صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

APRIL 21, 1834.]

Gardiner (Me.) Memorial.

[H. of R.

Does not every body perceive that this is no answer to the question? Ought the act to have been done?-is one bing; ought it to be undone?-is another; and, in the inds of many gentlemen, within Congress and without, is a totally different one. In my own judgment, if it ought never to have been done, it ought, in the shortest In the last place, the committee recommend an invespracticable time, to be undone. If the money ought not tigation; or, as the honorable chairman said in his speech, to have been removed, it ought to be restored. But "a sifting inquiry" into the affairs of the bank. For thers, many others, think differently. It has been de- what? To determine whether it shall be rechartered? clared in debate, and by prominent supporters of the No; that has been settled already. To enable us to deministration too, that they did not approve the act of cide whether the public money shall be restored to its he Secretary: that the removal was against their judg- custody? No; that also has been settled. For what? fent; that the reasons were not sufficient. Neverthe- Why, to ascertain the causes of the present distresses of esa, the same persons are opposed to a restoration. They the country. Indeed! To find new grounds of accusation eleve that, as the charter of the bank is near its expira- and complaint against the bank--to seek for some show of , it must, at no distant day, commence the process of justification for the arbitrary act of the Executive--to avert, bing its affairs; that a return of the public money to its if possible, the just indignation of an injured people from stody would be but temporary; that a withdrawal of it the author of their wrongs and their grievances. Are preafter would be attended with some degree of incon-not these very desirable ends, sir? In my judgment, the enience and embarrassment; that the process has now committee have directly reversed the whole order of procen completed, the evils experienced; and, upon the ceeding which should have been adopted. Investigation, brale, that it is better for the community not to undergo if necessary at all, should precede action. If the affairs other experiment of transferring large amounts of money of the bank required investigation, that should have been am place to place, but to settle down under the present the very first step to be taken. The results of such inrangement as soon and as quietly as is practicable.quiry and scrutiny would have enabled us to judge of ewing the subject in this light, they are quite prepared the sufficiency of the Secretary's reasons, so far as they agree that the deposites ought not to be restored, and depended upon facts assumed to exist. We should also agree also to the third resolution of the committee, that have been better prepared to determine whether the ate banks ought to be employed hereafter as the depos-deposites ought to be restored; and should at last have nes of the public money: and yet they would by no reached that point from which the committee took their tans concede that the reasons of the Secretary are suffi- departure, and have met the question with our eyes open: eat, or that his conduct was justifiable. They hold that ought the Bank of the United States to be rechartered? has abused his power; that he has, without reason, viola- For one, I am not sensible that any investigation is at da solemn engagement of the United States; that he has this time necessary or proper; but, to those who are of ted vindictively and oppressively towards an institution that opinion, it seems to me that, if expedient at all, which the Government is largely interested; and that it was expedient before the adoption of the resolutions has asserted for himself, and for the President, powers reported by the Committee of Ways and Means. Supbelonging to them, and whose exercise is an encroach- pose this investigation to result, as the friends of the bank Ent on the powers of Congress, and dangerous to the confidently anticipate it will. Suppose that the facts aserty of the people. They hold, or they may hold, all sumed by the Secretary and by the committee do not exe strong opinions, and yet, under the peculiar exigen-ist--that it has made no unnecessary or unjust curtailof the times, may concur in the resolutions reported ments; that the existing distress is not attributable, in any the committee, that the deposites ought not to be re-degree, to its conduct, but rather to the want of such an ed. It is quite apparent why the committee have thus institution in full and proper operation and vigor; that 4 forward other questions, instead of that which stood it has not corrupted the press or the people; that it has ainly and palpably before us, upon the reasons of the not interfered in elections; does not aim at political retary. They have selected their strong positions. power; and, in short, that all the charges against it, both ry cover up the claims to unlimited power, the viola- definite and indefinite, are unfounded; the inference Es of contract, the vindictive persecution, the assump- would seem most just and inevitable, that the reasons of of facts which do not exist, and the inferences which the Secretary are not sufficient. It might also follow, ca assumptions do not warrant, in other general propo- that the opinion of the House would be, that the deposes, so framed as to draw to them support which the ites ought to be restored; and it might happen that the ked question could never receive. sentiments of gentlemen would be so far changed, as the bank itself would be rechartered. if an investigation is to have any influence upon the decision of these questions, it might happen that all these conclusions would be reached. But having settled as definitively as the committee could settle these points, depending in a considerable degree upon the results of an investigation, they gravely propose to go in search of the very facts necessary to lead them to just conclusions upon the points themselves--necessary for those who deem an inquiry essential at any period. To those who regard the Secre tary's reasons, upon his own assumptions and statements, insufficient, no inquiry can be necessary.

reasons already suggested, scarcely less so in the minor. But they thought, doubtless, it was not altogether_prudent to trust their conclusion to the judgment of the House. They leave that to be drawn by every one for himself.

I have said that the committee were ingenious in secretthe true question. They, first, made the question, aught the deposites to have been removed upon the asons which have been assigned;" in other words, "are e reasons sufficient," identical with another, viz: ought ey to be restored?" I have already shown that these by no means equivalent questions. The answer to le is no answer to the other. They then make that her to depend upon a third, with which it has no just conon, "ought the bank to be rechartered?" In order arrive at the foregone conclusion, they start from these emises: 1st. The bank ought not to be rechartered. 1. The deposites ought not to be restored. And the inrence is to be set down as fair and legitimate; therefore, e reasons of the Secretary are sufficient and satisfactory. pad erat demonstrandum.

Aware of the constitutional objections which prevail retty extensively, in one quarter, to every institution of character established by Congress, the committee quite safe in their major proposition; and, for the

The committee have also been very careful to keep from the action of the House another important topic, intimately connected with the general subject of the currency, and which has been pressed upon their attention in numerous memorials. They have not trusted the House with the question, whether a national bank of any kind he necessary or expedient? They have indeed argued the question in their report, but they do not submit

H. OF R.]

Gardiner (Me.) Memorial.

[APRIL 21, 1834

it to our decision. We know that public opinion differs asserts the expediency of designating by law the future widely upon this subject. Many are hostile to the con-depository of the public money; and of defining by b tinuance of the existing bank; but they call loudly for all contracts for its safe keeping and transmission. the establishment of another, with other limitations So, also, in the resolutions of the honorable membe and other powers. Memorials were presented to the from Georgia, [Mr. GILMER,] the control of the pull last Congress, as well as to the present, praying for a money is a trust delegated to Government-the right new bank. Why have the committee not presented this Congress to fix by law the places of deposite, and t subject for the action of the House? Is there to be a duty of Congress to designate their places by law, and non-committal upon it? Do they fear to express an prescribe terms and restrictions, are positions distinct opinion either for or against the project? If they should asserted.

decide in favor of a new bank, do they fear that all those The third resolution of the Committee of Ways who are opposed to any and every bank might be in-Means declares "that it is expedient for Congress to mak duced to regard the question as simply one between the further provision by law, prescribing the mode of sele present and a new bank, and who might, in that view tion, the sureties to be taken, and the manner and tr of it, very much prefer the continuance of the present? on which the State banks are to be employed as places If they decide against any bank whatever, do they appre-deposite.

hend that those who are desirous of some bank, when all if the claims of the Secretary be well founded, a ch hopes of another are destroyed, would come to the sup- put forth more strongly and tangibly in the anomie port of the existing institution? The difficulty in which paper lately transmitted by the Executive to snet gentlemen who support the administration are placed is branch of the Government, whence the necessity or t quite apparent, and they have chosen to extricate them-utility of any law? The assumption is, that the custo selves from it by profound silence. The entire hostility of the public money belongs, and must remain, desy to the existing bank, comes from two classes: from those the legislative power, in the Executive department. who desire a new one, and from those who desire none. "Congress cannot, therefore, take out of the han If, therefore, the committee, or the administration, should the Executive department the custody of the ph pronounce against all banks, the hostility of the former property or money, without an assumption of execut would be very apt to cease. If they pronounce in favor of power, and a subversion of the first principles of the c a new one, that of the latter would almost necessarily ter-stitution." This is the language of the President, a minate. In order, therefore, to retain the support of both sufficiently distinct and intelligible. There can be a parties, we are left in uttter ignorance of the policy of the misunderstanding of its terms and meaning. Government upon this important topic. I know, indeed, It is somewhat variant in terms and forms of ex that the President purposes to try the experiment of the sion, but not in substance or spirit, from the claim State banks, until he thinks it has failed, and then prob- forth by the Secretary in his letter. The legislative pa ably even he would not consider himself committed er over the money of the people, is curtailed, lime against a national institution properly limited. There is denied, almost annihilated, in these monstrous assur great anxiety in the community to know the sentiments tions of executive power. If they be well foun of Congress, and of this House, upon the subject. What whence the necessity of any law? Yet gentlemen prop is to be the future regulation of the currency? What "to make provision by law"-"to fix by law,"-" control is Congress to exert through the medium of a na- designate by law." Are not these propositions a re tional institution? In what way are the fiscal operations of of the executive claims; an abandonment of the St the Government to be carried on hereafter? Upon these ry's assumptions? Whence have gentlemen discre questions depend great interests of the people of this the necessity of "provided by law?" Do they perc country. They have a right to know our judgment, and that the powers claimed, and exercised too, by the to have our answer to their inquiries. We have yet made ecutive, are so repugnant to the whole spirit of our no response. The resolutions adopted by the House steer tutions, so unwarranted by the constitution and the la wide of the subject. All those who voted for them may so dangerous to the liberty of the country, as to req to-morrow vote for a new bank or against it without incon- to be checked and restrained? Do they perceive that sistency. They may also vote that the reasons of the people will not acquiesce in the prostration of the leg Secretary for the removal of the deposites are insuffi-mate power of their representatives, and the union of cient, and yet successfully defend themselves against a most dangerous powers of the Government in the be similar charge. It is, therefore, to procure, if possible, of the President? Do they perceive that legislation the solemn and deliberate judgment of the House upon necessary to restore confidence, and to rescue the cou these questions, which have not yet been decided, that I from impending danger? But, sir, upon the principle bave moved the resolutions under consideration. I hope the cominittee, where is the necessity of any law? of that they may be met directly, and that they may receive avail is it to enact new provisions? Have we not a law a distinct and unequivocal opinion of the House. They in existence, requiring the public money to be deposi may be evaded, I know, by being laid upon the table. in the Bank of the United States? I know the ans Gentlemen who do not wish to commit themselves, if which has been given, to show that the Secretary ha such there are, can escape in this mode. For myself, I violated this law; and allow me to say that the same desire no such cover upon this or any other subject, be-swer will apply when he violates the new law by hind which to retreat.

you may attempt to restrain him. What new regul The reasons of the Secretary have already been very will you frame? Will you allow the Secretary any amply discussed, and my observations upon them shall be cretion, any control, any provisional power? How brief. Some of the grounds assumed by him, seem to me will he meet your complaints of violations of day to have been abandoned by the committee, and by other abuse of power, when he chooses to disregard your gentlemen who have sustained his general course. The He would doubtless contend, as he might upon th Secretary claims "ex virtute officia," the control of the ciples asserted by the committee, that the law "gran public money-the rightful, exclusive possession of it-new power" to him-"on the contrary, as far as it the unlimited, unrestricted power which the bank charter rates at all, it is a reservation of the power which does not impair, to direct the place for its deposite and existed"-and that "being a reservation and not a safe keeping. These are positions which do not seem to of power, he retained all the powers over the pu have found much favor in the House. ney which he before possessed"—he would argue fra practice referred to by the committee; of the first

The resolution of the honorable member from Alabama

APRIL 21, 1834.]

Gardiner (Me.) Memorial.

[H. OF R.

tary of the Treasury, and all his successors in that office, of gress, unless the Secretary shall order and direct, the directing where the public money should be kept, and of public treasure must remain, he says, in the custody of "uniform usages," that it is placed by law "under the ex- the bank, until the last moment of its existence. clusive power of the Secretary, subject to the supervision In this view the Secretary is supported by the majority of the President." Then comes in the oath of the Presi of the Committee of Ways and Means, but not, I trust, dent, to execute the laws faithfully, "as he understands by a majority of the House. Among others, the honorathem," and where are the new restraints that you pro- ble member from Georgia, [Mr. GILMER,] who always pose to throw around him? Sir, these are the ingenious addresses the House with great force and ability, repudiarguments, which are now used to justify the palpable ates these doctrines. His resolution asserts that Congress evasion and abuse of the existing law, and will they not did not, by the charter of the bank, "relinquish its right be equally efficient hereafter? Fortified, too, by that of controlling the deposites of the money of the United new doctrine which has been just promulgated, that Con- States, whenever the public interest should require its gress cannot, without usurpation, take the custody of the exercise." The gentleman finds himself at issue with the public money from the Executive, how confidently might Secretary and with the committee. This claim of power, the Secretary set your proposed law at defiance? If, by the Secretary, to himself, and the denial of it to Conherefore, gentlemen are serious, as I trust they are, in gress, however it may be acquiesced in by the House, is lesiring some regulations by law, which shall be respect-not destined to meet with much favor, I apprehend, from and efficacious, let them assert the supremacy and the the people. They are not yet prepared to dispense with ajesty of the law, by rebuking evasions and violations their representatives. They have some confidence that it whenever they occur. Let them vindicate the au- the legislative department-that those chosen immediateority of the law, and maintain it, against exexutive en-ly by themselves, and responsible to them, are quite as achments. Let them restore the constitution, the safe guardians of their interests as any officer appointed preme law, to its ancient foundations. Let them not, when by the Executive, and responsible to him. They believe e legislative power is usurped, and annihilated, let that ours is a popular Government, in which their rule, em not attempt to avert the arm of encroachment, by expressed through their representatives, is to prevail. ew provisions, which go to recognise the justice of that The features of our constitution which most commended arpation. Sir, we must vindicate the law as it is, before it to favor, and secured its adoption, are its popular feacan expect that any new legislation will provide new tures. The people have not forgotten the jealousies which curities. If the Secretary and the President be right existed at the time of its formation, in relation to the exthese claims to unlimited power over the treasury-if tent of the executive power, nor the arguments with ey have always existed, whence the necessity now, for which those jealousies were encountered and removed. rst time, to regulate and control it by law? Have not And, knowing this, they are not ready to surrender the e public funds hitherto been safely kept-promptly popular branch of the Government to the Executive. smitted, and honestly disbursed as occasion has re- They do not desire to see it limited or curtailed of any ired? What has occurred to open the eyes of gentle- power which it possesses; for its rights are their rights, en to the necessity of further legislative enactments? Is its powers their powers. that the monstrous assumptions of power on the part! the Executive, and the flagrant abuses which have en permitted, require to be corrected? And how cored? By law! Restrain arbitrary power by law? No, we must take care that the present laws be faithfully ecuted, before we propose new ones as additional

In relation to the reasons of the Secretary, it is worthy of remark that not one of them respects his official connexion with the bank, or is founded upon his official control over the finances of the country, unless it be that which relates to the time of the expiration of the charter, and the inconveniences apprehended from withdrawing ands and restraints. suddenly so large an amount as might be expected to be The power claimed by the Secretary is a power to re-in deposite at that period. ala law of Congress, whenever, in his judgment, it The time at which the bank would cease to exist was would in any degree promote the public interest." well known to Congress when its charter was granted. The law, as it now stands, is imperative. The deposites No necessity was perceived for stipulating that it should ust be made in the Bank of the United States, unless cease to enjoy the full benefits of its charter, at any period Secretary shall otherwise order and direct, for reasons prior to its extinction. It was not to lose its franchises be submitted to Congress. Now he says, I have the by degrees. The Secretary assumes to amend or revoke clusive power over the deposites; I can dispense with an act of Congress, for reasons perfectly known to Conlaw, provided I assign "reasons" for it-any reasons, gress when the act passed, and which it did not deem of or bad. The only condition imposed upon me is, sufficient importance to make the ground of any provisat I shall not vacate a law without giving reasons. Is ional arrangement. As to the inconvenience anticipated not evident, if this be the construction of the law, that by the Secretary, from a sudden withdrawal of the depos The Secretary may at any moment dispense with it? Rea-ites at the extinction of the charter, there seems to be no she can always give; and these, he intimates, may be well-founded belief that any will be experienced. For, bat, in his judgment, the public convenience, in some although he says in his letter, "judging from the past, it degree, would be promoted. Suppose the Secretary to is highly probable that they will always amount to several emove the deposites, and to assign this simple reason: millions of dollars," yet, in his annual statement of the my opinion, public convenience, in some degree, is finances of the country, at the commencement of the promoted by it. Would that satisfy any body? Yet it is session, he estimates the balance in the treasury, 31st reason; and the Secretary distinctly asserts that, in such December, 1834, at 2,981,796 dollars. He also says, case, it would not merely be his right, but his " "duty,' "under the act of last session, the receipts of 1835 will to make the change. This is, in his opinion, a sufficient be less than those of 1834," and recommends great econreason. This extraordinary claim to vacate a law is renomy in the appropriations, as otherwise the treasury will dered still more extraordinary, coupled as it is with a not be able to meet the expenditures. The idea, there. denial to Congress of any power or control over the place fore, of several millions" being in deposite at the close of deposite of the public moneys, during the continuance of the charter, is abandoned by the Secretary himself. Is of the present bank. However imperiously the public he serious in the belief, "that the ability of the bank to interest may demand it, however unsafe the public funds be prompt in its payment to the Government," at that may be, however the bank may have violated its duty to time, may well be doubted? It has already been concluthe Government and the country, in the opinion of Con-sively demonstrated, that the public moneys remained in

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

H. OF R.]

Gardiner (Me.) Memorial.

[APRIL 21, 1834.

the former Bank of the United States until the last hour It may be admitted that the Secretary has the power to of its existence; that no inconvenience was felt then, al-order and direct that the deposites of the public money though the amount was larger, in proportion to the capi- shall not be made in the Bank of the United States. That tal of the bank, than may be expected to be in the pres-is the power given by the sixteenth section of the bank ent bank at the close of its charter. There is, therefore, charter. But that is the only power. It is not an arb no experience to warrant the idea of the Secretary. Upon trary, capricious, irresponsible power. It is to be exer his own showing, the amount remaining in the Treasury, cised for reasons-good reasons-sufficient reasons; and at the close of 1835, must be very small-perhaps not of their sufficiency Congress is to judge. The Secre sufficient to meet the appropriations for the support of tary has transcended the authority granted by the charter. Government. He has not only ordered and directed that the money of As to the other reasons which the Secretary has as- the United States shall not be deposited in the Bank of signed, if they furnish proper grounds for proceeding the United States, but he has withdrawn the money al against the bank, they are proper for some other depart-ready deposited there. Where is the authority for this ment of the Government; they do not regard his official Not in the sixteenth section. That relates only to the duties. He is to see that the bank fulfils all its engage-place where future deposites shall be made-not to the ments, so far as the Treasury Department is concerned, withdrawal of deposites already made. Money thus de that it shall keep the money safely; that it shall transmit posited is in the Treasury; under the custody of the Treas it promptly, and without cost, wherever it is required. urer, and to be taken out only in virtue of appropriations These duties, his official station necessarily requires, shall made by law, upon warrants duly authenticated by the be under his supervision; but no further. He is not to several officers of the Treasury. The Secretary, then, inquire into violations of charter. The President may do my judgment, has transcended the power given him, by that, by causing a legal investigation. Congress may in- withdrawing the money from the legal place of custody, quire into alleged abuses. Sufficient power is reserved and placing it in depositories selected by himself. He has to both these departments, to meet all possible cases; and abused the power given him, by ordering the future de being reserved to these is sufficient ground to deny that posites to be made elsewhere than in the place selected by the same power exists, by implication, in the Secretary. Congress, for frivolous and insufficient reasons; for re Errors, abuses, violations of charter on the part of the sons not connected with his official duties; and by t bank, were all proper to be anticipated, and to be guard- hasty and precipitate measures in anticipation of the l ed against; and, accordingly, the remedies for such evils gislative power: and he has claimed authority in hima are specially provided and designated. But it is not one not warranted by the constitution nor the laws of t of them, that the Secretary of the Treasury or the Presi- land. I deem it of no light importance that his reason dent may withdraw from the bank the public money shall receive a direct expression of the sentiments of t which may be there deposited. No such power is given House. They ought to be subjected to this ordeal. Ho to any body, for any cause. Doubtless, if the bank were ought not to escape, nor to wish to escape, under cover convicted, in due course of law, of a violation of its char- of other and different questions. He ought to have the ter, or upon a violation, by either House of Congress, of judgment of the House, be it of approval or disapproval gross misconduct, the Secretary would stand justified for An evasion is, in itself, a rebuke. If his reasons are not the exercise of his authority. But he is not to judge, to pronounced to be satisfactory, the just inference is, they convict, to sentence, out of the circle of his official rela- are unsatisfactory. Sir, I submit to the friends of the tions. He may judge if the bank performs all the duties Secretary, as well as to the friends of the administration which he may require, but no further. He is not the whether they wish the matter to stand in this light belo general supervisor of the interests and "the morals of the the country? people." It is admitted on all hands that the bank has faithfully, promptly, honorably, fulfilled all its engagements with the Government. It has performed all its duties, as a fiscal agent, to the satisfaction of every body. Can the Secretary of the Treasury, as Secretary of the Treasury, require any thing more? Can he, as such, know any thing more?

Will you establish another? Shall any institution CAS
under the authority of Congress, and subject to the com
trol of Congress? The country has a ust right to our de
cision upon this question.
The subject is one of dec
and lasting importance, and concerns intimately the i
terests of the people.

Dismissing, with these few remarks, the reasons of li Secretary, I come now to the other great topic of pus interest, which the committee have studiously kept he the decision of the House. Numerous memorials, fru various quarters of the country, call upon Congress to re charter the existing, or to establish another national ba We have responded to the first proposition, and have d Now, sir, the reasons I am considering, step aside alto-clared that the present bank ought not to be recharterte gether from these official relations of the Secretary to the bank. He finds the bank performing, to the letter, every thing which he can require, and yet he thinks it has done some other things, which he cannot either forbid or require, and therefore he will punish it-without hearing--without trial. Where is the warrant for this? I ask where? The Secretary has received, in the execu- I am well aware that formidable objections exist in ti tion of his duties, all the aids and facilities which the bank minds of many gentlemen to any such institution, esta could render. He requires more--he demands that it shed by Congress, however modified, limited, or contr should conform itself to his judgment--his, not as Secre-led. The constitutional power of Congress is denied, ara tary--not an official judgment, but his individual opinion. this presents one of the chief difficulties which, in the If he thinks it does not regulate its discounts properly; present exigency, the bank has to encounter. To thos if its committees are not constituted as he thinks proper; who entertain this objection, I have but a few words to if it loan more to-day and collect more to-morrow than he address. What is a national bank? Is it merely an cer judges suitable; he claims the power to terminate its poration--an artificial person--whose objecct is to enable connexion with the Government, and to deprive it of its certain individuals to carry on banking operations fo chartered rights. These claims are dangerous in the ex- their own benefit and advantage? Is it simply a favor, a treme. If admitted, the bank would become a mere in-monopoly, to a few individuals, to administer the powers strument in the hands of the Secretary,, and he confesses given by the charter, for their own ends? Is it a more himself to be, what in his own case is too true, a mere private institution? If this were all, the objection would instrument in the hands of the President. Sir, does any be formidable, perhaps insurmountable. But the Ba such power exist in the Secretary of the Treasury? Let of the United States is a very different thing. It was es us beware. Let us consider to what disastrous conse-tablished for no private benefits--for no individual emots quences it might lead.

APRIL 21, 1834.]

Gardiner (Me.) Memorial.

H. OF R.

ent. It was designed to be, and is, a fiscal agent of the for the purposes of a corporation. It uses this power, to Government; created to subserve the convenience of the reach other purposes, clearly within its power, and to which Government, clothed with such powers as to enable it to it is deemed essential. The report of the committee says, alfil the purposes of a fiscal agent of the Government. "The collection and disbursement of the revenue may be t is an instrument, formed and fashioned by the Govern- safely placed where the sages who framed the constitument, to do certain acts essential to the operations of Gov-tion left it. They did not deem a national bank essential, ernment. Whoever will take the pains to recur to the either to the existence of the Government they were history of the establishment of the present bank, and the forming, or to the successful administration of its rious abortive efforts which were made prior to that finances." This is to carry the idea, I presume, although ime, will perceive that it was called into existence by it is not directly asserted, that the framers of the constihe wants, necessities, and embarrassments of the Gov- tution intended to give no authority for the establishment rnment and of the country. It was the instrument fab- of a national bank. Let us see how the sages of that day cated by the wisdom of Congress to relieve these wants understood the subject, and how they "left it." They and to restore the country from the very verge of ruin to anticipated, doubtless, the rapid increase of the business wonted state of high prosperity. True, it could not and population of this country. They saw the germs of produce its purposed end without the aid and co-opera- its future greatness and power, and looked forward with on of private persons, nor without partaking the char- exultation to its high and palmy state among the nations arter of a commercial bank. They were invited to asso- of the world. They foresaw that large revenues would te, and to come to the aid of the Government, and necessarily be collected and disbursed, both in peace and hey were offered immunities and privileges to induce in war. The experience of other nations was well known hem to come. But the original, primary, leading pur-to them, and they had also the lights of their own experiose was, to provide a fiscal agent for the Government, ence. A national bank had been found necessary, and and not to confer upon individuals special benefits and was established, even under the limited powers of the wers. The Secretary asserts this: "The bank (he says) confederation. This they well knew, and they must have was incorporated in order to create a useful and conve- anticipated--it is folly to suppose otherwise-that some ent public agent, to assist the Government in its fiscal institution, under the authority of the General Governperations." I wish now to inquire if any fiscal agent, ment, would be indispensable to its proper operations. any character or description, be necessary? This And how did they leave it? Did they provide for its Fill be denied by nobody. Nobody is weak enough to establishment? Did they set bounds to the exercise of appose that the operations of the Government can be con the legislative power? By no means. Clearly, then, they bacted without some fiscal agent. The President, and the left it to the enlightened judgment, and the responsibility Secretary of the Treasury, and the Committee of Ways of those whom the people, the fountain of all power, and Means, all agree in this, and they are now zealously should call to the legislative department. The principles ngaged, I doubt not, in providing a scheme of such of the constitution were quite as well understood by those gency, through the medium of State banks, leagued and who framed it, and their contemporaries, as by us in this onnected together, so as to resemble, as far as practica-day, fruitful as it is in constitutional learning. In two ile, one institution, with various branches. If, then, it be years after the adoption of the constitution, a national greed upon all sides, the Government must have a fiscal bank was established. It had the decided approval of one gent of some sort, who shall determine of what sort of the ablest defenders and expositors of the constitution, hat agent shall be? The constitution is silent. It neither (Hamilton,) and was sanctioned by the President, (Washprescribes nor forbids what fiscal agent shall be employ-ington,) who was also president of the convention which Does it not then belong to the legislative power to framed the constitution. In the Congress which incorpoletermine, in its judgment and discretion, what agencies rated this bank, were sixteen of the sages of the constiwill provide to carry on the functions of the Govern-tution," of whom twelve voted for it; and my honorable nent? Some it must have. None are furnished by the friend from Ohio [Mr. CORWIN] has pursued the inquiry stitution. How, then, shall Government go on, unless farther, and has demonstrated that of thirty-nine, being it furnish itself with the means of executing its just the whole number of members who framed the constitupowers? It does furnish itself--the proposition of the tion, thirty-two have, in one form or another, declared in Executive at this moment is, that it shall furnish itself, favor of the constitutionality of a national bank. One of by employing State banks. It belongs, therefore, to the the most eminent, and most honored and beloved of these slative power; and Congress is under no constitu- sages-whose broad, clear light, descending toward the Lonal restraints in the exercise of its wisdom upon this western horizon-yet lingers above it, to guide our path, bject. What constitutional authority is there for the ap- (Madison,) gave his sanction to the existing bank, by the pointment and employment of commissioners of loans-an approval of its charter. The honorable member from office which was in existence until the establisment of the Georgia [Mr. ScпLEY] says he regrets that Mr. Madison Bank of the United States? These were fiscal agents of "should have taken such an erroneous view of the subthe Government. Change the name; devise some other ject." He is "at a loss to conceive how so great a man scheme of agency than by means of a corporation; does could have fallen into so glaring an error," as to have reat affect the power? Where is the limitation in the garded the constitutional power of Congress to establish constitution? Where is the authority to establish an agen- a bank settled and defined. cy of one sort, but not of another? Gentlemen have said, Indeed! The honorable member may well be aston and so says the resolution of the honorable member from ished, in finding Mr. Madison in error upon constitutional Georgia, [Mr. GILMER,] that Congress possesses no power questions. But did it not occur to the honorable member to grant charters of incorporation; that a bank is an in- that, by possibility, the error lay elsewhere? Did not the corporation, and therefore Congress possesses no power gentleman deem it of some little consequence, to revise his own preconceived opinions, to distrust in some degree With great deference I submit, that the objection mis- his own judgment, when he had found it against such a takes the means for the end. "Incorporation" is but the weight of authority? But "authority," on constitutional means deemed suitable to attain an end, which all admit questions, seems destined to have no respect. The judges to be within the power of Congress. The end to be of the Supreme Court of the United States have been gined is, the establishment of a fiscal agent. That is supposed to know something of the constitutional powers wanted and must be had. The Government does not of the Government. Their age, experience, legal acgrant an "incorporation"-to be a mere incorporation-quirements, knowledge of the jurisprudence of the coun

to establish a bank.

« السابقةمتابعة »