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(Oct. 4, 1831.
times to be illimitable, which the supporters of the admin- iron, and manufacture the said iron into axes, bails, and
put to their manufacturing, our trade must soon be utterly
In the same year is another petition :
They well know that this cry was the Marseilles adjacent counties, there has long been established the
can ascribe this to nothing but the making of iron and iron who have been thus turned upon and rebuked for the very ware in that part of the world; and that many of their arphrases so recently put into their mouths, and blazoned tificers and workmen have of late gone off, and have remoupon their banners,
ved themselves thither, as it is to be feared." Yes, sir! All eyes are now opened to the mingled wick
And mark, sir, how the British Parliament seconded this edness and folly which would attempt to abolish credit, and policy. I take instances at random. In the year 1732 an to denounce all those who trade upon it, or in any shape act was passed with the following preamble : “Whereas take advantage of it. What but this talismanic word has the art and mystery of making hats in Great Britain hath carried forward our young nation, with unparalleled rapid- arrived to great perfection, and considerable quantities of ity, in the career of greatness ? What else has enabled hats manufactured in this kingdom have heretofore been those whose sole possessions were stout limbs, steadiness, exported to his Majesty's plantations or colonies in Amerisubriety, a fair moral character, to mortgage all these in
ca, who have been wholly supplied with hats from Great the struggle to advance themselves, and to swell thereby Britain ; and whereas great quantities of hats have of late the general prosperity ?
years been made, and the said manufacture is daily increasSir, it is not a little curious to those familiar with our colonial history, to revert to the early warfare upon that in the British plantations in America, and is from thence
exported to foreign markets, which were heretofore supplied system.
from Great Britain." It then proceeds to enact that, after Whilst we were in subjection to Great Britain, it was the 29th of September, 1736, no bat, dyed or undyed, the settled policy of the manufacturers and merchants of finished or unfinished, shall be put on board any vessel or that country to repress the adventurous spirit of America, wagon, with a view of its being exported out of the proand to render our labor strictly subordinate to their imme- vince, on penalty of forfeiture, and of a fine of £500. No diate and narrow purposes. Let me, at the hazard of hat maker in the provinces shall have more than two approving tedious, illustrate what I mean by a few references. prentices at a time, nor shall he employ a journeyman who As early as 1717, you will find on the journals of the had not served an apprenticeship of seven years. House of Commons the following entry :
Another act of Parliament, of 1750, provides : that “no “A petition of ironmasters, ironmongers, cutlers, free mill or other engine, for slitting or rolling of iron, or any holders, nailors, smiths, and artificers, in the iron manu plating forge to work with a tilt-hammer, or any furnace facture, living in the town of Birmingham, in the county for making steel, shall be erected or continued ; and every of Warwick, was presented to the House and read, setting such mill, engine, forge, or furnace, shall be deemed a forth that, should there be encouragement given to the common nuisance, to be abated by the Governor or the making and manufacture of iron in any plantation belong-commander-in-chief of the forces, within thirty days after ing to his Majesty's dominions, it will certainly tend to the information given.” ruin of the iron trade of this kingdorn, which employs The colonies were compelled to maintain expensive great numbers of people. The greatest consumption of agencies in London to guard against unceasing efforts to our iron manufactures is now sent abroad to the planta- strike at their advancing prosperity, by insisting on an extions, which, if they have encouragement, will have no oc clusive metallic currency. Take an example from the casion for our assistance; and the iron works of the nation journal of the House of Commons of 1751. must be totally ruined for want of employment for the poor." “A petition of Robert Charles, Esq., agent for his
Again, in the year 1736, is the following entry : Majesty's colony of New York in America, was presented
“A petition of sundry ironmasters and ironmongers, in to the House and read, setting forth that the said colony, behalf of themselves and many others, trading to his Ma and several others of his Majesty's colonies in the continent jesty's plantations in America, was presented to the House in America, have enjoyed for many years past, and do now and read, setting forth that the inhabitants of New England enjoy, the benefit of a paper credit rendered absolutely nehare, within these four years, erected several forges and cessary from the want of gold and silver sufficient for the slitting mills, and do annually make a great deal of bar 'trade and circumstances of such colonies."
Oct. 4, 1837.)
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The petition states that this paper credit has “excited fuse the people-make up false issues—astound and beindustry, has proved a necessary and useful medium of wilder by the very audacity of party tactics—or disappear trade, and bas enabled the said colonies to provide for the from public life. defence of widely extended frontiers." It adds: “ that I am not sanguine, tben, that the time has yet arrived the said bill depending in the House, should the same pass for the complete triumph of the truth. But I believe in the into a law, will essentially alter the nature an quality of final good sense, as well as in the sovereignty of the peothe paper credit of America, to the grievous hurt of indi- ple; and to that good sense I look for the achievement, in viduals, the disappointment of the public service, and con the end, of a thorough reformation. 'fusion in all manner of dealings."
In the attempt, Mr. Chairman, to ascertain the state of Thus, sir, you see that eighty-six years ago a prayer was the country, and of the currency before the outbreak of the wafted across the Atlantic from that city, whose memorial seven years war upon the bank, I avail myself of the testito a like effect has just been laid upon your table by the mony of a witness to whom exception will hardly be taken honorable gentleman on my right, (Mr. HOFFMAX.] The by the friends of the administration. I allude to the gensupplication then was addressed to a foreign Legislature sit- tleman who was recently a candidate for Congress in the ting at Westminster. It was successful in averting the county of Philadelphia, and in whose behalf we saw officers threatened calamity. The same entreaties addressed to an of the General Government arrayed, in a manner that Mr. American Congress at Washington seem to be received Jefferson and General Jackson have denounced as so inwith coldness, perhaps with derision.
decent, as well as perilous to our free institutions. In The exertions of Doctor Franklin, in the same cause, September, 1828, two months before the election of whilst agent for Pennsylvania, are sufficiently disclosed in General Jackson, I find Mr. Charles J. Ingersoll on a comthe well-known remonstrance which he prepared and pub- mittee, appointed by the stockholders of the Bank of the lished at London in the year 1764. He remarks: * In | United States, to examine into the state of its affairs. Pennsylvania, paper money was first made in 1723, which The report of the committee, bearing Mr. Ingersoll's sig. gave new life to business, promoted greatly the settlement nature, is dated 20 September, 1828. It met my eye, for of new lands, whereby the province has so greatly increased the first time, in Europe, where its exhibit was a matter of in inhabitants,” &c. Allading to the argument that New congratulation to Americans and the friends of America. I England had been restrained by act of Parliament, and have since turned to it, as preserved in Hazard's Register. that no dissatisfaction existed thereat, he gives this expla. After alluding to the difficulty, supposed to arise from nation : “In New England there are four distinct Govern- | the universal receivability of the notes in payment of duties, ments; but, having much mutual intercourse of dealings, which it was feared would compel the bank to provide the money of each used to pass current in all; but the funds in many places to pay the same note, Mr. Ingersoll whole of this common currency, not being under one com. thus proceeds: mon direction, was not so easily kept within due bounds ; “But the second measure alluded to by the committee, the prudent reserve of one colony, in its emissions, being which wrought the most important change in the situation rendered useless by excess in another.”
of the bank—that which may be considered as decisive of Mr. Chairman, from this retrospect two things are ap- its usefulness and prosperity-relates to the nature and exparent-
tent of the circulation of its notes. The board of directors First. That to denounce credit, and insist on an exclu- adopted a course, the success of which has, in the view of sive metallic currency, is not an ingenious novelty of the this committee, laid the foundation of the present prosperipresent day, but a servile attempt to follow in the footsteps ty of the institution. It would lead the committee beyond of those who, from the earliest settlement, have watched, the proper limits of a report to state in detail the reason with jealous alarm, the expansive tendencies of an in- of this course ; but the principle on which it was founded genious, energetic, and indefatigable people. The wreath was briefly this : that the universal receivability of the of glory belongs not to any living brow. You must seek notes of the bank was of no disadvantage, if the local curthe great original amidst the ancient tombs of Birmingham rency of the place were the notes where issued was sound; or Worcester.
and it was the duty of the Bank of the United States, and A second, and not less striking. fact, is disclosed to us, within its power, to make it sound. Accordingly they that the sagacious mind of Doctor Franklin, seventy-threc pursued the system of issuing freely and exclusively their years ago, discerned the necessity, wherever intimate com own notes ; of receiving, generally, the notes of solvent mercial relations existed between the colonies, of some cen State banks, and making frequent settlements with them; tral controlling power, as a check upon extravagant issues thus improving the currency, by introducing the notes of of paper. Since he wrote, how have the relations of the the Bank of the United States, and by preventing the overStates been multiplied ! And how painfully has the truth issues of the State banks. By a gradual and judicious ex. been forced upon us, that, in this condition of things, it is | ecution of this plan, the effect followed, that, without privain for or State to attempt to guard against the improvi- vate or general suffering, without causing the failure of dence of others!
any bank or any individual, and without inconvenience 10 Sir, the convictions of Dr. Franklin, in 1764, are those the Bank of the United States, the banking operations of which come to us in 1837, from the East, the West, the the country have been brought under an efficient control, North, and the South; not from the counting-house and and a large amount of the notes of the Bank of the United and the factory only, but from the plough and the mat States have been gradually substituted for the depreciated or tock-from every form of industry, now cheated out of its doubtful currency which was so injurious to the Southern honest earnings by a sparious and depreciated currency.
and Western States. This signal triumph over the greatThese convictions, Mr. Chairman, may, I know, be est of all the difficulties of the bank, for the achievement baffled and eluded. There are at work, amongst the poli- of which a debt of lasting gratitude is due to the able ticians of our wide-spread country, motives the most power- officer who presides over the institution, has dissipated all ful that can actuale ihe human bosom to stifle or decry the the doubts entertained of its power to supply the nocessary plainest lessons of experience. The love of place-the pride amount of notes, and has perinanently fixed the basis of a of opinion—the maintenance of party ascendency—the hate wide extended and profitable usefulness. The means thus of political rivals—all these will insure a desperate war to derived from the increase of notos, and the sale of stock, the knife, in preference to the admission of error. You were devoted to discounts and loans, particularly to that cannot supply with foregn missions one out of a thousand class of loans which are at once the safest and the most of those who believe that they must either mystify and con-' useful-the discount of bills of exchange. With these
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[Oct. 1, 1837.
means the bank has been enabled to extend its operations, charge of the slightest fraction of a per centage. By means in both foreign and domestic exchange, in such a manner of this currency, funds are transmitted at an expense less as greatly to enhance the profits of its business, at the than in any other country. In no other country can a same time that it has afforded facility and security to the mercbant do what every citizen of the United States can commercial transactions of the country.”.
do—deposite, for instance, his silver at St. Louis, or The report proceeds to exhibit the operations of the bank, Nashville, or New Orleans, and receive notes, which he and winds up as follows:
can carry with him 1,000 or 1,500 miles, to the Atlantic "This exhibition is calculated to show that the stock- cities, and there receive for them an equivalent amount of holders of the bank are deriving important advantages from silver, without any expense whatever; and in no possible the successful prosecution of a system of measures which event, an expense beyond a quarter of one per cent. If, not only produces profit to the stockholders, but furnishes however, a citizen does not wish to incur the anxiety of to the community a convenient, sound, and highly useful carrying these notes with him, or to run the hazard of the currency And the committee, at the same time that they mail, he may, instead of them, receive a draft, payable to approve the system which has been practically shown to himself or his agent alone, so as to insure the receipt of an be wise, feel it to be proper to notice and commend the equal amount, at an expense of not one-half, and often not activity and energy which have been exercised by the one-fourth, of the actual cost of carrying the silver. The officers of the bank to preserve the purity of this currency, owner of funds, for instance, at St. Louis or Nashville, and to save the community from the evils of its being can transfer them to Philadelphia for one-half per cent.; counterfeited.
from New Orleans, generally, without any charge at all “ The committee deem themselves justified in stating, at most, one-half per cent.; from Mobile, from par to oneas the general result of their cxamination, that the affairs half per cent.; from Savannah, at one-half per cent.; and of the institution are in a highly prosperous condition ; from Charleston, at from par to one-quarter per cent. conducted upon proper banking principles, in the general “ This seems to present a state of currency approachscheme of its administration, and in the details of its man ing as near to perfection as could be desired : for here is a agemeni.'
currency issued at twenty-four different parts of the Such, Mr. Chairman, was the deliberate representation | Union, obtainable by any citizen who has money or credit. made on the eve of General Jacksen's administration. But When in his possession, it is equivalent to silver in all his the message of the President, in 1829, declared that the dealings with all the 9,000 agents of the Government, bank had failed to provide a sound and uniform currency, throughout the Union. In all his dealings with the inand suggested the project of an exchequer bank. A com terior, it is better than silver; in all his dealings with the miltee of the Senate, having at its head the venerable Gen- commercial cities, equal to silver ; and if, for any purpose, eral Smith of Maryland, a warm political friend of Gener- he desires the silver with which he bought it, it is at his al Jackson, was appointed to take the whole subject into disposal, almost universally, without any diminution, and consideration. The report of that committee, going into never more than a diminution of one-quarter per cent. It details, the accuracy and force of which have never been is not easy to imagine, it is scarcely necessary to desire, questioned, is familiar to all. It is there said :
any currency better than this. “ As every bank which desires to maintain its charac “ It is not among its least advantages, that it bears a ter, must be ready to make settlements with the Bank of proper relation to the real business and exchanges of the the United States, as the agent of the Government, or he country, being issued only to those whose credit entitles immediately discredited, and must therefore keep its notes them to it, increasing with the wants of the active operaequal to gold or silver, there can be little danger to the tions of society, and diminishing, as these subside, into community, while the issues of the banks are restrained comparative inactivity ; while it is the radical vice of all from running to excess, by the salutary control of the Government paper be issued without gard to the busiBank of the United States, whose own circulation is ex ness of the community, and to be governed wholly by contremely moderate, compared with the amount of its capital. siderations of convenience to the Government." Accordingly, the fact is, that the general credit of the I will trouble the House further only with the closing banks is good, and that their paper is always convertible paragraph : into gold or silver, and for all local purposes forms a local “On the whole, the committee are of opinion, that the currency equivalent to gold and silver. There is, however, present state of the currency is safe for the community, superadded to this currency, a general currency, more and eminently useful to the Government; that, for some known, more trusted, and more valuable than the local years past, it has been improving, by the infusion into the currency, which is employed in the exchanges between circulating medium of a larger portion of coin, and the different parts of the country. These are the notes of substitution of the paper of more solvent banks, in lieu of the national bank. These notes are receivable for the those of inferior credit; and that, if lest to the progress of Government, by the 9,000 receivers, scaltered through existing laws and institutions, the partial inconveniences out cvery part of the country. They are, in fact, in which still remain of the paper currency of the last war, the course of business, paid in gold or silver, though will be wholly and insensibly remedied. Under these cirthey are not legally or necessarily so paid, by the branches cumstances, they deem it prudent to abstain from all legisof the bank, in every section of the Union. In all com- lation, to abide by the practical good which ihe country mercial places they are received, in all transactions, with enjoys, and to put nothing to hazard by doubtful experiout any reduction in value ; and never, under any circunistances, does the paper, from the remotest branches, vary Such was the currency when the Bank of the United beyond a quarter of one per cent. in its actual exchange States was responsible for its soundness and uniformity. for silver. Here, then, is a currency is safe as silver; What is it now, when the responsibility has been assumed more convenient, and more valuable than silver ; which, hy others ? Alas! sir, it is as superfluous as ii would be through the whole western and southern, and interior parts painful, to depict what is forced every hour upon our alof the Union, is eagerly sought in exchange for silver ; tention. which, in those sections, often bears a premium paid in At the end of seven years, we are summoned here to be silver; which is, throughout the Union, equal to silver in told that the “experiments” upon which the Government payment to the Government and payments to individuals decided to precipitate itself are no longer « doubtful." in business; and with which, whenever silver is needed, They are admitted to be uniter failures. But we are, at in any part of the country, will command it, without the the same time, informed that it is not open to the country
Oct. 4, 1837.]
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to profit by the lessons of experience. There is an insu Mr. Chairman, is not all this most humiliating to our perable obstacle in the way. The President is trammelled national pride ? Does it not almost sicken us with the by a letter he wrote to Mr. Sherrod Williams, and by an- forms of popular Government? How often have we lisother addressed to a Cincinnati dinner-party!
tened to professions of unbounded faith in the intelligence Will the people be satisfied with this answer? I think atid virtue of the people? And yet it is undeniable that not. Let politicians who have attained notoriety by clamor the dear people—the cherished people—the profound and on this subject, struggle as they may to repress the roused infallible people-so far from baving had their judgment spirit of the nation to disguise from the people their own consulted on great public measures, have been auxiously strength-to induce despair as to the possibility of attain- kept in profound ignorance of what was meditated. They ing the only practicable remedy-their triumph will, I be- could not be trusted with the secret. They have been lieve, be short-lived.
seated, like children at a circus, gazing with bewilderment Gentlemen tauntingly call upon us for our plans-lo ex at adroit equestrians, as they cast off into the ring succeshibit the schemes from which we purpose to make a choice; sive trappings of disguise ! as if novelty were an indispensable ingredient to any prop Yes, sir! It is now avowed that all the movements we osition for relief; and as if a successful experience of forty have witnessed were only preliminary--mere feints—a seyears were an insuperable argument against a recurrence ries of masterly stratagems upon the people! We are alto the wisdom of former days. Sir, what my constituents most forced to believe that the plan of operations devised ask is, that you will give back to them the state of things for the war upon the Seminoles was, in the rapid shiftings which existed in 1829. They ask of patriotism to restore of the Department, adopted, perhaps by mistake, for the what party has snatched from them. They ask that this war upon the currency. Government may not be known and felt only as an en Mr. Chairman, there is a paragraph in the President's gine of mischief—as a thing to be execrated.
message, to which I could not listen without pain at the I bad occasion, Mr. Chairman, in considering another light in which it must place the Chief Magistrate of the bill of the present series, to review the manner in which country before all those who have watched the course of the first experiment was carried into effect through the events. I allude to the passage in which he adverts to a agency of Mr. Kendall. I will not repeat what was then prophecy that, under a State charter, the Pennsylvania said, but I will advert to another fact, which is now placed Bank of the United States would prove stronger than ever. beyond dispute, and which displays the reckless and un Sir, I think that such anticipations were justifiable. It principled spirit of this warfare. It is now conceded that might well be supposed that, on escaping from the constithe employment of State banks was with a full knowledge tutional scruples which clogged her former existence, and that they would prove incompetent to the purpose, and from the party contests which perpetually sought to inthat the attempt would break them down. They were en volve her in their vortex, there would be no longer a motive listed into the service of the United States, to be crushed for persecution. It was, doubtless, believed that many in their hour of exhaustion. The same policy is bere even of the politicians who had joined in a cry against the visible as led to overtures to the western Indians to take bank, in order to keep abreast of a supposed popular curpart in the Florida war. Sir, we are not left, on this rent, would gladly atone to their own consciences by, at point, to presumptive evidence, or even to the testimony least, an amnesty. Was it not rational to presume that of Judge White. We have a direct revelation. The the States would cordially welcome the advantages to be Globe of 31st July last has an elaborate essay, evidently derived from its career of quiet usefulness? And, when drawn up by one who had been admitted behind the the State of Pennsylvania had thrown round it her ægis, scenes, if not himself a principal actor. It appears in a was it to be apprehended that those, at least, who had been journal, too, whose editor could not but know whether the so long indulging in sentimental regrets over the lost statement made was true or false. Congress, at its ses- rights of the States,” would be the first to trample upon sion previous to the removal, had declared the deposites such as are unquestionable? And yet, sir, bow was it? safe in the United States Bank. That body would reas You well know the subsequent history. The topic was semble in a few weeks. It was resolved, therefore, to too precious for demagogues to be abandoned. Party fires strike an immediate blow, for the reasons thus set forth by had begun to wane and languish for want of the accustomthe correspondent of the official paper, not two months ago. ed blast and aliment. The war assumed a character of un
“ It was deemed essential to force the bank into the field precedented fierceness. Before the wax of the charter was prematurely, and cripple her in anticipation. This could cold, you saw the great State of Ohio, under the influence be done only by a removal of the deposites early in Gen of party excitement, passing a law to inflict the heaviest eral Jackson's second term. It was believed that, if she penalties upon any one of her citizens or corporations who submitted to the measure in peace, she would be quietly should dare to act as the agent of that bank. We of Pittsstripped of her power; a new system would be in full and burg well know that the result of this single blow was to successful operation before the expiration of her charter, paralyze, in a great moasure, the western business of the and she would glide out of existence almost unobserved. If | bank. There was denied even a right of way, and it beshe resisted, it was not doubted that she would be van came almost perilous to open in Ohio a letter connected quished by the ever-victorious chieftain."
with her affairs. You saw, also, under the same impulses, In reference to a complaint by some, that General Jack the branch expelled, on a few days' notice, from Missouri
. son had not disclosed, at the outset, his purpose of putting | And in other quarters, so far from being permitted to tako down all banks, but, on the contrary, had insidiously af- the position of a regulator, she has been compelled to pass fected to foster them, and to enlist their co-operation, this an obscure and uneasy existence, constantly assailed by writer says:
party clamor, and with the Government and its minion's “Let those who now inveigh against the employment ready and eager, at any moment, to second a blow at her of State banks at that time, look back, and ask themselves interests. whether it was possible for General Jackson to accomplish And who, sir, took the lead in that crusade? The his oliject by any other means. If he had proposed a sep writer of this very message.
You saw him, with astonaration from all banks, he would have found all the State ishment, arraigning the sovereign State of Pennsylvania banks and their friends in full and effective alliance with the for a high misdemeanor, before a Cincinnati dinner-table. Bank of the United States-a league which it was not desi-You saw him addressing to that dinner-party an inflammarable to encounter. Neither the public mind nor the opin- tory letter, urging them, amidst their orgies, to lift high ions of members of Congress were then prepared," &c. ' the wine-cup in pledge of eternal hostility to our Pennsyl
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[Oct. 4, 1837.
vania institution. And yet, sir, he who has successfully must not the country regard with similar feelings the course employed the influence of his high station as Vice Presi- of the dominant party? dent in efforts to cripple that institution—to baffle all her But, sir, (said Mr. B.,) it is contended that the nation exertions to be diffusively useful-now sneers in this high will cheerfully sacrifice itself for a metaphor. The word state paper at the sanguine hopes with which she entered divorce is to reconcile us to every evil. This seemed to on her new career!
him a singular notion, with regard to a people supposed to It has been a subject of complaint here that, amidst the cherish, in an especial manner, all the endearing lies and falling to pieces of the system of over-banking, to which sympathies of domestic life. The word has been supposed your policy gave unrestricted scope, the Pennsylvania in to bring up the most melancholy images ; it speaks of vio. blitution did not continue to pay specie. From whom is lated faith-of ungovernable passions of a desolated firethis heard ? From those who had destroyed her national side. The most remarkable case on record is that of Henry character, and with it all accountability to the nation; from VIII; on which rests the yet unmitigated execration of those who had broken down the only barrier against over mankind. There, too, the talk was of State policy.; and issues of paper, which then, “ like to an entered tide," even religion was pressed into service as the handmaid of had rushed by and flooded the country ; from those who lust. The purest statesman of the age was led to the block had compelled her to wind up and to dispose of her resour for his opinions about the divorce. Sir, what has been the ces at a long credit; from those who, in 1833, declared past career, and what is the present state, of the party in that she was “a reptile beneath the feet of the Secretary this matter? You have long since madly broken away of the Treasury," and that she had been brought to her from a legal connexion, sanctified by a happy and serene knees at the first blow of the State banks !". Surely, it is cohabitation of forty years. In your downward course from of the essence of modesty and consistency that such com- respectability, you next took to your pets, to the infinite plaints should proceed from such a quarter. But, forsooth, shame and mortification of all decent persons who looked she might, as she asserts, have continued specie payments. And now you are wearied of them, and wish to go Be it 80. The fact cannot well be questionied by those who upon the town at large! This craving for novelty-this ring in our ears her tremendous power and resources. But change of doxies--you dignisy with the name of a divorce, would such a course, if practicable, have relieved the coun. which shall console us in the midst of our calamities. The lry? Every candid man must admit that exactly the re man wboin you have deprived of the chance of earning a verse would have been the case. If she continued to pay dinner for his wife, is to go home and comfort her with out specie, she must resort to measures to compel a similar talk about the divorce! course on the part of others. And who does not see the Mr. B. said there was one topic to which, in conclusion, wide-spread ruin that inust have ensued ? Look at the he could not forbear to advert, as, in his view, fixing more bill upon your table for the adjustment of claims upon the conclusively than any thing else the character of the mesdeposite banks. Before a resort to suit, you provide for sage. He alluded to the subject of a bankrupt law, to the offer to receive payment in protracted instalments. which thousands had been looking with intense anxiety. This is already pronounced, by gentlemen from the quarters In order to render himself intelligible, it would be necesin which they are located, to be oppressive and ruinous. sary to recur to opinions which the present Executive had Yet you reproach the Pennsylvania bank for not baving heretofore expressed. taken the position which would have compelled a far sharper The most serious recent struggle for the establishment and more peremptory action on her part. It seems to be of a bankrupt law was in 1827. On the 230 of January the misfortune of gentlemen, otherwise amiable and just, of that year, the debate in the Senate was on a motion to to catch the spirit which prevails here, and to suppose that strike out the 93d section of the bill, which extended its # capacity for mischief necessarily implies the exercise of provisions, under certain circumstances, to other classes of it. No, sir ! If the whole force of the Government could citizens than mere traders. Mr. Van Buren strenuously not sustain a league of banks, the Pennsylvania institution supported the motion to strike out, declaring that no one might well decline to become an instrument for gratifying but a trader could, under the constitution, be the object of the blind and ungovernable rage with which the Executive such a law. He reasoned thus : was disposed to turn upon those who had been so long the “When I say I am in favor of a bankrupt system, I objects of eulogy and favoritism. She did wisely, I think, mean to be understood as speaking of a bankrupt system not to exhaust herself in an effort to destroy them, but to in the language of the constitution, and such as was in reserve whatever strength she possessed to co-operate with contemplation by the framers of that instrument. He obthem in an effort to relieve the country from the evils into jected to the constitutional power of Congress to pass the which misgovernment had plunged it.
section reserred to. In his judgment, the provision containSir, after destroying the best currency with which any ed in the 93d section was not within the reasons which country was ever blest, the friends of the administration induced the framers of the constitution to vest this power tell us that they have constitutional scruples about meddling of establishing uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies further with the subject; it is no concern of theirs ; they in Congress. That it was a power which never ought to doubt their right to cure the mischief they have inflicted. be, or to have been, vested in Congress." Suppose, sir, one of your naval commanders should insist Speaking of the dangers of passing the true line, he reon taking under convoy fleet of American merchantmen. / marks, that the power to Congress being exclusivo, any He declares that he has the only accorate charts; that he extension of it would trespass on the rights of the States. is familiar with every shoal of the channel, and every in- He adds : dentation of the coast. But, in the midst of difficulty and “if it was put to him to decide between being a party in danger-with breakers around and signals of distress every such surrender, or the loss of the bankrupt law, he could not, where flying-he is seen refusing the aid of a single boat as he viewed the subject, without being false to his trust, or anchor, and abandoning to their fate the victims of his hesitate in preferring the latter." ignorance and presumption. Would it be sufficient for The present Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. Woodbury) such an officer to say, as has been argued here, “mine took the same ground. He said : was a national ship intended to meet the public enemy ; “ This grant was not to legislate on the subject of conhad I rendered assistance on that occasion, the next re- tracts generally—of descents-of suits at law; but on the quest would be to throw overboard my guns for the more subject of bankruptcy. To bankruptcies, and to bankconvenient transportation of merchandise ?" If such ar ruptcies alone, then, was the power confined. And the guments would be met by universal scorn and execration, word 'bankruptcies,' as used in the constitution, was