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SPEECH

OF

MR. BROCKWAY, OF C O N N E C T I C U T ,
OS

T H E SUB-TREASURY BILL.

DF.LITKUKI*

TX




T II E

HOUSE

OF

K B T R E S E

X 'J1 A T I V E S ,

In C o m m i t t e e of tlir V* hole on the s t a t e of t h e U n i o n .

J U N E 2,

1840.

-3Ce-

w Asiiivr. To N:
P R I N T K I ) MY (JA1.KS A M ) S E A T O N %

1840.




SPEECH.
I t is, M r . C h a i r m a n , with g r e a t unwillingness, and most unaffected r e l u c t a n c e ,
t h a t I h a v e risen to submit to tin: consideration of the c o m m i t t e e a few r e m a r k s
in o p p o s i t i o n to the bill now u n d e r discussion. 1 t h i n k , sir, I m a y safely a p p e a l
to t h e silence I h a v e hitherto m a i n t a i n e d , ay e v i d e n c e thai I h a v e not b e e n d e s i r o u s to o b t r u d e myself upon the a t t e n t i o n , or c o n s u m e the lime of this H o u s e .
T h i s silence 1 should still p r e s e r v e , did I not c o n c e i v e the m e a s u r e now p r o p o s e d
for o u r a d o p t i o n — t h i s favorite and distinguishing m e a s u r e of the A d m i n i s t r a t i o n —
p r e s s e d upon C o n g r e s s and the c o u n t r y , as it has b e e n , with u n c e a s i n g a n d unw a v e r i n g p e r t i n a c i t y and e a r n e s t n e s s — t o be big with i m p o r t a n t c o n s e q u e n c e s , and
f r a u g h t with incalculable mischief to those I h a v e the honor to r e p r e s e n t . I c a n n o t , t h e n , sit still, and consent that this bill, so disastrous in its effects upon the
d e a r e s t interests of my c o n s t i t u e n t s , shall go throngh tWs H o u s e , and b e c o m e a
l a w of the l a n d , without m e e t i n g it with w h a t e v e r of opposition I h a v e the p o w e r
a n d ability to oiler. I f I w e r e to do less than this, with the s e n t i m e n t s I most
s i n c e r e l y e n t e r t a i n in r e g a r d to the p e r n i c i o u s effects which will follow in its
t r a i n , 1 should be r e c r e a n t to the trust I h a v e u n d e r t a k e n *
F o r , sir, the blow
w h i c h this s u b - T r e a s u r y policy s t r i k e s at all, will, in my j u d g m e n t a n d belief,
fall h e a v i e s t and s e v e r e s t upon N e w E n g l a n d .
T o h e r vital a n d c h e r i s h e d i n t e r e s t s it is m o r e especially hostile, and her utter ruin and p r o s t r a t i o n it s e e m s d e s i g n e d to a c c o m p l i s h . H e r farmers, and m a n u f a c t u r e r s , and m e c h a n i c s , a r e s o o n est a n d most sorely to feel its weight, and e x p e r i e n c e all its blasting and w i t h e r i n g c o n s e q u e n c e s . I f it be a d o p t e d , and fully c a r r i e d out, as by this bill its friends
p r o p o s e it shall b e , it will shut up her m a n u f a c t o r i e s , throw out of e m p l o y m e n t
h e r m u l t i t u d e s of industrious h a n d i c r a f t s m e n and l a b o r e r s , r e d u c e g r e a t l y in v a l u e
e v e r y s p e c i e s of her p r o d u c t s and p r o p e r t y , and i m m e a s u r a b l y i n c r e a s e t h e dist r e s s and e m b a r r a s s m e n t which now so grievously o p p r e s s h e r ; and if relief or a l l e v i a t i o n does not speedily c o m e , must involve h e r in i r r e t r i e v a b l e ruin.
H o w e v e r , M r , C h a i r m a n , wTe m a y differ as to the causes which h a v e p r o d u c e d what we e x p e r i e n c e , no o n e , 1 a p p r e h e n d , can d e n y t h a t the p r e s e n t is a
p e r i o d ot u n e x a m p l e d and intense distress. R a r e l y , if e v e r , h i t h e r t o , has a n y
t h i n g like it been e x p e r i e n c e d in this c o u n t r y . C a s t y o u r e y e s o v e r this
b r o a d land ; s u r v e y e v e r y p a r t of it ; and see how a p p r e h e n s i o n a n d d i s m a y
h a v e settled d o w n upon it, like a thick cloud, with s c a r c e a r a y of light to b r e a k
t h e g l o o m , or one bright anticipation to illumine t h e future.
I n s t e a d of m u t u a l
c o n f i d e n c e , (the v e r y life and soul of t r a d e , ) distrust and j e a l o u s y u n i v e r s a l l y p r e v a i l . I n s t e a d of b u o y a n t e x p e c t a t i o n , a n d firm r e l i a n c e , t h e r e a r e d a r k forebod i n g s , and evil s u r m i s i n g s , a fearful looking for of evil to c o m e , when old foundations shall be b r o k e n u p , a n c i e n t l a n d m a r k s r e m o v e d , a n d a n e w a n d untried ord e r of things i n t r o d u c e d a m o n g us. I n d u s t r y is c h e c k e d , business of e v e r y sort
p a r a l y s e d , e n t e r p r i s e s which h a v e k e p t in constant e m p l o y m e n t t h e hand of honest l a b o r , and which have fed, and clothed, a n d s u p p o r t e d , so m a n y of our fellowc'tizens, who but for such e m p l o y m e n t must be unfed, n a k e d , a n d in w a n t , a r e , o r
a r e a b o u t to be, given up and a b a n d o n e d .
T h e d e b t o r p o r t i o n , too, of the com*
r n u r i t y — a y , sir, t h a t v e r y large and i m p o r t a n t class of o u r p o p u l a t i o n , w h o , b y
the policy of the last and p r e s e n t A d m i n i s t r a t i o n h a v e b e e n d r a w n , and as it w e r e




4

e n t i c e d , i n t o d e b t , now s t a n d a g h a s t at t h e p r o s p e c t before t h e m .
T h e foundation upon which (hey t h o u g h t t h e y stood s t r o n g , is giving w a y from u n d e r t h e m ,
a n d t h e very p r o p e r t y u p o n w h i c h they relied to d i s c h a r g e t h e i r i n d e b t e d n e s s is
r a p i d l y d e c l i n i n g in v a l u e , while at the s a m e l i m e the debit b a l a n c e is p r o p o r tiunably and c o n s t a n t l y a u g m e n t i n g *
U p o n those, sir, who m a y c h a n c e to be in
d e b t , h o w e v e r h o n e s t l y a n d judiciously the d e b t m a y h a v e b e e n i n c u r r e d , the r e vulsion in t h e b u s i n e s s a n d c u r r e n c y of the c o u n t r y is p r e s s i n g with a w e i g h t well
nigh i n s u p p o r t a b l e , a n d b e n e a t h w h i c h t h e y most a s s u r e d l y will be c r u s h e d , if the
h a n d of h e l p b e not s p e e d i l y e x t e n d e d .
It will not d o , sir, to g i v e up t h e s e , our
f e l l o w - c i t i z e n s , to h o p e l e s s n e s s and d e s p a i r .
You m u s t not tell t h e m , a s h e r e t o f o r e , t h a t , ** trading
on borrowed
capital^ they ovght to break."
I t will not be
s a f e , or w i s e , to add t a u n t , and d e r i s i o n , and insult, to their sufferings* Y o u c a n n o t , with p r u d e n c e , d r i v e t h e m b e y o n d a c e r t a i n point of e n d u r a n c e ; for if y o u
e s s a y it, t h e y moat a s s u r e d l y will t u r n u p o n y o u , a n d , a s in other l a n d s , a n d o t h e r
t i m e s , will s h a k e t h e pillars of y o u r G o v e r n m e n t , and p u t in j e o p a r d y t h e e n t i r e
f a b r i c of our U n i o n .
B e s i d e s , sir, to m a k e o u r p r e s e n t c o n d i t i o n still m o r e c h e e r less a n d forlorn, t h e G o v e r n m e n t itself is in d e b t , and u n a b l e , from its o r d i n a r y
r e v e n u e , to m e e t its c u r r e n t e x p e n d i t u r e * I t lias been k n o c k i n g most l o u d l y at
o u r d o o r s for a n e w issue of T r e a s u r y n o t e s , a n d u n d e r this guise h a s o b t a i n e d
a L O A N of five millions of d o l l a r s
the most odious of all o t h e r s , a forced l o a n .
T h e S t a t e s , l i k e w i s e , a r e , m a n y of t h e m , d e e p l y involved in d e b t , i n c u r r e d in t h e i r
p r a i s e w o r t h y efforts to c o m p l e t e a n d perfect g r e a t w o r k s of i n t e r n a l i m p r o v e m e n t ,
a n d of i n t e r n a t i o n a l c o m m u n i c a t i o n — w o r k s w hich bind us so closely t o g e t h e r , a n d
with w h i c h a r e so i n t i m a t e l y i n t e r w o v e n our safety and p r o s p e r i t y . W h i l e t h e S t a l e s
a r e t h u s e m b a r r a s s e d and beset on e v e r y s i d e , the P r e s i d e n t , t h e p a t e r n a l h e a d of
this n a t i o n , t a k e s it u p o n himself to r e a d t h e m , in his a n n u a l m e s s a g e , a l e c t u r e
u p o n r e c k l e s s n e s s a n d p r o d i g a l i t y . T o m a k e the m a t t e r still w o r s e , this v e r y ind e b t e d n e s s is, in t h e o t h e r wing of this C a p i t o l , b r o u g h t u n d e r p u b l i c c o n g r e s s i o n a l
d i s c u s s i o n , a n d b l a z o n e d to t h e world in the v e r y w a y most c a l c u l a t e d to a w a k e n
a suspicion of violated faith. M a r k , sir, all this is d o n e at the v e r y crisis of o u r
financial
difficulties.
I t is a t this v e r y time t h a t our p u b l i c , as well as p r i v a t e ,
c r e d i t is thus w a n t o n l y a s s a i l e d ; t h u s c a r r y i n g out the undisguised a n d u n c o m p r o mising w a r f a r e t h a t h a s for a long t i m e been so vigoiouslv waged u p o n credit a n d
the credit s y s t e m . I t is indeed but p a r t a n d p a r c e l of that v e r y s y s t e m which has
so fearfully r e d u c e d in p r i c e the g r e a t s t a p l e s of our c o u n t r y , and w h i c h is, at this
m o m e n t , in a m a n n e r h i t h e r t o u n e x a m p l e d , r e d u c i n g in value e v e r y kind of p r o p e r t y \ which is d r y i n g up so fast our n a t i o n a l and individual r e s o u r c e s ; which lias
raised that storm which is n o w raging with such furv, but the m e r c i l e s s p e l tings of w h i c h , in their fullest e x t e n t , I fear, sir, we h a v e " n o t y e t felt.
I t is t r u e , sir, t h e v e r y ills that now o p p r e s s us w e r e all foretold ; and the
wry t i m e s on which we h a v e fallen, w e r e p r e d i c t e d with an a c c u r a c y , mid p a i n t e d
to our v'tvw with a faithfulness, truly wonderful.
If those f a r - s e e i n g s t a t e s m e n
w h o raised t h e i r w a r n i n g voices in opposition to t h e m a d and r u i n o u s s c h e m e s of
t h e late a n d p r e s e n t A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , had possessed the sift of p r o p h e c y , t h e y could
n o t h a v e m o r e clearly p o i n t e d out the results we now w i t n e s s . T h e y a s s u r e d us
t h a t j u s t as c e r t a i n l y as effect follows c a u s e , j u s t so c e r t a i n l y all ibis c o m m e r c i a l
e m b a r r a s s m e n t — a l l this d e r a n g e m e n t of the c u r r e n c y a n d e x c h a n g e s — a l l this
p a r a l y s i s of i n d u s t r y a n d e n t e r p r i s e — a l l this d i s t u r b a n c e of t h e settled a n d e s t a b l i s h e d c o u r s e of things would c o m e . T h e p r e d i c t i o n is now r e c e i v i n g its
literal fulfilment.
W e n e e d hut go b a c k to t h e d e b a t e s of 1 8 3 3 , t o u c h i n g the
r e m o v a l of the d e p o s i t e s , a n d t h e question of r e c h a r t e r i n g t h e U n i t e d S l a t e s
B a n k , to l e a r n h o w well t h e c a u s e s of our p r e s e n t t r o u b l e s w e r e u n d e r s t o o d , and
h o w d i s t i n c t l y the c o u n t r y was f o r e w a r n e d of the sufferings it now e n d u r e s .
What
w a s t h e n t e r m e d a were fancy s k e t c h , has p r o v e d a p i c t u r e t r u e to life.
Saea*
c i o u s a n d h o n e s t p o l i t i c i a n s s a w this end from t h e b e g i n n i n g ; a n d w e a r e r e a p i n g




5

t h o b i t t e r fruits of d i s r e g a r d i n g their c o u n s e l s , a n d t u r n i n g a d e a f c a r to their
w i s e a n d friendly a d v i c e .
I n c o n t r a s t with this, sir, let m e refer y o u to the publicly a v o w e d d e c l a r a t i o n s of the late P r e s i d e n t J a c k s o n , and his«suceessor, o u r present C h i e f Alagist r a t e ; a n d it s e e m s to me that in this c o n n e x i o n the c o m p a r i s o n c a n n o t fail to be
o n e of i n t e r e s t and instruction*
G o b a c k with m e to M a r c h 1 8 3 7 , w h e n t h e
f o r m e r p r o n o u n c e d his farewell a d d r e s s , and when the latter was inducied i n t o
office.
I t is but little m o r e than t h r e e y e a r s ago s i n c e G e n e r a l J a c k s o n r e t i r e d
f r o m p u b l i c life, and s u r r e n d e r e d up the G o v e r n m e n t into lhe h a n d s of Ins s u c c e s sor
t h a t s u c c e s s o r , who was to c a r r y into further d e v e l o p m e n t the p r i n c i p l e s of
his a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , and who counted it all j o y , and e n o u g h of h o n o r , to tread
in his illustrious footsteps. T h e occasion is still fresh in the recollection of
m a n y w h o h e a r m e , and I d a r e say the a n n u n c i a t i o n s then m a d e a r e well r e m e m b e r e d too* I t was a joyous season for him who was c o m i n g into p o w e r , as well
a s o f i n t e r e s t to htm who was goingr out. O b s e r v e , n o w , in what s t r a i n s of selfg r a t u l a t i o n a n d c o m p l a c e n c y the old chieftain talks of the c o u n t r y whose c a r e
a n d m a n a g e m e n t he is about to yield to anotherN o t i c e his p r o c l a m a t i o n of its
p r o s p e r i t y and h a p p i n e s s . T h e s e a r e his words : " I l e a v e this g r e a t p e o p l e
p r o s p e r o u s and h a p p y . " jYIark, too, how the new i n c u m b e n t , as the s c e p t r e falls
i n t o his h a n d s , e c h o e s and r e i t e r a t e s the s e n t i m e n t , in p h r a s e like the following
u
W e p r e s e n t an a g g r e g a t e of h u m a n p r o s p e r i t y surely not e l s e w h e r e to be
found."
C a n l a n g u a g e be s t r o n g e r than this?
C a n a n t i c i p a t i o n s and p r o s p e c t s
m o r e bright and c h e e r i n g be p r e s e n t e d to a fond and confiding p e o p l e ? Is it
n o t a p p a r e n t that the retiring m a g i s t r a t e , upon a r e v i e w of his eight y e a r s ' a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , saw n o t h i n g to r e g r e t , and was willing, nay e a g e r , lo plant h i m s e l f
u p o n its policy, and be j u d g e d by its results. Did not t h e i n c o m i n g P r e s i d e n t
a d o p t t h e s e v i e w s — m a k e t h e m his o w n — a n d pledge his s u p p o r t to this, his
p r e d e c e s s o r ' s distinctive p o l i c y ?
A n d n o w , Mr, C h a i r m a n , m a t k w h a t f o l l o w s :
h o w s h o r t the period of time in which we h a v e a r r i v e d at our p r e s e n t point of
d e p r e s s i o n ; with what rapid strides we h a v e travelled hither,
S u r e l y the m a j o r i t y in this H o u s e will not d e n y that these public d e c l a r a t i o n s w e r e m a d e in all
s i n c e r i t y and truth. A n d e q u a l l y u n d e n i a b l e is it, that s u b s e q u e n t e v e n t s h a v e
s w e p t a w a y the fair delusion, '^nd show how unfounded in fact it was, I should
l i k e to k n o w w h e t h e r , on the 4 t h of M a r c h , 1 8 3 7 , e i t h e r of these a p o s t l e s of the
Ci
d e m o c r a c y " — t h e s e far-seeing s t a t e s m e n , as by their friends t h e y a r e d e e m e d
t o b e , wa* a p p r e h e n s i v e of an *' inflated p a p e r bubble,** or '* inflated c u r r e n c y , "
o r 4 ! a bloated b a n k i n g and credit s y s t e m ? "
W e r e fears then e n t e r t a i n e d t h a t
t h e c u r r e n c y was too e x p a n d e d and prices ruinously h i g h ?
Did b a n k e x p a n s i o n s ,
o r e x p l o s i o n s , or c o n t r a c t i o n s , h a u n t the i m a g i n a t i o n or disturb the q u i e t s e l f - c o m p l a c e n t spirit of the new P r e s i d e n t ? W e r e these xevy tilings, which a r e now tho
b u g - b e a r s of his followers, and the war cry of the p a r t y , then p r e s e n t to his
mind?
W e r e e l e m e n t s of mischief then at w o r k ?
W e r e a n y p o r t e n t s of a
c o m i n g storm then v i s i b l e ?
S i r , if c r e d e n c e is to be given to the P r e s i d e n t ' s
w o r d , all tilings, to his vision, s e e m e d fair and bright, and he was t r o u b l e d with
n o f o r e b o d i n g s of ill to c o m e . N o , sir, he had no mis^ivinys as to the future. T h e
T r e a s u r y was full; tho national d e b t was p a i d ; we w e r e at p e a c e with all
tho world ; e v e r y b r a n c h of industry and c o m m e r c e was p r o s p e r o u s a n d s u c cessful ; a n d , as he looked ovpr the fair land he was to g o v e r n , why should lie
n o t b r e a k out in the exulting e x c l a m a t i o n , ** W e p r e s e n t an a g g r e g a t e of h u m a n
p r o s p e r i t y surely n o w h e r e else to he found VJ
A h , sir ! he little d r e a m e d what a
reckoning: <lny was n e a r , and what a storm w a s at h a n d . I t did not e n t e r into all
his thoughts what a harvest of discomfiture and disquiet his intermeddling: w h h ,
a n d e x p e r i m e n t s u p o n , the c u r r e n c y w e r e about to y i e l d . I v e n t u r e to say it d i d
n o t o c c j r to his imaginings, how thickly lie and his p r e d e c e s s o r had b e e n s o w i n g
t h e e a r t h with dragons* t e e t h ; and how t h e y , like a r m e d m e n , would start up in




6

his path* On the day of his inauguration, he disturbed himself with no foreboding
that in three short months his petted banks, his especial and selected favorites,
would suspend payment, and drive him to convene Congress in s p e c i a l session,
because of the embarrassment and panic that t vent would occasion* T h e surface
of things was fair and smooth, and gave no indication of what e l e m e n t s o f mischief were at work beneath* T h e great mass of the people were r e a d y to drink
in, with eagerness, the flattering words of their newly elected ruler; a n d , in spite
of all the uft-repeated warnings they had received, were the ready d u p e s of the
fair delusion. S u c h had been our prosperity in times past ; such abundant re*
sources had been husbanded and laid up against d-saster to come ; such vigor and
strength had been acquired by the industry and enterprise of our citizens, through
a long series of years, under the fostering care of a patriotic and paternal Government, that, for a while, the country had been able to withstand the s h o c k , and
sustain itself under all the ill-advised experiments and schemes which had been
brought to bear upon it. It had done, as the human constitution will sometimes
do—hold out against the worst prescriptions of tin? most worthless e m p i r i c , and
throw off, by its natural force, all that ignorance and mismanagement can effect
for its destruction.
T h e r e is, Mr. Chairman, a responsibility crowing out of these public avowals
and acknowledgments which, it seems to me, the people are beginning to understand and appreciate. W h e n this Administration came into power, we w e r e pros*
perous, if their words are entitled to credit, beyond -df former e x a m p l e ; while,
at this moment, we are, and for a long time past have been, borne down with
reverses alike unexampled and unexpected* T h e n ; must be accountability somewhere. T h e r e must have been causes in operation, which have produced the •
consequences we now see and feel, at the very time the new President spoke
such words of comfort to the country * T h e s e causes must* and should, be subj e c t e d to a close and rigid scrutiny* T h e people, in times like these on which
we have fallen, should not, and I trust they will not, fail to trace the e v i l s they
endure to their true origin, and drive their authors from every subterfuge under
which they may seek shelter. T h e voice of the nation is calling its servants to
account. It may be heard, even now, in the deep murmur of disapprobation
whicli comes up to us from every section of the Ian ?. and which, ere long, will
break out in tones so loud and clear as will make all who have had part or lot in
the production of the mUehief tremble before it. T h e tide* id'public indignation
is setting in with a force so resistless as to s w e e p aw »y all those who have s o unworthily crept into the high places of trust ami power.
Reflecting men will ask,
and with emphasis too, W a s not the peculiar policy of the last Administration, on
the 4th of March, 1 8 3 7 , made the subject of especial rejoicing and heartfelt congratulation ? W a s not the s y s t e m — t h e new experiment, the characteristic principles of that Administration—said to be working well, and rich blessings to be
its attendants? T h e tariff of l S - i 8 , which some of the President's n e w allies
would have you believe is the overflowing fountain of all our disasters, had been
in operation for ten long years, and under it, and in spite of it, w e had thriven
marvellously. T h e monster bank, with its overshadowing influence and power,
had fallen under the repeated blows of the old chieftain's a r m : the faithful had
duly chanted their Te I.)eums for its downfall, and it no longer aiforded a covert
under which its destroyers could escape from their own misdeeds. N e i t h e r then,
as now, sir, did the ceaseless cry for a divorce of Government from banks ring in
our ears, and constitute a rally ino point tor the partv ; for, sir, that very Government, and vory party, which now so un^p-mnsilv denounce and discard t h e m , did
then take them into peculiar fa\or, and had, at that \cry tirwe, warmed them, by
governmental patronage and influence, into premature growth and unhealthy «*'
tion. Sir, all tin* causes to which our subsequent distress and embarrassments af*
ascribed were then busily at work.
W e r e thev seen and understood ? Did tb'




i

s a g a c i o u s s t a t e s m e n and p o l i t i c i a n s — t h o s e a p o s t l e s of the d e m o c r a c y — - t h e o u t g o i n g and in-coming President—imagine what calamities were impending, and
w h a t a crisis was at hand ?
B u t t h e first fruits of t h e g r e a t e x p e r i m e n t u p o n t h e business a n d credit
a n d . c u r r e n c y of t h e c o u n t r y , which had b e e n in p r o c e s s of trial, w e r e s o o n to a p p e a r ; a n d , in M a y , 1 8 3 7 , t h e G o v e r n m e n t b a n k s , with all the o t h e r s , s u s p e n d e d
specie-payments.
T h e a l a r m which seized e v e r y p o r t i o n of the c o m m u n i t y , a n d
t h e d e r a n g e m e n t a n d d i s o r d e r which p e r v a d e d o u r m o n e t a r y and c o m m e r c i a l aff a i r s , n e e d not h e r e a r e p e t i t i o n . T h e e x p l o s i o n , I d a r e s a y , sir, w a s as u n l o o k e d
for b y t h e P r e s i d e n t as by the P e o p l e . I t w a s e q u a l l y u n e x p e c t e d and a s t o u n d i n g t o all. I t w a s d e e m e d an e v e n t of so m u c h i m p o r t a n c e t h a t , in c o n s e q u e n c e
of it, a s p e c i a l session of C o n g r e s s w a s shortly c o n v e n e d .
T should l i k e , sir, to
h a v e a n y o n e c o m p a r e t h e s t r a i n s in w h i c h P r e s i d e n t V a n B u r e n so lately g r e e t e d
t h e p e o p l e with w h a t he n o w utters to t h e a s s e m b l e d c o u n c i l s of t h e n a t i o n .
In
t h e m e s s a g e w h i c h , on t h a t o c c a s i o n , he t r a n s m i t t e d to C o n g r e s s , he is d r i v e n to
a d i s t i n c t r e c o g n i t i o n of the d e p l o r a b l e state of the c o u n t r y .
H e admits, sir,
w h a t , i n d e e d , can no l o n g e r be disguised, " t h a t e m b a r r a s s m e n t s , w i d e - s p r e a d a n d
c a l a m i t o u s , " exisi. in o u r p e c u n i a r y a flairs ; that u difficulties a r e e x p e r i e n c e d by
t h e m e r c a n t i l e i n t e r e s t s ; " " t h a t u n e x p e c t e d e x i g e n c i e s had o c c u r r e d ; " a s u d d e n
** r e v u l s i o n " had t a k e n p l a c e , a n d a d a r k cloud had c o m e o v e r the bright pros*
p e c t s w h i c h had so lately b e e n held u p to v i e w .
S i r , I cherish not a d o u b t but
t h a t t h e P r e s i d e n t was then fully a w a k e to the p e c u l i a r a n d e x t r a o r d i n a r y a t t i t u d e
in w h i c h h e stood.
I t is not hard to discern h o w , on e v e r y s i d e , his p a t h w a s
b e s e t with difficulties well nigh i n s u r m o u n t a b l e .
A s t h e p i e r c i n g c r y of d i s t r e s s
from e v e r y q u a r t e r r e a c h e d his e a r s , I c a n e a s i l y i m a g i n e h o w his h e a r t must
h a v e s u n k within h i m . I n a m o m e n t t h e m a d s c h e m e s a n d r u i n o u s e x p e r i m e n t s
of h i s " illustrious p r e d e c e s s o r , " in all their sad r e s u l t s , had recoiled u p o n his
own head.
All his e x t o r t e d p l e d g e s a n d p r o m i s e s , a n d solemn d e c l a r a t i o n s , n o w
s t a r e d him in t h e face, and closed u p a n d g u a r d e d t h e o n l y a v e n u e s to relief.
T h e d o w n w a r d r o a d , along which his b l e e d i n g a n d suffering c o u n t r y m e n h a d b e e n
d r a w n , could not be r e t r a c e d . H e could n o t r e s o r t to a n a t i o n a l b a n k for h e l p ,
for t o such an institution he had s w o r n e t e r n a l e n m i t y .
T h e petted banks had
failed to fulfil the trust c o m m i t t e d to t h e m , a n d m u s t b e given u p to public r e p r o bation,
I n such a d i l e m m a , w h a t r e s p o n s e could t h e p a t e r n a l h e a d of t h e p e o p l e
n o w m a k e to their e a r n e s t a p p e a l s for r e l i e f ?
S i r , I v e r i l y believe t h e P r e s i d e n t
a n x i o u s l y cast his e y e s a b o u t for a l o o p - h o l e of r e t r e a t , a n d would most gladly
h a v e found a l m o s t a n y way to e s c a p e t h e difficulties which e n v i r o n e d h i m . B u t
t h e s o l e m n p l e d g e to t r e a d in t h e footsteps of him w h o had g o n e before shut u p
the way.
T h e r e w a s , t h e n , no a l t e r n a t i v e b u t a n e w a n d b o l d e r e x p e r i m e n t still.
A n e w p r i n c i p l e is to b e laid d o w n ; a n e w a n d u n h e a r d - o f d o c t r i n e is t o b e p r o m u l g a t e d : o n e which t h e p r o u d e s t d e s p o t w o u l d h a r d l y a v o w . I n t h e midst of
p r e v a i l i n g d i s t r e s s — o f financial u n c e r t a i n t y a n d d i s m a y
w h e n d o u b t a n d fear
a n d a g o n y a r e all a r o u n d — t h e w a i t i n g , the e x p e c t a n t n a t i o n is told
what?—
t h a t t h e g r e a t b u s i n e s s of G o v e r n m e n t is to t a k e c a r e of itself; t h a t t h e p e o p l e
m u s t n o t , a n d should n o t , e x p e c t too m u c h ; that with t h e c u r r e n c y of t h e c o u n t r y ,
a s s u c h , with t h e c u r r e n c y such as the p e o p l e m u s t of n e c e s s i t y e m p l o y in all t h e
o r d i n a r y c o n c e r n s of life, the G o v e r n m e n t had n o t h i n g to do ; t h a t its c a r e , in r e l a t i o n to m o n e t a r y m a t t e r s , b e g a n a n d e n d e d with t h e r e c e i v i n g , s a f e - k e e p i n g ,
a n d d i s b u r s i n g t h e p u b l i c r e v e n u e ; t h a t a n y further i n t e r f e r e n c e on its p a r t with
t h e m o n e y e d affairs of t h e nation w a s forbidden b y t h e C o n s t i t u t i o n ; t h a t G o v e r n m e n t m u s t , a n d of right ought to b e , n o w a n d f o r e v e r , d i v o r c e d from ail
c o n n e x i o n with b a n k s . T h e s e a r e t h e v i e w s a n d d o c t r i n e s which, if I m i s t a k e
n o t , a r e in s u b s t a n c e c o n t a i n e d in M r . V a n B u r e n ' s m e s s a g e at t h e e x t r a session




s
iii 1837.
I need not a d d , s i r , how s p e e d i l y , upon its p e r u s a l , all hopes o f a i d
f r o m g o v e r n m e n t a l i n t e r p o s i t i o n w e r e scattered to the winds.
I n this d o c u m e n t , M r . C h a i r m a n , we find the first shadowing f o r t h , t h e
o u t l i n e s , o f the s u b - T r e a s u r y p r o j e c t ; the f o r m and features of the scheme e m bodied in the b i l l upon y o u r t a b i c , and now pressed upon this House for its a d o p tion,
1 am a w a r e , sir, t h a i the measure has since been more c l e a r l y d e v e l o p e d ,
the p i c t u r e m o r e f u l l y d r a w n , and its odious character m o r e c l e a r l y e x p o s e d ,
I
a m aware t h a t the g r o u n d of a r g u m e n t for its support m a y have since u n d e r g o n e
some slight m o d i f i c a t i o n ; y e t , in substance, the s u b - T r e a s u r y p r o j e c t is h e r e , f o r
the first l i m e , put f o r t h . T h e message, most assuredly, to my m i n d , embraces the
p r o p o s i t i o n s and p r i n c i p l e s w h i c h I have a t t r i b u t e d to it.
I t ascribes the distressi n g and f o r l o r n c o n d i t i o n we were then i n , to o v e r a c t i o n , to redundancy o f c r e d i t ,
and reckless s p e c u l a t i o n , s t i m u l a t e d and e n g e n d e r e d , as he declares, by excessive
issues o f bank paper.
I t denies to Congress the c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p o w e r to afford r e l i e f , by any regulation touching the c u r r e n c y and exchange ; and claims that g o l d
and silver are the o n l y c u r r e n c y recognised i n a n y way by the c o n s t i t u t i o n — m a k ing it t h e r e b y i m p e r a t i v e that the p u b l i c moneys should be collected and d i s b u r s ed in C O I N alone.
H e r e , sir, is c l e a r l y unfolded the p r i m a r y idea o f one c u r r e n c y
for the people, and a n o t h e r for G o v e r n m e n t creditors and G o v e r n m e n t officers.
A n d , sir, 1 have been s u r p r i s e d , I confess, at h e a r i n g g e n t l e m e n assert that this
o b j e c t i o n , o f two c u r r e n c i e s , w h i c h this bill proposes to f u r n i s h , has been a b a n doned by its o p p o n e n t s . T h e y need n o t , sir, lay this flattering u n c t i o n to t h e i r
souls. Y o u cannot d i v e s t the measure of this odious feature ; it is i n h e r e n t in i t f
and part and p a r c e l o f i t .
I t is visible on its v e r y f r o n t .
T h e r e c e i p t s and d i s bursements o f this G o v e r n m e n t , e x t r a v n g a n t and p r o d i g a l as it is, do not e x c e e d
f o r t y m i l l i o n s o f dollars per a n n u m ; w h i l e i n d i v i d u a l receipts and e x p e n d i t u r e s ,
for the same p e r i o d o f l i m e , a m o u n t to several hundreds o f m i l l i o n s .
C a n this
l a t t e r sum be received and disbursed in specie ? A r e not the bills o f banks*
w h i c h must m a k e up the c i r c u l a t i n g m e d i u m o f the p e o p l e , good enough for o f f i c e holders?
I s it r i g h t or p r o p e r that there should be in this respect any d i s t i n c t i o n 1
B u t , i f any d i s t i n c t i o n must exist, can there be a d o u b t w h i c h o f the classes a l luded t o — t h e people, or their s e r v a n t s — s h o u l d have''the p r e f e r e n c e ?
I t was, sir, w i t h such suggestions, and a c c o m p a n i e d w i t h such d e c l a r a t i o n s ,
that the P r e s i d e n t first ushers the s u b - T r e a s u r y plan upon the notice and a t t e n tion o f the A m e r i c a n people.
H e p u b l i c l y avows it to be a p r o j e c t for the benefit
o f the G o v e r n m e n t , and the G o v e r n m e n t a l o n e ; w h i l e o n l y a faint hope is e x pressed that some i n c i d e n t a l good m a y possibly flow f r o m it to the c o u n t r y .
It
was G o v e r n m e n t money it was to guard and p r o t e c t , w h i l e the people's interests
were i n this respect left defenceless and w h o l l y u n p r o t e c t e d .
S i r , i f the a u t h o r
o f that d o c u m e n t has changed or s w e r v e d f r o m any other o f the p r i n c i p l e s e m braced in i t , he surely is e n t i t l e d to the c r e d i t o f h a v i n g , upon this p o i n t , r e m a i n ed unchanged and i m m o v e a b l e .
1 r e g r e t to say that to this v e r y t i m e he m a i n tains the position he then assumed. H e can still look w i t h the same i n d i f ference upon the havoc around h i m ; he can behold w i t h the same cold u n c o n cern the misfortunes w h i c h are on e v e r y side o v e r w h e l m i n g his f e l l o w - c i t i z e n s ,
and ruthlessly refuse t h e m the h e l p i n g h a n d . H e can t e l l t h e m , in this t h e i r d a y
o f c a l a m i t y , as he told t h e m h e r e t o f o r e , that he can erect a shelter o n l y large e n o u g h
t o c o v e r the official corps, w h i l e the p e o p l e , for aught he or Congress can c o n s t i t u t i o n a l l y d o , must stand w h h o u t , and abide the peltings o f the s t o r m . A n d w h a t
reason c a n , or does, the E x e c u t i v e g i v e , for this l o n g - c o n t i n u e d , this p e r s e v e r i n g ,
t h i s heartless refusal o f r e l i e f ?
H o w can he j u s t i f y h i m s e l f for such an u t t e r
a b a n d o n m e n t and b e t r a y a l o f the trust p o w e r s , i n c i d e n t t o , and e n t e r i n g i n t o t h e
v e r y idea and o b j e c t o f all G o v e r n m e n t ? 1 propose, for a m o m e n t , to call y o u r a t t e n t i o n to the o n l y t w o reasons w h i c h , as I a p p r e h e n d , the P r e s i d e n t has ever
u r g e d , in j u s t i f i c a t i o n o f conduct so u n p r e c e d e n t e d and so c r u e l .




o

T h e first position w h i c h ho t a k e s in e x c u s e for this stern denial of a i d , r*
f o u n d , as I c o n c e i v e , in the fact, that he traces all their misfortunes to the p e o p l e
t h e m s e l v e s , and would h a v e it b e l i e v e d that the m e a s u r e s and acts o f the G o v e r n m e n t h a v e not, in any w a y , contributed to their production. H e does not
c o n s i d e r the G o v e r n m e n t at all r e s p o n s i b l e i'ov t h e m , but lays the b l a m e wholly
a n d e n t i r e l y at the p e o p l e ' s door.
H e n c e it is, and for this v e r y p u r p o s e , that he
d i s c o u r s e s so largely upon " r e c k l e s s s p e c u l a t i o n , " end " evtravagant e x p e n d i t u r e , " and finds in the b a n k i n g and credit s y s t e m t h e origin of all our t r o u b l e s .
B e h i n d this supposition he ami his abettors would e n t r e n c h t h e m s e l v e s , and thus
a v o i d the responsibility of their o w n acts.
Hence-, t o o , wo learn w h y it is thai
p a r t y m e n , and the p *rty p r e s s , have «'» u n c e a s i n g l y held up t h e s e b a n k s as o b jects" o f c o n t u m e l y and reproach.
Sir, the v e r y end and aim o f all this din and
uproar, this fierce warfare upon " the lanncffvd power,"
as they term it, is to e s c a p e the o d i u m they merit, amid the dust and s m o k e o f the con diet. T h i s c o n c l u s i o n is n e a t l y irresistible, when w e recur to the fact that, without the aid o f these
b a n k s , the ordinary business transactions of the c o m m u n i t y could not be carried
on.
I s any one hardy e n o u g h , did he p o s s e s s the p o w e r , to blot out at one? blow
the e i g h t hundred and t w e n t y - t h r e e h a n k s , and abstract from circulation their three
h u n d r e d and s e v e n t y - e i g h t millions of dollars?
K e c e n f e v e n t s in a neighboring
S t a t e would s»:em to indicate what the conduct of the d e n o u n c e r s t h e m s e l v e s wouhl
b e , w h e n brought to the trial.
T h e boldest radical in the land would h e s i t a t e ,
w e r e the issue directly m a d e , e r e he would d e s t r o y a s y s t e m to w h i c h w e have so
l o n g a c c o m m o d a t e d our business, and with which our c?very d a y c o n c e r n s are so
closely interwoven.
Hotter, feir, is ir that the banks should live o n , a b u g - b e a r fo*
the ignorant, and a p a r k - h o r s e and s c a p o - ^ o a l , to bear a w a y the s i n s o f an iniquitous and corrupt Administration.
But a g a i n , sir, let me ask, w h e n and w h e r e did our s a p i e n t rulers and their
z e a l o u s followers imbibe this d e a d l y hostility to b a n k s ?
Is it of lone: standing?
or o f m o r e n o v e l i m p r e s s i o n ?
L e t us go b a c k and trace this matter from the
beginning.
W h e n (Jcuefat*!hvukson c a m e into p o w e r we had, as no o n e will d e n y ,
a c u r r e n c y inferior to no other in the world ; a d e q u a t e to e v e r y d e m a n d o f c o m m e r c e ; and suited to the w a n t s o f an e n t e r p r i s i n g and p r o s p e r o u s p e o p l e .
Th**
B a n k of the t \ i i t e d S t a t e s furnished a circulating m e d i u m that w a s at par e v e r y w h e r e , and good for e v e r y purpose o f m o n e y , in the most distant parts o f the
globe.
It regulated our e x c h a n g e s at h o m e to the satisfaction of e v e r y b o d y , and
r e c e i v e d , safely k e p t , and disbursed the public r e v e n u e ; performing* e v e r y function o f a fiscal a g e n t of the G o v e r n m e n t , in a m a n n e r that m e r i t e d , and r e c e i v e d ,
the highest c o m m e n d a t i o n .
At this p e r i o d , h o w e v e r , w h e n everything- w a s g o i n g
w e l l with us, the extraordinary man then at t h e head o f affairs, for r e a s o n s w h i c h
n e e d not here be datailed, c o n c e i v e d a d e a d l y e n m i t y to this institution, and d e t e r m i n e d u p o n its o v e r t h r o w .
W i t h him to r e s o l v e and to e x e c u t e w e n ; o n e and
the s a m e t h i n g ; and he forthwith addressed h i m s e l f to the ruthless task with a
p u r p o s e as s t e a d y and u n w a v e r i n g as the course of nature*. T h e c o n t e s t , though
fierce and protracted, and directly in the face, too, o f the will of the p e o p l e , as
m a n i f e s t e d by their R e p r e s e n t a t i v e s in C o n g r e s s , e n d e d in the prostration of the
b a n k , and the triumph of the E x e c u t i v e .
Its result furnished, to e v e r y reflecting
m i n d , alarming e v i d e n c e of the rapid increase o f the p o w e r and in/luence o f this
Department.
B u t w a s the destruction of the national bank the o n l y a i m o f this agitating
struggle J O r w a s the b a n k i n g s y s t e m , as a w h o l e , to be overturned ? T h e s e q u e l , sir, will tell. T h e s u b - T r e a s u r y project, with its a c c o m p a n i m e n t s o f \ a u l t s ,
and safes, and r e c e i v e r s general and s p e c i a l , w a s not then in favor at all with
those in p o w e r . N a y , sir, it w a s , in terms the most u n e q u i v o c a l , d e n o u n c e d a s
d i s o r g a n i z i n g and revolutionary,.
A proposition in kind like that n o w u n d e r c o n sidoration could not, for a m o m e n t , be entertained ; and, by the official organ o f




10

t h e A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , was p r o n o u n c e d to be 4t fatal and d a n g e r o u s in all its t e n d e n cies a n d effects."
O n this a c c o u n t it was t h a t , w h e n , in 1 8 3 3 , the late P r e s i d e n t ,
in p u r s u a n c e of his plan for b r e a k i n g d o w n the b a n k , r e m o v e d the public d e p o s i t e s ,
i n s t e a d of placing t h e public m o n e y in iron c h e s t s , u n d e r individual g u a r d i a n s h i p ,
h e s e n t it to the v a u l t s of b a n k s . H e had at that lime no fear of the S t a t e b a n k s ;
n o d r e a d of t h e i r c o r r u p t i n g the p e o p l e , controlling e l e c t i o n s , and d e s t r o y i n g o u r
liberties. H e p u t s into their k e e p i n g the public m o n e y s , with no distrust of t h e i r
ability to p e r f o r m t h e duties of a fiscal a g e n t , and bids t h e m freely use the funds
d e p o s i t e d for the p u r p o s e s of business and the good of the c o m m u n i t y .
He says
it is a g a i n s t the g e n i u s of our free institutions to lock up \n vaults t h e t r e a s u r e s of
the n a t i o n , a n d he would h a v e it flow7 out and fill up e\eiy
c h a n n e l of t r a d e a n d
c o m m e r c e , 1 should be pleased to h a v e the a d m i r e r s of G e n e r a l J a c k s o n — t h o s e
w h o h a v e b e e n a c c u s t o m e d to rely upon his v i e w s , and confide implicitly in his
o p i n i o n s — f o r a m o m e n t p o n d e r upon the s e n t i m e n t contained in the following
words of their favorite :
" It is against the genius of our free institutions to lock up in vaults the treasure of the n a t i o n .
T o take away the right of bearing arms, and putting these weapons into the hands of a standing
army, would scarcely be more dangerous than for Government to have a surplus treasure to be
used against the liberty of the c o u n t r y . "

W i t h a d m o n i t i o n s and injunctions like these did h e , with a hitrh h a n d , t r a n s f e r
the public t r e a s u r e from the national to the S t a t e b a n k s ; a n d , on e v e r y fitting o c casion a f t e r w a r d — i n e v e r y s u b s e q u e n t m e s s a g e , down e v e n to his v e r y l a s t — a n d
t h r o u g h the r e p o r t s of his S e c r e t a r i e s , he continued to extol the m a n n e r in w h i c h
t h e y p e r f o r m e d t h e i r trust.
In his last c o m m u n i c a t i o n to C o n g r e s s he holds t h e
following l a n g u a g e :
** Experience continues to realize, the expectations entertained a& to the capacity of the State
banks to perform the duties of fiscal agents of the Government. At the time of the removal of
the depositees, it was alleged by the advocates of the Bank of the United States, that the State
banks, whatever might he the regulations of the Treasury Department, could not make the transfers required-by the Government, or negotiate the domestic exchanges of the country. It is now
well ascertained that the real domestic exchanges performed through discounts by the United
States Bank and its twenty-live branches, were at least one third less than those of the deposite
banks, for equal periods of time. And if a comparison be instituted between the amounts of service rendered by these institutions, on the broader basis which has bet n used by the advocates of
the United States Bank in estimating what they consider the exchanges transacted by it, the result will be still more favorable to the deposite banks.'*
W h a t r e p r e s e n t a t i o n can be m o r e satisfactory than this ? a n d , if he d e s c r i b e s
the w o r k i n g s of the s y s t e m aright, he might well s a y , " t h e wit of man could d e vise 1 * no b e t t e r .
W a s there a n y hatred or distrust of b a n k s l u r k i n g in t h e b r e a s t
of him w h o could use l a n g u a g e like the foregoing ?
But o b s e r v e a g a i n , sir, how, u n d e r this new o r d e r of things, these v e r y d a n g e r o u s and so much d e n o u n c e d institutions s p r i n g , like m a g i c , into being ; h o w
r a p i d l y their n u m b e r s and their capital i n c r e a s e . I n 1 8 1 6 , the whole n u m b e r of
b a n k s in the country was two h u n d r e d and forty-six, with a capital of n i n e t y mil*
lions of dollars, and a circulation of s i x t y - e i g h t millions. In 1 8 2 0 , t h e n u m b e r
had i n c r e a s e d to t h r e e h u n d r e d and eight, with a capital of one h u n d r e d a n d t h i r t y s e v e n millions, including the B a n k of the U n i t e d S t a t e s .
In 1 8 3 0 , the n u m b e r of
b a n k s is still further e n l a r g e d to t h r e e h u n d r e d and thirty, with a c a p i t a l of o n e
h u n d r e d and forty-six millions, and a circulation of s i x t y - o n e millions. T h u s , in
fourteen y e a r s , we find we have eighty-four
new b a n k s , and an increase of b a n k
capital of fifty-five millions of dollars ; while, during the s a m e period, the c i r c u l a tion has decreased
seven millions of dollars. In 1 8 3 6 , the n u m b e r of b a n k s h a d
risen to eight h u n d r e d and t w e n t y - t h r e e , their capital to t h r e e h u n d r e d and s e v e n t y - e i g h t millions of d o l l a r s , and t h e i r circulation to one h u n d r e d and e i g h t y - f i v e
m i l l i o n s ; showing an i n c r e a s e , in five y e a r e , of five h u n d r e d b a n k s , an i n c r e a s e
of capital of two h u n d r e d a n d t h i r t y - t h r e e millions, and an increase of c i r c u l a t i o n




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of o n e h u n d r e d and t w e n t y - f o u r millions. A g a i n , sir, I ask a t t e n t i o n to. the foll o w i n g resultsIn the y e a r of the tariff c o m p r o m i s e , the a m o u n t of free goods
i m p o r t e d was sixteen millions of d o l l a r s ; while, in 1 8 3 6 , t h r e e y e a r s s u b s e q u e n t l y ,
t h e a m o u n t of the s a m e kind of goods i m p o r t e d rose to m o r e than t h e s u m of n i n e t y - t w o millions, and the imports e x c e e d e d the e x p o r t s in the sum of s i x t y - o n e mill i o n s . O b s e r v e , also, what is the instruction to be g a t h e r e d from t h e c o m p a r a t i v e
s a l e s of y o u r public lands* A n t e r i o r to t h e r e m o v a l of the d e p o s i t e s , t h e a v e r a g e
a n n u a l sale of public lands a m o u n t e d to a b o u t two millions of dollars ; after t h a t
e v e n t , t h e avails of the a n n u a l sales of public l a n d s was fifteen m i l l i o n s ; a n d in
1 8 3 6 , r e a c h e d the a m o u n t of t w e n t y millions of dollars.
D o not these facts clearly d e m o n s t r a t e t h a t , for this i n c r e a s e — t h i s e n o r m o u s i n c r e a s e , of b a n k s and b a n k c a p i t a l , a n d b a n k c i r c u l a t i o n , those who are
n o w loudest in their o u t c r y against t h e m are t h e m s e l v e s r e s p o n s i b l e ? I s not t h e
s t i m u l u s which the r e m o v a l of the d e p o s i t e s g a v e to t h e s e institutions, and to
b u s i n e s s g e n e r a l l y , to the sale of public l a n d s , and t h e e n l a r g e m e n t of the foreign
debt apparent?
Did not the k e e p i n g of the p u b l i c funds, u n d e r the i n j u n c t i o n t o
d i s c o u n t freely upon t h e m , give an u n d u e e x c i t e m e n t to b a n k s and to the credit
s j ' s t e m ? Is not here lo be found t h e t r u e c a u s e of t h a t o v e r a c t i o n , o v e r t r a d i n g ,
a n d r e d u n d a n t capital* so much c o m p l a i n e d o f ?
C a n it not be distinctly t r a c e d
t o a vicious i n t e r m e d d l i n g with the c u r r e n c y ?
T o the ferocious w a r upon the
bank?
T o the rash and d a r i n g r e m o v a l of the d e p o s i t e s ?
I n s h o r t , to t h e v a r i o u s a n d h i t h e r t o untried e x p e d i e n t s to furnish the " b e t t e r c u r r e n c y . ' 1
W h o , sir,
b r o k e in u p o n t h e fiscal s y s t e m u n d e r which e v e r y d e p a r t m e n t of business had so
w o n d e r f u l l y p r o s p e r e d , and e v e r y part of which w o r k e d so a d m i r a b l y w e l l ? W h o
b l e w up the " p a p e r bubble 1 1 and a d m i n i s t e r e d this a l i m e n t to r e c k l e s s s p e c u l a t i o n
a n d t h e a u g m e n t a t i o n of foreign d e b t ? L e t the question be settled by those who
will c o n s i d e r the facts and follow the progress of e v e n t s for the last s e v e n y e a r s .
L e t such say w h e t h e r this A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , of all o t h e r s , should s p e a k r e p r o a c h f u l l y
of banks.
B u t it is said, a g a i n , that the credit s y s t e m is in fault, a n d the a n t i - b a n k and
h a r d - m o n e y m e n r a i s e , along with their cry of ** down with the h a n k s , " t h e cry of
** perish c r e d i t , " too. T h e y p r o n o u n c e this bloated credit s y s t e m to be t h e root of
t h e evil we are suffering, a n d , after the m a n n e r of their g r e a t l e a d e r , wduld h a v e
all who vt t r a d e on b o r r o w e d capital lo b r e a k . "
M r . C h a i r m a n , I most freely adm i t that there m a y have been r e d u n d a n c y and e x c e s s in this m a t t e r of credit ; and
p r a y , sir, what good is there that is not liable to a b u s e ? A n d b e s i d e s , this very e n l a r g e m e n t , so disastrous as it is claimed to be in its effects, is o w i n g m a i n l y to the
m a l - a d m i n i s t r a t i o n of the G o v e r n m e n t itself. T h e v e r y m e n w h o raise t h e loudest
c l a m o r h a v e fastened this v e r y thing upon us. I t is they who h a v e fanned the
flame a n d furnished the food for all this r e c k l e s s n e s s and e x t r a v a g a n t e x p e n d i t u r e
of which they now c o m p l a i n ; and now, forsooth, b e c a u s e of this w o r k of t h e i r own
b a n d s , t h e y wrould abolish credit e n t i r e l y . S i r , the3 f should reflect t h a t credit is a
p l a n t of d e l i c a t e s t r u c t u r e , that cannot be roughly handled or blown u p o n . A n d do
t h e y not k n o w , too — these professed friends of the poor m a n — t h a t the w a r t h e y
c a r r y on against credit is to end in the d e s t r u c t i o n of the poor m a n ' s c a p i t a l ?
Can
i n d u s t r y , or t r a d e , or c o m m e r c e exist without it ? Sir, it is not the rich m a n who
a s k s or w a n t s the aid of c r e d i t . I t is the poor m a n , who s t e p s into t h e wide world
with only his h o n e s t y a n d i n d u s t r y to sustain him, t h a t n e e d s its s u p p o r t . H e it
is t h a t calls credit to his aid, w h e n on the fair field of o p e n competition he e s s a y s
to b e a r off the prize from him who is born to p a t r i m o n i a l wealth and influence.
D e p r i v e him of this, and you shut and bar fast against him the e n t r a n c e of the road
t h a t leads to h o n o r and distinction : y o u t a k e a w a y the k e y that unlocks t h e g a t e
w h i c h g u a r d s this p a t h w a y .
It is this v e r y credit, this much t r a d u c e d , this vilified
C R E D I T , that has m a d e us, as a p e o p l e , w h a t we a r e , the w o n d e r a n d e n v y of the
world.
T o us the poor m a n has fled from the h a r d - m o n e y G o v e r n m e n t of E u r o p e ;




12

because* h e r e , under the benign influence of this w o n d e r - w o r k i n g s y s t e m , lie finds
full p l a y and scope for all Ids e n e r g i e s , and by its aid can raise himself from h i s
a b j e c t condition to o p u l e n c e and r e s p e c t . T i n 1 whole land, through its length a n d
b r e a d t h , hears the s t a m p and impress of the credit system, A on can see it, sir, e v e r y
where* G o e s p e c i a l l y to N e w E n g l a n d , and t h e r e witness its potent i n t l u e n c e in
the thrift and comfort which prevail : in the smiline villages which cluster a r o u n d
her waterfalls ; in the factories winch line the margin of tin 1 s t r e a m s that pour d o w n
the sides of h e r h u n d r e d hills, g a t h e r i n g around ti em a thicket of comfortable a n d
neat d w e l l i n g s , with the school-house and the c h i n c h , and tilling them with a b u s y
and c o n t e n t e d and h a p p y population.
Before this cru>nde a-ainst credit and c o m m e r c e and the b a n k s b e g a n , this r e p r o b a t e d system was vieieb = cr to us an a b u n d a n t
h a r v e s t of b l e s s i n g s ; well-regulated credit was doin:: tor us all we could ask or d e sire.
But the hand of the great K x p e r i m e n l c r was hud upon it, and his touch at
once carried disorder and confusion into e \ e r y part of the complicated m a c h i n e r y
of its action ; s t o p p i n g s o m e of the w h e e l s , accelerating others into a fearful r a p i d i t y
of m o t i o n ; d e r a n g i n g the functions of tbo p a r t s and fun order and s y m m e t r y o f
the whole.
B u t , sir, the P r e s i d e n t is not c o n t e n t e d with ascribing our disasters to H a n k s
and to C r e d i t , a n d thus s h e l t e r i n g himself from all blame on account of then). H o
places his refusal to interfere upon constitutional grounds. Seized with, s u d d e n
scruples and d o u b t s , he r e t i r e s behind the areat chart* r in order to r scape a d u t v
which he finds pressing upon h i m — t h e duty of brinrrmc: succor to a suffering c o m munity.
In his m e s s a g e at the special session, he s p e a k s after this m a n n e r :
" B u t it WiiK not designed by the Constitution that the Govcnimfiii should ussimie the m a n -i^ement of domestic and foreign exchange. It is, indeed. ainhori/r^ to rr sedate, by law, t h e
commerce between the States, and to provide a general standard of \aiue or medium ot exchange
in Efolcl and silver ; but it is not its province to aid individuals in the transfer oi their funds,
otherwise than through the facilities afforded by the Post office "Ihjiaitment.
As justly might
it he called upon to provide for the transportation of'their merehandi.-e. T h e s e are operations of
trade. '*

And again he say s :
''If, therefore, I retrain from rtUgue^ung to Congress an\ s-pc-eille pian U*r rt collating the exchanges of the country, relieving. mercantile nubyrra^jciu> 7 oi hueiferiug- with the ordinary
operations of foreign and domestic commerce, it is from the eornictron that >urh measures farenot within the constitutional province of the General Government, and that their adoption wotifd
not promote the real and permanent welfare of those they were designed to a i d / '

T h e s a m e p r i n c i p l e s , if T m i s t a k e not, have been inculcated in s u b s e q u e n t
messages from the same, s o u r c e ; and are* at this t i m e , m a i n t a i n e d as p a r t of t h e
true faith.
But let us e x a m i n e this position a little further, nnd sec if it is well t a k e n .
Mas C o n g r e s s , indeed, nothing to do with providing a suitable c u r r e n c y fur t h e
w a n t s of t r a d e ? Ts it free from care in relation to the circulating m e d i u m , e x c e p t
so far forth as the regulation of the r e v e n u e is c o n c e r n e d ? except the r e c e i v i n g , a n d
k e e p i n g , and disbursing of it in gold, and silver ? D o e - the provision in the C o n stitution, clothing C o n g r e s s with the tc p o w e r to coin mm;,.;-, regulate the v a l u e
thereof, and of foreign coin," r e a c h no further than the supervision of eold a n d
silver"? Is t h e r e no u r a n t of p o w e r to control and govern u hat, in the t r a n s a c t i o n s
of c o m m o r c e , m a y c o m e to he the r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of coin, and t a k e and s u p p l y
its place ? Is t h e r e no sicnificancy h; the fact that C o n g r e s s is e m p o w e r e d t o
regulate c o m m e r c e a m o n g the several S t a t e s , as well a;, with foreign n a t i o n s ? a n d
is t h e r e not i m p l i e d in this the a u t h o r i t y to direct nnd m a n a g e the c u r r e n c y w i t h out which this commerce; could iiot r\\si or be carried on y T h e history of t h i ^
G o v e r n m e n t , from its organization u p to the time that the present F x e c u t i v e filst
published his r>cw and startling t h e o r y , m a y a n s w e r . T h e very C o n s t i t u t i o n i t self, s p r u n g from d i s o r d e r e d c u r r e n c y and d e r a n g e d finance. O u r first g r e a t
P r e s i d e n t believed that C o n g r e s s could, aud should, e x e r c i s e jurisdiction o v e v



13

m a t t e r s p e r t a i n i n g to the c u r r e n c y and e x c h a n g e . H e n c e , in 1 7 9 1 , the first B a n k
o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s c a m e into being with his a p p r o b a t i o n and consent* I t s e s t a b l i s h m e n t manifestly looked to the a d v a n t a g e s it was to confer on t r a d e in g e n e r a l , a n d the provision it was to m a k e for a safe c u r r e n c y of g e n e r a l credit and
c i r c u l a t i o n . I n short, it was to supply a national c u r r e n c y , and the aid it was to
r e n d e r a s a depository and disburse*' of public m o n e y s , was altogether an aftert h o u g h t , and was not even m a d e a subject of stipulation til! after its i n c o r p o r a t i o n .
S o , t o o , w h e n a second national bank was c h a r t e r e d in 1 8 1 6 , its p r o m i n e n t end
a n d a i m s e e m s to h a v e been the furnishing and regulation of c u r r e n c y and e x c h a n g e . M r . M a d i s o n , who then occupied the chair of s t a t e , s u r r e n d e r e d his
c o n s t i t u t i o n a l doubts and scruples to the practical construction which, for so long
a p e r i o d , and by the distinguished s t a t e s m e n who had p r e c e d e d h i m , had been
g i v e n to the g r e a t c h a r i e r .
T o a n y one who will read the d e b a t e s in' C o n g r e s s ,
w h i l e t h e question of c h a r t e r i n g the second national bank was u n d e r g o i n g discuss i o n , and will be at the trouble to gather the views of the leading men at that
t i m e , it will, 1 a p p r e h e n d , be a p p a r e n t that the p r i m e object they sought to a t t a i n ,
w a s a sound and healthful circulating m e d i u m — a c u r r e n c y that should be of e q u a l
c r e d i t in e v e r y part of the Union. blow well that purpose was a n s w e r e d in its
e s t a b l i s h m e n t , we are all fully a w a r e . T h u s for forty y e a r s of our national e x i s t e n c e , have we had a national b a n k , the aim of which, a m o n g other things, was
t o furnish and control a medium of e x c h a n g e and c i r c u l a t i o n . " O n e would 'have
s u p p o s e d that t h e opinions of W a s h i n g t o n , and Madison, and G a l l a t i n , and D a l l a s , should have put the constitutional question, in regard to this subject, forever
a t rest.
But, sir, the " illustrious p r e d e c e s s o r " himself n e v e r d o u b t e d ' b u t that
t h i s right a p p e r t a i n e d to C o n g r e s s . H e m a d e it a special ground of charge
a g a i n s t t h e b a n k , and justified in part his q u a r r e l with it upon the truth of the
c h a r g e — t h a t it did not maintain a sound and uniform c u r r e n c y . A n d for tho
a v o w e d purpose of furnishing a b e t t e r , he took the deposite b a n k s into favor, and
o f and c o n c e r n i n g them s p o k e in these terms :
*• The funds of the Government will not be annihilated. They will be issued for the benefit
of trade; and if the Bank of the United States curtails its loan?, the State bank**, strengthened
by the deposites, will extend theirs. What comes in through one bank will go out through
another."
*
*
M r . T a n e y , too, in his circular to the G i r a r d B a n k , then s p o k e to the s a m e
effect, and said ;
«*The depositee of the public money wilt enable you to afford inrrensed facilities to commerce
and extend your accommodations to individuals. As the duties w hich are ratable to Government arise from the business and enterprise of the merchants engaged in foreign trade it is but
reasonahle that they should he preferred, in the additional accommodation which the public deposites will enahlc you to give/ 1
I n his m e s s a g e , in 1 8 3 3 , the P r e s i d e n t thus utters his congratulations ;
**T am happj to hear that, through the good cense of our people, the effort to get up a panic
has hitherto failed, and that, through the incrrased accommodations which the State bankd have
been enabled to aflbrd, no distress has followed the exertions of the bank,"
I n D e c e m b e r , 1 S 3 5 , P r e s i d e n t J a c k s o n , in his a n n u a l c o m m u n i c a t i o n to Con*
g r e s s , thus explicitly s p e a k s upon this topic :
**By the use of the State banks, which do not claim their charters from the General Government, and are not controlled by its authority, it is ascertained that the moneys of the United
States can be collected and disbursed without loss or inconvenience, and that all the wants of the
community, in relation to currency and exchange, are as well supplied as they ever have been
before."
I need not ag»in refer to his message in D e c e m b e r , 1 8 3 6 , which is equally full
and explicit u\>on this point. A n d now, sir, Jet me inquire, is it to be believed
t h a t G e n e r a l J a c k s o n h a r b o r e d a constitutional scruple of the p o w e r , and abiliry,
a n d duty of C o n g r e s s , in relation to this subject ? A n d , from w h e n c e , t h e n , have




14

c o m e his s u c c e s s o r ' s d o u b t s a n d misgivings ? D u r i n g all the t i m e t h a t his p r e d e c e s s o r had b e e n t a m p e r i n g with a n d t i n k e r i n g t h e c u r r e n c y , u n d e r t h e p r e t e x t of
m a k i n g it b e t t e r , did M r , V a n B u r e n w h i s p e r in his e a r s the s u r m i s e t h a t t h e c o n stitution stood in his w a y ? Did he e v e r m a k e a p r e t e n s i o n of this sort till d r i v e n
to it by the failure of his o w n a d o p t e d s y s t e m ? A n d c a n the s u s p e n s i o n of s p e cie p a y m e n t bv t h e b a n k s alter the constitution ?
N e i t h e r of t h e g r o u n d s , t h e n , u p o n which the P r e s i d e n t h a s p l a c e d his
justification before t h e c o u n t r y , a r e firm a n d safe to s t a n d u p o n .
I t will not d o
for him to l a y to the p e o p l e t h e b l a m e of the d i s t r e s s t h e y now* e n d u r e , a s of t h e i r
own p r o c u r i n g , and s a y that t h e fires w h i c h c o n s u m e them a r e from s p a r k s of t h e i r
o w n kindling* A n d it is and must be too l a t e for him to say that t h e c o n s t i t u t i o n
i n h i b i t s his aid. T h e y a r e flimsy p r e t e x t s , w h i c h will not a b i d e t h e test of rigid
and impartial examination.
W h a t , t h e n , M r . C h a i r m a n , d o e s t h e bill u p o n y o u r t a b l e s e e k to a c c o m plish ? U p o n its face it m a k e s provision o n l y for the r e c e i v i n g , a n d k e e p i n g ,
and disbursing the revenue.
T h i s it p r o p o s e s to d o , by d i v o r c i n g G o v e r n m e n t
from b a n k s , c o l l e c t i n g the public d u e s in gold a n d silver, a n d , against all past e x *
p e r i e n c e and p r a c t i c e , l o c k i n g t h e m u p in the c u s t o d y of c e r t a i n k e e p e r s , w h o s e
h o n e s t y is to b e m a i n t a i n e d by t b e s e v e r i t y of p e n a l e n a c t m e n t , a n d thus d e p r i v i n g the p e o p l e , from w h o s e p o c k e t s t h e y a r e d r a w n , of the use of themInstead
of a s y s t e m tried and s t r e n g t h e n e d by the use of half a c e n t u r y , w e a r e to h a v e
fixed u p o n us a n e n t i r e n e w o r d e r of t h i n g s , a n d a r a d i c a l c h a n g e is to be w r o u g h t .
I do not forget, sir, that t h e a d v o c a t e s of this m e a s u r e affect to b e l i e v e , and would
fain h a v e the c o u n t r y b e l i e v e , that c e r t a i n incidental benefits, at least, will a c c r u e .
T h e y m a i n t a i n t h a t the h a r d - m o n e y policy, a p r o m i n e n t f e a t u r e of t h e bill, will
p r e v e n t m a n y of the evils w e n o w suffer ; t h a t it will r e s t r a i n e x c e s s i v e issues of
b a n k p a p e r ; s u p p r e s s the roo g r e a t e x t e n s i o n of c r e d i t ; d i m i n i s h t h e o v e r a c t i o n
w h i c h has i n v a d e d t h e s e v e r a l d e p a r t m e n t s of business ; s t o p o u r foreign i m p o r t a t i o n s , a n d t h u s d r y u p our foreign d e b t , and e n a b l e our m a n a f a c t u r e s to c o m p e t e
with those from a b r o a d . A n d all this, M r . C h a i r m a n , h o w ? in w h a t w a y ?
Simp l y , b y b r i n g i n g e v e r y t h i n g d o w n to a h a r d - m o n e y s t a n d a r d of v a l u e ; by r e d u c i n g
t h e p r i c e s of p r o p e r t y , and p r o d u c t s , and l a b o r ; by d i m i n i s h i n g the cost of p r o *
d u c t t o n . T h i s is the w a y in w h i c h t h e y would h a v e A m e r i c a n m a n u f a c t u r e r s
m a i n t a i n t h e m s e l v e s a g a i n s t foreign c o m p e t i t i o n .
T h e friends of this h a r d - m o n e y
d o c t r i n e would p e r s u a d e the N o r t h e r n m a n u f a c t u r e r that his only d e f e n c e is r e d u c e d cost of p r o d u c t i o n .
T h e y would s t r i p off the a>gis of his p r o t e c t i o n , t h e
tariff, a n d bid h i m , instead thereof, l o w e r t h e w a g e s of his w o r k m e n .
T h e y exclaim most v e h e m e n t l y a g a i n s t the p r i c e s , w h i c h h a v e b e e n so r u i n o u s l y h i g h , a n d
find d e l i v e r a n c e n o w h e r e but in t h r i r r e d u c t i o n .
N o w , sir, I d e s i r e to k n o w h o w
this policy m e e t s t h e views of those whose i n t e r e s t s it so m a t e r i a l l y affects.
I
would ask t h e w o r k i n g - m a n if he is c o n t e n t , with this d i m i n u t i o n of his w a g e s ?
C a n y o u m a k e him e a s y , u n d e r tha idea that, while the value of his l a b o r falls, t h e
p r i c e of living d e c l i n e s in an equal r a t i o — t h a t he can s u p p o r t his family on h i s
d i m i n i s h e d e a r n i n g s as well as b e f o r e ?
W i l l he not i n q u i r e if this policy is to
r e a c h and affect those foreign a r t i c l e s , w h i c h h a v e c o m e to m a k e u p t h e c o m f o r t
a n d c o n v e n i e n c e s , if not t h e n e c e s s a r i e s of life, and which e n t e r into t h e c o n s u m p tion of e v e r y f a m i l y ?
Will the p r i c e s of his t e a , and coffee, a n d s u g a r , a n d m o lasses p r o p o r t i o n a b t y d e c l i n e 1 or would they confine t h e s e a r t i c l e s to t h e d w e l lings of the rich ? W i l l he not be v e r y likely to i n q u i r e if t h e w a g e s o f t h e s a l aried officers of G o v e r n m e n t a r e to u n d e r g o a like r e d u c t i o n ? I s t h e official
c o r p s — t h e a r m y of office-holders w h o literally s w a r m in our l a n d — t o e x p e r i e n c e
the effects of this b e n i g n a n t s y s t e m , this p a r i n g d o w n p r o c e s s ?
Do you propose
to cut d o w n t h e i r i n c o m e s , while y o u p a y t h e m in t h e b e t t e r c u r r e n c y ?
Will
the f a r m e r b e satisfied with t h e falling p r i c e s of his p r o d u c t s , and relish t h e i d e a
t h a t the d e p r e s s e d v a l u e of his beef, a n d p o r k , a n d g r a i n a r e w o r k i n g out h i s u l -




15

l i m a t e good ? P e r m i t me to a s k , if he would willingly deal out his p r o d u c e at half
i t s f o r m e r p r i c e s , even for the office-holder's gold and silver 1 G o , sir, at this
v e r y m o m e n t , a m o n g the h a r d y , and h o n e s t , and intelligent y e o m a n r y , who till the
s o i l a n d s u p p o r t us all, and b e a r b a c k their r e s p o n s e , and I am willing to s t a k e
t h e i s s u e upon it*
Bring ' h e i r opinion of the prices so ruinously high, u n d e r
w h i c h the a g r i c u l t u r a l portion of the c o m m u n i t y has thriven for a few y e a r s past.
M o r e e s p e c i a l l y should 1 like to h e a r a l a r m e r s p e a k upon this point w h o has
b e e n p u r c h a s i n g his farm on c r e d i t , and is owing for it, or is in d e b t from a n y
cause.
A few duys s i n c e , sir, I c h a n c e d to cast my e y e s upon the following e x t r a c t from t h e ** O h i o T i m e s / ' which s e e m s to furnish a suitable illustration of t h e
t o p i c on h a n d :
** FIGT7U:ES WON'T L I E , — A fanner in the country owed, last year, $200, which he could have
discharged with 1 7S bushels of wheat- This year it takes 500 ; difference 322 bushels Last
year, he could have paid the same debt with 400 bushels of oats. This year it takes 1,400 ; difference 1,000* 267 bushels of corn would have paid this debt last year; this it will take S09 ;
difference G42. There is no humbugging in this."
S i r , it would afford our farmers, and m e c h a n i c s , and l a b o r e r s hut little c o n s o l a t i o n to be told how successfully the h a r d - m o n e y s y s t e m w o r k s in S p a i n , a n d G e r m a n y , and I t a l y . 1 v e n t u r e to say they would wish for the reason that the tide
o f e m i g r a t i o n sets so strongly from t h e n c e to this l a n d , so cursed and blighted with
p a p e r m o n e y . B e s i d e s , sir, will they not tell y o u that the very s y s t e m y o u s e e k
t o introduce* by the p a s s a g e of this bill is p r a c t i c a l l y in o p e r a t i o n now ? W i l l
t h e y not q u o t e to you the words of the h u e l e a d e r of the A d m i n i s t r a t i o n p a r t y in
t h i s H o u s e , w h o , at t h e second session of the last C o n g r e s s , used the following Ian*

guagc ;
*' Suppose we reject this bill and e^o home, does the eub-Treasury cease 7 No, sir ; it must
continue, rts it is now, the law of the land, and will continue through 1838, T39, *40, and Nil,
in spite of ail the lamentations, here and elsewhere.'*
W a s this a vain and bootless boast'?
Did this bold assertion m e a n n o t h i n g ?
A n d are not the b a n k r u p t c i e s , and d e s p o n d e n c y , and gloom which now p r e v a i l ,
s a d c o m m e n t a r i e s upon the benefits, d i r e c t or i n c i d e n t a l , which flow from t h e
sub-Treasury ?
A n o t h e r reason which has been urged for t h e p a s s a g e of this hill is d e r i v e d
from the s u p p o s e d necessity of its adoption for the safety of the public d u e s ; and
for this e n d , it is claimed the r e c e i v e r s g e n e r a l , with their safes a n d iron c h e s t s ,
a r e to be c r e a t e d .
T h e b a n k s , it is said, are unsafe places of d e p o s h e , and must
be abandoned.
A sufficient reply to all this, sir, would be involved in. the q u e s t i o n , w h i c h , with g r e a t significancy, might be put, W h a t would a p r u d e n t individual d o , in such c i r c u m s t a n c e s , and how would he c o n d u c t Ids own affairs'?
Howwould a n y of us dispose of m o n e y winch we might c h a n c e to h a v e on h a n d , a n d
w h i c h we might be desirous to c o m m i t to safe k e e p i n g ?
S h o u l d we prefer a n
iron chest, to the vaults of a n e i g h b o r i n g well-regulated b a n k 1 I v e n t u r e to s a y ,
t h a t , with e v e r y penal e n a c t m e n t that h u m a n ingenuiiy can d e v i s e , you c a n n o t
m a k e the public k e e p e r m o r e vigilant and honest than an individual would be in
t h e g u a r d i a n s h i p of his own p r o p e r t y . W h y , t h e n , a d o p t a different rule in r e g a r d to public and p r i v a t e funds 1 If the latter a r e found m o r e safe in the c u s t o dy of b a n k s , why should not the f o r m e r ; and the rule of conduct that should g o v e r n the o n e , should also the other ? T h e r e a r e c h e c k s and h i n d r a n c e s in o p e r ation in b a n k s that c a n n o t possibly a t t a c h to individual k e e p e r s - T h e s t o c k h o l d ers h a v e a d e e p interest in their careful and p r u d e n t m a n a g e m e n t , and by self
i n t e r e s t , t h a t strongest of all g u a r a n t e e s for close and vipilant inspection, a r e led
to c o n s t a n t watchfulness for m i s m a n a g e m e n t and m a l a d m i n i s t r a t i o n .
Then,
l o o , you h a v e the d i r e c t o r s and officers of the bank t h e m s e l v e s , e a c h a s e n t i n e l
upon the o t h e r . A r e not motives, in such a r r a n g e m e n t s , to be found to p r e v e n t a n d
guard a g a i n s t p e c u l a t i o n and a b u s e , which c a n n o t exist in the case of single d e -




16

positories ? U n i v e r s a l experience bears testimony to the superior c o m p a r a t i v e
safety o f banks for the custody of public depositee. Just look at the n u m b e r o f
v o u r d e f a u l t i n g postmasters, who are a species of regularly built sub-treasui ers,
IJy recurrence to E x e c u t i v e document N o . 185, for the year 1S36—T, it w i l t be
found that in the preceding eight years the number of defaulters was sixteen h u n d r e d ; w h i c h , c a l l i n g the whole number ten thousand, is ore -sixth o f that w h o l e .
A l o n g w i t h tins fact, let me ask the advocates o f the bill to place tlie sums that
this G o v e r n m e n t ever lost by the B a n k of the U n i t e d States. L e i them t e l l
when and where a single farthing* of all the vast sums entrusted to its caie was
ever missing- A n d w h a t , sir, after all the line and cry r a i - t d against t i e State
I m n k s , lias been the loss sustained from these institutions?
S i r , in all the time
they have acted as the fiscal agents o f the G o v e r n m e n t , y o u have suffered f r o m
t h e m an amount that is t r i f l i n g indeed.
Some years since, as was once
stated by a gentleman from V i r g i n i a , ( M r - G A H L A N D , ) they had disbursed o f
G o v e r n m e n t moneys the sum of about seven hundred millions of dollars, while the
total loss was only about the 4 5 t h of one per cent.
C o m p a r e this w i t h the single
defalcation o f S w a r t w o u t and P r i c e , and learn how much safer the people's
money is when guarded by sub-treasurers.
T h e r e is something suspicious i n
thus l o o k i n g out a better method o f k e e p i n g the people's mon* i y than v e a d o p t
for the custody of our o w n . T i l l the nature of man is changed—every passion
and motive o f his breast is e r a d i c a t e d — t i l l he ceases to he obnoxious to t e m p t a tion for peculation and plunder, y o u cannot convince the people that their funds
are or w i l l be better kept by receivers general in iron chests, w i t h all the terrors
o f the p e n i t e n t i a r y staring them in the face, than they have hitherto been in the
good old w a y .
W h y , sir, S w a r t w o u t and P r i c e abstracted f r o m y o u r T r e a s u r y
more than one m i l l i o n three hundred thousatd d o l l a r s ; while on the first of F e b r u a r y last, these banks, so lately objects o f favor ai-xl praise, but now hunted
d o w n and denounced, were in arrears about the sum of eight hundred thousand d o l lars, and at this very l i m e the sum total of their indebtedness to G o v e r n m e n t does
not exceed six hundred thousand ; and this, too, abundantly secured beyond the
danger o f eventual loss. Is not, M r . C h a i r m a n , a p i a i n of experience Letter than
a bushel of t h e o r y ? and a plan tested and tried by the operation of h a l f a century
better than a new e x p e r i m e n t ?
I n a d d i t i o n , it may be r e m a r k e d that y o u r hanks
cannot abscond; its officers m a y , but the loss, in such a case, falls upon the? s t o c k holders, and the corporation must abide the result.
O n the other hand, i f a subtreasurer plunders the public coffers and flies, the people, and they alone, sustain
the i n j u r y .
S i r , i f the records o f the public defaulters, and the amounts of their
defalcations could be spread out before the people ; i f the frauds and purluinings
w h i c h , f i o m time to t i m e , have been perpetrated upon this G o v e r n m e n t by its
accredited agents, could be d r a w n out to public view ; i f the embezzlements o f
w h i c h we hove now and then been permitted to have a faint g l i m p s e , could bo
k n o w n in all the length and breadth and fulness of their e n o r m i l y , I would ask
for no other argument against this s u b - T r e a s u r y scheme before the" grand inquest
o f thft n a t i o n . S i r , 1 am greatly apprehensive, after a l l , that there is somewhat o f
i n s i n c e r i t y in this argument of superior safely, 1 cannot believe that intelligent
men can fail to see its fallacy.
1 greatly frar i h r y have n different and less pat r i o t i c object in v i e w , and peek to cover their ulterior aim w i i h this pretext.
It
is in this end and aim that 1 find my great objection to the bilk
It seeks to accumulate still greater power and prerogative in the hands of ihe E x e c u t i v e , and
m a k e the o v e r s h a d o w i n g influence o f that D e p a r t m e n t still more f o r m i d a b l e and
resistless.
F o r this reason, the b i l l , in my judgment, is, in its consequences, d a n gerous to the v e r y liberties o f the country.
I t has seemed to me, M r . C h a i r m a n , that no one c a n , for a few y e a r s
past, havo observed the progress o f E x e c u t i v e usurpation w i t h o u t feelings o f
a l a r m and apprehension.
I t nas been steadily going on u n t i l it has at length a r -




17

r i v e d at a pitch when this d e p a r t m e n t of our G o v e r n m e n t t h r e a t e n s to swallow
u p and devour all the o t h e r s . E\et since the election of G e n e i u i J a c k s o n to the
Chief M a g i s t r a c y , the process o l u n d e r m i n i n g and d e r a n g i n g the c h e c k s and bala n c e s ol* the constitution has been in o p e r a t i o n , and the s y m m e t r y and nice adj u s t m e n t s of its parts and p r o p o r t i o n s lias been v\ell nigh obliterated and d e s t i o y e d . T h e spirit and d e t e r m i n a t i o n to c o n c e n t r a t e all the p a t r o n a g e and p o w e r of
t h i s G o v e r n m e n t in E x e c u t i v e h a n d s , manifested itself eai ly in the last A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , in its a t t a c k upon the S e n a t e w h e n that body stood in the way of the
P r e s i d e n t ' s h i g h - h a n d e d assumptions of a u t h o r i t y . W e cannot have forgotten
h o w zealously a pensioned press and devoted partisans wrought to o \ e r l h i o w ihis
b r a n c h of our L e g i s l a t u r e . It showed itself in the daring asi-crtion of p r e r o g a t i v e on the part of the P r e s i d e n t himself—in his r e m o v a l of the d e p o s i t e s , and
h i s u n w a r r a n t a b l e e x e r c i s e of the veto p o w e r against d e c i d e d majorities of both
H o u s e s of C o n g r e s s . Jt broke out in simultaneous and oft-repeated assaults upon
t h e S u p r e m e C o u r t , and the unsparing efforts which have been m a d e to bring the
j u d i c i a r y into d i s r e p u t e and cover it will) obloquy and r e p r o a c h . S i r , no a t t e n t i v e
l o o k e r on can have failed to discover in the e v e n t s of the few last 3 e a r s a g r o w ing t e n d e n c y to elevate the E x e c u t i v e . T h e increase of p a t r o n a g e , in the w ay of
a p p o i n t m e n t to office, when viewed in its p r o p e r light, must excite uneasiness in
t h e breast of e v e r y well wisher of his c o u n t r y . W e h a v e lived to learn that the
j e a l o u s i e s of s o m e of the m e n who framed our constitution w e r e not e n t i r e l y
g r o u n d l e s s , and their d r e a d of E x e c u t i v e e n c r o a c h m e n t no idle d r e a m .
Look
a r o u n d y o u , sir, and see the entire subserviency of the whole a r m y of office-holde r s — s e e the crowd of hungry e x p e c t a n t s waiting at the gates for the least c r u m b
of f a v o r — m a r k the proscription for opinion's s a k e which falls with such unerring
c e r t a i n t y upon e v e r y i n c u m b e n t who d a r e s to be i n d e p e n d e n t — n o t i c e the d o c t r i n e
unblushingly avowed a i d unblushingly a c t e d upon, that to the victors belong the
spoils. Is t h e r e nothing in the p o w e r which wields and d i s p e n s e s the i m m e n s e
a n d e v e r - g r o w i n g p a t r o n a g e of such a G o v e r n m e n t as ours, to excite a dread of
its unholy exercise ? Is there nothing in this ability to put so m a n y out of office
a n d put so m a n y in that should a w a k e n j e a l o u s y and d i s t r u s t ? I s all a p p r e h e n sion that it may interfere with and control elections, and p e r p e t u a t e its own cont i n u a n c e in p o w e r , without foundation? D o e s it not at this very m o m e n t p r e s e r v e
a discipline so s e v e r e and strict, that by m e a n s of it it can do its will and a c c o m plish its d e s i r e s ? I n d e e d , sir, has not the P r e s i d e n t himself, in his message at
t h e c o m m e n c e m e n t of this session, a d v a n c e d a dogma n e v e r before put forth, ;ind
gravely told us *' that the E x e c u t i v e forms a c o m p o n e n t part of the legislative
p o w e r ? " Is this is a m e r e idle phrase to which no m e a n i n g is a t t a c h e d ^
Is it
not a new and a l a r m i n g assertion of p o w e r , evincing a still g r e a t e r d e t e r m i n a t i o n
for its e n l a r g e m e n t and e x e r c i s e ? Is it not a hold and open avowal of a p i i n c i p l e
long since adopted in p r a c t i c e , and some illustration of" which has been exhibited
in this Hall since we c a m e t o g e t h e r ?
Shall we, then, by this hill increase ibis
a l r e a d y o v e r g r o w n p o w e r of the G o v e r n m e n t ?
Shall we i\ild to the n u m b e r of
office-holders who now literally swarm in the land, by the creation of new offices?
Shall we put the public m o n e y s into the P r e s i d e n t ' s own hands to he at his own
disposal and under his c o n t r o l ?
W h a t else than this do you do when you place
it in tlie k e e p i n g and custody nf those whom he can displace at will and r e m o v e
at his p l e a s u r e ?
If one k e e p e r slut 11 prove refractory and refuse the P r e s i d e n t ' s
b e h e s t — a thing, to be s u r e , \^ry unlikely to occur—will not 3 pliant one he sought
out and o b t a i n e d ?
In short, sir, will not the t r e a s u r e of the nation be at the e n t i r e disposal of the Chief E x e c u t i v e ?
A n d besides, six, this bill u n d e r a false guise and hollow p r e t e n c e , will, if a d o p t ed, to e v e r y intent and p u r p o s e , establish a G o v e r n m e n t Bank* It will be c o n n e c t e d with y o u r T r e a s u r y and bas< d upon your r e v e n u e s . L o o k at its p r o v i sions, and observe how this is to be brought about.
L e t y o u r public d u e s be col-




IS

' e c t e d in gold and silver, and locked up in the vaults* and safes of your r e c e i v e r s
g e n e r a l and treasurers of your mints ; let your b a n k s , u n d e r the workings of t h e
s y s t e m , withdraw their circulation and wind up their affairs, as most certainly t h e y
must d o ; and let no national b a n k , as heretofore, be c h a r t e r e d : and what can p r e vent your having, in lieu of these, a G o v e r n m e n t b a n k u n d e r the m a n a g e m e n t
and guidance of the E x e c u t i v e alone ? Sir, I confess I have not been as m u c h
surprised as s o m e others have professed to be, when 1 have heard the friends of
this bill—-this h a r d - m o n e y and s p e c i e - p a y i n g bill—express themselves friendly to
hanks* F o r , sir, this m e a s u r e , w h a t e v e r on its face it may p u r p o r t to b e , is in
verity and t r u t h , building up a bank with features most odious to f r e e m e n , a n d ,
which, instead of specie, instead of gold and silver, is to pour out upon us a
now c u r r e n c y in the shape of T r e a s u r y drafts. C a n this result be hindered 2 Is
not your S e c r e t a r y of the T r e a s u r y herein e m p o w e r e d to transfer y o u r m o n e y s
from one depository to a n o t h e r ? to c o n c e n t r a t e them when and w h e r e , and in
what amounts he may c h o o s e ?
Is not all this left entirely at his d i s c r e t i o n ! P u t
your G o v e r n m e n t drafts, then, in circulation, and a c c u m u l a t e y o u r s p e c i e , a n d
let the process go on from y e a r to y e a r : and have you not a c u r r e n c y — a c i r c u l a ting m e d i u m , which, in credit, will equal that of the G o v e r n m e n t which issues a n d
stands pledged to r e d e e m t h e m ? In spite of all you can <\o^ sir, this c u r r e n c y
will work itself into eeneral use, and will he the only one vou will or can h a v e .
Adopt this bill, and m a k e its provisions the law of the land, and you h a v e , n o t withstanding hi mentations here or e l s e w h e r e , an odious T r e a s u r y - G o v e r n m e n t
Bank, T h e s e T r e a s u r y drafts will subserve every purpose of p a y m e n t and ex*
•change in the business transactions of the country.
Most of all then, sir, I object to this bill because of its direct and n e c e s s a r y t e n d e n c y to augment E x e c u t i v e patronage and power ; because of its necessary r e sult, a G o v e r n m e n t b a n k , under the P r e s i d e n t ' s absolute control, and thus uniting
in his hands the purse and the sword. W h e n this shall be d o n e , the d a y s of our
freedom will be numbered and finished.
A *jreat money power will b e ' r a i s e d u p
v\i h o n u \ instead of one across the Atlantic, and which, sooner or later* will pros*
?r«Mc e v e r y thing at the footstool of E x e c u t i v e wilh