Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized, with the consent of the President, to cause to be prepared certificates of stock, signed by the Secretary and countersigned by the Register of the Treasury, for the sum to be borrowed, or any part thereof, bearing an interest not exceeding six per centum per annum, and transferable and reimbursable as aforesaid, and to cause the said certificates of stock to be sold: Provided, That no stock be sold below par.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized to receive proposals for taking the said loan, or to employ an agent or agents for the purpose of negotiating the same, and to pay to him or them a reasonable commission, not exceeding one-tenth of one per cent. on the amount so negotiated, which sum to be allowed to such agent or agents, and such expense as may be necessarily incurred in printing and issuing certificates of stock, and other expenses incident to the due execution of this act, in all not exceeding twelve thousand dollars, which sum is hereby appropriated for that purpose, and shall be paid out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to purchase, at any time before the period herein limited for the redemption of stock hereby authorized, such portion thereof as the funds of the Government may admit of, after meeting all the demands on the Treasury, and any surplus in the Treasury is hereby appropriated to that object.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That the faith of the United States be, and is hereby, pledged for the punctual payment of the interest and redemption of said stock.
APPROVED, July 21, 1841.
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 New York State Senator, on January 31, 1832, he 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.
In 1862 Erastus Corning, as Democrat !, was Representative from New York, and member of the Sub-Committee of the Committee of Ways and Means, entrusted with producing a National Currency bank bill, making of loans, issue of Treasury notes (H.R. 240), bonds, and the mode of raising the means to carry on the war.
Where was future Chairman of the Committee of Finance, Pitt Fessenden ?
In 1841 he was sitting as a Whig member of the House of Representatives
Mr. Calhoun said: I rise simply to state my reasons for voting against this measure, but without the slightest expectation of changing a single vote, after witnessing the united and disciplined resistance, during the progress of the bill, to every amendment, however clear and necessary.
I am not one of those who believe that we are bound to vote supplies to cover a deficiency in the treasury whenever called on, without investigating the causes which occasioned it. On the contrary, I not only regard it as a right, but as a duty, before voting supplies, to scrutinize, with the utmost caution, the necessity of granting them, and then to grant with extreme moderation, after we are satisfied of the necessity. I hold, in fact, that the right of granting or withholding supplies is a fundamental principle in all free States, be the form of government what it may; and that it is not less necessary in our Government than in that of Great Britain. It springs necessarily out of the relation which is to be found under every government of tax payers and tax consumers those who support and those who are supported by the Government. Governments will ever he found leaning to the side of the latter, and that tendency, unless counteracted by withholding supplies, must, in the end, impose on the community oppressive burdens.
To make out his case, it was not sufficient for the Secretary to show that there was an actual deficit; he must go further, and show how it occurred, and why it could not be avoided. This he has not done, except to state that there has been a falling off in the estimated amount of the revenue. I hold he ought to have gone further, and to have shown that every effort has been made, on his part, to meet such falling off by economy in the expenditures, and limiting their amounts as far as was consistent with the public service. If, after showing that he had done so, a deficit still remained, I would feel bound to supply it, but not otherwise. So far from doing this, he had shown a disposition precisely the reverse a desire to make out a deficit, instead of avoiding one; and that too, expressly with a view that he might make this call for supply in the form of a funded debt.
I feel satisfied that, had the present Secretary been actuated by the same strict regard to economy as his predecessor, there would not have been a cent of deficiency at the end of the year. I believe the treasury was as amply supplied, in proportion to the demand upon it, at the commencement of this year, as it was at the commencement of the last; and yet we have a demand now, when the year is but half expired, of an additional supply of $12,000,000; when, at the termination of the last, under circumstances not less trying, a considerable surplus remained in the treasury. The Senate will remember that, after the estimates had been made and voted to meet the demands on the treasury for the present year, they were enlarged at the suggestion of one of the members of the opposition [Mr. Wise], by the grant of power to issue $5,000,000 of treasury notes, which was more than sufficient to cover the actual falling off of the imports below the estimate.
I will say to my friends, that if they adopt it as a principle to grant supplies in such cases whenever the Secretary chooses to make a deficit, vain would be their resistance to those now in power. Let it not be said, that to pursue such a course would endanger public credit, or arrest the wheels of Government. The majority in power, whose extravagance or neglect may cause the deficit, will be held responsible for supplying it; but they had no right in such cases to call for the vote of those who are opposed to them.
I hold that there is a distinction in this respect between a state of peace and war. In the latter, the right of withholding the supplies ought ever to be held subordinate to the energetic and successful prosecution of the war. I go further, and regard the withholding of supplies, with a view of forcing the country into a dishonorable peace, as not only to be, what it had been called, moral treason, but very little short of actual treason itself. It was this which rendered the attempt to withhold supplies by the Federal party, during the late war, so odious.
But I am not compelled to resort to this high elementary principle to justify my opposition to the present measure. It furnishes abundant ground, connected with its details, to justify the most decided opposition; and among others, it will be sufficient of itself that it asks too much. It proposes a loan of $12,000,000 with a power of issuing treasury notes in the place of those that may be redeemed, amounting to 6,000,000 or 7,000,000 more; thereby authorizing a loan of about $18,000,000, when, in fact, the deficiency of the year cannot require more than $5,000,000. I will not repeat the arguments necessary to establish this fact. It has been clearly shown that that sum would be sufficient, with due economy, not only to cover the deficiency in the treasury at the end of the year, but to leave a sufficient supply in the mint for the purpose of coinage, and in the treasury to meet the current expenses of the Government.
I am unwilling to vote any supplies beyond the exigencies of the year. I can see no good reason for it; but, on the contrary, many against it. A large portion of the supposed deficiency of the next year, whatever it may be, cannot take place before the 4th of March, and much of it not until nearly this time twelvemonth. Why then provide for it at this extraordinary session, when our attention is absorbed in other and more important subjects ? Why not wait until the next regular session, when there will be so much more leisure, when the state of the treasury will be so much more accurately known, and when the revision of the tariff whether it should take place at this or the regular session will enable us to decide so much more accurately on the amount that may be required. I do not regard it as a case for confidence, as claimed by the Senator from Kentucky [Mr. Clay], but simply of prudence and discretion. Our confidence may be asked when it becomes necessary to act, but never in such a case as this, when there is no such necessity.
But there are other and stronger reasons why the grant of supplies should not extend beyond the present exigencies of the Government. If this bill should become a law, it would, as has been stated, place at the disposal of the treasury a sum not less, in all probability, than $18,000,000. Past experience has taught us that the expenditures of the Government never fail to keep pace with its means, which would most certainly be the case in this as in all former instances. There is no government on earth that has a stronger disposition to extravagance than this. Make this large and unnecessary grant of supply, and we shall hear no more of economy and retrenchment virtues so essential to a republic, and so necessary at the present time. Truth demands that I should say they are required in every Department of the Government, beginning with Congress and going down to the humblest officer. It is not my object to blame any party or any individual. The disease originated in the Tariff of 1828, which poured millions upon millions into the treasury, beyond the wants of the Government, and that, too, on the very eve of the final discharge of the public debt. So strong was the current that the difficulty was to discover expedients by which the surplus could be disposed of. It is not at all extraordinary that, in such a state of things, all ideas of economy, retrenchment, and accountability should be lost, and the most wasteful extravagance pervade every department. For this there was but one remedy to cut off the supplies by reducing the duties and by withdrawing the surplus from the treasury. Both were successfully applied the former by the Compromise Act, and the latter by the Deposit Act of 1836. An exhausted treasury was the result; and there followed, as ever will follow, from an embarrassed treasury, a spirit of economy, retrenchment, and the enforcement of accountability, which have effected, in the last two years, a very great reduction under the auspices of the late Secretary of the Treasury, the Senator behind me. It is our true policy to continue the embarrassment, as the only means of enforcing the necessary reform. A government, like a family, spoiled by an extravagant income, can only be reformed by stinted means. This measure would relieve the embarrassment give a large temporary surplus to the disposal of Congress, and put an end to all further reform.
I next object to the mode. I prefer treasury notes to permanent loans. It will be far cheaper. Instead of six per cent., which the loan will cost, treasury notes will not cost more than three. I understand that the average interest on the whole amount heretofore issued by the Government since the suspension of 1837, is 4 per cent., 2 per cent. less than that proposed to be given on the loan: which, on $12,000,000, would make a saving of $240,000 annually. But this is not all. In the case of treasury notes, interest never begins to accrue until they are used; while on the contrary, in making loans, interest is paid on large amounts long before they are used, a difference which cannot he estimated at less than 1 per cent, making an additional saving of $120,000 in favor of the former. The two items make $360,000 annually, and upwards of $1,000,000 in three years the period before which the loan cannot be redeemed. But this is not the only loss which the country would suffer. The bill provides for the exchange of treasury notes for the stock which it proposes to create, and which, as has been stated, would not be redeemable in less than three years while none of the treasury notes have more than one year to run, at the expiration of which the interest ceases. Again: many of the treasury notes bear but 2 per cent. interest, and some less than that, having a mere nominal interest, and others 5 per cent. None exceed 6 per cent. These are to be exchanged for stock bearing 6 per cent. making a clear loss to the Government, and a corresponding gain to the holders of the notes (principally banks and brokers,) equal to the difference in the interest.
As great as this may be, it is by no means the strongest objection under this aspect. To understand the real loss to the country, we must cast our eyes, as I said on another occasion, to what is passing in the other wing of the Capitol. A bill has been introduced there to raise the duties on all articles now duty free, and those which pay less than 20 per cent. to 20 per cent., which would raise the revenue from the imports to $25,000,000 annually, provided such heavy duties should not reduce the exports, and, in consequence, the imports. I speak on the supposition that the exports will continue to increase for the next three or four years in the same ratio that they have since the reduction of the tariff, which they will do, in all probability, unless kept down by high duties on imports.
What, then, must be the effects of this exchange of treasury notes, payable in the course of a year, for stocks that have three years to run? How will this vast increase of revenue be absorbed during that period, when no part of it can be applied to the discharge of the debt, or absorption of treasury notes? One of two results must necessarily follow: there must be a great and extravagant increase of expenditure, equalling at least $28,000,000, comprehending the revenue from the public lands, or the reaccumulation of another surplus, to be followed by another expansion, with all the disastrous consequences which we have so recently experienced from the late surplus. If the former, what becomes of the promises of reform, retrenchment, and economy, so profusely made during the late canvass ?
In all this, the gain to the banks will be not less clear than the loss to the Government. Should a surplus be permitted to accumulate, it would be but an increase of the deposits in the bank that is, so much additional bank capital for the time, advanced by the Government, without interest. Should it, on the contrary, be spent in expenditures, it would but add to the increase of bank circulation, in which it would be collected and disbursed. To which add, that, in converting treasury notes into loans or stocks, it will give to the former a shape in which it would become a commodity, having a demand in the foreign market, instead of being confined to our country, so long as it continued in the original form, and would thereby enable its holders to acquire the means of putting and continuing the bank in operation.
But why all these sacrifices, amounting, I may safely say, to millions in this single transaction, in favor of banks, brokers, and stock-jobbers ? How is it to be explained ? If this body, instead of being a Senate of the United States, was a deputation from Wall-street, sent here to arrange the details of the measure, we would not be at any loss to understand why they are arranged as they are. They are all contrived, in the best manner, to suit their interest, without, apparently, any regard to the interest of the Government. But we are not such a deputation. We are the representatives of the twenty-six sovereign States of this Union, intrusted with high powers to be used for their benefit, and to watch over and guard their interests; and what justification can we offer in thus sacrificing, without compensation, the interests of those we were sent here to represent ? We have not the excuse of saying that they were overlooked. In almost every instance of sacrifice which I have pointed out, amendments were offered with a view of protecting the public interest, which, after full discussion, making manifest the sacrifice, were voted down by an united and steady majority.
With all these advantages and great saving in favor of treasury notes, why not use them in preference to loans? But one objection has been urged, that there is so great a facility in their use, that the Government will be tempted to plunge deeply into debt, unless disused. And from whom does this objection come ? From the party who, if they do not think that a public debt is a public blessing, show clearly by their acts and their declarations, that they regard it as no great evil. As to my part, I wish to speak with perfect candor; I will admit that, to a certain extent, there is a facility in the use of treasury notes, which might, to a limited extent, tempt to incur debts. The limits are narrow. The embarrassment of the treasury, of which we have heard so much in this debate, must always prevent an excessive issue. It is like an individual using his notes of hand, having a short date to run, to meet his engagements. The return of these would soon embarrass him; to avoid which, and to enable him to plunge more deeply in debt, the resort, on the part of the thoughtless, is usually to a mortgage. Such, I apprehend, is the case in the present instance; for what is a permanent loan but a mortgage upon the wealth and industry of the country? It is the only form of indebtedness, as experience has shown, by which heavy and durable encumbrance can be laid upon the community.
But there is another and decisive reason why there is no ground to fear that a large and permanent debt will ever be contracted in the form of treasury notes. The banks, which constitute by far the most influential interest in the community, are hostile to their circulation. They regard them as formidable competitors to the circulation of their own notes, from which they derive so large a share of their profits; and hence have ever thrown their whole weight against them, as was witnessed during the late war, and since the present suspension. Very different are their feelings towards loans and stocks. Instead of viewing them with a jealous feeling of rivalry, they regard them as the safest and most acceptable source of profit, and arc the foremost on every emergency, like the present, to urge the Government to resort to them as the best means of relief from its pecuniary embarrassment. Break all connection with the banks, neither receive nor pay away their notes, nor use them as the depositories of your money, or as your fiscal agents, take, in a word, such a step as will withdraw their powerful influence in favor of public loans, and there would scarcely be found an individual, in a case like the present, who would prefer them to Treasury notes. In fact, were it not for banks and bank connection, the Government could at all times use its own credit to supply a temporary deficit, many times greater than the present, without the charge of a single cent for interest. What did the Senator who reported this measure, and supports it so zealously, say, when, some one or two years since, he denounced the Sub-Treasury, because, according to his opinion, it would become a fiscal bank ? He told us, and told us truly, if we had no banks, or connection with them, that the credit of the Government alone, even with our limited revenue, could keep in circulation $40,000,000, in the form of treasury drafts, which would be at par all over the Union. Yes, Sir, would be at par, without a cent of interest. The demands of the Government for them in its fiscal concerns, and that of the community in its commercial and business transactions, would maintain them at par with gold and silver, as a medium of circulation. But this great resource, which would prove a substitute for loans in the hour of difficulty, is transferred to banks, without compensation, and lost to the community.
This brings me to another, and to me an overpowering objection, against supplying the deficit of the treasury in the mode proposed, to which I alluded the other day in the discussion on the amendments. We talk of loans, as if we borrowed gold and silver. Under our bank dynasty, this is all a mistake. It is nothing but an exchange of credit; and when the Government is the borrower, it is little short of a fraud on the community. What is it but to give its credit as proposed in this bill, in the form of a six per cent, stock, in exchange for bank-notes (or worse, for a credit on the books of the banks) bearing no interest, when in fact their notes of credit are but little more than the credit of the Government, that is, the community in another form. The Government, in a word, borrows back its own credit, through the banks, at the rate of six per cent., when it might use it directly, with equal convenience, for nothing at all. Thus thinking, I regard the whole amount of interest which may be paid for this loan, and which for three years would be more than $2,000,000, to be but little more than a donation to banks and brokers. No wonder, then, that Wall-street should shout and clap its hands for joy, on its passage through the other House. Not at all surprising is it, that it should regard it as a good omen that the bank and the whole batch of measures associated with it, would also force their way through Congress. Yes, it has cause for joy and rejoicing.
On such an occasion, when a revolution is attempted in the Government, I feel bound, as the representative of one of the sovereigns of this Union, to give utterance to my opinion, with all possible freedom, within the limits assigned by parliamentary rules to the liberty of discussion. I then proclaim that Wall-street (the head and centre, in our country, of the great moneyed, bank, stock, and paper interest, domestic and foreign) is in the ascendant in the councils of the Union. Every measure is controlled by it, and at its pleasure; banks, brokers, and stock-jobbers, sway every thing; and this is the only fruit of the victory of the party, which has been so triumphantly chanted from one extremity of the Union to the other. All else are neglected forgotten. No, not all. The office-seekers are remembered. They come in for their share. Between these our time is exclusively divided; laboring hourly and daily for the one in secret, and the other in open session.
As to the people, what attention do they receive? They want economy and retrenchment light taxes and moderate expenditures. On these not a thought is bestowed, although they were told, during the late canvass, by those now in power, (and truly so,) that there was much to reform much useless and wasteful expenditure to retrench, accompanied by solemn pledges for reform, if victory should place power in their hands. All these are now forgotten or postponed. I say postponed, for the Chairman of the Committee of Finance has told us, that, at the next session, these pledges are to be redeemed. So, then, the favorite few the moneymongers and office seekers are to be first served to sit at the first table and the people to have the bones and crumbs of the second if, indeed, they should be permitted to share at all in the fruits of the victory. Instead of sharing the fruits, they will share, I suspect, the fate of one of the most patriotic and intelligent corps of recruits, which swelled the ranks of the victors in the late election. I refer to those who were enlisted by the promise that proscription should be proscribed, so solemnly given, and so often repeated, from the general-in-chief down to the lowest recruiting sergeant; but which has been broken in utter contempt and scorn of plighted faith.
Another respectable corps of recruits are doomed to share the same, if not a more disgraceful fate. I refer to the large portion of the State Rights men, who rather voted against Mr. Van Buren, than for Gen. Harrison, and who were induced to hope from declamation from high sources during the canvass, that the pure days of the old State Rights Jeffersonian doctrines would be restored if Mr. Van Buren should be defeated. Where do they now stand ? Where stand all but the respectable portion, which have already discovered the deception and returned to their old standard ? In the ranks of the bitter and determined opponents of all they ever professed and contended for doomed, unless they speedily separate from faithless allies, to loss of caste and endless disgrace.
And what is to become of that mighty mass who were governed without reason and reflection, by the mere force of pecuniary pressure, to seek change in whose ears, change, change, change, was incessantly rung ? Have prices improved ? Have times become better? or will they, in consequence of these measures ? Far otherwise. The agitation, which they have already caused, which they must continue to cause, and the powerful disturbing influence which they must have, if adopted, on the currency and the money market, are the most deadly foes to the revival of business. They have already done much to depress trade, and destroy confidence; and should they unfortunately succeed, will do more to prevent the return of prosperous times, than any other step that could be taken. The end will be, that these, like every other corps of recruits that swell the ranks of the victors, except the two exclusive favorites here, office seekers and money-mongers, are doomed to sad disappointment.
Mr. Benton expressed his satisfaction at having an opportunity of speaking to-day, within the usual hours of business, instead of speaking after dark on Saturday night last. He would have spoken that night, if driven to it; he had held himself in reserve all day, waiting the turn things might take in the evening, and preserving his strength for the occasion, if the exigency should demand an exertion at the close of the day. He had not asked delay, but some of those who acted with him, and who had been in action all day, did ask it, and were refused, [Mr. Calhoun]. A second application was successful; and if it had not been, he (Mr B.) intended to say to his exhausted friends, "Go and get your dinners take some refreshment stay as long as you please I am going to take the floor have been reserving and reposing myself for this exigency. I am fresh and vigorous, and when you come back you will find me on my feet." This is what he would have said and done if the debate had been continued on Saturday night; but, happily, the second motion for an adjournment prevailed, and the privilege of speaking in the day time, and within the accustomed hours of business, was thus obtained for himself and friends.
Mr. Benton said his health was excellent, and he was able to come early, and sit late, and work hard by night, or by day, as the occasion might require. An exuberant state of health enabled him to do all this; and, having mentioned his health, he would show himself thankful for that blessing, and willing to be serviceable to others, in following the example of which the chamber had been witness, by indulging in an episode upon auto-hygienal strategy; and thus illuminate the Senate upon the art of self-health preservation. Others had told their practice, and he would tell his. His practice was this: He gave his little boy a Greek and Latin lesson before he came to the Senate every morning; and he gave his little girls lessons in French and Spanish every evening after he went home from the Senate; and, thus doing, he enjoyed not only an exuberant, but almost an extravagant state of health. He mentioned this for the benefit of the Senate in general, and of the bachelor Senators in particular.
Mr. Benton said, that notwithstanding the lesson he had learned from a little French comedy, beginning with the moving supplication, "who will deliver us from the Greeks and the Romans" qui nous delivrera des Grees et des Romains notwithstanding that lesson, he felt himself justified, under this particular Administration, to refer to these old friends of his school-day memory, and mention an incident which was a characteristic of one of them, and which commentators have considered as one of the main causes of their invincibility. He spoke of the Romans, and of the Senatorial vote of thanks to the surviving Consul after the battle of Cannae, because he had not despaired of the Republic. This vote prevented despair in others reanimated confidence and led to victory. This, Mr. B. said, was the incident in the history of his old friends, the Romans, which he now took leave to recall to the recollection of the Senate.
And now for the application of this historical incident. The application was to the American Democracy, who had suffered a sort of Cannea defeat last fall, but who did not despair of the Republic, and are already on the high road to victory ! We were called here, said Mr. Benton called to this extraordinary session as the vanquished would be called into the presence of the conqueror in barbarian times to receive the law and the lash, and to be stripped of their clothes and arms. We were called up to have the yoke fitted on our necks, and the chains and manacles fastened on our hands and feet, and to see our friends persecuted, and our country pillaged by corporations, natives and foreigners. We were called, and we came not as slaves, but as Romans! not in despair, but with hearts of courage, and nerves of iron! not as to the place of punishment and humiliation, but as to the field of glory and victory !
I crossed the Mississippi, said Mr. Benton, on the 15th of May, in obedience to the President's proclamation to repair to this city, and I made, what I felt to be, a triumphal march to this Capitol ! I looked at others, not myself. I looked to the proud array of Democracy on this floor; I looked to the twenty-one Democratic Senators here, (for I leave out myself) and I said of them, as Louis the 14th said of himself, when all Europe was in arms against him., Nec Pluribus Impar ! Not an unequal match for numbers ! No ! a full match for superior numbers ! And so they have shown themselves to be. Sir, I have some experience in parliamentary warfare; I have some knowledge of history; I know something of the conflicts, bodily and intellectually, of my species; and I can boldly say, that the annals of the human race present no example of a talent, of a patriotism, of a courage, of a devotedness, in any deliberative body of men that has ever existed, which is superior to that which we have seen in the twenty-one Democratic Senators who sustain the cause of their country at this most ominous and perilous extraordinary session of our Congress. The annals of intellectual warfare present no example of mental effort superior to their protracted, victorious, and magnificent debate.
Proceeding to the examination of his subject, Mr. Benton said: We have now advanced a distance, and reached a point, at which we may halt look back, and survey the ground over which we have passed. We are now in the second quarter of the new Administration, and in the second month of its first session of Congress; and enough has been done, or attempted to be done, to show what it is, and what it will be. The tree is known by its fruit; and we now have fruit enough, or buds, and blossoms enough, to show us what manner of tree this new Administration is to what genus it be longs, and for what it is good; and I believe it will be found, upon the view of its fruit and buds, to be of that prolific and poisonous species which the naturalists call the bohun upas.
We were told shortly before the termination of the last session of Congress, by a gentleman, then a member of this body, now a member of the new cabinet, [Mr. Webster] that a new set of books were to be opened at the Treasury after the 4th day of March; that the new Administration would take a new point of departure; and, for the purpose of discriminating between economy and extravagance, they would close up the old books of the two past Administrations, and open a new set upon their own account, for the operations of the new powers. This is what we were told; and now let us take a peep into these new books and see the entries which have been made, or proposed to be made, in them.
It will be recollected that the past Administration was charged with expending forty millions of dollars per annum for the expenses of the Government; and the new Administration were to defray the expenses of the same Government with the one-third part of that sum, namely: with thirteen millions of dollars. I will not stop to vindicate the past Administration from the injurious imputation of expending forty millions in defraying the expenses of the Government: that task was performed above a year ago in this chamber, and to the conviction of all present friends and foes. It was then proved by a document from the Treasury Department, the verity of which no member could impeach, that, of these imputed forty millions, above twenty of them went to the great object of freeing the Southern and Western States from the incumbrance of their Indian population holding treaties with them extinguishing their territorial titles removing them to the West maintaining the war in Florida and to the further object of redeeming Treasury notes constructing permanent public buildings, and paying over indemnities obtained from foreign countries; and, that all which went to the expenses of the Government did not exceed seventeen or eighteen millions of dollars.
I will not stop to repeat the proofs then delivered: my business now lies with the gentlemen who were to carry on the Government for thirteen millions per annum, and who came into power a few short months ago upon public pledges to that effect. I will see how these gentlemen are redeeming this pledge will see how the account stands in the second quarter of the existence of their Administration, and in the second month of the session of their first Congress. For this purpose I will take a view of the moneys and means left by us in their hands on the fourth of March last, and of the amounts raised or attempted to be raised by themselves at the present session, and of the amounts wasted, squandered, or given away, or attempted to be so wasted, squandered, and given away. I will look into their new books under these three heads, and will use no evidence against them but that which they furnish officially against themselves.
Premising that the present year is only a year of ten months (for we carried on the Government during the first two, and paid all expenses up to the 4th of March) premising this, I proceed to show what I have found in the books against the new administrators under the three heads mentioned, and begin with the amount which we left in their hands. This I find stated in the report upon the finances, made to the two Houses of Congress at the meeting of the present session, and upon the third page of that report. The amount there stands thus stated:
1. The available balance in the Treasury on the 4th of March, 1841 ...... $646,803.12
2. Treasury notes authorized under the act of 1840, issued after the 3d of March, 1841 ..... 413,592.72
3. Do. authorized by the act of 1841, to be issued after the 4th of March, 1841 ..... 5,000,000.00
4. Receipts from customs, estimated at .... 12,000,000.00
5. public lands ........ 2,500,000.00
6. " " miscellaneous sources ....... 170,000.00
Amounting to $20,730,395.84
Here, sir, are close upon twenty-one millions of dollars to carry on the Government for ten months, by administrators who complained of our extravagance, and promised to exhibit themselves as models of economy. They promised to carry on the Government for thirteen millions; we furnished them with twenty-one for ten months; and here we are, before the ten months are half out, called together at an expense of half a million of dollars, to provide additional means.
We asked no more to carry on the Government than we left them. We even made an extraordinary provision over and above the funds on hand, and the accruing revenue a provision of five millions of Treasury notes; the whole for themselves, the issue of which was not even to commence until after they came into power. Upon these supplies we should have gone through the year, if the Democratic Administration had continued, without a shilling more than the twenty-one millions turned over to our successors. This has been asserted and demonstrated to you by the Senator from New Hampshire, [Mr. Woodbury] late Secretary of the Treasury, and who speaks with the knowledge of experience, and with the authority of a practised statesman.
He has told you repeatedly in those pulverizing speeches in which he has reduced your Secretary's report to dust and ashes, that he would have carried on the Government during the remainder of the year, without calling for an additional dollar, if the Administration of Mr. Van Buren had continued in power. You have all heard his declaration; and I now call upon him to say whether I have mistaken his assertion, or whether time and reflection, or the arguments of his opponents, have induced him to retract, or qualify his important declaration. I pause for a reply.
Mr. Woodbury stood up and reiterated his declaration.
Mr. Benton. Good ! I must request the Senator to write down his statement in his own words, and deliver it to me, to be incorporated in my speech. I will put it in the body of the speech. It shall be printed in great letters; they should be of gold letters large and shining each a digit long. It shall be printed in staring capitals, that the old farmers the producing classes the bees which make the honey, not the drones who eat it that all the friends of their country, no matter how classified in party politics no matter how they voted at the last election that they, one and all, may see and read, and reading, remember forever, this authentic declaration, that Mr. Van Buren's Administration would have gone through the year, if it had been continued in power, without having required one additional dollar from the people.
Mr. Woodbury handed his statement to Mr. Benton. It was in these words:
"MR. WOODBURY STATES IN REPLY TO THE QUESTION OF MR. BENTON, THAT THE MEANS POSSESSED AND EXPECTED TO ACCRUE, WERE FULLY EQUAL TO ALL THE COMPUTED AND PROPER EXPENDITURES, AND WOULD DEFRAY THE WHOLE IF NO UNFORESEEN ACCIDENT SHOULD INTERVENE."
Sir, said Mr. Benton, addressing himself to the to the President of the Senate, we have got you ! We hold you in the gripe of the hand ! When your Secretary of the Treasury sent in his report at the commencement of this session, giving his beggarly account of empty boxes showing that he had spent what we left him, and calling out for more; I said to myself, as the report was in the course of being read to the Senate, that there was an omission in it that the Secretary had not told us how much money had been delivered out to disbursing officers and agents, before they needed it! how much was now in their hands, unapplied or unaccounted for! and that the knowledge of this was necessary to enable us to understand how far the present distress of the Treasury is real, or artificial ! I said this was necessary to enable us to understand how far the moneys had been delivered out as actually required for the public service, or how far they had been lavished precipitately faster than they could be used in order to create a vacuum in the public chest; and thus justify an extra call for Congress to fill it !
These inquiries passed through my mind, and upon the instant I submitted a resolution calling for the omitted information. The call was in these words:
"Resolved, That the President of the United States be requested to inform the Senate what amount of public money has been placed in the hands of disbursing officers and agents since the 4th of March last; also what amount of public moneys now remain in the hands of disbursing officers and agents unaccounted for, or not reported to have been paid over according to law."
Sir, I know how a Treasury can be emptied. It is only to deliver out the money in masses to officers and agents before it is needed for the public service, and let it lie in their hands, or in the hands of their friends, or in favorite banks, until wanted for public payments. In that manner the Treasury can be emptied an any day, no matter how full it may be. In that manner it would have been emptied a dozen times during Mr. Van Buren's administration, if his Secretary of the Treasury had yielded to the importunate demands made upon him. I know what I say; for my duty as a member of the Finance Committee often led me to converse with the Secretary, and to learn the condition of the Fisc.
The present Secretary says he has now less than a million on hand: I say that has often been the case with the late Secretary. He has often been drained down to less than a million, and would have been drained dry if he had yielded to the demands upon him for premature supplies; but he fought them off, and kept the money in the Treasury until the public service required it to be paid over to those who had earned it. In this way he has saved the Treasury heretofore, and would have saved it again this summer.
I call upon the ex-Secretary to say if I am not correct in all this ?
[Mr. Woodbury said Yes.]
Mr. Benton. You hear his answer ! and in that answer you feel the condemnation of the present Secretary !
Mr. Benton here begged the Senate to observe that he had not called for the amount of unaccounted for public moneys for the purpose of imputing defaults to the officers. No such thing. He knew that there was not time yet for the greater part of these new accounts to be settled: his only object was to show what a mass of money was now in the hands of officers and agents, and thereby to show the reason why so little was in the Treasury.
I now proceed, said Mr. Benton, to the second class of entries which I find in these new books, namely, the additional means which the new administrators have provided, or attempted to provide for themselves, and the want of which has been made the putative cause of calling together this most ominous and portentous session of Congress. At the head of these means, not for its amount, (for it is but a trifle in the totality of the sums which I shall have to present,) but for its peculiarity and novelty, I shall place the item which I brought to the notice of the Senate on Saturday last, namely, the loan of a million at a time, for six months together, and at six per centum interest, which the Fiscal Bank, by a clause in its charter, is authorized to lend to the Government without any law of Congress to authorize it. I read the clause on Saturday, but will read it again, for it deserves attention for more reasons than one.
Mr. Benton took up the charter of the Bank, and read from the 10th fundamental article of what, he said, was whimsically called "the Constitution of the Fiscal Bank," a clause in these words:
"No loan shall be made by the said corporation, for the use, or on account of the Government of the United States, to an amount exceeding one million of dollars, nor for any period exceeding one hundred and eighty days, or on account of any particular State, to an amount exceeding one hundred thousand dollars, or for any period exceeding one hundred and eighty days, unless previously authorized by a law of the United States."
Here is authority, resumed Mr. B. for the Administration to borrow and for the bank to lend, a million at a time, for six months together, and that without further leave or license from Congress; and this little operation in finance is subject to be repeated exactly forty times in the twenty years which this bank is proposed to continue. I do not dilate upon the unconstitutionality of this provision: time does not permit. I showed on Saturday that it was a delegation of legislative power to the executive branch of the Government authorizing the President to borrow money for objects not defined by Congress, and unknown to any appropriation law, and for any purpose that he pleased. Congress has power to borrow money, not at its pleasure, and for what purposes it pleases, but to pay the debts and to provide for the support of the Government; it has often given the President authority to borrow, but always named for what purpose, or that it must be for satisfying appropriations made by law. These are the limitations upon Congress, but here is a delegation of authority without limitation upon the President: he may borrow the million, and repeat the loan forty times in twenty years, for whatever object he pleases. This is what the new bank charter authorizes.
I know that this clause is substantially copied from the old bank charter of 1816 where it stood for a half a million of dollars; and I know that that clause was copied from one in the charter of the Bank of England; where it stood for half a million sterling (two and a half millions of dollars.) I know these instances, but dispute their correctness, and oppose their imitation here. But I drop this argument.
My present object is to enumerate the means which this new Administration has raised, or is attempting to raise for itself. In this point of view I limit myself to the enumeration of this strange item, and set it down for a single loan of one million of dollars, and its interest for six months, making $1,030,000.
I proceed to the next item which I find in these famous new books, namely: the loan bill for twelve millions, which we now have before us, and which was the subject of such exterminating debate on Friday and Saturday last. I do not repeat the arguments of my friends on that day I was not in that debate but all America should read them, and should learn the character and pretexts for this bill which calls for as much, lacking one million, as the new powers pledged themselves to carry on the Government a whole year upon, and this in addition to the means already placed in their hands. The twelve millions in the bill will make thirty-three millions for ten months, which is at the rate of thirty-nine millions per annum; the exact sum which they untruly charged upon us, and which we, most truly, prove upon them !
This is a fine commentary upon pledges made before the election; but, let as pass on. Large as this item is, it will look small before I am done with the entries which are found in these new books. I proceed with the bill, and do not repeat the arguments against it. I do not reiterate what our friends have demonstrated, namely: that the sum demanded is six millions more than the Secretary of the Treasury has alleged to be necessary in his report; that it is nine millions more than we have proved to be needed, exclusive of the new appropriations which cannot be expended during the year; that, in fact, the principal part of this loan is to supply the place of the land revenue, which is to go, nominally, to the States, but in reality to British capitalists, and also to furnish indirect capital to the new Bank.
I repeat none of these things, not even my own motion to defer the borrowing of the two millions, (part and parcel of the twelve,) which is to lie in the Treasury, that is to say, in the Bank, as a reserved fund, to meet contingencies and accidents, which may never happen, and which it will be time enough to borrow money for when they actually occur.
I showed on Saturday that it was cheaper and safer for the Government to permit these two millions to remain with the lenders until we need them, which may never be. I offered an amendment to defer the execution of so much of the bill as went to create this reserved fund. My amendment was rejected: all our amendments were rejected. Nothing stuck but our arguments, and they will go to the country, and will prove to the people that Federalism, in 1841, is the same that it was in 1798 an extravagant, wasteful, tax laying, money borrowing, revenue consuming animal; and that to go to taxing the people when they get into power, is just as natural as it is for young ducks to go to swimming, or for old foxes to go to eating chickens. They must tax, and borrow. They cannot help it. The bill will pass. It is for twelve millions, and for three years, the interest six per cent.; at first, it was for eight years, but the Democratic opposition reduced it to three; which is as long, in all probability, as the Federal party will remain in power. Adding interest to principal, and this loan will be fourteen millions one hundred and sixty thousand dollars. That is the sum which the Government will pay to the lenders; but it is not the sum which the people will pay to the Government on account of the loan. They will pay at least ten per cent more; for the handlers of the money must all be paid. The tax gatherers who collect it those who keep it those who pay it all must be paid, and then allowance must be made besides for accidents and losses from defaults. Assume ten per centum for those incidental expenses, and you have one million four hundred thousand dollars more to be added to the burthens of the people on account of this loan.
Thus, to obtain twelve millions for the government, a burthens of fifteen millions five hundred and sixty thousand dollars, is imposed up on the people. Such is the fruit of borrowing ! an insidious and ruinous process, both to individuals and to nations ! So, set it down at $15,560,000.
The re-issuability of above six millions of Treasury notes, which the act of March permits, and which the dominant party utterly refuse to give up, is another provision for borrowing money to that amount. When it was seen that the loan bill, in providing for a direct loan of twelve millions, did not repeat the re-issuability of the six millions of these notes which may lawfully be re-issued during the whole year, constituting an indirect loan to this amount; when this was seen, and the Senator from Arkansas [Mr. Sevier] was the first to discover it, the omission to make the repeal was looked upon as an oversight a mere inadvertence and an amendment was immediately offered to cure the defect. What was our astonishment to hear it avowed from the other side that this omission was no mistake! that the re-issuability of these notes was adhered to on purpose! and that they meant to retain the privilege but did not mean to re-issue the notes ! This singular avowal produced the indignant and burning denunciations and remonstrances of the Senators from New York and Pennsylvania [Messrs. Wright and Buchanan] which electrified this chamber on Saturday evening. It brought many Senators to their feet. It filled us all with amazement.
We demonstrated to them that this omission made the loan eighteen millions instead of twelve; that it took us all by surprise; and we besought and obtested them to give it up. All to no purpose. They declared the Administration would not use it, and begged us to have confidence. We replied that it was a case for law, and not for confidence; and adhered to our motion. The question was taken, and we lost it taken in quasi committee, and lost. Then we took it again in Senate, and lost it a second time; each time on yeas and nays.
The new Administration, then, retains the power of re-issuing these six millions: they retain the power of effecting an indirect loan to that amount; and, therefore, we charge them with it. So set down six millions on that head. If they object to this, let them now agree to the repeal, and I will expunge the charge. Let them speak out now, and stop the charge. I pause for a reply.
(After waiting some instants, and no one speaking,) Mr. Benton said: The proposition is not accepted; the repeal is not agreed to, and the charge stands. This is six millions more, and the interest upon it at five per centum is three hundred thousand dollars. Set it down, $6,300,000.
The next effort of the new administrators to provide additional means for themselves, is the new tariff bill which is already on its passage in the House of Representatives, and which is to impose twenty per centum ad valorem on all goods now free of duty; and to raise to twenty per centum all duties now below that amount. Not satisfied with the direct loan of twelve millions, and the indirect one of six millions in the reissuability of redeemed Treasury notes; not content with these two loans, these economical men go to work to impose a new tariff, and to levy duties on near sixty millions of goods, either free at this time, or paying the mode rate duties of 5, or 10, or 15 per centum. This new tariff bill is to impose twenty per centum on all such articles. This will probably yield the Fisc about twelve millions of dollars; but that is far from being the sum which the people will pay. The wholesale merchant who advances the duty to the Government, will have his profit upon it. Every intermediate seller every retail dealer will also have his profit, and the tax go on increasing until the article reaches the hands of the consumer. The officers who collect the duty will have their compensation; and, in addition to all this, under the ad valorem system, which is thus to be rendered universal, numerous frauds will be practised upon the Government and upon the community. These items will inevitably add fifty per cent. to the duty; that is to say, they will raise a duty of twenty per cent. to at least thirty; and will raise the fourteen millions which the Government receives to at least eighteen, which the people have to pay; to say nothing of the incidental injury to their foreign trade. So, set this item down at $18,000,000.
Sir, I do not go into the merits of this new tariff bill; it is not yet before the Senate, and it would be irregular to discuss its provisions or its character while before the other House. It is fair, however, to notice it among the measures of the session, and to consider it as a part of the burthens which the new Administration have brought upon the people, or attempted to bring upon them. A new tariff, so unexpectedly brought forward, and so sweeping and universal in its application ! Every thing taxed ! nothing spared not even the necessaries of life and the rule of fifty years overborne at once, by which a discrimination had been made between luxuries and necessaries, and graduated duties had been imposed, descending through the reduced scale of fifteen per centum, ten per centum, and five per centum, and terminating with a goodly list of articles entirely free. This has been the policy for fifty years ever since the first tariff act was passed, in 1789. Now all this is to be reversed. Every thing is to be taxed nothing spared. Tea and coffee, now free, are to be subjected to duty; sugar and salt, now taxed, are to remain so. But stop! I mistake ! I do these honorable men wrong ! They do not quite tax every thing. They spare something. They have, in fact, made a selection of articles which are to be exempt from the operation of their bill; and that I may do exact justice repair the wrong which I have done and omit no symptom of their benevolence to the people, I will read the list of the favored articles as they appear in the first section of the bill. Listen to it:
"EXCEPT on the following enumerated articles, that is to say: muriatic acid, sulphuric acid or oil of vitriol, alum, tartaric acid, aquafortis, blue vitriol, claomel, corbonate of soda, corrosive sublimate,combs, copperas, gold, and silver, and other watches, parts of watches, gold silver lace embroidery, and all articles composed wholly or chiefly of gold or silver gems and precious stones, and pearls of all kinds when set, jewelry, nitrate of lead, read and white lead ground in oil, sugar of lead, manganese, sulphate of magnesia, bichromate of potash, chromate of potash, prussiate of potash, glauber salts, rochelle salts; sulphate of quinine, refined saltpetre."
This, sir, is the list of favored articles ! This is the love of the new powers for the people ! this the relief which we come here to grant ! this the mode of relieving the national distress for which this portentous session was convoked ! Forty articles exempted from the new tariff, and not one among them for which the producing classes would give a straw. Poison, physic, gewgaws, jewellery, make up the important list.
Is not this new tariff bill, especially after the loan bills, an oppression upon the country ? Is not this list of excepted articles an insult to the people ? Do the people know what we are about ? That taxing and borrowing is our main occupation, and that this short session is rapidly earning for itself a complete title to the execrations of every patriot heart.
But I forbear, and will only assure the people of two things in relation to this new tariff; first, that if the Democracy had continued in power, there would have been no tariff bill of any kind at this time; secondly, that when such a bill did come, the necessaries and comforts of life, instead of bearing the burthen of taxation, would have been the favored and excepted articles.
The next provision which these economical gentlemen make for themselves, is in the loans which are proposed for building up their Bank. The States have had such fine luck in going to Europe and borrowing money to establish banks upon, that we must try the same experiment. No matter for our poor Constitution, which never dreamed of borrowing money to bank upon; no matter for the lessons of political economy, which condemns all banking bottomed on borrowed money; no matter for the experience of the age; our new administrators must borrow, and they must bank: and for this purpose we add three entries in their new books: first, a loan of ten millions for the first subscription to the capital, on twenty years' time, at five per cent. interest. This makes the interest equal to the principal, to wit: twenty millions, and allowing ten per cent. for the incidental expenses of collecting that sum from the people, the burden imposed upon them by this first loan is twenty-two millions of dollars; secondly, the United States is to take the third part of the twenty millions increased capital when raised to fifty millions, (which will soon be,) and to raise it by loan on the same terms, and for the same time. This would be six millions and two-thirds for the principal, the same for the interest, and ten per cent. for incidental expenses; in all, $14,333,333. In the third place, the United States are to take the one-third of the thirty-three and one third millions reserved for private stockholders, if not taken by them in three months after opening the books. That it will not be taken, is certain. Europeans will be shy of a United States Bank, after the infamous manner in which they have been defrauded by the late Bank and some others. The idea of the REPEAL will keep off all real capitalists. Jobbers, speculators, and gamblers will take a little, in order to get the privilege of helping themselves to much out of the public funds in the bank. They will put in thousands, in order to take out millions; and thus this contingent subscription will fall upon the United states, and is to made up like the two former, by borrowing for twenty years, at five per centum interest. The principal in this third subscription may be eleven millions of dollars the interest the same add ten per centum for incidental expenses; in all $24,000,000.
The totality which the Government may borrow to pay up its three subscriptions to this new-fangled Fiscal Bank, is twenty seven millions and two thirds, devolving thereby a burthen upon the people of more than double that amount. I know the argument of those who go for these loans, and who consider it a great money-making business for the Government to borrow from the English at five per cent. and to lend to its citizens at six; I know their argument, and that it is the true and veritable derivation of the fable of the milk maid and her basket of eggs, the catastrophe of which is known to little children by reading, and to grown men by banking; and which, it seems, the Federal Government must now learn, through the fate of the Fiscal Bank.
[Mr. Benton here read the fable of the milk maid and her basket of eggs, for the instruction of the champions of this fiscality, and went on to say:]
The whole scheme of this Federal project of banking is as unconstitutional, in point of law, as it is derogatory in character, fallacious in practice, and disastrous in termination. This Federal Government was not created for banking, and especially for banking on borrowed money; and, above all, it was not created to collect solid money from the people, and give it to corporators in exchange for paper money, to be circulated to the exclusion of the constitutional currency. But let us go on with the inquiry on hand.
I now come to the third and last class of entries in these new books, consisting of moneys, wasted, squandered, or given away; attempted to be wasted, squandered, or given away, by those economical gentlemen whose promises before the election were so magnificent, and whose performance since is so ridiculous.
The first item under this last head is for money wasted, to wit, about half a million of dollars, for the expenses of this extra session of Congress. This is a clear case of waste; for the session is far worse than useless, and never would have been held if the Democracy had continued in power, or if the counsels of the discreet part of the Federalists had prevailed. We all know how it came to be ordered; and now, as often heretofore, I acquit the late President [General Harrison] of all blame for it; holding it to be a case in which he was justified in yielding to the decision of a council.
The next item among these entries is the land revenue, estimated at three and a half millions per annum, nominally given to the States, but substantially to be transferred to the British holders of State bonds, and to increase in their hands the value of the securities which they have bought low, and now want raised high. Counted for one year, and this squandering is three and a half millions: counted as representing a capital at six per centum, and it would be fifty-eight millions of dollars. Nominally, the bill has a limitation to its duration; it is limited to the commencement of a foreign power; but the limitation is illusory. If the land revenue goes once, it is gone forever. If this bill passes now for annual distributions, we shall have, next year, bills to make a general distribution at once to kill the goose, and got all her golden eggs at once. If we cannot retain this fund while we have it if we cannot apply it to the public defences now, while the lands are still in our hands, according to the patriotic motion of my colleague if we can not do this now, the lands are gone forever; and the customs and other revenue will follow.
What is absurdly called the debt due to the States under the deposite act, for the fourth instalment, is another item, found in a different form in these new Treasury books. The present Secretary of the Treasury has found a new disposition for this sum: he proposes to put it into the Treasury bank, as so much stock subscribed on the part of the States, and to punish those that will not accept the Bank by giving their share to States that will accept. Here is seduction on one hand, and chastisement on the other; and between the two, she Secretary no doubt thinks all the States will be brought into the snare, and accept the Bank that Bank which lies behind the one now before the Senate, and which is as much worse than that as the superaddition of fraud, bribery, treachery and hypocrisy can make worse an act originally bad. Nine millions is the amount of this sum proposed to be squandered as douceurs [conciliatory gift; financial inducement; bribe] to the States, to go from them to the British, whose agents have honored this session of Congress with their attendance, and who have applied to the new administrators to assume the State debts. Twenty-seven millions were deposited with the States under sacred promises to restore it: the twenty-seven is not restored; and the new powers propose to send nine more after them.
Then comes the proposition from the same Secretary to borrow, or raise by duties, four millions of dollars, and let it lie in the Treasury, that is to say, in the Bank, as a reserved fund, not to be used until necessity or some contingency should happen to require it. This reserve is proposed to be permanent to lie in Bank always and if used in a contingency, to be immediately supplied by a new deposite. I do not repeat my arguments against the wisdom of such a proceeding: I do not repeat my arguments to show how much safer and cheaper it would be to let this reserved fund remain in the form of a power to borrow when necessary to fulfil appropriations made by Congress, in which case it would be forthcoming when wanted, and, in the mean time, would be free from the contingency of loss, and the certainty or interest, and the folly of giving to a Bank the gratuitous use of four millions, either borrowed on interest, or raised from the people by taxation.
I leave out these views, and only enumerate the item as a squandering of so much public money. I only look now to its amount, and this is great. If for only one year, it would be four millions principal, and the interest; but, being intended as a permanent provision, it must be looked upon as an interest representing so much capital. This, at six per cent. would be about sixty-six millions of dollars.
Having completed his detailed view of the fiscal, or moneyed part of the entries in there new books, Mr. Benton then presented a condensed general view of the same, by way of recapitulation, in three tabular statements, as follows:
I. Table showing the amount of the money, means, and accruing revenue turned over to the new Administration on the 4th of March, 1841, to defray the expenses of the Government for the remainder of the year, being ten months:
1. Hard money in the Treasury ....$646,803
2. Unissued Treasury notes .....413,598
3. Authority to issue new Treasury notes ......5,000,000
4. Receipts from customs, estimated 12,000,000
5. Do. from lands, do. .....2,500,000
6. Do. from miscellaneous sources ......170,000
Total ...... $20,730,401
II. Table showing the amount of money raised, or attempted to be raised, by loans and taxes, and the amount of burthens imposed, or attempted to be imposed on the people, by the new Administration at their extra session of Congress in 1841.
Amount. .... Interest. .... Incidental expenses ...... Total.
1. Loan authorized in Bank charter ...... $1,000,000 .... $30,000 ...... $1,030,000
2. Loan authorized in loan bill ....12,000,000 ..... 2,160,000 ..... 1,400,000 ..... 15,560,000
3. Re-issuable Treasury notes .....6,000,000 ..... 300,000 ..... 6,300,000
4. The new tariff ....12,000,000 .....6,000,000 .....18,000,000
5. First Bank subscription .....10,000,000 .....10,000,000 .....2,000,000 ......22,000,000
6. Second Bank subscription .....6,666,666 .....6,666,666 .....1,333,333 .....14,333,33
7. Third Bank subscription ....11,000,000 .....11,000,000 ....2,000,000 .....24,000,000
III. Table showing the amount of money wasted, squandered, or given away, or attempted to be wasted, squandered, or given away by the new Admininistration in the first half year of its existence, and in the first session of its first Congress.
1. Expenses of this extra session ... $500,000
2. Land revenue, to be given away .....58,000,000
3. Fourth deposite instalment do .....9,000,000
4. Capital yielding the reserved fund .....66,000,000
This, sir, is the result of the examination which I have been able to make into these famous new books which the Federalists were to open when they got into power, and which were to separate, as by a high wall and a wide gap, the economy of the new Administration from the extravagance of the two past.
These books have been open but a few months not yet half a year and what are their contents ? First: Twenty-one millions of dollars, in money or means, which we left them for ten months' expenditure, and which they declare to be insufficient before the time is half out, and call Congress together to grant new supplies. Secondly: One hundred and one millions of burthen imposed, or attempted to be imposed, upon the people, in order to raise, by loans and taxes, about fifty-seven millions of dollars for the Government. Thirdly: An annual waste of revenue and means representing a capital, at simple interest, of one hundred and thirty-three and a half millions of dollars. These three totals make a grand aggregate of two hundred and forty-five millions of dollars as the amount which these economical gentlemen these thirteen million men have used, or raised, or squandered, or imposed as burthens upon the people, or attempted to be so raised, squandered, or imposed, in the first half year of their reign.
They have done, or attempted to do this; and if they have not succeeded to the extent of their designs if they have been frustrated in part the praise is ours, not theirs; for our opposition the Democratic opposition alone has checked their headlong course, and partly saved the country.
This is the view of the fiscal or moneyed entries which I find in these books; but I also find another class of entries there a political class which neither time nor parliamentary rule will permit me now to examine. I can only group these political entries into a single picture at this time, leaving the detailed examination which they merit to a more propitious season. They consist of the whole mass of measures of the old Federal school of 1791 and 1798, reinforced and aggravated by select items collected from the whig times of Sir Robert Walpole, and the high Tory times of Queen Anne.
Among these political entries we find National Bank national debt national taxation exclusive privileges and monopolies the funding system paper system, and stock-jobbing the union of Bank and State supremacy of corporations, and the immunity of corporators committees on currency, to banish the constitutional currency, and to change our hard money Government into a paper-money machine, to be governed by a Bank president and his directors, with their attorneys, debtors, and jobbers squandering in corrupt schemes at home, or in subservience to foreigners, the revenue which should be given to the public defences at home, and then supplying its loss by loans and taxes assumption of State debts on the demand of foreigners London bankers appearing as lobby members in the galleries of Congress cowardice abroad, tyranny at home good men chased from office, bad put into their places secret committees, and vacation committees, to give employment to partisans, and to hunt up charges against Republicans political offences created by Executive edict, in violation of the Constitution, and for the revival of the sedition law, to be enforced against Democrats alone, to be tried ex parte, and to be of ex post facto operation universal persecution of the Democracy Federalists put into office for frauds at elections, Democrats turned out for voting fairly naval and military officers threatened with dismission for political offences unknown to the Constitution of the country, or to the rules and articles of war, or to the navy regulations abolition of debts at the will of the debtor, under the name of a general bankrupt law the Departments at Washington converted into magazines for scandal, where delators, informers, libellers, and office hunters file their false and secret denunciations against the Democrats, whom they hate, or whose offices they love hypocrisy, dissimulation, treachery, corruption, the falsification of every promise made before the election, and the fulfilment of every charge denied a rump Congress usurping power, and endevouring to plunder and manacle posterity, and changing a limited Republican Government of the people into an unlimited oligarchy of scrub and scrip aristocrats.
Such is the picture, briefly and imperfectly sketched, which the first half year's entries in the political part of these new books presents to the country. It is the beginning only; and from this beginning judge of the end.
Prominent in the foreground of this picture, towering over the rest, and crowning the whole, stands the great red harlot of Babylon, THE NATIONAL BANK, waving her gilded sceptre, and exulting in her triple character of POLITICAL ENGINE, to crush Democracy; PECUNIARY ENGINE, to plunder the people; and BRANCH OF THE BANK OF ENGLAND, to connect and subject our moneyed and political interests to the paper oligarchy of London. All the rest are her offspring.
That gigantic beast sits for Milton's picture of Sin, in the Paradise Lost a monster, vast, foul, and hideous to behold the mother of monsters, hell-hounds kennelling within her, creeping in and out, growling and howling for their putrid prey. This extra session of Congress, this rump Congress, was to place this beast, and all her foul and ravenous brood, up on us. The Federalists, drunk and mad with unexpected success, rushed to this hot and sultry session, to fasten all their odious measures upon us. They came to a great political banquet, where joy and triumph were to reign; but seem destined to change the character of the entertainment, and to give the world a new edition of the immortal feast of the Lapithae and the Centaurs.
The new Secretary of the Treasury was put up on the hard duty the ignoble task of discovering the ex post facto reasons which were to excuse and justify this pre-ordained and execrable session. He was to find reasons for this Federal usurpation in the "misconduct and the follies, the debts and the extravagances," of the Democratic Administrations. He dreamed he found them. He sent them in, strung together in that report which the speeches of three Senators [Woodbury, Wright and Calhoun] shattered, shivered, and scattered like the Paixhan bombs beat into atoms the helpless walls of Beyrout, St. Jean d'Acre, and San Juan de Ulloa. Not a vestige of the report remains; and of all the Secretary's friends on this floor not one stood up to defend him during that murderous fire but the Senator from Maine [Mr. Evans] whose courage and skill, though great, and generously exerted, were wholly unequal to the dreadful occasion.
The Secretary, his report, his discoveries, and his imputations, and all his excuses for the called session, sunk into rubbish under the hail-stone storm of shot and shells which showered upon them, and now lie in dust and ashes upon the floor of this chamber, the pity of friends, the scorn of foes.
Sir, the political world is divided into two grand divisions; those who believe is the capacity of the people for self government, and that they can be governed by reason; and those who believe in their incapacity, and that they can only be governed by fraud or force. The Democracy of the United States belong to the former of these grand divisions; the Federalists to the latter; and each practise upon their received and fundamental principle. The last election was a trial essay between the two parties. The concurrence of many unexpected events gave the victory to the Federalists; and now the question with them is, to save by force what was won by fraud. Hence this extra session hence these new rules hence this hurry and impatience hence this terror and alarm at debate hence this cry for action hence all these dreadful measures, moneyed and political, which are now thrust upon us.
These strong measures are to save the fruits of victory; they are to chain and manacle the vanquished. But, We do not give up the ship ! One defeat is not enough to subdue the brave. We try it again. The country is in a crisis. The cause of freedom is in danger. A great political problem is to be solved the problem of the capacity of the people for self-government ! Their conduct is to give the answer.
The question was then taken on the passage of the bill, and resulted yeas 23, nays 20.