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Oct. 12, 1837.]
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have been frequent and great changes of opinion on the President of this free people to imitate the example of kings most important subjects. At one time the great body of and emperors a few centuries past, who hoarded up at the the people of the South and West were opposed to a navy; capital all the gold and silver they could extort or filch but experience has corrected their error. Many of the must from their subjects, to carry on wars of ambition and condistinguished men have changed their opinions on the ques- quest. Neither my pursuits nor reflections have led me tion of a national bank-Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe 10 explore, with the eye of a profound financier, the moneamong others. Thirty years ago the people of the Eastern tary systems of the commercial world in all their ramificaStates were rather opposed to the manufacturing policy, tions and effects; but I believe I may venture to say that the South and Wesi for it; and now the East for it, and neither this nor any other people can long have more than the South and West, or a great portion of them, against it. their fair proportion of the gold and silver of the commer
Let experience, the best of all teachers, learn us to act cial nations. If we should be able to obtain an excess, so wisely, in relation to the existing crisis in our public as to produce a pressure in other countries, that excess affairs. Let us reason together with frankness, and in a would soon leave us and return to places where it would spirit of palriciis?n, and with bosoms animated with no be wanted; nor can bolts, or bars, or vaults, embargoes, other feeling than the public good, apply such remedies to prohibitions, pains or penalties, arrest the current estabthe disorders in the currency which experience has proved lished by the laws of trade, which no power, the most deto be efficacious, and restore once more a healthy action spotic, had ever been able to control. The currency of to the body politic. Let us have no more new, untried Great Britain and France consisted of gold chiefly, and nostruins. The brokers and shavers are now reaping a paper, with this difference, that in Great Britain the prorich harvest from this ruinous condition of the currency, portion of paper, in the form of bank notes, to gold, was and the loss must ultimately fall on the laboring and in; greater than in France. With these countries we have dustrious classes of the community. The vacillating and inore commerce than with any others. Our currency has unstable policy of the Government has shaken the con- generally consisted of silver chiefly, and paper in the form fidence of moneyed men, who are now hoarding their trea- of bank notes, with a greater proportion of paper than in sures because they are unable to calculate the results and either Great Britain or France; and the specie must flow consequences of the present state of things, afraid to lend from those countries to this, and from this back, according or in vest their money.
to the laws of trade, regardless of any laws or regulations Mr. Chairman, the farmers of the West, when they of either. sell their stock or other products of their industry, want Mr. Chairman, in exploring the causes of our presthat sound, good currency to which they have been ac- ent difficulties, I shall not go back to the removal of customed ; and when they sent agents here to correct the deposites, but content myself with the recital of a existing evils, they did not expect them to provide good few extracts in relation to this subject. There is no doubt money for themselves only, but for their masters-the that the extensive and extravagant speculations in the pubgreat body of the people. This bill provides that no lic lands, diverting twenty or thirty or forty millions of money shall be received for land, or at the custom-houses, dollars from the ordinary channels of trade and business, but gold and silver. 'Twenty or thirty millions of gold and may have had some influence. The unusual importation silver are to be drawn from the interior every year into the of gold from England and France may have produced a land offices, and to the large cilies on the seaboard, where pressure for specie there, which, reacting on this country, it is to remain until paid out to the public officers—w the produced a rapid return of it, and forced the banks, for navy, arıy, and for the public works; and I fear it will be self-preservation, to suspend specie payments. In this slow in its march back to the interior States, where there conflict and pressure in both countries, cotton fell, mer. will be little or no public expenditures. How the State chants failed, and a shock was given to confidence, credit, banks can resume specie payments, or maintain specie pay- and business; and owing to the full of cotton, with other ments under this operation, I must leave to better judges causes, a large balance was created against us in favor of to decide. From five to ten millions must be generally Europe. In this state of things, the Government, instead locked up in the Government vaults, and withdrawn from of denouncing the State banks, and threatening to crush circulatio!. To reconcile us to this experiment, we are them by destroying their credit and issuing commissions told that we are to have a bard-money constitutional cur. of bankruptcy, slould, on account of the people, if not the rency. I will not, by exploding paper money convertible banks, have exerted all their power and influence to susinto specie, and establishing an exclusive metallic medium, tain their credit and confidence in them and their paper, carry this nation back to a rude and half civilized age, be the only currency among the people. fore commerce, enterprise, and navigation had enlightened The effort made to carry into effect, at this moment, the and civilized the nations; but will content myself with the harıl-money policy, and cast off the Siate banks, is calcufacts and exainples furnished by the inost enlightened and lated to have the inost disastrous consequences on the compowerful people of modern times, as the basis of my opin- munity, by encouraging creditors to refuse to take the loion and reasoning on this question. On a territory of no cal currencies for their debts; to reduce the value of propgreater extent than Delaware or Rhode Island, or the city | eriy, and unjustly change the relation of creditors and of New York or Philadelphia, a bard-money mediu'n would debtors. The Legislatures of the States may be driven to be practicable, and a paper medium could be dispensed stop executiɔn, unless the creditors will take paper, as has with. It can only suit a small territory, where the pope been done by Virginia at her last session. Mr. Chairman, lation is dense, where it can be removed from place to we do not realize the dangerous consequences to result place without inuch expense or hazard; but in this exten- froin the disordered condition of the monetary system. Desive country it must be evident, on a moment's reflection, rangement of the currency, loss of confidence and credit, that convenience and necessity require a paper representa- is the hinge upon which many revolutions have turned in tive of specie. Every traveller through this vast territory, civilized countries. It is well known that the derangement with a moderate amount of the precious metals, would be of the financcs, and destruction of public and private credit, exposed 10 hazard; the weight of his trunk or saddlebags was the immediate cause of at revolution in France would give notice, at every inu at which he stopped, of the which deluged that country with blood. At an early day amount of his treasure; and when large sums are to lie an insurrection occurred in the State of Massachusetts; transported to distant places, the peril and expense would and in my own State, not inore than ten or twelve years be increased.
ago, after we had created numerous banks, the creditors I will not, Mr. Chairman, by my vote, authorize the ' and debtors had a most angry conflict; and, after relief
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[Oct. 12, 1837.
laws, judge-breaking, and a temporary war upon our judi. the nation. From the commencement of the Government, ciary, the people of that State were brought to the verge of the national bank and State banks had lived in barmony civil war. On no condition of the State ought we to look and worked together for the good and prosperity of this with more deep concern than a disordered state of the mon- rising nation. By their joint efforts spurious and fictitious etary system. There are duties of more paramount obli- banks had been kept under, and, during the existence of a gation on the Congress of the United States, than to exer- national and good State banks, the people had been secure cise all the powers granted them by the constitution, to against a vicious national or local currency. restore a sound and healthy action to that currency which Mr. Chairinan, if I was as jealous of men in power as a regulates the transactions of the people. To preserve political man ought to be in this free Governmeni, I should union, establish justice, and insure domestic tranquillity, incline to believe that the plan has been long and deeply are among the leading objects of the federal compact. laid to destroy the present banking system of the nation,
Mr. Chairman, another unmeaning and complex no- national and local, for the purpose of rearing up on its tion is to be presented to the nation to reconcile them ruins a great Government hank, to be wielder by those in to this new and dangerous project. They are to be power ; yes, sir, to concentrate in the hands of the Execamused with the cant phrase, ihat Government ought utive not only the sword, but the great money power of to be divorced from the banks; and the people, who have this nation. The first bank to be destroyed was that of based all their transactions on the local banks and the cur- the United States; and, that accomplished, the next to be rency furnished by them, are to lie abandoned to shift for sacrifices were State banks; and it might have been supthemselves, under the denunciation and slanders of the posed, from what occurred in 1814 and 1815, that they Government-that same Government that brought many would fall an easy prey from similar causes; and then a of these banks into existence, and assured the people they Government bank would seem to be a necessary result of were to be confided in, and that they would furnish a bet. the destruction of all others; for, sir, it has never been ter currency, and do the business of exchange on better imagined by the enlightened men of this country that the terms, or as good, and more extensively, than the Bank of fiscal and commercial business of the United States could the United States ever had. And this language was held be carried on over our extended territory, by an exclusive by the administration up to the 4th of March last, when metallic medium. Until lately, I was utterly at a loss to the late President, in his farewell address, only about eight conjecture the motive which induced the friends of the weeks before the banks all suspended specie payments, administration to oppose, with such zeal and violence of from causes to which I have briefly adverted, announced to denunciation, the charter of thu late Bank of the United the nation that all was well in regard to our banks and States by the State of Pennsylvania ; and what is most currency. If those placed by the people of this country extraordinary is, that a distinguished citizen of Pennsylat the head of public affairs, for their supposed wisdom and vania, now on a foreign mission, should have so lately adpatriotism, could not foresee the fatal catastrophe wbich vocated, in the public prints, the revolutionary course of was to occur in so short a time, how can they criminate annulling, in a convention, the solemn charters granted with such wanton and unfeeling cruelty the conduct of the by that State. The bank had ceased to exist as a nationbanks wbich had followed their counsels? Fur, sir, I have al institution; and why there should have been such hosnow before me the letter of Secretary Taney to the depos- tility to its incorporation by the State of Pennsylvania, I ile banks, after the removal of the deposites, in which he could not divine, until this sub-Treasury scheme was anexhorts the State banks to expand their issues, and to be nounced in the late message of the President. It is posliberal in their accommodations to the community. No sible that it was apprehended that a State bank of such sooner, however, had the shock been felt by the banks, magnitude, under State authority, might present some oband their doors closed, than the friends of the adıninistra- stacle to the great destroyer of banks, and embarrass the tion became alarmed lest censure and reproach should fall scheme under consideration, designed, if I am not greatly on the administration, and “let slip the dogs of war” on deceived, to lay the foundation of a great 'Treasury bank. the banks, in order to make them the scape.goats to bear In looking at the past and present course of things, I am off the sins and blunders of the administratior..
led back to the discussions, in the Virginia convention, of Sir, how many of the deposito banks are insolvent, and this constitution, between Patrick Henry, the first orator how much is the Government likely to lose by them? (of ancient or modern times, and one who looked through should like to have a candid answer to this question. the deeds of men, and the late Mr. Madison, among tho am sure that I have not been informed. If any are likely most virtuous and enlightened statesmen in America. Mr. to prove insolvent, they ought to be designated. On the Madison could not believe that any President would remove contrary, we are informed by the Secretary that the public a good officer without reasonable cause, and supposed that money placed in them will be ultimately safe. Their whole the powers of Government were so arranged and divided crime, then, consists in having expanded their issues in that there could be no undue or dangerous accumulation in conformity to the advice
the Secretary of the 'Treasury, any department. Mr. Henry, with prophetic vision, at and the approbation of the Government, and, under an un- the same time that he bestowed a merited eulogium on the expected revulsion in trade, and a pressure for specie, which virtues and intelligence of Mr. Madison, said, in emphatic the wisest men among us did not foresee, suspended specie terms, that, unfortunately for hiinself, and unfortunately payments. In this hour of difficulty and alarm, Mr. Pope for his country, he had been bred up in the dark closets of said he would ask of every candid man whether the Gove study, and knew nothing of mankind. Sir, said Mr. Henernment, after having nationalized these banks and their ry, whatever others may think, however they may adınire paper, were not bound in gratitude to their bank friends this constitution, to me it has an awful squinting towards and the people to put forth all their strength and constitu- monarchy. Mr. Henry bad studied human nature thotional power to aid and sustain their credit and the confi- roughly, and explored, with the eye of a wary stateman, all dence of the community in their paper ?
the secret springs of human actions, and foresaw, or thought Mr. P. said he had not much sympathy for those banks he foresaw, a strong tendency in this Government, to conwhich accepted the deposites at the time of their removal centrate too much strength in the Execulive head, and prefrom the United States Bank, because they had been hired dicted that at ng distant day he would be more absolute iv und seduced to embark their influence in a crusade against fact, if not in form, than any monarch on the British throne the national bank, which they will find, and ought to have since the Revolution of 1688. Mír. Chairman, from what known long since, is the best regulator of our p:i per sys- I have observed within a few years past, I fear Mr. Henry's tem, and the great conservator of the sound State banks of 'predictions will be fulfilled, unless every man who thinks
Oct. 12, 1837.)
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this free system is worth preserving will stand forth and which renders the wheels of trade smooth and easy, and contribute his mite to check this tendency to prostrate all he considers the thorough concoction and circulation of other departments at the feet of the Executive.
money through a State of much importance. I know that many gentlemen calculule that this cant The people of the United States, in convention assemphrase of divorce of Governinent from banks is to carry them bled, were deeply impressed with the necessity of granting triumphantly through the pending struggle; but if they to Congress full power over the subjects of commerce, exmount this pelly, poor houby, they will soon find them- ternal and internal, and currency; and, to make their inselves cast into insignificance. They rely too much on the tention more manifest, they denied to the States the power credulity of the people, and underrate their intelligence. of coining money or emituing bills of credit. The evil In prosperous times, when they feel no distress or suffer- which had been experienced from the power of the States ing from the nivasures of the administration, they cannot to coin money or emit bills of credit, and the danger and be easily roused to resist error; but in times like the present, inconvenience of permitting the States to regulate comgentlemen may be assured that the whole intellect and en- merce with foreign nulions, or with each other, induced ergy of the people will be brought into action to vindicate the convention 10 vest Congress with plenary and exclutheir rights and interests.
sive sovereignty over these subjects; and I put it to genileThe respect I have for many gentlemen who talk about men to answer whether the powers and duties of this a divorce of the Government from all banks, induces me to Government in relation to currency and comincrce are examine more gravely thun might seem to be necessary or not as ample and imperative uniler the limitations of the proper, the nature and character of this divorce. The par constitution, as can be imposed on any other Government. Lies to be divorced are the Government on the one part, and The States and people of the States have not reserved the banks, and, I would add, the people, on the other part. any control or sovereignty over these subjects, but have Now, sir, what is the Government, the party of the first surrendered them to Congress. part? It is, Mr. Chairman, if I understand the ma'ter, The people of these States, by their relation to this the States and people acting here in all the Departments by Government, are bound, by their money and their arms, agents; this is a Government of the people and States, to stand by and support it in good and evil times, and who are at present acting by selected agents, in one branch, have a right to demand the exercise of all the power and the States acting by agents selected by them in their cor- means within the sphere of their authority, to give them a porate capacity. Now, sir, what are the banks of the good currency, a fair measure of value to insure a just reStates but money corporations, created by the States, fur- lation between creditor and debtor, and preserve a healthy nishing bank money or currency for the people of the action in the external and internal commerce of the counSlales, and solemnly made by this Government money try. Nor can the Government refuse or neglect to peragents of the United States, and furnishing, with the sanc- form these Juties to the extent of their power and means, tion of this Government, bank money for the Government without a criminal violation of their highest duties and oliand people of the United States? The stuck of some banks ligations. If those placed in authority are too elevated to is owned exclusively by the States; in some the stock is feel for the distresses of the people, or not wise enough to owned in part by the States and in part by the people; perceive the remedies necessary and proper to cure existin others, the whole is owned entirely by citizens. This ing disorders; are so tight laced with conmitment and condivorce, ihen, if I can comprehend the true character of it, sistencies as to be unable to act the part demanded by the is a separation of the States, banks, and people, from the exigencies of the times and the voice of a disturbed naSlates, banks, and people. There is something so obscure tion, let them retire from the post assigned them, and give and preposterous in the proposition advanced, that the Gov- place to wiser and better men, who have not sought the erninent of the nation ought to sever itself from the States post of honor at the expense of principle and the public and people, and leave the people to struggle with a ruinous good; will not be comınitted against ineasures essential to currency, without an effort to correet the evil, that I am at a inaintain credit and contidence, and protect tbe great loss for argument to combat such an incomprehensible, idle springs of the public prosperity. How different is tho phantom. Am I to understand gentlemen that the existing language held by the administration of public affairs in currencies in the nation, practically the money of the people, this country, from that held by the administration of long the standard and measure of value among them, the basis Great Britain and the whigs of that country. In thc of all their contructs and transactions, is to be left in chaotic year 1793, when the people of that country were overdisorder and consusion, without an effort on our part to ap- whelmed with difficulties and embarrassments, and the ply a correct ve, and that we, the agents of the people, are commercial credit was in danger, the Government stepped merely to provide good money for ourselves and public offi- forward with a kind and aiding hand, and arrested ihe cers--that we, a select few only, are to be taken care of? ruin and desolation which seemed to be impending.
Mr. Chairman, let us reflect like faithful representa- In 1797, when the Bank of England suspended specie tives and guardians of the public prosperity and happi- payment, and a panic seized the nation, the prime minisness, and act effectively in obedience to the dictales of
ter of England, instead of denouncing the bank and orderduty and patriotism. Let us exert all the powers granted ing a commission of bankruptcy against her, had a coinby the constitution to redeem our country from the evils mittee raised to examine her affairs, who reported, after a and dangers which surround it. It is proper to ex- full examination of the affairs of the bank, that the meane anine the powers of this Government in relation to
were ample to meet her engagements, and that she was commerce, and money, or currency. By the constitu. sound and solvent; that the suspension was forced on the tion, power is expressly granted to Congress to coin bank by the circumstances which surrounded the country money and regulate the value thereof, and to fix a
and the dangers which menaced it. unifurin standard of weights and measures. To Congress If, Mr. Chairinan, this Government had taken the power is expressly granted to regulate commerce with for
same course, had an investigation made into the condieign nations, and between the several States, and with the tion of our banks, and a report of the same character, Indian tribes. That money and currency is intimately as- so far as merited, made to the nation, with assurance that sociated with commerce, and has been so in all times and the Government would aid them with its credit and counin all well-regulated commercial nations, I need not tenance to resume specie payments, they would have adduce fucts or arguments to prove. Money and cur- maintained with the people confidence in our institutions, rency have ever been considered the life and soul of
so important in this hour of alarm and distrust; and if the commerce; in the language of Mr. Hume, it is the oil' President, in his message, instead of denouncing a nation
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(Oct. 12, 1837.
al bank, had declared, like President Madison, that the in some place of safety, and banks of good and solvent State bank experiment would not answer without a nation character, and having general confidence, are selected by al bank, and recommended the measure to the considera- prudent men to take care of them; and these deposites are tion of Congress; if he had hurled froin him the hobby of great advantage to the public, because the money of the by which he rode into power, and dismounted his follow- country, instead of being hoarded, is secured by the owners ers, and admitted his error, with that magnanimity which from fire and robbery, and placed in good banks, and put becomes the Chief Magistrate of a nation, he would have in circulation by the banks, to aid the enterprise, industry, gained a crown of public approbation worth all the Treas. and business of the people. But to secure these advantaury note bills and sub-Treasury schemes which his inge- ges, and augment in this way the active capital of the nuity can invent in the four years for which he was elect- community, it is necessary that the banks should be sound, ed. In confirmation of the opinion I have advanced, and have the firin confidence of the people. of the duty of this Government to give the people a Banks, in their origin in Europe, were places of depogoud currency, and guard against a ruinous and unstable site and of inspection for money, io prevent clipping or deone, let me call your attention to the sentiments expressed basing the coin. The checks of the depositors passed from by the whigs of England, such as Charles Fox, Sheridan, hand to hand as money, and, being convertible at all times and others, whose lives were devoted to sustain the rights into specie, this species of transfer was called bank money ; of the people against the usurpations of the Crown. so the nutes of the Bank of England and of the Bank of
In a protest entered on the journals of the House of Lords the United States, while convertible into specie, may be in the year 1797, during the u ar between England and properly denominated bank money. To give to paper, in France, they hold and muintain the following language line forin of bank notes, the character of money, it is neand opinions. The whigs insist in that protest that “the cessary so to organize and regulate our banking system as advisers of the Crown are responsible for the condition of to secure to the holder of a note the power of converting the Stale; responsible for its internal peace and general it into gold and silver at all times; and this we have never good government; for the protection of its commerce, its been able to do uniformly, but by the ageney of a national credit, and the various sources of its prosperity and wealth.” institution. The banking and paper credit of Great BritAnd, Mr. Chairman, I concur with Fox, Sheridan, and ain has been carried to a greater extent than that of any other wbigs of England, whose lives were devoted to the nation in Europe; and under its operation and influence maintenance of the powers and privileges of Parliament she has become the first commercial and naval Power in against the encroachments and usurpations of the Crown, the world. When Bonaparte was preparing to invade that those charged with the administration of this or any England with a million of soldiers, the timid part of the other Government are responsible for the condition of the nation became alarmed, and made a run upon the bank, State, and for the protection of its commerce and credit, in order to prepare for flight from the kingilom, in the and that no administration can evade that responsibility event of Bonaparte's success; and this, with other causes, with honor or a regard to public duly. According to the forced a suspension of specie payments; and yet England, express provisions of our constitution, and the fundamental with this suspension, maintained a war against nearly all law inherent in every political association, those placed Europe for more than twenty years—triumphed over the in authority are under the most imperious and sacred combined fleets of France and Spain in two decisive vicobligations to perform the duties to which he had advert- tories, at Trafalgar and the Nile, and carried her power ed. It is true that, technically and strictly speaking, and domination to regions where the Roman eagles never nothing but gold and silver can be forced on a creditor; flew when mistress of the world ; and there would seem to but we know also that, in practice, whatever medium he no limit to her domination, but for the rising greatness in:y by law or general consent be generally received in of this republic. exchange for property or commodities, and in payment of It was, sir, the Anglo-Saxon spirit of this people that gare debls, is, and must be, the circulating medium and cur- us independence; and this nation, if uniteil, will, at no rency of such country, and will regulate the performance distant period, rival Great Britain in commerce, and check of contracts, if another inedium be not specially provided her supreme dominion on the ocean. for; and hence the necessity imposed on the sovereign What, Mr. Chairman, has been the effect of the banking power to guard against the depreciation and fluctuations system and paper credit in this country? It commenced of currency, whatever it may be, t') secure society against more than fifty years ago, has expanded with the growth violent struggles between debtor and creditor, the necessary of the nation, and, in less than half a century, under our consequence of a spurious, uncertain standard of value. present constitution, we have risen from a small beginning For f rty years out of forty-eight of our national existence, to be the second commercial nation in the civilized world. our Government, hy the use of national banks, has secured Our navigation has increased; our country has improved, the country against these evils. It seems to be fashionable with astonishing rapidity, in wealth and internal improvenow tu denounce the banking and credit systems, and extol ments of every kind ; our population has expanded to tho the hard-money plan. The policy and expediency of banks far West, where the wilderness has been made to blossom I do not consider, at this day, a debatable question. like the rose, under the operation and influence of this They are liable, like all other good institutions, to abuses ; | banking system so much denounced of late. bout the systems here, while we had a national bank, attained Banks are useful, not only in aiding the general opera. as inuch perfection as in any other country where they had tions of commerce, but they place the poor alid wealthy on been used. Banks have been introduced in the most en- inore equal ground. Young men of enterprise, industry, lightened countries of Europe, the offspring of commerce and good habits, can generally, with the aid of friends, ob. and wealth in commercial nations. The experience of tain loans, on moderate interest, to embark in trade and ages has established their utility, and it would be strange business; and thousands of enterprising young men withfor tis, at this day, to run counter to the long usage and out capital, with a little credit, have risen from poverty to testimony of the whole coinmercial world. We have bad opulence. I know, too, that the branches of the United them in this country for more than half a century. Few States Bank established in Kentucky, after all other banks men are willing to keep in their private coffers a large were wound up there, diffused their loans and accommoamount of money ; the fact is difficult to conceal froid those dations to the people of my State as fairly and usefully, about them. A man cannot be always at home to guard and, indeed, more so than any other bank ever did, and his treasure, and is exposed to robbery and inuider; bence without interfering in our party contests.
I believe no Hien are generally disposed to deporile their funds on hand institutions were ever less liable to such an imputation.
Oct. 12, 1837.]
[H. of R.
Mr. Chairman, I have now to say to my friends from limitation as to time, declared that no ship or vessel should Virginia, who oppose this bill, and insist that the State depart froin any port or place in the United States, for any banks shall be continued as depositories of the public foreign country ; certainly one of the strongest measures money, that while I do not believe that this Government
ever hazarded by any Government. ought to depend on the agency of banks under Stale au- Mr. Chairman, I do not intend to be understood as thority, I will vote with them to make general and special questioning the constitutionality of the embargo law. deposites in those banks in preference to the bill under de- an early period of this Government, I think the Virginia bate; and I hope if the amendment proposed in favor of statesmen supported the constitutionality and expediency Slate banks should be rejected, that my friends from of protecting and encouraging American navigation, by Virginia will unite with ine for a bank of the United imposing discriminating duties on foreign vessels ; and, States. They will answer me, probably, that they cannot uniil lately, they admitted the power of Congress to pass a do this, because it is forbidden by the constitutional doc- protecting tariff. In the year 1781, the continental Con, trines of Virginia, which, he (Mr. P.) must confess he had gress, composed of the most godlike men for wisdom and never been able to understand, although born in Virginia, elevated patriotism ever assembled under the sun, passed often an actor on the political theatre, and a supporter of the first national bank, called the Bank of North America, three Virginia Presidents—Jefferson, Madison, and Mon- ten Slates voting for it, of which Virginia was one, and
If these distinguished men are to be considered the three against it. After the next bank, first under this conelders of the Virginia political church, with the addition of stitution, had passed both Houses of Congress, and been the late Mr. Crawford, born in Virginia, and supported presented to President Washington for his signature, in for the Presidency hy that State, we shall be still more at consequence of some opposition to it in Congress on cona loss to understand what is meant by the Virginia doc- stitutional grounds, General Washington, with that cautrines; and we shall probably find them, like the doctrinestion and prudent circuinspection which characterized his of most other States-one rule of faith in theory, and ano- course through life, callee! on his cabinet for their written ther in practice.
opinions on the constitutional question ; and after receive It has been generally supposed that the Virginia states- ing and considering them without reference to men or men of the Jefferson or republican school were opposed to parties, (for he was above all party,) with that practical the exercise of implied or constructive powers; or at least wisdom and forecast for which he was distinguished, apthat they are more strict constructionists than others; that proved the law. Yes, sir, this father of his country, this they are opposed to the exercise of powers not expressly Virginia President, decided that a national bank was cungranted ; and so am I, Mr. Chairman. If there is any stitutional. plain line of demarkation between the opinions of Virginia In 1816, Mr. Madison and Mr. Monroe, regardless of politicians and others, in regard to the powers of this Gov. previous commitments, bowed to the voice of necessity and eroment, I have never been able to discover it.
experience, and sacrificed their consistency on the altar of It is true that parties have differed about the power to their country's good. Virginia supported Mr. Crawford, pass particular measures; but there is no general rule of a decided supporter of a national bank, for the Presidency ; construction on which the statesmen of this country have and in that vote, according to the notions of the day, has differed, at least in practice. Those in opposition have, declared in favor of a national bank. While on this subunder every administration, assailed the constitutionality ject, I will add to the authority of Virginia statesmen the of measures adopted by those in power; and those in opinions of Mr. Gallatin, Mr. Dallas, Mr. McLean, and power have uniformly exercised all the powers in their others might be mentioned, the most enlightened financiers opinion necessary and proper to sustain their policy and in the country, who have, from a thorough and practical accomplish their objects. If politicians of the Virginia knowledge of the necessity and utility of such an instituschool have, in practice, observed a more strict construc- tiun, concurred in opinion with the distinguished men to tion of the constitution than others, I have in vain lovked whose authority I have appealed. May I be permitted to for evidence of the fact. Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and refer to the decisions of the Congress of 1791, 1816, and Mr. Munroe, united in the purchase of Louisiana, and its 1832, as high authorities in favor of a national bank? incorporation into i he United States, the constitutionality In the face of this high authority, the experience of forty of which was controverted by the statesmen of the Eastern
years of our national existence, and admonished by the States; and the correctness of their constitutional objec- present disturbed condition of the country, it is given out tions was admitted by Mr. Jefferson himself; but he justi: in speeches, and strongly intimated by ihe President in fied the act on the ground of necessity. He considered his message, that he will put his veto on any bill for the the acquisition necessary, to secure to the West a free creation of a national bank; and he speaks further, outlet to the ocean, and to preserve the Union. After in his message, of the persevering opposition of the this, a law passed Congress to establish a branch of the people of the United States to a national bank, and seems United States Bank at New Orleans, which the bank had
to suppose his election a high evidence of public opinion no right to do under her charter; and, therefore, that act on this question. The conclusion he draws from the event must be considered in the nature of an original proposition, of his election furnishes very slender evidence on this point, and it received the sanction of Mr. Jefferson, then Presi- for it never has happened that any presidential election has dent of the United States; and other laws were, I believe, turned on any one political question. The choice by the passed during his administration to protect this unconstitu- people of a President is influenced by various considerations, tional monster.
and rarely with reference to any particular question or prinMr. P. said that among the first acts for which he ever ciple ; and, besides, it ought to be recollected that the bank voted in Congress, was the einbargo recommended by question had been disposed of long before bis elecuon, and President Jefferson, in the winter of 1807, for which there could not have been the only ground of selection. But if they is no express grant of power in the constitution, unless decided against a national bank, they niust have declared in einbraced by the clause authorizing Congress to pass all favor of State banks. In pulling down the Bank of the Unilaws necessary and proper to carry into effect the powers ted States, it was distinctly announced to the nation, not that granted, &c.; or the power may be implied as incidental bank agency would be dispensed with, but that State banks to the powers to declare war and regulale commerce. The would answer the purpose better. The people, therefore, public men from the Eastern States, or many of them, con- if they decided any thing, have approved ihe substitute iended that, under a power to regulate commerce, Congress presented to them by those high in authority, who now achad no power to destroy commerce. The law, without' knowledge that the substitute of State banks has failed;