View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

DUANE
addressed to the
Letters,
people of the United States,
in vindication of his conduct

ft

.

L.ETTERS,
ADDRESSED TO

THE PEOPLE OF THE UIWTED STATES,
nr VINDICATION

OF HIS CONDrCT,

BT

Wm.

J.

DUAWE,

LATK SECHETAKT OF THE TREASUUT.

1§34.

Euiherus replied, ' I should find it very difficult to submit to be a slave.'
•
the magistrates in republics, and all that are in employYet,' said Socrates,
ments, are not therefore reputed slaves on the contrary they are esteemed

•'
'

'

•

*

'

'

'

:

how it will,' said Eutherus, I can never bring my mind
'to suffer that another man should blame me.' 'And yet,' said Socrates,
you would be very much puzzled to find any one action, whose every cir'

honourable.'

'

Be

•

it

•

'

*

'

•

'

'

'

'

'

'

* '

cumstance was exempt from blame. For it is very difficult to be so exact as
not to fail sometimes, and even though we should not have failed, it is hard
to escape the censure of bad judges And I should very much wonder if in
what you now do, no man should find any thing amiss. What you are, there:

observe is, to avoid those who make it their business to find fault
"
without reason, and to have to do with more equitable persons.'
fore, to

" The Memorable
Things of Socrates."

f

—Book

II.

p. 85.

TO

THE PEOPLE
OF

THE U]¥ITED STATES.
LETTER
Fellow-Citizens

I.

;

When I was rudely thrust from office, on the 23d of September last, I resolved, for the reasons stated in my letter to
Governor Tazewell, to rest upon my acts as an officer and my
reputation as a man, unless the one should be misrepresented, or
And in order that the responsibility of any
disclosure of past occurrences should rest
upon the President,
I notified him, ere I left
Washington, on the 27th of September

the other assailed.

last, that

I

should hold him accountable for the malconduct of

the publisher of his

and that, as the public repubetween the chief magistrate
would avoid a controversy, and only repel
official

paper

;

tation usually suffered in conllicts

and e>f-ministers, 1
which he should sanction.
So little effisct had this suggestion, and so necessary did it
appear to the President to prevent sympathy for me, which would
be censure upon himself, that the official paper continued, after
assaults

my retirement to private life, td circulate the most flagitious imand j'et, when the Presiilent saw,
putations upon my character
in a public pVint, an extract from one of
my private letters, pub:

lished without

he affected

consent, and containing nothing but the truth,
very much oifended and, instead of directing

my

to be

A

;

4

2

•i
a refutation of

what

I

(

had

said,

)

he broke the seals that closed

the cabinet and our correspondence, in order to sustain a false
and malignant attack upon me on the 19th of November last.

was necessary to notice this but, even on that occasion, I
become an assailant nor did I invite the people to look
the stage, much less behind the scenes, where their dearest
upon
rights and interests are sported with by incognito performers.
It

;

did not

On

;

the contrary, I merely published a brief defensive address,

so little indicative of resentment, that it was pronounced,
by dispassionate men, as reprehensibly mild.

even

^

Several grave questions, connected with my case, nave long
been discussed, not only in congress, but throughout the country. The instructions given to the President's agent for making
inquiries as to state banks, are before the senate of the United
in my own defence, I ought to give some explanation
them. Doubts have been expressed on the floor of that
respecting
body, whether there had been due foresight and warning as to
and it is due to myself at least, that I
the evils that now exist

States;

and

;

should show, that in this respect, as well as in others, I did my
duty. In September last, the President appealed to the people, by
publishing his reasons for directing a removal of the public deposites; and as soon as congress assembled, my successor in the
treasury department presented a statement in relation to his
agency in removing them. It seems, therefore, to be a duty to

not to the public, to present, in detail, my reasons for
the President; and, at least his friends cannot complain
resisting
of my appealing to the people, since in doing so I barely imitate

myself,

his

if

own example.

had heretofore felt any doubts of the propriety of addressing you, they would be now removed.
correspondence and
conversations with the President were again misrepresented in
his official paper of the 7th instant ; and, at the same time vile
If I

My

aspersions, palpably sanctioned

So

even

by him, were again

cast

upon

no obligation of a public nature
that,
my reputation.
some explanaj^ion now, it is demanded and justified by
required
if

new display of vindictiveness.
Under ordinary circumstances some

this

of

my

fellow-citizens

might, perhaps with propriety, censure any exhibition of documents, or exposition offsets on my part; but, I trust, that they
will now reflect, that it is in self defence I resort to the course
pursued by the President himself; and that I have preserved

^

#•?.

(

3

^^

)

^

silence for nearly five months, amidst invitations and even taunts
side, and a slanderous persecution on th&,other.

#

on one

Without saying, therefore, at the outset, how far I may go, I
consider myself released from all impediments, but those, which
a sense of duty to the
public and respect for myself may impose.

n

Although personally unacquainted with General Jackson until
1829, I ardently supported him as a canclidate for the Presidency

as early as 1823.

thought that fi^f country owed him

I

a large debt of
gratitude ; that it would be useful to our institutions, to have in the executive chair a person unaccustomed to

intrigues, but too prevalent at the seat of

government; and that

who had

given such sound advice to Mr. Monroe, whilst
would never contradict in practice himself, what he
President,
had then declared to be the only patriotic and, honourable course
of the chief magistrate of a free and
enlightened people.
In 1828, I renewed my exertions in his favour, at no little sahe,

crifice of personal
friendship

and pecuniary interest, and, when
he was successful, I heartily rejoiced but, I confess, that as soon
as I saw some former professions contradicted
by subsequent
;

I
practice, I felt sincere regret.
respected the President's intentions, and flattered myself that he would return to the path,

from which he might have incautiously wandered. I was not,
however, a partisan General Jackson, now in power, did not
need aid from me. Men, who had stood in the ranks of his op;

ponents when I advocated him, passed over to his side when
he won "the spoils of victory," and got no inconsiderable portion of them. As to myself personally, I desired to
partake of the
fruits of the

triumph, only as a

member

of the great family of the

people.
It was not to be expected, that I should cease to
support the
general course of the President, because he erred, as I believed,
in various instances much less, that I should cease to be a member
;

of a party, to which

I had always
belonged, because its favourite
had not redeemed all his pledges. Accordingly, I sustained such of
his measures as were consistent with the fundamental principles

of the old republican party and, without considering who advoAnd as
cated, I censured such as were at variance with them.
;

on the subject of the Bank of the Uuited States more than on any
other, I have been grossly slandered, with the sanction of the P e-

(

4

)

have invariably opposed that institution,
or not, I adhere to the doctrine
of the Virginia school as to a national bank and it is quite as arbitrary to condemn my independent exercise of judgment on this
point, as it was in the President to expect me to change at will
sident,

I

atff. still

will add, that

do

so.

I

Whether wisely

;

my

convictions in relation to the public deposites, or to accept

his reasons for doing an act,

Whilst alluding

which

my own judgment condemned.

to this subject, I will take occasion to repel

the vile imputations of the

official

paper, in relation to

my

mo-

removal of the deposites. Under the President's sanction, it has been insinuated, that my course was dictated by a corrupt understanding with the Bank of the United
States; and, in the official paper of the 15th instant, I am even
called "the emissary of the bank."
Without any desire for office on my part, I had been called to
a high station. The selection was generally approved of; and
yet in less than four months, I was contumeliously removed. To
excuse this act of outrage, became a matter of much consequence.
Sympathy for me would be condemnation of my oppressor and,
tives for resisting a

;

therefore, the official paper sought to infuse into the public mind
suspicions as to my purity
suspicions, which found a ready re-

—

ception on the part of men, who, being base themselves, naturally supposed, that I could not have made a sacrifice of office under
the public, without an equivalent elsewhere.

In the community of which I

devoted friends of the President

;

not one, who believes the insinuations of the offito have any foundation.
So far, therefore, as my impaper

think, there
cial

am a member, there are many
who disagree with me but I

is

mediate fellow-citizens are concerned, I might with propriety
treat these derogatory imputations with silent contempt.
But,
beyond this community I am not generally known, and hence
it
may be expected by my fellow-citizens at large, that I should
notice

them

;

and

I

feel

the less disinclination to do so, since

distinguished senators have condescended in their places to repel
similar imputations.
Accordingly, I pronounce each and every
assertion or insinuation of the official paper, imputing corrupt
or improper motives to me for resisting a removal of the depo-

be false, foul, and malignant. Further, I aver, that there
not even a colourable pretext or apology for any of the imputations cast upon me.
I have never, directly or indirectly, received, nor have I ever had the promise or expectation of resites, to
is

(

5

)

celving, any loan, fee, gilt, benefit, favour, consideration, or

other advantage whataoever from tiie Bank of the United States,
or from any of its officers.
I have never been
jDresently nor
contingently responsible to it, nor to any of its officers. 1 have
had no direct or indirect correspondence or communication with
the bank, nor with any officer thereof, with the exception of let-

on

department, and with the exception also
tlfe president of the bank, enclosing to me, as a friend of the late Mr. Girard, his oration on
the occasion of laying the corner stone of tlJ$.^Girard
College,
on the 4tli of July last to which letter I merely
gave such a
reply as courtesy calls for on like occasions. Fur from desiring
to favour the bank, I have at all
proper times avowed and
maintained my opposition to it. And, if any words can
express
more fully and emphatically my absolute freedom from all
design
to favour the bank, I desire that
they may be considered as
ters

file

in the treasury

of a single

letter,

received from

;

believed that the bank was entitled to tKe
deposites acto solemn contract ; I believed that it had a
cording
right to
them, unless the secretary of the treasury could give
used.

I

satisfactory

reasons to congress for removing them. As
secretary of the treasury I could not give reasons satisfactory to myself. I believed
that the act of removing the deposites would be
unnecessary,
unwise, vindictive, arbitrar}-, and unjust ; and although opposed
to the bank, 1 would not consent to be made an instrument to

any such scheme, as that which was proposed. Therefore,
laying aside, as I was bound to do, my personal prepossessions
as a man, I acted solely from
considerations, which I dared not
effect

to disregard as

an

officer.

must be manifest, from the conduct of the President, that it
would give him pleasure, if he could exhibit a shadow of
pruof
It

of the charges of corruption insinuated
against me. I accordingly invite and defy him, and all those vviio may desire to gratify
his vindictiveness, or their own
passions, to point out any act on
part, which can sustain the infamous imputations of collu-

my

sion, corrupt understanding, or

even concert of action in

tlie

slightest particular, with the United States Bank.
\V. J.

February

17, 1834.

DUANE.

6

(

)

LETTER
Fellow-Citizens
In

my

first

letter,

I

II.

;

apologized for appearing before you,

that I had been the early and steadfast friend of General
Jackson, pointed out the motive for the persecution directed

showed

and defied
against me which he now sanctions,
ents to prove any of their foul imputations.

Even when oppressed

in

him and

last, it

September

his adher-

will be seen,

on

month, heretofore pubmy
that I did not attribute the conduct of the President to
lished,
motive. I then considered him the mere instruletters of the 21st of that

reference to

any malignant

of men around him w-ho were unworthy of his confidence ;
and believed that he had become the executioner of their ventheir rapacity. But I confess, that,
geance against all who checked

ment

whilst

believe the President to be ruled by extraneous in-

1 still

fluences operating on his passions, it is difficult charitably to apcount for his silence, whilst before his eyes acts are deliberately
executed, which are at variance with truth, justice, and charity.

What
the

and favour an institution, which

sident,

Yet

can be a more serious charge, than to say, that, under
of friendship, I entered the cabinet to thwart the Pre-

mask

serious as this imputation

is,

it

is

I professed to oppose ?
sanctioned by the chief

sanctioned in opposition to all facts, nay, in
magistrate! It is
contradiction to his declarations made to me in writing as well as
last moments of our separation
personally, up to the
To sustain so grave a charge, proof should have been given
!

;

but

that

all

is

said to sustain

it is,

that I resisted the

removal of

the deposites, and that, in a letter, published at New Orleans, I
as showed that 1 had been " indoctriexpressed such sentiments,
reasons
the hostility of the bank opposition."
nated with all
the removal of the deposites will be given in a future
for

My

resisting

letter,

when

how

the public will be able to judge

far that re-

sistance sustains the vile imputation which I am now considering.
At present I shall refer to the second pretext only for this ca-

lumny.

To

a letter

October

last,

from
which

a friend at
I

New

Orleans,

I

wrote

iHj
a reply in

regretted to see published without

my

con-

7

(

From

sent.
last

made

<<

)

that reply the official paper of

this quotation

tlie

20th of December

:

but too obvious, either that we misunderstood the (juaof General Jackson's head, or else he has been wonderfully

It is

lities

altered.

On

all

the cardinal questions agitated, he has failed to

he promised purity in selections for office, yet few
have been purely made he professed to be a friend to domestic
industry, yet he has done more than any body else to prostrate
be consistent

:

:

he advocated a national government bank, and yet affects to
dread a monied aristocracy: he complained of the corruption of
one bank, and yet takes forty or fifty irresponsible paper-circuit

:

banks under the national wing: he has been for, and
denounced nullification, yet
against, internal improvement: he
he has been of late unsaying all that he had said in his proclamation. In sliort, I do not believe, he ever had fixed principles,
lating

u

any result by the exercise of the mind; imfpulses and passions have ruled.^^
The sketch here presented was drawn after my retirement to
of an
private life, and consequently after I had availed myself
r

ever arrived

at

opportunity, not before enjoyed, of closely examining the original.
When I became one of the President's advisers, it was my duty
to

study his moral and intellectual qualities, as well as his poliI
principles and views; and to this end, exerted such powers

tical

of discrimination as I possessed. The result was a conviction,
either that, in the portraits which I had drawn, to gain popular
approbation, in 1823 and 1828, I had flattered General Jackson,
owing to my having had before me outlines only, taken by his
intimate friends

;

or else that his features had been of kte greatly

altered under the influence of pride and power. I naturally stated,
in a private letter to a friend, the result of
observations, espe-

my

myself had been originally a great admirer of General Jackson and I am sure, it grieved him to hear,
as it did me to have occasion to communicate, what contradicted
cially as that friend like

;

so

many of our fond anticipations.
The prominent characteristics of General

Jackson, according

representations in 1823 and 1828, were purity of purpose,
steadiness in execution.
and
Hut, in 1833, I became satisfied,
even on cardinal points, were not fixed; that
that his
to

my

principles,

purposes were created for him, the true nature of which was concealed by artful management and that, in carrying them into exe;

cution, impulse and passion impressed a character of obstinacy

on

8

(

his conduct, which,

)

under the exercise of the mind, would have

in execution.

been steadiness

It is true, that,

before

my

entrance into

office, I

Avas

aware

that the President had been imposed upon in relation to some apin his course as
pointments. 1 also knew that he had been unsteady
to domestic industry, internal improvement, and a national bank.

But, what was
friend, to

my

duty,

become one of

when

the President invited me, as his
If I could reconcile the

his advisers?

I
acceptance of office with the doubts which
and with private obligations, I considered it

the hope that I might render

some

felt as to

my ability,

my

to

duty

do

so, in

service, by striving to recon;
by trying to persuade

with former profession
him to abandon a vacillating course as to manufactures, since
interest than uncertainty
nothing could be more pernicious to this
and by urging him to adhere to a strict interpretain legislation ;
tion of the constitution, instead of wandering in the mazes of concile his practice

struction, in relation to the

United States Bank, or other disputed

subjects.

Such are the remarks which I consider myself called upon to
in relation to one of the pretexts for the aspersion, that I
entered the President's cabinet to thwart him. But, fest any
doubt should exist on your minds as to my disinterestedness or
to the manner in which the appointment of secretary of the treamake you acsury was conferred on me, I think it proper to
with the following details bearing on these points.
quainted

make,

Although 1 never directly or indirectly asked any personal
favour from the President, I do him the justice to say, that he
manifested desire on several occasions to promote what he doubtWith the advice and consent
less considered my advancement.
of the senate, he appointed me a director of the Bank of the
United States, but I declined the trust. He afterwards tendered

me

the office of attorney for the eastern district of Pennsylvania,

which

I

also refused.

Without

my

knowledge, he appointed me,

with the concurrence of the senate, a commissioner under the convention with Denmark and, when I hesitated to accept, he pressed the trust
me, on the ground that my acceptance would be
;

upon

a duty to the public, and a relief to himself from embarrassment.
Before I had executed the duty under the convention with
Denmark, I was, on the 4th December 1S32, unexpectedly invited to accept the office of secretary of the treasury. And lest
any representation of the circumstances, attending the offer,

I

(

9

)

should be open to cavil on that account, I shall not trust to my
the following statement extracted from a

memory, hut present
confidential letter,

which

I

Extracts. "The
manner asked me to accept

wrote on the 5th of December 1832.

President has in a formal, kind, and pressing
a seat in his cabinet.

whilst the incidents are

A

all

fresh in

member

was

I confess, I

surprised, and not only surprised but distressed

:

my memory,

but

—

it is

that

I

best,

should

^Ir. Duane,
have been particularly desired by the President to seek this
interview with you, on matters of much consequence, not only
to himself, but to the country. The President has for some time
past meditated a change in his cabinet: it has been deferred until

give you a sketch.

of the cabinet said

*

I

after the termination of the elections in the states; and, as

are

now

over, the proposed change
secretary of state is to go to France

is

urged anevv.

they

The

present
the present secretary of the
treasury is to take his place in the department of state; and the
question is, who is to go into the treasury? It is settled, that a
citizen of Pennsylvania is to be appointed ; the President and his
;

all respects comlist of names has
petent as an officer, and faithful as a friend.
been looked at, and, after due inquiry, the President is decidedly convinced, that you. Sir, present the fairest claims to official

friends have sought in that state for a person in

A

and personal consideration. You are of the old democratic party
of Pennsylvania, and have grown with its growth you are known
as a mild but unvarying friend of the great political principles,
;

which Pennsylvania cherishes. Your personal reputation, too,
gives you a moral influence, of the extent of which you arc not perhaps yourself aware you were the early, and have been the stead;

of General Jackson, and should continue in every proto sustain him whom you contributed to elevate. So sa-

fast friend

per

way

tisffed,

indeed,

is

the President, of your peculiar fitness for the

department, and of your being just such a person as he can politically as well as personally rely upon, that I cannot use too
strong terms, in describing his solicitude that you should not refuse the station.'

" This

is

— 'I
replied

more

brief than the reality, but pertectly correct.

I

have listened, Sir, to what you have stated, with
and distress so that it cannot be supposed that I can
surprise,
give a positive reply. I cannot express how gratified and proud
I am at this mark of confidence. If, however, I am now to
give
;

utterance to

what
B

1

feel, it

is

to ask the

President to blot this

(

matter from his mind.

10

)

have been and

It is true that I

am

sincere-

ly friendly to the President; that I possess the personal and
political confidence of many worthy men in Pennsj'lvania;
and that I have a strong inclination to do all in my power to

evince

my

principles and promote the welfare of the people. But
that my abilities are over-rated that
influence

it is also true,

in Pennsylvania

;

is

more limited than

is

my

supposed, and that no

weight can be given, by my accession, to the administration.
Such an occasion as the present cannot be heedlessly regarded by
me, but all considerations united forbid me to assent. I have
through life sought the shade, and whenever I have been out of
it, it has not been from choice. I have always desired to tread on
the earth, lest in ascending even a single step of the political ladder, I should be obliged to resume my former place. Perhaps
this is morbid pride, but be it what it may, it has a powerful influence over me.'

—

"To this it was rejoined, 'all you have said, Mr. Duane,
shows you have the merit, you deny yourself the possession of.
You have, by declining office on several occasions, omitted to
advance yourself. I am the President's friend and yours, and
am

not the

man

to advocate

which the public may be
perhaps to judge of your

any thing of

a doubtful nature,

by

Others are more competent
qualifications than you are yourself.

affected.

difficulties
there may be some at this
owing to excitement in the South but that will soon cease,
and in a few months you will be perfectly an fait as to all general duties. As to your standing in Pennsylvania, we have information to be relied on we believe your appointjnent would be
pleasing there, and the President desires to do what will gratify

Heretofore there have been

;

time,

;

;

Apart from other considerations, the President's own
spontaneous preference of you is a compliment not to be overlooked ; you will derive credit from it, where you are not known,
amongst all who respect the patriotism and pure intentions, as
that state.

well as tlie natural sagacity of the President. I am persuaded
that the appointment would be acceptable to many of the President's most distinguished friends. Indeed, the fact that he goes
to the people, and not to congress, to select, will give weight to
the choice. You will earn a high reputation in the office proposed ;
and the labours will be less burdensome than those to which you

have been accustomed,' &c.

"I

then said 'that to tear up, as

it

were, by the roots,

my

1

(

11

)

business in Philadelphia, on the uncertainty, or even certainty of
continuing in oirice here for four years, would be very impru-

dent; that changes of residence, associations, and expenditure,
were sound objections; that friends to me ought not to urge a

proceeding of so doubtful a character,' &c.
"To this it was replied 'that every man owed something
to his country
that even on the question of mere interest, the
would be advantageous; that I might be certain of emchange

—

;

ployment
the

mode

for four years, at six thousand dollars per year; that
of living was that of a private gentleman in Philadel-

by identifying myself with General Jackson and his
and making a sacrifice, if it was one, I established a claim
for continuance in this, or appointment to some other station/
'* I closed
by saying 'that, out of thankfulness and a desire

])hia; that

friends,

my heart urged me to say
no means assented; that it would be
"yes," but my head by
rude as well as unkind to the President to decide at once, and
to

make

a return for such confidence,

upon so sudden an appeal on so serious a subject; and
fore, I would reflect.'"

that, there-

Such, fellow-citizens, is a brief but faithful representation of
the manner, in which I was invited to enter the cabinet. INIy
disinclination to take office as above expressed, remained unaltered. Valued friends, whom I consulted, exerted themselves to

induce me to serve; and, when I was called upon for a decision
on the 30th of January 1833, I reluctantly consented. When
my consent was given, the President, on the 1st of February,
caused his satisfaction to be expressed at my determination, and
" wishes that it
might confer a lasting benefit upon the coun-

his

try and myself."
had been before

When I saw him in iSlarch, he
communicated to me, assuring

himself selected

my name

tion he also

name

made

from the

to several of our

list

reiterated

me

what

that he had

before him. This declara-

mutual friends,

whom

I

might

needful, and who, I doubt not, when they see this letter,
will be mortified to find, that there should have arisen the least
necessity to sustain what never should have been brought in
if

question. But if any thing further is necessary to prove that the
President spontaneously selected me, I refer to his own letter to
me of the 17th of July last, in which he avows the fact, and
gives, amongst other reasons, for the selection, his desire to
elevate a name, which, although in an humble sphere, had earned

reputation in the eyes of the people.

i

12

(

Yet, in utter disregard of

hardihood

all

)

these facts, the President had the
paper of the 20th of December

to assert, in his official

"palmed myself or was palmed upon him."

last, that 1

W.
February

J.

DUANE.

19, 1834.

LETTER
Fellow-Citizens

III.

;

In my preceding letter, I have shown, that the President spontaneously elevated me to the station from which I was so soon
afterwards removed ; and that far from taking office to thwart
him, I sought to remain in the shade of private life. I have also
shown, that, rather than not gratify his vindictive feelings against
me, he is even content to be considered a dupe for he says that
I palmed myself, or was palmed upon him. It must be evident,
however, that if any one was imposed upon, I was that person.
I do not aver that I was imposed upon, much less have 1 a sus;

picion, that the

member

of the cabinet, referred to in

my

last

not state the reasons of the President for selecting me,
of which he had knowledge. Amongst those reasons, the views
or wishes of the President in relation to the United States
letter, did

Bank were

not enumerated

;

nor was the subject ever referred

to in the letters or conversations, that passed

ber of the cabinet and myself. In the

official

between the mempaper of the 19th

was avowed, that the President selast, however,
lected me because he supposed I accorded with his views in relation to the bank. So that the main motive for my selection,

November

it

was not before

stated.

his views, until after

do not say, that the President concealed
my entrance into office, in order to render
I

had made so serious a change
I do not believe that he did ;
have much more reason to presume, that such was the case,

my accordance more certain,

after I

as that from private to public

life

;

but I
than the President has to suspect, that
purpose to thwart him.

Were I
knew that

I

entered into office on

that I
fully to admit, what the official paper alleges,
the removal of the deposites was agitated ; that would

not affect the question between the President and me. If he had
asked my opinion, I would have concurred in the course, which
he was pursuing in December, 1833, namely, an appeal to con-

(

gress.

It

13

)

was the same course which I advocated whilst I was
which I offered to pursue myself. I could have

in office, and

had no suspicion, however, that the President intended to abandon in future the very course which he had himself sanctioned.
All antecedent public acts, even the respect I then entertained for
him, forbade me to suppose, that he meant to anticipate the action
of congress, evade the judiciary, and trample on the law itself.
Thus, 1. In his veto message, he left the subject of the United
States Bank to the congress of 1S33-4. 2. When, during the last
congress, he doubted the safety of the public deposites In the
United States Bank, instead of taking upon himself the respon3. His persibility of their removal, he appealed to congress.

sonal and political friend was appointed to inquire into the condition of the bank, and on his report, the representatives of the
people, by a vote of 109 to 46, directed the public money to be

where the law had placed it. 4. It is fair to infer that
the President himself was satisfied with this decision ; for he
retained,

soon after approved of an act of congress, authorising the secretary of the treasury to lend to the United States Bank, or upon
its

stock, several millions of dollars, trust

money

receivable from

France, for American citizens having claims upon that country.
Had I intuitive or prophetic skill ? Because banks and speculators continued to agitate the deposite question,
notwithstanding
the decision of congress, was I to suppose, that the President

would become

their prey?

able to persuade

him

Could

to consider

they would be
congress corruptible, and the
I suspect, that

judiciary already contaminated ? Is it credible that I, who sought
to avoid office altogether, wilfully placed myself in sucli a posi-

removal by the President for disobeying, or my
the senate for obeying, him, would have been inrejection by
evitable?
tion, that

my

When

he thought proper to ask the written opinions of the
of the cabinet, upon whom no responsibility would
rest; was it not due to me, then shortly to enter his cabinet, that
he should have frankly informed me that the removal of the deposites, before the meeting of the next congress, was definitively
fixed upon, and that I shonld be expected to do the act? Nevertheless, I had no sort of intimation that the opinions of the
members of the cabinet had been asked, or that, whether I approved of it or not, the task of removing the deposites would be

members

imposed upon

me

without inquiry by congress.

(

14

)

When I entered upon my official duties, and found, much to
my surprise, that the measure was determined upon, and that I
would be expected to carry it into execution, my charitable conclusion was, that, as I really accorded with the President in opposing the United States Bank, he had no doubt of my readiness
to act on this point with him. He fancied, perhaps, that my hostility

was

would be willing
manner of Indian warfare, and

so unqualified, that I

institution after the

point that

all

our

to assail that
it

was on

this

difficulties arose.

When I went into office, I supposed that 1 was to be the agent
of the country, and not the mere instrument of the Chief Magistrate. I contemplated some changes which I hoped would be beneficial to the

measures were

prey upon

its

country, and felt indignant when I found that
be pressed upon me, useful only to those who
vitals; an indignation, which, I confess, was into

by the circumstance, that the duty prepared for me was
announced, not by those who had been selected by the President
as most worthy to be his constitutional advisers, but by irresponcreased

sible persons,

who

possessed the confidence,

properly belonging
I

to

if

not the places,

them.

wish that

it

be here borne in mind, that,

may

removal
notwithstanding the occurrences connected with
from office, I actually desired to avoid even complaint. I regarded the President as the victim of unworthy influences and un-

my

happy passions and therefore, as well as on the public account,
I was desirous of preventing any angry public discussion, or any
;

exhibition of

my

official

relations with the President.

To

this

to the President's secretary, on the 27th of

end

I wrote a letter
September, complaining of the course of the official paper in reIn this letter, I say, "I do not deprecate such a
lation to me.
course for my own sake if it is desirable that our relations should
be placed before the public eye, I am ready. But it seems to me
;

such conflicts, the public reputation suflers, and that inand insult have been administered to me in such quantity
jury
as to demand no further aid of that kind," &c. Nothwithstandofing this appeal, it will be found, on reference to the file of the
that, in

were subsequently made remotives for resisting the President. Yet out of respecting
.spect for our institutions I forbore to repel imputations upon my
character for nearly five months and if I shall now mention any
be improper
facts, which, under ordinary circumstances, it might

ficial

paper, that vile insinuations

my

;

(

to state, I

hope

it

will be

15

)

remembered,

that

1

do

so,

nut under

the influence of resentment, but in self-defence. Parts of my
to incorrespondence and conversations have been used, in order
fuse foul suspicions respecting nie; and I now barely show that
I am not the only accused or suspected person ; but that I share

the fate of

who

all

will not sacrifice their principles, not at the

feet of the President, but at those of

men who govern

the coun-

and prejudices.
try through the instrumentality of his passions
commission bore the date of May 29, 1833,

My

and on the 30th I reached Washington. After waiting upon the
President, on the next day, I went to the treasury department,
and took the oath of office on the 1st of June. On the evening
of that day, Mr. Reuben M. Whitney called upon me at my
to make
lodgings, at the desire, as he said, of the President,

known

to

me what had

been done, and what was contemplated, in
Bank. He stated, that the President

relation to the United States

to take upon himself the responsibility of directthe secretary of the treasury to remove the public deposites
ing
from that bank, and to transfer them to state banks; that he had

had concluded

asked the members of the cabinet to give him their opinions on
the subject; that the President had said, " Mr. Taney and Mr.
Barry had come out like men for the removal ;" that Mr. M'Lane

had given a long opinion against it; that jNIr. Cass was supposed
to be against it, but had given no written opinion; and that Mr.
Woodbury* had given an opinion which was "yes" and "no;"

would make the act his own by addressing a
or order to the secretary of the treasury ; that JMr. Amos
paper
Kendall, who was high in the President's confidence, was now
that the President

to the
preparing that paper; that there had been delay owing
affair at Alexandria; but, no doubt, the President would soon
speak to me on the subject tiiat the paper referred to, would be
put forth as the Proclamation had been, and would be made a
;

at the desire of the
rallying point; that he (Mr. Whitney) had,
drawn up a memoir or exposition, showing that the

President,

measure might be safely adopted, and that the state banks would
be fully adequate to all the purposes of government. He then
read the exposition to me, antl as I desired to understand matters so important and so singularly presented, I asked him to
• It

posed
wards.

is

due

to this

gentleman to

state, that 1

to a removal prior to July, 1834,

subsequently learned, he was op-

and was

for only a gradual cliaiigc aflei--

16

(

)

leave the paper with me, which he accordingly did.
He also
me divers letters from individuals connected with state

read to
banks.

The

was to satisfy
on to prevent a

drift of his further observations

that the executive

arm alone could be

relied

me
re-

newal of the United States Bank charter.
The communication thus made to me created surprise and morI was surprised at the position of affairs which it retification.
and mortified at the low estimate which had been formed
vealed,
of the independence of
spectfully to

one

my

who gave

character.

I listened,

however,

re-

such evidence of the confidence re-

posed in him, and awaited the explanation which he intimated
the President would give.

Soon

after this interview I

tification at

my

took occasion to express
member of the cabinet,

position, to the

my

mor-

who had

represented the President in asking me to accept office.
On the next evening (Sunday) Mr. Whitney again called on

me in company with a stranger, whom he introduced as Mr.
Amos Kendall, a gentleman in the President's confidence, who
would give me any further explanations that I might desire, as to
what was meditated in relation to the United States Bank, and
then called on me because he was about to proceed forthwith
to Baltimore. I did not invite nor check communication. Very
little was said, and perhaps because I could not
wholly conceal

who

my mortification at an attempt, apparently made with the sanction
of the President, to reduce me to a mere cypher in the administration.

The next morning, June
as I

3d, I waited upon the President, and,
had been apprized by Mr. Whitney would be the case, he

soon introduced the subject of the bank. I stated that Mr. Whitney had made known to me what had been done, and what was
intended, and had intimated that his communication was made
The President replied, in a tone of

at the President's desire.

it was true he had conferred with Mr. Whitand obtained information from him as to the bank, but that he
ney,
did not make him his confidant, nor had he told him to call on me.
I enumerated the
representations which Mr. Whitney had made,
and their correctness was admitted. I said I feared that I should

dissatisfaction, that

not be able to see the
subject in the light in which the President
it; to which he remarked that he liked frankness, that
my predecessor and himself had sometimes differed in opinion,
but it had made no difference in feeling, and should not in my

viewed

17

(

)

was of vast consequence
bank was broken down, it would
break us down that if the last congress had remained a week
longer in session, two-thirds would have been secured for the bank
by corrupt means and that the like result might be apprehended
at the next congress; that such a state bank agency must be put
in operation, before the meeting of congress, as would show that
the United States Bank was not necessary, and thus some memcase

;

that the matter under consideration

to the country

that unless the

;

;

;

bers would have no excuse for voting for

it.

My

suggestions as

to an inquiry by congress, as in December, 1832, or a recourse
to the judiciary, the President repelled, saying it would be idle
to rely

upon either; referring,

as to the judiciary, to decisions

already made, as indications of what would be the effect of an
appeal to tliem in future. After mentioning, that he would speak
to me again, before he departed for the eastward, he said he meant
to take the opinions of the members of the cabinet with him,

me from New York, together with his
and would expect me, on his return, to give him my senvieivSf
timents frankly and fully.
On the 5th of June, I had a brief conversation with the President, in the course of which, as at all other times, I do him the
that his views were aljustice to say, he emphatically declared
but would send them to

together public spirited. He concluded by saying, "remember,
I do not wish any body to conceal his sentiments ; I give you my
views, you give yours; all I ask is that you will reflect with a

view

to the public

good."
Washington on the 6th of June. During
his absence, further circumstances came to my knowledge, which
induced me to believe, that the removal of the dcposites was

The President

left

not advocated with any view to public utility, but urged to accomplish selfish, if not factious purposes. 1 sought no intercourse with those, who, I felt satisfied, had an undue influence

over the President, at least in relation to the grave questions
connected with the removal of the deposites. Whenever any of
them called on me, there was no hesitation in urging me to accord in the proposed measure. It was contended that the removal of the depositcs would be made a rallying point at the

opening of congress, or
ever I urged a recourse,
judiciary, such a step
zardous.

a flag

up

for the

new members. When-

in the first instance, to congress, or the

was scouted, and delay represented

as ha-

18

(

I

)

had heard rumours of the existence of an influence

unknown

to the constitution.

The

at

Wash-

conviction, that such

ington,
an influence existed, at least in relation to the matters then pressed upon me, was irresistible. I knew that four of the six mem-

bers of the cabinet, before I became a member of it, had been
opposed to any present action in relation to the deposites ; and I
also

knew

that four of the six

entertained the same views.

members

of the existing cabinet
only that the

I felt satisfied, not

President was not in the hands of his constitutional advisers
that their

advice was successfully

;

but

whose

resisted

by persons,
considered at variance with the public interest, and the
President's fame.

views

I

Such were my impressions, when, on the 1st of July, I received a letter from the President, dated ''Boston, June 26th,
1833," together with his vieivs, and the opinio7is of four of the
of the cabinet, voluminous papers, in the examination
of which I was engaged when the President unexpectedly returned to Washington on the 4th of July.

members

In the views given by the President, he expressed his opinion,
that the secretary of the treasury would be wisely exercising the
discretion conferred upon him by law, by directing the deposites
to be made in the state banks, from and after the 15th of Sepif

tember,

arrangements

to

be made with them should be then

completed.
In his letter, he stated that the only difficulty he for some time
had, was as to the time when the change should commence that
;

he thought the time should be from the 1st to the 15th of September that an agent should be sent to consult with state banks
;

upon the practicability of an arrangement such as the President
then proceeded to detail ; but that he did not contemplate a removal of funds deposited, unless when wanted

The

for public pur-

—

with this emphatic assurance
*' In
making to you, my dear sir, this frank and explicit avowal of my opinions and feelings, it is not my intention to interfere
with the independent exercise of the discretion committed to you
by law over the subject. I have thought it however due to you,
poses.

letter closed

:

under the circumstances,

to place before you, with this restricsentiments upon the subject; to the end that you may,
my
on my responsibility, allow them to enter into your decision

tion,

upon the subject, and into any future exposition of
"
you may deem it proper.

(*-

it,

so far as

(

19

)

Prior to the reception of these communications, I had felt embarrassment, not only in relation to the general subject, but as to
constitutional and legal questions. I was in doubt as to the view

which the President would take of the 16th section of the law,
chartering the United States Bank, which gave the discretion,
as to the
deposites, to the secretary of the treasury. When, however, I read the above passage in his letter, my anxiety was in a
great measure, if not wholly, removed. If it meant any thing,
I concluded, that the President now confirmed, what the law had
already declared, that the secretary of the treasury had the exclusive right to exercise that discretion independently of the President; and that in thus writing to me, he had pledged himself

not to interfere beyond the expression of his own opinions, and
the employment of argument to have an influence upon mine.
Reflecting, however, upon the means that might be used to induce
the President to disregard this pledge,

I

considered

it

my

duty

comply strictly with his direction, to give him my sentiments
frankly and fully ; and these you will find in my next letter.
to

W.
Philadelphia, February

LETTER
Fellow-Citizens
In

my

J.

DUANE.

22, 1834.

IV.

;

last letter I related

some of

the incidents,

which oc-

curred immediately after my entrance into office. Those incidents will have shown you, that the true nature of the service
required of me was to employ a conservative power to eflect
penal ends, and to evade legislative or judicial action in relation
to the United States Bank.
Believing as I did, that the President really thought that the
be another victory,
prostration of the United States Bank would
of which he might be proud, and that he was stimulated to conthat end I resolved to interjustifiable to attain
between him and tbosc who were impelling him
could,
pose,
in his rash career. I was especially anxious to disabuse him as
to the legislature and the judiciary
and, therefore, in writing
the following letter, endeavoured to meet his oral declarations,

sider

any means

;

if I

;

as well as written arguments.

Vf

20

*r.
(

In

defence I

my

letter as

now submit

"an emissary

of the

)

this letter to you.

Is

it

such a

bank" would have written? Does

indicate hostility to the President; or a desire to remain in
office to thwart him? Could any friend struggle more anxiously
it

than

I did to

snatch

him from the brink of

Instead

a precipice?

resistance favourable to the bank, I felt satis-

of considering my
fied that the President's course would aid it.
Under these impressions, as an act of duty to the country as
well as to the President, and, I confess, dissatisfied with the part
I

was expected

to play, I

wrote the following

letter.

Respectfully, yours,

W.
February

J.

DUANE.

25, 1834.

" Treasury Department, July

10, 1833.

" Sir—
On the first

of the present month, the undersigned had the
honour to receive the letter, which the President addressed to
him, from Boston, on the 26th ultimo, transmitting a detailed
statement of his views <' upon the subject of a discontinuance of
I.

the government deposites in the Bank of the United States, and
the substitution of certain state banks, as the fiscal agents of the
United States, so far as those duties are now performed by that
institution."

the desire of the President
If, when, early in December last,
that the undersigned should assume the station, which he now
a
holds, was communicated to him, it had been intimated, that
cessation to deposite the public moneys in the Bank of the United

without any legislation upon the subject, was to constitute
a part of the executive policy, and that the undersigned would
be called upon to carry the measure into effect upon his own re-

States,

to consider, whether
sponsibility, it would have been in his power
and he would not have been
he ought to enter into office or not;

compelled, as he now is, either to incur the censure of congress,
or to commence his service by acting in opposition to the President's wishes. But, as no intimation of any kind was given,

and

as the

undersigned was thus to come into

as honourable to the President's liberality, as

own

office, in a
it

was

manner

flattering to

pride, he accepted the proffered honour, but still not
without reluctance, resolved to perform his duty so faithfully as

his

^

^

.

21

(

/

)

f

t*

to merit public confidence, justify the President's choice,
preserve that invaluiiblc treasure, his own self-respect.

and

conIf, when, on the 30th of Jaiuiary last, the undersigned
sented to serve, and before he had entered on the duties of his
station, he had known that a change of the depository of the pub-

money, notwithstanding the decision of the house of reprewas a part of the President's policy, and very anxdiscussed in the cabinet, it would still have been his
iously
lic

sentatives,

pleasure, as well as duty, to consider the questions involved,
the Presicarefully. But, although late in the month of March,

dent intimated, that he was agitating the subject himself, the
undersigned had no conception, that it was with a view to any

proceeding prior to the meeting of the new congress.
It was not, indeed, until the evening of the day, or of the day
after, the undersigned entered into office, that he was informed,
that a change, of the depository of the public money, had been the
subject of cabinet discussion,
would rest the responsibility.

and that upon the undersigned

It will not surprise the President, therefore, to learn the sentiments of the undersigned now for the first time ; nor that he may
fail to present such an exposition of his views, as, under different

circumstances, he would at least have attempted to prepareSubsequently to the 1st of June, the President was so good as to

would send to the undersigned, the opinions of the
of his cabinet, with his own views, to be deliberately
reflected upon, with a view to a frank declaration of the opinions
of the undersigned to the President, on his return from his eastern

say, that he

members

tour.

Those documents were received on the

President returned on the 4th

;

1st instant,

and the

so that the brevity of the interval,

he trusts, be regarded
Whilst, however, he reconsoled with the knowledge, that

and other circumstances interfering,

will,

as adequate apologies for imperfection.

grets the imperfection, he

he

is

but a gleaner in the field of inquiry, after officers, superior
to the undersigned in all the advantages of experience, and with
whom he will not assert an equality, except in purity of purpose,
is

and in regard

for the chief magistrate,

who

has

made him

their

associate.

In the conclusion of the President's letter, he has the
goodness to say, that, whilst he frankly avows his own opinions,
II.

and

feelings, he does not intend to interfere with the indci)ondent
exercise of the discretion, committed to the undersigned by law,

»

.;f

(

22

•
)

over the subject ; and that the undersigned may adopt, on the President's responsibility, the sentiments expressed by him, in his
letter, as the basis in part of his own decision. The undersigned,
therefore, concludes, that he has not received the direction of the

chief magistrate, to perform an act of executive duty ; but that
the President believes, that congress had a right to direct, and
hold responsible, an executive agent. And, accordingly, without

expressing a doubt on that point, that might be thought presumptuous, the undersigned will decide on his responsibility to
congress, and that decision shall be the same, as if he had received an executive order. This, however, will not, for a moment, be regarded by the President as indicative of the least
abbreviation of the respect and attachment, which, on many accounts, he entertains for the President. The expression is used,
in order to evince the perfect sincerity of the undersigned in the
matter referred to him ; it is used, in order to make known to

the President, that,

may

however

grateful to

him the undersigned

be, and however unwilling

from him

to incur the risk of separating
so soon, a separation so likely to expose the under-

signed to the shafts of envy or of malice, if such exist, such considerations are overcome by a sense of the high duties imposed

on him

as a public agent.

It is not

more

consistent with the principles of the undersignit would be the desire

ed to pay a homage to the President, than

of the President to receive it; but since it is so soon his fate to
diflfer in opinion from the President, the undersigned boldly says,
that no one could have been called to the station,

him, who

now

signed had, to render the evening of the President's
quil, as its

filled

by

could have had a more anxious desire than the under-

noon had been

It

is

life as

tran-

painful to

him,
very
glorious.
therefore, to be obliged to decline to adopt the course described
in the President's letter. He has the consolation, however, that
the very opposition establishes a claim to the President's respect,
and is a sure guarantee of sincerity.

Trusting, therefore, to that magnanimity, on the part of the
President, which is inseparable from the purity of his own iotentions, the undersigned will frankly state some of the reasons,
that have drawn him to the conclusion, at which he has arrived.
so, he will present the results of brief, but anxious, reand incidentally such observations as a perusal of the
flection,
President's letter demands.

In doing

III.

With regard

••

(

23

to the

Bank

.

)

of the United States, even

if

the undersigned did not consider it unauthorized by the constitution, he avows his deliberate and unl)iassed belief, that the re-

newal of

its

charter would be inconsistent, with the duration of

the happiness and liberties of the people. These sentiments are
not formed as a potter moulds his clay, to suit the fashion of the
times, or the order of a customer they are not the sentiments of
;

a

man, who has

an injury \o avenge;
are the opinions of an individual, who, although bowing to
they
the law, as every good citizen should do, and respecting the
a latent grief to assuage, or

opinions of others, has never omitted a fair occasion to utter his
dispassionate belief, in opposition not only to the present, and
to the

former Bank of the United States, but to

all

such mono-

polies.

Without any

desire,

therefore, to

arraign uncharitably the

motives of others, the undersigned is satisfied that many of the
acts of the bank, that are complained of, do but justify his uniform apprehension of such institutions. He conceives that the
bank htis forfeited all claims to favour, and that, if chartered,
with such a weight of complaint against it, the charter might almost as well be perpetual as limited.
But, whilst these are the sentiments he entertains, and whilst
_,'

he might, in every fair way, utter and publish,
becoming a freeman, his strong remonstrances and
at the 3 per cent, transaction, and others; he does
upbraidings
not consider it proper, as a public officer, to pursue any other
as an individual

in language

than an open, decided, and authorised course.

He

is

persuaded

that vindictive justice is so much at variance with the best feelings of the human heart, that a resort to a measure of that kind,

would, by the repugnance that
the

more

it

would

create, tend to

merge

essential consideration of the future destinies of the

country.

At present the bank stands, if not convicted, arraigned before
the country. It has put itself in the wrong, and the stockholders
have not manifested an inclination even to inquire into the causes
of complaint against the directors. Public opinion is unfavourable
to the continuance of the institution. It is obviously the conviction
of dispassionate men, that no modification can control an institution, that has the

ence.

The

elements of evil

in

its

composition and exist-

dictates of prudence and policy, therefore, demand, that

24

(

)

nothing should be done against the bank, that might altogether
conceal justice under the veil of sympathy.
The main question was put to the people by the President,

and

them, in such terms, and in such forms, as to absolve
accountability. In this, as in other instances, poswill do justice to the purity of his purposes, and the vigour
terity
of his acts. And there is no occasion, either for the present or
left to

him from

all

the future, to adopt a course different from the open and manly
one heretofore pursued. It is not requisite, in order fo prevent a

renewal of legal life, to resort to measures, that might be regarded as extreme, if not utterly needless.
IV. The undersigned is persuaded, that the measure would be
regarded as extreme and arbitrary, for these reasons.
1.

The

charter

is

the law of the land

;

it is

a contract, that can-

not be dissolved, or altered, without mutual consent, or forfeited
without inquiry. The public deposites are a benefit to the bank,
it has
paid a consideration, and their continuance is a
of the contract.
part
Has the undersigned a right to rescind this contract? It is certainly true, that he has the power to change the depository, but

for

he

which

is

bound

to give his reasons.

What reasons

can the undersigned

He

must not rely on the reasons of others, unless he
give
adopts them as his own he must be satisfied, that the measure
is sound in itself and defensible.
If, indeed, there were not other tribunals, before which acts
involving forfeiture might be inquired into, and acts involving
forfeiture were apparent, there might be some apology for an
exercise of extraordinary power by an individual. But if there
?

:

has been such misconduct in the corporation as warrants a forfeiture
of its charter, or if there have been such acts done by the directors or officers, as bring them within the penalties of the act of
incorporation, what reasons can be given, for visiting the sins of
the officers upon the stockholders, without a trial by jury, or
could the undersigned justify
other judicial proceeding?

How

himself before congress, even

if his

opinions were sound, in declin-

ing a judicial inquiry, and in condemning the accused unheard?
If the President is satisfied, that there has been misconduct,
such as would warrant punishment by judicial agency, why has
not been, why may it not yet be, resorted to ? But if no such
step has been taken, or can be sustained, how can the undersigned
it

justify the assumption of the

powers of jury, judge, and cxecu-

''^5

(

)

tioner? Is he to punish unheard, at his own pleasure, and without
being able to assi<^n to congress reasons for such an arbitrary act ?
Is

it

consistent with the principles of justice, or the genius of our
any man should be able to constitute himself a

institutions, that

dictator, in matters affecting the character of the country, the
welfare of the people, and the fame of men, who are entitled at
least to the rights of felons

?

The undersigned has been, like other men, under excitement,
in relation to the Bankof the United
States,anduponpublicgrounds
has been desirous to see

its

existence closed

under excitement, exercise such

him; much

now

less will he,

a

power

as is

;

yet he would not,
conferred upon

now

in a high station,

and under the

guidance of deliberate reason, do any act, that has not the stamp
of manliness upon its front. He does not think that the end just'fies

the means, or that there

and

is

any distinction between moral

No

doubt, the President believes the propolitical integrity.
ceeding, under consideration, to be fair, manly, and sound. The

undersigned has learned not to say dogmatically, that he is right,
and that another is wrong. It is sufficient for him, that, whilst
he sincerely respects the sentiments of the President, the undersigned cannot at his pleasure change his own convictions, or present to congress reasons for an act, that he believes to be arbitrary
and needless.
It is true, that congress gave to the undersigned the right to
use this arbitrary power
but for what purposes ? Surely not to
enable him to usurp executive or judicial authority. It is the right
;

of the President to arraign, and the riglil of the judiciary to try,
the bank. Upon what jjretext can the undersigned wrest these
powers from the legitimate organs? Or can it be fancied, that congress transferred to theundersigned, powers not possessed bytlieniselves? What, then, is the fair conclusion, in tlie absence of all

explanation, as to the motives of congress ? Surely, that dictatorial power was conferred on the secretary of the treasury for
occasions demanding sudden and extreme action, or as a salutary

check upon the bank, or a means to promote the conclusion of its
It never could have been conferreil to enable an individual,
whose appointment has not yet been confirmed by the constitu-

affairs.

tional advisers of the President, to execute vindictive justice.

Is there, then,

any cause

for

undersigned admits, that the

sudden and extreme action

views

?

The

in the President's letter, are

very striking. They must, when presented
D

to the people, or their

(

26

)

have a powerful influence upon the question of
but he does not believe that they

represcMitatives,

the renewal of the charter

;

warrant the undersigned in resorting to the proposed measure.
It must be a very strong case, indeed, that would justify the nullification of a contract,

made by

all

the departments of govern-

ment.
2.

The measure would be

because the

considered extreme and arbitrary,

congress acted upon complaints against the bank,
and because the next congress may follow the example of the last.
last

It cannot be
pretended, that, the last congress doubted the ability
of the bank to meet its engagements. The house of representatives,

a vote 109 to 46, decided that the bank was a safe place of
deposite ; and one of the last acts of congress authorised the

by

secretary of the treasury to lend a million of dollars to the bank
without security. What has since occurred, that should warrant

the undersigned, in treating these evidences of confidence with
contempt ? What reasons could the undersigned give for reversing the judgment of those, of whom he is the mere agent? What

has occurred, since the last session of congress, to change the
ground then held ? If any thing occurred, prior to the entry of
the undersigned into office, on the first of June, why was not his
predecessor called upon to act ? And if nothing occurred prior to
that time, what has since happened, that could justify the undersigned,

who

has not yet

become acquainted with

his duties, or

been above forty days in office, in exerting powers, affecting not
merely the bank, but the whole community? Is he to take it for
granted that the last house of representatives was ignorant or
corrupt ? Or is he to conclude that there has been fraud or mismanagement on the part of the bank ? He does not pretend, that
an adequate investigation was made by the last house of representatives, but that house decided on the evidence produced. It was
not competent for any agent to furnish adequate proofs. The minority of the committee of investigation declare, that a full and

protracted inquiry by congress is necessary to the developement
of truth and yet it is expected that the undersigned shall either
;

have

faculties superior to those of congress, or hardihood that
disregards their censure. It is supposed, that although a body with

power

to

send for persons and papers were unable to come

to a

decision unfavourable to the bank, or even to express a disbelief of its safety
the undersigned, without any such inquiry or
;

power

to inquire, is first to

do what congress would not do, and

INF
(

27

)

then refer to the reasons of the President as a justification. Such
a reference would not, and oufrhi not to, answer as a defence. The

undersigned is thrown on his own rciisons and if he acts, and has
none, he must stand in a posture before the world, not more
lionourable to the President than grateful to himself.
It would,
;

malevolent times, be said, that the President had purchased the conscience of the undersigned, and that the undersigned had basely sold for office, the only inheritance that he may
in these

have

to leave to his children, the

unblemished integrity of their

father.

If it does not become the
undersigned to treat with disrespect
the decision of the last congress, why should he refuse to await
the interference of the next? Any proceeding now, especially in

the absence of adequate reasons, would seem to arise from an apprehension, that the representatives of the people are incompetent or corruptible and that the people themselves are incapable
;

of preserving the institutions of their country, in the event of a
general depravity of their agents. The undersigned is not willing,

by an

cies.

He

on his part,

to give sanction to heresies, as
themselves, as they are pernicious in their tendenwould despair of all that is calculated to cheer and ex-

groundless

act

in

mankind, if he could fancy that his act, or the act of any
man, even if endowed with intellect, or crowned with glory, were
essentially necessary to save the people from themselves. He cannot have the arrogance to think, or to give colour of conjecture
that he thinks, that he can save the republic, or that without him
it would be lost.
It is his duty, on the contrary, to follow the
alt

President's own example, who, instead of proceed ng, as he might
have done, by scire facias, against the bank, waited until the
representatives of the people assembled, and submitted his comi

plaint to them.

not consider

it

In the absence of peril, the undersigned, does
duty to forestal the opinion of congress. If

his

there is just ground for complaint, it is consistent with our love
of our institutions, and our jealousy of their purity, to believe
that an inquiry, if made, will be fairly conducted ; and that the

representatives of the people will act, in consonance with their
to Heaven, their countr}*, and themselves.

duty

But

if,

contrary to the lessons of experience, the representa-

tives of the people, should be faithless, the bare suggestion of
which the undersigned regrets to utter, the people have the in-

clination as well as the

power

to

change them, and

to

annul any

(

-s

may have been the progeny of fraud or corruption. Have
not the inclination, as well as the power? If not, then
they
the boasted excellence of our institutions must be a phantom.
act, that

substance and not a shadow, as the undersigned thinks
does not become him at least to decide upon a supposed
imperfection, and substitute means, justifiable only in an insur-

But,

if it is a

it is, it

rection or a siege.

With great deference, therefore, for the President's opinions,
the undersigned concludes, that it would be arbitrary and needless to adopt the proposed measure at this time.
V. But, suppose,

that the undersigned had reasons, to submit
show, that the measure was not arbitrary or needthe substitutes for the present fiscal depository to be
less, ought
accepted ? The undersigned respectfully conceives that he has not
to congress, to

to adopt th'? scheme prothe undersigned were to cease to deposits
posed. Undoubtedly,
the public money in the Bank of the United States, it would
be his duty to direct its deposite to the credit of the treasurer,

authority, and that

it

would be unwise,
if

in

some safe place. But, at the threshold he is met with the queswhat would be a safe place ? Does it become him to judge

tion,

of the solidity of an institution by hearsay ? But, even if he chose
to take that responsibility, has he any right to go further? The

plan suggested by the President proposes a contract with divers
banks, according to which certain service is to be rendered by
one party, for the privilege of trading upon the money of the
other.

Has

the undersigned authority to create a sort of charter?
in any way, or for any time, to bind the United

Has he a right,
States?

Have the

local

banks any right

who

to bind

themselves? If they

the judge of it? Has the
a right to contract, that certain banks may contract
undersigned
with other banks unknown to him? Has the undersigned any

have, what

is

the security, and

is

the right, to decide,
right, or is it discreet to leave to any agent
in the course of two months, upon the condition of all the banks,
that

may

be necessary for the operations of government? If there

no law, granting powers needful in doubtful cases, can the undersigned discreetly take them on his own responsibility ? Can it
be, for one moment, fancied, that, beside the summary power
is

to take

away, the

legislative

power

to authorise a disposition of

the public money, was conferred upon the undersigned ? Is it to
be believed, that a section of a charter, obviously meant for extreme cases only, authorised the undersigned, in the absence of

'^y

(

any necessity,
there

is

to take the public

a control,

Bank

money from

and distribute

which no control exists? The

)

it

a hank,

amongst

ItJth scrtion

over which

institutions,

over

of the United States

charter directs, that the public Tiioney shall be deposited

in that institution, unless the secretary of the treasury shall di-

but so jealous were congress of (he power, to
;
withhold, thus conferred, that the secretary is enjoined to give
reasons immediately to them ; obviously showing, that congress
considered themselves alone competent to judge of the nrcessity
rect otherwise

of a removal from one agent, and the propriety of the sidistiSo that the undersigned deems it proper to use extreme
tute.
caution on ground untrodden.

indeed aware, that certain local banks are
supposed necessity, used as fiscal agents and that
several of his predecessors, as an act of ministerial duty or supposed necessity, at various times, and under various circum-

The undersigned

now, from

stances,

is

a

;

made arrangements with state banks
ascertain, owing to the

which he cannot now

(the particulars of
destruction of the

treasury office); but he also knows, that under those arrangelost between one and two millions of dollars,

ments, the country

whilst of upwards of four hundred millions, from time to time
in the custody of the United States Bank, not one cent has been

The undersigned does

lost.

not use this as an argument in favour
is
opposed, but he states

of a renewal of the charter, to which he

the facts, to show, that he ought to have very strong reasons,
indeed, to present to congress, for exchanging a certainty for an
his predeuncertainty. Me repeats, an uncertainty for if one of
;

cessors

was justified

of banks, in

rency, that

tlie
it

in saying, in 1814, that <'the multiplication

several states, has so increased the paper curdifficult to calculate its amount, and still

would be

difficult to ascertain its value," how much more doubt
should the undersigned entertain at the present day?
Besides, the undersigned plca-.ls the autliority of the President
as ground for
himself, in the letter now under cunsideration,

more

The

President does not pretend, that the proposed
scheme will answer; he barely says he thinks it will. No doubt,

hesitation.

he thinks

so,

and possibly

some measure upon premises jireBut even upon such representations

in

sented by
the President does not rely ; for he does not suggest a p'an for
actual or continued operation, but merely as an experiment. Has
to make experiments upon such imthe
the
local institutions.

undersigned

right

)

m-

portant matters? Did congress, in allowing him to retain out of
bank the public money, confer on him legislative and executive

As already alluded to, the anxious care, that at
once the undersigned should report to congress, after resolving
to retain the money out of bank, shows that it was not meant that
the undersigned should make experiments. As it is clear, therepower united?

on the President's own view, that he is in doubt as to a
he is prepared for a test only, and as the power
of the undersigned will end on his report to congress, can it surprise the President, that the undersigned is in doubt also? If an
experiment must be made, is it not courteous to those, of whom
fore,

substitute, that

the President considers the undersigned in this case the agent,
Have not the constitutional holders of

to await their instruction?

the public purse, the only means, that can be safely used for
ing such trials?

mak-

congress should not interrupt an experiment, and the
experiment should fail, as the undersigned thinks it would, is he
then to make another? Will not a failure of any precipitate, undi-

But

if

of the
gested, and unsanctioned scheme, give vigour to the claim
United States Bank for a renewal of its charter? Will it not be
of the President's
urged, that the inadequacy
the necessity of retaining an organ, that, for

own
fiscal

project proved

purposes, had

such obvious advantages over local banks? The President, besides, seems to think, that time will be necessary to test the prodesires that the trial may be made, so as to meet the
ject, and

Bank. This rests on the presumption that congress will not interfere, whereas the underwill have scarcely been comsigned believes, that the operations
the apparatus will be demolished an occurrence,
menced, ere
dissolution of the United States

;

which,

un-

for the sake of the President as well as himself, the

dersig-ned desires not to witness.

Then,

is

it

likely that banks of

any

solidity will

embark

in

such a project, when they know that it may, and probably will,
be arrested by congress? Is there the least reason to suppose, that

banks of good standing will guarantee the acts of banks in remote
be prudent in allying
parts of the Union ? Would the undersigned
the country with banks willing to make such a common cause?
So great were the difficulties of the Bank of Pennsylvania, and so
with distant
great were the losses, arising out of transactions
United States,
banks, after the dissolution of the old bank of the
that

it

declined to be accountable to the Union for the public

mo-

31
ney placed

however

in those bantiC

selfish the

)

Does not the President

United States Bank

may

see,

be, the local

that,

banks

have not more extended principles of action ? Will not the anxiety
to make money, the ignorance, or the imprudence of, particularly
remote, local banks, tempt them so to extend their loans, and trade

upon the public money, that when that money shall be called for,
they may either fail to pay it, or ruin their debtors by demanding
its return? Upon whom would reproach, in such events, be cast?
Not on the banks, but on the secretary of the treasury, as an oppressive, perhaps a party, measure. It is manifest that the welfare
of the people demands, that, instead of being a partner of cither,

should be independent of both United States and local

tliey

banks.
If the President knew, certainly, that the United States
charter would not be extended, would he advise a change
of the depository of the public money ? Would he urge the under-

VI.

Bank

signed to execute articles of co-partnership between the good
people of the United States and divers banking companies, that
be very well conducted; but whose solvency materially depends on the solvency of each other, and the solvency of the
whole upon events beyond the control of any or of all ? As the
corporators, who have so long enjoyed a profitable part of the
sovereign power, who have had the opportunity to amass fortune,
and who have not been free from abuses to which monopolies

may

are liable, are soon to cease in their operations ; does it not become
the duty of the representatives of the people, whose lives, liberties,

and happiness are more or less affected by those institutions,
whether the fiscal operations of the government may

to consider,

not be conducted without such agency ? Could the inquiry be made
more propitious time? Is it wise to make entangling alliances
either with an institution not authorized by the constitution of
at a

the United States, or with loose corporations, which interfere
with, derange, depreciate, and banish the only currency known

gold and silver? Is it not inconsistent
with the dignity of the government, to be obliged to grant favours or exclusive privileges to particular descriptions of perto the constitution, that of

sons, that

would not be otherwise granted, merely

to

secure a

free and safe receipt and disbursement of the public

expenditure?

Is it

Income and
consistent with the public spirit and intelli-

gence of the representatives of the people to suppose, that they
cannot devise a method to escape such thraldom? But, if, in the

3^

(

wisdom of

)

mode can be

congress, no such

found, as will enable
operations without the aid
it is respectfully
suggested, whether some constitutional provision should not be made, to ensure all the good,
the

to

government
of a bank; then
with

conduct

its

fiscal

as little as possible of the evil, of a

bank.

Although the undersigned limits the inquiry to the mere want
of the government, it is not because he thinks this the only
question worthy of consideration. On the contrary, an inquiry
into the state of the entire currency, if not now demanded, must
soon be required. But it is not to the agents of banks, that resort

be safely had, in inquiries of this nature. Good and useful
as those agents may be, and no doubt are, in all the private relations of life, they are not so free from bias, as voluntarily to

may

develope the nature and results of their own operations. The laboratory of the people is preferable, their representatives the
manipulators.

The

inquiry, that must, at

paration

be necessary,

may

is

last,

be made, and for which pretwo descriptions of

not, which, of

monopolies alike at variance with the sovereign attributes of the
United States, and the general good of the people, is the least
and the consequences of those
pernicious; but how their abuses,
abuses, may be gradually corrected and averted. Such a scrutiny
would be worthy of the wisdom of congress. It might be so conducted as not to affect injuriously, by its results, any interest
and an opportunity might be presented to th^ Union and the
;

states,

whilst
gradually to limit, or remove, institutions, which,

uses, are yet so partial in their operations, and
so liable to be perverted, as to affect seriously the morals, imof the people.
pair the earnings, and endanger the liberties
Those institutions are now so powerful, and have such a com-

they have some

men in companies arc so prone to do, what as ininterest
dividuals they would scarcely think of, that any change affecting
them will be stoutly resisted. Can they be resisted at all, if their

mon

;

Or is the evil only to be
shall have no check ere long?
remedied, by one of those convulsions, in which, as in war, the
ruin usually falls on those, who ought to escape?

power

But

if

there

is

illusion in this suggestion of a general incan be none in the particular or preliminary

any

quiry, at least there

inquiry Hrst suggested. The fiscal operations of the government
should be safely, steadily, and speedily conducted. How shall

they be so conducted? what shall be the machinery?

who

the

(

33

I

)

agents? the undersigned, in the voice of experience, cannot err
in saying, that local banks are not the best.

Vir.

Supposing, that in adopting the proposed measure, the
country would not be violated that contempt to the

faith of the

;

and the next congress would not be evinced that the power
to contract with state banks exists; and that it would not be unwise to make the contract; still the question presents itself, what
last,

;

would be the

effect upon society?
Would the operations of the
or of the commercial world, be facilitated? Would
government,
confidence between man and man be promoted? Would the fa-

cility to stand a

shock, in the event of a war in Europe, for in-

stance, be given to the local

banks

?

These questions, and others of an analogous character, need
not be discussed by the undersigned for, his predecessor, on all
accounts so much more competent to advise the President than
;

he

is,

has placed this part of the subject especially, in a
point of

view, that cannot, he respectfully thinks, be overlooked by a
chief magistrate, so anxious as the President has
proved himself
to be, to protect the

mass of the community from embarrassment.

From want

of experience or information, the
undersigned may
not anticipate evil so extensive as that apprehended by his
predecessor; but his fears are still so strong, that he is quite unwil-

who is to put the match to a train, the end
of which he has not the sagacity to discern.
Even, if he doubted, whether the United States Bank could

ling to be the one,

meet every demand of government, as made upon it, he would
hesitate, whether it would not be his duty to forbear, rather than
to increase the evil, by
abridging the power of the bank to surmount its difBculties. So that in the absence of all doubt of the
kind, the undersigned would be at a loss for an excuse, were he
on his part, the very mischief that is
aplike female fame, is of such a peculiar nature,
prehended. Credit,
that its blossoms may be
even
the breath of
to produce,

by an

act

blighted
by
inquiry
what then, might not be the consequence of the blast of the indignation of government against an agent, in whose interest it
was itself so deeplv concerned ? Much more trivial changes, than
;

that proposed

convulsions.

by the President, have produced great commercial
Such a measure, as is urged, would be regarded by

the bank, so decidedly hostile, as to aflbrd it an excuse to shake
the fabric of credit, for the purpose of
throwing odium on the

government, and producing
E

a persuasion, that in the

extension

of the charter would be found the only remedy for the mischief.
That it would not hesitate to do so, the President believes that

—

it

ought not

to

have an excuse for doing

so, the

undersigned

is

certain.
It is, indeed, mentioned, in the letter of the President, that the
United States Bank will not be able to effect any such purpose.
But the undersigned is not satisfied, that an institution with so

large a capital, with branches at so many important points, acting with one accord, and for a single end, with specie equal to
half its circulation, has it not in its power to affect the operations

of local banks, with specie equal to about a sixth of their circulation only.
If the bank is really so harmless as this part of the

President's letter supposes, then the alarm that the undersigned
all times entertained, at the existence of such a power, is

has at

unfounded, and one of the most serious objections
of the charter

is

obviated.

But the undersigned

is

to the

renewal

not able to ar-

he is convinced, that it is in the power
;
of the United States Bank, so organized and so secured, grievously to affect the local banks and the community ; the underrive at such a conclusion

signed thinks that the trial ought not to be made.
Beyond doubt, the power of the United States Bank to control
the local banks, and, through them, masses of the people, and

through those masses, some of the constituted authorities of the
country, is of such a character and tendency, as to excite alarm.
But the very existence of such a power teaches extreme caution
;

such an adversary should gain no advantage from an abortive ex-

periment

to limit its influence.

The

struggle to be made, is not to see, which can do the other
the most harm, the government or the bank. The government

has but one duty to execute, to inform the people and their representatives of the apprehended danger. It is not called upon to
maim the bank, lest the bank should master the country. In any
attempt to maim, the agents of the bank would be those most
likely to escape, the wound would be felt in the cottage of the
farmer, rather than in the palace of the banker.

On

the other hand,

if

that the United States

the suggestion of the President is sound,
dare not operate oppressively, be-

Bank

cause the state banks, having government deposites, jnight run
upon the branches, then there is a check at all times, in the hands
of the government and the bank, during its legal existence, will
;

(

35

)

be careful not to do or omit, what might warrant

a total

removal

of the (leposites.
that the United States Bank is represented by some of the
banks as an engine so powerful as to be an object of universal alarm
and, the next moment, so utterly feeble, that by the
simple operation of a treasury order, the entire branches may be

So

local

;

and the paper flung upon them in
will not be prepared to redeem ! Which of
the true picture ? If a treasury order has such talismanic

broken up one

after the other,

masses, which they
these

is

influence, can there be a better pledge for the safety of the public
deposites ? But, if it has no such power, is it discreet to commence

the war

? In all such calculations, as those referred to, the
flingback masses of bank paper, and breaking up the branches,
ing
are items, that seem to have caused no compassion for the ultimate sufferers. It appears to have been forgotten, that a large

portion of the

and pure people of the land would be ruined
because the government of their country had
ruin them into the hands of corporations, in-

good
—and why ruined

?

put the power to
tent alone upon their
to

own aggrandizement Whether it is wise
make such experiments, the undersigned, with confidence, re!

spectfully submits.

He submits, with confidence, because he knows the purity of
the President's purposes, and that he will not press for a measure,
He
to say the least of it, of doubtful and portentous character.
is

not at

all

surprised, that excitement should exist ; it was almost
who are pure themselves, and

unavoidable on the part of those,

who sincerely believe that they see impurity in others ; its existence is even honourable to those, who, to avert a catastrophe
really apprehended, are content to incur some risk on their own
part.

can

No

now

one can imagine, that the President can have had, or
his apprehave, any other than the purest intentions
;

hensions are sincere, not factitious ; but, still, the apprehensions,
that are entertained, warrant those measures only which will bear
the cool examination of the future historian, rather than the test
It is of such measures as are now pro-

of contemporary feeling.

will be to the adoption
posed, that history will be the record. It
or rejection of then), that public men, in after times, will look
for examples. It is all important, therefore, that the most exalted

ground should be taken, when about to direct movements, that
will be compared with the past, that will affect the present, and
be an enduring guide in future.

The

President, indeed, seems to think, that he

is

but obeying

the will of the people ; he believes that his veto message became
the deciding as well as dividing point at elections. But the unis unable to concur with him, that his election was the

dersigned
result of a contest on that point. In many parts of the Union, the
bank question formed no part of the materials of dispute in
and
others, many friends of the bank voted for the President ;
;

that had inevery where, thousands voted, for the same reasons,
duced them to call him from his farm they knew his services to
be glorious, and his patriotism to be greater still.
left the
But, if it is true, that, when the President said he
took it up, then the underto the people, they really

—

question

whether it was ever supposed, that the
signed respectfully asks,
of the treasury was to be their champion? Was it not
secretary
rather the design of the President, that the people should send
to congress agents, who would be true to their trusts ? Surely
this is the constitutional and the patriotic course, and if it shall
not answer, then the undersigned thinks that the days of the rehe does not so think, neither will the
public are counted. But,
President so think, if he shall reflect upon the career of his
is persuaded, that, as
country on the contrary, the undersigned
the sun of the President's eventful life shall be setting, he will
see his country in the full enjoyment of all the liberty and haphe has done so much to transmit unimpaired to
piness, which
;

posterity.

conferperhaps, be asked, whether the power,
States Bank charter, upon the secretary of
red, by the United
the treasury, is to remain a dead letter upon the statute book?
In the first place, it may be replied, that, if it should so remain,

VIII.

it

It

may

may be honourable

to the

country as well as beneficial

;

for

it

will appear, that arbitrary principles are not resorted to, whatever may be the force of extraneous excitement it will appear,

—

that the

power given, was not exercised

as a substitute for the

constitutional prerogatives of the legislature or judiciary. In the
next place, it by no means follows, that because the undersigned
is unwilling to enter into an alliance with divers banks, that have
interests adverse to each other,

and no

common

interest but to

make all the money they can out of the treasure of the country,
he is to be perfectly passive, in all other respects. It is the opinion of the undersigned, that the public deposites will not constitute such a fund, as to warrant extensive operations on the part

|

^^It
of any bank.

If the

revenue of the present year

shall

meet the

the treasury, it does not seem to be probable, that
the surplus will be considerable. It is the present j)olicy of the
constituted authorities to keep down the income to the wants of

demands upon

The results of legislative proceedings, of late
cannot be very clearly anticipated. So that, it will beadopted,
hoove the United Slates Bank to regulate its operations accordBut, it will be the duty of the bank, whatever may be
ingly.
the government.

amount of deposites, to reduce gradually the circle of its business, in order to avoid the pressure, upon the community, arisa pressure injurious to the bank,
ing from a sudden suspension

the

—

as well as to the public and the government. And the undersigned thinks, that the country, as the proprietor of one-fifth of the
capital, and upon general principles also, has a right to call on

the bank so gradually to abridge its business.
If the bank sliould not do, what any prudent private banker, in
the certain assurance of an early death, or any incorporated local
bank destined to close its business, would do then, it will be the
;

duty of the undersigned to consider, in what way he may so
exercise the power vested in him, as to cause a reduction of its
business. The welfare of the country, the convenience of the go-

vernment, and the interests of the bank itself, demand, that all
concerned should so co-operate, as to prevent any of those evils,
which flow from changes in the character or amount of a circulating

medium.

It

may,

besides, be in the

power of the under-

signed, without any risk of censure, to resort to means, that
would be productive of benefit to all concerned, or at least not
prejudicial to any.

Whatever may be deemed
gradually, and with

weak

a

best, should be

due regard

to the rights

done cautiously,

and interests of the

VB^

as well as the strong.

IX. The undersigned might proceed, in a more extended dis-^^fc|
cussion of the subject,under consideration, if such were necessary.

He

has tried to shun the paths, already beaten by those, whose
opinions the President has availed himself of. He has indeed consulted his own heart and head as his arbiters. He has appealed to

the aid of

common

sense, as well as of ollicial intelligence, and
Nothing but a profound conviction

will here close his remarks.

of being in the right, could have induced the undersigned to take
his first step in opposition to what is so obviously the President's
sincere desire.

The undersigned

has too great a

respect

for

(

38

)

the judgment of the President, and too little confidence in his
own, dogmatically to say, that the President is mistaken, and
that the undersigned cannot be so. Happily, if the proposed measure really is essential to any great or good end, it is not in the
power of any man, much less of the undersigned, to set himself

up successfully against a chief magistrate, to whom the country
owes so much. Far from seeking such a celebrity, the undersigned
is prepared to make any
personal sacrifice, except an acquiescence in a measure, that he positively believes to be at variance
with his obligations to the country, the President, and himself.

In any event, no change can be made in those sentiments of
sincere respect and attachment, which will ever be entertained
for the President, by his obedient servant,

W.

LETTER
Fellow-Citizens

Mt

DUANE."

V.

;

in addressing these letters to you, has
principal object

upon my reputation, obviously sanctioned
the President of the United States. And if I had made; no

been

by

J.

to repel attacks

other defence than the letter, which

I

addressed to him on the

10th of July, I am satisfied it would have protected me from the
false and malignant aspersions of his official paper.
In submitting that letter to you, I have defended myself against
the President's assaults, and at the same time removed the doubt,
which appeared to have been entertained by some of the members of the senate of the United States, whether the President

had been duly warned as to the consequences of his proceedings.
So that of all my objects in addressing you, so far as the public
that of explainare concerned, but one remains to be executed
;

mission of an agent to
ing the circumstances connected with the
make inquiries as to the substitution of state banks for the Bank
of the United States, for conducting the fiscal operations of the
I shall remove another
government. In giving this explanation,

doubt, expressed in the senate of the United States, whether an
had been made to ascertain the consequences of the re-

effort

1

5jys

(

39

moval of the deposites upon the

Bank and

)

relations of the United States

the state banks towards each other.

I

important as such an inquiry was, the President
sent that it should be made.

shall

-show that,

would not con-

desire to
I
proceed to these explanations, you may
the incidents, which followed the delivery of my letter of
the 10th of July a desire on your part which may be the more

But before

know

;

incidents will naturally
readily gratified, as a narrative of those
lead to the subject of the mission, which I have just referred to.
letter of
I delivered to the President, on the 12th of July,
If he had been disposed to respect the
the 10th of that month.

my

no sort of
read

my

not only invited but required,

part, which he had
dissatisfaction would have

frankness on

my

letter.

On

the contrary, as

been
it

felt

was

by him, when he

his boasted rule of

conduct always to do what he thought right himself, he should
have commended me for following his own example. And if he
meant to respect the promise, which he gave me, not to interfere
with the independent exercise of the discretion committed to the
he would have consecretary of the treasury over the deposites,
sidered our correspondence closed by the letter before him.

But rumour,

particularly agile at

Washington, soon removed

was confirmed by a cold and
suspense on my part and its report
almost querulous note from the President himself, which, in efnot respect my sincerity or his
fect, announced that he would
;

proposed
promise. He inquired what fiscal agent
the Bank of the United States, since I objected to that bank
of
and the state banks also ; and desired an interview on the subject

own

in lieu

I

on the 15th of July.
Accordingly, on that day I waited upon the President but as
it is not needful to my defence to mention the particulars of our
;

conversation, I will barely say, that as to a fiscal agency, I referred to my letter of the 10th of July. In that letter I had represented, that the adoption of a fiscal agency was a legislative duty,
and that the whole subject of the currency must be considered

by congress,

in

providing for the safety and transmission of the

as the mere agent of congress, I
public funds. Consequently,
would not venture beyond my own sphere, however inclined I
might be respectfully to make suggestions thereafter. The Pre-

sident finally said, he would send me an answer to my letter of
the 10th of July, and he accordingly did so on the 17th of that

month.

This reply was explanatory, and perhaps

I

may add

40

(

)

exculpatory also. As soon as I received it, I wrote a
tary, dated the 19th of July, and would have delivered
the considerations which I shall now mention.

When the President was
me by letter; but, when he

at

commenit

but for

Boston, he necessarily addressed

returned, although his letter to me
claimed a written reply, I perceived no necessity for the continuance of a formal correspondence. On the contrary, it seem-

ed to be incorrect, that two agents of the same people, who
for the common good, should act as if they were

met every day

the representatives of antagonist powers. On other subjects, the
President and heads of departments had no such formal intercourse ; and I considered it my duty not to encourage it, although

by withholding

this letter 1 did violence to

my

personal feelings.

was perfectly obvious, that it was not with the
Besides,
President I was measuring the weapons of argument, but that I
was thrust at from behind the tapestry, without any power on
it

part to return the blow, except
really seemed to be unconscious that

my

this I

what

upon the President, who
it

had been struck.

By

mean, that in writing the President was made to insinuate
was at variance with his own declarations; so that I was
to believe either that

compelled

he was unconscious of what was

written for him, or else that he was deceitful to me. I adopted
the former of these alternatives as the most charitable conclusion,
as I became more and more satisfied that the President

especially

was not guided,

by

his con-

who had

sinister

as to the deposite question at least,

stitutional advisers, but impelled

by persons

views.
intercourse
Accordingly, I concluded to promote personal
flattered myself, that if communication by letters
onl}^, and even
could be terminated, the President would adhere to his assurance

not to

"

interfere with the independent exercise of the discretion

to the secretary of the treasury by law over the subUnder the influence of these feelings,
of the deposites.
ject"
and to avoid suspense, I waited upon the President twice on the

committed

interviews he said
19th, and again on the 20th of July. At these
he wanted an inquiry only and, on my saying that his letter of
June 26th indicated an actual removal by the 15th of Septemnot agree to the only
ber, he remarked that the banks might
;

of mutual guarantee that information
plan he thought safe, that
use of congress; that he conought to be obtained, even for the
;

ceived

I

ought to co-operate

in collecting it; that

he was de-

41

(

Mr. Kendall should make

sirous that

might

)

rem;iin

uncommitted,

inquiries; and that

we

until after a consideration of the

questions that were connected with a change of the depository.
Well disposed to obtain information, which I believed would
undeceive the President, and considering that a knowledge of
the facts to be collected must he useful, in any event, 1 consented, as a ministerial act, to prepare a letter of instruction for the

President's agent. When I had written it, I waited upon the
President on the 22d of July, not doubting but that he would
confer with

me

as to the points of inquiry

embraced

in

it,

and

any imperfection or omission. But in this I was greatly
disappointed, for he desired me to leave the letter of instruction
indicate

for his examination, adding, that

considered

me

he would see

he had

after

it.

here lay that letter before you. The paragraphs e, f, g,
were embraced in the President's plan of state bank
agency, quoted from his letter from Boston, dated June 26th.
The remaining paragraphs were introduced by myself.
I will

u,

I,

K, L,

Instriictio7%s.

(a) "Sir

— The operations of

the

Bank

of the United States,

excepting such as may be necessary for winding up its affairs,
will cease on the 4th of March 1836.
If, in the opinion of the
of the treasury, adequate reasons shall justify the measecretary

may at any time prior to
money in that bank.
"The President, therefore,

sure, he

that period cease to deposite

the public

considers

it

his

(b)
tain whether a substitute for the present public

duty

to ascer-

depository may
in the event of a change prior to the termination of
not be had
the charter, or at the dissolution of the bank, should it until then
;

remain the depository.
the opinion of the President, that to conduct the
(c) "It is
fiscal operations of the government, bank agency is necessary;
and, as he cannot, consistently with his avowed sentiments, sanction any national institution, he desires to seek for agents amongst
the banks incorporated

by the several

states in their individual

capacity.

"The President, having' designated you as the agent to
the necessary inquiries, I beg leave to present to you the
views that he entertains as your guide; it being understood that
(d)

make

you are

to

make
y

inquiries of

all

the

banks

in

the principal

(

42

)

which primary banks are to be selected in order that
an ample scope for selection may be had.
(e) *'1. That one bank be selected in Baltimore, one in Phila-

cities, in

two in New York, and one in Boston, with a right on
the part of the government to add one in Savannah, one in
Charleston, S.C., one in the state of Alabama, one in New Ordelphia,

leans,

and one in Norfolk, upon their acceding

to the

terms pro-

which shall receive the deposites in those places respectively, and be each responsible to the government for the
whole public deposites of the United States, wherever made.
(r) "2. That those banks shall have the right, by a conven-

posed,

all

tion of their presidents or otherwise, to select all the banks at
other points throughout the United States, in which the public
money shall be deposited, with an absolute negative by the secre-

tary of the treasury.
(g) "3. That the secretary of the treasury shall have power
to discontinue the deposites in any bank or banks, or break up

the whole arrangement, whenever he may think proper, he giving in such case the longest notice of his intention to do so,

which the public interest may warrant.
(h) "4. That the primary and secondary banks

shall

make

re-

turns of their entire condition to the secretary of the treasury
monthly, or oftener if he shall require it, and report to the trea-

weekly the state of his deposites with them respectively;
and that they shall also subject themselves to a critical examination of their books and transactions by the secretary of the treasurer

sury, or an authorised agent,

quire
(i)

whenever the secretary may

re-

it.

"5. That the arrangement of the government be only with

the primary banks, which shall be responsible to it, not only for
the safety of the entire deposites, wherever made, but for making

payment at any places in the United States, (without charge to
the government,) in gold or silver, or its equivalent, of any sum
which may be required there to be paid by the secretary of the
that they will also pay any expenses of an agent, temtreasury
:

porary or permanent,
into their affairs.

whom the

secretary

may appoint to examine

(k) <'6. That they will render, or cause to be rendered, without charge, every service, which can now be lawfully required
of the United States Bank.
(l)

"7. [Unimportant]

(

(m)

<'8. If

be disposed

to

43

.

'*

)

the banks, or any sufficient

make such arrangements

number of them,

as are

shall

contemplated by

the President, it will be necessary to inquire of them whether
their several charters authorise them to make such an arrangement as is contemplated ; that is, whether the president and directors

may

lawfully enter into the engagements required.
to ascertain whether the proposed arrangeunder circumstances, that may be expected

(n) "9. In order

ment is practicable,
to arise, inquiry should be made of all the banks, whether, if
this arrangement should be made prior to the 4th of March 1836,
it

will be in the

power of the Bank of the United

barrass or interrupt it;
is

to be

States to

em-

and whether any proceeding of that kind
In case any such proceeding may be ap-

apprehended.
it will be proper to inquire, what would be the probable effects of any collision or contest (between the selected
banks and the Bank of the United States, or other banks favourwith it), not only upon the banks themable to or

prehended,

combining

selves, but upon the community at large.
that a full investigation may be had upon
(o) ''10. In order
matters deeply interesting to the country, it is desirable that the

views of the President herein expressed should be fully communicated to the banks proposed to be made public depositories ;
and that the banks should be required to give specific replies in
their affairs respectively, on
writing, embracing statements of
the capital actually paid in
the first day of the present month
the amount of specie acthe amount of notes in circulation

—

—

—

—

—

the amount of debts
the amount of deposites
tually on hand
due to the banks respectively the amount due by them respecthe nature and amount of the bank property of each
tively

—

—

—

and all other facts that you may (teem necessary to be known tp tv
enable the government to act advisedly, and to understand th^^j^
true condition of the banks proposed to be made depositories.

1^^

<'

that

any proceeding whatever, especialto promote what is called
ly at the present time, may be likely
stock speculation, with all the mischiefs and tendency of gaming,
I respectfully express my conviction, that your agency ought
not to be regarded as a matter to be kept secret, but on the con(p)

Apprehending

be explicitly avowed upon all protrary, that its objects should
occasions.
Secrecy is not necessary, nor is it practicable if
per
it were so ; so that to attain a public object, the means should be

open

in

themselves and

in their

developments.

It will

of course

(

44

)

be proper to communicate from time to time the progress you

may make.
"

(q)

Having

thus, Sir, placed before

you the views of the Pre-

own part as seemed to be
sident, and such suggestions on
called for, it becomes
duty to myself, in order to guard
against expectations, on the part of the banks, that may not be

my

my

my

realized, or misapprehension elsewhere, distinctly to say that
performance of the present act of duty, as an executive agent,
not to be understood as an indication of any intention on

is

my

part, under existing circumstances, to exei'cise the power vested
in me by law.
Whether such an
may not arise as

emergency

warrant the exercise of that power,

may

it is

to anticipate; it is sufficient to observe, that in
such exists at present."
•

•

•

•

In the afternoon of the day on

which

unnecessary

my
I

now

opinion none

delivered these

instructions, to the President, for examination, instead of a message for a personal explanation, I received a letter, of which this
is

a copy.

The President

of the United States to the Secretary
OP the Treasury.
('

Washington, July 22, 1833.

dear sir: I cannot perceive the propriety of the conr
paragraph q in the draft of instructions, proposed to the
eluding
me this mornagent of inquiry, which you have submitted to

''My

decision
ing; unless you are determined not to acquiesce in the
which the President, on advisement with his cabinet, may make
You may
after a full view of all the circumstances of the case.
is the construction which the paragraph
and that it is manifestly at variance with the views
authorises,
which render the inquiry expedient. The great object to be obtained by the inquiry is to ascertain whether the state banks will
to become the agents of the government, on the terms pro-

not be aware that such

agree
the public moposed, for the safe keeping and transmission of
If they will, the ground taken by the President, should
neys.
circumstances remain as they now arc, is that it will be then exa substitute for the Bank of
pedient and just to resort to them as
the United States as a fiscal agent. But lest in the course of the

would justify a different
inquiry something might arise which
our last interview, that there
course, it was deemed best by us, at

(

45

•'
)

should be no commitment bej-ond the inquiry at this time, as to
the action of the government in regard to the change of the deshould be postpositcs; and that on the latter point a decision
until

poned

the report of the agent should be received, when
full consideration of the conduct of the bank,

there would be a

and of
fiscal

all

the matters connected with the substitution of another

agent.

Previously to inquiry, however, you declare that nothing
has yet occurred to render necessary the movement anticipated
by it, and thus leave me to infer that should the inquiry estab<«

competency of the state banks to perform the agency
to carry
proposed to them, you will not feel yourself at liberty

lish the

into effect, the decision, transferring the public deposites to them,
which the President, on advisement with his cabinet, may make.
Please inform me whether I am correct in supposing that this is

your determination. If I am, it will then be my duty in frankness and candour to suggest the course which will be necessary
on

my

part.

<'I

am, very

respectfully,

your obedient servant,

ANDREW

JACKSON."

considered this a palpable violation of the President's assurance, given to me in his letter of the 2Glh of June, from Boston,
that <' it was not his intention to interfere with the independent
I

exercise of the discretion committed to the secretary of the treaI was at
sury, by law, over the subject" of the deposites; and
first inclined peremptorily to adhere to the last paragraph q of

the instructions.
still

admitted

It

occurred

to

me, however, that the President

in his letter, that <'all ma'tlcrs

connected with the

agent" for the United States Bank,
were to be <' fully considered." I knew that the instructions (an
alteration of which was then unknown to nic) contemplated the
substitution of another

fiscal

President's bank plan alone, the practicability of which I doubted.
I also knew that the instructions contemplated the collection of
information, as to the effect of a removal of the deposites upon
the mutual relations of banks, and upon society, which if faithdisabuse the President's mind.
fully collected, would, I believed,

could not with propriety say tiiat I would not at a future
Under
so.
period act, because it might become my duty to do
these impressions. I forthwith wrote the following reply:

And

I

(

46

)

Treasury to the President op the
United States.

The Secretary

of the

" Treasury department, July
"

Sir: In answer to the letter

which

I

22, 1833.

have had the honour

to

receive from you, this afternoon, I beg leave to state that, havinto
ing understood your present object to be merely an inquiry
the practicability of the arrangement, which you desire to make
with the state banks, in case it should be deemed proper to emand
ploy them as substitutes for the Bank of the United States,

commitment beyond that inquiry, it ocwould be prudent to insert in the instructions
paragraph, which would prevent misconception,

that there should be no

curred to

me

that

it

to the agent, a
that might otherwise be produced, undesignedly on his part, in
the minds of the directors of the state banks, or of those of the

such misconceptions should be otherwise guarded
on my own account

If

public.

I have no desire
against, as they may be,
that the paragraph q should be retained.
<'

I

have already, both in writing and verbally, had the honour

to state to you, that, after the fullest consideration which I have
been able to give the subject, I do not, under existing circum-

stances, feel

myself

justified

in substituting state

banks for the

of the United States, as the depository of the public mobut that I am ready to make, under your direction, the
ney
fullest inquiry as to the propriety of the change. In the discharge

Bank
;

of the high trust confided to me,

has been

it

according to my best judgment, with
And although 1 do not anticipate such

posites for

a

my

desire to act

the lights before me.

change

in

my

views on

the inquiry should establish the practicability
the state hanks, as will lead me to remove the de-

the subject, even

of employing

all

if

any cause now known

to

me, before congress

shall

haye had an opportunity to act upon the matter, yet I am open
to conviction, and will not fail to give the fullest consideration
to any new facts which may be presented, and to any informa-

may be obtained in the proposed inquiry. I shall also
be ready to enter into a full examination of the whole subject,
when you shall, as you propose, bring it before your cabinet.
But if, after receiving the information, and hearing the discus-

tion that

duty, as the responsible agent
sions, I shall not consider it
to carry into effect the decision that you may make,
of the law,

my

I will,

from

my

respect for

you and

for myself,

promptly

afford

(

you an opportunity
cord with your

47

^

)

to select a successor,

own on

whose views may

ac-

the important subject in contemplation.

''Beyond tliis conclusion I respectfully dbnceive I cannot go
without improperly committing myself; a position in which I
understood I was not to be put before inquiry. Were I now to
I would
persist in my present opinions, be the results
of inquiry and discussion what they may, I should evince a recklessness to be rebuked on the other hand, were I to pledge my-

say, that

;

self hereafter to

abandon

my present sentiments, without

knowing

whether any thing may arise to justify the change, 1 should betray a weakness to be pitied, perhaps despised. All that I can
promise, therefore, consistently with the respect due to you as
well as myself,

is,

that,

when

the

moment

for decision, after in-

quiry and discussion, shall arrive, I will concur with you, or
retire.

"With

the utmost consideration, your obedient servant.

W.

J.

DUANE."

On the next day. after I had with the utmost sincerity given
the assurance contained in the above letter, in the confidence that
a full inquiry was meditated by the President, he returned the
instructions to me altered in the very particulars which had been
in
contemplation when that assurance was given. That is,

my

embraced in the instructions the President's plan of state
bank agency, for on the 19th of July he declared no otlier would

I had

be

safe

;

1

had

also incorporated a direction to collect information

as to the effects of a removal of the deposites upon the mutual
relations of the banks, and upon society and in his letter above
;

quoted, the President admitted that inquify was to be made into
"all matters connected with the'substitution of another fiscal

agent."

In this state of things,

I

after receiving the information, to

consequent discussion,

I

assured the President, that, if
be obtained by the agent, and

could not agree witji him,

I

would

re-

On

the receipt of this assurance, the Presiilcnt struck out
the direction to collect information, and inserted a new
provision, empowering the agent to propose or accept new plans.

tire.

My confidence now began to waver. I perceived that a full
and fair inquiry into "all matters connected with the substitution
of another fiscal agent," was not meditated. And the question
inevitably presented itself, whether, in the altered circumstances,
I was not absolved from an
obligation to respect the assurance T

48

(

)

But, I still flattered myself that the President would
be undeceived, and that the time of the meeting of congress
would be so closely 'approximated, ere a suitable inquiry could
be made, as to render any action by the President altogether in-

had given.

and improper. I, therefore, prepared the instructions as
altered; not with a view to retain a post which had no longer
any attractions for me, not to thwart the President in his legidelicate

timate course, not to

mar

a salutary measure, but to prevent the
I believed would be detrimental to

execution of a scheme which

the country and the President himself.
The alterations made in the instructions were these

—

Instead of paragraph c, according to which I had made the
President, as I supposed he was, an opponent of any national bank,

he introduced the following

" It

:

—

the opinion of the President, that hereafter as heretofore
agency will be found convenient, in managing the fiscal

bank

is

operations of the government ; and, as he cannot, consistently
with his avowed sentiments, sanction any national institution, orof the United
ganized upon the principles of the existing Bank
he deems it proper to ascertain whether all the services
States,

now

rendered by

rated
to the

it

may

not be performed by the banks incorpomore favourable

the several states, on terms equally or

by
government."

The paragraph d was

altered

by

striking out these

words

:

of all the
being understood that you are to make inquiries
banks in the principal cities, in which the primary banks are to
be selected, in order that ample scope for selection may be had."
<'

It

1 have not
Paragraphs l, n and q were wholly struck out.
as it was not thought proper to be
copied L in the instructions,
embraced in them, on justifiable considerations its omission does
:

not affect any existing question.

This new paragraph was added

:

—

"You

are not to consider yourself precluded by these instructions from making any other propositions to the said banks, for

the purpose of ascertaining on what terms they will undertake
the service referred to and you are at liberty to receive any pro;

think proper to make."
were on the 23d of July sent to
the agent, who soon after proceeded on his mission. He returned
his report was
early in September, and on the 9th of that month
submitted to the President. The plan of bank agency, deemed
positions from

The

them

that they

may

instructions, thus altered,

(

49

)

safe one, had been almost unanimously
the state banks. The materials (paragraph o) from
rejected by
which the condition of the state banks was to be ascertained, were
very imperfectly furnished. No inquiry, beyond that which re-

by the President the only

my

sulted in the agent's report and correspondence, was, to
presence,
knowledge, made. Nor was there any discussion in

my

my knowledge, as to the agent's report and coror any plan of state bank agency. If any member
respondence,
of the administration understood what was to be the system of
or otherwise to

future

fiscal

tively read

operations, T was not tliat person, although I attenthat was submitted. Yet it was into this chaos I

all

was required precipitately
country,

at a

to

plunge the

fiscal

operations of the
the legiti-

moment when they were conducted by

mate agent with the utmost simplicity, safety, and despatch.
In my own defence, as well as from public considerations, I
have submitted to you this account of the instructions given to
the President's agent. It was due to myself to show that the instructions, as reported to the senate, are not in the shape in which
I presented them to the President. My principal object, however,
has been to state the important fact that the President would not
permit his own agent to collect information, that might have disabused his own mind, or instructed his cabinet, whom he affected

If the information, called for

to consult.

as at first proposed,

had been collected,

I

by the

instructions

feel satisfied, that it

evil consequences, which have followed the measures of the President. Whether these acts, thus wantonly executed, evinced patriotism and magnanimity, or a sub-

would have indicated the

serviency to a selfish cabal, you are competent to determine.

W.
Philadelphia,

March

LETTER
Fellow-Citizens

J.

DUANE.

3d, 1834.

VI.

;

In my last letter, I reached the period in my narrative, when
the President's a<rent returned from his mission to the state banks,
and when his report was placed in the President's hands.

G

I

.'

^'-

50

(

might,

if at all

my

needful to

)

defence, here notice various inci-

between the 23d of July and the 9th of
There is but one, however, which 1 feel myself at
September.
liberty to notice at present, and that liberty I take, in consedents, that occurred

quence of the publication of an insidious article in the official
paper of the 7th of February last, founded upon a passage in
my letter to Governor Tazewell.
In that letter I mentioned my previous unwillingness to give
brief official career ; but
a full exposition of the incidents of
added that I would so far depart from the rule of silence, as to

my

state the true nature of the service,

which

I

had been required

to perform, especially as the official reasons given for its execution did not afford such an explanation. That the true nature of

the service was not to substitute one

fiscal

agent for another, but

to pervert a power, reserved by law for the public protection,
into a weapon to punish the legitimate fiscal agent, at such a time

and in such a manner

The

as to

evade legislative and judicial action.

paper of the 7th ult., perceiving the position in
which the President was thus placed, relatively to the other two
official

co-ordinate branches of the government, put forth a publication
to mislead the public mind, and to excuse the President for not

having awaited the action of congress. I propose in the present
letter to examine this publication.
explanation to Governor Tazewell is described, in the official publication referred to, as ''Mr. Duane's second thoughts;"
by which it is meant, I presume, that I had not before thought

My

of what I had then stated. But

it is

barely necessary to read

my

letter to the President of the 10th of July, in order to perceive,
that I then gave to him the very "thoughts," which in January

following I very briefly expressed to Governor Tazewell.
It is in the next place said, that my explanation to Governor

Tazewell

is

means, that

a "revelation;"
it is

before stated. In

the

first

and

this is correct, if the assertion

public exposition of what had not been
last, 1 declined to reveal some inci-

December

which I have now mentioned and I now forbear to state
particulars which I may hereafter refer to but my correspondence
with the President shows that I might have long since disclosed
what I now relate. I declined, however, until compelled to do
dents,

;

;

so in self defence.
It is further said, that I

to

remove the

have added a new reason, for refusing
my letter to the Pre-

deposites, to those given in

(

51

)

sldent of the 21st of September last; but it will appear, on an
examination of that letter, that this is a fallacy. It is true, I did

not say in
to

my

—

<'Sir
You required me
order to forestall the action of con-

letter to the President,

remove the deposites

in

gress;" the occasion did not call for that mode of expression,
and courtesy forbade it. But I stated the fact in a different way

;

I refused to
ciar}''

ought

deposites, because congress and the judiresorted to, and both were shunned.

remove the
to

be

first

paper then insinuates, that my explanation to Governor Tazewell was intended to operate on the pride of power
That it ought so to operate is true, but that it was
in congress.

The

official

object in showing what
designed for that end is unfounded.
was the true nature of the service required of me was, to prove
that I could not execute it without detriment to the public and

My

reproach to myself, and that my course was not unworthy of the
approbation of the citizens of Norfolk.

"We have understood," says the official paper, <'that Mr.
Duane was willing to fix a day after the meeting of congress, on
which he would remove the deposites, in case congress did not
act upon the subject. And we know that some of those in favour
of the removal, and among others the agent employed in making
preparation for the transfer, were persuaded that Mr. Duane was
sincere and honest in making this proposition, and entered into
his views; but the President

saw

that

it

was

utterly inconsistent

with the principles which Mr. Duane had previously laid down
in writing as those which would direct his conduct, and he considered the proposition as a mere finesse for the benefit of the
bank, and treated it accordingly."
1 will

not here stop to

comment upon

the President's secret

sentiments respecting me, which seem to have been so well
known to "the agent" and "others," writers for his official

show what was my proposition.
was known early in September that I persisted in
remove the deposites, and even hesitated whether

paper, but will

When
refusal to

it

my
my
my

country did not forbid a surrender of the post in
the members of the cabinet appeared to desire that
a middle course might be pursued. I was asked whether I would

duty

to the

care,

some of

upon a day, on which I would remove the deposites, after the
meeting of congress, in case that body should not act on the subWhether this inquiry was or was not made with a view
ject.
to an explanation with the President, I do not know ; but when
fix

52

(

)

was requested to state my sentiments in writing, I did so in a
letter, dated September 8th, of which the following is an extract:
"
ISIy conviction has been and is, that no cause for a change
I

of the depository does exist, such as warrants the exercise of the
power conferred on the secretary of the treasury that, until
;

adequate cause to change shall

arise,

it

will be his

duty

to de-

posite as at present, unless congress shall otherwise direct. So that
I can give no assurances but these ; I will change the depository
as soon as congress shall direct me to do so, or as soon as such
cause shall arise as will, in
judgment, justify the act; but, if
shall not sanction the removal of the deposites (that is,
congress

my

do so previous to removal) I am not at liberty to say, that I will
act at a given time; for I do not know that at that time there
will be any more reason than there is now for a change.
"Tliis

is

the result of reflection. I will respectfully and withmay be said hereafter ; but I have no ex-

out bias listen to what

present position. I am
go home, as soon as the Prehis preference, rather than do what I

pectation of varying in the least from
willing, and ready, and anxious

sident shall say such

is

my

to

should ever after regret and condemn." [See Appendix A.]
Thus it appears, I refused to fix a day, consented to remove
the deposites in case congress desired it, and stated my readiness
to retire as soon as the President should express his preference

Here I might rest
defence, but consider it
a duty to proceed.
In my letter of the 10th of July, I said, that, to justify
own act in removing the deposites,'! must rely on my own reasons and not on those of others, obviously alluding to the offer

my

for that course.

my

me by the President of his reasons, in case I should not
consider my own sufficient. The official paper, however, says,

made

to

I refused to act

even upon reasons " legislative" or " executive."

not onl}' contradicted by the proposition above quoted,
but by the whole course of my written and oral discussion with
the President ; it is also controverted by what I stated to the le-

This

is

gal adviser of the President,

my

successor in office, at an inter-

view had with him by the desire of the President himself. And
to show more precisely the nature of my argument, I quote the
following passage from a paper drawn up on the 19th of July for

—

the purpose of meeting the President's statements:
" You
[the President] are of opinion that there
error in

my

view of

is

that part of the subject discussed,

a radical

which

re-

lates to a reference of the question of the
depositos to fhe next
In order to demonstrate
congress.
supposed error, you ask,

my

whether the deposites can be removed except by the secretary
of the treasury ? to which there can be no other reply than, that
the secretary alone can remove them. You, then, however, inquire whetiicr congress can make any provision for a deposite
of the public money before its removal? to which you reply it
cannot, and that a removal, therefore, must be the fir?t step. In
this, however, I cannot concur; on the contrary, I am satisfied
that congress may control the whole matter.
Your conclusions
are that the existing grounds for removing the deposites are sufficient, and that, so far, congress have nothing to do with the

question ; that it would be throwing on them a responsibilit}'^,
not belonging to them but to another branch of the government;
that

mit

when
it

made

a

change

shall be

made,

it

will be time

enough

to sub-

to the revision of congress, but that until the change be
they cannot act. But, Sir, I cannot concur in this view

of the subject; the positions assumed, I humbly conceive, are
untenable. The bank charter reserves to congress the right to
decide after removal, whether the removal was proper or not.

So

that I respectfully contend that congress have a right to decide whether a removal should or should not be made at a future

day, for they are to judge of the reasons. Nor do I admit that
the responsibility rests upon the executive branch of the govern-

ment; on the contrary you

grant, in your letter of the 26th of
that the secretary of the treasury has by law a discretion,
June,

which he may use independently.

Independently of

whom?

Surely of every authority but that of the law, and of congress to
whom his conduct is to be submitted. I may, indeed, be in er-

would appear to me to be at least singular, that the
secretary of the treasury should be clothed with a power, which
his superiors could not exercise, guide, or control without his
previous action ; that if they should think the public funds ia
danger, they could not protect them, if he thought otherwise.

ror, but it

According to my impressions, the power of congress must be
wholly unsuited to its objects if it may not be exercised to in;

struct its agent to do, or

how

to do, or not to do, the act, for

which,
done, he is obliged to give them his reasons. So tliat
in the absence of all necessity, I desire to submit the question of
if

the removal of the deposites, at first y to those

upon

it

at

last.''^

who

are to decide

Aflt
(

Whetlier

I

was correct or

not, these

were the

positions,

which

with the President, and with the then
attorney general, as they must both remember. So that it is
wholly fallacious to pretend, either that I declined to be governed
I

maintained

in discussion

the will of congress, or that the President had the least inclination to await their action. On the contrary, if the official pa-

by

per is to be credited, the President determined to break down
the bank, ere he had left Tennessee, and of course long before
any of those occurrences took place, upon which he rested the
propriety of removing the deposltes. And I will here remark,
that this hostility could not have been founded on constitutional
scruples, for, when I introduced into the instructions for his
agent, a declaration that the President was opposed to any national bank, he struck this out, and substituted a declaration, that
he was only opposed to an institution organized upon the prinor
ciples of the existing bank, a declaration meaning any thing

nothing.

Notwithstanding the facts, which I have stated in this letter,
official paper declares, that the President refused to listen to
any application for delay, because he considered my effort "a

the

mere finesse" "a stratagem" ''for the benefit of the
the United States."
I ask you, fellow-citizens, to

mark

this,

and compare

Bank
it

of

with

prior declarations of the same paper. Behold the character given
Some time ago,
of your chief magistrate by his official organ
!

asserted that the President had been uniformly kind to me ;
and I admit that his professions were occasionally very ardent,
I also admit,
so much so that I confess I thought them sincere

it

;

that he offered the mission to Russia

"to save the

feelings

and

ofpride of myself, family and friends." But, observe, what the
ficial paper now confesses. It declares that the President was in

me

" the

agent and others," as utterly unof confidence ; at the very time when he was professing
worthy
the utmost friendship to myself! In the cabinet on the 10th of
September, in particular, the President declared, "I am well
pleased with you all." On the 14th and 18th of the same month,
secret representing

to

me, "if you will stand by me, it will be the happiest
of my life." Yet the official paper of the 7th of February last
day
shows, that the President was defaming me in private, when he
was in company with "the agent and others ;" he was doing so,
he

said to

—

although he had not a solitary

fact to

excuse even suspicion

!

•^^if
(

55

)

This charge of duplicity is not made hy me. It is the official
paper which places the President in this odious position. I was
his early and disinterested friend.
To gratify him I ahandoned

my home

and business.

committed no offence, unless in exerwhich the President promised
cising independently
I should so exercise. Yet, if his official
paper is to be credited, he
was secretly assailing the reputation of one of the members of
his own cabinet, whom he daily met as a friend. Which am I to
believe
what he said to me, or what his official paper now asI

a discretion,

—

serts

?

W.
Philadelphia,

March

LETTER
Fellow-Citizens

DUANE.

VII.

;

In the brief defensive address, which
of December

J.

Sth, 1834.

last, I stated

I

published on the 2d

the circumstances connected with

my

September. So that, when, in my recent
letters to you, I reached the latter period, I was disposed to consider my vindication complete. As, however, much had been said

removal from

office in

my

refusal to resign,
in the President's official paper respecting
it occurred to me that it might be proper to be more explicit on
that point, and to state unreservedly the incidents, feelings, and

considerations, which led to that result.
If I had entertained any doubts as to the propriety of further
explanation on the point referred to, these would be now removed. In a paper, styled a "p)'ofesf,'' which the President, on the
17th inst. sent to the senate and caused to be published in the

newspapers, there is a new demonstration of his disposition to
injure me. Not content with the anonymous slanders published

with his sanction

in his official paper, the President, in his "protest," has gratuitously and insidiously intimated, that, at the

time of

my

removal from

tify it existed," besides

my

"other causes

refusal to

sufficient to jus-

remove the

depositcs.

lie

was removed for not removing the deposites, and
removal was a painful alternative, yet he insinuates that

admits that
that

office,

my

I

(

56

)

He

"other causes to justify it existed !"
thus barely says enough
to excite suspicion, but refrains from any explanation that
might
enable me to repel, as I have hitherto triumphantly done, every
attack

upon my character.
That this imputation was insidiously made must be obvious.
It was not necessary on the public account, nor was it material
to the President's defence. If "other causes" of complaint existed, and it was justifiable to refer to them at all, the reference
should have been explicit.
The imputation, however, is altogether vague; and, therefore, as a "substitute for that defence
I have not been allowed to present in the ordinary form,"
I deny that "other causes existed to justify" my removal from

which
office,

and

call

on the President

In the mean time,

wrote

to

me

in

show them if he can.
which the President
He was then in a state of high

to

I refer to the letters

September

last.

not anger, and not disposed to suppress reproof.
excitement,
Until he shall specify "other causes," therefore, I proceed to
notice the only tangible complaint that has been made, namely,
if

that I refused to retire after having said I would do so ; and I
refusal will be pronounced perfectly justi-

feel confident that

my

fiable.

No dispassionate person can have read the letters which I have
addressed to you without being satisfied, that I had been the
early, steadfast, and disinterested friend of General Jackson. It
must be equally evident that I reluctantly left the shade of private life, and was content to return to it rather than execute a
measure which I condemned. I think it must be apparent, also,
that so far as hopes and fears could have had an influence, there
was every inducement to concur with the President, if I could
do so consistently with my obligations to the country.
I had scarcely assumed the office which had been assigned to
me, when doubts of the solidity of my position arose. It certainly was not of choice that I concluded that the President
was not in the hands of his constitutional advisers. The conviction that such was the fact was forced upon me by evidence
which it was impossible to resist. The individuals who were
the first to announce to me what had been done, and what was
meditated, upon a momentous subject, were scarcely known to
me. As I have already stated, one of them gave me evidence

(

57

)

of his intimacy with the President, of the most conclusive kind
and if another did not personally press his views upon me, he

;

sought to accomplish his purpose
considered equally clBcicnt.

in a

way, which he no douht

The

majority of the memhers of two successive cahinots were
opposed to a removal of the dcposites, and their resistance was
successfully combated by individuals wiio now urged me to enter
into their views. I naturally weighed not only the question of
the dcposites itself, but the motives of the rival parties. It was

impossible to attribute the course of the cabinet ministers to any
and I certainly could not believe that their

sinister purpose;

opponents were actuated by anxiety either for the
morals of the people.

No

public-spirited individual, so far as I

knew,

liberties or

called for the

removal of the dcposites. All the letters urging the measure, of
which I had any knowledge, were obviously written under factious and selfish influences. The persons, whom I heard named, as
prominently connected with the subject in agitation, were in my
at least in politics and stocks.
So that I was irresistibly led to the conviction, not only that

estimation gamblers,

the measure proposed was pernicious in its nature and tendency,
but that it was successfully urged upon the President by a cabal,
in opposition to his constitutional advisers.

The experience

of

every succeeding day gave new strength to this conclusion. I
doubt whether there was a solitary spontaneous movement made

by the President upon the subject. I do not believe there was
more than one paper addressed to me, or to the public, with
his signature, which was not from the pen of one of the irresponsible persons referred to. If any doubt as to this sinister
influence can still exist, it must be removed by a reference to the
official paper of the 7th of February last; wherein an intimate
intercourse between the President and his ''agent" and "others,"
explicitly asserted.
It may be true that the predecessors of General Jackson considered themselves at liberty to seek for information out of the
is

cabinet; but

if

they did

so,

whom

did they consult, and with
is not that the

what view was information given? The objection

^President should have confidential friends, but that they should
be individuals, whose intimacy he is unwilling to acknowledge.

was laudable, and if the persons consulted were virtuous and wise, there would be no occa-

If the
object of private conference

H

'^

-{58)

sion for concealment, nor
gestion of a cabal.

ground for so much anger

satisfied that a cabal did exist, I

Being

considered

it

at the sug-

my duty

to

My

the President as well as to the country to resist it.
resistance, however, was not made by covert means, but by an appeal
to the President in my letter of the 10th of July. So little effect

did that appeal produce, that it was followed by the first breach
of faith on the part of the executive, of which I have reason to

The President spontaneously

complain.

from Boston of the 26th of June, that

ter

assured me, in his letI

might independently

exercise the discretion, as to the deposites, conferred on the secretary of the treasury by law ; yet he utterly disregarded this

promise, and never attempted to excuse its violation.
This was soon after followed by another breach of faith on the
part of the President. In his letter to me of the 22d of July,

while he

held in his hands the instructions that I had drawn

still

he objected to the concluding paragraph thereof
only, and did not intimate a desire to alter them otherwise. On
the contrary he declared that there was to be "a full considera-

up

for his agent,

tion of

matters connected with the substitution of another

all

fis-

United States Bank. Trusting to this declaraagent"
I expressed in my reply of the same date my willingness
tion,
to retire, " if, after receiving the information" to be collected
by the agent, I could not concur with the President. Immediately after this assurance was given, the letter of instruction to
for the

cal

the agent was altered by the President, so as to forbid the collection of the very information, which I deemed chiefly important
to ''a full consideration" of the subject. It is thus evident that
assurance to retire was conditional ; it rested on the condition,

my

that the information, contemplated by the instructions as existing when I gave the assurance, should be collected. The condition not being complied with, I
obli2;ation to

That

I

observe

was

my

was

clearly absolved from

all

promise.

fully justified in connecting

my

assurance to retire

My

with the condition here mentioned can be easily shown.
view of the propriety of retiring, in case I should not be able to
concur, was based upon the expectation, that the amicable discussion, which was then going on between the President and myself,

was

conducted with entire fairness, without suppression of
facts and apart from sinister influences; and if it had been so
to be

conducted

I

stood ready to redeem

my

promise.

But

in a

con-

trary state of things
I

was

rij^jht

I

could not be expected to resign ; and henre
my assurance with the condition that

in connectinp;

information should be, collected by the agent, necessar)- for the
consideration of all matters connected with the |)roposed

full

change of the

fiscal
agent.
stated to you, fellow-citizens, in
fifth letter, as soon
as the President forbade his
to collect the information on
agent

As

my

I

which

my confidence began to waver. I had
treated the President as an honourable friend
but I now found
1

chiefly relied,

;

that his crafty advisers determined to make me their instrument,
or else to effect
removal from office. Doubts arose, whether

my

I

had not been indiscreet

in giving any assurance at all
and
was under an obligation to observe that which had
been given, after the circumstances under which it had been made
had been changed by the President.
My mind was filled with these doubts, when other considera-

whether

;

I

tions presented themselves.

By voluntarily retiring, I might rethe right of publicly defending myself when assailed;
linquish
and that I should be attacked, I was well convinced from what I
already knew. As soon as it was understood that 1 resisted a removal of the deposites, cowardly menaces and foul insinuations

appeared in newspapers of a particular class in various parts of
the Union.
I was satisfied that those publications
originated at

Washington

;

and

it

was

at length

formally announced, not only

to myself, but to the President, that his <<
agent," Mr. Amos
while on his mission to the state banks, had stimulated
Kendall,
To such an extent, indeed, was this shameful
similar attacks.

course pursued, that I was not sure that the mind of the President himself was not the seat of dissatisfaction or distrust. Accordingly, to remove all doubt, I waited upon him on the 14th
of September, expressly to inquire, whether he had any complaint to

make

had dared

in relation to

to call

my

my

conduct, and whether any one

motives in question.

To my

several inqui-

President gavea negative reply in the most emphatic terms,
declaring that his friendship and confidence were undiminished.
ries the

It

cannot be supposed that I then disbelieved the President;
I now decide
upon his sincerity. It is impossible, how-

nor need

ever, to pass this incident wholly in silence. In the official paper
of the 7th of February last, it is asserted, that early in September
the President declared to <'the agent" and "others," that 1 was
United States Bank to thwart him that is, at

in league with the

—

i

60'

(

the very time he was professing to myself unabated confidence
and almost parental kindness
Such was the state of the relations between the President and
!

myself, when, after his exposition had been read in cabinet on
the ISlh of September, he delivered that document to me for

When I retired, I had to consider not merely
ought to remove the deposites, but whether it was
my duty to resign. I was sensible that I had erred in giving any
assurance on the subject, and doubted whether subsequent occur-

consideration.

whether

I

not absolved me from all obligation to respect it. I
desired to avoid a surrender of an important post, and yet wished
to part from the President without unkind feeling. It occurred to

rences had

me

that

I

might accomplish both these ends by asking

for a writ-

ten expression of the President's wish that I should retire
and
in giving me such a memorandum, I did not perceive that there
would be any committal of himself. It seemed to me that, assail;

ed as

new

had been, and menaced with

really
I

^

I

would not desire

attacks, the President,

up my hands.
upon these points, when early on the morning
of the 19th of September, the President sent to inquire whether
I had come to a decision. I replied that I would communicate it
on the 21st. On the morning of the same day (19th), the President's secretary called on me to state, that the President had determined to announce the decision on the deposite question in the
Globe of the next day. He then proposed to read to me a paper
if

was

my

friend,

to tie

reflecting

prepared for that purpose but I refused to listen to it, stating that
I had the President's exposition then before me, and was preparing a defensive paper on my own part that the President ought
;

;

to wait one day longer to enable
that any such publication in the

me

paper and
Globe as was proposed would
be a gross indignity to me as an officer and a man. The secretary
said, he believed the President would proceed, that the New
York Evening Post was urging a decision, and that as to himself
he had no wish to express. I then delivered to him a written remonstrance against the proposed publication. [See Appendix B.]
to present that

;

On

the following day, 20th of September, the decision, that the
deposites would be removed on or before the 1st of October was

announced. [See Appendix C]
seeing this announcement, all doubt as to my proper course
vanished. I not only persisted in my uniform determination not
officially

On

to

remove the

deposites, but I

now

resolved not to resign. Put-

•

Wr-^

ting aside the defensive exposition, which I had now nearly
completed, I wrote on the 21st of September a brief emphatic
letter, [see
it

Appendix D,J and on

that day personally presented
On^lhat occasion, I refused " to aid, assist
participate in the proposed change of the public

to the President.

or in any

way

depository."

most remote

also refused to resign; and, '< without in the
degree meaning any sort of disrespect to the PresiI

dent, I protested against his interference with powers and duties,
I believed were designedly withheld from him, and com-

which

mitted to the secretary of the treasury, the fiscal agent of the
I
law."
long conversation ensued, the particulars of which

A

have

my

in

it

my power minutely

narrative avoided

dispensably necessary,

to state; but as I

have throughout

reference to conversations, unless inI will
shall adhere to that course still.

all

I

barely add, that I made the suggestion, heretofore alluded to,
that a memorandum should be given to me to retire: this I considered would be a shield to myself, and would prevent any un-

kind feeling on either side. The President, however, insisted
upon an unconditional surrender, to which I would not submit,
and we separated.
Such is a brief view of some of the incidents, feelings on my
and considerations, which led to my refusal to resign. For a
further explanation I refer to my letter of the 21st of September,
[Appendix D]. As to the imputation of the official paper, that,

part,

when

I

consented to retire,

I

meditated a non-compliance,

it is

contradicted by the tenor of my whole life, as well as by the particular facts of the case. I erred, perhaps, in giving any assurance
whatever for although it was given on a condition wiiich was
;

by the President, and although annulled in fact by
the outrage on my feelings of announcing, without my consent, the
decision of the deposite question, while I was still secretary of the
treasury yet the fact of there having been a ])romise, has given a

never

fulfilled

;

colourable ground to

my traduccrs for charging me with

bad

faith.

But even supposing for a moment that my conditional assurance to
retire was in full force on the 21st of September, still the President
did not give

me

the opportunity of choosing between the alterna-

letter of the 22d of July. In that letter I
tives presented in
had said, that <' when the moment for decision, after inquiry and

my

'

discussion, should arrive, I

would concur or

retire."

On

the 19th

of September I required until the 21st to present my decision.
By taking, on the 20th of September, the arbitrary and illegal

{

152

)

course of announcing tlic intended removal of the deposites,
while, as secretary of the treasury, I yet held the President's
deexposition in my hands for consideration, he forestalled my

by the

cision, and,

all obliiiation

affront thus put

upon me, absolved

me from

whatever.

Thus, fellow-citizens, after having been allured from my home
and business; after having been promised that I imghiindependently exercise the discretion conferred on me as an officer by

law

after having
after having struggled against a selfish cabal
endured every thing but a direct affront, it is pretended, that,
when that affront was given, 1 was bound to gratify the very ob;

;

ject of those

who insulted me, by tamely relinquishing office by
when such a course would have deprived me of
self-defence, the privilege which you now see is so

a voluntary act,

the right of
essential to

my

safety.

^

Philadelphia, April 2\st, 1834.

'^'

m:

W.

J.

DUANE.

A

APPEXDIX.

A.

The

paper having]; called in question the genuineness
from which this extract was taken, as well as repeated the assertion that I had made a proposition to the Presiof the
dent,

official

letter,

I

addressed this note to the editor of the Commercial In-

—

telligencer

:

—

<4SiR There is in the President's official paper of Ihe 15th
inst. an article, which bears the executive stamp, and I therefore
notice it. Commenting upon a part of my sixth letter, recently
addressed to the people of the United States, it says
" It is understood Mr. Duane had proposed in person to the President, that
:

—

^-

•

" ' if he would
postpone the removal of the
" he would then
comply with iiis wishes.'

deposites until the 1st of January,

•

4h

"There is no foundation for this
<' The official
paper proceeds
:

— statement.

"_
*•

—

application should be made to congress to act in the matter
to be taken in the event of congress r<>/u,«n^'- to do any thinjj on the subject.'

•' *

"

and as a
an
the measure

It was afterwards distinctly, submitted as a formal proposition,
Hieaiis of uniting liie whole cabi'iet in the siipporl of llie measure, tliut

•

•

for me to say, I submitted no such formal proWhat others may have done or omitted ought not to be
on the authority of the official
conjectured, much less believed,
<<It is

enough

position.

paper.

^

sixth letter to the people, in order to show the con-which I wrote on the Slh
sistency of my course, I quoted a letter
of September to a member of the cabinet. The official paper says

"In my

the President never heard of such a letter, and tliis may be true.
Iiut when it says < no member of the cabinet has any knowledge
of his [Mr. DuancJ having written siich a letter,' the official paif per speaks without authority.

"Here

I

might

rest,

and

call

on the

official

paper to produce

is
authority for this alleged denial of knowledge. But there
no occasion for special pleading. I have had no secrets nor am I
aware that others have had any all thai I wrote and spoke while

its

—

I

was

in office,

1

should be glad to see printed and in the hands

(

of

my

fellow-citizens.

I

64

)

proceed, therefore, to the subject

now

in

question.

''The cabinet was divided on the measure of the proposed removal of the deposites, two members for removal, and four against
it.
It was the desire, as well as the duty of the constitutional advisers of the President to produce unity of action if possible. The
I
President himself said to them, 'I want harmony, gentlemen
do not want to lose any of you 1 am pleased with you all.' Conversations between the members of the cabinet necessarily took
the President himself recommended them
place. On one occasion
to confer together. It was naturally desired, that my views should
be distinctly understood. The possibility of some middle course,
or compromise, was spoken of with a view, perhaps, to obtain the
President's concurrence. After an anxious conversation on the
of state and myself, at his
general subject between the secretary
and as I understood with a view to explanation with other
instance,
members of the cabinet, I wrote a letter, of which I will now lay
before you a copy. Prefixed to this letter there were extracts
of elucidation. In
quoted from official documents, for the purpose
the draught of my letter, I did not copy those extracts I merely
stated at the head of the draught,
[Extracts as to continuance
the
of deposites].' Of the letter itself, the following is a copy
the hands of the secretary of state.
is, no doubt, in
original
;

;

;

'

;

—

" Dear

The foregoing are the extracts, the force of which
Sir
conviction has been and is,
consider greater than I do.
you
that no cause for a change of the depository does exist, such as
warrants the exercise of the power of the secretary of the treathat until adequate cause to change shall arise, it will
sury
be his duty to deposite as at present, unless congress shall otherI will
wise direct so that I can give no assurances but these
<

My

;

—

:

as soon as congress shall direct me to do
change the depository
such cause shall arise as will in my judgment
so, or as soon as
the act but if congress shall not sanction a removal of the
justify
do so previous to removal) I am not at liberty
deposites (that is,
to say that I will act at a given time, for I do not know that at
more cause than there is now for a
that time there will be
:

any

•

change.

" This

the result of reflection since I saw

you last evening.
I will respectfully and without bias listen to what may be said
in the least from
hereafter, but I have no expectation of varying
<

is

and ready, and anxious to go
present position. I am willing,
as soon as the President shall say such is his preference,
home,
rather than do what I should ever after regret and condemn.
JJ|

my

<Most kindly and
<

Hon. L. M'Lane, &c.'

^

'^

respectfully yours,
'

W.

J.

DUANE. »

"*

isjb

mJ

"Whether

M

65

(

)

this letter, or its nature,

was made known

to the

do not know. Probably it was not, as its assurances
President,
or likely
presented no course that might be considered middle,
to be acceded to.
All tliat it becomes me to do is to present the
I

letter as written.

''March

The

^^

t J
>^

19, 1834."

<'

W.

J.

DUANE.

^.
*-

paper of the 24/A of March, commenting upon
the foregoing letter, asserted, that it previou.sly " had assurances
from all the members of the cabinet, disclaiming any knowledge
on their part of the letter" of the Sth of September, above quoted ;
and added, "such assurances we now have." On the 26th of
March, the following note appeared in the official paper
official

:

—

" JVashins^ton, March 25th, 1834.
" To Mr. Blair, Editor of the Globe
:

" In

P"*

an editorial article in the

a recent letter of

Mr. Duane

*

Globe' of yesterday, relative to

to the

Commercial Intelligencer,

it

among other things, stated, 'that we had assurances from all
the members of the cabinet, disclaiming any knowledge on their
Duane has referred,' &:c. and it
part, of the letter to which Mr.
is also stated, <such assurances we now have.'
<
"Being disappointed in the expectation that the Globe' of this
have contained such an explanation as would remorning would
move the misapprehension which the statement is calculated to
that I have at no
produce, I deem it proper to inform the public
time had any personal or written communication with the editor
of the 'Globe' on the subject, and have given him no assurances
It is true that, upon one occain regard to Mr. Duanc's letter.
sion, immediately after the appearance of Mr. Duane's sixth letto an inquiry from him,
ter, I stated to one gentleman, in answer
that I had then no recollection of receiving from JNIr. Duane such
a letter as he had referred to, but that it was not impossible that
he had written, and that I had received it because I remembered
that I had held with him the conversation to which he alluded,
and that, remaining silent at the time, he returned me the next
is

;

;

—

to my recolmorning, or soon afterwards, an answer according
substantially the same as that which it was
lection, a verbal one

—

L
W
,^

w

asserted his letter contained. On the same occasion, I particularly
'
it in the
Globe.'
urged that no notice should be taken of
"I have only to add, that since Mr. Duane's recent letter, I

have given no assurances
that Mr. Duane wrote the

to

any one, nor expressed any doubt

according to his statement; but
neither that letter, nor any thing that passed between Mr. Duan6
and myself on the subject, was communicated by me to the Preletter

sident.

"

1

am, your obedient servant,

"LOUIS M'LANE."

I

(

"A.

66

)

'

DoNELsoN, Esq.
<'Dear Sir
J.

—

"

The world is so censorious, that I am obliged upon reflection
express to you my hope, that you will not regard me as approving of any publication it would seem to be but delicate to
howdefer such an act, until I shall either concur or decline
ever, all that I desire to have understood is, that I do not approve
of the course you mentioned. Were I the President, I would
consult, at least reasonably, the feelings of a man, who has already anxiety enough. As to the newspapers, they will know
what has been done, without an official communication.
to

;

;

"Very

respectfully, yours,

" W.

J.

DUANE.

''September 19th, 1833."

From

the Globe of Friday,

September 20th, 1833.

"We

are authorized to state that the deposites of the public
will be changed, from the Bank of the United States to
the State Banks, as soon as necessary arrangements can be made
for that purpose, and that it is believed they can be completed in
York, and Boston, in time to
Baltimore, Philadelphia,

money

New

the change by the 1st of October, and perhaps sooner, if
circumstances should render an earlier action necessary on the
part of the government.
"It is contemplated, we understand, not to remove at once,
the whole of the public money now in deposite in the Bank of
the United States, but to suffer it to remain there until it shall
be gradually withdrawn by the usual operation of the government. And this plan is adopted in order to prevent any necesBank of the United States, for pressing
sity, on the part of the
the commercial community ; and to enable it to afford, if it
upon
think proper, the usual facilities to the merchants. It is believed,
that by this means the change need not produce any inconvenience to the commercial community, and that circumstances will
not require a sudden and heavy call on the Bank of the United
States, so as to occasion embarrassment to the institution or the

make

public."

The agency

of the President, as to the removal of the depoand the above quoted annunciation, appears from the following note addressed to me by the President's secretary. It
also appears from this note, that at the time the intended removal
of the deposites was announced, I held in my hands the exposition which had been read in the cabinet on the 18th of September.
sites,

*

mL-7!

" Dear Sib

"The

''September 2\sf, 1833.

—

PresidiMit has rfqiiestcd

mo

lo call

upon you

this

morn-

ing, and ask for tlie paoer containing; his decision of the question
of the dcposites. IJcin^oo unwell to walk down to )'Our odice,
I must communicate the President's wish in this form.
He de-

paper in preparino; for the public a full account of the reasons which have letl him to ado])t the step which
has'been already announced.

sires to refer to the

"Yours,

:

''A.

<'HoN.

W.

J.

truly,
J.

DONELSON.

DuANE, Secretart of the Treasury."
D.

The Secretary of the Treasury

to the President
States.

Sir —

of the United

Treasury Department, September

2\st, 1833.

I have the honour to lay before you
copy of my commission, empowering and enjoining me
to execute my duly according to law, and authorizing me to
hold my office at your pleasure.
2.
copy of my oath of office, wherein I solemnly pledged
myself to execute the trust committed to me with fidelity.
3.
copy of the 16th section of the law chartering the Bank
of the United States, whereby the discretion to discontinue the
deposites of the public money in that bank, was committed to
1.

:

A

A

A

the secretary of the treasury alone.
4. An extract from your letter to me of the 26th of June,
wherein you promise not to interfere with the independent exercise of the discretion, committed to me by the above mention^
ed law over the subject.
5. An extract from your exposition of the ISth inst., wherein
you state, that you do not expect me, at your request, order, or
dictation, to do any act which I may believe to be illegal, or

my conscience may condemn.
When you delivered to me, on the

which

ISth inst., the exposition
of your views, above referred to, 1 asked you whetiier 1 was to
to me, to remove the depo^tes.
regard it as direction, by you
You replied that it was your direction to me to remove the deand you had the goodness
posites, but upon your responsibility
add, that, if I would stand by you, it would be the happiest
;

|to

*

day of your life.
Solemnly impressed with a profound sense of my obligations
to my country and myself, after painful reflection, and upon my

own

impressions, unaided by any advice such as

I

expected,

1

(

68

)

respectful!}' announce to you, Sir, that I refuse to carry
directions into effect:

Not because

your

for it would be
I desire to frustrate your wishes
pleasure to promote them, if I could do so, consistently with
superior obligations.
Not because I desire to favour the Bank of the United States,
;

my
to

which

Not

I

have ever been, am, and ever shall be opposed.
any views, passions, or feelings of my own

to gratify

but

—

?,

Because

consider the proposed change of the depository,
in the absence of all necessity, a breach of the public faith.
2. Because the measure^ if not in reality, appears to be vindictive and arbitrary, not conservative or just.
3. Because, if the bank has abused or perverted its powers,
the judiciary are able and willing to punish; and in the last resort, the representatives of the people may do so.
4. Because the last House of Representatives of the United
States pronounced the public money in the Bank of the United
1.

I

States safe.
5. Because, if under new circumstances, a change of depository ought to be made, the representatives of the people, chosen
since your appeal to them in your veto message, will in a few
weeks assemble, and be willing and able to do their duty.'
6. Because a change to local and irresponsible banks will
tend to shake public confidence, and promote doubt and mischief
in the operations of society.
7. Because it is not sound policy in the Union to foster local
banks, which, in their multiplication and cupidity, derange, depreciate and banish the only currency known to the constitution,
that of gold and silver.
S. Because it is not prudent to confide, in the crude way proposed by your agent, in local banks; when on an average of all
the banks, dependent in a great degree upon each other, one
dollar in silver cannot be paid for six dollars of the paper in cir-

culation.
9. Because it is dangerous to place in the hands of a secretary
of the treasury, dependent for office on executive will, a power
to favour or punish local banks, and consequently make them

political machinery.
10. Because the whole

proceeding must tend to diminish the
our regard for national credit and reinasmuch as, whatever may be the abuses of the Diputation
rectors of the Bank of the United States, the evil now to be endured must be borne by innocent persons, many of whom, abroad,
had a right to confide in the law that authorized them to be holdconfidence of the world

in

;

ers of stock.
1

1.

Because

I

believe that the efforts

made

in various quarters

(

to hasten the

69

)

removal of the deposites, did not
schemes to promote

patriots or statesmen, tut in
tious purposes.

ori<^inate with
selfish and fac-

it^lias ^ccn attempfrd by persons and presses
be in the confidence and pay of the administration, to
intimidate and constrain the secretary of the treasury, to execute
an act in direct opposition to his own solemn convictions.

12.

known

Because
to

And now, sir, having with a frankness that means no disrespcaL and with feelings such as I lately declared them to be,
staajpto you why I refuse to execute what you direct I proce(/d
to perform a necessarily connected act of duty, by announcing
to you, that I do not intend voluntarily to leave the post, which
the law has placed under my charge, and by giving you my rea;

^

sons for so refusing.

on the 22d of July, you signified in language
sufficiently intelligible, that you would then remove me from
office, unless I would consent to remove the deposites, on your
It may also be true that I should then have put
final decision.
it to the test; and it is also true, that under a well grounded assurance, that your bank plan, the only one then embodied in the
instructions drawn up by me for your agent, would be, as it
proved, abortive, that for this and other causes, you would be
It is true, that,

content, I did state my willii.gness to retire, if I could not con*
cur with you.
But I am not afraid to meet the verdict of generous men, upon
ray refusal, on reflection, and after what has since occurred, to
do voluntarily what I tlien believed I never should be asked to
frail reputation, or had any sinister purpose to
might be open to censure, for a neglect of punctilious
delicacy; but I can have no impure motives, much less can I
attain any selfish end.
I barely choose between one mode of retirement and another; and I choose that mode, which I should
least of all have preferred, if I had not exalted and redeeming

do.

If I

answer,

had a

I

considerations in

its

favour.

own example:

I do not say, that, after
with the independent exercise of the discretion vested in me by law," you were wrong in"
a superior
interfering, if you really thought the public welfare
consideration to a mere observance of assurances made to me ;
nor can you say thai 1 err, when, upon a solemn sense of duly,
I

bave, besides, your

you had promised "not

to interfere

prefer one mode of removal from this station to another.
The course is due to my own self-preservation, as well as to
the public; for you have in all your papers held out an assur^ance, that you would not "interfere with the independent exercise of the discretion committed to me by law'' over the deposites; and yet, every thing but actual removal of me from office,
^
has been done to effect that end. So that, were I to go out of
I

JT
""

^-T-

PtO^I

'-^

^""""^

=

you might be able to point to official papers,
would contradict me, if I said you interfered; and I should
thus be held up as a weak and faithless agent, who regarded de-

office voluntarily,

that

shown

more than duty to his trust.
you, that I have had scruples, for it
is the first time that 1 have ever condescended to
weigh a quesbut I am content, that it shall be said of me,
tion of the kind
that in July last I forgot myself and my duty too, rather than
that it should bo said, that, now, knowing the course that you
pursue, I had in any way favoured it. On the contrary, if I have
erred, I am willing to be reproved, but my motives no man can
licacy not

to himself

Sir, after all, I confess to

;

impugn.

refusal to resign cannot keep me one moment longer than
please in an office that 1 never sought, and at a removal from

My
you
which

not grieve on my own account; it must, on the
hasten my exit. So that, if you shall proceed in wrestcontrary,
ing from the secretary of the treasury the citadel in his possession, the act can only be accomplished by a mandate, which will
be my apology for no longer standing in the breach.
And now, sir, allow me to repeat to you in sincerity of heart,
that, in taking the present course, under a solemn sense of my
than on
obligations, I feel a sorrow on your account, far greater
own. I have been your early, uniform, and steadfast friend ;
my
I can have no unkind disposition, but shall cherish those of a
kind nature that I feel. You proudly occupy the hearts of your
countrymen but still it is the lot of humanity at times to err.
I do ample justice to your motives, but I am constrained to reI shall

;

and I devoutly wish that you
gret your present proceedings
live to see all my forebodings contradicted, and your meamay
;

sures followed by results beneficial to your country, and ho-

nourable to yourself.

With

the utmost consideration.
Your obedient servant,
.

W.

J.

DUANE.

—

Note. Whether there is any thing in the above letter, which
warranted a contumelious return of it to me, dispassionate persons will determine. It was so returned to me, with an inquiry
whether I would remove the deposites. I again refused, and on
the 23d of September, I received the "mandate" which forced
me to abandon <'the citadel" in my possession.

W.

^pril2\st, 1834.

J.

DUANE.

SPE EDY BINDER
ZZ:^Z Syroc«««, N. Y.
"
Stockton, Coin.

AA 000

588 669

^