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The Miners' Bank of Dubuque had put a large amount of these notes in circulation. Of these notes given out to its customers it had been redeeming some with current notes of banks, and receiving some on debts due the bank. By these two methods it had already redeemed the larger part of this depreciated money, with which it had been largely instrumental in flooding the channels of trade.
St. Louis bankers and merchants, at this time, refused all kinds of bank notes except those of Illinois, and the general tenor of public opinion was that even this bank would not long retain its credit. For it had commenced operations in a manner unsatisfactory to many of the people, and had issued notes to a very large amount, and by means of legislation, that many deemed corrupt, it had been able to suspend specie payment for eighteen months. And the general opinion seemed to be that notwithstanding the interest on this large amount of “Suspended specie payment notes,” that it was probable that it would yet be forced into the footsteps of the banks of Michigan.
By the middle of June,' the Mineral Point Bank gave notice that it would take the notes of the Bank of Milwaukee, as a specie paying bank; and by this time the general opinion seems to have crystalized into such a shape as to lead the people to believe that the banks of Wisconsin Territory were upon as sound a basis as the State Bank of Illinois. Of this opinion they were to be disabused, at least in part, a little later.
According to the Burlington correspondent of the Iowa News, the people of that city were still heaping maledictions upon the unfortunate head of the Secretary of the Territory because he had at the close of the last session of the Legislative Assembly paid out a large amount of these Jackson County and Manchester Bank bills. Over seven thousand dollars of them had been paid to residents of the city, a large portion of that amount was still there with the likelihood of remaining permanently unless he would redeem them.
1 Iowa News, June 16, 1838. 2 Ibid.
6. The Governor's Recommendation.
From April to June of this year, there was a falling off in the amount of currency in circulation and its character had deteriorated more rapidly than the fall in volume. So serious in character had the financial condition become that the Governor in his annual message to the Legislative Assembly said: “Should the bill now depending before Congress of the United States for the establishment of two land offices West of the Mississippi River, become a law, and should the lands be opened for sale under the proclamation of the President of the United States during the present year, many of our citizens who might be entitled to purchase public lands (should the right of pre-emption be extended to them) would not be prepared to pay for their homes. I respectfully and earnestly recommend to the Legislative Assembly the justice and propriety of memorializing the President of the United States on this subject, asking him to defer the sale of public lands within this Territory, for one year. The present state of the currency and the difficulty of procuring land office money would justify the indulgence proposed for the benefit of this meritorious class of our citizens who have a right to expect justice and the patronage of the government will be extended to them.”
i June 11, 1838.
BANKING IN Iowa FROM 1838 to 1841.
The Third Investigation. Early in the session of the first Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa, November 28th, 1838, Stephen Hempstead offered a Joint Resolution in the Council to investigate the affairs of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque. The Resolution was passed by the Council without amendment on the same day, and was read the first time in the House; on the following day it was concurred in by the House.
The committee consisted of three members, one from the Council and two from the House. Warner Lewis was appointed by the Council; and Nowlin and Hall by the House. Hall was one of the Representatives from the district consisting of Jackson, Dubuque and Clayton Counties.
The committee was authorized by this resolution to proceed immediately to Dubuque, and investigate the affairs of the Miners' Bank. They were to examine all books, papers, accounts and certificates; count the gold, silver and bankable paper in the vault; determine the amount of deposits; and examine "into every act or acts of said bank which relates or may relate, in any manner, to the fiscal management of the same;" to examine under oath the President, Cashier, or any other officer upon any acts that related to the management of the bank. In order to punish any of the witnesses for perjury, if it should be committed, a provision new to resolutions appointing “committees of investigations” was introduced: “If the said President, Cashier or other officer, to whom oath shall be administered,.
shall swear or affirm falsely, in answer to any interrogatory propounded by said committee, or to any affidavit required by said committee, such President, Cashier, or other officer, shall be deemed to have committed the crime of perjury and shall be punished as the laws of this Territory require.” It could not be claimed that the officers of the bank had sworn falsely in making their report to this investigating committee and that there was no law to punish them.
i Governor of Iowa, 1854.
Laws of the Territory of Iowa, 1838-39, pp. 515-16.
The committee had the power “to send for persons and papers” and examine the persons under oath as to their knowledge of the management of the bank. The committee did not take advantage of the first provision in the resolution, in making the investigation.
As soon as possible after the investigation, they were to make a full and complete report of the results of their examination to the Council and House of Representatives.
The committee proceeded immediately to Dubuque and on the 6th of December, 1838, submitted the following list of questions to T. O. Martin, Cashier of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque:
ist. What is the amount of deposits on hand? 2nd. What is the amount of profit on hand? 3rd. What is the amount of bills in circulation?
4th. What is the amount of debts due from the directors and stockholders?
5th. What is the amount due from other persons or corporations?
6th. What is the amount of specie in bank and actually belonging to the bank?
7th. What amount of bills of other banks have you on hand, actually belonging to the bank?
8th. What is the amount of your deposites in other banks; if any, what banks are they?
gth. What amount of real estate is owned by the bank? roth. What is the amount of other property? IIth. What is the amount of capital stock actually paid in?
12th. What is the character of the issues of the bank; are they post notes, or payable on demand, and what is the amount of each?