Senator Benton

1820 TO 1850

ANNO 1834.

I. page 458.

Attempted Investigation of the Bank
of the United States.

THE House of Representatives had appointed a select committee of its members to investigate the affairs of the Bank of the United States—seven in number, and consisting of Mr. Francis Thomas, of Maryland ;  Mr. Edward Everett, of Massachusetts ;  Mr. Henry A. Muhlenberg, of Pennsylvania ;  Mr. John Y. Mason, of Virginia ;  Mr. W.W. Ellsworth, of Connecticut ;  Mr. Abijah Mann, Jr. of New-York ;  Mr. Robert T. Lytle, of Ohio.

The authority under which the committee acted, required them to ascertain :  1.  The causes of the commercial embarrassment, and the public distress complained of in the numerous distress memorials presented to the two Houses during the session ;  and whether the bank bad been any way instrumental ;  through its management or money, in producing the distress and embarrassment, of which so much complaint was made.  2.  To inquire whether the charter of the bank had been violated ;  and what corruptions and abuses, if any, had existed in its management.  3.  To inquire whether the bank had used its corporate power, or money, to control the press, to interpose in politics, or to influence elections.

The authority conferred upon the committee was ample for the execution of these inquiries.  It was authorized to send for persons and papers ;  to summon and examine witnesses on oath ;  to visit, if necessary, the principal bank, and its branches ;  to inspect the books, correspondence and accounts of the bank, and other papers connected with its management.  The right of the House to make this investigation was two-fold :  first, under the twenty-third article of the charter :  secondly, as the founder of the corporation ;  to whom belongs, in law language, the right to “visit” the institution it has founded ;  which “visiting” is for examination—as a bishop “visits” his diocese—a superintendent “visits” the works and persons under his care ;  not to see them, but to examine into their management and condition.  There was also, a third right of examination, resulting from the act of the corporation ;  it was again soliciting a re-charter, and was bound to show that the corporations had used their actual charter fairly and legally before it asked for another.  And, fourthly, there was a further right of investigation, still resulting from its conduct.  It denied all the accusations brought against it by the government directors, and brought before Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury ;  and joined issue upon those accusations in a memorial addressed to the two Houses of Congress.  To refuse examination under these circumstances would be shrinking from the issue which itself had joined.  The committee proceeded to Philadelphia, and soon found that the bank did not mean to submit to an examination.  Captious and special pleading objections were made at every step, until attempts on one side and objections on the other ended in a total refusal to submit their books for inspection, or themselves for an examination.  The directors had appointed a company of seven to meet the committee of the House—a procedure unwarranted by any right or usage, and offensive in its pretentious equality ;  but to which the committee consented, at first, from a desire to do nothing to balk the examination.  That corporation committee was to sit with them, in the room in the bank assigned for the examination ;  and took care always to preoccupy it before the House committee arrived ;  and to act as if at home, receiving guests.  The committee then took a room in a hotel, and asked to have the bank books sent to them ;  which was refused.  They then desired to have the books subjected to their inspection in the bank itself ;  in which request they were baffled, and defeated.  The bank committee required written specification of their points of inquiry, either in examining a book, or asking a question—that it might judge its legality ;  which they confined to mere breaches of the charter.  And when the directors were summoned to answer questions, they refused to be sworn, and excused themselves on the ground of being parties to the proceeding.  Some passages from the committee’s report will show to what extent this higgling and contumacy was carried by this corporation—deriving its existence from Congress, and endeavoring to force a renewed charter from it while refusing to show how it had used the first one.  Thus :

“ On the 23d of April, their chairman addressed to the President of the bank, a communication, inclosing a copy of the resolution of the House of Representatives, and notifying him of the readiness of the committee to visit the bank on the ensuing day, at any hour agreeable to him.  In reply, the President informed the committee that the papers thus received should be submitted to the board of directors, at a special meeting to be called for that purpose.  It appears, in the journal of the proceedings of the committee, herewith presented to the House, that this was done, and that the directors appointed a committee of seven of their board, to receive the committee of the House of Representatives, and to offer for their inspection such books and papers of the bank, as may be necessary to exhibit the proceedings of the corporation, according to the requirement of the charter.  In the letter of John Sergeant, Esq., as chairman of the committee of directors communicating the proceeding, of the board, he says that he was directed to inform the chairman of this committee that the committee of the directors ‘ will immediately direct the necessary arrangements to be made for the accommodation of the committee of the House of Representatives,’ and would attend at the bank to receive them the next day, at eleven o’clock.  Your committee attended, and were received by the committee of directors.

“ Up to this period, nothing had occurred to justify the belief that a disposition was felt, on the part of the managers of the bank, to embarrass the proceedings of the committee, or have them conducted differently from those of the two preceding committees of investigation.  On assembling, however, the next morning, at the bank, they found the room which had been offered for their accommodation, preoccupied by the committee of the board, with the president of the bank, as an ex officio member, claiming the right to be present at the investigations and examinations of this committee.  This proceeding the committee were not prepared to expect.  When the appointment of the committee of seven was first made, it was supposed that that measure, however designed, was not well calculated to facilitate the examination.

“ With a previous determination to be present when their books were to be inspected ;  they could have waited to avow it until these books were called for, and the attempt made to inspect them in their absence.  These circumstances are now reviewed, because they then excited an apprehension, which the sequel formed into conviction, that this committee of directors had been appointed to supervise the acts and doings of your committee, and to limit and restrain their proceedings, not according to the directions contained in the resolution of the House, but the will and judgment of the board of directors.  Your committee have chosen to ascribe this claim of the committee of directors to sit conjointly with them, to the desire to prevent them from making use of the books and papers, for some of the purposes pointed out by the resolution of the House.  They are sensible that this claim to be present at all examinations, avowed prematurely, and subsequently persisted in with peculiar pertinancy, could be attributed to very different motives ;  but respect for themselves, and respect for the gentlemen who compose the committee of directors, utterly forbids the ascription to them of a feeling which would merit compassion and contempt much more than resentment.

“ This novel position, voluntarily and deliberately taken by the committee of the directors, predicated on an idea of equality of rights with your committee, and in some measure necessary, that your committee should express its opinions of the relative rights of the corporation and the House of Representatives.  To avoid all misunderstanding and future misrepresentations, it was desirable that each question should be decided separately.  Contemplating an extended investigation, but unwilling that an apprehension should exist of improper disclosures being made of the transactions of the bank and its customers, your committee, following the example of the committee of 1832, adopted a resolution declaring that their proceedings should be confidential, until otherwise ordered by the committee, and also a resolution that the committee would conduct its investigations ‘without the presence of any person not required or invited to attend.’  A copy of these resolutions was furnished to the committee of directors, in the hope that the exclusive control of a room at the bank, during its hours of business, would thereafter be conceded to your committee, while the claim of the committee of directors to be present when the books were submitted for inspection, should be postponed for decision, when the books were called for and produced by them.

“ On the 28th ult. this committee assembled at the banking house, and again found the room they expected to find set apart for their use, preoccupied by the committee of directors, and others, officers of the bank.  And instead of such assurances as they had a right to expect, they received copies of two resolutions adopted by the board of directors, in which they were given to understand that their continued occupation of the room must be considered a favor, and not a matter of right ;  and in which the board indulge in unjust commentaries on the resolution of the House of Representatives ;  and intimate an apprehension that your committee design to make their examinations secret, partial, unjust, oppressive and contrary to common right.”

On receiving this offensive communication, manifestly intended to bring on a quarrel, the committee adopted a resolution to sit in a room of their hotel, and advised the bank accordingly ;  and required the president and directors to submit the books to their inspection in the room so chosen, at a day and hour named.  To this the directors answered that they could not comply ;  and the committee, desirous to do all they could to accomplish the investigation committed to them, then gave notice that they would attend at the bank on a named day and hour to inspect the books in the bank itself—either at the counter, or in a room.  Arriving at the appointed time, and asking to see the books, they were positively refused, reasons in writing being assigned for the refusal.  They then made a written request to see certain books specifically and for a specified purpose, namely, to ascertain the truth of the report of the government directors in using the money and power of the bank in politics, in elections, or in producing the distress.  The manner in which this call was treated must be given in the words of the report itself ;  thus :

“ Without giving a specific answer to these calls for books and papers, the committee of directors presented a written communication, which was said to be ‘ indicative of the mode of proceeding deemed right by the bank.’

The committee of the board in that communication, express the opinion, that the inquiry can only be rightfully extended to alleged violations of the charter, and deny virtually the right of the House of Representatives to authorize the inquiries required in the resolution.

“ They also required of the committee of investigation, ‘when they asked for books and papers, to state specifically in writing, the purposes for which they are proposed to be inspected ;  and if it be to establish a violation of the charter, then to state specifically in writing, what are the alleged or supposed violations of charter, to which the evidence is alleged to be applicable.’

“ To this extraordinary requirement, made on the supposition that your committee were charged with the duty of crimination, or prosecution for criminal offence, and implying a right on the part of the directors to determine for what purposes the inspection should be made, and what books or papers should be submitted to inspection, your committee replied, that they were not charged with the duty of criminating the bank, its directors, or others ;  but simply to inquire, amongst other things, whether any prosecution in legal form should be instituted, and from the nature of their duties, and the instructions of the House of Representatives, they were not bound to state specifically in writing any charges against the bank, or any special purpose for which they required the production of the books and papers for inspection.”

The committee then asked for copies of the accounts and entries which they wished to see, and were answered that it would require the labor of two clerks for ten months to make them out ;  and so declined to give the copies.  The committee finding that they could make nothing out of books and papers, determined to change their examination of things into that of persons ;  and for that purpose had recourse to the subpoenas, furnished by the House ;  and had them served by the United States marshal on the president and directors.  This subpoena, which contained a clause of duces tecum, with respect to the books, was so far obeyed as to bring the directors in person before the committee ;  and so far disobeyed as to bring them without the books, and so far exceeded as to bring them with a written refusal to be sworn—for reasons which they stated.  But this part deserves to be told in the language of the report ;  which says :

“ Believing they had now exhausted, in their efforts to execute the duty devolved upon them, all reasonable means depending solely upon the provisions of the bank charter, to obtain the inspection of the books of this corporation, your committee were at last reluctantly compelled to resort to the subpoenas which had been furnished to them under the seal of this House, and attested by its clerk.  They, thereby, on the 9th inst. directed the marshal of the eastern district of Pennsylvania to summon Nicholas Biddle, president, and thirteen other persons, directors of the bank, to attend at their committee room, on the next day, at twelve o’clock, at noon, to testify concerning the matters of which your committee were authorized to inquire, and to bring with them certain books therein named for inspection.  The marshal served the summons in due form of law, and at the time appointed, the persons therein named appeared before the committee and presented a written communication signed by each of them, as the answer of each to the requirements of the subpoena, which is in the appendix to this report.  In this paper they declare ‘that they do not produce the books required, because they are not in the custody of either of us, but as has been heretofore stated, of the board,’ and add, ‘considering that as corporators and directors, we are parties to the proceeding—we do not consider ourselves bound to testify, and therefore respectfully decline to do so.’ ”

This put an end to the attempted investigation.  The committee returned to Washington—made report of their proceedings, and moved :  “ That the speaker of this House do issue his warrant to the sergeant-at-arms, to arrest Nicholas Biddle, president—Manuel Eyre, Lawrence Lewis, Ambrose White, Daniel W. Cog, John Holmes, Charles Chauncey, John Goddard, John R. Neff, William Platt, Matthew Newkirk, James C. Fisher, John S. Henry, and John Sergeant, directors—of the Bank of the United States, and bring them to the bar of this House, to answer for the contempt of its lawful authority.”  This resolve was not acted upon by the House ;  and the directors had the satisfaction to enjoy a negative triumph in their contempt of the House, flagrant as that contempt was upon its own showing, and still more so upon its contrast with the conduct of the same bank (though under a different set of directors), in the year 1819.  A committee of investigation was then appointed, armed with the same powers which were granted to this committee of the year 1834, and the directors of that time readily submitted to every species of examination which the committee chose to make.  They visited the principal bank at Philadelphia, and several of its branches.  They had free and unrestrained access to the books and papers of the bank.  They were furnished by the officers with all the copies and extracts they asked for.  They summoned before them the directors and officers of the bank, examined them on oath, took their testimony in writing—and obtained full answers to all their questions, whether they implied illegalities violative of the charter, or abuses, or mismanagement, or mistakes and errors.


ABOUT the time when the panic was at its height, and Congress most heavily assailed with distress memorials, the Secretary of the Treasury was called upon by a resolve of the Senate for a report upon the finances—with the full belief that the finances were going to ruin, and that the government would soon be left without adequate revenue, and driven to the mortifying resource of loans.  The call on the Secretary was made early in May, and was answered the middle of June ;  and was an utter disappointment to those who called for it.  Far from showing the financial decline which had been expected, it showed an increase in every branch of the revenue ! and from that authentic test of the national condition, it was authentically shown that the Union was prosperous ! and that the distress, of which so much was heard, was confined to the victims of the United States Bank, so far as it was real ;  and that all beyond that was fictitious and artificial—the result of the machinery for organizing panic, oppressing debtors, breaking up labor, and alarming the timid.  When the report came into the Senate, the reading of it was commenced at the table of the Secretary, and had not proceeded far when Mr. Webster moved to cease the reading, and send it to the Committee on Finance—that committee in which a report of that kind could not expect to find either an early or favorable notice.  We had expected a motion to get rid of it, in some quiet way, and had prepared for whatever might happen.  Mr. Taney had sent for me, the day before it came in ;  read it over with me ;  showed me all the tables on which it was founded ;  and prepared me to sustain and emblazon it :  for it was our intention that such a report should go to the country, not in the quiet, subdued tone of a State paper, but with all the emphasis, and all the challenges to public attention, which the amplifications, the animation, and the fire and freedom which the speaking style admitted.  The instant, then, that Mr. Webster made his motion to stop the reading, and refer the report to the Finance Committee, Mr. Benton rose, and demanded that the reading be continued :  a demand which he had a right to make, as the rules gave it to every member.  He had no occasion to hear it read, and probably heard nothing of it ;  but the form was necessary, as the report was to be the text of his speech.  The instant it was done, he rose and delivered his speech, seizing the circumstance of the interrupted reading to furnish the brief exordium, and to give a fresh and impromptu air to what he was going to say.  The following is the speech :

Mr. Benton rose, and said that this report was of a nature to deserve some attention, before it left the chamber of the Senate, and went to a committee, from which it might not return in time for consideration at this session.  It had been called for under circumstances which attracted attention, and disclosed information which deserved to be known.  It was called for early in May, in the crisis of the alarm operations, and with confident assertions that the answer to the call would prove the distress and the suffering of the country.  It was confidently asserted that the Secretary of the Treasury had over-estimated the revenues of the year ;  that there would be a great falling off—a decline—a bankruptcy ;  that confidence was destroyed—enterprise checked—industry paralyzed—commerce suspended ! that the direful act of one man, in one dire order, had changed the face of the country, from a scene of unparalleled prosperity to a scene of unparalleled


A MEASURE of relief was now at hand, before which the machinery of distress was to balk, and cease its long and cruel labors :  it was the passage of the bill for equalizing the value of gold and silver, and legalizing the tender of foreign coins of both metals.  The bills were brought forward in the House by Mr. Campbell P. White of New-York, and passed after an animated contest, in which the chief question was as to the true relative value of the two metals ;  varied by some into a preference for national bank paper.  Fifteen and five-eighths to one was the ratio of nearly all who seemed best calculated, from their pursuits, to understand the subject.  The thick array of speakers was on that side ;  and the eighteen banks of the city of New-York, with Mr. Gallatin at their head, favored that proportion.  The difficulty of adjusting this value, so that neither metal should expel the other, had been the stumbling block for a great many years ;  and now this difficulty seemed to be as formidable as ever.  Refined calculations were gone into :  scientific light was sought :  history was rummaged back to the times of the Roman empire :  and there seemed to be no way of getting to a concord of opinion either from the lights of science, the voice of history, or the result of calculations.  The author of this view had (in his speeches on the subject), taken up the question in a practical point of view, regardless of history, and calculations, and the opinions of bank officers ;  and looking to the actual, and equal, circulation of the two metals in different countries, he saw that thus equality and actuality of circulation had existed for above three hundred years in the Spanish dominions of Mexico and South America, where the proportion was 16 to one.  Taking his stand upon this single fact, as the practical test which solved the question, all the real friends of the gold currency soon rallied to it.  Mr. White gave up the bill which he had first introduced, and adopted the Spanish ratio.  Mr. Clowney of South Carolina, Mr. Gillet and Mr. Cambreleng of New-York, Mr. Ewing of Indiana, Mr. McKim of Maryland, and other speakers, gave it a warm support.  Mr. John Quincy Adams would vote for it, though he thought the gold was over-valued ;  but if found to be so, the difference could be corrected hereafter.  The principal speakers against it and in favor of a lower rate, were Messrs. Gorham of Massachusetts ;  Selden of New-York ;  Binney of Pennsylvania ;  and Wilde of Georgia.  And, eventually the bill was passed by a large majority—145 to 36.  In the Senate it had an easy passage.  Mr. Calhoun and Webster supported it :  Mr. Clay opposed it :  and on the final vote there were but seven negatives :  Messrs. Chambers of Maryland ; Clay ;  Knight of Rhode Island ;  Alexander Porter of Louisiana ;  Silsbee of Massachusetts ;  Southard of New Jersey ;  Sprague of Maine.

The good effects of the bill were immediately seen.  Gold began to flow into the country through all the channels of commerce :  old chests gave up their hordes :  the mint was busy :  and in a few months, and as if by magic, a currency banished from the country for thirty years, overspread the land, and gave joy and confidence to all the pursuits of industry.  But this joy was not universal.  A large interest connected with the Bank of the United States, and its subsidiary and subaltern institutions, and the whole paper system, vehemently opposed it ;  and spared neither pains nor expense to check its circulation, and to bring odium upon its supporters.  People were alarmed with counterfeits.  Gilt counters were exhibited in the markets, to alarm the ignorant.  The coin itself was burlesqued ;  in mock imitations of brass or copper, with grotesque figures, and ludicrous inscriptions—the “whole hog” and the “better currency,” being the favorite devices.  Many newspapers expended their daily wit in its stale depreciation.  The most exalted of the paper money party, would recoil a step when it was offered to them, and beg for paper.  The name of “ Gold humbug” was fastened upon the person supposed to have been chiefly instrumental in bringing the derided coin into existence ;  and he, not to be abashed, made its eulogy a standing theme—vaunting its excellence, boasting its coming abundance, to spread over the land, flow up the Mississippi, shine through the interstices of the long silken purse, and to be locked up safely in the farmer’s trusty oaken chest.  For a year there was a real war of the paper against gold.  But there was something that was an overmatch for the arts, or power, of the paper system in this particular, and which needed no persuasions to guide it when it had its choice :  it was the instinctive feeling of the masses ! which told them that money which would jingle in the pocket was the right money for them—that hard money was the right money for hard hands—that gold was the true currency for every man that had any thing true to give for it, either in labor or property :  and upon these instinctive feelings gold became the avidious demand of the vast operative and producing classes.


A PRESENTIMENT of what was to happen induced the President to delay, until near the end of the session, the nomination to the Senate of Mr. Taney for Secretary of the Treasury.  He had offended the Bank of the United States too much to expect his confirmation in the present temper of the Senate.  He had a right to hold back the nomination to the last day of the session, as the recess appointment was valid to its end ;  and he retained it to the last week, not being willing to lose the able and faithful services of that gentleman during the actual session of Congress.  At last, on the 23d of June, the nomination was sent in, and immediately rejected by the usual majority in all cases in which the bank was concerned.  Mr. Taney, the same day resigned his place ;  and Mr. McClintock Young, first clerk of the treasury, remained by law acting Secretary.  Mr. Benjamin Franklin Butler, of New-York, nominated for the place of attorney-general, was confirmed—he having done nothing since he came into the cabinet to subject him to the fate of his predecessor, though fully concurring with the President in all his measures in relation to the bank.


This corporation had lost so much ground in the public estimation, by repulsing the investigation attempted by the House of Representatives, that it became necessary to retrieve the loss by some report in its favor.  The friends of the institution determined, therefore, to have an investigation made by the Senate—by the Finance Committee of that body.  In conformity to this determination Mr. Southard, on the last day of the session moved that that committee should have leave to sit during the recess of the Senate to inquire whether the Bank of the United States had violated its charter—whether it was a safe depository of the public moneys—and what had been its conduct since 1832 in regard to extension and curtailment of loans, and its general management since that time.  The committee to whom this investigation was committed, consisted of Messrs. Webster, Tyler, Ewing, Mangum, and Wilkins.  Of this committee all, except the last named, were the opponents of the administration, friends of the bank, its zealous advocates in all the questions between it and the government, speaking ardently in its favor, and voting with it on all questions during the session.  Mr. Wilkins very properly refused to serve on the committee ;  and Mr. King of Alabama, being proposed in his place, also, and with equal propriety, refused to serve.  This act of the Senate in thus undertaking to examine the bank after a repulse of the committee of the House of Representatives and still standing out in contempt of that House, and by a committee so composed, and so restricted, completed the measure of mortification to all the friends of the American Senate.  It was deemed a cruel wound given to itself by the Senate.  It was a wrong thing, done in a wrong way, and could have no result but to lessen the dignity and respectability of the Senate.  The members of the committee were the advocates of the bank, and its public defenders on all the points to be examined.  This was a violation of parliamentary law, as well as of the first principles of decency and propriety—the whole of which require criminatory investigations to be made, by those who make the accusations.  It was to be done in vacation ;  for which purpose the committee was to sit in the recess—a proceeding without precedent, without warrant from any word in the constitution—and susceptible of the most abuseful and factious use.  The only semblance of precedent for it was the committee of the House in 1824, on the memorial of Mr. Ninian Edwards against Mr. Crawford in that year ;  but that was no warrant for this proceeding.  It was a mere authority to an existing committee which had gone through its examination, and made its report to the House, to continue its session after the House adjourned to take the deposition of the principal witness, detained by sickness, but on his way to the examination.  This deposition the committee were to take, publish, and be dissolved ;  and so it was done accordingly.  And even this slight continuation of a committee was obtained from the House with difficulty, and under the most urgent circumstances.  Mr. Crawford was a candidate for the presidency ;  the election was to come on before Congress met again ;  Mr. Edwards had made criminal charges against him ;  all the testimony had been taken, except that of Mr. Edwards himself ;  and he had notified the committee that be was on his way to appear before them in obedience to their summons.  And it was under these circumstances that the existing committee was authorized to remain in session for his arrival—to receive his testimony—publish it—and dissolve.  No perambulation through the country—no indefinite session—no putting members upon Congress per diems and mileage from one session to another.  Wrongful and abuseful in its creation, this peripatetic committee of the Senate was equally so in its composition and object.  It was composed of the advocates of the bank, and its object evidently was to retrieve for that institution a part of the ground which it had lost ;  and was so viewed by the community.  The clear-sighted masses saw nothing in it but a contrivance to varnish the bank, and the odious appellation of “whitewashing committee” was fastened upon it.


WHEN the author of the Æneid had shown the opening grandeur of Rome, he deemed himself justified in departing from the chronological order of events to look ahead, and give a glimpse of the dead Marcellus, hope and heir of the Augustan empire ;  in the like manner the writer of this View, after having shown the greatness of the United States Bank—exemplified in her capacity to have Jackson condemned—the government directors and a secretary of the treasury rejected—a committee of the House of Representatives repulsed—the country convulsed and agonized—and to obtain from the Senate of the United States a committee to proceed to the city of Philadelphia to “wash out its foul linen;”—after seeing all this and beholding the greatness of the moneyed power at the culminating point of its domination, I feel justified in looking ahead a few years to see it in its altered phase—in its ruined and fallen estate.  And this shall be done in the simplest form of exhibition ;  namely :  by copying some announcements from the Philadelphia papers of the day.  Thus :

1.  “Resolved (by the stockholders), that it is expedient for the Bank of the United States to make a general assignment of the real and personal estate, goods and chattels, rights and credits, whatsoever, and wheresover, of the said corporation, to five persons, for the payment or securing of the debts of the same—agreeably to the provisions of the acts of Assembly of this commonwealth (Pennsylvania).”

2.  “It is known that measures have been taken to rescue the property of this shattered institution from impending peril, and to recover as much as possible of those enormous bounties which it was conceded had been paid by its late managers to trading politicians and mercenary publishers for corrupt services, rendered to it during its charter-seeking and electioneering campaigns.”

3.  “The amount of the suit instituted by the Bank of the United States against Mr. N. Biddle is $1,018,000, paid out during his administration, for which no vouchers can be found.”

4.  “The United States Bank is a perfect wreck, and is seemingly the prey of the officers and their friends, which are making away with its choicest assets by selling them to each other, and taking pay in the depreciated paper of the South.”

5.  “Besides its own stock of 35,000,000, which is sunk, the bank carries down with it a great many other institutions and companies, involving a loss of about 21,000,000 more—making a loss of 56,000,000—besides injuries to individuals.”

6.  “There is no price for the United States Bank stock.  Some shares are sold, but as lottery tickets would be.  The mass of the stockholders stand, and look on, as passengers on a ship that is going down, and from which there is no escape.”

7.  “By virtue of a writ of venditioni exponas, directed to the sheriff of the city and county of Philadelphia, will be exposed to public sale to the highest bidder, on Friday, the 4th day of November next, the marble house and the grounds known as the Bank of the United States, &c.”

8.  “By virtue of a writ of levari facias, to me directed, will be exposed to public sale the estate known as “Andalusia,’ ninety-nine and a half acres, one of the most highly improved places in Philadelphia ;  the mansion-house, and out-houses and offices, all on the most splendid scale ;  the green-houses, hothouses, and conservatories, extensive and useful ;  taken as the property of Nicholas Biddle.”

9.  “To the honorable Court of General Sessions.  The grand jury for the county of Philadelphia, respectfully submit to the court, on their oaths and affirmations, that certain officers connected with the United States Bank, have been guilty of a gross violation of the law—colluding together to defraud those stockholders who had trusted their property to be preserved by them.  And that there is good ground to warrant a prosecution of such persons for criminal offences, which the grand jury do now present to the court, and ask that the attorney-general be directed to send up for the action of the grand jury, bills of indictment against Nicholas Biddle, Samuel Jaudon, John Andrews, and others, to the grand jury unknown, for a conspiracy to defraud the stockholders in the Bank of the United States of the sums of, &c.”

10.  Bills of indictment have been found against Nicholas Biddle, Samuel Jaudon and John Andrews, according to the presentment of the grand jury ;  and bench warrants issued, which have been executed upon them.”

11.  “Examination of Nicholas Biddle, and others, before Recorder Vaux.  Yesterday afternoon the crowd and excitement in and about the court-room where the examination was to take place was even greater than the day before.  The court-room doors were kept closed up to within a few minutes of four o’clock, the crowd outside blocking up every avenue leading to the room.  When the doors were thrown open it was immediately filled to overflowing.  At four the Recorder took his seat, and announcing that he was ready to proceed, the defendants were called, and severally answered to their names, &c.”

12.  “On Tuesday, the 18th, the examination of Nicholas Biddle and others, was continued, and concluded ;  and the Recorder ordered, that Nicholas Biddle, Thomas Dunlap, John Andrews, Samuel Jaudon, and Joseph Cowperthwaite, each enter into a separate recognizance, with two or more sufficient sureties, in the sum of $10,000, for their appearance at the present session of the court of general sessions for the city and county of Philadelphia, to answer the crime of which they thus stand charged.”

13.  “ Nicholas Biddle and those indicted with him have been carried upon writs of habeas corpus before the Judges Barton, Conrad, and Doran, and discharged from the custody of the sheriff.”

14.  “The criminal proceedings against these former officers of the Bank of the United States have been brought to a close.  To get rid of the charges against them without trial of the facts against them, before a jury, they had themselves surrendered by their bail, and sued out writs of habeas corpus for the release of their persons.  The opinions of the judges, the proceedings having been concluded, were delivered yesterday.  The opinions of Judges Barton and Conrad was for their discharge ;  that of Judge Doran was unfavorable.  They were accordingly discharged.  The indignation of the community is intense against this escape from the indictments without jury trials.”


HE died at Philadelphia in the summer of 1833—the scene of his early and brilliant apparition on the stage of public life, having commenced his parliamentary career in that city, under the first Mr. Adams, when Congress sat there, and when he was barely of an age to be admitted into the body.  For more than thirty years he was the political meteor of Congress, blazing with undiminished splendor during the whole time, and often appearing as the “planetary plague” which shed, not war and pestilence on nations, but agony and fear on members.  His sarcasm was keen, refined, withering—with a great tendency to indulge in it ;  but, as he believed, as a lawful parliamentary weapon to effect some desirable purpose.  Pretension, meanness, vice, demagogism, were the frequent subjects of the exercise of his talent ;  and, when confined to them, he was the benefactor of the House.  Wit and genius all allowed him ;  sagacity was a quality of his mind visible to all observers—and which gave him an intuitive insight into the effect of measures.  During the first six years of Mr. Jefferson’s administration, he was the “Murat” of his party, brilliant in the charge, and always ready for it ;  and valued in the council, as well as in the field.  He was long the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means—a place always of labor and responsibility, and of more then than now, when the elements of revenue were less abundant ;  and no man could have been placed in that situation during Mr. Jefferson’s time whose known sagacity was not a pledge for the safety of his lead in the most sudden and critical circumstances.  He was one of those whom that eminent statesman habitually consulted during the period of their friendship, and to whom he carefully communicated his plans before they were given to the public.  On his arrival at Washington at the opening of each session of Congress during this period, he regularly found waiting for him at his established lodgings—then Crawford’s, Georgetown—the card of Mr. Jefferson, with an invitation for dinner the next day ;  a dinner at which the leading measures of the ensuing session were the principal topic.  Mr. Jefferson did not treat in that way a member in whose sagacity he had not confidence.

It is not just to judge such a man by ordinary rules, nor by detached and separate incidents in his life.  To comprehend him, he must be judged as a whole—physically and mentally—and under many aspects, and for his entire life.  He was never well—a chronic victim of ill health from the cradle to the grave.  A letter from his most intimate and valued friend, Mr. Macon, written to me after his death, expressed the belief that he had never enjoyed during his life one day of perfect health—such as well people enjoy.  Such life-long suffering must have its effect on the temper and on the mind ;  and it had on his—bringing the temper often to the querulous mood, and the state of his mind sometimes to the question of insanity ;  a question which became judicial after his death, when the validity of his will came to be contested.  I had my opinion on the point, and gave it responsibly, in a deposition duly taken, to be read on the trial of the will ;  and in which a belief in his insanity, at several specified periods, was fully expressed—with the reasons for the opinion.  I had good opportunities of forming an opinion, living in the same house with him several years, having his confidence, and seeing him at all hours of the day and night.  It also on several occasions became my duty to study the question, with a view to govern my own conduct under critical circumstances.  Twice he applied to me to carry challenges for him.  It would have been inhuman to have gone out with a man not in his right mind, and critical to one’s self, as any accident on the ground might seriously compromise the second.  My opinion was fixed, of occasional temporary aberrations of mind ;  and