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makes a very great and sudden reduction in the years *41 and '42. He doubted the wisdom of this provision at the time; but those who represented the manufacturing interest thought it was safer and better to reduce more slowly at first and more rapidly at the termination of the term, in order to avoid the possibility of a shock at the commencement of the term. He thought experience had clearly shown that there could be no hazard in accelerating the rate of reduction now, in order to avoid the great and rapid descent of '41 and '42; and in this view it seemed to him that it would be wise to distribute the remaining reduction equally on the six remaining years of the act. It was, how ever, but a suggestion. Mr. C. observed that, had not this been the short session of Congress, he should have postponed the introduction of the present bill, and awaited the action of the Committee on Finance. But it was possible that coromittee might find it impracticable to reduce the re venue, and as there were but about two months of the session left, if something were not effected in the mean time, a large surplus might be left in the Treasury, or rather in the deposite banks—lest there to disturb and disorder the currency of the country; to cherish and foster a spirit of wild and boundless speculation, and to be wielded for electioneering purposes. A standing surplus in the deposite banks was almost universally condemned. The President himself had announced it in his message, and Mr. C. heartily agreed with him in every word he had said on that subject. Before sending the bill to the Chair, he would take the liberty of expressing his hope that the subject would be discussed in the same spirit of moderation as had characterized the debates upon it last year. It was a noble example, and he hoped it would be followed. Let the subject be argued on great public grounds, and let all party spirit be sacrificed on this great question to the good of the country. Yet, he would say to the friends of the administration, that it was not from any fear, on party ground, that he uttered this sentime it; for he believed there was no subject which, in the hands of a skilful opposition, would be more fatal to power. The bill was, by consent, read twice; when Mr. CALhoun moved that it be made the order of the day for Monday next. He saw no necessity for its commitment. Mr. CLAY was extremely unwilling to interrupt for a moment (and he would only interrupt for a moment) the progress of the debate expected to proceed to day. Bu', from the numerous indications which had been given of a purpose to disturb the compromise act, and from the direct allusion to the subject which had just been made, he felt himself called upon to say one word. Considering the circumstances under which that act passcd, the manner through this body, the acclamation with which it ran through the House, the cordial reception with which it was greeted by every part and every interest in the country, he did not think that it ought to be lightly touched. In faith of adherence to the provisions of that act, large investments have been made, and under its beneficent operation every interest has prospered, the manufacturing not less than other great interests. The whole country has looked to the inviolability of the act: the messages of the President; the reports from the Sec. retary of the Treasury; the declarations of members of Congress, upon this floor and that of the other House, all heretofore have united in stamping upon it that char. acter. Štrictly speaking, he was aware that Congress possessed the power to repeal or modify the act; but in his opion it could not be done, without something like a violation of the public faith. iie had foreseen, at the period of the passage of the act, the probability of a iarge surplus beyond the wants of the Government, economically administered, and he tad endeavored, simul
taneously with the passage of the act, to provide for it by the introduction of the land bill. That bill had passed Congress, but unfortunately had encountered the veto of the President. If that bill had received his sanction, there would have been no surplus at the last session, none now, probably none hereafter, to divide and distract us; for it was from the proceeds of the public lands that the surplus arose. If the land bill which passed at the last session of the Senate had become a law, it would have distributed among the several States a larger sum than will be deposited in their treasuries under the deposite act. Mr. C. said that he well knew that the preservation of the compromise act did not depend upon him. He well knew that its fate was in the hands of a majority of the Senate, as now constituted, and a majority of the House; and if they chose to repeal it, or to make any essential alteration in the measure of protection secured by that act, he could only deeply regret the reopening of wounds which had been so happily healed. He could co-operate in no such object, but should, for himself, steadily oppose any material change of the provisions of the act, and insist upon that efficacious and complete remedy for a surplus which is to be found in the land bill, or upon some other competent remedy, which would not unsettle all the great business of the country. Mr. WALKER moved that the bill be referred to the Committee on Finance; and, in supporting his motion, observed that he had been one of those who voted against what was now openly avowed to be a distribution bill. Since the money had been distributed, some of the largest States had already come forward and applied to Congress for the repeal of that section of the bill which provided for the resunding of the money by the States, when it should be needed by the General Government. He would remind the Senate that the distinguished gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Wr hston,) who had been one of the authors and advocates of this measure, did expressly tell the Senate that it would be but a single operation; and when the Senate were warned that that bill would be only a precedent for the distribution policy in future, the distinguished Sonator had assured them of the contrary, and had insisted that it was a single and solitary measure, intended only to meet a contingency. Yet, what was the Senate now asked to do? To create a surplus for the purpose of suture distribution. Mr. W. really thought that such a proposition demanded cxamination by some committee, and he hoped that the Senate would not consent to take a leap in the dark. The honorable gentleman from South Carolina had presented, as one ground of his opposition to letting the public money remain in the deposite banks, a desire to prevent the public land from passing into the hands of speculators. But the gentleman's remedy had not met the evil. The distribution bill had not prevented the monopoly of the public lands by speculators, nor would it ever prevent it. If the gentleman did really desire to obviate that evil, let him join in recommending that part of the President’s message which proposed to limit the sale of the public lands to actual settlers. Should this recommendation be adopted, there would remain no surplus to be distributed. For how was the surplus created? By referring to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, it would be found that, in the first three quarters of the last year, twenty millions of dollars had been paid into the Treasury for the public lands, which was at the rate of about twenty-five millions a year. Yet, what portion of this amount was necded for actual settlers? Not more than $5,000,000; or, according to an estimate made by the chairman of the Committee on Public Lands, not over $8,000,000. Thus there would be a reduction in the receipt of $16,000,000, being double the amount of the surplus predicted by the houorable gentleman from South Carolina. Let him, then, adopt the President's recommendation, and the evil apprehended could not take place. But should the Senate pass the bill which had now been introduced, they would have passed the Rubicon, and the distribution policy would, in spite of all opposition, become the settled policy of the Government. Mr. W. called upon the Senate and upon the country to remark that they were now invoked by the gentleman from South Carolina to create a surplus for the purpose of distribution. Mr. CALHOUN, in reply, complained of having been entirely misstated by the Senator from Mississippi. He had not invoked the Senate to any such act, nor had he said any thing like it. But he had said that no administration could honestly plead any necessity for demanding back the deposites from the States, unless in the contingency of a foreign war. So far from having expressed a desire to create and distribute a surplus, he had, on the contrary, expressly declared that he should greatly prefer a reduction of the revenue, if it could be safely efsected; and he had expressed his willingness to send the bill to a committee opposed to his own views, that, if possible, this might be effected. Yet the gentleman accused him of a design to create a surplus. The gentleman had again said that one of the arguments urged by him in favor of the distribution bill had been, that the deposite of the public money in banks was a great instrument of fraud and speculation. This was a great mistake. He had said no such thing. The President, however, had undertaken to legislate on the subject, and had issued an order, which was much more like an act of Congress than an executive measure. The President deemed the evil so great, and the remedy so specific, that he had ventured on a great stretch of power to realize the object. Now, after what the President had said on this subject, any man who should vote to leave the public money in deposite banks stood openly convicted of being in favor of speculators. . Mr. C. hoped the Senator would not persist in his motion to refer the bill to a committee which he knew to be utterly opposed to it. Nothing could be more unparRamentary. He hoped the gentleman would at least induige him with a special committee. Mr. BUCHANAN, without expressing any opinion on the merits of the bill, was in favor of its commitment. The subject extended itself into so many ramifications, was so complex and so extensive, that no leading measure ought to be adopted in relation to it without its previously undergoing the careful investigation of a committee. There were two counter projects now before the Senate, which were essentially incompatible with each other. One had been reported by the Senaor from Kentucky, [vir. Clay,) which proposed to distribute the proceeds of the public lands among the States on certain conditions; the other to deposite the surPlus that might accrue, under the provisions of the bill of the last session. Both these plans, it was obvious, could not prevail; while the President had recommended the sale of the public domain to actual settlers only. On this matter Mr. B. expressed no opinion, but should be guided in a great measure by the wishes and opinions of Kentlemen coming from the new States. Should the President's recommendation be adopted, th’re would probably be no surplus. He should like to ** a responsible report from the Committee on Finance. On the question whether there would or would not be a outplus on the 1st of January next he expressed no opinion. While up, he would add one word on the subject of what was commonly called the compromise act. Never should he forget the impression made upon his own mind when the news of the passage of that act first
Dec. 21, 1836. Public Deposites. [SENATE.
jects of the Senator from South Carolina.
reached him. He had then been in a foreign country. The enemies of liberty throughout the world were all looking to this country with anxious eyes, and with hopes highly raised, that this last experiment in favor of human freedom would prove to be a failure. The most exaggerated accounts of the division of opinion in this country, on the subject of the tariff, were spread throughout Europe, and the expectation appeared to be general that our Union would be dissolved, and the republic expire. In such circumstances, when he heard that a compromise had been effected, his bosom had been pervaded by a feeling such as he had never known before. Without being acquainted with the particulars of the bill, he was prepared to approve of it in advance. On further examination, however, he could not say whether he should have supported the bill or not, but the country had received it; the great manufacturing and agricultural interests had welcomed it, and to this moment relied upon it as, in some sense, the charter of their hopes. Other prevailing interests of the country shared in the feeling, and never would Mr. B. give his vote in favor of touching one of its provisions. That could not be done without extensively and injuriously affecting, not only the agricultural and manufacturing, but another great interest of his own State. He referred to the mining interest. On the whole, he hoped that they should have a report from a committee; and should it even be adverse to the bill, yet, such were the wellknown zeal, perseverance, and talents, of the honorable gentleman from South Carolina, that he would still find ways and means to bring the merits of his project fully before the minds of the Senate. Mr. WALKER said that the Senator from South Car- or olina had appealed to him to indulge him with a special committee. But that gentleman would do well to remember that, when on a former occasion he (Mr. W.) had introduced a bill of great importance to Mississippi, and asked its reference to a select committee, that gentleman had opposed the motion, and had sent the bill to the Committee on Public Lands, which he well knew to be opposed to every one of its provisions. . In insisting, therefore, on his original motion to refer this bill to the Committee on Finance, he had only followed an example which the gentleman had set him. Mr. W. then went into some explanations to show that he had not misunderstood or misrepresented the obIf that gentleman should oppose the President's recommendation in regard to selling the public lands to actual settlers only, it would, in effect, be equivalent to voting to create a surplus. Air. W. said he had no wish to alarm the manufacturing interest, toward which he entertained no hostility; but he would now tell that interest throughout this country, that if they wished to preserve the compromise bill, the mode was to prevent an exorbitant sale of the public lands. If this were permitted to continue, a surplus revenue could not be prevented without touching the compromise bill. Mr. W. had, on the last session, offered a resolution colling on the Secretary of the Treasury to ascertain and report to Congress what reduction in the tariff and in the price of the public lands would be necessary to bring down the revenue to the wants of the Government, but in such a manner as not to infringe on the compromise. The Senator from Massachusetts [Mr. Websten) had moved to lay that resolution on the table; not because he was particularly hostile to it, but because he wished to press some other subject which was before the Senate; and asterward there had been no opportunity to call it up. Mr. W. should not now depart from the spirit of that resolution. He had no wish to violate the compromise, but desired that the reduction should be in conformity with the 6th section of that bill, (which he read.)
The Senate had been told by the gentleman from Kentucky [ Mr. Clay) that the faith of the nation stood pledged to preserve that bill inviolate. But that bill declared, in the most express terms, that the reduction of the revenue was not to be made by depositing it with the States—that was no feature of the compromise—but by a reduction of duties. He had ascertained that the reduction which his plan would effect would amount to three millions of dollars. Deduct this from the eight millions derived from the s.le of public lands to actual settlers, and it would leave five millions of dollars, being just the amount which the Senator from South Carolina had thought it was proper to retain as an unexpended balance in the Treasury. Mr. W. insisted on his motion for referring the bill to the Committee on Finance. Mr. CALHOUN rejoined and explained, with a view to show that the case of which the gentleman from Mississippi complained was not parallel to the present, and still insisted on the propriety of allowing him a special committee. If, however, the Senate should resolve to send this bill to the Committee on Finance, he should not be at a loss to understand the movement. He had read the President’s message attentively. It was an extraordinary document. He had read with no less care the report of the Secretary of the Treasury: that, too, was an extraordinary document. The perusal had suggested some suspicions to his mind; and should the present bill be sent to the Finance Committee, those suspicions would be fully confirmed. Such a measure would go far to convince him that the policy of the administration was agreed upon, and that it would be to make a demonstration on a reduction of the revenue, but, in fact, to leave that revenue in the deposite banks. The end of this session was not far off, and that would tell whether he were not correct in his opinion. He would now, in his turn, venture to become a prophet, and he would predict that, if the present motion succeeded, that very thing which the President in his message had most decidedly condemned would be the thing actually realized. Notwithstanding the President’s opposition to the collecting of the surplus revenue, and all he had said on its tendency to promote speculation and corrupt the public morals, that was the thing which would be done. He was sorry he did not see the Senator from New York [Mr. Wnight] in his place. On that gentleman, peculiarly, lies the obligation to provide for the reduction of the revenue. Mr. C. well knew the difficulty of touching this subject. He had himself had a full and sound trial of that operation. He knew the efforts by which the existing reduction had been effected, and he felt very sure that the Senator from New York could not be sanguine in the expectation of effecting a reduction to any great amount. He had heard much said in private on that subject, and he could not but regret that the President, when alluding to it in his message, had not referred to the difficulties attending it. Mr. C. thought he saw how things were to go, and he thus openly announced what his conviction was. He believed nothing would be done to reduce the revenue; that the money would still be collected, and would be left, not where it ought to be found, in the treasuries of the States, but in the deposite banks. If the Finance Committee would report an adequate reduction of the revenue, Mr. C. would consent to withdraw his bill. He should infinitely prefer a reduction to a distribution, provided the thing could be done. In the meanwhile the South claimed the execution of the compromise bill; it had not only closed a long and painful controversy, but had enabled them to make some feeble stand against the progress of executive influence. He concluded roy moving for a special committee. Mr. Rl WES was in favor of referring the bill to the
Committee on Finance, but as the Senator from South Carolina considered the denial of a special committee as involving some want of courtesy, he would state the considerations which led him to the conclusion that that would be the proper committee. The Senator himself had said, but yesterday, that the Committee on Finance was the committee to whom the entire subject of the reduction of the revenue specially belonged. The Senator had entered into a calculation to show that there would be a surplus in the Treasury at the commencement of the year, and on this he grounded his biil. The question, therefore, at the root of the whole matter was, whether there would be such a surplus. This was a question which obviously pertained to the Finance Committee. The gentleman, relieving himself from every thing like a pledge to abide by the provisons of the compromise act, expressed his strong preference of a reduction of the revenue to its distribution; but the question whether it could safely be reduced certainly was a question coming within the range of the appropriate duties of that committee. Mr. R. reverted to the history of the deposite bill, and expressed his satisfaction at the reflection that he had rendered it his hearty, support. He did not now recede, in the slightest degree, from the ground he had then occupied. But the Senate was now in a different position; they were at the opening of a new session of Congress, and were enabled, from all the lights of past experience, to look ahead with something like certainty. If they foresaw the probability of a surplus of revenue, they were bound to guard against it by attempting a reduction. That, beyond question, was the true policy. Mr. R. adverted to the prophecy by Mr. C. that the policy of the administration was to be a false and deceitful demonstration on reduction, while none was to be made, and the money was to remain in the deposite banks. [Mr. Calhoun shook his head at the words “false and deceitful.”] Well, a demonstration, at all events, was to be made, and all that had been said by the President in his message against surplus revenue would turn out a delusion. [Mr. C. assented.] Yet the gentleman had, no longer ago than yesterday, expressed the highest satisfaction with the Finance Committee, and been lavish of his compliments on the gentlemen composing it, when the object was to refer this very measure of reduction to that committee. Did the gentleman mean nothing more than a demonstration? Had he not been in earnest? He hoped the gentleman had no such policy, nor could he suppose him to have. Mr. CALHOUN repelled the charge of inconsistency. He had been in favor of sending the subject of a reduction of the revenue to the Committee on Finance, because he considered the subject as appropriate to their specific duties; but he was opposed to sending this bill to that committee, because they were known to be adverse to its object. In one case, he had gone on the great parliamentary principle that propositions were to be referred to committees favorable to the object proposed; and in the other case, he still had sent it to a committee at least not unfavorable to the measure. He was rejoiced to hear the honorable Senator from Virginia declare so explicitly that he did not repent the course he had taken in reference to the compromise bill; he was confident the gentleman never would have reason to repent the able and honorable course he had pursued on that memorable occasion; and he trusted the gentleman would agree in sentiment with those who were opposed to leaving the public money in the deposite banks. Mr. C. had given many evidences of his desire that a reduction should be made in the revenue; and had, on a former occasion, sent a bill to the Committee on Manufactures for that object, which afterwards had passed the Senate almost unanimously, and had been sent to the other House, after which it was never again heard of. He Dec. 21, 1836.]
was not the man, however, to disturb the terms of the compromise, which had so happily been effected, unless it should be done by common consent. The South were prepared to assent to such a step, and if the North would also agree to it, there need be no difficulty in the case. The gentleman from Virginia seemed to suppose that, because it was the duty of the Finance Committee to consider the question whether there was likely to be a surplus revenue or not, therefore this bill ought to be sent to them. The argument was too wide: on the same principle, every proposition which related to the appli. cation of any portion of the public resources must be sent to that committee. It would swallow up almost all the business of the Senate. He concluded by demanding the yeas and nays on the question of commitment. Mr. Rives briefly rejoined. As the Senator from South Carolina was only conditionally in favor of the proposition in the bill, in the event that there would be a surplus, and that the revenue could not be reduced; and as the question whether it could be reduced belonged confessedly to the Committee on Finance, it involved no violation of the parliamentary principle to which the Senator had alluded, to send this bill to that committee. Mr. R. hoped he should not be understood as wishing wantonly to interfere with the provisions of the compromise bill; he was far from desiring any such thing. He held the compromise in great respect, as having effected a great national good in the settlement of an agitating and alarming question. But he was free to say that, if any mode could be devised of bringing down the revenue to the wants of the Government, without interfering with the enactments of that bill, he should be opposed to disturbing them in any way. But it was a fundamental duty of legislation to dispense with all unnecessary taxes, and reduce the burdens of the people as far as the necessities of Government would permit. If this could not be done without touching some parts of the compromise bill, it must be touched; but if it could, then that bill, in all its provisions, ought to be sacredly maintained. The question of referring the bill to the Committee on Finance was taken by yeas and nays, and resulted as follows: YEAs—Messrs. Brown, Buchanan, Ewing of Illinois, Fulton, Grundy, Hendricks, Hubbard, King of Alabama, King of Georgia, Linn, McKean, Niles, Page, Parker, Rives, Robinson, Ruggles, Sevier, Strange, Tallmadge, Walker, Wall–22. Nars—Messrs. Bayard, Benton, Black, Calhoun, Clay, Crittenden, Davis, Ewing of Ohio, Kent, Knight, Moore, Morris, Nicholas, Prentiss, Robbins, Southard, Swift, Tipton, Tomlinson, Webster, White, Wright—22. The yeas and nays being equal, the Chair voted in the affirmative. So the bill was referred to the Committee on Finance.
The Senate proceeded to the further consideration of Mr. Ewise's joint resolution, rescinding the Treasury order of July 11th, 1836, and prohibiting the Secrétary of the Treasury to delegate the power to specify the kind of funds to be received in payment for the public lands. The question being on ordering the resolution to a second reading, l Mr. WEBSTER rose and addressed the Senate as fol. ows:
Mr. President: the power of disposing of this important subject is in the hands of gentlemen, both here and elsewhere, who are not likely to be influenced by any opinions of mine. I have no motive, therefore, for addressing the Senate, but to discharge a public duty, and to fulfil the expectations of those who look to me for op . position, whether availing or unavailing, to whatever I
believe to be illegal or injurious to the public interests. In both these respects, the Treasury order of the 11th of July appears to me objectionable. I think it not warranted by law, and I think it also practically prejudicial. I think it has contributed not a little to the pecuniary difficulties under which the whole country has been, and still is, laboring; and that its direct effect on one particular part of the country is still more decidedly and severely unfavorable. The Treasury order, or Treasury circular, of the 11th of July last, is addressed by the Secretary to the receivers of public money, and to the deposite banks. It instructs these receivers and these banks, after the 15th day of August then next, to receive in payment of the public lands nothing except what is directed by existing laws, viz: gold and silver, and, in the proper cases, Virginia land scrip; provided that till the 15th of December then next, the same indulgence heretofore extended, as to the kind of money received, may be continued, for any quantity of land not exceeding 320 acres, to each purchaser who is an actual settler or bona fide resident in the State where the sales are made. The exception in favor of Virginia scrip is founded on a particular act of Congress, and makes no part of the general question. It is not necessary, therefore, to refer farther to that exception. The substance of the general instructions is, that nothing but gold and silver shall be received in payment for public lands; provided, however, that actual settlers and bona fide residents in the States where the sales are made, may purchase in quantities not exceeding 320 acres each, and be allowed to pay as heretofore. But this provision was limited to the 15th day of December, which has now passed; so that, by virtue of this order, gold and silver are now required of all purchasers and for all quantities. I am very glad that a resolution to rescind this order has been thus early introduced; and I am glad, too, since the resolution is to be opposed, that opposition comes early, in a bold, unequivocal, and decided form. The order, it seems, is to be defended as being both legal and useful. Let its defence, then, be made. The honorable member from Missouri [Mr. Benton] objects even to giving the resolution to rescind a second reading. He avails himself of his right, though it be not according to general practice, to arrest the progress of the measure at its first stage. This, at least, is open, bold, and manly warfare. The honorable member, in his elaborate speech, founds his opposition to this resolution, and his support of the Treasury order, on those general principles respecting currency which he is known to entertain, and which he has maintained for many years. His opinions some of us regard as altogether ultra and impracticable; looking to a state of things not desirable in itself, even if it were practicable; and, if it were desirable, as being far beyond the power of this Government to bring about. The honorable member has manifested much perseverance and abundant labor, most undoubtedly, in support of his opinions; he is understood, also to have had countenance from high places; and what new hopes of success the present moment holds out to him, I am not able to judge, but we shall probably soon see. It is precisely on these general and long-known opinions that ile rests his support of the Treasury order. A question, therefore, is at once raised between the gentleman's principles and opinions on the subject of the currency, and the principles and opinions which have generally prevailed in the country, and which are, and have been, entirely opposite to his. That question is now about to be put to the vote of the Senate. In the progress and by the termination of this discussion, we shall learn whether the gentleman's sentiments are or are not to prevail, so far, at least, as the Senate is concerned. The SENATE.]
country will rejoice, I am sure, to see some declaration of the opinions of Congress on a subject about which so much has been said, and which is so well calculated, by its perpetual agitation, to disquiet and disturb the confidence of society. We are now fast approaching the day when one administration goes out of office, and another is to come in. The country has an interest in learning, as soon as possible, whether the new administration, while it receives the power and patronage, is to inherit, also, the topics and the projects of the past; whether it is to keep up the avowal of the same objects and the same schemes, especially in regard to the currency. The order of the Secretary is prospective, and, on the face of it, perpetual. Nolhing in or about it gives it the least appearance of a temporary measure. On the contrary, its terms imply no limitation in point of duration, and the gradual manner in which it is to come into operation shows plain. ly an intention of making it the settled and permanent policy of Government. Indeed, it is but now beginning its complete existence. It is only five or six days since its full operation has commenced. Is it to stand as the law of the land and the rule of the Treasury, under the administration which is to ensue? And are those notions of an exclusive specie currency, and opposition to all banks, on which it is defended, to be espoused and maintained by the new administration, as they have been by its predecessor? These are questions, not of mere curiosity, but of the highest interest to the whole country. In considering this order, the first thing naturally is, to look for the causes which led to it, or are assigned for its promulgation. And these, on the face of the order itself, are declared to be “complaints which have been made of frauds, speculations, and monopolies, in the purchase of the public lands, and the aid which is said to be given to effect these objects by excessive bank credits, and dangerous if not partial facilities through bank drafts and bank deposites, and the general evil influence likely to result to the public interest, and especially the safety of the great amount of money in the Treasury, and the sound condition of the currency of the country, from the further exchange of the national domain in this manner, and chiefly for bank credits and paper money.” This is the catalogue of evils to be cured by this order. In what these frauds consist, what are the monopolies complained of, or what is precisely intended by these injurious speculations, we are not informed. All is lest on the general surmise of fraud, speculation, and monopoly. It is not avowed or intimated that the Gov. ernment has sustained any loss, either by the receipt of bank notes which proved not to be equivalent to specie, or in any other way. And it is not a little remarkable that these evils, of fraud, speculation, and monopoly, should have become so enormous and so notorious, on the 11th of July, as to require this executive interference for their suppression, and yet that they should not have reached such a height as to make it proper to lay the subject before Congress, although Congress remained in session until within seven days of the date of the order. And what makes this circumstance still more remarkable, is the fact that, in his annual message at the commencement of the same sission, the President had spoken of the rapid sales of the public lands as one of the most gratifying proofs of the general prosperity of the country, without suggesting that any danger whatever was to be apprehended from fraud, speculation, or monopoly. His words were: “Anong the evidences of the increasing properity of the country, not the least gratify. ing is that aflorded by the receipts from the sales of the public lando, which amount, in the present year, to the unexpected sum of eleven millions.” From the time of the delivery of that message down to the date of the
Treasury order, there had not been the least change, so
far as I know, or so far as we are informed, in the manner of receiving payment for the public lands. Every thing stood on the 11th of July, 1836, as it had stood at the opening of the session, in December, 1885. How so different a view of things happened to be taken at the two periods, we may be able to learn, perhaps, in the further progress of this debate. The order speaks of the “evil influence " likely to result from the further exchange of the public lands into “paper money.” Now, this is the very language of the gentleman from Missouri. He habitually speaks of the notes of all banks, however solvent, and however promptly their notes may be redeemed in gold and silver, as “paper money.” The Secretary has adopted the honorable member's phrases, and he speaks, too, of all the bank notes received at the land offices, although cvery one of them is redeemable in specie, on demand, but as so much “paper money.” In this respect, also, sir, I hope we may know more as we grow older, and be able to learn whether, in times to come, as in times recently passed, the justly obnoxious and odious character of “paper money” is to be applied to the issues of all the banks in all the States, with whatever punctuality they redeem their bills. This is quite new, as financial language. By paper money, in its obnoxious sense, I understand paper issued on credit alone, without capital, without funds assigned for its payment, resting only on the good faith and the future ability of those who issue it. Such was the paper money of our revolutionary times; and such, perhaps, may have been the true character of the paper of particular institutions since. But the notes of banks of competent capitals, limited in amount to a due proportion to such capitals, made payable on demand in gold and silver, and always so paid on demand, are paper money in no sense but one; that is to say, they are made of paper, and they circulate as money. And it may be proper enough for those who maintain that nothing should so circulate but gold and silver, to denominate such bank notes “paper money,” since they regard them but as paper intruders into channels which should flow only with gold and silver. If this language of the order is authentic, and is to be so hereafter, and all bank notes are to be regarded and stigmatized as mere “paper money,” the sooner the country knows it the better. The member from Missouri charges those who wish to rescind the Treasury order with two objects: first, to degrade and disgrace the President, and, next, to overthrow the constitutional currency of the country. For my own part, sir, I denounce nobody; I seek to degrade or disgrace nobody. Holding the order illegal and unwise, I shall certainly vote to rescind it; and, in the discharge of this duty, I hope I am not expected to shrink back, lest I should do something which might call in question the wisdom of the Secretary, or even of the President. And I hope that so much of independence as may be manifested by free discussion and an honest vote is not to cause denunciation from any quarter. If it should, let it cone. - - - As to an attempt to overthrow the constitutional currency of the country, if I were now to enter into such a design, I should be beginning, at rather a lose day, to wage war against the efforts of my whole political life. From my very first concern with public affairs, I have looked at the public currency as a matter of the highest interest, and hope I have given sufficient prooss of a disposition at all times to maintain it sound and secure, against all attacks and all dangers. When I first entered tle other House of Congress, the currency was exceedingly deranged. Most of the banks had stopped payment, and the circulating medium had then become, indeed, paper money. So soon as a state of peace enabled us, I took some part in an effort, with others, to