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this administration. One rash, lawless, and crude experiment succeeds another. He considered the late Treasury order, by which all payments for public lands were to be made in specie, with one exception, for a short duration, a most ill advised, illegal, and pernicious measure. In principle it was wrong; in practice it will favor the very speculation which it professes to endeavor to suppress. The officer who issued it, as if conscious of its obnoxious character, shelters himself behind the name of the President.
“But the President and Secretary had no right to promulgate any such order. The law admits of no such discrimination. If the resolution of the 30th of April, 1816, continued in operation, (and the administration on the occasion of the removal of the deposites, and on the present occasion, relies upon it as in full force,) it gave the Secretary no such discretion as he has exercised. That resolution required and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to adopt such measures as he might deem necessary, "to cause, as soon as may be, all duties, taxes, debts, or sums of money, accruing or becoming payable to the United States, to be collected and paid in the le. gal currency of the United States, or Treasury notes, or notes of the Bank of the United States, as by law provided and declared, or in notes of banks which are payable and paid on demand, in said legal currency of the United States.” This resolution was restrictive and prohibitory upon the Secretary only as to the notes of banks not redeemable in specie on demand. As to all such notes, he was forbidden to receive them from and after the 20th of February, 1817. As to the notes of banks which were payable and paid on demand in specie, the resolution was not merely permissive, it was compulsory and mandatory. He was bound, and is yet bound, to receive them, until Congress interfere.”
From the letter of Mr. Biddle to Mr. J. Q. Adams, Mr. B. read as follows:
“PhILADELPHIA, November 11, 1836.
“My Dean Sin: I proceed to the second subject of our couversation—the present state of the currency— which I shall treat dispassionately, as an abstract question of mere finance. “Our pecuniary condition seems to be a strange anomaly. When Congress adjourned, it left the country with abundant crops, and high prices for them—with every branch of industry flourishing, and with more specie than we ever possessed before—with all the elements of universal prosperity. Not one of these has undergone the slightest change; yet, after a few months, congress will reassemble, and find the whole country suffering intense pecuniary distress. The occasion of this, and the remedy for it, may well occupy our thoughts. “In my judgment, the main cause of it is the mismanagement of the revenue—mismanagement in two re. spects: the mode of executing the distribution law, and the order requiring specie for the public lands. “Such a measure was of itself sufficient to disorganize the currency. But it was accompanied by another, which armed it with a tenfold power of mischief. This was the Treasury order prohibiting the receipt at the land offices of any thing but specie; an act which seems to me a most wanton abuse of power, if not a flagrant usurpation. “The whole pecuniary system of this country, that to which, next to its freedom, it owes its prosperity, is the system of credit. Our ancestors came here with no money; but with far better things--with courage and indus. try; and the want of capital was supplied by their mutual confidence. This is the basis of our whole commercial and internal industry. The Government received its duties on credit, and sold its lands on credit. When the sales of land on credit became inconvenient, from the
complication of accounts, the lands were sold for what is termed cash. But this was only another form of credit; for the banks, by leading to those who purchased lands, took the place of the Government as creditors, and the Government received their notes as equivalent to specie, because always convertible into specie. This was the usage; this may be regarded as the law of the country. By the resolution of Congress, passed on the 30th of April, 1816, it was declared that “no duties, taxes, debts, or sums of money accruing or becoming payable to the United States as aforesaid, ought to be collected or received otherwise than in the legal currency of the United States, or Treasury notes, or notes of the Bank of the United States, or in notes of banks which are payable and paid on demand in the said legal currency of the United States." “This resolution presents various alternatives—the legal currency or Treasury notes, or notes of the Bank of the United States, or notes of specie-paying banks. A citizen had a right to choose any one of these modes of payment. He had as much right to pay for land with the note of a specie-paying bank, as to pay it for duties at the custom-house. If this be denied, certainly any one of them might be accepted by the Treasury; but to proscribe all but one--to refuse every thing but the most difficult thing—to do this without notice of the approaching change in the fundamental system of our dealings-is an act of gratuitous oppression. “If he prohibits the receipt of anything but specie, to correct land speculations, he may make the same prohibition as to the duties on hardware, or broadcloth, or wines, whenever his paternal wisdom shall see us buying too many shovels, or too many coats, or too much champagne; and thus bring the entire industry of the country under his control. “It remains to speak of the remedy of these evils. They follow obviously the causes of them. The causes are the injudicious transfers of the public moneys, and the Treasury order about specie. “The first measure of relief, therefore, should be the instant repeal of the Treasury order requiring specie for lands; the second, the adoption of a proper system to execute the distribution law. “These measures would restore confidence in twentyfour hours, and repose in at least as many days. If the Treasury will not adopt them voluntarily, Congress should immediately command it.” From these documents, said Mr. B, and from the speech of the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Ewing,) the charges which are made against President Jackson, and on which this resolution is supported, and for which the recision of the Treasury order is demanded, are, first, a violation of the laws; secondly, a violation of the constitution; thirdly, a destruction of the prosperity of the country. Mr. B. would join issue upon each of these charges, and take each by itself, and all in their turn; and first of the illegality. This charge was bottomed upon the alleged contravention of the joint resolution of April, 1816, for the better collection of the public rever nue, and although partly set out both in the Kentucky speech, and in the Philadelphia letter, he preferred to read it entire, as the first part, though merely directory, yet was directory in the essential particular of showing who was to be the active agent in carrying the resolution into effect.
The joint resolution of 1816.
“That the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he hereby is, required and directed to adopt such measures as he may deem necessary, to cause, as soon as may be, all duties, taxes, debts, or sums of money, accruing or becoming payable to the United States, to be collected and paid in the legal currency of the United States or
Dec. 19, 1836.]
Treasury notes, or notes of the Bank of the United
the secretary of the Treasury required others to be re-
United States would receive in deposite as cash, and none other, were to be received on sales of public lands. It is further represented that, in the execution of this engagement, difficulties and controversies arose between the United States Bank and the State banks thus employed in receiving the deposites of the public moneys; and ere long the Bank of the United States signified to the Department of the Treasury that it could not con: tinue such arrangement; and that thenceforward it could receive mothing in deposite, as cash, but the legal currency of the country, or its own notes. The agreement with the Bank of the United States terminated, for these reasons, on the 30th June, 1818. About this period, also, the Bank of the United States issued orders prohibiting its Western branches from issuing any of their own notes for circulation, even in exchange for, or on deposite of, specie.” - * - ** That in. stitution (the Bank of the United States) is indeed bound to give the necessary facilities for transferring the public funds from place to place; but this can only mean cash funds; and it is bound also to receive money on deposite for the United States; but it is not bound to receive in deposite, as cash, the bills of any bank whatever but its own, although they may come within the provisions of the act of 1816.” This, Mr. President, continued Mr. B., was in 1824. It was eight years after the joint resolution of 1816 had passed, and two years after the author of the letter to Mr. Adams, which has been read, came to the presidency of that institution. It is, therefore, the report of transactions to which he was privy and a party. The report speaks historically, in reciting an agreement be. tween the Secretary of the Treasury and the directors of the Bank of the United States, by which, among other things, the selection of the State bank notes receivable in payment of the public lands was to be left to the Bank of the United States, and none should be received except such as that bank would agree to credit as specie; that afterwards the bank receded from that agreement, and refused to receive any State bank notes whatever, taking nothing but gold and silver coin, and its own notes; and finally refused to issue its own notes in the West, even in exchange for specie! and thus left nothing but specie to be received; and after making these recitals, the committee conclude with the expres: sion of their own opinion of the law, that the Bank of the United States was not bound to receive in deposite, as cash, the bills of any state bank, whatever, although they come under the provisions of the act of 1816. These are the recitals, and this the opinion of that committee, and certainly they are correct, both in the narration and in the judgment. What, then, becomes of this charge of illegality in the Woodford speech, and this letter to Mr. An AMs, thus confuted and invalidated by the conduct of the bank itself? And what becomes of the pretended injury of all those Western banks in having their notes excluded under an order from President Jackson, when they had been previously excluded for nearly twenty years under the orders of the presi. dent of the Bank of the United States? Why not complain before? Why not apply to Congress to rescind the order of the bank president, as they now apply for the rescision of the order of the President of the Union? And the politicians and presses which have lavished denunciations upon President Jackson, and wept salt tears over the wrongs of these banks, and the oppressions of the people, on account of tho specie order, where were those tears and those denunciations when the president of the Bank of the United States gave previously the same order so many years before, and enforced it up to the day of the removal of the deposites? The fact is and all the inhabitants of the new States know it, that i. cal bank paper, with few and stinted exceptions, was
excluded from all the land offices, from the establishment of the Bank of the United States down to October, 1833. During that long interval, scarcely any thing was received but specie, or United States Bank notes. Local bank paper was in a state of general and permanent exclusion almost the whole time, and the whole country was quiet and contented. No complaint; no charge of illegality; no cry of oppression; no pretext of ruin on the part of the banks; no lamentations and denunciations on the part of politicians. But the instant that President Jackson has done what the president of the bank did; the moment he has restored things to their former footing, and put back local bank paper to the state of exclu: sion in which it had rested under the administration of both his predecessors, that instant the storm of rage and grief breaks out. A new impeachment must be got up; a new panic must be excited; the Senate chamber is again to become the laboratory of alarm; and a new chorus must become the burden of the song—that the specie order made the distress, and nothing can relieve the dis: tress but the rescision of the order, or the recharter of the bank!
Surely we have accumulated proof enough upon this point; surely there is no necessity for anything to refute this charge, and to establish the legality of this Treasury order. But other proof is at hand, and, though unnecessary, it shall be used. High as is the authority of the report of the committee of 1824, and close as it is to the point, there is yet a higher authority, and still closer to the point, yet to be adduced; for it is the authority of the same author of the resolution, and that before the question was raised, and while the resolution was on its passage; and in which he not only understood them, as shown afterwards in the report of the committee of which he was a member, but in which he went farther, and expressed his fear that the whole good effect of the resolution might be lost, if the Treasury Department should not execute it precisely as that Department, under the splendid and beneficent administration of President Jackson, had done!
Extracts from Mr. Webster's speech in the House of Representatives, April 26, 1816, on the resolution offered by him for the more effectual collection of the revenue in the lawful money of the country.
“Mr. W. said he felt it to be his duty to call the at
tention of the House once more to the subject of the
collection of the revenue, and to present the resolutions which he had submitted. He had been the more in
clined to do this, from an apprehension that the rejec
tion, yesterday, of the bill which had been introduced,
might be construed into an abandonment, on the part of the House, of all hope of remedying the existing evil.
He had had, it was true, some objections against proceeding by way of bill, because the case was not one in which the law was deficient, but one in which the execution of the law was deficient. * * The situation of the country, (said Mr. W.,) in regard to the collection of its revenues, is most deplorable. With a perfectly sound legal currency, the national revenues are not collected in this currency, but in paper of various sorts, and various degrees of value. * * It is quite clear that by the statute all duties and taxes are required to be paid in the legal money of the United States, or in Treasury notes, agreeably to a recent provision. It is just as clear that the law has been disregarded, and that the notes of the banks of a hundred different descriptions, and almost as many different values, have been received, and are still received, where the statute requires legal money or Treasury notes to be paid. * * There are some political evils which are seen as soon as they are dangerous, and which alarm at once as well the people as the Government. Wars and invasions, therefore, are not
Dec. 19, 1836.]
always the most certain destroyers of national prosperity. They come in no questionable shape. They announce their own approach, and the general safety is preserved by the general alarm. Not so with the evils of a debased coin, a depreciated paper currency, or a depressed and falling public credit. Not so with the plausible and insidious mischiefs of a paper money system. These insinuate themselves in the shape of facilities, accommodation, and relief. They hold out the most fallacious hope of an easier payment of debts, and a lighter burden of taxation. It is easy for a portion of the people to imagine that Government may properly continue to receive depreciated paper, because they have received it, and because it is more convenient to obtain it than to obtain other paper or specie. But on these subjects it is that Government ought to exercise its own peculiar wisdom and caution. It is supposed to possess, on subjects of this nature, somewhat more of foresight than has fallen to the lot of individuals. It is bound to forsee the evil before every man feels it, and to take all necessary measures to guard against it, although they may be measures attended with some difficulty, and not without some temporary inconvenience. * * * * * The only power which the Government possesses of restraining the issues of the State banks, is to refuse their notes in the receipts of the Treasury. This power it can exercise now, or at least provide now for exercising it in reasonable time, because the currency of some part of the country is yet sound, and the evil is not yet universal. * * But I have expressed my belief on more than one occasion, and I now repeat the opinion, that it was the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury, on the return of peace, to have returned to the legal and proper mode of collecting the revenue. * * It can hardly be doubted that the influence of the Treasury could have effected all this. If not, it could have withdrawn the deposites, and the countenance of Government, from institutions which, against all rule and all propriety, were holding great sums in Government stocks, and making enormous profits from the circulation of their own dishonored paper. That which was most wanted was the designation of a time for the corresponding operation of banks of different places. This could have been made by the head of the Trea ury, better than by any body, or every body else. * * * . This Government has a right, in all cases, to Protect its own revenues, and to guard them against defalcation or bad and depreciated paper. It is bound, also, to collect the taxes of the people on a uniform system. * * As to the opinion advanced by some, that the object of the resolution cannot, in any way, be answered—that the revenues cannot be collected otherwise than they now are, in the paper of any and every banking association which chooses to issue paper, it cannot for a moment be attempted. * : * The thing, therefore, is to be done; at any rate it is to be attempted. That it will be accomplished by the Treasury Department, without the interference of Congress, I have no belief. If from that source no reformation came, when reformation was easy, it is not now to be expected. Especially after the vote of yesterday, those whose interest it is to continue the present state of things will arm themselves with the authority of Congress. They will justify themselves by the decision of this House. They will say, and say ouly, that this House, having taken up the subject, and discussed it, has not thought fit so much as to declare that it is expedient even to relieve the country or its revenues from a paper money system. * * But while some gentlemen oppose these resolutions, because they fix a time too near, others think they fix a day too diš. tant. In my own judgment, it is not so material what the time is, as it is to fix a time. The great object is, that our legal currency is to be preserved, and that we
are not to embark on the ocean of paper money. * * I cannot say, indeed, that this resolution will certainly produce the desired end. It may fail. Its success, as is obvious, must essentially depend on the course pursued by the Treasury Department.” Having disposed of the charge of illegality, Mr. B. took up that of the unconstitutionality of the Treasury order. He read from the published speech of the Senator from Ohio, [Mr. Ewing,) as found in a revised form in the National Intelligencer, the specific allegation of this alleged unconstitutionality, which ran thus: “There is a provision in the constitution directly in the face of this order. Those who drew up the order seemed to have been aware of it, and to have avoided employing the same words as are used in the article of the constitution; but it is not, therefore, any the less in violation of its provisions. The constitution declares that the citizens of each of the United States shall enjoy all the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several States; even the States themselves cannot discriminate. But this order gives to the citizens of one State a privilege which the citizens of no other State are allowed to enjoy—that of paying for public land in the ordinary currency of the country. With some this argument will have but little effect, especially as it is directed against an executive act; but it is not therefore the less sound.” Mr. B. said there was an error in the quotation in this place, and not only in the quotation, but in the gentleman's head also. The constitution was erroneously quoted by the gentleman, and that error had pervaded his argument; and, if followed out to its legitimate conclusions, would present a picture of the rarest absurdities and impossibilities. The quotation says, “the citi. zens of each State of the United States shall enjoy all the privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several states.” The constitution said, “all the privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States.” The error of the quotation was in using the definite article the, and the preposition of and this error unhinged the meaning of the clause, and conducted the argument off on a track which would lead into boundless confusion. the clause, as it stands in the constitution, is general and indefinite, clearly meaning that the States were to treat each other's citizens as members of the same general Government, and not as aliens. The quotation, and the argument upon it, give individuality and particularity to this general right; and, by giving to the citizens of each state the rights of the citizens of all the other States, abolishes at a blow all State lines, and makes one consolidated Government of the whole Union. Thus, by this reading, whatever any citizen can do in his own State, every citizen of every State in the Union may come there and do also—vote with him; hold offices with him; exercise licensed trades and professions with him; contend with him for the honors and emoluments of the state, without owing it allegiance, or paying it a tax, or residing within its limits. What scenes. this would give rise to! What crusading visits, or visitations, at the successive elections! Whole States wou'd precipitate themselves in masses upon their neighbors! Some zealous partisans, by aid of steam cars, and race horses, and flying chariots, might succeed in voting in every state in the Union! Suppose the gentleman was right, and this grand secret had been found out before the late presidential election, what, a moving flood of living heads we should have seen! such as has never been beheld since Xerxes crossed the Hellespont, or Peter the Hermit led his countless host to the Holy Land! But it will not do. The definite article the, and the preposition of, which figure in the gentleman’s quotation, and rule his argument, are not in the constitution; and so the citizens of every State are not to enjoy [Dec. 19, 1836.
the rights and immunities of the citzens of every other State. Little Delaware is not to give two millions of votes at the next presidential election! Pursuing his error, the gentleman says the States themselves cannot discriminate between the rights of their own citizens and those of other States. But we all know that they an, and that they do discriminate. Every election proves it; every tenure of office proves it; many trades and professions prove it; the requiring or dispensing with bail proves it; the whole distinction between foreign and domestic attachment is founded upon this discrimination. Truly, the gentleman must choose between his pride and his patriotism—between his speech and his country; for his error must be fatal to his argument, or fatal to the States. Another branch of the constitution assigned by the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Ewisg] is the temporary dis. crimination between payments from settlers and speculators. He insists that all should have the privilege of paying in paper money. Now, the constitution of the United States does not recognise paper for money; it does not recognise the existence of such currency; it is in vain, then, to talk of violations of the constitution on such a point. Again, if it be unconstitutional to discriminate between revenue payments, then Congress cannot do it; and yet Congress has done it, and that in relation to the lands themselves. In March, 1823, an act was passed to make the foreign gold coins of England, France, Spain, and Portugal receivable in payment of the public lands. This was a discrimination, and an exception; for an act of 1819 had illegalized the circulation of foreign coins. But the discrimination which excites greatest complaint is that between the classes of the purchasers—between the settlers and the speculators. What clause of the constitution is to be relied upon to favor these speculators? It is presumed it will be as hard to find their names as the name of paper money in that instrument. But, in one respect at least, they seem to be in a favorable way; they are gaining new friends, and finding advocates and protectors in those who denounced and stigmatized them six months ago! They are now in the hug of those whose kicks they received a few short months ago. But there is a distinction, founded in the nature of things, and recognised by laws, between the settler and the speculator. One is a meritorious class, deserving the favor of all Governments; the other is a pestilential and injurious class, discountenanced every where. The first report ever made under the Federal Government for the sale of our public lands recognised this distinction. It was made by General Hamilton, Secretary of the Treasury, in the year 1790, and is explicitly to the point. This is an extract from the report: “That, in the formation of a plan for the disposition of the vacant lands of the United States, there appear to be two leading objects of consideration: one the facility of advantageous sales according to the probable course of purchases; the other the accommodation of individuals now inhabiting the Western country, or who may hereafter emigrate thither. The former, as an operation of finance, claims primary attention; the latter is important, as it relates to the satisfaction of the inhabitants of the Western country. It is desirable, and does not appear impracticable, to conciliate both. Purchasers may be contemplated in three classes: moneyed individuals and companies, who will buy to sell again; associations of persons, who intend to make settlements themselves; single persons, or families, now resident in the Western country, or who may emigrate there hereafter. The two first will be frequently blended, and will always want considerable tracts; the last will generally purchase small quantities. Hence a plan for the sale of the western lands, while it may have a due regard to the last, should be calculated to obtain all the advantages which may be derived from the two first classes.”
Thus (said Mr. B.) the discrimination between settlers and speculators, and between residents and non residents, is as old as the first plan for the sale of the public lands; and with these distinctions the legislation of Congress has corresponded from that day down to the time when propositions were made sor dividing the proceeds of the lands. Up to that day pre-emptions were granted to settlers; since that day there has been a strenuous opposition to such grants. The new policy is, not to settle the country with meritorious farmers, but to fill the Treasury with paper money for distribution. Formerly settlers were favored; and hence the settled legislation of the country for above forty years. The statute book contains nearly fifty laws in favor of pre-emptions. They begin in 1792, and continue down to about 1830. Six or eight of these laws were applicable to the State of Ohio, and may easily be found under the head of “preemptions,” in the volume of laws relating to the public lands. The pre-emption system, thus founded in a distinction resting on the nature of things recognised in General Hamilton's report, and practised upon for above forty years by Congress, makes two discriminations—one as to classes of purchasers, the other as to price. The pre-emptioner was a resident; he paid the minimum price, without competition at auction sales. Now, if these distinctions are unconstitutional, Congress could not make them; if they were unjust or unwise, forty years' legislation would not have recognised them. Sir, (said Mr. B.) the Treasury circular, in making this discrimination, only conforms to General Hamilton's report, to forty years' legislation, and to the common sense and common justice of all mankind. It has the sanction of reason, law, time, and precedent; and the only reason why it is attacked, is because we live in tim's when nothing that President Jackson can do, or not do, can escape attack. Mr. B. having now fully answered, and, as he believed, entirely refuted, the legal and constitutional objection to the Treasury order, would take up the other branch of the general charge, namely, the ruinous and pernicious effect of the order upon the banks, business, prosperity, confidence, and industry of the country. The news of all this approaching caianity was given out in advance in the Kentucky speech and the Philadelphia letter, already referred to; and the fact of its positive advent and actual presence was vouched by the Senator from Ohio [Mr. Ewing] on the last day that the Senate was in session. I do not permit myseis (said Mr. B.) to bandy contradictory asseverations and debatable assertions across this floor. I choose rather to make an issue, and to test assertion by the application of evidence. In this way I will proceed at present. I will take the letter of the President of the Bank of the United States as being official in this case, and most authoritative in the distress department of this combined movement against President Jackson. He announces, in November, the forthcoming of the national calamity in December; and after charging part of this ruin and mischief on the mode of executing what he ostentatiously styles the distribution law, when there is no such law in the country, he goes on to charge the remainder, being ten-sold more than the former, upon the Treasury order, which excludes paper money from the land offices. Here is his picture of distress: “The commercial community were thus taken by surprise. The interior banks making no loans, and converting their Atlantic funds into specie, the debtors in the interior could make no remittances to the merchants in the Atlantic cities, who are thus thrown for snpport on the banks of those cities at a moment when they are unable to afford relief, on account of the very abstraction of their specie to the West. . The creditor states not only receive no money, but their money is carried