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March 7, 1832.)
Bank of the United States.
(H. OF R.
tleman read the catalogue yesterday, much to his own hibited from commencing business until a given amount,
If this be a sufficient reason for refusing to about eight millions, was actually paid in, and that, by a renew the charter, refuse it; but why institute this com- fair construction, the bank is at all times to have that mittee! The opinion of Mr. Jefferson has been cited in amount on hand, and a neglect in this particular is a vio. this debate, especially by the honorable gentleman from lation or abuse of the charter. If so, sir, the bank might South Carolina, (Mr. Mitchell.) He forgot, however, have violated its charter the very first day of its operato inform us that Mr. Jefferson, when President, sold to tions. If its first emissions had been immediately return. foreigners all the stock which the United States held in ed upon it for specie, the sum on hand must inevitably the then existing bank, giving a practical illustration of have been reduced below the amount required to have his opinion of the dangers to be apprehended from fo. been paill in. Sir, it is wholly impossible for this or any reigners holding stock in that institution.
other bank, at all times, to have any given amount of spe“Non-user of the charter" is another ground of com- cie on hand-all that can be required is, that it shall have plaint by the honorable member against the bank, and in abundant means to meet its bills whenever they are prewhat does it consist? Why, sir, it seems that some of the sented. The gentleman says this is not the case now, and branches omitted to issue any bills or currency of any the apparent prosperity of the bank is illusory—that it is kind for several years, and this, the gentleman asserts, in a desperate condition, and could be broken in twenty. was impoverishing and injurious to the country and the four hours. How is this to be done? He says it has but local banks, in the highest degree. It is an offence, he seven millions in specie, and two millions of local bank contends, for which it should be held answerable. notes on band, making nine millions. Now let the banks
I confess, sir, I was not quite prepared for the conse- in Philadelphia and New York come in suddenly with ten quences which the honorable gentleman attributes to this millions of their bills, and how, he asks, can they meet circumstance, after having listened to his moving account the run? Perhaps, si", in such a case, it could not well of the ruin and distress brought upon that section of the be done. But where are these local banks to get ten country by the issuing of currency from the several millions? It is a thing not very speedily to be accomplishbranches. If the former was so serious an evil, the latter ed. While these banks are accumulatingthis large would generally be considered a benefit. The process amount, is the United States' Bank idle or stationary? Are by which this evil was inflicted upon the country, the gen. not its funds increasing more rapidly still? Why is it that tleman has described. And it seems that several of the they have no more than nine millions in specie and other branches were for a long period places of " deposite” bills? From this very operation of exchanges and runs merely, not of “discount." They issued no currency of by the local banks. Having come in with their ten miltheir own, but collected the bills of other banks, for which lions, if the gentleman will have it so, the United States' they drew specie, and this was transmitted to the parent Bank had still nine millions left. Ay, but “get ten mil. bank. They transacted their business upon the bills of lions more"--yes, sir, get it first, and it will be quite time the local banks. Such is the account given by the gen- enough then to see what means the bank has to meet it. tleman. Sir, in what way did they get the bills of other The nonorable member says that the United States' Bank .banks? By deposite. Well, sir, if they collected these has forty millions of dollars in circulation, and there are in specie, and sent this specie to Philadelphia, and issued but fourteen millions of specie in the United States; and no bills of their own, how did they pay their depositors, he thinks this a very alarming circumstance. If the bank Were these gratuities to the mother bank? Were the has half of the whole specie in the country, I think it depositors so accommodating as to permit their fund to be must be admitted to be much safer than the local banks, given to that institution? Probably not. They were doubt- which, with the other half, have a circulation, as he in. less paid in specie, other equivalent currency, or drafts on forms us, of one hundred and thirty millions. The honorathe bank, which the depositors or others wanted. Then ble gentleman seems to suppose that the bank should have no injury is done to any one. Did the local banks suffer) as much specie on hand as it has bills in circulation. Did If their bills had been sent to Philadelphia, would they not any bank under heaven ever exhibit such a condition? have been returned home for specie? if they would not Has it no other means of redeeming its bills but in specie have been received at Philadelphia, would not the specie or bills of other banks! How are the fifty or sixty mil. have been drawn and sent instead of them? I am at å lions due to it to be paid? Much of it, doubtless, in its loss to understand how a very large business could have own bills. Instead of redeeming by specie or other cur. been done on deposites, which, in their nature, are tem- rency, much is redeemed by the notes and obligations of porary and fluctuating. If they were deposites of public its debtors, who are constantly paying their debts in the moneys, then the only operation is, that the bank has been bills of the bank. A very small proportion of specie ena. the means of collecting the funds of the Government, bles a well conducted bank to transact its business, and converting them into specie, transmitting it at its own risk what it may want in the final settlement of its concerns and expense, and all this it was bound to do by the terms will be furnished in good currency by its debtors. The of its charter. This was originally considered a benefit honorable member need have no apprehension that the to the Government, not an injury. As to their not emit- country is ruined, because there is not a dollar in specie ting bills or currency of their own, I know not how the to redeem every dollar of paper in circulation. But it fact is, but doubtless they refrained from doing so, be seems to me, sir, that this objection is not very consistent cause the condition of the bank would not warrant it. It with another, made by the honorable member, and which was their interest to do it, if it could have been done safe. here and elsewhere has been urged against the bank with ly; and I trust we are not about to decide as to the pru- great vehemence, and that is, that this is a “mammoth dence or imprudence of particular issues at particular institution"--wielding all the money power of the nation, periods and places. The directors were the best judges capable of breaking down the local banks, and permitting of that, and we all know in what a condition of peril the them only to have a limited and precarious existence. In bank was once placed by excessive issues in the South his zeal against the bank, the honorable gentleman has and West. Restraint was absolutely necessary to the not been careful to make his objections harmonize with solvency of the bank, and its character was restored by each other. If the Bank of the United States can be run what the gentleman now denominates a "non-user of the upon and broken in twenty-four hours, by the local banks charter."
of two cities, it surely cannot be a very dangerous institu“Not cash enough in the vaults.” This is another tion to these local banks. If they can break it, surely it charge against the bank, and the honorable gentleman cannot break them. Both charges cannot be true. For contends, by the terms of the charter, the bank was pro- myself, I believe neither of them. Mutual hostilities might
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Bank of the United States.
[March 7, 1832.
injure both in some degree, and so far would injure the incompetent or faithless, and so use the power which they community; but that any danger is to be apprehended possess as to injure the country or the Government, I either on the one ground or the other, I am far from be- would, or would not, hold the bank responsible, accordlieving; certain J am it cannot be on both grounds. The ing as it did or did not sustain, sanction, or authorize such honorable gentleman (Mr. CLAYTON] contends that the proceedings. Now, sir, I had supposed that all the errors bank is not entitled to so much praise as has generally been and mismanagement occurring prior to 1819 had been accorded to it, for restoring a sound currency throughout entirely liquidated and settled between the Government the Union, and he says that any other bank, having the and the bank. The bank has redeemed itself from the peculiar advantages given to it which this enjoys, could previous errors of its officers and agents. If gentlemen bave done the same. If the member means to say that are not yet satisfied, let them condemn it now; but they any other institution, with the same capital, the same pri- cannot want further information on this point. vileges of every description, managed with the same pru The honorable gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Patton] dence, fidelity, and ability, would have accomplished the contends, and rightfully, that the bank should not be vestsame results, nobody will be disposed to controvert his ed with powers to engage in commerce, manufactures, position. The same might be said of a single individual or become owners of plantations and negroes, or woolperhaps. But, sir, the question is, has it not accomplish-growers. Certainly it should not; and if there is any ed these objects? And, if so, is it not entitled to the cre- danger to be apprehended of such events, we can very dit of the achievement? If other means or institutions easily impose restraints in the renewal of the charter. if had been adopted for this purpose, with success, and the any further limitation of the right to hold land is necessary, question now was upon the continuance of such other we can now make it. All this can be accomplished, withmeans, then it would have been a fair and sound argument out instituting the inquiry proposed. in favor of their continuance. So it is now, in favor of I will not exhaust the patience of the House by exathe bank. I take it, however, that it is quite unnecessary mining all the specifications against the bank made by the to send a select committee to Philadelphia, to settle this honorable gentleman from Georgia, (Mr. CLAITON,) nor point: for that is the matter to which the argument of the attempt to follow him in all the remarks and arguments honorable member is directed.
by wbich he has endeavored to support them. They have The gentleman complains that the bank has made “ex- been fully met and refuted, in my judgment, by the cessive issues” within a short period, increasing the cir- honorable member from South Carolina, (Mr. McDuffie.) culation nine millions in about as many months; and he There are some, however, so extraordinary, that I cannot sees in this a deep design to purchase public opinion in its forbear very briefly to advert to them. “Loans to editors favor. So far as the fact, what amount of circulation has and printers,” for improper purposes. If the honorable been issued is wanting, we know it already. No inquiry gentleman is disposed to enter into an inquiry as to the is necessary on that score. As to the design, does not policy and propriety of favors and rewards to this class of every body know that the last year was one of uncommon citizens, I am quite ready to go with him. If he is anxious activity and prosperity, in business of every kind and de- to preserve the purity and freedom of the press, and to scription? Does not such a state of affairs require a large visit with his indignation all attempts to corrupt or control. circulation? Is it believed that the bank has forced loans it
, I am happy to know it; because I had supposed the upon the community? Or bas it only yielded to the wants honorable member to belong to a school which did not reof its customers? Is it the purpose of the gentleman to gard it a very criminal offence to bestow "favors” upon investigate the circumstances under which each and all printers and editors. In the process of purification, howof its discounts have been made for the last year? If it ever, the gentleman need not go to Philadelphia. Matis, he will not have concluded his examinations before ters of this sort may be found much nearer to this place, our seats must be made vacant for those who may come if the gentleman chooses to investigate them. But does after us.
the honorable member seriously propose to appoint a seThe honorable gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. lect committee to determine to what extent "editors and MITCHELL) argues from the general liability of banks to printers” may safely be allowed to have bank accommoabuse; and he puts, by way of illustration, a case which dations?-where bonorable dealing ends, and corruption occurred many years ago in the city of New York. It begins? Does he propose to arraign before him, every seems that a cashier of one of the banks there, who had individual of this class who has dealings with the bank, sustained a good character, resigned his situation, went to and to investigate their private concerns, their motives Europe, where he is still living in wealth and splendor, and objects, and how far their judgment has been swayed and it has only very recently been discovered that he had and controlled by bank influence? robbed the bank of a large amount of money. Doubtless, “ False clamor” in favor of the bank is one of the sir, instances of fraud lave occurred; doubtless they will charges which the gentleman wishes to have investigated. occur again. All human institutions," the works of men's He cannot conceive why so numerous and urgent memobands,"
are imperfect. Government itself is liable to rials are pouring in from all quarters, praying the renewal, abuse. But are we therefore to have no Government, no unless the bank has improperly exerted its power and ininstitutions of civilized society? Does the gentleman in- Auence, anıl operated upon its debtors and other local stance this as one of the possible abuses which we are to banks by threats of oppression. Has the gentleman any investigate? Is it our duty, or have we the right reserved grounds for his suspicions? How will he investigate? in the charter, to examine into the fidelity of the various Why, sir, he must summon before him all the petitioners subordinate officers of the bank? The worthy member from every quarter of the Union, and interrogate them as [Mr. MITCHELL) complains also of “fraud in the original to the motives by which they were influenced. Will he distribution of the stock.” Sir, that was fully investigated do this? As to “o false clamor,” is there none against the by a select committee of the House in 1819, and we have bank? Will the honorable gentleman inquire into this? their report. Nothing more, certainly, can be wanted, or Will he ascertain whether instructions have not gone from can be procured. If that furnishes a sufficient reason this place to the chiefs of “the party," " to get up resoagainst the recharter, so be it; but no further inquiry is lutions against the bank" for political effect, and to suss necessary. I do not say, Mr. Speaker, if the bank, as a tain the President in his determination? Whether a high corporation, should wilfully violate its charter, that 1 officer of this Government did or did not send such direcwould, under any circumstances, consent to renew it; but tions to one of the Western States, which, I believe, were I would distinguish between the acts of the corporation implicitly followed? Will he look into the force of party and the proceedings of some of its officers. If they prove discipline which bas been brought to bear upon the bank
MARCH 7, 1832.]
Bank of the United States.
(H. Or R.
in various States? Sir, as to “ false clamor," if investi- tion of the House. Nevertheless, sir, as an act of justice gated on both sides, there is no doubt where the prepon- to that institution, and to enable it to refute the charges derance will be found. I hope, however, the great which gentlemen seem to think are serious and weighty, question is to be settled, not by clamor" on either side, and to disabuse the public mind of the calumnies which but that we shall act upon higher considerations. have been propagated elsewhere, and to prevent an im
“ Interference in elections.” Does the gentleman wish pression being made abroad that the bank or its friends an inquiry, a broad inquiry, into the improper official in- evaded or suppressed inquiry, if the course indicated by fuences which have been exerted upon the freedom of the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. CRAWFORD] should -elections? Does he wish it? I abstain from pursuing the be adopted, if the committee be chosen by ballot, and in
inquiry, and from saying what the 'occasion might well structed to report facts, and not theories and speculajustify: But what is the foundation of the charge thus tions, and to report by a given day, early enough to admit brought forward? Why, sir, simply this. One of the offi. the action of the House this session upon the bill to recers of the branch at Norfolk had the audacity, on some charter the bank, I shall give to the resolution my assent. occasion, to attend at the polls to vote himself—to scru. Whatever form it may take, however, the honorable gentinize the votes of others--and to declare that he was op- tleman is destined, I apprehend, to gather no enviable posed to Andrew Jackson. The honorable gentleman, laurels in this crusadle. with his usual minuteness as to facts, has informed us that Mr. BEARDSLEY, of New York, said this debate had "a fight ensued.” This was very proper, undoubtedly, taken a very wide range, and had embraced almost every for the investigation of some justice of the peace, or po- subject and consideration at all connected with the gene. lice officer, in that vicinity. But are we to become iht ral topic of the renewal of the bank charter. The conguardians of the public peace? Is the Bank of the United stitutional question, said Mr. B., has been discussed with States to be held responsible for the passions, the political zeal and ability; and every view which may be supposed contentions, the votes of all its officers, clerks, and agents, to bear upon the policy of sustaining this institution, or scattered widely over this Union? Is it not to be rechar- of suffering it to expire, has been presented to the House. tered, because some persons in its employment have the It is not my purpose, sir, to discuss either the constitupresumption not to approve the course of the President, tional question, or the policy of that measure. These, and are opposed to his re-election? Above all, sir, what indeed, in my estimation, have no relation to, or bearing does the honorable gentleman expect to find at the bank upon, the present question. If we concede both the conin Philadelphia, touching this or any similar instance? stitutionality and the expediency of a national bank, still
Mr. Speaker, the first time the honorable member from the inquiry now asked for may be equally proper and Georgia (Mr. CLAYTON) addressed the House, having but necessary: recently taken his seat here, he deemed it suitable and It may be well, sir, to recur for a moment to the origidecorous to admonish those of us who were then endea- nal posture of the resolution now under consideration, and yoring to prosecute an inquiry, and to search out what we to trace its progress to this time. To understand that, a believed to be a gross fraud, to abstain from the object brief notice of the bank will be proper. we had in view; for though he would not impugn our mo The Bank of the United States was incorporated in tives, yet it would be done elsewhere. The people, he 1816, with a capital of thirty-five millions of dollars, and said, entertained the opinion that much of our proceed. has been in operation from that period to the present time. ings here was dictated for party and political objects; Its charter will expire in 1836. Of its stock; seven mil. that abuses were pretended to exist which had no founda- lions of dollars are owned by the United States, a greater tion. And he read us a grave lecture to attend to our amount by foreigners, and the residue by individual citiappropriate business, for fear the people would attribute zens. It has planted branches in many of the States, and our conduct to unworthy motives.' Sir, let me commend in some States several branches. Its dividends have been the gentlemali's advice to himself. Will not the people liberal, and it is now prosecuting a very advantageous be apt to suspect that the object of this resolution is not business in the art, trade, and mystery of banking. The what it purports to be?-that the real purpose is to delay bank has presented a petition for a renewal of its charter the rechartering of the bank until after the Presidential for another period of twenty years; and the Committee of election!--to screen the President from the necessity of Ways and Means of this House has reported a bill in acdeciding upon it until he is beyond the reach of the popu- cordance with that prayer. At this stage of that applicalar will? Will they not say that it is to prepare the public tion, an honorable member from Georgia (Mr. CLAYTON) mind, by impressing it with a belief of the misdemeanors presents charges of a very grave character, involving not of the bank, for the Presidential negative? The honora-only the pecuniary responsibility, but the integrity of the ble member from Virginia (Mr. Patron] told us these institution. He moves the appointment of a select comthings had been said already; and he thought it necessary mittee to investigate these charges, and asks that the comto devote some fifteen minutes of his speech toa disclaimer mitlee shall be armed with the necessary power to effect of any such motives on his part. The honorable mover the desired object. And how, sir, was this proposition bimself commenced by a very solemn denial of any such met in the House? It was opposed. The charges were deintentions on his part. If the matter be so suspicious on clared to be groundless, and altogether unworthy of the the face of it, I beg the honorable member to consider serious notice of the House. Such, sir, was the course whether the advice he was so kind as to proffer to us originally taken by gentlemen who avowed themselves should not have the sanction of his own example. favorable to this institution, and to an immediate renewal
I have refrained, sir, from discussing the merits of the of its charter. Nor was this ground changed or abandonquestion which will soon come before the House. Whened, until an honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. ever it shall be presented, I shall be prepared to act upon WATMOUGH,] and a frank and zealous friend to the insti. it, and I trust to give the reasons, if necessary, which will tution, announced his willingness that an inquiry should influence my vote. At present the question is, the expe- be gone into, but moved to amend the resolution by subdiency of instituting the proposed investigation. I do not stituting the Committee of Ways and Means for a select deem it necessary, because the matters brought in charge committee. I need hardly remark, sir, that this step of against the bank are already fully known and understood the honorable gentleman produced a very sudden and --or such as, if true, the bank are in no way responsible striking effect upon the House. It conceded the profor; or such as no scrutiny at the bank can elicit any infor- priety of an inquiry. It broke the apparently compact mation upon--or, I say it without intending offence or dis- front of the opposition to that measure; and it merely prorespect, are frivolous, and unworthy the grave considera-/ posed that a standing committee of the House, instead of
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Bank of the United States.
(MARCH 7, 1832.
one raised for that special purpose, should perform the i terfere to compel a report. But until some indication of delicate and important duty. It was manifest, sir, that such a disposition was given, he [Mr. B.) for one was opthis change in the direction of the inquiry was not favora- posed to any limitation in point of time. bly received by the House. Proposed as it had been, and He also objected to the choice of a committee by balfrom the purest motives, it would still, if adopted, be lot, instead of leaving the selection, as in ordinary cases, subject to misconstruction. The Committee of Ways and to the Chair. The House might, if it pleased, in his opi. Means was favorable to a rechartering of the bank. If nion, very properly settle the principle upon which the there was ground for an inquiry, it was proper that inquiry committee should be organized. It might declare that it should be made by those whose hostile feelings would ought to be composed of the friends, or of those hostile to prompt them to a rigid scrutiny. All this was apparent, the institution. But, sir, said Mr. B., when this rule has and was too just to admit of hesitation or doubt. The ho- been established by the House, I would desire to know in norable chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means what manner its observance can be secured in a ballot for [Mr. McDufrie] saw the dilemma in which the House was members of the committee. The Chair, no doubt, may placed, and with commendable frankness and intrepidity very readily designate a committee of either character: announced that he would no longer oppose the inquiry, but it would be somewhat difficult, as he (Mr. B.) believand that it would best comport, not only with his feelings, ed, for this House to choose by ballot seven members, a but with his view of propriety, to have the examination majority of whom should certainly be either favorable or made by a select committee, rather than by the one indi. adverse to the bank, according to the principle upon cated in the amendment proposed by the honorable gen- which the House should desire to organize the committee. tleman from Pennsylvania. 'Upon this suggestion, that It must, however, be admitted that the mode of selecting amendment was withdrawn. At this juncture, the ele. the committee is but a secondary consideration. The imments of opposition seemed to be hushed. There was an portant feature is its character. Shall it be made up of apparently general wish to close the discussion, and to the ardent friends of the bank, or, on the other hand, of dispose of the subject without further delay. An ad- those who are adverse to a renewal of the charter? He journment of the House, however, took place. Time was (Mr. B.) understood the uniform and established parliagiven to recover from the panic; and subsequent developmentary rule to be, that when charges of misconduct were ments leave no doubt that the inquiry, if ordered, must preferred against a public officer, or a public institution, be by the strength of votes, and not by concessions from the investigation, if one was directed, should be made by any quarter.
a committee, a majority of which should not be composed Some gentlemen are still opposed to all inquiry. Others, of those whose views were favorable to such officer or inalthough favorable to this object, are yet of' opinion that a stitution. Such he [Mr. B.) understood to have been the majority of the committee should be friendly to the bank. uniform course of this House, and of all well regulated
it has also been suggested that some short period should legislative bodies--a course which could not fail to combe fixed as a limit to this inquiry, and the committee be mend itself to the judgment of every dispassionate mind; required, peremptorily, to report by a certain day. for he would venture to say that no public institution,
With a view to attain one or all of these objects, my ho- or public officer, would deserve to be sustained, if una. norable colleague (Mr. Root) has this morning proposed, ble to endure the most rigid public scrutiny of such a comas an amendment to the resolution, that the committee mittee. shall be chosen by ballot, and not appointed in the ordi I believe, sir, said Mr. B., that the power of the House nary mode by the Chair.
to institute this inquiry has not been drawn in question; Sir, I would ask if these different propositions do really nor could it well be. The charter of the bank expressly tend to aid the House in disposing of this matter in a pro- retained and conferred it upon the House. He would per way. If we desire, and are to have an inquiry, let it add, that we had a precedent for its exercise, and one be granted in the ordinary mode, and in conformity with which he thought might well be followed on the present well established principles. Place it in the hands of those occasion. In 1818, a similar inquiry was instituted. It who will be prompted both by feeling and a sense of duty was within two years after the first organization of the to make it thorough and searching. Let the concerns of bank. Yet, at that early period, it was found in the most this institution be probed, and, as far as propriety and a unsound and alarming condition: and, but for that examinregard to individual rights will tolerate, let them be ex- ation, it must have sunk in utter and irretrievable ruin. posed to the view of this House, and of the world. If it It was that, sir, and that alone, which restored it to any has neither transcended its powers, nor perverted them to thing like a healthful and safe condition, and which seunworthy or profligate purposes; if, in truth, sir, it is as cured to it any large proportion of the public confidence. represented, so sound in its condition, so healthful in its if an examination was proper at that period, is it not action, and of such exemplary morality, its friends surely much more so now? Called upon as we are to give or need not blush at its exposure, and its enemies may be withhold a renewal of its charter, have we not a right, confounded as they gaze upon so rare and so sublime a nay, more, is it not our imperative duty, to look into all spectacle.
its operations to insist that its most secret movements It was hardly necessary, nor would he (Mr. B.) at this should be submitted to a severe and rigid scrutiny? Are time advert to the particular character of the charges we, while these charges exist against it, to renew it on which had been brought against the bank. It was con- trust? Are we to presume it honest, patriotic, and justly ceded that if those charges were true, they were such as entitled to exclusive privileges? This, a moneyed corpoto deserve the consideration of the House. Their truth ration, a mere legal entity, a body without a soul; with was denied. Hence the necessity of an examination, an most fearful powers; and yet, while clamoring for a reexamination which should be full and minute; and what newal, are we not to look beyond such statements of its ever time should be required for the purpose, certainly condition as it may choose to give us? What, sir, do we ought to be allowed by the House. Why, he woukl ask, know of the interior and domestic operations of this instiin the outset limit the committee to any certain time? tution? And what, in these respects, can we learn from Why limit them to a short time? Would the House act the statements with which we are furnished? Are we to upon the supposition that a committee, in violation of its be satisfied with gazing at the exterior only? How has its duty, would attempt to prolong or procrastinate this inves- secret service fund been disposed of? What items of extigation? When it should appear that the committee was penditure have entered into its ordinary disbursements justly open to such charge or suspicion, it would be in and current expenses? What gratuities, jobs, or disguis. time to act; and then the House might very properly in-'ed loans have been made to secure influence, co-opera
MARCH 7, 1832.]
Bank of the United States.
[H. OF R.
tion, and patronage? to enlist the press? to silence oppo- comes at too late a period: we shall not be able to act on sition to rally friends? Sir, without pretending to aver the “respectful” petition for a renewal during this session. that there is any thing really wrong in the conduct of this Respectful! I will not suggest, sir, that it is not decoinstitution, or any just ground for the suspicions which are rous in its terms; but I will say, that had it proffered a abroad, I must maintain that justice to the country and to willingness to submit to a rigid scrutiny, had it invited the bank alike demand that the investigation should take such scrutiny, it would, in my estimation, have commendplace; that we ought, in no event, nor under any circum- ed itself more to the favor of the House, than by a cautious stances, to act upon the subject of renewal, until the in- reserve in that respect. But, sir, although, for one, I am vestigation shall be closed.
very willing to act finally and definitively upon the appliSuch would be the course of any prudent individual in cation during the present session, and although I believe the management of his private concerns. Let us suppose, we have ample time to do so before we adjourn, giving sir, that you had employed an agent for twenty years to full scope for this examination; yet suppose that shall be conduct the business of an extensive and important esta- found impracticable, what then? Are we to be charged blishment; one which, while it in a great degree committed with a dereliction of public duty and a neglect of the your fortune and your character to bis trust, afforded him, 'public interest? What special necessity exists for an imto say the least, many convenient opportunities to build mediate disposition of this question? This Congress will up his own fortune at the sacrifice of the interest and fame be together at another session. Then at least we shall of his employer. He had, to be sure, from time to time, have ample time to dispose of the application. But what rendered general statements of the condition of the busi-, time would probably be required for this examination? ness, and paid over the balances thus ascertained. You That of 1818 occupied but a few weeks, and yet reporthad never gone through the books but once, and that'ed a volume of testimony. If all is right, this investigashortly after he began the business, and then you found tion will necessarily be short; if, on the other hand, there them in the most confused and disorderly condition. He is any just foundation for the charges and suspicions which now applies to be continued in this employment for twenty are aHoat, time cannot be better employed than in detectyears more. I ask, sir, would you renew the engagement: ing and exposing them. This session will probably conwould you again put yourself in his hands for twenty tinue for three months more, and the next for three months. years, and that without any scrutiny into the actual con- Can we not trust ourselves in this matter? This objection dition of the business which had, for so long a period, been of a want of time is indeed the most groundless of all obcommitted to his charge! Especially, sir, would you rush 'jections. If made by the bank, it would afford a strong headlong into this new bargain, if your agent stood charg- suspicion that it feared to meet inquiry. ed with infidelity in his employment, and a disregard of We then have power to make this investigation. every interest but his own?
The time is sufficient. But we have been told by my honorable colleague, (Mr. The question of renewal calls for it. Root,] that this Government and the bank are copartners The charges made demand it at our hands. in business, a relation which implies confidence, and should I will now, sir, invite the attention of the House to repel every suspicion of misconduct. Is this so, sir? Is some of the remarks which fell from my honorable colthis corporation elevated to an equality with these sove- league, (Mr. Root.] I do this with reluctance and regret; reign States? If so, we may well give it precedence as but I will not shrink from it. They seem to me, sir, to the managing, if not the senior member of the firm, and be of a character which forbids that they should pass untake to ourselves the more humble rank of a dormant part. noticed.
But, even in that relation, as we are now invited to The prominent features of the gentleman's speech renew the articles, we may, with great propriety, inquire were, an effort to sustain the position that this examinainto the condition of the old business.
tion ought to be made by the friends of a national bank, I confess, Mr. Speaker, that the course of opposition and a general and almost indiscriminate abuse of the pubto th's resolusion strikes me as somewbat remarkable. lic authorities, the public institutions, and the banking Gentlemen are no doubt the best judges for themselves policy of bis own State. The honorable gentleman obof what is suitable and proper on this and on all other oc- served that the fair presumption might be, that the casions. But, sir, if charges like these were preferred resolutions of the Legislature of New York, against the reagainst an officer of this House, and by a member in bis chartering of this bank, were expressive of the voice of place, would any gentleman object to inquiry? If similar the people of New York. But this, he said, was not so. charges were made against any important functionary of They were the voice, he said, of a combination of banks the Government, would inquiry be opposed? Would not in New York, led by the great central bank power of that such functionary, if an honest man, seek and demand in- State, the farmers and Mechanics’ Bank of Albany. I quiry. Yet this bank, which performs many of the high also understood the honorable gentleman to object that duties of a public functionary, whose patronage and power the banking system of New York was vitious; that the are almost equal to those of this entire Government, has appointment of commissioners by the banks, "to mouse not stepped forth to proffer or solicit any investigation, out their faults," as he expressed it, was not only delusive, but, as far as we can at all judge of its motives, is averse but ridiculous; and that the safety fund system provided to such a measure. We are called upon to renew its com- no effectual guards against the frauds and insolvency of mission, to elect and instal it in office, to place it in the the banks. The honorable gentleman argued in favor of full possession and enjoyment of all its prerogatives, not a national bank, with branches extending through the for one or five years, but for half the space of human life; States, that they were necessary as places for the safe deand all without inquiry, on trust, on precisely such infor- posite and disbursement of the public revenues; that, in mation as it is pleased to give us.
the absence of these institutions, the local banks must neThe pending application for a renewal is widely differ- cessarily be resorted to for the same purposes; and that ent in this respect from one for the incorporation of a new thus these local banks, especially in the city of New York, bank. Then we should prescribe what the associates must where so large a proportion of the national revenue was do; now we find the associates together, and, without collected, would secure to themselves enormous and unknowing what their conduct has been, without any satis- due advantages, and which might render them formidafactory exposition of their present actual condition, we ble and even dangerous to similar institutions in other are called upon to renew, and in effect to perpetuate this States. mighty institutiun.
These advantages, sir, so much to be feared by the But it is said, sir, that this application for a committee public, and the institutions of other States, if enjoyed by