vote for the bill. A citizen of each State is also a citizen of the United States; and the laws of the Union, operating upon him in that character, are obligatory. When he is an officer of the Government, or its agent, you can punish him for official negligence or default. And as it respects the Bank of the United States, you can terminate its existence and control its action, when the public good requires it. But what are these State incorporations? The creatures
of State law alone. They owe and they bear you no allegiance. Pass statute upon statute, and you cannot bind them. Artificial beings, without bodies and without souls, and not of your creation, you cannot command them. Like the viewless spirits of the air in the olden time, they obey only the wand of their own master. Deriving their organic existence from the State law, they obey its dictates; and if any of you have examined the charters of the five hundred State banks, any of which your officer may contract with under this law, you have been more diligent than I. You can do nothing by a law of this kind, but remove a just responsibility from your officers, and take it, hoodwinked, upon yourselves. One salutary provision which runs through the provisions of the Treasury law of '89, is, that persons employed in the custody of the public money shall not, under the most severe penalties, deal in stock of the United States, or of the several States. The same prohibition exists in the charter of the United States Bank. The policy of this provision is obvious. It was to prevent the money of the Government from being employed in speculation upon public stocks. The persons having the control of the public purse might effectually, by various ways, depress those stocks, and then buy them up. One evil of this bill is, that this salutary principle in our policy will be entirely lost or obliterated; for you cannot prevent the State banks from doing any thing they are authorized to do by their charters. Many of them, I know from examination, are not prohibited from dealing in Government stocks. By enacting this bill into a law, you will establish an anomaly in the history of financial legislation. A Government, with an annual revenue of more than twenty millions, incapable of employing or using agents or officers of its own as the keepers and disbursers of it; resorting to creatures of other sovereignties by contract; for all that you can do is to authorize your officers to farm out your revenue by contract to the State banks. You might as well farm it to the Rothschilds; they are not more alien to your Government than State banks are. I would prefer the amendment proposed by the gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. Gonpox,] with all its practical inconvenience, in the present state of the currency, to this bill. But I prefer leaving things as they are for the present. Our time is now too short and hurried to do any thing of this magnitude wisely. The tone of excitement in these halls is unpropitious. I wait for calmer times and graver deliberation, when I hope the wisdom of Congress will devise a financial agent for the custody and disbursement of the public money, of its own creation, subject to its inspection and control. Before settling this great matter permanently, I hope there will be brought to its consideration less anxiety about who shall be President, and more concern for what is wise and just; and for the good of the republic—when our legislation shall have impressed upon its liberal and beneficent front, in characters shining like sapphire and gold, for our country, instead of for our party and our man. When Mr. Coulten had concluded, Mr. LANE obtained the floor, and said, Mr. Speaker: The few remaining days for the action of the House upon the numerous bills yet upon your table, admonishes me that no portion of that time should be devoted to preliminary observations. I shall, therefore, without preface or apology, submit to the House some of the reasons which induce me to support the bill under consideration. My opinions upon the general question, as expressed repeatedly to my constituents during the last canvass, remain unaltered. I thought then, and still think, that a United States Bank furnishes the readiest means for the collection, safe-keeping, and distribution of the revenue, and that its notes, discounts, and exchange agency, are important conveniences to the community. I
believe, also, that its influence in checking excessive is
sues by other banks, though sometimes arbitrarily and unequally exercised, had a happy effect upon our currency.
In as far at it is beneficial, it is of course desirable; but under the present organization these benefits are coupled
with evils, enough of which are already known to condemn—utterly condemn, the existing bank. As its agency was deemed essential in conducting the operations of the Government, I felt, in common with many others, a strong desire to reorganize it in such manner as, whilst it preserved its usefulness, would lop off the evils which experience had made manifest. The standard by which I measured the institution remains unchanged, and subsequent occurrences have only shown that the evils were more numerous than I supposed. Recent events have annihilated the hope that the bank, or any of its ultra supporters, will assent to any arrangement which will quiet the public mind and restore public confidence. Whatever may be their professions, their acts demonstrate that relief must come, not from them, but in spite of them. The last few months surnish an instructive and remarkable history. We have seen the bank, on the eve of its charter's expiration, building up a vast system of credits, on which were founded commercial transactions involving the trading interest of the whole country. We have seen a party rush to its standard, composed of individuals of every variety of political complexion. We may well suppose that a witching charm was needed to unite in harmonious co-operation such opposing elements.
“Black spirits and white, Blue spirits and gray,
Mingle, mingle, mingle, Ye that mingle may.”
vidual whose signature could be obtained to a memorial. Hence the countless devices to swell the list, and enrol on it all who could be prevailed upon to enlist in the new party. But the grand experiment of recruiting has failed. With a new name and new associates, they hoped to drown all memory of their former condition. But it will not do. The play has been played out, most injuriously to the people, and has failed of its effect. Enough has been done to please them with the delusion of hope. The penance is to follow. The masks are even now being torn off. And, however late the decision may come, it will rest heavily and darkly upon the memories of those who have dared to use the influence of elevated station and acknowledged abilities to create suffering among the people, as the means of perpetuating an institution, for political and selfish purposes. Even now, if I mistake not, there are some of the supporters of the bank who recoil from the course they have pursued, as its consequences unveil themselves. They were urged on in this crusade against the public interest, rather by their habitual party sympathies than by any preconceived interest to inflict suffering upon the country. They cannot fail to regard the arguments of their excited leaders, which im. pute this suffering to the removal of the deposites, as flimsy and almost wicked sophisms. For one, Mr. Speaker, my opinion as to the removal of the deposites has been formed since I entered this House. I did not express my opinions when it was before us for discussion, because I then thought it our duty to allay the public excitement by legislative action, rather than to irritate it by angry and useless discussion. I have always been, and hope I shall ever be, opposed to the unneces
Casting their political creeds into the cauldron, and lashing themselves into excitement, we have seen them turn from the business of legislation, and convert the halls of Congress into rostrums for the delivery of inflammatory harangues against that credit system whose excessive growth was the creation of their own artful management. They knew that the giddy superstructure was supported by public confidence alone; their cries were long and loud that public confidence was destroyed; and the groundless assertion was the father of the unhappy truth. The vehement clamors here acted on public opinion elsewhere, and public confidence and mutual credit were instantly shaken, and for a time even destroyed. With what purpose was this destruction attempted and consummated? The answer is inevitable. The excess of credits was created, to be destroyed. The people would suffer; but that very suffering was calculated upon as the means of forcing the people to support the bank. The same art that governed the preparations, directed the execution. A pretext was wanting for this ruinous attack upon the people. The removal of the deposites was seized upon; and the panic-makers exerted themselves to the utmost to cast upon the President the blame of that suffering which it had been their sole object to create and continue. Neither principal nor ally has flinched or faultered. . The approaching distress was announced in this Capitol with vehement exaggerations. The bank strain. ed every nerve, by breaking up the entire system of domestic exchanges, and by skilfully withdrawing its dis. count accommodations, to keep pace with the prophecy. Soon a faint echo arose to the cry of distress that had gone forth. Redoubled clamors, artfully supported by bank intrigues, shook public confidence, and distress spread like wildfire over the whole country. The vast fabric of credits, which the bank had built, was, by the bank and its political allies, pulled down upon the heads of the people. To this moment of confusion and suffering they had eagerly looked forward as the harvest of all their exertions. They fondly hoped to break up the great constitutional party, and to lure from its ranks every indi
sary exercise of even acknowledged power. In this coun|try, the very basis of all our institutions is, that power should be neither created nor exercised unless it is abso|lutely necessary. Does the constitution delegate more power to the Government than is required? I would curtail the excess. exercise in ordinary times is not essential? Let them rest. The broad and well-defined basis of society is the plainest test. All laws are restraints on individuals for the mutual or general good. A grant of power to the Government is a negation of power to individuals. Disguise it with what sophisms you may, there is no considerable advantage, power, privilege, that does not, in its exercise or operation, injuriously affect some members of the community. It is a universal law, and one whose strict observancs can alone preserve our Government from the certain pollution of too much power. At this period it is peculiarly important that we should keep this principle constantly before us. The filmy powers that scarcely held together the infant States, may strengthen and harden with the increase of numbers and wealth, into the bonds of despotism. I am ready to lend my humble aid to the eloquent gentleman from South Carolina, [Mr. McI) cry, E, in pruning the tree as it grows. On the general question of construction, my opinions agree very nearly with those so powerfully urged by that gentleman. I cannot repress the hope that I may have the pleasure of acting with him at some future day, when time shall have abated the violence of his prejudices and the vividness of his imagination. I concur fully in the opinion, that the powers possessed and exercised by the various Departments of the General Government, and especially by the Executive, are greater, much greater, than a sincere wisher for the permanency of our institutions would desire; and I wish to God the Daniel of our day (pointing towards the Senate,) would propose some plan to diminish its powers, yet preserve its efficiency and usefulness. I concur also in the reprobation that has been pronounced against corrupt and irresponsible authority; whether it be domiciled in the kitchen of the President or in the vaults of the bank, But
Are there any powers granted, whose .