THIRTY YEARS VIEW
1820 TO 1850
THE GOLD CURRENCYMR. BENTONS SPEECH.
Mr. Benton rose and expressed his satisfaction that the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Calhoun] had restored the debate to the elevation that belonged to the Senate. He did not mean to descend from that elevation, not of sentiment, thought and style, to which he had no pretension, but in the mode of conducting the debate, descending to no personal, or partisan object, but keeping solely in view the great interests of the country, and the means of accomplishing those interests.
MR. BENTON said it was now six years since he had begun to oppose the renewal of the charter of this bank, but he had not, until the present moment, found a suitable occasion for showing the people the kind of currency which they were entitled to possess, and probably would possess, on the dissolution of the Bank of the United States. This was a view of the subject which many wished to see, and which he felt bound to give ; and which he should proceed to present, with all the brevity and perspicuity of which he was master.
1. In the first place, he was one of those who believed that the government of the United States was intended to be a hard money government : that it was the intention, and the declaration of the constitution of the United States, that the federal currency should consist of gold and silver ; and that there is no power in Congress to issue, or to authorize any company of individuals to issue, any species of federal paper currency whatsoever.
Every clause in the constitution, said Mr. B., which bears upon the subject of moneyevery early statute of Congress which interprets the meaning of these clausesand every historic recollection which refers to them, go hand in hand, in giving to that instrument the meaning which this proposition ascribes to it. The power granted to Congress to coin money is all authority to stamp metallic money, and is not an authority for emitting slips of paper containing promises to pay money. The authority granted to Congress to regulate the value of coin, is an authority to regulate the value of the metallic money, not of paper. The prohibition upon the States against making any thing but gold and silver a legal tender, is a moral prohibition, founded in virtue and honesty, and is just as binding upon the federal government as upon the State governments ; and that without a written prohibition ; for the difference in the nature of the two governments is such, that the States may do all things which they are not forbid to do ; and the federal government can do nothing which it is not authorized by the constitution to do. The power to punish the crime of counterfeiting is limited to the current coin of the United States, and to the securities of the United States ; and cannot be extended to the offence of forging paper money, but by that unjustifiable power of construction which founds an implication upon an implication, and hangs one implied power upon another. The word currency is not in the constitution, nor any word which can be made to cover a circulation of bank notes. Gold and silver is the only thing recognized for money. It is the money, and the only money, of the constitution ; and every historic recollection, as well a, every phrase in the constitution, and every early statute on the subject of money, confirms that idea. People were sick of paper money about the time that this constitution was formed. The Congress of the confederation, in the time of the Revolution, had issued a currency of paper money. It had run the full career of that currency. The wreck of two hundred millions of paper dollars lay upon the land. The framers of that constitution worked in the midst of that wreck. They saw the havoc which paper money had made upon the fortunes of individuals, and the morals of the public. They determined to have no more federal paper money. They created a hard money government ; they intended the new government to recognize nothing for money but gold and silver ; and every word admitted into the constitution, upon the subject of money, defines and establishes that sacred intention.
Legislative enactment, continued Mr. B., came quickly to the aid of constitutional intention and historic recollection. The fifth statute passed at the first session of the first Congress that ever sat under the present constitution, was full and explicit on this head. It defined the kind of money which the federal treasury should receive. The enactments of the statute are remarkable for their brevity and comprehension, as well as for their clear interpretation of the constitution ; and deserve to be repeated and remembered. They are : That the fees and duties payable to the federal government shall be received in gold and silver coin only ; the gold coins of France, Spain, Portugal, and England, and all other gold coins of equal fineness, at eighty-nine cents for every pennyweight ; the Mexican dollar at one hundred cents ; the crown of France at one hundred and eleven cents ; and all other silver coins of equal fineness, at one hundred and eleven cents per ounce. This statue was passed the 30th day of July, 1789just one month after Congress had commenced the work of legislation. It shows the sense of the Congress composed of men, in great part, who had framed the constitution, and who, by using the word only, clearly expressed their intention that gold and silver alone was to constitute the currency of the new government.
In support of this construction of the constitution, Mr. B. referred to the phrase so often used by our most aged and eminent statesmen, that this was intended to be a hard money government. Yes, said Mr. B., the framers of the constitution were hard money men ; but the chief expounder and executor of that constitution was not a hard money man, but a paper system man ! a man devoted to the paper system of England, with all the firmness and conviction, and all the fervor of enthusiasm. God forbid, said Mr. B., that I should do unjustice to Gen. Hamiltonthat I should say, or insinuate, aught to derogate from the just frame of that great man ! He has many titles to the gratitude and admiration of his countrymen, and the heart could not be American which could dishonor or disparage his memory. But his ideas of government did not receive the sanction of general approbation ; and of all his political tenets, his attachment to the paper system was most strongly opposed at the time, and has produced the most lasting and deplorable results upon the country. In the year 1791, this great man, then Secretary of the Treasury, brought forward his celebrated plan for the support of public creditthat plan which unfolded the entire scheme of the paper system, and immediately developed the great political line between the federalists and the republicans. The establishment of a national bank was the leading and predominant feature of that plan ; and the original report of the Secretary, in favor of establishing the bank, contained this fatal and deplorable recommendation :
The bills and notes of the bank, originally made payable, or which shall have become payable, on demand, in gold and silver coin, shall be receivable in all payments to the United States.
This fatal recommendation became a clause in the charter of the bank. It was transferred from the report of the Secretary to the pages of the statute book ; and from that moment the moneyed character of the federal government stood changed and reversed. Federal bank notes took the place of hard money ; and the whole edifice of the new government slid, at once, from the solid rock of gold and silver money, on which its framers had placed it, into the troubled and tempestuous ocean of a paper currency.
Mr. B. said it was no answer to this most serious charge of having changed the moneyed character of the federal government, and of the whole Union, to say that the notes of the Bank of the United States are not made a legal tender between man and man. There was no necessity, he said, for a statute law to that effect ; it was sufficient that they were made a legal tender to the federal government ; the law of necessity, far superior to that of the statute book, would do the rest. A law of tender was not necessary ; a forced, incidental tender, resulted as an inevitable consequence from the credit and circulation which the federal government gave them. Whatever was received at the custom-houses, at the land-offices, at the post-offices, at the marshals and district attorneys offices, and in all the various dues to the federal government ; must be received and will be received by the people. It becomes the actual and practical currency of the land. People must take it, or get nothing ; and thus the federal government, establishing a paper currency for itself, establishes it also for the States and for the people ; and every body must use it from necessity, whether compelled by law or not.
Mr. B. said it was not to be supposed that the objection which he now took to the unconstitutionality of the clause which made the notes of the federal bank a legal tender to the federal government, was an objection which could he overlooked, or disregarded, by the adversaries of the bank in 1791. It was not overlooked, or disregarded ; on the contrary, it was denounced, and combated, as in itself a separate and distinct breach of the constitution, going the whole length of emitting paper money ; and the more odious and reprehensible because a privileged company was to have the monopoly of the emission. The genius of Hamilton was put in requisition to answer this objection ; and the best answer which that great man could give it, was a confession of the omnipotence of the objection, and the total impossibility of doing it away. His answer surrendered the whole question of a currency. It sunk the notes of the bank, which were then to be tendered to the federal government, to the condition of supplies furnished to the government, and to be consumed by it. The answer took refuge under the natural power, independent of all constitutions, for the tax receiver to receive his taxes in what articles he pleased. To do justice to General Hamilton, and to detect and expose the true character of this bank paper, Mr. B. read a clause from Gen. Hamiltons reply to the cabinet opinions of Mr. Jefferson, and the Attorney General Randolph, when President Washington had the charter of the first bank under advisement with his Secretaries. It was the clause in which General Hamilton replied to the objection to the constitutionality of making the notes of the bank receivable in payment of public dues. To designate or appoint the money or thing in which taxes are to be paid, is not only a proper, but a necessary exercise of the power of collecting them. Accordingly, Congress, in the law concerning the collection of the duties, imposts, and tonnage, has provided that they shall be payable in gold and silver. But, while it was an indispensable part of the work to say in what they should be paid, the choice of the specific thing was a mere matter of discretion. The payment might have been required in the commodities themselves. Taxes in kind, however ill judged, are not without precedents, even in the United States ; or it might have been in the paper money of the several States ; or in the bills of the Bank of North America, New-York, and Massachusetts, all, or either of them ; it might have been in bills issued under the authority of the United States. No part of this, it is presumed, can be disputed. The appointment of the money or thing in which the taxes are to be paid, is an incident of the power of collection. And among the expedients which may be adopted, is that of bills issued under the authority of the United States. Mr. B. would read no further, although the argument of General Hamilton extended through several pages. The nature of the argument is fully disclosed in what is read. It surrenders the whole question of a paper currency. Neither the power to furnish a currency, or to regulate currency, is pretended to be claimed. The notes of the new bank are put upon the footing, not of money, but of commoditiesthingsarticles in kindwhich the tax receiver may accept from the tax payer ; and which are to be used and consumed by the tax receiver, and not to be returned to the people, much less to be diffused over the country in place of money. This is the original idea and conception of these notes. It is the idea under which they obtained the legal capacity of receivability in payment of public dues ; and from this humble conception, this degraded assimilation to corn and grain, to clothes and provisions, they have, by virtue of that clause in the charter, crept up to the character of moneybecome the real, practical currency of the landdriven the currency of the constitution from the landand so depraved the public intellect as now to be called for as money, and proclaimed to be indispensable to the country, when the author of the bank could not rank it higher than an expedient for paying a tax.
2. In the next place, Mr. B. believed that the quantity of specie derivable from foreign commerce, added to the quantity of gold derivable from our own mines, were fully sufficient, if not expelled from the country by unwise laws, to furnish the people with an abundant circulation of gold and silver coin, for their common currency, without having recourse to a circulation of small bank notes.
The truth of these propositions, Mr. B. held to be susceptible of complete and ready proof. He spoke first of the domestic supply of native gold, and said that no mines had ever developed more rapidly than these had done, or promised more abundantly than they now do. In the year 1821 they were a spot in the State of North Carolina ; they are now a region spreading into six States. In the year 1824 the product was $5,000 ; in the last year the product, in coined gold, was $868,000 ; in uncoined, as much more ; and the product of the present year computed at two millions ; with every prospect of continued and permanent increase. The probability was that these mines alone, in the lapse of a few years, would furnish an abundant supply of gold to establish a plentiful circulation of that metal, if not expelled from the country by unwise laws. But the great source of supply, both for gold and silver, Mr. B. said, was in our foreign commerce. It was this foreign commerce which filled the States with hard money immediately after the close of the Revolutionary War, when the domestic mines were unknown ; and it is the same foreign commerce which, even now, when federal laws discourage the importation of foreign coins and compel their exportation, is bringing in an annual supply of seven or eight millions. With an amendment of the laws which now discourage the importation of foreign coins, and compel their exportation, there could be no delay in the rapid accumulation of a sufficient stock of the precious metals to supply the largest circulation which the common business of the country could require.
Mr. B. believed the product of foreign mines, and the quantity of gold and silver now in existence, to be much greater than was commonly supposed ; and, as a statement of its amount would establish his proposition in favor of an adequate supply of these metals for the common currency of the country, he would state that amount, as he found it calculated in approved works of political economy. He looked to the three great sources of supply : 1. Mexico and South America ; 2. Europe and Northern Asia ; 3. The coast of Africa. Taking the discovery of the New World as the starting point from which the calculation would commence, and the product was :
1. Mexico and South America,......$6,955,000,000
2. Europe and Northern Asia,............628,000,000
3. The coast of Africa,.......................150,000,000
making a total product of seven thousand two hundred and thirty-six millions, in the short space of three centuries and a half. To this is to be added the quantity existing at the time the New World was discovered, and which was computed at $2,300,000,000. Upon all these data, the political economists, Mr. B. said, after deducting $2,000,000,000 for waste and consumption, still computed the actual stock of gold and silver in Europe, Asia, and America, in 1832, at about seven thousand millions of dollars ; and that quantity constantly and rapidly increasing.
Mr. B. had no doubt but that the quantity of gold and silver in Europe, Asia, and America, was sufficient to carry on the whole business of the world. He said that states and empiresfar greater in wealth and population than any now existingfar superior in public and private magnificencehad carried on all the business of private life, and all the affairs of national government, upon gold and silver alone ; and that before the mines of Mexico and Peru were known, or dreamed of. He alluded to the great nations of antiquityto the Assyrian and Persian empires ; to Egypt, Carthage, Rome ; to the Grecian republics ; the kingdoms of Asia Minor ; and to the empire, transcending all these put togetherthe Saracenic empire of the Caliphs, which, taking for its centre the eastern limit of the Roman world, extended its dominion as far west as Rome had conquered, and further east than Alexander had marched. These great nations, whose armies crushed empires at a blow, whose monumental edifices still attest their grandeur, had no idea of bank credits and paper money. They used gold and silver alone. Such degenerate phrases as sound currency, paper medium, circulating media, never once sounded in their heroic ears. But why go back, exclaimed Mr. B., to the nations of antiquity ? Why quit our own day ? Why look beyond the boundaries of Europe ? We have seen an empire in our own day, of almost fabulous grandeur and magnificence, carrying on all its vast undertakings upon a currency of gold and silver, without deigning to recognize paper for money. I speak, said Mr. B., of Francegreat and imperial Franceand have my eye upon that first year of the consulate, when a young and victorious general, just transferred from the camp to a council, announced to his astonished ministers that specie payments should commence in France by a given day !in that France which, for so many years, had seen nothing but a miserable currency of depreciated mandats and assignats ! The annunciation was heard with the inward contempt, and open distrust, which the whole tribe of hack politicians every where feel for the statesmanship of military men. It was followed by the success which it belongs to genius to inspire and to command. Specie payments commenced in France on the day named ; and a hard money currency has been the sole currency of France from that day to this.
Such, said Mr. B., is the currency of France ; a country whose taxes exceed a thousand millions of francswhose public and private expenditures require a circulation of three hundred and fifty millions of dollarsand which possesses that circulation, every dollar of it, in gold and silver. After this example, can any one doubt the capacity of the United States to supply itself with specie ? Reason and history forbid the doubt. Reason informs us that hard money flows into the vacuum the instant that small bank notes are driven out. France recovered a specie circulation within a year after the consular government refused to recognize paper for money. England recovered a gold circulation of about one hundred millions of dollars within four years after the one and two pound notes were suppressed. Our own country filled up with Spanish milled dollars, French crowns, doubloons, half joes, and guineas, as by magic, at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, and the suppression of the continental bills. The business of the United States would not require above sixty or seventy millions of gold and silver for the common currency of the people, and the basis of large bank notes and bills of exchange. Of that sum, more than one third is now in the country, but not in circulation. The Bank of the United States hoards above ten millions. At the expiration of her charter, in 1836, that sum will be paid out in redemption of its noteswill go into the hands of the peopleand, of itself, will nearly double the quantity of silver now in circulation. Our native mines will be yielding, annually, some millions of gold ; foreign commerce will be pouring in her accustomed copious supply ; the correction of the erroneous value of gold, the liberal admission of foreign coins, and the suppression of small notes, will invite and retain an adequate metallic currency. The present moment is peculiarly favorable for these measures. Foreign exchanges are now in our favor ; silver is coming here, although not current by our laws ; both gold and silver would flow in, and that immediately, to an immense amount, if raised to their proper value, and put on a proper footing, by our laws. Three days legislation on these subjects would turn copious supplies of gold and silver into the country, diffuse them through every neighborhood, and astonish gentlemen when they get home at midsummer, at finding hard money where they had left paper.
3. In the third place, Mr. B. undertook to affirm, as a proposition free from dispute or contestation, that the value now set upon gold, by the laws of the United States, was unjust and erroneous ; that these laws had expelled gold from circulation ; and that it was the bounden duty of Congress to restore that coin to circulation, by restoring it to its just value.
That gold was undervalued by the laws of the United States, and expelled from circulation, was a fact, Mr. B. said, which every body knew ; but there was something else which every body did not know ; which few, in reality, had an opportunity of knowing, but which was necessary to be known, to enable the friends of gold to go to work at the right place to effect the recovery of that precious metal which their fathers once possessedwhich the subjects of European kings now possesswhich the citizens of the young republics to the South all possesswhich even the free negroes of San Domingo possessbut which the yeomanry of this America have been deprived of for more than twenty years, and will be deprived of for ever, unless they discover the cause of the evil, and apply the remedy to its root.
I have already shown, said Mr. B., that the plan for the support of public credit which General Hamilton brought forward, in 1791, was a plan for the establishment of the paper system in our America. We had at that time a gold currency which was circulating freely and fully all over the country. Gold is the antagonist of paper, and, with fair play, will keep a paper currency within just and proper limits. It will keep down the small notes ; for, no man will carry a five, a ten, or a twenty dollar note in his pocket, when he can get guineas, eagles, half eagles, doubloons, and half joes to carry in their place. The notes of the new Bank of the United States, which bank formed the leading feature in the plan for the support of public credit, had already derived one undue advantage over gold, in being put on a level with it in point of legal tender to the federal government, and universal receivability in all payments to that government : they were now to derive another, and a still greater undue advantage over gold, in the law for the establishment of the national mint ; an institution which also formed a feature of the plan for the support of public credit. It is to that plan that we trace the origin of the erroneous valuation of gold, which has banished that metal from the country. Mr. Secretary Hamilton, in his proposition for the establishment of a mint, recommended that the relative value of gold to silver should be fixed at fifteen for one ; and that recommendation became the law of the land ; and has remained so ever since. At the same time, the relative value of these metals in Spain and Portugal, and throughout their vast dominions in the new world, whence our principal supplies of gold were derived, was at the rate of sixteen for one ; thus making our standard six per cent. below the standard of the countries which chiefly produced gold. It was also below the English standard, and the French standard, and below the standard which prevailed in these States, before the adoption of the constitution, and which was actually prevailing in the States, at the time that this new proportion of fifteen to one was established.
Mr. B. was ready to admit that there was some nicety requisite in adjusting the relative value of two different kinds of moneygold and silver for exampleso as to preserve an exact equipoise between them, and to prevent either from expelling the other. There was some nicety, but no insuperable or even extraordinary difficulty, in making the adjustment. The nicety of the question was aggravated in the year 93, by the difficulty of obtaining exact knowledge of the relative value of these metals, at that time, in France and England ; and Mr. Gallatin has since shown that the information which was then relied upon was clearly erroneous. The consequence of any mistake in fixing our standard, was also well known in the year 92. Mr. Secretary Hamilton, in his proposition for the establishment of a mint, expressly declared that the consequence of a mistake in the relative value of the two metals, would be the expulsion of the one that was undervalued. Mr. Jefferson, then Secretary of State, in his cotemporaneous report upon foreign coins, declared the same thing. Mr. Robert Morris, financier to the revolutionary government, in his proposal to establish a mint, in 1783, was equally explicit to the same effect. The delicacy of the question and the consequence of a mistake, were then fully understood forty years ago, when the relative value of gold and silver was fixed at fifteen to one. But, at that time, it unfortunately happened that the paper system, then omnipotent in England, was making its transit to our America, and every thing that would go to establish that systemevery thing that would go to sustain the new-born Bank of the United Statesthat eldest daughter and spem gregis of the paper system in Americafell in with the prevailing current, and became incorporated in the federal legislation of the day. Gold, it was well known, was the antagonist of paper ; from its intrinsic value, the natural predilection of all mankind for it, its small bulk, and the facility of carrying it about, it would be preferred to paper, either for travelling or keeping in the house ; and thus would limit and circumscribe the general circulation of bank notes ; and prevent all plea of necessity for issuing smaller notes. Silver, on the contrary, from its inconvenience of transportation, would favor the circulation of bank notes. Hence the birth of the doctrine, that if a mistake was to be committed, it should be on the side of silver ! Mr. Secretary Hamilton declares the existence of this feeling when, in his report upon the establishment of a mint, he says : It is sometimes observed, that silver ought to be encouraged, rather than gold, as being more conducive to the extension of bank circulation, from the greater difficulty and inconvenience which its greater bulk, compared with its value, occasions in the transportation of it ? This passage in the Secretarys report, proves the existence of the feeling in favor of silver against gold, and the cause of that feeling. Quotations might be made from the speeches of others to show that they acted upon that feeling ; but it is due to General Hamilton to say that he disclaimed such a motive for himself, and expressed a desire to retain both metals in circulation, and even to have a gold dollar.
The proportion of fifteen to one was established. The 11th section of the act of April, 1792, enacted that every fifteen pounds weight of pure silver, should be equal in value, in all payments, with one pound of pure gold ; and so in proportion for less quantities of the respective metals. This act was the death warrant to the gold currency. The diminished circulation of that coin soon began to be observable ; but it was not immediately extinguished. Several circumstances delayed, but could not prevent that catastrophe. 1. The Bank of the United States then issued no note of less denomination than ten dollars, and but few of them. 2. There were but three other banks in the United States, and they issued but few small notes ; so that a small note currency did not come directly into conflict with gold. 3. The trade to the lower Mississippi continued to bring up from Natchez and New Orleans, for many years, a large supply of doubloons ; and long supplied a gold currency to the new States in the West. Thus, the absence of a small note currency, and the constant arrivals of doubloons from the lower Mississippi, deferred the fate of the gold currency ; and it was not until the lapse of near twenty years after the adoption of the erroneous standard of 1792, that the circulation of that metal, both foreign and domestic, became completely and totally extinguished in the United States. The extinction is now complete, and must remain so until the laws are altered.
In making this annunciation, and in thus standing forward to expose the error, and to demand the reform of the gold currency, he (Mr. B.) was not setting up for the honors of a first discoverer, or first inventor. Far from it. He was treading in the steps of other, and abler men, who had gone before him. Four Secretaries of the Treasury, Gallatin, Dallas, Crawford, Ingham, had, each in their day, pointed out the error in the gold standard, and recommended its correction. Repeated reports of committees, in both Houses of Congress ; had done the same thing. Of these reports he would name those of the late Mr. Lowndes of South Carolina ; of Mr. Sanford, late a senator from New-York ; of Mr. Campbell P. White, now a representative from the city of New-York. Mr. B. took pleasure in recalling and presenting to public notice, the names of the eminent men who had gone before him in the exploration of this path. It was due to them, now that the good cause seemed to be in the road to success, to yield to them all the honors of first explorers ; it was due to the cause also, in this hour of final trial, to give it the high sanction of their names and labors.
Mr. B. would arrest for an instant the current of his remarks, to fix the attention of the Senate upon a reflection which must suggest itself to the minds of all considerate persons. He would ask how it could happen that so many men, and such men as he had named, laboring for so many years, in a cause so just, for an object so beneficial, upon a state of facts so undeniable, could so long and so uniformly fail of success ? How could this happen ? Sir, exclaimed Mr. B., it happened because the policy of the Bank of the United States required it to happen ! The same policy which required gold to be undervalued in 1792, when the first bank was chartered, has required it to be undervalued ever since ; now that a second bank has been established ; and the same strength which enabled these banks to keep themselves up, also enabled them to keep gold down. This is the answer to the question ; and this the secret of the failure of all these eminent men in their laudable efforts to raise gold again to the dignity of money. This is the secret of their failure ; and this secret being now known, the road which leads to the reformation of the gold currency lies uncovered and revealed before us : it is the road which leads to the overthrow of the Bank of the United Statesto the sepulchre of that institution : for, while that bank lives, or has the hope of life, gold cannot be restored to life. Here then lies the question of the reform of the gold currency. If the bank is defeated, that currency is reformed ; if the bank is victorious, gold remains degraded ; to continue an article of merchandise in the hands of the bank, and to be expelled from circulation to make room for its five, its ten, and its twenty dollar notes. Let the people then, who are in favor of restoring gold to circulation, go to work in the right place, and put down the power that first put down gold, and which will never suffer that coin to rise while it has power to prevent it.
Mr. B. did not think it necessary to descant, and expatiate upon the merits and advantages of a gold currency. These advantages had been too well known, from the earliest ages of the world, to be a subject of discussion in the nineteenth century ; but, as it was the policy of the paper system to disparage that metal, and as that system, in its forty years reign over the American people, had nearly destroyed a knowledge of that currency, he would briefly enumerate its leading and prominent advantages.
1. It had an intrinsic value, which gave it currency all over the world, to the full amount of that value, without regard to laws or circumstances.
2. It had a uniformity of value, which made it the safest standard of the value of property which the wisdom of man had ever yet discovered.
3. Its portability ; which made it easy for the traveller to carry it about with him.
4. Its indestructibility ; which made it the safest money that people could keep in their houses.
5. Its inherent purity ; which made it the hardest money to be counterfeited, and the easiest to be detected, and, therefore, the safest money for the people to handle.
6. Its superiority over all other money ; which gave to its possessor the choice and command of all other money.
7. Its power over exchanges ; gold being the currency which contributes most to the equalization of exchange, and keeping down the rate of exchange to the lowest and most uniform point.
8. Its power over the paper money ; gold being the natural enemy of that system, and, with fair play, able to hold it in check.
9. It is a constitutional currency and the people have a right to demand it, for their currency, as long as the present constitution is permitted to exist.
Mr. B. said, that the false valuation put upon gold had rendered the mint of the United States, so far as the gold coinage is concerned, a most ridiculous and absurd institution. It has coined, and that at a large expense to the United States, 2,262,717 pieces of gold, worth $11,853,890 ; and where are these pieces now ? Not one of them to be seen ! all sold, and exported ! and so regular is this operation that the director of the mint, in his latest report to Congress, says that the new coined gold frequently remains in the mint, uncalled for, though ready for delivery, until the day arrives for a packet to sail to Europe. He calculates that two millions of native gold will be coined annually hereafter ; the whole of which, without a reform of the gold standard, will be conducted, like exiles, from the national mint to the sea-shore, and transported to foreign regions, to be sold for the benefit of the Bank of the United States.
Mr. B. said this was not the time to discuss the relative value of gold and silver, nor to urge the particular proportion which ought to be established between them. That would be the proper work of a committee. At present it might be sufficient, and not irrelevant, to say that this question was one of commercethat it was purely and simply a mercantile problemas much so as an acquisition of any ordinary merchandise from foreign countries could be. Gold goes where it finds its value, and that value is what the laws of great nations give it. In Mexico and South Americathe countries which produce gold, and from which the United States must derive their chief supplythe value of gold is 16 to 1 over silver ; in the island of Cuba it is 17 to 1 ; in Spain and Portugal it is 16 to 1 ; in the West Indies, generally, it is the same. It is not to be supposed that gold will come from these countries to the United States, if the importer is to lose one dollar in every sixteen that he brings ; or that our own gold will remain with us, when an exporter can gain a dollar upon every fifteen that he carries out. Such results would be contrary to the laws of trade ; and therefore we must place the same value upon gold that other nations do, if we wish to gain any part of theirs, or to regain any part of our own. Mr. B. said that the case of England and France was no exception to this rule. They rated gold at something less than 16 for 1, and still retained gold in circulation ; but it was retained by force of peculiar laws and advantages which do not prevail in the United States. In England the circulation of gold was aided and protected by four subsidiary laws, neither of which exist here : one which prevented silver from being a tender for more than forty shillings ; another which required the Bank of England to pay all its notes in gold ; a third which suppressed the small note circulation ; a fourth which alloyed their silver nine per cent. below the relative value of gold. In France the relative proportion of the two metals was also below what it was in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, and South America, and still a plentiful supply of gold remained in circulation ; but this result was aided by two peculiar causes ; first, the total absence of a paper currency ; secondly, the proximity of Spain, and the inferiority of Spanish manufactures, which gave to France a ready and a near market for the sale of her fine fabrics, which were paid for in the gold of the New World. In the United States, gold would have none of these subsidiary helps ; on the contrary it would have to contend with a paper currency, and would have to be obtained, the product of our own mines excepted, from Mexico and South America, where it is rated as sixteen to one for silver. All these circumstances, and many others, would have to be taken into consideration in fixing a standard for the United States. Mr. B. repeated that there was nicety, but no difficulty, in adjusting the relative value of gold and silver so as to retain both in circulation. Several nations of antiquity had done it ; some modern nations also. The English have both in circulation at this time. The French have both, and have had for thirty years. The States of this Union also had both in the time of the confederation ; and retained them until this federal government was established, and the paper system adopted. Congress should not admit that it cannot do for the citizens of the United States, what so many monarchies have done for their subjects. Gentlemen, especially, who decry military chieftains, should not confess that they themselves cannot do for America, what a military chieftain did for France.
Mr. B. made his acknowledgments to the great apostle of American liberty (Mr. Jefferson), for the wise, practical idea, that the value of gold was a commercial question, to be settled by its value in other countries. He had seen that remark in the works of that great man, and treasured it up as teaching the plain and ready way to accomplish an apparently difficult object ; and he fully concurred with the senator from South Carolina [Mr. Calhoun], that gold, in the United States, ought to be the preferred metal ; not that silver should be expelled, but both retained ; the mistake, of any, to be in favor of gold, instead of being against it.
IV. Mr. B. believed that it was the intention and declared meaning of the constitution, that foreign coins should pass currently as money, and at their full value, within the United States ; that it was the duty of Congress to promote the circulation of these coins by giving them their full value ; that this was the design of the States in conferring upon Congress the exclusive power of regulating the value of these coins ; that all the laws of Congress for preventing the circulation of foreign coins, and underrating their value, were so many breaches of the constitution, and so many mischiefs inflicted upon the States ; and that it was the bounden duty of Congress to repeal all such laws ; and to restore foreign coins to the same free and favored circulation which they possessed when the federal constitution was adopted.
In support of the first branch of his first position Mr. B. quoted the words of the constitution which authorized Congress to regulate the value of foreign coins ; secondly, the clause in the constitution which authorized Congress to provide for punishing the counterfeiting of current coin, in which term, foreign coin was included ; thirdly, the clause which prohibited the States from making any thing but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts ; a clause which did not limit the prohibition to domestic coins ; and therefore included foreign ones. These three clauses, he said, were concurrent, and put foreign coin and domestic coin upon the same precise footing of equality, in every particular which concerned their current circulation, their value, and their protection from counterfeiters. Historical recollections were the next evidence to which Mr. B. referred to sustain his position. He said that foreign coins were the only coins known to the United States at the adoption of the constitution. No mint had been established up to that time. The coins of other nations furnished the currency, the exclusive metallic currency, which the States had used from the close of the Revolutionary War up to the formation of this federal government. It was these foreign coins then which the framers of the constitution had in view when they inserted all the clauses in the constitution which bear upon the value and current circulation of coin ; its protection from counterfeiters, and the prohibitory restriction upon the States with respect to the illegality of tenders of any thing except of gold and silver. To make this point still plainer, if plainer it could be made, Mr. B. adverted to the early statutes of Congress which related to foreign coins. He had seen no less than nine statutes, passed in the first four years of the action of this federal government, all enacted for the purpose of regulating the value, protecting the purity, and promoting the circulation of these coins. Not only the well-known coins of the principal nations were provided for in these statutes, but the coins of all the nations with whom we traded, how rare or small might be the coin, or how remote or inconsiderable might be the nation. By a general provision of the act of 1789, the gold coins of all nations, which equalled those of England, France, Spain and Portugal, in fineness, were to be current at 89 cents the pennyweight ; and the silver coins of all nations, which equalled the Spanish dollar in fineness, were to be current at 111 cents the ounce. Under these general provisions, a great influx of the precious metals took place ; doubloons, guineas, half joes, were the common and familiar currency of farmers and laborers, as well as of merchants and traders. Every substantial citizen then kept in his house a pair of small scales to weigh gold, which are now used by his posterity to weigh physic. It is a great many yearsa whole generation has grown upsince these scales were used for their original purpose ; nor will they ever be needed again for that use until the just and wise laws of 89 and 90, for the general circulation of foreign coins, shall again be put in force. These early statutes, added to historical recollections, could leave no doubt of the true meaning of the constitution, and that foreign coins were intended to be for ever current within the United States.
With this obvious meaning of the constitution, and the undeniable advantage which redounded to the United States from the acquisition of the precious metals from all foreign nations, the inquiry naturally presents itself, to know for what reason these coins have been outlawed by the Congress of the United States, and driven from circulation ? The inquiring mind wishes to know how Congress could be brought, in a few short years after the adoption of the constitution, to contradict that instrument in a vital particularto repeal the nine statutes which they had passed in favor of foreign coinand to illegalize the circulation of that coin whose value they were to regulate, and whose purity to protect ?
Sir, said Mr. B., I am unwilling to appear always in the same train, tracing up all the evils of our currency to the same fountain of mischiefsthe introduction of the paper system, and the first establishment of a federal bank among us. But justice must have its sway ; historical truth must take its course ; facts must be told ; and authentic proof shall supply the place of narrative and assertion. We ascend, then, to the year 91to the exhibition of the plan for the support of public creditand see in that plan, as one of its features, a proposition for the establishment of a national mint ; and in that establishment a subsidiary engine for the support of the federal bank. We have already seen that in the proposition for the establishment of the mint, gold was largely undervalued ; and that, this undervaluation has driven gold from the country and left a vacuum for the circulation of federal bank notes ; we are now to see that the same mint establishment was to give further aid to the circulation of these notes, by excluding foreign coins, both gold and silver, from circulation, and thus enlarging the vacuum which was to be filled by bank paper. This is what we are now to see ; and to see it, we will look at the plan for the support of public credit, and that feature of the plan which proposes the establishment of a national mint.
Mr. B. would remark, that four points were presented in this plan : 1. The eventual abolition of the currency of foreign coins ; 2. The reduction of their value while allowed to circulate ; 3. The substitution of domestic coins ; and, 4. The substitution of bank notes in place of the uncurrent and undervalued foreign coins. Such were the recommendations of Secretary Hamilton ; and legislative enactments quickly followed to convert his recommendations into law. The only power the constitution had given to Congress over foreign coins, was a power to regulate their value, and to protect them from debasement by counterfeiters. It was certainly a most strange construction of that authority, first, to underrate the value of these coins, and next, to prohibit their circulation ! Yet both things were done. The mint went into operation in 1794 ; foreign coins were to cease to be a legal tender in 1797 ; but, at the end of that time, the contingencies on which the Secretary calculated, to enable the country to do without foreign coins, had not occurred ; the substitutes had not appeared ; the mint had not supplied the adequate quantity of domestic coin, nor had the circulation of bank notes become sufficiently familiar to the people to supersede gold. The law for the exclusion of foreign coins was found to be impracticable ; and a suspension of it for three years was enacted. At the end of this time the evil was found to be as great as ever ; and a further suspension of three years was made. This third term of three years also rolled over, the supply of domestic coins was still found to be inadequate, and the people continued to be as averse as ever to the bank note substitute. A fourth suspension of the law became necessary, and in 1806 a further suspension for three years was made ; after that a fifth, and finally a sixth suspension, each for the period of three years ; which brought the period for the actual and final cessation of the circulation of foreign coins, to the month of November, 1819. From that time there was no further suspension of the prohibitory act. An exception was continued, and still remains, in favor of Spanish milled dollars and parts of dollars ; but all other foreign coins, even those of Mexico and all the South American States, have ceased to be a legal tender, and have lost their character of current money within the United States. Their value is degraded to the mint price of bullion ; and thus the constitutional currency becomes an article of merchandise and exportation. Even the Spanish milled dollar, though continued as a legal tender, is valued, not as money, but for the pure silver in it, and is therefore undervalued three or four per cent. and becomes an article of merchandise. The Bank of the United States has collected and sold 4,450,000 of them. Every money dealer is employed in buying, selling, and exporting them. The South and West, which receives them, is stripped of them.
Having gone through this narrative of facts, and shown the exclusion of foreign coins from circulation to be a part of the paper system, and intended to facilitate the substitution of a bank note currency, Mr. B. went on to state the injuries resulting from the measure. At the head of these injuries he was bound to place the violation of the constitution of the United States, which clearly intended that foreign coins should circulate among us, and which, in giving Congress authority to regulate their value, and to protect them from counterfeiters, could never have intended to stop their circulation, and to abandon them to debasement. 2. He denounced this exclusion of foreign coins as a fraud, and a fraud of the most injurious nature, upon the people of the States. The States had surrendered their power over the coinage to Congress ; they made the surrender in language which clearly implied that their currency of foreign coins was to be continued to them ; yet that currency is suppressed ; a currency of intrinsic value, for which they paid interest to nobody, is suppressed ; and a currency without intrinsic value, a currency of paper subject to every fluctuation, and for the supply of which corporate bodies receive interest, is substituted in its place. 3. He objected to this suppression as depriving the whole Union, and especially the Western States, of their due and necessary supply of hard money. Since that law took effect, the United States had only been a thoroughfare for foreign coins to pass through. All that was brought into the country, had to go out of the country. It was exported as fast as imported. The custom-house books proved this fact. They proved, that from 1821 to 1833, the imports of specie were $89,428,462 ; the exports, for the same time, were $88,821,433 ; lacking but three quarters of a million of being precisely equal to the imports ! Some of this coin was recoined before it was exported, a foolish and expensive operation on the part of the United States ; but the greater part was exported in the same form that it was received. Mr. B. had only been able to get the exports and imports from 1821 ; if he could have obtained those of 1820, and the concluding part of 1819, when the prohibitory law took effect, the amount would have been about ninety-six millions of dollars ; the whole of which was lost to the country by the prohibitory law, while much of it would have been saved, and retained for home circulation, if it had not been for this law. The loss of this great sum in specie was an injury to the whole Union, but especially to the Western States, whose sole resource for coin was from foreign countries ; for the coinage of the mint could never flow into that region ; there was nothing in the course of trade and exchanges, to carry money from the Atlantic States to the West ; and the mint, if it coined thousands of millions, could not supply them. The taking effect of the law in the year 1819, was an aggravation of the injury. It was the most unfortunate and ruinous of all times for driving specie from the country. The Western banks, from their exertions to aid the country during the war, had stretched their issues to the utmost limit ; their notes had gone into the land offices ; the federal government turned them over to the Bank of the United States ; and that bank demanded specie. Thus, the necessity for specie was increased at the very moment that the supply was diminished ; and the general stoppage of the Western banks, was the inevitable and natural result of these combined circumstances.
Having shown the great evils resulting to the country from the operation of this law, Mr. B. called upon its friends to tell what reason could now be given for not repealing it ? He affirmed that, of the two causes to which the law owed its origin, one had failed in toto, and the other had succeeded to a degree to make it the curse and the nuisance of the country. One reason was to induce an adequate supply of foreign coins to be brought to the mint, to be recoined ; the other to facilitate he substitution of a bank note currency. The foreign coins did not go to the mint, those excepted which were imported in its own neighborhood ; and even these were exported nearly as fast as recoined. The authority of the director of the mint had already been quoted to show that the new coined gold was transferred direct from the national mint to the packet ships, bound to Europe. The custom-house returns showed the large exportation of domestic coins. They would be found under the head of Domestic Manufactures Exported; and made a large figure in the list of these exports. In the year 1832, it amounted to $2,058,474, and in the year 1833, to $1,410,941 ; and every year it was more or less ; so that the national mint had degenerated into a domestic manufactory of gold and silver, for exportation to foreign countries. But the coins imported at New Orleans, at Charleston, and at other points remote from Philadelphia, did not go there to be recoined. They were, in part, exported direct from the place of import, and in part used by the people as current money, in disregard of the prohibitory law of 1819. But the greater part was exportedfor no owner of foreign coin could incur the trouble, risk, and expense, of sending it some hundred or a thousand miles to Philadelphia, to have it recoined ; and then incurring the same expense, risk, and trouble (lying out of the use of the money, and receiving no interest all the while), of bringing it back to be put into circulation ; with the further risk of a deduction for want of standard fineness at the mint, when he could sell and export it upon the spot. Foreign coins could not be recoined, so as to supply the Union, by a solitary mint on the Atlantic coast. The great West could only be supplied from New Orleans. A branch of the mint, placed there, could supply the West with domestic coins. Mexico, since she became a free country, has established seven mints in different places, because it was troublesome and expensive to carry bullion from all parts of the country to be coined in the capital ; and when coined there, there was nothing in the course of trade to carry them back into the country ; and the owners of it would not be at the expense and trouble of carrying it back, and getting it into circulation, being the exact state of things at present in the gold mines of the Southern States. The United States, upon the same principles and for the same reasons, should establish branches of the mint in the South, convenient to the gold mine region, and at New Orleans, for the benefit of that city and the West. Without a branch of the mint at New Orleans, the admission of foreign coins is indispensable to the West ; and thus the interest of that region joins itself to the voice of the constitution in demanding the immediate repeal of all laws for illegalizing the circulation of these coins, and for sinking them from their current value as money, to their mint value as bullion. The design of supplying the mint with foreign coins, for recoinage, had then failed ; and in that respect the exclusion of foreign coins has failed in one of its objectsin the other, that of making room for a substitute of bank notes, the success of the scheme has been complete, excessive, and deplorable.
Foreign coins were again made a legal tender, their value regulated and their importation encouraged, at the expiration of the charter of the first Bank of the United States. This continued to be the case until after the present Bank of the United States was chartered ; as soon as that event happened, and bank policy again became predominant in the halls of Congress, the circulation of foreign coins was again struck at ; and, in the second year of the existence of the bank, the old act of 1793, for rendering these coins uncurrent, was carried into final and complete effect. Since that time, the bank has enjoyed all her advantages from this exclusion. The expulsion of these coins has created a vacuum, to be filled up by her small note circulation ; the traffic and trade in them has been as large a source of profit to her as of loss to the country. Gold coin she has sold at an advance of five or six per cent.; silver coin at about two or three per cent.; and, her hand being in, she made no difference between selling domestic coin and foreign coin. Although forbid by her charter to deal in coin, she has employed her branches to gather $40,040,000 of coin from the States ; a large part of which she admits that she has cold and transported to Europe. For the sale of the foreign coin ; she sets up the lawyer-like plea, that it is not coin, but bullion ! resting the validity of the plea upon English statute law ! while, by the constitution of the United States, all foreign coins are coin ; while, by her own charter, the coins, both gold and silver, of Great Britain, France, Spain, and Portugal, and their dominions, are declared to be coin ; and, as such, made receivable in payment of the specie proportion of the bank stockand, worse yet ! while Spanish dollars, by statute, remain the current coin of the United States, the bank admits the sale of 4,450,142 of these identical Spanish milled dollars !
Mr. B. then took a rapid view of the present condition of the statute currency of the United Statesof that currency which was a legal tenderthat currency with which a debtor had a right by law to protect his property from execution, and his body from jail, by offering it as a matter of right, to his creditor in payment of his debt. He stated this statute currency to be : 1st. Coins from the mint of the United States ; 2dly. Spanish milled dollars, and the parts of such dollars. This was the sum total of the statute currency of the United States ; for happily no paper of any bank, State or federal, could be made a legal tender. This is the sum total out of which any man in debt can legally pay his debt : and what is his chance for making payment out of this brief list ? Let us see. Coinage from the mint : not a particle of gold, nor a single whole dollar to be found ; very few half dollars, except in the neighborhood of the mint, and in the hands of the Bank of the United States and its branches ; the twenty, ten, and five cent pieces scarcely seen, except as a curiosity, in the interior parts of the country. So much for the domestic coinage. Now for the Spanish milled dollarshow do they stand in the United States ? Nearly as scarce as our own dollars ; for, there has been none coined since Spain lost her dominion over her colonies in the New World ; and the coinage of these colonies, now independent States, neither is in law, nor in fact, Spanish milled. That term belongs to the coinage of the Spanish crown, with a Spanish kings head upon the face of it ; although the coin of the new States, the silver dollars of Mexico, Central America, Peru, and Chili, are superior to Spanish dollars, in value, because they contain more pure silver, still they are not a tender ; and all the francs from France, in a word, all foreign coin except Spanish milled dollars, the coinage of which has ceased, and the country stripped of all that were in it, by the Bank of the United States, are uncurrent, and illegal as tenders : so that the people of the United States are reduced to so small a list, and so small a supply of statute currency, out of which debts can legally be paid, that it may be fairly assumed that the whole debtor part of the community lie at the mercy of their creditors, to have their bodies sent to jail, or their property sold for nothing, at any time that their creditors please. To such a condition are the free and high-minded inhabitants of this country reduced ! and reduced by the power and policy of the first and second Banks of the United States, and the controlling influence which they have exercised over the moneyed system of the Union, from the year 1791 down to the present day.
Mr. B. would conclude what he had to say, on this head, with one remark ; it was this that while the gold and silver coin of all the monarchs of Europe were excluded from circulation in the United States, the paper notes of their subjects were received as current money. The Bank of the United States was, in a great degree, a foreign institution. Foreigners held a great part of its stock, and may hold it all. The paper notes issued by this institution, thus composed in great part of the subjects of European kings, are made legal tenders to the federal government, and thus forced into circulation among the people ; while the gold and silver coin of the kings to which they belong, is rejected and excluded, and expelled from the country ! He demanded if any thing could display the vice and deformity of the paper system in a more revolting and humiliating point of view than this single fact ?
V. Mr. B. expressed his satisfaction at finding so many points of concurrence between his sentiments on currency, and those of the senator from South Carolina (Mr. Calhoun). Reform of the gold currencyrecovery of specieevils of excessive banking and the eventual suppression of small noteswere all points in which they agreed, and on which he hoped they should be found acting together when these measures should be put to the test of legislative action. He regretted that he could not concur with that senator on the great points to which all the others might be found to be subordinate and accessorial. He alluded to the prolonged existence of the Bank of the United States ! and especially to the practical views which that senator had taken of the beneficial operation of that institution, first, as the regulator of the local currencies, and next, as the supplier of a general currency to the Union. On both these points, he differedimmeasurably differedfrom that senator ; and dropping all other views of that bank, he came at once to the point which the senator from South Carolina marked out as the true and practical question of debate ; and would discuss that question simply under its relation to the currency ; he would view the bank simply as the regulator of local currencies and the supplier of a national currency, and would give his reasons for differingirreconcilably differingfrom the senator from South Carolina on these points.
Mr. B. took three distinct objections to the Bank of the United States, as a regulator of currency : 1, that this was a power which belonged to the government of the United States ; 2, that it could not be delegated ; 3, that it ought not be delegated to any bank.
1. The regulation of the currency of a nation, Mr. B. said, was one of the highest and most delicate acts of sovereign power. It was precisely equivalent to the power to create currency ; for, a power to make more or less, was, in effect, a power to make much or none. It was the coining power ; a power that belonged to the sovereign ; and, where a paper currency was tolerated, the coining power was swallowed up and superseded by the manufactory which emitted paper. In the present state of the currency of the United States, the federal bank was the mint for issuing money ; the federal mint was a manufactory for preparing gold and silver for exportation. The States, in the formation of the constitution, gave the coining power to Congress ; with that power, they gave authority to regulate the currency of the Union, by regulating the value of gold and silver, and preventing any thing but metallic money from being made a tender in payment of debts. It is by the exercise of these powers that the federal government is to regulate the currency of the Union ; and all the departments of the government are required to act their parts in effecting the regulation : the Congress, as the department that passes the law ; the President, as the authority that recommends it, approves it, and sees that it is faithfully executed ; the judiciary, as standing between the debtor and creditor, and preventing the execution from being discharged by any thing but gold and silver ; and that at the rate which the legislative department has fixed. This is the power, and sole power, of regulating currency which the federal constitution contains ; this power is vested in the federal government, not in one department of it, but in the joint action of the three departments ; and while this power is exercised by the government, the currency of the whole Union will be regulated, and the regulation effected according to the intention of the constitution, by keeping all the local banks up to the point of specie payment ; and thereby making the value of their notes equivalent to specie.
2. This great and delicate power, thus involving the sacred relations of debtor and creditor, and the actual rise or fall in the value of every mans property, Mr. B. undertook to affirm, could not be delegated. It was a trust from the State governments to the federal government. The State governments divested themselves of this power, and invested the federal government with it, and made its exercise depend upon the three branches, of the new government ; and this new government could no more delegate it, than they could delegate any other great power which they were bound to execute themselves. Not a word of this regulating power, Mr. B. said, was heard of when the first bank was chartered, in the year 1791. No person whispered such a reason for the establishment of a bank at that time ; the whole conception is new-fangledan afterthoughtgrowing out of the very evils which the bank itself has brought upon the country, and which are to be cured by putting down that great bank ; after which, the Congress and the judiciary will easily manage the small banks, by holding them up to specie payments, and excluding every unsolid note from revenue payments.
Mr. B. took up the second point on which he disagreed with the Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Calhoun], namely, the capacity of the Bank of the United States to supply a general currency to the Union. In handling this question he would drop all other inquirieslay aside every other objectionoverlook every consideration of the constitutionality and expediency of the bank, and confine himself to the strict question of its ability to diffuse and retain in circulation a paper currency over this extended Union. He would come to the question as a banker would come to it at his table, or a merchant in his counting-room, looking to the mere operation of a money system. It was a question for wise men to think of, and for abler men than himself to discuss. It involved the theory and the science of banking Mr. B. would say the philosophy of banking, if such a term could be applied to a moneyed system. It was a question to be studied as the philosopher studies the laws which govern the material worldas he would study the laws of gravitation and attraction which govern the movements of the planets, or draw the waters of the mountains to the level of the ocean. The moneyed system, said Mr. B., has its laws of attraction and gravitationof repulsion and adhesion ; and no man may be permitted to indulge the hope of establishing a moneyed system contrary to its own laws. The genius of man has not yet devised a bankthe historic page is yet to be written which tells of a bank which has diffused over an extensive country, and retained in circulation, a general paper currency. England is too small a theatre for a complete example ; but even there the impossibility is confessed, and has been confessed for a century. The Bank of England, in her greatest day of pre-eminence, could not furnish a general currency for England alonea territory not larger than Virginia. The country banks furnished the local paper currency, and still furnish it as far as it is used. They carried on their banking upon Bank of England notes, until the gold currency was restored ; and local paper formed the mass of local circulation. The notes of the Bank of England flowed to the great commercial capitals, and made but brief sojourn in the counties. But England is not a fair example for the United States ; it is too small ; a fairer example is to be found nearer home, in our own country, and in this very Bank of the United States which is now existing, and in favor of which the function of supplying a general currency to this extended confederacy is claimed. We have the experiment of this bank, not once, but twice made ; and each experiment proves the truth of the laws which govern the system. The theory of bank circulation, over an extended territory, is this, that you may put out as many notes as you may in any one place, they will immediately fall into the track of commerceinto the current of tradeinto the course of exchangeand follow that current wherever it leads. In these United States the current sets from every part of the interior, and especially from the South and West into the Northeastinto the four commercial cities north of the Potomac ; Baltimore, Philadelphia, New-York, and Boston : and all the bank notes which will pass for money in those places, fall into the current which sets in that direction. When there, there is nothing in the course of trade to bring them back. There is no reflex in that current ! It is a trade-wind which blows twelve months in the year in the same direction. This is the theory of bank circulation over extended territory ; and the history of the present bank is an exemplification of the truth of that theory. Listen to Mr. Cheves. Read his report made to the stockholders at their triennial meeting in 1822. He stated this law of circulation, and explained the inevitable tendency of the branch bank notes to flow to the Northeast ; the impossibility of preventing it ; and the resolution which he had taken and executed, to close all the Southern and Western branches, and prevent them from issuing any more notes. Even while issuing their own notes, they had so far forgot their charter as to carry on operations, in part, upon the notes of the local bankshaving collected those notes in great quantity, and loaned them out. This was reported by the investigating committee of 1819, and made one of the charges of misconduct against the bank at that time. To counteract this tendency, the bank applied to Congress for leave to issue their bank notes on terms which would have made them a mere local currency. Congress refused it ; but the bank is now attempting to do it herself, by refusing to take the notes received in payment of the federal revenue, and sending it back to be paid where issued. Such was the history of the branch bank notes, and which caused that currency to disappear from all the interior, and from the whole South and West, so soon after the bank got into operation. The attempt to keep out branch notes, or to send the notes of the mother bank to any distance, being found impracticable, there was no branch currency of any kind in circulation for a period of eight or nine years, until the year 1827, when the branch checks were invented, to perform the miracle which notes could not. Mr. B. would say nothing about the legality of that invention ; he would now treat them as a legal issue under the charter ; and in that most favorable point of view for them, he would show that these branch checks were nothing but a quack remedyan empirical contrivancewhich made things worse. By their nature they were as strongly attracted to the Northeast as the branch notes had been ; by their terms they were still more strongly attracted, for they bore Philadelphia on their face ! they were payable at the mother bank ! and, of course, would naturally flow to that place for use or payment. This was their destiny, and most punctually did they fulfil it. Never did the trade-winds blow more trulynever did the gulf stream flow more regularlythan those checks flowed to the Northeast ! The average of four years next ensuing the invention of these checks, which went to the mother bank, or to the Atlantic branches north of the Potomac, including the branch notes which flowed with them, was about nineteen millions of dollars per annum ! Mr. B. then exhibited a table to prove what he alleged, and from which it appeared that the flow of the branch paper to the Northeast was as regular and uniform as an operation of nature ; that each city according to its commercial importance, received a greater or less proportion of this inland paper gulf stream ; and that the annual variation was so slight as only to prove the regularity of the laws by which it was governed. The following is the table which he exhibited. It was one of the tabular statements obtained by the investigating committee in 1832 :
Amount of Branch Bank Paper received at
1828. 1829. 1830. 1831.
1. New-York,. . .11,933,350 11,294,960 9,166,770 12,264,320
2. Philadelphia, . . .4,453,150 4,106,995 4,570,725 5,396,400
3. Boston, . . . . . . .1,010,730 1,844,170 1,794,750 1,816,430
4. Baltimore, . . . . .1,437,100 1,420,360 1,376,320 1,588,680
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18,888,330 18,666,475 16,919,160 21,092,230
After exhibiting this table, and taking it for complete proof of the truth of the theory which he had laid down, and that it demonstrated the impossibility of keeping up a circulation of the United States Bank paper in the remote and interior parts of the Union, Mr. B. went on to say that the story was yet but half toldthe mischief of this systematic flow of national currency to the Northeast, was but half disclosed ; another curtain was yet to be liftedanother vista was yet to be openedand the effect of the system upon the metallic currency of the States was to be shown to the people and the States. This view would show, that as fast as the checks or notes of any branch were taken up at the mother bank, or at the branches north of the Potomac, an account was opened against the branch from which they came. The branch was charged with the amount of the notes or checks taken up ; and periodically served with a copy of the account, and commanded to send on specie or bills of exchange to redeem them. When redeemed, they were remitted to the branch from which they came ; while on the road they were called notes in transitu ; and when arrived they were put into circulation again at that placefell into the current immediately, which carried them back to the Northeastthere taken up again, charged to the branchthe branch required to redeem them again with specie or bills of exchange ; and then returned to her, to be again put into circulation, and to undergo again and again, and until the branch could no longer redeem them, the endless process of flowing to the Northeast. The result of the whole was, is, and for ever will be, that the branch will have to redeem its circulation till redemption is impossible ; until it has exhausted the country of its specie ; and then the country in which the branch is situated is worse off than before she had a branch ; for she had neither notes nor specie left. Mr. B. said that this was too important a view of the case to be rested on argument and assertion alone ; it required evidence to vanquish incredulity, and to prove it up ; and that evidence was at hand. He then referred to two tables to show the amount of hard money which the mother bank, under the operation of this system, had drawn from the States in which her branches were situated. All the tables were up to the year 1831, the period to which the last investigating committee had brought up their inquiries. One of these statements showed the amount abstracted from the whole Union ; it was $40,040,622.20 ; another showed the amount taken from the Southern and Western States ; it was $22,523,387.94 ; another showed the amount taken from the branch at New Orleans ; it was $12,815,798.10. Such, said Mr. B., has been the result of the experiment to diffuse a national paper currency over this extended Union. Twice in eighteen years it has totally failed, leaving the country exhausted of its specie, and destitute of paper. This was proof enough, but there was still another mode of proving the same thing ; it was the fact of the present amount of United States Bank notes in circulation. Mr. B. had heard with pain the assertion made in so many memorials presented to the Senate, that there was a great scarcity of currency ; that the Bank of the United States had been obliged to contract her circulation in consequence of the removal of the deposits, and that her notes had become so scarce that none could be found ; and strongly contrasting the present dearth which now prevails with the abundant plenty of these notes which reigned over a happy land before that fatal measure came to blast a state of unparalleled prosperity. The fact was, Mr. B. said, that the actual circulation of the bank is greater now than it was before the removal of the deposits ; greater than it has been in any month but one for upwards of a year past. The discounts were diminished, he said, but the circulation was increased.
Mr. B. then exhibited a table of the actual circulation of the Bank of the United States for the whole year 1833, and for the two past months of the present year ; and stated it to be taken from the monthly statements of the bank, as printed and laid upon the tables of members. It was the net circulationthe quantity of notes and checks actually outexcluding all that were on the road returning to the branch banks, called notes in transitu, and which would not be counted till again issued by the branch to which they were returned.
The following is the table :
January, 1833, . . $17,666,444
February, " . . . . . . 18,384,050
March, " . . . . . . . . .18,033,205
April, " . . . . . . . . . . 18,384,075
May, " . . . . . . . . . . .18,991,200
June, " . . . . . . . . . . .19,366,555
July, " . . . . . . . . . . . 18,890,505
August, " . . . . . . . . . 18,413,287
September, " . . . . . . .19,128,189
October, " . . . . . . . . 18,518,000
November, " . . . . . . 18,650,912
December, " . . . . not found.
January, 1834, . . . . 19,208,375
February, " . . . . . . . 19,260,472
By comparing the circulation of each month, as exhibited on this table, Mr. B. said, it would be seen that the quantity of United States Bank notes now in circulation is three quarters of a million greater than it was in October last, and a million and a half greater than it was in January, 1833. How, then, are we to account for this cry of no money, in which so many respectable men join ? It is in the single fact of their flow to the Northeast. The pigeons, which lately obscured the air with their numbers, have all taken their flight to the North ! But pigeons will return of themselves, whereas these bank notes will never return till they are purchased with gold and silver, and brought back. Mr. B. then alluded to a petition from a meeting in his native State, North Carolina, and in which one of his esteemed friends (Mr. Carson) late a member of the House of Representatives, was a principal actor, and which stated the absolute disappearance of United States Bank notes from all that region of country. Certainly the petition was true in that statement ; but it is equally true that it was mistaken in supposing that the circulation of the bank was diminished. The table which he had read had shown the contrary ; it showed an increase, instead of a diminution, of the circulation. The only difference was that it had all left that part of the country, and that it would do forever ! If a hundred millions of United States Bank notes were carried to the upper parts of North Carolina, and put into circulation, it would be but a short time before the whole would have fallen into the current which sweeps the paper of that bank to the Northeast. Mr. B. said there were four other classes of proof which he could bring in, but it would be a consumption of time, and a work of supererogation. He would not detail them, but state their heads : 1. One was the innumerable orders which the mother bank had forwarded to her branches to send on specie and bills of exchange to redeem their circulationto pour in reinforcements to the points to which their circulation tends ; 2. Another was in the examination of Mr. Biddle, president of the bank, by the investigating committee, in 1832, in which this absorbing tendency of the branch paper to flow to the Northeast was fully charged and admitted ; 3. A third was in the monthly statement of the notes in transitu, which amount to an average of four millions and a half for the last twelve months, making fifty millions for the year ; and which consist, by far the greater part, of branch notes and checks redeemed in the Northeast, purchased back by the branches, and on their way back to the place from which they issued ; and, 4. The last class of proof was in the fact, that the branches north of the Potomac, being unable or unwilling to redeem these notes any longer, actually ceased to redeem them last fall, even when taken in revenue payment to the United States, until coerced by the Secretary of the Treasury ; and that they will not be redeemed for individuals now, and are actually degenerating into a mere local currency. Upon these proofs and arguments, Mr. B. rested his case, and held it to be fully established, first, by argument, founded in the nature of bank circulation over an extended territory ; and secondly, by proof, derived from the operation of the present bank of the United States, that neither the present bank, nor any one that the wisdom of man can devise, can ever succeed in diffusing a general paper circulation over the States of this Union.
VI. Dropping every other objection to the banklooking at it purely and simply as a supplier of national currencyhe, Mr. B., could not consent to prolong the existence of the present bank. Certainly a profuse issue of paper at all pointsan additional circulation of even a few millions poured out at the destitute pointswould make currency plenty for a little while, but for a little while only. Nothing permanent would result from such a measure. On the contrary, in one or two years, the destitution and distress would be greater than it now is. At the same time, it is completely in the power of the bank, at this moment, to grant relief, full, adequate, instantaneous relief ! In making this assertion, Mr. B. meant to prove it ; and to prove it, be meant to do it in a way that it should reach the understanding of every candid and impartial friend that the bank possessed ; for he meant to discard and drop from the inquiry, all his own views upon the subject ; to leave out of view every statement made, and every opinion entertained by himself, and his friends, and proceeded to the inquiry upon the evidence of the bank aloneupon that evidence which flowed from the bank directory itself, and from the most zealous, and best informed of its friends on this floor. Mr. B. assumed that a mere cessation to curtail discounts, at this time, would be a reliefthat it would be the salvation of those who were pressedand put an end to the cry of distress ; he averred that this curtailment must now cease, or the bank must find a new reason for carrying it on ; for the old reason is exhausted, and cannot apply. Mr. B. then took two distinct views to sustain his position ; one founded in the actual conduct and present condition of the bank itself, and the other in a comparative view of the conduct and condition of the former Bank of the United States, at the approaching period of its dissolution.
I. As to the conduct and condition of the present bank.
Mr. B. appealed to the knowledge of all present for the accuracy of his assertion, when he said that the bank had now reduced her discounts, dollar for dollar, to the amount of public deposits withdrawn. The adversaries of the bank said the reduction was much larger than the abstraction ; but he dropped that, and confined himself strictly to the admissions and declarations of the bank itself. Taking then the fact to be, as the bank alleged it to be, that she had merely brought down her business in proportion to the capital taken from her, it followed of course that there was no reason for reducing her business any lower. Her relative positionher actual strengthwas the same now that it was before the removal ; and the old reason could not be available for the reduction of another dollar. Next, as to her condition. Mr. B. undertook to affirm, and would quickly prove, that the general condition of the bank was better now than it had been for years past ; and that the bank was better able to make loans, or to increase her circulation, than she was in any of those past periods in which she was so lavishly accommodating the public. For the proof of this, Mr. B. had recourse to her specie fund, always the true test of a banks ability, and showed it to be greater now than it had been for two years past, when her loans and circulation were so much greater than they are now. He took the month of May, 1832, when the whole amount of specie on hand was $7,890,347.59; when the net amount of notes in circulation was $21,044,415 ; and when the total discounts were $70,428,070.72 : and then contrasted it with the condition of the bank at this time, that is to say, in the month of February last, when the last return was made ; the items stands thus : specie, $10,523,385.69 ; net amount of notes in circulation, $19,260,472; total discounts, $54,842,973.64. From this view of figures, taken from the official bank returns, from which it appeared that the specie in the bank was nearly three millions greater than it was in May, 1832, her net circulation nearly two millions less, and her loans and discounts upwards of fifteen millions less ; Mr. B. would submit it to all candid men to say whether the bank is not more able to accommodate the community now than she was then ? At all events, he would demand if she was not now able to cease pressing them ?
II. As to the comparative condition and conduct of the first Bank of the United States at the period of its approaching dissolution.
Mr. B. took the condition of the bank from Mr. Gallatins statement of its affairs to Congress, made in January, 1811, just three months before the charter expired ; and which showed the discounts and loans of the bank to be $14,578,294.25, her capital being $10,000,000 ; so that the amount of her loans, three months before her dissolution, was nearly in proportion near enough for all practical viewsto the proportion which the present loans of the Bank of the United States bear to its capital of thirty-five millions. Fifty per cent. upon the former would give fifteen millions ; fifty per cent. upon the latter would give fifty-two millions and a half. To make the relative condition of the two banks precisely equal, it will be sufficient that the loans and discounts of the present bank shall be reduced to fifty-two millions by the month of January, 1836 ; that is to say, it need not make any further sensible reduction of its loans for nearly two years to come. Thus, the mere imitation of the conduct of the old bank will be a relief to the community. A mere cessation to curtail, will put an end to the distress, and let the country go on, quietly and regularly, in its moneyed operations. If the bank will not do thisif it will go on to curtailit is bound to give some new reason to the country. The old reason, of the removal of the deposits, will no longer answer. Mr. B. had no faith in that reason from the beginning, but he was now taking the bank upon her own evidence, and trying her upon her own reasons, and he held it to be impossible for her to go on without the production of a reason. The hostility of tho governmentrather an incomprehensible, and altogether a gratuitous reason, from the beginningwill no longer answer. The government in 1811 was as hostile to the old bank, as the government now is to this one ; and rather more so. Both Houses of Congress were then hostile to it, and hostile unto death ! For they let it die ! die on the day appointed by law for its death, without pity, without remorse, without the reprieve of one day. The government can do no worse now. The Secretary of the Treasury has removed the deposits ; and that account is settled by the reduction of an equal amount of loans and discounts. The rest depends upon the government ; and the hostility of the government cannot go further than to kill the bank, and cannot kill it more dead than the old bank was killed in 1811. Mr. B. had a further comparison to draw between the conduct of the old bank, and the present one. The old bank permitted her discounts to remain at their maximum to the very end of her charter ; she discounted sixty days paper up to the last day of her existence ; while this bank has commenced a furious curtailment two years and a half before the expiration of her charter. Again : the old bank had not an hour, as a corporation, to wind up her business after the end of her charter ; this bank has the use of all her corporate faculties, for that purpose, for two years after the end of her charter. Again : the present bank pretends that she will have to collect the whole of her debts within the period limited for winding up her affairs ; the old bank took upwards of twelve years after the expiration of her charter, to collect hers ! She created a trust ; she appointed trustees ; all the debts and credits were put into their hands, the trustees proceeded like any other collectors, giving time to all debtors who would secure the debt, pay interest punctually, and discharge the principal by instalments. This is what the old bank did ; and she did not close her affairs until the 16th of June, in the year 1823. The whole operation was conducted so gently, that the public knew nothing about it. The cotemporaries of the dissolution of the bank, knew nothing about its dissolution. And this is what the present bank may do, if it pleases. That it has not done sothat it is now grinding the community, and threatening to grind them still harder, is a proof of the dangerous nature of a great moneyed power ; and should be a warning to the people who now behold its conductwho feel its gripe, and hear its threatnever to suffer the existence of such another power in our free and happy land.
VII. Mr. B. deprecated the spirit which seemed to have broken out against State banks ; it was a spirit which augured badly for the rights of the States. Those banks were created by the States ; and the works of the States ought to be respected ; the stock in those banks was held by American citizens, and ought not to be injuriously assailed to give value to stock held in the federal bank by foreigners and aliens. The very mode of carrying on the warfare against State banks, has itself been an injury, and a just cause of complaint. Some of the most inconsiderable have been picked outtheir affairs presented in the most unfavorable light ; and then held forth as a fair sample of the whole. How much more easy would it have been to have acted a more grateful, and a more equitable part ! a part more just to the State governments which created those banks, and the American citizens who held stock in them ! Instead of hunting out for remote and inconsiderable banks, and instituting a most disparaging scrutiny into their small affairs, and making this high Senate the conspicuous theatre for the exhibition of their insignificance, why not take the higher order of the State banks ?those whose names and characters are well known ? whose stock upon the exchange of London and New-York, is superior to that of the United States Bank ? whose individual deposits are greater than those of the rival branches of the Bank of the United States, seated in their neighborhood ? whose bills of exchange are as eagerly sought for as those of the federal bank ? which have reduced exchange below the rates of the federal bank ? and which, in every particular that tries the credit, is superior to the one which is receiving so much homage and admiration ? Mr. B. said there were plenty of such State banks as he had described ; they were to be found in every principal city, from New Orleans to Boston. Some of them had been selected for deposit banks, others not ; but there was no difficulty in making a selection of an ample number.
This spirit of hostility to the State banks, Mr. B. said, was of recent origin, and seemed to keep pace with the spirit of attack upon the political rights of the States. When the first federal bank was created, in the year 1791, it was not even made, by its charter, a place of deposit for the public moneys. Mr. Jefferson preferred the State banks at that time ; and so declared himself in his cabinet opinion to President Washington. Mr. Gallatin deposited a part of the public moneys in the State banks during the whole of the long period that he was at the head of the treasury. At the dissolution of the first Bank of the United States, he turned over all the public moneys which he held in deposit to these banks, taking their obligation to pay out all the treasury warrants drawn upon them in gold and silver, if desired by the holder. When the present bank was chartered, the State banks stood upon an equal footing with the federal bank, and were placed upon an equality with it as banks of deposit, in the very charter which created the federal bank. Mr. B. was alluding to the 14th fundamental article of the constitution of the bankthe article which provided for the establishment of branchesand which presented an argument in justification of the removal of the deposits which the adversaries of that measure most pertinaciously decline to answer. The government wanted banks of deposit, not of circulation ; and by that article, the State banks are made just as much banks of deposit for the United States as the Bank of the United States is. They are put upon exact equality, so far as the federal government is concerned ; for she stipulates but for one single branch of the United States Bank, and that to be placed at Washington city. As for all other branches, their establishment was made to dependnot on the will, or power, of the federal governmentnot on any supposed or real necessity on her part to have the use of such branchesbut upon contingencies over which she had no control ; contingencies depending, one upon the more calculation of profit and loss by the bank itself, the other upon the subscriptions of stock within a State, and the application of its legislature. In these contingencies, namely, if the Bank of the United States thought it to her interest to establish branches in the States, she might do it ; or, if 2,000 shares of stock was subscribed for in a State, and thereupon an application was made by the State legislature for the institution of a branch, then its establishment within the State became obligatory upon the bank. In neither contingency had the will, the power, or the necessities of the federal government, the least weight, concern, or consideration, in the establishment of the branch. If not established, and so far as the government is concerned, it might not be, then the State banks, selected by the United States Bank, and approved by the Secretary of the Treasury, were to be the banks of deposit for the federal moneys. This was an argument, Mr. B. said, in justification of the removal of the deposits, and in favor of the use of the State banks which gentlemen on the opposite side of the questiongentlemen who take so much pains to decry State bankshave been careful not to answer.
The evils of a small paper circulation, he considered among the greatest grievances that could afflict a community. The evils were innumerable, and fell almost exclusively upon those who were least able to bear them, or to guard against them. If a bank stops payment, the holders of the small notes, who are usually the working part of the community, are the last to find it out, and the first to suffer. If counterfeiting is perpetrated, it is chiefly the small notes which are selected for imitation, because they are most current among those who know the least about notes, and who are most easily made the dupes of imposition, and the victims of fraud. As the expeller of hard money, small notes were the bane and curse of a country. A nation is scarce, or abundant, in hard money, precisely in the degree in which it tolerates the lower denominations of bank notes. France tolerates no note less than $100 ; and has a gold and silver circulation of 350 millions of dollars. England tolerates no note of less than $25 ; and has a gold and silver circulation of 130 millions of dollars : in the United States, where $5 is the minimum size of the federal bank notes, the whole specie circulation, including what is in the banks, does not amount to thirty millions of dollars. To increase the quantity of hard money in the United States, and to supply the body of the people with an adequate specie currency to serve for their daily wants, and ordinary transactions, the bank note circulation below twenty dollars, ought to be suppressed. If Congress could pass a law to that effect, it ought to bed one ; but it cannot pass such a law : it has no constitutional power to pass it. Congress can, however, do something else, which will, in time, effectually put down such a currency. It can discard it, and disparage it. It can reject it from all federal payments. It can reject the whole circulation of any bank that will continue to issue small notes. Their rejection from all federal payments, would check their currency, and confine the orbit of their circulation to the immediate neighborhood of the issuing bank. The bank itself would find but little profit from issuing thempublic sentiment would come to the aid of federal policy. The people of the States, when countenanced and sustained by the federal government, would indulge their natural antipathy and honest detestation of a small paper currency. They would make war upon all small notes. The State legislatures would be under the control of the people ; and the States that should first have the wisdom to limit their paper circulation to a minimum of twenty dollar bills, would immediately fill up with gold and silver. The common currency would be entirely metallic ; and there would be abroad and solid basis for a superstructure of large notes ; while the States which continued to tolerate the small notes, would be afflicted with all the evils of a most pestilential part of the paper system,small notes, part counterfeit, part uncurrent, half worn out ; and all incapable of being used with any regard to a beneficial economy. Mr. B. went on to depict the evils of a small note currency, which he looked upon as the bane and curse of the laboring part of the community, and the reproach and opprobrium of any government that tolerated it. He said that the government which suffered its currency to fall into such a state that the farmer, the artisan, the market man, the day laborer, and the hired servant, could only be paid in small bank notes, was a government which abdicated one of its most sacred duties ; and became an accomplice on the part of the strong in the oppression of the weak.
Mr. B. placed great reliance upon the restoration of the gold currency for putting down a small note circulation. No man would choose to carry a bundle of small bank notes in his pocket, even new and clean ones, much less old, ragged, and filthy ones, when he could get gold in their place. A limitation upon the receivability of these notes, in payment of federal dues, would complete their suppression. Mr. B. did not aspire to the felicity of seeing as fine a currency in the United States as there is in France, where there was no bank note under five hundred francs, and where there was a gold and silver circulation at the rate of eleven dollars a head for each man, woman, and child, in the kingdom, namely, three hundred and fifty millions of dollars for a population of thirty-two millions of souls ; but he did aspire to the comparative happiness of seeing as good currency established for ourselves, by ourselves, as our old fellow-subjectsthe people of old Englandnow possess from their king, lords, and commons. Theyhe spoke of England properhad no bank note less than five pounds sterling, and they possessed a specie circulation (of which three-fourths was gold) at the rate of about nine dollars a head, men, women, children (even paupers) included ; namely, about one hundred and thirty millions for a population of fourteen millions. He, Mr. B., must be allowed to aspire to the happiness of possessing, and in his sphere to labor to acquire, as good a circulation as these English have ; and that would be an immeasurable improvement upon our present condition. We have local bank notes of one, two, three, four dollars ; we have federal bank notes of five and ten dollarsthe notes of those English who are using gold at home while we are using their paper here :we have not a particle of gold, and not more silver than at the rate of about two dollars a head, men, women, children (even slaves) included ; namely, about thirty millions of silver for a population of thirteen millions. Mr. B. believed there was not upon the face of the earth, a country whose actual currency was in a more deplorable condition than that of the United States was at present ; the bitter fruit of that fatal paper system which was brought upon us, with the establishment of the first Bank of the United States in 1791, and which will be continued upon us until the citadel of that systemthe Bastille of paper money, the present Bank of the United States, shall cease to exist.
Mr. B. said, that he was not the organ of the President on this floorhe had no authority from the President to speak his sentiments to the Senate. Even if he knew them, it would be unparliamentary, and irregular, to state them. There was a way for the Senate to communicate with the President, which was too well known to every gentleman to require any indication from him. But he might be permitted to suggestin the absence of all regular informationthat if any Senator wished to understand, and to comment upon, the Presidents opinions on currency, he might, perhaps, come something nearer to the mark, by commenting on what he (Mr. B.) had been saying, than by having recourse to the town meeting reports of inimical bank committees.