Page images
PDF
EPUB

bill as "he believed that he could have convinced them that the Legislature had no right to pass such a law.” The question of the propriety of repealing belonged to the Judiciary," and the Legislature had no right to act until the trial and conviction of fraud on the part of the bank. The Legislature in granting this charter had entered into a contract with the corporation, as was witnessed by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. One party to a contract could not break it at his pleasure. He then quoted from 2 Kent 305; 7 Cranch 164; and 9 Cranch 43 in support of the application of this principle to the principles he had laid down.

Kirkpatrick of Jackson followed with a written speech filled to repletion with party politics, and blows at the Democracy of those that were supporting the bank2 at this time. He stated that when the cloak of hypocrisy was thrown off from the bank defenders, there was always discovered a mass of corruption and that always emitted the blue light of Federalism. He represented a part of the bank district but that “neither life nor death, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,...... would ever be able to separate him from the good principles of oldfashioned Democracy,” or cause him to “budge an inch” in voting upon this vital question. One facetious reporter has chronicled that here the speaker "Got mixed."

Hastings of Muscatine stated that he was in favor of immediate repeal and boldly avowed that it was his object to cripple the bank and do her all the injury in his power.”

Here it was again amended so that resumption should take place on March 4th.3

Coop of Jefferson introduced an amendments which, with Hastings' modification, took the form of Section 4. “Nothing in this act shall be so construed as to legalize the suspension of specie payments, or any other violation or abuse of the charter of said bank. This was adopted by a vote of 9 yeas to 4 nays.

1 Journal of Council, p. 144. 2 Iowa Standard, February 5, 1842. 3 Journal of Council, p. 143.

After an ineffectual attempt to postpone indefinitely the whole question, Bainbridge moved' to strike out the "4th day of March,” and insert the first day of August, 1842, provided, that said bank shall resume at as early a day, prior to the first day of August, as the Illinois Banks or the Bank of Indiana.” This was adopted by a vote of 7 yeas to 6 nays.

Coop then offered as Section 5, “That all persons resident within the Territory, who may be indebted, either by promissory note, bill, bond or account, or by verbal contract, or any other indebtedness whatever, to said bank, shall not be compelled by any law now in force, or hereafter to be enforced, in this territory, to make payment to said bank previous to resumption of specie payment by said bank.” This was opposed by Bainbridge on the ground that it would necessarily be a law which "impaired contracts.” At this point in the debate, there occurred a series of speeches in which Bailey of Van Buren, Hastings of Muscatine, and Bainbridge of Dubuque tried to prove, each for himself, that he was a Democrat.

Wallace of Henry argued that the Council was not informed upon the wishes of its constituents as it had received no petitions from them; and that the Council had no evidence that would incriminate the bank of fraudulent action.

After an attempt to lay the amendment upon the table, it was passed by a vote of 7 yeas to 6 nays; and the bill was to be engrossed and read a third time the following day.

After the reporting4 of its correct engrossment and upon the discussion of the question of its passage, Parker of Scott insisted that the proper course for the Council to have pursued would have been to appoint a committee to investigate it, and

1 Journal of Council, p. 144. 2 Ibid, p. 144. 3 Ibid, p. 145. 4 Ibid, p. 150.

if fraud was discovered, to close the bank up immediately. Bailey was opposed to the tying of the Council by technicalities. The bill passed by a vote of 7 to 6. The title was then amended so as to read “An act to require the Miners' Bank to resume specie payments, and for the relief of the debtors of the Bank in the Territory."

(c) Action of the House.

In the House the question of the Miners' Bank came up for discussion on the 21st of January in the form of a Joint Resolution, authorizing an investigation of it. An attempt by Grant to have it postponed indefinitely failed, and then an attempt was made to offer a substitute3 which required the President and Cashier to make a report upon its condition as required by the seventh article of incorporation. This failed of passage. After an attempt, which failed, of having it read 4 a third time, under a suspension of the rules, a number of dilatory motions were made, but finally the time fixed for the third readings was February 18th; this proved to be the day upon which the Legislature adjourned.

On the 24th of January, an actó compelling the Miners' Bank to resume specie payment was introduced in the House and read a first time; on the 31st it was taken up for consideration. The bill, as it had come from the committee of the whole, was so amended as to leave the time open for resumption of specie payments until the other Western banks resumed. The House disagreed to this upon a vote of 17 nays to 6 yeas. Two Whigs, Moss and Smead, voting in the negative; and two Democrats, Booth and Lewis, in the affirmative. Booth and Lewis were from Dubuque County.

Two amendments were made fixing the time of resumption at “March ist” and “August ist" respectively. A spirited debate arose upon these two amendments. The principal speeches were made for and against the principles underlying the banking question. The party line was not drawn as closely here as in the Council, because of the peculiar wording of the bill, which declared that the bank had forfeited its charter by the suspension of specie payments and required it to resume again. Some voted against this act who were in favor of forfeiting its charter or of its suspending specie payments, because they claimed that it legalized the past suspension of specie payments. The opinion of this class of Representatives might be said to be represented by the protest' of Morgan, which was spread upon the minutes. Two of the reasons in this protest need only be referred to here. One of the reasons was that the bill had been legislated upon with the understanding that the bank by its suspension of specie payments had violated its charter, any law compelling it to resume at any time in the future would legalize its suspension; the other was an alternative of the above, if the bank had not forfeited its charter by its suspensions nor by any other abuse of its corporate powers, then it should be left subject to action for debt as private individuals are. The bill was carried by a vote of 21 yeas to 5 nays, and referred to the Council.

1 Journal of Council, p. 154.
2 Journal of House, p. 143.
3 Ibid, p. 143.
4 Ibid, p. 143.

5 Journal of House, p. 207.
6 Ibid, p. 146.
7 Ibid, p. 177.

After this bill had reached its second reading in the Council it was laid upon the table for an indefinite period.

The Council bill3 (No. 103) requiring the Miners' Bank to resume and continue specie payment was read twice in the House, the last time being February 7th, two days before adjournment.

On February 4th a Joint Resolutions (No. 119, H. R.), requiring the Miners' Bank to stop its discounts and issues while it continues to suspend its specie payments, was introduced and was passed on February 8th, by a vote of 18 yeas to 6 nays, and referred to the Council. This having been passed' the day before adjournment, it only reached its first reading in the Council.2

2 Journal of Council, p. 162.

i Journal of House, p. 191.
3 Ibid, p. 144.
4 Ibid, p. 215.
s Ibid, p. 212.

Although there was a majority in both branches of the Legislature in favor of compelling the Miners' Bank to resume and continue specie payments, on and from August ist, 1842, we find that through a lack of good management by the Democratic party, which had a majority in the Council and the House, no bill was passed and the bank was permitted to go on the even tenor of its way until the next session of the Legislative Assembly.

2. Proposed Bank at Davenport.

On February 5, 1842, Mr. Grant gave notice that on some future day he would introduce a bill to incorporate a bank in Davenport, Scott County. In accordance with this notice, two days later, he introduced No. 126, H. R. File, “A Bill to establish a Bank in the town of Davenport,” which was read a first time by title.4 A motion to reject was carried by yeas 21, nays 2.

Mr. Grant voting for its rejection. This was the summary ending of the second attempt to incorporate a bank in the Territory of Iowa.

3. Change in Stockholders of the Miners' Bank.

In June, 1842, a changes was made in the organization of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque. The controlling interests of the bank were bought by persons connected with the St. Louis Gas Light Company. Mr. Martin, the Cashier, resigned and his place was filled by Mr. Pearson, formerly a principal clerk in the Gas Light Company. The new directory was composed of Messrs. Whaple, Waller, Davis, Quigley and Farley, all of Dubuque, and who were of the highest standing in the

1 Journal of House, p. 222. 2 Journal of Council, p. 187. 3 Journal of House, p. 205. 4 Ibid, p. 210. 5 St. Louis Republican, June 16th, 1842.

« PreviousContinue »