Thirty Years View
1820 to 1850
REPEAL OF THE INDEPENDENT TREASURY ACT :
Mr. Bentons Speech.
THE lateness of the hour, the heat of the day, the impatience of the majority, and the determination evinced to suffer no delay in gratifying the feeling which demanded the sacrifice of the Independent Treasury system, shall not prevent me from discharging the duty which I owe to the friends and authors of that system, and to the country itself, by defending it from the unjust and odious character which clamor and faction have fastened upon it. A great and systematic effort has been made to cry down the sub-treasury by dint of clamor, and to render it odious by unfounded representations and distorted descriptions. It seems to have been selected as a subject for an experiment at political bamboozling ; and nothing is too absurd, too preposterous, too foreign to the truth, to be urged against it, and to find a lodgment, as it is believed, in the minds of the uninformed and credulous part of the community. It is painted with every odious color, endowed with every mischievous attribute, and made the source and origin of every conceivable calamity. Not a vestige of the original appears ; and, instead of the old and true system which it revives and enforces, nothing is seen but a new and hideous monster, come to devour the people, and to destroy at once their liberty, happiness and property. In all this the opponents of the system copy the conduct of the French jacobins of the year 89, in attacking the veto power reserved to the king. The enlightened historian, Thiers, has given us an account of these jacobinical experiments upon French credulity ; and we are almost tempted to believe he was describing, with the spirit of prophecy, what we have seen taking place among ourselves. He says that, in some parts of the country, the people were taught to believe that the veto was a tax, which ought to be abolished ; in others, that it was a criminal, which ought to be hung ; in others again, that it was a monster, which ought to be killed ; and in others, that it was a power in the king to prevent the people from eating or drinking. As a specimen of this latter species of imposition which was attempted upon the ignorant, the historian gives a dialogue which actually took place between a jacobin politician and a country peasant in one of the remote departments of France, and which ran in about these terms : My friend, do you know what the veto is? I do not. Then I will tell you what it is. It is this : You have some soup in your porringer ; you are going to eat it ; the king commands you to empty it on the ground, and you must instantly empty it on the ground : that is the veto! This, said Mr. B. is the account which an eminent historian gives us of the means used to bamboozle ignorant peasants and to excite them against a constitutional provision in France, made for their benefit, and which only arrested legislation till the people could speak ; and I may say that means little short of such absurdity and nonsense have been used in our country to mislead and deceive the people, and to excite them against the sub-treasury here.
It is my intention, said Mr. B., to expose and to explode these artifices ; to show the folly and absurdity of the inventions which were used to delude the people in the country, and which no senator of the opposite party will so far forget himself as to repeat here ; and to exhibit the independent treasury as it isnot as a new and hurtful measure just conceived ; but as an old and salutary law, fallen into disuse in evil times, and now revived and improved for the safety and advantage of the country.
What is it, Mr. President, which constitutes the system called and known by the name of the sub-treasury, or the independent treasury ? It is two features, and two features alone, which constitute the systemall the rest is detailand these two features are borrowed and taken from the two acts of Congress of September first, and September the second, 1789 ; the one establishing a revenue system, and the other establishing a treasury department for the United States. By the first of these acts, and by its 30th section, gold and silver coin alone was made receivable in payments to the United States ; and by the second of them, section four, the treasurer of the United States is made the receiver, the keeper, and the payer, of the moneys of the United States, to the exclusion of banks, of which only three then existed. By these two laws, the first and the original financial system of the United States was established ; and they both now stand upon the statute book, unrepealed, and in full legal force, except in some details. By these laws, made in the first days of the first session of the first Congress, which sat under the constitution, gold and silver coin only was made the currency of the federal treasury, and the treasurer of the United States was made the fiscal agent to receive, to keep, and to pay out that gold and silver coin. This was the system of Washingtons administration ; and as such it went into effect. All payments to the federal government were made in gold and silver ; all such money paid remained in the hands of the treasurer himself, until he paid it out ; or in the hands of the collectors of the customs, or the receivers of the land offices, until he drew warrants upon them in favor of those to whom money was due from the government. Thus it was in the beginningin the first and happy years of Washingtons administration. The money of the government was hard money ; and nobody touched that money but the treasurer of the United States, and the officers who collected it ; and the whole of these were under bonds and penalties for their good behavior, subject to the lawful orders and general superintendence of the Secretary of the Treasury and the President of the United States, who was bound to see the laws faithfully executed. The government was then what it was made to bea hard-money government. It was made by hard-money men, who had seen enough of the evils of paper money and wished to save their posterity from such evils in future. The money was hard, and it was in the hands of the officers of the governmentthose who were subject to the orders of the governmentand not in the hands of those who were only subject to requisitionswho could refuse to pay, protest a warrant, tell the government to sue, and thus go to law with the government for its own money. The framers of the constitution, and the authors of the two acts of 1789, had seen enough of the evils of the system of requisitions under the confederation to warn them against it under the constitution. They determined that the new government should keep its own hard money, as well as collect it ; and thus the constitution, the law, the practice under the law, and the intentions of the hard-money and independent treasury men, were all in harmony, and in full, perfect, and beautiful operation, under the first years of General Washingtons administration. All was right, and all was happy and prosperous, at the commencement.
But the spoiler came ! General Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury. He was the advocate of the paper system, the banking system, and the funding system, which were fastened upon England by Sir Robert Walpole, in his long and baneful administration under the first and second George. General Hamilton was the advocate of these systems, and wished to transplant them to our America. He exerted his great abilities, rendered still more potent by his high personal character, and his glorious revolutionary services, to substitute paper money for the federal currency, and banks for the keepers of the public money ; and he succeeded to the extent of his wishes. The hard-money currency prescribed by the act of September 1st, 1789, was abolished by construction, and by a Treasury order to receive bank notes ; the fiscal agent for the reception, the keeping, and the disbursement of the public moneys, consisting of the treasurer, and his collectors and receivers, was superseded by the creation of a national bank, invested with the privilege of keeping the public moneys, paying them out, and furnishing supplies of paper money for the payment of dues to the government. Thus, the two acts of 1789 were avoided, or superseded ; not repealed, but only avoided and superseded by a Treasury order to receive paper, and a bank to keep it and pay it out. From this time paper money became the federal currency, and a bank the keeper of the federal money. It is needless to pursue this departure farther. The bank had its privileges for twenty yearswas succeeded in them by local banksthey superseded by a second national bankit again by local banksand these finally by the independent treasury systemwhich was nothing but a return to the fundamental acts of 1789.
This is the brief historythe genealogy ratherof our fiscal agents ; and from this it results, that after more than forty years of departure from the system of our forefathersafter more than forty years of wandering in the wilderness of banks, local and nationalafter more than forty years of wallowing in the slough of paper money, sometimes sound, sometimes rottenwe have returned to the point from which we sat outhard money for our Federal Treasury ; and our own officers to keep it. We returned to the acts of 89, not suddenly and crudely, but by degrees, and with details, to make the return safe and easy. The specie clause was restored, not by a sudden and single step, but gradually and progressively, to be accomplished in four years. The custody of the public moneys was restored to the treasurer and his officers ; and as it was impossible for him to take manual possession of the moneys every where, a few receivers-general were given to him to act as his deputies, and the two mints in Philadelphia and New Orleans (proper places to keep money, and their keys in the hands of our officers), were added to his means of receiving and keeping them. This return to the old acts of 89 was accomplished in the summer of 1840. The old system, with a new name, and a little additional organization, has been in force near one year. It has worked well. It has worked both well and easy, and now the question is to repeal it, and to begin again where General Hamilton started us above forty years ago, and which involved us so long in the fate of banks and in the miseries and calamities of paper money. The gentlemen on the other side of the House go for the repeal ; we against it ; and this defines the position of the two great parties of the dayone standing on ground occupied by General Hamilton and the federalists in the year 91 ; the other standing on the ground occupied at the same time by Mr. Jefferson and the democracy.
The democracy oppose the repeal, because this system is proved by experience to be the safest, the cheapest, and the best mode of collecting the revenues, and keeping and disbursing the public moneys, which the wisdom of man has yet invented. It is the safest mode of collecting, because it receives nothing but gold and silver, and thereby saves the government from loss by paper money, preserves the standard of value, and causes a supply of specie to be kept in the country for the use of the people and for the support of the sound part of the banks. It is the cheapest mode of keeping the moneys ; for the salaries of a few receivers are nothing compared to the cost of employing banks ; for banks must be paid either by a per centum, or by a gross sum, or by allowing them the gratuitous use of the public money. This latter method has been tried, and has been found to be the dearest of all possible modes. The sub-treasury is the safest mode of keeping, for the receivers-general are our officerssubject to our ordersremovable at our willpunishable criminallysuable civillyand bound in heavy securities. It is the best mode ; for it has no interest in increasing taxes in order to increase the deposits. Banks have this interest. A national bank has an interest in augmenting the revenue, because thereby it augmented the public deposits. The late bank had an average deposit for near twenty years of eleven millions and a half of public money in the name of the treasurer of the United States, and two millions aid a half in the names of public officers. It had an annual average deposit of fourteen millions, and was notoriously in favor of all taxes, and of the highest tariffs, and was leagued with the party which promoted these taxes and tariffs. A sub-treasury has no interest of this kind, and in that particular alone presents an immense advantage over any bank depositories, whether a national institution or a selection of local banks. Every public interest requires the independent treasury to be continued. It is the old system of 89. The law for it has been on our statute-book for fifty-two years. Every citizen who is under fifty-two years old has lived all his life under the sub-treasury law, although the law itself has been superseded or avoided during the greater part of the time. Like the country gentleman in Molieres comedy, who had talked prose all his life without knowing it, every citizen who is under fifty-two has lived his life under the sub-treasury lawunder the two acts of 89 which constitute it, and which have not been repealed.
We are against the repeal ; and although unable to resist it here, we hope to show to the American people that it ought not to be repealed, and that the time will come when its re-establishment will be demanded by the public voice.
Independent of our objections to the merits of this repeal, stands one of a preliminary character, which has been too often mentioned to need elucidation or enforcement, but which cannot be properly omitted in any general examination of the subject. We are about to repeal one system without having provided another, and without even knowing what may be substituted, or whether any substitute whatever shall be agreed upon. Shall we have any, and if any, what ? Shall it be a national bank, after the experience we have just had of such institutions ? Is it to be a nondescript inventiona fiscalityor fiscal agentto be planted in this District because we have exclusive jurisdiction here, and which, upon the same argument, may be placed in all the forts and arsenals, in all the dock-yards and navy-yards, in all the lighthouses and powder magazines, and in all the territories which the United States now possess, or may hereafter acquire ? We have exclusive jurisdiction over all these ; and if, with this argument, we can avoid the constitution in these ten miles square, we can also avoid it in every State, and in every territory of the Union. Is it to be the pet bank system of 1836, which, besides being rejected by all parties, is an impossibility in itself ? Is it to be the lawless condition of the public moneys, as gentlemen denounced it, which prevailed from October, 1833, when the deposits were removed from the Bank of the United States, till June, 1836, when the State bank deposit system was adopted ; and during all which time we could hear of nothing but the union of the purse and the sword, and the danger to our liberties from the concentration of all power in the hands of one man ? Is it to be any one of these, and which ? And if neither, then are the two acts of 89, which have never been repealedwhich have only been superseded by temporary enactments, which have ceased, or by treasury constructions which no one can now defendare these two acts to recover their vitality and vigor, and again become the law of the land, as they were in the first years of General Washingtons administration, and before General Hamilton overpowered them ? If so, we are still to have the identical system which we now repeal, with no earthly difference but the absence of its name, and the want of a few of its details. Be all this as it maylet the substitute be any thing or nothingwe have still accomplished a great point by the objection we have taken to the repeal before the substitute was produced, and by the vote which we took upon that point yesterday. We have gained the advantage of cutting gentlemen off from all plea for adopting their baneful schemes, founded upon the necessity of adopting something, because we have nothing. By their own vote they refuse to produce the new system before they abolish the old one. By their own vote they create the necessity which they deprecate ; and having been warned in time, and acting with their eyes open, they cannot make their own conduct a plea for adopting a bad measure rather than none. If Congress adjourns without any system, and the public moneys remain as they did from 1833 to 1836, the country will know whose fault it is ; and gentlemen will know what epithets to apply to themselves, by recollecting what they applied to General Jackson from the day the deposits were removed until the deposit act of 36 was passed.
Who demands the repeal of this system ? Not the people of the United States ; for there is not a solitary petition from the farmers, the mechanics, the productive classes, and the business men, against it. Politicians who want a national bank, to rule the country, and millionary speculators who want a bank to plunder itthese, to be sure, are clamorous for the repeal ; and for the obvious reasons that the present system stands in the way of their great plans. But who else demands it ? Who else objects to either feature of the sub-treasurythe hard-money feature, or the deposit of our own moneys with our own officers ? Make the inquirypursue it through its detailsexamine the community by classes, and see who objects. The hard-money feature is in full force. It took full effect at once in the South and West, because there were no bank-notes in those quarters of the Union of the receivable description : it took full effect in New York and New England, because, having preserved specie payments, specie was just as plenty in that quarter as paper money ; and all payments were either actually or virtually in hard money. It was specie, or its equivalent. The hard-money clause then went into operation at once, and who complained of it ? The payers of the revenue ? No, not one of them. The merchants who pay the duties have not complained ; the farmers who buy the public lands have not complained. On the contrary, they rejoice ; for hard-money payments keep off the speculator, with his bales of notes borrowed from banks, and enable the farmer to get his land at a fair price. The payers of the revenue then do not complain. How stands it with the next most interested classthe receivers of money from the United States ? Are they dissatisfied at being paid in gold and silver ? And do they wish to go back to the depreciated paperthe shinplastersthe compound of lampblack and ragswhich they received a few years ago ? Put this inquiry to the meritorious laborer who is working in stone, in wood, earth, and in iron for you at this moment. Ask him if he is tired of hard-money payments, and wishes the independent treasury system repealed, that he may get a chance to receive his hard-earned wages in broken bank-notes again. Ask the soldier and the mariner the same question. Ask the salaried officer and the contractor the same question. Ask ourselves here if we wish itwe who have seen ourselves paid in gold for years past, after having been for thirty years without a sight of that metal. No, sir, no. Neither the payers of money to the government, nor the receivers of money from the government, object to the hard-money clause in the sub-treasury act. How is it then with the body of the peoplethe great mass of the productive and business classes ? Do they object to the clause ? Not at all. They rejoice at it : for they receive, at second-hand, all that comes from the government. No officer, contractor, or laborer, cats the hard money which he receives from the government, but pays it out for the supplies which support his family : it all goes to the business and productive classes : and thus the payments from the government circulate from hand to hand, and go through the whole body of the people. Thus the whole body of the productive classes receive the benefit of the whole amount of the government hard-money payments. Who is it then that objects to it ? Broken banks, and their political confederates, are the clamorers against it. Banks which wish to make their paper a public currency : politicians who wish a national bank as a machine to rule the country. These banks, and these politicians, are the sole clamorers against the hard-money clause in the sub-treasury system : they alone clamor for paper money. And how is it with the other clausethe one which gives the custody of the public money to the hands of our own officers, bound to fidelity by character, by official position, by responsibility, by ample securityshipand makes it felony in them to touch it for their own use ? Here is a clear case of contention between the banks and the government, or between the clamorers for a national bank and the government. These banks want the custody of the public money. They struggle and strive for it as if it was their own. They fight for it : and if they get it, they will use it as their ownas we all well know ; and refuse to render back when they choose to suspend. Thus, the whole struggle for the repeal resolves itself into a contest between the government, and all the productive and business classes on one side, and the federal politicians, the rotten part of the local banks, and the advocates of a national bank on the other.
Sir, the independent treasury has been organized : I say, organized! for the law creating it is fifty-two years oldhas been organized in obedience to the will of the people, regularly expressed through their representatives after the question had been carried to them, and a general election had intervened. The sub-treasury system was proposed by President Van Buren in 1837, at the called session : it was adopted in 1840, after the question had been carried to the people, and the elections made to turn upon it. It was established, and clearly established, by the will of the people. Have the people condemned it ? Have they expressed dissatisfaction ? By no means. The presidential election was no test of this question ; nor of any question. The election of General Harrison was effected by the combination of all parties to pull down one party, without any unity among the assailants on the question of measures. A candidate was agreed upon by the opposition for whom all could vote. Suppose a different selection had been made, and an eminent whig candidate taken, and he had been beaten two to one (as would probably have been the case): what then would have been the argument ? Why, that the sub-treasury, and every other measure of the democracy, had been approved, two to one. The result of the election admits of no inference against this system ; and could not, without imputing a heedless versatility to the people, which they do not possess. Their representatives, in obedience to their will, and on full three years deliberation, established the systemestablished it in July, 1840: is it possible that, within four months afterwardsin the month of November following the same people should condemn their own work ?
But the system is to be abolished ; and we are to take our chance for something, or nothing, in place of it. The abolition is to take place incontinentlyincessantlyupon the instant of the passage of the bill ! such is the spirit which pursues it ! such the revengeful feeling which burns against it ! And the system is still to be going on for a while after its deathfor some days in the nearest parts, and some weeks in the remotest parts of the Union. The receiver-general in St. Louis will not know of his official death until ten days after he shall have been killed here. In the mean time, supposing himself to be alive, he is acting under the law ; and all he does is without law, and void. So of the rest. Not only must the system be abolished before a substitute is presented, but before the knowledge of the abolition can reach the officers who carry it on ; and who must continue to receive, and pay out public moneys for days and weeks after their functions have ceased, and when all their acts have become illegal and void.
Such is the spirit which pursues the measuresuch the vengeance against a measure which has taken the money of the people from the moneyed corporations. It is the vengeance of the banking spirit against its enemyagainst a system which deprives soulless corporations of their rich prey. Something must rise up in the place of the abolished system until Congress provides a substitute ; and that some thing will be the nest of local banks which the Secretary of the Treasury may choose to select. Among these local banks stands that of the Bank of the United States. The repeal of the sub-treasury has restored that institution to its capacity to become a depository of the public moneys : and well, and largely has she prepared herself to receive them. The Merchants Bank in New Orleans, her agent there ; her branch in New York under the State law ; and her branches and agencies in the South and in the West : all these subordinates, already prepared, enable her to take possession of the public moneys in all parts of the Union. That she expected to do so we learn from Mr. Biddle, who considered the attempted resumption in January last as unwise, because, in showing the broken condition of his bank, her claim to the deposits would become endangered. Mr. Biddle shows that the deposits were to have been restored ; that, while in a state of suspension, his bank was as good as any. De noche todas los gatos son pardos. So says the Spanish proverb. In the dark, all the cats are greyall of one color : the same of banks in a state of suspension. And in this darkness and assimilation of colors, the Bank of the United States has found her safety and securityher equality with the rest, and her fair claim to recover the keeping of the long-lost deposits. The attempt at resumption exposed her emptiness, and her rottennessshowed her to be the whited sepulchre, filled with dead mens bones. Liquidation was her coursethe only honestthe only justifiable course. Instead of that she accepts new terms (just completed) from the Pennsylvania legislaturesaffects to continue to exist as a bank : and by treating Mr. Biddle as the Jonas of the ship, when the whole crew were Jonases, expects to save herself by throwing him overboard. That bank is now, on the repeal of the sub-treasury, on a level with the rest for the reception of the public moneys. She is legally in the category of a public depository, under the act of 1836, the moment she resumes : and when her notes are shaved ina process now in rapid movementshe may assert and enforce her right. She may resume for a week, or a month, to get hold of the public moneys. By the repeal, the public deposits, so far as law is concerned, are restored to the Bank of the United States. When the Senate have this night voted the repeal, they have also voted the restoration of the deposits ; and they will have done it wittingly and knowingly, with their eyes open, and with a full perception of what they were doing. When they voted down my proposition of yesterdaya vote in which the whole opposition concurred ; except the senator from Virginia who sits nearest me (Mr. Archer)when they voted down that proposition to exclude the Bank of the United States from the list of future deposit banks, they of course declared that she ought to remain upon the list, with the full right to avail herself of her privilege under the revived act of 1836. In voting down that proposition, they voted up the prostrate bank of Mr. Biddle, and accomplished the great object of the panic of 1833-34that of censuring General Jackson, and of restoring the deposits. The act of that great manone of the most patriotic and noble of his lifethe act by which he saved forty millions of dollars to the American peopleis reversed. The stockholders and creditors of the institution lose above forty millions, which the people otherwise would have lost. They lose the whole stock, thirty-five millionsfor it will not be worth a straw to those who keep it : and the vote of the bank refusing to show their list of debtorssuppressing, hiding and concealingthe rotten list of debts(in which it is mortifying to see a Southern gentleman concurring)is to enable the initiated jobbers and gamblers to shove off their stock at some price on ignorant and innocent purchasers. The stockholders lose the thirty-five millions capital : they lose the twenty per centum advance upon that capital, at which many of the later holders purchased it ; and which is near seven millions more : they lose the six millions surplus profits which were reported on hand : but which, perhaps, was only a bank report : and the holders of the notes lose the twenty to thirty per centum, which is now the depreciation of the notes of the banksoon to be much more. These losses make some fifty millions of dollars. They now fall on the stockholders, and note-holders : where would they have fallen if the deposits had not been removed ? They would have fallen upon the public treasuryupon the people of the United States : for the public is always the goose that is to be first plucked. The public money would have been taken to sustain the bank : taxes would have been laid to uphold her : the high tariff would have been revived for her benefit. Whatever her condition required would have been done by Congress. The bank, with all its crimes and debtswith its corruptions and plunderingswould have been saddled upon the countryits charter renewedand the people pillaged of the more than forty millions of dollars which have been lost. Congress would have been enslaved : and a new career of crime, corruption, and plunder commenced. The heroic patriotism of President Jackson saved us from this shame and loss : but we have no Jackson to save us now ; and millionary plunderersdevouring harpiesfoul birds, and voracious as foulare again to seize the prey which his brave and undaunted arm snatched from their insatiate throats.
The deposits are restored, so far as the vote of the Senate goes ; and if not restored in fact, it will be because policy, and new schemes forbid it. And what new scheme can we have ? A nondescript, hermaphrodite, Janus-faced fiscality ? or a third edition of General Hamiltons bank of 1791 ? or a bastard compound, the unclean progeny of both ? Which will it be ? Hardly the first named. It comes forth with the feeble and rickety symptoms which announce an unripe conception, and an untimely death. Will it be the second ? It will be that, or worse. And where will the late flatterersthe present revilers of Mr. Biddlethe authors equally of the bank that is ruined, and of the one that is to be created : where will they find better men to manage the next than they had to manage the last ? I remember the time when the vocabulary of praise was exhausted on Mr. Biddlewhen in this chamber, and out of it, the censer, heaped with incense, was constantly kept burning under his nose : when to hint reproach of him was to make, if not a thousand chivalrous swords leap from their scabbards, at least to make a thousand tongues, and ten thousand pens, start up to defend him. I remember the time when a senator on this floor, and now on it (Mr. Preston of South Carolina), declared in his place that the bare annunciation of Mr. Biddles name as Secretary of the Treasury, would raise the Value of the peoples property one hundred millions of dollars. My friend here on my right (pointing to Senator Woodbury) was the Secretary of the Treasury ; and the mere transposition of names and placesthe mere substitution of Biddle for Woodburywas to be worth one hundred millions of dollars to the property of the country ! What flattery could rise higher than that ? Yet this man, once so laudedonce so followed, flattered, and courtednow lies condemned by all his former friends. They cannot now denounce sufficiently the man who, for ten years past, they could not praise enough : and, after this, what confidence are we to have in their judgments ? What confidence are we to place in their new bank, and their new managers, after seeing such mistakes about the former ?
Let it not be said that this bank went to ruin since it became a State institution. The State charter made no difference in its character, or in its management : and Mr. Biddle declared it to be stronger and safer without the United States for a partner than with it. The mortal wounds were all given while it was a national institution ; and the late report of the stockholders shows not one species of offence, the cotton speculations alone excepted, which was not shown by Mr. Claytons report of 1832 ; and being shown, was then defended by the whole power of those who are now cutting loose from the old bank, and clamoring for a new one. Not an act now brought to light, save and except the cotton operation, not even that for which Reuben M. Whitney was crushed to death, and his name constituted the synonyme of perjury and infamy for having told it ; not an act now brought to light which was not shown to exist ten years ago, and which was not then defended by the whole federal party ; so that the pretension that this institution did well as a national bank, and ill as a State one, is as unfounded in fact, as it is preposterous and absurd in idea. The bank was in the high road to ruinin the gulf of insolvencyin the slough of crime and corruptionwhen the patriot Jackson signed the veto, and ordered the removal of the deposits ; and nothing but these two great acts saved the people from the loss of the forty millions of dollars which have now fallen upon the stockholders and the note holders ; and from the shame of seeing their government the slave and instrument of the bank. Jackson saved the people from this loss, and their government from this degradation ; and for this he is now pursued with the undying vengeance of those whose schemes of plunder and ambition were balked by him.
Wise and prudent was the conduct of those who refused to recharter the second Bank of the United States. They profited by the error of their friends who refused to recharter the first one. These latter made no preparations for the eventdid nothing to increase the constitutional currencyand did not even act until the last moment. The renewed charter was only refused a few days before the expiration of the existing charter, and the federal government fell back upon the State banks, which immediately sunk under its weight. The men of 1832 acted very differently. They decided the question of the renewal long before the expiration of the existing charter. They revived the gold currency, which had been extinct for thirty years. They increased the silver currency by repealing the act of 1819 against the circulation of foreign silver. They branched the mints. In a word, they raised the specie currency from twenty millions to near one hundred millions of dollars ; and thus supplied the country with a constitutional currency to take the place of the United States Bank notes. The supply was adequate, being nearly ten times the average circulation of the national bank. That average circulation was but eleven millions of dollars ; the gold and silver was near one hundred millions. The success of our measures was complete. The country was happy and prosperous under it ; but the architects of mischiefthe political, gambling, and rotten part of the banks, headed by the Bank of the United States, and aided by a political partyset to work to make panic and distress, to make suspensions and revulsions, to destroy trade and business, to degrade and poison the currency ; to harass the country until it would give them another national bank : and to charge all the mischief they created upon the democratic administration. This has been their conduct ; and having succeeded in the last presidential election, they now come forward to seize the spoils of victory in creating another national bank, to devour the substance of the people, and to rule the government of their country. Sir, the suspension of 1837, on the part of the Bank of the United States and its confederate banks and politicians, was a conspiracy and a revolt against the government. The present suspension is a continuation of the same revolt by the same parties. Many good banks are overpowered by them, and forced into suspension ; but with the Bank of the United States, its affiliated banks, and its confederate politicians, it is a revolt and a conspiracy against the government.
Sir, it is now nightfall. We are at the end of a long day when the sun is more than fourteen hours above the horizon, and when a suffocating heat oppresses and overpowers the Senate. My friends have moved adjournments : they have been refused. I have been compelled to speak now, or never, and from this commencement we may see the conclusion. Discussion is to be stifled ; measures are to be driven through ; and a mutilated Congress, hastily assembled, imperfectly formed, and representing the census of 1830, not of 1840, is to manacle posterity with institutions which are as abhorent to the constitution as they are dangerous to the liberties, the morals, and the property of the people. A national bank is to be established, not even a simple and strong bank like that of General Hamilton, but some monstrous compound, born of hell and chaos, more odious, dangerous, and terrible than any simple bank could be. Posterity is to be manacled, and delivered up in chains to this deformed monster ; and by whom ? By a rump Congress, representing an expired census of the people, in the absence of members from States which, if they had their members here, would still have but the one-third part of their proper weight in the councils of the Union. The census of 1840 gives many States, and Missouri among the rest, three times their present relative weight ; and no permanent measure ought to be discussed until this new relative weight should appear in Congress. Why take the census every ten years, if an expiring representation at the end of the term may reach over, and bind the increased numbers by laws which claim immunity from repeal, and which are rushed through without debate ? Am I to submit to such work ? No, never ! I will war against the bank you may establish, whether a simple or a compound monster ; I will war against it by every means known to the constitution and the laws. I will vote for the repeal of its charter, as General Harrison and others voted for the repeal of the late bank charter in 1819. I will promote quo warrantos and sci. fa.s against it. I will oppose its friends and support its enemies, and work at its destruction in every legal and constitutional way. I will war upon it while I have breath ; and if I incur political extinction in the contest, I shall consider my political life well soldsold for a high pricewhen lost in such a cause.
But enough for the present. The question now before us is the death of the sub-treasury. The discussion of the substitute is a fair inquiry in this question. We have a right to see what is to follow, and to compare it with what we have. But gentlemen withhold their schemes, and we strike in the dark. My present purpose is to vindicate the independent treasury systemto free it from a false characterto show it to be what it is, nothing but the revival of the two great acts of September the 1st and September the 2d, 1789, for the collection, safe keeping, and disbursement of the public moneys, under which this government went into operation ; and under which it operated safely and successfully until General Hamilton overthrew it to substitute the bank and state system of Sir Robert Walpole, which has been the curse of England, and towards which we are now hurrying again with headlong steps and blindfold eyes.
The question was at length obtained upon the bill, and it was passed by the following vote:
Yeas-- Messrs. Archer, Barrow, Bates, Bayard, Berrien, Choate, Clay of Kentucky, Clayton, Dixon, Evans, Graham, Henderson, Huntington, Ker, Magnum, Merrick, Miller, Morehead, Phelps, Porter, Prentiss, Preston, Rives, Simmons, Smith of Indiana, Southard, Tallmadge, White, and Woodbridge --29.
Nays-- Messrs. Allen, Benton, Calhoun, Clay of Albama, Fulton, King, McRoberts, Nicholson, Pierce, Sevier, Smith of Connecticut, Sturgeon, Tappan, Walker, Williams, Woodbury, Wright, and Young --18.
And then the Senate adjourned.