What was future President H.A. Lincoln doing in those halcyon days ?
In 1839 he already gave a speech against the Sub-Treasury; because, as Mr. Clay stated (in 1841), the rubbish had to be cleared away before the central Fiscal Bank could be established.
How about future Secretary of the Treasury, Portland Chase ?
Since 1832 he had been attorney for the Bank of the United States; where he learned everything he knew about banking, central banking, national banking, and national currency.
What of future Police Minister William Seward ?
In 1840, during the election campaign, as governor of New York State, Mr. Seward busied himself as professional liar for the Whig Party.
As a State Senator, on January 31, 1832, made an elaborate defense of the Bank of the United States.
Seward was counsel for Erastus Corning, a large capitalist of Albany who was the head of the projectors of the Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad Company which, in 1854, by fraud and corruption obtained from Congress an extensive land grant of 900,000 acres.
Where was future Chairman of the Committee of Finance, Pitt Fessenden ?
In 1841 he was a Whig member of the House of Representatives
Bill to establish a Fiscal Corporation of the United States
Mr. Archer having concluded
Mr. Buchanan rose in reply, and addressed the Senate nearly as follows:
The Senator from Virginia concluded his remarks, by telling us that the Whig party had done a great deal at this extra session. I admit they have done much: and they have done one thing for which the country ought to be grateful they have done for themselves. [A laugh.] The gentleman quoted to us, on the subject of our abstractions, a couplet from Hudibras; but he stopped with the first two lines. Let me supply the couplet immediately following, which the Senator did not quote; but which, I think, applies quite as well to the pretended difference between the present bill and that which the President has returned to us with his veto:
"What mighty difference can there be
Twixt tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee !"
Before I conclude, I think I shall be able to show that if the President would have deserved the condemnation of all honest men, had he approved the bill to establish a Fiscal Bank: having rejected that, he will deserve, not only the condemnation, but the contempt and ridicule of all mankind, if he shall sign the bill to create this "Fiscal Corporation." But, while I express this opinion, I do not desire or intend to say any thing which shall wound the feelings of my honorable friend from Virginia, [Mr. Archer,] for I can in all truth and sincerity declare, that, if there is such a thing in the entire world of politics as an honest man, (and I doubt not but there are many,) I believe my friend is that man. I think, indeed, that he has, by some means, got himself involved in a strange delusion; but, if he has changed his opinion, I certainly am not to blame for not changing mine.
I desire to say a few things concerning this Bank, before execution shall have been done upon it either by the President or the Senate; for I believe no human being anticipates that such a thing as the present bill will ever become the law of the land. I believe, further, that if all hearts here could be searched, it would be found that this bill is not what gentlemen on either side desire.
A word or two as to the constitutional argument of the Senator from Virginia. If I rightly apprehended the position he took, his character as a State Rights man is gone forever. The Senator from South Carolina [Mr. Calhoun] need now no longer apprehend any thing from the Senator's competing with him for the palm; he has avowed himself a consolidationist, and one of the most thorough-going of the sect. The Senator says that the Government of the United States has a right to purchase bills of exchange; that it may, if it pleases, instead of "wagoning" the specie (to use the Senator's phrase) to the head-waters of the Missouri or Mississippi, purchase a bill, which will accomplish the same purpose. Undoubtedly it may; though, in practice, this is rarely, if ever, done. There is not the least difficulty in the Government's transferring its funds to our extreme western frontier; because even the very Indians will accept a Government bill drawn on New York, and would prefer it to specie, knowing that it can be sold at a premium anywhere in the far West for gold and silver.
As the next step in his argument, the Senator tells us that it is perfectly incontrovertible that, having a right over a part, the Government must have a right over the whole: that if it possesses the power, it possesses the whole power: that a constitutional power cannot be broken into fragments; but if the power be given at all, the whole power must be given. And so, because Government may purchase a bill of exchange to discharge its obligations on the Western frontier, it can therefore set up a bank of exchange, with a capital of fifty millions of dollars, and confer on it the power of dealing in bills, not only for the purposes of Government, but for the use of all the people of this country ! A proposition like this needs only to be stated.
The men who framed the Constitution of the United States were jealous of federal power, and they dealt it out to Congress with a parsimonious hand. What do they say in the Constitution ? Any thing which gives the slightest sanction to the Senator's doctrine ? Not at all. The power to transfer the public funds from one part of the country to another, by bills of exchange, is palpable. Nobody denies it. But that it should follow, as a necessary inference, that it has power to deal in exchange to every extent; to buy and sell foreign bills between this country and Europe, and bills between State and State, in which it has no interest, is a position such as I never heard, in all my life, from the greatest and most avowed consolidationist.
Why, at this rate, an ingenious expositor may make the Constitution mean anything or nothing. But there is no foundation for any construction or inference in the case. The United States may, confessedly, buy and sell bills of exchange as a means of transferring its funds: this it has done uninterruptedly and without objection for the last fifty years. But, before my astute and very ingenious friend from Virginia made the discovery, I believe it never was dreamed of that such a simple power as this laid a foundation for the erection of an immense bank of exchange.
If I understood the Senator from Georgia [Mr. Berrien] aright, he advanced a constitutional opinion such as I never heard before, save from one other gentleman, [Mr. Webster,] that the power "to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes," conferred upon Congress power to create a paper currency, as a medium with which to conduct commerce.
The present Secretary of State did advance, some years ago, this same latitudinous doctrine. I then contested it; and I am happy to say that the distinguished Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Clay] concurred with the in opinion. Congress has power to regulate commerce: therefore, says the Senator from Georgia, Congress possesses power to create a paper currency, with which commerce may be conducted. This is the doctrine.
Yet even this is not quite so strong as the position of my friend from Virginia [Mr. Archer.] A power to "regulate," means a power to "create !" Were any two words in the English language ever better understood than these ? To "regulate" is to prescribe rules for conducting something that already exists. To "create," is to bring that into existence which before had none.
We know that the Constitution had its origin mainly in the general wish to regulate with uniformity the commerce of this country. Previous to its adoption, the different States of the Confederacy had established different regulations, which they were always changing; and hence no foreign Government would form commercial treaties with the then Government of the United States, which it could not enforce. Besides, the commercial regulations of the different States were constantly in conflict with each other. To remedy these evils, power was conferred on the Federal Government to establish uniform rule, in relation to commerce, which should apply alike to all the States.
Up to the year 1839, I never had imagined that any human being could be found who would contend that this simple power of prescribing rules for regulating our foreign and domestic commerce involved the tremendous power of creating a Bank with a capital of fifty millions of dollars, and with power to issue a paper currency sufficient to supply the demands of the country. But the doctrine was then advanced; and I advise the friends of a National Bank to adhere to it. It answers their purpose much better to derive their banking power, as the Senator from Massachusetts then did, from the power to regulate commerce, than as the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Morehead] now does, from the power to collect, transfer, and disburse the public revenue. To derive it as an inference from the latter power, as John Marshall has done, is to involve it with a question of fact, which might prove troublesome to its advocates. On their own showing, the previous question must first be settled, whether a Bank be necessary to the collection, transfer, and disbursement of the public revenue.
But this vast commercial power leaves all limitations behind. It mounts at once into the air, and soars aloft to any height which Bank advocates may deem necessary to the accomplishment of their designs. If they want to create a paper currency, I tell them that the commercial power is a better basis on which to place it than the power over the revenue. And here let me add one word to my friend from Kentucky, [Mr. Morehead.] He treated us to a long, eloquent, and able speech, in reply to one I had previously made; but this reply was unfortunately confined to a single branch of a single point in my argument; and neither he nor any other Senator has yet so much as touched any one of the other points which I made.
The Senator's whole speech was directed to the object of proving that the constitutionality of a Bank of the United States was a settled question. Now, admitting, for argument's sake alone, that the Senator succeeded in establishing his position that this is a settled question: I ask, how has it been settled ? That Congress has the absolute, unconditional power to create, at pleasure, a Bank of the United States ? Not at all; but that if Congress shall believe a Bank to be a necessary agent in collecting, transferring, and disbursing the public revenue, the judiciary will not undertake to decide this question of fact differently, and declare the law to be unconstitutional, for this reason alone.
Now, John Marshall himself might, if a member of Congress, give his vote against the creation of a Bank, not believing it in fact to be necessary to execute the revenue power of the Government; and yet act in perfect accordance with every principle of his own decision in the case of McCulloch against the State of Maryland. That decision amounted only to this: that the court would not rejudge the discretion of Congress; but it necessarily referred the constitutional question back to the conscience of each member about to vote for or against a new Bank, untrammelled by any judicial exposition. If members believe that a Bank is a necessary and proper instrument to execute the taxing power of the Government, and can thus reconcile it to their consciences to declare it to be constitutional, and pass a bill creating it, the court have decided that they will not reverse this legislative decision. And yet this is the source whence has been drawn the unfair, the unjust, the monstrous inference, that John Tyler has had a rule prescribed to him which makes it his duty to approve a Bank charter, notwithstanding the Supreme Court have expressly devolved it upon Congress and on the President to decide that question, in the first instance, for themselves.
I said some days ago, in the language of a great man, that there was but one step from the sublime to the ridiculous; and that, in my opinion, the Whig party had taken that step when they determined to establish this "kite-flying fiscality." My remark, at the best, was not of much value; but such as it was, it had been stolen by the reporter of the National Intelligencer, and put into the mouth of the Senator from Kentucky. [A laugh.] I do not complain of this, for I very sincerely desire that he had both said it and thought it.
And here let me say, in relation to this great political party of the Whigs it might have originated the boldest and the worst measures it might have struck directly at the very vitals of the Constitution; and yet, such is the influence of party feeling that, notwithstanding this sacrilegious blow, it might have still survived. But let me tell its leaders, that the moment it rendered itself ridiculous, it pronounced its own doom. The Senator from Virginia, indeed, spoke of the Whig party as already dead. In the opinion of that honorable Senator, the party was already past and gone.
[Mr. Archer here explained, stating that what he had said was this: that the party was gone, if the President, by his action, should throw the Whigs upon the ground occupied by their late opponents.]
Mr. Buchanan. Very well; the epitaph of the party may be briefly written. On its tombstone the historian may inscribe: "This party died not in the intellectual strife of giant minds; it perished not upon the open field of manly battle; but a mere Sergeant in its own ranks administered to it a dose of poison more fatal than hellebore, in the form of a 'Fiscal Corporation.' "
Sir, but three short months ago this triumphant party came into these halls, glorying and exulting in its great and splendid victory. The hero of a hundred fights was at its head, whose spirit would, I thought, have always mounted. Yet, notwithstanding the immense majority it wielded notwithstanding the wisdom and experience of its commanding general it has sunk step by step, till at length we have seen it descend to this miserable bill to establish a "Fiscal Corporation." Why, sir, we are told, in the reports of the National Intelligencer, that, when this bill was presented in the other House, it was received with shouts of laughter; and I suppose the fact will not be disputed on this side of the House, considering the source from whence I have derived the information.
There is one case recorded in history bearing a resemblance to the attempt to establish a National Bank. It is that of Charles James Fox, who introduced into Parliament his far-famed East India bill, which would have enabled him to grasp the wealth and power of India, and to use them as the means of overawing the King and controlling the people. Mr. Fox failed in this great attempt; but when he failed, he did not fall back on a "Fiscal Bank," and, failing in that, sink so low as a "Fiscal Corporation." No; there was something grand and noble in an old-fashioned Hamiltonian Bank of the United Stales. If it were a palpable usurpation on the Constitution of the United States, still it was a manly usurpation. It marched like a monarch into the States of the Union, and established itself and its branches where it pleased, without regarding their assent or dissent. It did not skulk into this District of ten miles square, and then stealthily steal out into the States where the States did not positively forbid.
"How are the mighty fallen ! Tell it not in Gath; publish it not in the streets of Askalon" that the great, the triumphant, the dominant, the irresistible Whig party, has sunk to this thing called a "Fiscal Corporation!" And, from what the Senator from Virginia says, I doubt whether they will even get that. They may fly their kite at the White House.
[Here Mr. Archer interposed: As to the White House, you know what is passing there much better than I. Your party, I believe, know more about the interior of that mansion than the Whigs do.]
Mr. Buchanan. I am sorry the honorable Senator from Virginia is mistaken. I hope it may be so before long. The inhabitant of that mansion has shown himself to be a man of mettle. He has not abandoned all his old Virginia principles to become the tool of a party from which he differs on nearly all the great points of its policy. This Fiscal Corporation is, I presume, the ultimatum with the Whig party. You may fly your kite at the White House, but your bill will return protested. The President will fly no kite back again beyond the limits of this District, without the free consent of the States being first had and obtained. I think this is certain, from his veto message. And, what my friends on this side of the House will consider worse than all, he will not infer the assent of the States, either from the silence of their Legislatures, or their refusal to dissent. What his further views upon the subject may be, it is impossible for me to say.
The Bank which you propose to establish by this bill is a perfect speculator's bank. All the "bulls" and the "bears" and other speculating animals in Wall street, will hail it with exceeding great joy; while all other men, to whatever party they belong, will have reason for sorrow and lamentation. Your industrious mechanic your discreet retail merchant your plain farmer your enterprising and ingenious manufacturer will get no accommodation there none. It is an exchange bank, confined to buying and selling foreign bills of exchange, including bills drawn in one State or Territory, and payable in another. To deal with such an institution, a man must be known on 'Change, he must have foreign correspondents.
You can't fly your kite from one city to another within the same State. This Bank is to deal in kite-flying only between different States. Now, Mr. President, what is kite-flying ? for I hold the contrary sentiment to that advanced by the Senator from Missouri, [Mr. Benton;] and I maintain that the "kite-flying fiscality" is a better name for this institution than the "meal-tub bank." Let me explain my notion of it; and, if I am wrong, there are gentlemen here who, no doubt, understand a great deal more about it than I do, and who will kindly put me right. Kite-flying, then, as I understand it, is never predicated of a real business transaction. A speculator in Philadelphia, wishing to raise the wind to the amount of a hundred thousand dollars, cannot obtain the money from this Bank on an accomodation note, as he could have done from an old fashioned Bank of the United States; and to what expedient must he resort for this purpose ? He gets a brother speculator in New York to consent that he may draw a bill of exchange on him. The Fiscal Corporation, which cannot discount his note, buys his bill thus drawn, and he puts the money in his pocket. The bill, at its maturity, is not paid in money by the New York speculator, but he squares the account by simply drawing another bill back on the speculator in Philadelphia. This second bill, when due, is also satisfied by merely drawing a second bill on the speculator in New York; and so they keep it going backward and forward between the two cities as long as they please. This, in the technical language on 'Change, is called kite-flying. The Bank meanwhile, pockets the legal interest, and as much more as it can get for exchange. This process evades the usury laws, and enables it, without danger, to demand and receive more than legal interest for discounting bills.
Now gentlemen will perceive at once how exclusively this Fiscality will become a speculator's bank. A plain mechanic goes to the counter, and asks an accommodation for a moderate sum say from five hundred to five thousand dollars on a promissory note, with good endorsers; and what is the answer ? "We can't accommodate you, sir; we only deal in exchange." The poor man turns away disappointed, and walks out without his money. But as he passes along, there comes in one of these kite-flying speculators fellows who are up to the tricks of trade. He resides in Philadelphia, and draws his bill on the city of Camden, within five minutes' run across the Delaware, for five, ten, or twenty thousand dollars. That is no accommodation note; oh, no! it is a bill of exchange; and while the poor mechanic did not know how to do the thing, the more adroit speculator gets all he wants.
Now I shall not assert that this bill was drawn with a view to benefit speculators; but I do say it will accomplish that purpose as effectually as if this had been the intention of its framers. In several essential particulars it is worse much worse than the Fiscal Bank bill of the Senator from Kentucky, which has been vetoed by the President. It is not true, as has been asserted, that this bill is a mere copy of the former bill, with no other change except what was necessary to confine the corporation to dealing in exchange. When I heard it suggested on this floor that an officer of the present bank of the United States had been consulted in the preparation of the new bill, I was at once aware that it would be necessary to scrutinize its provisions with the utmost care; and this task I have performed. The Senator from Virginia tells us that if the bill becomes a law, the stock will all be taken. Taken ! My examination of the bill induces me to say, undoubtedly it will. Nay, more; there will be a scramble for it. More stock will probably be subscribed in one day, than the whole amount of the capital of the Bank; and why ? Because it is a Bank exactly accommodated to the purposes of speculators.
The Senator from New York [Mr. Wright] had some old fashioned notions on the subject of banking. He thought it was not right that a man should subscribe for stock in the Fiscal Bank, and pay for it not in money, but in loans obtained from the Bank itself on the security of the stock subscribed. It is true that past experience was in his favor, because the late Bank of the United States had been nearly ruined in the first years of its existence by the stock-notes; and by their use many banks have been brought into existence which were mere frauds upon the public. Hence that Senator proposed as an amendment, to which the honorable Senator from kentucky assented, that such loans to stockholders to pay for their stock should be excluded, and that every subscriber should be compelled to pay his subscription in gold and silver. But no such rigid rule prevails in this bank in regard to individuals.
The Government is a part stockholder, and it alone is required to pay up its seven millions in hard specie or its equivalent. But what must the speculator pay ? There will be only ten per cent. required from him in money as a first instalment, and he can meet the remaining ninety per cent. of his subsciption by a stock bill of exchange, or by borrowing the gold and silver out of the seven million fund placed in this bank by the Government. This is one important and striking difference between the present bill and that advocated by the Senator from Kentucky. The subscriber may fly his kite on New York or Philadelphia, and thus pay for his stock. As a proof that this difference exists, let me refer the Senate to the 14th fundamental article of the bill to create the Fiscal Bank, where they will find the following wise provision, which has been omitted in the present bill:
"Nor shall the said director, either of the said principal bank or of any branch or office of discount and deposit, or any agency, discount, or suffer to be discounted, or receive in payment, or suffer to be received in payment, any note or evidence of debt as a payment of or upon any instalment of the said capital stock actually called for and required to be paid, or with the intent of providing the means of making such payment; nor shall any of the said director, receive or discount, or suffer to be received or discounted, any note or other evidence of debt, with intent of enabling any stockholder to withdraw any part of the money paid in by him on his stock."
It is not intended to suffer this Bank to confine itself to real business transactions. If it were thus confined, it might, to a certain extent, be of considerable use. A man in one portion of the Union, who had funds in another, might draw upon those funds, and thus, without trouble, obtain his money at the place of his residence. But dealing in bona fide bills alone will not answer. There must be kite-flying, there must be accommodation paper; or, if that were not intended, it will at least be the effect, and that to a vast extent. Accordingly, in order to make this an easy process for the speculating gentry, the provision contained in the Fiscal Bank bill of the Senator from Kentucky, intended to limit its business to real transactions, has been stricken from this kite-flying fiscality. The 20th fundamental article of this bill provided that
That no paper shall be discounted, or any loan made by said Bank for a longer period than one hundred and eighty days; nor shall any note, or bill, or other debt, or evidence of debt, be renewed or extended by any engagement or contract of said Bank, after the time for which it was negotiated shall have expired."
This was a wise, salutary provision. It would have confined the dealing in exchange to the actual wants of the country, had it been rigidly and faithfully enforced. But this, too, has been omitted; and the effect will be to make it the easiest thing in the world, by drawing bills backwards and forwards between different States, to furnish all the accommodation that speculators can desire. Bills of exchange may be discounted having years to run; and they may be renewed, when due, by the substitution of new bills, during an indefinite period, without any restriction whatever. Could the most unreasonable speculator desire more than this ?
There is a third striking difference between the two bills. The former bill went on the presumption that members of Congress are men of mortal mould; that they possess the same passions and the same frailties as other men; that they are neither better nor worse than their fellow-citizens; and that, as it depended upon the vote of the two Houses of Congress whether proceedings should be instituted to forfeit its charter in case it were violated, they ought not to have any accommodations from the Bank, lest they might thus be swerved from their integrity of purpose. This, to be sure, was a very severe restriction; because gentlemen may desire, like some of their predecessors, to form another Congressional land company, and it might be very convenient to obtain money on kite-flying bills, as some of their predecessors had done. Under similar circumstances, it would certainly be a very convenient matter for a member of Congress to fly a kite as far as Baltimore for ten or twenty thousand dollars, and no doubt he would find the Bank extremely accommodating.
Another advantage is, that if he should not bc able to pay at maturity, there is not the least danger that he will be ever publicly exposed. I believe it is a rule in love never to kiss and tell: and this rule has been most pertinaciously observed by the old corrupt and rotten Bank of the United States. If that bank accommodated members of Congress and we know it did, to an immense amount it has always refused to give up their names. The tears and the groans of the widows and orphans whom it has ruined have ascended to heaven, and accused its directors. These directors have been changed again and again, but still they have kept the secret. No resolves and no efforts of this body, or of the other House, have ever been able to extort it from them. There is among the secret arcana of that bank a document known by the name of the "suspended list," which, if ever published, would give the information; but every human being who has had access to that paper has most religiously kept the secret. If they had not, it may be that men who now hold their heads very high, and who occupy distinguished stations in the State, would be covered with shame, and humbled in the very dust. Could that list be procured, it is at least possible that we might learn how bank accommodations can be paid off by the transfer of lots in lithographed paper cities, and valueless western lands.
Happily, under this bill these golden opportunities will again be afforded, and the wind will again prove fair for members of Congress to fly their kites as well as other men.
And here let me point out something of the working of this new patent machine. Why, sir, to use a western phrase, "it will go without greasing;" there will be no manner of difficulty in the way. The borrower in Philadelphia will, as I told you, draw his bill on some far remote city in another State such as Camden; and when his bill is due, his bona fide correspondent in Camden can draw back on him just such another on Philadelphia, and thus, without discounting a single promissory note, the Bank can lend more money and make more profit than if its discounting power were without restriction.
I was really astonished to hear the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Archer] assert, whilst he denounced the power of discount as being so immense and so dangerous, and so utterly inadmissible, that this other power of dealing in exchanges was the most benign, the most beneficent, and the most felicitous power that ever was devised by man, and that a bill which conferred it should, as a matter of course, unite in its favor the votes of all the Whig party.
Then there is the city of New York and Jersey City. If the honorable Senator should at any time want a loan, he has only to fly his kite across the Hudson river, and he can readily be accommodated.
[Mr. Archer. I never drew a bill which had one character and asserted another.]
Yes, but when you establish a bank of such a character as this, you must expect that such consequences will follow. A bank from which all restrictions are taken away, and at whose counter the whole speculating world is invited to borrow from such a bank, what else can you expect ? It will loan money on bills of exchange, instead of loaning on promissory notes; and, for my soul, I cannot perceive any essential difference between the two modes. The only effect in thus changing the form will be to induce men to commit fraud. Instead of drawing on real funds, they will draw bills on places where they have nothing to answer them. They will thus make their loans, and the bank make its profits, with this only difference that they have to pay a little more for their money, while the bank will receive a larger interest, in the name of a premium, than the law would allow it to take on the discount of a promissory note.
I can see that some cities and cities of great business, too will derive little benefit from this bill. Buffalo, for example, and Pittsburgh, will both be in a "bad fix," for Buffalo cannot draw on New York, nor Pittsburgh on Philadelphia. And why ? Because, under this wise bill, two cities in the same State cannot draw on each other. I can not imagine how the merchants who conduct the immense flour and other business of Buffalo will be able to obtain accommodations, unless, indeed, they resort to flying kites to the Canada shore, and they present foreign bills to the bank for discount.
Cincinnati will be well off, because Newport is just across the river, and the drawer and the acceptor will be almost within hail of each other. This machine, such as I have described it, will regulate the price of every commodity in the country, and it will be done by this kite-flying process.
There are on the stock exchange two classes of speculators the one called "bears" and the other "bulls." The business of gambling assumes different forms at different times. Gambling at "all fours," at "loo," at "faro," &c., has gone out of fashion. The fashion now is to gamble in stocks. Those who play at the game are either bears or bulls. The bear does what he can to depress the price of stocks in the market, whilst the bull is equally intent upon raising it. The bear wagers with the bull on a certain day (three mouths, for example, after the date) a particular stock will be ten per cent. lower than at present. So to work they both go the one to depreciate, the other to enhance, the price of this stock. Hence there is a constant struggle going on between these two classes.
As this gambling assumes the form of an agreement by the bear to transfer to the bull a certain amount of stock at a fixed price on a future day, which is called "selling on time," the bulls often combine to buy up all of a particular stock in the market before the day of transfer arrives, so that the bears cannot fulfil their contracts; in which case they are compelled to pay "smart money," and then they are said to he "cornered," (a phrase, by the by, more appropriate than "headed," as applicable to Captain Tyler, when the modus operandi is to push this kite-flying fiscality at him.)
Such being the state of things, these gamblers in stocks will enter into a fierce struggle as to which class shall be the directors of the branch agencies, because they can then elevate or depress the price of every kind of stock, as well as of all other property throughout the entire country, just as it shall suit their purposes of speculation. And this, forsooth, is the sort of fiscality which President Tyler is expected to approve, after having placed his deliberate veto upon what was, comparatively, a respectable institution.
This is the question on which the great Whig party are to go before the people, and in regard to which they suppose they can disturb the serenity of the public mind by denouncing John Tyler for his refusal to sign the bill. A cabinet which would go out of office on such a question as this, would subject themselves to scorn and ridicule.
But this Fiscal Corporation is to regulate domestic exchanges. Really, Mr. President, I thought we had heard enough on that point. Regulate the exchanges ! Why, the exchanges are regulated at this moment, and as well regulated as they have been for many years past. There seems to exist a general conspiracy among the public journals to impose upon their unreflecting readers in relation to this matter. The exchange list, for instance, will tell you that the exchange between New York and Detroit is fifty per cent., but what is that fifty per cent.? It is, in truth, only the difference between the value of gold and silver in New York and the bills of some Wild Cat bank in Michigan. (That, I think, is the name of this sort of money.)
[Mr. Benton, across: "Red Dog."]
I never heard it called "Red Dog," but, for aught I know, that may be the proper name. I have in my pocket a letter from Detroit, assuring me that exchange is as low as it ever was before; the real difference between hard money in Detroit and hard money in New York being only from one to one and a half per cent. And yet this bill is to regulate exchanges ! Unless under very extraordinary circumstances, the rate of exchange always regulates itself. It is the course of commerce that regulates the exchanges between any two places in the same country; and the true rate of exchange between one place and another consists only of the cost of the transportation and insurance on gold and silver.
Exchange between New York and Philadelphia is quoted at 2 to 3 per cent. And why ? This is the difference between gold and silver in New York and the depreciated paper circulating in Philadelphia. Let us no longer indulge the hope of establishing this, or any other fiscal banking corporation like it. Let John Tyler send its a good old-fashioned Jackson veto, which will place the bank question at rest as long as he shall continue President, and the public mind will settle down into a state of calm and tranquillity; and in less than six months the commercial business of the country will again be prosperous.
How is this business conducted in Europe ? Do their banks deal in exchange ? Very little, if any. And yet I can take a letter of credit at St. Petersburg, travel with it all over the continent, and not pay more than a very small premium. To talk of exchange being 10 and 20 per cent. between place and place in the United States, is to suppose that people do not understand the difference between gold and silver and a depreciated paper currency.
I say, further, let our domestic manufacturers beware of this bill. The Fiscal Corporation is to deal in exchange between this and foreign countries. This will greatly increase the importation of foreign goods, by affording the easiest mode of payment. Duties will be collected in bank paper instead of gold and silver, in consequence of the repeal of the Independent Treasury. Large accommodations will be obtained by our importing merchants from this corporation, and the country will be inundated with foreign goods. Pass the present bill, and this object can easily be accomplished. A friend of mine said to me in conversation, that this bill ought to pass, because the Bankrupt bill had passed.
Now, I think that we should have passed the Fiscality first, to enable the speculators to run in debt beyond their means of payment; and afterwards have passed the Bankrupt bill, to enable them to discharge their obligations in the easiest manner possible. [A laugh.]
And now I have one word to say on the late Presidential veto, and then I shall have done. It has been said that John Tyler was bound by the fidelity which he owed to his party to approve the bill for a Fiscal Bank. I deny it altogether, and say that, if he had approved that bill, he would have deserved to be denounced as a self-destroyer, as false to the whole course of his past life, false to every principle of honor, and false to the sacred obligation of his oath to support the Constitution.
He had de clared, again and again, that such a bank was unconstitutional, and yet he is denounced because he did not render himself infamous by an utter disregard of that instrument. The President had but one righteous course before him, and had he taken any other, it would not only have blasted his own character, but it would have fixed a blot on the history of his country to all future generations.
How was he committed to sign a bill which he believed to be unconstitutional ? What was the history of the Harrisburg convention ? and it will be remembered that I do not live far from that celebrated place. How was that convention composed ? It contained, I admit, many men of the highest respectability; but, in a political view, it was made up "of all nations, and people, and kindred, and tongues." "Black spirits and white, blue spirits and gray," all mingled their counsels there, to attain a single end an available candidate for the Presidency. In this they succeeded; and the result was, to turn Mr. Van Buren out, and put themselves in.
The infidel philosopher Volney, in his celebrated "Ruins of Empires," presents us with an imaginary picture of an assemblage, in which all the religious sects of the earth were collected together, and engaged in defending their respective creeds; and such a confusion ensued as might put to shame that at the tower of Babel. Just so would it have been at Harrisburg, if they had attempted to discuss any political principles. There was the Abolitionist, ready to call down fire from heaven to annihilate slavery from the face of the earth; and side by side with him sat the honorable and high-spirited Southern slaveholder. There was the Anti-mason, whose motto was "Destruction to all secret societies," mingling in sweet communion with the Bank director, who, with the fidelity of a vestal, had preserved the secrets of his prison-house. There was the Consolidationist, holding, as my friend from Virginia does, that the mere power to buy a bill of exchange vested in Congress the power to create an exchange bank; while hand and hand with him we might see the tight-laced strict Constructionist, who will hardly allow the Government power to do anything. In that one motley assembly were to be seen all colors and all shades of political opinion. From absolute necessity, not from choice, they were compelled to abstain from making any public declaration of their principles.
Now, if John Tyler had a right to infer anything from the proceedings of that body, it was that he would be at liberty to oppose a Bank of the United States. Certain leaders of that convention were, it is true, in favor of a Bank bill, while the convention, as a body, selected well known anti-Bank men as their chosen candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, were those candidates to infer that they must change all their opinions and become Bank men ?
Sir, I deplored the death of General Harrison, from the deep respect I entertained for his name and character, however much I may have differed from his political principles. But General Harrison was, par excellence, an anti-Bank man. All his public declarations, up to the very moment of the election, establish this fact. Nay, more; we, who have been denounced as the Loco-Foco, barn-burning, agrarian portion of our party, because we assert the constitutional right to repeal a public corporation entrusted with the sovereign power of managing the finances of the country, when the public interest demands it, may claim him as a brother in the faith; for when a resolution was introduced in the House, in 1819, to repeal at a single blow the charter of the late Bank, he voted in its favor. And as to John Tyler, he has so often declared himself against a Bank of the United States, that there is no need I should specially refer any gentleman to his opinions on that subject.
There they both were, holding these opinions, and having openly avowed them; and it is utterly impossible that the members of this convention should have been ignorant of the fact. The convention, then, made no avowal of its principles.
And what was the voice of the people ? I can truly say that, during the whole election campaign, I never saw one single resolution in favor of a National Bank, which had been passed by any Whig meeting in any part of the country. In some of the States a Bank might have been popular; many of the leaders certainly desired it; but that was an issue which they carefully kept from the public eye. The Senator from Virginia [Mr. Rives] denounced a Bank, as he has informed us, all over that State; and the Senator from New York [Mr. Tallmadge] has admitted that, in his public speeches, he was silent on the subject. I had thought that, if any State in the Union was favorable to a Bank, it must have been Ohio; yet in the Richmond Enquirer there is a letter from the present Secretary of the Treasury [Mr. Ewing] to his friend, L.D. Barker, esq., from which a very different inference may be drawn. I shall read an extract from it:
Lancaster, (Ohio) July 18, 1840.My Dear Sir:
On my return from Columbus, this evening, I received your letter, informing me that it was asserted, at a public meeting in Washington county, that, in a speech at Philadelphia, I had said the true question between the parties was a Bank of the United States: and that you, from a knowledge of the real question, and of me, had contradicted the assertion. In this, of course, you were perfectly safe. I made no such statement, but the very contrary," &c. &c.
In the State of Pennsylvania, I know that the establishment of a National Bank was nowhere made the issue. I assert, then, that all the evidence we have is for, and none against, the fact stated in the President's message that the people of the United States never had declared themselves in favor of a Bank.
The whole spectacle presents to us a memorable moral. Divines have said that national sins are always visited by national punishment; because, in a future state, retributive justice cannot reach nations collectively; and, for the same reason, a violation of principle by any political party is sure in the end to meet with its appropriate reward. Where, on the face of the earth, can another example be found of a great, influential, and highly talented party having assembled together from all points of the country, and, when collected in one grand convention, having refused to announce to the world any political principles ?
The Whigs expected to rouse the nation to a struggle which should displace their adversaries; but they announced no principles "for the public eye;" and when we asked them for their political creed, they always referred us to the public declarations of their candidates. Well, what was the punishment of this double dealing ? It was, that a party, whose leaders desired a Bank of the United States above all other things, should have been so infatuated as to select as their candidates two decidedly anti-Bank men.
There was but one principle in which the whole Whig party seemed to be unanimous, and that was in proscribing proscription. Their vow was to put an end forever to the maxim that "to the victors belong the spoils;" and yet the venerable patriot who had often bared his breast in battle to the enemies of his country, was, in less than a single month, hunted to death by the importunity of Whig office seekers. A friend offered to show the a medical pamphlet, published in the city of Philadelphia, declaring that it was from this cause that President Harrison came to his death.
I say that President Tyler could not have done otherwise than veto that bill, if he wished to preserve his character as an honest man. He must have done it from necessity, if not from choice. He could not have approved and signed that bill, without exhibiting to the American people the disgraceful spectacle of a high public officer contradicting all the professions of his past life, and giving the lie to all his own often avowed principles.
A rumor exists, we have been told on this floor, that the veto was given against the unanimous opinion of the Cabinet. And suppose it was; who is responsible to the people of the United States for conducting the Government ? Is it not the President ? Undoubtedly he ought to consult the opinions of the Cabinet; but if he and his Cabinet cannot agree in sentiment, which is to yield the Cabinet or the President ? Certainly, according to the theory of our Government, it is the Cabinet.
I was glad to find, in the official organ of the Administration, such good old-fashioned Democratic doctrine as I saw there a few days since. It is true I was not, to every extent, in favor of "the unit;" but I would say, in behalf of the article to which I refer, that it is one of the best I have ever read, and one that would not disgrace the palmiest days of the Democratic Administration. If the President cannot agree with his Cabinet, or if the Cabinet cannot agree with the President, I do not say what ought to be the consequence. I have no feeling on the subject; it matters nothing to me who are in, or who are out of office.
The Senator from Kentucky tells us that he never said President Tyler ought to have resigned, but only that resignation was one of the alternatives before him. A President resign ! A President, who had been but three months in power, resign his place ! Why, sir, this is almost a moral impossibility, So deeply is the love of power rooted in the human breast. No President will ever think of doing any such thing. In the whole range of history, I recollect but two memorable instances of the kind: one was that of the Roman emperor Dioclean, and the other of the emperor Charles V. The Roman emperor, you know, went to raising cabbages, as Mr. Van Buren is now doing; and Charles buried himself before he was dead a very fit emblem of the condition of a President who should resign his office that he might suffer a bill for a Fiscal Bank to become a law !
[Mr. Buchanan resumed his seat amidst a general laugh.]
Mr. Buchanan having concluded
Mr. Clay of Kentucky next addressed the Senate. Certainly, said he, nothing was further from my expectations, when I came here to listen to the speech of my worthy friend from Virginia, than to find myself placed in such a situation as to be called on to say one word in relation to this bill. But the Senator from Pennsylvania has indulged himself on this occasion in exercising a talent for wit and humor, at our expense, in which he does not often indulge. Let me, if he will allow me, make a suggestion to him, that his appropriate province is logic, or grave debate, rather than wit. But if I should happen to catch, by contagion, somewhat of the same vein, he will, I am sure, excuse me, and receive it in the same good humor that we have taken what fell from him.
As to the bill before the Senate I have not much to say. There are two great faculties which ordinarily belong to banks: one is to deal in that sort of commercial paper which is called promissory notes; the other to deal in bills of exchange, also an ordinary commercial instrument. By the present bill, the bank which is to be created is deprived of one of these faculties, while the other is left to it: and there is no more danger of abuse in the exercise of the retained faculty by this corporation than in the ordinary banks of the country.
Nor am I very familiar with all the proceedings at the Harrisburg Convention. The honorable Senator seems to think that it contained Abolitionists, against whom he appears, of late, to have taken up a peculiar hostility. I call upon him to name one Abolitionist who was a member. I believe there was not one. I defy him to the proof. He says that the gentlemen who composed that assemblage were men of all sorts of political principles: and to some extent that remark is certainly true. But there was one principle which I am very sure was held by none of them: there were none who went for low wages ! [A laugh.]
The Senator, however, tells us not only that they held all sorts of principles, but that they were afraid to publish to the world any declaration of their sentiments. Now, I believe it is a part of the law of nations that, when war is made against pirates, there is no need of the ceremony of any formal previous declaration of war, but it is understood on all hands that you are at liberty to attack them without notice and without ceremony, and cut and slash as hard as you please. But if that unit Convention at Harrisburg was such an unprincipled collection of political sectaries such an omnium gatherum of all kindreds and colors, what sort of a party must that have been which could have been so utterly prostrated and put down by such a heterogeneous combination ? [A laugh.]
The Senator commenced by saying that, among their other doings, the Whigs "had done for themselves." I beg gentlemen not to "lay that flattering unction to their souls." What ! the Whigs of this country to be annihilated by any thing which has occurred during this session ? Never, never. Their principles are as eternal as truth, and as sure to prevail as is the cause of civil liberty to triumph. It was justly remarked by my friend from Virginia that the restriction of Executive power, ay, of the royal, the imperial power of setting the will of one man against the united will of an entire people, stood highest on the list of the principles avowed by the Whigs during the late memorable contest; and let me tell gentlemen that, if we shall have a shower of vetoes, that principle will still be written in letters of light upon all their banners.---[Other than jokes and ridicule, what argument can you make ? You just acknowledged the Whigs lied through the campaign your actions proved that even more. And just wait until the next few elections for the entire people to pass judgment on your character. Mr. Buchanan will soon be President, and you never was]
Let the Senator from Pennsylvania and his party war, if they will, for Executive supremacy for the arbitrary principle that the will of one man shall prevail against the will of the whole country. We are willing to go before the people upon that issue; and, if I am not utterly mistaken in the inherent love of liberty by them all, Whigs and Democrats, there will be a general condemnation of such an odious and detestable doctrine. Let the Senator and his friends go to the other wing of the Capitol, and look upon that Macedonian phalanx, standing shield to shield in a compact and impenetrable line, and, in defiance of all the difficulties which beset them, maintaining their position unmoved and their front unbroken; for, I will repeat what I have often said with inexpressible pleasure, never, no, never, was there a House of Representatives more imbued with a lofty and generous spirit of patriotic devotion to liberty and to the discharge of a high public duty.
Let them, I say, look on that spectacle, and then ask themselves, How is such a party to be broken down ? By whom ? By any one man ? Where is he ? If Napoleon were to rise from the dead, and appear again at the head of all his power, he could not do it. The Senator has prematurely yielded to feelings of exultation. He has stretched out his hand and grasped, not the sceptre, but a fleeting vision. He has cried before he was out of the woods.
An honorable Senator from New Hampshire [Mr. Woodbury] proposed some days ago a resolution of inquiry into certain disturbances which are said to have occurred at the Presidential mansion on the night of the memorable 16th of August last. If any such proceedings did occur, they were certainly very wrong and highly culpable. The Chief Magistrate, whoever he may be, should be treated by every good citizen with all becoming respect, if not for his personal character, on account of the exalted coffice he holds for and from the people. And I will here say that I read with great pleasure the acts and resolutions of an early meeting, promptly held by the orderly and respectable citizens of this metropolis, in reference to, and in condemnatinn of, those disturbances. But, if the resolution had been adopted, I had intended to move for the appointment of a Select Committee, and that the honorable Senator from New Hampshire himself should be placed at the head of it, with a majority of his friends. And I will tell you why, Mr. President. I did hear that about eight or nine o'clock on that same night of the famous 16th of August, there was an irruption on the President's House of the whole Loco Foco party in Congress; and I did not know but that the alleged disorders might have grown out of or had some connection with that fact. [A laugh.] I understand that the whole party were there. No spectacle. I am sure, could have been more supremely amusing and ridiculous. If I could have been in a position in which, without being seen, I could have witnessed that most extraordinary reunion, I should have had an enjoyment which no dramatic performance could possibly connnunicate. I think that I can now see the principal dramatis personae who figured in the scene. There stood the grave and distinguished Senator from South Carolina
[Mr. Calhnun here instantly rose, and earnestly insisted on explaining; but Mr. Clay refused to be interrupted or to yield the floor.]
Mr. Clay, There, I say, I can imagine stood the Senator from South Carolina tall, care-worn, with furrowed brow, haggard, and intensely gazing, looking as if he were discussing the last and newest abstraction which sprung from metaphysician's brain, and muttering to himself, in half-uttered sounds, "This is indeed a real crisis!" [Loud laughter.]
Tthen there was the Senator from Alabama, [Mr. King,] standing upright and gracefully, as if he were ready to settle in the most authoritative manner any question of order or of etiquette that might possibly arise between the high assembled parties on that new and unprecedented occasion.
Not far off stood the honorable Senators from Arkansas and from Missonri, [Mr. Sevier and Mr. Benton,] the latter looking at the Senator from South Carolina, with an indignant curl on his lip and scorn in his eye, and pointing his finger with contempt towards that Senator, [Mr. Calhoun,] whilst he said, or rather seemed to say, "He call himself a statesman! why, he has never even produced a decent humbug!" [Shouts of laughter.]
[Mr. Benton. The Senator from Missouri was not there.]
Mr. Clay. I stand corrected; I was only imagining what you would have said if you had been there.[Renewed laughter] Then there stood the Senator from Georgia. [Mr. Cuthbert] conning over in his mind on what point he should make his next attack upon the Senator from Kentucky [Laughter.] On yonder ottoman reclined the other Senator from Missouri on my left, [Mr. Linn,] indulging, with smiles on his face, in pleasing meditations on the rise, growth, and future power of his new colony of Oregon. The honorable Senator from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Buchanan,] I presume, stood forward as spokesman for his whole party; and, altlnmgh I cannot pretend to imitate his well-known eloauence, I beg leave to make an humble essay towards what I presume to have been the kind of speech delivered by him on that august occasion:
"May it please your Excellency: A number of your present political friends, late your political opponents, in company with myself, have come to deposit at your Excellency's feet the evidences of our loyalty and devotion: and they have done me the honor to make me the organ of their sentiments and feelings. We are here more particularly to present to your Excellency our grateful and most cordial congratulations on your rescue of the country from a flagrant and alarming violation of the Constitution, by the creation of a Bank of the United States: and also our profound acknowledgments for the veto, by which you have illustrated the wisdom of your Administration, and so greatly honored yourself. And we would dwell particularly on the unanswerable reasons and cogent arguments with which the notification of the act to the Legislature had been accompanied. We had been, ourselves, struggling for days and weeks to arrest the passage of the bill, and to prevent the creation of the monster to which it gives birth. We had expended all our logic, exerted all our ability, employed all our eloquence; but in spite of all our utmost efforts, the friends of your Excellency in the Senate and House of Representatives proved too strong for us. And we have now come most heartily to thank your Excellency that you have accomplished for us that against your friends which we with our most strenuous exertions were unable to achieve." [Roars of laughter.]
I hope the Senator will view with indulgence this effort to represent him, although I am but too sensible how far it falls short of the merits of the original. At all events he will feel that there is not a greater error than was committed by the Stenographer of the Intelligencer the other day, when he put into my mouth a part of the honorable Senator's speech. [Laughter.] I hope the honorable Senators on the other side of the chamber will pardon me for having conceived it possible that, amidst the popping of champagne, the intoxication of their joy, the ecstasy of their glorification, they might have been the parties who created a disturbance, of which they never could have been guilty had they waited for their "sober second thoughts." [Laughter, loud and long.]
I have no doubt the very learned ex-Secretary of the Treasury, who conducted that department with such distinguished ability, and such happy results to the country, and who now has such a profound abhorrence of all the taxes on tea and coffee, though, in his own official reports, he so distinctly recommended them, would, if appointed chairman of the committee, have conducted the investigation with that industry which so eminently distinguishes him, and would have favored the Senate with a report, marked with all his accustomed precision and ability, and with the most perfect lucid clearness. [A laugh.]
There is one remark of the Senator from Pennsylvania which demands some notice. My friend from Virginia [Mr. Archer] threw out an intimation that very possibly the Senator from Pennsylvania knew more of the sentiments and purposes prevailing at the White House than he did. That Senator, in reply, denied that that was the case as yet, but said that he hoped and expected it soon might be so. Expected ? Expected what ? That a President of the United States, elected by the Whig party to different station, and having arrived at the Presidency under circumstances calculated to call forth his most profound gratitude, should abandon the party which elevated him; should commit an act worse than treason, and join that party of which the Senator is a distinguished member, but to which the President has been diametrically opposed ? Could that be what the Senator meant ? If it was, then I say that the suggestion, the bare supposition of such a thing, is in the highest degree injurious to the President.
I do not pretend to know what may be his feelings, but sure I am that were I in his situation, and the possibility of such an act of treachery were affirmed of me, the reproach would fill my heart to its inmost recesses with horror and loathing. But the Senator chose to assign the reason why he hoped and expected this. It was that the President differed from his party on almost every one of its great and leading points of policy. Now I intend, for a moment, to institute a comparison between the differences of the President from the policy and principles of the Loco Foco party and his alleged differences from the policy and principles of the Whigs. And, first and foremost, I will place the act of expunging and mutilating the official records of this body.
Did the President agree with the Loco Focos in regard to that act ? Again, on the question of Executive power, and the extent and increase of Executive patronage, does the President agree with the Whigs or those on the other side ? For myself, I do think that, in the impressive words of Mr. Dunning, the power of the Executive has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminiched. And then on the one-term principle, what are the President's opinions ? Does not all the world know ? Has he not put them in writing, and declared, over and over, that no President ought to serve for more than one term ? Has he not seen the effect of the opposite practice in leading a Chief Magistrate so as to use his power as to secure his re-election to office ? And then in regard to the Sub-Treasury, what are the President's opinions on that point ? Have gentlemen on the other side made up their opinion ? Is there to be an accommodation on this point ? No, sir, the hope of it is vain. The soil of Virginia is too pure to produce traitors. Small, indeed, is the number of those who have proved false to their principles and to their party. I knew the father of the President, Judge Tyler, of the General Court in Virginia, and a purer patriot or more honest man never breathed the breath of life; and I am one of those who hold to the safety which flows from honest ancestors and the purity of blood.
Gentlemen are exulting over an event which never can and never will happen. No, gentlemen, the President never will disgrace himself, disgrace his blood, disgrace his State, disgrace his country, disgrace his children, by abandoning his party, and joining with you. Never, never. If it were among the possibilities of human turpitude to perpetrate an act like that, I cannot conceive on what principle or for what reason the President could rush upon a deed so atrocious, and deliver himself over to infamy so indelible. Nor do I know which would surpass in baseness, the man who could commit such an act of treason, or the party who would receive and embrace and adopt one who had thus disgraced himself.---[Very soon, Mr. Tyler will not have to join the other party, ye will evict him from the Whig assemblage. :--) And when your political descendents finally start a war with which John Sergeant threatened them in the House of Representatives against the opponents of the usurpation of power by General Government, Mr. Tyler will stand at the head of the delegation to try to reason for peace, and when rejected by Honest A. Lincoln (your progeny) he will accept leadership of Confederate Virginia]
No, gentlemen, no; never will the President of the United States be guilty of such a crime, and, if he did commit it, the party has too much regard for the opinions of mankind ever to receive and reward him for the deed. Treason, while in the progress, is indeed always agreeable to the party or country to whose benefit it is to inure; but when it has been perpetrated, what does history tell us the fate has been of every traitor ? And what ought that fate to be ? If there is any thing like agreement between John Tyler and the Loco Foco party, it is simply and exclusively on this question of a Bank. On that one point I admit that there is a great and unhappy difference of opinion between him and his political friends; but how can he by possibility go over to the other party, from whom he has always differed on every other point ? On all other points the distribution of the proceeds of the public lands, the bankrupt law, public economy and reform he agrees with us.
Gentlemen chuckle in the confidence that he is going to veto this bill. I do not myself think he will. But, even if he does; still I say it is a moral impossibility that there ever can exist so infamous, so unnatural a union, as that between a President who has betrayed one party, and the other party directly opposed to him, who must have too much regard to their character and the opinion of mankind to receive and embrace him, if it were possible that he could prove false and faithless to his friends.---[Ye were never his friends; ye just wanted to use his name to gain office.]
I had not the remotest idea when I entered the Senate of saying a word on the present question; but there was a species of unauthorised exultation manifested by the Senator from Pennsylvania which I could not suffer to pass. The gentleman has expressed high hopes, but they are hopes doomed to be disappointed. Fully believing this, and being for myself determined to live and die with the Whig party, I thought it right to say what I have done.
Mr. Buchanan rose and said that he had listened with his usual gratification to the reply of the distinguished Senator from Kentucky, with the exception of a single remark. He referred to his [Mr. Clay's] allusion to the electioneering slang of the late contest on the subject of low wages. This remark was wholly unworthy of that Senator, and he intended to answer it as it deserved.
After some explanations between Mr. Clay and Mr. Buchanan, in which the former disclaimed any offensive purpose in his remark on this subject, and said it had been uttered merely in a playful manner, and was not intended to wound the Senator's feelings in the least; and, after Mr. Buchanan had expressed himself entirely satisfied, and that he was glad they were friends again
Mr. Buchanan proceeded as follows:
The Senator has informed me that I do not succeed in attempts at wit: and in this he is doubtless correct. I am a plain man and speak right on that which I have to say. I think I can, with equal justice, retum his compliment. If I do not succeed at wit, he as rarely succeeds in argument. Argument is as little his province as wit is mine. He is eloquent, as we all know, and sagacious; and, besides, he is the very best drill officer that ever disciplined any party; but, in regard to sound logic, or what he denominates "abstractions," he is not very famons.
Again: the Senator says that, when we make war on pirates, we do it without any previous declaration of war, and we may then cut and slash the enemy as much as we please. This remark has revealed to me a secret. I never before understood the principles upon which the Whig Party conducted the late Presidential campaign; and I must say that, in practice, they carried out these principles to admiration. Without making any declaration of their creed, their forces did cut and slash at us with a vengeance, whilst they kept their courage up by Tippecanoe songs and hard cider, and by log cabins ornamented with coon skins. They had been so long accustomed to such revels, and they understood the art of singing and shouting so well, that when, on the night of the veto, they insulted the President of the United States at his own mansion, by a riot of this description, they were only engaged in their old vocation.
The honorable Senator has, with great power of humor, and much felicity of description, drawn for us a picture of the scene which he supposes to have been presented at the President's house on the ever-memorable evening of the veto. It was a happy effort; but, unfortunately, it was but a fancy sketch at least so far as I am concerned. I was not there at all upon the occasion. But, I ask, what scenes were enacted on that eventful night at this end of the avenue ? The Senator would have no cause to complain if I should attempt, in humble imitation of him, to present a picture, true to the life, of the proceedings of himself and his friends. Amidst the dark and lowering clouds of that never-to-be- forgotten night, a caucus assembled in one of the apartments of this gloomy building, and sat in melancholy conclave, deploring the unhappy fate of the Whig party. Some rose, and advocated vengeance; "their voice was still for war." Others, more moderate, sought to repress the ardent zeal of their fiery compatriots, and advised to peace and prudence. It was finally concluded that, instead of making open war upon Captain Tyler, they should resort to stratagem, and, in the elegant language of one of their number, that they should endeavor "to head" him. The question was earnestly debated by what means they could best accomplish this purpose; and it was resolved to try the effect of the "Fiscality" now before us. Unfortunately for the success of the scheme. "Captain Tyler" was forewarned and forearmed, by means of a private and confidential letter, addressed by mistake to a Virginia coffee-house. It is by means like this that "enterprises of great pith and moment" often fail. But so desperately intent are the Whig party still on the creation of a Bank, that one of my friends on this side of the House told me that a Bank they would have, though its exchanges should be made in bacon hams, and its currency be small potatoes. [A laugh.]
The Senator has often lauded to the very echo the Macedonian phalanx, as he terms them, in the other House, and proposed their example as worthy of our imitation. Now, sir, I never should have made any reference upon this floor to the proceedings in that House, (which is contrary to all parliamentary rule,) had I not been driven to it by the previous remarks of the Senator. Before Heaven, I believe that the conduct of that phalanx, of which the Senator seems so proud, forebodes the destruction of the liberties of this country, unless the sovereign people should frown it down forever. If the representatives of fifty thoutsand freemen can be deprived of the right of speech by arbitrary rules prescribed by a tyrannical majority, and the people of the United States should tamely submit to such a violation of their liberties in the persons of their representatives, then they will deserve to be slaves.
Let it once be fully known throughout the country that those whom the people have selected to represent their sentiments and their interests in the other branch of Congress, have been prevented from expressing their opinions, and have even been denied the poor privilege of recording their votes on questions of the last importance; and then, if their constituents should silently acquiesce in this usurpation, we shall be subjected to the same tyranny with that imposed upon France by Napoleon, when he organized his silent Legislative Council.
I did not believe that the House of Representatives had been reduced to any such condition, until I read the able letter upon the subject of a member from South Carolina, [Mr. Rhett.] With that letter in my hand, I would go into any Congressional district of this Union, and, humble as I am, I should feel confident of ohtaining the unanimons voice of the people in condemnation of such proceedings as it describes. This question soars far above all mere party distinctions. It is one upon the decision of which depends the efficient existence of our representative republican form of government.
The present bill to establish a Fiscal Corporation was hurried through the House mith the celerity, and, so far as the Democracy was concerned, with the silence of despotism. No Democrat had an opportunity of raising his voice against it. Under the new rules in existence there, the majority had predetermined that it should pass that body within two days from the commencement of the discussion. At first, indeed, the determination was, that it should pass the first day; but this was too great an ontrage, and the mover was graciously pleased to extend the time one day longer. Whilst the bill was in Committee of the Whole, it so happened that, in the struggle for the floor, no Denmeratic member succeeded in obtaining it; and at the destined hour of four in the afternoon of the second day, the committee rose, and all further debate was arrested by the previous question. The voice of that great party in this country to which I am proud to belong was, therefore, never heard through any of their representatives in the House against this odious measure. Not even one brief hour, the limit prescribed by the majority to each speaker, was granted to any Democratic member.
But the Democracy of the land are not only deprived of the liberty of speech in the persons of their Representatives, but these Representatives are even denied the right of recording their votes on the ayes and noes, for or against any amendment to any bill, unless the majority please to grant them this permission. Under the rule, the ayes and noes cannot be demanded in Committee of the Whole. Every amendment offered there, which is disagreeable to the majority, is voted down without any responsibility of the Representative to his constituents, because the names of the voters are not recorded in the journal; and it is impossible to renew any such amendment after the bill has been reported to the House, because at that very instant the gag of the previous question is applied, which cuts off all debate and every amendment not sanctioned by the committee. And this is the bright, the glorious example which the Senator from Kentucky has so often proposed for the imitation of the Senate of the United States ! But enough of this.
The Senator, with his usual tact and skill, has seized upon a playful remark of mine in reply to my friend from Virginia [Mr. Archer] over the way, that, although I did not know at present what might be the opinions of Mr. Tyler, yet I hoped this might not long be the case. Upon this feeble foundation, the Senator with that commanding eloquence which is ever ready, has indulged himself in declaring that John Tyler would be guilty of the most atrocious treason, should he be willing to desert his own party, and ally himself with the Democracy; and in that event, he has expressed the confident belief that we would be too honorable to receive him into our ranks.
Now, sir, if the avowed opinions of Mr. Tyler's whole life be, as they are, in diametrical opposition to those of the Senator, what course is he to pursue ? Must he abandon his long cherished principles merely because they are identical with those of the Democratic party ? And is he to be denounced as a traitor for this mere coincidence of opinion ? This would indeed be unjust vengeance. No man of the Democratic party, to my knowledge, either expects or desires office or honor at his hands. I will tell the honorable Senator, however, what we do intend, although we have studiously kept ourselves aloof from all interference with the President, and from every attempt to influence his conduct. So far as his measures shall be in conformity with our principles, we shall give them a cordial and zealous support. Should the Senator, in utter violation, as we believe, of the Constitution, again attempt to establish a National Bank, with the privilege of spreading its branches throughout the Union, and thus, by concentrating the money power, to corrupt the land; and should the President again and again conscientiously veto such a dangerous measure, we shall be ever ready to yield him our support in a cause so righteous. Whatever the Senator may think of us, we shall cheer him on in the path of duty "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have redeemed your country from an institution in deadly hostility both to the spirit and letter of our form of government." And will the Whigs charge him with treason for this ? The idea of falsehood is always involved in that of treason, and they never can succeed in branding a man as a traitor for adhering to the well-known principles of his whole life.
The Senator expects that President Tyler will approve this bill. If he does, he will then render himself forever infamous. His name will be the scorn and ridicule of one party, and the contempt of the other. No; he will never do it. Destiny has left him but one course to pursue as an honest man, and that is to go straight ahead, and fearlessly perform his duty. He cannot now turn back without disgrace and dishonor. If he shall pursue this course, a vast majority of the American people of all political parties will award to him the merit of having sacrificed all his personal feelings, and encountered the frowns of many of his ancient friends, from a sacred regard to the Constitution and welfare of his country. This will be his reward. He will then stand forever in a niche of the temple of Fame, associated with those pure and exalted patriots who have sacrificed all selfish considerations to save the country.
As for our party, we want neither patronage nor power, from John Tyler. We shall give him a liberal and manly support whenever we believe he deserves it. Let all the offices and all the honors be given, with our hearty consent, to those who elected him.
When I rose in reply, I had intended to reciprocate the kindness of the Senator, and make a speech to the Whig caucus for him, as he has done to the President for me. It was my purpose to have presented to the Senate a faint imitation of what I conjecture he must have said on that night of sorrow and gloom. I think I know the Senator well enough to imagine just such a speech as he must have made upon that occasion. But I forbear. It must have been both eloquent and efficient; for I believe, in my soul, that no other drill-officer in existence could have reanimated his dispirited and scattered forces, and again brought them up to the charge in solid column, to sustain such a thing as this "Fiscal Corporation."
President Tyler vetoed this second attempt, too.
Extra GlobeWednesday, August 25, 1841.
We transfer from the columns of the National Intelligencer to the Globe, the just, pointed, severe response of Mr. Mallory, of the House of Representatives, to a string of denunciaiory resolutions passed by certain Whig partisans, assailing his course in relation to the measures of this extra session. Mr. Mallory, all acquainted with his private opinions, or the public declarations made during his several canvasses for Congress, know, has ever been decidedly hostile to a National Bank --to the Distribution --to the Tariff policy, and all the leading principles of the man [Henry Clay] who has been the dictator of every act which has passed the present Congress; and now the Federal managers in his district come forward in public meetings, and assuming to speak for the people there --the great majority of whom are distinguished for being State Rights men of the strictest sect-- accuse Mr. Mallory of "misrepresenting his constituents," and of being actuated by "sinister designs," when he has, in fact, but voted in strict conformity to the principles and pledges under which he was elected.
The truth is, Federalism, having long labored in the vocation of perverting the just and honest principles of our Government, now seeks to pervert language itself, and would call fidelity to principles and pledges, treachery --strict adherence to, and giving effect by votes to a policy advocated before the people, and sanctioned by their suffrages, misrepresentation of constituents --and opposition to dangerous innovations attempted on the whole system of administration in the Government --opposition to the introduction, with fearful and extraordinary additions, of the British plan of mercenary and corrupt influences, as a substitute for the popular will in the direction of public affairs, proof of harboring "sinister designs."
The first portion of Mr. Mallory's letter deserves the attention of the whole country. It glances at the monstrous tyranny which has grown up in the House, under the dictation of the Federal leader [John Sergeant], and his willing instruments the caucus junto, or committee, and the Speaker [John White], who is its mouth piece. This, however, he has barely touched. The gag system, as practised by Federalism during this session, would require a volume to expose.
From the National Intelligencer.To the Editors.
The preamble and resolutions of a meeting held in Norfolk on the 17th instant, which were published in your paper of Thursday last, so entirely misrepresent me to the world and my constituents, that I am impelled, by a sense of justice to myself, to vindicate my course by a true statement of the facts. If the gentleman who drew up this preamble had adverted to the report of my remarks in your journal, which were republished by the papers in their own town, they would have saved themselves the pain of having unjustly arraigned me for sentiments which I never uttered. The spirit of that charity "which thinketh no evil" is so manifest in their criticism of my course, as to forbid the belief that they had seen the true report of my remarks, although this report appeared in their own papers before the meeting was held. Why predicate this attack upon the supposition that I had made the remarks imputed to me by the Reporter of the Globe, when a short walk to their favorite resort --the reading rooms-- would have satisfied them that I had never said that my constituents had instructed me to pursue any course in the discharge of my official duties ?
I will not say that "their wish was father to the thought" that I had so perverted the truth, as I should have done if I had said what was imputed to me. Nor will I take to myself the implied, but underserved compliment, which this necessity for misrepresentation in the assault upon my course would seem to convey. I did say, however, that the course of the majority in Congress during the present session, was worse "than that of the worst and most tyrannical party which had ever existed in any country professing to be free."
In making the assertion, which I now deliberately repeat, I had no reference to the "one hour rule" which this committee appreciate so highly. It would seem, indeed, that nothing but gratitude for what the majority here has done, restrained them from intimating that all debate was a nuisance, and that the majority had erred in not suppressing it altogether. I have no garrulous propensity which this "one hour rule" checks. Nor do I ever make long "vapid abortions" for "Buncombe." My associates on the floor will bear me witness that I but seldom address the House, and then only on subjects in which the people of my district are immediately interested. I have been in Congress nearly five sessions, and the whole time occupied by me, in debate, does not exceed six hours. When I made this assertion, I referred to that series of new rules, which enable a majority, aided by the management of a partisan Speaker [John White], not only to suppress all debate, but all calls upon the Departments for information; rules so framed as to defeat the very object of parliamentary law, which is said to have been instituted to protect the rights of a minority.
The institution of the Committee of the Whole is as old as Parliaments themselves, and the privilege of retaining a subject in the committee as long as a minority choose to debate it, has been valued in this country as being, next to that of calling the yeas and nays, the most important which a minority could possess. The invariable usage in the House of Representatives has required all tax bills to pass through this ordeal, on account of the greater latitude of debate allowed in the Committee of the Whole. No party in this country has ever attempted to wrest this privilege from the minority, until the present session. The days of the elder Adams and of the sedition law afford no precedent for such an act. And yet the dominant party at this session have introduced a rule which enables them to take a bill from the Committee of the Whole whenever the majority shall please.
With the aid of a Speaker who will give them the floor to call the previous question, they can not only stifle all debate, but prevent the minority from offering amendments in the House, where alone the majority can be forced to call the yeas and nays. This session has been fruitful in such examples. But four days and a half were allowed for discussing the Bank bill, and half of this time was consumed by the friends of the measure, who are constantly crying out for prompt action, and deprecating debate. The majority voted down all amendments in Committee of the Whole, where the yeas and nays cannot be called, scarcely waiting, in many cases, to hear them read, and often without understanding their import. Immediately on the introduction of the bill in the House, the previous question (once so odious to the Whigs, but now their constant resort) was demanded, and precluded not only all debate, but all amendments.
The new bill was taken up under the "gag," and five hours were proposed as sufficient to discuss a fiscal plan spread over 38 pages, and which was only seen by us that morning. But this was a little too barefaced, and it was afterwards altered so as to give 230 members of Congress nine hours to consider a bill confessedly the most important which any Congress can be called on to decide.
The majority are thus not only supreme, but wholly irresponsible, and those functions of an Opposition which all, except perhaps this "committee," will admit to be useful, are entirely destroyed. And how is it in relation to the facilities afforded an Opposition by these new rules to investigate the condition of the Departments, and the conduct of the Executive in executing the laws and disbursing our money ? It used to be reckoned as orthodox, in Whig doctrine at least, to throw open the door to such investigations. By the rules, as they heretofore stood, and as they now stand, one hour is given to resolutions and reports from committees. In point of practice, there is scarcely ever an opportunity to offer resolutions of inquiry without a suspension of the rules.
When a candidate for Congress in 1837, I took decided ground against a Bank of the United States, and voted at the extra session, in September of that year, for the resolution declaring "it inexpedient to charter a National Bank." In 1838, while the Sub-Treasury bill was on its passage, I rose in my place in the House of Representatives and stated that I voted against the bill because I believed it was tbe wish of a majority of my constituents that I should do so, at the same time declaring that I advocated a "separation of Bank and State," and that if the measure under consideration could be altered in some of its details, I should, if left free to act, sustain the bill. My course on that occasion, together with my report to the Commercial Convention in Richmond, produced much dissatisfaction among the Bank men in some parts of the district to such an extent, indeed, as induced me, after Congress adjourned, to address the people in several counties in defence of my position; and, on every occasion, I repeated my declaration of hostility to a National Bank.