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JAN. 10, 1837.]
skill in questions of this sort is universally admitted, in his able pamphlet on the currency written in 1830, estimated the reduction in the amount of the paper circulation which would arise, at that time, from the suppression of all notes under five dollars, at six millions; and that likely to be produced by a suppression of the notes under ten dollars, at about seven millions; making an aggregate of thirteen millions of dollars, and equal to one fifth of the whole paper circulation of the country. Another highly respectable authority on American banking (Gouge) estimates, in 1831, the amount of notes under five dollars then in circulation at seven millions; and of notes under ten dollars at ten millions; making an aggregate of seventeen millions. But let us take Mr. Gallatin's estimate, and suppose that the suppression of the notes under five and ten dollars would, together, operate a reduction of one fifth in the whole amount of bank paper in circulation. Let us then suppose (which, I presume, would not be extravagant) that the suppression of all notes under twenty dollars, and above ten, would produce, in amount, a diminution of one fifth more of the paper circulation. By the ultimate suppression of all notes under twenty dollars, we should then gain an aggregate reduction of two fifths in the whole paper circulation of the country. According to the recent report of the Secretary of the Treasury, the whole paper circulation of the country amounts at this time to 120 millions, two fifths of which would be 48 millions of dollars. But, in order to be within sure limits, we will suppose that the amount of bank paper which would be withdrawn from circulation by the suppression of all notes under twenty dollars would be only 40 millions. That, of course, would be replaced by an equal amount of gold and silver. How, then, would stand the account in the final result? Porty millions, taken from the 120 millions of paper circulation, would leave 80 millions of paper; and, added to the 28 millions of gold and silver already in circulation, according to the estimate of the Secretary of the Treasury, would give us 68 millions; or (for the sake of round numbers, and to compensate liberal deductions made above) 70 millions of gold and silver in active circula: tion—not dammed up and stagnating in the coffers of the banks, but spread over the land, il rigating, refreshing, and fertilizing the whole country. Such, Mr. President, would be the solid and practical result of the ultimate suppression of all bank bills under the denomination of twenty dollars. It would give to the country nearly one half of its whole circulation in the precious metals, forming a solid and unfailing fund for the payment of labor, for the buying and selling of the necessaries of life, for the great mass of daily transactions, including the wants and interests of the farmer, the mechanic, and the tradesman; while the other half would consist of an improved paper currency for the use and accommodation of the merchant, and for the larger operations of trade and business. I would ask gentlemen if such a result is not “a consummation devoutly to be wished?” Would it not, in the glowing and patriotic language of the President, form “an era in the history of the country which would be dwelt upon with delight by every true friend of its liberty and independence?” And can we suppose that the enlightened Legislatures of the States, in the view of such a result, pregnant with consequences so important to the safety, the prosperity, and the morals, of the whole community, and especially to the interests of those numerous ...] industrious classes which form the basis and support of our republican system, could be so deaf to the united call of patriotism and wisdom, as not to lend their co-operation in so great and salutary a resorm? For myself, Mr. President, I feel a cheering confidence that they will give a helping and efficient hand to this great work.
The Legislature of my own State is now engaged in re vising her banking system, and I console myself in the belief that she will be among the foremost to vindicate the wisdom and patriotism of the State councils from distrust, by heartily seconding, in her legislation on the subject, our efforts here to establish a sound currency for the country.
But, sir, till by the suppression of the small notes the circulation of the country has become better filled with the precious metals, I do not think it would consist with a just, wise, and paternal policy on the part of the Government to exact payment of its dues in specie exclusively. It could not be done without great hardship to the public debtor, and extensive distress and embarrassment to the whole community. To demonstrate this, nothing more is necessary than to compare the amount of specie in circulation with the amount of the revenue; for it is conceded now, that if payment of one branch of the revenue be required by any permanent regulation to be made in specie, all ought to be paid in specie. According to the estimate of the Secretary of the Treasury, (which appears to me a very liberal one,) the whole amount of specie in circulation does not exceed twenty-eight millions of dollars. The revenue during the last year amounted to sorty-seven millions; and perhaps, with all our efforts to reduce it, it may still not fall short of thirty millions. There would, then, be thirty millions of dollars to be paid to the Government, out of a circulation of twenty-eight millions! To confront the two sums is to show the temerity, if not the impossibility, of the attempt. If the public debtors should be thrown upon the banks for large amounts of specie, not to be had from the circulation of the country, no one can be at a loss to perceive to what a disastrous extent the business relations and pecuniary concerns of the whole community would be embarrassed and deranged. And how much of specie, permit me to ask, would remain for that immense mass of payments in private transactions, which, according to a practical estimate made by Mr. Gallatin, in reference to the revenue collected, and the business done, in the city of New York, exceeds more than fifty times the payments to the Government? Nothing, therefore, can be clearer than that an attempt, with our present limited metallic circulation, to collect the public revenue in specie alone would be distressing to the last degree, and could not abide the test of that public judgment without whose approbation no system of policy can or ought to stand.
The honorable Senator from Missouri, [Mr. BENTON, ) in the able speech made by him in the opening of this discussion—a speech, which does him great credit, not only for the extent and variety of the research displayed by him, but for the force and ability with which he illustrated his own views, (in some of which it is my misfortune to differ from him,)—brought to the notice of the Senate, from the evidence taken before the Committee of Secrecy of the House of Commons on the Bank of England charter, in 1832, the case of a banker at Manchester, who paid out, in the course of a year, about six millions of dollars in specie to the operatives of that place. But this was done in a country which, as 1 have already shown, possesses an actual circulating metallic currency of one hundred and fifty millions of dollars, whereas our metallic circulation is but twenty-eight mil. lions! The examination of Mr. Samuel Jones Lloyd, (the banker referred to, ) on this point, is so instructive in itself, and so strikingly illustrative of the arguments i have advanced, that I beg leave to read the whole of that portion of it to the Senate, in the form of question and answer in which it is reported:
“Question. You are aware that a great amount of specie is required every week for the payment of wages at Manchester?
the amount Jinswer. No, I cannot; but, so far as regards the issue of our own house, I suou'd say that upon the average we pay about 25,000 sovereigns a week. Question. Is that a fresh supply of sovereigns in each week, or do you obtain it from the circulation of the place? .Answer. We require a continual fresh supply, but not to that extent. I think the fresh supply requisite will average something less than 10,000 a week. Question. Before the abolition of the £1 notes, were those paym, nts generally made in £1 notes? ./lnswer. Entirely. Question. Was the amount then about the same? .dnswer. Quite as large. Question. You say that about 25,000 a week is what you are called upon altogether to pay, and that about 15,000 come back into your hands? What do you apprehend becomes of the remaining 10,000 sovereigns? ..?nswer. When the £1 notos were in circulation, we could trace it pretty accurately, and I believe the course to be the same with the sovereigns; they are paid princi. pally in wages. The work people lay them out in clothing and provisions, and those sovereigns pass to the provision dealers, and thence into the districts from which the provisions are supplied; the sovereigns then pass into the hands of the country bankers in those districts, who either send them up to London or return them to Manchester, as may be most convenient to them. Question. It does not follow, then, because you are obliged to have 10,000 sovereigns from the branch bank, (that is, branch of the IBank of England,) that the amount of the circulation in Manchester is continually increasing at the rate of 10,000 a week? or. No, I do not apprehend it is increasing at all.” Now, sir, let us see how these large payments in specie, in Manchester, are made. Mr. Lloyd says, expressly, that, of the 25,000 sovo reigns a week paid out by him, 15,000 of them are obtained from the circulation of the place, as, through that channel, they regularly come back into his hands; that he requires a sresh supply of about 10,000 sovereigns a week srom the bank; but these 10,000 sovereigns are also constantly returning to the bank from the circulation of the country. They are first paid by the work people to the provision dealers; then by the provision dealers to the farmers, of
[JAN. 10, 1837.
tion of small notes? In sovereigns’ In gold or silver? Let us return to the examination of Mr. Lloyd: “Question. Before the abolition of the L1 notes, were those payments generally made in £1 notes? Jaswer. Entirely. Question. Was the amount then about the same? ./lnswer. Quite as large.” Previous to the suppression of the sonall notes, then, the whole amount of payments now made in gold were made exclusively in £1 notes, and, but for that suppression, would still be made in £1 notes. While the £1 notes were in circulation, these payments could not be made in gold, because gold was not in circulation. Gold was, doubtless, in the country, accumulated in the vaults of banks; but not being in circulation, there was no common and accessible fund from which it could be readily and conveniently obtained for the business of life. It never will be in circulation until bank notes of the smaller denominations have been first suppressed. It is in vain for the Government to attempt to bring it into circulation by demanding it in payinent of the public dues. By doing so, the public debtor may be subjected
to hardship, the banks may be exposed to runs upon
whom they procure their supplies; from the farmers they pass into the hands of the country bankers, who
either return them to the branch bank at Manchester, or, what is the same thing in effect, send them up to the parent bank at London. Thus, the whole amount of these specie payments is supplied by the actual circulating medium of the country—a thing easy and convenient enough, and perfectly natural, where the amount of gold and silver in daily and active circulation is 150,000,000 dollars. To make large payments in specie, under such circumstances, is attend d with no difficulty, because specie is the common and habitual currency of the country. The metall c circulation of England is a perpetual fountain, fed by the streams which flow from, and are constantly returning into, it But to make payments in specie to the Government alone, of thirty or twenty millions of dollars, or the half or the fourth of those sums, in a country whose circulation consists of $120,000,000 of paper, and of but $28,000,000 of gold and silver, is a far different operation. Another most important lesson is to be derived from the evidence of Mr. Lloyd. How were these payments for wages made in Manchester previous to the prohibi
them for specie, and the business of the community may be crippled and deranged. But gold and silver will never circulate while bank notes of the same denomination are permitted to occupy the channels of circulation. “You may call spirits from the vasty deep, but will they come * The requisition of specie in payments to the Government will not only not avail to bring gold and silver into circulation, but, if insisted on, while go'd and silver yet form, comparatively, but a small part of the actual currency of the country, it will inevitably have the effect of diminishing their circulation. While bank paper forms the great mass of the currency of the country, if the Government refuse to receive it in payment of the public dues, and demand specie exclusively, the necessary consequence will be to enhance, to a greater or less extent, the value of gold and silver in relation to paper. That being the case, gold and silver will no longer circulate Those who have specie will be unwilling to part with it, except at a premium; and those who have notes will be anxious to convert them into specie. Hoarding of the precious metals will then commence, and but little of them be seen in circulation. No one, I presume, Mr. President, attaches much importance to the collection of the public revenue in specie, as an ultimate object, if it can be made equally safe by other means. It is only as an instrument of purifying and correcting the currency that it deserves the consideration of a practical statesman. The great object is not to amass specie in the public Treasury, or in the vaults of banks, but to diffuse its healthful currents through the business of society, and to bring it into active circulation among the people. This can only be effected by the previous suppression of the small notes; and any attempt by the Government, before that is done, to collect its revenues in specie, instead of promoting and extending the circulation of gold and silver, tends directly to narrow and diminish their circulation. The indiscrimitia e resusal of bank paper in payment of the public dues might, in the present condition of the country, be attended with other serious hazards. We have heard a great deal recently, Mr. President, of the pecuniary panic and distress prevailing in England and Ireland, and of the extensive commercial embarrassments felt there. These embarrassments (in Ireland, especially) seem to have arisen mainly from this very circumstance of a refusal to receive the paper of solvent banks in collections of the public revenue. It appears that some of the collectors of the customs had arbitrarily refused the bills of the Provincial Bank of Ireland.
Jan. 10, 1837.]
Thereupon, a run upon the bank immediately commenced, which, nevertheless, weathered the storm. Tire panic spread in regard to other institutions, which, though solvent, were compelled to stop payment; and a general scene of confusion, alarm, and embarrassment, ensued. But I will give the details in an extract from an Fnglish paper, which has been republished extensively in all our principal journals. Here it is: “The pressure was yet severe, not only throughout Fngland, but in Ireland. had been a panic, attended by several severe commercoal disasters. lectors of the customs at Newry, and some other places, refusing the bills of the Provincial Bank of Ireland. A run upon the bank was the inevitable and immediate consequence. The solvency of the bank, however, had never been questioned, and was finally attested by the result. The panic spread in respect to other institutions, and the Dublin Agricultural Bank stopped payment on the 15th. Strong cfforts were made by its friends to sustain it. One gentleman, Mr. Gresham, sent in £25,000. The liabilities of the bank are stated at .E240,000; its assets at £680,000. “This bank was established in 1834, by 2,170 partners. . It now has 5,000 partners, and twenty-six branches scattered all over the country, all of which stop, of course. But, notwithstanding the solvency of the institution, its suspension will operate fearful injury.” All this pecuniary suffering and distress, widely rami. fied as it afterwards became, originated in the refusal,
by officers of the Government, to receive the notes of a
solvent bank in payment of the public revenue. If, Mr. President, we shall, by a sweeping law, refuse to receive the paper of all banks, however sound, in discharge of the public dues, will there not be danger of similar consequences? Might it not operate, to a certain extent, as a discredit of all bank paper, exposing the institutions which issue it to severe runs, and the community at large to consequential pressure and embarrassment? At all events, there would be heavy demands upon the banks for the specie requisite in payments to the Government, which the limited metallic circulation of the country would be wholly inadequate to supply. Would it be just or wise in the Government, in the present condition of the currency, with a shylock severity, to demand its pound of flesh? Would not such a course tend to produce, instead of averting, the catastrophe which appears to be dreaded by some? I should be as little disposed, Mr. President, as any member of this body, to hazard the safety of the public revenue by any undue laxity in regard to its collection. The proposition I have had the honor to submit provides studiously for the security of the revenue. It not only does not allow the notes of any banks to be received, but such as are promptly redeemed in specie—subject, too, to important restrictions in regard to their denominations—but it expressly declares that no notcs whatever shall be received which the banks in which they are to be deposited shall not agree to pass at once to the credit of the United States as cash. the deposite banks converts the whole of the public col. lections virtually into specie; and when it is recollected that the Secretary of the Treasury is empowered, whenever he thinks it necessary, to obtain from them a special and supplementary security for the public deposit, s, the solidity of the guarantee may be reposed upon with confidence. It is objected to this provision, by some gentlemen, that it puts it in the power of the deposite banks to say what notes shall, and what shall not, be received by the Government in pay ment of its revenues. The absolute responsibility of the deposite banks for the notes deposited with them on public account is deemed a fundamen
In the latter country there
This panic was commenced by the col
This guarantee of
ital principle in the fiscal code of Government; without
it, the practice of special deposites must be revived, which formerly subjected the Government to heavy losses, and is the origin of the unavailable funds still borne on the books of the Treasury. But if the deposite banks are to be absolutely responsible for the notes det posited with them as so much cash, they ought, certainly, to have a reasonable discretion as to the notes they shall receive on deposite. This is no new principle in the practice of the Government; it has been a standing ins'ruction from the Treasury Department to the public receivers and collectors, for more than twenty years, to receive no notes but such as the deposite banks would credit to the United States as cash. To satisfy, however, as far as possible, the jealousy which has been expressed on this subject, and to guard against any arbitrary or wanton abuse of their discretion by the deposite banks, I have, by a no "ification of my original resolution, placed them, in this regard, expressly under the supervision and control of the Secretary of the Treasury. While the proposition I have had the honor to submit provides, as I believe, in the amplest manner, for the security of the public revenue, it pays a due regard to the : interests of the great body of the community. An inflexible exaction of gold and silver in payments to the Government, in the present condition of the circulating medium, it seemed to me, would involve a necessary and serious derangement to the whole business and commerce of the country. These interests I believe to be more or less common to all. I am not one of those who see a natural enmity and inherent incompatibility between the interests of different classes of men; I do not belong to that school of philosophy which divides society horizontally, the upper portion pressing upon the | lower with the weight of its incumbent mass, while the | latter is constantly striving to throw off the load by violent and vindictive struggle. This is the bellum omnium in omnia which forms no part either of my philosophy or my feelings. No, sir, my theory assigns a perpendicular stratification to society, placing all its component parts side by side on the some platform of equality, with common rights, common interests, and common duties, mutually giving and receiving support by their joxtaposition. In this aspect, the into rests of the merchant, the farmer, the mechanic, the laborer, are the same; what promotes the prosperity of one, redounds to the advantage of each. In regard to the effect upon the currency, the proposition l have had the honor to submit, if adopted, would prove in some degree instrumental, I trust, in promoting that great reform which has been so impressively recommended by the patriotic Chief Magistrate of the nation, and which, at the moment when he is about to close a long and glorious career of public service, in a hallowed retirement, “by all a nation's wishes blest,” may well form the object of his ardent vows for his country. That reform seeks, by the substitution of gold and silver, in place of the lower denominations of bank paper, to make the precious metals the familiar currency of common life. But this object can be fully accomplished only by the ultimate suppression of all notes under twenty dollars; five-dollar notes and half eagles will not circulate together; the ten-dollar note must be put down, before the eagle can take its placf. --I am aware, Mr. President, for position is not exempt from difficulties and dangers. But I see in them nothing to create a rm, far less to excite despondency; but every thing to rouse the devotion and energy of the patriot. with whoever embarrassments we may be beset, there is a red, eming power in the virtue and intelligence of the American people, which will conduct us in safety and triumph through them all . Some gentlemen, I find, still fondly recar to their favorite preSENATE.]
[JAN. 11, 1837.
scription of a national bank, as the panacea for all our ills. In my humble judgment, sir, the remedy is far worse than the disease. The protection of a national bank would be “such protection as vultures give to lambs.” No, sir; let us rather invoke the protection of our guardian and victorious bird, the American eagle, the em. blem of our freedom and strength. An able and experienced member of the House of Commons, speaking of the inherent tendencies of the banking system, said: “There is in it an inevitable tendency to over-issues of paper, without a constant sentinel keeping watch upon it; and that sentinel [for them] was the metallic sovereign in constant circulation.” The American metallic eagle, in active circulation, will perform the same tutelary office for us; and, with such other provisions as the practical and sagacious spirit of American legislation shall devise, will finally, I firmly believe, place our currency, on a footing which, for convenience and security united, will rival any other under the sun. Let the State Legislatures proceed firmly and vigorously in the suppression of the small notes. I believe they will. They have the highest motives which can ad. dress themselves to human action to accomplish this great reform. Let them subject all banks, both old and new, to efficient regulation; let them regard with jeal. ousy every proposition for an increase of banks, and yield to none which is not founded on broad considerations of public utility; let them impose strict, practical limitations, both upon their issues and their discounts; let them provide for frequent periodical scrutinies into their condition; and, above all, let them retain in their own hands a constant power of correcting abuses, and of protecting, in every emergency, the interests of the community. It is this principle of legislative regulation and control over .# institutions which constitutes the distinctive feature of American policy. It is the result of the practical character of the American mind; and I am happy to perceive that the people of older countries— of England, especially—are turning to us for lessons and examples in this branch of the public economy. In that country, beyond the sixty-five miles from London, which define the limits of the Bank of England monopoly, numerous broods of joint stock companies and private bankers have sprung up, without regulation by law, without limitation of number, without restriction as to their issues or discounts, aud without responsibility to the public authority. The consequence has been, that this branch of their system has run into wild disorder and confusion. They now see that the privilege of issuing money, of whatever kind, is an essential branch of the public sovereignty, and, like every other delegated power of that sort, it must be subjected to regulation, to inspection, to responsibility. This is a lesson they have learned from us; and it is gratifying to see that, on another fundamental point, the most enlightened minds in that country are coming to the same conclusion that we have attained. They begin to see that the monopoly of the Bank of England, as that of the Bank of the United States here, is a dangerous monopoly; that the dominion of such an institution over the circulation is a power more of evil than good; and that it must be brought down to the level of competition with other solid institutions. The opinions of the two countries, on this great concern of the currency, are mutually approximating, and settling down upon a common system. They are learning from us the necessary checks and controls of a paper currency; we from them, I trust, the value and importance of an enlarged metallic circulation. I repeat, then, there is nothing in our present situation to excite alarm or despondency, whatever occasion there may be for vigilance and caution. Let us look our dangers steadily in the face, but let us not be dismayed by
them. Let us grapple with the difficulties which may oppose us, in a spirit of strenuous and determined patriotism, and we shall triumph over and subdue them. In conclusion, let me say to the political friends with whom I have had the honor to act in trying times, that, after having successfully dissipated so many panics raised under other auspices, we shall not, I trust, at last become the victims of a panic of our own creation. When Mr. Rives had taken his seat, Mr. CLAY rose and said that he desired to submit to the Senate a few considerations on the subject under debate; but, as the hour was somewhat late, the Senate might prefer that he deferred what he had to say till tomorrow, and proceed for the remainder of to-day to some other business; whereupon, On motion of Mr. BROWN, the Senate adjourned.
Mr. WALKER submitted the following resolution, which lies on the table one day, for consideration:
Resolved, That the State of Texas having established and maintained an independent Government, capable of performing those duties, foreign and domestic, which appertain to independent Governments, and it appearing that there is no longer any reasonable prospect of the successful prosecution of the war by Mexico against said State, it is expedient and proper, and in perfect conformity with the laws of nations, and the practice of this Government in like cases, that the independent political existence of said State be acknowledged by the Government of the United States.
Mr. WALKER said it was not his intention to ask a departure from the rules of the Senate, in order to enter upon the consideration of this resolution at this period. The resolution, (Mr. W. stated,) he would only say, at this period, was in exact concurrence with the views expressed by the President of the United States in his last message on this subject. In that message, the President declared it as his opinion, that the independence of Texas might be considered as suspended upon the issue of the threatened invasion by the army under the com mand of General Bravo. Mr. W. said he had this morning received information direct from Vera Cruz, as late as the first of December last, that this invasion had proved entirely abortive; that the army of Bravo had been reduced, by desertion and other causes, to a very small number; that this miserable remnant was unsupplied with provisions; and that, in consequence of these events, General Bravo had resigned the command of the army, and that the invasion, in all probability, would be abandoned. Mr. W. said he was satisfied that full reliance might be placed on the correctness of this information, and that he was fully convinced that, with the knowledge of these facts, the President would cheerfully unite with Congress in recognising the independence of Texas.
The Senate having again proceeded to the order of the day, which was the consideration of the resolution heretofore moved by Mr. Ewing, of Ohio, concerning the Treasury circular, with the substitute therefor proposed by Mr. Rives—
Mr. CLAY said that he took great pleasure in tendering to the Senate his respectful thanks for the indulgence which had yesterday been accorded him, at the instance of the Senator from North Carolina. And he should esteem himself most happy if on the present occasion he JAN. 11, 1837.]
should be so successful as to say what should occasion no regret to any for having conferred npon him that indulgence. In the State (said Mr. C.) of which I am a citizen, I had lately occasion to express my opinion in regard to that Treasury order which it is proposed in the resolution offered by my friend from Onio [Mr. Ewing] to rescind. What I said on that occasion appeared in the prints of the day; and a degree of unexpected notoriety has since been given to it during the present session. What I uttered I sincerely believed. I believed it then, I believe it now; and I reaffirm it with all sincerity here in my place, as my settled opinion. Before, however, I proceed to state the grounds on which it rests, I shall take some notice of the able speech with which we were yesterday favored by the honorable Senator from Virginia, [Mr. Rives.) . Though that speech was any thing but a justification of the legality of the Treasury order, it was ingenious, plausible, often eloquent. The speech throughout its whole tenor was indeed directly adverse to the order. The Treasury order proceeds on the principle of requiring specie only in payment for one of the most important branches of the public revenue; but the Senator from Virginia is in favor of receiving in payment, a mixed currency. The order proceeds on the principle of exhibiting partiality toward certain particular classes, in their payment of the public dues; the Senator from Virginia is for a rule which shall operate alike and equally on all, and shall extend to every branch of the public revenue. In a great deal, indeed, in most of what was so well said by that Senator, I entirely concur. There are, however, some points of difference, which I shall presently notice. I regret, that while the country generally, while the Senator himself, and while we all, are so deeply interested in knowing what is to be the real policy of the administration on the question of the currency, we are left as much in the dark as ever. On ane side of the Senate, by one friend of the administration, it is said that the precious metals alone are to form the currency, and that all paper is to be driven out of use; gradually, indeed, but surely. The Senator from Virginia, on this side, says that the policy about to prevail seeks to establish a mixed currency, consisting in part of specie, and in part of the notes of specie-paying banks. Which of these friends of the administration are we to credit? I must confess, that so far as past experience is to be looked to on such a subject, it seems to favor a metallic system more than a mixed currency. At the last session of Congress, a proposition was introduced into the Senate, requiring the payment of specie in all cases by the purchasers of our public lands. That proposition was, however, put down by an almost unanimous vote. For, although no call was made for the yeas and nays, I think I am fully authorized in saying that, had such a call been made, there would not have been more than one or two votes in favor of the measure. Yet on the 11th of July, almost immediately on the rising of Congress, we find this very proposition imbodied in a Treasury order, which requires the payment of specie in regard to our most important branch of the public revenue. This fact would seem to indicate that the policy of a mixed currency, for which the Senator from Virginia has contended, was not then the policy of the adminis. tration, and that not his but another's influence was predominant in the cabinet. In the preamble to this order, in which the reasons for it are set forth, we find not only that specie is required from all purchasers of the public land, but that that other element of the currency which the Senator would retain is denounced as “paper money.” And even in regard to the messages of the President himself, did time permit, and were it necessary to do so, it would be easy to show from all of them, so far as they relate to this subject of currency, that although
President Jackson commenced his administration by recommending a mixed currency, yet that he gradually departed more and more from that ground, until, in the message of 1835, referred to by the Senator from Virginia, he speaks of getting back to the “constitutional medium,” evidently alluding to an exclusive specie circulation. You will therefore agree that the uncertainty of which I have spoken is not feigned, but real; and I entreat the two divisions of the friends of the administration speedily to settle between themselves the controverted question, what the policy to be pursued actually is, and forthwith to state it to the country, so that all our business men may have an eye to it, and regulate them. selves accordingly, in their moneyed transactions, The Senator from Virginia telis us that he is in favor of an enlargement of the metallic foundation of the currency. And who is not? Is the idea a new one with the Senator from Virginia? Did it not originate, or was it not at least first pressed by my friends who were endeavoring to guard the currency of the country from the dangers which beset it? Was not the principle of restricting issues of bank notes below prescribed denominations first introduced by the Senator from Massachusetts who sits near me, [Mir. WEastER,] as one provision in the renewed charter of the Bank of the United States in 1832? And while I am very sure that the Senator from Virginia did not take from the speech of my friend on that occasion the anecdote which he introduced into his own of the message sent by Mr. Burke to Mr. Pitt, warning him that if he permitted the issue of one-pound notes he would never again see a guinea in England, yet it does so happen that that very anecdote was related by the Senator from Massachusetts in his speech before the Senate in 1832, and was used by him expressly in support of the idea of increasing and strengthening the metallic basis of our paper currency. But whilst both gentlemen concur in the propriety of imposing some limitation on our paper circulation, yet there is a wide difference between them as to the mode in which that desirable object is to be effected. The Senator from Virginia would rely on the voluntary action of a thousand banks, and of twenty-six State sovereignties operating on those banks. We of the opposition, on the contrary, thought it wisest to rely on a remedy within our own power, to trust to our own laws, and to look to that which we could effect by our own energies and the exertion of our own constitutional authority. We considered this a practical and efficacious means. The Senator from Virginia relies on what I consider wholly inefficient. His reliance, it seems, is on the enlightened patriotism of the States and of the banks; the enlightened patriotism of nine hundred or a thousand banks, created for the sole purpose of making money! But, sir, have we no lessons from experience in our own past history, as to the degree of reliance which may safely be placed on the mere voluntary action of any com: munity, however enlightened and patriotic it may be? What was the state of things during our own Revolution, when we were contending in the most glorious cause that ever animated the hearts or nerved the arms of men? The reliance was then on the voluntary payment of the quotas, not of twenty-six, but of thirteen States, indispensable to the success of that cause and to our soldiers, who, unfed and unclad, were enduring every suffering to which humanity can be possibly exposed. Let me ask the honorable Senator, in view of what then took place, whether reliance on the patriotism even of enlightened States, much less that of banking corporations, is safe and secure. It is now four or five years since the policy was first announced on our side, and was afterwards taken up by a portion of the friends of the administration, to widen the metallic foundation of the currency by a prohibition of