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The proposition I have presented is intended to remedy these inequalities. Sir, I have said that the Executive, in this Government, was too strong for the other departments, from its legitimate constitutional power. Commander-in-chief of the army, of the navy; control
cent Author of the world could alone wield without danger to human liberty. What is this body? What are the Representatives of the American people? Before the might of the executive arm they yield as a rush. When that exalted officer unrols the scroll of his might, when he exhibits to their anxious eyes the endless roll of honorable and profitable appointments which await his pleasure, who among us possesses the firmness to turn with averted eyes from the golden bait of interest and power? And who can sustain the erectness of his spirit after he has reached the goal of his ambition, when he feels that he holds his station by the will of one man? And when it has become the practice of the Government to appoint to the highest of those places influential and devoted members of this body, can any man expect that a majority of its members should long stand up against the influence of this proud and seducing power thus exerted? Let it not be thought that I have any wish to speak unkindly of the present distinguished incumbent of the executive chair. I contributed my humble aid to elevate him to the seat he occupies, and in many, in most of his acts, he has my entire concurrence. But I have seen of late, under his construction of the constitution, and the support which his doctrine and his course have received, the liberties of this country brought, as I conceive, into the most immi-ling, in a great degree, the Land and the Indian Denent danger. Owing to the attachment of my country partments, the Post Office Department, the officers of to one whom they consider as their great and distin- the customs, the jobs and contracts authorized by lawguished benefactor, the whole land seems to be sleeping and when you superadd to the executive patronage this in a condition which, unless we arouse and exert our- power of dispensing the revenue to whatever portion of selves, may prove the sleep of despotism. the country he may please, you yield a fearful and highly dangerous extension of an authority never, in its simplest form, sufficiently guarded or circumscribed. The great man of Virginia, Patrick Henry, a political seer who looked far down the stream of time, and who foretold, with prophetic truth, the tendencies of this Government-uttered, in the convention of Virginia which adopted the federal constitution, this sententious maxim of political wisdom: "When you give power you know not what you give." Sir, it is most true. When you give power to a Secretary of the Treasury (we know of what stuff they are made of) to transfer at pleasure the deposites of the revenue to such banks as may most successfully court his favor, you are adding to the President of the United States, whose creature he is, and that by the legislation of this House, a most tremendous and gigantic power. And how is it to be exercised? Is there to be no inequality? Yes, sir, the States of the South, and those whose representation is weak upon this floor, are to get nothing, although it is their agriculture which furnishes two thirds of the entire amount of our commercial exports. Sir, you compromised the controversy about the tariff, but if the whole of the States of this Union are to be taxed for the exclusive benefit of the bankers and brokers of New York, you are imposing upon the people a burden even worse than that of the tariff itself. Unjust and oppressive as that was, it had still something alluring about it in the encouragement of our own fabrications; in the arts which adorn and the arms which defend our country-an object which, could it be effected with fairness, and without oppression, the South would rejoice in. But it is a most gloomy prospect to contemplate that more than half of the revenue derived from the customs of this vast country shall go into the coffers of New York. Sir, that empire State, with this fearful addition to all her natural and commercial advantages, will grow too powerful for this confederacy. That will happen with respect to her which Maryland feared would happen as to Virginia, unless she should consent to cede her western domain. Sir, Virginia put those fears to flight. With a view to preserve the equality of the States, she did cede her western domain, to be formed into States
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vantages, natural and political, has her banking capital increased by the accession of more than thirteen millions of dollars, by a single wave of the executive arm, Virginia, the Old Dominion, receives from the same arrangement a little more, in gross revenue, than two hundred thousand dollars. Ay, sir, that ancient Commonwealth, that has borne the battle and the breeze, which in all emergencies of this Republic, if not foremost, bas ever been found in the front rank in its defence, in this distribution of the federal loaves and fishes, puts into her coffers two hundred thousand dollars, while the great State of New York, with her army of Representatives on this floor, and all her preponderating weight in the councils of this nation, receives the modest and iuconsiderable sum of thirteen millions of dollars. Whenever I think of this distribution, it reminds me of Æsop's fable of the beasts who hunted with the lion in company. We all know how the spoil was divided then, and it is not difficult now to tell who it is that has received the lion's share.
Mr. Speaker, this Representative hall presents, or ought to present, the true and legitimate fountain of public opinion. It is here that the Representative of the people should take his stand in defence of the liberty of the people and his own rights, against the overshadowing influence of executive power. But, sir, how is it that we have stood upon this floor, and what is the resistance which we have presented to executive claims? By pleading the practice of the Government during former years, in minor instances, to justify the extraordinary spectacle of the Chief Executive Magistrate of this Republic controlling, by a single act of his will, the whole revenue of the country. In my recollection of English history, I remember no instance where a question has arisen affecting immediately the rights of the people, invaded by the King, that the English Commons have not been true to the people's interest, against the unjust pretensions of the Crown. But here, sir, within these walls, I regret to have seen that almost the first great question which has arisen affecting the dearest rights of the people, directly invaded by executive power, a majority of the immediate representatives of the people are seen rallying on the side of power. Still, had the act of the President, though to my mind plainly wrong and unauthorized, resulted in an equal and beneficial diffusion of the public revenues through the different portions of the Republic, we might have found some room for palliation of the illegality of the act in its beneficence. could not approve, we might at least have excused it. But what, sir, in fact, has been the actual result of this new and beautiful arrangement of our fiscal concerns, so highly lauded by the talented and amiable chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means? Of the twen ty-four millions which constitute the gross amount of our revenue received from the customs, more than thirteen millions, being collected in one seaport, are deposited in the banks of a single State, while the other twenty-three States are left to get such fragments of the residue as chance or favor may throw into their lot. Yes, sir, while the great State of New York, so justly styled the empire State, in addition to all her other ad
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equal and free as herself: for, true to principle, she has always preferred liberty to power.
The State of New York possesses great natural advantages, improved by the enterprise of her citizens and the wisdom of her councils: at this I rejoice. Her position is most felicitous: extensive in territory, with the lakes on one border and the Atlantic ocean on the other; binding to her closely, by ties of interest, whole States of the confederacy, she is possessed of commercial advantages to which she is fairly entitled, and of which I would not wish to deprive her. But I would not swell her prosperity by political regulations calculated to give her a fearful preponderacy; for, should the political power of the President drift to a union with the commercial power of New York, they will present a combi
nation ominous to freedom.
There is another consideration which has induced me to offer this amendment. We may all very plainly see that the contest for the executive office is the rock on which the permanency of this Republic is likely to be wrecked, and the vehemence of this contest will ever be in proportion to the executive patronage. But for this, the office would have no allurements but for virtuous ambition; but, with this concomitant, it exerts an influence which may one day prove fatal to the federal part of our system. If we do not separate the influence of the Executive from the interest of banking incorporations, we shall have another controversy on the subject of banks. The political will be united with the money power. The contest must come-it will come. will witness a struggle in this Capitol between State banks and federal banks, and the combatants for the President's chair will be found contending in different ranks of interest and influence, whilst they mar the peace of the country and shake the pillars of the constitution. Separate, then, I beseech you, Representatives of the American people, if you wish to put down this fearful contest for the presidential chair-I had almost said presidential throne-separate, I entreat you, banking and politics. Let the banks facilitate the exchanges of commerce and further the interests of trade; but let them, I pray you, have nothing to do with the Government.
Mr. Speaker, I know and feel under what disadvantages the proposition I have offered comes before the House. Sir, I am not the first or the only man who has attempted to arrest the course of power, and I know at what a hazard that attempt is usually made. Sir, the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means has told us that the plan I propose has not escaped the notice of the Secretary of the Treasury. Yet, though that officer has presented us with a ponderous, I wish I could add luminous, report on the fiscal concerns of this Government, he has passed this proposition with a single glance. When the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. GAMBLE] in troduced a resolution calling upon the Secretary of the Treasury for a plan to collect and disburse the public revenue without the agency of banks, the House voted it down. The proposition met with no favor. The arrangement was made; the bargain was concluded; the banks had got the money; they hold it now; and the present bill is little more or less than a form, a ceremony, ratifying the bargain concluded between the organized capital of the country and the Secretary of the Treasury. No wonder that officer declined entering into the details of a scheme which he himself admitted to be of a practical character, but which did not suit the purposes of power. Sir, the scheme is practicable; and, further, I say that it is more simple and more efficient than that proposed by this bill. It is true, the amendment is elementary only; it proposes the germe, the distinguishing measure only, of the plan I propose; but were this agreed upon, how easy would it be to go on and perfect
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the details. Let these collectors be put under bond, with sufficient security, and let them keep the revenue they may collect until called for by the Government. The chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means thinks that this would keep too much specie unemployed. Sir, the day has not long gone by when this hall, ay, sir, and the whole country, rang with the cry of "specie! specie!" "Jackson money!" "yellow jackets!" "down with bank rags!" Well, sir, I propose a plan by which the business of Government will be done in specie, and in specie only; and then the gentleman tells us that by law it is done in specie already. Such, it seems, is now the law of the land. Sir, I am glad, exceeding glad, to hear it. If the fact be so, I have proposed no innovation; and ought not the practice of the Government to correspond with the law? I am not for altering such a law. But what does this bill do? It makes it indispensable to any bank's becoming the depository of the Government funds, that it have at all times a large amount of specie in its vaults. It appoints a system of search and inspection to ascertain the fact; and if it shall be discovered that the bank does not keep locked up from circulation a certain large amount of specie, the Government deposites are withdrawn, and the bank ruined.
Surely, sir, the specie in the vaults of a bank is as much withdrawn from circulation among the people as in the coffers of a collector of the revenue. It lies there merely as a source of credit to the bank. But there would but an inconsiderable amount lie thus idle at any time. The money would, in effect, be as useful as if deposited in the State banks themselves. It would be moving in a constant stream into and out of the depositories. The banks might possess themselves of the drafts of Government, which, being drawn on specie in the actual possession of these agents of the Treasurer, in favor of all public creditors, would be held as so much specie. Such drafts, or I am mistaken, would soon be at a premium. There would be no difficulty whatever on that score. The plan would probably require the creation of a few additional officers, I admit, but they would not be many; possibly there might none be need ed; but in point of patronage they would be nothing, compared with this fearful connexion between the organized capital of the State banks and the power of the Treasury of the Union. If gentlemen will only aid me by bestowing on the proposition I have submitted a small share of the labor and thought applied to carry into effect the State bank system, if they will turn their minds earnestly to perfecting its details, they will find imagined difficulties fade before them. They will soon be convinced that honest and responsible men are to be found in this country, who may safely be intrusted with the custody of the public treasure. The Treasurer, by his drafts, will relieve all difficulties on the subject of exchange; and the entire system of managing the public revenue will be reduced to the simplest and easiest form.
I desire to limit and restrain the executive patronage; I seek to keep it free from the corroding influence of banks and banking. Sir, I desire no longer to have it openly charged upon members of Congress that they have been bought and bribed by a bank. Let the proposed plan of the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means go into effect, and the day is not far distant when gentlemen will be charged in the selfsame manner with having been bribed by the State banks. When a new war of interest and ambition shall arise, between a renewed effort to make a Bank of the United States and the existing State banks, those who oppose the measure will then be told that they are bribed by the State banks. Sir, the times are portentous; all feel it, all know it to be so. Every body knows that a pervading anxiety agitates the bosoms of the best and wisest
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patriots of the land; and no man can tell how the drama is to terminate. Let us, then, endeavor at least to purify one source of corruption. Let us cut off at least one arm of dangerous and unnecessary power. We shall have the bond of those who keep our money; and if it is not paid, we will have it paid. Then we shall no longer be calculating here how a million and a half of dollars deficient in the treasury, said to be lost by the default of State banks, can be made to appear but $100,000. You will then have an honest system of custody for the public funds, and one in which the people of the country have a deep interest. Sir, the great body of the people do not understand these banking institutions. They know nothing about them; nothing, sir, nothing, but the happy event of bringing the United States Bank to an end; and the use made of it for political purposes has prevented you from hearing, from one end of this confederacy to the other, one universal cry against the interference of the Executive with the public revenue Sir, the Executive is honest; he is frank and open; he promised to kill the bank, and he has killed it. I rejoice at it, nor did I quit his side in this contest until I thought he had passed the bounds of constitutional warfare, and was inflicting wounds on Liberty herself.
Mr. Speaker, it is the theory of this Government, and it is no less the wish of the people, that the Government shall he wholly dissevered and kept distinct from the religion of the nation. That separation is guarantied in the constitution by an amendment proposed by my na tive State. It is equally the provision of that instrument that the Government shall be equally separated from the public press. It solemnly enjoins that nothing shall be permitted to silence that trumpet which summons the people to the defence of their liberties. And it will turn out to be no less necessary that the action of this Government shall be separated from all moneyed corporations, organizing the wealth and capital of the country. Sir, we have been placed, by the hand of the Divine Providence, upon a vast and a fertile continent. We enjoy the freest Government under heaven; we have a great, a glorious, confederacy of free States; is it not our sacred duty to guard this fair inheritance against the taint of corruption? Sir, I declare before this body, upon the integrity of my honor, that the effort I have now made is utterly disconnected with all party aims and party feeling. I believe some such expedient indispensable to liberty. And were I authorized to speak, i would say that I do believe the great man whose genius and whose patriotic valor have raised him to the first seat in this Government would himself, being no advocate of banks, prefer such a measure to that proposed in this bill.
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purity of purpose, as they have been frankly uttered. Let us not lend our aid to the enactment of laws which go only to swell the already portentous tide of executive power; rather, whilst we restrain ourselves within the limits prescribed by the constitution, let us use our best efforts to curb executive encroachments on our legisla tive rights, and to provide more effectual safeguards for the liberties of the people.
When Mr. GORDON had finished his remarks,
Mr. SAMUEL McD. MOORE, of Virginia, obtained the floor, against numerous competitors, and offered the following amendment:
Strike out fall after the word "that," to the end of the second line of the first section of the bill, and insert these words: The public money shall hereafter be deposited in the following banks, to wit: the Merchants' Bank of Salem, the Bank of New London, &c. [Here insert the names of all the banks now employed as deposite banks.] Provided, That the said banks shall be willing to undertake to do and perform the several duties and services, and to conform to the conditions prescribed by this act.
Mr. MOORE said he did not rise for the purpose of troubling the House with a long speech. He had no disposition to do so at so late a period of the session, and still less at so late an hour, when the usual time for adjourning had almost arrived. He had risen to respond to the call made by the honorable gentleman at the head of the Committee of Ways and Means, [Mr. POLK.] That gentleman had expressed the hope that, now it was ascertained that the United States Bank would not be rechartered, all the members of the House would aid in rendering the bill for regulating the deposites of the public money in the State banks as perfect as possible. He had invited gentlemen of all parties to unite in endeavoring to render the bill unexceptionable, by proposing amendments. He (Mr. M.) had risen to act upon the worthy chairman's suggestion, and would propose an amendment which he hoped would meet the approbation of the House, and of the gentleman him
Mr. M. said it was well known that he had entertained the opinion that a United States Bank was necessary to enable the Government to carry on its fiscal operations; nor had be changed his opinions on that point; it was obvious, however, that no Bank of the United States would be chartered. The experiment of keeping the public money in the State banks was again to be tried, and he was willing the experiment should be a fair one. He was very willing that it should prove successful, though he was not satisfied it would do so. It would be recollected by the gentleman [Mr. POLK] that he had, even at the last session, after it had been ascertainI know there are some slight inconveniences attending ed that no Bank of the United States would be recharthe plan. But these, whatever they may be, are buttered, expressed a willingness to aid in perfecting the dust in the balance in comparison to the dangerous ten- bill, and to vote for it, if it could be so amended as to dency of that now held out to us, and which may one take from the Secretary of the Treasury the unlimited day shake this confederacy to its deepest foundations. control which he exercised over the money of the pubThe agitation attending the pulling down of the national lic. He would have offered the amendment, which he bank has not subsided to this day; the undulation of the would now propose to the bill before the House, to the billows will long be visible; nor will banking controver- bill of the last session, which was substantially the same sies, for our immense revenues, cease until some effi- with that under consideration, if he had had an opporcient substitute shall be provided by Congress. tunity to do so.
As to the details of the scheme I have now had the honor to propose to the Congress of the United States, they may be arranged at leisure when once the principle of the scheme is settled. I did not present my proposition as containing a perfect plan; but, if its principle shall be approved of, the subordinate arrangements need be attended with but little difficulty.
Sir, I am fully aware of the desultory and irregular manner in which I have been able to present my thoughts to the House; but they have been conceived, I trust, in
The amendment he had to propose was, to strike out a portion of the first section of the bill; so as to leave a blank in which the names of the banks to be used as public depositories might be inserted. The effect of the amendment, if adopted, (and it was the only one he designed it to have,) would be to divest the Secretary of the Treasury of a power which it was not necessary, and it was therefore improper, that he should exercise. The amendment he proposed was in exact conformity to the recommendation of the President's message at
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the beginning of the present session, to which he would beg leave to call the attention of the House.
[Here Mr. M. read the following paragraph from the message:
"The power of Congress to direct in what places the Treasurer shall keep the moneys in the treasury, and to impose restrictions upon the executive authority, in relation to their custody and removal, is unlimited, and its exercise will rather be courted than discouraged by those public officers and agents on whom rests the responsibility for their safety. It is desirable that as little power as possible should be left to the President or Secretary of the Treasury over these institutions; which, being thus freed from executive influence, and without a common head to direct their operations, would have neither the temptation nor the ability to interfere in the political conflicts of the country."]
If the House would consent to make the bill before it conform to the recommendation he had just read, he would give his vote for its passage. It was perfecly apparent, from the statements made by the chairman who had reported the bill, that the House had in its possession all the information necessary to enable it to make a judicious and safe selection of banks to be used as the depositories of the public money. The gentleman had exhibited a list to the House, of a number of banks, in which he stated the public money was now deposited, and in which he assured the House he had abundant evidence to show that it was perfectly safe, and of the ability of which to render all the services required by the Government he is entirely satisfied. Let the gentleman, then, propose to fill the blank, which would be created if his (Mr. M's) amendment prevailed, with the names of the banks in which the money of the Government is now deposited. Other gentlemen could propose the insertion of the names of other banks if they thought proper. The House would then have it in its power to fill the blank with the names of the banks now used as public depositories, and he had no doubt they would insert them all, unless it would be satisfied that some of them were not safe institutions. They could choose those which were safe, and leave out those, if any, the solvency of which appeared doubtful. It was so obvious that the House could make a safe and proper selection of banks, in which the deposites should be made, that he could not conceive of any well-founded objection which could be urged against the amendment he proposed. If the selection of the deposite banks is left to the Secretary of the Treasury, it would evidently be done as a matter of choice, not of necessity.
The danger of investing the Secretary of the Treasury, or any other officer of the Government, with unlimit ed power of selecting and changing the deposite banks at his pleasure, was great, obvious, and acknowledged. The President, in the portion of the message just read, warned us of the necessity of guarding against it, and he was gratified to find the bill under consideration had imposed a salutary restriction on the power of the Secretary of the Treasury to change the places of depositing the public money. But it gives, without any necessity for it, and contrary to the recommendation of the President, the power of selecting the deposite banks, in the first instance, to the Secretary of the Treasury. It was a dangerous power; and, without meaning to make any imputation against the present Secretary, he would af firm that this power of selecting the deposite banks might be used for improper purposes now, as readily as at any future time. We were on the eve of an election for the highest officer in the Government, the election of a President of the United States. Let us suppose (said Mr. M.) that that election is to be made, as he believed would be the case, between two candidates, (and he earnestly hoped there would be no other candidates in the
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field,) the one a man whose motto is "the spoils of the vanquished belong to the victors;" one who regards the patronage of the Government as a fund out of which the person possessing power is to reward the services of those who contributed to his election; one who is the acknowledged head of that party which acts upon the principle that all is fair in politics; and another man, of opposite principles; one whose motto is "honesty is the best policy;" one who maintains that the public patronage is never to be dispensed for any other purpose than that of securing the greatest possible benefit to the people; one who would rather sacrifice his life than purchase a vote for himself by the promise of conferring an office.
If, sir, the contest shall be between two such men as these, and if it shall turn out that the person who is to exercise the power of selecting the deposite banks is the friend of the former, and belongs to the political school in which the doctrine that all is fair in politics is taught, what is to be the effect of giving him the power with which this bill proposes to invest the Secretary of the Treasury? Will it not enable him to command the whole influence of all the banks in the Union, with their host of officers, their bank directors and debtors, in favor of the man whose election he wishes to promote? Will it not enable the Secretary to do, through the instrumentality of the State banks, all that the United States Bank is charged with having done, in influencing and controlling elections among the people?
Mr. M. said he hoped the gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. POLK] would consent to act upon the same principle, and in the same spirit, he had recommended to others to act. He (Mr. M.) had consented to abstain from making any attempt to obtain the passage of a bill, in conformity to his own ideas, as to the most proper mode of disposing of the public deposites, from a knowledge of the fact that such a bill could not become a law of the land, and out of a disposition to pay a proper respect to the views of other branches of the Government. He hoped the gentleman who, from his situation as chairman of a committee, had charge of the bill before the House; would also consent to respect the known feelings and opinions of other branches of the Government, so far at least as to consent to an amendment which may perhaps ensure the passage of the bill; especially when that amendment is in conformity to the recommendation of the Chief Executive Magistrate, and not incompatible with any opinion expressed by the advocates of the bill.
Mr. M. said he felt no disposition to reply to any of the gentleman's [Mr. POLK's] remarks in reference to the alleged misconduct of the Bank of the United States. He should leave the defence of the bank entirely to its friends. He had never undertaken to advocate the cause of that institution. The business before the House was to make the bill for regulating the deposites in the State banks as perfect as possible, and he was disposed to lend all the assistance in his power to accomplish that end.
Mr. EWING said he rejoiced that, after having in vain endeavored at the last session of Congress to obtain the floor on the subject-matter of the present bill, he was now able to exercise that privilege. But at that period he should have gone more extensively into the subject than he now intended. Reflection had convinced the people, he believed, that the system contemplated by the provisions of this bill was founded in error; that its action would prove injurious to the great interests of the country, as well as to public liberty itself; and that a very brief examination would prove that many of the arguments by which it was attempted to be sustained on that floor were utterly fallacious. He viewed the system of State banks, thus linked, as unconstitutional; and, were it not so, he viewed the policy of the bill as in
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jurious to the public interest, and indirectly arraigning the Secretary of the Treasury for a deliberate violation of the law. For if (said Mr. E.) the Secretary of the Treasury is justified by any law of the land, in exercising his present discretionary power over the people's money, it is evidently an act of supererogation now to make another law; inasmuch as it would only tend to lessen his responsibility, without materially lessening the discretionary power now exercised, and so far diminish the existing security of the public funds. If the present places of deposite selected by the Secretary of the Treasury be legal and secure, nothing more is required; and if not, this act will only increase the evil. If the great source of our national prosperity and revenue can exist without a uniform currency, founded on the credit and faith of the Union, then all the great statesmen and political economists of this nation who have preceded us were unworthy of the reputation they enjoyed. But can this be so? Where are the evidences by which such an idea can be sustained-evidence that can convince the public? Do the bill and arguments of the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means [Mr. POLK] afford such evidence? A bill giving the control of power specially granted to Congress by the constitution to executive officers, substituting a local State corporation currency beyond our control, and always subject to depreciation and loss, for a general and uniform currency subject to our control, and at all times equal, if not su perior, to gold or silver. This runious change, too, is to be effected, accompanied with a cry that a specie currency is intended! which all know to be impracticable. One corporation monopoly under the control of Congress is a monster, while possibly one hundred issuing paper at will, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treas ury, are to be as innocent and harmless as lambs. Why, sir, (said Mr. E.,) when the security and protection provided by the constitution for the regulation of the currency shall be taken from the people and their representatives, and placed in the hands of the Executive, I can see no means by which the gentleman from Tennessee [Mr. POLK] will be able to accomplish his avowed purpose. He says he wishes to limit and define the discretionary power of the President; but is it by usurping that power, and exercising it at his own discretion, which the constitution vests exclusively in Congress, that this is to be effected? Prudence pointed to the period when the charter of the present Bank of the United States would expire, as the proper time to provide that a substitute should go into operation. This fiscal agency should be of such a character as to regulate the currency, facilitate and secure a safe collection and disbursement of the public money, and promote the various interests of the country. That the constitution grants to Congress the powers of effecting these great public interests will not be denied; and that it is proper and necessary to exercise them, it is folly for the Treasury advocates to deny. The President recommended such a currency in his message to the 21st Congress; but he had never seen the sanction of the President for any such plan as that contemplated by the bill. The only State bank plan that the President ever recommended was one of mutual guaranty; but that is known to be utterly impracticable; and whether he then contemplated acquiring the power conferred on the Treasury, by the bill now before us, is a matter of no consequence. Mr. E. did not view the powers vested in Congress by the constitution as transferable to the Treasury or State bank corporations under any nominal guarantee. Still less did he view it expedient to disjoint the interest blended in a general currency, by sanctioning the local and conflicting interests to be created by the plan proposed by the gentleman from Tennessee, [Mr. POLK.] He had now on his table a substitute for the bill, which, when in order, he should offer
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as an amendment, which carries out in detail the principle embraced in a resolution presented by him at the last session, and referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, but only reported on by implication. He would, however, leave that question to be discussed on its merits, (if time permitted,) and proceed to notice some of the arguments used by the gentleman from Tennessee, [Mr. POLK.]
In order to secure favor to his plan, the gentleman would impress a belief that the great loss of the people's money, formerly sustained when the deposites were made in State banks, was a misapprehension; that, up to the charter of the present bank, there were no losses known, and that the final loss was inconsiderable.
[Mr. POLK here rose and explained. He said, from the creation of the old Bank of the United States up to the establishment of the new, the loss to the Government was very inconsiderable.]
Mr. EWING proceeded. He was incapable, he said, of doing the gentleman injustice. His explanation did not alter the fact he was about to argue from. He hoped the gentleman would exercise a little patience until he had concluded the argument on this point. The gentleman says the loss to the Government was inconsiderable. Perhaps he supposes that our Government consists of a unit, and as a unit it lost nothing; but he (Mr. E.) considered the three departments of our Government equally omnipotent in their spheres of action, and that the constitution and laws control all. The actual loss of the people's money, during that period, was nearly a million and a half of dollars. But that was only a trifle, compared to the loss sustained by our citizens in their various commercial transactions, and the loss of confidence essential to trade. The loss to trade and to the industry of the States are losses to the whole people; and, as ours is not a Government of party, but a Government of the whole people, all the losses and sacrifices inflicted on them are to be taken into the account. The estimate of these would show an enormous amount; but an accurate estimate is impossible. That no loss was discovered from the falling of the old to the establishment of the present Bank of the United States is accounted for by the fact that no settlement was demanded of them by any fiscal agent of the Government during that period; and their inability to refund the deposites could not be discovered till they were required to make a final settlement. It was then only that their insolvency could become known; and the amount of it, at that period, has been since lessened, and the accounts closed on the books of the Treasury, by compromises for property, which, in some instances, has been sold by the Government for one tenth of what it cost the nation. Such are the facts bearing on the delusive arguments the gentleman presents to influence the decision of the House and the opinions of the people. He desired all to consult better authority.
The ideal loss the gentleman estimates as being sustained by the country through the Bank of the United States, he would leave to be noticed by friends of that institution who were better acquainted with its transactions than he could be. But the loss to the aggregate wealth of the West, in the exchanges of trade under a local bank system; the delay, hazard, and inconvenience, to which the West will be subjected without a general currency of easy transmission; the loss of a bonus to the Treasury by the establishment of the plan he [Mr. POLK] contemplates, together with the uncertainty, trouble, and contention, which it must inevitably generate, are not to be overlooked; nor is the unconstitutional heresy, that the Executive should control the people's money, which (if he can control the Secretary of the Treasury) this bill would confer upon him, to be left out of the estimate of consequences. The present