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ing of Mr. Whiton from the council and Mr. Darling from this house, acied in examination, and by authority of which the latter
gentleman submitted his report to the house, on the 15th December last.
This report was accompanied by the following resolution, and on motion of Mr. Trowbridge, 1000 copies ordered to be printed, to wit:
Resolved, by the council and house of representatives, that the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Company has violated its churter by issuing “ evidences of debt" for general circulation, contrary to an unequivocal prohibition contained therein.
Resolved, further, That said institution has violated the statutes of the territory, in the “ act to restrain unauthorized banking, and for other purposes,' in the following provisions, to wit: No incorporated company, without being authorized by law, shall be in any manner concerned in issuing notes, or other evidences of debt, to be loaned or put into circulation as money.' 'No person or association of persons, or body corporate, except such bodies corporate as are expressly authorized by law, shall issue any bills or promissory notes, or other evidences of debt, for the purpose of loaning them, or putting them into circulation as money, unless thereto expressly authorized by law.?
On the 20th December, the above resolution was taken up on motion of Mr. Darling, and the following amendments offered; and on his motion again laid on the table, to wit:
Resolved, That a joint select committee of three from each house be appointed, with instructions to report a bill, with the following provisions, 10 wit:
Isi. To prohibit the said company from issuing any printed certificates or evidences of debt, on penally of having its charter declared forfeited.
2nd. To prohibit the loan of such issues, on penalty of the note, bond, mortgage, or other security, given therefor, being null and void, and the debt uncollectable.
31. To prohibit their being circulated as money, on the penalty, of five dollars on every certificate thus passed, to be recovered of any person paying or receiving the same; and providing that their receipt shall not be regarded as payment and discharge of any debt. Or to make such other provisions as in the opinion of the committee will more effectually accomplish the objects conlemplated by this resolution.
On the 21st December, the journal is as follows:
The Speaker laid before the house a communication from Alerder Mitchell, secretary of the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Ilsyrance Company, (see appendix document B.) which was read.
Mr. Capron moved that the communication du lie on the table until the 6th day of January next, be printed, and made the order of the day, and every day thereafter until disposed of.
Mr. Darling moved to amend the said motion by strking out the word “sixth” and inserting the word "bird.”
And the question being put on said amendment, it passed in the negative, ayes 10, noes 12.
Mr. Elmore, moved to amend the motion as follows: "that the communication of Alexander Mitchell be printed and referred to the comınittee on corporations, with instructions to report there. on on the sixth day of January next, or as soon thereafier as practicable."
Mr. Capron accepted the amendment and the proposition passed in the affirmative.
On the same day, it was on motion of Mr. Elmore, ordered that all papers relative to the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Company, be referred to the committee on corporations.
The minority committee have deemed it important to set forth as above, the rise and progress of this question, before proceeding generally to discuss it.
The proceedings of the house, last mentioned abore, were had on the 21st of December, by which the committee sere instructed to report on the sixth of January; and lest it should be asked why there has been such delay in the action of the committee, it may be proper to observe, that leave of absence having been granted for some days to several members, and among others to two gentlemen of the committee, it was found impossible to take action at all till their return. It is further to be remarked, that another communication was expected from the secretary of the company.
In the absence of any instructions to the committee on corporations, the minority are not clear as to what action is expected from the committee, by the house, especially as it is already in possession of a most able and conclusive report, from the joint select committee, and made by Mr. Darling.
Presuming, however, that they had a general power over the
subject, soon after the return of the two gentlemen who had been absent on leave, the committee met, and did so from time to time, until it was finally setiled that they could not agree upon a report. During their sessions, however, to wit: on the 11th of January inst., the committee agreed on a list of interrogatories to be propounded to Mr. Mitchell, which was furnished him by the chairman, and to which he gave the following answers: (vide appen. dix, C.)
The minority of the committee have carefully read all the papers and the act of incorporation; and see no reason for dissenting, in ary important particular, from the views set forth in Mr. Darling's report. That report and the accompanying resolutions distinctly allege against the company, “ that it has exceeded its charter, by issuing evidences of debt, designed for use as a circulating medium." It may be supposed that the coinpany by its secretary, Mr. Mitchell, denies this charge; but the committee do not so understand him. In his communication to the house, inade on the 9th inst., (vide appendix D.) he calls the insurance company “a moneyed institution"-alias a bank; and although he “questions both the law and the fact” as set forth in Mr. Darling's report, yet he intimates that the company have not exercised banking privileges without right. He "admits that doubts and differences of opinion have long existed as to the extent and just construction of its privileges!!—and further says, that “aware of these difficulties, the officers in the outset, consulted counsel in whose ability ard experience they could confide, relative to the extent and nature of their powers;" and adds, that “ they have not knowingly transcended what they have been instructed to believe were their rightful powers." From all which it would appear that the “position assumed by the company is not that they have not exercised banking powers, but that they have not exer. cised them in violation of their charter; or in other words, that these powers are contained in their act of incorporation.
Whatever o:her powers may have been conferred on them by this act, (approved February 28, 1839) those of banking could not be included; as the 2d section has the following: “ Provided nothing herein contained shall give the said company banking privileges."
It is not denied, but on the contrary it is conceded by the secretary, that the company does furnish a paper currency to a large
extent, in the shape of certificates of deposite, drafts, &c. his further admitted that it receives deposites and loans money. Tie question is, are these banking privileges ?
The privilege of furnishing a paper circulation, to be used as money, whether in the shape of certificates of deposite, draits, checks or ordinary notes, thereby substituting their creilut 10 an unlimited extent, in the place of money, and drawing interest thereon, is certainly a very great one, and which is not otly not granted to individuals or corporations in this territory, bat the ex. ercise of it by either is made a penal offence by our siatute. I: is one pre-eminently exercised by modern bankers, and the one the most highly valued by them, and for which they always in.cs! obstinately contend; and by the exercise of which they vare at the same time amassed great wealth to themseles and int.cied the deepest injuries on the public. Deprive them of this-of the privilege of furnishing a paper circulation, of substitcing their credit for money, and the remaining privileges of bankers, 10 wit, of receiving deposites and discounting notes, are considered of little importance.
But what are banking privileges?
“ Banking powers have been defined by the supreme court of the state of New York, (9 Wendell's Reports, p, 353) to consist in the right of issuing negotiable notes, discounting nules and receiving deposites.”
Again, the principal attributes of a bank are the right to issue negotiable notes, discount notes and receive deposites." (Cov en's Report, 2d, 7, 10.)
“ A bank of circulation issues bills or notes of its own, intended to be the circulating currency or medium of exchanges, iostead of gold and silver.” (Angel & Ames on Corporations, page 33 -note.)
Such, then, are banking privileges as defined by the courts. I: follows that this company cannot exercise such privileges without a violation of their charter.
The objection or excuse of the company, that their certificates of deposite are not negotiable, or banker's notes, may as well be met here,
The following definition of banker's notes, is from "Chitty on Bills,” 553,551:
“ BankEK'S CASII NOTES, formerly called goldsmith's noies, are
in effect promissory notes, given by bankers, who were originally goldsmiths. From Lord Holt's judgment in the case of Bullen vs. Crips, it appears that those notes were attempted to be introduced by goldsmiths about thirty years previous to the reign of Queen Anne, and were generally returned by the merchants as negotiable; but Lord Holt as strenuously opposed their negotiability as he did that of common promissory notes; and they were , not generally seuled to be negotiable until the statute of Anne was passed, which relates to those as well as common promissory notes. They appear originally to have been given by bankers to their customers, as acknowledgments for their having received money for their use; they may be, and generally are, payable to bearer. At present, cash notes are seldom made except by country bankers, their use having been suspended by the introduction of checks. When formerly issued by Lundun bankers, they were sometimes called shop notes. In point of forin, they are similar to common promissory notes, payable to bearer on demand, and are stated in pleading as such." * * * * * * « On account of their being payable on demand, they are considered as cash, whether payable to order or bearer.”
The evidences of debt issued by this company, are of two kinds, to wit: certificates of deposite, and drafts or checks on George Smith, & Co., of Chicago, Illinois. Are these "banker's notes," “ circulating as currency or a medium of exchange?"
In the first place, they are so in appearance-they are on the finest of slik paper, handsomely engraved, with suitable devices.
They are treated as such by the public; they pass from hand to hand as cash, and are found with men of business-in counting houses, broker's offices, &c., always side by side with other bank notes,
They are treated as such by the secretary of the company, who classes them with other bank notes, and exchanges, as appears by the following, taking from the Milwaukee Democrat, of the 5th of January, instant:
“RATES OF EXCIIANGE. Corrected for the Milwaukee Democrat by Alexander Mitchell,
Secretary of the Wisconsin Marine and Fire Insurance Com. pany, Milwaukee. SPECIE, - - - - - - Par,