ePub 版
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

of the United States as an alternative measure. This opens the whole question for discussion. The subject of a Bank of the United States is likely to continue to be a topic of paramount political interest. I do not object to its discussion, sir; for it involves not only questions of right and expediency, but also, in the opinion of a large portion of our fellow-citizens, the question of the perpetuity of our republican institutions, according to the spirit of their organization. It is consolatory to the friends of written constitutions and chartered rights, that, notwithstanding the authority of names and the weight of precedents, the same spirit which influenced Jefferson, and other sages and patriots, to resist the first United States Bank, as an encroachment upon the constitution, has survived them, and directs their disciples and followers in their efforts against its continuance at this day. Sir, there is not in the political history of this country a question of disputed political power, which time, or legislative authority by legislative enactment, has not settled, to some considerable extent, except the Bank of the United States. The renewal of the charter of the first Bank of the United States was denied by the casting vote of the Vice President, George Clinton, on the ground that Congress had not the power, by the constitution, to grant such a charter; and this decision, for a time, received the sanction of the public approbation. The re. newal of the existing charter of the Bank of the United States was denied in 1832, on constitutional grounds, by the veto of the President of the United States; and the people elected that President, and sent immediately thereafter to this House representatives who, by a solemn vote, and by a majority of fifty-three votes, have decided that the charter of the Bank of the United States ought not to be renewed. When, sir, is this conflict to cease? If the power to charter a bank was merely a doubtful power in the legal sense of the word, the weight which precedent always, in such cases, brings to the scale, would, long ere this, have given the determined prepon. derance on the side of the exercise of this power. But this is not a doubtful power. There is no warrant in the constitution for its exercise; and the repeated attempts to deduce it from other powers, expressly granted, have but served to show that the footholds of usurpation are on slippery places. The power to regulate the Territories and other prop. erty, the power to borrow money, the power of exclusive jurisdiction over certain localities, the power to levy and collect taxes, and the power to coin money and regulate the value thereof, have, every one of then, in succession, and at different times, been claimed as the main or principal power of which the bank was the inci. dental, creation. But, sir, its friends have changed its paternity go often, and it has become the child of so many fathers, that it is difficult even for them to determine which is its putative father, whilst its illegitimacy stands confessed. There is no one who will assert that the power to make a corporation, to confer exclusive privileges on individuals, is not an original substantive power. It is one of the highest prerogatives of sovereign power; and to contend that it can be exercised as an incident to other powers, to which, to say the least, it is coequal, is at once to confound and destroy the distinctions which would affix any limitations to the powers of this Government. Sir, the constitution contains an enumeration of the specific substantive powers conferred upon this Government; and so careful were the framers of that instrument that the true character of this Government should be known, that they annexed a prohibitory clause, restraining it from the exer. cise of all powers not therein specifically granted. The power to grant a bank is not among the enumerated powers; it cannot be found in the instrument. The assertion that we frequently hear, that a bank is constitutional because it is necessary, involves an abandonment of the

written guide, to follow the erring dictates of our own poor fallible judgment. Our Government is the first experiment of a written constitution, and, upon its fate depends the fate of republican institutions here and else. where, now and for ever. We have, then, the highest motives to impel us to a watchful guardianship of its provisions. Sir, if the power in this Government to make a bank is doubtful, the safe course, the course which patriotism would dictate, would be to forbear to exercise the power. Sir, if this bank were constitutional, I would oppose it still. I would oppose it because it has entirely ailed to accomplish the object for which it was designed. In order to ascertain the evil then existing, and the remedy proposed, let us recur to the history of the times when this bank was chartered. I will read a short extract from President Madison’s message, advising Congress to charter the present bank; if advice it may be called. “The absence of the precious metals will, it is believed, be a temporary evil; but, until they can be again rendered the general medium of exchange, it devolves on the wisdom of Congress to provide a substitute which shall equally engage the confidence and accommodate the wants of the citizens throughout the Union. If the operation of the State banks cannot produce this result, the probable operation of a national bank will merit consideration.” The committee on currency, to whom this message was referred, and who reported the bill which afterwards be: came a law chartering the present bank, reported that they “had determined that a national bank is the most certain means of restoring to the nation a specie circula: tion.” In these extracts we have it asserted that the evil was the absence of the precious metals, and that the bank was designed to afford a temporary substitute until their return; to regulate the then existing currency, and be the most certain means of restoring to this nation a specie circulation. I put the question, sir, to every friend as well as to every foe of that institution, has it not been most eminently instrumental in defeating the very object it was designed to accomplish? Has it not almost entirely driven specie from the circulation? Has it not brought in, under its influence and management, a paper credit currency, not the representative of but the substitute for specie? In the very nature of things, the more successful the bank has been, as a bank, the more injurious has it been to the currency; for its efficiency in expelling specie has increased in proportion to its ability to supply the substitute. Sir, I do not pretend that I can give an opinion on these matters, squared or rounded by the technical rules of the science of political economy, but there are a few thoughts which have suggested themselves to my mind, the expression of which I will risk, although they may seem to come in collision with received opinions. No Bank of the United States can regulate the currency. On the contrary, its inevitable tendency must be to vitiate and destroy the currency. Money is the common standard of value; and its essential quality is, that it possesses intrinsically the same value that it possesses as currency. Gold, silver, and copper coins, are the money of this country, and are the legal currency. The actual currency is bank paper, and a small portion of coin. I do not pretend to say that bank paper, under proper restrictions and limitations, would not afford a safe and convenient currency. But I do say that the fact of its being either safe or convenient depends upon its being, to some considerable extent, the representative of specie. As it has lately been, the vast disproportion between specie and paper currency, (being as one to ten,) negatives the idea of the pa. per currency being the representative of the metallic cur. rency. Sir, it may be the representative of property; and as such, during times of general prosperity and credit,

may answer all the purposes of money. But the very

Juse 24, 1834.]

moment credit fails, that currency fails--for it loses the
only quality that gave it currency--credit. Like a false
friend, in the hour of prosperity it is ready to meet every
want, and to supply every demand, and to administer to
our pride by its flattering accommodations. But when
the hour of adversity comes, it is gone—it is concealed in
the banker's counter, and neither persuasion nor entreaty
can draw it forth from its hiding place.
Such, sir, is the currency we now have, under the
boasted regulating influence of the United States Bank.
That this statement of its effects is true, no one will deny
who has watched the history of events for four months
p A bank cannot regulate banks—a universal paper me.
dium of exchange cannot regulate or give pecuniary value
to local bank paper; this office belongs to money alone,
and cannot be transferred. The currency afforded by
the Bank of the United States is at best representative;
and to assign to it the office of regulating local bank paper
would be to make the latter not the representative of
money, but the representative of a representative.
The agency of the United States Bank in producing the
vast disproportion between the paper and specie portions
of the currency, is admitted by its friends. The bill in-
troduced into the other branch of the Legislature by a
distinguished friend of the bank, [Mr. Wensten,) contains

[merged small][ocr errors]

them his opinions respecting any agent of Government. And every citizen has a full and perfect right to canvass, to adopt or reject those opinions, and combine his efforts with other citizens of similar opinions, to displace from or continue in power the functionary expressing those opinions. But when it is asked to extend this privilege to the bank, we have a right to say that it must first have the elective franchise extended to it. I deny, sir, and I trust I shall for ever deny, that a mere servant, a creature of the Government, is entitled to participate in the exercise of the high moral and political functions which belong to the citizen, the sovereign citizen alone. When this people want instructions how to discharge their political duties, I trust they will seek them from some other source than the bank, and that, as freemen justly appreciating and justly jealous of their rights, they will spurn every attempt to enlighten their minds from such a quarter, even at the expense of $80,000. Gloss this matter over as you will, the conduct of the bank is indefensible. Neither palliation nor extenuation can destroy the sufficiency of this evidence against the integrity of the bank. If the Congress which granted the bank charter had been assured that, within the time limited for its existence, it would have expended $80,000 in one year, in illuminating the darkened minds of this benighted community, with a view to its recharter, I ask, sir, every member who has

amendments involving this admission. The project of read the debates of that day, whether a single vote would another distinguished Senator, the author of the present have been given in its favor. Its rejection, sir, would bank charter, [Mr. CALHoux,] I understand to be to con- have been unanimous—and yet, sir, the deed having been tinue the present bank, as an admitted evil, to cure the done, there are honorable members in this House who evils of currency of its own creation, the same way that are willing to excuse—-nay, to justify it. Either, sir, the fire is employed to extract a burn, and ice to extract tone of moral feeling in this nation must have undergone a frost. I propose a different remedy. . It is to restore change, or crime is far more odious in the prospective money to its proper office. Let the United States Bank than in the commission. cease; let gold and silver take the place now attempted to The assertion has been made that prejudice prevails, be held by the bank in regulating the currency; and let and opposition is easily excited among the people against the States restrain their banks from issuing notes of a less the bank. I rejoice, sir, for one, that it is so. When denomination than five dollars, and we shall soon have a this people can see an institution like the bank expending safe and sound currency, in place of the present base and its thousands of dollars in the purchase of opinions, of ignoble currency. - presses, and of men, and not be aroused to a proper sense Sir, had this bank been usesul for the purposes for of the danger that surrounds them, the lethargy of death which it was created, I would still oppose its recharter. I is upon them. When I hear that the people of the would oppose it for its bribery, for its corruptions, and United States listen with indifference to the recital of the

for its general immoral tendencies. The bank has been convicted of expending large sums of money for political purposes. The large amounts expended in printing and distributing speeches of a political character, its friends admit and justify. Other large sums proved to be expended in changing the political opinions of editors of newspapers in New York, Philadelphia, and other places, and turning them from being enemies, loud and bitter in their denunciations of its overwhelming corruptions, to friends, clamorous in its praise, are passed over in silence. The expenditure of $80,000, avowedly for the purpose of putting those in power who were friendly to a renewal of its charter, by expelling those who doubted its utility or its purity, has been attempted to be justified on this floor; yes, sir, on the floor of the American Congress. The bank, sir, has no right to be a party to this controversy. A large portion, perhaps a majority, of the people of the United States, believe it to be of unconstitutional creation.

The remaining portion believe that the power to create it is not among the original powers granted to Congress; but that Congress, believing it to be necessary as an inatrument to carry into effect other powers expressly granted, have constructively, from the necessity of the thing, the power to charter the bank as such governmental instrument, and not otherwise. Admitting, then, that the bank has a legal existence, it is exclusively as the agent of the Government that it has such existence. The President of the United States, as the organ of the Government and the constitutional organ of the whole

people, has the right, and it is his duty, to declare to

corruptions of the bank, of its arrogant pretensions, of its contempt of the authority of this House, and its contumeli

ous treatment of the President and other officers of Govern

ment; when I hear this, sir, then shall I also be prepared to
hear the clanking of chains worn by those who once were
Sir, my regret is, not that the people have shown them-
selves too sensitive at this bold attack upon their liberties,
but it is that we are not unanimous in its condemnation.
The sins of this institution have grown up before us
mountain high, and instead of being united as one man to
drive the monster from its abiding place in this fair heritage
of liberty, we are divided into parties respecting it. Yes,
sir, and it is with no pleasure that I repeat it, it has its dis-
ciples, its retainers, its partisans and followers, who are
not only ready to proclaim its infallibility, but also to sing
hosannas in its praise. The chosen people of this age,
like the chosen people of antiquity, seem to have a fatal
predisposition to idolatry. But, sir, there is consolation
in the truth that there is a multitude of free citizens who
have not bowed the knee to Baal, and are willing and
waiting to destroy the temple of his habitation., And I
rejoice, sir, that there are those in this House who have
voted favorably to the bank the present session who are
sufficiently alive to their rights as citizens and members
of this House, to denounce it now for its late contempt of
the authority of this House.
I have no disposition, at this stage of the debate, to
enumerate, much less to discuss, the many powerful ob-
jections that have been urged against the expediency of

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

rechartering the United States Bank. Most of those objections have been already argued before the proper tribumal, at the last presidential election, and decided upon. But, sir, there is a topic of subsequent and recent origin, which, in my humble opinion, has an important bearing on the question of the renewal of the charter. I allude, sir, to the late embarrassed state of the currency. It is of the last importance that the cause of the late deranged state of the currency, and consequent prostration of credit, should be known. In the midst of profound peace, and the most extended general prosperity; at a time when the three great departments of social industry, agriculture, commerce and manufactures, were flourishing almost beyond a parallel; when the balances of trade and exchange were in our country's favor; when we had met with no accident “by field or flood,” creating a diminution of that capital which is the basis of our currency; at such a time, and under such circumstances, we found credit broken down and destroyed, and distress and ruin following. I repeat, sir, the important inquiry is, what was the cause of this calamity? I believe, sir, that none of the friends of the bank in this House have so far risked their reputation for common sense as to assert that it was a consequence legitimately or directly flowing from the act of the removal of the deposites; on the contrary, with candor that is creditable to them, they have repeatedly admitted, on this floor, that the removal of eight millions of dollars from their deposite one side of Chesnut street to the other, could not affect the currency or produce any sensible change in the money system of the country. The allegation is, that the removal of the deposites was indicative of the determination of the administration to destroy the bank; and that the public credit was shaken, not from any immediate consequence of the removal, or from any anticipated ultimate effect of that measure; but, sir, from the fact that it was evidence of the disposition of Government not to permit the charter to be renewed. I rejoice, sir, that all the arguments that have been introduced against the removal and in favor of the restoration of the deposites, in the connexion of these measures with the prevailing distress, have had reference to the question of the renewal of the charter solely, and thus presenting the true question of bank or no bank. I am, nevertheless, constrained to say, from all the lights shed upon this subject, that those arguments are more pertinent to the true issue than weighty to establish the issue on the part of those advancing them. It is a fair argument that no real cause existed, independent of the bank, for this failure of credit, when it is asserted that this failure has been caused by the prospective destruction of the bank, to which the removal of the deposites is supposed to be the prelude. The argument is, that, although the removal of the deposites did not lessen the amount of the capital, which is the basis of the issues forming the currency of the country, and therefore was not, in itself, the necessary cause of the curtailment of those issues—yet, in the midst of the most extended commercial prosperity, there is a general disruption of currency and of credit, arising from an event which strongly proves that the charter of the bank will not be renewed. I deny, sir, that it is possible, in the midst of such prosperity, in the absence of real causes, to create a panic, that is to be at once the cause and the effect of its own existence. Our people are too wise to believe that their fate is indissolubly interwoven with that of the bank, and too prudent to borrow trouble in advance. I repeat, sir, that when the friends of the bank assign as cause for the prevailing distress that which is wholly insufficient, it is strong presumptive proof that the fault is with the bank. But we have also other proof; the bank has lessened its discounts—its millions here, and its million at this branch and at that, and where it was most necessary to have its power felt. . The screws of that institution are not only

powersul, but the chief engineer who turns those screws understands thoroughly the time and place for their most effective application. To this real existing cause, and that of cash duties paid under the new revenue laws, add the unfounded alarm that has been created, and we have the true causes of the hardness of the times. This unfounded alarm was also chiefly the work of the bank. In proof of this assertion, I have only to point to the individuals who are most industriously engaged in sounding the trumpet of alarm in the Atlantic cities. Who are they, sir? The detected purchased instruments of 1832. The bribed agents of the bank. I have no disposition, in an argument, to call hard names; neither do I feel a disposition to call things by any other than their right names; and I do, therefore, repeat, they are the bribed agents of the bank who have raised the cry of distress. Look to New York, and who are they that decried the State banks, and labored assiduously and insidiously to destroy their credit, the local, the general credit? They are those, sir, who have been proved to have “the facility” of conversion from one faith to another in the twinkling of an eye, under the influence of the “facilities” furnished from the breeches pocket of Nicholas Biddle. This House has contributed, in some degree, in increasing and extending the alarm; and it may not be uninteresting to take a short review of our proceedings, in their connexion with this subject. At the commencement of the present session of Congress, we were told, from a certain quarter of this House, that action, immediate action, was indispensably necessary to the welfare of our country. So urgent was the necessity for action, that this matter could not even brook the ordinary delay of being sent to one of the standing committtees of this House. I came here, sir, at the commencement of this session, a novice in legislation; and, I must say that I have increased in the knowledge of legislation, if not in legislative wisdom. I have seen gentlemen, when this question was first broached, more than six months ago, rise up in their places and portray, in living colors, the ruin and distress that would follow a delay of the settlement of this question. They even deprecated discussion, and urged the necessity of settling the question in some way, and it was not very material in which, to avoid the panic that its agitation was calculated to produce. I have, sir, seen those very gentlemen who cried the longest and loudest, as “the harbingers of ill and the prophets of wo,” the most conspicious instruments in the verification of their own predictions. The cry was “peace! peace! when there was no peace.” In the simplicity of our hearts, we listened to their admonitions, and took counsel from their warnings; and many of us gave an earnest of our belief in their sincerity, by twice voting to sustain the proceeding provided by the rules of this House to bring discussions to a close—the previous question. We failed in sustaining that measure, and we failed through the votes of those who told us that our country’s salvation depended upon our doing as we did. They, sir, pointed out the way for us to rescue our country; and then, from patriotic motives, no doubt, took the opposite direction. That is not all— we were denounced for following the course indicated by themselves; and a gentleman before me lectured us in good round set phrase for so doing; and thanked his God, in a vein of piety which I trust is usual to him, that that which he was pleased to denominate a gag-law was not sustained by this House! The result has been, that “agitation, agitation,” has been the standing and special order of the day in both Houses of Congress, since the commencement of the session; and the bank has had ample room to give this people the practical demonstration of its power. Blind, indeed, sir, must be the eyes that do not now see a power among us, which, although it may be of legislative creation, has become a foreigner, an alien enemy, in our midst; which has placed itself in hostile attitude

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

against this Government, exercising belligerent rights af. ter the manner of a nation, against the sources of the wealth of this country; issuing its Berlin and Milan, its Chesnut and Wall street decrees, and imposing its embargo upon the commerce of the country—in retaliation; no, sir, that is not the word—in stern self-defence, against the assualts and the insults of Government! Where, sir, are the champions of freedom, whose voices were wont to fill this hall, and make it resound with the inspirations of their eloquence, when the least encroachment was attempted or made against those inestimable rights upon which our glorious Revolution was predicated? Who, heretofore, could" snuff the vicious principle in the tainted breeze, and denounce, eloquently denounce, its least approach? Where are they, sir, when this political monster has boldly walked forth, and proclaimed itself the avenger of its own wrongs; warring against and prostrating the industry of the country; drying up the sources of its wealth, and insolently demanding its renewed existence as the price of its forbearance? Where are those voices, sir? They are silent; or what is infinitely worse, lifted loud in exultation that the President has, at length, found an enemy, whose “towering adamantine strength” is sufficient to grapple with him; an enemy which holds in defiance “the principalities and powers” ordained by this people for their preservation. Sir, when I came here to discharge the duties of a member of this House, about two months after the removal of the deposites, I passed through the three principal Atlantic cities, New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, and every thing indicated prosperity. There was no distress, no panic, no forebodings of evil, to cast its gloom over the fair face of commercial industry; all was bright and happy. I came here and I heard in these halls that, in those cities, all was gloom and despondency, and from that time forth groans of distress were daily issued from this place. Editors of newspapers in New York advised every man who had a bill on a local bank to present it for payment. The grand preconcerted scheme of panic at length succeeded. , Sir, as evidence of the truth of what I have now stated, I will mention that I carried with me to this place bills of the Montgomery County Bank, (the county which I represent,) in the interior of the štate of New York, and for more than a month after my arrival here I passed them without any question being asked; but, sir, so soon as the, scheme of panic and distress began to operate, the bills of the best banks in the city of New York were discredited and could not be passed. , Sir, if all this had been occasioned by the re. moval of the deposites, the effect would have followed the cause. The effect, sir, in this instance, as in all others, did follow the proper cause, and what that is I have already stated. I shall pursue this subject no further. The day of passion will soon have passed away, and the madness of party will soon have subsided. The veil of deception, which aspiring men have thrown around this matter, will then have been removed. Sir, how can they then hold up their faces in the presence of an insulted community? will it be any apology that these men were in the pursuit of objects of personal ambition? Will their miserable scramblings for office constitute an atonement for the distress they brought upon their fellow-citizens? No, sir, it will be the just cause of their condemnation. The country is again prospering, but this prosperity is to them as the light, they cannot bear it, for they prefer darkness rather than light. When Mr. McVEAN had finished, Mr. DUNCAN rose to support his amendment with great reluctance, at a moment when members were preparing for their journeys home, and was more embarrassed, as it was apparent to him, from many circumstan

ces, that a majority of Congress was not disposed, at this

late period of the session, to consider any plan for the permanent regulation of the currency. He inferred this from the impatience evinced, and the inattention to the several speeches just made, and the fact that several gentlemen who were in favor of, and intended originally to support, his amendment, had shown a disposition to-day in their speeches to support or to permit the passage of the bill reported by the Committee of Ways and Means, and to sustain the policy, or experiment, as it was called, of employing the State banks as the fiscal agents of the Government. He knew that there were, after to-day, but three days more on which bills of this House could be acted on, and that it was almost impossible to mature a plan for the settlement of this great question; but he felt bound to submit, and give an explanation, which, he said, should be very brief, of his plan of a national bank, which, although it was a renewal of the old charter, contained such modifications, limitations, and changes in the stockholders, that it might almost be considered a new corporation. He had retained all the features of the present institution which had attained character for usefulness and credit, and placed such guards around it as would, according to his view, effectually prevent all the mischief and evils which its opponents appear to dread from it, and about which so much clamor had been made; but whether justly or not, he would not pretend to say, nor did he care. He had seen conduct on the part of the bank directors, although it might have been, and probably was, without any improper design upon their part, which had met his disapprobation, and he had never failed to express it. He was governed by no feelings either favorable or unfavorable to the present bank or its directors, in bringing forward this bill; he had no personal acquaintance with any of them; he did not owe the bank; he had not a cent of interest in it; nor was any one of his friends, so far as he knew, in the slightest degree interested in it. He could not be charged with having any political object in view in introducing his amendment; he believed every member of the House would acquit him of such a charge; he was governed by no such motives; his object was now, as it had been on all occasions, when called upon to act in that House, to do the best for his constituents and country, according to his judgment, without reference to party. He had taken part, it was true, in some of the political struggles in the country, and would probably do so again, but his conduct, as a Representative, never had been, and never should be, governed by any such considerations. He cared less for who was in power than for the manner in which it was used by those in whose hands it was placed; he had never asked or received a favor of the Government, and never would while he was honored with a seat in Congress, He was opposed to any plan making the State or local banks the treasury of the nation; it could answer no good purpose. The million and a half of dollars of broken local bank notes now lying useless in the treasury, with the numerous banks which are daily breaking or stopping payment, had taught him that they were unsafe, and experience convinced him they were wholly incompetent to answer the purposes of Government as fiscal agents; but, admitting them to be safe, who does not know that they cannot furnish a sound and uniform currency? He was alarmed at the array of local banks springing into existence in several of the States last winter, after the removal of the deposites, and when the downfall of the United States Bank was considered probable. It reminded him of the host of spurious banks which rose up, like mushrooms, in a night, after the winding up of the old Bank of the United States. From 1812 to 1818, he said, the country was literally inundated with their paper, until the best judges of that day could not tell a good note from a

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

bad one, or whether the bank had a location in fact or unrivalled credit all over the world; and the difference only in the imagination, as very many of them were the between the four per cent, stock to be subscribed by each

production of speculators on the public credulity. Hundreds, nay, thousands of poor men were swindled, and suffered much then from the dreadful derangement of the currency, and he was greatly surprised, after so much experience, and with such an example before us, to see so large a party in this country, and in that House, disposed to place the currency in the same fearful situation. He knew the evils too well to give such a measure any support. But, sir, said Mr. D., if the United States Bank is put down, the embarrassment to the West will be twofold. Pheir sales of produce are made in the South, at New Orleans, where specie, which is too cumbersome to carry, or the local currency, must be taken in payment, and their purchases are made in the North. Thus subjected to a double discount upon their money, it must fall heavily upon the products of the country. But this is not all. The large cities contain all or nearly all the capital employed in carrying on commerce, and they will receive no note of the West except at a very heavy discount. This was the case in the days of unsound currency previously mentioned, and would certainly be the case again. But, sir, said Mr. D., the evil does not stop here. While there is no uniformity or confidence in the currency, people can neither travel nor emigrate to the West. No man will venture to sell his property in one of the old States for local bank notes, and start to the West, uncertain how soon the bank would break, or being certain, as he would be, that he must change his money with a broker at the line of each State through which he was to pass. Such a condition of affairs must retard the settlement and improvement of all the new States again, as it did from 1819 to 1826, a period of the greatest embarrassment he ever knew, and which was occasioned by the previous deranged state of the currency. The general confusion which, in his opinion, would certainly grow out of the proposed destruction of the United States Bank, presented to his mind a fearful picture of the future condition of the country. Mr. D. regretted that the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means had not called up his bill at an earlier day, so that more time might have been given to consider his amendment, or to mature some plan for a national bank; for he believed this to be the most favorable time that ever would occur for the settlement of such a ques. tion. He said some such measure as his was necessary to give relief to the country from the pressure now felt, and which must, in his opinion, inevitably increase, if the present bank should be compelled to wind up and collect in its fifty-four millions of dollars of outstanding debts. No new bank, he said, can be created until after March, 1836, and, of course, more than two years must elapse be. fore a substitute can be put into operation. This was one of the reasons why he preferred to recharter, under proper restrictions, the present bank; but this was far from being the only one: his bill proposed to distribute nearly two-thirds of the stock among the States, and he knew, by observation, that the high credit of this bank would se. cure to the stockholders a larger dividend and more certain profit upon their capital, than any new bank, with a prudent charter, could possibly do; and, by making the States interested, additional stability and character would be given to this institution. This bank was in full and successful operation, and generally under the direction of able and experienced financiers, and was managed by well-tried, efficient, and faithful officers. It had gone through the trial which most banks experience in commencing business; it had regained its losses, which were very great at first, for

want of experience in the officers, and had established an

State and the seven per cent. of dividend, would add to the funds of his own and all the other States, in place of filling the coffers of the individual capitalist. Mr. D. said it was urged as an objection that it had interfered in elections; if so, such conduct met his most decided dis. approbation, and he had endeavored, by a provision in his amendment, to guard effectually against the exercise of such a power in future. Another objection which had been urged was, that this bank was a dangerous monopoly, tending to create distinctions in the country by concentrating wealth in the hands of a few men. In this objection he fully concurred, and had effectually guarded against it in his bill by giving most of the stock to the States, so that every citizen, however poor, would participate in its benefits. Another objection, he said, which had been urged against the recharter of the present institution, was the charge made by the committee appoint ed by the House of Iłepresentatives to investigate their affairs, that the bank directors had disregarded the authority of Congress, and had refused to permit the committee to have the use of their books, or to make such an investigation as they wished. He felt no disposition to enter into an investigation of the dispute or contest about the technical distinctions between the committee of Congress and the bank directors. He was of opinion that Congress should have the most unlimited power to investigate all the books, accounts, and official acts of the bank and its offcers, and had gndeavored, by a provision in his amendment, to secure that right in the fullest extent, and punish any officer or director of the bank who should oppose such an investigation. But, sir, said Mr. D., suppose all the dangers to exist, and the abuses, as alleged, to be true, was this an argument against the value and importance of the bank? What created being or institution, he asked, had ever existed, that was capable of doing much good, that was not also capable of doing great harm? Was it not the persons selected for the management of the bank, and not the bank itself, that had given such offence? If its officers had acted improperly, they could be displaced; it was to his mind no argument against any institution, and especially to one that had performed so many important services for the Government—an institution which was in fact the treasury, and the best possible treasury that could be established--an institution which kept the public money safely, paid it out on the order of the Treasurer, without risk or charge, at any point required; which had paid a bonus to the United States of one million five hundred thousand dollars, and by his bill was to pay two millions more for the use of the public deposites and the benefits of the charter. He asked, has it not done more than all this for the country, in surnishing the best currency in the world, better than gold or silver, for all commercial purposes, its notes being preferred in most cases, and especially in large sums, to either? Had it not extended the commerce of the country beyond all conception, by furnishing the means of carrying on and enlarging trade? Built our steamboats, which, in proportion as they gave facility and cheapness of transportation, had increased the value of the products in the West? He would not say that all of the prosperity which had recently spread over and blessed every portion of the great valley of the West was owing to the means furnished by this bank for the improvement of the country and carrying on commerce, or to the uniform and sound currency it had supplied; but much, very much, of it was. But, sir, said Mr. D., if the alleged misconduct of some few of the officers be a sound argument against the bank itself, why not apply the same to the other departments of Government? Does any one seriously think of abolishing the Post Office Department, in consequence of the

« 上一頁繼續 »