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resolution of 1816 was conceived and passed. The author of the resolution said at the time that the success of the resolution depended upon the Treasury Department, and expressed his fear that it might fail of its object through the fault of that Department—a fear in which the gentleman's misgivings were prophetic, until the splenolid and beneficent administration of General Jackson rose upon the political horizon, to bless and exalt his country; to command the admiration of the world, civilized and barbarian, and to realize the gentleman's own cherished and adored vision of 1816–the constitutional currency restored, and the bloated and pestilential carcases of the paper system expelled from the doors of the Federal Treasury. Mr. B. repeated the date of the speech from which he had read an extract; it was the 26th of April, 1816, four days before the passage of the joint resolution of that year. He now had another extract from another speech of the same gentleman, also delivered before that joint resolution was passed, and clearly indicative of his intention in bringing forward that measure, to compel, as soon as possible, the complete re-establishment of the currency of the constitution as the sole and exclusive currency of the Federal Government. It was a speech delivered in February, on the passage of the charter of the Bank of the United States, and in which the speaker took the great and true ground that the law and Treasury Department, and not the bank, ought to be the true regulator of currency. Mr. B. only read the parts which were applicable to the point in debate, namely, the legal currency of the United States, and the speedy and compulsory payment of the whole revenue in that currency.
Extract from Mr. Webster's speech on the Bank of the United States Charter Bill, February, 1816.
“No nation had a better currency than the United States. There was no nation which had guarded its currency with more care; for the framers of the constitution and those who enacted the early statutes on this subject were hard money men; they had felt, and therefore dul appreciated, the evils of a paper medium; they, there. fore, sedulously guarded the currency of the United States from debasement. The legal currency of the Uni. ted States was gold and silver coin; this was a subject in regard to which Congress had run into no folly. * * Mr. W. declined occupying the time of the House to prove that there was a depreciation of the paper in circulation; the legal stand ord of value was gold and silver; the relation of paper to it proved its state, and the rate of its depreciation. Gold and silver currency, he said, was the law of the land at home, and the law of the world abroad; there could, in the present state of the world, be no other currency. In consequence of the immense paper issues having banished specie from circulation, the Government had been obliged, in direct violation of existing statutes, to receive the amount of their taxes in something which was not recognised by law as the money of the country, and which was, in fact, greatly depreciated. * - - * * *
“As to the evils of the present state of things, Mr. W. admitted it in its fullest extent. If he was not mistaken, there were some millions in the Treasury of paper which were nearly worthless, and were now wholly useless to the Government, by which an actual loss of considerable amount must certainly be sustained by the Treasury. This was an evil which ought to be met at once, because it would grow greater by indulgence. In the end, the taxes must be paid in the legal money of the country, and the sooner that was brought about the better. * * 4. * If Congress were to pass forty statutes on the subject, he said they would not make the law more conclusive than it now was, that nothing should be received in payment of duties to the
Government but specie; and yet no regard was paid to the imperative injunctions of the law in this respect. The whole strength of the Government, he was of opinion, ought to be put forth to compel the payment of the duties and taxes to the Government in the legal currency of the country.” Now (said Mr. B.) the Senate will doubtless be willing to hear what was said by the friends of the administration in 1816, to those powerful appeals from the gentleman who so strenuously plead the cause of the laws, the constitution, and hard money. He had looked over the speeches of that day, and found the whole of their answers compressed into a short paragraph by Mr. Sharpe, of Kentucky, a gentleman of genius and ability, and whose tragical death had since attracted so much public notice and commiseration. “In reply to the argument of Mr. Websicr; that the remedy for the evil was in the power of the Secretary of the Treasury, by requiring payment of the dues to the Government in specie, Mr. S. said the gentleman had not demonstrated that there was specie enough in the country for the purposes of the payment of the revenue to the Treasury, nor that the banks have not the means ultimately to force the Government to take their paper in payments to the Treasury. The disposition was not wanting in the officer at the head of that Department to apply the remedy, if it was in his power.” This was the answer! a deplorable confession of the condition to which the Federal Treasury had been reduced by receiving State bank paper in payment of the federal revenues! That policy had begun under General Hamilton, and been followed up by other Secretaries, in violation of the laws and constitution, until nothing but inconvertible paper remained in the Treasury, and little else in the country. All their fine phrases about specie-paying banks, and paper equivalent to specie, and no paper but what the collectors and depositories of the revenue would receive as cash—all these holiday phrases had ended, as such schemes must forever end, in the eventual general use of paper, the eventual general banishment of specie, and the eventual general stoppage of banks, and universal depreciation of paper money. This was the only answer which could be given in 1816, and the only one that could be given until President Jackson's measures for restoring the constitutional currency shall have raised that currency to seventy-five millions of dollars. There is now specie enough in the country to make all revenue payments in gold and silver; and the purchasers of the public land, speculators and bank borrowers excepted, have found no difficulty in getting specie to make their payments. Land office returns prove this. The sum of $1,463,656 was paid into the land of. fices, in gold and silver, from the 15th of August, when the order took effect, down to the middle of November, to which the returns were made up. This was a million and a half for three months, being at the rate of about six millions per annum. This would buy near five millions of acres of land at the present minimum price; and five millions of acres of public lands, in addition to other sources of supply, is double as much as the progressive settlement of the country has ever required. Does the demand for this small sum—a sum which does not go out of the country, but enters immediately into general circulation through the Government payments—cannot such a demand be supplied out of the seventy-five millions in the country, especially when four and a half millions were exported to foreign parts this very year, not to return again? Of the seventy-five millions of specie in the country, the banks alone were computed by the Secretary of the Treasury to have forty-five millions in their vaults. Can they not spare a few millions for the service of the country, especially when the measures of President Jackson's administration have increased their Dec. 19, 1836.]
supplies of the precious metals from twenty-five to fortyfive millions in three years? Mr. B. would subjoin from the Treasury report the statement of specie in all the banks in the United States, as far as obtained at the Treasury Department, first premising that the report was not complete. The number of banks in the United States and their branches is near one thousand! Their names occupy twelve columns in Bicknell's Counterfeit Detector, with nearly eighty names in each column! The Treasury report does not include them all, but the main part, and their specie is reported thus:
October, 1833, - $25,000,000 January, 1834, - 27,000,000 January, 1835, - 43,000,000 January, 1836, - 40,000,000 December, 1836, - 45,000,000
Here is an increase of specie in their vaults, said Mr. B., of twenty millions in three years, and of five millions of dollars during the very year of the Treasury order's existence—a fact which, of itself, exposes and puts to shame the whole story of their distress and ruin, and inability to aid the community on account of this order, or to furnish the specie which it requires. The fact is conclusive: it stamps the whole contrivance on the part of the banks which have engaged in it, as a shameful and fraudulent imposition upon the public. It is enough of itself; but the custom-house books show that these banks would in reality have increased their specie to ten millions this year, had it not been for the sums exported to foreign countries. The exports of specie, up to near the end of November, were $4,435,815; of which $312,811 was in gold. But this is nothing, according to the Philadelphia letter. It is nothing; while the one third of that sum going into our land offices, and thence through Government payments to the people, is to create intense distress, derange the exchanges deprive the banks which affect to be injured by the Treasury order of all capacity to make loans to business men, and justify them in throwing borrowers into the hands of usurers, to be fined at the rate of 3 per cent. per month discount (equal to 4 per cent. interest) for the use of money. But Mr. B. had another test to apply to the capacity of those banks to furnish the small amount of five millions of dollars per annum for the purchase of public lands. It was in the contrast exhibited by the one thousand banks of the United States with what is done by a single banker in the English county—he might almost say kingdom instead of county—for Lancashire, in point of wealth, is equal to the second rate kingdoms of Europe -in the English county of Lancashire, and where there are no local paper-issuing banks or bankers. He would give the sworn words of Samuel Jones Lloyd, Esq., a banker, examined before the committee of thirty-one members of the House of Commons in 1832; a committee of which Lord Althorpe was chairman, and such men as Sir Robert Peel, Lord John Russell, Mr. Goulburn, Sir Henry Parnell, Mr. Baring, and more than two dozen scarcely their inferiors, were members, and on which such men as the Governor of the Bank of England, Mr. N. M. Rothschild, and a hundred distinguished bankers and merchants were witnesses. Mr. Lloyd, among other things, testified to the quantity of gold paid weekly by a single banking establishment, (his own,) for wages to working people in the city of Manchester, one out of the many great cities which Lancashire contains. This is the part of his evidence relating to this point: “A great amount in gold is paid at Manchester, in wages. Witness's house issues about 25,000 sovereigns weekly. That issue was formerly in one pound notes. There is no local issue in Lancashire.” Here are three statements (said Mr. B.) which ought to be sterotyped on the head and heart of every friend to
the constitutional currency of our America: 1. Twentyfive thousand sovereigns paid weekly by one bankinghouse, for wages to working people. 2. This amount formerly paid in one pound notes. 3. No local bank issuing paper now in Lancashire.
Confining his remarks to one only of these statements —the amount of weekly payments in gold—Mr. B. said the annual amount was one million three hundred thousand sovereigns, equal to six millions and a half of dollars! This was paid by a single banking house; and are we to believe that the 1,000 banks in the United States cannot furnish the same amount for the purchase of the public lands? And are we, after attempting to make them do it, to be clamored down by a combined cry from speculators, a part of the banks, and politicians, that the country was paralyzed and desolated by the experiment, and that all further attempt must instantly cease?
Mr. B. would make a short issue with all these complaining banks; they either have, or have not, their pro. portion of the forty-five millions of specie which they report is in their vaults. If they have it, there is no dif. ficulty in furnishing specie for the land offices; if they have it not, then their returns are deceptive—their pe. riodical exhibitions of specie are nothing but show money; and the sooner the people find out their hollowness and emptiness, the better for the whole community.
But, (continued Mr. B.,) let the amount of specie be . what it may in the banks, the fact is, that there is about seventy-five millions in the country, and a goodly part of that is in the hands of the community. In October, 1833, when the deposites were removed, the whole amount of specie in the banks was returned at about twenty-five millions, and that in the hands of the community was computed at only four millions. The community is now computed to have twenty-eight millions, and the annual increase is thus reported by the Secretary of the Treasury:
Dates, Specie in active circulation. October, 1833 - $4,000,000 1st January, 1834, 12,000,000 1st January, 1835, - 18,000,000 1st January, 1836, - 23,000,000 1st December, 1836, - 28,000,000
Here, then, is a sum in the hands of the community, sufficient to supply the public land demand, on account of actual settlers, four times over. The rapidity with which gold and silver has increased since the commencement of the operations to restore the constitutional currency, should banish all doubt on the practicability of doing it. See what has been done in four years against the powerful opposition, the systematic resistance, and the scoffings and jeerings of a great political and moneyed party. Four years more may be equally successful, if these resolutions can be defeated, and, instead of seventy-five millions, one hundred and twenty millions, and nearly forty millions of it gold, may be in the country. But nobody expects this amount to come into the country, or what is in it now to remain, unless the Federal Government can continue its onward course in the reformation of the currency. If it relapses into a paper money currency, the whole community must re. lapse into it also; and the result, must be, what it has been heretofore, universal banishment of the precious metals, the eventual stoppage of all the State banks, and a call for the re-establishment of the Bank of the United States, as the only safe regulator of the State currencies.
The increase of banks and paper money, and the necessity of restraining the issues of these corporations, as alleged in the President's message, was next adverted to by Mr. B. He referred to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, which showed thcse results:
[Dec. 19, 1836.
SENATE.] Dates. Paper in active circulation. Near 1st October, 1833, - $80,000,000 1st January, 1834, - 76,000,000 1st January, 1835, - 82,000,000 1st January, 1836, - 108,000,000 1st December, 1836, - 120,000,000
Here is an increase of about forty millions of paper money in two years. But it is not the whole increase in that time. The computation is principally made from the returns of the old banks; while one hundred and six new ones, with capitals of sixty millions, had been created; and twelve millions and three quarters of increased capital to the old banks had been granted during the past winter; so that fisty millions of increase of paper was probably the amount when the Treasury order was issued, and the increase going on with a deplorable rapidity. The national domain was the object that was attracting it. The temptation was irresistible. A quire of paper, speckled over with figures, would transmute into 100,000 acres of land; a ream of paper into a million of acres. One thousand engines were at work, striking this paper; hosts of speculators, loaded with bales of it, were on their way to all the new States. It was evident the national domain was becoming a fund for the redemption of all this paper. It was all receivable in exchange for lands; and the holders of these bills seem to consider them as assignats, like those of the French national convention, convertible into the territory of the republic at the will of the possessor, and the faster the better. This was the state of things on the rise of Congress, and the two halls of that body had resounded with the denunciation of the ruinous aspect of this exchange of land for paper, four months before the adjournment took place. The President, acting under the constitution and laws of the country, applied the remedy which the clisis required, and which the laws and constitution authorized. He saved the national domain; he checked the expansion of the paper system; he saved the Treasury from a frightful accumulation of “unavailable funds;” and he prevented that catastrophe in the State banks to which the Bank of the United States is anxiously looking, systematically promoting and impatiently awaiting that catastrophe in the local banks which would again disgrace and discredit them, and bring forth the whole United States Bank party to exclaim, We told you so! we told you this would be the consequence of not renewing our charter! and now you all see it! and we demand the re-establishment of the national bank as the only means of regulating the State banks! President Jackson has prevented all this; and has shown that the constitutional currency can regulate the State banks; and for this he has drawn upon himself the denunciations of disappointed speculators, dis. appointed politicians, and disappointed bankers. He has prevented many and great evils, and, among others, the further depreciation of the currency. Fifty millions of additional paper, put out in two years, has enabled the banks to imprison forty-five millions of specie, and the whole one hundred and thirty millions of paper money afloat during the summer has depreciated the general currency; which is seen by the importation of wheat from Germany and the Black sea, by the importation of beef and pork from Ireland, hay from Scotland, and many other necessaries of life from Europe; which is seen in the rise of price in every article which depends for sale on its depreciated currency; for articles whose price depends upon foreign markets, where the notes of our one thousand banks are not taken for money, as tobacco and cotton have not risen. The progress and the evils of this depreciation, which commenced before the Treasury order, which that order has checked, but which must recommence with its recision, is powerfully
sketched in that part of President Jackson's message which relates to the currency. He says: “The progress of an expansion, or rather a depreciation of the currency, by excessive bank issues, is always attended by a loss to the laboring classes. This portion of the community has neither time nor opportu. nity to watch the ebbs and flows of the money market. Engaged from day to day in their useful toils, they do not perceive that, although their wages are nominally the same, or even somewhat higher, they are greatly
reduced, in fact, by the rapid increase of a spurious cur
rency, which, as it appears to make money abound, they are at first inclined to consider a blessing. It is not so with the speculator, by whom this operation is better understood, and is made to contribute to his advantage. It is not until the prices of the necessaries of life become so dear that the laboring classes cannot supply their wants out of their wages, that the wages rise, and gradually reach a justly proportioned rate to that of the products of their labor. When thus, by the depreciation, in consequence of the quantity of paper in circulation, wages as well as prices become exorbitant, it is soon found that the whole effect of the adulteration is a tariff on our home industry for the benefit of the countries where gold and silver circulate and maintain uniformity and moderation in prices. It is then perceived that the enhancement of the price of land and labor produces a corresponding increase in the price of products, until these products do not sustain a competition with similar ones in other countries, and thus both manufacturing and agricultural productions cease to bear exportation from the country of this spurious currency, because they cannot be sold for cost. This is the process by which specie is banished by the paper of the banks. Their vaults are soon exhausted to pay for foreign commodities: the next step is a stoppage of specie payment—a total deg. radation of paper as a currency; unusual depression of prices, the ruin of debtors, and the accumulation of property in the hands of creditors and cautious capitalists.” This (said Mr. B.) is the progress and effect of a depreciated paper currency. The imprudence and the criminality of banks of issue are equally the sources of this depreciation; and the community is equally the victim of their misconduct, whether it results from accident, folly, or design. It is established in England that a sudden increase of one million sterling, by Bank of England issues, will, in many states of the moneyed system, produce a depreciation in the value of money which will be sensibly felt in the kingdom. What, then, is to be the effect of an increase of fifty millions of paper dollars, in two years, in this country? It must be what every person sees and feels it to be—a depreciation of at least one third of the value of paper money! so that all persons living on salaries, fixed incomes, and wages, are in the condition of having suffered a diminution of one third of their income. Living is becoming as dear in our young and prolific America as in the aged and crowded countries of Europe. Let no one delude himself with the belief that there is no depreciation while bank notes continue to be convertible into gold and silver; this would be a great error; for it is of the very nature of depreciating paper to carry down gold and silver with it, until things reach that point when prudent men begin to exact payments in hard money, or, which is the same thing, to carry home in silver at night the amount of every note received during the day. When things have reached that point, and about the time when all prudent men have taken care of themselves, the public mind begins to get uneasy. Some cause, no matter what, starts an alarm; and in a few weeks the explosion is universal. Such was the point to which we were rapidly tending in July last. President Jackson has arrested this depreciDec. 19, 1836.]
ation, and saved the country from a dire calamity. His Treasury order has saved it. It has stopped the issues of a host of banks, and bound up the elements of desolation in their own caverns. The raging winds are now imprisoned: Boreas, Eurus, and Auster, are now confined. The fabulous conception of the father of poets is realized, not upon the ocean of waters, but upon the ocean of paper money. The elements of destruction are tied up; and wo to those who, imitating the rash conduct of the companions of Ulysses, shall untie the fated bag, and turn loose tempests, storms, and desolating fury upon the land. Mr. B. said it would be unjust, after saying so much of the expansion of the paper currency, and the overissues of the local banks, not to add, that the picture was not intended to be applicable to the whole of these banks; that he knew of many honorable exceptions, and there might be many more that he did not know of. His means of information were limited to the official returns of the deposite banks, now about ninety in number; and while, of these, he saw many whose paper dollars in circulation, to say nothing of their deposites, were five, ten, fifteen, to one for their specie dollars in their vaults, yet there were others where the proportion was the other way. The Merchants' Bank, Boston, had $284,000 specie, and $256,000 in circulation; the Bank of America, New York, had $1,490,000 in specie, and $572,000 notes out; the Manhattan, in the same place, had $690,000 specie, and $566,000 paper out; the Planters' Bank, Georgia, had $497,000 specie, $361,000 paper; and many others whose issues but slightly exceeded their specie in hand. It was due to these banks, and doubtless to many more, whose returns were not accessible to him, to except them from the censure and the complaint which lies against those whose unjustifiable issues have produced the expansion and depreciation of currency which is now visible to all. Adverting to President Jackson's great design of increasing the specie in the country, Mr. B. said there was an indissoluble connexion between the state of the specie in a country and its prosperity or distress. They were cause and effect, and rose and fell together. On this point he had a table to produce, which must carry conviction to every mind which was open to the influence of facts and reasons. It was a table which covered the most disastrous and the most prosperous period of our time; and which required but the application of every one's own knowledge of events to lead to just and inevitable conclusions.
Here (said Mr. B.) is a period of sixteen years, divided into portions of four years each, by the administrations of different Presidents. The first showed a heavy export of specie, and the loss of near twelve millions of dollars; the second, a loss of about a million and a half, the third, a gain of about six millions; the fourth, a gain of near forty millions, and upwards of that amount, when the produce of our native gold mines were added. These were the results; and, without embarrassing his remarks with complicated details, he would take the pe. riods of strongest contrast—the first and last four years of the sixteen. Every person would recollect the period of 1821,-'22,-'23,-'24. It was the season of bank stoppages; of depreciated paper money; of stop laws, relief laws, tender laws, loan laws, property laws; the season of depressed prices of property and produce, of ruin to debtors, and harvests to money-holders and cautious capitalists. It was the time when a creditor who should receive from his debtor ten dollars in Kentucky paper, and gave five dollars in change, would have received nothing, and the debtor would have paid nothing. It was the time when two bills for the same article were made out in the West: one for silver, and one for paper. the latter being the former multiplied by two. Now, look to the table. This disastrous season will be seen to have been the period of least importation and greatest exportation of specie. Search the memory, and it will inform you that the Bank of the United States, then just recovered from its own crisis of 1819, and just strong enough to do mischief, was employed in eviscerating the whole interior country of its gold and silver, and collecting it on the seaboard, where it was exported to countries unafflicted with the pestilence of paper money. Look to the last period, the present time; and it will be seen that, dating from that era which should become national, and receive perennial honors in anniversary celebrations—the most glorious era of the removal of the deposites—-dating from that era, and it will be seen that we have gained near forty millions of specie by importations, and that the gain exceeds forty millions, when the domestic supplies are added. The present period, then, is the season of the greatest increase of specie ever known; and such also is the national prosperity. Never before did the prosperity of any country equal the present time; never was there such exuberance of prosperity; and that, after making due allowance for what is fictitious, from the excess of paper and the effect of a depreciated currency. This excess and depreciation would be fatal, were it not for the seventy-five millions of specie in the country. But these threescore and fifteen millions are the safety of the land. They make the people independent of the banks; they make them independent of panics; they prepare them for the present panic, this starveling concern, now in a course of preparation by the authors of the old one. Thanks to the wisdom, the foresight, the energy, of President Jackson, he has prepared the country for this second panic; he has fortified it, and armed it for the contest. Seventyfive millions of specie puts paper at defiance, and enables the country to stand the shock of the encounter. No longer can banks set themselves up above law and above Government. No longer can they stop payment, and force their dishonored paper upon the country. The bank that would now attempt it would instantly be put to the test of insolvency, and subjected to the law of the land as well as to the law of public opinion. Her dishonored paper would be driven in upon her, and the last hard dollar extracted from her vaults. These being the fruits of President Jackson's great measure for restoring a specie currency, who can justify the opposite course which is now proposed? a course by which specie is to be dispensed with by the Federal Government, paper to take its place, specie again to become an article of mer
chandise for exportation to foreign countries, and the disastrous scenes of 1821,–’22,-'23,-124 again real zed. The crisis had approached in July; paper was pouring into the Treasury, specie was departing for foreign climes; President Jackson checked the inundation of paper, and he compelled the departing specie to counter. match—to face West instead of East——to our land offices instead of foreign ports; and, in doing this, he has benefited his country, and drawn upon himself the denunciation of those who now attack him. Mr. B. would conclude his observations on this part of the subject, with caling the attention of the Senate to the public imputation of wicked motives, attributed to President Jackson in the Kentucky speech and Philadelphia letter, from which extracts had been read. Christian charity forbids, and gentlemanly breeding avoids, the gratuitous imputation of malignant motives. There are cases in which delicacy recoils from a public and insult. ing reference from one man to another. But where was Christian charity, gentlemanly breeding, or delicacy of feeling, when such words as these were used in reference to President Jackson? “I have little doubt that the specie order was the revenge of the President upon Congress for passing the distribution law.” Here, said Mr. B., is not only a personal outrage to the President, but an attempt to excite the resentment of Congress against him, and to mark him for the vengeance of all who are disposed to pervert the deposite act into a distribution law; and all this, too, upon the gratuitous imputation of a wicked motive for a measure just, wise, legal, and indispensably necessary within itself! Motives, continued Mr. B., are within the cognizance of the Searcher of all hearts. He can see them as they are; the mortal eye may mistake the m. It is gocq, then, for frail humanity to be slow in charging a bad motive for oven a questionable action; he had, therefore refrained from all ref. erence to motives for the design of those coincident and twin productions from which he had made quotations— the Kentucky speech and the Philadelphia letter! He had not said that they were the revenge of disappointed ambition for a lost presidential chair, nor of disappointed avarice for a lost national bank charter. He had not even intimated that the marble palace in Chesnut street, and the shady groves of Ashland, might be conscious to the embraces from which this rescinding resolution has sprung; or that the imperative requisition upon this Congress to command the instant repeal of the Treasury order was founded in any scheme to obtain, from the representatives of the people, a triumph over that man to whom the people themselves have granted so many triumphs over the same pursuers. For himself, he had omitted all such intimations, and should drop all surther notice of them now. Leaving, then, the actors and accessories to this proceeding, its origin and their motives, to the phasis under which they themselves have exhibited it, he should join President Jackson in the consident belief expressed by him in the concluding paragraph of that part of his message which relates to the issuance of the Treasury order, “that his country would find, in the motives which had induced it, and in the happy consequences which have ensued, much to commend, and nothing to condemn.” Mr. B. said he had stated in the commencement of his speech that two great objects were to be accomplished by this rescinding resolution: first, the condemnation of President Jackson for a violation of the laws and consti. tution, and the destruction of the public prosperity; and, secondly, the overthrow of the constitutional cuirency, and the imposition of the paper money of all the state Governoon's upon the Federal Government. He had spoken.", the first of these objects, and, as he hoped, successfully Vindicated the President from all the char. ges on which it rested; the second object was now to be
attended to, and would be discussed with all the brevity and despatch which the magnitude of the subject permitted. This design (said Mr. B ) to overthrow the hard money system of the constitution, and to enthrone the paper money system in its place, is as old as the constitution it: self, and has been the leading policy of a great political party, from the foundation of that party, near fifty years ago, and under all its mutations of name, down to the present hour. Gold and silver, though not without a
‘struggle for a national bank and a national paper curren
cy, were made the currency of the Federal Government by the convention which created this Government. So fixed and jealous was the mind of the convention on this point, that even the power of coining gold and silver, which had been left to the States under the articles of confederation, was taken away from them by the new constitution. The members of that great convention were not only fixed upon having gold and silver for the currency of the new Government, but also determined upon its uniformity, so that the same piece should be the same thing in form, name, device, and value, throughout the Union. The exclusion of paper money was as carefully enforced by the constitution as the adoption of gold and silver was sedulously guarded. The words of the constitution, and the history of the times, and especially the forty-sourth number of the Federalist, written by Mr. Madison, all prove this. The early legislation of Congress conformed to the words and spirit of the constitution, and adopted the plainest and strongest language to guard the currency which it had adopted. The two acts fundamental for the collection of the two great branches of the revenue--lands and customs, that of 1789 for the latter, and 1800 for the former—were express that gold and silver coin only should be received for the customs, and specie and evidences of the public debt only for the public lands. These two great acts, being faithful interpreters of the constitution, have never been openly attacked in either House of Congress. In all the changes which subsequent legislation has made in the laws, of which the hard money enactments are part, these clauses have been retained in the same, or equivalent expressions; so that a hard money currency still remains the constitutional and the statutory currency of the Federal Government; Temporary enactments in favor of Treasury notes and United States Bank notes have ceased; and the joint resolution of 1816 neither does nor can repeal a law. Resolutions, whether joint or several, are not the n ode of national legislation. They are only declaratory of facts or principles, or expressive of the opinions and purposts of the House or Houses from which they emanate. The joint resolution differs from the single in nothing but in being the declaration, the opinion, or the purpose, of both Houses instead of one. This being the case, and the two fundamental enactments of 1789 and 1800 being still in force, as retained in subsequent alterations of the ławs to which they belong, the question is, how comes it they have been treated as dead letters on the statute book, and paper money received in place of the hard money which they imperatively require? The answer for this question (said Mr. B.) carries us up to the time of General Hamilton, to the first year of his administration of the Treasury Department, and to the foundation of the political school of which he was the head. As the Secretary of the Treasury, it became his duty to carry into tsfect the act of 1789, for the collection of the custom-house duties in gold and silver coin only. Instead of carrying the law into effect, he nullified it by construction. He interpreted “gold and silver coin only” to be the notes of specie-paying banks; and a deposite of bank notes, as cash, to be a deposite of specie. This was his construction, and the order which he