« AnteriorContinuar »
H. OF R.]
(Oct. 12, 1837.
still animated his bosom. I thought it seemed cruel, though Can any one doubt that, had Mr. Van Buren recomit was just, when he required the Clerk, with his strong mended the establishment of a United States Bauk, charvoice, to read out the names of those who had voted for tered with cautious and well guarded restraints, it would and against General Gordon's proposition a few years ago. have been passed by this Congress, and that in less than I thought that that was, to his new allies, “the most un- six months every solvent bank would resume spocie paykindest cut all.” I was then seated in the chair on the ments, and the overwhelming misery and distresses of the Clerk's platform, which is now occupied by the honorable people would have changed into a brighter and more prosSenator from Massachusetts, Mr. WEBSTER, [Mr. J. perous aspect? I do not doubt it. Had Mr. Van Buren pointed in the direction of the Clerk's seat,] philosophizing said that he had been disappointed in the new experiment, and surveying the effect it would produce on many coun. as all of his friends had been; that it was the part of wistenances, and perceived, as some names were pronounced, dom now to adopt the old and well-tried policy of his pretheir faces would crimson; others would blanch; some decessors, a policy which had acted well : if then some of twisted in their chairs, whilst others left the hall, as old his friends here had opposed it, he could have held up the Proteus once quitted an unpleasant theatrical hall; whilst example of Madison, and been sustained by the nation. in some old and hardened sinners, who had long and often Madison's name would have outweighed a host of modern offended, not an eye would wink, or a muscle move, or a politicians. When Mr. Madison stood alone in his vote single feature change. They seemed to look as if they in the last Virginia convention, against all the rest, an able were conscious that they were past all forgiveness, and had American writer aid that he would sooner have taken Mr, mnade up their minds to look with more composure upon Madison to be right than all the rest put together. As their past acts, than upon the enormity of those which much as I admired his wisdom, I could not say that much. they fully expected to perpetrate; whilst I heard, or thought But Mr. Van Buren's course has been called a firm one; I heard, several voices involuntarily exclaim, “expunge and a distinguished Senator now in my eye, (Mr. WEBthe journal." That gentleman, (Mr. Pickens,) whilst STER,) said, in a speech which I heard with great pleasure, he is advocating, in his able speeches, State rights, is at in another quarter of this Capitol, that after reading Mr. the same time, supporting a measure which is the very de- Van Buren's message, and finding that he was really trackfinition of consolidation. The whole reasoning announts to ing the footsteps of the late President, he would not charge this : because Congress has not the power to establish a him with a want of firmness. I differ with that distinbank, therefore Congress must surrender into the hands of guished gentleman, and many others who have used the the Executive all power over the public money,
same language in this and the other end of the Capitol. Whilst I regard a Virginian or South Carolinian, who I will not call it, at the same time, timidity, but I will call will act upon the principles of his ancestors, and dare think sashness. The brave Roman who sent his gallant son for himself, as one of the noblest beings in creation, I re. at the head of an army, cautioned him as much against gard that different Lilliputian race, who are seven-month's rashness as he did against cowardice. "The mean of true children, always talking about the constitution, and never
courage, ,” said he, “Jies between the extremes of cowreading it, who ride about with saddlebags and the Revised ardice and rashness." It is a proof of an absence of moral Code, and spout “ Constitution and Jefferson” at every courage for any man to persist in wrong because his friends court-house and cross-road, as the unsafest guides in the urge him to do so. Mr. Van Buren had an opportunity of world; and if they should happen to be such lawyers as showing moral fortitude in an eminent degree; for it does “rare Ben Jonson" describes, I would warn the people to require no small degree of moral courage for a man to beware of them who
gently chide, softly to rebuke, a ruinous career of his "Give forked counsel: take provoking gold
friend. Had Mr. Van Buren said to his friends that he On either hand, and put it up, So wise, eo grave, of so perplexed a tongue,
bad believed in the experiment as they had done, but he And loud withal, that would not wag, nor scarce and they had been disappointed; it had overwhelmed the
whole land in misery and distress; his supporters as well There may be one other class of Southern politicians as his opponents were beggared by it; that he felt it his who are worse constitutional advisers. They are those of duty to abandon the scheme which had so signally failed, more standing at the bar, and who are called great special and he had determined, for the good of the nation, to go pleaders—the true green-bag gentry—who know all the back to the well-beaten path in which Washington and arts of filing a declaration, or framing a demurrer-who Madison, and all the other Presidents, trod-he might have can at once analyze in their minds all the dry maxims of lost here and there a friend, but he would have gained a the black letter and the lignum-vitæ terms of the law-who hundred for one; he would have proved himself worthy of know how to inake thin distinctions, and can quibble on the office which he holds, proved himself of true and genthe point of a cambric needle. Such men I would counsel erous courage, and would have then been placed by the with upon a contingent remainder or executory devise; but side of the an,iable and patriotic Madison. But what does they are not such men us I would select as my guides to he do? When the popular phrensy was highest against a expound the constitution on this foor, or to make them my bank, Mr. Van Buren, in an evil hour, committed himarchetypes as philosophical stalesmen. Hair-split distinc- self against the hank, supposing the pet bank system would tions prove, they think, superior wisdom; and they will succeed; because General Jackson had sworn, in his wrath, beautify them with rich diction and elegant manner, and that it should succeed. But failed_exploded-blowing up leave you in a perfect paradise of ecstacy, figures, and the Treasury as well as the banks; and the people were flowers. Mr. Chairman, there are safer and beller guides. ruined. Mr. Van Buren was in a dilemma, and could Let those who wish to understand the constitution read the not go for a United States bank, and preserve his consisdebates of the convention which framed that instrument- tency; and had magnanimity of feeling to confess error, read the debates in the State conventions which adopted repent, and ask forgivness of the thousands and tens of it-read the Federalist and Chief Justice Marshall's deci- thousands whom he had helped to ruin. What was he to sions upon it: let him do this, and then he will dare to do in this emergency, as Congress had been called in the think for himself, and will know something about it. And panic of the moment? He was pledged to go in the footin this reading he may learn that Mr. Jefferson was not in steps of the late President, and there were no footsteps. this country at the time of the formation of the constitu- Mr. Van Buren was at fault, sadly at fault. A fasl runner tion, but was minister in France. As a politician, Mr. was posted to the Hermitage, two letters are quickly writJefferson was superior to Mr. Madison; as an expounder ten liy General Jackson, published in the Glohe, and thus of the constitution, I regard him as interior.
footsteps are made where none were before. Never did Ti.
Lie still without a fee."
Oct. 12, 1837.]
Sub. Treusury Bill.
(H. of R.
berius reign with as much awful terror as when he retired He has changed against the pet bank system ; he was for from Rome and went to his gloomy and secluded hermi- it three months ago; his message contains his palinodia. tage, and sent his authoritative and bloody edicts to a sla- | May not the people, who changed against the bank in hopes vish and affrighted Senate.
of bettering their condition, change for it now, to bring One or two gentlemen have thrown out, during the dis- themselves where they were, rather than be beggared and cussion on this bill, or the one which was acted on a few miserable ? If they should be convinced that it will improve days ago, a delicate intimation that the expediency of the their present distressed situation, they will very quickly bank might be more clear to their minds if the constitution change. Self-interest is a powerful lever; and the Presi. were altered so as to express distinctly that Congress should dent and his friends, by their acts, have induced the people bave power to establish a bank. Of such allusions I think to look to it. The people will not ruin themselves becuuse as Lowndes did, in 1816, when he was requested by a Mr. Van Buren has held out false hopes, false lights, by meinber to move an amendment to the constitution to au- which they have been wrecked; they will come back, and thorize Congress to establish a bank. Lowndes said that denounce and quit all crude experiments. he had two objections to doing so : one was, that he thought But when the committee of New York merchants told such an amendment would not be adopted ; and the second Mr. Van Buren of the dreadful distress in that city, he did was, that he thought the power already existed in the con- not believe it; he thought it all panic. The recent elecstilution.
tions ought to be a gentle warning. But no man is so blind Mr. Chairman, I do not profess to be a constitutional as he who will not see ; and I ain half disposed to believe lawyer. I have read some law, it is true, but have never that some politicians do not yet know that the gold experipractised in the courts. I have beeu admitted to practise ment has failed. in the court at the base of this Capitol, as a great many The expediency of a bank presents a very different propother unworthy lawyers have been admitted. I studied osition. law in Virginia, under the most distinguished jurist of that We can often, Mr. Chairman, look into the future by State—a personal and political friend of Mr. Jefferson. I the lights of the past. And the past furnishes to my mind was taught to believe that it was the duty of a lawyer to the most conclusive evidence that a United States bank is respect the constitution and the laws; that the constitution highly, alınost indispensably, necessary to proinote the bad authorized courts armed with power to decide litigated rapid and uniform prosperity of the nation. Without questions ; that from the interior courts there was a right money, no business can prosper; and without a convertible to appeal to the higher, and that the decision of the Su- currency, and a near uniforinity of exchanges, the prosperpreme Court of the United States was final; and its powers ity of all business is in a great degree paralyzed. Whilst were broadly and clearly written in the constitution : that the inequality of exchanges in a depreciated currency will if the Supreme Court were to decide a question or principle, secure wealth to the brokers and money exchangers, in the which did not suit the popular taste, the decision still was saine degree will it diminish the profils of the farmer and final; but the people had a remedy in two ways, pointed the mechanic, of the merchant and the man of useful enout by the constitution, by wbich Congress and the States terprise. should not alter the decision, but could alter the constitu- Whenever we have had a United States bank, we have tion, as they have on some occasions altered that instru. had everywhere a convertiblo, redeemable currency, by ment. This was the doctrine which I was taught; this is which the value of property could be clearly estimated ; the doctrine which all my reading and reflection have since whenever we have not had a bank of the United States, we confirmed.
have had a stoppage of specie payments, distross, and inThe Supreine Court has said that it will not decide polit-dividual ruin. If we are lo judge of effects by causes, what ical questions; but that same court has twice said that the can be more convincing and conclusive? When the Bank constitutionality of the bank was a legal question, and has of the United States was in existence, exchanges from New twice decided it to be constitutional. The decisions of that | Orleans to New York were never more than one per cent.; court have, in every case, been acquiesced in by the people often at par; and sometimes, from one city to the other, of the whole nation. General Washington, who presided above par. There was then but a reasonable and useful
Mr. number of Slate banks. Madison, who was most prominent in framing it; Alexander Hamilton, who, in intellect was second to no man in of great things by small. A friend sent me a hundred dolthe nation ; have given their sanction to a bank. The lar note, a few days ago, on a bank in Florida, which hc Congress of 1791, which chartered the first United States had been trying to pass off, but could not. I went to a Bank, voted two to one in favor of it-ayes 39, noes 20. broker, and be offered me seventy-five dollars in Distriet The greater portion of the members of that Congress, who paper for the hundred dollars on the Florida bank. I ofwere in the convention which framed the constitution, voted | fered him the note for eighty-five dollars, and he refused it. for it. Every President has given it his sanction: Wash- I called on the delegate from Florida, to know wbether the ington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J. Q. bank was good. He informed me that it was perfectly solAdams, Jackson-for the latter, in one of his messages said vent, and as sound as any bank in the world; that its paa he would condescend to write a charter, if Congress would per passed freely in Florida. Then, a man who owes a meanly ask him to do so: every President, save Martin debt of seventy-five dollars in this city, who may reside in Van Buren; and even he signed a memorial to have a Florida, will have to pay one hundred dollars in paper, branch established at Albany. The man who would raise which he takes at par at home, to liquidate his liability in his voice against this overwhelming authority, I would res- this city. Such is the discount, at but one-half of the expect more for his pertinacity and obduracy of opinion than tent of our nation. If my mind bad ever doubted on the for bis dispassionate judgment.
subject of the expediency of a United States bank, this sinWe are told by inetaphysicians that nothing is so difficult gle circumstance would have removed every doubt. The to prove as self-evident propositions. And I regard the right Government has disconnected itself from the currency, and of Congress to establish a bank as being so decidedly clear all things are in confusion, and I fear will remain so until as to remove all necessity for other argument on that subject. we bave, what was appropriately called yesterday, by iny
The President says that against a United States bank eloquent friend from New York, [Mr. HOFFMAN,] the bul. the sentiments of the people are deliberately fixed." How ance wheel of a United States bank. I have travelled alJoes he know that ? What spirit of divination does he pos- most in every part of the Union with United States Bank sess, to know whether the people always think with him?' paper, and never met with an individual in my life who did H. of R.]
(Oct. 12, 1837.
not prefer receiving it to specie. But the condition of our The King (or now the Quceu) of England and the King exchanges has been enlarged upon by several gentlernen, of France send their messages or speeches to the Parliaand with great force by the ablc member who preceded me; ment or the Chamber of Deputies, of about a span's length, and I will not consume the time of the committec on that simply saying that the nation is at peace with the world, branch of the subject.
the King is thankful for the supplies granted, and that he I had intended to offer some considerations upoi, first, will take pleasure in carrying out such measures as the the right of the Government to create and establish a good Parliament or Chambers may think proper to promote the and sound currency for the people, and a safe and salutary interest of the nation. If either the King of England or mode of exchange; and, secondly, the duty of the l'ederal the King of France were to threaten a veto, neither would Government to exercise that power: but I have been anti- hold his crown a month, if he would escape with his head. cipated by the able inember from Winchester, (Mr. Ma- I think it ought to be an impeachable offence for any exmox,) who made an argument upon this subject, clear and ecutive officer of Government to send a message or comlucid; one which has been unanswered, because it is un- munication to Congress longer than a column of an ordianswerable. He showed the evils which would be ipflict
nary newspaper, upless, after that space, statistics and ed on the people by establishing one currency for the Gov. tabular cxhibits should require more. crnment and another for the people. He proved the close The Secretary of the Treasury has sent us a volume of affinity of both, and their relative duties and responsibili- cighly-cight large pages, laying off his subject, like the ties. I will only ask, in addition, Mr. Chairman, that if monster in grave bistory, into “seven heads and ten the Government will not exercise any control over, and horns.” I have read it by candlelight and by daylight; feel no obligation to regulate, the currency and the medium i and in groping through it for a clear idea, I could not find of exchanges, for what purpose was this federal allianco one! Now and then you will find a beggarly thought formed ? Why was it that the States gave up to the Gen- enslirouded in a whole mist and cloud of words. But his eral Governinent the whole control over commerco, if that thoughts and ideas are like the arts of the cuttle-fish), Government will not adopt means for carrying on that which, naturalists inforin us, when pursued, throws out, commerce with a currency uniform, or as nearly so as hu- as quick as magic, a dark liquid which embarrasses and man wisdom can devise? Why have they made the sacri- hewilders its pursuers, whilst it escapes from pursuit amid fice of so large and surrender of so great a portion of their its own self-created darkness. You pursue his thoughts, sovereignty, as to be denied the right to regulate commerce but in the pursuit you are left in darkness. If the Secretary betwein neighboring States and forcign nations, if the Gen- of the Treasury is a man of delicate and retined feelings, I eral Government will take no step to promote this inter- would not have suffered the perturbation of mind which he change? What other consideration could they receive for must have endured, whilst he was thinking of and writing this immenso surrender of State sovereignty, but that the that report, for all the public monoy which he has handled Government would extend its paternal care to effect a good for the last four years. I could never fully realize to my mind currency and safe and easy exchanges ? But the Presi- the description which Milton has given of one of his he. dent, with a profound ignorance of both the spirit and the roes, who was confused and disappointed, until I read thic intention of the constitution, has told us that the people Secretary of the 'Treasury's report. Milton describes a niight as well expect the Goverument to aid in the trans- personage who attempted a great reform-not, perhaps, in portation of their merchandise, as to cause or establish a currency, but in civil government-(and in quoting Milguod system of exchanges. It is the first time that an ton I do not wish to interfere with the criticisms of my American President has ultered such a sentiment of disre- eloquent friend from New York, (Mr. HOFFMAX,) and my gard to an injured people ; and I trust that their indigna- no less able friend froin South Carolina, (Mr. Pickens,] tion will make it the last. If this is to be the established who have rendered him, by their able review, of such doctrine and policy of the Government, each State will, or questionable authority.) This reformer was disappointed, might as well, stand in the relation of separate and distinct as the Secretary has been, and was humbled from his high nations; for cach will bear the same relation to the other, estate; and “nine times the space wbich measures day so far as currency is concerned, as Canada does to the and night to mortal man," he lay “counfounded, though United States, or the different nations of Europe do to immortal.” And if that immortal personage could not reeach other. And the quicker they reassume the power cover his faculties for nine days, amidst the ruin around over commerce, the better will it be for their interest and
him, why should we be surprised that it should take Mr. bappiness.
Woodbury, who is only mortal, nine times nine days to The miserable bunglers of the Executive, who have at- regain his, amid the distress and ruin which he has creatempted to regulate and improve the currency, have net ted? In good sooth, I have no doubt that he was conyet discovered that they are totally ignorant of the subject, founded whilst writing. Indeed, I am satisfied that lo and have failed in their experiments; and even now feel had not regained any of his faculties, save his " modest disposed, like a bewild pilot, to let the ship of State assurance," when he asked Congress to give him these float at the mercy of the winds and the waves, in hopes powers, and to make him, according to his will and judgof reaching a safe point which their pretended skill could ment, the sole receiver and disburser of the public monot attain, or leap into the long-boal, and desert the crew.
ney's. The President, after writing us a long message contain- And here, Mr. Chairman, I will claim the kind attening many maximns of sound policy, many long sentences tion of the committee whilst I say a few words in relation of sophisms, much plausibility, and more bad reasoning, tu the 'Treasury Department, and the bill under confinally hands us over, by way of recommendation, to his sideration granting it additional (I might say unlimited) Secretary of the Treasury, for the details of his new powers. I feel conscious, Mr. Chairman, that whatever I schemes and untried experiment. I will use this occasion may say can have but little weight in this House or with to express my utter abhorrence of the long essays which the nation ; but I should be happy if I could flatter myself are annually given by our Executive to the representatives that any thought which I may express would awaken reof the people and the States. The Executive seems to Hection in the mind of any member of this House, or any think it his duty to send us a long lecture upon our public citizen not a member. The day was, Mr. Chairman, duties, and assumes as much importance as if he were a when a public officer thought himself an officer of the counprofessor lecturing a class of sophomores upon the princi- try and responsiblo to the laws. Things have changed. ples of philosophy, and schooling us in the line of our Now, every officer, however important or insignificant, duty.
considers himself an executive officer, and responsible to Oct. 12, 1837.)
[H. OF R.
the Executive. This modern doctrine has obtained, and it is the law that tbrows dignity and duties around the Sectherefore I must consider the bill in relation to modern retnry, and the law assigns his powers and his obligations. usage and construction.
Still, I will offer my protest | For the fidelity of discharging his duties, he becomes reagainst the construction. It might be more curious than sponsible neither to the nominating nor the appointing profitable to account for this transition of custom and con- power, but he becomes only responsible himself to the law; struction. Perhaps it may be found in the fact, that, as and for an infraction of the law or malfeasance in office ho General Jackson had overwhelming popularity, and re- is amenable to the law, and answerable before tribunals ad. warded njost liberally his partisan friends, each who felt equate to pronounce decision of acquittal or condemnation anxious to be promoted thought that, by placing himself for all of his official acts. The President may nominate-under the executive wing and will, he would sooner he re- Congress can abolish. If the modern doctrine is correct, warded for his servility; and Congress, under the zeal of as has been assunied, that the right of the President to party feeling, thought that their friend and chief could not nominate to office carries with it a right to control the acts err-that the President “could do no wrong"--and there. of a Secretary, then the President, who has legislative powfore acquiesced. Whilst I know this to be the prevailing er as well as executive duties to perform, (for no law con construction in this House and out of it, still I will venture, be passed without the signature of the l'resident,) con, by perhaps with temerity, to express my disagreement. a parity of reasoning, not only interpret and control, and
The Secretary of the 'Treasury is an officer not known arrest the operation of the law wbich he has signed, (as has in the constitution. Then, under the constitution he can been done,) but he can set the constitution at defiance, and claim no powers.
He has been created by law, and to find his justification, not in the sanctions of that instrument, that law he should look for not only his existence as an of- or in the written law of the land, but by assuming the reficer of Governinent, but for the powers and duties which sponsibility of outraging hoth-scek his justification in have been assigned to him. And he should look to all making an appeal, not to the tribunals of the country, but the laws (and not to the Executive) which assign him du-to the American people, to countenance his attack upon tho ties, for the quantity and discretion of duty which may be institutions of the country, upon the co-ordinate departimposed upon hiin io diecharge. He is not to look to the ments of Government--for assuming sole exccutive and leFrominating power for his authority of action, but to the gislative power—and for arrogating uncontrolled power creating power. The law brings hin into being, and the over the Secretary of the Treasury and the currency and law alone rightfully prescribes his power of action. The money of the Government. When the representatives of Executive might have exercised the constitutional negative the people of the several States framed the constitution, they at the time of his creation ; but it gave its sanction to the assigned the President his duties, and required him, in the law, and in that sanction it yielded its acquiescence to all discharge of those official duties, to make his conduct quadthe powers of the Secretary of the Treasury which run rate with that instrument; nowhere recognising his right with and are contained in the law of his creation, and to to control a public officer in the discharge of his legal duthe subsequent laws which enlarge or restrain his sphere of ties; nowhere recognising his right, in justification of an duty. A question of great interest might here naturally infraction of the constitution and the laws, to appeal to the arise, whether the powers granted by the constitution and people, in order to gain their sympathy or contempt, their those granted by the laws should be decided by a common forgiveness or their censure. Every usurper appeals to the rule of interpretation. I have not the time now, if I pos- people; Cæsar appealed to the people ; su did Croinwell sessed the ability, to make an argument upon the true rules and Bonaparte; all deceived the contidence of the people, of construction of both the constitution and the laws. I and cach trampled upon their liberties. A candidate for ofwill content myself for the present by quoting a rule laid fice may appeal to the people-a public officer should apdown by Mr. Madison, in a letter to Mr. Ingersoll, in 1831. peal to the law; and if the law will not suit the people, they "A constitution, (says Mr. Madison,) being derived from can order their representatives to alter it. Whether these a superior authority, [to the laws,] is to be expounded and views are correct or not, they are still the sentiments I enobeyed, not controlled or varied, by the subordinate au- tertain; and, holding them, I am free to give them utterthority of a legislature. A law, on the other hand, resting ance; for I believe this to be a time when every representon no higher authority than that possessed by every suc- ative of the people should think audibly. cessive legislature, its expediency as well as its meaning is The law of September 11, 1798, entitled “ An act to within the scope of the latter.” If this rule is correct, the establish the Treasury Department," declares, in the first Secretary of the Treasury should direct his eye to Congress section, in the discharge of his officia! duties, and not make hiin- “ That there shall be a Department of the 'Treasury, a self, as le has made himself, or allowed himself to be made, Secretary of the 'Treasury, a Comptroller, an Auditor, a the supple instrument in the executive hands.
Treasurer, a Register," &c. Those who urge that the President has entire control “ Sec. 3. It shall be the duty of the Comptroller to suover the Secretary of the 'Treasury, because he has the perintend the adjustinent and preservation of the public acpower under the constitution to noininate to office, run in- counts; to examine all accounts settled by the Auditor, to error; and, in order to make their construction more and certify the balances arising thereon to the Register; plausible, assume (what is not the fact) that the Secretary to countersign all warrants drawn by the Secretary of the is a njere subordinate auxiliary officer of the Executive de Treasury, which shall be warranted by law; to report to partment; that the Presider.t is not only responsible for his the Secretary the official fornis of all papers to be issued own acis, but is responsible for the acts of all officers of in the different offices for collecting the public revenue, Government whom he may nominate; and being responsi- and the manner and form of keeping and stating the acble, they maintain, for the acts of the Secretary of the counts of the several persons employed therein. He shall, Treasury, he has a right to control the actions of the Sec- moreover, provide for the regular and punctual payment of retary, and to assuine, in the Secretary's stead, the entire all moneys which may be collected,” &c. responsibility of the Secretary's acts. The President, I “ Sec. 4. That it shall be the duty of the Treasurer to humbly conceive, has the mere right to nominale (or he receive and ke the moneys of the United States, and to may suspend) a person to discharge the duties of the office disburse the same upon warrants drawn by the Secretary of Secretary of the Treasury; the Senate, a co-ordinate of the Treasury, countersigned by the Comptroller, record. branch of the Executive, quoad the appointing power, have ed by the Register, and not otherwise. He shall take rea right to confirm or to reject the nomince. This gives no ceipts for all moneys paiid by him, anıl all receipts for monpower to either to control the actions of the Secretary. But 'eys received by him shall be endorsed upon warrants signer H. OF R.]
Sub- Treasury Bill.
(Oct. 12, 1837.
by the Secretary of the Treasury; without which warrant, they will so regard themselves. Rumor has reached my sv signed, no acknowledgment of money received into ear, upon the wings of the wind, that some officers have the public Treasury shall be valid. And the said Treas- been considered too honestly faithful to the law, and would urer shall render his account to the Comptroller quarterly, not bend to advice from a particular direction. It will be (or oftener, if required,) and shall transmit a copy thereof, understood where I wish it to be, when I say to them, be wh settled, to the Secretary of the Treasury. He sball, firm and faithful to the law and your duty. I will say to moreover, on the third day of every session of Congress, those officers in Washington and out of it, whether I know lay before the Senate and House of Representatives fair them or not, whether they are Conservatives, Whigs, or and accurate copies of all accounts by him, from time to Van Buren men, as long as they are faithful to the laws, time, rendered to and settled with the Comptroller, as and firmly resolved to do their duty, I beg them to consider aforesaid ; as also a true and perfect account of the state me as their friend. Let them do their duty to the people of the Treasury. He shall at all tiines submit to the Sec- and the laws, and, if persecution should assail them, I care retary of the Treasury and the Comptroller, or either of not how dark the cloud, how fearful the storm, as long as them, the inspection of the moneys in his hands; and I have a place on this floor I will raise my humble voice shall, prior to the entering upon the duties of his office, in their defence. give bond, with sufficient security, lo be approved by the But, to examine for a moment the bill on your table. Secretary of the Treasury and Comptroller, in the sum of What does the Committee of Ways and Means propose liv one hundred and fifty thousand dollars, payable to the that bill? In a bill of ten little sections, to blot out from United States, with condition for the faithful performance your statute book all the many laws which created, reguof the duties of his office, and for the fidelity of the per lated, restricted, and restrained the Secretary of the Treasons to be by him employed; which bond shall be lodged sury; and to destroy the enactments of our forefathers, in the office of the Comptroller of the Treasury of the which so cautiously guarded the public moneys of the United States."
people. To destroy the power, or to surrender it, of the Section 5 assigns the duties of the Auditor.
Congress of the United States over the revenues of the naSection 6, of the Register.
tion, and to place it all in the hands and under the control “Sec. 8. That no person appointed to any office insti. of the Secretary of the Treasury. This is not all; the bill tuted by this act shall, directly or indirectly, be concerned proposes nuore : it proposes to give to the Secretary, singly or interested in carrying on the business of trade or com- and alone, not only power over the money of the nation, snerce ; or be owner, in whole or in part, of any sea ves- but it also invests him with legislative powers. It prosel; or purchase, by himself, or another in trust for him, poses, in the very first section, after saying that “the colany public lands or uther public property ; or be concern- lectors of the customs,' postmasters,
,” &c., shall be ed in the purchase or disposal of any public securities of "receivers” and “ fiscal agents,” that they shall be govany State or of the United States; or take or apply to bis erned by any regulation of the Treasury Department" own use any emolument or gain for negotiating or trans- " which, in its wisdom, it may think necessary,” &c. In acting any business with the said Department, other than the fourth section, after saying that the receiving officers of shall be allowed by law. And if any person shall offend the revenues “may be allowed any necessary additional against any of the prohibitions of this act, he shall be expenses for clerks, fire-proof chests or vaults, (as if the Jeemed guilty of a high crime and misdemeanor, and for keeper of the key of a vault could not have the same ready feit to the United States the penalty of three thousand dol. access to it as he would bave to his own private bureau,) lars; and shall, upon conviction, be removed from office, or other necessary expenses of safe-keeping, transferring and forever thereafter be incapable of holding any office and disbursing said moneys; all such expenses, of every under the United Stales," &c.
character, to be first expressly authorized by the Secretary In 1817, March 3, four Auditors were created, and one of the Treasury, whose direction upon all the above subComptroller, additional ; but the restraints upon each officer jects, by way of regulation and otherwise, are to be strictly are as great as in the law of 1798.
followed by all the said officers." I cannot, Mr. Chairinan, but pause here for a moment In the fifth section, he has the power " to appoint speto adınire the great wisdom and foresight of the wise cial agents, as occasion may require, with such reasonable framers of these statutes in guarding the public moneys compensation as he may allow;" "and reports are to be of the people, by the variety of officers which they have made in all cases, as the Secretary in his discretion shall created to be guards and checks upon each other. They direct.” knew the frailty of human nature, and its impotency to I ask any candid mind if it is in the power of language resist the sedactive intluence of temptation. By these to give more absolute and unqualified power over the statutes, we find that even the Secretary of the Treasury money of the nation, and over every officer who is to recould not touch one dollar of the public money ; that he ceive or pay it, than is given by this bill to the Secretary had as little control over it as any other officer of the Go- of the Treasury? Can such a measure ever receive the vernment.
sanction of a majority of the representatives of freemeu ? By the extracts of the statutes which I have read, it will That such a bill should be received in this House, without be perceived that the same law which created the Secretary exciting the strongest feelings of indignation, surprises me. of the Treasury, created co-ordinate, and I maintain co- That this House should patiently allow any committee to equal, officers of that Department, who are as independ- ask them, without prompt resentment, to surrender their ent of the Secretary of the Treasury as they are independ. rights, and the rights of those whom they represent, into cnt of the Secretary of War; who are as independent of the hands of one single individual, excites my distrust for the President as they are independent of each other. They the spirit of its independence. Even the slavislı members are not to look to any power but the law, and that they of a Turkish divan would rebel against such a measure. are to obey. The 'Treasurer is required to give a large If the representatives of the people abandon their interests bond. To whom ? to the Secretary of the Treasury ? No, on this floor, I have greatly mistaken the genius and charsir, to the nation. Then he is responsible to the nation, acter of my countrymen, if they will not quickly abandon and not to the Secretary. The coordinate officers, the them. I use this language in no spirit of censure or threat, Comptrollers, the Auditors, the 'Treasurer, and the Regis- but in prophecy. ter, hold no responsibility to the Secretary ; Congress have We have wandered beyond our reckoning; we have been appointed them guards upon the public money and upon foating in an unknown sea ! and our pilots are ignorant of the Secretary of the Treasury; and I rondly hope that the seas, the winds, and the stars. This they have proved ;