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JOKE 20, 1834.]
Deposite Bank Bill.
(H. OF R.
the exercise of whatever power was conferred on him by of the President? No, sir ; having declared that "the Congress, and the avowal of his determination to exercise custody of the public money cannot be taken from the this right, and then to point out the sanction we are now Executive without violating the first principles of the concalled on to give to this claim of power. In the very first stitution,” he certainly would put his veto on any act prosection of the bill under consideration, the Committee of posing to confide this custody to other hands. Ways and Means propose to provide that it shall be the But, although Mr. F. was opposed to the power produty of the Secretary of the Treasury to select and em- posed to be yielded by the bill before the House, he de. ploy, as the depositories of the money of the United sired to have it amended, so that, if it passed, there should States, such of the banks incorporated by the several be nothing left to misconstruction. The bill proposes (ag States," &c. Here, then, with fair notice of the right already remarked) to authorize the Secretary of the asserted by the President, the committee propose so to Treasury to select and employ the banks of deposite. regulate the deposite of the public moneys as to place Now, as we were forewarned that the President will claim them entirely within his custody and control. It was in and exercise whatever power is conferred on the Secredeed somewhat remarkable, that, with this claim of power tary, Mr. F. should move, at a proper time, to amend the staring them in the face, and with the professions so re- bill by striking out the words “the Secretary of the peatedly made, that the great object was to guard the Treasury,” in the first line of the first section of the bill, public treasury, and place it beyond executive interfer- and inserting, in lieu thereof, the President of the Unience, the committee should have thought proper to apply ted States;" so that the authority intended to be confer. to the Executive to prescribe these safeguards, and sug- red should at once be conferred on the functionary by gest the regulations necessary to be made. Yes, sir, said whom it is claimed, and under whose direction and conMr. F., the committee state in their report that “they trol, even if the bill passed in its present shape, it would deemed it proper, in a matter of so much importance, to be exercised. Mr. F. had nothing to conceal; he had ascertain from the Secretary of the Treasury his opinion always found a straight-forward course the safest, and and views in regard to the regulations proper to be adopt. certainly the most lionorable. He wished to see if Coned in the employment of the State banks as the deposito gress was disposed to yield to the Executive the power it ries of the public money ;” and they report to the House had claimed; and, if so disposed, he hoped it would be the Secretary's letter, upon the suggestions of which expressed in plain, intelligible language; he wanted this bill is framed; and as, by the new executive creed, nothing uncertain, nothing equivocal. Let not gentlethe Secretary is entirely under the control of the Presi- men seek to obtain, by indirection, that which they will dent, this letter bas doubtless received his approbation: not openly advocate. If they intend to yield this power so that we are now furnished with an executive project to the President, as they certainly will by the passage of for regulating the custody of the public money, which is this bill, let them say so, that the people may understand to be matured by Congress; and, as might have been ex. it; though against such a concession of power, as well as pected, the Executive, in perfect consistency, contem- against the claim set up to it, Mr. F. touk occasion, before plates by this project such regulations as will leave the this House and this country, in language now consecrated depositories to its selection and employment, and thus se- by authority, to enter his solemn protest.”. cure the custody which it claims.
And Mr. F. implored gentlemen, before they went too Mr. F. said there was a striking coincidence which he far, to reflect seriously on the concession they were about begged leave here to notice. He was not able to refer to to make. Much had been said during the session about dates, not having the papers before him, (he regretted he executive usurpation—the union of the purse and the had not;) but his impression was, that no great length of sword, &c.
With these matters lie should not now contime intervened between the call upon the Secretary of cern himself; he wished to draw the attention of the the Treasury by the committee, his reply, and the pro- House to the important principles which they were called test.* Thus, while the administration was asserting its upon to decide; and he was anxious that they should be claims to the custody of the public money to one branch clecided without reference to any particular individual. of Congress, it was submitting to the other its scheme for We were not legislating merely for the present moment, carrying them into effect.
but for all time. He especially begged the devoted friends And here, Mr. F. said, the reasons against the act of the of the present Chief Magistrate to remember that they were President, in removing the deposites, were most striking- now settling principles which would last long after he ly illustrated. By this very act the President had acquir. had retired from his present elevated station; and, uned a control over the public money, which could not be limited as their confidence may be in him, were they predivested unless Congress should pass just such a law on pared to yield the same powers to his successor? Do the subject as was agreeable to bim. He suggests, to be they see no danger in the exercise of the power in quessure, (or the Secretary of the Treasury does,) that pro- tion by a daring and ambitious man? Remember, said vision be made for depositing the public money in the Mr. F., low many resiless and aspiring spirits we have State banks, under regulations to be prescribed by Con- among us, eager for the pinnacle of power; and shall we gress; but the very bill submitted to us, providing these risk the fate of our glorious constitution, and the destinies regulations, concedes to the President the very power of this great confederacy, by sanctioning now a claim of which he claims. And does any gentleman believe that power merely from respect for and confidence in the any act which does not virtually contain this concession man who is to exercise it for a few brief years? Mr. F. can be passed, except by the vote of two-thirds of both again entreated gentlemen to pause and reflect; look only Houses of Congress? For instance, if the power and half a century ahead; forget the controversy between duties assigned by this bill to the Secretary of the Treas- the Executive and the United States Bank, and think ury were conferred on, and confided to, the Commis-only of the great issue involved in it. Was this House sioners of the Sinking Fund, does any one imagine that prepared to ingraft upon the constitution, which all prothe act, if passed by Congress, would receive the sanction fess to venerate so highly--no, sir, not to ingraft upon
the constitution-thanks to the wisdom of our fathers,
that is more than we have the power to do; but were On examination, it appears that the letter of the chairman of gentlemen prepared to acquiesce silently in the establishiTreasury, asking "his views and opinions," was dated on 7th ment of a principle, the effect of which would be to blot April. The Secretary's reply bears date 15th April, and the pro- out the well-defined lines which separate the different best of the President was sent to the Senate on the 17th of the departments of the Government, and to unsettle the same moaih.
Ichecks and balances of the constitution? For himself,
H. OF R.]
Deposite Bank Bill.
(June 30, 1834.
Mr. F. declared he never would contribute, by his vote, ting the reasons to Congress, how could this requisition to the introduction of a principle so contrary to the whole be enforced? The Secretary, althouglı willing to comply theory of the Government, and so fraught with danger with the law, would know that his disobedience of the to the best interests of his country, and to the preserva. President's order might subject him to the removingtion of its liberties.
the “reforming” process and we shall not always find Mr. F. had objections to some other of the details of officers who will perform their duty and incur the penthis bill. During the discussion of this great subject, the alty. Mr. F., therefore, submitted to gentlemen the public deposites, he had heard some very powerful ap- utter uselessness of making requirements which the very peals made to the friends of State rights. He said he was passage of the bill containing them, taken in connexion not only suspected of belonging to that class, but he was with other occurrences, would amount to a virtual acproud to avow it; and whenever he beard a call made knowledgment that they could not enforce. upon the State-rights men, that call would meet a prompt Mr. F. was decidedly opposed to the tenth section of response. It was under the principles which he had the bill. That section provides “that, until the Secretalearned in the State-rights school that he felt hinself ry of the Treasury shall have selected and employed the called on to oppose the fourth section of the bill. He said banks as places of deposite of the public money, in begged the attention of the House to the powers pro- conformity with the provisions of this act, the several posed to be conferred by that section on the Secretary of State and District banks, at present employed as deposi. the Treasury. The section is in these words:
torics of the money of the United States, shall continue "That any bank selected and employed under the provisions to be the depositories aforesaid, upon the terms and conof this act, as a place of deposite of the public money, shall fur- ditions upon which they have been so employed.” Mr. nish to the Secretary of the Treasury, from time to time, as often F. would here remark, that if the Secretary of the Treasas he may require, not exceeding once a week, statements set ury, or rather the President, had the power of depositirg ting forth its condition and business, as prescribed in the forego- the money in the local banks, as had been done, and the ing section of this act, excep: that such statements need not, unless requested by said Secretary, contain a list of the stockhold-power of entering into the contracts which had been exeers, or the number of shares held by each, nor a copy of the cuted, the contracts made with those banks were already
And the said banks shall furnish to the Treasurer of legal; it required no act of Congress to give them validi. the United States a weekly statement of the condition of his ac- ty; and he could but regard this proposition as indicating count upon their books. And the Secretary of the Treasury some misgiving, on the part of the committee, as to the shall have a right, by himself, or an agent appointed for that pur- legality of these transactions. Mr. F. objected to the pose, to inspect such general accounts in the books of the bank provisions, because he considered them illegal, and was as shall relate to the said stateinents: Prorided, That this shell opposed to thus giving the sanction of Congress to unaulnot be construed to imply a right of inspecting the account of anythorized acts of public officers. private individual or individuals with the bank."
But Mr. F. would not longer detain the House with an It would be remarked, Mr. F. saic!, that these were examination of the details of the bill. He had only to renot among the conditions which the Secretary was re-peat, what he had already frankly stated, that lie could quired to make with the banks; but positive requisitions, not vote for a law, in any shape, to deposite the public proposed to be made a law of this Government, on the money in State banks, during the continuance of the banks which should be employed. The bank selected United States Bank charter, provided the United States “shall furnish to the Secretary of the Treasury state. Balik was able to comply with its contract for the salements setting fortlı its condition and business,” &c. Here keeping and transfer of the public money.
Were he to is nothing like an agreement; it is imperative. It is the do so, le should consider himself as sanctioning, not only language of command. It is the language of law. True, what he regarded a violation of the plighted faith of the there was no penalty attached to a fulure or refusal to Government, but also a violation of the law of the land. comply with such requisition; but, once admit the right The President had openly announced to the world, that of Congress to make the requsition, and the right to pre- the act of removing the deposites was his own; be as. scribe a punishment for the violation follows as a necessary sumed the responsibility; and, for one, Nir. F. could not consequence. And where, 'demanded Mr. F., did Congress congent to share it with him; be would, in no way, sancderive the right to make these requisitions of corporate con or ratify the proceeding. Be the consequences what bodies, existing under the authority of the States? He they may, he would have neither part scr lot in the matdenied that any such right existed; and it was the impe-ter: rious and especial duty of those who were for preserving When Mr. Foster had finished, and protecting the rights of the States to resist, at vie Mr. GILMER, to whose former opinions Mr. F. liad threshold, such assumption of power.
alluded, inade a brief explanation of the cloctrine he held There were some other provisions of this bill which on the nature of the charter. Mr. F. could not pass over without at least a slight no Mr. WILDE now rose. Ile said, in brevity he lioped tice. By the ninth section it was provided, among other to rival the honorable chairman of the Committee of Ways things, that, in the recess of Congress, the Secretary of and Means, [Mr. Polk;] in close adherence to the subthe Treasury may, under certain circumstances, withdraw ject, he aspired, if possible, to surpass liim. There were the public money from the banks in which it shall be de. times, he ihought, when ihe gentleman discussed the posited; in which event it shall be his duty to “report 10 Bank of the United States rallier than the deposite banks. Congress, at the commencement of its next session, the It was, perhaps, difficult to separate them; and sometimes facts and reasons which have induced such discontinu- expedient to bespeak favor by flattering prejudice and ance."
This power of withdrawal was, under the new odium. Party tactics scemed to consist in directing all theory, 10 be exercised entirely under executive discre- your strength against what are supposed to be the weak tion and direction; and Mr. F. hoped that the same points of your adversary, taking no care of your own. amendment which he had suggested to a previous part Accordingly, the Bank of the United States, though alof the bill, that of inserting the President instead of the ready slain, as we are told, by the liero, is daily reslain Secretary of the Treasury, would also be made here. by the humblest of his followers, while the pet banks and For, if the bill should pass in its present shape, and the Post Office are left to shift for themselves. The gentle. President should order a withdrawal of the deposites from man had done him the honor to advert to some remarks any of the banks, for reasons which he might not feel wild of bis during a former discussion. This topic, from the ling to have too closely examined, and should, therefore, manner in which it had been treated, required no reply. forbid the Secretary of the Treasury from communica- Mr. W., at the tinie referred to, had expressed plainly
June 20, 1834.)
Deposite Bank Bill.
[H. OF R.
what he felt strongly, but having said what he thought, quisite? Which do we distrusl, our integrity or our diswas too fond of his own repose to barbor ill-will to any cretion? Why must we delegate this important power one. If the gentleman had satisfied his conscience on the and duty to the Secretary? Are we invited to stultify or occasion in question, by the belief that he was merely to stigmatize ourselves? For his own part, said Mr. W., performing an honest act of public duty, Mr. W. would if there must be a selection, he would not surrender the be the last to disturb its tranquillity.
right of Congress to make it. He feared giving it up The House had voted
might be construed into an admission of the President's That the Bank of the United States ought not to be re. claim to the custody of the public money. He did not chartered:
mean, by any act of his, to lend the least sanction to the That the deposites ought not to be restored:
doctrines of the protest, text or gloss. He did not inThat the deposites in the State banks ought to be reg. tend to discuss those doctrines. Time would be wanting. ulated by law.
On that topic, if the gentleman from Tennessee was not This bill, then, is the regulation proposed; the sanc- satisfied with the arguments of the distinguished Senator tion of the Secretary's act; the adoption of the executive from Massachusetts, (Mr. WEBSTER] he must leave him policy; the legislative recognition and approval of the to discuss the matter with his own friend, the gentleman President's experiment. This, we have heard from high from Virginia, (Mr. WISE.] authority, is the only measure of relief the country need Mr. Wilde next objected to the bill, that it required expect. As to the people, indeed, we are assured their no compensation from the State banks for the use of the distresses are imaginary. They only require to be relieved public money. The Bank of the United States paid the of the panic-makers. The approaching adjournment nation for the privileges it enjoyed. The bonus distrib. will do that. “The Government,” feeling no distress, uted over the period of its charter was equivalent to (except in the Post Office,) can get on without this bill, eighty or ninety thousand dollars annually, and now it is having the custody of the treasury already.
proposed to give gratuitously to the State banks what the This assurance is consolatory.' But why, then, must United States Bank had only by paying for it. we be goaded to its adoption? The spirit of party, he Mr. Gallatin's report of 1809 suggests the payment hoped, might be satisfied with the implied, equivocal, of interest on the public deposites, whenever ihey ex. negative sanction we have given to the past, by only not ceed a certain sum—three millions, le believed. An honcondemning it. Shall we be urged-would it be prudent orable Senator from Missouri, (Mr. Bextos,j some time to urge us farther? If we pass this bill, we make all that since, proposed to subject the Bank of the United States has been done our own. There are reasons for acting on to the payment of interest on the public moneys, in auldiit definitely, however. All sides of the House feel that. tion to the bonus it had already paid. The arerage of The country is tired of evasions. The friends of the ac!- those deposites, if lie remembered rightly, for he did not ministration are, in some degree, pledged to pass it speak hy the book, exceeded six millions and a half of through this body. They will do it' the more readily, dollars; and the interest on the surplus, at the moderate because it is sure to fail in the other. They desire the rate of two per cent., would amount to seventy thousand Senate shall reject it, so as to incur the odium of defeat- dollars. Here, then, is a benefit, equivalent at least to ing a measure which is to put an end to corruption, and that sum, gratuitously conferred on the State banks, for give us a better currency than the United States Bank. which the Bank of the United States paid upwards of Every true believer expects the fulfilment of the prophe- eighty thousand dollars. Mr. W. asked the gentlemen cy with impatience. If the Senate will not pags it, the who were so fearful of corruption, if there was no danger prediction cannot be falsified.
of favoritism and corruption here? Are the State banks Besides, the state of parties may change. Responsibil- less moneyed aristocracies than the Bank of the United ity assumed, may be enforced. The cristody of the States? Are they not governed by the same instinct? treasury, with our friends in power, is safe and easy. What makes them more immaculate? The directors and Rendering an account of its seizure and deficit, 10 our officers, le presumeil, were men very much like those of adversaries may be less pleasant. On the other hand, the the United States Bank, liable to the same motives, and opposition may desire to see the administration commit operated on by the same passions. And your Secretaries ibemselves and their friends to this measure. They may of the Treasury, are they to be saints or angels? With hope, if it passes, that the Senale will amend it, and send respect to corruption, lie availed himself of the forcible us something better. Perhaps they deem the worst meas- illustration of a friend, the pungency of whose wit is ure which ihe Government can adopt better than perequalled only by the soundness of his judgment. Putpetual inactiviiy and subterfuge. Before it passed, hosting down corruption by employing Strie banks in place ever, he wished to point out a few errors and defects in of the Bank of the United States, is like promoting temits provisions, some of which its friends, if they regarded perance by establishing five hundred grog-shops in place their own principles and pledges, were bound to remedy. of one wholesale grocery. He did not propose to treat the subject in detail, but to Some gentlemen there, Mr. W. said, would be sure egamine its main features. What the members of the prised to learn that this bill contained no security against House desired, at ibis stage of the session, was not an the dangers of foreign capital and foreign influence. They argument in form, most logically prolix, bit facts and had beard much of the mischiefs arising from these causes hints, the materials for thought, out of which cach man in the Bank of the United States, and he certainly exfor himself would work out bis own conclusion.
pected that one of the first propositions in the regulation in the first place, he thought the selection of banks, of the State banks would have been the exclusion of all to be employed as depositories, might be made, and those any part of whose capital was owned by foreigners. ought to be made, by Congress. He did not perceive But the bill contained no such provision. It was not for any insuperable difficulty, and nothing less should pre- him to offer any amendment of that kind. His opinion vent it. The committee themselves admitted there could had been alreally expressed. The benefit arising from be po objection to that mole, provided it be deemed the employment of foreign capital, he believed, was mu. practicable to make the selections in such a manner as to tual. We have the use of the money which we want, protect and preserve the public funds. And why nou and the lenders the interest which they want.
As to practicable? Have we not ihe same sources of informa- foreign influence, he thought the danger imaginary. The tion as the Secretary? Where are the returns of the State action and reaction must be equal. When we have borbanks: Cannot we invite further information; raise a rowed their money, it is their interest we should prosper, Committee; or take any other measure :hat may be re- land we have security against them for the peace. But it
H. OF R.]
Deposite Bank Bill.
(June 20, 1834.
did appear to him that, if gentlemen intended to be true his mind, a capital one. The selected banks were not to themselves, if they meant to be thought earnest and required to receive each other's paper, even for duties or sincere in their oftentimes-repeated denunciations of for. debts due the Government. The consequences were inev. eign capital, now was the time to prove their sincerity. itable; a multiplicity of local uncurrent currencies, each If
there was danger in the Bank of the United States, circulating only in its own narrow circle, and stagnating where foreign stockholders have no vote, how much more every where else, all depreciated in comparison with coin, must there be in State banks, many of which are under and unequally depreciated with reference to each other. no such restriction? Neither can we be assured that the A paper receivable every where at par is to cease, and Secretary of the Treasury will make such a selection as duties, collected in an unequally depreciated medium are to exclude banks with foreign capital; for in one of the no longer to be uniform, in despite of the constitutional banks already selected, he was informed, a foreign noble. injunction. man was one of the largest stockholders. In another Such is the better currency we were promised—such is State the whole capital of a bank has been raised by for- the fruit of the President's experiment--such his rever. eign loan; and, if he was rightly informed, that loan was ence for the constitution! Even the measure proposed secured by a mortgage of ihe real estate of the stock for the banishment of small notes was totally insuficient holders.
and illusory. If calculated to produce any effect, the A provision which he did think ought to be inserted in committee should have followed it up. They should bave the bill, was one to distribute the amount of deposites, required the selected banks not merely to abstain from isand limit the use of transfer cheeks. If the use of the suing such notes themselves, and to refuse the paper of public treasure must be granted to the State banks gra- any banks that did, in payment of dues to the Government, tuitously, the banky of all the States should share the but also to refuse it in their general business. If it was benefit with something like equality. Why should the expedient to discredit such paper, why not dishonor it albanks in New York or elsewhere have an advantage in together? We had the same right to impose one condithis respect? He mentioned New York with no invid- tion as the other. Enough of the remedy ought to be ious feeling, but merely because the largest amount of administered, if it were a good one, to make the cure revenue being collected there, the banks of that State perfect. In truth, however, be was far from thinking the would have the largest amount of deposites, unless they small-nute circulation was to be cured by this nostrum. were required to be distributed. Why should Virginia, The only effect of the selected banks refusing to receive and Ohio, and North Carolina, and Georgia, be excluded the paper of the small note issuers, would be to deprefrom their fair proportion of thal fund to which they con- ciate it, and a depreciated paper always usurps the circutributed their fair proportion? He was not prepared to lation. Every one knew thal-not excepting the Secresay that a very exact distribution could be effected, but a tary and committee. It is distinctly admitted, in his letrule might be found, in the representative population of ter and their report, as a law of circulation ; and the printhe States, sufficiently near for justice and convenience. ciple of the remedy they propose is in the teeth of the
As to transfer checks, if the abuse of them were not law they acknowledge. He was warranted in saying limited, every bank employed would be at the mercy of they had no great confidence in it themselves, since they the Secretary, and an unbounded field of favoritism and suggested that the State Legislatures would aid us in this corruption would be opened.
policy. Now, the States had granted numerous cbarters Mr. W, would draw the attention of gentlemen to an expressly authorizing the issue of small bills. Would other omission in the bill. It not only failed to provide gentlemen inform him how they could be revoked? If for any examination of the State banks, coextensive with the abolition of small notes were a wise and constitutional that to which they insisted the Bank of the United States object, we must have the power to effect it by our own ought to submit, but it failed to provide for any examina- legislation. It was to him a conclusive objection against tion by Congress at all. How gentlemen who maintain the exercise of any power, that the concurrence of the ed the power of a committee of Congress to make a States was necessary. If we had it at all, we had it indesecret inquisitorial scrutiny into the individual accounts pendent of the States. If we had it not, Stale legislaand private correspondence of the Bank of the United tion could not give it to us. The weakness of relying on Stales could reconcile it 10 themselves deliberately to assistance from that quarter would be well illustrated by give up all right to order any examination whatever of one example. Massachusetts drew a large part (proba those State banks to which the public money is to be bly two-thirds) of her revenue from a lax of one per lent gratuitously, in such proportions as the Secretary cent. on the capital of her banks. The banks derived may direct, it was not for him to conjecture. By the much of their profits from the issue of small bills. What bill, as it stands, the Secretary may examine, or appoint prospect was there that the State would voluntarily relinan agent to examine, but Congress would have no power quish her revenue, or the banks forego their profits? to appoint a committee for any such purpose. He res. But the mode of abolishing small notes, suggested by the pecied the sanctity of private correspondence; he ap- committee, is liable to an objection more serious than its proved the inviolability of individual accounts secured by impracticability. It proposes the introduction of a new ibis bill. The provision was a bitter commentary on the political heresy. Men bave held that the end justified conduct of the gentleman's own party; for if the individ. the means. It was reserved for a committee to discover ual accounts and private correspondence of the State that the means sanctified the end. All the world have banks were to be sacred, why not those of the Bank of pronounced the first maxim false and wicked. If the secthe United States? A committee of the gentleman's ond escaped condemnation, it would not be its plausibilfriends had reported resolutions to attach the presidentity that saved it. He meant to treat the committee fairand directors of the Bank of the United States for assert. ly. What were their notions with respect to the cus. ing the principle ingrafted on this bill, and the gentleman rency? sustains that report and this provision.
They admit that regulation by Congress is necessary, Mr. W. desired private rights should be carefully re-but deny that it is constitutional. They say that a mixed spected, but he was not willing Congress should be de- currency is inevitable, and a sound currency desirable; prived of all power to examine into the condition of the they grant that Congress has complete power over one selected banks. With respect to the Treasury, the Ex- element of a mixed currency, but insist it has no power ecutive bad indeed almost become a unit, and Congress at all over other; yet they agree that,
operate on a cipher; he would not make it utterly so.
either, it is necessary to regulate both; and, in the abThe next objection to the bill was, Mr. W.gaid, tolsence of a constitutional power over the currency, they
propose effecting their object by a constitutional power of paper convertible into coin, the power of regulating over the revenue.
the currency became an indispensable adjunct to the What bad been the great argument against protective power of regulating the coin, because the value of the tariffs? That a power to lay taxes, given by the consti- latter could never be regulated without the regulation of tution for purposes of revenue, was perverted into the the former also. This, then, is what was meant by the means of effecting an end for which it was not given--- words "regulating the value thereof;" and this power the encouragement of manufactures.
extends to whatever currency may be in existence, proBut the friends of that policy had at least a consistent vided it affect the value of money. The possibility of system; they held that the protection of domestic indus. any currency, in modern times, which would not affect try was one of the objects contemplated by tlie constitu- the value of coin, may well be doubted. All eminent tion: they did not maintain that an unconstitutional end writers on this subject admit that, throughout the world, was legitimated by the use of constitutional means. the quantity of money has caused its depreciation, and
The false doctrine of the committee involves us in a this depreciation, though owing mainly to the paper, las tissue of absurdities. What are they? The States have affected the coin also. The paper has gone down and not the right to coin money; but they have the right to carried the coin with it. coin the representative of money, and even to delegate From this clause in the constitution, therefore, the that right to corporations. They cannot make any thing power to regulate the value of money, and from the inbut gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; junction that all duties, imposts, and excises, shall be uni. but they can authorize a paper issue, which makes a ten- form throughout the United States, is derived the conder in coin practically impossible, and therefore renders stitutional power of Congress to regulate the currency, a payment in paper inevitable. Congress have no con- and to provide for the existence of a circulating medium stitutional power to regulate this currency of paper ; but of uniform value. they have power to collect a revenue, and they may so That part of the bill which provided that the Secretary, manage the collection of the revenue, over which they for sufficient cause, might remove the deposites during have full power, as to regulate the paper currency,'over the recess, and assign his reasons to Congress, wanted which they have no power at all. That is the argument. esplanation. It was not said what was to be the effect of As to the proposition that we do not intend to affect the Congress approring or disapproving-what was to be the currency by legislation, but by contract, it does not de consequence if one House approved and the other disapserve the name of an argument. We cannot, by our le proved. The clause is like that of the sixteenth section gislation, authorize the Secretary of the Treasury tu con- of the charter of the Bank of the United States. If the tract with the State banks for the exercise of an unconsti- meaning of it is that, unless Congress approve, the act of tutional power:
the Secretary is annulled, then we may save ourselves all We are told, "Go to the constitution." We are further trouble. The construction of the sixteenth secasked, Where do you find any thing about the curren- tion must be the same, and Congress have not yet approvcy? Congress have power to coin money. But bank ed the act of the Secretary in removing the deposites notes are not coin. You cannot say of them, that they from the Bank of the United States. Of course, they are coined. Under a power, then, of coining money, must go back again, and this bill is unnecessary, If this coining bank notes cannot be included. The power or is not to be the construction, what is it? That the act of coining money, however, is not the only one given by the Secretary, not being approved by Congress, or being this clause. Regulating the value of money is an author- approved by one House and disapproved by the other, ity also given. Evidently, this does not mean a regula- shall nevertheless stand good? Or is it that the Secretary tion of the fluctuating value of the precious metals them- shall merely report his facts and reasons, and there the selves when coined, as compared with other articles; be. matter ends--Congress having nothing to do with the cause the framers of the constitution well knew this was facts and reasons reported, but to listen to them? Will impossible. In that sense the value of money depends the gentleman favor us with a true interpretation? upon the supply of the mines, and of the commodities for Mr. W. did not mean to be seduced, even by the which money is to be exchanged, the consumption of
gold example of the honorable chairman of the Committee and silver in the arts, &c.; and all human legislation is of Ways and Means, into an argument on the merits er incompetent to regulate it.
demerits of the United States Bank. Respect for a bigliNeither does it mean, determining the fineness and ly distinguished and virtuous citizen who had done the weight of the metal coined, because this is necessarily in. State some service, and whose retirement ought to be as cluded in the term “coining money." You cannot coin tranquil as his public life has been useful, demanded a money without regulating its weight and fineness, and the word or two of explanation on the part of the gentleman's words " regulating the value thereof” would therefore proceeding. The honorable gentleman had read a passage be words of supererogation. Congress, the convention, from the report of a former Secretary of the Treasury, and the people, were nearly as familiar with the princi- (Mr. Gallatin.). Mr. W.confessed surprise to hear Mi. ples of a convertible currency.then, as we are now. It Gallatin quoted against a bank. The gentleman must is impossible to look into the fugitive literature and poli. know, at least every one else there knew, that Mr. G. liad tics, the newspapers, familiar letters and pamphlets of more than once expressed himself strongly in its favor. that day, without perceiving it. They knew the conve- He distinctly admitted its convenience and utility. He is nience and advantage of a mixed currency, but they knew understood at this moment, after still longer experience afso, in spite of many specious theories to the contrary, and larger observation, to maintain its necessity for fiscal that neither Government faith, nor receipt for taxes, nor purposes, and its constitutionality. The anxiety of the any other means but convertibility into coin on demand, honorable chairman to avail himself of such an authority would save paper money from depreciation. They knew proved that he felt its full weight with the public. Mr. also that, although paper money should be convertible Gallatin's opinions on the currency had, ivdeed, almost into coin on demand, at the pleasure of the 'holder, yet, become the sterling standard. And where were we to by the issue of paper, the whole quantity of money is in- look for orthodox doctrines on this subject, if not to him creased, and the value of course diminished, and this dim. and Mr. Madison? These eininent persons could not be inution of value affects the coin as well as the paper, suspected of sinister motives. They had lived down all 80 long as the paper continues convertible. If the con prejudice and detraction, and their fame was a portion vention, then, looked, as there is little doubt they did, to of every American's patrimony. How far one of them the existence of a mixed currency, consisting of coin and I had been fairly treated by quoting a detached passage,