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Statement of the affairs of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque, January 1, 1842:
LIABILITIES: Capital Stock...
$100,000.00 Discounts Received.
880.27 Due Depositors...
5,094.25 Special Deposites.
3,069.60 Notes on Special Deposite with other Banking Institutions...
46,000.00 Bank Notes in Circulation.
. $ 14,973.14 Personal Property.
8,000.00 Loans and Discounts..
151,976.94 Bills of Exchange.
11,588.75 Due from other Banking Institutions.
53,763.65 Notes of other Banks (chiefly Illinois).
32,812 Gold, Silver and Notes of State Bank of Missouri 43,277.66
$322,074.17 I hereby certify that the foregoing is a correct statement of the affairs of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque, according to the best of my knowledge and belief.
T. O. MARTIN, Cashier. Sworn and subscribed before me, this first day of February, 1842.
JOHN HAWKINS, Justice of Peace. This was referred to the committee of the whole. The Council then resumed its sitting as a committee of the whole on the Joint Resolution (C. F. No. 95) requiring the Miners' Bank of Dubuque to resume specie payments. No day being named for the resumption, Mr. Bainbridge of Dubuque moved that the blank be filled with August ist. This date was adopted. The resolution was then reported to the Council. Mr. Green of Linn moved to insert March ist instead of the later date; and from this motion sprang up one of the most spirited debates of this session of the Legislative Assembly. By this debate the Miners' Bank of Dubuque was introduced into the arena of party politics.
1 Journal of Council, 4th Legislative Assembly, p. 137.
In all of the different Legislative Assemblies preceding this, the members had been elected upon purely local considerations, the questions of party not affecting the results at all. But a large portion of this particular Assembly had been elected upon the basis of party principles, the rest upon local considerations. Not only in the Council, but also in the House, during this session the bank was attacked, not because of any of the characteristics of this particular bank, but because it was a bank. The Democratic members as a whole based their speeches in opposition to it upon the principles which had generally governed the banking system. It was written of it at at this time: “Her notes form a very inconsiderable portion' of the circulating medium of the Territory.” From this time on the bank was not only to be bruised for its own misdeeds, but was to be ground between the millstones of party politics. From this time on, until the introduction of the National Banking System and the doing away with the State Bank of Iowa, the party lines were to be drawn, more or less tightly, always enough to be felt. There was no ceasing by the most radical wings of either the Whig, the Democratic, or the Republican party.
These conditions must be borne in mind in judging the future action of the people in their consideration of the banking system. It will not be the system alone that will be considered, but there will always be behind it the thought of the system as a banking system, irrespective of the principles governing it.
(a) Position of Democrats in the Council.
Bailey of Van Buren spoke’ in opposition to the amendment and denounced all of them as “swindling machines, festering with corruption.” Continuing in his speech, he adverts to the late bank riots' and claims that the Ist of August, set as the time of resumption by most of the Western banks, will see the most of them go down in a general crash. In the latter portion of his speech, he said: “If the Legislature should fail, or refuse to act promptly in this matter, that the people of Iowa would be justified in taking the matter into their own hands and taking summary vengeance on the bank.”
1 Capital Reporter, December 23, 1841. 9 Iowa Standard, February 5, 1842.
Hall of Van Buren replied to the somewhat demagogic utterances of his colleague and was opposed to the Council doing anything, but if it must do something, he was in favor of serving it the same as other Western banks and defer the resumption of specie payments until the 1st of August.2
Bainbridge of Dubuque was opposed to mobs and hoped to never see one in Iowa; but, if one occurred, it was his wish that the people would be hung. He re-asserted that up to this time there was no dissatisfaction with or "excitement" against the bank in the community where it was located; that “the great body of the people had been benefitted by and were perfectly satisfied with the operations of the bank.” He called the attention of the Council to the fact that it had paid specie longer than any other Western institution, and only suspended in self-defense. That since its general suspension it had paid out thousands of dollars in specie to settlers who had needed it to enter their lands, and had never refused it for that purpose. He affirmed that the statement of the cashier showed its solvency; and that if it were compelled to resume and maintain specie payments, the result of it would be that the banks of neighboring states, where suspension was legalized, would drain it of its specie, while their own notes might be in its vaults and would not be available until general resumption. This would be of benefit to the bankers of St. Louis, but the poor farmers and mechanics of Iowa would have to sacrifice their notes or wait twelve months for the settling of the affairs of the bank. In closing he said that the
1 In the cities of the Eastern States. 2 Iowa Standard, February 5, 1842. 3. Ibid.
“Democracy of some gentleman demanded the abolition of all banking institutions, but his did not carry him so far."
Green of Linn was of the belief that the whole system was of the tendency to deprive the laborer of the product of his toil, and give it to some rich broker or speculator. He called attention to the common custom of contractors buying up the depreciated notes of Ohio and Michigan at enormous discounts and paying their hands with them at their face value. The people everywhere were redressing the wrongs which they were suffering from banks. For himself he knew nothing of this bank or its operations, he was simply speaking of the principles governing the system. It was only a matter of expediency that he would vote for March ist. incendiary portion of this speech, as reported, not quoted, led to a denial of it by Green in the Capital Reporter and an affirmation of the correctness of it in the Standard by the editor and a correspondent.
Parker of Scott was opposed to the Legislature taking any action upon it; if there was any question of the bank having forfeited its charter, it should be tried before the proper tribunal." He felt that his constituents did not have any interest in the concerns of the bank. Personally, he would not vote to deprive any creditor of his just dues and was opposed to all form of stay laws.
The committee of the whole now reported; it back to the Council with the blank filled with August ist.
Green following his former course moved to change August ist to March Ist.
This caused Leffler to give a clearly defined statement of his position. From the standpoint of wrong, it was as unjust to insert March ist as August 1st. The certain effect of passing it as amended March ist would be to give the gold to the St. Louis brokers and leave the bank without any specie to redeem its notes in the Territory. This would be
1 Iowa Standard, February 5, 1842.
an injustice to the people living in the river counties who were interested in the action of the Council. He did not wish to legislate for the bank, but for the people, and would not permit himself to be swayed by prejudice, but intended to do justice to all parties; and thought August ist to be for the best interests of the people.
Hastings of Muscatine was opposed to giving a day to the bank and personally believed in taking the democratic stand in opposition to banks. At this time the expression “bank suspension” had simply become a "trite phrase” behind which was the hiding place of insolvency and fraud.
The motion to insert the ist of March was lost; and the resolution was referred to the Committee on Incorporations which consisted of Green, Bailey and Kirkpatrick, to which Bainbridge and Wallace were added.
On the following morning the Committee on Incorporations reported a billa (C. F. No. 103) as a substitute for the Joint Resolution (C. F. No. 95). This bill required that the bank not only resume but continue specie payments on and from March ist, and made provisions for the appointment of receivers to close up its affairs if it failed to do so. read a first and second time and then considered in the committee of the whole. During its consideration in the committee of the whole, but one amendment was made—the changing of the time of resumption to August 1st.
(6) Position of Whigs in the Council.
As the debate upon the previous day had unmasked the Democratic position in reference to banks, the debate of this day was to develop the principles upon which the Whigs were to rally in support of the bank in the future contests about it and the principles of a banking system. Bainbridge of Dubuque regretted that he had not been permitted to meet with the committee which had “concocted and reported” the
1 Journal of Council, p. 138. 2 Iowa Standard, February 5, 1842.