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fear that it will be broken down and prostrated in the dust. Depress them as it may, the energy and industry of the people will enable them to rise again. We have for a long time carried a load of bad government on our shoulders, and we are still able to bear up under it. But I do not see that, for that reason, we should be willing and eager to carry it. I do not see why it should prevent us from wishing to lessen it as much as possible, if not to throw it off altogether, when we know that we can get along so much easier and faster without it. While we are exerting ourselves with renewed industry and economy to recover from its biighting effects; while we plough the land and plough the sea ; — let us hasten the return of things to their proper state, by such political measures as will best accomplish the desired end. Let us inform our public servants of our wishes, and pursue such a course as will compel them to obey us.
In conclusion, my fellow-citizens, I return you my thanks for the patience and attention with which you have listened to me, and pray the beneficent Giver of all good, that he may keep you under the shadow of his wing, and continue to bless you with peace and prosperity
DELIVERED IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, SEPTEM
BER 14, 1837, ON THE BILL TO POSTPONE THE PAYMENT OF THE FOURTH INSTALMENT OF THE DEPOSIT TO THE STATES.
MR. WEBSTER rose, and said that the importance of the present crisis, and the urgency of this occasion, were such as to lead him earnestly to desire that some measures of adequate relief might come from the quarter which alone had the power to effect any thing, by the majority it commanded. Much as I differ from them, (said Mr. W.,) I would be glad to accept any measure of substantial relief which they might bring forward. I think, sir, I see such a necessity for relief as never before, within my recollection, has existed in this country; and I regret to be obliged to say that the measures proposed by the President, in his Message to Congress, and reiterated by the Secretary of the Treasury, in his report to the same body, only regard one object, and are, in their tendency, only directed to one branch of partial relief. The evils, however, under which the community now suffers, (said Mr. W.,) though related, and of the same family, are yet capable of distinct consideration. In the first place, there are the wanis of the Treasury, arising from the stoppage of payments and the falling off of the revenue. This is an exigency requiring the consideration of Congress : it is an evil threatening to suspend the functions of at least one department of the Government, unless it be remedied. Another, and a greater evil, is, the prostration of credit, the interruption brought upon all business transactions, arising from the suspension of all the local banks throughout the country, with some few and trifling exceptions. Hence have proceeded a prostration of the local currency, and a serious obstruction and difficulty thrown in the way of buying and selling. A third want is, the want of an accredited paper medium, equal to specie, having equal credit over all parts of the country, capable of serving for the payment of debts and carrying on the internal business of the country throughout and between the different and distant sections of this great Union. These three evils, though they are coëxistent and cognate in their being, cannot be met by the same measures of relief: if relief is given to the one, it does not follow that you will relieve the others; if you replenish VOL. III.
the Treasury, and thus bring a remedy to that evil, this brings no relief to the disordered currency. And again : if the local currency is relieved, it does not supply the other want, namely, that of a universally accredited medium.
It has, no doubt, struck the country generally that the most important objection to the Message is, that it says nothing about relief to the country, directly and mainly; the whole amount of the proposition it contains relates to the Government itself; the interest of the community is treated as collateral, incidental, and contingent. So, in the communication made by the Secretary of the Treasury, the state of the currency, the condition in which the commerce and trade of the country now are, is not looked at as a prominent and material object. The Secretary's report, as well as the Message itself, exclusively regards the interest of the Government, forgetting or passing by the people. The outpourings of the Secretary, which are very considerable in quantity, are under seven heads, the exact number of the seven vials of which we read; but the contents of none of these is concocted or prepared in reference to the benefit of the community; all the medicine is intended for the Government Treasury, and there is none for the sickness and disease of society, except collaterally, remotely, and by-the-by. It is, however, to the credit of the President that he has given, in an unequivocal and intelligible manner, his reasons for not recommending a plan for the relief of the country ; and they are that, according to his view, it is not within the constitutional province of Government. I confess (said Mr. W.) this declaration is to me quite astounding, and I cannot but think that, when it comes to be considered, it will produce a shock upon the whole country. This avowed disregard of the public distress, upon the ground of alleged want of power; this exclusive concern for the interest of Government and revenue ; this broad line of distinction, now, for the first time, drawn between the interests of the Government and the interests of the People, must certainly present a new era in our politics. For one, (said Mr. W.,) I consider Government as but a mere agency; it acts not for itself, but for the country; the whole end and design of its being is to promote the general interests of the community. Peculiar interests, selfish interests, exclusive regard for itself, are wholly incompatible with the objects of its institution, and convert it from its true character as an agency for the people, into a separate dominant power, with purposes and objects exclusively its own.
Holding, Mr. President, opinions on this subject, and being prepared to stand by and maintain them, I am certainly rejoiced at the clear shape which the question has at last assumed. Now, he that runs may read; there are none but can see what the question is: Is there any duty incumbent on this Government to superintend the actual currency of the country? has it any thing to do beyond the regulation of the gold and silver coin? In that state of mixed currency which existed when the Constitution was formed, and which has existed ever since, is it, or is it not, a part of the duty of the Government to exercise a supervisory care and concern over that which constitutes by far the greater part of that currency?
In other words, may this Government abandon to the States and to the local banks, without control or supervision, the unrestrained issue of paper for circulation, without any attempt, on its own part, to establish a paper medium which shall be equivalent to specie, and universally accredited all over the country? Or, Mr. President, to put the question in still other words, since this Government has the regulation of trade, not only between the United States and foreign states, but between the several States themselves, has it nevertheless no power over that which is the most important and essential agent or instrument of trade, the actual circulating medium? Now, Mr. President, on these questions, as already said, I entertain sentiments wholly different from those which the Message expresses.
It is, (said Mr. W.,) in my view, an imperative duty imposed upon this Government by the Constitution, to exercise a supervisory care and control over all that is in the country assuming the nature of a currency, whether it be metal or whether it be paper; all the coinage of the country is placed in the power of the Federal Government; no State, by its stamp, can give value to a brass farthing. The power to regulate trade and commerce between the United States and foreign or Indian nations, and also between the respective States themselves, is expressly conferred by the Constitution upon the General Government. Now, it is clear that the power to regulate commerce between the States carries with it, not impliedly, but necessarily and directly, a full power of regulating the essential element of commerce, viz. the currency of the country, the money, which constitutes the life and soul of commerce. We live in an age when paper money is an essential element in all trade between the States; its use is inseparably connected with all commercial transactions. That it is so, is now evident, since by the suspension of those institutions from which this kind of money emanates, all business is comparatively at a stand. Now, sir, (said Mr. W.,) what I maintain is simply this, that it surely is the duty of some body to take care of the currency of the country; it is a duty imposed upon some power in this country, as is done in every other civilized nation in the world.
I repeat, sir, that it is the duty of some Government or other to supervise the currency. Surely, if we have a paper medium in the country, it ought only to exist under the sanction and supervision of the Government of the country. Now, sir, if the General Gove ernment does not exercise this supervision, who else, I should like to know, is to do it? Who supposes that it belongs to any of the State Governments, for example, to provide for or regulate the currency between New Orleans and New York ?
The idea has been thrown out that it is not the duty of the Gove ernment to make provision for domestic exchanges, and the practice of other Governments has been referred to; but, I think, in this particular a great mistake has been committed. It is certainly far otherwise in England: she provides for them most admirably, though by means not perhaps altogether in our power: she and other nations, however, provide for them, and it is plain and obvious that if we are to have a paper medium of general credit in this country, it must be under the sanction and supervision of the Government. Such a currency is itself a proper provision for exchanges. If there be a paper medium always equivalent to coin, and of equal credit in every part of the country, this itself becomes a most important instrument of exchange. Currency and exchange thus become united ; in providing for one, Government provides for the other. If the Government will do its duty on the great subject of the currency, the mercantile and industrious classes will feel the benefit through all the operations of exchange. No doubt some modes of establishing such a currency may be more favorable to exchange than others; but by wbatever mode established, such a currency must be useful to a great extent. The question, therefore, comes to this, whether we are to have such a medium. I understand there are gentlemen who are opposed to all paper money, who would have no medium whatever in circulation but gold and silver: now this, at all events, is an intelligible proposition ; but as to those who say that there may be a paper medium, and yet that there shall be no such medium universally receivable, and of general credit, however honest the purposes of such gentlemen may be, I cannot perceive the sanity of such views; I cannot comprehend the utility of their intentions; I can have no faith, sir, in any such systems. Now, I would ask this plain question, whether any one imagines that all the duty of Government, in respect to the currency, is comprised in merely taking care that the gold and silver coin be not debased. If this be all its duty, that duty is performed, for there is no debasement of them; they are good and sound; if this is all the duty of Government, it has done its duty; but if Government is bound to regulate commerce and trade, and, consequently, to exercise oversight and care over that which is the essential element of all the transactions of commerce, then Government has done nothing.
I shall not, however, (said Mr. W.,) enter into this question today, nor perhaps on any early occasion; my opinions upon it are all well known, and I leave it with great confidence to the judgment of the country, only expressing my strong conviction that