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America, to shift the property from its ancient owners, and put it into the hands of the vilest race that ever infested the world; a race, Sir, who are ever engaged, in all manner of subtlety, to take from the poor their earnings, from the rich their inheritance, and who, instead of promoting liberty and happiness to the mass of the people, promote everything that is calculated to harass and distress them. Allow me to describe to you the manner in which the American banks are created: it will prepare your mind to expect the calamitous results that I shall have to inform you of. An American bank, Sir, is first projected by a number of men, not one jot more respectable than are the garter men themselves, thimble-riggers, pickpockets, and such like, that we see are now covering the face of the course at our county races. Such fellows in America, if they do not happen to be in the legislature, will, by means of open bribery—no shame whatever about it—obtain a charter for a bank, get themselves made commissioners, whose duty it is to sell what the villains call the stock; and, having made the necessary arrangements, or wound up the garter, they proceed to their game. There is a law made for the occasion, which says that the “scrip” shall be sold and delivered through the window of a certain building; that a proper time shall be allowed for the disposing of the whole; that if customers are not found for the whole in that time, then the commissioners shall divide the remaining shares among themselves. The “stock,” at first, owing to the intolerable ignorance of the suffering multitude, is always at a premium; so that it is advantageous for the commissioners to retain for themselves as many shares as they can ; which they do, by depriving others of the opportunity of getting them. In the first place they get a window about ten feet from the ground; they put to the shutters, and cut a hole in one of them, about six inches square, through which the money is to be paid and the “scrip” delivered. Nobody in the whole world but American republicans would ever have thought of such a scheme, and none but democrats would ever submit to it. If you were there, Sir, and wanted stock, you would have to take with you, to the place of business, two or three friends,-tall, powerful friends,-men that could fight and riot as well, or better, than any on the ground. You must all be dressed, or rather undressed, for the occasion; a pair of very thin trousers, for those in active service, being the uniform; the exertions required, and the thermometer, perhaps, at a hundred degrees, making any further attire not only superfluous, but an impediment. If, in three days' attack, you should be so far victorious as to get up to the wall, under the window, you will have effected that which hundreds cannot effect, though they may be beaten black and blue, and lose their trousers in the attempt. But we will suppose you and your friends have so far succeeded, and are actually under the windows, subject, of course, to an instantaneous removal, as all are now contending against you three. You will be punched and jostled very severely; all of which you must disregard, and proceed to be hoisted, or to hoist one of your friends, up to the hole in the shutter—full, already, with two or three hands that have held by the frame, and suspended as many bodies, for, perhaps, an hour. If it be you that is hoisted, you are now in a most favourable position; because, when one of them falls, from exhaustion, you can clap your hand in the place from which his is removed, and thus support your own weight till your strength is fairly gone, in the event of your friends, whose heads you stand upon, being driven from under you. You will have to fall at last, and most likely without obtaining the scrip; but you can console yourself by reflecting that yours is a case common to nine out of ten that have gained the same happy and advantageous position, and, indeed, to all that have not the ring, the ribbon, or countersign; without which, to get stock, none but the stranger thinks of making an attempt. Sir, I have seen all this, and more, over and over again. I have seen Philadelphian merchants perform this. I have seen men taken off the ground for dead. I have seen them entirely naked; and I have seen them, in other respects, in a state too shameful to be described. And the better to support what I say, which I can scarcely expect will be believed, by those to whom I am a stranger, without some sort of testimony, I take the following account of the “scrip selling” of two of these banks from a Philadelphian newspaper, called The Inquirer, dated May 19, 1832, which paper is one of the leading journals of the State of Pennsylvania; it is opposed to the commissioners of these two banks in politics, to which fact we are indebted for this faithfully recorded account of that which I myself did witness. Had the commissioners believed in the editor’s creed, their proceedings would have passed without his notice, and would have formed matter for the reporters of the opposite party:— “Strong censure is expressed by many of our citizens at the disgraceful proceedings which have taken place at the Masonic Hall with reference to the Girard Bank Stock. It appears, from all that we can ascertain upon the subject, that, in order to obtain a large portion of the stock, a few persons—three or four—engaged fifty or sixty muscular men, who stripped themselves of their best apparel, and substituted other in its place suitable to a riot; they then formed themselves into a cordon, and surrounded the three windows at which the stock was to be taken, and by noise, bustle, blows, and confusion, prevented peaceable citizens from obtaining shares. “In addition to this, however, another circumstance has been mentioned to us, which appears highly culpable. There are one hundred
and fifty-three commissioners, who have been appointed by the legislature, for the disposal of this stock. Each of these commissioners was, by the act of the legislature, permitted to take five shares on the first day, ten on the second, and fifty on the third; and, after that, they are allowed to take the balance of shares that might remain unsold. The whole number of shares to be disposed of at the commencement was thirty thousand. These, if a proper course of conduct had been pursued, might have all been disposed of during the first day; but, on the contrary, little more than a thousand shares were sold, it being the interest of the commissioners to protract the sale until after the three days. It is said, moreover, that certain of the commissioners avoided disposing of the shares to those who had forced their way to the window, having entered into contracts with relatives and friends to share the profits of the stock. Hence they reached over the hands and heads of others, in order to take the money from those with whom they had made bargains, and whose hands they recognised by wearing rings, white strings tied round their fingers, and other marks of designation.” The following is from the same paper, but appeared on another day, viz., May 23, 1832:— “The town meeting of yesterday afternoon, held with reference to the Girard Bank Stock, was very large. We heard the number of persons present estimated at upwards of three thousands “John Hare Powell, Esq., was called to the chair. Benjamin Tevis and John Naglee, Esquires, were elected vice-presidents. Condy Raguet and Richard Penn Smith were appointed secretaries. “The meeting was addressed in an eloquent and impassioned manner by Colonel John Swift. He gave a history of the proposed Girard Bank from the moment the scheme was first suggested; was severe upon the members of the legislature who were instrumental in the appointment of so large a number as one hundred and fifty-three commissioners; was very severe upon a majority of the commissioners, whom he denounced as guilty of a ‘breach of trust,’ and of “fraud.’ He protested that the whole thirty thousand shares might have been disposed of in a single day; that there was an evident intention on the part of the commission- } ers to protract the sale for self-advantage; asseverated that they made bargains with their friends outside, whose hands were recognised by concerted badges, rings, &c. He believed that the whole was a system of fraud and corruption, and as such the voice of public condemnation should be pronounced against it in the most emphatic language. “He concluded by moving a preamble and a set of resolutions, in which the spirit of his remarks was concentrated. After they had been read by the secretary, Mr. Hare Powell made a few observations adverse to their manner. He said he was not willing to denounce one hundrea
and fifty respectable men as guilty of fraud, and thus render himself liable to a prosecution for slander and a libel. He was utterly opposed to the proceedings at the Masonic Hall, but he thought the grievance complained of might be redressed by milder measures. “The resolutions were then put to the meeting, and carried by a very large majority.” The following is one of the resolutions:— “Resolved, That the open and palpable system of bargain and sale, the utter disregard of the people's rights, the scenes of riot, confusion, and disorder which have sprung from and characterised the proceedings of the commissioners, are sources of sincere regret and humiliation, and call loudly for such an expression of public opinion as shall not Qnly bring home to the authors of this disgrace the odium which they merit, but shall redeem the character and redress the wrongs of an insulted and injured community.” From the same paper, The Inquirer, I extract the following account of “Taking Stock from the Western Bank:”— “Yesterday was the last day assigned by the act of the legislature for the people to subscribe for the stock of the Western Bank. As 50 shares might be taken by each person on this last day, the struggle and excitement were commensurately increased. We were among the spectators of the scene during a few minutes of yesterday. It is impossible, without rendering ourselves liable to the charge of exaggeration, to give an adequate idea of the disgraceful and inhuman proceedings. There were probably 5000 spectators—many of them, however, interested in the struggle that was going on among those who were attempting to force their way to the window and obtain scrip. These latter, about 300, were for the most part stout and athletic men, a large proportion of them stripped of every vestment but their pantaloons and shoes, and many of them distinguished by black eyes, bruised limbs, and gashed faces—sad indications of their struggles for stock. “The building from which the stock was dispensed is a four-story brick house, on the north side of Market-street, and immediately below Twelfth. All its lower windows were closed, and over the one through which the stock was delivered boards were nailed, through which was a solitary aperture sufficiently large to admit two hands at one time. Around this window was a solid phalanx of men, wedged together as compactly as living beings could be wedged, some of them writhing and struggling to reach the aperture, others fainting, shrieking with pain, and beseeching a passage outward in order to save their lives. Many were dragged out like dead bodies, after ropes had been attached to their limbs. Not one-fifth of those who reached the windows were able to remain there a sufficient length of time for the commissioners to take
their money and hand them their certificates; and some who had accomplished this object were so weakened and exhausted by the effort, that their certificates fell from their nerveless hands before they could effect their escape. Shouts, huzzas, cheers, and imprecations, were blended; and while some attempted to revive the strength and protract the courage of their friends by fanning, &c., others adopted another plan, and administered to them potations of whiskey. “The scene throughout was disgraceful, shocking to humanity, and discreditable to the character of the city. Many of those present appeared to entertain the opinion that the fault was in the law, and the makers of the law should be held responsible. Others appeared to think that the law, although a bad one, was not liberally and disinterestedly construed by the commissioners; and that, instead of there being but one window opened, there should have been twenty, or at all events an adequate number.”—Inquirer, 1832. To give you an idea, Sir, how stock, as it is called, is paid for, be good enough to read the following extract from the minutes of the proceedings of the Girard Bank in 1836. The legislature, I ought to observe, had given the proprietors authority to add to their stock:— “Resolved, that the stock may be paid up in full at the time it is taken, or at any time hereafter ; and, for the greater convenience of the stockholders, the bank will discount the notes of such as may desire it for forty dollars per share, on a hypothecation of the stock, at sixty days’ date, and renew the same for sixty days, from time to time, on payment of five dollars per share at each renewal, until the whole shall be paid.” - Here, then, we have the manner in which American banks are made, and in which the public money is squandered. These are two real democratic banks, commonly called, on account of their sterling worth, “Jackson Banks,” meaning that they belong to the Jackson party, which so warmly professed to love justice, hard money, and the dear people, when they thought the people would be satisfied with no other professions; but when it was found, in 1838, that the bankers of the state of New York had led the way in purchasing the dear, but, of late, turbulent people, of that state, and had driven them to the polls like beasts to the slaughter, then the “hard-money democrats” of other states began to alter their tone, as you will see from the following extract from an “Address of the Democratic Committee of Correspondence for the city of Philadelphia, adopted at a meeting of the Committee, held on Wednesday, May 23rd, 1838, and ordered to be printed.