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7 4 SIMMONS 1 5 4 Remarks of Mr, Simmons HG 2529 1841 S6 REMARKS MR, SIMMONS, OF RHODE ISLAND, THE AMENDMENT PROPOSED BY MR. RIVES, OF VIRGINIA, TO THE BILL "TO INCORPORATE THE SUBSCRIBERS TO THE BANK OF THE UNITED STATES," IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES,- JULY WASHINGTON 2, 1841. : PRINTED AT THE OFPICK OK THE MADUOMAX. 1841. m I v t ttfr REMARKS. When 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. proposed by Mr "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of such State, whenever the directors may think fit so to do ; and when established, the office shall not be withdrawn without the assent of Congress and the said corporation shal have power to commit the management of the saic and the business thereof, respectively, to such offices ; it can be to him, to differ with cal friends here, or elsewhere, tion ; but having no doubts in none any of my politiupon this quesmy own mind, and in regard to the sentiments of my constitu- my 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, , sons. 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 tion, deem just and proper." Mr. SIMMONS rose, and addressed the Senate as follows : MR. PRESIDENT: 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 me to '* Emerald Isle" accord to him my makes it proper for vote in favor of the proposed amendment, or to assign to him and 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." my ginia (Mr. Rives) who proposed it, has urged its adoption with eminent He has stated ability. 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 by 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*' Greek 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, I 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 if 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 ti.at 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.- We or the State authority, . ; LIBRAKY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SANTA BARBARA 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 de.eat 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 it, have in making this concession to State sove- reignty. amendment itself embraces a provision to emin any ploy an agent, or to establish an agency> which 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 discounting 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; We I 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. I 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, m 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- w 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 this We The 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 adopted 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 first 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 tion. 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 serts it 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' ality. 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 : I am examining. The result is, that upon 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 an when 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 among the People. In this way, a Bank will be owned sal to re-elect officer could be urged to show 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 affairs (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 people, 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 people. If, 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 It which the security of'all property rests. would remove the only reliance it has for a This ference. 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 cr can hold out against the overpowering force of spect but I this As is feel for I accumulated authority. to the Constitution have means known all 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 who us. 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 give. 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 tury. 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 "quiet life" among consideration ; ; bound 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- my UC SOUTHERN REGIONAL LIBRARY FACILITY A 000 741 054 r THE LIBRARY UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA Santa Barbara THIS BOOK Series 9482 IS DUE ON THE LAST DATE STAMPED BELOW. 1