Imagens das páginas


[Dec. 26, 1836.

A measure of this kind would, in my opinion, best satisfy the exigencies of all the public interests involved, whether of the revenue, the currency, or the general business of the community, and would conform to the sense of the country at large. I have drawn up, Mr. President, a resolution, founded upon and imbodying these views; but I am embarrassed by a question of order, in placing it regularly before the Senate at the present moment. I will, however, take the liberty of reading it to the Senate, and will cheerfully conform to any suggestions which may be made as to the best manner of disposing it. The call of the ayes and nocs on the second reading of Mr. Fw1Ng's resolution was then withdrawn, and it was passed to a third reading by general consent, in order to admit a motion to amend; and it being then allowable to offer an amendment, Mr. Rives moved to amend it by striking out all after the word “Resolved,” and inserting in lieu of it his own resolution, as follows: Resolved, That hereafter all sums of money accruing or becoming payable to the United States, whether for customs, public lands, taxes, debts, or otherwise, shall be collected and paid only in the legal currency of the United States, or in the notes of banks which are payable and paid on demand in the said legal currency, under the following restrictions and conditions in regard to such notes: that is, from and after the passage of this resolution, the notes of no bank which shall issue bills or notes of a less denomination than five dollars shall be received in payment of the public dues; from and after the first day of July, 1839, the notes of no bank which shall issue bills or notes of a less denomination than ten dollars shall be receivable; and, from and after the 1st of July, 1841, the like prohibition shall be extended to the notes of all banks issuing bills or notes of a less denomination than twenty dollars; but the public debtors shall have the option of paying either in the said legal currency, or in the notes of banks of the description above mentioned, in good credit: provided, however, that no notes shall be taken in payment by the collectors or receivers, which the banks in which they are to be deposited shall not be willing to pass to the credit of the United States as cash. The amendment was ordered to be printed; and then, On motion of Mr. HUBBARD, The Senate adjoirned till Monday.

Mox DAY, Drc FM n ER 26.

Mr. WALL presented the petition of Maria Scudder, Martha A. Lloyd, and Elizabeth Johnston, the children and heirs of Colonel Philip Johnston, for compensation for his revolutionary services.

Mr. W. remarked: On presenting this petition, I feel that I should not discharge the duty which I have undertaken for the respectable petitioners, nor do justice to the State which I have the honor in part to represent, if I did not avail myself of the occasion to make known to you the merits and services of one of her most gallant and patriotic sons. Colonel Philip Johnston, the father of the petitioners, was among the first of her sons which the devoted patriotism of New Jersey offered on the altar of American independence. Never, sir, was there a more pure and noble sacrifice made on that altar.

At the declaration of independence, Philip Johnston was a lieutenant colonel in the New Jersey militia; he had been appointed to that rank by an ordinance of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey, passed on the 14th of June, 1776, providing to raise, by voluntary enlistment, 3,300 militia, to reinforce the army at New York. This ordinance was passed in pursuance of the resolution of the Continental Congress of the 3d of the same month.

Heirs of Colonel Philip Johnston.

On the 1st of August following he was promoted to the colonelcy of his regiment in the brigade under General Heard, destined to form part of the flying camp, then assembling, for the defence of New York. It was then well known that the enemy, with a powerful fleet, and a well-disciplined and appointed army, was menacing New York. This was, indeed, “the time that tried men's souls.” The timid sought safety in retirement, and the wavering were dismayed. At this moment the earnest and soul-stirring appeals of the Father of his Country to the patriotism and bravery of Americans, roused the patriotic spirit of the sons of New Jersey: “And from the sods of grove and glen, Rose ranks of iron-hearted inen, To battle to the death.” The reputation of Colonel Johnston for patriotism, bravery, and talents, enabled him speedily to enlist his regiment, and at its head he marched to defend his “bleeding and enfeebled country.” He was then in the vigor of manhood, in the possession of a moderate competency, and the prospects of the future bright before him. These, and all the endearments of the domestic circle, a young and beloved wife, and three daughters of tender years, he left at the call of his country. *he morning of the 27th of August, 1776, found Colonel Johnston at the head of his gallant regiment, on the battle-ground of Long Island, resolved, in the language of his illustrious commander-in-chief, “to conquer or to die.” He fought near the side, and under the eye of his immediate commander, General Sullivan. It was a post of danger as well as of honor, and demanded both courage and conduct. Never did any officer more gallantly fulfil the expectations of his country, or more gloriously earn a title to the blessings and praises of his countrymen. He fell at the head of his regiment by a wound in his breast, and bravely struggling to turn the fortunes of that disastrous day. He died for his country, and under its banner, fighting for the general defence, and to secure the blessings of freedom for his whole country. Yes, sir, he died in the cause and service of America, for the liberty and rights of all, and left to his countrymen an inestinable legacy, the example of his pure patriotism, his devoted courage, his chivalrous gallantry, and his glorious death. Who can calculate the extent, the influence, and the value, of that example upon the fortunes of our country at that gloomy and trying period, when even “hope was sinking in dismay.” Well, sir, may New Jersey glory in the example of such a son. It marshalled the way to those “heroic deeds” which have immortalized our revolutionary sires.

“'Tis to the virtues of such men man owes His portion in the good that Heaven bestows; And when recording History displays Feats of renown, though wrought in ancient days, Tells of a few stout hearts who fought and died, Where duty placed them, by their country's side; The man that is not moved by what he reads, That takes not fire at their heroic deeds, Unworthy of the blessings of the brave, Is base in kind, and born to be a slave. Sir, no monument has been erected, by the gratitude of his country, to the memory of Colonel Johnston; no recorded honors thicken around his tomb; no history displays his “feats of renown;” for, unfortunately for his memory, the revolutionary history of New Jersey is yet to be written. His fame rests in the memory of his few surviving gallant companions in arms, or happily may be faintly recorded among the memorials of frail and decaying memory in the Pension office. One memorial of the “heroic deeds” of Colonel Johnston, gathered from the Dec. 26, 1836.]

only whig newspaper of the day, that circulated in New Jersey, blotted with the tears of his widowed wife and fatherless daughters, has been treasured up by their af. fection, and is annexed to their petition. With your permission, Mr. President, I will read it: * “We hear that, in the late action on Long Island, Col. onel Philip Johnston, of New Jersey, behaved with remarkable intrepidity and fortitude. By the well-directed fire from his battalion, the enemy was several times repulsed, and lanes were made through them, until he received a ball in his breast, which put an end to the life of as brave an officer as ever commanded a battalion. General Sullivan, who was close to him when he fell, says that no man could behave with more firmness during the whole action. As he sacrificed his life in defence of the invaded rights of his country, his memory must be dear to every American who is not insensible to the sufferings of his injured country, and as long as the same uncorrupted spirit of liberty which led him to the field shall continue to actuate the sons of freemen in Annerica.” Mr. President, the tree of American liberty was nour. ished by the blood of such heroes. But, Mr. President, when the husband and the father, at the call of his country, steps from the circle of domestic endearments, a patriot and a hero, it is the safety and protection of his wife and children that nerves his arm and animates his exertions in the hour of battle; and if he falls, his last prayer is for his country, and his last earthly consolation is, that his death commits them to its gratitude and protectipn. This obligation, which springs from the grave of heroism, is sanctioned by the purest and noblest feelings of our nature, and the highest dictates of policy, and creates a debt which descends upon all who inherit the blessings thus acquired. If, sir, the claim of the petitioners had no other foundation than this, it would, in my humble judgment, be irresistible. But it does not rest on this alone; it is supported by the plighted, and, I am sorry to say, the unredeemed, faith of their country. To say nothing, sir, at present, of the pledge fairly to be implied from the addresses of General Washington calling the militia to arms, and animating them to battle, that the country would provide for their wives and children, this pledge was distinctly made to Colonel Johnston and his companions in arms. On the 3d of June, 1776, Congress resolved that 13,800 militia should be employed to reinforce the army at New York, and that New Jersey be requested to furnish 3,300 of their militia to complete that nun.ber, to be engaged until the 1st of December, unless sooner discharged by order of -Congress. This was to form the flying camp destined for the defence of New York. On the 5th of June, 1776, Congress resolved that the flying camp be placed under the command of such continental general officer as the commander-in-chief should direct. That the militia, when in service, be regularly paid and victualled, in the same manner as the continental troops. General Mercer was appointed to the command of the flying camp, thus formed, on the 20th July, 1776. The Convention of New Jersey was requested by Congress to raise for the flying camp, under General Mercer, three battalions of militia, in addition to the five formerly desired by Congress, and send the same with all possible despatch to the flying camp; and that they should be officered, paid, and provided, as directed by the former resolutions for forming the flying camp. Thus, sir, it is plain that the detachment of New Jersey militia required to form the flying camp for the defence of New York, was called out by the Continental Congress, *nd for the general defence of the country; and was Placed in the service of the United States, under the oommand of continental officers, and on the same footing "all respects as continental troops. In fact, the battal.

[blocks in formation]

ion commanded by Colonel Johnston was enlisted under a resolution of Congress, placed under its control, received into its service, commanded by its officers, and entitled to all the benefits and advantages, immediate and prospective, which resulted from that situation. So it was considered by the Convention of New Jersey, in the several ordinances which they passed to raise the men required to reinforce the army at New York. In the last ordinance passed by the Convention of New Jersey, on the 11th August, 1776, to carry into effect the resolutions of Congress to which I have referred, the preamble recites: “The Convention, viewing with serious coneern the present alarming situation of this and her sister States—that on a prudent use of the present means depend their lives, their liberty, and happiness, think it their indispensable duty to put their militia on such a footing that the whole force may be most advantageously exerted.” For that purpose, the whole militia were classed in two divisions, and one half were immediately detached to join the flying camp at New York. Aster the appropriate details, that ordinance concludes in a strain of patriotic eloquence unknown to the rolls of statutes, and which I cannot deny myself the pleasure of recalling to the recollection of our country. It breathes the pure spirit of “'Seventy-six.” -“And whereas the principles of equity and humanity require that a proper compensation and provision should of made for the families of all such as may be killed or wounded in the service, the Convention pledge the faith of this State that an adequate provision for the purpose aforesaid shall be made. “In this interesting situation, viewing, on the one hand, an active, inveterate, and implacable enemy; increasing fast in strength, receiving large reinforcements, and industriously preparing to strike some decisive blow; on the other, a considerable part of the inhabitants supinely slumbering on the brink of ruin, moved with affecting apprehension, the Convention think it incumbent upon them to warn their constituents of their impending danger. On you, our friends and brethren, it depends this day to determine whether your wives, your children, and millions of your descendants yet unborn, shall wear the galling, ignominious yoke of slavery, or nobly inherit the generous, the inestimable blessings of freedom. The alternative is before you. Can you hesitate in your choice? Can you doubt which to prefer? Say, will you be slaves? Will you toil, and labor, and glean together a little property, merely that it may be at the disposal of a relentless and rapacious conqueror? Will you, of choice, become he wers of wood and drawers of water? Impossible. You cannot be so amazingly degenerate as to lick the hand that is raised to shed your blood. Nature and nature's God have made you free. Liberty is the birthright of Americans—the gist of Heaven; and the instant it is forced from you, you take leave of every thing valuable on earth: your happiness or misery, virtuous independence or disgraceful servitude, hang trenbling in the balance. Happily, we know that we can anticipate your virtuous choice. “With confident satisfaction we are assured that not a moment will delay your important decision; that you cannot feel hesitation whether you will tamely and degenerately bend your necks to the irretrievable wretchedness of slavery, or, by your instant and animatcd exer. tions, enjoy the fair inheritance of heaven-born freedom, and transmit it unimpaired to posterity.” It was under this animated and eloquent appeal to his patriotism, and solemn pledge that a proper compensation and provision should be made for his family, that Colonel Johnston marched to the field of his death and renown. That pledge, sir, was never redeemed by the State of New Jersey; and that pledge devolved upon the United SENATE.]

The Expunging Resolution--.4dmission of Michigan, &c.

[Dec. 27, 1836.

States, and was solemnly assumed by them when they assumed the revolutionary debt and obligations of the several States. It rests upon the equity and humanity of those who are now enjoying the fair inheritance of freedom which Colonel Johnston died to obtain. In addition to all this, the claim of the petitioners is also sus. tained by the equity, if not the express letter, of various resolutions of Congress. I refer particularly to those of the 15th May and 26th September, 1778; the 24th August, 1780, and the 26th May, 1781. It is likewise sanctioned by several laws of Congress, making compensation for revolutionary services in analogous cases, which I forbear to detain you by enumerating. Strong as the claim of the petitioners is upon its own merits, there is another consideration which, sir, I feel bound to press on your attention. It appears that one of the petitioners is the wife of Joseph Scudder, Esq. His youth was devoted to the service of his country, in one of the bureaus established by the Revolution. He is the surviving son of Colonel Nathaniel Scudder, one of that illustrious band of revolutionary patriots and heroes who devoted himself to the service of his country, both in the cabinet and in the field, and was alike distinguished for his wisdom as a statesman, and bravery as a soldier. Among the first in his native State to espouse the cause of American independence, he was, from its declaration until his death, honored with a seat either in the councils of his native State, or in Congress. B it he did not avail himself of the exemption which his civil employments conferred to relieve him from military duty. At an early period of the revolutionary war, Colonel Scudder was honored with the command of a regiment of militia of his native county, then peculiarly exposed to the invasion of the enemy. In the hour of danger he was always to be found at its head, bravely defending his native soil. Iłut it was not his fate there to fail in all “the pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war.” He was killed on the 16th October, 1781, near Black Point, in the county of Monmouth, while bravely leading such of his sellow-soldiers as could be collected on a sudden alarm, to repel a predatory excursion of the enemy. The honors of war were the only public tribute paid to his memory; and to this day his children have neither asked nor received any thing from the bounty of their country as a compensation for their irretrievable loss. Thus, sir, by a happy coincidence, this petition presents before you the daughter of the first militia colonel of New Jersey, and the son of the last who fell in achieving our glorious independence. Never did death confer greater honor upon children. Is it cannot disarm poverty of its miseries, it ennobles it. The children of Colonel Johnston, now aged, infirm, and, it gives me pain to add, poor, are compelled to ask of their country the redemption of that pledge, solemnly made to their father, to relieve them from the severe pressure of misfortunes which have resulted from neither crime nor vice. Their father died on the first battlefield where the star-spangled banner was unfurled in defence of American independence; that glorious prize for which he fought and died, which animated his exertions and nerved his arm when that banner waved fitfully over the field of his death and his country's misfortunes, has been obtained by his country. The star-spangled banner now waves in triumph “over the land of the free and the home of the brave,” the pride and protection of a great, prosperous, and happy nation. The petitioners now submit their case to the equity, the humanity, and plighted faith of their country. Mr. W. concluded by moving that the petition be read, and referred to the Committee on Revolutionary Claims; which motion was agreed to.


Mr. BENTON laid on the table a resolution to expunge from the journal of the Senate the resolution of March, 1834, censuring the conduct of the President for removing the deposites srom the Bank of the United States, &c.; which was ordered to be printed. [The resolution is in the same words with the one on the same subject introduced by Mr. BEN to N at the last session.]

After transacting some other business,

The Senate went into executive business; and when the doors were opened,

The Senate adjourned.

Tuksn Ay, Dec Em a ER 27. AD MISSION OF MICH IGAN. A message was received from the President of the United States, through A. J Ackson, jr., his private secretary, on the subject of the admission of Michigan into the Union, with documents, stating that Michigan, by convention, had, at a late day, complied with the regulations of the conditional act of admission. Mr GRUNDY moved that the message and documents be printed, and referred to the Committee on the Judi. cla tw. Mr. BEN TON remarked that, as the President had given his opinion that Michigan had complied with the requisite terms of admission, and as he had said that he should have issued his proclamation accordingly, had the information arrived during the recess of Congress, he (Mr. B.) regarded the proposed reference as a mere matter of form, and would prefer that a joint resolution of admission should forth with be passed by both Houses. Mr. GRUNDY said he would still prefer the course which he had suggested, and on this account: that the first convention had not assented to the terms of admission, but another convention had decided to accede to the proposition made by the Congress of the United States. The great inquiry now was, are the proceed. ings in accordance with the act of admission? The decision of which question depends on information which ought to be ascertained before the actual admission, though the President had said that, in his opinion, all was right, and, if the information had come during the recess, he would have acted accordingly. Mr. G. had no design to produce any delay, by a reference to a committee. He should not withdraw his motion, and he hoped the Senator would withdraw his opposition. Mr. BENTON said that, as the committee might draw up a joint resolution for admission to-day, he should not oppose the reference. The message was referred accordingly.


The Senate now proceeded to the special order, the further consideration of the joint resolution introduced by Mr. Ewing, of Ohio, on this subject, the question being on the amendment or substitute offered by Mr. Rives to that resolution; which substitute proposes to refuse to receive for the public dues the bills of such banks as issued, after certain specified periods, bills under certain specified denominations; the substitute also leaving in the power of the deposite banks to refuse such funds as they may think proper.

Mr. HUBBARD, who was entitled to the floor, rose and addressed the Chair as follows:

Mr. President: Although it was on my motion that the Senate adjourned on Thursday last, yet, in moving sor the adjournment, it was not then my intention to address the Senate this morning upon the subject now under consideration. But as I shall have no better opportunity to express my own views with reference to Dec. 27, 1836.]

Treasury Circular.


the deposite bill of the last session, which seems to be involved in this discussion, and as I have been, in connexion with my colleague, most grossly misrepresented in relation to our vote upon that bill, and as the princi. ples of that bill have been most strangely misunderstood—certainly most falsely and perversely stated in the public journals—I will avail myself of the opportunity now presented, briefly to express the considerations which induced me to give my support to that measure. Before, however, I proceed to notice that bill, I shall advert to the resolutions of the Senator from Ohio– shall endeavor to explain their object, and, in my apprehension, the impracticability of accomplishing the object intended, in the way and manner proposed. The resolutions offered by the Senator from Ohio are as follows: “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Treasury order of the eleventh day of July, anno Domini one thousand eight hundred and thirty-six, designating the funds which should be receivable in payment for public lands, be, and the same is hereby, rescinded. “Resolved, also, That it shall not be lawful for the Secretary of the Treasury to delegate to any person, or to any corporation, the power of directing what funds shall be receivable for customs, or for the public lands; nor shall he make any discrimination in the funds so receivable, between different individuals, or between the different branches of the public revenue.” The first resolution seeks to repeal the Treasury order—“the specie circular,” as it is called—of the 11th of July, 1836. The second is intended to prohibit the Secretary of the Treasury, by his authorized agents, from directing what funds shall be received for customs, or for the public lands, and prohibiting him from making any discrimination in the funds so receivable between different individuals, or between the different branches of the public revenue. The main purpose of the resolution is to rescind the order of the Executive, bearing date on the 11th of July, 1836, directed to “receivers of public money and to the deposite banks.” Can this be accomplished? Is this matter within our power? It seems to me that if these resolutions should pass both Houses of Congress, the object which the Senator from Ohio has in view would not thereby be effected. If the order of the 11th of July, 1836, was issued by authority of law, the resolution of the Senator from Ohio should seek to repeal the law upon which the order is based, and which gave authority for issuing the order. If the order of the Secretary of the Treasury has not been issued in pursuance of law, the order itself is of no effect; and any resolution which we could pass, rescinding such an order, would be alike ineffectual. TIf the Secretary had the legal power to send forth the order, it is beyond the legislative control of Congress. If the Secretary, or the President, through the Secretary, had the right to promulgate the circular, he may be answerable for the manner in which he exercises that right; but the act cannot itself be repealed by any legislation of Congress. if the Secretary had not the authority, the power, the right to issue the order, then the order itself is perfectly nugatory. The Executive is an independent branch of the Government. The Senate can have no more power over \he rightful acts of that branch of the Government, than it has over an order of the House of Representatives, or an order of the Judiciary. Qne branch of the Government, exercising its powers and its duties within the constitution and the law, cannot have its acts rescinded and set at nought by the action of any other branch of the Government,

[ocr errors]

If the order, then, has been issued by the Secretary of the Treasury in pursuance of law, the mode proposed to get rid of it is objectionable, and, in my view, unwarrantable; if not issued in pursuance of law, the adoption of the resolution would seem to me equally objectionable and unwarrantable. In such a case, the officer should be, and ought to be, held amenable for such an assumption of power. It therefore occurs to me, that the object the Senator from Ohio has in view cannot be attained in the way proposed; and if the last resolution of the Senator from Ohio should be adopted, it seems to me that the direct effect would be to prohibit receivers from accepting the paper of local banks, under any circumstances, in payment of the public dues. It proposes, in terms, to take the power from the Secretary of the Treasury to designate the kind of money receivable; and, should it be adopted, if any effect shall be produced whatever, it will be to exclude from the offices of our receivers all local bank paper. They would be bound to take nothing but gold and silver, unless the joint resolution of April, 1816, is imperative and obligatory; and if that be so, the Executive had no authority to restrain the legal operation of that resolution; for, if binding, it gives to the debtor rights which cannot be infringed or taken away by executive power. If the order of July 11, 1836, was unauthorized, the resolution to rescind it would be unnecessary. Its adoption could not prevent the immediate promulgation of a similar order, in case the Executive, charged with the execution of the laws, should consider it to be his duty to do so. To accomplish the object the Senator from Ohio has in view, we must go beyond the order itself; we must go to the law on which that order was based, and in the execution of which it is presumed that the order in question was issued. To render the order of no effect, we must amend the law. I propose, Mr. President, first to examine the question, whether the Executive had a legal authority to issue the order of the 11th of July, 1836; and, if he had the power, whether it was a matter of policy for him to exercise it at the time and under the circumstances he did. Had the President, through the Secretary of the Treasury, the power to issue the order of the 11th of July last? On this point I can entertain no doubt. It seems to my mind to be clear and free from difficulty; and so far from its being a wanton assumption of power, so far from its being illegal, it is a power in strict accordance with the requisitions of existing laws, and which the President, charged with their execution, was bound to issue if he considered the public interest demanded it. The public lands were the property of our common country; they had been obtained by the sacrifices and services, the blood and the treasure, of the whole republic, during the war of the Revolution; and they were early pledged for the payment of the public debt, necessarily incurred in the establishment of our national independence. An act of Congress which has reference to the sale of the public lands was passed May 18, 1796, and makes no particular designation as to the kind of money receivable. It fixes the minimum price at two dollars per acre, and directs that, “upon payment of a moiety of the purchase-money, the purchaser shall have a year's credit for the residue.” The act of March, 1797, declares “that the evidences of the public debt of the United States shall be receivable in payment of any of the lands which may be hereaster sold in conformity to the act” of 1796. The fifth section of the act of May 10, 1800, provides, “That no lands shall be sold by virtue of this act, at either public or private sale, for less than two dollars


per acre, and payment may be made for the same by all purchasers, either in specie, or in evidences of the public debt of the United States,” at certain rates, which are prescribed in the act. And thus the law stood until 1820, when the credit system was abolished. From a view of these several acts, it results that, under he act of 1796, there was no particular designation of the kind of currency receivable for the public lands; but the pay. ments were to be made “in money,” that is, the legal currency of the country. Under the act of 1797, evidences of the public debt were made receivable for the public lands; and under the act of 1800, specie or evidences of the public debt were required in payment. Such was the law, and such was the practice under the law, with reference to the public lands, until the act of April, 1820, except it was provided, by the particular provisions of the act of 1812, that Treasury notes were made receivable for all public lands sold by the authority of the United States. The fourth section of the act of the 24th of April, 1820, making further provision for the sale of the public lands, seems to my mind to settle the question as to the legality of the specie circular conclusively. It declares, “That no lands shall be sold, at any public sales thereby authorized, for a less price than one dollar and twenty-five cents an acre, nor on any other terms than that of cash payment.” The requisition is, that the sales of the public lands shall not be made on any other terms than that of “cash payment.” “I here cannot be two opinions, here or elsewhere, as to the import of the terms “cash payment.” It means payments in the constitutional or in the legal currency of the country, in gold or silver, or in the paper currency which had been previously established by law. By acts of Congress, Treasury notes were at one time receivable for the public lands, and bills of the Bank of the United States were made receivable by the provisions of the charter itself. But at the date of the specie circular no such legislative provisions were in force. There was, then, no legal obligation at the date of that order to receive any thing for the public lands, or for the customs, but gold or silver, unless that obligation is imposed by the joint resolution of the 30th of April, 1816. It is perfectly true, that, in practice, the legal obligation has been relaxed; but it is not bel eved to have been done at the risk of the Government. Paper money, beside the bills of the Bank of the United States, had been received; and our collectors were in the habit of receiving the paper of some State banks, at particular times and places, and under pecular circumstances, for the debts due to the Government; but such collections were upon the responsibility of the receivers. The relaxation of the rule of law had been for individual accommodation. I have stated that, by the express terms of the charter, the bills of the Bank of the United States were made receivable for customs and for public lands. But the Bank of the United States, which was made the depository of the money of the United States, would not receive in deposite all State bank paper as cash, although of the description as stated in the resolution of 1816. That charter expired on the 3d of March last, and the Presi. dent of the United States, in his annual message to Congress, December, 1835, remarks, that “It is incumbent on Congress, in guarding the pecuniary interests of the country, to discontinue, by such a law as was passed in 1812, the receipt of the bills of the Bank of the United States in payment of the public revenue;” and, in pursuance of this recommendation of the I’resident, Congress did, at the last session, repeal, in express terms, the 14th section of the act chartering the Bank of the United States. It will be found by that section that the bills of that bank were made receivable for the public dues. I will read the act of the last session in relation

[I] E. c. 27, 1836.

to this matter, as it has been urged in argument that the message of the President, and the consequent action of Congress thereon, had reference to a different matter. That act declares: “That the 14th section of the act entitled “An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States, approved April 10, 1816,” shall be, and the same is hereby, repealed.” This was but an answer to the message; it had no sort of reference to the resolution of 1816, nor had the message any such reference. On the 11th of July, 1836, there was nothing then in the way of this circular, but the joint resolution of the 30th of April, 1816. I propose to refer to the history of our own legislation, as affording us some light upon this interesting subject of the currency. It will be found that as early as the 31st of July, 1789, Congress passed an act “to regulate the collection of duties,” and the 30th section of that act requires: “That the duties and sees to be collected by virtue of this act shall be received in gold and silver coin only,” and goes on to establish the rates at which foreign gold and silver should be taken and received. This act was repealed by the act of August 4, 1790; but it will be sound that, by the 56th section of the act of Congress passed in August, 1790, a provision precisely similar is introduced, which was contained in the act of 1789. The mint was established on the 12th of April, 1792; and by the 16 h section of that act of Congress it is provided “what all the gold and silver coins which shall have been struck at and issued from the said mint, shall be a lawful tender in all payments whatsoever; those of full weight according to the respective values hereinbefore declared, and those of less than full weight at values proportionate to their respective weights.” Thus it appears that by the acts of Congress, not only foreign gold and silver coins at certain rates were made receivable, but also the gold and silver coins struck at our mint were also made a law ful tender. The first United States Bank was chartered on the 21st of February, 1791; and it will be seen, by a reference to the 10th section of that act of Congress, “that the bills or notes of the said corporation originally made payable, or which shall have become payable on demand, in gold and silver coin, shall be receivable in all payments to the United States.” And thus, by the express enactment of Congress, were the bills of the United States Bank made receivable sor all debts due to the Government; and by a reference to the 74th section of the act of the 2d of March, 1799, which repeals the act of August, 1790, and which “regulates the collection of duties on imports and tonnage,” it will be found “that all duties and sees to be collected shall be payable in the money of the United States, or in foreign gold and silver coins” at fixed rates. By the act of Congress of June 30, 1812, it is provided “that Treasury notes, wherever inade payable, shall be everywhere received in payment of all duties and taxes laid by the authority of the United States, and of all public lands sold by the said authority.” On the 19th of March, 1812, Congress passed an act expressly repealing the 10th section of the act incorporating the subscribers to the first Bank of the United States. Between, then, the 19th of March, 1812, and the 10th of April, 1816, when the second United States Bank was chartered, American and foreign gold and silver, and Treasury notes only, were receivable for the public dues; and, as I have before said, it is provided by the fourteenth section of the act establishing the late Bank of the United States, “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

« AnteriorContinuar »