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DEBATES IN CONGRESS.

PART II. OF VOL. XI.

or

DEBATES IN CONGRESS,

COMPRISING THE LEADING DEBATES AND INCIDENTS

OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE TWENTY-THIRD CONGRESS:

TOGETHER WITH

AN APPENDIX,

CONTAINING

IMPORTANT STATE PAPERS AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS,

AND THE

LAWS, OF A PUBLIC NATURE, ENACTED DURING THE SESSION:

WITH A COPIOUS INDEX TO THE WHOLE.

VOLUME XI.

WASHINGTON:

PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY GALES AND SEATON.

1835.

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Deposite Banks.

FEB. 10, 1835.]

of the banks of deposite, the Secretary of the Treasury, under the discretionary power vested in him by the law as it now exists, may discontinue or change them at pleasure. If the bill pass, he will no longer possess this power; and if the object of the gentleman from Georgia, by his proposed amendment, be to restrict this discretion, he cannot fail to attain his object by aiding in the passage of this bill.

All parties in this House now agree that the Bank of the United States is not to be rechartered, and that we ought to provide other depositories and other agents to keep the public money, and perform the fiscal duties heretofore performed by that institution. If this be so, I have a right to call upon all parties in the House to unite with me in passing this or some other bill upon the subject. The alternative is presented to the House, either to suffer the banks now employed to continue in the service of the Treasury, under the law as it now exists, or to pass a law prescribing the mode of selec tion, the securities to be taken, and the manner and terms on which they are to be employed. The bill before the House is intended to accomplish the latter objects. It was the result of a careful and laborious examination of the subject at the last session of Congress. It has undergone a careful revision, in all its provisions and details, by the committee who reported it at the present session. It is not desired to leave with the ecutive any discretionary power which can be restricted or defined by law. The President, in his annual message, calls the attention of Congress to the subject, and suggests the propriety of further legislation. If the bill be susceptible of amendment, let it be amended and passed. That portion of the House who have heretofore objected most loudly to the exercise of the discretionary power now vested in the Executive, can certainly have no objection to unite with me in perfecting and passing the bill.

[H. OF R.

of a majority of this body. I presented, at the last session, a similar amendment to a bill then pending; and I was induced to do so by the deep interest felt, both here and elsewhere, in the discussions which were then carried on in Congress, touching the management of the public revenue. When, within sixty days of the meeting of the Congress of the United States, I beheld the extraordinary spectacle of the executive head of this confederacy attempting, through his power of appointment, and the practice of removal from office, to control and regulate the deposite of the public revenue, it did, I confess, awaken in my mind feelings of the deepest surprise and alarm.

In the controversy which was so warmly prosecuted in this House in relation to that subject, the members of Congress were divided into parties-one in favor of the continuance of the Bank of the United States, and of giving to it the custody of the public revenue; another in defence of the executive interference, in its removal, and of substituting the banks of the different States. I was one of a small class of Representatives on this floor opposed to the Bank of the United States, both because it was unconstitutional, and is an institution capable of wielding a power dangerous to republican government, and also opposed to the executive interference in any way with the revenues of the people, because I conEx-sidered it to be a vital principle in all free Governments, that the revenue must, in all respects, be under the control of the people or their representatives, to whom alone it pertained to say how it shall be raised and collected, by whom it shall be paid, how it shall be disbursed, to what uses it shall be applied, and by whom and where it shall be kept.

When Mr. POLK had concluded his speech, Mr. GORDON submitted the following amendment: Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That, from and after the day of. in the year the collectors of the public revenue, at places where the sums collected shall not exceed the sum of ————— dollars per annum, shall be the agents of the Treasurer to keep and disburse the same, and be subject to such rules and regulations, and give such bond and security, as he shall prescribe, for the faithful execution of their office, and shall receive, in addition to the compensation now allowed by law, per centum on the sums disbursed, so that it does not exceed the sum of -- dollars per annum.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That at places where the amount of public revenue collected shall exceed the sum of dollars per annum, there shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, receivers of the public revenue, to be agents of the Treasurer, who shall give such bond and security to keep and disburse the public revenue, and be subject to such rules and regulations as the Treasurer shall prescribe, and shall receive for their services per centum per annum on the sums disbursed, provided it does not exceed the sum of —— dollars per annum.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That, from and after the day of- the whole revenue of the United States derived from customs, lands, or other sources, shall be paid in the current coins of the United States. When Mr. G. had offered his amendment, he addressed the House nearly as follows:

In presenting the amendment which has just been read, 1 candidly acknowledge that I do not at this time entertain a very distinct hope of obtaining in its favor the votes

VOL. XI.-81

It was argued by the friends of the Executive, that such an institution as the United States Bank was dangerous to a free Government, from its extensive and powerful influence, as well over the public opinion as the public interest. I concur in this opinion, and rejoice that the bank is to be put down, but I nevertheless entirely disapprove of the executive interference, in causing the public money to be removed from the custody where the law had placed it to the State banks, where the law did not direct it should be placed, and because the power and influence of a multitude of State banks, scattered over every portion of the country, dependent on the executive will, would be a dangerous extension of the patronage of the Executive, especially as the custody and control of the revenue was claimed by the friends of the administration, in this behalf, as an executive power derived from the constitution itself. Perceiving, I thought, that the scheme of the Executive would result in evils not then anticipated, I looked out with anxiety to discover some plan by which the federal Government might be wholly disconnected from the organized capital of the country, whether in a national or in State banks. And after much reflection, and consultation with wise and experienced men, I proposed to effect it by an amendment to the bill then pending, and presented it to the consideration of Congress; and I now venture once more to submit it to the notice of this body. In taking this step, I am actuated by higher considerations than a regard simply to the safe keeping of the public treasure. I verily believe, and I think experience will convince the most incredulous republican, that the wise and patriotic framers of our constitution have unintentionally given to the executive power a fearful and dangerous ascendency, which makes it an overbalance to all the other departments of Government. Limited and circumscribed within the constitutional limits, it is a power too great to be confided with safety to any human being. According to the new construction placed upon its extent by the present incumbent, and his supporters in his behalf, it is a mass of power such as the benefi

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