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Remarks of Mr, Simmons












2, 1841.









The Senate having resumed the considera
I say this, I am sure we have arrived to
tion of the ''Bill to incorporate the subscribers that condition, when we can differ and still be
to the Fiscal Bank of the United States," anc friends.
I will add, that it is as painful to me as

the following amendment
RIVES, of Virginia, viz.




"That the said corporation shall establish a competent office of discount and deposit in any State, bj
the assent of the Legislature of such State, whenever
the directors may think fit so to do ; and when established, the office shall not be withdrawn without the
assent of Congress
and the said corporation shal
have power to commit the management of the saic
business thereof, respectively, to such

it can be to
him, to differ with
cal friends here, or elsewhere,
tion ; but having no doubts in


any of my politiupon this quesmy own mind, and

in regard to the sentiments of

my constitu-


path is plainly indicated, and I must act
upon the sentiment, that "obedience is better
than sacrifice." I am, therefore, constrained by an
imperious sense of duty, to vote against the proposed amendment, and will briefly state the reaents,


persons, and under such regulations, as .they shal
The amendment proposed, is intended to
deem proper, not being contrary to law or constitution
of the bank ; or, instead of establishing such offices, it change the principles of the bill this is its sole
And the honorable Senator from Virshall be lawful for the directors of the said corpora- object.

from time to time, to employ any individual,
agent, or any other bank or banks, to be approved by
the Secretary f>f the Treasury, at any place or places
that they may deem safe and proper, to manage and
transact the business proposed as aforesaid, other than
for the purpose of discount, and to perform the duties
hereinafter required of said corporation, to be managed and transacted by such officers, under such agreements and subject to such regulations, as they shall

deem just and proper."
Mr. SIMMONS rose, and addressed the Senate as follows



The direct appeal just made to me by the
honorable Senator from Massachusetts (Mr.
Choate,) for the vote of what he is pleased to
call the






accord to him



it proper for
vote in favor of the

proposed amendment, or to assign to him and
to the Senate the reason why I do not.
this appeal, made by one*representing a constituency of similar pursuits and interests, and, as
I had before supposed, entertaining similar opinions with those which I, in part, represent here,
has added a responsibility to my position which
I should not have felt but for this circumstance.
His reputation as a statesman admonishes me
of my obligation to give to his argument and

suggestions, that respect and consideration
which they are entitled to, on account of their
strength, and of his position and experience.
This they shall certainly have. But I must say
to the honorable Senator, who allows me to
call him my friend, that the vote of the "Eme-

rald Isle," must be given, on
part, according
to the dictates of duty, although she should, on
this question, stand "alone in the ocean."


ginia (Mr. Rives) who proposed it, has urged
its adoption with eminent
He has stated
his positions so clearly, that even as unpractised
a man as I am, can understand most of them,
and this implies no ordinary talent in him. His
motion is two-fold in its character; it is to strike
out and insert; and all his propositions are distinctly referable to one or the other of the two
branches of it.
I propose to pass over, for the
present, the objections urged against the bill as reported ; and
to consider the arguments, used in favor of the
provisions proposed to be inserted, first, although
these were presented last, by the honorable
Senator. For various reasons which the honorable Senator assigned, he assumed as admitted,
that the constitutional power to establish a National Bank with branches, as contemplated
the bill, was a doubtful or questionable power
that in all doubtful questions, neither party should
be required to surre'nder.
To do this, would
create ill-blood.
That, by his proposition, the
disputed point would not be surrendered, but
simply postponed, for future decision (the Senator from Massachusetts proposed that the post*'
ponement should be to the time of the
Kalends," or as a Yankee boy would say, "the
day after never") and thus avoid all difficulties.
That the provisions proposed to be inserted
would involve no constitutional question, and
would, therefore, produce harmony, insure the
success of the measure, and accomplish every
practical benefit that can be hoped from the plan
proposed in the bill as reported.
Having stated the main grounds upon which
he amendment is urged ? as near as I am able
to do, I will frankly admit, as a practical man,

(and as such the appeal is made to me,) that,
thought these positions sound, and the
plan proposed a practicable one, the question
presented wuuld be very simple, and one of
should have only
exped ency merely.
to decide whether we would have such a Bank
as experience has proved to be a good one, with
a few men in doubt about our power, or hazard


stated, that the question in controversy whether
the offices of the Bank shall be established
within the limits of the Slates, by the Fi-deral

was one involving the right
of jurisdiction, and analogous to that over the
disputed territory reftrred to that the adoption
of the amendment would postpone the question
now controverted, as the question of jurisdiction
a change in respect to the form of exercising had been postponed between this and the BritAs ish Governments; and that had been done by
the power, in order to remove their doubts.
1 would not sacrih'ce a practical good to a mere agreement, that each nation shouid occupy up
abstract question of power, 1 would decide such to a line acknowledged not to be beyond its own
a question in reference wholly to the probable proper jurisdiction leaving the territory besuccess of the measure itself. But if I can sa- tween those lines unoccupied, until the right of
tisfy honorable Senators that to adopt the amtnd- jurisdiction over it should be settled by agreement would overturn what is now settled sur- ment, or otherwise ; the postponement of the
render what they say should not be surrender- question being alike desirable in both cases, as
ed, but postponed merely; and that, after doing the means of securing tranquility in each.
this injury, the bill would not only be subject to
If I admit, for the purpose of testing this arguthe proposition is fairly stated, and
the same constitutional objections, but also be ment, th
inconsistent with itself, I trust they will agree that the analogy (so far as it goes) is correct,
the honorable Senator will undoubtedly agree,
ihat the amendment should be rejected.
I have t-aid that I should pass for the present that in doing this, 1 have consented to overlook,
the objections of a constitutional character, urged for the present, the fact, that the power to estabagainst the hill as reported ; but I must notice lish a Bank has been exercised, with the excepone upon which the propriety of the molion it- tion of two short intervals, by the National Goself depends ; and that is, that the constitutional vernment, ever since its existence; and no
power to establish a Bank is a questionable such power was ever exercised by the States, as
one. If this was the only view in which it was is proposed in the amendment bt, taking the
presented, I would content myself with pro- proposition as presented by himself, he will see
pounding the question presented by the two pro- that it does not carry the parallel far enough to
positions, to wit: which of the twp Govern- test the question involved in this debate. It only
ments (the State or the National,) has, or ought reaches the position we at present occupy, and
that is. that the General Gov10 have, the constitutional power to establish the aptly explains it
The ernment have undisputed power to create Banks
offices or branches of a National Bauk?
proposition carries with it its own answer, and in this District, and the States a like power to
cannot be illustrated by argument; and yet the do so within their limits; this does not reach
vote upon this amendment is to determine on the question of the power to establish offices
which of the two Governments the establish- of a National Bank within the States. That
ment of such offices is to depend. But, for the power, like the jurisdiction of the territory,
present purpose, I shali regard the question of is not now exercised by any government; but I
power as if it was really a doubtful one, in or- was very happy to hear the honorable Senator
der to tr'st the soundness of the argument of the from Virginia say that it ought to be extrcised;
honorable Senator from Virginia, and see if that there was now a necessity for a Bank for the
there is, upon the ground he places it, good rea- use of the Government, and for the benefit of
son to change the bill, so that the establishment the people. In this I fully con cur. And I thought
of offices shall depend upon "the assent of the a conviction that such nn institution was necesState Legislatures." The first position assumed sary for the Government to carry into effect its
by the honorable Senator is, that the State au- expressly granted powers, would remove all the
thoiiiy can be used without a surrender of the scruples of the most fastidious.
But to return to the territory. Theoccupation of
National. Upon the correctness of this depends
all his argument upon the subject of mutual con- it represents the exercise of this questionable
cession and compromise. This point was sought power. Let us continue the parallel. There is a neto be established, by assuming that it was analo- cessity to occupy the territory. Suppose our Govgous to the question of jurisdiction over the dis- ernment should adopt for that purpose a measure
puted territory upon our Northeastern boundary. similar to the one proposed in this amendment, and
As he complimented me, the last evening, by authorize a company of men to occupy it, with the
inviting my special attention to that part of his assent of the British authorities, and the men obargument as covering the question now involved, tained that assent; I would ask, under whose juris1 will, after making my acknowledgments to diction the territory would be after these proceedhim, give the result of my brief examination ings? The occupation is made by us to depend on
of it.
English authority, and the territory, by that act,
And let me tell the
I will state the proposition as he did, that I goes under her jurisdiction.
may meet it fairly. The honorable Senator honorable Senator that, in my judgment, there is.-


or the State authority,





not an American wood-chopper along the whole
of our Northeastern line, who would deign to
cut a log or trap a beaver upon that territory, under any authority emanating from the British

and deal in bills of exchange, that it would to
establish an office to do this, and include also

one other banking power, that is, to discount a
power, too, which will give the most relief in most
Crown. He would instinctively feel that it was of the States. To have power to do the one
a surrender of the right! He would not care, and not the other, is a distinction in the constinor do I pretend to know, what the national law, tutional powers of Government that, it does not
as laid down by Vattel, might be in such a case, appear to me, the human mind can conceive or
but we should all feel that this would be the law comprehend.
of nature.
I commend to the honorable Senator the
And, Mr. President, such will be the judgment views here taken of his argument upon the disof the whole American people if you adopt this puted territory, and upon the provision in his
amendment. They will say you have surren- amendment authorizing agencies to be estabdered the power of this Government to the States. lished and ask him if it is not clearly shown

The common-sense view

of the settlement of a that both the considerations upon which he
question between sovereigns involving the exer- urged his motion have failed ? The power
cise of power is, that the right passes to the one, would be surrendered, and the constitutional
which, by the acts of both, is allowed to exer- difficulty not removed.
cise it.
I also believe it would be found as difficult to
I would ask the honorable Senator
from Virginia, who enjoys a high reputation as a carry out this plan, in practise, as it has proved
statesman, if he would consent, while this to be to defend it in argument.
The amendment proposes to establish an inquestion of jurisdiction was pending between
the two Governments, that ours should do an act stitution which would be impracticable one to
like this, in reference to that territory ?
Would do business in one State with an office under
it not. in his
judgment, determine the question State authority and in another with an agency
against us? But suppose this Government had under National authority. A Bank cannotexist
been in possession, and exercised jurisdiction without both the authority and protection of Goover the disputed territory ,for forty years,as fully vernment; it must necessarily be under the juas they have exercised this power to establish risdiction of one government or the other. It
the offices of a Bank, would he advise our Gov- cannot be under both. No such concurrent juernment to give up the possession, and to retreat risdiction is given by the Constitution over any
within a line which nobody could dispute about, subject committed to the charge of the General
as the best course to relieve the question from or State Governments. Wemustmake eitheralocal or a National Bank. If we make a local Bank
embarrassment, and have it amicably settled?
Or, would he regard the question as relieved for local purposes only, it can operate only where
from all embarrassment, and as settled, by con- we have a right to exercise local legislation. If
tinuing the same jurisdiction over that territory we make a National Bank for national purposes,
which we had exercised from the commence- the national authority and protection must nement of the Government? It is perfectly plain, cessarily accompany it in its extended sphere of
in every aspect in which the question can be duty and usefulness.
A Bank, with a national
viewed, that instead of our merely forbefiring to charter, put under State jurisdiction, would be an
In undertaking this we
exercise this power, or postponing it, as the hon- anomaly in our system.
orable Senator supposed, we should, by the should surrender a power that might be usefully
adoption of the amendmenl, do all we could exercised by this Government, but cannot be by
do to surrender it. Such a conclusion is irre- the States. The power, on their part, to exersistible.
The only consideration, then, which cise any prerogative of sovereignty over the cor-

he presented to us, who preferred the bill as reported, has failed ; for the proposition itself
rested upon the ground, that the power should
not be given up or surrendered.
But, if we could do this, and could divest this
Government of this power, and vest it in the
States, this amendment would not remove the
supposed constitutional difficulty; because the

poration, such as taxing or otherwise controlling
would its own purpose, by preventing
the stock from being taken, and the corporation
from having an existence; and the attempt, on
our part, to inhibit the exercise of such a prerogative, would defeat the object we profess to




this concession to State



amendment itself embraces a provision to emin any
ploy an agent, or to establish an agency>
State, without the assent of the State
agent or agency is authorized to transact all the
business of the Bank, except the business oi

If it be necessary to invoke the aid of State
sovereignty to carry out national objects, of this
or any other character, let the negotiation be conducted by parties worthy the object of it let it
be carried on between sovereigns, not by a corand it is urged that it may do every poration, on the one part, and a State on the
have already heard enough of such nething but discount promissory notes. Now, it other.
re- gotiations; but I believe it is not necessary.
appears to me perfectly clear that it would
when they adoptquire the same power to establish an agency to The people settled this question
receive deposits, circulate the notes of the Bank, ed this Constitution, and so it has been prac;



To make the alteration ject of the Convention. And I have been taught
tised upon ever since.
now proposed, would involve the subject in from childhood to believe, that the men who
many real difficulties, and not escape that which composed that' Convention never failed to acthe friends of the

amendment propose

complish any laudable objects they undertook.
This is a pervading opinion with all classes
this this country.
You cannot find one man, unless
question as it was presented by the advocates of he be a partizan. who has some selfish purpose to
the amendment, and it appears to me they will answer, who does not believe this. Name any
admit that it is perfectly plain that if all theobjec- member of that Convention to any man you
tions which they urge against the bill, as-reported, meet name Washington and say when you
really exist, the adoption of the amendment pro- speak that name, that he went to that Convenposed will not remove them. If the constitution- tion for that object and it will not be in the
al power of this Government to establish the of- power of all the demagogues of our land to confices of this Bank is questionable, it appears to vince this man that he came away without acbe equally so to establish agencies to do the same complishing it, or without believing he had acbusiness, or, if slightly, not substantially, diffe- complished it.
rent. If it is impolitic and unuise, upon any disagree that patriotic men may doubt whether,
puted question, to drive "either party to the wall," by the rule of construction since adopted, all this
and compel him to surrender, as the Senator ad- is clearly expressed!**, the instrument itself; but
monishes us, it is shown that, by the amend- as to the first point, the intent, none can doubt.
ment, a surrender of the whole question is to be The high and noble objects of these men, and
made, by the great body of the people, to a very their character lor success, has given them an
few. In fine, that every consideration presented enduring fame. All the people regard them as
The Constitution
to induce us to adopt the amendment has failed. the lathers of our country.
I now desire to examine some of the grounds of they gave us, the institutions which have grown
objection to the reported bill; for, if they can be up under it, caused our prosperity, and made us
A feding of gratitude toward
removed, the advocates of the amendment may what we are.
support the bill, as they will now agree that ice them, of just pride in their fame, and in the incannot support the amendment, and yet all agree stitutions they have given us, animates every
American bosom, and forms a mutual guaranty
that something must be done.
to avoid,


and which, I think, an imaginary one.
Mr. President, I have thus far examined

I desire to say a few words, to show why I
think the power to establish a National Bank
should not be regarded as a doubtful or quesI shall attempt no argument uptionable one.

for the stability of these institutions.
It surely
behooves an American Senate to countenance

and cherish that feeling

it forms the most reliable tie that binds us together as one people.
on the constitutional question. No, sir, I shall
Subsequent events clearly show that these men
not so far forget myself, or that I am addressing thought they had accomplished the object of
Senators distinguished for learning and of great giving to Congress this power to establish a
The very first Congress comprised one
experience. But I desire their permission to re- Bank.
cite a fi
facts of our history, upon which my or more of the same men in it, from eleven out of
convictions rest, that this Government does pos- twelve of the States, who had been of that Con-


power to establish a Bank,
has been constitutionally determined. 1 desire this, because I believe the same
facts which have convinced me, will convince
every other plain man in our country who has
been brought up, as I have been, -at the plough,
and who has no motive but to see this question
as it really is.
have already been told, on this floor, by
the enemies of a Bank, that they intend to excite and arouse the people upon this question.
For what purpose, the manner in which it has
.been announced here sufficiently explains.
sess the constitutional

and that




vention, and it was they, with others, then fresh
from the people which had just adopted the ConCan any
stitution, who created such a Bank.
one douht that they knew well what had been
done in Convention, and what powers the people had conferred upon Congress, by the instrument which had then just been framed and
It would be as reasonable to suppose
that men would not know the children they
had reared, who had grown up (as this Constitution had) under their own eyesight and
This act of the first Conguardianship.
gress under the Constitution stands at the
head of that line of legislative proceedings, in

fact then, to which I shall advert, is
in the introduction. I think, favor of this power, which was referred to by
to his history of the debates in the Convention the honorable Senator from Virginia, and which

grvenby Mr. Madison

He says he inthe Constitution.
with others, that we may the better understand what led to the calling of that ConvenThis is a publication ol that day, urging
the necessity of such a Convention, for the purpose of conferring on Congress the power to
It appears then,
establish a National Bank.
that to give this very power was a leading ob-

which formed


he thought could be met with an equal " opposing force" of legislation against it. In 1816,
another similar act passed. I omit one which
did not receive the Executive sanction, and need
not enumerate the many enactments which were
passed within (lie forty years during which these
[wo acts were in operation all asserting the vaidity of this power, and making a phalanx of

legislative force in defence of its constitution- stitution would necessarily come within that
I may here be permitted to review the principle, which is
applied to all (except judicial
legislation in opposition to this power which officers) who enjoy places of honor and profit'


the honorable Senator has arrayed with great under this Government I mean the republican
of " rotation.'
skill, and has asserted with confidence, to be rule
Considering its utility
equal to all that is enrolled in support of it, merely, there are objections, too, to a recharter.
some of which I have referred to. This legisla- Twenty years is not only as long as the same
tion consists of two acts, proposed for the renew- men ought to enjoy the advantages referred to,
al of the charters of the two Banks. As these two but as long as they can be the most beneficially
propositions never became laws, the honorable exercised by them. In that time, another geneSenator will admit, that they never had any au- ration comes up, with whom they have not that
thority, for any other purpose, whatever of sympathy which is essential to the most harmostrength they may give to his argument. But I nious, and therefore, the most successful busiadmit that some inferences may be drawn from ness intercourse. Such considerations were sufthe failure of the two bills, which were proposed to ficient, and I have no doubt did, with others,
recharter the Banks the facts are, that the first prevent the recharter of the old Bank, by the
failed by the casting vote, of the President of legislature, aided, perhaps, by the doubts of some
the Senate ; the second passed both Houses of upon the question of constitutional power.
The refusal to recharter can, with no more
Congress, by very strong majorities. It will be
recollected that it is his display of legislative propriety be urged as a denial of the constituauthority, or force, upon this question which tional power to establish a Bank, than the refu;


1 1










the question of rechartering the Banks (and
no other adverse legislation is pretended to
Congress havexist) the authority is balanced.
ing in one instance refused, and in the other
given its sanction to a law for that purpose.
But suppose Congress had invariably refused to
give its sanction to laws for rechartering National Banks, will the honorable Senator pretend



his time was out,
that by that act it had
been determined to abolish the office. In reference to a Bank, I would prefer the establishment of a new one to the recharter of the old.
I would thus distribute the stock anew
the People.
In this way, a Bank will be owned
sal to re-elect


could be urged to


by those upon whom, and for whose benefit it is
to act.
In taking leave of the legislative action

of the Government, which the honorable Senator has presented,first as an opposing force, and
then as an account nicely balanced," I venture
to say, that in the ledger which contains every
legislative act, there is not an entry which is
not on the side, and in favor of the constipower might not be included at all. I am free tutionality of this power; not an item can be
to confess I would not vote for the recharter of found as a set ofl, or which can operate as a
such a Bank, unless driven to it,by an apprehen- drawback upon it.
As the action of the Executive Department
sion of a disastrous revulsion in the currency
and business of the country ; and this I should of the Government, is included in the laws alnot apprehend, if there existed a proper spirit in ready referred to in support of this power, I
reference to them, on the part of this Govern- might omit to state the fact, that nearly, if not
ment, and which would induce the seasonable quite every President has, in some way or other,
establishment of a new institution to supply the given his sanction to its constitutionality. The
The recharter of a Bank, I two who approved and signed the charters of the
place of the old.
consider (in a great degree) to be inconsistent two Banks, are so prominent that they need not
with its character as an institution connected now be named.
with the American Government. Such a Bank
Having already explained that the refusal tohas, in part, the character of an officer of Go- recharter is no denial of this power, I will only
vernment it is to collect, safely keep, and dis- say that in the veto message of General Jackson
burse all the revenues of the Government ; it the constitutional power to establish a Bank (as
has another and a collateral power, which is, to I understand) is recognised and asserted.
The remaining fact,to which I at first alluded,
furnish a sound currency, as the medium for
carrying on the business of the Government, and the controlling one upon this question, is.that
and of the people. These not only give it profit, the Supreme Court (the Judicial Power) have
but invest it with honor and dignity ; elements repeatedly and unanimously decided that Conhighly important to its usefulness in all respects, gress have the constitutional power to establish
fotit is mainly owing to this, that men of the a National Bank and this is the only constituhighest character, undertake the conduct of its tional mode of determining the question. Sach
(and we have seen the melancholy ef- has always been the pervading conviction of
as their conduct has shown.
fects of the withdrawal of these from one, which this
might have been extensively useful with them.) The decisions have been uniform always reFrom these views, it is manifest that such an in- cognized, and submitted to by every State court,

that it would afford any authority for denying
I? it any
the power to establish such Bank?
thing like a set off, against the sanction given to
that power by the legislature that established
one? He must perceive that in the considerations which would control that question, this




by every State Government, and by the whole
after this, men will contend that
it is still an open and a doubtful question, they
by it insist that no question can be settled under
our Constitution. None can ever have more
conclusive sanctions than this power has received.
And I now ask the honorable Senator
from Massachusetts who has urged us to act
'upon this, as an unsettled question, and to post-

pone its settlement, that we may give to property
invested under a charter from this Government,

greater security, and a more "quiet life" if we
should not greatly impair the security for all
kinds of property, by doing an act which brings
intoquestion the validity and the controlling effect
of the decisions of that court? To vote, as is
now asked of me, upon the ground that a question decided by that court, as this has been, is
not yet settled would be acting in a direction
which would break up the very foundations upon
which the security of'all property rests.
would remove the only reliance it has for a



dictated by the profound rethose who entertain them
must say, to the honorable Senator from
Virginia, that 1 cannot comprehend the reasoning, by which even a doubt upon this
point can be sustained, nor can I conceive that
a well-balanced mind can refuse assent to pro] ositions so clear, as these appear to me to be
can hold out against the overpowering force of

but I




feel for



to the Constitution have

means known


been resorted to, to settle this queston, one of two
things must be admitted, cither that it is now
settled, or that it never can be, under that instrument, and therefore, that we have no Constitution for such a purpose.
This is as far as I am
All that lies
willing to look in that direction.
beyond Heave to the consideration of the Hon.

Senator from South Carolina (Mr. CALHOUN,)
said to us, the other day that, a revolution
had begun. 1 should be sorry that any whigmeasure should give countenance to such a


This is a controlling doctrine.
with me, in the vote I am to
The honorable Senator from Virginia will perceive that with these views, I cannot regard this
It is from no want of respect to the rights of as a doubtful question, or a proper one for comthe States, that I refuse to vote for a proposition promise.
He will therefore excuse me from any
to make the action of a National institution de- participation in it as such.
To give such a vote and to give it upon such
pend upon State authority but, because 1 am
satisfied with the division of powers between grounds, I must give up the whole history of my
I must turn my
back upon all the lesthe States and National Governments, as it was country
made by the fathers of the system, and has been sons of experience; I must disregard the authorsettled by the practice of more than half a cen- ity of its great names, (and Virginia names too,)
I must put out the light that reflects from their
I have been brought up to contend for every
tombs upon every page of this Constitution, and
I believe the General Go- strike down that Judicial Star, that indicates
right of the States.
vernment has powers, too, which it can, and is the true polarity, and which I had hoped








to exercise for the benefit of the people. If would direct the course of decisions through all
views, as to these last, have been strengthened coming time. And yet more,l must be instrumenof late years, it is from lessons taught by a mas- tal in thrusting the Constitution of my country,
ter mind, one equal to Lie subjects it has grasped its institutions, and the cherished order which
and worthy the age we live in Massachusetts surrounds them, into the tumultuous arena of parwill not wonder at my faith and confidence.
ty politics, and, (if I may borrow language reNotwithstanding this confidence, I desire to cently and patriotically used) thus "commit them
treat the doubts expressed by others upon this to a fate that fills the imagination with horror."
question of constitutional poAver.with proper de-




000 741 054


Santa Barbara