THE PAPERS of JOHN C. CALHOUNVolume XII, 1833-1835
Published by the University of South Carolina Press for the South Carolina Department of Archives and History and the South Caroliniana Society, Columbia, 1979.
[Under consideration were two resolutions introduced by Henry Clay 12/26/1833. The first declared that by dismissing a Secretary of the Treasury (William J. Duane) for refusing to remove the public deposits from the Bank of the United States, the President (Andrew Jackson) had exercised an unconstitutional power dangerous to liberties of the people. The second declared that the reasons given by Secretary of the Treasury (Roger B. Taney) for removing the deposits in his message to Congress on 12/3/1833 were unsatisfactory and insufficient.]
Mr. Calhoun then rose, and said, that the statement of this case might be given in a very few words. The 16th section of the act [of 1816] incorporating the bank, provides that wherever there is a bank or branch of the U[nited] States Bank, the public moneys should be deposited therein, unless otherwise ordered by the Secretary of the Treasury, and that, in that case, he should report to Congress, if in session, immediately ; and if not, at the commencement of the next session. The Secretary, acting under the provision of this section, has ordered the deposites to be withheld from the bank, and has reported his reasons [in a letter published as Senate Document No. 2, 23rd Cong., 1st Sess.] in conformity with the provisions of the section. The Senate is now called upon to consider his reasons, in order to determine whether the Secretary is justified or not. I have examined them with care and deliberation without the slightest bias, as far as I am conscious, personal or political. I have but a slight acquaintance with the Secretary, and that little is not unfavorable to him. I stand wholly disconnected with the two great parties now contending for ascendancy. My political connexions are with that small and denounced party which has voluntarily wholly retired from the party strifes of the day, with a view of saving, if possible, the liberty and the Constitution of the country, in this great crisis of our affairs.
Having maturely considered, with these impartial feelings, the reasons of the Secretary, I am constrained to say, that he has entirely failed to make out his justification. At the very commencement, he has placed his right to remove the deposites on an assumption resting on a misconception of the case. In the progress of his argument he has entirely abandoned the first, and assumed a new and greatly enlarged ground, utterly inconsistent with the first, and equally untenable ; and yet, as broad as his assumptions are, there is an important part of the transaction which he does not attempt to vindicate, and to which he has not even alluded. I shall, said Mr. Calhoun, now proceed without further remark to make good these assertions.
The Secretary, at the commencement of his argument, assumes the position that, in the absence of all legal provision, he, as the head of the financial department, had the right, in virtue of his office, to designate the agent and place for the safe keeping of the public deposites. He then contends that the 16th section does not restrict his power, which stands, he says, on the same ground that it had before the passing of the act incorporating the bank. It is unnecessary to inquire into the correctness of the position assumed by the Secretary ; but, if it were, it would not be difficult to show that when an agent, with general powers, assumes, in the execution of his agency, a power not delegated, the assumption rests on the necessity of the case ; and that no power in such case, can be lawfully exercised, which was not necessary to effect the object intended. Nor would it be difficult to show that, in this case, the power assumed by the Secretary would belong, not to him, but to the Treasurer [of the U.S.], who, under the act organizing the Treasury Department, is expressly charged with the safe keeping of the public funds, for which he is responsible under bond, in heavy penalties. But as strongly and directly as these considerations bear on the question of the power of the Secretary, I do not think it necessary to pursue them, for the plain reason that the Secretary has entirely mistaken the case. It is not the case, as he supposes, where there is no legal provision in relation to the safe keeping of the public funds, but one of precisely the opposite character. The 16th section expressly provides that the deposites shall be made in the bank and its branches, and of course it is perfectly clear that all powers which the Secretary has derived from the general and inherent powers of his office, in the absence of such provision, are wholly inapplicable to this case. Nor is it less clear, that if the section had terminated with the provision directing the deposites to be made in the bank, the Secretary would have had no more control over the subject, than myself, or any other Senator ; and it follows, of course, that he must derive his power, not from any general reasons connected with the nature of his office, but from some express provisions contained in the section, or some other part of the act. It has not been attempted to be shown, that there is any such provision in any other section or part of the act. The only control, then, which the Secretary can rightfully claim over the deposites, is contained in the provision which directs that the deposites shall be made in the bank, unless otherwise ordered by the Secretary of the Treasury ; which brings the whole question, in reference to the deposites, to the extent of the power which Congress intended to confer upon the Secretary, in these few words unless otherwise ordered.
In ascertaining the intention of Congress, I lay it down as a rule, which I suppose will not be controverted, that all political powers under our free institutions are trust powers, and not rights, liberties or immunities, belonging personally to the officer. I also lay it down as a rule, not less incontrovertible, that trust powers are necessarily limited (unless there be some express provision to the contrary,) to the subject matter and object of the trust. This brings us to the questionwhat is the subject and object of the trust, in this case ? The whole section relates to depositesto the safe and faithful keeping of the public funds. With this view they are directed to be made in the bank. With the same view, and in order to increase the security, power was conferred on the Secretary to withhold the deposites ; and, with the same view, he is directed to report his reasons, for the removal, to Congress. All have one common objectthe security of the public funds. To this point the whole section converges. The language of Congress, fairly understood, iswe have selected the bank because we confide in it as a safe and faithful agent to keep the public money ; but to prevent the abuse of so important a trust, we invest the Secretary with power to remove the deposites, with a view to their increased security. And lest the Secretary, on his part, should abuse so important a trustand in order still further to increase that security, we direct, in case of removal, that he shall report his reasons. It is obvious, under this view of the subject, that the Secretary has no right to act in relation to the deposites but with a view to their increased security. That he has no right to order them to be withheld from the bank so long as the funds are in safety, and the bank has faithfully performed the duties imposed in relation to them ; and not even then, unless the deposites can be placed in safer and more faithful hands. That such was the opinion of the Executive, in the first instance, we have demonstrative proof, in the message of the President to Congress at the close of the last session, which placed the subject of the removal of the deposites exclusively on the question of their safety ; and that such was also the opinion of the H[ouse] of Representatives then, we have equally conclusive proof, from the vote of that body, that the public funds in the bank were safe, which was understood, at that time, on all sides, by friends and foes, as deciding the question of the removal of the deposites.
The extent of the power intended to be conferred being established, the question now arises, has the Secretary transcended its limit ? It can scarcely be necessary to argue this point. It is not even pretended that the public deposites were in danger, or that the Bank had not faithfully performed all the duties imposed on it in relation to them ; nor that the Secretary had placed the money in a safer [sic] or in more faithful hands. So far otherwise, there is not a man who hears me, who will not admit that the public moneys are now less safe than they were in the Bank of the United States. And I will venture to assert, that not a capitalist can be found who would not ask a considerably higher per centage to insure them in their present, than in the place of deposite designated by law. If these views are correct, and I hold them to be unquestionable, the question is decided. The Secretary has no right to withhold the deposites from the Bank. There has been, and can be, but one argument advanced in favour of his right ; which has even the appearance of being tenable ; that the power to withhold is given in general terms, and without qualification, unless the Secretary otherwise direct. Those who resort to this argument, must assume the positionthat the letter ought to prevail over the clear and manifest intention of the act. They must regard the power of the Secretary, not as a trust power, limited by the subject and the object of the trust, but as a chartered right, to be used according to his discretion and pleasure. There is a radical defect in our mode of construing political powers, of which this and many other instances afford striking examples ; but I will give the Secretary his choice ; either the intention or the letter must prevail ; he may select either, but cannot be permitted to take one or the other as may suit his purpose. If he chooses the former, he has transcended his powers, as I have clearly demonstrated. If he selects the latter, he is equally condemned, as he has clearly exercised power not comprehended in the letter of his authority. He has not confined himself simply to withholding the public moneys from the Bank of the U[nited] States, but he has ordered them to be deposited in other Banks, though there is not a word in the section to justify it. I do not intend to argue the question, whether he had a right to order the funds, withheld from the United States Bank to be placed in the State Banks which he has selected ; but I ask how has he acquired that right ? It rests wholly on constructionon the supposed intention of the legislature, which, when it gives a power, intends to give all the means necessary to render it available. But, as clear as this principle of construction is, it is not more clear than that which would limit the right of the Secretary to the question of the safe and faithful keeping of the public funds ; and I cannot admit that the Secretary shall be permitted to resort to the letter or to construction, as may best be calculated to enlarge his power, when the right construction is denied to those who would limit his power by the clear and obvious intention of Congress.
I might here, said Mr. Calhoun, rest the question of the power of the Secretary over the deposites, without adding another word. I have placed it on grounds from which no ingenuity, however great, or subtlety, however refined, can remove it ; but such is the magnitude of the case, and such my desire to give the reasons of the Secretary fullest consideration, that I shall follow him through the remainder of his reasons.
That the Secretary was conscious that the first position which he assumed, and which I have considered, was untenable, we have ample proof in the precipitancy with which he retreated from it. He had scarcely laid it down, when, without illustration or argument, he passed with a rapid transition, and I must say a transition as obscure as rapid, to another position wholly inconsistent with the first, and in assuming which he expressly repudiates the idea that the safe and faithful keeping of the public funds had any necessary connexion with his removal of the deposites ; his power to do which he places on the broad and unlimited ground, that he had a right to make such disposition of them as the public interest, or the convenience of the people might require. I have said that the transition of the Secretary was as obscure as it was rapid ; but obscure as it is, he has said enough to enable us to perceive the process by which he has reached so extraordinary a position ; and we may safely affirm, that his arguments are not less extraordinary than the conclusion at which he arrives. His first proposition, which, however, he has not ventured to lay down expressly, is, that Congress has an unlimited control over the deposites, and that it may dispose of them in whatever manner it may please, in order to promote the general welfare and convenience of the people. He next asserts that Congress has parted with this power, under the sixteenth section, which directs the deposites to be made in the Bank of the United States, and then concludes with affirming that it has invested the Secretary of the Treasury with it, for reasons which I am unable to understand.
It cannot be necessary, before so enlightened a body, that I should undertake to refute an argument so utterly untrue in premises and conclusionto show that Congress never possessed the power which the Secretary claims for itthat it is a power, from its very nature, incapable of such enlargement, being limited solely to the safe keeping of the public fundsthat if it existed, it would be susceptible of the most dangerous abusesthat Congress might make the wildest and most dangerous association the depository of the public fundsmight place them in the hands of the fanatics and madmen of the North, who are waging war against the domestic institutions of the South, under the plea of promoting the general welfare. But admitting that Congress possessed the power which the Secretary attributes to it, by what process of reasoning can he show that it has parted with this unlimited power, simply by directing the public moneys to be deposited in the Bank of the United States ? or, if it has parted with the power, by what extraordinary process has it been transferred to the Secretary of the Treasury, by those few and simple words, unless he shall otherwise direct? In support of this extraordinary argument, the Secretary has offered not a single illustration, nor a single remark bearing the semblance of reason, but one, which I shall now proceed to notice.
He asserts, and asserts truly, that the bank charter is a contract between the Government, or rather the people of the U.S. and the bank, and then assumes that it constitutes him a common agent or trustee, to superintend the execution of the stipulations contained in that portion of the contract comprehended in the sixteenth section. Let us now, taking these assumptions to be true, ascertain what those stipulations are, the superintendence of the execution of which, as he affirms, are jointly confided by the parties to the Secretary. The Government stipulated, on its part, that the public money should be deposited in the Bank of the U.S.a great and valuable privilege, on which the successful operation of the institution mainly depends. The Bank, on its part, stipulated that the funds should be safely keptthat the duties imposed in relation to them should be faithfully discharged, and that for this, with other privileges, it would pay to the Government the sum of one million five hundred thousand dollars. These are the stipulations, the execution of which, according to the Secretarys assumption, he has been appointed as joint agent or trustee, to superintend, and from which he would assume the extraordinary power which he claims over the deposites to dispose of them in such manner as he may think the public interest or the convenience of the people may require.
Is it not obvious that the whole extent of power conferred upon him, admitting his assumption to be true, is to withhold the deposites in case that the bank should violate its stipulations in relation to them on one side, and on the other to prevent the Government from withholding the deposites, so long as the bank faithfully performed its part of the contract[?] This is the full extent of his power. According to his own showing, not a particle more can be added. But there is another aspect in which the position in which the Secretary has placed himself may be viewed. It offers for consideration not only a question of the extent of his power, but a question as to the nature and extent of duty which has been imposed upon him. If the position be such as he has described, there has been confided to him a trust of the most sacred character, accompanied by duties of the most solemn obligation. He stands by the mutual confidence of the parties, vested with the high judicial power to determine on the infraction or observance of a contract in which government and a large and respectable portion of the citizens are deeply interested ; and, in the execution of this high power, he is bound, by honor and conscience, so to act as to protect each of the parties in the full enjoyment of their respective portion of benefit in the contract, so long as they faithfully observe it. How has the Secretary performed these solemn duties, which, according to his representation, have been imposed upon him[?] Has he protected the bank against the aggression of the government, or the government against the unfaithful conduct of the bank in relation to the deposites ? Or has he, forgetting his sacred obligations, disregarded the interests of bothon one side, divesting the bank of the deposites, and on the other defeating the government in the intended security of the public funds, by seizing on them as the property of the Executive, to be disposed at pleasure, to favorite and partizan banks ?
But I shall relieve the Secretary from this awkward and disreputable position in which his own arguments have placed him. He is not the mutual trustee, as he has represented, of the government and the bank ; but simply the agent of the former, vested under the contract, with power to withhold the deposites with a view, as has been stated, to their additional securityto their safe keeping ; and if he had but for a moment reflected on the fact, that he was directed to report his reasons to Congress only, and not also to the bank, for withholding the deposites, he could scarcely have failed to perceive that he was simply the agent of one of the parties, and not, as he supposes, a joint agent of both.
The Secretary having established, as he supposes, his right to dispose of the deposites, as in his opinion the general interest and convenience of the people might require, proceeds to claim and exercise power with a boldness commensurate with the extravagance of the right which he has assumed. He commences with a claim to determine in his official character, that the Bank of the United States is unconstitutionala monopolybaneful to the welfare of the community. Having determined this point, he comes to the conclusion that the charter of the bank ought not to be renewed, and then assumes that it will not be renewed. Having reached this point he then determines that it is his duty to remove the deposites. No one can object that Mr. Taney, as a citizen, in his individual character, should entertain an opinion as to the unconstitutionality of the bank ; but that he, acting in his official character, and performing official acts under the charter of the bank, should undertake to determine that the institution was unconstitutional, and that those who granted the charter, and bestowed upon him his power to act under it, had violated the Constitution, is an assumption of power of a nature which I will not undertake to characterize, as I wish not to be personal.
But he is not content with the power simply to determine on the unconstitutionality of the bank. He goes far beyondhe claims to be the organ of the voice of the people. In this high character he pronounces that the question of the renewal of the bank charter was put in issue at the last Presidential election, and that the people had determined that it should not be renewed. I do not, said Mr. Calhoun, intend to enter into the argument whether, in point of fact, the renewal of the charter was put at issue at the last election. That point was ably and fully discussed by the honorable Senators from Kentucky, (Mr. Clay,) and New Jersey, (Mr. [Samuel L.] Southard, ) who conclusively proved that no such question was involved in the issue ; and, if it were, the issue comprehended so many others that it was impossible to conjecture on which the election turned. I look to higher objections. I would inquire by what authority the Secretary of the Treasury constitutes himself the organ of the people of the United States. He has the reputation of being an able lawyer, and can he be ignorant that so long as the Constitution of the United States exists, the only organs of the people of these States, as far as the action of the General Government is concerned, are the several departments, legislative, executive, and judicial ; which, acting within the respective limits assigned by the Constitution, have a right to pronounce authoritatively, the voice of the people[?] A claim on the part of the Executive to interpret, as the Secretary has done, the voice of the people, through any other channel, is to shake [sic] the foundation of our system. Has the Sec[re]tary forgotten that the last step to absolute power is this very assumption which he has claimed for that department ? I am thus brought, said Mr. C[alhoun], to allude to the extraordinary manifesto read by the President to the Cabinet [on 9/18/1833], and which is so intimately connected with the point immediately under consideration. That document, though apparently addressed to the Cabinet, was clearly and manifestly intended as an appeal to the people of the United States, and opens a new and direct organ of communication between the President and them unknown to the Constitution and the laws. There are but two channels known to either, through which the President can communicate with the peopleby messages to the two Houses of Congress, as expressly provided for in the Constitution, or by proclamation, setting forth the interpretations which he places upon a law it has become his official duty to execute. Going beyond, is one among the alarming signs of the times which portend the overthrow of the Constitution and the approach of despotic power.
The Secretary, having determined that the Bank was unconstitutional, and that the people had pronounced against the recharter, concludes that Congress had nothing to do with the subject. With a provident foresight, he perceives the difficulty and embarrassment into which the currency of the country would be thrown on the termination of the Bank charter ; to prevent which, he proceeds deliberately, with a parental care, to supply a new currency, equal to, or better, than that which Congress had supplied. With this view, he determines on an immediate removal of the deposites ; he puts them in certain State institutions, intending to organize them, after the fashion of the empire State [N.Y.], into a great safety-fund system, but which, unfortunately, undoubtedly for the projectors, if not for the country, the limited power of the State Banks did not permit him to effect. But a substitute was found by associating them in certain articles of agreement, and appointing an inspector general of all this league of banks ! and all this without law or appropriation ! Is is not amazing, that it never occurred to the Secretary, that the subject of currency belonged exclusively to Congress, and that to assume to regulate it was a plain usurpation of the powers of this department of the government ?
Having thus assumed the power officially to determine on the constitutionality of the Bank ; having erected himself into an organ of the peoples voice, and settled the question of the regulation of the currency, he next proceeds to assume the judicial powers over the Bank. He declares that the Bank has transcended its powers, and has therefore forfeited its charter, for which he inflicts on the institution the severe and exemplary punishment of withholding the deposites ; and all this in the face of an express provision, investing the Court with power touching the infraction of the charter, directing in what manner the trial should be commenced and conducted, and securing expressly to the Bank the sacred right of trial by jury in finding the facts. All this passed for nothing in the eyes of the Secretary, who was too deeply engrossed in providing for the common welfare to regard either Congress, the Court, or the Constitution. The Secretary next proceeds to supervise the general operations of the bank, pronouncing with authority that, at one time, it has discounted too freely, and at another, too sparingly, without reflecting that all the control which the government can rightfully exercise over the operations of the institution, is through the five directors who represent the Government in this respect. Directors ! Mr. Calhoun exclaimed, did I say, (alluding to the present) [?] No, spies is their proper designation.
I cannot, said Mr. C[alhoun], proceed with the remarks which I intended, on the remainder of the Secretarys reasons ; I have not patience to dwell on assumptions of power so bold, so lawless, and so unconstitutional ; they deserve not the name of argument, and I cannot waste time in treating them as such. There are, however, two which I cannot pass over, not because they are more extraordinary or audacious than the others, but for another quality, which I choose not to designate.
The Secretary alleges that the bank has interfered with the politics of the country. If this be true, it certainly is a most heinous offence. The bank is a great public trust, possessing, for the purpose of discharging the trust, great power and influence, which it could not pervert from the object intended to that of influencing the politics of the country, without being guilty of a great political crime. In making these remarks, I do not intend to give any countenance to the truth of the charge alleged by the Secretary, nor to deny to the officers of the bank the right which belongs to them, in common with every citizen, freely to form political principles, and act on them, in their private capacity, without permitting them to influence their official conduct. But it is strange it did not occur to the Secretary, while he was accusing and punishing the bank on the charge of interfering in the politics of the country, that the Government also was a great trust, vested with powers still more extensive, and influence immeasurably greater than that of the bank, given to enable it to discharge the object for which it was created ; and that it has no more right to pervert its power and influence into the means of controlling the politics of the country, than the bank itself. Can it be unknown to him that the Fourth Auditor of the Treasury [Amos Kendall](an officer in his own department,) the man who has made so prominent a figure in this transaction, was daily and hourly meddling in politics, and that he is one of the principal political managers of the Administration ? Can he be ignorant that the whole power of the Government has been perverted into a great political machine, with a view of corrupting and controlling the country ? Can he be ignorant that the avowed and open policy of the Government is to reward political friends, and punish political enemies ? and that, acting on this principle, it has driven from office hundreds of honest and competent officers for opinions sake only, and filled their places with devoted partizans ? Can he be ignorant that the real offence of the Bank, is not that it has intermeddled in politics, but because it would not intermeddle on the side of power ? There is nothing more dignified than reproof from the lips of innocence, or punishment from th hands of justice ; but change the picturelet the guilty reprove, and the criminal punish, and what more odious, more hateful, can be presented to the imagination ?
The Secretary next tells us, in the same spirit, that the Bank had been wasteful of the public funds. That it has spent some thirty, forty, or fifty thousand dollarsI do not remember the exact amount(trifles have no weight in the determination of so great a question) in circulating essays and speeches in defence of the institution, of which sum, one-fifth partsome seven thousand dollarsbelonged to the Government. Well, sir, if the bank has really wasted this amount of the public money, it is a grave charge. It has not a right to waste a single cent ; but I must say, in defence of the bank, that, assailed as it was by the Executive, it would have been unfaithful to its trust, both to the stockholders and to the public, had it not resorted to every proper means in its power to defend its conduct, and, among others, the free circulation of able and judicious publications.
But admit that the Bank has been guilty of wasting the public funds, to the full extent charged by the Secretary, I would ask if he, the head of the financial department of the Government, is not under as high and solemn obligation to take care of the monied interest of the public as the bank itself ? I would ask him to answer me a few simple questions : How has he performed this duty in relation to the interest which the public holds in the bank ? Has he been less wasteful than he has charged the bank to have been ? Has he not wasted thousands where the bank, even according to his own statement, has hundreds ? Has he not, by withdrawing the deposites and placing them in the State Banks, where the public receives not a cent of interest, greatly affected the dividends of the Bank of the United States, in which the Government, as a stockholder, is a loser to the amount of one-fifth of the diminution ?a sum which I will venture to predict will many fold exceed the entire amount which the bank has expended in its defence. But this is a small, a very small proportion of the public loss, in consequence of the course which the Executive has pursued in relation to the bank, and which has reduced the value of the shares from 130 to 108 [dollars](a Senator near me says much more. It maybe, I am not particular in such things)and on which the public sustains a corresponding loss on its share of the stock, amounting to seven millions of dollarsa sum more than two hundred fold greater than the waste which he has charged upon the bank. Other administrations may exceed this in talents, patriotism, and honesty, but certainly in audacity, in effrontery, it stands without a parallel !
The Secretary has brought forward many and grievous charges against the Bank. I will not condescend to notice themit is the conduct of the Secretary, and not that of the Bank, which is immediately under examination, and he has no right to drag the conduct of the Bank into the issue, beyond its operations in regard to the deposites. To that extent I am prepared to examine his allegations against it ; but beyond that he has no rightno, not the leastto arraign the conduct of the Bank ; and I, for one, will not, by noticing his charges beyond that point, sanction his authority to call its conduct in question. But let the point in issue be determined, and I, as far as my voice extends, will give to those who desire it the means of the freest and most unlimited inquiry into its conduct. I am no partizan of the BankI am connected with it in no way, by monied or political ties. I might say, with truth, that the Bank owes as much to me as any other individual in the country ; and I might even add that, had it not been for my efforts, it would not have been chartered. Standing in this relation to the institution, a high sense of delicacya regard to independence and character, has restrained me from any connexion with the institution whatever, except some trifling accommodations in the way of ordinary business, which were not of the slightest importance either to the Bank or myself.
But while I shall not condescend to notice the charges of the Secretary against the Bank, beyond the extent which I have stated, a sense of duty to the institution, and regard to the part which I took in its creation, compels me to notice two allegations against it which have fallen from another quarter. It is said that the Bank had no agency, or at least efficient agency, in the restoration of specie payment in 1817, and that it had failed to furnish the country with a uniform and sound currency, as had been promised at its creation. Both of these allegations I pronounce to be without just foundation. To enter into a minute examination of them, would carry me too far from the subject, and I must content myself with saying, that having been on the political stage without interruption, from that day to thishaving been an attentive observer of the question of the currency throughout the whole periodthe Bank has been an indispensable agent in the restoration of specie payments ; that, without it, the restoration could not have been effected short of the utter prostration of all the monied institutions of the country, and an entire depreciation of Bank paper ; and that it has not only restored specie payment, but has given a currency far more uniform, between the extremes of the country, than was anticipated or even dreamed of at the time of its creation. I will say for myself, that I did not believe, at that time, that the exchange between the Atlantic and the West would be brought lower than two and a half per cent.the estimated expense then, including insurance and loss of time, of transporting specie tween the two points. How much it was below the anticipated point, I need not state ; the whole commercial world knows that it was not a fourth part at the time of the removal of the deposites.
But to return from this digression. Though I will not notice the charges of the Secretary for the reasons already stated, I will take the liberty of propounding to those who support them on this floor, a few plain questions. If there be in banking institutions an inherent tendency so strong to abuse and corruption as they contendif, in consequence of this tendency, the bank of the United States be guilty of the enormous charges and corruptions alleged, notwithstanding its responsibility to the Government and our control over it, what is to be expected from irresponsible league banks, as called by the Senator from Kentucky, (Mr. Clay,) over which we have no legal control ? If our power of renewing the charter of the Bank of the United Statesif our right to vacate the charter by scire facias, in case of misconductif the influence which the appointment of five Government Directors gives us ; and, finally, if the power which we have of appointing committees to examine into its condition, are not sufficient to hold the institution in check ; if, in spite of all these, it has, from the innate corruption of such institutions, been guilty of the enormous abuses and crimes charged against it, what may we not expect from the associated banks, the favorites of the Treasury, over the renewal of whose charter[s] the Government has no power ; against which it can issue no scire facias, in whose direction it has not a single individual and into whose conduct Congress can appoint no committee to look ? With these checks all withdrawn, what will be the condition of the public funds[?]
I, said Mr. Calhoun, stated in the outset of my remarks, that, as broad as was the power which the Secretary has assumed in relation to the deposites, there was a portion of the transaction of a highly important character, to which he has not alluded, and in relation to which he has not even attempted a justification. I will now proceed to make good this assertion to the letter.
There is a material difference between withholding money from going into the bank, and withdrawing it after it has been placed there. The former is authorized in the manner which I have stated, under the sixteenth section, which directs, as has been frequently stated, that the public money shall be deposited in the bank, unless otherwise ordered by the Secretary of the Treasury. But neither that section, nor any portion of the act incorporating the bank, nor, in truth, any other act, gives the Secretary any authority, of himself, to withdraw public money deposited in the bank. There is, I repeat, a material difference between withholding public money from deposite and withdrawing it. When paid into the place designated by law as the deposite of the public money, it passes to the credit of the Treasurer [of the U.S.], and then is in the Treasury of the United States, where it is placed under the protection of the Constitution itself, and from which, by an express provision of the Constitution, it can only be withdrawn by an appropriation made by law. So careful were the framers of the act of 1816 to leave nothing to implication, that express authority is given to the Secretary of the Treasury, in the fifteenth section, to transfer the deposites from one place to another, for the convenience of disbursements ; but which, by a strange perversion, is now attempted to be so construed as to confer on the Secretary the power to withdraw the money from the deposite, and loan it to favorite State banksI express myself too favorably, I should say give(they pay no interest) with the view to sustain their credits, or enlarge their profitsa power, not only far beyond the Secretary, but which Congress itself could not exercise without a flagrant breach of the Constitution. But it is said, in answer to these views, that money paid in deposite into the bank, as directed by law, is not in the Treasury. I will not stop, said Mr. C[alhoun], to reply to such an objection. If it be not in the treasury, where is the Treasury ? If it be not money in the Treasury, where is the money annually reported to be in the Treasury ? Where the eight or nine millions which, by the annual report of the Secretary, is said to be now in the Treasury ? Are we to understand that none of this money is, in truth, in the Treasury ?that it is floating about at large, subject to be disposed ofto be given away, at the will of the Executive, to favorites and partizans ? So it would seem ; for it appears, by a correspondence [which can be found in Senate Document No. 16, 23rd Cong., 1st Sess., pp. 354-363] between the Treasurer [of the U.S., John Campbell] and the Cashier of the bank [Samuel Jaudon], derived through the bank, (the Secretary not deeming it worth while to give the slightest information of the transaction, as if a matter of course,) that he has drawn out two millions and a quarter of the public money, without appropriation, and distributed it at pleasure among his favorites !
But it is attempted to vindicate the conduct of the Secretary on the ground of precedent. I will not stop to notice whether the cases cited are in point ; nor will I avail myself of the great and striking advantage that I might have on the question of precedent : this case stands alone and distinct from all others. There is none similar to it in magnitude and importance. I waive all that ; I place myself one higher groundsI stand on the immovable principle that, on a question of law and Constitution, in a deliberative assembly, there is no roomno place for precedents. To admit them would be to make the violation of to-day the law and Constitution of to-morrow ; and to substitute in the place of the written and sacred will of the people and the legislature, the infraction of those charged with the execution of the laws. Such, in my opinion, is the relative force of law and constitution on one side, as compared with precedents on the other. Viewed in a different light, not in reference to the law or constitution, but to the conduct of the officer, I am disposed to give rather more weight to precedents, when the question relates to an excuse or apology for the officer, in case of infraction. If the infraction be a trivial one, in a case not calculated to excite attention, an officer might fairly excuse himself on the ground of precedent ; but in one like this, of the utmost magnitude, involving the highest interests and most important principles, where the attention of the officer must be aroused to a most careful examination, he cannot avail himself of the plea of precedent to excuse his conduct. It is a case where false precedents are to be corrected and not followed. An officer ought to be ashamed in such a case, to attempt to vindicate his conduct on a charge of violating law or constitution by pleading precedent. The principle in such case is obvious. If the Secretarys right to withdraw public money from the Treasury be clear, he has no need of precedent to vindicate him. If not, he ought not, in a case of so much magnitude, to have acted.
I have not, said Mr. Calhoun, touched a question which has had so prominent a part in the debate, whether the withholding of the deposites was the act of the Secretary or the President. Under my view of the subject, the question is not of the slightest importance. It is equally unauthorized and illegal, whether done by President or Secretary ; but, as the question has been agitated, and as my views do not entirely correspond on this point with those advocating the side which I do, I deem it due to frankness to express my sentiments.
I have no doubt that the President removed the former Secretary [William J. Duane], and placed the present [Taney] in his place, expressly with a view to the removal of the deposites. I am equally clear, under all the circumstances of the case, that the Presidents conduct is wholly indefensible ; and, among other objections, I fear he had in view, in the removal, an object eminently dangerous and unconstitutionalto give an advantage to his veto, never intended by the Constitutiona power intended as a shield, to protect the Executive against the encroachment of the Legislative departmentto maintain the present state of things against dangerous or hasty innovation, but which, I fear, is, in this case, intended as a sword, to defend the usurpation of the Executive. I say I fear, for although the circumstance of this case leads to a just apprehension that such is the intention, I will not permit myself to assert that such is the factthat so lawless and unconstitutional an object is contemplated by the President, till his act shall compel me to believe to the contrary. But while I thus severely condemn the conduct of the President in removing the former Secretary and appointing the present, I must say, that in my opinion, it is a case of the abuse and not of the usurpation of power. I cannot doubt that the President has, under the Constitution, the right of removal from office : nor can I doubt that the power of removal, wherever it exists, does, from necessity, involve the power of general supervision ; nor can I doubt that it might be constitutionally exercised in reference to the deposites. Reverse the present casesuppose the late Secretary, instead of being against, had been in favor of the removal, and that the President, instead of for, had been against it, deeming the removal not only inexpedient, but, under the circumstances, illegal ; would any man doubt, that under such circumstances, he had a right to remove his Secretary, if it were the only means of preventing the removal of the deposites ? Nay, would it not be his indispensable duty to have removed him ? and, had he not, would not he have been universally and justly held responsible ?
I have now (said Mr. C[alhoun]) offered all the remarks I intended in reference to the deposite question ; and, on reviewing the whole ground, I must say, that the Secretary, in removing the deposites, has clearly transcended his power ; that he has violated the contract between the Bank and the United States ; that, in so doing, he has deeply injured that large and respectable portion of our citizens who have been invited, on the faith of the Government, to invest their property in the institution ; while, at the same time, he has deeply injured the public, in its character of stockholder ; and, finally, that he has inflicted a deep wound on the public faith. To this last, I attribute the present embarrassment in the currency, which has so injuriously affected all the great interests of the country. The currency of the country is the credit of the countrycredit in every shape, public and private ; credit, not only in the shape of paper, but that of faith and confidence between man and man ; through the agency of which, in all its forms, the great and mighty exchanges of this commercial country, at home and abroad, are effected. To inflict a wound any where, particularly on the public faith, is to embarrass all the channels of currency and exchange ; and it is to this, and not to the withdrawing the few millions of dollars from circulation, that I attribute the present monied embarrassment. Did I believe the contraryif I thought that any great and permanent distress would of itself result from winding up in a regular and legal manner the present or any other Bank of the United States, I would deem it an evidence of the dangerous power of the institution, and, to that extent, an argument against its existence ; but, as it is, I regard the present embarrassment not as an argument against the Bank, but an argument against the lawless and wanton exercise of power on the part of the Executivean embarrassment which is likely to continue long, if the deposites be not restored. The Banks which have received them, at the expense of the public faith, and in violation of law, will never be permitted to enjoy their spoils in quiet. No one who regards the subject in the light in which I do, can ever give his sanction to any law intended to protect or carry through the present illegal arrangement ; on the contrary, all such must feel bound to wage perpetual war against an usurpation of power so flagrant as that which controls the present deposites of the public money. If I stand alone, (said Mr. Calhoun,) I at least will continue to maintain the contest, so long as I remain in public life.
As important (said Mr. C[alhoun]) as I consider the question of the deposites, in all its bearings, public and private, it is one on the surfacea mere pretext to another, and one greatly more important, which lies beneath, and which must be taken into consideration, to understand correctly all the circumstances attending this extraordinary transaction. It is felt and acknowledged on all sides, that there is another and a deeper question, which has excited the profound sensation and alarm which pervade the country.
If we are to believe what we hear from the advocates of the administration, we would suppose at one time that the real question was, Bank or no Bank ; at another, that the question was between the United States Bank and the State Banks ; and, finally, that it was a struggle on the part of the administration to guard and defend the rights of the States against the encroachments of the General Government. The administration the guardians and defenders of the rights of the States ! What shall I call it ? audacity or hypocrisy ? The authors of the Proclamation [of 12/10/1832] the guardians and defenders of the rights of the States ! The authors of the War Message against a member of this confederacythe authors of the bloody bill the guardians and defenders of the rights of the States ! This a struggle for State rights ! No, Sir, State rights are no more. The struggle is over for the present. The bill of the last session which vested in the Government the right of judging of the extent of its powers, finally and conclusively, and gave it the right of enforcing its judgments by the sword, destroyed all distinction between delegated and reserved rights ; concentrated in the Government the entire power of the system, and prostrated the States as poor and helpless corporations at the foot of this sovereignty.
Nor is it more true that the real question isBank or no Bank. Taking the deposite question in the broadest sense ; suppose, as is contended by the friends of the administration, that it involves the question of the renewal of the charter, and consequently the existence of the Bank itself, still the banking system would stand, almost untouched and unimpaired. Four hundred banks would still remain scattered over this wide republic, and on the ruins of the United States Bank, many would rise to be added to the present list. Under this aspect of the subject, the only possible question that could be presented for consideration would be, whether the banking system was more safe, more beneficial, or more constitutional with or without the U[nited] States Bank ?
If, said Mr. C[alhoun], this was a question of Bank or no Bankif it involved the existence of the banking system, it would indeed be a great questionone of the first magnitude, and, with my present impression, long entertained and daily deepeningI would hesitatelong hesitate, before I would be found under the banner of the system. I have great doubts, if doubts they may be called, as to the soundness and tendency of the whole system, in all its modifications. I have great fears that it will be found hostile to liberty and the advance of civilizationfatally hostile to liberty in our country, where the system exists in its worst and most dangerous form. Of all institutions affecting the great question of the distribution of wealtha question least explored and the most important of any in the whole range of political economy, the banking institution has, if not the greatest, among the greatest influence, and I fear, most pernicious influence on the mode of distribution. Were the question really before us, I would not shun the responsibility, as great as it might be, of freely and fully offering my sentiments on these deeply important points ; but, as it is, I must content myself with the few remarks which I have thrown out.
What, then, is the real question which now agitates the country ? I answer, it is a struggle between the Executive and Legislative departments of the Governmenta struggle, not in relation to the existence of the bank, but which, Congress or the President, should have the power to create a bank, and the consequent control over the currency of the country. This is the real question. Let us not deceive ourselvesthis leaguethis association of bankscreated by the Executive ; bound together by its influence ; united in common articles of association ; vivified and sustained by receiving the deposites of the public money, and having their notes converted, by being received every where by the Treasury, into the common currency of the country, is, to all intents and purposes, a bank of the United Statesthe Executive bank of the U[nited] States, as distinguished from that of Congress. However it might fail to perform satisfactorily the useful functions of the Bank of the U[nited] States, as incorporated by law, it would outstrip itfar outstrip itin all its dangerous qualities, in extending the power, the influence, and the corruption of the Government. It was impossible to conceive any institution more admirably calculated to advance these objects. Not only the selected banks, but the whole banking institutions of the country, and with them the entire money power, for the purpose of speculation, peculation, and corruption, would be placed under the control of the Executive. A system of menaces and promises will be establishedof menace to the banks in possession of the deposites, but which might not be entirely subservient to Executive views ; and of promise of future favors to those who may not as yet enjoy its favors. Between the two, the banks would be left without influence, honor, or honesty ; and a system of speculation and stock-jobbing would commence, unequalled in the annals of our country. I fear they have already commencedI fear the means which have been put in the hands of the minions of power by the removal of the deposites, and placing them in the vaults of dependent banks, have extended their cupidity to the public lands, particularly in the southwest, and that to this we must attribute the recent phenomena in that quarter ; immense and valuable tracts of land sold at short notice-sales fraudulently postponed to aid the speculators, with which, if I am not misinformed, a name not unknown to this body [Samuel Gwin, Register of a Land Office in Miss.] has performed a prominent part. But I leave this to my vigilant and able friend from Mississippi, (Mr. [George] Poindexter,) at the head of the Committee on Public Lands, who, I doubt not, will see justice done to the public. As to stockjobbing, this new arrangement will open a field which Rothschild himself may envy. It has been found hard workvery hard, no doubtby the jobbers in stock, who have been engaged in attempts to raise or depress the price of U.S. Bank stock ; but no work will be more easy than to raise or depress the price of the stock of the selected banks, at the pleasure of the Executive. Nothing more will be required than to give or withhold deposites ; to draw, or abstain from drawing warrantsto pamper them at one time, and starve them at another. Those who would be in the secret, and who would know when to buy and when to sell, would have the means of realizing, by dealing in the stocks, whatever fortune they might please.
So long as the question is one between a Bank of the United States incorporated by Congress and that system of banks which has been created by the will of the Executive, it is an insult to the understanding to discourse on the pernicious tendency and [un]constitutionality of the Bank of the United States. To bring up that question fairly and legitimately, you must go one step fartheryou must divorce the Government and the banking system. You must refuse all connexion with Banks. You must neither receive nor pay away bank notes ; you must go back to the old system of the strong box, and of gold and silver. If you have a right to receive bank notes at allto treat them as money by receiving them in your dues, or paying them away to creditors, you have a right to create a bank. Whatever the Government receives and treats as money, is money ; and, if it be money, then they have the right, under the Constitution, to regulate it. Nay, they are bound by a high obligation to adopt the most efficient means, according to the nature of that which they have recognized as money, to give it the utmost stability and uniformity of value. And if it be in the shape of bank notes, the most efficient means of giving those qualities, is a Bank of the U[nited] States, incorporated by Congress. Unless you give the highest practical uniformity to the value of bank notesso long as you receive them in your dues, and treat them as money, you violate that provision of the Constitution which provides that taxation shall be uniform throughout the United States. There is no other alternative, I repeat, you must divorce the Government entirely from the banking system, or, if not, you are bound to incorporate a bank as the only safe and efficient means of giving stability and uniformity to the currency. And should the deposites not be restored, and the present illegal and unconstitutional connexion between the Executive and the league of banks continue, I shall feel it my duty, if no one else moves, to introduce a measure to prohibit Government from receiving or touching bank notes in any shape whatever, as the only means left of giving safety and stability to the currency, and saving the country from corruption and ruin.
Viewing the question in its true light, as a struggle on the part of the Executive to seize on the power of Congress, and to unite in the President the power of the sword and the purse, the Senator from Kentucky (Mr. Clay) said, truly, and let me add, philosophically, that we are in the midst of a revolution. Yes, the very existence of free governments rests on the proper distribution and organization of power ; and to destroy this distribution, and thereby concentrate power in any one of the departments, is to effect a revolution ; but, while I agree with the Senator, that we are in the midst of revolution, I cannot agree with him as to the time at which it commenced, or the point to which it has progressed. Looking to the distribution of the powers of the General Governmentinto the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Departmentsand confining his views to the encroachments of the Executive upon the Legislative, he dates the commencement of the revolution but sixty days previous to the meeting of the present Congress. I, said Mr. C[alhoun], take a wider range, and date it from an earlier period. Besides the distribution among the Departments of the General Government, there belongs to our system another, and a far more important division or distribution of power, that between the States and the General Governmentthe reserved and delegated rights, the maintenance of which is still more essential to the preservation of our institutions. Taking this wide review of our political system, the revolution in the midst of which we are, began, not as supposed by the Senator from Kentucky, shortly before the commencement of the present session, but many years ago, with the commencement of the restrictive system, and terminated its first stage with the passage of the force bill of the last session, which absorbed all the rights and sovereignty of the States, and consolidated them in this Government. Whilst this process was going on, of absorbing the reserved powers of the States, on the part of the General Government, another commenced, of concentrating, in the Executive, the powers of the other two, the Legislative and Judicial Departments of the Government, which constitutes the second stage of the revolution, in which we have advanced almost to the termination.
The Senator from Kentucky, in connexion with this part of his argument [in his speech on 12/26/1833], read a striking passage from one of the most pleasing and instructive writers in any language, (Plutarch,) giving the description of [Julius] Caesar forcing himself, sword in hand, into the treasury of the Roman Commonwealth. We are at the same stage of our political revolution, and the analogy between the two cases is complete, varied only by the character of the actors and the circumstances of the times. That was a case of an intrepid and bold warrior, as an open plunderer, seizing forcibly the treasury of the country, which, in that Republic, as well as ours, was confided to the custody of the legislative department of the Government. The actors in our case are of a different characterartful, cunning, and corrupt politicians, and not fearless warriors. They have entered the treasury, not sword in hand, as public plunderers, but with the false keys of sophistry, as pilferers, under the silence of midnight. The motive and object are the same, varied in like manner, by character and circumstances. With money I will get men, and with men, money, was the maxim of the Roman plunderer. With money we will get partizans, with partizans votes, and with votes money, is the maxim of our public pilferers. With men and money, Caesar struck down Roman liberty, at the fatal battle of Phillippi [sic; perhaps Pharsalus], never to rise again ; from which disastrous hour, all the powers of the Roman republic were consolidated in the person of Caesar, and perpetuated in his line. With money and corrupt partizans, a great effort is now making to choke and stifle the voice of American liberty, through all its natural organs ; by corrupting the press ; by overawing the other departments ; and, finally, by setting up a new and polluted organ, composed of office holders and corrupt partizans, under the name of a national convention, which, counterfeiting the voice of the people, will, if not resisted, in their name dictate the succession ; when the deed will be donethe revolution be completedand all the powers of our Republic, in like manner, be consolidated in the President, and perpetuated by his dictation.
The Senator from Kentucky, (Mr. C[lay]) anticipates with confidence that the small party who were denounced at the last session as traitors and disunionists, will be found, on this trying occasion, standing in the front rank, and manfully resisting the advance of despotic power. I, said Mr. Calhoun, heard the anticipation with pleasure, not on account of the compliment which it implied, but the evidence which it affords that the cloud which has been so industriously thrown over the character and motive of that small, but patriotic party, begins to be dissipated. The Senator hazarded nothing in the prediction. That party is the determined, the fixed, and sworn enemy to usurpation, come from what quarter and under what form it may whether from the Executive, upon the other departments of this Government, or from this Government, on the sovereignty and rights of the States. The resolution and fortitude with which it maintained its position at the last session, under so many difficulties and dangers, in defence of the States against the encroachments of the General Government, furnished evidence, not to be mistaken, that that party in the present momentous struggle, would be found arrayed in defence of the rights of Congress against the encroachments of the President. And let me tell the Senator from Kentucky, said Mr. C[alhoun], that, if the present struggle against Executive usurpation be successful, it will be owing to the success, with which we, the nullifiersI am not afraid of the wordmaintained the rights of the States against the encroachments of the General Government at the last session.
A very few words will place this beyond controversy. To the interposition of the State of South Carolina, we are indebted for the adjustment of the tariff question ; without it, all the influence of the Senator from Kentucky, over the manufacturing interest, great as it deservedly is, would have been wholly incompetent, if he had even thought proper to exert it, to adjust the question. The attempt would have prostrated him, and those who acted with him, and not the system. It was the separate action of the State that gave him the place to stand upon ; created the necessity for the adjustment, and disposed the minds of all to compromise. Now, I put the solemn question to all who hear me, If the tariff had not been adjustedif it was now an open questionwhat hope of successful resistance against the usurpations of the Executive, on the part of this or any other branch of the Government, could be entertained ? Let it not be said, that this is the result of accidentof an unforeseen contingency. It was clearly perceived, and openly stated, that no successful resistance could be made to the corruption and encroachments of the Executive, while the tariff question remained openwhile it separated the north from the south, and wasted the energy of the honest and patriotic portions of the community against each other, the joint effort of which is indispensably necessary to expel those from authority, who are converting the entire powers of Government into a corrupt electioneering machine ; and that, without separate State interposition, the adjustment was impossible. The truth of this position rests not upon the accidental state of things, but on a profound principle growing out of the nature of Government and party struggles in a free state. History and reflection teach us, that when great interests come into conflict and the passions and the prejudices of men are roused, such struggles can never be composed by the influence of any individuals, however great ; and if there be not, somewhere in the system, some high constitutional power to arrest their progress, and compel the parties to adjust the difference, they go on till the state falls by corruption or violence.
I will, said Mr. C[alhoun], venture to add to these remarks another, in connexion with the point under consideration, not less true. We are not only indebted to the cause which I have stated, for our present strength in this body against the present usurpation of the Executive, but if the adjustment of the tariff had stood alone, as it ought to have done, without the odious bill which accompanied itif those who led in the compromise had joined the State Right party in their resistance to that unconstitutional measure, and thrown the responsibility on its real authors, the administration, their party would have been so prostrated throughout the entire South, and their power, in consequence, so reduced, that they would not have dared to attempt the present measure ; or, if they had, they would have been broken and defeated.
Were I, said Mr. C[alhoun], to select the case best calculated to illustrate the necessity of resisting usurpation at the very commencement, and to prove how difficult it is to resist it in any subsequent stage, if not met at first, I would select this very case. What, he asked, is the cause of the present usurpation of power on the part of the Executive ? What the motive ?the temptation, which has induced him to seize on the deposites ? What, but the large surplus revenue ? the eight or ten millions in the public Treasury beyond the wants of the Government ? And what has put so large an amount of money in the Treasury, when not needed ? I answer, the protective systemthat system which graduated duties, not in reference to the wants of the Government, but in reference to the importunities and demands of the manufacturers, and which poured millions of dollars into the Treasury beyond the most profuse demands and even the extravagance of the Governmenttakenunlawfully taken, from the pockets of those who honestly made it. I hold that those who make, are entitled to what they make against all the world, except the Government ; and against it, except to the extent of its legitimate and constitutional wants ; and that, for the Government to take one cent more is robbery. In violation of this sacred principle Congress first removed the deposites into the public Treasury, from the pockets of those who made it, and where they were rightfully placed by all laws, human and divine. The Executive, in his turn, following the example, has taken them from that deposite, and distributed them among favorite and partisan banks. The means used have been the same in both cases. The Constitution gives to Congress the power to lay duties with a view to revenue. This power, without regarding the object for which it was intended, forgetting that it was a great trust power, necessarily limited, by the very nature of such powers, to the subject and the object of the trust, was perverted to a use never intended, that of protecting the industry of one portion of the country at the expense of another ; and, under this false interpretation, the money was transferred from its natural and just deposite [in] the pockets of those who made it, into the public Treasury, as I have stated. In this too, the executive followed the example of Congress.
By the magic construction of a few simple wordsunless otherwise ordered,intended to confer on the Secretary of the Treasury a limited powerto give additional security to the public deposites, he has, in like manner, perverted this power, and made it the instrument, by similar sophistry, of drawing the money from the Treasury, and bestowing it, as I have stated, on favorite and partizan banks. Would to God, said Mr. C[alhoun], would to God I could reverse the whole of this nefarious operation, and terminate the controversy by returning the money to the pockets of the honest and industrious citizens, by the sweat of whose brows it was made, with whom only it can be rightfully deposited. But as this cannot be done, I must content myself by giving a vote to return it to the public Treasury, where it was ordered to be deposited by an act of the legislature.
There is another aspect, said Mr. C[alhoun], in which this subject may be viewed. We all remember how early the question of the surplus revenue began to agitate the country. At a very early period, a Senator from New Jersey, (Mr. [Mahlon] Dickerson,) presented his scheme for disposing of it by distributing it among the States. The first message of the President [Andrew Jackson] recommended a similar project, which was followed up by a movement on the part of the Legislature of New York, and I believe some of the other States. The public attention was arousedthe scheme scrutinizedits gross unconstitutionality and injustice, and its dangerous tendencyits tendency to absorb the power and existence of the States, were clearly perceived and denounced. The denunciation was too deep to be resisted, and the scheme was abandoned. What have we now in lieu of it ? What is the present scheme but a distribution of the surplus revenue ? A distribution at the sole will and pleasure of the Executive ; a distribution to favorite banks, and through them, in the shape of discounts and loans, to corrupt partizans, as the means of increasing political influence ?
We have, said Mr. C[alhoun], arrived at a fearful crisis. Things cannot long remain as they are. It behooves all who love their countrywho have affection for their offspring, or who have any stake in our institutions, to pause and reflect. Confidence is daily withdrawing from the General Government. Alienation is hourly going on. These will necessarily create a state of things inimical to the existence of our institutions, and, if not arrested, convulsions must follow, and then comes dissolution or despotism, when a thick cloud will be thrown over the cause of liberty and the future prospects of our country.
From Register of Debates ... Reported for the U.S. Telegraph, 1:248-259. Also printed in the Washington, D.C., United States Telegraph, January 16, 1834, pp. 2-3; the Washington, D.C., Daily National Intelligencer, January 24, 1834, pp. 2-3; the Charleston, S.C., State Rights & Free Trade Evening Post, January 24 and 25, 1834; the Pendleton, S.C., Messenger, February 5, 12, and 19, 1834; Remarks of the Hon. J.C. Calhoun, Delivered in the Senate of the U[nited] States, on the Subject of the Removal of the Deposites from the Bank of the U[nited] States, January 13, 1834 ( [Washington:] printed by Duff Green, 1834); Remarks of the Hon. John C. Calhoun, Delivered in the Senate of the United States, January 13, 1834, on the Subject of the Removal of the Deposites from the Bank of the U[nited] States (Washington: 1834), copies of which are in ScHi and SeUSC; Register of Debates, 23rd Cong., 1st Sess., cols. 206-223. Variant in Speeches of John C. Calhoun, pp. 122-138; Crallé, ed., Works, 2:309-343. NOTE : Variations in later published versions of this speech are described above on pp. xiv-xvi.