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SPEECH
OF

MR. BUCHANAN, OF PENNSYLVANIA,
OX THE P O W E R

OP T H E

BANK OF THE UNITED STATES
UNDER

ITS

PENNSYLVANIA

CHARTER;

N SUPPORT OF T H E BILL T O P R E V E N T I T FROM R E - I S S U I N G AND C I R C U L A T ING T H E N O T E S OF T H E OLD B A N K ;

AXB,

ON THE CAUSES WHICH PRODUCED THE SUSPENSION OF SPECIE PAYMENTS, AND THOSE
WHICH MUST NOW EFFECT A SPEEDY RESUMPTION:

D E L I V E R E D I N T H E S E N A T E OF T H E U N I T E D S T A T E S , A P R I L 23, 1833.




ALSO,

HIS

REPLY TO MR. CLAY, OF KENTUCKY,
ON THE SAME DAY.

WASHINGTON:
P R I N T E D JLT T H E GLOBE OFFICE.

1838.

SPEECH.

RESURRECTION NOTES.

j been made and reiterated over and over again, here
and throughout the country, of having created a
In Sen ate,-Monday, April 2%, 1838—On the engrossed vast corporation, with power to deal in cotton, or
bill to prohibit ihe i.vue and circulation of the j any other anicle of merchandise. A mere reference
notes of the late Bank of the United States.
j to the charter, will, of ihelf, establish my position.
It leaves no room for argument or doubt. The
Mr. B U C H A N A N said there was but one con- j rule of common reason, as well as of common law,
sideration which could induce him, at the present \ is, that a corporation can exercise no power, except
moment, to take any part in the discussion of The \ what has bet n expressly granted by its charter. T h e
bill now before the Senate. H e felt it to be his j exercise of any other power, is a mere naked usurduly to defend the Legislature of the State which ] pation. On the present occasion, however, I need
he ha J, in part, the honor to represent, from the i not report to this rule. The charter not only concharge which had been made against them by the ; fers no surli power of trading, but it contains an
Senator from N e w Jersey [Mr! W A L L ] and oilier! express prohibition against it. It was approved by
Senators, and by many of the public presses j the Governor on the" 18th day of February, 1836,
throughout the country, that, ill rechartering the and the fifth fundamental anicle contains the folBank of the United States, they had conferred lowing provision: "77i« said corporation shall not,
upon it the powers of a great trading company. directly or indirectly, deal or trade in any thing except
This charge was wholly unfounded in point of bills vf ixzhangt^ goid and silver bullion, or in the sale
fact. The charter had not constituted it a trading ofgi'Ct's re-'ttlij an I truly p 'edged for money lent and not
company ; and he felt hi nisei f bound to make the ! rcdecuied in due I.'MMJ, or goods which shall be the promost solemn and public denial of dial charge.
I f ceeds of its lands." In ibis particular, it is but a
this Bank had become the great cotton merchant mop? ira?.script from the charier granted to the late
which was represented, and he did not doubt the Bank by Congress on the 10th of April,1816, whi h
fact, ir. had acted in express violation of its charter. was itself copied from the charter of the first Bank
H e therefore rose, not to criminate, but to defend of the United States, established in the year 1791.
the Legislature of his native State.
I have not recently had an opportunity of examinT o e Democratic party of Pennsylvania had been, ing the charier of the Bank of England, but I beunfortunately, divided in 1835;" and the conse- lieve it conains a similar provision. T h e Senate
quence was the recharter of the Bank of the United will, therefore, at once perceive that there is as litStates. Of the wisdom or policy of this measure tle foundation for charging the Legislature of Penn(said Mr. B.) ihv Senate of the United States are sylvania wuh conferring upon the e x i t i n g bank the
not constituted the jiviges. T shall never discuss enormous powers of a gp»at trading company, as
that question here. This is not the proper forum. there would have been for making a similar charge
I shall leave it to the sovereign people of the State. nir-iinst the (iist or the last Congress which charterT o them, and to them alone, are their representa- ed a Hank of the United Stales. U is true that the
tives directly responsible for this recharter of ths Bank, under its existing charter, can deal much
Bank. As a citizen of the Stale, I have, on all more extensively in .stocks than it could have done
suitable occasions, both in public and in private, formerly; bm tlv.s power does not touch the present
expressed my opinion boldly and freely upon the que>Mon.
subject. In a letter from thi* city, dated on the
Tne Dank, by becoming a merchant and dealing
30th June, 1836, which was published t .rou^hout j in cotton, has clearly violated its charter, and that,
the State, I have presented my view* in detail upon * too, in a most osential particular. Either the L e this question •, and I feel no disposition to retract gislature or the Governor may direct a scire facias
or recant a single sentiment which I then ex- to issue asaiusi it for this cause; and, if the fact be
pressed. On the contrary, experience has only foun I by a jnry, the Supieme Court of the State
served to confirm my first conviction*.
can exercise no discretion on the subject, but must,
My ta*k is now much more agreeable. It is that under..M*e express term* of the act creating it, adof defending the very Legislature who renewer!-rh* i ^ l ^ V J ^ ^ ^ 1 * ' 1 1 ln *)e f'-rfri'ed and annulled.
charter of the Bank, from the charge w h i c h * b a ^ r < l M S e M U e f ^ g N a t u r ; JV the Guv*;nor shall ^ui*




4
sue this course, is for them, not for me, to decide. friends in England have echoed these notes of
This Bank has already so completely entwined praise.
Its example has produced a new era in
itself around our system of internal improvements banking.
W e find that the Southern and Southand common school education, that it doubtless be- western banks have also become cotton, merchants;
lieves it may violate its charter with impunity. 13e and, from present appearances, the trade in this
this as it may, the sin of speculating in cotton lies great staple of our country is no longer to be
at the dour oi the Bank, and noi at that oi ihe , conducted by private meiehun;>, but by banking
Legislature.
j corporation^.
Heaven knows the Legislature have beensufii-j Under uus system, \i Iiat will be the fate of your
ciently liberal m conferring powers upon this in- private merchants? This practice must be arrested,
stitution; but I doubt whether a single member of or they msut all be ruined.
The one or the other
that body would have voted to create a trading alternative is inevitable. W h a t private individual
company, with a capital of $35,000,000, in union can enter the cotton market in competition with
with banking privileges. Let us pause and reflect the banks of the country?
Individual enterprise
for a moment upon the nature and consequences can accomplish nothing in such a struggle.
It
of these combined powers. A bank of discount would be the spear hurled by the feeble hand of
and circulation, with such an enormous capital, the aged Priam, which scarce reached the buckler
and a trading company united! By expanding or of the son of Achilles.
The Bank of the United
contracting its discounts and circulation, as a bank, States, which, according to the testimony of its preit can render money plenty or money scarce, at sident, might have destroyed, by an exertion of its
its pleasure. It can thus raise or depress the price ( power, almost every bank in the country, could,
of cotton, or any other article, and make the mar- with much greater ease, destroy any private merket to suit its speculating purposes. The m^re* chant who might dare to interfere with its speculaderangement that exists in the domestic exchanges lions.
Such a contest would be that of Hercules
of the country, the larger will be its profits. The
against an infant.
It can
period of a suspension c f specie payments is its' contending against individual merchantsacquire a
monopoly
in
best harvest, during which it can amass millions. branch of mercantile business in which it may any
enIt is clearlj' the interest of this Bank, whatever! gage; and, after having prostrated all competition,
may be its inclination, that specie payments should !
continue suspended, and ihe domestic exchanges j it can then regulate the price of any article of
1 do not say
should continue deranged as long as possible. T h e j commerce according to it* pleasure.
ruin ot the country thus becomes its most abun- j that such is either iis wish or its intention; but I
dant source of profit. Accordingly, what do we J mean thus to illustrate the vast and dangerous
find to have been its course of policy? I have f power which it may exercise as a merchant. T h e
heard it described by several gentlemen from the East India company monopolized the trade of Asia,
South and Southwest, some of whom are members but i* possessed no banking powers. It could not,
of this botly. It hasgone into that region of the Union therefore, by curtailing or expanding its issues,
with these resurrection notes of the old Bank, the make money scarce or make money plenty at pleareissue of which this bill proposes to prohibit; and, sure, and thereby raise or depress the price of the
in some States, it has exchanged them, the one- articles in which it traded. In this respect its power
half for the depreciated local currency, and the as a met chant was inferior to that now exercised
other half for specie. With this local currency by the Bank of the United States.
How vain, then, I might almost say how ridicuit has purchased cotton, and sent it to Englat d for
the purpose of paying its debts there, whilst with lous, is it for the people of the South to make the
the specie it has replenished its vaults at home. In attempt to establish merchants in the Southern seaother Stales it has exchanged these dead notes of ports for the purpose of conducting a direct trade
the old Bank for the notes of the local banks, re- with Europe in cotton and other articles of their
ceiving a large premium on the transaction, and production, in opposition to the Bank of the United
with the latter has purchased cotton on specula- States and their own local hanks. This effort must
tion. A general resumption of specie payments fail, or the banks must cease to be merchants. I
would at once put an end to this profitable traffic. am glad to learn that, at the late Southern convenIt has, then, first violatad the charier from Con- tion, this alarming usurpation by the hanks of the
gress by reissuing the notes of the old Bank, and appropriate business of ihe merchant has been
then violated the charter from Pennsylvania by viewed in its proper Jrsht.
The time, I trust, is
speculating in cotton. During the suspension of not far distant when ihey will be confined, by pubspecie payments, these notes have been the only lic opinion, to their appropriate sphere. W h a t a
universal paper circulation throughout the country; fatal error it is lor any free people, tempted by preand thus, by reissuing them, in defiance of the law, sent and partial gain, to encourage and foster such
the present Bank has been enabled to accumulate institutions in a course which must, if pursued, inextravagant profits.
evitably crush the merchants of the country who
conduct its foreign trade! As a class, these merThis charge against the Bank of speculating in
cotton has never, to my knowledge, been contra- chants are highly meritorious, and entitled to our
support
protection against
power
dicted*
W e have heard it fiom the other side of! suffered and be exerted, must ainevitablywhich, if
to
destroy
Ihe Atlantic, as well as from the South and the thern.
Southwest.
The Whig press of our country has
Philadelphia is a city devoted to the interests of
commended, nay, almost glorified the Bank for «othe Bank; but even m thai city, if it should underjng mto the cotton market, when that article was
depressed, and making large purchases, and its take to speculate in flour, in coal, or in any other
article which is poured in 10 her market from the




5
rich abundance of the State, such conduct would affairs of the institution should be wound up by
It received
not be submitted to for a moment.
T h e Legisla- its o w n President and Directors.
ture of the State would at once? interpose to protect no an' nor ity to delegate this important trust to
our merchants.
Such ati a:tempt would at once others; and yet what has if done? On the second
break the sp-ll of bank influence. And yet it pos- dav of March, 183 b\ one day before the charter had
sesses no more p o w r to deal in Southern cotton expired, this very president and these directors asthan it does in Pennsylvania flour. It will remain a s ; gned ail the property and effects of the old corpobanker at home; whilst us mercantile speculations ration to the Pennsylvania Bank of the United
will be confined to the Souihern and Southwestern States. On the same day, this latter Bank accepted
the assignment, and agreed to " p a y , satisfy, and
provinces of its empire.
The reason will now, I think* appear manifest dischatge all debts, COL tracts, and engagements,
why the Parliament of Great Britain, the Congress owing, entered into, or made by this [ihe old]
of the United States, and the Legislature of Penn- Bank, as the same shall become due and payable,
sylvania, have so strictly prohibited their banking and fulfil and execute all trusts and obligations whatsoinstitutions from dealing in any tiling except bills ever arising from its transaction*, or from any of
of exchange and gnM and silver bullion.
If the them, so that every creditor or rightful claimant
Bank of England should d u e to invade the pro- shali be fully satisfied." By its o w n agreement, it
vince of the merchants and manufacturers of has thus expressly created itself a trustee of the old
that country in a similar manner, the attempt Bank. But this was not necessary to confer upon
would instantly he put d o w n
Every man ac- it that character. By thv? bare act of accepting the
acquainrcd with the history and character of the assignment, it became responsible, under the laws
people of England, knows that *:ieh would be the of the land, for the performance of all the duties
inevitable consequence.
And yet this violation of and trusts required by the old charter. Under the
law, on the part of the Bank of the United Stales, circumstances, it cannot make the slightest pretence of any want of notice.
has been lauded in our fre? Republic.
A s I am upon the floor, t sh.tll proceed briefly to
H a v i n g assumed this responsibility, the duty of
discuss the merits of th^ bill now before the Senate. the new Bank was so plain that it could not have
It proposes to inflict a fine not exceeding ten thou- been mistaken. Ii had a double character to sussand dollars, or imprisonment not less than one nor tain.
Under tir? charter from ; eansylvania it
more than five years, or bnth such fine and imprison- became a new banking corporation; whilst, under
ment, at the discretion of the court, upon those who the assignment from the old B i n k , it became a
shall be convicted under its provisions.
A g i t n s t trustee to wind up the concerns of that institution
whom does it denounce these penalties? Against di- under the act of Congress. T h e s e two characters
rectors, officers, trustee.*, or a.^nts of any corpora- were in their nature separate and distinct, and
tion created by Congress, who, after its term of ex- never ought to h a v e been blended. For each o f
istence iss ended, shall reissue the dead notes of the those purposes it ou^ht to have kept a separate set
defunct corporation, and push tlv*m into the circu- of books. Above all, as the privilege of circulalation of the country, in violation of its original! ting b i n k notes, and thus creatine a paper currencharter. T h e hill "em hi aces no person, acts upon cy, is that function of a bank which most deeply
no person, interferes with no person, except tho^e and vitally aflfe-'N the community, the new Bank
whose duty it is, under the charier of the o;d bank, ou^ht to have cancelled or destroyed all the notes
to redeem anil cancel the old notes as they are pre- of the (dd Bank which it found In its possession o n
sented for pavuieut, and who, in violation of this the 4th of March, 183(5, and ought u» have redeemduty, sen 1 them a sain into circulation.
ed the remainder, at its counter, as they were deT h i s bill inflicts severe penalties, and, before we manded by the holders, and then destroyed them.
pass ity we ought to be entirely satisfied, first, that T h i s obligation no Senator has attempted to doubt,
r
the guilt of the individuals who shall violate its or to den3 . But what was the course of the Bank?
provisions is sufficiently aggravated to justify the It has grossly violated both the old and the n e w
punishment: second, that the law will be politic in charier. It at once declared independence of both,
itself; and, third, that we possess the constitutional and appropriated to itself all the notes of the old
Bard:, not only those which were then stdl iu circupower to enact it.
First, then, as to the nature and aggravation of lation, but those which had been redeemed before
the offence. T h e charter of the late Bank of the it accepted the assignment, and were then lying
1 have now before me the first
United Slates expired, by irs own limitation, on the dead in its vaults.
3d of March, I83K. After that day, it could issue monthly statement which was ever ma le by the
It
no notes, discount no new paper, and exercise none Bank JO the Auditor General of Pennsylvania.
c
of the usual functions of a hank. For two years is dated on the 2d of April, 18^0, and signed J.
In this statement
thereafter, until the 3d <^C M a i c h , 1838, it wasC o w p e i t h w a t e , acting cashier.
merely permitted to use iN corporate name and ca- the Bank charg-s .itself with "notes issued,"
pacity ** for the purpose of suits for ih? final settle- $3G,G50,430 lb'; whilst in its cash aceo ;nt,along « ith
ment v and liqivdation of the ailVuvs and accounts of its specie and the notes of Siaie hank?, it credits
the corporation, and for the safe and disposition o[ itself with "notes of the Bank of the United States
their estate, real, personal, and mix^d; but not for and offices," on hand, $1 f»,?01,713 71- It thus
%
any other purpose, or hi any other mniuiir, infratso- seized these dead notes to the auumnr ot #H>,7!)4,£ver.1'> Congress had granted the hank no power m 713 7 1 , and transformed them into cash; whilst
make a voluntary assignment of its property to any the difference b'Mween those on hand and those
corporation or any individual. On the contrary, issued, equal to ^10,825,70(5 4 5 , was the circulathe plain meaning of the charter was, that all the. tion which the new Bank boasted it had inherited




6
from the old. It. t h u s , in an insfan', appr-:-p?iatrd ; !i rm as may be established by lav.-." F r o m n o
to itself, and adopted as its own c i i e u h i u - n , all the . M!e ouri-'S tv, but from a de-iiv to ascertain, as far
notes and ail the illegal branch drafts "f the old ,f;s possible, the cm dirion of tLe, b a n k s of the c o u n B a n k w h n h were then in existence. lis b o \ ; n e ^ j t.y, and. the a m v u n t of their cii\ illation, I requcstw a s equal to its utter disregard of law. In this ! c 1 the Auditor General, during the late special s e s fjrit return, it iml only proclaimed to the l>£i>!a- ] sien of Coavivss 11- S:pt.'mbcr, to sciid me the r o ture and people of P e n n s y l v a n i a that it h d disre-j turn nf ;h? b a n k for that month. In answer, he i n panted its trust as assignee of the old B a n k , by j f.»rm«?d me, under date of the 32d of September,
seizing upon the whole of the old circulation and ; ?hat the hat.k bad no* m a d e any return to his ofconveiting it to its own use, but that it ha*! v i c l a - j fice since the 1 5 a of the preceding M a y . T h u s ,
ted one of ths fundamental provisions of i'.s new f o r t the date of the suspension of specie p a y m e n t *
charier.
. until some time after tlar-? 22 I of September last,
In Pennsylvania we h a v e , for m a n y years pfist, ; h o w Ion? I ilo i v t l a m w , a period during which the
deemed it wise to increase the specie "basis of our ' p u h h e mind wa* most anxious on die subj-ct, the
paper circulation. W e k n o w that, under the ttni- ! D nk put this provision i f its r h a r t e r at defiai-ce.
versal taw of c u r r e n c y , small notes and gold an 1 , W k e her it i h u s o n r t l e d i t s d n t y 1 eeausf: at the date
silver coin of the s a m e denomination cannot c i r e u - ; of the su-pen-aVn of specie payments it had less
late together. T h e one will expel the other. A c - than a million and a half of specie in its v a u l t s ,
cordingly, it is now long since we p r o h i b i t ] our ! I shall m t p r ^ e n d to d.-teimine. If ibis were the
b a n k s from issuing notes of a less den.aninr.tion !. reason, I have- no doubt that it sent to the Auditor
than five dollars- T h e Legislature which r c c h a r - : G e n e r a l ::!! the i n t e r m e d i a l n.onth'y rt t u r n s on
tered the Hank of the United States, deemed it wL-e , t'.c 2 i of Oc-ohor, 1?»7, because at that period it
to proceed one siep further in r r g a r d ' t o this m a m - h;;d u:crea->?d b> gold and silver to nu-re than diree
m o t h institution; and in that opinion I entirely con- millions of dollars.
cwr. Accordingly, by the sixth fundamental a n i - '. In order to il u-rrate th<* enornvty of the offence
cle of its charter, they declare m a t " the notes and now p r o p o s e ! to be p u n c h e d , Senators have instibills which shall be i>sucd by order of said corpora- tuted several c anpari> ns. \ n case which they
lion, or under its authority, shall be bindi? g upon have imagined equals tlie nfTi nee as ir actually
it; and those m a d e payable to order shall be a>- e x i s s . W o u M it* not, savs m ; e gentleman, be a
sipmablo by endorsem ent but none shall be issued of flagrant breach of TI u t for an executor, entrusted
a denomination lew than ten dollars."
v.idi dv» settlement of his testator's estate, to re issue,
N o w , it is well known to every Senator within and again put in e s c a l a t i o n o r his own benefit, the
the sound of my voice, that a larpe proportion of : bilN of e x c h a n g e or promts-orv notes which he h a d
these resurrection n o t e s as they have been aptly • found a m o n g the papers of the"deceased, a n d w h i c h
called, which have been issued and reissued by or-; had been paul and e>:tintrui>hed in his lifetime?
I
der of the new b a n k , are of thu denomination cf! answer, that it would. "But, in thai care, the i m p o rt ve dollars. H e r e , then, is a plain, palpable viola- sirion upon the c.ommuniiv would necessarily be
t:on, not only of the spirit, but of the very lelter of I limited, whilst the m e a n s of detection would be a m its charter
T h e Senate will perceive that the j pie. T h e s a n e m a v be i b s r r v c d in regard to t h e
Bank, as if to meet the v e r y c a s e , is not metely j cn<e of die trustee, w h i : h ha*> been suggested.
prohibited from issuing its own notes, signed by its I W h a t comparison d<» the-e esse* bear to thai of the
own president and cashier, of a denomination le-s j conduct <»f the Bank] T h e a m o u n t of its reissues
than ten dollars, but this prohibition is extended to of thrsc d^.i\ r.< ICN oi i's tes'ator is manv millions.
the notes or bills wdnch shall be issued by its order. : T h e i r circular on is coext.nsive with the U n i o n ,
or under its authority 1(1 should even be mistaken in aiid there is no possible m e a n s of detection. N o
this construction o\' the law, and I believe I c m not, ' m a n who receives ihi< p - p e r ci.n tell whether it
it would only follow lhat its conduct ha* : belongs to rh:;t c!a<s which the new Bauk originally
not j'tnoufited lo a legal forfeiture of its char- J found dead in its vanJts, <r TO that whichit h a - s i n c e
tor. In bofh cases the violation of the spirit of bs redeemed and rei-sued, in violation of law;or to t h a t
charter, and the c.oiitiavcntion of tiie wi.^- pwi:i»y i-f \ which ha* i*-m-tin«?d clrrulatiug hurful'y in the c o m the LcgMainr.% are equally p l a r i n c . So -ai.'relv ' nauv>v, at.d has n^vcr been r^Jcemcd since the o l d
<\ni the Hftnli ni^ke these dead rote-* i(M''.ni p^eo ! : av ehju-t'-r exp:re-d. T h e j o ]« r,, e.>M')ark i pwi these
circulation, that until J u l y last, in i!s monthly r e - ; nou-s. It is ioqtos itdo to distinguish those w h i c h
turns to the Auditor General of JVnnsylvania*, the h a v e bi-en illegally reissued fiom d.e tvniaindcr.
new and die old notes arc blended together, without j I cai: hrjagice ^,tu one caso whith would present
a n y distinction. In that reiurn we were, f.-r the ' a n i thinir like a para-h-l to thec<nduct of the C a n k .
first lime, oUieinlly itilormc^ lhat the Daak had j In P e t o b - r !a-!, v e nw)^ ir/./d
;!:•? issue of
ever issued any notes of its o w n .
; SKi,bWO,0(}f) o!* T r e a s u r y n^tes, and directed t h a t
And h^re an incident occurs to uie which wilt be . when they were rt cr ive I in pavim-nt of the p u b l i c
an additional proof how lawless is this Cank, wl «n- b:e>, they >h uld not be rei.^uJd, but be cancelled.
ever obedience to its charter interfries in l b - lea>t ' Xow,suppose the Secretary of Lhv T t e a - u r y had h a p d* gree with its policy. Bv the tcnih fuudamcnTal j p< ndc d to be the pi^sident of a b.-mk in this D i s article of that charter, it is required to *'mak>: to triet, atul, in lhat charae.ier, had r e i g n e d these
the Auditor General montlily returns of its coi.di- *li».id' Tica-.-i:ry i;<ae-, which he uu-^ht to h a v e c a u tion, showing the dttailsiif its onern'ions acc«)rdii:3 1 colled, aud ncr-.m juit ihrrn info eirotdation, in vioto the forms of the returns the Rank of the United j lain-n of the law, lh*n a case would exist which
States now m a k e s to the. Secretary of' die T r e a - niiuht be compared with that now btfore the S e n a t e .
5ury of the United States, or according to such l l f tucli a case should, ever occur, would nut the S e -




7
c r e t a r y at once he impeached; a n d is there a S e n a tor upon 'his floor who would not p r o n o u n c e h i m
guilty? T h e p e c u n i a r y irtjn.iy to the United S ' a t e s
m i g h t bo greater \\\ she supposed than in the a c t a a !
ca«c; but the degree of m o r a l guilt w o u l d be the
W h e t h e r it be politic to pass this l a w is a more
doubtful question. J u d g i n g from past experience,
the B a n k m a y < penly violate its provisions with
impunity.
It can easily e v a d e them b y s e n d i n g
p a c k a g e s of these old notes to the South a n d S o u t h v e s t , by i's a g e n t s , t h e r e t o be reissued by b a n k * or
i n d i v i d u a l s in its confidence. T h e r e is o n e fact,
h o w e v e r , from which I a m encourged to hope that
this law m a y p r o v e effectual. N o m a n on this
floor h a s attempted to* justify, or even to palliate,
the conduct of the B a n k , l i s best friends h a v e
n o t dared to utter a single word in its defence
a g a i n s t this c h a r g e . T h e mr-ral influence of their
silence, a n d the o p e n c o n d e m n a t i o n of its conduct
b y some of ihern, m a y induce the rJank to obey the
law.
I n o w a p p r o a c h the q u e s t i o n — d o Congress possess p o w e r u n d e r the Constitution 10 p a s s this bill?
I n other words, h a v e we p o w e r to restrain the t r u s tees of o u r own B a n k from reissuing the old noie<
of that institution w h i c h h a v e a l r e a d y been red e e m e d and ought to be destroyed? C a n there be
Z doubt of the existence of this power? T h e bare
s t a t e m e n t of the question s e e m s to me sufficient to
r e m o v e every difficulty. It is almost too plain for
a r g u m e n t . I should be glad if a n y g e n t l e m a n
would even prove this* p o w e r to be doubtful.
In
that event I should refrain from its exercise. Tarn
a State Rights m a n , a n d in favor of a strict construction of the Constitution. T h e older I r r o w ,
a n d the more e x p e r i e n c e 1 a c q u i r e , the more deeply rooted does this doctrine become tn m v m i n d . I
consider a strict construction of the Constitution
n e c e s s a r y not, only to the h a r m o n } ' which o n ^ h t to
exist between the F e d e r a l a n d Stare G o v e r n m e n t * ,
b».t to the p e r p e t u a t i o n of the U n i o n . I shall exercise no power which I dn not con si ler clear. I
call upon g e n t l e m e n , therefore, to b r e a k th^ir determ i n e d s i i e n c ; upo-i this s u b j n u , and c o n v i n c e me
e v e n that the e x i s l c i c e of the po vcr is donidfui.
I f they do, I pledge myself to vote, against the
p a s s a g e of the bill.
If this p o w e r could only he m a i n t a i n e d by s o m e
of the a r g u m e n t s a d v a n c e d by the friend* of the
bill, in the i*ariy part of this discussion* it nev»*r
should receive my vols,
i?i incudes were thru
a v o w e d scarcely U?ss d a n ^ r r o u s and niMvin.!
t h a n the principle on which the S e n a t o r from V«»rm o n t [ M r . PIIXNTISS] insists that the (Yields of the
bill miist claim this power. H e contends that it
does not evi>t at all, unless it be und r that C-.HIs t r u e t o n of ihe Constitution a l l o c a t e d bv his
friend fronj Massnehu*-«jus, [ M r . NVKHST^U*] which
would g'.vo to Congress p o w e r over the whole p:ip e r curi'.'twy of the conn v\ u n d e r the coining and
c o m m e r c i a l powers of my Constitution. T h ^ S e n a tor i'rom Connectie';l ("M*\ N I L K S ] w a s the first in
this debate who pr*se:U-*d in bold relief the p . m c i ple on which t l r s b.dl e:;n seen rely rest.
Nttithn- >hull I dodn>- this question, a* - c m e Sen a t o r s h a v e d o n e , by taking sheiu-r u n d e r the p r e text iJ.it it is a n-ic. livUi for the j u d i c i a r y to decide,




whether the g e n e r a l l a n g u a g e of the bill b e a p plicable to the officers of the D a n k of the United
States u n d e r th« P e n n s y l v a n i a charter. W e all
k n o w that it w a s intended to e m b r a c e I h e m .
Indeed, it w a s their c o n d u c t , a n d that alone, w h i c h
called this bill into existence. It is true that the p r o visions oj the bill ex;end to alt c o r p o r a t i o n s created
by Congress; but it is equally c e r t a i n , that h a d
it not been intended to apply to the B a n k
of the United S t a t e s , it w o u l d h a v e been
confined in express t e r m s to the District of C o l u m bia, where alone corporations n o w exist u n d e r the
authority of Congress. A w a y with all s u c h s u b terfuges! I will h ive n o n e of t h e m .
S u p p o s e , sir, that a t a n y time within the period of
two y e a r s thus allowed by the c h a r t e r to the president
and directors of the B a n k to wind u p its affairs,
these officers, created u n d e r y o u r own a u t h o r i t y , h a d
attempted to throw thirty millions of dollars of
their dead p a p e r a g a i n into c i r c u l a t i o n , w o u l d y o u
h a v e h a d no p o w e r to p a s s a law to p r e v e n t a n d
to punish s u c h a n atrocious fraud? W o u l d y o u
h a v e been compelled to look on and patiently s u b mit to s u c h a violation of the c h a t t e r which y o u
had granted? ( l a v e you c r e a t e d an institution,
a n d expres-sly limited its t e r m of existence, w h i c h
you c a n n o t destroy, after that term h a s expired?
T h i s w o u l d indeed be a political H y d r a which
must exist for ever, without a n y H e r c u l e s to destroy it. If you possess n o p o w e r to restrain the
circulation of the notes of the old H a n k , they m a y
c o n t i n u e to c i r c u l a t e for e v e r in defiance of the
power whieh called t h e m into existence. Y o u h a v e
created that w h i c h you h a v e no p o w e r to destroy,
although the l a w which g a v e it birth limited the
term of its existence. W i l l a n y S e n a t o r contend that
durinsr these two y e a r s allowed by the c h a r t e r for
winding u p the c o n c e r n s of the b a n k , we possessed
no p o w e r to restrain its president a n d directors
from reissuing these «M notes? T h e r e is no m a n
on this (loor bold e n o u g h to a d v i n c e such a d o c trine. T h i s point b r i n g c o n c e d r d , the p o w e r to
pass the present bill follows as a necessary c o n s e cpie nee.
If the president a n d directors of the old B a n k
could not e v a d e our a u t h o r i t y , the next question is,
whether, by a s s u m i n g the property of the c o r p o r a tion to a trustee the d a y before the c h a r t e r expired,
and delivering u p to h i m theold notes which o u g h t to
h a v e been cancelled, lhey were able to cut this trustee |oo.*e from the obligations which had been imposed u p o n I hem hy the c h a r t e r , a n d from the a u th-s.rh vo-'Ciingre .*.Vain and i m p >rent,indeed,would
this G o v e r n m e n t be, it its a u t h o r i t y could be set at
nought hy such a shallow c o n t r i v a n c e . N o , sir,
[]\<* fotintuH c-uiuot ascend beyond its s o u r c e . T h e
assignee in s u c h a c a s e is not released from any
obligation which the a*sii»nor assumed hy accepting
I!K? original c h a r t e r . In regard to Con*2r*\*s, the
trustee s t a n d s in die s a m e situation with the president and directors of the old B a n k . W e h a v e the
s a m e p o w e r to com ^e! him to wind u p the c o n c e r n s
of flu* b a n k , accord ng to the c h a r t e r , that we might
h a v e ex'M-cued agninst «h->se from w h o m he a c cepted the a s s i g n m e n t . T h e q:ir-.*ti..vu is" too plain
for a r g u m e n t .
T h e present c a s e is still stronger than the o n e
which I h a v e presented. It i.s a n a s s i g n m e n t b y

8
the old B a n k of ihe United S l a t e s , not to s t r a n g e r s , | or e v e n the officers of b a n k i n g institution*,
not to third p e r s o n s , but to t h e m s e l v e s , in the n e w i except such of t h e m only a s the trustees 01
c h a r a c t e r conferred u p o n t h e m by the L e g i s l a t u r e i the B a n k creaicd by ourselves, for issuing
of P e n n s y l v a n i a . T h o n e w c h a r t e r exp»es*ly in-J ihes-e dead notes.
W e intend to punish the
corporate^ ali the stockholders of the old B a n k , j trustees u n d e r nur o w n l a w , and them alone forthe
except the United States, to that the individuals i violation of that law.
T h e s e notes m a y circulate
c o m p o s i n g both c o r p o r a t i o n s were identical. For ! from h a n d to h a n d withou* rendering those who
the p u r p o s e of effecting this transfer from t h e m - I receive or those w h o p a y them obnoxious to any
selves to themselves, they got u p die m a c h i n e r y of \ p u n i s h m e n t .
E v e n if we possessed the power, it
o n e President a n d one B o a r d of Director* for the i would be highly unjust to a t t e m p t its exercise. As
old B a n k , and a n o t h e r P r e s i d e n t and a n o t h e r B o a r d ; i observed before, these notes h a v e no earmarks,
of Directors for the n e w B a n k . W h a t kind of a n - ] and no m a n can tell whether a n y one of them has
swer, then, would it be to C o n g r e s s for them to say, been iHesrallv reissued by the b a n k since the 3d
T r u e , we accepted a c h a r t e r u n d e r your a u t h o r i t y , M a r c h , 1836, or w h e t h e r it w a s issued before that
by which w e were bound to reissue none of o u r \ d a t e , Lnd has c o n t i n u e d legally to circulate in
old notes after the 3d M a r c h , 1S3G, but we h a v e ; the c o m m u n i t y e v e r since.
since a s s u m e d a new c h a r a c t e r ; and u n d e r o u r old \ I repeat, I should be glad to see a n y Senator,
c h a r a c t e r , we h a v e transferred the B a n k which \ a n d especially a n y one
who
believes that
y o u c r e a t e d , to ourselves in o u r n e w c h a r a c t e r ; < Congress possesses the constitutional power to
a n d w e h a v e thus released ourselves from all our | chat ter a B a n k of the U n i t e d States, rise in
old obligations, a n d you h a v e no constitutional i his place, and m a k e even a plausible argument
p o w e r to enforce them against us? N o sir, no sir: in opposition to the p l a m and almost self-evident
w e h a v e the power, and it is o u r d u t y , to c o m p e l positions which I h a v e t a k e n in support of the
the president and directors of the B a n k , which we 1 p o w e r to p a s s this bill. T h o s e Senators who doubt
established, or their assignees, to close its c o n c e r n s or w h o deny our p o w e r to create such a b a n k are
a n d this power will c o n t i n u e until the duty shall Le i placed m a different situation, because their vote m
finally accomplished. T h e one p o w e r is a n * r e * - . favor of this bill mi^ht at first v i e w seem, by imsary implication from the other. If this duty has plication, tn concede that power. T h i s objection
not been performed within the two years which we does not a p p e a r to m e to be s o u n d . T h a t question
h a v e allowed for its fulfilment, onr power depends c a n n o t be fairly raised by this bill. W h e t h e r the
n o t upon a n y such limitation, but upon the fact c h a r t e r of the late B a n k was constitutional is no
w h e t h e r the c o n c e r n s of the B a n k h a v e been a c - longer a fair subject of consideration. It was adopted
tually closed. If this were not the case, then a l l , by Congress, a p p r o v e d by the P r e s d e n t , a n d afterthc affairs of the B a n k leli unfinished at the end of w a r d s p r o n o u n c e d to be constitutional by the highthese two y e a r s would be outlawed. T h i s iimita-• e-t judicial tribunal of the Sand. It thus received
tion was intended not to abridge the p o w e r of C o n - everv s f n e d o n nee^-sary to m a k e it bidding on the
gress, but to hasten the action of the president a i d . people of die United States. T h e question w a s thus
directors m winding up th- concerns of the B a n k , i seized t e v o n d th* cont.ol of any i n d i v i d u a l , and it
A t this v e r y session, and since the two y e a r s h a v e - was the dutv of every good citizen to s u b m i t . U n expired, Congress h a s passed an a c t , " with' m a j der eve] y G o v e r n m e n t there must be a time v h e n
s h a d o w of opposition from a n y q u a r t e r , giving the i such c< ntroversb\s .-hall e r a s e ; arid you might now
president a n d directors of the old B a n k "authority j a s we'd a t t e m p t to e x c l u d e L o u i s i a n a from the
to prosecute aV.uI defend existing suits. I should i U n i o n , because \ o n m a y believe her admission w a s
be glad to see a n y S e n a t o r rise in his p l a c e , a n d ; u n c o n s t i t u t i o n a l , a< to act upon the principle, in the
m a k e e v e n a p l a u s i b l e a r g u m e n t in opposition t o . present ease, that C o n g r e s s h a d no p o w e r to c h a r Ihese plam a n d a l m o s t self-evident positions.
ter the la'e B a n k . N o m a n on this floor h a d e v e r
In this brief a r g u m e n t , 1 h a v e not attempted ro • a v o w e d dial he would vote to repeal the c h a r t e r of
derive any power i r o m the fact that the U n i t e d ; the late B a n k , d u r i n g the twenty years of its existStatcs w e r e proprietors of «me-fjfth of the stock of j ence, because he m i?ht h a v e thought it was o r i g i the old B a n k , a n d that they might be rendered re- j natly unconstitutional. D u r i n g this period all w e r e
sponsible, either legally or e q u i t a b l y , for ihe e v e n ; oteig^d to s u h m . t . U n d ^ r such c i r c u m s t a n c e s , it
tual redemption of these dead notes.
I d i s c l a i m ; w< old be c a r r y i n s c j . u s f i u t i e n a l scruples v e r y far,
a n y .such source ofpo^vcrT o be a proprietor is | indeed, for a n , g e n t e m . m u» contend that, a l t h o u g h
o n e thing, and to be a sovereign is a n o t h e r .
T*--e. | the B a n k h a s e x i t e d under the sanction of a l a w
m e r e fact that we owned s t o c k c a n confer no powei j wh:ch we were all bound; n* obey, we cannot n o w
u p o n u s , winch we would not h a v e possessed, had \ ext-rub- that law a n d close it> concern*, b e c a u s e a s
w e never been interested to the a m o u n t of a doliar. , individuals we mny h a v e deemed it to he o r i g i n a l l y
W e should h a v e die s a m e power to wind up a bank u;,eon-i u u i o n a i . If it h d been s o , die o b l i g a t i o n
-urnaitaiin™ i r o m o u r sovereign a m h o i i t y in the ; up* n \\* would or;!y ho the stronger to wind it u p
o n e case as in jhe <«?h^r.
W e possess the s a m e ' finady, and thus terminate its existence.
p o w e r to close the c o n c e r n s of all the batiks in j I most ehe L -uu Iv a d m i ; t at if an attempt s h o u l d
the District of C o l u m b i a after their c h a r t e r s shall : ever be m a d e :o chart- r au«»iher h a n k , the q u e s t i o n
h a v e expired, although we a r e not proprietors or'! of con-,:Pi:t;cnai pow t -r «•. old then again be r e f e r r e d
, a n y of thtdr Mock, which we h a v e lo wind up die \ u> c--?ch indsv dual meml er of C o n g r e s s , to be d e Batok of the United States, in w h i c h w e were so cuird accordji g to the dictates of his o w n j u d g m e n t
.tletfdy interested.
j and bis t o n e o n s c . e n e v
1 need scarcely observe that I do not c o n t e n d fori
Before I take my scat, I intend to m a k e s o m *
. a n y p o w e r to p u n i s h citizens of the United S t a t e s , ! r e m a r k s on the c a u s e s of the s u s p e n s i o n of s p e c i e




9
p a y m e n t s b y the b a n k s of the c o u n t r y , a n d the s e l v e s , u p o n reflection, t h o u g h t it so i m p r o p e r t h a t
c a u s e s e q u a l l y p o w e r f u l w h i c h m u s t , a n d t h a t they a b a n d o n e d it, a n d w e h a v e h e a r d n o t h i n g of it
since.
e r e long, compel a resumption.
W h a t w o u l d h a v e b e e n the c o n d i t i o n of the c o u n T h e late m a n i f e s t o issued b y the p r e s e n t B a n k
o f t h e U n i t e d S t a t e s d i s p l a y s , u p o n its face, that it try, at the p r e s e n t m o m e n t , h a d w e r e c e i v e d i r r e 1
h a s triberited from the old b a n k a n u n c o n q u e r a b l e dee inable b a n k n o t e s in p a y m e n t of the p u b l i c
dues? T h e b a n k s , b y o u r c o n d u c t , w o u l d h a v e
d i s p o s i t i o n to interfere in the polities of the c o u n try.
T h i s h a s b e e n its c u r s e , its original s i n , to been e n c o u r a g e d to i n c r e a s e their d i s c o u n t s a n d
w h i c h it o w e s all its c a l a m i t i e s a n d all its misfor- e x p a n d their issues, a n d w e s h o u l d h a v e £ o n e
tunes.
It h a s not yet. l e a r n e d w i s d o m from its from b a d to w o r s e , u n t i l , a t this m o m e n t , w e
s e v e r e e x p e r i e n c e . W o u l d t h a t it m i g h t , a n d c o n - s h o u l d h a v e h a d no p r o s p e c t of the r e s u m p t i o n of
fine itself to its a p p r o p r i a t e s p h e r e ! A s a citizen s p e c i e p a y m e n t s . M r . C h e v e s h a s i n f o r m e d u s
o f P e n n s y l v a n i a , I most a r d e n t l y a n d d e v o u t l y t h a t if the G o v e r n m e n t h a d not stood firm in J 8 1 9
e x p r e s s this wi»h. It h a s n o w set itself u p , as t h e a g a i n s t the receipt of i r r e d e e m a b l e n o t e s , the b a n k s
Much more
p r i m a r y p o w e r , a g a i n s t the r e s u m p t i o n of specie w o u l d a t t h a t period h a v e s u s p e n d e d .
p a y m e n t s , a n d h a s a t t e m p t e d to enlist in the s a m e n e c e s s a r y is ii t h a t w e s h o u l d n o w m a i n t a i n t h e
c a u s e all the o t h e r b a n k s of the c o u n t r y .
Its l a n - s a m e g r o u n d , in o r d e r to s e c u r e a r e s u m p t i o n .
g u a g e to t h e m i*y that " the H a n k of the U n i t e d H a d w e p u r s u e d a n y o t h e r c o u r s e , it is t r u e w e
S t a t e s m a k e s c o m m o n c a u s e with the o t h e r b a n k s . " s h o u l d h a v e h a d b u t o n e c u r r e n c y for the G o v e r n A n d a g a i n : l* T h r y ( t h e b a n k s ) a r e n o w safe a n d m e n t a n d the p e o p l e ; b u t it w o u l d h a v e b e e n a
s t r o n g , a n d they s h o u l d not v e n t u r e b e y o n d their c u r r e n c y of i r r e d e e m a b l e b a n k r a g s , w i t h o u t t h e
e n t r e n c h m e n t s , while t h e e n e m y is in t h e p l a i n h o p e of a better. A n d yet the B a n k of the U n i t e d
b e f o i e iliT-m.11 " T h e A m e r i c a n b a n k s s h o u l d d o , S t a l e s c o m p l a i n s t h a t the G o v e r n m e n t does not r e I n o r d e r to h a v e d e n e s o , w e
i n s h o r t , w h a t the A m e r i c a n a r m y did at I s e w c e i v e s u c h p a p e r .
O r l e a n s , s t a n d fast b e h i n d t h e i r c o t t o n b a l e s , until m u s t h a v e r e p e a l e d the e x i s t i n g l a w s u p o n the s u b ject; a n d w h o h a s v e n t u r e d to p r o p o s e a n y s u c h
t h e e n e m y h a s left the c o u n t r y . "
T h u s whilst e v e r y eye a n d e v e r y h e a r t w a s di- m e a s u r e ?
r e c t e d to ihe b a n k s , e x p e c t i n g a n x i o u s l y from t h e m
T h e B a n k of the U n i t e d S t a t e s h a s s u c c e e d e d , at
a s p e e d y r e s u m p t i o n of specie p a y m e n t s , this g r a n d the late B;.mk C o n v e n t i o n in N e w Y o r k , in k e e p i n g
r e g u l a t o r of di * c u r r e n c y h a s p r o c l a i m e d to Ihe its forces b e h i n d their c o t t o n b a l e s . T h e b a n k s of
c o u n t r y t h a t all its v a s t p o w e r will be e x e r t e d to o n l y t w o S l a t e s in the U n i o n h a v e v o t e d a g a i n s t
p r e v e n t die a c c o m p l i s h m e n t of o u r w i s h e s .
the r e s o l u t i o n to s u s p e n d the r e s u m p t i o n of s p e c i e
T h e B a n k does not e v e n a t t e m p t to c o n c e a l the p a y m e n t s u n t i l the first d a y of J a n u a r y n e x t .
f a c t t h a t , in p u r s u i n g this c o u r s e , it h a s been a c - T h e s e w e r e N e w Y o r k a n d M i s s i s s i p p i ; a n d
t u a t e d by political hostility a g a i n s t the present A d - w h e t h e r the latter voted t h u s b e c a u s e t h e i r b a n k s
ministration.
It lias boldly a v o w e d t h a t 4t if the a r e r e a d y n o w to r e s u m e , or desired to p o s t p o n e
b a n k s r e s u m e , and a r e a b l e , by sacrificing the r e s u m p t i o n u n t i l a still m o r e d i s t a n t d a y , I s h a l l
A f t e r tbis d i s p l a y of
c o m m u n i t y , to c o n t i n u e for a few m o n t h s , it ic ill not p r e t e n d to d e t e r m i n e .
be conclusively employed at tin next elections to show\ p o w e r , n o o n e will q u e s t i o n the a b i l i i y of the B a n k
that the schemes of the Executive are not as destructive] to k e e p its forces b e h i n d . t h e i r e n t n n c h r n c n t s , u n a? they iv'Ul prove hereafter."
I n p l u m l a n g u a g e , ! less they s h o u l d b e d r i v e n into the plain by the r e t h e b a n k s m u s t n o t r e s u m e before the n e x t e l e c - sistless p o w e r of p u b l i c o p i n i o n .
S e v e r a l w e e k s a ^ o 1 a t t e m p t e d to i m i t a t e the
t i o n s ; they m u s t n o t o p e n their v a u l i s , p a y t h e i r j
h o n e s t d e b t s , a n d t h u s r e d e e m the c o u n t r y from l h e ; i l l u s t r i o u s e x a m p l e s w h i c h h a d b e e n set before m e
I
c u r s e of a n i i r e d e e m a h l e p a p e r c u r r e n c y ; b e c a u s e , ! o n this d o o r , a n d b e c a m e a political p r o p h e t .
if they s h o u l d , this m a y o p e r a t e in f a v o r of the j then predicted t h a t , before t h e close of the p r e s e n t
p r e s e n t A d m i n i s t r a t i o n , a n d p l a c e its o p p o n e n t s in j y e a r , c o m m e r c e a n d m a n u f a c t u r e s w o u l d a ^ a i n
a m i n o r i t y . A n d s u c h is the c o n d u c t of the D a n k j r e v i v e a n d flourish, a n d the c o u n t r y w o u l d b e
w h i l s t it v a u n t s its o w n ability to r e s u m e i m m e - restored to its f o r m e r p r o s p e r i t y . T h e sisrns of t h e
t i m e s h a r e a l r e a d y c o n f i r m e d the t r u t h of this p r o diately.
T h e B a n k p r o c e e d s still further* a n d c o m p l a i n s p h e c y . E n c o u r a g e d by p a s t e x p e r i e n c e , I s h a l l
t h a t ' b a n k n o t e s a r c proscribed not m e r e l y from v e n t u r e to m a k e a n o t h e r p r e d i c t i o n : T h * r e is n o t
the l a n d uifices, b u t from ;di p a y m e n t s of every a s o u n d und s o l v e n t b a n k in a n y of the A t l a n t i c
d e s c r i p t i o n to the G o v e r n m e n t . "
I w o u l d ask', h a s S t a t e s of this U n i o n , i n c l u d i n g the Ban!* of the
a n y S e n a t o r u p o n this d o o r , h a s a n y s t a t e s m a n of U n i t e d S t a t e s , w h i c h will n o t h a v e r e s u m e d s p e c i e
AIL
a n y p a r t y in the c o u n t r y , e v e r raised his voice in p a y m e n t s loni? before the first of J a n u a r y .
f a v o r of iho receipt by thtr G o v e r n m e n t of i r r e d e e m - the opposition of the b a n k s t h e m s e l v e s c a n n o t p r e a b l e b a n k p a p e r ? I "beg their p a r d o n ; t w o Senator.- vent this r e s u l t . In the v e r y n a t u r e of t h i n g s it
liavt? p r o p o s e d ^uch a m e a s u r e , [ M e s s r s . P I I K S T O V m u s t c o m e to p a s s . TLie p o w e r of p u b l i c o p i n i o n
a n d C I . A V ; ] hut 1 will d o t h e m ihe just ire to srtv, is y r l still g r e a t e r in this c o u n t r y t h a n that of t h e
t h a i a i n n u g h I c o n s i d e r e d dieir p r o p o s i t i o n most h a n k s . T h e B a n k of the U n i t e d S t a t e s wilt not b e
u n w i s e a n d i m p o l i t i c , a n d resisted it a^ s u c h at the able to k e e p its forces b e h i n d their c o t t o n b a g s u n t i m e , vet they i n t e n d e d by this m e a n s to e n a b l e the til so late a p e r i o d .
b auks, the s o o n e r to r e s u m e s p e c i e p a y m e n t s .
It is n o w too late in t h e d a y for us a n y l o n g e r to
Air. P U K M M N ,
It w a s e x c l u s i v e l y limited to t h a t d o u b t w h a t w a s the i r u e c a u s e of the s u s p e n s i o n of
specie p a y m e n t s . T h a t q u e s t i o n h a s b e e n settled
consideration,
M r . ikciiANAN. A l t h o u g h the p r o p o s i t i o n w a s on ihe o t h e r side as well a s on this side of the At*
Jimited to the (list of A u g u s t , the S e n a t o r s t h e m - l a n t i c . A b u n d a n c e of light h a s b e e n s h e d u p o n




10
this subject, and no two sound-judging m e n , at a l l ' vf r-r.ient, and each «-i:i Ve obbgrd to borrow nearacquainted with the facte, can arrive at ditTertut I ly thn same Mini to ,i:pp!y the deficiency.
conclusion*. It has already become hUtory. And
TliN is now UV.orv, which ran n«".t;u r be rhrngyet the Bank, in its manifesto, has not once alluded cd n< r pervert-:!. On b*»th .*:de - of -h- A'':!"8:" nl!
to this cau-e. W h a t w a s it? In the perpi-taal! men of bu^ines^ and practical stat«'Mueii hnvvtu me
fluctuations which mast ever be produced by our I to the ?r.me conclusion.
A*.va\\ :!,••., y;.i: \\mr
present banking system, unless it should be recti-' Specie Circular, your mismann^jaenT < f i::.» depolated by State legislation, of which I n o w almost; sites, and your clamor raised by the Kx.ciujvc
despair, it was expanded in the commencement of- again-t hank i.o'.rs, as the causes of the suspension
the year 1837 almost to the point of explosion.; of s i v e i e payments.
T h e ttnnk calculates too
T h e b u b b l c is created, it expands, and reflects the : much upon the political credulity »-f the people,
most brilliant colors. Its admirers gaze upon it j when, at this Lite day, after the subject is perfectly
with hope and ecstacy, when, Midden ly, it hursts, understood, it attempts to palm or! upon thru such
and leaves them in ruin and despair." Such has . exploded reasons for the suspension.
A convul
been the his^orj of the past, and such will be that | ston which has shaken the coinm Mcial O T M to its
o f the future. T h i s expansion had produced, as it J c?ntn% anil has exten led over three q-nr?e?*s of the
must ever produce, enormous speculation anil ; globe, could never spring from such trivf.-l c?r.»ses.
over-trading. T h e commercial debt which we then j
If the Executive has b e n carryiiijx « a a war
owed to England for foreign merchandise was im-; against the credit s y ^ e m of the d v u r r y , an I In fa*
mense. W e must have suffered the fatal collapse; vor of an exclusive metallic curr-nov for ' h e p »op!e
sooner or later, but a circumstance then occurred 5 of the United States* I «m icn"taut of she fact.
I
i n England which at once produced the explosion, have n*.*vor even suspected it.
f htr!:eve this is a
It w a s the spaik applied to the magazine of gun-1* im-ie phantom which ha** be« i»o-.uijup»d u;> u» *-Linu
powder.
j the fear* of th** timid. If l':c President 'ver should
A similar state of expansion then existed in England, j w a g e any such ci ar, I shall not fight under hfsV.a'-.ner.
T h e y were threatened with similar evils from e x - T h e only pretext u; on which thi* ch.:r:e has been
travacant bank credits, and their inevitable c o n s c - ' founded is, that he an I h\< pol.t.'ral friends desire
quence—enormous speculation and over-trading, to separate the r»y.sine.*s of the Treasury from that
T h e Bank of England had in vain attempted t o ' o f the banks, n n to render them ho'ii!>» to each
control the joint-stock banks, and confine them ! other. Until that propitious day shall MI rivo. w e
within reasonable limits.
She at la<t became >ha!l he for-ver ag.tated by the connection of the
alarmed for her own safety. Jn the beginning of currency wi'h our miserable party politics. Politi1337 her stock of specie was reduced to about fovtr: ca! panics, political pressure*, oiiirgcs aga»n*i the
millions of pounds sterling, or one-sixth of her eir- Government for exorcising an improper influence
culation and depositee.
T h i s w a s not more than : over the b a n k s and c h a r t s again* t the b i n k s for
one-half of the proportion which, it is believed, she i n t e n d i n g with the politics of the country; all, all
ought to have in order to render her secure. T h e : which h a v e kept us in a state of eon*? v>? agitastate of the foreign exchanges was gradually with- tion for the last s*wn yocirs will continue to exist,
drawing the remaining bullion from her vaults. A t r and will he brought into action \yp m every SUCCISP
this criMij, under the influence of a panic, she with-.; sivc election for President a n t Vice President. W e
drew her credits from the Amrrican houses in Eng-j shall thus continue in a stair of perpettr.il c .M.VUOland, and ruined them.
T h e price of c tton, in I tion; and the great interests of the c utn'ry will he
consequence, suddenly feli from nineteen and : sacrificed.
I,»>t the T r e w i n r a-i I 'h;"» h ink* part
twenty cents to seven and eights cents per pound;'in peace, and whiWt they are mutual!v indepenand thus, according to the best and most discreet j drnt, Id them w r g e no war against each o«h«-r;'and
estimate which I have seen, w e lo*t at least thrty ; 1 solemnly helirvo it would bo the greate-t hie -Mug
millions of dollars. T h i s sum was thus, a s it were. ' which conld he conferred upon b tli parties:.
To
in a single moment, abstracted from our means of th-.s extent I should p.* wi»h the President if I had
paying the immense commercial balance aratnst the power; hta when I determine t<* obey ins:mo.
us.
A t the close of this disastrous operation! that tion*. I shall do it h jn^t'y an.I faiily. * I shall,
balance was estimated at forty millions of dollars- therefore, say no more on this MI' j e - t /
W h a t was the immediate consequence? A drain of;
1? is true That at the >p c ; al i-r^sam I did endoaspecie then commenced from our hanks for cxpor-! \ n r to prove that ihe present banking s«y>te:i:, untation, in order to pay this debt, and thev w e r e ' d - r its existing regu!ati.»n-, wa-. < n> oj" die very
thus compelled to s t i p e n d or be ruined. Another; worst which the art of man o n ! * -iwisv.
Under
circumstance existed to increase our emha'Tas— it, ruinous «\xp:utson< and revn!N.:i-«s miM conments. Our merchants had drawn heavy hills up-* tiane to succeed *?.?ch other ai st^.vd prncnN, a n d
o n England, predicated upon \he cotton wliich they ! many of the h o t and mo^t f.Nterprisimr tn *n of the
had shipped there, expecting to vtcfivi' the o! 1« conn'13- musr h v >u\j its vi.rt :m>. 1 ih**n ex p r e y e d
prices. Inconsequence o f the sudden fall of price-,! a hope, m.t unmingle I with fe.ir, 'hat the >S/ae L e tliese bills were dishonored, and c a m e back pn -'gislatures at th»ir next s e ^ i o n m'chr i:*:ipose wholetested.
T h u s many of our largest mercantile j >..me restc'.et.'o.is up<»n tltcir haukins in-tiMi«ion< —
houses were mined.
! le-c.rieti.-.in which \vouM pr^rr o r n M v adva-ita*
T h e catastrophe
a n d was similar in
England the banks
specie payments.
insufficient to meet




proceeded from the same can<</*.
both countries, except that in
were not c<»mpellcd to Mi<pec.d
T h e revenue of both has been
the c u n e u t expenses of the G o -

• &> »:H to the haul's and t!ie p*: >p! *. The^c L--;»:-la-.
j tor./shavc all now ri<en wi^hoip. p*-escr.hi-;.'.r %i-iy
j *-tich r»gulation* T and we n r e d r x m - d a-rai-i a?id
jairaifi t«ipavs thnm.-'h ;l> » a.\:i\v v.:ci««<itiidcrf which
! we Lave >o ofieu altcady w i t n e ^ e J .

11
T h e W h u j s have a!way.* heen exceedingly un- I But, sir. another powerful cause of resumption
lucky in regard 10 the time • f these periodica! re- J exists. Our exports of cotton h a v e , m a n y months
' vnlsic-n«, occasioned by excessive hanking. T h e y asm, paid our foreign commercial debt". W h i l s t
h a v e e i d e r c^:ii? too soon or too lat» to answer I'hat has been extingished, the disavtrous condition
their poliieal purpo>es. H a d the suspension of* of our currency h a ; reduce-! almost to nothing the
specie p«yn;c:;i.i ::e.?.::r:-;\l i:? y?cr J^or.rr than :t J ( . r ,i^ r . : .,»• ^, ? r wprehanis for foreign goods. Our
did, the hero of Tipp'C.snoe might have been the I imports are of small comparative v a l u e . I n the
s»tr(v ssnr of the hero of Now Orleans. Hat rhe re mc^n t-me, our cotton crop of 1937 has been revul>ion came again at the wronsr time; and long irular'y arid steadily seeking its accustomed m a r before the Presidential «lection of IS 10, the country kers in England and F r a n c e .
W e h a v e sold
will again he prosperous. T h e effects of the sus- much, and bought little, and the balance in o u r
pension wilt have passed a w a y , like the baseless favor is nearly all returning in specie. F r o m the last
fabric of a vision, without leaving a trace behind. English accounts which I have seen, the exports
. O u r late experience has been so severe, that the I of specie from that country to this were still on
next bank explosion m a ) ' possibly be postponed the increase; and now, by almost every vessel
W h o m it may then benefit 1 from abroad u h i c h reaches our shores, we are ret until rfi«r year 1344.
k n o w not, nor do [ mneh care. One thins: is cer- ceiving gold and silver. Specie, by the latest adtain, that thcM? revulsions can n e \ e r do any ihins vices, was the most profitable means of remitbut injury to thst party in power. Ir is the* nam re j t a n c e from England to the United States, 3'ielding
of man to accuse the Government, or any thing a profit of four per cent. "When Congress m e t
e!se, except hi* own misconduct, for his misfur- in September last, the rate of E x c h a n g e against
times
us on England w a s u p w a r d s of twenty per cent.
I now approach a much snore agreeable part of It is now reduced to six per cent, which is three or
my snbjVct; and that is, to prove that the batiks four per cent, below the specie par. A great re. must and wdl speedily resume specie payments. I volution in so short a period! It proves how vast
% shall attempt to establish that now is the very lime, a t e the resources of o u r country.
the accepted time, the best tim° t and, within the
T h i s great revolution fens been effected by means
period of a. *ew months, the only time, when they of our cotton. T h e English manufacturers must
can resume, without, the least embarrassment.. have this article, or be ruined. T h i s necessity has
Some of the causes which will speeiiiSy effect this I reversed the ordinary laws of trade, anil the fohappy result, I shall e n u m e r a t e .
reign market for it has remained firm and steady,
In "the first place, I shall *k> the brinks- of the although we bring home scarcely any equivalent,
country generally the justice to say, that since the except in specie.
su>p. nsion of specie payments they h a v e curtailed
If a lame portion of o u r cotton crop still retheir circulation and their Joans to a gn>at extent, mains unsold, so much the better. T h e gohlen
and have done every thins they reasonably could fide will continue so m u c h the longer to flow into
to atone for their pa>f extravagance. T h e banks our country. It is the policy of our banks to take
o j l V i m s y l v a n i a , including that of the United S t a t - s J it at the flood, nnd s o on to "fortune. If the b a n k s
during a period of ten months, commencing in do but seize the present golden opportunity,, they
Januii-v, and ending in November, 1£.T7, had re- will have completely fortified themselves before a
duced "their circulation Ir-in twenty-five m d h o n s reverse can come. T h i s sta'e of things cannot aland a quarter to a i m ' s t seventeen millions, a n d ! <vnvs continue. A reaction must occur. If the
their discounts ftom ehrh'y-MX millions and a ball"! banks wait lor the ebbing tide, and postpone a reto neatly seventy-one miliio-is, whilst, dunlin the 1sumption until our meiehants shall m a k e heavy
same peiiod, they had increased their specie from , purchases abroad, and specie shall begin to be ex, five millions and three-quarters to upwards of1 ported, lh'\y will then encounter difficulties which
seven millions. F r o m all I can learn, they have they need not now dread. I ana in repeat that this
been since progressing at nearly the same rate, moment is the accepted time for the banks to rethough I h a v e not seen the*r official r« turns. ' s u m e .
T h e b a r k s of o'her S'lUes I n v e been generally pur]>m it is not only the ordinary laws of trade which
suing the same course. T h e consequence is, that h u e now bringing vast a m o u n t s of specie to our
the confidence of the country in their funking insti- I c u i n t r y . Two "other causes are operating powertutions has hreu. in a prosit deer»'e, restored. 1 f«*»d J fu!!y to i reduce this result.
convinced that if they should resume >peeie pavT h e conduct of the B a n k of E n g l a n d , in arrestments to-morrow, in the inferior of Pennsylvania, , ing it* credits to the American houses, which w a s
at least, there wouhl be no run upon them, except the immediate cause of the suspension of specie
for as inn eh silver chanve as might be required to I payments, has been loudly condemned by men of
s\ pply the place of the miserable tra*h now in eir- all parties there.
T h i s measure
has done
culr:tion under the denomination of shtnplasters. hhist country nearly as much injury as it h a s
I> s i d e s , ihey w o u l d Sw»n r e c e i v e o n d e p n s i i e a [done th;s, because England must always suffer
greater amount from tho^e who have been hnnrdim? from every derangement in our currency. T h e
frpecie, u n d e r the he'ief that it would he safer at Bank is now conscious of this truth, and is
home than in the banks, ami in the hope that ih»»y r-traeing her steps. She has increased her stock of
iniiiht hereafter use it to great ndvanfnsre.
N o bullion between F e b r u a r y , 1^37, ami M a r c h , 183S,
foreign demand now exists to dm in the hank*; < -f\from £4tiyAQ.(M0 b) upwards of tt^n millions stertheir specie; on die contrary, the reflux lid* has set ling. She is now strong, and ir is her interest, as
id >«romdv, and is now watting immense s u m s of well as that of the people of England, that she
gold and silver to our shores.
Uhould use this strength in assisting us to resumo
/




1£
s p e c i e p a y m e n t s . A c c o r d i n g l y , she has, through
the a g e n c y of one of our most intelligent and enterprising citizens, m a d e an arrangement to furnish
the banks (if N e w York one million sterling in
specie, to aid them in resuming p a y m e n t s in gold
and silver. T h i s million is now arriving, by i n stalments, in the United States. In resuming at
the present m o m e n t , our banks h a v e every thing to
h o j c , and nothing to fear, from E n g l a n d .
A g a i n : T h e spirit of internal improvement is
abroad throughout our land. States and private
com p i n ies h a v e loans to m a k e for the purpose of
erecting their public works. M o n e y is now plenty
in E n g l a n d , and i* every where seeking an investment. T h e derangement in the business o f that
country has thrown capital out of e m p l o y m e n t .
T h e rate of interest h a s been reduced to three and
three and a half per cent. T h e i r capitalists are
a n x i o u s to m a k e secure investments in loans to
our different State G o v e r n m e n t s , and incorporated
c o m p a n i e s , at a higher rate of interest than they can
obtain at h o m e . T h e s e loans are n o w being disposed o f in England to a very large amount; and the
greater proportion of their proceeds must return in
specie to this country. E v e r y thing is propitious
to an immediate resumption by our banks.
W i l l the B a n k of the United State* resume? I
confess I do not doubt the fact. S h e has made a
fal*e m o v e m e n t , and it is the great prerogative of
strength to a c k n o w l e d g e and r e l i e v e an error. H e r
late manifesto against the resumption of specie
p a y m e n t s h;is imi found a single advocate on this
floor. It has struck' d u m b all her friends.
FJut
yesterday "die might h a v e stood ajrainst the world.
T o - d a y there is none so poor as to do her reverence.
E v e n those w h o must politic ally suffer by the resumption, because l l il will be conclusively e m ployed at the next elections, to s h o w that the
s c h e m e s of the E x e c u t i v e are not so destructive as
they wilt prove hereafter," h a v e not dared K> break
a lance in her defence. T h i s w a s not wont to be the
c a s e in days of yore, for hithrrto her c h a m p i o n s
h a v e been a l w a y s ready to do battle in her cause.
Notwithstanding all which has been said upon the
subJHCt, I am not one ot those who believe that the
Rank of the United States is not able to resume.
Although the statement of her condition, as recently
published, N not very flattering y«t h<jr resources
arc va^t. She is able if she were willing. Of this
I cannot entertain a doubt.
A g a i n : Will n«n the Bank take compassion ot)
Hie good city of Philadelphia, which ha*, e v e r bren
devoied to its interest? Boston has been called the
A t h e n s o f A m e n e a ; N e w York, the gr^at Commercial E m p o r i u m ; and Haitirnf>re, th" M o n u m e n tal City; whilst Philadelpnia has been distinguished
by the name of the Oily of the Dank or rnarbh* palace; and w*.|l h a v e her citizens earned ihi > distinction by their loyalty. W i l l the Rank now consent
to see her c o m m e r c e and Trade languish, arid her
star wane be/ore Lrnit o f N e w Y o i k , rather than tvtrace ir.s steps and m s M m e specie payments? N o ,
never. Forbid it, gratitude!
T h a t thi> must be, the effect, w h o can doubt?
M'T'-iinnts who come, from a distance to purchase
goods with money in hand will iro where ihey can
buy 'bo cheapest; and good* at a specie standard
m u s t a l w a y s be cheaper than in a depreciated c u r -




rency. T h o s e who h a v e produce to sell, espeeij
if the sale is to be m a d e upon credit, will H
that market where they will receive its pricej
sound currency- Already the prospect o f resw
tion in N e w York has m a d e Philadelphia bj
notes worth less bv five p e r c e n t , than those of*
city. W h a t will this difierence b e c o m e when
one city shall have resumed, and the circulation
the other shall be irredeemable paper? "Who «
has m o n e y to remit or deposite will send it to f
ladelp-jia, to be returned in notes depreciated if
extent w h i c h cannot be fore>een, w h e n they '
semi it to JSew Y o r k with a perfect confidence i
it will Ue returned to them according to the sp^
standard? Under such a state o f things, the IP
of N e w York must increase and flourish at the
pense of that of Philadelphia.
I h a v e not time
present, to entpr into further particulars on I
branch of the subject.
T h e people of P e n n s y l v a n i a h a v e submitted
tiently to the suspension of specie payments
their banks. T h e y h a v e bowed to the neces
which existed, and have treated them with Uindij
and generosity. T h e Dank of the United States
proclaimed its ability to resume, and our ot
banks are in the s a m e situation. T h e necessity
a further suspension no longer exists. Pay y
honest debts when yon are able, is a m a x i m <
1
to t^e people ot" P e n n s y l v a n i a . T h i s duty has n
become a question of morality, far transcend
any question of policy. If these privileged cor
rations n o w any longer refuse t<» p a y their hoi
debts, cither for the sake of their o w n advanta
or from a desire to elevate one political party ;
depress another, the indignation of honest men
all* parties, will be roused against them. Th
will be a burst of popular feeling from our mo
fain* and our v a l l e y s which they will becornpe
to respect. T h a n k Ood! public opinion in the
tenor of P e n n s y l v a n i a is yet stronger than the i
ncy power. Oar people will never submit to
degradation that their banks shall furnish them
e u n v n e y but that of irredeemable paper; wh
throughout the Stale of N e w York, the banks s!
have resumed specie paym^n-s. N o t h i n g co
be more wounding to m y o w n pride, as a Pe
sylvanian.
If our hank*; should hold ont, under the cc
maud of their great leader, until the first day 1
J a n u a r y next, m a n y of them will never b<» able
lesnme.
T h e public confidence, which their o'"
duct since the suspension h a s hitherto inspire*
will long ere that distant day ee is^ to exist.
!*
run would now he made on th;»m in case they resum
but if they are forced into the measure by puM
opinion, after resisting as long as they can, t'
d a y s uf m a n y o f them will then be number*'
rlonrTxty, duty, policy, all conspire to dictate
ihem a speedy resumption.
In conclusion, permit me to remark, that d
people of the United States have, abundant can
f<>r the deepest gratitude towards that great at
glorious man now i\\ retire-neni Tor preventing tl
ri-eharter of the Hank of the United Stales.
lie
emphatically the man of the ag", and has left
deeper and more e n d u r i n g impress upon it th;
any individual of our c o u n t r y .
Still, in reganl
the batik, he performed but half his work.
Fox

13

''pletion we are indebted to the president of the
^ . H a d the Bank confined itself, after it acte
d the charter from Pennsylvania, to its mere
king and financial operations—had it exerted
*(>wer m regulate the domestic exchanges of the
'Hry—and, above all, had it taken the ]ead in
G u m p t i o n of specie payments, a new hank,
^nix-like, might have arisen from the ashes of
?M. That danger, from present appearances,
^ow parsed away. The open defiance of Con^ by the B a n k ^ t h e laws of the country over
<^ver again violated—its repeated attempts to
r
fere in the party politics of the day—all, all
? taught the people the danger of such a vast
^yed corporation. Mr. Biddie has finished the
f which Gen. Jackson only commenced.
'<Jt one particle of personal hostility towards
'gentleman has been mingled in my discus^of the question. On the contrary, as a priF gentleman, I respect him; and my personal
^ourse with him, though not frequent, has
f1 of the most agreeable character. I am ails ready to do just.ee to his great and varied
h's. I have spoken of the public conduct of
j^ank over which he presides with the freedom
I boldness which I shall always exercise in the
C^mance of my public duties. It is the Preft of the Bank, not the man, that I have asN. It is the nature of the institution over
rh he presides that has made him what he is.
* all other men, he must yield to his destiny.
l|>ossession of such vast and unlimited power,
l^ued for a long: period of years, would have
Fd the head of almost any other man, and
v* driven him to as great excesses.
r vain you may talk to me about paper repons in the charter of a bank of sufficient
ftitude to be able to crush the other banks of
country. W h e n did a vast moneyed monopol a r regard the law, if any great interest of its
I l Mood in the way? It will then violate its
h<?r, and its own power will secure it impunity It well knows that in its destruction the ruin
hundreds and thousands would be involved,
{therefore it can do almost what it pleases. T h e
^ r y of the Bank for several years past has
' one continued history of violated laws, and
/tempts to interfere in the politics of the couni Create another bank, and place any other
l^t its head, and the result will be same. Such
institution will always hereafter prove too strong
f**: Govern.Tient; because we cannot again expect
:^> at least in onr day, another Andrew Jackson
,^*e Presidential chair.
On the other hand,
Vd such a bank, wielding the moneyed power
• < country, form an alliance with the political
T5
r*y and that is the natural position of the parI their combined influence would govern the
Ni, and liberty might become an empty name.

bill. Thus, said Mr. B. I have adorned my brow
with a solitary sprig of laurel. Not one word was
he to utter upon the present occasion. This he had
announced publicly.
[Here Mr. CLAY dissented.]
Mr. PUCHANAN. I ihousht he had announced
the other day his determination not to debate the
question, and stated this as the reason why he propounded to the Si-n a tor from New Jersey [Mr.
W A L L ] the question whether, in his opinion, John
Brockenbrough and Albert Gallatia could be constitutionally punished by Congress for re-issuing
the old notes of the Bank of the United States.
[Mr. CLAY asain explained.]
Well, said Mr. BUCHANAN, the Senator did intend to address the Senate on this subject, and the
only sprig of laurel which I ever expected to win
from him has already withered. Yet still there
was an evident reluctance on his part, which all
must have observed, to enter into this contest.
The Senator from Vermont [Mi, PRENTISS] had
made an able constitutional argument in opposition
to the bill. W i t h the exception of that gentleman,
and the Senator from South Carolina, [Mr. P R E S TON,] a profound silence had reigned on this (the
Whig) side of the house. T h e question had been
propounded by the V I C E PRESIDENT, and the vote
was about to be taken, when I rose and addressed
the Senate. Immediately after I had taken my
seat, the Senator from Kentucky sprung to his feet,
and has made one of his best speeches, for it belongs to the character of his mind to make the
ablest efforts with the least preparation. I will
venture to say he had not intended to make thai
speech when he entered the Senate chamber this
morning.
[Mr. CLAY admitted this to be the fact.]
Then, said M r . BUCHANAN, I have succeeded, and
my sprig of laurel is again green.
The gentleman says I may hang Nick Biddie, if
I please; but 1 please to do no such thing. I would
be sorry to subject him even to the punishment of
imprisonment denounced by this bill; and if he
shonld ever be convicted under its provisions, I
hope the court may content itself with the infliction
of a mere pecuniary fine. H a n g IVick Biddie, indeed! I wish to keep him for the service of the
Whig party, should they ever come into power*
The Senator from South Carolina [Mr. PRESTON]
had said, at the extra session, that Mr. Biddie, if
appointed Secretary of the Treasury, would, in
thirty or sixty days, I forget which, heal all the disorders in the currency, and remove all the financial embarrassments of the Government. H i s appointment would prove a sovereign panacea for all
existing evils. Now I go for this Administration
boih from principle and inclination, and shall support the re-election of the present President; bat if
I were a Whig, the Senator from Kentucky would
be my first choice. I should, therefore, be very
^ B U C H A N A N ' S R E P L Y T O MR- CLAY, sorry to deprive him of the services of Mr. Biddie,
who will make, in the opinion of the Senator's
ON T H E SAME D A Y .
:fr
?*. B U C H A N A N said he had never enjoyed friend from South Carolina, the very best Secretary
'•> triumphs, and therefore he prized the more of the Treasury in the whole country..
The Senator from Kentucky asks me why I do
?(y the one which he had won this day- H e
*V)rced the honorable Senator from Kentucky, not defend Mr* Biddie, a distinguished citizen of
* C L A Y , ] to break that determined silence which my own State* My answer is at hand. I cannot
! Hitherto sealed his lips on the subject of this I defend his conduct as president of the Bank, be*




14
f
T
cause I believe it to be wholly indefensible; a n d he I T h e Sena or from K e n ' u e k y a s k s , w hy p a s s this
.bill? l i e says it is wholly u n n e c e s s a r y ; a n d whilst!
h a s been a t t a c k e d in no other c h a r a c t e r . I should
have been proud and h a p p y to u n d e i t a k e this ta>k, he a hnits that the pre>eut Bank had no legal power
cnuld 1 have performed it consistently with my to reissue these oid notes, he thinks it ought not to be
conscience. Lint why does the S e n a t o r propound ; prevenh-d fiom aetitu; thus, because ihese note?
s u c h a question lo me? 1 confidently expected , :"urni>h the best and only universal c u r r e n c y in thej
M r . Eiddie Wuuid h a v e been defended by a m u e h Union. T h e s e n a t o r remind* me oC the ancient!
m o r e eloquent h m g u e . I defend him! w h e n the , heretics which existed m the C h u r c h , mentioned
eloquent gentlemen al) a r o u n d m e are his own pe- and c o n d e m n e d by the Apostle P a u l . T h e i r doo!
culiar friend.sj a n d yet, strange to tell, not one of ' trine was, dial it was lawful to do evil that good
them has attempted to justify his conduct. " E u t I might c o m e . It seems we are now to h a v e a simi*
yesterday he might h a v e stood against the w o r l d . " j lar sect of political heretics, whose doctrine is, viou
H e h a s fallen, fallen from hi*high e s t a t e . " W h e n c e i late the Jaw, if you c a n thereby furnish a good curthis o m i n o u s silence? I wished to h e a r h i m de- j rency for the people. But there was not the least
fended, if it could be d o n e , by gentlemen of his : necessity for a n y such violation. A s the old notes
own political p a r t y , w h o h a v e n e v e r hitherto ! c a m e in, the B a n k might h a v e supplied their place
j by circulating its o w n new7 notes. T h e y are a bets h r u n k from such a responsibility.
T h e S e n a t o r asserts that the B a n k of the United | ter c u r r e n c y in every respect; because the present
States is no longer in existence. B u t a r e not the B a n k is under a legal obligation to r e d e e m th^m on
president, directors, and officers, the s a m e that they d e m a n d . N o t so in regard to the old notes. Their
were u n d e r the old charter? H a s it not branch i m m e d i a t e redemption depends u p o n the h o n o r of
b a n k s in at Jeast two S t a t e s — L o u i s i a n a a n d Geor- t the B a n k , a n d noshing more. 1 h a v e no doubt
gia, a n d b r a n c h agencies scattered over the rest of ! M r . Biddle intends to redeem them; but he may be
the Union? A n d to render its continued existence : succeeded by a n o t h e r and a dirferent m a n . Besides,
1
still more palpable, has it not seized all the notes the B a n k m a y , in the course of time, become insolof the old B a n k , good, bad, a n d indifferent, and vent; and m that event the p a y m e n t of its own notes
converted them to its own use? W h y , sir, accord- I a nil de-fats must be preferred to that of these resuring to its very last return, it h a s but little more | rection notes, it is certain that no direct remedy
than three hundred thousand dollars of n e w notes ran be had upon them against the present B a n k .
in circulation, whilst the circulation of its old notes | T h e S e n a t o r denounces the present bill not only
exceeds six millions. Is it not still diffusing its i as unconstitutional, but as the most enormous
blessings and its benefits e v e r y where, in the opi- stretch of power he lias e ' e r k n o w n to be attempted.
nion of its friends and admirers? W h y has it not, I a m glad to rind that the S e n a t o r has b e c o m e the
then, proved to be the g r a n d regulator of the c u r - advocate of a strict construction of the Constiturency, and prevented a suspension of specie pay- tion, a n d an e n e m y to the exercise of douo*ful
menus? Jf that were impossible, w h y is it not, at powers. In this p a r t i c u l a r we agree. And I a m
least, the first a m o n g the b a n k s to urge their re- much pleased to learn from himself that he does not
sumption? H a d it acted t h u s , it is possible it misrht c o n c u r with the Senator from M a s s a c h u s e t t s [ M r .
h a v e obtained another c h a r t e r from Congress. W z c s T E i i ] in deriving p%;wer over the paper c u r B u t when we find not only that it could not s a v e it- rency of the c o u n t r y from the clauses in the Conself from the g e n e r a l c r a s h , but that it is now the stitution authorizing Congress to coin m o n e y a n d
great leader in opposing a r e s u m p t i o n of specie I regulate c o m m e r c e . By a b a n d o n i n g this latitudip a y m e n t s , we m u s t lose o u r confidence in its power n a r i a n construction, however, he virtually surren*
j ders u p the power to create a N a t i o n a l B a n k . T h e
a s a g r a n d regulator.
B u t this B a n k , s a y s the S e n a t o r , is a m e r e do- [Senator shakes his head, but I shall e n d e a v o r to
mestic institution of P e n n s y l v a n i a . W i i h one of | prove that this is the d i l e m m a in which he has
its a r m s stretched across the A t l a n t i c , for the pur- i placed himself. On what g r o u n d did the S u p r e m e
pose of loaning m o n e y , b u y i n g bills, a n d regulating t Court decide the Bank to be constitutional? It w a s
e x c h a n g e s there, whilst, with the other, it conducts j because Congress, possessing the express power to
i m m e n s e b a n k i n g a n d trading operations here, co- I levy and collect taxes for the nurpo.se of p:\ying the
extensive with the Union, how c a n it be called a .debts of the United States, might create a b a n k by
mere domestic institution of a single Slate] N a y , implication, if ihe\ believe it to be a n e c e s s a r y
Now
more: it seems, by its last manifesto, to h a v e t a k e n agent in the execution of this taxing power**ihe great c o m m e r c i a l a n d p e c u n i a r y i n t e r e s t s " of will a n y m a n , at this day, pretend that the taxes of
the U n i o n into its keeping, both at h o m e and the G o v e r n m e n t cannot be collected, and its debts
a b r o a d . Sir, a single State cannot furnish e m - paid, without die agency nf such a bank? I think
p l o y m e n t for its i m m e n s e capital. It would starve j not. It must have been for ihe purpose of extriwithin such n a r r o w limits. Jt is no m o r e a Staie | eating himself from this d i l e m m a , a n d finding a
institution now than it was u n d e r the old charter, I power somewhere else to establish a B a n k , that the
except that its existence as the same identical c o r p o - t Senator from M a s s a c h u s e t t s asserted a general
ration has been continued by an act of the Legisla- i power in Consre*s to create and regulate the p a p e r
t u r e of P e n n s y l v a n i a , instead of an act of Con- currency of the c o u n t r y , and derived it from the
gress; and that, too, with m u c h greater powers than ! coining a n d c o m m e r c i a l clauses in the Constituit formerly
possessed. It never v e n t u r e d to plant j tion. I shouM be pleased a l w a y s to agree with the
itself in E n g l a n d under the old charter. N o sir, i Senator from K e n t u c k y , and I am glad that w e finite
let not gentlemen delude themselves. T h e old ! in d e n y i n g the power claimed by the S e n a t o r from
B a n k of the United States still lives, and m o v e s , and j M a s s a c h u s e t t s .
h a s its being,without even h a v i n g changed iU n a m e . i l a regard to the power to pass this bill, I shall




15
state ihc proposition of the Senator from Kentucky! purpose of prosecuting and defending its suits, and
as fairly a,> 1 can. He says that the Bank of the j it has always continued to elect a President and
United States is a corporation created by a sovereign i Board of Directors.
S'ate, and thai this bill, intended to operate upon
The Senator has asked if the Bank of England
such a corporation, is wholly unconstitutional and! or any of the banks in Canada had ceased to exist^
subvcn-i-. e of Stale Rights. Now, sir, if the bill \ and their agent* in this country should re-issue their
were intended to act upon the Bank, as a Pennsyl-i old notes, whetner we would claim the-power of
vania corporation, 1 should abandon the argument. punishing them for that cause. This question, in
The president and directors of this Bank sustain my opinion, presents the only instance of ha*te and
two characters, totally separate and distinct from want of sufficient reflection in the gentleman's
each other. They are officers of the Pennsylva- >speech. There is no analogy between the two
nia Dank, and in that character they are beyond | cases. Congress never created the Bank of Enour control. But they have voluntarily assumed gland, nor any bank in Canada, and therefore Conanother character, by becoming assignees and trus- gress can never claim any power to close their contees of the old Bank chartered by Congress, for the cerns. AVe assert no power except over our own
purpose of winding up its concerns- and it is in >Bank and its trustees. W e cannot interfere with
this character, and this alone, that we have an}T ju- the banks o^ the several States, much less with
risdiction over them. W e do not attempt to inter- those of a foreign country.
fere with the. Bank as a corporation of the State of
The Senator thinks he has caught me in a palpaPennsylvania. No, sir: we only undertake to ope- ble inconsistency. H e says I first condemned the
rate upon it as the assignee of our own old Bank. expansion of the banks in this country, and afterThe gentleman asked if the old Bank had assigned wards condemned the contraction of the B:ink of
its properly to individual trustees, could we pass ; England. I might have done so, in the special
any lew [o compel th^se trustee^ to wind up its ca>e of the refusal of that bank to extend its accusconcern-? Most certainly we could ; because, no \ tomed credits to the American houses, without any
matter n;to whose hand* the dtuy <.>f winding up
inconsistency; but I expressed no opinion of my
our Bank may have passed, we should possess the own upon the subject. Instating the causes which
power to compel a performance of that duly. «produced the suspension of specie payments in the
This power of Congress can never be evaded or United States, I said that this act of the Bank of
destroyed by any transfer to trustees made by offi- England had \ een condemned in that country both
cers created by our own law, whether the transfer by their statesmen and men of business. I passed
be leg til or illegal. Our power attaches to such no censure whatever on the conduct of that bank,
trustees, and Will continue until they shall have and the gentleman, therefore, need not have reclosed the concerns of the Bank*
minded me that it would but little regard my cenThe gentleman says that the power to create a sure. I am content to confine my humble exerbank is one implication, and that to wind it up is tions to our own institutions at home, leaving to
a second implication, and to pass this bill would odier gentlemen the glory of having South America
be piling implication upon implication, like Pel ion ; on one side of the Atlantic and Greece on the other
upon O sa, which cannot be done under the Con- shouting hosannas in their praise.
stitution. Now, sir, to what absurdities does not
The gentleman asks, with a triumphant air,
this argument lead? By implication you can cre- wh j re is England and France at the present moate a bank for a limited period, w^ieli you cannot ment? Are they not prosperous, whilst we areemdestroy after that period has expired. Your creature, ibarrassed? In legard to England, I answer that
the term o( whose existence you have foreordained, ! money there is plenty and cheap; and this simply
becomes e ernai in defiance of your power. And j because business has been paralyzed by the great
this because you cannot add implication to impli- [convulsion under which we have bothsuffered; and
cation. Tht: genileman asks where t,\o you iind lit is the capita! which has been thrown out of acthis winding up power in the Constitution? I an- i tive employment, from this very cause, which is
swer, wherever he finds the creating power- The j now seeking investment at a low rate of interest.
one necessarily results from the other. If not, The commerce and trade of England have fallen.
when you once call a bank into existence, its char- ^fT to such an extent that Parliament has been
ter, ah hough limited to a few years, becomes in f obliged to borrow two millions sterling to meet the
fact perpetual. You cannot create that which you current expenses of the Government. In this parcannot destroy, after it has Jived i:s appointed ticular they are placed in a similar situation with
time.
! ourselves. And yet after all the light which has
As to Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Brockenbrough— j been shed upon the subject, the gentleman still atnobody pretends you can touch them or their banks tributes that convulsion which has shaken the comby your law. The hill is confined to your own agents, 1mercial world to its centre, to the removal of the
acting under your own law, and therefore subject 1 deposites, the Specie Circular, and Gen. Jackson*
1 have but lately turned prophel; and there has
to your <>wn jurisdiction. These agents are as much
yours fr.r the purpose propostd by the bill, as the i been such poor success in that line on this side of
president, and directors of the old Bank would have ' the House, that 1 have almost determined to abanIn one respect I resemble
been. Tnere is a perfect privity, as the iawyeis d o n the trade forever.
would say, be?ween die two; nay, there is a per- j the false prophets of old, because tlicy phophesied
fect identity. It is no argument to say that the old I nothing bill good. This may probably result from
Bank i- dead; but even this is not the fact. We i my sanguine temperament, and my desire to look
have extended its existence ai the present session, | upon the bright side of human affairs. Jn myprowithout a dissenting voice, in either House, for the pheuc virion I have therefore never, like the gen-




16
tleman, denonnced war, pestilence, and famine [ at length upon this subject. They contain nothing
against the country.
however, which forbid me from sayine, nay I am
The gentleman strongly condemns the members;! only expressing their sentiment when 1 assert that
of the present cabinet. I am willing to accord to a separation of the business of the Government
the President the privilege of selecting his own • from that of the banks, would be one of the Teatagents and advisers, without any interference on j est blessings which could be conferred on the
my part. When he, or they, shall recommend country. In releasing the banks from the Gomeasures of which I disapprove, I shall exercise j vernment, and the Government from the banks
my right of opposing them as an independent Sena-! the interest of both parties would be promoted*
tor. I do not believe that any evidence can be'mutual jealousies and recriminations would be
produced that the President and his cabinet are • ended, and the currency and business of the counopposed to the credit system of the country. If try would cease to be involved in the perpetual
this should ever appear, it will then be time enough j struggles which exist for political power,
for me to denounce such a poiicy. My instruc- j I might say much more in reply to the genfletions have prevented me from expressing my views - man, but I forbear.




\RY
•'-'"/E

BANK


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102