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stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many, and in favor of compromise and gradual reform in our code of laws and system of political economy.
I have now done my duty to my country. If sustained by my fellow-citizens, I shall be grateful and happy; if not, I shall find in the motives which impel me, ample grounds for contentment and peace. In the difficulties which surround us, and the dangers which threaten our institutions, there is cause for neither dismay nor alarm. For relief and deliverance, let us firmly rely on that kind Providence which, I am sure, watches with peculiar care over the destinies of our republic, and on the intelligence and wisdom of our countrymen. Through His abundant goodness, and their patriotic devotion, our liberty and union will be preserved.
To the Senate of the United States :
The bill entitled “ An act to incorporate the subscribers to the Fiscal Bank of the United States,” which originated in the Senate, has been considered by me, with a sincere desire to conform my action in regard to it to that of the two Houses of Congress. By the constitution it is made my duty either to approve the bill by the signing act, or to return it, with my objections, to the house in which it originated. I cannot conscientiously give it my approval, and I proceed to discharge the duty required of me by the constitution to give my reasons for disapproving
The power of Congress to create a national bank to operate per se over the Union, has been a question of dispute from the origin of our government. Men most justly and deservedly esteemed for their high intellectual en:
dowments, their virtue, and their patriotism, have, in regard to it, entertained different and conflicting opinions. Congresses have differed. The approval of one President has been followed by the disapproval of another. The people at different times have acquiesced in decisions both for and against. The country has been, and still is, deeply agitated by this unsettled question. It will suffice for me to say, that my own opinion has been uniformly proclaimed to be against the exercise of any such power by this government. On all suitable occasions, during a period of twenty-five years, the opinion thus entertained has been unreservedly expressed. I declared it in the legislature of my native state. In the House of Representatives of the United States it has been openly vindicated by me.
In the Senate chamber, in the presence and hearing of many who are at this time members of that body, it has been affirmed and re-affirmed, in speeches and reports there made, and by votes there recorded. In popular assemblies I have unhesitatingly announced it; and the last public declaration which I have made, and that but a short time before the late presidential election, I referred to my previously expressed opinions as being those then entertained by me; with a full knowledge of the opinions thus entertained, and never conceded, I was elected by the people Vice-President of the United States. By the occurrence of a contingency provided for by the constitution, and arising under an impressive dispensation of Providence, I succeeded to the presidential office. Before entering upon the duties of that office, I took an oath that I would “preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States.”
Entertaining the opinions alluded to, and having taken this oath, the Senate and the country will see that I could not give my sanction to a measure of the character described, without surrendering all claim to the respect of honorable men - all confidence on the part of the people . - all self-respect - all regard for moral and religious obligations; without an observance of which, no government can be prosperous, and no people can be happy. It would be to commit a crime which I would not wil.
fully commit to gain any earthly reward, and which would justly subject me to the ridicule and scorn of all virtu
I deem it entirely unnecessary at this time to enter upon the reasons which have brought my mind to the convictions I feel and entertain on this subject. They have over and over again been repeated. If some of those who have preceded me in this high office have entertained and avowed different opinions, I yield all confidence that their convictions were sincere. I claim only to have the same measure meted out to myself. Without going further into the argument, I will say that, in looking to the powers of this government to collect, safely keep, and disburse the public revenue, and incidentally regulate the commerce and exchanges, I have not been able to satisfy myself that the establishment, by this government, of a bank of discount, in the ordinary acceptation of that term, was a necessary means, or one demanded by propriety, to execute those powers.
What can the local discounts of a bank have to do with the collecting, safe-keeping, and disbursing of the revenue?
So far as the mere discounting of a paper is concerned, it is quite immaterial to this question, whether the discount is obtained at a state bank or a United States Bank.
They are both equally local — both beginning and both ending in a local accommodation. What influence have local discounts, granted by any form of banks, in the regulating of the currency and the exchanges ? Let the history of the late United States Bank aid us in answering this inquiry.
For several years after the establishment of that institution, it dealt almost exclusively in local discounts, and during that period the country was, for the most part, disappointed in the consequences anticipated from its incorporation. A uniform currency was not provided, exchanges were not regulated, and little or nothing was added to the general circulation; and in 1820 its embarrassments had become so great, that the directors petitioned Congress to repeal that article of the charter which
made its notes receivable every where, in payment of public dues.
It had, to that period, dealt to but a very small extent in exchanges, either foreign or domestic; and as late as 18 its operations in that line amounted to little more than $7,000,000 per annum: a very rapid augmentation soon after occurred, and in 1833 its dealings in the exchanges amounted to upward of $100,000,000, including the sales of its own drafts; and all these immense transactions were effected without the employment of extraordinary means. The currency of the country became sound, and the negotiations in the exchanges were carried on at the lowest possible rates.
The circulation was increased to more than $22,000,000, and the notes of the bank were regarded as equal to specie all over the country; thus showing, most conclusively, that it was their capacity to deal in exchanges, and not in local discounts, which furnished these facilities and advantages. It may be remembered, too, that notwithstanding the immense transactions of the bank, in the purchase of exchange, the losses were merely nominal, while in the time of discounts, the suspended debt was enormous, and found most disastrous to the bank and the country. Its power of local discount has, in fact, proved to be a fruitful source of favoritism and corruption, alike destructive to the public morals and to the general weal.
The capital invested in banks of discount in the United States at this time exceeds $350,000,000; and if the discounting of local paper could have produced any beneficial effects, the United States ought to possess the soundest currency in the world; but the reverse is lamentably the fact.
Is the measure now under consideration of the objectionable character to which I have alluded ? It is clearly so, unless by the 16th fundamental article of the 11th section it is made otherwise. That article is in the following words:
“ The directors of the said corporation shall establish one competent office of discount and deposit in any state
in which two thousand shares shall have been subscribed, or may be held, whenever, upon application of the legislature of such state, Congress may, by law, require the
And the said directors may also establish one or more competent offices of discount and deposit in any territory or district of the United States, and in any state, with the assent of such state; and when established, the said office or offices shall be only withdrawn or removed by the said directors, prior to the expiration of this charter, with the previous assent of Congress.
Provided, in respect to any state which shall not, at the first session of the legislature thereof, held after the passage of this act, by resolution, or other usual legislative proceeding, unconditionally assent or dissent to the establishment of such office or offices within it, such assent of the said state shall be thereafter presumed; and provided, nevertheless, That, whenever it shall become necessary and proper for carrying into execution any of the powers granted by the Constitution, to establish an office or offices in any of the states whatever, and the establishment thereof shall be directed by-law, it shall be the duty of the said directors to establish such office or offices accordingly.”.
It will be seen by this clause that the directors are invested with the fullest power to establish a branch in any state which has yielded its assent, and, having established such branch, it shall not afterward be withdrawn except by order of Congress. Such assent is to be implied, and to have the force and sanction of an actually expressed assent, “provided, in respect to any state which shall not, at the first session of the legislature held thereof after the passage of this act, by resolution or other usual legislative proceeding, unconditionally assent or dissent to the establishinent of such office or offices within it, such assent of such state shall be presumed.” The assent or dissent is to be expressed unconditionally, at the first session of the legislature, by some formal legislative act; and if not so expressed, its assent is to be implied, and the directors are therefore invested with power, at such time thereafter as they may please, to establish branches, which cannot afterward be withdrawn, except by resolve of Congress : no matter what may be the cause which may operate with the