AN ACT to provide for the better collection, safe-keeping, and disbursement of the public revenue, by means of a corporation to be styled the Fiscal Corporation of the United States.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That a Fiscal Corporation of the United States shall be established in the District of Columbia, with a capital of twenty-one millions of dollars, divided into two hundred and ten thousand shares, of one hundred dollars each share. Seventy thousand shares shall be subscribed for by the United States, and the residue of the said capital may be subscribed and paid for by individuals, companies, corporations, or States, the said individuals being citizens of the United States, and the said companies and corporations being of the several States, or of these United States, or Territories thereof, in the manner hereinafter specified. But Congress reserves to itself the power of augmenting the capital of the said corporation, at any time after the 1st of January, 1851, by authorizing the addition thereto of a sum not exceeding fourteen millions of dollars, divided into shares as aforesaid, which may be subscribed for, at not less than their par value, by the United States, or by any State, corporation, company, or individuals, in the manner directed by law: Provided, That the United States shall not subscribe for more than one-third of the said additional capital.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That subscriptions for the sum of fourteen millions of dollars, towards constituting the capital of the said corporation, shall be opened on the first Monday of October next, at the following places, that is to say: at Washington, in the District of Columbia; at Portland, in the State of Maine; at Portsmouth, in the State of New Hampshire; at Boston, in the State of Massachusetts; at Providence, in the State of Rhode Island; at Hartford, in the State of Connecticut; at Burlington, in the State of Vermont; at New York, in the State of New York; at New Brunswick, in the State of New Jersey; at Philadelphia, in the State of Pennsylvania; at Wilmington, in the State of Delaware; at Baltimore, in the State of Maryland; at Richmond, in the State of Virginia; at Lexington, in the State of Kentucky; at Cincinnati, in the State of Ohio; at Raleigh, in the State of North Carolina; at Nashville, in the State of Tennessee; at Charleston, in the State of South Carolina; at Savannah, in the State of Georgia; at New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana; at Indianapolis, in the State of Indiana; at Mobile, in the State of Alabama; at St. Louis, in the State of Missouri; at Springfield, in the State of Illinois; at Detroit, in the State of Michigan; at Natchez, in the State of Mississippi; and at Little Rock, in the State of Arkansas. And the said subscriptions shall be opened under the superintendence of five commissioners at Washington city, and of three commissioners at each of the other places aforesaid, to be appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, who is hereby authorized to make such appointments, and shall continue open every day, from the time of opening the same, between the hours of ten o'clock in the forenoon and four o'clock in the afternoon, for the term of ten days, exclusive of Sundays, when the same shall be closed; and immediately thereafter the commissioners, or any two of them, at the respective places aforesaid, shall cause two transcripts or copies of such subscriptions to be made, one of which they shall send to the Secretary of the Treasury, one they shall retain, and the original they shall transmit, within seven days from the closing of the subscriptions as aforesaid, to the commissioners at Washington city. And on the receipt of the said original subscriptions, or either of the said copies thereof, if the original be lost, mislaid, or detained, the commissioners at Washington aforesaid, or a majority of them, shall immediately thereafter convene, and proceed to take an account of the said subscriptions; and if more than the amount of fourteen millions of dollars shall have been subscribed, then the said last mentioned commissioners shall deduct the amount of such excess from the largest subscriptions, in such manner as that no subscription shall be reduced in amount while any one remains larger: Provided, That if the subscriptions, taken at either of the places aforesaid, shall not exceed fourteen hundred shares, there shall be no reduction of such subscriptions, nor shall, in any case, the subscriptions taken at either of the places aforesaid, be reduced below that amount. And, in case the aggregate amount of the said subscriptions shall exceed fourteen millions of dollars, the said last mentioned commissioners, after having apportioned the same, as aforesaid, shall cause lists of the said apportioned subscriptions to be made out, including in each list the apportioned subscription for the place where the original subscription was made, one of which lists they shall transmit to the commissioners, or one of them, under whose superintendence such subscriptions were originally made, that the subscribers may thereby ascertain the number of shares to them respectively apportioned, as aforesaid; and in case the aggregate amount of the said subscriptions made during the period aforesaid, at all places aforesaid, shall not amount to fourteen millions of dollars, the subscriptions to complete the said sum shall be and remain open at Washington city, aforesaid, under the superintendence of the commissioners appointed for that place, until the first day of January next, if not sooner completed; and the subscriptions may be then made by any individual, company, corporation, or State, for any number of shares, not exceeding in the whole the amount required to complete the said sum of fourteen millions of dollars.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be lawful for any individual, company, corporation, or State, when the subscriptions shall be opened as heretofore directed, to subscribe for any number of shares of the capital of the said corporation not exceeding two thousand shares; and that the sums so subscribed shall be payable and paid in bullion, in gold or silver coin of the United States, or in foreign coins, made and declared current in the United States by the act of Congress of the 25th of June, 1834, entitled "An act regulating the value of certain foreign silver coins in the United States," and by the act of the 28th of June, 1834, entitled "An act regulating the value of certain gold coins within the United States," at the following rates, to wit: the sovereign of Great Britain, at ninety-four cents and sixty-two hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the pieces of forty and twenty francs of France, at ninety-two cents and ninety two hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloon and parts of Spain, at eighty-nine cents and fifty-one hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloon and parts of Mexico, at eighty-nine cents and fifty-one hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloon and parts of Peru, at eighty-nine cents and seventy-one hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloon and parts of Chili, at eighty-nine cents and seventy-one hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloons of Bogota, Colombia, at eighty-nine cents and ninety-two hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloons of Popayan, Colombia, at eighty-eight cents and sixty-eight hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloons of 1837 and 1838 of New Grenada, at ninety cents and two hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloons of Boliva, at eighty-nine cents and ninety-two hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloons of Central America, at eighty-five cents and seventy-nine hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the doubloons of La Plata, at eighty-four cents and twenty-four hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the johannes and half of Portugal, at ninety-four cents and forty-six hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the crown (of 5,000 reis) and a half since 1838, of Portugal, at ninety-four cents and forty-six hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; the piece (of 5,400 reis) of 1838, of Brazil, at ninety-four cents and forty-six hundredths of a cent for each pennyweight; and in foreign silver coins at the value fixed upon them severally in the act first above named, or in Treasury notes of the United States, or in certificates of stock issued under the act entitled "An act authorizing a loan not exceeding the sum of twelve millions of dollars," approved July 21st, 1841. And the payments made in Treasury notes or in the said certificates of stock shall be paid and received at the par value thereof, including all interest which shall have accrued thereon on the day of such payment. And the payments of the said subscriptions shall be made and completed by the subscribers respectively at the time and in the manner following, that is to say: at the time of subscribing there shall be paid ten dollars on each share in bullion, in gold or silver coin, in the Treasury notes of the United States, or in the said certificates of stock, and twenty-five dollars more in bullion, in coin, Treasury notes, or certificates of stock, as aforesaid, at the expiration of three calendar months from the first Monday in October, 1841; and there shall be paid the further sum of twenty-five dollars on each share in bullion, in gold or silver coin, Treasury notes, or certificates of stock, as aforesaid, in eight calendar months from the first Monday in October, 1841; and forty dollars more in bullion, in coin, Treasury notes, or certificates of stock, as aforesaid, at the expiration of twelve calendar months from the said first Monday.---[why not cash up front ? why this same old method of buying 100% shares with 10% money and loads of promises ? The bank will go into operation not with 21 million gold-silver capital, but with promises. If investors have the capital invest it, if not don't try to become shareholders in a bank. may the customers of this bank use the same method ?]
Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That if, in consequence of the apportionment of the shares in the capital of the said corporation among the subscribers, in the case and in the manner hereinbefore provided, any subscriber shall have delivered to the commissioners, at the time of subscribing, a greater amount of bullion, or gold or silver coin, Treasury notes, or certificates of stock, than shall be necessary to complete the payments for the share or shares of such subscribers, apportioned as aforesaid, the commissioners shall only retain so much of the said bullion, or gold or silver coin, Treasury notes, or certificates of stock, as shall be necessary to complete such payments; and shall, forthwith, return the surplus thereof, on application for the same, to the subscribers lawfully entitled thereto. And the commissioners, respectively, shall deposite the bullion, or gold and silver coin, Treasury notes, and certificates of stock, by them respectively received, as aforesaid, from the subscribers to the capital of the said corporation, in some place of secure and safe-keeping, so that the same may and shall be specifically delivered and transferred, as the same were by them respectively received, to the Fiscal Corporation of the United States, or to their order, as soon as shall be required after the organization of the said corporation. And the said commissioners appointed to superintend the subscriptions to the capital of the said corporation,as aforesaid, shall receive a reasonable compensation for their services, respectively, and shall be allowed all reasonable charges and expenses incurred in the execution of their trust, to be paid by the corporation out of the funds thereof.
Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, That no certificate of stock, or any subscription, or any right thereto, shall be transferred, except by operation of law, until after the whole amount of the second instalment shall have been fully paid; and every contract or agreement made or entered into for the transfer of such stock, or for the holding the same in trust for the use of any other person, except the person in whose name it is subscribed in the books, or for whose use it is there in expressed, shall be wholly and absolutely null and void in law. That it shall be lawful for the president, directors, and company of the said corporation, to sell and transfer for gold and silver coin, or bullion, Treasury notes, and certificates of stock, subscribed to the capital of the said corporation, as aforesaid.
Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That, at the opening of the subscription to the capital stock of the said corporation, the Secretary of the Treasury shall subscribe, or cause to be sub scribed, on behalf of the United States, the said number of seventy thousand shares, amounting to seven millions of dollars, as aforesaid; which said subscriptions, so made by the Secretary of the Treasury, as aforesaid, shall be paid in bullion, in gold or silver coin, or in stock of the United States, bearing interest at the rate of five per centum per annum; and if payment thereof, or of any part thereof, be made in public stock, bearing interest as aforesaid, the said interest shall be payable half yearly, to commence from the time of making such payments on account of the said subscription; and the principal of the said stock shall be redeemable in any sums, and at any periods, which the Government shall deem fit, after the expiration of fifteen years. And the Secretary of the Treasury shall cause certificates of public stock, to the amount of seven millions of dollars, to be prepared and made in the usual form, and shall, at his discretion, and whensoever he shall think fit, sell the same for gold or silver coin, or bullion, at not less than the par value thereof, or he shall pay over and deliver two millions four hundred and fifty thousand dollars of the same to the said corporation, on the first day of January, eighteen hundred and forty-two, and one million seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars on the first day of May, and two millions eight hundred thousand dollars of the same on the first day of September, in the same year; which said stock it shall be lawful for the said corporation to sell and transfer for gold and silver coin, or bullion, at their discretion. And if the Secretary of the Treasury shall sell the whole or any part of the said stock, he shall pay to the said corporation gold and silver coin or bullion to the nominal amount of stock so sold in like instalments: Provided, nevertheless, That if the amount of stock which may be offered for the subscription of individuals, States, or corporations, shall not be fully taken prior to the first day of January next, and the deficiency do not exceed one-third, the residue shall be subscribed for by the Secretary of the Treasury, on behalf of the United States, and shall be sold by him as soon thereafter as he can obtain its par value; and for which the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to issue stocks of the United States, in manner as be fore provided.
Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That the subscribers to the said corporation, their successors and assigns, shall be, and they are hereby, created a corporation and body politic, by the name and style of "the Fiscal Corporation of the United States," and shall so continue until the first day of June, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two; and by that name shall be, and are hereby, made able and capable in law to have, purchase, receive, possess, enjoy, and retain, to them and their successors, lands, rents, tenements, hereditaments, goods, chattels, and effects, of whatsoever kind, nature, and quality; and the same to sell, grant, demise, alien, or dispose of; to sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded, answer and be answered, defend and be defended, in all State courts having competent jurisdiction, and in any circuit court of the United States; and also to make, have, and use a common seal, and the same to break, alter, and renew at their pleasure; and also to ordain, establish, and put in execution, such by-laws, and ordinances, and regulations, as they shall deem necessary and convenient for the government of the said corporation, not being contrary to the constitution thereof, or to the laws of the United States; and,generally, to do and execute all and singular the acts, matters, and things, which to them it shall or may appertain to do; subject, nevertheless, to the rules, regulations, restrictions, limitations,and provisions, hereinafter prescribed and declared.
Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, That, for the management of the affairs of the said corporation, there shall be nine directors, three of whom shall be annually appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and six of whom shall be annually elected at the banking-house in the city of Washington, on the first Monday of January in each year, by the qualified stockholders of the capital of said corporation, other than the United States, and by a plurality of votes then and there actually given, according to the scale of voting hereinafter prescribed: Provided, always, That no member of Congress, or of the respective State Legislatures, and no officer or contractor of the Federal or State Governments, shall be a director in said corporation, and that no person, being a director in the Fiscal Corporation of the United States, shall be a director of any bank; and should any such director act as a director in any bank, it shall forthwith vacate his appointment in the direction of the Fiscal Corporation of the United States; and the directors so duly appointed and elected shall be capable of serving, by virtue of such appointment and choice, from the first Monday in the month of January of each year, until the end and expiration of the first Monday in the month of January of the year next ensuing the time of each annual election, to be held by the stockholders as aforesaid. And the board of directors annually, at the first meeting after their election in each and every year, shall proceed to elect one of the directors to be president of the corporation, who shall hold the said office during the same period for which the directors are appointed and elected as afore said: Provided, also, That the first appointment and election of the directors and president of the said corporation shall be at the time and for the period hereinafter declared: And provided, also, That, in case it should at any time happen that an appointment or election of directors, or an election of the president of the said corporation, should not be so made as to take effect on any day when, in pursuance of this act, they ought to take effect, the said corporation shall not for that cause be deemed to be dissolved; but it shall be lawful at any other time to make such appointments, and to hold such elections, (as the case may be,) and the manner of holding the elections shall be regulated by the by-laws and ordinances of the said corporation; and until such appointments or elections be made, the directors and president of the said corporation for the time being shall continue in office: And provided, also, That in case of the death, resignation, or removal of the president of the said corporation, the directors shall proceed to elect another president from the directors as aforesaid; and in case of the death, resignation, or absence from the United States, or removal of a director from office, the vacancy shall be supplied by the President of the United States, or by the surviving directors, as the case may be; but the President of the United States alone shall have power to remove either of the directors appointed by him as afore said.
Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That as soon as the sum of ten dollars on each share, in bullion, gold or silver coin, Treasury notes, or certificates of stock, shall have been actually received on account of the subscriptions to the capital of the said corporation, (exclusively of the subscription aforesaid on the part of the United States.) notice thereof shall be given, by the persons under whose superintendence the subscriptions shall have been made at the city of Washington, in at least two newspapers printed in each of the places (if so many be printed in such places respectively) where subscriptions shall have been made; and the said persons shall, at the same time, and in like manner, notify a time and place, within the said city of Washington, at the distance of at least thirty days from the time of such notification, for proceeding to the election of six directors, as aforesaid; and it shall be lawful for such election to be then and there made. And the President of the United States is hereby authorized, during the next session of Congress hereafter, to nominate, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint three directors of the said corporation, whether they be stockholders or not, any thing in the provisions of this act to the contrary notwithstanding; and the persons who shall be elected and appointed, as aforesaid, shall be the first directors of the said corporation, and shall proceed to elect one of the directors to be president of the said corporation; and the directors and president of the said corporation, so appointed and elected, as aforesaid, shall be capable of serving in their respective offices, by virtue thereof, until the end and expiration of the first Monday of the month of January next ensuing the said appointments and elections: Provided, That it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States, as soon as ten dollars on each share are paid, in manner herein provided, to appoint three directors, who shall serve until they are superseded by appointments made by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, as hereinbefore provided: And provided further, That as soon as the sum of four millions of dollars, in bullion, gold or silver coin, or in Treasury notes, or certificates of stock, shall have been actually received on account of the subscriptions to the capital of the said corporation, (exclusively of the subscription of seven millions aforesaid on the part of the United States,) the operations of the same shall thenceforth commence and continue at the city of Washington.---[so, instead of 21 million in capital, the bank commences operation with 11 million; unlike the "capitalists" the federal government is expected to pay up front, in coin, for its one-third share in the corporation. From the get-go it is intended to be a printing-press operation using the government's gold and credit: to enrich speculators with no capital, and to control the nation's currency. Why opponents of the bank not pointed to this sanction of a chartered confidence game during the debates ? The second bank of U.S. never had more coin than the 7 million paid in by the federal government; and the subscriptions were "paid" by promises based on future profit from the operation]
Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That the directors, for the time being, shall have power to appoint such officers, clerks, and servants, under them, as shall be necessary for executing the business of the said corporation, and to allow them such compensation for their services respectively, as shall be reasonable; and shall be capable of exercising such other powers and authorities, for the well-governing and ordering of the affairs of the said corporation, as shall be prescribed, fixed, and determined by the by-laws, regulations, and ordinances of the same.
Sec. 11. And be it further enacted, That the following rules, restrictions, limitations, and provisions, shall form and be fundamental articles of the constitution of said corporation, to wit:
1st. The number of votes to which the stockholders shall be entitled, in voting for directors,shall be according to the number of shares he, she, or they, respectively, shall hold, in the proportions following, that is to say: for one share, and not more than two shares, one vote; for every two shares above two, and not exceeding ten, one vote; for every four shares above ten,and not exceeding thirty, one vote; for every six shares above thirty, and not exceeding sixty,one vote; for every eight shares above sixty, and not exceeding one hundred, one vote; for every ten shares above one hundred, one vote; but no person, co-partnership, or body politic, shall been titled to a greater number than sixty votes; and, after the first election, no share or shares shall confer a right of voting, which shall not have been holden three calendar months previous to the day of election; no proxy to any officer of the bank, or of more than ninety days' standing, shall be valid; no proxy shall have a right to give more than three hundred votes; and stockholders actually resident citizens of the United States, and none others, may vote in elections by proxy or otherwise; and any person holding a proxy may be required by any stockholder, at the time of voting, to make oath that he believes his principal, in whose behalf he votes, to be the bona fide holder of the share or shares, and that no sale or transfer has been made for the purpose of evading the scale of voting established by this act.
2d. Not more than five-sixths of the directors elected by the stockholders, who shall be in office at the time of an annual election, shall be elected for the succeeding year; and no director shall hold his office for more than five years out of six in succession; but the director who shall be president at the time of an election, may always be reappointed, or selected, as the case may be.
3d. None but a stockholder, resident citizen, shall be a director. Not more than two directors shall be elected, and not more than one appointed, out of any one State; and they shall be paid by said corporation such reasonable compensation for their services, as the stockholders, at their annual meeting, shall direct; but the salary of the president shall be fixed by the directors.
4th. Not less than five directors shall constitute a board for the transaction of business, of whom the president shall always be one; and at least three of the five shall be of the directors elected by the stockholders; and in case of sickness or necessary absence of the president, his place shall be supplied by any other director whom he, by writing, under his hand, shall depute for that purpose;and the director so deputed may do and transact all the necessary business belonging to the office of the president of the said corporation, during the continuance of the sickness or necessary absence of the president.
5th. A number of stockholders, not less than sixty, who, together, shall be proprietors of one thousand shares, or upwards, shall have power at any time to call a general meeting of the stockholders, for purposes relative to the institution, giving at least four weeks' notice in the public newspapers of the place where the corporation is seated, and specifying in such notice the objector objects of such meeting.
6th. Each cashier or treasurer, before he enters upon the duties of his office, shall be required to give bond, with two or more sureties, to the satisfaction of the directors, in a sum not less than fifty thousand dollars, with a condition for his good behaviour, and the faithful performance of his duties to the corporation.
7th. The lands, tenements, and hereditaments, which it shall be lawful for the said corporation to hold, shall be only such as shall be requisite for its immediate accommodation, in relation to the convenient transaction of its business, and such as shall have been purchased at sales upon judgments or decrees, or shall have been assigned or set off to said corporation in satisfaction of said judgments or decrees, which shall have been obtained for debts due, or as have been bona fide mortgaged to it by way of security: Provided, That the said corporation shall not hold any one parcel of such lands or tenements, not necessary for the convenient transaction of its business,for a longer period than five years.
8th. The total amount of debts which the said corporation shall at any time owe, whether by bond, bill, note, or other contract, over and above the debt or debts due for money deposited in the corporation, shall not exceed the sum of seventeen millions five hundred thousand dollars, unless the contracting of any greater debt shall have been previously authorized by law. In case of excess, the directors under whose administration it shall happen, shall be liable for the same in their natural and private capacities; and an action of debt may, in such case, be brought against them, or any of them, their, or any of their heirs, executors, or administrators, in any court of record of the United States, by any creditor or creditors of the said corporation, and may be prosecuted to judgment and execution, any condition, covenant, or agreement, to the contrary notwithstanding; but this provision shall not be construed to exempt the said corporation, or the lands, tenements, goods, or chattels of the same, from being also liable for, and chargeable with,the said excess. Such of the said directors as may have been absent when the said excess was contracted or created, or who may have dissented from the resolution or act whereby the same was so contracted or created, may respectively exonerate themselves from being so liable by forthwith giving notice of the fact, and of their absence or dissent, to the President of the United States, and to the stockholders, at a general meeting, which they shall have power to call for that purpose.
9th. The said corporation shall not, directly or indirectly, deal or trade in anything except foreign bills of exchange, including bills or drafts drawn in one State or Territory, the District of Columbia included, and payable in another, or gold or silver coin, or bullion, or goods, or lands purchased on execution, sued out on judgments, or decrees obtained for the benefit of said corporation, or taken bona fide in the payment of debts due to it, or goods which shall be the proceeds of its lands. It shall not be at liberty to purchase any public debt whatever; nor shall the board of directors of the said corporation make donations or presents of its funds to any officer or director for any purpose whatever.
10th. It shall be lawful for the said corporation to loan to the Government of the United States to an amount not exceeding one million of dollars, and for a period not exceeding one hundred and eighty days, or to any particular State to an amount not exceeding one hundred thousand dollars, or for any period not exceeding one hundred and eighty days; but such loans may be for a larger amount and for a longer period if previously authorized by a law of the United States.
11th. The stock of the said corporation shall be assignable and transferable, according to such rules as shall be instituted in that behalf, by the by-laws and ordinances of the same.
12th. The bills obligatory and of credit, under the seal of the said corporation, which shall be made to any person or persons, shall be assignable by endorsement thereupon, under the hands of such person or persons, and his, her, or their executors, or administrators, and of his, her, or their assignee or assignees, so as absolutely to transfer and vest the property thereof in each and every assignee or assignees successively; and to enable such assignee or assignees, and his, her, or their executors, or administrators, to maintain an action thereupon, in his, her, or their own name or names: Provided, That said corporation shall not make any bill obligatory, or of credit, or other obligation under its seal, for the payment of a sum less than five thousand dollars, or for a longer period than one year.
13th. All bills or notes issued by order of the said corporation, signed by the president and countersigned by the principal cashier or treasurer thereof, promising the payment of money to any person or persons, his, her, or their order, or to bearer, although not under the seal of the said corporation, shall be binding and obligatory upon the same in like manner, and with like force and effect, as upon any natural person or persons, if issued by him, her, or them, in his,her, or their private or natural capacity or capacities, and shall be assignable and negotiable in like manner as if they were so issued by such natural person or persons; that is to say: those which shall be payable to any person or persons, his, her, or their order, shall be assignable by endorsement, in like manner and with the like effect as foreign bills of exchange now are; and those which are payable to bearer shall be assignable and negotiable by delivery only: Provided, That all bills or notes, so to be issued by said corporation, shall be made payable on demand.
14th. Half yearly dividends may be made of so much of the profits of the corporation as shall appear to the directors advisable, not exceeding three and a half per cent, for any one half year. When a surplus beyond that limit shall have accumulated in the said corporation to an amount exceeding two millions of dollars, the excess beyond that sum, and beyond the annual dividends, as such excess accrues, shall be annually transferred and paid over to the Treasurer of the United States; and, upon the expiration of this charter, any surplus which may be in the said corporation,after the payment of dividends as aforesaid, and after reimbursing the capital of the stockholders,shall, in like manner, be paid into the Treasury of the United States. If the dividends shall in any half year fall below the above limitation of three and a half per cent, the Secretary of the Treasury shall, out of the surpluses which shall have been previously paid over to the Treasurer, but out of no other funds or money in the Treasury of the United States, pay a sum sufficient to make up the deficiency. The directors shall make no dividends, except from the nett profits arising from the business of the corporation, and shall not, at any time, or in any manner, pay to the stockholders, or any of them, any part of the capital stock of the said corporation; nor shall they, at any time, or in any way or manner, reduce the capital stock of the said corporation, without the consent of Congress; nor shall the said directors apply, or suffer to be applied, any portion of the funds of the said corporation, directly or indirectly, to the purchase of shares of its own stock; nor shall the said directors, or any of them, receive, as a security for any loan or discount,or in any payment or satisfaction of any debt due to the said corporation, except in the necessary course of collection of debts previously contracted in a bona fide manner, in the ordinary course of its banking operations, and actually due and unpaid, any shares of the capital stock of the said corporation; and any shares of the said capital stock, so received in payment of any such debts,shall be, in good faith, sold and transferred from the hands and ownership of the said corporation,within ten months from the time of its transfer to and reception by the same, in the manner and for the purposes aforesaid; nor shall the said directors, or any of them, receive, from any banking or other stock corporation, shares of the stock of any such banking or other stock corporation,or any notes, bonds, or other evidences of debt issued by or upon the credit of such corporation,in exchange for the shares of stock, notes, bonds, or other evidences of debt of the corporation created by this act. And the said directors, in determining what are "nett profits" of the said corporation, from which the dividends allowed by this article may be made, shall first deduct from the profits of the business of the said corporation all expenses paid or incurred, both ordinary and extraordinary, attending the management of the affairs and the transaction of the business of the said corporation; all interest paid, or then accrued, due and unpaid, on debts owing by the said corporation, and all losses sustained by the said corporation; and in the computation of such losses, all debts owing to the corporation shall be included which shall have remained due, without prosecution, and no interest shall have been paid thereon for more than one year; or on which judgments shall have been recovered that shall have remained for more than two years unsatisfied, and on which no interest shall have been paid during that period. If there shall be a failure in the payment of any part of any sum subscribed to the capital of the said corporation, the stockholder so delinquent shall lose the benefit of any dividend which may have accrued prior to the time for making such payment and during the delay of the same.
15th. Once in every year the directors shall lay before the stockholders, at a general meeting,or publish, for their information, an exact and particular statement of the debts which shall remain unpaid after the expiration of the original credit, and of the surplus of the profits, if any,after deducting losses and dividends.
16th. That, for the purpose of carrying on and transacting the business of the said corporation herein and hereby authorized, and fulfilling the duties herein and hereby required, it shall be lawful for the directors of the said corporation, from time to time, to establish agencies in any State or Territory of the United States, at any place or places they may deem safe and proper, and to employ any agent or agents, or, with the approbation of the Secretary of the Treasury, any bank or banks, under such agreements, and subject to such regulations, as they may deem just and proper, not being contrary to law or to this charter; and the same agencies, at their pleasure, to relinquish or discontinue, and the same agent or agents to remove, and to commit to such agents, agencies,or banks, such portions of the business and concerns of the said corporation as they may think fit: Provided, always, That neither the said corporation, nor any agent or agents thereof, nor any bank or banks employed by the same, shall be authorized to discount promissory notes with the moneys or means of the said corporation, but shall employ the same in the business and dealing in foreign bills of exchange, including bills and drafts drawn in one State or Territory and payable in another.
17th. The officer at the head of the Treasury Department of the United States shall be furnished, from time to time, as often as he may require, not exceeding once a week, with such statements of the condition and business of said corporation as he may specially direct; and he shall also have a right to inspect, or cause to be inspected, by some one by him duly authorized,all the books, papers, and accounts of the said corporation, of every kind, including the accounts of individuals, and to make, or cause to be made, an examination into the affairs, transactions,and condition of the corporation; and the condition of the corporation shall be published monthly,in such manner and with such particularity as the Secretary of the Treasury shall direct. And the said corporation and its agencies shall be open at all times to the full and unrestricted inspection and examination of a committee of either House of Congress, a committee of the stockholders, and to each and all of the directors of the corporation. And, for the purpose of securing a full and unrestricted inspection and examination as aforesaid, the Secretary of the Treasury, or any one by him duly authorized, or a committee of either House of Congress, may respectively summon and examine, under oath, all the directors, officers, or agents of the said corporation, and of any agency thereof, and such other witnesses as they may think proper, in relation to the affairs, transactions, and condition of the corporation; and any such director, officer, agent, or other person, who shall refuse, without justifiable cause, to appear and testify, when thereto re quired, as aforesaid, shall, on conviction, be subject to a fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, and imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year. No part of the proceedings of the corporation, nor any loans or payments made by it, nor any order given by it, shall be concealed or kept secret from the Government directors, nor shall said directors be excluded from the free and full participation in all the transactions and business of the institution.
18th. No note shall be issued of a less denomination than five dollars; but Congress may here after, if it shall think fit, restrain the lowest denomination of notes to ten dollars; nor shall the said corporation knowingly increase the amount of the debts due to it, when the notes in circulation exceed three times the amount of specie in its vaults; and whenever such excess takes place, it shall be the duty of the said corporation to return to such proportion as speedily as shall be safe and practicable.
19th. The debts due and becoming due to said corporation shall never, at any one time, exceed the amount of the capital stock actually paid in, and seventy-five per cent. advance thereon.
20th. The said corporation shall not hold any public debt or stocks, or the stocks of any incorporated institution, unless taken for the security or in satisfaction of debts previously contracted, except the stock paid in by the United States on their subscription.
21st. The said corporation shall not pay out the notes of any bank, or anything except legal coin, or its own notes.
22d. The directors of the said corporation shall not, within the District of Columbia, buy or discount any bill of exchange, nor make any loan whatever, except it be a loan to the Government of the United States, according to the provisions of law.
23d. All notes or bills, adapted and intended to circulate as money, shall be prepared under the direction of the parent institution at Washington, shall be signed as hereinbefore provided for,and shall be made payable at the house of said corporation in Washington, or at some one of its agencies, to be specified on the face of the note or bill, except notes of a denomination not exceeding ten dollars, which may be signed by an authorized person at the agency at which they maybe issued and made payable, but shall, nevertheless, be prepared at, and authorized by, the parent institution at Washington. And no notes or bills but such as are prepared and signed, as aforesaid, shall be issued by any of the said agencies: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be so construed as to prohibit the said agencies from selling drafts for fifty dollars and upwards,each, drawn and intended for the purpose of remittance.
24th. The notes or bills of the said corporation, although the same be upon their face, respectively, made payable at a particular place only, shall, nevertheless, be received by the said corporation, or at any of its agencies, when tendered in liquidation or payment of any debt or balance due to said corporation.
25th. The officers of the corporation, and the agents thereof, shall not be permitted to borrow money from the said corporation, or contract any debt therewith, in any manner whatever; and no bill or other evidence of debt, of which such officer or agent is maker, drawer, endorser, accepter, or otherwise a party, shall be discounted.
Sec. 12. And be it further enacted, That if the said corporation, or any person or persons for or to the use of the same, shall deal or trade in buying or selling any goods, wares, merchandise, or commodities whatsoever, contrary to the provisions of this act, all and every person or persons by whom any order or direction for so dealing or trading shall have been given, and all and every Person or persons who shall have been concerned as parties or agents therein, shall forfeit and lose treble the value of the goods, wares, merchandise, and commodities, in which such dealing and trade shall have been; one-half thereof to the use of the informer, and the other half thereof to the use of the United States, to be recovered in any action of law, with costs of suit.
Sec. 13. And be it further enacted, That if the said corporation shall advance or lend any sum of money for the use or on account of the Government of the United States, to an amount exceeding one million of dollars, or for the use or on account of any particular State, to an amount exceeding one hundred thousand dollars, (unless specially authorized by law,) all and every per son and persons, by and with whose order, agreement, consent, approbation, and connivance, such unlawful advance or loan shall have been made, upon conviction thereof, shall forfeit and pay for every such offence treble the value or amount of the sum or sums which have been so unlawfully advanced or lent; one-fifth thereof to the use of the informer and the residue thereof to the use of the United States.
Sec. 14. And be it further enacted, That the bills or notes of the said corporation originally made payable, or which shall have become payable on demand, shall be receivable in all payments to the United States, unless otherwise directed by act of Congress: Provided, however, That if the said corporation, or any of its agencies, shall at any time suspend specie payments, or shall neglect or refuse to discharge, on demand, any and all of its liabilities in specie, then its bills or notes shall not, during such suspension, be received in payment of any debt or demand of the United States; and such suspension of specie payments for thirty days in any one year shall be held and adjudged a cause of forfeiture of the charter hereby granted.
Sec. 15. And be it further enacted, That during the continuance of this act, and whenever required by the Secretary of the Treasury, the said corporation shall give the necessary facilities for transferring the public funds from place to place within the United States, or the Territories thereof, and for distributing the same in payment of the public creditors, and shall also do and perform the several respective duties formerly required of the pension agents and commissioners of loans for the several States, or of any one or more of them, without charging commissions, or claiming allowances on account of difference of exchange.
Sec. 16. And be it further enacted, That the deposites of the money of the United States in places in which the said corporation and agencies thereof may be established, shall be made in said corporation or such agencies thereof, unless Congress shall otherwise direct by law; and that all public moneys in deposite in said corporation, or standing on its books to the credit of the Treasurer, shall be taken and deemed to be in the Treasury of the United States, and all payments made by the Treasurer shall be in checks drawn on said corporation: Provided, That, if the said corporation shall suspend specie payments during the recess of Congress, it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to provide for the safe-keeping of the public moneys until the action of Congress can be had thereon, and he shall report the same to Congress on the first day of the session next after such suspension.
Sec. 17. And be it further enacted, That the said corporation shall not at any time suspend or refuse payment in gold and silver coin of any of its notes, bills, or obligations, nor of any moneys received upon deposite in said corporation, or any of its agencies; and if the said corporation shall at any time refuse or neglect to pay, on demand, any bill, note, or obligation, issued by the corporation according to the contract, promise, or undertaking therein expressed, or shall neglect or refuse to pay, on demand, any moneys received in said corporation, or in any of its agencies, on deposite, to the person or persons entitled to receive the same, then, and in every such case, the holder of any such note, bill, or obligation, or the person or persons entitled to demand and receive such moneys as aforesaid, shall respectively be entitled to receive and recover interest on the said bills, notes, obligations, or moneys, until the same shall be fully paid and satisfied, at the rate of twelve per cent. per annum, from the time of such demand aforesaid: Provided, That Congress may, at any time hereafter, enact laws enforcing and regulating the recovery of the amount of the notes, bills, obligations, or other debts, of which payment shall have been refused as aforesaid, with the rate of interest above-mentioned, vesting jurisdiction for that purpose in any courts of the United States, or Territories thereof, as they may deem expedient.
Sec. 18. And be it further enacted, That if any person shall falsely make, forge, or counterfeit, or cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, or counterfeited, or willingly aid or assist in falsely making, forging, or counterfeiting, any bill or note in imitation of, or purporting to be, a bill or note issued by order of the said corporation, or any order or check on the said corporation,or any cashier thereof; or shall falsely alter, or cause or procure to be falsely altered, or willingly aid or assist in falsely altering, any bill or note issued by order of the said corporation, or any order or check on the said corporation, or any cashier thereof; or shall pass, utter, or publish, or attempt to pass, utter, or publish, as true, any false, forged, or counterfeit bill or note, purporting to be a bill or note issued by order of the said corporation, or any false, forged, or counterfeited order or check upon the said corporation, or any cashier thereof, knowing the same to be falsely forged or counterfeited; or shall pass, utter, or publish, or attempt to pass, utter, or publish, as true, any falsely altered bill or note issued by order of the said corporation, or any falsely altered order or check on the said corporation, or any cashier thereof, knowing the same to be falsely altered, with intention to defraud the said corporation, or any other body politic or person; or shall sell, utter, or deliver, or cause to be sold, uttered, or delivered, any forged or counterfeit note or bill in imitation of, or purporting to be, a bill or note issued by order of the said corporation, knowing the same to be false, forged, or counterfeited, every such person shall be deemed and adjudged guilty of felony; and, being thereof convicted by due course of law, shall be sentenced to be imprisoned and kept to hard labor, for not less than three years, nor more than ten years; or shall be imprisoned not exceeding ten years, and fined not exceeding five thousand dollars: Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to deprive the courts of the individual States of a jurisdiction under the laws of the several States, over any offence declared punishable by this act.
Sec. 19. And be it further enacted, That if any person shall make or engrave, or cause or procure to be made or engraved, or shall have in his custody or possession any plate, or stone, made or engraved after the similitude of any plate from which any notes or bills issued by the said corporation shall have been printed, with intent to use such plate, or stone, or cause or suffer the same to be used, in forging or counterfeiting any of the notes or bills issued by the said corporation; or shall have in his custody or possession any blank note or notes, bill or bills, made, en graved, or printed after the similitude of any notes or bills issued by said corporation, with intent to use such blanks, or cause or suffer the same to be used in forging or counterfeiting any of the notes or bills issued by the said corporation; or shall have in his custody or possession any paper adapted to the making of bank notes or bills, and similar to the paper upon which any notes or bills of the said corporation shall have been issued, with intent to use such paper, or cause or suffer the same to be used in forging or counterfeiting any of the notes or bills issued by the said corporation, every such person, being thereof convicted by due course of law, shall be sentenced to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding five years, and fined in a sum not exceeding one thousand dollars.
Sec. 20. And be it further enacted, That if any officer, agent, or servant of the said corporation, shall embezzle or appropriate to his own use any moneys, goods, effects, or funds, of the said corporation, with intent to cheat or defraud the said corporation, or shall make false entries upon the books of the said corporation, with intent to defraud the said corporation or any other person whatsoever, such officer, agent, or servant, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and, on conviction thereof, shall be fined at the discretion of the court, and imprisoned not exceeding six years.
Sec. 21. And be it further enacted, That no bank or other corporation, with powers similar to those herein and hereby conferred, shall be established by any future law of the United States, during the continuance of the corporation hereby created: Provided, That Congress may renew or modify the charters of the banks heretofore established within the District of Columbia, or establish other banks within and for the use of the said District, so that the aggregate capital of all the banks chartered for the said District shall not exceed the sum of five millions of dollars. And, notwithstanding the expiration of the term for which the said corporation is created, it shall be lawful to use the corporate name, style, and capacity, for the purpose of suits, and for the final settlement and liquidation of the affairs and accounts of the corporation, and for the sale and disposition of their estate, real, personal, and mixed; but not for any other purpose, or in any other manner whatever, nor for a period exceeding two years after the expiration of the said term of incorporation.
Sec. 22. And be it further enacted, That if the subscriptions and payments to said corporation shall not be made and completed, so as to enable the same to commence its operations, or if the said corporation shall not commence its operations on or before the first Monday in May next,then, and in that case, Congress may, at any time within twelve months thereafter, declare, bylaw, this act null and void.
Sec. 23. And be it further enacted, That whenever a committee of either House of Congress,appointed to inspect the books and to examine into the proceedings of the corporation hereby created, shall report that the provisions of this charter have been by the same violated, or the President of the United States shall have reason to believe that the charter has been violated, it may be lawful for Congress to direct, or the President to order, a scire facias to be sued out of the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia, in the name of the United States, (which shall be served upon the president of the corporation for the time being, at least fifteen days before the commencement of the term of said court,) calling on the said corporation to show cause wherefore the charter hereby granted shall not be declared forfeited; and it shall be lawful for the said court,upon the return of the said scire facias, to examine into the truth of the alleged violation; and if such violation be made to appear, then to pronounce and adjudge that the said charter is forfeited and annulled: Provided, however, That every issue of fact which may be joined between the United States and the corporation aforesaid shall be tried by a jury. And it shall be lawful for the court aforesaid to require the production of such of the books or papers of the corporation as it may deem necessary for the ascertainment of the controverted facts; and the final judgment of the court aforesaid shall be examinable in the Supreme Court of the United States by writ of error, and be there reversed or affirmed, according to the usages of the law.
Sec. 24. And be it further enacted, That if the said corporation shall assume or exercise any franchise or privilege, or attempt to carry on any business not allowed by this act, it shall be lawful for the Attorney General of the United States, under the direction of Congress, or of the President of the United States, to file an information in the nature of a bill in equity, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia, to restrain, by injunction, the said corporation from assuming or exercising such franchise or privilege, or transacting such business. And the said court may issue temporary or perpetual writs of injunction, direct such course of proceedings, and make all such orders and decrees, on such information as may be consonant with the course of such court in cases in equity: Provided, That no final decree shall be made in any such case, unless the issues of fact joined therein shall be first found by a jury. And that, from such final decree, an appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States.
passed the House Monday, August 23, 1841.I certify that this act originated in the House of Representatives.
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
passed the Senate Friday, September 3, 1841.
Samuel L. Southard,
President of the Senate pro tempore.
M. St. Clair Clarke, Clerk.
House of Representatives,
Friday, September 10, 1841.
The main question, "That the House, on reconsideration, do agree to pass the bill," was then determined in the mode prescribed by the Constitution of the United States; when there appeared
For passing the bill, ..... 103As follows:
Against it, ..... 80
Yeas--- John Quincy Adams, Elisha Allen, Landaff Andrews, Sherlock Andrews, Thomas Arnold, John Aycrigg, Osmyn Baker, Daniel Barnard, Richard Barton, Victory Birdseye, Henry Black, Bernard Blair, William Boardman, Nathaniel Borden, John Botts, Milton Brown, Jeremiah Brown, Barker Burnell, William Butler, William Campbell, Thomas Campbell, Zadok Casey, John Clark, Benjamin Cowen, Robert Cranston, James Cravens, Caleb Cushing, Garrett Davis, William Dawson, Edmund Deberry, John Edwards, Horace Everett, Millard Fillmore, Lawrence Foster, Roger Gamble, William Goggin, Patrick Goode, James Graham, Willis Green, John Greig, Richard Habersham, Hiland Hall, William Halsted, Thomas Henry, Charles Hudson, James Irvin, Francis James, Isaac Jones, John Kennedy, Thomas Butler King, Henry Lane, Joseph Lawrence, Thomas Marshall, Samson Mason, Joshua Mathiot, John Mattocks, John Maxwell, John Maynard, Christopher Morgan, Calvary Morris, Jeremiah Morrow, Thomas Osborne, Bryan Owsley, John Pope, Cuthbert Powell, Benjamin Randall, Alexander Randall, Joseph Randolph, Kenneth Rayner, Abraham Rencher, Joseph Ridgway, George Rodney, William Russell, Leverett Saltonstall, Augustine Shepperd, William Simonton, William Slade, Truman Smith, James Sprigg, Edward Stanly, Samuel Stokely, Charles Stratton, Alexander Stuart, John Stuart, George Summers, John Thompson, Richard Thompson, Joseph Tillinghast, George Toland, Thomas Tomlinson, Philip Triplett, Joseph Trumbull, Joseph Underwood, Henry VanRensselaer, David Wallace, Lott Warren, Edward White, Thomas Williams, Lewis Williams, Joseph Williams, Robert Winthrop, Thomas Jones Yorke, Augustus Young.
Nays--- Archibald Arrington, Charles Atherton, Linn Banks, Benjamin Bidlack, Linn Boyd, David Brewster, Aaron Brown, Charles Brown, William Butler, Patrick Caldwell, John Campbell, Reuben Chapman, James Clinton, Walter Coles, Richard Davis, John Dawson, Ezra Dean, Andrew Doig, Ira Eastman, John Edwards, Joseph Egbert, Charles Ferris, John Floyd, Charles Floyd, Joseph Fornance, James Gerry, Thomas Gilmer, William Goode, Amos Gustine, William Harris, John Hastings, Samuel Hays, Isaac Holmes, George Hopkins, Jacob Houck, George Houston, Edmund Hubard, Robert Hunter, Charles Ingersoll, William Irwin, William Jack, Cave Johnson, John Jones, George Keim, Andrew Kennedy, Dixon Lewis, Abraham McClellan, Robert McClellan, James McKay, John McKeon, Francis Mallory, Albert Marchand, John Mason, James Mathews, William Medill, John Miller, Peter Newhard, William Parmenter, Samuel Patridge, William Payne, Arnold Plumer, George Proffit, John Reynolds, Barnwell Rhett, Lewis Riggs, James Rogers, Tristram Shaw, Benjamin Shields, John Snyder, Lewis Steenrod, George Sweney, Hopkins Turney, John VanBuren, Aaron Ward, Harvey Watterson, John Weller, John Westbrook, James Williams, Henry Wise, Fernando Wood.
And so the said bill was not passed, two-thirds of the House, on reconsideration, not agreeing to pass the same.
To the House of Representatives of the United States:
It is with extreme regret that I feel myself constrained by the duty faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and to the best of my ability to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States" to return to the House in which it originated the bill "to provide for the better collection, safe-keeping, and disbursement of the public revenue by means of a corporation to be styled the Fiscal Corporation of the United States," with my written objections.
In my message sent to the Senate on the 16th day of August last, returning the bill "to incorporate the subscribers to the Fiscal Bank of the United States," I distinctly declared that my own opinion had been uniformly proclaimed to be against the exercise "of the power of Congress to create a national bank to operate per se over the Union," and, entertaining that opinion, my main objection to that bill was based upon the highest moral and religious obligations of conscience and the Constitution. I readily admit that whilst the qualified veto with which the Chief Magistrate is invested should be regarded and was intended by the wise men who made it a part of the Constitution as a great conservative principle of our system, without the exercise of which on important occasions a mere representative majority might urge the Government in its legislation beyond the limits fixed by its framers or might exert its just powers too hastily or oppressively, yet it is a power which ought to be most cautiously exerted, and perhaps never except in a case eminently involving the public interest or one in which the oath of the President, acting under his convictions, both mental and moral, imperiously requires its exercise. In such a case he has no alternative. He must either exert the negative power intrusted to him by the Constitution chiefly for its own preservation, protection, and defense or commit an act of gross moral turpitude. Mere regard to the will of a majority must not in a constitutional republic like ours control this sacred and solemn duty of a sworn officer. The Constitution itself I regard and cherish as the embodied and written will of the whole people of the United States. It is their fixed and fundamental law, which they unanimously prescribe to the public functionaries, their mere trustees and servants. This their will and the law which they have given us as the rule of our action have no guard, no guaranty of preservation, protection, and defense, but the oaths which it prescribes to the public officers, the sanctity with which they shall religiously observe those oaths, and the patriotism with which the people shall shield it by their own sovereign will, which has made the Constitution supreme. It must be exerted against the will of a mere representative majority or not at all. It is alone in pursuance of that will that any measure can reach the President, and to say that because a majority in Congress have passed a bill he should therefore sanction it is to abrogate the power altogether and to render its insertion in the Constitution a work of absolute supererogation. The duty is to guard the fundamental will of the people themselves from (in this case, I admit, unintentional) change or infraction by a majority in Congress; and in that light alone do I regard the constitutional duty which I now most reluctantly discharge. Is this bill now presented for my approval or disapproval such a bill as I have already declared could not receive my sanction? Is it such a bill as calls for the exercise of the negative power under the Constitution? Does it violate the Constitution by creating a national bank to operate per se over the Union? Its title, in the first place, describes its general character. It is "an act to provide for the better collection, safe-keeping, and disbursement of the public revenue by means of a corporation to be styled the Fiscal Corporation of the United States ." In style, then, it is plainly national in its character. Its powers, functions, and duties are those which pertain to the collecting, keeping, and disbursing the public revenue. The means by which these are to be exerted is a corporation to be styled the Fiscal Corporation of the United States. It is a corporation created by the Congress of the United States, in its character of a national legislature for the whole Union, to perform the fiscal purposes, meet the fiscal wants and exigencies, supply the fiscal uses, and exert the fiscal agencies of the Treasury of the United States. Such is its own description of itself. Do its provisions contradict its title? They do not. It is true that by its first section it provides that it shall be established in the District of Columbia; but the amount of its capital, the manner in which its stock is to be subscribed for and held, the persons and bodies, corporate and politic, by whom its stock may be held, the appointment of its directors and their powers and duties, its fundamental articles, especially that to establish agencies in any part of the Union, the corporate powers and business of such agencies, the prohibition of Congress to establish any other corporation with similar powers for twenty years, with express reservation in the same clause to modify or create any bank for the District of Columbia, so that the aggregate capital shall not exceed five millions, without enumerating other features which are equally distinctive and characteristic, clearly show that it can not be regarded as other than a bank of the United States, with powers seemingly more limited than have heretofore been granted to such an institution. It operates per se over the Union by virtue of the unaided and, in my view, assumed authority of Congress as a national legislature, as distinguishable from a bank created by Congress for the District of Columbia as the local legislature of the District. Every United States bank heretofore created has had power to deal in bills of exchange as well as local discounts. Both were trading privileges conferred, and both were exercised by virtue of the aforesaid power of Congress over the whole Union. The question of power remains unchanged without reference to the extent of privilege granted. If this proposed corporation is to be regarded as a local bank of the District of Columbia, invested by Congress with general powers to operate over the Union, it is obnoxious to still stronger objections. It assumes that Congress may invest a local institution with general or national powers. With the same propriety that it may do this in regard to a bank of the District of Columbia it may as to a State bank. Yet who can indulge the idea that this Government can rightfully, by making a State bank its fiscal agent, invest it with the absolute and unqualified powers conferred by this bill? When I come to look at the details of the bill, they do not recommend it strongly to my adoption. A brief notice of some of its provisions will suffice.
First. It may justify substantially a system of discounts of the most objectionable character. It is to deal in bills of exchange drawn in one State and payable in another without any restraint. The bill of exchange may have an unlimited time to run, and its renewability is nowhere guarded against. It may, in fact, assume the most objectionable form of accommodation paper. It is not required to rest on any actual, real, or substantial exchange basis. A drawer in one place becomes the accepter in another, and so in turn the accepter may become the drawer upon a mutual understanding. It may at the same time indulge in mere local discounts under the name of bills of exchange. A bill drawn at Philadelphia on Camden, N.J., at New York on a border town in New Jersey, at Cincinnati on Newport, in Kentucky, not to multiply other examples, might, for anything in this bill to restrain it, become a mere matter of local accommodation. Cities thus relatively situated would possess advantages Over cities otherwise situated of so decided a character as most justly to excite dissatisfaction.
Second. There is no limit prescribed to the premium in the purchase of bills of exchange, thereby correcting none of the evils under which the community now labors, and operating most injuriously upon the agricultural States, in which the irregularities in the rates of exchange are most severely felt. Nor are these the only consequences. A resumption of specie payments by the banks of those States would be liable to indefinite postponement; for as the operation of the agencies of the interior would chiefly consist in selling bills of exchange, and the purchases could only be made in specie or the notes of banks paying specie, the State banks would either have to continue with their doors closed or exist at the mercy of this national monopoly of brokerage. Nor can it be passed over without remark that whilst the District of Columbia is made the seat of the principal bank, its citizens are excluded from all participation in any benefit it might afford by a positive prohibition on the bank from all discounting within the District.
These are some of the objections which prominently exist against the details of the bill. Others might be urged of much force, but it would be unprofitable to dwell upon them. Suffice it to add that this charter is designed to continue for twenty years without a competitor; that the defects to which I have alluded, being founded on the fundamental law of the corporation, are irrevocable, and that if the objections be well founded it would be over hazardous to pass the bill into a law.
In conclusion I take leave most respectfully to say that I have felt the most anxious solicitude to meet the wishes of Congress in the adoption of a fiscal agent which, avoiding all constitutional objections, should harmonize conflicting opinions. Actuated by this feeling, I have been ready to yield much in a spirit of conciliation to the opinions of others; and it is with great pain that I now feel compelled to differ from Congress a second time in the same session. At the commencement of this session, inclined from choice to defer to the legislative will, I submitted to Congress the propriety of adopting a fiscal agent which, without violating the Constitution, would separate the public money from the Executive control and perform the operations of the Treasury without being burdensome to the people or inconvenient or expensive to the Government. It is deeply to be regretted that this department of the Government can not upon constitutional and other grounds concur with the legislative department in this last measure proposed to attain these desirable objects. Owing to the brief space between the period of the death of my lamented predecessor and my own installation into office, I was, in fact, not left time to prepare and submit a definitive recommendation of my own in my regular message, and since my mind has been wholly occupied in a most anxious attempt to conform my action to the legislative will. In this communication I am confined by the Constitution to my objections simply to this bill, but the period of the regular session will soon arrive, when it will be my duty, under another clause of the Constitution, "to give to Congress information of the state of the Union and recommend to their consideration such measures as" I "shall judge necessary and expedient." And I most respectfully submit, in a spirit of harmony, whether the present differences of opinion should be pressed further at this time, and whether the peculiarity of my situation does not entitle me to a postponement of this subject to a more auspicious period for deliberation. The two Houses of Congress have distinguished themselves at this extraordinary session by the performance of an immense mass of labor at a season very unfavorable both to health and action, and have passed many laws which I trust will prove highly beneficial to the interests of the country and fully answer its just expectations. It has been my good fortune and pleasure to concur with them in all measures except this. And why should our difference on this alone be pushed to extremes? It is my anxious desire that it should not be. I too have been burdened with extraordinary labors of late, and I sincerely desire time for deep and deliberate reflection on this the greatest difficulty of my Administration. May we not now pause until a more favorable time, when, with the most anxious hope that the Executive and Congress may cordially unite, some measure of finance may be deliberately adopted promotive of the good of our common country?
I will take this occasion to declare that the conclusions to which I have brought myself are those of a settled conviction, founded, in my opinion, on a just view of the Constitution; that in arriving at it I have been actuated by no other motive or desire than to uphold the institutions of the country as they have come down to us from the hands of our godlike ancestors, and that I shall esteem my efforts to sustain them, even though I perish, more honorable than to win the applause of men by a sacrifice of my duty and my conscience.