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Recent events have proved that the paper money sysa. tem of this country, may be used as an engine to undermine your free institutions; and that those who desire to engross all power in the hands of the few, and to govern by corruption or force, are aware of its power, and prepared to employ it. Your banks now furnish your only circulating medium, and money is plenty or scarce, according to the quantity of notes issued by them. While they have capitals not greatly disproportioned to each other, they are competitors in business, and no one of them can exercise dominion over the rest; and although, in the present state of the currency, these banks may and do operate injuriously upon the habits of business, the pecuniary concerns, and the moral tone of society; yet, from their number and dispersed situation, they cannot combine for the purposes of political influence; and whatever may be the dispositions of some of them, their power of michief must necessarily be confined to a narrow space, and felt only in their immediate neighborhood.
But when the charter for the Bank of the United States was obtained from Congress, it perfected the schemes of the paper system, and gave its advocates the position they have struggled to obtain, from the commencement of the federal government down to the present hour. The immense capital, the peculiar privileges bestowed upon it, enabled it to exercise despotic sway over the other banks in every part of the country. From its superior strength, it could seriously injure, if not destroy the business of any one of them which might incur its resentment; and it openly claimed for itself the power of regulating the currency throughout the United States. In other words, it asserted (and undoubtedly possessed) the power to make money plenty or scarce, at its pleasure, at any time, and in any quarter of the Union by controlling the issues of other banks, and permitting an expansion, or compelling a general contraction, of the circulating medium, according to its own will. The other banking institutions were sensible of its strength, and they soon generally became its obedient instruments, ready at all times, to execute its mandates ; and with the
banks necessarily went also that numerous class of per sons in our commercial cities, who depend altogether on bank credits for their solvency and means of business ; and who are, therefore, obliged, for their own safety, to propitiate the favor of the money power by distinguished zeal and devotion in its service. The result of the illadvised legislation which established this great monopoly was to concentrate the whole moneyed power of the Union, with its boundless means of corruption, and its numerous dependents, under the direction and command of one acknowledged head ; thus organizing this particular interest as one body, and securing to it unity and concert of action throughout the United States, and enabling it to bring forward, upon any occasion, its entire and undivided strength to support or defeat any measure of the government. In the hands of this formidable power, thus perfectly organized, was also placed unlimited dominion over the amount of the circulating medium, giving it the power to regulate the value of property and the fruit of labor in every quarter of the Union; and to bestow prosperity, or bring ruin upon any city or section of the country, as might best comport with its own interest or policy.
We are not left to conjecture how the moneyed power, thus organized, and with such a weapon in its hands, would be likely to use it. The distress and alarm which pervaded and agitated the whole country, when the Bank of the United States waged war upon the people, in order to compel them to submit to its demands, cannot yet be forgotten. The ruthless and unsparing temper with which whole cities and communities were oppressed, individuals impoverished and ruined, and a scene of cheerful prosperity suddenly changed into one of gloom and despondency, ought to be indelibly impressed on the memory of the people of the United States, If such was its power in a time of peace, what would it not have been in a season of war, with an enemy at your doors? No nation but the freemen of the United States could have come out victorious from such a contest; yet, if you had not conquered, the government would have passed from the hands of the many to the hands of the few. and this organized money power, from its secret con clave, would have dictated the choice of your highest officers, and compelled you to make peace or war, as best suited their own wishes. The forms of your government might, for a time, have remained; but its living spirit would have departed from it.
The distress and sufferings inflicted on the people by the bank, are some of the fruits of that system of policy which is continually striving to enlarge the authority of the federal government beyond the limits fixed by the constitution. The powers enumerated in that instrument do not confer on Congress the right to establish such a corporation as the Bank of the United States ; and the evil consequences which followed may warn us of the danger of departing from the true rule of construction, and of permitting temporary circumstances, or the hope of better promoting the public welfare, to influence in any degree our decision upon the extent of the authority of the general government. Let us abide by the constitution as it is written, or amend it in the constitutional mode if it is found defective.
The severe lessons of experience will, I doubt not, be sufficient to prevent Congress from again chartering such a monopoly, even if the constitution did not present an insuperable objection to it. But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty; and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. It behoves you, therefore, to be watchful in your states, as well as in the federal government. The power which the moneyed interest can exercise, when concentrated under a single head and with our present system of currency, was sufficiently demonstrated in the struggle made by the United States Bank. Defeated in the general government, the same class of intriguers and politicians will now resort to the states, and endeavor to obtain there the same organization, which they failed to perpetuate in the Union ; and with specious and deceitful plans of pubsic advantages, and state interests, and state pride, they will endeavor to establish, in the different states, one moneyed iustitution with overgrown capital, and exclusive privileges sufficient to enable it to control the operations of other banks. Such an institution will be pregnant with the same evils produced by the Bank of the United States, although its sphere of action is more confined ; and in the state in which it is chartered, the money power will be able to embody its whole strength, and to move together with undivided force, to accomplish any object it may wish to attain. You have already had abundant evidence of its powers to inflict injury upon the agricultural, mechanical, and laboring classes of society; and over those whose engagements in trade or speculation render them dependent on bank facilities, the dominion of the state monopoly will be absolute, and their obedience unlimited. With such a bank and a paper currency, the money power would in a few years govern the state and control its measures; and if a sufficient number of states can be induced to create such estab lishments, the time will soon come when it will again take the field against the United States, and succeed in perfecting and perpetuating its organization by a charter from Congress.
It is one of the serious evils of our present system of banking that it enables one class of society-and that by no means a numerous one-by its control over the curreney, to act injuriously upon the interests of all the others, and to exercise more than its just proportion of influence in political affairs. The agricultural, the mechanical, and the laboring classes, have little or no share in the direction of the great moneyed corporations; and from their habits and the nature of their pursuits, they are incapable of forming extensive combinations to act together with united force. Such concert of action may sometimes be produced in a single city, or in a small district of country, by means of personal communications with each other; but they have no regular or active correspondence with those who are engaged in similar pursuits in distant places; they have but little patronage to give to the press, and exercise but a small share of influence over it; they have no crowd of dependents about them, who hope to grow rich without labor, by their countenance and favor, and who are, therefore, always ready to execute their wishes. The planter, the farmer, the mechanic, and the laborer, all know that their success depends upon their own industry and economy, and tha: they must not expect to become suddenly rich by the fruits of their toil. Yet these classes form the great body of the people of the United States; they are the bone and sinew of the country; men who love liberty, and desire nothing but equal rights and equal laws, and who, moreover, hold the great mass of our national wealth, although it is distributed in moderate amounts among the millions of freemen who possess it. But, with overwhelmng numbers and wealth on their side, they are in constant danger of losing their fair influence in the government, and with difficulty maintain their just rights
against the incessant efforts daily made to encroach upon them.
The mischief springs from the power which the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency, which they are able to control, from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges, which they have succeeded in obtaining in the different states, and which are employed altogether for their benefit, and unless you become more watchful in your states, and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges, you will, in the end, find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away, and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations. antignan
The paper-moneyed system, and its natural associates, monopoly and exclusive privileges, have already struck their roots deep in the soil, and it will require all your efforts to check its further growth, and to eradicate the evil. The men who profit by the abuses, and desire to perpetuate them, will continue to besiege the halls of legislation in the general government as well as in the states, and will seek, by every artifice, to mislead and deceive the public servants. It is to yourselves that you must look for safety and the means of guarding and perpetuating your free institutions. In your hands is rightfully placed the sovereignty of the country, and to you every one placed in authority is ultimately responsible. It is always in your power to see that the wishes of the