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ulated by the banks, and avowed bis belief, tbat all the government could do, or was designed to do, was to take care of itself; and that it could not be expected to legislate with reference to the monetary affairs of the people. The most important recommendation which Mr. Van Buren made, was, that the government should for the future keep its money in its own hands, by the instrumentality of the scheme of a subtreasury, or, as it was called by its supporters, the independent treasury; so that there should be an entire and total separation of the business and funds of the government from those of the banks.
The finance committee of the Senate presented four bills; one, for suspending the payment of the fourth instalment of the surplus revenue to the states; a second, for authorizing the issue of treasury notes equal to any deficiency which might be felt in the treasury, with an addition of $4,000,000, by way of reserve ; another, for the extension of the indulgence in the payment of revenue bonds; and a fourth, for the organization of the sub-treasury system.
This last proposal caused no little excitement, both in and out of Congress, for it was looked upon as a direct assault upon the entire credit system, and a scheme to destroy all the banks. Yet it passed the Senate by a vote of twenty-six to twenty; but in the House, it was lost by a vote of a hundred and twenty to a hundred and seven. Other matters were debated, but nothing of moment was done, except authorizing the issue of $10,000,000 in treasury VouUI.—52
notes, for the immediate wants of the government. The session closed very unsatisfactorily, on the 16th of October.
On the 4th of December, Congress again assembled, and the president sent in his first annual message. It contained various matters of public interest and concern; but, as was to be expected, the chief matter which came under discussion, was the sub-treasury scheme. Mr. Calhoun, in the Senate, supported the views of the administration, while on the other hand, Mr. Clay and Mr. Webster exerted their great powers against the plan proposed for a treasury bank. In the progress of the debate the bill was considerably modified, and a clause prohibiting the receipt of bankpaper in payment of government dues was struck out; and thus amended, it passed the Senate, in June, by the scanty majority of twentyseven against twenty-five. No sooner, however, was it presented in the House, than it was met by a motion to lay it on the table, which in the end prevailed, by a vote of a hundred and twentyfive to a hundred and eleven.
Among the acts of the session, we may note here; the granting pre-emption rights to actual settlers; establishing the territory of Iowa; authorizing several works for internal improvements, in the way of light-boats and beacons, the navigating of certain rivers in Florida, and the like; appropriating money for suppressing Indian hostilities; authorizing the printing the Madison papers; etc. The establishment of a national bank was suggested, but not so as to bring on a debate concerning it. And the following resolution, respecting the specie circular, passed the Senate, by a Tote of thirty-four to nine, and the other House, by a hundred and fifty-one to twenty-seven:—"JResolved, That it shall not be lawful for the secretary of the treasury to make, or continue in force, any general order which shall create any difference between the different branches of revenue, as to the money or medium of payment in which debts or dues accruing to the United States may be paid."
The Florida war was still in progress, and proved a source of great trouble and almost incredible expense. The removal of the Indians was a settled measure, (p. 380,) and when they proved reluctant, collisions naturally followed. The war with the Seminoles, began in December, 1835, and lasted for five years. Some of the ablest men in the army were sent against them, as Scott, Jessup, Taylor, Worth, and others; but led on by such chiefs as Osceola, Jumper, and Tiger-Tail, and with a country abounding in swamps and marshes, extensively fatal to the whites, they resisted every attempt to subdue them. No treaty stipulations were regarded by them, and they seized every occasion to inflict severe blows upon the | Americans. More than once they reI pulsed with great loss superior numbers. In July, 1836, General Jessup officially announced the war at an end, yet next season it was carried on as actively as ever. In March, 1837, the same general proceeded so far as to negotiate a treaty, which stipulated that all hostilities were to cease, and that by the 10th of April, all the Indians were to be at Tampa, with their fami
lies, ready to be transported to their new country. But the treaty was not fulfilled, and the war went on. The capture of Osceola, and his death in January, 1838, did not terminate hostilities. In May, 1839, the chiefs agreed to retire below Pease Creek, in Florida, removal being impossible; but in the following July, the Indians broke the treaty, and the war began afresh. Bloodhounds were obtained, at considerable cost, from Cuba, to the disgust of civilized men, every where; but they proved of no avail in hunting Indians. The United States had under arms nearly nine thousand men, and the cost of the war exceeded considerably $15,000,000. It was not till the year 1842, that an entire cessation of troubles in Florida took place *
In the Senate, Mr. Preston, of South Carolina, introduced resolutions in favor of the annexation of Texas, but they did not receive much attention at the time. The independence of the Texian republic had been recognized in the last year of Jackson's administration, (see p. 402,) and it was the earnest desire of the inhabitants of Texas, as well as of many in the United States^that it should be added to the Union. On the 9th of July, 1838, the twenty-fifth Congress closed its second session.f
An attempt at revolutionizing Can
* For the particulars in relation to this war, we must refer the reader to Captain J. T. Sprague's "Origin, Progress, and, Conclusion of the Florida War." New York, 1848. Pp. 557.
t The United States exploring expedition to the South Seas, under Lieutenant Wilkes, with six vessels and a corps of scientific assistants, set sail in August, 183a
ada was made in the latter part of 1837, and quite a number of the citizens of the United States sympathized with the movement, and were ready to give it assistance. Mackenzie in Upper, and Papineau in Lower Canada, were the active spirits in this revolt, and various bodies of Americans joined the rebels, so that it speedily became evident, that collision would ere long take place, in which our country's faith and honor were involved. A party of Americans, some seven hundred strong, under Van Rensselaer of Albany, took possession of Navy Island, in the Niagara River, about two miles above the falls. Colonel M'Nab, with a body of militia, was posted opposite this island, with instructions to watch the insurgents, and not to violate the American territory. Finding that most of the supplies for the island were conveyed by a small steamer, named the "Caroline," from a landing-place on the American side, called Fort Schlosser, M?Nab despatched some of his militia in boats, to take or destroy her. This they accomplished in the middle of the night of the 29th of December, after a short but desperate struggle, in which they killed or drove out of the vessel all the crew, and having set it on fire, let it drift down the rapids and over the Falls of Niagara. But the act, however to be regarded in itself, having been committed on American territory, caused no little excitement in the United States.
On the 3th of January, 1838, the president issued a proclamation against all persons engaged in such unlawful Bchemes as the invasion of Canada, and
exhorted them to abandon their designs or expect to suffer the consequences. General Scott was sent to the frontier to assume command, and the insurgents, on the 14th of January, evacuated Navy Island, giving up the ^rms, cannon, stores, etc. Van Rensselaer was arrested, but released on bail.
Other attempts, however, of a similar character, were made at Detroit, Sandusky Bay, and the north-eastern end of Lake Ontario. Various acts of outrage were committed during the year. In November, an attempt was made to take Prescott, in Upper Canada, but failed, and about a hundred and fifty American citizens were captured and taken to Kingston, to be tried by court martial. The British authorities dealt more leniently with them than they deserved, the greater portion of them being pardoned, a very few suffering death.
The concluding session of the twenty-fifth Congress began on the 3d of December, 1838. Few acts, however, of general interest were passed. The Seminole war required new appropriations, and it was found that the expenses far exceeded any previous calculation on the subject. An act was passed abolishing imprisonment for debt in certain cases; and a sharp discussion took place upon a series of resolutions, forbidding the introduction of the slavery question into Congress. The public lands question was again discussed, as also were propositions for abolishing the salt tax and the fishing bounties. Difficulties respecting the much vexed topic of the northeastern boundary seeming to require it, the president had additional powers given him for the defence of the United States. On the 3d of March, 1839, this Congress expired.
ATTEMPTED REVOLUTION IN CANADA.
The president's course not having been such as to please many of those who were members of the democratic party, the elections began to show a falling off, as respected the administration, and an increased efficiency on the part of the opposition. Vigorous efforts weie made on both sides to obtain the majority in Congress, and the result showed, that the democrats
had a small majority of members elect, leaving out of view the five or six New Jersey members, whose seats were contested. This question could not but excite much interest in view of the final settlement of it. But there was another, growing out of the alarm and distress still existing in regard to the currency,* which was awaiting the meeting of Congress, from whom some relief was earnestly looked for.
The twenty-sixth Congress assembled on the 2d of December, 1839; when, in the House, a not very creditable dispute arose, and was protracted for three
* The New York banks resumed specie payments on the 16th of May, 183& In March of this year, Mr. Biddle resigned the presidency of the United States Bank of Pennsylvania, which soon after fell into difficulties. On the 0 th of October, it suspended specie payments, and its example was followed by the banks south and west of New York, and by those of Rhode Island. Mr. Gallatin, in reviewing the disasters of this time of embarrassment, justly says: "There was a universal disregard of all considerations of prudence on the part of the managers of banks, as regarded the safety and interests of the shareholders, and of the public as recipients and holders of their issues, and of the business community generally, as interested in having the circulating medium of the country maintained in that staple and sound condition so essential to their prosperity."
weeks, as to the right to seats of the New Jersey members. These five gentlemen were whigs, and had certificates of their election under the seal of the state; but it was contended, that they were not elected by majorities of the votes, and so were not duly entitled to seats. On the 16th of December, R. M. T. Hunter was elected speaker, and the House was organized on the 21st. The president's message was received on the 24th. The committee in charge of the New Jersey question made a report in July, 1840, which gave rise to an angry debate. The whigs refused to vote; but the question was decided by the rest of the House in favor of the' democratic claimants, which gave the administration a majority, though too late in the session to be of any service.
Early in December, 1839, a whig convention was held at Harrisburg, in Pennsylvania, to select candidates for the coming presidential election. Three names were laid before the convention, Henry Clay, General Harrison, and General Winfield Scott. Daniel Webster had withdrawn from the contest Appearances at first were all in favor of Mr. Clay, who received a majority of votes (both by heads and by states,) over each of the other candidates, but not a majority of the votes of the convention. But after conferences, public and private, and various ballotings, by a final ballot the post of honor was given to General Harrison, who received a hundred and forty-eight votes, while Clay had but ninety, and Scott sixteen. John Tyler, whom we have seen a candidate for the vice-presCh. m.]
idency at the last preceding election, was unanimously adopted by the convention for the same honor again.
The democratic convention met at Baltimore, on the 5th of May, 1840, and re-nominated Martin Van Buren for president, leaving the question of the vice-presidency open. Colonel Johnson and Mr. Polk were generally named for support.
The financial aspect of the country occupied the principal part of the president's message. The reader will find it interesting as well as profitable to examine its statements, and weigh the views and opinions of the president. One passage we may quote as containing counsel valuable at all times to our citizens. "Let it be indelibly engraven on our minds," says Mr. Van Buren, "that relief is not to be found in expedients. Indebtedness can not be lessened by borrowing more money, or by changing the form of the debt. The balance of trade is not to be turned in our favor by creating new demands upon us abroad. Our currency can not be improved by the creation of new banks, or more issues from those which now exist. Although these devices Bometlmes appear to give temporary relief, they almost invariably aggravate the evil in the end. It is only by retrenchment and reform, by curtailing public and private expenditures, by paying our debts, and by reforming our banking system, that we are to expect effectual relief, security for the future, and an enduring prosperity."
The independent treasury system was long and ably discussed during the session, and the prominent speakers and
debaters, on both sides, set forth the advantages and disadvantages of the plan with great fulness of detail. The bill passed both Houses by the beginning of July, 1840, and on the 4th of the month received the president's signature and became the law of the land. The chief provisions were, that, after the 30th of June, one-fourth of all payments to the United States were to be made in gold and silver only, and so on, annually from that day, one-fourth more, until after the 30th of June, 1843, the entire amount of the revenues of every description, including payments at the post-office, would be receivable in specie alone. And similarly with regard to payments made by the United States. Four persons were very soon after the passage of the bill appointed receivers-general of the public money, for four years.
A bankruptcy law was introduced by Mr. Webster, and carried through the Senate, but it was laid upon the table of the other House by a vote of a hundred and one to eighty-nine. The graduation of prices for public lands was again attempted in vain; an issue of $5,000,000 more of treasury notes was authorized; and on the 21st of July, Congress adjouTueu.'*
* Somo changes in the c&oir.ev m&j Ixct 'at, zojtvL In 1838, James K. Paulding was made secretary of the navy in the place of Mr. Dickerson, who resigned in the same year; Felix Grundy received the attorneygeneralship, which had been relinquished by Mr. Butler; and in the following year, on Mr. Grundy's resignation, Henry D. Gilpin was appointed. Amos Kendall, in 1840, gave up the post-office, and John M. N'les received it Here, too, we may state in passing, that the public debt, which was extinct at Van Buren's accession, and in 1839 exceeded $11,000,000, was reduced to nearly $4,000,000 during tho year 1840.
THE INDEPENDENT TREASURY.