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more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers. The political system of the allied powers is essentially different, in this respect, from that of America. This difference proceeds from that which exists in their respective governments. And to the defence of our own, which has been achieved by the loss of so much blood and treasure, and matured by the wisdom of their most enlightened citizens, and under which we have enjoyed unexampled felicity, this whole nation is devoted. We owe it, therefore, to candor, and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers, to declare, that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere, as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power, we have not interfered, and shall not interfere. But with the governments who have declared their independence, and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration, and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling, in any other manner, their destiny, by any European power, in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition towards the United States.
No. 81. The Bank Controversy: Jackson's
First Annual Message
December 8, 1829
The charter of the Bank of the United States did not expire until 1836, three years after the close of the erm for which Jackson had been elected; it was probable, however, that the bank would make early application for a renewal of its privileges. Jackson undoubtedly sympathized with those who feared the political and economic power of a great financial monopoly; the controversy involving the branch bank at Portsmouth, N. H., however, was probably the occasion for beginning his attack on the bank, which he did in his first annual message, transmitted to Congress Dec. 8, 1829. In the House this portion of the message was referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, which made an elaborate report April 13, 1830, through McDuffie of South Carolina, sustaining the bank. May 10 resolutions offered by Potter of North
Carolina, against paper money and the bank, and against the renewal of the charter, were, by a vote of 89 to 66, laid on the table. May 26 Wayne of Georgia submitted resolutions calling on the Secretary of the Treasury for a great variety of information about the conduct and business of the bank; on the 29th these were disagreed to. In the Senate the Committee on Finance, through Smith of Maryland, reported, March 29, against any change in the currency.
REFERENCES. - Text of the message in House and Senate Journals, 21st Cong., ist Sess.; the extract here given is from the House Journal, 27, 28. For the discussions, see Cong. Debates, VI. McDuffie's report is printed as House Rep. 358; it is also in Cong. Debates, VI., part II., appendix, 104-133. Smith's report is Senate Rep. 104. Documents connected with the Portsmouth branch controversy are collected in Niles's Register, XXXVII., XXXVIII.; Ingham's “Address," in his own defence, is in ib., XLII., 315, 316. The bank controversy as a whole is treated at length in all larger histories of the period, and in biographies of leading statesmen of the time. Niles's Register, XXXVII.-XLV., gives invaluable documentary material. Benton's Abridgment, X.-XII., gives full reports of debates; the same author's Thirty Years' View, I., is also of great value.
The charter of the Bank of the United States expires in 1836, and its stockholders will most probably apply for a renewal of their privileges. In order to avoid the evils resulting from precipitancy in a measure involving such important principles, and such deep pecuniary interests, I feel that I cannot, in justice to the parties interested, too soon present it to the deliberate consideration of the Legislature and the People. Both the constitutionality and the expediency of the law creating this Bank are well questioned by a large portion of our fellow-citizens; and it must be admitted by all, that it has failed in the great end of establishing a uniform and sound currency.
Under these circumstances, if such an institution is deemed essential to the fiscal operations of the Government, I submit to the wisdom of the Legislature whether a national one, founded upon the credit of the Government and its revenues, might not be devised, which would avoid all constitutional difficulties; and, at the same time, secure all the advantages to the Government and country that were expected to result from the present Bank.
The Bank Controversy: Jackson's
December 7, 1830 LITTLE attention was paid by Congress to so much of Jackson's second annual message as related to the Bank of the United States. December 9, in the House, an attempt by Wayne of Georgia to have that portion of the message referred to a select committee, instead of to the Committee of Ways and Means, was unsuccessful, the vote being 67 to 108. February 2, 1831, the Senate, by a vote of 20 to 23, rejected Benton's motion for leave to bring in a joint resolution declaring that the charter ought not to be renewed. The result in each of these cases was a victory for the bank.
REFERENCES. - Text of the message in House and Senate Journals, 21st Cong., ad Sess.; the extract here given is from the Senate Journal, 30, 31. For the discussions, see Cong. Debates, or Benton's Abridgment, XI.
The importance of the principles involved in the inquiry, whether it will be proper to recharter the Bank of the United States, requires that I should again call the attention of Congress to the subject. Nothing has occurred to lessen, in any degree, the dangers which many of our citizens apprehend from that institution, as at present organized. In the spirit of improvement and compromise which distinguishes our country and its institutions, it becomes us to inquire, whether it be not possible to secure the advantages afforded by the present bank, through the agency of a Bank of the United States, so modified in its principles and structure as to obviate constitutional and other objections.
It is thought practicable to organize such a bank, with the necessary officers, as a branch of the Treasury Department, based on the public and individual deposites, without power to make loans or purchase property, which shall remit the funds of the Government, and the expense of which may be paid, if thought advisable, by allowing its officers to sell bills of exchange to private individuals at a moderate premium. Not being a corporate body, having no stockholders, debtors, or property, and but few officers, it would not be obnoxious to the constitutional objections which are urged against the present bank; and having no means to operate on the hopes, fears, or interests, of large masses of the community, it would be shorn of the influence which makes that
bank formidable. The States would be strengthened by having in their hands the means of furnishing the local paper currency through their own banks; while the Bank of the United States, though issuing no paper, would check the issues of the State banks by taking their notes in deposite, and for exchange, only so long as they continue to be redeemed with specie. In times of public emergency, the capacities of such an institution might be enlarged by legislative provisions.
These suggestions are made, not so much as a recommendation, as with a view of calling the attention of Congress to the possible modifications of a system which can not continue to exist in its present form without occasional collisions with the local authorities, and perpetual apprehensions and discontent on the part of the States and the people.
No. 83. The Bank Controversy: Jackson's
Third Annual Message
December 6, 1831
THE apparent disposition of Jackson, as indicated by his third annual message, to drop the subject of the bank was further emphasized by the annual report of the Secretary of the Treasury, submitted Dec. 7, in which the cause of the bank was advocated at length.
REFERENCES. Text of the message in House and Senate Journals, 22d Cong., ist Sess.; the extract here given is from the Senate Journal, 17. For McLane's report, see House Exec. Doc. 3.
Entertaining the opinions heretofore expressed in relation to the Bank of the United States as at present organized, I felt it my duty, in my former messages frankly to disclose them, in order that the attention of the legislature and the people should be seasonably directed to that important subject, and that it might be considered and finally disposed of in a manner best calculated to promote the ends of the Constitution and subserve the public interests. Having thus conscientiously discharged a constitutional duty, I deem it proper, on this occasion, without a more particular reference to the views of the subject there expressed, to leave it for the present to the investigation of an enlightened people and their representatives.
Jackson's Bank Veto
July 10, 1832
The application of the Bank of the United States for a renewal of its charter was presented to Congress Jan. 9, 1832. In the Senate the memorial was referred to a select committee. March 13 Dallas of Pennsylvania, for the committee, reported a bill for a recharter of the bank; the bill was read a second time May 22, and debated until June 11, when it passed by a vote of 28 to 20. In the House the petition for a recharter had been referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, which reported Feb. 10, by McDuffie of South Carolina, a bill to renew and modify the charter. On the 23d Clayton of Georgia moved the appointment of a select committee to examine the affairs of the bank. The motion was debated until March 14, when, with an amendment offered by J. Q. Adams, it was agreed to. A majority report, to the effect “that the bank ought not to be rechartered until the debt was all paid and the revenue readjusted,” was made by Clayton April 30; minority reports, defending the bank, were presented by McDuffie and Adams May 11 and 14. The Senate bill was not taken up for discussion in the House until June 30; July 3 it was passed with amendments, under suspension of the rules, by a vote of 107 to 86. The Senate concurred in the House amendments, and the bill went to the President, who returned it July 1o without his approval. In the Senate, July 13, the vote on the repassage of the bill stood 22 to 19, less than the required two-thirds; so the bill failed. Only the most important portions of the veto message, which is very long, are here given.
REFERENCES. — Text in Senate Journal, 22d Cong., ist Sess., 433-446; the message is also printed as Senate Doc. 180, and House Exec. Doc. 300. Full reports of the discussions are in the Cong. Debates, and Benton's Abridge ment, XI. The text of the bank bill is in the Senate Journal, 451-453. For Clayton's report, see House Rep. 460; the document includes the minority reports, evidence, and papers relating to the Portsmouth controversy. Webster's speeches of May 25 and 28, on the bill, are in his Works (ed. 1857), III., 391-415; speech of July 11, on the veto, ib., III., 416-447. Clay's speech of July 12, on the veto, is in his Life and Speeches (ed. 1844), II., 94-105. Numerous reports and memorials relating to the bank will be found in the House and Senate documents of this session.
I sincerely regret, that, in the act before me, I can perceive none of those modifications of the bank charter which are necessary, in my opinion, to make it compatible with justice, with sound policy, or with the constitution of our country. . .
Every monopoly, and all exclusive privileges, are granted at the expense of the public, which ought to receive a fair equivalent. The many millions which this act proposes to bestow on the