22nd Congress, 1st Session
Senator Daniel Webster to Nicholas BiddleMy Dear Sir
1831 December 18
The state of my health & the severity of the weather have prevented me, since my arrival here, from being much abroad. Nevertheless, I have seen a great number of persons, & conversed with them, among other things, respecting the Bank. The result of all these conversations has been a strong confirmation of the opinion which I expressed at Philadelphia that it is expedient for the Bank to apply for the renewal of its Charter without delay. I do not meet a Gentleman, hardly, of another opinion; & the little incidents & anecdotes, that occur & circulate among us, all tend to strengthen the impression. Indeed, I am now a good deal inclined to think, that after Gen'l Jackson's re-election there would be a poor chance for the Bank. I am well informed, that within three days, he has in conversation with several Gentlemen, reiterated his old opinions, somewhat vociferously, & declared them unchangeable.
I have thought, My Dear Sir, the best advice I could give you, is, that you come down here, yourself, & survey the ground. You will have access to men of all parties, & can digest your information, compare opinions, & judge discreetly upon the whole matter. In my judgment, this is your true course, & ought to be immediately followed.
I am, Dear Sir, always faithfully
Letter from Nicholas Biddle to Horace Binney
Philadelphia, February 6th, 1832.
My dear Sir
It strikes me that the resolutions of our legislature will place Mr. Dallas in an attitude equally new, and imposing; offering an opportunity of distinction, which a young statesman could scarcely hope for in his dreams, & which the oldest statesman might pass a whole life without encountering. It seems to me, his position is precisely this--He wishes to be the Pennsylvania candidate for the Vice Presidency and then
"Glamis -- and thane of Cawdor
"the greatest is believed."
The Pennsylvanians are disposed to assist him and to exclude Mr. V Buren. To promote this Mr. Dallas should identify himself with all the Pennsylvania interests, more especially those interests to which Mr. Van Buren is supposed to be hostile. He should therefore go immediately to the President with these resolutions of Penn. in his hand -- he should warn him against irritating our State, especially as the offence to her is wholly gratuitous. He should say to him you are not opposed to this bank essentially; you mean to agree to it with certain modifications. Now let me mediate between you and the Bank; let us agree on the modifications; the Bank will consent to them, and I will report them, the rechartering of the Bank will thus become a measure of yours -- you will gratify Penna.--you will take from your adversaries their most formidable weapon, and secure the ascendancy of your friends. If the President will do this his success is certain, if Mr. Dallas will do this, besides sustaining his father's work, & conferring a great blessing on the Country, he will assure to himself distinguished consideration through the nation. I do not know how he is disposed for such an enterprize, but he ought to give ten years of his life for this chance of attaining it. Tell him so, and if in half an hour afterwards he is not on his way to the Presidents,--why then--the stars have conjoined for him in vain.
Letter from Nicholas Biddle, President of the Bank of the United States
to George McDuffie, Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means
Philadelphia, February 10th 1832.
I cannot doubt, whatever maybe the result, that we have done well in applying at the present session. When we were first warned against it lest it should affect the interests of one of the candidates for the Presidency, such a course seemed so entirely foreign to the duties of the Bank that we could not acquiesce in it for a moment. At a later period when we were counselled to abandon it, lest the influence of that candidate should crush the institution; that course seemed equally inadmissable, and we determined, that having begun, we would go through at all hazards; and that it was better even to be defeated in a fair field than to retreat. Into that field you have now probably led us; and on you much of the fate of the institution will depend. I have often heard the contemporaries of Mr. Calhoun, in the Congress of 1816, speak with admiration of the talent, and tact, the gentleness and the firmness with which he carried the present Charter through the House of Representatives, and we rely that the union of the same qualities will enable you to be equally successful now.
Senate of the United States,
January 9, 1832.
Mr. Dallas presented the following memorial from the president, directors and company, of the Bank of the United States:
To the senate and house of representatives of the United States, in congress assembled:
The memorial of the president, directors and company of the bank of the United States, in the name and in behalf of the stockholders of the bank, respectfully represents---
That the charter of the bank being about to expire, on the 4th of March 1836, your memorialists deem it their duty to invite the attention of congress to its renewal.
The general considerations which caused the establishment of the bank, the manner in which it has executed the duties assigned to it, and the reasons which recommend its continuance, your memorialists forbear to discuss, since, of these subjects, your honorable bodies are more competent and appropriate judges. They will, therefore, merely state the views which induce their application at this time.
Unless the question is decided by the present congress, no definitive action upon it can he expected until wilhin two years of the expiration of the charter --a period before which, in the opinion of your memorialists, it is highly expedient, not merely in reference to the institution itself, but to the more important interests of the nation, that the determination of congress should be known. Independently of the influence which the bank was designed to possess, and which it necessarily exercises over the state of the currency, by which all the pecuniary transactions of the community are regulated, its own immediate operations are connected intimately with the local business of almost every section of the United States, with the commercial interchanges between the several states, and the intercourse of them with all foreign nations.
Of the value to the community, of the system which, after long and anxious efforts, and at great pecuniary sacrifices, your memorialists have at length succeeded in establishing, it is not for them to speak; their more immediate purpose is to represent, as they do, most respectfully, that the continuance or destruction of that system, thus widely diffused through all the avenues of the productive industry of the country, affecting all the relations of public revenue and private income, and contributing to give stability to all the rewards of labor, is an object of general solicitude. If, satisfied with the practical operations of the institution, your honorable body shall deem it worthy of continuance, it seems expedient to relieve the country, as soon as may consist with mature deliberation, from the uncertainly in which all private transactions, and all public improvements, dependent on the future condition of the currency, and amount of capital disposable for those objects, must necessarily be involved until your decision is known. If, on the other hand, the wisdom of congress shall determine that the bank must cease to exist, it is still more important that the country should begin early to prepare for the expected change, and that the institution should have as much time as possible to execute the duty, always a very delicate and difficult one, of aiding the community to seek new channels of business, and, by gradual and gentle movements, to press with the least inconvenience on the great interests connected with it.
Under these impressions, they respectfully request that the charter of the bank may be renewed.
By order of the board of directors:
Nicholas Biddle, president.
House of Representatives
February 9, 1832.
McDuffie made a report::
Report of minority on BuS renewal.
Friday, February 10, 1832.
Mr. McDuffie, from the Committee of Ways and Means, to which was referred the memorial of the President, Directors, and Company of the Bank of the United States; also, sundry memorials from other sources, relative to the renewal of the charter of the said bank, made a report thereon, accompanied by the following bill to renew and modify the charter of the Bank of the United States:
A bill to renew and modify the charter of the Bank of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act entitled "An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States," approved the 10th day of April, 1816, shall be continued in force for the period of twenty years from the 3d day of March, 1836, and that the power shall be reserved to Congress to repeal this act at any time after ten years from the 3d of March, 1836, upon giving three years' notice of such intended repeal to the president and directors of the said bank.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States, after the 3d day of March, 1836, shall appoint one of the directors of each of the branches of the said bank, in the same manner as he now appoints a portion of the directors of the mother bank, and with the same limitations, as to their eligibility and term of service.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That any officers of the mother bank, who may be selected by the Board of Directors, and designated to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States, shall be authorized to sign and countersign notes, which shall be binding and obligatory on the said corporation, in like manner as if the same were signed and countersigned by the president and principal cashier or treasurer.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the said bank is hereby prohibited from issuing any notes which are not, upon the face of them, declared to be payable at the office from which they maybe issued; and, also, from drawing any draughts, or checks, for twenty dollars, or any smaller sum.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the bank to furnish annually, on the 1st day of January, to the chief officer of the treasury of each State, a list of the holders of stock in said bank, who are resident in such State, with the amount of the stock held by each stockholder; and nothing contained in the charter of said bank, or in this act, shall be deemed to restrain the several States from taxing the real estate of the said bank situated therein, respectively, or the proprietary interest of their respective citizens in the stock of the said bank, to the same extent that they may tax real estate within their jurisdiction, and like interests in the stock of other corporations, or money lent at interest.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That, in consideration of the exclusive privileges and benefits conferred by this act upon the said bank, the President, Directors, and Company thereof shall pay to the United States, out of the corporate funds thereof, on the 3d day of March, 1837, and on the same day of each year there after, during the continuance of the charter, an interest at the rate of ____ per centum upon the deposites, from time to time, to the credit of the Treasurer of the United States in the said bank and its branches, during the preceding year.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That, after the 3d day of March, 1836, the said bank shall not establish any additional branch thereof, without the consent of Congress.
The Act to Continue the Charter,
which was Vetoed by President Jackson, on July 10, 1832.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the act entitled "An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States," approved on the tenth day of April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixteen, shall continue in full force and effect for the term of fifteen years from and after the period therein limited for its expiration, to wit, the third day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six; and that all the rights, interests, properties, powers and privileges, secured by the said act, with all the rules, conditions, restrictions, and duties, therein prescribed and imposed, be and remain after the said third day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, during the said fifteen years, as if the said limitation in the said act had not been made; subject, nevertheless, to the modifications and changes hereinafter expressed.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That the directors of the said corporation shall have power to appoint two or more officers, with authority to sign and countersign any or all the notes thereof, the denomination of each of which shall be less than one hundred dollars; which notes, when signed and countersigned by the said officers, respectively, shall, to all intents and purposes, be binding and obligatory upon the said corporation as if the same had been signed by the President, and countersigned by the principal Cashier or Treasurer thereof; and it shall be the duty of the directors of the said corporation to make known, in writing, and as soon as may be, to the Secretary of the Treasury, the names of the officers who shall be appointed by virtue of this provision: Provided, That from and after the third day of March one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, no branch bank draft, or other bank paper not payable at the place where issued, shall be put in circulation, as currency, by the bank, or any of its offices, except notes of the denomination of fifty dollars, or of some greater sum.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful for the said corporation to issue, pay out, or put in circulation, any note or notes of a denomination less than fifty dollars, which shall not, upon the faces thereof, respectively, be payable at the bank or office of discount and deposite whence they shall be issued, paid out, or put in circulation.
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That the notes or bills of the said corporation, although the same be, upon the faces thereof, respectively, made payable at one place only, shall, nevertheless, be received by the said corporation at the bank, or at any of the offices of discount and deposite thereof, if tendered in liquidation or payment of any balance or balances due to said corporation, or to such office of discount and deposite, from any other incorporated bank.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That it shall not be lawful, after the said third day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, for the said corporation to hold, keep, and retain, for a period exceeding five years after the date of acquiring the same, any right, title, or interest, except by way of mortgage or judgment lien in security of debts, to any lands, tenements, hereditaments, other than those requisite for its accommodation in relation to the convenient transacting of its business; and it shall be the duty of said corporation, within the aforesaid period of five years, to sell, dispose of, or otherwise bona fide divest itself of all right, title, and interest to any lands, tenements and hereditaments, conveyed to it in satisfaction of debts previously contracted in the course of its dealings, or purchased at sales upon judgments which shall have been obtained for such debts; and for any and every violation of this provision, the said corporation shall be subject to a penalty of ten thousand dollars, to be recovered in the name of the United States of America, by a qui-tam action of debt instituted in any court of the United States having jurisdiction of the same; one half of which shall enure to the benefit of the informer, and the other half to the use of the United States.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That from and after the said tenth day of April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, it shall not be lawful for the directors of the said corporation to have, establish or retain, more than two offices of discount and deposite in any State: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall prevent the said corporation from retaining any of the branches which are now established.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That, in consideration of the exclusive benefits and privileges continued by this act to the said corporation for fifteen years as aforesaid, the said corporation shall pay to the United States the annuity or yearly sum of two hundred thousand dollars; which said sum shall be paid on the fourth day of March in each and every year, during the said term of fifteen years.
Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for Congress to provide, by law, that the said bank shall be restrained, at any time after the third day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, from making, issuing, or keeping in circulation, any notes or bills of said bank, or any of its offices, of a less sum or denomination than twenty dollars.
Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That the Cashier of the bank shall, annually, report to the Secretary of the Treasury the names of all stock-holders who are not resident citizens of the United States; and, on application of the Treasurer of any State, shall make out and transmit to such Treasurer a list of stockholders residing in, or citizens of, such State, with the amount of stock owned by each.
Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That so much of any act or acts of Congress heretofore passed, and now in force, supplementary to, or in anywise connected with, the said original act of incorporation, approved on the tenth day of April, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixteen, as is not inconsistent with this act, shall be continued in full force and effect during the said fifteen years after the said third day of March, in the year one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six.
Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the President and directors of the said bank, on or before the first day of the next session of Congress, to signify to the President of the United States their acceptance, on behalf of the Bank of the United States, of the terms and conditions in this act contained; and if they shall fail to do so on or before the day above mentioned, that then this act shall cease to be in force.
Bank of the United States.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to furnish the Senate with the names and titles of the foreign stockholders in the Bank of the United States, if any document in his office will afford that information; and, if not, to endeavor to obtain that information from the bank aforesaid, and lay it before the Senate as soon as possible, with the amount of stock held by each.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate be directed to lay before the Senate information, first, of the amount of debt due from individuals and bodies corporate to the Bank of the United States and its branches, distinguishing the amount secured by mortgage from that secured by personal security alone; and what portion of said debts are considered as standing accommodations to the customers of said bank and its branches.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to lay before the Senate a list of the directors of the Bank of the United States, and of the several branches, and a statement of the stock held by citizens of the United States, with the number of shares held by each, and the State or Territory of their residence; also, the amount of specie, according to their last return, in the vaults of the bank and its branches, distinguishing the part which belongs to the bank, the portion belonging to individuals, and to the United States.
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to lay before the Senate the monthly statements of the affairs of the Bank of the United States for the year 1831.
The resolutions submitted yesterday by Mr. Benton, were taken up and agreed to.
Letter of Nicholas Biddle,
President of the Bank of the United States
Secretary of the Treasury
January 17th, 1832.
Sir: I have had the honour of receiving your letter of the 12th instant, enclosing a copy of the resolutions of the Senate of the United States of the 11th instant, and in compliance with it, I now transmit the accompanying documents.
It appears that the amount of stock held by foreigners is 84,055 shares, equal to $8,405,500, without including the premium. The whole number of foreign stockholders is 470.
Baring, Brothers, & Co. ..... 7,915
John Marshall ..... 3,878
Charles Dixon ..... 2,500
Thomas Coterall .... 1,829
Benjamin Heywood ..... 1,784
Sparks & Co. ...... 1,236
Jonathan Austin ...... 1,200
Francis C.S. Conway ..... 1,003
James Drake ....... 1,000
Abels Smith ..... 1,000
Sir William Keppel ..... 722
Mrs. Candelaria Bell ..... 637
Marmaduke Warren Peacock ...... 500
Hudson Gurney ..... 500
The domestic stockholders of the Bank are as we count them 3,602, holding 195,620 shares.
Stephen Girard ...... 6,331
Charles Carroll ..... 2,683
Robert Ralston ...... 2,026
William J. Barksdale ...... 1,500
Bernard M. Carter ..... 1,417
John Potter ........ 1,400
William Bucknor ...... 1,168
Don Francis ........ 1,150
The amount of specie on hand at the Bank of the United States and its several Branches, on the 1st of January 1832, was $7,038,823.12.
Bank of the United States.
Mr. Benton submitted the following resolution:
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to inform the Senate (if any data in his department will enable him to do so, and, if not, that he endeavor to obtain the information from the directors of the Bank of the United States) upon the following points:
1. The amount of paper currency in circulation in the form of orders drawn by the presidents of the branch banks on the cashier of the Bank of the United States; distinguishing the amount circulated from each branch, and showing the amounts of the different denominations, or sizes, of the orders respectively.
2. The amount of gold and silver coin and bullion annually remitted by each branch bank to the parent bank in Philadelphia, since such branch began to issue a currency of branch bank orders.
3. The names of the branch banks, if any, at which the orders drawn by other branch banks on the cashier of the Bank of the United States, and issued as currency, are not receivable in deposites as cash; and whether any distinction, in receiving or refusing such deposites, is made between the Federal Government and the citizens of the United States.
4. Whether there is any instruction from the directors of the Bank of the United States, commanding the drawers of these orders to cash them at the branch where drawn.
Mr. Moore submitted the following resolutions:
Resolved, That the select committee to whom has been referred the memorial of the President, Directors, and Company of the Bank of the United States, be instructed to inquire into the expediency of limiting the duration of the charter to be renewed or established, to a term not exceeding ten years; and also of restricting the power of the directors in such manner as not to permit the establishment of a branch, or the location of an office of discount and deposite, in any State, without the assent and approbation of the General Assembly of such State.
Resolved, also, That the said committee inquire into the expediency of excluding foreign subscription, and of reserving one-third of the capital to be subscribed for by citizens of the United States, who have not been stock-holders in the present bank; and
Resolved, further, That said committee inquire into the expediency of recognising, by express terms, the authority of any State in which a branch, or office of discount and deposite, may be located, to impose a tax upon the stock, at the rate of tax imposed upon the State institutions of like character, or at the rate of tax imposed upon moneyed capital of private individuals.
A New Bank Proposed.
Mr. Marcy, of New York, presented the memorial of David Henshaw and others, citizens of Massachusetts, praying that when the present charter of the Bank of the United States expires, the memorialists may be permitted to establish a bank, with powers and obligations similar to those under which the present Bank of the United States was established. [The petitioners propose a bank of fifty millions one-half to be subscribed by the Government if desired, the other half by the citizens at large; to pay the Government as a bonus an annual tax of one per cent. on the capital; also, such tax on the actual capital employed by any branch in any State, as such State shall impose on its other banking institutions, not exceeding one per cent.; directors to be appointed by the Government in proportion to the amount of its stock; the charter to continue for twenty years. These are the prominent features in the proposed bank.]
In support of their application, the petitioners maintain that the capital of the present institution is chiefly in the hands of foreigners and a few wealthy American citizens, to the exclusion of other citizens from the enjoyment of the privilege. They maintain that the present bank charter might expire, and the concerns be closed, without material injury to the interests of the country, as the capital of that bank was but a small portion of the entire capital of the country vested in similar institutions. The State of New York alone had rising of twenty-four millions of vested capital, and the proposed institution might be made to take effect immediately upon the expiration of the present charter of the Bank of the United States.
Mr. Marcy observed that the present memorial was signed by a large number of the most wealthy and respectable citizens of the State of Massachusetts, and he moved that the memorial be printed for the use of the Senate.
Mr. Chambers could not see the propriety of the motion for having the memorial printed, together with the long list of names appended thereto, in which no member would feel any interest, except it might be the gentleman who presented them. It was contrary to the usage of the Senate on similar occasions, and would be adopting a principle which would inevitably lead to much inconvenience, and waste of time and money. He was not in favor of expending the public money for any such purpose, without a sufficient reason being given for the request. He hoped that the printing of the long list of signatures, at least, might be dispensed with.
Mr. Webster said that the memorial presented by the gentleman from New York, although from citizens of his own State, had never been communicated to him. He had no knowledge of the subject or the intention to make the communication until this morning, although he was a member of the same committee with the gentleman from New York who presented it. He thought the direction which the gentleman had proposed to give the memorial was proper. He had looked over the names of the subscribers to the paper, and he must say that there were some very respectable persons that had signed it, some names indeed that he had hardly expected to find affixed to so singular an argument. He thought that it might be well to refer it to a committee, and print it, either with or without the names.
Mr. HAYNE said the gentleman from Maryland was mistaken in supposing it was a new practice to print the names attached to memorials, if requested. He recollected it had frequently been done in similar cases, when it was thought proper and desirable to test the respectability of the names appended to the communication. He did not conceive that it was necessary generally to print long memorials with a great list of names, but in the present case he was in favor of it, because the effect might be important upon the decision of the subject, which would depend in a great measure upon the character and responsibility of the signers.
Mr. DALLAS was not in favor of the printing of the memorial. Its only effect he considered would be upon the treasury, by creating an unnecessary expense. Numerous memorials were coming in every day from various quarters, in favor of rechartering the bank, signed by thousands of highly respectable citizens, which were equally entitled to be printed with the present paper; and if the object would be, as was supposed, to affect the existing bank, it would be necessary to have the memorials in favor of the present institution printed also, to counter act any improper effect which might possibly be apprehended by some of its friends from the publication of the present document.
Mr. Silsbee thought that he had some right to complain of the gentleman from Maryland for opposing the printing of this memorial; this was the first and only one of the kind which had been presented by the people of Massachusetts, and was subscribed by some of her most respectable citizens. He hoped the Senate would consent to the printing of the memorial.
Much further conversation and explanatory remarks took place between Messrs. Marcy, Chambers, Hayne, Silsbee, and Clay, on the question of printing the names to the memorial; at the conclusion of which,
Mr. Webster asked leave to make one remark before the decision was made. A gentleman had taken exception to his remark, that he had not expected to find the names of some of the petitioners attached to so singular a paper. He did not wish to be misunderstood in the observation referred to. He meant to be understood that he was surprised that the names which he alluded to, should be found affixed to the arguments made use of in the memorial against the present bank not that they were signed to a petition for a charter.
Finally, at the request of several friends, Mr. Chambers withdrew his opposition to the printing; and the memorial with the names was ordered to be printed.
Bank of the United States.
Mr. Wilkins presented certain resolutions of the president and directors of the Bank of Pittsburg, in favor of the Bank of the United States, and urging a renewal of its charter.
Mr. Wilkins observed that the resolutions, while they bore testimony to the liberality of a State bank, also afforded evidence of the utility of the Bank of the United states, in establishing a sound currency, and exercising a salutary control over the State banks, always accommodating specie-paying banks, and restraining the issue of a spurious or unsound currency. He moved that they be printed, and referred to the special committee on the memorial of the United States' bank; which was agreed to.
Mr. Dallas moved that the report received yesterday from the Secretary of the Treasury, in reply to Mr. Benton's resolution, making inquiries in relation to the currency of the Bank of the United States, be printed, and referred to the select committee on that subject.
Mr. Benton said his statement of the amount of this species of currency in circulation, was mere matter of opinion when he spoke upon the subject two weeks ago. The bank, in none of its reports or publications, had ever discriminated between the notes and the orders; and, judging from the universality of the orders in the West, he had formed an opinion that they must amount to about ten millions. Senators, who supposed him to say thirty or forty millions, must have taken an expression which related to the whole amount of the bank issues, notes and orders, which are returned at forty millions. To settle the question, however, and to ascertain the quantity of orders out, he had submitted a call upon the Secretary of the Treasury, and, if he had not the information, through him upon the president of the bank, to ascertain the amount. That call had been answered. It was received yesterday, and gives rise to the present motions for references to different committees. From that answer we see that the practice of issuing orders as currency began in July, 1827; and that about seven millions had been issued since that time. Of this seven millions, about five millions are believed to be in actual circulation; which, in fact, was less than he had expected. But the cause of his miscalculation was shown in the President's answer.
He [Mr. Benton] had supposed that all the branches issued this description of currency; but, in looking over the statement sent in, he found that the more remote and frontier branches alone were set at this work; while the great branches in the capitals and emporiums of the old States, and in this capital of the Union, did no such thing. The Southern and Western branches made these issues, and a few others of the smaller class; but the branches in Richmond, Baltimore, New York, Boston, and this city, issued none. Why this difference ? Is it that the intelligence of the great cities would detect the difference between a note and an order, while the inhabitants of the South and West, and other remote or obscure places, would take the orders without knowing the difference, like unfledged robins swallow the gravels which wanton boys throw them in place of crumbs of bread ?
The amount of gold and silver coin and bullion sent up to the parent bank by the branches, since they began to issue orders, and by such branches as issue orders, had also been shown in the answer to his call. He, [Mr. Benton] when he spoke a fortnight ago, endeavored to explain the theory of these orders, and to show that it was directly the reverse of a currency of branch bank notes. In the case of notes, the parent bank furnished the capital to the branch; in the case of orders, the branch furnished the capital to the parent bank. This he had argued was the theory of the order currency, and it was now proved to be the practice of it. The Senate would bear in mind that the branches, chiefly those of the South and West, had issued seven millions of these orders since July, 1827. Now, it appeared from the report to which he had alluded, that these branches had remitted about eight millions of gold and silver coin and bullion to the parent bank in the same time. Thus the theory and the practice worked together. The theory was, that the branches which drew the orders on the cashier, in Philadelphia, should send up the hard money there to meet the orders, and this it was proved they had done; thereby depriving the branches of capital, instead of furnishing it to them.
If notes were issued, and that was the plan and idea of those who granted the charter, the parent bank would have to send down a portion of her capital real capital, not a mere assignment of credit to the branch to issue notes upon. These notes would be payable, on the spot, and on demand; and, if not so paid, judgment would be given against the bank, with twelve per cent. damages. Not so of these orders; they were payable alone, even admitting that they were payable any where, in Philadelphia; and upon that principle it was that the specie was taken from the branch, and sent to Philadelphia to meet them. The quantity of this specie, thus transmitted, was spoken of as small by the Senator from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Dallas]. He spoke of it as a small sum; he, [Mr. Benton] on the contrary, deemed it a large sum. It was eight millions of dollars, and that extracted from the West; for the whole, except about half a million, came from the West, and from half a dozen branches, and that in the short space of five years. What had been extracted from the same quarter in the fifteen years that the Bank of the United States had been ravaging that region, he did not yet know, but a resolution had been adopted, and sent to the select committee, of which the gentleman was chairman, to ascertain it; and, when ascertained, he would take care to mention it for the information of the Western people.
It was said, also, that five millions of this whole sum was taken from New Orleans. That, sir, is no alleviation of the mischief. New Orleans is the West, and the whole West is injured by every operation which renders her less able to buy their produce. If these five millions had remained in that city, they could have been paid to Western farmers for Western produce; but, being carried to Philadelphia, they have been sold to the British and other Europeans, and will never be seen in America again. The bank-statements show that five millions and a half of specie had been drawn from the bank in about as many months. The vaults of the institution contained twelve and a half millions in May, and seven millions in December; and everybody knew a vast amount of specie had been exported to foreign countries, and sold at a premium. It was evident that five and a half millions, taken from the Bank of the United States, was not employed in taking up the notes of the bank; for the issue of these was augmented millions in the same time.*
Specie. Notes issued.
May, 1831, .... 12,529,381.13 ..... 34,875,731.76
December, 1831, ..... 7,038,823.12 ..... 40,621,211.18
Specie diminishing notes augmenting the candle lit at both ends was the spectacle exhibited in the bank for the last six months ! But the five millions from New Orleans, in five years, and which is considered as a trifle ! In what condition did that abduction leave the branch there ? The returns for last December show that condition. They show an exhibit of five hundred and ten thousand dollars in specie; about eight millions of notes issued; about one million of deposites due to the United States and her officers; and about one million and a quarter of deposites due to individuals; in all, ten millions, resting upon half a million of specie for payment !
This is the condition in which the branch bank in the commercial emporium of the West was left in December last ! What could such a branch do for the commerce of the West ? Nothing ! literally nothing ! The branch there was an engine, to pump the hard money out of the city, and send it to a rival city. No wonder New Orleans was called a bad market; no wonder she could only import seven millions of foreign goods, while exporting thirteen millions of domestic productions. Her whole moneyed system was under foreign domination under the control of distant and rival cities, which were seeking roads and canals across the Alleghany mountains for the avowed purpose of drawing off her commerce; and which, through the instrumentality of the branch bank in that city, could still more effectually accomplish their purpose of keeping her tributary, secondary, and subordinate to the commercial cities of the Atlantic States.
The whole West sympathized with New Orleans; she could not be crippled or hurt, without imparting her sensations to the whole region above at the same time. The interest of the whole West required New Orleans to be rich; to be abundant in gold and silver; to be the mistress of her own moneyed system; above all, to be independent of rival cities cities contending for the import trade which belonged to her.
Of the eight millions taken from the West, in so short a time, he [Mr. Benton] had noted about three hundred thousand dollars, all gold and silver taken from St. Louis ! that St. Louis to which not a cent of capital had ever been sent ! not even an assignment of credit, equivalent to so much moonshine, but to be given in the return as capital stock ! These three hundred thousand dollars were part of the eight millions; and, small as these eight millions may now be deemed, they are one million more than the whole amount of specie now in the vaults of the parent bank and her twenty-five branches ! So that the West actually furnished in five years the whole amount of specie that the Bank of the United States owns, and a million more ! No wonder the West is destitute of cash !
Mr. Benton had heard complaints that a difference was made between the Federal Government and the citizens of the States in the reception of these orders, and that this difference was to the prejudice of the weaker party; and the letter of the president of the bank confirmed what he had heard. It is admitted in that letter that the difference exists in the ten and twenty dollar orders; that while the orders of these denominations will be "necessarily" received as cash, at all the branches, from the Government, they are not "necessarily" so received from citizens; and this, he [Mr. Benton] presumed, might be called the first lesson in the chapter of "sound and uniform currency."
Mr. Benton then turned to the immediate question before the Senate the question of reference the choice of committees to whom the report on the amount of this order currency should be sent. The Senator from Pennsylvania [Mr. Dallas] moved in favor of the select committee to which had been committed the consideration of the application for the renewed charter. He [Mr. Benton] had moved in favor of the Judiciary Committee, and he thought his motion the right one. The question to be considered was unconnected with the question of renewing the charter, it was a question of violating the existing charter. Rechartered or not rechartered, still this question must be decided. The rights and interests of the community required it to be decided; the sanctity of violated law required it to be decided; the authority of Congress required it to be decided; the safety of the holders of the orders required it to be decided; and that, too, before the question of the recharter was decided, for after that, it may be too late for the people; after that, they will have no hold upon the bank; they will have no means to enforce the payment of this trash.
At present, they have a hold upon the bank; they have the question of the recharter in their hands, and, until that is decided, the bank must pay these notes whenever presented, without venturing or daring to tell any man to go to Philadelphia. After that question is over and no matter which way it is over the branches may tell the holders to go to Philadelphia; the orders are payable there ! Yes, payable there, if payable any where! but, I say they are payable nowhere, by law ! That every order that has been out a longer time than it requires for a draft or a bill of exchange to go up to Philadelphia, and return back to the branch that issued it, is dead in law as dead as the continental bills of the revolutionary war, and as irrecoverable in a court of law !
Shall seven millions of such currency, with as much more as the bank chooses to add to it, stand over for redemption until the question of the recharter is decided ? No, sir, it is a preliminary question, and to be decided first. It is an independent question, and, therefore, not to be mixed with the other.
The Senator from Pennsylvania [Mr. Dallas] gives as a reason for sending it to the select committee on the bank charter, that that committee may insert a restriction, in the renewed charter, to restrain the issue of this sort of currency in future. But what is to become of the old charter in the mean time ? To be violated with impunity from day to day, and over the whole extent of this Union for four years longer ! Is not five years' violation enough ? This illegal practice began in 1827; now, for the first time, it has attracted the attention of the National Legislature. Are we to blink the question ? Are we to let it off easy ? Are we to content ourselves with telling the bank not to do so again; and that she may go on for four years longer, trampling her whole charter under foot, upon condition of suffering us to put a little restriction in the renewed charter against doing so again ?
Sir, what will become of that new restriction ? What right have we to suppose that it will be more respected than the present charter has been ? No, Mr. President, no more restrictions, until we enforce what we have; no more renewed charters, until we can compel the bank to obey the one that we have given her. If we cannot compel her if we are too weak and impotent to restrain her to the exercise of her granted powers why, let us confess it ! Let us admit that Congress has given itself a master! that the bank is our superior! and that, henceforth, we must blink her violations of law, and limit our interference to the humble office of expostulation and entreaty !
The Judiciary Committee is the proper one. It is the committee created for the purpose of taking cognizance of every thing that concerns the administration of justice, and the interpretation of the laws. Its very name announces its fitness for the motion I have made. That motion is to inquire into the legality of this currency, and to report its character to the Senate. This is a question of law, and properly refers itself to the law committee to the committee purposely composed of gentlemen distinguished as lawyers and judges before they became Senators, and to whom every legal inquiry has, heretofore, been regularly committed.
Mr. Benton concluded with expressing his hopes that the reference would be made to the Committee on the Judiciary, and that the friends of the bank would not fly the legal investigation.
Mr. Dallas said that he did not precisely understand whether the gentleman from Missouri intended his present resolution as a substitute for the one he had presented, on a former day, in relation to the same object. [Mr. Benton said yes, with the exception of printing.] Mr. Dallas said the question was one of great interest, and moved that the report be printed, and referred to the select committee on the subject of the bank. He wished to state one important fact, viz. that the whole amount of these orders did not exceed five millions of dollars. He stated this, because it had been asserted by the gentleman, on a former occasion, that the amount was thirty or forty millions. Another allegation was, that the effect of these orders was to drain the specie from the Western and Southwestern portions of the Union. Mr. Dallas said, it appeared, from the statements of the bank, that, during the period of five years, the aggregate amount of specie from New Orleans did not exceed five millions, and but eight millions from the whole Western country. He thought it incumbent upon him to communicate these facts to the Senate, to prevent any misconception in consequence of the assertions which had been made.
In relation to the question of referring the subject to the Committee on the Judiciary, Mr. Dallas said that the question as to the legality of the bank drafts had been decided by the judicial tribunals of the country, and the reference to the Committee on the Judiciary seemed to involve a question which had already been decided. It seemed to him that the subject should be referred to the committee that had the question of the rechartering of the bank in their charge, with the design that they might inquire into the subject, and, if they found it improper or injurious, to forbid the practice in the future charter, if the bank should be rechartered. In this light, he thought the subject belonged peculiarly to the select committee on the Bank of the United States, as the legal question had been already judicially decided, and that, therefore, there was no propriety in the reference to the Judicial Committee.
Mr. Smith made some remarks, which were indistinctly heard. He was understood to say that, in relation to the bank's drawing specie from the West, that such was not the effect there, more than in other portions of the Union, which effect had been caused by the dreadful pressure of trade over the whole country; and that the specie did not go to the Bank of the United States, but to England. The specie drawn from Baltimore was as great as that which had been drawn from the Western States, or anywhere else. When the Bank is called on, said Mr. Smith, it cannot deny the payment of the specie for these orders. How else can the bank manage them as they now do ? Must they go to all the branch banks for aid, on every occasion ? Without this currency, they cannot avoid it. It is, therefore, a necessary practice to obviate the difficulties which would otherwise be insurmountable.
Mr. Benton rose to say a word in answer to the venerable Senator from Maryland, [Mr. Smith]. That Senator was not present when this discussion began, and had not heard the papers read, upon which it was founded. These papers showed that the branches in question had been sending up hard money to the parent bank, for years before the exportation of specie began. The remittances from the South and West dated from 1827 the exportation had only begun in June last. It was not a call, in distress, which the bank had made, but a systematic abduction, which had been going on for years. Every Southern and Western branch was drained of its specie by this process. The disproportion between the specie on hand, and the paper put out by these branches, was excessive, enormous, and appalling. At Pittsburg, forty to one; at Lexington, twenty to one; at Nashville, twenty to one; at New Orleans, sixteen to one; at Fayetteville, North Carolina, about seventy to one. Such were the returns of last December. It was the abduction of the precious metals which had reduced the Southern and Western branches to this lean and famished condition, of which he complained. It was of the currency, illegal and dangerous, for which there was no adequate means of redemption, that he was now demanding investigations, and beseeching the friends of the Bank of the United States not to fly it.
Mr. Buckner objected to the course which this subject was taking. He did not think that this premature discussion was proper. He hoped it would not continue.
The Chair decided that it was not in order to discuss the question.
Mr. Dallas [George Mifflin Dallas (1792-1864)] said that he would call the attention of the Senate to some of the remarks which had fallen from the gentleman from Missouri. He was desirous to correct certain errors which that gentleman had, no doubt unintentionally, fallen into in relation to the United States' Bank, in his remarks of this morning. He has stated that the effect of the paper currency is to distress the South western and Western States, and that they were the sections exclusively where the orders were sent; that it was the borders and unenlightened parts of society that were chosen, &c. I have only to remark that the towns of Providence, Burlington, Utica, Buffalo, Pittsburg, and others, where an equal or greater amount is sent, are not in the unenlightened condition which the gentleman supposes, nor in the Southwestern, or quite in the Western extremities of this Union.
Mr. Dallas read a statement of the amount sent to each of the branches in these and other places, showing that, instead of the currency being confined to the West, it was circulating in every portion of the country; and that, by recurring to the statement of the bank, they would find that the Ancient Dominion was not excepted. To Norfolk there were also bank orders I sent; that they had, therefore, been diffused throughout the various sections of the Union, and to the various branch banks in the Eastern and Middle and Southern, as well as to the Western States. I will refer, said Mr. Dallas, to another mistake which the gentleman has fallen into. He says that the West is drained of its gold and silver. Now, by the statement of the bank, it seems that, of all the specie that is drawn from the West, there are five millions drawn from New Orleans alone, and all that is drawn from the whole Western country is but eight millions which leaves only three millions from that entire portion of the Union, exclusive of New Orleans, which city I presume the gentleman would not accuse of being unenlightened, and which is peculiarly well situated to be the channel of specie. There were, then, but three millions drawn from those parts of the West which could be called frontier settlements. They had thus contributed almost nothing comparatively nothing when the whole amount paid to the bank by other portions of the country was considered. Mr. Dallas felt it his duty to express these sentiments to the Senate, that they might know the true state of the case, and the reasons why he had moved to refer the report to the select committee on the bank subject.---[Mr. Dallas, of course, finds it acceptable and honest banking practice to issue ir-redeemable bank-notes and circulate them as currency; he owns shares of the Bank]
Mr. Johnston said that he did not suppose that the question should be discussed at this time by the Senate, but that it should be left to the select committee; and, if any question for which the present discussion would be proper, it would be on the rechartering of the bank; to which point there would be a more suitable application of the arguments of the gentleman from Missouri. Sir, I listened to the gentleman with astonishment the other day, and was surprised at his excitement upon this subject. I think he must certainly be somewhat prejudiced, or that he does not comprehend the interests of the Western people with regard to this subject. Sir, what great evils have been experienced from the circulation of these orders in the West since they were first issued ? They were issued because it was difficult to carry on the concerns of the institution without them. It was said the bank had failed, because the managers had said that it was impossible to pay the bills in every portion of the Union, whenever they might be presented, and specie demanded. But, sir, the Bank of the United States had equally the liberty of exchange with the other banks, and an equal currency, with more gold and silver; yet this could not be expected if the branch banks could not give checks on one another, and on the parent institution. Does not the very idea of a branch bank include this privilege ? Would it be violating its charter to exert it ? And does not the parent bank now exchange with them these orders as well as smaller sums of money for the benefit and convenience of the public ?
Sir, the banks not only pay these small bills, but give checks on one another, and in this way the exchange is maintained. And the banks cannot be conducted or the people accommodated in any other way. Mr. Johnston said he did not wish to engage the attention of the Senate himself, or interrupt the debate on other subjects. But when he saw this question introduced in this peculiar manner, by submitting resolutions calling for information, and then, before it was obtained, to proceed with a premature discussion, calculated to mislead the public inflame their minds and excite their prejudices against the bank he felt it his duty to explain the object of these orders, and show that they were not fraught with mischief, and followed by distress and ruin, as the gentleman had attempted to induce us to believe.
The gentleman has said that there were to the amount of forty millions of these orders in circulation; and that the whole West was drained of its gold and silver. Why, sir, I know that this is not the case. I was myself at New Orleans last season, and I know that for the five millions sent to the parent bank, there were nine millions returned from the markets of our produce to replace it; and, so far from there being a deficiency of gold and silver, the general anxiety was to know what to do with it. Does not the gentleman know that the rich countries of Mexico and the other gold and silver regions are directly open to our trade ? That our produce is sent out there, and our ships come home loaded with specie ? This is the general course and effect of that trade; and when the specie is brought into New Orleans, the great question is how to dispose of it. This the Bank of the United States performs for us by transporting it at their own expense. Sir, when the question comes up in order before the Senate, I hope to be able to satisfy you that the Western people are benefited, instead of being injured, by this currency; and that the circulation of the specie could not be effected without the aid of this arrangement.
The motion of Mr. Benton was then laid on the table.
During the debate of the re-newal of the charter, Senator Benton submitted several amendments to the bill, everyone of which was voted down.
"That so much of the original charter as restricts any future Congress from granting charters of incorporation to other banking companies, and grants an exclusive privilege to the stockholders in the Bank of the United States, shall be, and the same hereby is, repealed from and after the third day of March, in the year 1836."
"That, from and after the 1st day of April, 1836, no member of Congress, or officer of the Federal Government, or alien, shall hold any stock in said bank."
"That the stockholders in said corporation shall be liable in their individual and private capacities to the amount of their stock, if the said corporation should, at any time, fail or refuse to pay its notes, bills, bonds, obligations, drafts, or other securities, in gold or silver coin; and the holders thereof may sue said stockholders before any tribunal having jurisdiction thereof."
"That the said corporation shall not issue any currency which shall not be payable, on demand, at the branch bank where first issued, and subject to the penalties for non-payment, or delay of payment, mentioned in the 17th section of the charter."
Mr. Buckner, of Missouri, said: I do not precisely know what at this moment is the proper subject of discussion, whether it is the bank, or alum salt; but I suppose, as all have been glanced at by others, I may do so too; but my object in rising was more particularly to answer some remarks which fell from my honorable colleague on the subject of the bank. As for the book and alum salt, at present I will pass them over.
Sir, it was said by my colleague, [Mr. Benton,] that the bank was insolvent, that she was not able to pay her deposites, much less is she able to pay her bills, &c. Sir, such a charge as this, coming from a Senator in his place, is serious; and, if the statement be relied on, is calculated to do much good or harm, and ought never to be made upon slight authority, or carelessly. If the bank is insolvent, the people ought to know it, that they may save themselves from injury by it; if not, such attempts as this to disparage the currency, and injure the bank and the people by sinking the paper in their hands, are unwarrantable. Fair and manly opposition to any measure is justifiable, but on no account ought we ever to go beyond this.
Sir, what is the authority of that Senator for this remark ? Mere hypothesis; and, if in that he is as much mistaken as in many other of his statements, there can be but little cause for alarm. Sir, on a former occasion, speaking of the importation of alum salt, he told us thirteen millions of bushels were imported into the United States by way of New Orleans. Now, sir, it so happens that this is about the whole amount imported into the whole of the United States. Does it all come to New Orleans ? And in his speech last summer, at St. Louis, on the subject of the bank checks, he boldly told the people that sixteen millions of dollars of that currency was in circulation, all of which was void, and not payable, &c. And a few days since, in his place, he told us that about thirty millions were in circulation, as if sixteen millions could not alarm the people, thirty should. And, sir, what does the report on our tables prove ? Why, sir, that a little more than five millions of dollars are in circulation of that paper. Now, I repeat, if he is as much mistaken in his supposition about the solvency of the bank, as he is generally in other things, when he says she is insolvent, the certainty is that she must be in a very flourishing condition, and perfectly solvent.
He told us, in one of his several speeches on this subject, that the West was injured by the bank --that it drained the country of specie-- that last June $300,000 had been taken from St. Louis by the mother bank. Now he tells us not a dollar was ever put in that bank, thereby insinuating that said bank cannot pay her debts, and that her notes are not valuable. Which of these inconsistent statements are we to take ? The gentleman has certainly become confused with much thought on this irritating subject.
Sir, there are some subjects upon which some people are more sensitive than others. If the Senator is so much mistaken in plain matters of fact and law on this question, is it not fair to suppose him as much so in all his theory and prophecy on the same subject ? Does it not show that his view of the whole subject cannot be greatly relied on ? Sir, in truth, I have no doubt but that his whole view of this subject is a miscalculation, and, to me, is a bundle of confusion and error. In his speech last session on this floor, he said the Union, like France, should come to a hard money currency, but that he would vote for the substitute for this bank, as recommended by the President. Is there any similitude between hard money and that substitute ? He now tells us the States ought to have this subject --they should have banks, sir, and thus comes out the secret at last; he wants State banks.
Sir, I had thought that gentleman had enough of State banks --at least I am sure our State [Missouri] has entirely, enough of that. Experience, it is said, is the mother of wisdom; and will that gentleman profit nothing by experience ? He complains that this bank broke down the State banks, and thus oppresses the States. Not so is the fact, as I understand things; the bad management of those rotten establishments broke themselves down. What broke the State banks of Missouri, the St. Louis bank, and the bank of Missouri ? That Senator is better informed on that subject than myself, and, if he chooses, can tell a tale to this Senate that will satisfy them on that subject. If the State banks are injured by this bank, tell me, sir, why is it that most of the solvent State banks are petitioning this body for a renewal of the charter ? And why is it that those rotten establishments, and the friends of them, and such as perhaps best know the operations of them, are now found opposed to the Bank of the United States ?
Sir, will he come down plainly and tell us what he wants ? One moment he is for a hard money currency, the next, is willing to vote for the substitute recommended by the President; then he urges the claim of the States to have banks; yet he is against all banks; says they are dangerous to liberty, create lords, and sustain noble foreigners. Sir, could not, and would not those very foreigners have a right to put their funds in State banks? and would not many of them put their funds in the State banks of New York if the United States' Bank is not rechartered ? Is there, sir, any coincidence and fitness in this view of his plan, which ought to recommend his course to the people ? On the contrary, is there not perfect dissimilitude and confusion in his whole view of this subject ?
In one Speech he tells us it is dangerous to have a great moneyed monopoly in the country; that it will influence elections, and sap the freedom of the people; and in another he tells us the bank is insolvent. Sir, how can an insolvent bank be a moneyed monopoly; control the elections, and sap the freedom of the people ? And, if it is a moneyed monopoly, it cannot be insolvent. Have not the Senator's remarks this incongruity ? Will the people not see this matter in its true light ? Can they be humbugged --can any one think so lightly of the people as to believe them capable of swallowing such a complication of jargon ? Sir, any man who believes the American people can be induced by the influence of the bank, or any other means, to betray their liberty, makes a bad calculation on the disposition and noble nature of his countrymen. Tell me, sir, where an election has been carried by the influence of the bank; where the American people have sacrificed their freedom and independence from a love of gold or servility to wealth. Will a man, representing a Western State, say it happened in his State ? If it is intended to apply that insinuation to Missouri, I repel it, sir, with that indignation I know the noble nature of my fellow-citizens would do were they personally present. Who, in Missouri, can be found that will admit that he voted to please the bank, or that ever will do so ?
Permit me, Mr. President, here to take a short view of the honorable Senator's hard money notions, and his State bank system. First, of the hard money plan. Will it not be seen by the most humble-minded man in the nation, who has any knowledge of the policy of this people, that such a scheme will not do, either as it relates to the general interest of the nation, and especially the Western and South-western interest ? I mean the new States in the latter remark. What would be the condition of this republic without commerce ? It is commerce that enables the agriculturist to convert his produce into money; and it into real estate. What would be the condition of the farmer, if, after he had labored and amassed a large quantity of produce, he had no market for it ? Sir, it would rot on his hands, and his incentive to industry, improvement, and enterprise of every sort would be lost; and idleness, neglect of his farm, and degeneracy of every kind would follow throughout the whole of this now prosperous and happy land; and no part would feel this calamity more deeply than the West; and, in a pre-eminent degree, the State I in part have the honor to represent, (Missouri,) and whose rights and interests I here defend, and ever I will defend, whilst honored with her confidence; and when that shall be lost, I will retire, and sorrow over the misguided and ruinous policy of my country.
Sir; the whole of this plan of opposition to the bank will, if adopted, injure materially the State of Missouri --it will retard emigration; it will ruin her commerce, her trade of all kinds; but more especially the fur trade, and the mineral trade, the sources of so much prosperity to us. How, if this bank is stopped, will the Eastern capitalists transmit specie across the mountains to be used in this trade ? Sir, a hard money currency will not suit this trade. And will the people of that State be willing to sacrifice a trade that yields them so much profit now ? Though the bank capitalists in Philadelphia and New York, and other cities, can transmit, and do transmit, large sums to be applied in that trade; to the great profit of the country, are the people willing to see their lead mines and iron mines; for which now they find a market for their produce, and where they can be employed as laborers, or hire their slaves for a fair price in cash? --are they willing now to see this trade lost, and lose all the benefits we now enjoy from it ?
But the Senator Speaks of State banks. Sir, I will turn now to that proposition; experience will teach us something in this matter. We once had State banks in the Western country, and who that recollects that period of our affairs, that wishes it again ? How many honest men were swindled out of their property by those institutions ? How great was the difference in the value of the paper of those State banks ? How often did the people of Missouri, who moved from the Southern and Middle States, and especially Kentucky and the two Carolinas, have to sell the bank paper they brought with them at a large discount ? Will not these things happen again by the establishment of State banks ? Great inequality in the value of their paper will prevail; and as all Southern money must always be lowest in Missouri, every one who emigrates from the South will be compelled to pass his paper at a discount for every thing he buys after he comes to Missouri. Will not this be a great disadvantage to the emigration to our State ? Eastern funds will always be highest in our market, because our merchants will want it to take to the East. But, sir, above all, there is another strong reason why we ought not to have State banks, and that is, that by so doing you throw the whole commerce of this nation into the power and control of a single city, (New York,) to the injury of every other in the nation. What city will be able to cope with New York or Albany ?
Sir, this bank has equalized, as near as can be, the whole currency of the country; it is a sound and valuable currency, receivable every where; even out of the limits of the United States, at par. And why shall we speculate on imaginary evils, or be frightened at the many hobgoblins and horrible pictures of anti-republicanism which too much ingenuity can invent ? Has any of the many imagined injuries yet happened ? Why, then, when the country is prospering, and the people content, shall we alarm them with imaginary evil; that may, yes, sir, that never will happen ? Are the people of the West prepared to see steamboat navigation through their countries destroyed, which to them is a source of wealth and convenience ? Without funds no branch of business can flourish.
Yet, sir, there is another reason why this bank ought not now to be stopped, as far as Western interests are consulted, which is this, that now it affords us the means with which to improve our condition; the people are greatly supplied by the bank, and a great sum is due to the bank. Now, sir, if, instead of being supplied with twenty millions of dollars, we have this suddenly withdrawn, and, besides, are called on to pay this amount to the bank, which we owe her, how great will be the reverse of our condition then from the present ? What will the people say, sir, then ? The man who now believes this opposition to be the high road to fame and popularity, will find it to be a millstone that will grind him to powder. The people will ask, who has done the mischief ?
Sir, how can the bank exercise an influence over the people ? Such a thing is impossible. The strength of the Republic, and the purity of its principles, abide with the farmers, with the agriculturists. And, sir, what have we to do with your bank ? If all the farmers would follow my example, (and I presume many do,) the bank would never have an influence over them. I never borrowed a dollar out of any bank in all my life; I have no stock in one; and yet, sir, I am benefitted by this bank; and so are we all in the Western country. No farmer who knows how to manage his own affairs will ever go to the bank to borrow money; but, sir, it is the trader who goes there, he gets the money on his responsibility, and he gives it to the farmer and to the laborer for their labor and produce. Thus we get the money for our produce, and at a fair price, too, whilst another stands between us and the bank. How, then, can that bank influence the farmer, who owes it nothing ? But, sir, if the trader had not the money to give, he could not purchase the produce of the farmer; and, by destroying the bank, you take the means from the trader, and lessen, of course, the value of the produce of the farmer. This is as clear as that two and two make four; and the farmer understands it too.
In speaking the other day, the Senator said, in reference to these bank checks, that they had been sent among the ignorant. They had been sent to the West, the Old Dominion, the seat of intelligence, where sharp lawyers were supposed to reside, had been spared this issue. Sir, take no exception to the compliment paid to the good Old Dominion. I love her with as much reverence as does that gentleman. But, sir, on this remark he has committed two great errors: First. He will find, after a little a reflection, that a great quantity of this currency has been sent to the Old Dominion, and, sir, unless the sending him and myself here to represent a Western State is taken as a specimen of ignorance, I cannot think as much ignorance prevails in the West as he contemplates. There are some sharp lawyers, too, in Missouri, who are not Senators though. Yes, sir, there is one from whom it would be no disparagement to the honorable Senator himself to say, I had hoped, by the able argument that gentleman set before the country on this very subject, the Senator himself might have learned much. I allude to the speech of H.S. Geyer on the bank checks, in reply to a legal opinion given to the people of Missouri by my colleague last fall at St. Louis. I invite public attention to this argument of Mr. Geyer, and aver it to be a perfect refutation of all the honorable Senator's views on that subject.
Sir, the honorable Senator has decried these checks and the bank. I propose to take a little notice of his argument on that branch of the subject; and, first, I will here remark that I did hope, after the resolution which that Senator offered at the commencement of the session had been disposed of, that the consideration of this question would not again be pressed, and that we should have been spared the labor of investigating the legality of the currency, so much complained of by my honorable friend. But, sir, it seems in that I was mistaken; and, from the manner and frequency with which he presses the subject, I feel called on to justify the reason of my opposition to his course, and at once to meet the question.
Sir, it is always a source of regret to me when compelled to differ with my friends, and especially one with whom I am associated in the discharge of a high political trust. But, sir, painful as may be the task, when my judgment points out the way, I shall freely follow its dictates; and if I fail, yet will I find solace and comfort in the conscious rectitude of my course, and a heart singly devoted to the cause of my country. I have no bank stock; I never borrow from the bank; in short, I am nowise interested or connected with the institution; nor was I ever, at any time of my whole life, with any bank. I have an interest only in common with all my fellow-citizens in the many great advantages and blessings which the genial influence of this institution has spread abroad throughout the land. In the discussion of this subject, I am influenced by no other feeling than a sense of duty to my country, and that duty I shall attempt fully to discharge.
I hold that the Bank of the United States is essential to the well-being of the people of the United States; and pre-eminently so to those in the Western States, and in an especial manner to the people of Missouri; and that whosoever opposes this institution, opposes the interests and wishes of that State.
Sir, my honorable colleague and myself have the same object in view --the promotion of our common country's good. But we differ materially as to the mode of effecting that great, that noble object. I have no doubt that we are alike impelled by the same noble impulse of patriotism, and shall, therefore, treat this matter as an honest difference of political opinion; but, sir, as from the opposite position we occupy, we cannot both be right, and as I most conscientiously believe I am right, and that be is wrong, I feel it to be my duty freely and fearlessly to press my views. Then, sir, let us examine the subject; let us reason together, and prove the truth. He assumes the ground that the bank is a devouring monster; a scourge and curse to the country. I hold a different doctrine. He assumes the ground that the checks drawn by the president of the branches of the Bank of the United States on the cashier of the parent bank are illegal and void; and that no one is bound to pay them, unless the drawer and endorser is, and they only, after presentation at Philadelphia, and returned with notice of protest for non-acceptance and non-payment. I hold the contrary to be the truth of things. Now how does all this matter stand. Let us examine--
1st. The nature of these checks.
2d. The right the bank has to issue them.
3d. The good, or ill effects of the bank on the country.
Much pains has been taken by the gentleman to name this paper security, and to ascertain the place of payment; but he has not been able to satisfy himself on either point, but concludes it is to be treated under the law as bills of exchange, and that these checks may be sued on at Philadelphia.
As names are arbitrary and immaterial, to gratify the gentleman, I will, for the sake of argument, call them bills of exchange at the present; and, as they may be sued on at Philadelphia, it may be fairly assumed that they are payable there, or at any branch of the Bank of the United States, as payment by the branch is payment by the principal bank. It cannot be a matter of any interest to the holder of the check how the bank settles her own affairs; if the individual presenting the check gets the money on it, he ought to be satisfied; yes, sir, and he will be satisfied.
It is altogether immaterial to the inquiry into the validity and negotiability of these checks, whether they are called bills of exchange, checks, orders, or drafts. It is all the same in substance; and that the people understand better, and regard more, than any parade about empty, unmeaning form.
Now, sir, let as look at the substance of this question, and see what it is. And, meeting the gentleman on his own ground, on the hypothesis that they are bills of exchange, or subject to the law which acts on bills of exchange, will he then show how they are illegal and void ? He has not yet been able to do so. What is a bill of exchange ? It is defined to be an open letter of request from one person to another, to pay a third person a sum of money therein mentioned, generally payable to order, but may be made payable to bearer. A draft or order is, in substance and effect, the same thing. A check is an order or draft on a bank, in form much the same as a bill of exchange, and may be sued on as such.
In England, the essential difference between a bill of exchange and a check is created by the statute imposing a stamp duty on the former. In this country, their form and effect is ascertained by the common law.
Oders, checks, drafts, and bills of exchange, are all of them requests to pay money; all substantially in effect the same. All import a consideration, and equally negotiable, and have the same legal privileges. The Senator himself, whenever his argument touches these checks, treats them as bills of exchange, yet says they are not such; that they are void and illegal. How strangely, inconsistent are his assumptions. If in all respects, the law, in relation to bills of exchange, is to govern these checks; and if, in phraseology and substance, they are the same, why strive to prove that they are not bills of exchange, are unauthorized by the charter, and are void ? If, in truth, they are just such checks as all banks acknowledge proper to be drawn on them, either by their own officers or any private person, and the bank is in the daily habit of paying them, where is the novelty of this currency, which the Senator thinks he has discovered ? Where the propriety of all this alarm which he would spread far and wide over the whole country, from a supposed discovery of a supposed violation of law, on the part of the officers of the bank, with intent to swindle the people by circulating what they know not to be binding on the bank ?
Being satisfied that the law regarding bills of exchange governs this anonymous currency, as he has been pleased to call it, he applies what he calls tests of transfer and negotiability; and, sir, I confess they are such as I never understood, and such, I presume to say, he will not find in any approved legal authority of the present age. He insists that the drafts being payable to order, they cannot be transferable, but by special endorsement to order, and that every subsequent transfer must be by like endorsement. 2d. He further contends that they are payable to a fictitious payee, and therefore must be specially endorsed to order.
Mr. President, I must be permitted to express my surprise that, in this body, a Senator, professing a knowledge of the law of the land, should undertake to enlighten this body, and the nation, on a question so important to her interest, with no better recollection of the principles applicable to the subject, and that, too, in open and avowed opposition to a decision made by one of the judges of the Supreme Court of the United States. Sir, who has displayed the greatest legal knowledge on the subject of these orders, the judge who sustained them, or the honorable Senator who opposes them ? This question let the nation answer. Had the honorable Senator consulted approved treatises on bills of exchange, checks, and promissory notes, he would have found that most of his doctrines on the subject of the transfer of bills are at war with established legal principles. These principles are familiar to most who hear me, and the experience of many present will attest the correctness of what I state to be the well settled law of the land. A note, or bill, payable to order, may be endorsed to bearer, and thereby becomes negotiable by delivery, without the necessity of any further endorsement by subsequent holders, the same as if it had been made payable to bearer; nor would the fact that the name of payee is fictitious, (if such was true,) require a special endorsement. On the contrary, such a bill requires no endorsement at all, but is, in effect, payable to bearer, and may be declared on as such against all parties having such notice of fiction. But as the clerks of the bank, who are the payees and endorsers of these drafts or orders, are not fictitious, there can be no difficulty on this point.
It is admitted that these orders, or checks, are issued under the authority of a resolution of the board of directors of the Bank of the United States, to whom is committed the management of the affairs of that institution. It will not be denied, I presume, that the presidents and cashiers of the branches, by whom they are signed and countersigned, the payees and endorsers, and the cashier on whom they are drawn, are, all of them, the legally constituted agents and officers of the corporation. Nor is it contended that the bank cannot draw, endorse, and accept a bill of exchange, or draft, within the scope of their authority, and in their official character, for which they are not individually liable. Wherefore, then, all this onerous ceremony of presentation, protest, and notice -- of non-acceptance and non-payment, as described by the Senator, if, after all, those persons are not individually liable for their official acts ?
But although they are not individually liable for their official acts, the bank is; because it is the act of the bank, being done by the authority of the bank. For an authority to an agent to draw a bill on his principal is the act of the principal, and is, of itself, an acceptance, at the instant of creating the draft; and as the acceptance is irrevocable, without the consent of the holder, it follows that an accepted bill, draft, check, or order, is as obligatory as a promissory note, and, at common law, has higher privileges; for promissory notes were not negotiable, and did not import a consideration, until they were placed on a footing with bills of exchange by statute. These bills being drawn by one authorized agent or another of the bank, are nothing more nor less, than bills drawn, by the corporation on itself, in which they are drawer, endorser, and accepter, and are therefore as much bound to pay them as they are any promissory note or bank bill they ever issued --as much as would be an individual who would draw a bill on himself, and endorse it to bearer. Thus made negotiable, in such a case, would it not be superlatively ridiculous to require the holder to make presentation to the drawer, and, if not accepted or paid, protest the bill for non-payment or non-acceptance, and notify the party that he did not accept or pay his own note ? The maker of a note payable to the order of another, is bound to pay it to the endorser or holder, because, by making the note, it is an admission that he has effects of the payee in his hands, and authorizes him to draw his order on the note for the amount; and the endorsement by the payee is no more than such order.
This instrument, which before could not be assigned, or sued on, is placed, after endorsement, upon the footing of a bill of exchange. The endorser of a note is viewed as the drawer of a bill, of which the drawer of the note is accepter, by virtue of his previous promise to pay the amount when the order shall be made. The resolution of the board of directors, authorizing the emission of the bills in question, amounts, in law, to a promise to pay all such bills as their agents, the presidents of the branches, shall draw on their agent, the cashier of the parent bank; and their obligation to pay them is the same as if they had made and issued promissory notes, payable to the order of the presidents of the branches. A promissory note is special authority to the payee to avow for the amount specified. The resolution before alluded to is a general authority to draw a number of bills. This is all the difference in fact, and the legal effect is the same in both cases.
But it is said there is no promise, on the part of the bank, to pay these bills: nor was there ever a bill, draft, or order, in which any of the parties made an express promise to pay; and this the honorable Senator certainly knows; and this objection can have no other effect than to mislead the credulous and uninformed, and to do great mischief throughout the country --not, sir, to the bank, but to the holders of this paper, who have honestly earned it: and this I proclaim to my constituents, and admonish them to beware of the consequences of this absurdity.
Sir, the true doctrine is this: the drawer requires the drawee to pay to the payee, or order, a sum of money; the payee directs it to be paid to some other person, or to bearer generally, and the accepter writes on the instrument, "accepted." Now, in all this proceeding, there is not a word about promise. The law, though regarding the substance and not the form of things, declares that all those persons have made a promise, and shall be compelled to perform it.
Another objection is, that these bills being once taken up, or paid, cannot afterwards be re-issued so as to bind the bank. Very well: and is not this law alike applicable to the promissory notes with which the Senator seems so in love ? It is true, sir, that when a bill or note is paid off, it cannot afterwards be negotiated so as to bind any of the parties to it who do not assent to the reissue; but it is equally true that all concerned in putting such bill in circulation are bound by it. The principles of law are equally applicable to notes as to bills of exchange, here; but, in England, there are exceptions in favor of promissory notes, by statute, which regulate what notes shall be reissuable; so that if the argument is good against these bills, it is equally fatal to the reissue of the Senator's much preferred promissory notes. But, sir, all these obstacles only exist in the overstrained imagination of my honorable friend. The supposed obstacles to a reissue of bills and notes never have existed, to my knowledge, in reference to bank bills.
But if we were to apply to the bills wider consideration all the rules applicable to bills of exchange, with the most consummate strictness, still they would be re-issuable. The corporation, as has been shown, is the only party to them in their creation, and alone is concerned in their reissue; and, upon the principle referred to, is as much bound to pay them, as upon their first emission. The bank, in contemplation of law, has promised to pay those bills, both as drawer and accepter, and has put them into circulation, and is bound to pay them upon every principle of law, unless there exists a prohibition in the charter to issue them, and disqualifies the bank from making such contract. I say disqualifies, because one incompetent to contract cannot be bound by a supposed contract, or one attempted to be made. Disqualification renders the contract absolutely void; and is this, sir, the doctrine the honorable Senator wishes to establish? and if it were established, against whom would it militate ? Against the bank ? No sir; the bank has put oceans of this paper into circulation --has received great profit by it; and this paper is in the hands of the people-- and there, sir, would this doctrine sink it, to the utter ruin of hundreds of honest men. Or, suppose the doctrine erroneous, as I most conscientiously believe it to be, yet, sir, if by this course the currency is disparaged, the people will be the losers by it, and the bank will certainly gain. Men who have taken this paper at par will be obliged to sell it at a discount --and who, sir, will buy it up ? Why the bank, by her agents, will do it; and, sir, no part of this Union will share this loss equally with the Western country, where most of this kind of bills circulate. I call on members of this body to pause, and examine the subject. I invoke the people, my constituents, to examine for themselves, before they swallow the fatal drug.---[You just undercut your own argument; if the people can be seriously hurt by this paper, for which there is no coin or asset to redeem, all the more reason for not allowing the practice to continue; the reason for gradually recalling those checks before the bank abruptly collapses]
Sir, the Western people are prosperous, happy, and content. They want no change in the currency or revenue of the country. Take not from us the means of improving the internal condition of the country, and it is all we desire. This, sir, we need, and have a right to demand, and ought to receive; and this, sir, we never will surrender.
Mr. President, I have said thus much to show that, by the common law, or law merchant, the bank had a right to issue these bills, and are bound to pay them. How far I have succeeded, I leave for others to judge. I will now proceed to examine the prohibition said to exist in the charter; and, first, I will take occasion now to say that I do not admit that a corporation has no other power than that expressed in the act of incorporation. I maintain that a power necessarily incidental to what is given by the letter is as fully granted as if described by words, and is a part of the power specifically granted. This doctrine is fully established by the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in an action against the Bank of Columbia, on a contract made by a committee of directors for building a banking house. And the doctrine established by that decision has since been fully recognised, as the undoubted law of the land by the supreme court of New York, and in other States of this Union. So far, then, from the bank having no power but what is given by the letter of the charter, it has full power, by its authorized agents, to make all contracts within the legitimate scope of its banking duties, except such as are forbidden by the terms of its charter.
Now, let us see what are forbidden. We are informed by my colleague, that all the chartered powers are contained in the eleventh section of the act of incorporation, and that the institution has no other rights than chartered rights. Here, sir, I must state my entire dissent to this position. There is not a single right granted to the bank in any one of the seventeen articles contained in that section. They are all what they purport to be-- rules, restrictions, limitations, and provisions. Restrictions, limitations, &c. are -- what, sir ? Will the Senator say, the chartered privileges of the bank ? I presume not. But they are limitations, &c. on the original natural rights which all American citizens have to connect themselves together as a private banking company, and, as such, to do any thing, not against the law of the land; and, as such, they had a right to issue the bills in question, and to issue bills of any size, and for any amount. But the charter, among many other things, restricted the issue of notes to the minimum sum of five dollars, but did not restrict the issue of these checks. In short, the bank, by fair legal right, may do all things as bankers, which are not restricted by the charter. The ninth and twelfth articles have been examined, with great particularity, by the Senator, to prove that the power to issue these orders does not reside there. Here, he is manifestly wrong. He considers these as grants of power. They are not such. The ninth, instead of conferring power, is entirely a limitation of power, and restricts the natural and original rights of private citizens to deal, or trade, in any manner they may deem best. No one, in his right senses, who once understood legal principles, for a moment ever supposed that, under this clause, the bank derived its power to deal or trade in bills of exchange, gold and silver bullion, or merchandise. The clause was intended to restrain the exercise of the power to deal, which, in its absence, would have extended to other things, and other purposes, than those named. Does any one believe that to deal or trade in bills of exchange means to make and issue, or accept them? or does any one believe, to trade or deal in merchandise means to manufacture and sell it ? It is conceded, sir, that, under the ninth fundamental article, the bank does not derive a power to issue paper securities of any kind. Where does it get it, then ? Sir, the right is derived from a higher authority than the statute of incorporation; it is founded in the genius of freedom which every American citizen possessed, and which can only be taken away by his own consent, expressly given. Then, sir, how far have those intuitive and sacred rights been surrendered, under the provisions of the charter which the bank has accepted ? As far as they are surrendered, the bank does not possess them, but no further. It is said that the twelfth fundamental article enumerates and defines the different species of paper securities which this corporation may issue, and contains a grant of power; and it is insisted that bills obligatory under the corporate seal, and bills or notes signed by the president and countersigned by the cashier, are all the paper securities the bank can issue. But it will be seen that no power whatever to issue any paper security is given by that article. But suppose the position of my friend to be true, and what is the result ? Why, sir, that we have a bank which cannot transact the appropriate business of banking, or accomplish any of the purposes of its institution -- that can neither transfer the public funds, nor furnish the community with the ordinary facilities of commercial exchange. But the honorable Senator attempts to escape this difficulty, by admitting that the bank may make and accept bills of exchange, but not to be circulated as a currency.
But, sir, as he denies that the bank has any power specifically granted, and that all paper securities not authorized by the twelfth article are forbidden, may I ask him whence he derives the power to make, accept, or issue bills of exchange at all ? The term bills in the twelfth article cannot mean bills of exchange, as he sometimes appears to conjecture; for, sir, to enact that a bill of exchange, payable to order, shall be assignable by endorsement, in like manner and with like effect as bills of exchange, would certainly be entirely useless, not to use a plainer word. Besides, he denies any paper securities issued by the bank to be valid, unless they are signed by the president, and countersigned by the cashier of the bank. So that no bill of exchange could be made at any other place than Philadelphia; so that neither the Government or any individual could obtain a transfer of funds but by a transportation of specie. Checks, orders, drafts, certificates of deposites, and bills of exchange, are alike excluded by his view. So that the most beneficial objects contemplated in the establishment of the bank, will be defeated under his view of its powers.
By the common law, bills obligatory were not assignable, nor could the assignee recover in his own name. The same difficulty in relation to promissory notes existed. They were not negotiable or assignable, so as to enable the assignee to recover on them in his own name, nor could the payee recover on them himself, without averring and proving the consideration for which they were given. This difficulty in England, as to promissory notes, was obviated by the statute of Anne, which made them assignable by endorsement, and placed them on a footing with bills of exchange, the validity and negotiability of which had been established at common law. Most of the States, it is true, have made sealed instruments assignable, and have adopted in some form the substance of the statute of Anne in relation to promissory notes; but because their laws do not generally apply to contracts of corporations, we see the twelfth article in this charter incorporated in almost every bank charter, and clearly operates as an enabling power to payers of bills obligatory and promissory notes, by enabling them to assign, and the assignees to recover. It declares the effect of the contract when made and assigned, but does not give power to make it. As far as the bank is affected by the twelfth article, its power is restrained. The prohibition to make bills obligatory of less amount than five thousand dollars, or to make notes not payable on demand for a sum less than one hundred dollars, or a longer credit than sixty days, certainly cannot be construed as a power to make those paper securities. The result then is, that bills obligatory and promissory notes are nowhere specifically authorized, and must take the fate of orders, drafts, checks, and bills of exchange, all of which depend upon the same grant of power or original right, and they are all within the principle decided by the Supreme Court, which is the approved law of the land, as before alluded to. The most that can be said of the twelfth article, is, that, by the limitation imposed on the general right and power to make bills obligatory and promissory notes, the original power to do so is admitted. There is no specific grant of power to make loans, or take paper securities, directly or by transfer; but the tenth fundamental article imposes a limitation on the power to do so, and consequently recognises its existence. The charter does not by its letter authorize the corporation to deal or trade in bills of exchange, gold or silver bullion, or in the sale of goods; but the ninth article limits and thus recognises the existence of a general power and authority, though nowhere granted in words. There is nowhere a specific power to contract debts, or issue paper securities; but the eighth article limits the amount which the corporation may owe, whether by bond, bill, note, or other contract. Here is a clear expression of the opinion of Congress, that without this limitation the bank might have contracted debts to any amount, by bond, bill, note, or any other species of contract. Sir, it is a clear recognition of a general power to contract, in any form, and to any extent, not expressly forbidden. It is worse than idle to say, sir, that the eighth, ninth, tenth, or twelfth articles confer any power whatever. They are all, as far as the bank is concerned, limitations and restrictions of power existing independently of them. Sir, it would be the most unpardonable legislative folly to limit and restrict the loans, trade, dealings, and contracts of the bank, if, without those limitations and restrictions, the bank could neither make loans, trade, deal, or make contracts.
The eighth article recognises the power to contract debts by bill, bond, or other contract, without limitation, except as to amount; and even in case of excess the contract is not declared void, but the directors are made liable as well as the bank. It appears, then, that this corporation was understood by the framers of the charter to be authorized to make contracts other than bills obligatory and promissory notes; and, as there is no restriction as to the form or the amount of these contracts, it follows that the bank has all power to make any contract which individuals might make, and with like effect, with no other limitation than that it shall be within the scope of the legitimate purposes of the institution, (as checks, drafts, orders, bills of exchange, certainly are;) that no contract in the form of a bill obligatory, shall be made for a less sum than five thousand dollars, and no promissory note shall be made on demand for less than five dollars, nor a credit for a less sum than one hundred dollars; on a longer time than sixty days; so that, instead of bills obligatory under seal, and bills or notes signed by the president and countersigned by the cashier, being the only paper security which the corporation of the bank can issue, they are the only form of contract in which there are any limitations or restrictions imposed on the power of the corporation.
Another set of tests has been resorted to by the Senator to show that the paper securities in question are not within the scope of the legitimate purposes of the corporation. The first is, that they are not signed by the president and countersigned by the cashier of the parent bank, but are therefore not authorized by the twelfth fundamental article. Sir, it is sufficient that they are not prohibited by that of any other article, and that they are signed by the authorized agents of the corporation.
Mr. President, I have now done. I beg pardon for having so long trespassed on the patience of the Senate, with an argument entirely accidental, and the introduction of which I did think uncalled for; but, sir, it was introduced not by me -- but after it was, I believed it my duty to give my views. I have done so as concisely as possible. I shall not trouble the Senate with any remarks on the alum salt part of the honorable Senator's argument, nor with any particular reasons for my vote in favor of the resolution under consideration. I believe it to be my duty to acquire all the information in my power to enable me to discharge my duty to my constituents and my country, and for that reason will vote for the resolution, and take a book.
After a few words from Mr. Forsyth, in opposition to the resolution, and from Mr. Kane and Mr. Foot in its support, the resolution was agreed to by yeas and nays, as follows:
Yeas.-- Messrs. Bell, Benton, Bibb, Buckner, Chambers, Clay, Clayton, Dallas, Dudley, Ewing, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Holmes, Johnston, Kane, Knight, Miller, Naudain, Poindexter, Prentiss, Robbins, Robinson, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, Tomlinson, Webster, Wilkins. --29.
Nays.-- Messrs. Brown, Dickerson, Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Hendricks, Hill, King, Marcy, Moore, Mangum, Tazewell, Tipton, Tropp, Tyler, White --17.
The Senate then adjourned.
In the Senate of the United StatesMonday, June 11, 1832.
Bank of the United States.
The bill to modify and continue the act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States was read a third time.
The question being on its passage,
Mr. Webster asked for the yeas and nays on this question, and they were ordered.
Mr. Magnum then spoke briefly in exposition of the reasons which would compel him to vote against the passage of the bill.
The question was then taken, and decided as follows:
Yeas. Messrs. Bell, Buckner, Chambers, Clay, Clayton, Dallas, Ewing, Foot, Frelinghuysen, Hendricks, Holmes, Johnston, Knight, Naudain, Poindexter, Prentiss, Robbins, Robinson, Ruggles, Seymour, Silsbee, Smith, Sprague, Tipton, Tomlinson, Waggaman, Webster, Wilkins. 28.
Nays. Messrs. Benton, Bibb, Brown, Dickerson, Dudley, Ellis, Forsyth, Grundy, Hayne, Hill, Kane, King, Magnum, Marcy, Miller, Moore, Tazewell, Troup, Tyler, White. 20.
On his name being called, Mr. Dallas [George Mifflin Dallas (1792-1864) son of A.J.] said that, being called to vote on the passage of the bill, he felt it to be his duty to make a brief statement to the Senate. He had been returned to the Senate on the list of stockholders, as holding a part of the stock in the bank. As soon as he found that this subject would come in for discussion, he had directed the stock which he held in the institution to be sold. It had been sold, he had received the amount of the sales, and had no longer any interest in the bank.
On his name being called,
Mr. Silsbee said that he perceived his name on the list of stockholders. He had disposed of his stock before this question came before Congress, and was no longer interested in the institution.
On his name being called,
Mr. Webster said that he had seen his name on the list of the returns; but that the insertion was altogether a mistake of the clerk at the bank in Philadelphia.
The bill was then passed, and sent to the other House for concurrence.
Resolved, (if the Senate concur,) That the Senators from this State be directed, and the Representatives from this state be requested, to oppose any attempt to restore the deposites to the Bank of the United States.
Resolved, (if the Senate concur,) That we approve of the communication made by the President of the United States to his Cabinet on the eighteenth of September last, and of the reasons given by the Secretary of the Treasury relative to the removal of the deposites.
Resolved, (if the Assembly concur,) That the conduct of the Bank , in attempting, at a time of general prosperity, to produce pecuniary distress and alarm, and in exercising its power with a view to extort a renewal of its charter from the fears of the people, affords of itself full justification for the withdrawal of the confidence of the government.
Resolved, (if the Senate concur,) That the charter of the Bank of the United States ought not to be renewed.
Resolved, (if the Senate concur,) That the Secretary of State be requested to forward to each Senator and Representative a copy of these resolutions.
It needs no soothsayer's aid, Mr. President, to foresee that these Resolutions will pass; that they will pass with a majority so great, that I may appear presumptuous in having raised my feeble voice against them.