View original document

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






J U L Y 11, 1 8 3 2 .


S P E E C H



N o one will d e n y the high importance of the subject now before us. Congress, after lull deliberation and discussion, has
passed a Bill for extending the duration of the Bank of the U n i ted States, by decisive majorities, in both H o u s e s . It has adopted this measure not until its attention had been called to the
subject, in three successive annual messages of the President.
T h e bill having been thus passed by both H o u s e s , and having
been duly presented to the President,
instead of signing and
approving it, he has returned it with objections- T h e s e objections go against the whole substance of the law, originally creating the Bank. T h e y d e n y , in effect, that the B a n k is Constitutional, they deny that it is expedient, they d e n y that it is necessary for the public serviceI t is not to be doubted, that the Constitution gives the President the power, which he has n o w exercised; but while the
power is admitted, the grounds upon which it has been exerted
become fit subjects of examination. T h e Constitution makes it
the drity of Congress, in cases like this, to reconsider the measure, which they have passed, to weigh the force of the President's objections to that measure, and to take a n e w vote upon
the question.
Before the Senate proceeds to this second vote, I propose to
make some remarks upon those objections. A n d in the first
place, i t is to be observed, that they are such as to extinguish
ail hope, that the present Bank, or any Bank at all resembling
it, or resembling any k n o w n similar institution, can ever receive his approbation. H e states no terms, no qualifications,
no conditions, no modifications, which can reconcile him to the
essential nrovisions of the existing charter. H e is against the
Bank, and against any bank constituted in a manner known
either to this, or any other country. One advantage, therefore,
is certainly obtained, by presenting him the bill- I t has caused
his sentiments to be m*rfS lp kriown. ' f i w ^ is no longer any
mystery, no longer a^bnteWSfet^gteffRfipe afcd fear, or between

those prophets who predicted a Veto, and those who foretold all
approval. T h e bill is negatived, the President has assumed the
responsibility of putting an end to the Bank; and the country
must prepare itself to meet that change in its concerns, whicn
the expiration of the charter will produce. Mr. President, 1
will not conceal my opinion, that the affairs of this country are
approaching an important and dangerous crisis. A t the very
moment of almost unparalleled general prosperity, there appe a l *
an unaccountable disposition to destroy the most useful an
most approved institutions of the government. Indeed, it seem
to be in the midst of all this national happiness, that some are
found openly to question the advantages of the Constitution itself; and many more ready to embarrass the exercise of its jus
power, weaken its authority, and undermine its foundation*H o w far these notions may" be carried, it is impossible y e t to
say. W e have before us the practical result of one of themT h e Bank has fallen, or is to fall.
I t is now certain, that without a change in our public council*
this Bank will not be continued, nor wilt any other be established, which, according to the general sense and language of man~
kind, can be entitled to the name. W i t h i n three years and nin e
months from the present moment, the charter o t the Bank expires; within that period, therefore, it must wind up its concerns. I t must call in its debts, withdraw its bills from circu*
latum, and cease from all its ordinary operations. A l l this 1*
to be done, in three years and nine months; because, although
there is a provision in the charter, rendering it lawful to use the
corporate name for two years after the expiration of the charter*
y e t this is allowed only for the purpose of suits, and for the sale
of the estate belonging to the Bank, and for no other purpose
whatever—The whole active business of the Bank, its custody
of public deposits, its transfers of public moneys, its dealing in
exchange, all its loans and discounts, and all its issues of bill*
for circulation, must cease and determine, on or before the third
d a y of March, 1 8 3 6 ; and within the same period its debts must
be collected, as no new contract can be made with it, as a corporation, for the renewal of loans, or discount of notes or bills*
after that time.
T h e President is of opinion, that this time is lon^ enough to
close the concerns of the institution without inconvenience*
H i s language is. ^ the time allowed the Bank to close its concerns
is ample, and if it has been well managed, its pressure will be
light, and heavy only in case its management has been bad. lf»
therefore, it shall produce distress, the fault will be its o w n - "
Sir, this is all no more than general statement, without fact or
argument to support it* W e know what the management of the
Bank has been, and we know the present state *of its affairs*
W e can judge, therefore, whether it be probable, that its capital
can be ail called in, and the circulation of its bills withdrawn^
m three years and nine months, by any discretion or prudence


*n management, without producing distress.


i i „


* i-

^ J I


T h e Bank has dis,



perceive how any man can believe, that it can be paid, within
»e time now limited, without distress. L e t us look at known
acts. Thirty millions of the capital of the Bank are now out,
-, n l °ans and discounts in the states on the Mississippi and
»» waters; ten of these millions on the discount of bills of
xchange, foreign and domestic, and twenty millions loaned on
promissory notes. N o w , sir, how is it possible, that this vast
mount can be collected in so short a period, without suffering,
y any management whatever? W e are to remember, that when
»^e collection of this debt begins, at that same time, the existing
medium of payment, that is, the circulation of the bills of the
ank, will begin also to be restrained, and withdrawn, and
thus the means of payment must be limited, just when the necessity eof making payment becomes pressing. T h e whole debt
.,, , b paid, and within the same time the whole circulation
T h e local banks, where there are such, will be able to afford
little assistance; because they themselves will feel a full share
of the pressure. T h e y will not be in a condition to extend their
discounts; but in all probability, obliged to curtail them. W h e n c e ,
then, are the means to come, for paying this debt, and in what
medium is payment to be made? I f all this may be done, with
but slight pressure on the community, what course of conduct
is to accomplish it? H o w is it to be done? W h a t other thirty
millions are to supply the place of these thirty millions now to
be called in? W h a t other circulation, or medium of paymenti is
*o be adopted, in the place of the bills of the Bank? T h e message, following a singular strain of argument, which had been
used in this House, has a loud lamentation upon the suffering of
the western states, on account of their being obliged to pay even
interest on this debt. This payment of interest, is, itself, represented as exhausting their means, and ruinous to their prosperity- But if the interest cannot be paid without pressure, can
both interest and principal be paid in four years, without pressure? T h e truth is, the interest has been paid, is paid, and may
continue to be paid, without any pressure at all; because the
money borrowed is profitably employed, by those who borrow it,
and the rate of interest, which they "pay, is at least two per cent,
lower than the actual value of money in that part ears the c « u " t r J ;
« u * to pay the whole principal in less than four y V?oiYr?ti?*
*lje same time, the existing and accustomed means a n c ^ i h t e*
Payment created by the Bank itself, and to do this with?«J extreme embarrassment, without absolute d™ 1 "^; 1 *:-" 1 ™£
3«<*gment, impossible. I hesitate not to say, that as thii veto
Pavels to the west, it wilt depreciate the value of.every man's
Property from the Atlantic states to the capital of Missouri. Its


effects will be felt in the price of lands, the great and leading
article of western property, in the price of crops, in the prod u c t s of labour, in the repression of enterprise, and in embarrassment to every kind of business and occupation. I take this
opinion strongly, because I have no doubt of its truth ? and am
willing its correctness should be judged by the e v e n t W i t h o u t
personal acquaintance with the western "states, I know enough
of their condition to be satisfied, that what I have predicted,
must happen- T h e people of the west are rich, but their riches
consist in their immense quantities of excellent land, in the prod u c t s of these lands, and in their spirit of enterprise. T h e actual value of money or rate of interest, with them is hio-h, because
their pecuniary capital bears little proportion to their & landed interest- A t an average rate money is not worth less than ei^ht
per cent* per annum, throughout the whole western country;
notwithstanding that it has now a loan, or an advance, from the
B a n k of thirty millions, at six per cent. T o call in this loan at
the r a t e of eight millions a year, in addition to the interest on
the whole, and to take away at the same time, that circulation
which constitutes so great a portion of the medium of payment
throughout that whole region, is an operation which, Ihowever
wisely conducted, cannot but inflict a blow on the community of
tremendous force and frightful consequences. T h e thing can*
not be done, without distress, b a n k r u p t c y and ruin to m a n v . If
the P r e s i d e n t had seen any practicable manner in which this
change might be effected without producing these consequences,
he would have rendered infinite service to the community, by
pointing it out. B u t he has pointed out nothing, he has suggested nothing; he contents himself with saying, without giving any
reason, that if the pressure be heavy, the fault will be the B a n k ' s .
I hope this is not merely an attempt to forestall opinion, and to
throw on the Bank the responsibility of those evils which tin-eaten the country, for the sake of * removing it from himself.
T h e responsibility justly lies with him, and there it ought to
remain. A great majority of the people, is satisfied with the
B a n k as it is, and desirous that it should be continued.
wished no change. T h e strength of this public sentiment has
carried the bill through congress, against all the influence of the
administration, and all the power of organised partyHut the
president has u n d e r t a k e n , on his own responsibility, to arrest
the measure, by refusing his assent to the bill. l i e is answerable for the consequences, therefore, which necessarilv follow
the change, which the expiration of the Bank charter mav prod u c e : and if these consequences shall prove disastrous^ they
can fairly be ascribed to his policy, only* and the policy of his
administration •
Although, sir, I have spoken of the effects of this veto in the
W e s t e r n Country, it has not been because I considered that
part of the United States exclusively affected by it-

Some of the Atlantic States may feel its consequences, perhaps, as sensibly as those of the W e s t , though not for the same
reasons. T h e concern manifested, by Pennsylvania, for the renewal of the Charter, shows her sense of the importance of the
Bank to her own interest, and that of the nation. T h a t great
and enterprising state has entered into an extensive s y s t e m of
internal improvements, which necessarily makes heavy demands
ou her credit and her resources; and by the sound and acceptable currency which the Bank affords, by the stability which i t
gjives to private credit, and by occasional advances, made in anticipation of her revenues, and in aid of her great objects, she
has found herself benefited, doubtless, in no inconsiderable
degree. H e r Legislature has instructed her Senators here t o
advocate the renewal of the Charter, at this session; they have
obeyed her voice, and y e t , they have the misfortune to find that
i n t h e j u d g m e n t of t h e P r e s i d e n t , the measure is
unconstitutional, unnecessary,
to liberty^ and i s , moreover
B u t , Mr. President, it is not the local interest of the
W e s t , nor the particular interest of Pennsylvania, or any other
State, which has influenced Congress in passing this bill.
I t has been governed by- a w i s e foresight, and by a desire to
avoid embarrassment, in the pecuniary concerns of the country,
to secure the safe collection and convenient transmission of public moneys, to maintain the circulation of the country, sound and
safe as it n o w happily is, against the possible effects of a w i l d
spirit of speculation. Finding the B a n k highly useful, Congress
has thought fit to provide for its continuance.
A s to the time of passing this bill, it would s e e m to be the last
thing to be thought of, as a ground of objection by the President;
since, from the date of his first message, to the present time, he
has never failed to call our attention to the subject with all possibile apparent earnestness. S o early as December, 1829, in his
message to the two houses, he declares, that he « cannot in j u s tice to the parties interested, too soon present the subject to the
deliberate consideration of the Legislature, in order to avoid the
evils resulting from precipitancy, in a measure involving such
important principles and such deep pecuniary interests.*' A w a r e
of this early invitation given to congress, to "take up the subject,
by the President himself, the writer of the message seems to
vary the ground of objection, and instead of complaining that the
time of bringing forward this measure was premature, to insist,
u TT* t h a t a f t e r t l l e report of the committee of the other house,
the B a n k should have withdrawn its application for the present!
B u t that report offers no j u s t ground, surely for such withdrawal.
T h e subject was before Congress^ it was tor Congress to decide
upon it, with all the light shed by the report; and the question
of postponement, was lost, having been made in both houses, by
clear majorities, in each. U n d e r such circumstances, it would
have been somewhat singular, to say the least, if the Bank, itself


had withdrawn its application. I t is indeed known to every
body, that the report of the committee or any tiling contained
in that report, was very little relied on by the opposers of the
renewal. If it has been discovered elsewhere, that that report
contained matter important in itself* or which should have led
to further e n q u i r y , may be proof of superior sagacity; b u t certainly no such thing was discerned by either house of CongressBut, Sir, do we not now see, that it teas time, and high time,
to press this Bill, and to send it to the P r e s i d e n t ? Does not the
event teach us, that the measure was not brought forward one
m o m e n t too early? T h e time had come when the people wished
to know the decision of the A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , on the question of
the B a n k . W h y conceal it, or postpone its declaration? W h y ,
as in regard to the Tariff, give only one set of opinions for t h e
N o r t h , and another for the South?
A n i m p o r t a n t election is at hand, and the renewal of the B a n k
C h a r t e r is a pending object of great interest, and some excitem e n t . Should not the opinions of m e n high in office, and can*
d i d a t e s for re-election, be k n o w n , on this as on other important*
public questions? C e r t a i n l y , it is to be hoped that the people of
the United States are not yet mere man-worshippers, that t h e y
do not choose their rulers without some regard to their political
principles, or political opinions. W e r e they to do this, it would
be to subject themselves voluntarily, to the evils, which t h e
hereditary transmission of power, i n d e p e n d e n t of all personal
qualifications, inflicts on other nations. T h e y will j u d g e their
public servants, by their a c t s , and continue, or withhold, their
confidence, as they shall think i t merited, or as they shall think
it forfeited. I n every point of view, therefore, the moment had
a r r i v e d , when it became the d u t y of Congress to come to a result, in regard to this highly important measure. T h e interests
of the government, the interests of the people, the clear a n d indisputable voice of public opinion, all called upon Congress to
a c t without further loss of time. I t has acted, and its a c t has
b e e n negatived by the P r e s i d e n t ; and this result of the proceedings here, places the question, with all its connexions a n d all its
i n c i d e n t s , fully before the people.
Before proceeding to the Constitutional question, t h e r e are
some other topics, treated in the message, which ought to be noticed. It commences by an inflamed statement of what it calls
the " f a v o r " bestowed upon the original B a n k , bv t h e Governm e n t , or indeed, as it is phrased, the " monopoly of its favor and
s u p p o r t , " and through the whole message all possible changes
are r u n g on the " g r a t u i t y , " the 4* exclusive privileges," and
*4 monopoly," of the bank charter. N o w , Sir, the truth is, that
the powers conferred on the bank, are such, and no others, as are
usually conferred on similar institutions. T h e y constitute n o m o nopoly, although some of them are of necessity a n d with proprie t y exclusive privileges. *• T h e original a c t , " says the message,


* operated as a gratuity of many millions to the stockholders. 3 *
W h a t fair foundation is there for this remark? T h e stockholders received their charter not gratuitously, but for a valuable
consideration in money, prescribed by Congress, and actually
paid. A t some times the stock has "been above par^ at other
times below par9 according to prudence in management, or according to commercial occurrences. B u t if by a judicious administration of its affairs, it had kept its stock always above par9
what pretence would there be, nevertheless, Jfor saying that such
augmentation of its value was a " gratuity ? from Government?
T h e message proceeds to declare that the present act proposes,
another donationt another gratuity, to the same men of at least
seven millions more. It seems to me that this is an extraordinary statement, and an extraordinary style of argument, for such
a subject and on such an occasion* " i n the first place, the facts
are all assumed; they arc taken tor true without evidence. T h e r e
a r e no proofs that any benefit to that amount will accrue to the
stockholders, nor any experience to justify the expectation of itI t rests on random estimates, or mere conjecture- But suppose
the continuance of the charter should prove beneficial to the
stockholders, do they not pay for it? T h e y give twice as much
For a charter of 15 years a^ was given before for one of twenty.
\ n d if the proposed bonus? or premium, be not, in the President's
judgment, large enough, would he, nevertheless, on such a mere
matter of opinion as that, negative the whole bill? M a y not
Congress be trusted to decide, even on such a subject as the
amount of the money premium, to be received by Government
for a charter of this kind? But, sir, there is a larger, and a
much more j u s t view of this subject- T h e bill was not passed
for the purpose of benefiting the present stockholders. T h e i r
benefit, if any, is incidental, and collateral. N o r was it passed
on any idea that they had a right to a renewed charter; although
the message argues against such right, as if it had been some
where set up and asserted- N o such right has been asserted by
a n y body. Congress passed the bill, not as a bounty or a favor
to the present stockholders, nor to comply with any demand of
right, on their partj but to promote great public interests, for
great public objects. Kvery bank must have some stockholders,
unless it be such a bank as the President has recommended, a n d
in regard to which he seems not likely to find much concurrence
of other men's opinions; and if the stockholders, whoever they
may be, conduct the affairs of the bank prudently, the expectation is, always of course, that they will make it profitable to
themselves, as well as useful to the public. If a bank charter is
not to be granted, because it may be profitable, either in a small
or great degree, to the stockholders, no charter can be granted.
T h e objection lies against all banks. Sir, the object aimed a t
by such institutions is to connect the public safety and convenience with private interests. It has been found by experience,

t h a t b a n k s are safest u n d e r p r i v a t e m a n a g e m e n t , a n d t h a t g o v e r n m e n t banks are a m o n g the most d a n g e r o u s of all i n v e n t i o n s .
N o w , sir, the whole drift of the message is to reverse the s e t t l e d
j u d g m e n t of all the civilised world, and to set up
b a n k s , i n d e p e n d e n t of private interest, of private control. F o r
this purpose the message labors even beyond the m e a s u r e of a l l
its other labors, to create jealousies and prejudices, on the g r o u n d
of the alleged benefit which i n d i v i d u a l s will derive from the r e newal of this c h a r t e r , M u c h less etVort is m a d e to shew, t h a t
G o v e r n m e n t , or the public will be injured by the bill, than t h a t
i n d i v i d u a l s will profit by i t . Following up^the impulses of t h e
s a m e spirit^ the message goes on gravely to allege, t h a t the a c t ,
a s passed by C o n g r e s s , proposes to m a k e a present of some m i l lions of dollars to foreigners; because a portion of the stock i s
holden by foreigners- Sir, how would this sort of a r g u m e n t a p ply to other cases? T h e P r e s i d e n t has s h e w n himself not o n l y
willing, b u t anxious, to pay off the three per c e n t stocks of t h e
U n i t e d States at par\ n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g t h a t it is notorious that foreigners are owners of the g r e a t e r part of i t . W h y should he
n o t call that a donation to foreigners of m a n y millions?
I will not dwell p a r t i c u l a r l y on this part of the message.
tone and its a r g u m e n t s are all in the same strain. I t speaks of
the c e r t a i n gain of the p r e s e n t s t o c k h o l d e r s , of the value of t h e
monopoly; i t says t h a t all monopolies a r e g r a n t e d at the e x p e n s e
of the public, t h a t the m a n y millions which this bill bestows on
the s t o c k h o l d e r s , come out of the e a r n i n g s of the people; t h a t if
G o v e r n m e n t sells monopolies, it ought to sell them in open m a r k e t ; t h a t i t is an erroneous idea, t h a t t h e p r e s e n t s t o c k h o l d e r s
have a p r e s c r i p t i v e right either to the favor or t h e b o u n t y of G o v e r n m e n t ; t h a t the stock is in the h a n d s of a few, a n d t h a t t h e
whole A m e r i c a n people are excluded from competition in t h e
p u r c h a s e of the m o n o p o l y . T o all this I say* again, that m u c h
of it is a s s u m p t i o n without proof, much of it is an a r g u m e n t
a g a i n s t t h a t which nobody has m a i n t a i n e d or a s s e r t e d , a n d t h e
r e s t of it would be equally s t r o n g against a n y c h a r t e r , a t a n y
t i m e . T h e s e objections existed in their full s t r e n g t h , w h a t e v e r
t h a t was, a g a i n s t the first Bank, T h e y existed, in like m a n n e r ,
a g a i n s t t h e p r e s e n t B a n k at its creation, and will a l w a y s exist
a g a i n s t all B a n k s - I n d e e d as to the bill now before u s , all t h e
fault found with t h a t is, t h a t it proposes to continue the B a n k
s u b s t a n t i a l l y as it now exists. <* All the objectionable p r i n c i p l e s
of t h e e x i s t i n g corporation,* ? says the message, c t a n d most of its
odious features are retained without a l l e v i a t i o n ; " so that the
message i s a i m e d against the B a n k , as it has existed from t h e
first, a n d a g a i n s t a n y a n d all others r e s e m b l i n g it in its g e n e r a l
features. A l l o w m e n o w , sir, to t a k e notice of an a r g u m e n t ,
founded on the practical operation of t h e Bank- T h a t a r g u m e n t
is this* L i t t l e of the stock of the B a n k is held in t h e W e s t , b e i n g chiefly o w n e d bv c i t i z e n s of the S o u t h e r n a n d E a s t e r a


states, and by foreigners. B u t the W e s t e r n and Southwestern
States owe the Bank a heavy debt, so heavy that the interest
amounts to a million six hundred thousand a year. This interest is carried to the eastern states, or to Europe, annually, and
its payment is a burden on the people of the west^ and a drain of
their currency, which no country can bear without
and distress.
T h e true character and the whole value of this
argument, are manifest by the mere statement of it. T h e people of the west are from their situation, necessarily large borrowers. T h e y need money—capital, and they borrow it, because
they can derive a benefit from its use, much beyond the interest which they pay. T h e y borrow at six per cent, of the Bank,
although the value of money, with them is at least as high as
eight. Nevertheless, although they borrowed at this low rate of
interest, and although they use all they borrow thus profitably,yet
they cannot pay the interest without "inconvenience and distress;'*
and then, sir, follows the logical conclusion, that, although they
cannot pay even the interest without inconvenience and distress,
yet less than four years is ample time for the Hank to call in the
tvholef both principal and interest, taithout causing more than a
light pressure*
T h i s is the argument. T h e n follows another,
which may be thus stated. I t is competent to the States to tax
the property of their citizens, vested in the stock of this Bank,
b u t the power is denied of taxing the stock of foreigners;
therefore, the stock will be worth ten or fifteen per cent, more
to foreigners, than to residents, and will of course inevitably
leave the country, and make the American people debtors to
aliens in nearly the whole amount due the Bank, and send across
the Atlantic from two to five millions of specie every year, to
pay the bank dividends. M r . President, arguments like these
mi^ht be more readily disposed of, were it not that the high and
official source from which they proceed, imposes the necessity of
treating them with respect. In the first place, it may safely be
denied, that the stock of the Bank is any more valuable to foreigners than our own citizens, or an object of greater desire to
them, except in so far as capital may be more abundant in the
foreign country, and therefore its owners more in want of opportunity of investment. T h e foreign stockholder enjoys no exemption from taxation. He is, of course, taxed by his own governm e n t for his incomes, derived from this as well as other propert y ; and this is a full answer to the whole statement. But it rnay
be added, in the second place, that it is not the practice of civilized states to tax the property of foreigners under such circumstances. Do we tax, or did we ever tax, the foreign holders of
our public debt? Boes Pennsylvania, N e w York, or Ohio, t a x
the foreign holders of stock in the loans contracted by either of
these states? Certainly not. Sir. I must confess, I had Tittle
expected to see, on suck an occasion as the present, a laboured
and repeated attempt to produce an impression on the public opinion, unfavourable to the Bank, from the circumstance that Fo-


reigners are among its stockholders. I have no hesitation m
saying that I deem such a strain of remark as the message c o n tains* on this point, coming from the President of the U n i t e d
States to be injurious to the credit and character of the country*
abroad; because it manifests a jealousy, a lurking disposition not
t o respect the property of foreigners, invited hither by our o w n
laws* A n d , sir, what'is its tendency but to excite thfs jealousy
and create groundless prejudices?
From the commencement of the government it has been thought
desirable to invite, rather than to repel, the introduction of foreign
capital- Our stocks have all been open to foreign subscriptions;
and the state banks in like manner are free to foreign ownerships
Whatever State has created a debt, has been willing that foreigners should become purchasers, and desirous of it* How long is
it, sir, since Congress itself passed a law vesting new powers in
the President of the Cnited States over the cities in this district,
for the very purpose of increasing their credit abroad, the better
to enable them to borrow money to pay their subscriptions to the
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal? It is easv to sav that there is danger to liberty, danger to independence/in a bank open to foreign
stockholders—because it is easy to say any thing.
But neither
reason nor experience proves anv such danger. T h e foreign
stockholder cannot be a director. H e has no voice even in the
choice of directors. H i s money is placed entirely in the management of the directors appointed by the President and Senate,
and by the American stockholders. So far as there is depende n c e , or influence, cither way, it is to the disadvantage of the
foreign stockholder. H e has parted with the control" over his
own property, instead of exercising control over the property or
over the actions of others. And, sir, let it now be added' in
further answer to this whole class of objections, that oxperieVi e
has abundantly confuted them all. Thir= government has e x i s t e d
forty-three years, and has maintained, in lull bring and operation
a Bank, such as is now proposed to he renewed, for thirty-six
years out of the forty-three- W e have never for a moment had
a Bank not subject to every one of these objections. Always
foreigners might be stockholders; always, foreign stock has b e e n
exempt from state taxation, as much as at present; always the
same power and privileges; always all that which is now called a
" m o n o p o l y , " a "gratuity*" a " pieHent," has been possessed by
the Bank. And yet there has been found no danger to liberty*
no introduction of foreign influence, and no accumulation of irresponsible power in a few bunds* I cannot but hope, therefore,
that the people of the United States will not now yield up their
judgment to thos^ notions, which would reverse all our past experience, and persuade us to discontinue a useful institution,
from the influence of vague and unfounded declamation against
its danger to the public liberties. Our liberties, indeed, must

stand upon very frail foundations, if the government cannot,
without endangering- them, avail itself of those common facilities*
in the collection of its revenues, and the management of its
finances, which all other governments, in commercial countries,
find useful and necessary. In order to justify its alarm for the
security of our independence, the message supposes a case* It
supposes that the Bank should pass principally into the hands, of
the subjects of a foreign country, and that we should be involved
in war with that country, and then it exclaims, " what would be
our condition!" Why, sir, it is plain that all the advantages
would be on our side. T h e Bank would still be our institution,
subject to our own laws, and all its directors elected by ourselves:
and our means would be enhanced, not by the confiscation and
plunder, but by the proper use of the foreign capital in our hands.
A n d , sir, it is singular enough, that this very state of war, from
which this argument against a Bank is drawn, is the very thing
which, more than all others, convinced the country and the
government of the necessity of a National Bank* So much was
the want of such an institution felt, in the late war, that tho subject engaged the attention of Congress, constantly, from the
declaration of that war down to the time when the existing Bank
was actually established; so that, in this respect, as well as in
others, the argument of the message is directly opposed to the
whole'experience of the government, and to the general and long
settled convictions of the country.
I now proceed, Sir, to a tew remarks upon the President's
Constitutional objections to the B a n k ; and I cannot forbear to
say in regard to them, that he appears to m e to have assumed
very extraordinarv grounds of reasoning. H e denies, that the
constitutionality of the Hank, is a settled question. If it be not,
will it ever become so, or what disputed question ever can be
settled? 1 have already observed, that for thirty-six years, out
o f the forty-three, during which the Government lias been in being, a B A N K has existed, such as is now proposed to be continued.
A s early as 1T91, after great deliberation, the first B a n k
Charter was passed by Congress and approved by P r e s i d e n t
W a s h i n g t o n . I t established an Institution, resembling in ail
things, n o w objected to, the present ttauk. T h a t Bank, like
this, could take lands in payment of its debts; that charter,
l i k e the present, gave the states no power of taxation; it allowed foreigners to hold stock, it restrained Congress from creating
other B a n k s . I t gave also, exclusive privileges, and ia all particulars it was, according to the doctrine of the message, as objectionable as that now existing. That Bank continued t w e n t y
years. I n 1816, the present Institution was established, and
has been, ever since, in full operation. N o w , Sir, the question
of the power of Congress to create such institutions, has been


c o n t e s t e d in every m a n n e r k n o w n to our C o n s t i t u t i o n a n d
L a w s * X h e forms of the g o v e r n m e n t furnish no n e w mode, i n
which to t r y this q u e s t i o n . I t has been discussed over a n d over
a g a i n , in C o n g r e s s ; it has been a r g u e d a n d solemnly a d j u d g e d
i n the S u p r e m e C o u r t ; every P r e s i d e n t , except the p r e s e n t ,
has considered it a s e t t l e d q u e s t i o n : m a n y of the S t a t e L e g i s l a t u r e s have i n s t r u c t e d their S e n a t o r s to vote for the B a n k ; t h e
tribunals of t h e S t a t e s , in e v e r y i n s t a n c e have s u p p o r t e d i t s
c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y ; a n d beyond all d o u b t and d i s p u t e , the g e n e r a l
public opinion of t h e c o u n t r y , has at all t i m e s given, a n d d o e s
now give, its full sanction and approbation t o t h e e x e r c i s e of
this power, as b e i n g a constitutional power- T h e r e has been n o
opinion, q u e s t i o n i n g t h e p o w e r , expressed or i n t i m a t e d , at a n y
t i m e , by either H o u s e of C o n g r e s s , by a n y P r e s i d e n t , or b y
a n y r e s p e c t a b l e j u d i c i a l t r i b u n a l . N o w , Sir, if this p r a c t i c e of
n e a r forty y e a r s , if t h e s e r e p e a t e d exercises of t h e p o w e r , if t h i s
solemn a b j u d i c a t i o n of the S u p r e m e C o u r t , w i t h the c o n c u r r e n c e
a n d a p p r o b a t i o n of public opinion, do n u t s e t t l e t h e question
how is a n y q u e s t i o n ever to be s e t t l e d , about which a n y o n e
m a y choose to raise a doubt? X h e a r g u m e n t of the message u p on t h e Congressional p r e c e d e n t s , is either a bold and gross fall a c y , or else it is an assertion without proofs, and against k n o w n
factsT h e message a d m i t s , t h a t in 1 7 9 1 , C o n g r e s s d e c i d e d i n
favour of a B a n k ; b u t it a d d s t h a t a n o t h e r C o n g r e s s , in 1 8 1 1 ,
d e c i d e d against i t , N o w , if it be m e a n t t h a t in 1 8 1 1 , C o n g r e s s decided against the B a n k on Constitutional
ground, then t h e
assertion is wholly i n c o r r e c t , and a g a i n s t notorious fact.
I t is
perfectly well k n o w n , t h a t m a n y members* in both H o u s e s , v o t e d against t h e B a n k , in 1 8 1 1 , who had no d o u b t at all of t h e
c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p o w e r of C o n g r e s s . T h e y were e n t i r e l y g o v e r n e d
b y other reasons given at the time* I appeal, Sir, to the H o n .
m e m b e r from M a r y l a n d , (Gen 8 m i t h ) who was then a m e m b e r
of the S e n a t e , a n d voted against the Bank* w h e t h e r he, a n d
o t h e r s , who were on the same side, did not give those votes oix
other well k n o w n g r o u n d s , a n d not a t all on the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l
[ G e n . S m i t h , here rose a n d said, t h a t he voted a g a i n s t t h e
B a n k in 1 8 1 1 , b u t not at all on constitutional grounds', a n d had
no d o u b t such w a s the case with other m e m b e r s . ]
W e all know, sir, (continued Mr. W e b s t e r ) the fact to be as t h e
g e n t l e m a n from Maryland has stated it. Every man who recoll e c t s , or who has read, the political occurrences of that da^r,
k n o w s it. Therefore, if the message intends to say, that in
1 8 1 1 , Congress denied the e x i s t e n c e of any such
power, t h e declaration is u n w a r r a n t e d — i s altogether at variance
with the facts* If? on the other hand, it only intends to say, that
Congress decided against the proposition then before it, on some
other grounds, then it alleges that which is nothing at all to the
purpose. T h e a r g u m e n t , then, either assumes for truth that which
is not true, or else, the whole statement is immaterial and futile.

But whatever value others may attach to this argument, theu message thinks so highly of it, that it proceeds to repeat itOne
Congress," it says, 4* in 1815 decided against a Bank, another in
1816 decided in its favour. There is nothing in precedent,
therefore, which if its authority were admitted, ought to weigh
in favour of the act before m e / ' Now, sir, since it is known to
the whole country, one cannot but wonder how it should remain
unknown to the President, that Congress did not decide against
a Bank in 1815. On the contrary, that very Congress passed a
bill for erecting a Bank by very large majorities- In one form,
it is true, the bill failed in the House of Representatives; but the
vote was reconsidered, the bill recommitted, and finally passed
by a vote of one hundred and twenty to thirty-nine*
There is,
therefore, not only no solid ground, but not even any plausible
pretence, for the assertion that Congress in 1815 decided against
the Bank* That very Congress passed a bill to create a Bank,
and its decision, therefore, is precisely the other way, and is a
direct practical precedent in favour of the constitutional power.
What are we to think of a constitutional argument which deals,
in this way, with historical facts? When the message declares, as
it does declare, that there is nothing- in precedent which ought to
weigh in favour of the power, it sets at nought repeated acta
of Congress affirming the power, and it also states other acta,
which were in fact, and which are well known to have been
directly the reverse, of what the message represents them. T h e r e
is not sir, the slightest reason to think that any Senate or any
House of Representatives ever assembled under the constitution,
contained a majority that doubted the constitutional existence of
the power of Congress to establish a Bank, Whenever the question has arisen, and has been decided, it has been always decided
one way. The legislative precedents all assert and maintain
the power; and these legislative precedents have been the law
of the land for almost forty years* They settle the construction of the constitution, and sanction the exercise of the power
in question so far as these ends can ever be accomplished by any
legislative precedents whatever* But the President does not
admit the authoiity of precedent* Sir, I have always found, that
those who habitually deny most vehemently the general force of
precedent, and assert most strongly the supremacy of private
opinion, are yet, of all men, most tenacious of that very authority
of precedent whenever it happens to be in their favour. I beg
leave to ask, sir, upon what ground, except that of precedent^ and
precedent alone^ the President's friends have placed his power of
removal from office? No such power is given by the constitution,
in terms, nor a n y w h e r e intimated, throughout the whole of it;
no paragraph or clause of that instrument recognizes such a
power. T o say the least, it i s as questionable, and has been as
often questioned, as the power of Congress to create a Bank; and


e n l i g h t e n e d by w h a t h a s p a s s e d u n d e r o u r o w n o b s e r v a t i o n , w e
n o w s e e t h a t it is of all p o w e r s t h e m o s t c a p a b l e o f f l a g r a n t a b u s e .
JVow, s i r , I a s k a g a i n , w h a t b e c o m e s of t h i s p o w e r , if t h e a u t h o r i t y of precedent
be t a k e n a w a y '
It h a s all along- b e e n d e n i e d t o
e x i s t , it is n o w h e r e f o u n d i n t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n , a n d i t s r e c e n t e x e r c i s e , or to call t h i n g s by t h e i r right n a m e s , its r e c e n t a b u s e ,
has more than any other single cause* r e n d e r e d good m e n e i t h e r
c o o l i n t h e i r a f f e c t i o n s t o w a r d t h e g o v e r n m e n t of t h e i r c o u n t r y ,
o r d o u b t f u l of i t s l o n g c o n t i n u a n c e .
Yet this power has
prccedent, a n d t h e P r e s i d e n t e x e r c i s e s i t .
W e k n o w , sir, that w i t h o u t
t h e a i d of t h a t precedent % h i s a c t s c o u l d n e v e r h a v e r e c e i v e d t h e
s a n c t i o n o f t h i s b o d y , e v e n at a t i m e w h e n h i s v o i c e w a s s o m e w h a t m o r e p o t e n t i a l h e r e t h a n it n o w i s , o r , a s f t r u s t , e v e r a g a i n
will b e .
D o e s t h e P r e s i d e n t t h e n r e j e c t t h e a u t h o r i t y of all p r e c e d e n t e x c e p t w h a t i t is s u i t a b l e t o h i s o w n p u r p o s e s t o u s e ?
A n d d o e s h e u s e , w i t h o u t s t i n t o r m e a s u r e , all p r e c e d e n t s w h i c h
m a y a u g m e n t I n s o w n p o w e r , or g r a t i f y h i s w i s h e d
B u t if t h e
P r e s i d e n t t h i n k s l i g h t l y o f t h e a u t h o r i t y of C o n g r o ^ i n c o n s t r u i n g t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n , h e t h i n k s still m e r e l i g h t l y of t h e a u t h o ^
r i t y of t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t .
H e a s s e r t s a right" of i n d i v i d u a l
j u d g m e n t , on constitutional q u e s t i o n s , w i n c h is" totally i n c o n s i s t e n t w i t h a n y p r o p e r a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of t h e g o v e r n m e n t , o r a n y
r e g u l a r e x e c u t i o n of t h e l a w s .
Social disorder, entire u n c e r t a i n t y
in r e g a r d to individual rights and individual d u t i e s , the c e s s a t i o n
o f l e g a l a u t h o r i t y , c o n f u s i o n , t h e d i s s o l u t i o n of free g o v e r n m e n t ! ^
a l l t h e s e , a r e t h e i n e v i t a b l e c o n s e q u e n c e s of t h e p r i n c i p l e s
adopted by the message, w h e n e v e r they shall be carried to t h e i r
f u l l e x t e n t . H i t h e r t o , i t h a s b e e n t h o u g h t t h a t t h e Jinal decision
c o n s t i t u t i o n a l q u e s t i o n s , b e l o n g e d to t h e s u p r e m e j u d i c i a l t r i b u n a l *
T h e v e r y n a t u r e of f r e e g o v e r n m e n t , it h a s b e e n s u p p o s e d e n *
joins this; and our constitution, moreover, has been understood so
to p r o v i d e , c l e a r l y a n d e x p r e s s l y .
I t is t r u e , t h a t e a c h b r a n c h o f
t h e l e g i s l a t u r e h a s a n u n d o u b t e d r i g h t , in t h e e x e r c i s e o f i t s f u n c t i o n ^ t o c o n s i d e r t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of a l a w p r o p o s e d t o b e
T h i s is n a t u r a l l y a p a r t o f ]ts d u t y , a n d n e i t h e r b r a n c h
c a n b e c o m p e l l e d t o p a s s a n y l a w , o r d o a n y o t h e r act,, w h i c h i t
d e e m s to b e b e y o n d t h e r e a c h of its c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p o w e r The
P r e s i d e n t h a s t h e s a m e r i g h t , w h e n a b i l l i s p r e s e n t e d for h i s
a p p r o v a l ; for b e i s d o u b t l e s s , b o u n d t o c o n s i d e r , i n a l l c a s e s ,
w h e t h e r such bill be compatible with the constitution, and w h e t h e r h o c^n a p p r o v e i t c o n s i s t e n t l y w i t h h i s o a t h of o i f i c e .
w h e n a l a w h a s b e e n p a s s e d by C o n g r e s s , a n d a p p r o v e d b y t h e
P r e s i d e n t , it i s n o w n o l o n g e r i n t h e p o w e r , e i t h e r o f t h e s a m e
P r e s i d e n t , o r h i s s u c c e s s o r s , to say w h e t h e r t h e l a w is c o n s t i t u tional or not.
H e is n o t a t l i b e r t y t o d i s r e g a r d i t ; h e i s n o t a t
l i b e r t y t o f e c i , o r t o alYect " c o n s t i t u t i o n a l s c r u p l e s , " a n d t o s i t
i n j u d g m e n t h i m s e l f o n t h e v a l i d i t y of a s t a t u t e of t h e g o v e r n m e n t , a n d t o n u l l i f y it, if h e s o c h o o s e s .
After a law has passed


through all the requisite forms; after it has received the requisite
legislative sanction and the executive approval, the question of its
constitutionality then becomes a judicial question, and a judicial
question alone. In the Courts that question may be raisod,
argued, and adjudged; it can be adjudged no where else.
T h e President is as much bound by the law as any private
citizen, and can no more contest its validity than any private
citizen. H e may lefuse to obey the law, and so may a private
citizen; but both do it at Hirir own peril, and neither of them
can settle the question of its validity. T h e President may
say a law is unconstitutional, but he is not the judge. W h o
is to decide that question? T h e Judiciary, alone, possess this
unquestionable, and hitherto unquestioned right. The Judiciary is the constitutional tribunal of appeal, for the citizens,
against both Congress and the Executive, in regard to the constitutionality of laws* It has this jurisdiction expressly conferred
upon it, and when it has decided the question, its judgment
must, from the very nature of all judgments that are final and
from which there is no appeal, be conclusive. Hitherto, this
opinion, and a correspondent practice, have prevailed, in America,
with all wise and considerate men. If it were otherwise, there
would be no government of laws; but we should all live under
the government, the rule, the caprices of individuals. If w e
depart from the observance of these salutary principles, the
executive power becomes at once purely despotic; for the President if the principle and the reasoning of the message be sound,
may'either execute, or not execute, the laws of the land, according to his sovereign pleasure. H e may refuse to put into execution one law, pronounced valid by all branches of the government, and yet execute another, which may have been by
constitutional authority pronounced void- On the argument of
the message, the President of the United States holds, under a
new pretence, and a new name, a dispensing power over the laws,
as absolute as was claimed by James the Second of England a
month before he was compelled to fly the kingdom. That which
is now claimed for the President, is, in truth, nothing less, and
nothing else, than the old dispensing power asserted by the kings
of England in the worst of times—the very climax, indeed, of all
the preposterous pretensions of the Tudor and the Stuart racesAccording to the doctrines put forth by the President, although
Congress may have passed a law, and although the Supreme
Court may have pronounced it constitutional, yet, it is, nevertheless, no law at all, if he, in his good pleasure, sees fit to deny it
effect; in other words to repeal and annul it. Sir, no President,
and no public man ever before advanced such doctrines in the
face of the nation. There never before was a moment in which
any President would have been tolerated in asserting such a claim
to despotic power- After Congress lias passed the law, and after

the S u p r e m e Court has pronounced its j u d g m e n t , on the very
point in controversy, the P r e s i d e n t has s e t up h i s o w n private
j u d g m e n t against its constitutional interpretation. It is to b e
r e m e m b e r e d , sir, that it is t h e present law, it is the act of 1 8 1 6 ,
it is tho present charter of t h e Hank, w h i c h the P r e s i d e n t pron o u n c e s to he unconstitutional.
It i s no B a n k to be created* it
is no law proposed lo b e passed, w h i c h he d e n o u n c e s ; it is the
law now earislingy passed by C o n g r e s s , approved by President
Madison, and s a n c t i o n e d b y a s o l e m n j u d g m e n t of t h e Supreme
Court, w h i c h lie now d e c l a r e s unconstitutional, and w h i c h , of
c o u r s e , so far as it may d e p e n d on h i m , c a n n o t be e x e c u t e d .
t h e s e opinions of the President's be maintained, there is an end
of all law and all judicial authority* Statutes are but recomm e n d a t i o n s , j u d g m e n t s n o more than o p i n i o n s . Both are e q u a l l y
destitute of b i n d i n g force. S u c h an universal power, as is n o w
c l a i m e d for h i m , a power of j u d g i n g over the l a w s , and over t h e
d e c i s i o n s of the tribunal, is n o t h i n g e l s e than pure despotism*
If c o n c e d e d to him it m a k e s him, at o n c e , what l*ouis the f o u r t e e n t h proclaimed h i m s e l f to b e , w h e n he said " I AM T>IK S T A T E . "
T h e S u p r e m e Court has unanimously declared and ndjmlo*^
that t h e e x i s t i n g Hank is created by a constitutional law of C o n gress. Afi lias been before o b s e r v e d , this Hank, so far as t h e
present question is c o n c e r n e d , is l i k e that which was e s t a b l i s h e d
in 1 7 0 1 , by W a s h i n g t o n , and s a n c t i o n e d by the great m e n of that
In every form, therefore, in w h i c h the question can b e
raised, it has b e e n raised, and has b e e n settledKvery process
and every m o d e of trial, k n o w n to t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n and l a w s ,
has b e e n e x h a u s t e d ; and a l w a y s , and w i t h o u t e x c e p t i o n , t h e
d e c i s i o n has b e e n in favour of the validity of t h e law.
all this practice, all this p r e c e d e n t , all this p u b l i c approbation,
all thin s o l e m n adjudication directly on the point, is to be disregarded, and rejected, and the constitutional power flatly d e n i e d .
A n d , sir, i f wo are startled at this c o n c l u s i o n , our surprise will
not bo l e s s e n e d w h e n w e e x a m i n e the argument by w h i c h it is
By the constitution, *'ongrcss is authorised to pass all l a w s
" n e c e s s a r y and proper" for carrying 1 its own legislative p o w e r s
inlo effect.
C o n g r e s s hns d e e m e d a Bank to be " n e c e s s a r y and
proper" for t h e s e purposes, and it lias therefore established a
BankBut although the law has b e e n passed and the Bank
e s t a b l i s h e d , and tho constitutional validity of its charter s o l e m n l y
adjudged, y e t , the P r e s i d e n t p r o n o u n c e s it unconstituttonal\
c a u s e some, of the p o w e r s b e s t o w e d on the Rank are, in his opinion,
not nccessnry or proper.
ft w o u l d appear, that powers, w h i c h in
1 7 » 1 , and in l*l*>, in the time of W a s h i n g t o n , a?id in the tirno
of Madison, w e r e d e e m e d " necessary and proper," arc n o longer
to U& KO regarded, and therefore, the Haul? is
unconstitutionalIt haa really m r n o to this thai the constitutionality
of a Hank is

to depend upon the opinion which one particular
man mat/ Jorm
of the nliliftf or nccexsilg of some 4>f the clause** in itx charter.
If that individual chooses to think that a particular power contained in the charter is not necessary to the proper constitution of
the Manic, then the act is unconstitutional!
Hitherto it has always been supposed that the question was of
a. very different nature* It has been thought that the policy of
granting a particular charter may be materially dependant on the
structure, and organization, and powers of the proposed institution. JJut its general constitutionality lias never before been
understood to turn on such points. T h i s would be making its
constitutionality depend on subordinate questions, on questions
of e x p e d i e n c y , and question* of detail; upon that which one man
may think necessary, and another may 110U If the constitutional
question were made to hinge; on matters of litis kind, how could
it ever be decided? all would depend on conjecture, on the c;omplexional feeling, on the prejudices, on the passions of individuals;
on more or less practical skill, or correct judgment, in regard to
banking operations, among those who should be the judges; on
the impulse of momentary interests, party objects, or personal
purposes- Put th«j question, in this manner, to a court of seven
judges, to decide whether a particular bank was constitutional,
and it might be doubtful whether they could come to any result,
as they might well hold very various opinions on the practical
utility of many clauses of the charier.
T h e question, in that ease would he, not whether the Bank,
in its general frame, character and objects, was a proper instrum e n t *to carry into efleet the powers of the government; but
whether the particular powers, direct, or incidental, conferred on
a particular bank, w e r e better calculated than al! others to giv*
s u c c e s s to its operations* For if not* then ihe charter would be
unwarranted, according to this sort of reasoning, by the Constitution. T h i s m o d e of construing the Constitution is r c H a i n l y a
novel discovery. Its merits belong entirely to the President
and his advisers- A c c o r d i n g to this rule of interpretation, il
the President should be of opinion, that the capital of the Hank,
was larger, by a thousand dollars, Hum it ou^Ut to b e ; or that,
the t i m e for the continuance of the Charter, w a s a year too
long; or that it was unnecessary to require it, under penalty, to
pay specie; or needless to provide for punishing, as forgery, the
count* rfoitinjjr of its bills; either of these reasons would be sulhc i c n t to render the charier, in his opinion, unconstitutional, in*
valid, and nugatory- T h i s is a htfitimule conclusion from Ihe
ursMiiiicnt. Much a view of the subject has certainly nover belore
been laken. T h i s strain of reasoning hus hitherto not been heard,
within the halls of Congress, nor has any one ventured upon il
In fore the tribunals of justice. This first exhibition, its first
ippcaranee, as an argument, i > in a message of the President of


the United States, According to that mode of construing the
constitution, which was adopted by Congress in 1791, and
approved by Washington, and which has been sanctioned by the
judgment of the Supreme Court, and affirmed by the practice of
near forty years, the question upon the constitutionality of the
Bank involves two inquiries: first, whether a Bank, in its general
character, and with regard to the general objects with which
Banks are usually connected, be, in itself, a fit means, a suitable
instrument* to carry into effect the powers granted to the government. If it be so, then the second, and the only other question
is, whether the powers given in a particular charter are appropriate for a Bank. If they are powers which are appropriate for
a Bank, powers which Congress may fairly consider to be useful,
to the Bank or the country, then Congress may confer these
powers; because tiie discretion to be exercised in framing the
constitution of the Bank belongs to Congress, One man may
think the granted powers not indispensable to the particular
Bank; another may suppose them injudicious, or injurious* a
third may imagine that other powers, if granted in their stead
would be more beneficial; but all these are matters of expediency'
about which men may differ; and the power of deciding upon
them belongs to Congress. I again repeat, sir, that if for reasons
of this kind the President sees fit to negative a bill, on the ground
of its being inexpedient, or impolitic* he has a right to do so; b u t
remember, sir, that we are now on the constitutional question*
Remember, that the argument of the President, is, that because
powers were given to the Bank by the charter of 1816, which he
thinks not necessary, that charter is unconstitutional*
sir, it will hardly be denied, or rather it was not denied or
doubted before this message came to us, that if there was
to be a Bank, the powers and duties of that Bank must be
prescribed in the Law creating it. Nobody, but Congress, it
has been thought could grant these powers,* and privileges, or
prescribe their limitations- It is true, indeed that the message
pretty plainly intimates that the President should have been
Jirst consulted, and that he should have had the framing of the
*BilI; but we are not yet accustomed to that order of things, in
enacting laws, nor do I know a parallel to this claim, thus
now brought forward, except, that in some peculiar cases in
Kiiglantl highly affecting the royal prerogatives, the assent of the
monarch is necessary, before either the" house of peers, or his
majesty's faithful commons are permitted to act upon the subj e c t , or to entertain its consideration. But supposing, sir, that
our accustomed forms and our republican principles, are still to
be followed, and that a law creating a bank is, like all other
laws, to originate with Congress, and that the President lias
nothing to do with it, till it is presented for his approval, then it
if> cleru that the power* and duties of* a proposed Bank, »"H all


the terms and conditions annexed to it, must, in the first place,
be settled by congress. T h i s power, if constitutional at all, is o n l y
constitutional in the hands of congress. A n y where e l s e its exercise would be plain tisurpation. If then the authority to decide what powers ought to be granted to a Bank, belong to Cong r e s s , and Congress shall have exercised that power* it would
seem little better than absurd to say, that i t s act, nevertheless,
would be unconstitutional and invalid, if in the opinion of a third
party, it had misjudged, on a question of e x p e d i e n c y , in the arrangement of details. A c c o r d i n g to such a mode of reasoning,
a mistake in the exercise of jurisdiction, takes away the jurisdiction. If Congress d e c i d e right, its decision may stand; if it d e c i d e wrong, its decision is nugatory; and whether its decision be
right or wrong, another is to j u d g e , although the original
of making
the decision must be allowed to be exclusively
T h i s is the e n d to which the argument of the m e s sage will conduct its followers.
Sir f in considering the authority of Congress to invest the Bank with the particular
powers granted to it, the inquiry is not, and cannot be hota
appropriate these powers are, but whether t h e y be at all appropriate}
whether they c o m e within the range of a j u s t and
h n e s t discretion; whether Congress may fairly
esteem them to
}°e necessary*
T h e question is not, are they the fittest means,
the best m e a n s , or whether the Bank might not be established without them. B u t the question is, are t h e ^ such as
Congress, bona Jtde> may have regarded as appropriate
t o the
end«T If any other rule were to be adopted, nothing could ever
be settled.
A law would be constitutional to day and unconstitutional to morrow*
Its constitutionality would altogether </cpend upon individual opinion, on a matter of mere e x p e d i e n c y .
I n d e e d such a case as that is now actually before us. Mr* M a d i son d e e m e d the powers given to the B a n t in its present charter
proper and necessary. H e held the Bank, therefore, to be constistitutional. B u t the present P r e s i d e n t , not a c k n o w l e d g i n g that
the power of d e c i d i n g on these points rests with Congress, nor
with Congress and the then President, but setting up his own
opinions, as the standard, declares the law, now in being, u n c o n stitutional, because the powers granted by it, are, in his estimation not necessary and proper.
I pray to be informed, sir, w h e ther, upon similar grounds of reasoning, the President's oivn
s c h e m e for a B a n k , if Congress, should do so u n l i k e l y a thing as
to adopt it, would not become unconstitutional also, if it should
so happen that his successor should hold his Bank in as light e s teem as he holds those established under the auspices of W a s h ington and Madison?
If the reasoning of the message be well founded, it is clear
that the charter ot the existing Bank is not a law. T h e Bank has
no legal e x i s t e n c e ; it is not responsible to G o v e r n m e n t ; it has no
authority to a c t ; it is incapable of being an a g e n t ; the P r e s i d e n t

m a y t r e a t it as a n u l l i t y , t o - m o r r o w : w i t h d r a w from it all t h e
p u b l i c d e p o s i t e e , a n d set afloat all t h e existing; n a t i o n a l a r r a n g e m e n t s of r e v e n u e a n d f i n a n c e .
I t is e n o u g h t o s t a t e t h e s e m o n strous consequences, to shew that the doctrine* principles, anil
p r e t e n s i o n s , of the m e s s a g e a r e e n t i r e l y i n c o n s i s t e n t with a G o v e r n m e n t of lawsIf that which C o n g r e s s has enacted, a n d
t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t h a s s a n c t i o n e d , b e n o t t h e law of t h e l a n d ,
t h e n t h e r e i g n of l a w h a s c e a s e d , a n d t h e r e i g n of i n d i v i d u a l o p i nion has already begun.
'.The P r e s i d e n t , i n h i s c o m m e n t a r y o n t h e d e t a i l s o f t h e e x i s t ing D a n k C h a r t e r , u n d e r t a k e s to prove that one provision, a n d
a n o t h e r provision, is n o t necessary a n d p r o p e r ; b e c a u s e , a s h e
t h i n k s , the s a m e o b j e c t s , p r o p o s e d to be a c c o m p l i s h e d b y t h e m ,
m i g h t h a v e b e e n b e t t e r a t t a i n e d in a n o t h e r m o d e ; a n d t h e r e f o r e
s u c h p r o v i s i o n s a r e n o t necessary^
a n d so n o t w a r r a n t e d b y t h e
Does not this show, that according to his o w n
m o d e o f r e a s o n i n g , h i s OIVTI s c h e m e w o u l d n o t b e C o n s t i t u t i o n a l
since another scheme, which probably most people would think
a b e t t e r o n e , m i g h t b e s u b s t i t u t e d for itr
P e r h a p s , in a n y b a n k
charter, t h e r e m a y be no provisions which m a y be j u s t l y rco-f^j^
c d a s absolutely
s i n c e i t is p r o b a b l e , t h a t f o r a n y o f
t h e m , s o m e others m i g h t be substituted,
N o Dank, therefore,
ever could be established; because there never has been, a n d
n e v e r c o u l d b e , a n y c h a r t e r , of w h i c h e v e r y p r o v i s i o n s h o u l d a p p e a r to be i n d i s p e n s a b l e , or n e c e s s a r y a n d p r o p e r , in t h e j u d g m e n t of e v e r y i n d i v i d u a l .
T o admit-, t h e r e f o r e , t h a t t h e r e m a y
b e a C o n s t i t u t i o n a l B a n k , a n d y e t t o c o n t e n d for s u c h a m o d e o f
j u d g i n g of its p r o v i s i o n s a n d d e t a i l s , a s t h e m e s s a g e a d o p t s i n volves an absurdity.
A n y charter, which may he framed m a y be
t a k e n u p , a n d each p o w e r conferred b y it, successively d e n i e d
o n t h e g r o u n d , t h a t , in r e g a r d t o e a c h , e i t h e r n o s u c h p o w e r i s
** n e c e s s a r y o r p r o p e r " i n a D a n k , o r w h i c h i s t h e s a m e t h i n o - i r i
ciVeci, s o m e o t h e r p o w e r m i g h t be s u b s t i t u t e d for it, a n d s u p p l y
its placeT h a t c a n n e v e r b e necessary
in t h e s e n s e in w h i c h
t h e m e s s a g e u n d e r s t a n d s t h a t t e r m , w h i c h may be dispr)is^d
a n d i t c a n n o t b e s a i d t h a t a n y p o w e r may not be dispensed
if t h e r e b e s o m e o t h e r s , w h i c h m i g h t b e s u b s t i t u t e d f o r i t , a n d
which would accomplish the same end.
Tlierefore, no B a n k
c o u l d ever be C o n s t i t u t i o n a l ; because none could be e s t a b l i s h e d ,
which should not contain some provisions, which might have b e e n
omitted, and their place supplied by others.
Mr.' President, I
have, u n d e r s t o o d t h e t r u e a n d well e s t a b l i s h e d d o c t r i n e to b e ,
t h a t , a f t e r it h a s b e e n d e c i d e d * t h a t i t i s c o m p e t e n t f o r C o n g r e s s
t o e s t a b l i s h a H a n k , t h e n it f o l l o w s , t h a t i t m a y c r e a t e s u c h a
D a n k as it j u d g e s , in i t s d i s c r e t i o n , t o b e b e s t , a n d i n v e s t it w i t h
a l l b i i c h p o w e r a * it m a y d e e m t i t a n d s u i t a b l e : w i t h t h i s l i m i t a t i o n , a l w a v s . t h a t a l l is i n b e d o n e i n t h e bona fide e x e c u t i o n o f
t h e p o w e r t o c r e a t e a JJavk**
If the g r a n t e d p o w e r s a r c a p p r o *
p r i a t c t-> t h e p r o f e s s e d e n d , to t h a t t h e g r a n t i n g o f t h e m c a n n o t

be regarded as usurpation of authority by Congress, or an evasion of Constitutional restrictions under colour of establishing a
Kank, then the charter is Constitutional, whether these powers
be thought indispensible by others or not, or whether even Congress itself deemed them absolutely indispensible or only thought
them fit and suitable; or whether they are more or less appropriate to their end- I t is enough that they are appropriate; it is
enough that they are suited to produce the effects designed; and
no comparison is to be instituted, in order to try their constitutionality, between them and others which may be suggested. A
case, analagous to the present, is found in the Constitutional power oi Congress, over the mail- The Constitution says no more than
that " Congress shall have power to establish post offices and post
r o a d s ; " and, in the general clause " all powers necessary and
proper" to give effect to this. In the execution of this power, Congress has protected the mail, by providing that robbery of it shall
be punished with death. Is this infliction of capital punishment
constitutional? Certainly it is not, unless it be both *' proper
and n e c e s s a r y . " The President may not think it necessary or
proper; the law, then, according to the system of reasoning enforced in the message, is of no binding force, and the President
mav disobey it, and refuse to see it executed. T h e truth is, M r .
president, that if the general object, the subject matter, proper,
ly belong to Congress, all its incidents belong to Congress, also*
If Congress is to establish post offices and post roads, it may, foi
that end, adopt one set of regulations or another; and either would
be' Constitutional. So the details of one Bank are as Constitutional as those of another, if they arc confined, fairly and honestly, to the purpose of organising the institution, and rendering it
useful. One Hank is as Constitutional as another Bank.
Congress possess the power to make a liank, it possesses the
power to make it efficient, and competent to produce the good
derived by it- It may clothe it with all such power and privileges, not otherwise inconsistent with the Constitution, as may
be "necessary in its own judgment, to make it what Government
deems it should be. It may confer on it such immunities, as may
induce individuals to become stockholders, and to furnish the
capital; ami since the extent of these immunities and privileges,
is matter of discretion, and matter of opinion, Congress only can
decide it, because Congress alone can frame, or grant the charter.
A charter, thus granted to individuals, becomes a contract with
them, upon their compliance with its terms. T h e Bank becomes
an agent, bound to perform certain duties, and entitled to certain stipulated rights and privileges, in compensation for the
proper discharge of these duties; and all their stipulations, so
long as they are appropriate to the object professed, and not repugnant to any other Constitutional injunction, are entirely
within the competency of Congress. And yet, sir, the message
of the President toils through all the common place topics ot mono-


poly, the right of taxation, the suffering of the poor* and the arrogance of the rich* with as much painful effort, as if one, or another, or all of them, had something to do with the Constitutional
question. W h a t is called the ^ m o n o p o l y , " is, made the s " ? "
j e c t of repeated rehearsal, in terms of special complaint- B y this
" m o n o p o l y , " I suppose is understood, the restriction contained
in the charter, that Congress shall not during the twenty years*
create another Bank. Now, sir, let me ask who would think ot
creating a Bank, inviting stockholders into it, with lar^e invest*
ments, imposing upon it heavy duties, as connected with the G o vernment, receiving some millions of dollars as a bonus^ or premium, and y e t retaining the power of granting, the n e x t day,
another charter, which would destroy the whole value of the
first?—If this be an unconstitutional restraint on Congress, t h e
Constitution must be strangely at variance with the dictates
both of good sense and sound morals* Did not the first Bank of
the United States contain a similar restriction? And have not
the states granted bank charters, with a condition, that if t h e
charter should be accepted, they would not grant others? States
have certainly done so; and, in some instances, where no bonus
or premium was paid at all; but from the mere desire to g i v e
offectt to the charter, by inducing- individuals to accept it and
organize the institution. T h e President declares that this re*
striction is not necessary to the efficiency of the Bank; but that
is the very thing- which Congress and his predecessor in office
were called on to decide, and which they did decide, when the
one passed and the other approved the act. And he has now
no more authority to pronounce his judgment on that act than
any other individual in society. It is not his province to decide
on the constitutionality of statutes which Congress has passedf
and his predecessors approved.
There is another sentiment, in this part of the message, which
we should hardly have expected to find in a paper which is supposed, whoever may have drawn it up, to have passed under the
review of professional characters. The message declares that
this limitation to create no other Bank is unconstitutional, be*
cause, although Congress may use the discretion vested in them,
** they may not limit the discretion of their successors-" T h i s
reason is almost too superficial to require an answer. Every one at
all accustomed to the consideration of such subjects, knows that
every Congress can bind its successors to the same extent that it
can bind itself: the power of Congress is always the same; the
authority of law always the same. It is true, we speak of the
twentieth Congress, and the twenty-first Congress, but this is only
to denote the period of time, or to mark the successive organizations of the House of Representatives under the successive
periodical elections of its members. A s a politic body, as the
legislative power of the government, Congress is always conti-

nuous, a l w a y s identical. A particular Congress, as we speak of
*t, for instance the present Congress, can no farther restrain itself
from doing what it may chance to do at the n e x t session, than it
can restrain any succeeding Congress from doing what it may
choose. A n y Congress may repeal the act or law of its predecessor, if in its nature it be repealabte, just as it may repeal
its o w n a c t ; and if a law, or an act, be irrepealable in its nature,
it can no more be repealed by a subsequent Congress than by
that which passed it. A l i this is Familiar to every body.
Congress, like every other legislature, often passess acts which,
being in the nature of grants, or contracts* are irrepealable ever
T h e m e s s a g e , in a strain of argument, which it is
difficult to treat with ordinary respect, declares that this restriction on the power of Congress, as to the establishment of other
B a n k s , is a palpable attempt to amend the constitution by an a c t
of legislation. T h e reason on which this observation purports to
be founded, is, that Congress, by the constitution, is to have exc l u s i v e legislation over the District of Columbia; and when the
bank charter declares that Congress will create no n e w Bank
within the district, it annuls this power of e x c l u s i v e legislation?
I must say that this reasoning hardly rises high enough to entitle
it to a passing notice* It would be doing too much credit to
11 j t plausible. ISTo one n e e d s to be informed that exclusive
ower of legislation is not unlimited power of legislation; and if
^t were, how can that legislative power be unlimited that cannot
strain itself; that cannot bind itself, by contract? W h e t h e r as
p-overnment, or as an individual, that being is fettered antl
restrained which is not capable of binding itself by ordinary obligation. E v e r y legislature binds itself whenever it makes a grant,
enters into a contract, bestows an office, or does any other act or
thin** which is in its nature irrepealable- A n d this, instead of
detracting from its legislative power, is one of the m o d e s of e x ercising that power* A n d the legislative power of Congress over
the D i s t r i c t of Columbia, would not be full and complete if it
might not make just such a stipulation as the bank charter
A s to the taxing power of the states, about which the message
says so much, the proper avenues to all it s a y s , is, that the states
possessed the poiver to tax any instrument
of the Government
the United States, i t was no part of their power before the constitution, ami they derive no such power from any of its provisions.
It is no where given to them* Could a State tax the coin of the
U n i t e d States, at the mint? Could a State lay a stamp tax, on
the process of the courts of the U n i t e d S t a t e s , and on custom
house papers? Could it tax the transportation of the mail, or
the ships of war, or the ordnance, or the munitions of war, of
the United States? T h e reason that they cannot be taxed, by
a state, is, that they are means and instruments of the G o v e r n 4



w e n t of t h e U n i t e d -States. T h e e s t a b l i s h m e n t of a B a n k , e x e m p t from s t a t e t a x a t i o n , t a k e s a w a y no e x i s t i n g right in a s t a t e *
I t leaves it all it ever p o s s e s s e d : but the c o m p l a i n t is, that t h e
B a n k c h a r t e r d o e s n o t confer t h e p o w e r of t a x a t i o n .
c e r t a i n l y , though n o t n e w , (for the s a m e a r g u m e n t was u r g e d
here,) a p p e a r s to me to be a s t r a n g e m o d e of a s s e r t i n g a n d m a i n t a i n i n g s t a t e rights- T h e p o w e r of taxation is a s o v e r e i g n
p o w e r ; and the President* and those who think with him, a r e o f
opinion, in a given case, t h a t this sovereign risrht should be c o n f e r red on the S t a t e s , by an act of Congress.
T h e r e is* if I m i s t a k e
n o t , sir, as little c o m p l i m e n t to S t a t e s o v e r e i g n t y , in this idea* a s
t h e r e is of sound C o n s t i t u t i o n a l d o c t r i n e .
Sovereign rights*
h e l d u n d e r the g r a n t of an a c t of C o n g r e s s , p r e s e n t a p r o p o s i t i o n
q u i t e new in C o n s t i t u t i o n a l law.
T h e P r e s i d e n t , himself, even a d m i t s , that an i n s t r u m e n t o f
t h e G o v e r n m e n t of the U n i t e d S t a t e s ought not, as such, to be t a x e d
b y t h e S t a t e s ; y e t he c o n t e n d s for such a p o w e r of t a x i n g p r o p e r t y c o n n e c t e d with this i n s t r u m e n t , and essential to its v e r y beino%
as places its whole e x i s t e n c e in the p l e a s u r e of t h e S t a t e s , I t ?s
n o t enough that the S t a t e s may t a x all the p r o p e r t y of all t h e i r
o w n c i t i z e n s , w h e r e v e r i n v e s t e d , or h o w e v e r e m p l o y e d .
c o m p l a i n t is, that the power of S t a t e taxation does reach so far
as to take c o g n i z a n c e over persons oaf of the *S*atp+itnt\ to tt*x them
tor a franchise, lawfully exercised u n d e r the a u t h o r i t y of the U n i t e d S t a t e s . Sir, when did ihe p o w e r of the States* or i n d e e d of
* n V g o v e r n m e n t , go to such an e x t e n t as that? C l e a r l v n e v e r .
T h e taxing p o w e r of all c o m m u n i t i e s is necessarily anil j u s t l y
l i m i t e d , to the property of its own c i t i z e n s , and to the p r o p e r t y
of o t h e r s , h a v i n g a d i s t i n c t local e x i s t e n c e , as p r o p e r t y w i t h i n
i t s j u r i s d i c t i o n ; it d o e s not e x t e n d to r i g h t s , and f r a n c h i s e s
r i g h t l y e x e r c i s e d , u n d e r the a u t h o r i t y of other G o v e r n m e n t s n o r
t o persons beyond its j u r i s d i c t i o n . As the Constitution
has* left
t h e taxing power of the S t a t e s , as the Ihtnk Chart or leaves it
C o n g r e s s has not u n d e r t a k e n either to take a w a y , or to c o n f e r ,
a taxing p o w e r ; nor to e n l a r g e , or to restrain i t ; if it were to d o
e i t h e r , I h a r d l y k n o w which of all would be the least e x c u s a b l e .
I beg leave to r e p e a t . M r . P r e s i d e n t , t h a t what L have n o w
b e e n c o n s i d e r i n g , are the P r e s i d e n t ' s objections, not to t h e p o l i cy or e x p e d i e n c y , hut to the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of t h e B a n k ; a n d
n o t to the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i t y of any neu\ or proposed B a n k - b u t
of the B a n k , as it now i>> a n d as it has long e x i s t e d . I f t h e
P r e s i d e n t had declined to a p p r o v e this bill, b e c a u s e he t h o u g h t
t h e original c h a r t e r u n w i s e l y g r a n t e d , a n d t h e B a n k f in p o i n t
of policv a n d e x p e d i e n c y , objectionable or m i s c h i e v o u s , and i n
t h a t view o n l y had suggested the r e a s o n s , now u r g e d by h i m ,
h i s a r g u m e n t , h o w e v e r i n c o n c l u s i v e , would have b e e n i n t e l l i g i b l e , a n d n o t . in its whole frame and scope, i n c o n s i s t e n t with a l l
well established first p r i n c i p l e s . H i s rejection of t h e Bill, i u
t h a t case, would have boon, no d o u b t , an e x t r a o r d i n a r y e x e r -


cise of power; but it would have been, nevertheless, the exercise of a power, belonging to his office, and trusted by the constitution to his discretion. B u t when he puts forth an array of
arguments, such as the message employs, not against the expediency of the Bank, but against its constitutional existence, he
confounds ail distinctions, mixes questions of policy, and questions of right together, and turns all constitutional restraints into mere matters of opinion. As far as its power extends, either
in its direct effects, or as a precedent, the message not only unsettles every thing which has been settled, under the constitution, but would shew, also, that the constitution itself is utterly incapable of any fixed construction, or definite interpretation;
and that there is no possibility of establishing, by its authority,
any practical limitations on the powers of the respective branches
of the government.
W h e n the message denies, as it does, the authority of the Supreme C o u r t to decide on constitutional questions, it effects,
so far as the opinion of the President and his authority can effect, a complete change in our government. I t does two things:
first, it converts constitutional limitations of power into mere
matters of opinion, and then it strikes the Judicial Department,
as an efficient department, out of our system. B u t the message
bv*no means stops, even at this point. Having denied to Congress the authority of judging what powers may be constitutionally conferred on a bank, and having erected the judgment of
the President himself into a standard, by which to try the constitutional character of such powers, and having denounced the
ithority of the Supreme Court, and decided finally on constiaul
itional questions, the message proceeds to claim for the Presi,_*nt, not the power of approval, but the primary power, the
power of originating laics. T h e President informs Congress,
that he would have sent them such a charter, if it had been properly asked for, as they ought to possess. He very plainly intimates, that in his opinion, the establishment of nlf laws, of thia
nature at least, belongs to the functions of the executive governm e n t ; and that Congress ought to have waited f.>r the manifestation of the executive wilh before it presumed to touch the subj e c t . Such, Mr- President, stripped of their disguises, are the
Veal pretences, set up in behalf of the executive power, in this
most extraordinary paper,
M r . President, we have arrived at a new epoch. W e are
entering on experiments, with the Government and the Constitution of the country, hitherto untried, and of fearful and appal*
ling aspect. This message calU us to the contemplation of a
future, which little resembles the past. Its principles are at
war with all that public opinion has sustained, and all which the
experience of the Government has sanctioned. It denies first
principles.; it contradicts truths, heretofore received as indisputable. I t denies to the Judiciary the interpretation of law, and

demands to divide, with C o n g r e s s , the origination of s t a t u t e s I t e x t e n d s the grasp of E x e c u t i v e pretension over every P ^ ^ « r
of the government: B u t this is not all. It presents the «^ l »**
Magistrate of the U n i o n in the attitude of arguing away t t j e
powers of that government, over which he has been chosen *©.
preside; and adopting, for this purpose, modes of r e a s o n i n g
which, even under the influence of all proper feeling t o w a r d s
high official station, it is difficult to regard as respectable.
appeals t o every prejudice which may betray men info a m i s t a ken v i e w of their own interests; and t o every passion* w h i b k
may lead them to disobey the impulses of their u n d e r s t a n d i n g s
I t urges all the specious topics of state rights, and national £ » croachment, against that which a great majority of the s t a t e *
haive affirmed to be rightful, and in which all of them have a c quiesced. I t s o w s , in an unsparing manner, the s e e d s of jea>
lousy and ill will, against that government, of which its authoris the official head. It raises a cry, that liberty is in flanker* vi
the very moment when it puts forth claims to powers, heretofore
unknown and unheard of.
I t affects alarm for the public
freedom3 when nothing endangers that freedom so much as its o w ^
unparalleled pretences* T h i s , even, is not all. I t *nanife<a£lv
seeks to influence the poor against the rich; it wantonly alt a lt&
whole classes of the people, for the purpose of turning ao-aiinit
them the prejudices and the resentments of other classes, & I t i »
a state paper, which finds no topic too exciting for its use* m>
passion too inflammable for its address and its solicitation. S u c h
is this message. It remains, now, for the people of the U n i t e d
States to choose, between the principles here avowed, and t h e i r
Government. T h e s e cannot subsist together. T h e one or t h e
other must be rejected. If the sentiments of the message shall
receive general approbation the Constitution will have perished
even earlier than the moment which its enemies originally a l *
lowed for the termination of its existence. It will not *have
survived to its fiftieth year.