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having failed to comply with the provisions of the charter,” was lost by a vote of 12 to 13.
The question of the engrossment of the bill and the third reading' of it the next day passed unanimously. Upon the question of its final passage all of the twenty-five members of the House voted in the affirmative; and the bill was referred to the Council.
(d) Action by the Council.
On January 25th the Council received the bill3 passed by. the House. On the next day it was read the first and second times and referred to the Committee on Judiciary. On February 16th the committee was ordered to report upon the bill. In the evening session an order to reports was unanimously passed; and the report was made against its passage and laid 6 upon the table until the next day. A motion to take from the table the next day? was lost by a vote of five yeas to seven nays.
This being the morning of the last day of the session no farther action was taken by the Council upon the Miners' Bank.
6. The Claims of Improper Influences.
In an editorial of the Iowa Standard of January 19th, 1843, it was stated that a very great change of opinion had taken place in relation to the Miners' Bank of Dubuque, for when the Legislature first assembled there was hardly a man to be found among the Legislators who did not expect the institution to be put in liquidation. But since that time the bill for the repeal of its charter had been in the hands of a committee and it had ascertained that men of capital were then in
1 Journal of House, p. 173. 2 Journal of Council, p. 89. 3 No. 23, House File. 4 Journal of Council, p. 91. 5 Ibid, p. 177. 6 Ibid, p. 182. 7 Ibid, p. 183.
possession of the bank and were ready to put $50,000 in specie into it, and were also willing to do business under any restriction or safeguard that the Legislature might see fit to impose. There had been received from the citizens of Dubuque a petition signed by more than one hundred and fifty business men, comprising persons from both political parties, asking that the charter of the bank be continued. These things had caused the matter to assume a very different form before the Legislature. It was further stated in the article that fiveeights of the people of the Territory would desire to have the bank go into operation again if it were surrounded with sufficient safeguards to prevent any renewal of suspension. The desire for this continuation of the bank resulted entirely from the want of a circulating medium, under which the people of this state were laboring at that time. It was thought by very many conservative persons that if the bank should be put into a healthy condition again that it would furnish a currency by means of which men would be able to pay their debts.
The Iowa Capital Reporter, in commenting upon the editorial, stated that in order to justify members of the Legislature “in a little better manner than it has been done, and to show that they are not altogether fools, it is necessary for us to state and inform the public that they have a much more substantial argument for so sudden and great a change. Some offers and promises of personal rewards and private advantage have, it is well-known here, been made from a certain quarter to certain members of the Legislature in consideration that they will interpose to save the bank.” This undoubtedly had more weight with the members of the Legislature than any expectation that the State Bank of Illinois, which had been in a state of suspension of specie payment for more than eighteen months and was still unable to redeem its own bills, would furnish money to carry on the
1 January 21, 1843.
business in this Territory. After a very exciting debate, a select committee was appointed by the Legislature, to investigate these charges.
(a) The Majority Report of Select Committee.
The Select Committee made their report' on February ist. This showed that each of the members of both houses, the editors of the Iowa Capital Reporter, and Mr. Mobley, of Springfield, Illinois, had been examined as to the information that they might possess upon the subject under consideration. This testimony showed that Dr. Barrett of Springfield, Illinois, had written four letters to different members of the Legislature who were personal acquaintances and friends. The general tenor of all of them was that he was negotiating3 for the franchise of the bank and if it could be secured, a company would be formed and it would put in from $50,000 to $100,000 capital in specie. There were some incumbrances that could not be immediately removed and he did not wish the charter to be destroyed until the arrangement for removing them had been made. All that he desired was that the charter should not be revoked, and in six or eight months time he could remove the incumbrances. In all of the letters he promised to make it one of the best banks in the Union, and in one he wrote it is well known that he would not "wild-cat” it. In one of the letters the statement is made that undoubtedly the State Bank of Illinois would be forced into liquidation, and if the Dubuque bank could be saved, it and the State Bank of Missouri would be all that there would be left in operation in this western country. In two of them there are pledges that the bank shall be made useful not only to the whole territory, but the city of Burlington also would be benefited because of his interests in that city. The statement is made that the Dubuque delegation will be put right by Messrs. Corriell and Mobley if possible. It was clearly shown by the evidence that no member of the Legislature had been approached in reference to the bank in any other manner than by the means of these letters, except Mr Corriell' had told Dr. Andros, previous to the session of the Legislature, that it would be his political death" if he interfered with the bank, and that it would be easier for its friends to make loans than others.
1 Journal of House, p. 209. 2 Morgan, Leffler, Springer and Patterson. 3 See account of previous sale and testimony.
The report of the committee decided that there was nothing improper in the letters to members of the council, except that the one to Mr. Morgan contains a promise of private advantage, which showed that Dr. Barrett had improperly sought to influence Mr. Morgen's action in relation to the Miners' Bank of Dubuque. But the statement is made that there was nothing to show that Mr. Morgan or Messrs. Rogers and Andros had been influenced in the slightest degree; but that, on the contrary, their conduct had been such as to show that they had not. It appeared that the editors had no grounds upon which to base the general charge.
In a series of resolutions, the majority report censured Dr. Barrett for writing the letters, and deemed that Mr. Mobley was to “some extent accessory to the offence of Dr. Barret by delivering the letters after he knew the contents of them." In the final resolution, the committee regarded the charge, implicating the members with having been influenced in their legislative action by promises of personal reward or private advantage, as utterly untrue and highly reprehensible in character, and therefore deemed the editors as deserving the censure of the House.
(6) Minority Report of Select Committee.
On the following day a minority report was submitted by Mr. Hepner.3 It stated that offers of private reward had been made to members as printed in the Reporter. That a knowledge of this would awaken "a vigilant and faithful public
i Corriell had no interest in bank except $500 as a bill-holder. Testimony of Mr. Mobley.
2 The Dubuque Delegation.
press," and that they should have been communicated to the public. The offers were corrupting, and as to what influence they might have on the members was not known to anyone, therefore the paper should not be censured for communicating them to the public. The other paper' in the city had ascribed fallacious reasons for members' actions in regard to the bank; this had caused no comment. It was evident that the statement was made as an item of faith not fact. The opinion was given that this was not a subject within the jurisdiction of the House. “The public and the press had a right to speak of the conduct of the members of the Legislature,” as freely, if not more freely, than of private men. This authority had been assumed one time by Congress, but was speedily repealed. That for over forty years no State Legislature had dared to assume such powers, and it had long been regarded as dangerous to attempt it. The Judiciary department was the place to seek recourse if any was needed. The committee had been appointed to investigate as to "the innocence of the members of the Legislature, not for the purpose of punishing or censuring the press.” In their minds it was doubtful if a committee would have been appointed by the House for the latter purpose if it had been so understood. That the “mover” for the investigation, under the guise of having his innocence declared, had taken advantage of it to assail the editors of the Reporter. This report was signed by Messrs. Hepner and Fleckner.
The reports of the committees were received and no farther action in regard to the subject of the reports was taken by the House.
7. The Miners' Bank in the Sixth Legislative Assembly.
The Sixth Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa met on Decemher 4th, 1843. The opponents to the continuance of the charter of the Miners' Bank were determined not to be
i Iowa Standard, January 10, 1843. 2 Sedition Laws of 1804.