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The property of individual members of the corporation, vested in corporate funds, was made liable in the same manner "as other personal property is liable by the laws of the territory to the payment and satisfaction of his just debts to any of his bona fide creditors.” Provisions were made for the levy and sale of the stock taken on execution, but before the sale could take place, it was provided : “that no property vested in the said corporate funds, shall be taken and sold until all the debts due or becoming due to the said bank, by such debtor, whether as a drawer or endorser or surety, shall be fully paid and discharged; and upon any execution being levied on any shares in said bank, it shall be the duty of the cashier of said bank to expose the proper book of the corporation to the officer, and to furnish him with a certificate, under his hand, in his official capacity, stating the number of shares the debtor holds in said bank and the amount of dividends declared and due thereon."
The rate of discount was restricted to not more than seven per cent. per annum on its loans and discounts, in advance.
No note3 or bill was to be issued of a less denomination than five dollars, and no bills were to be issued until forty thousand dollars in legal coin of the United States had been paid into the corporation by the stockholders as a part of the stock. Power was reserved to the Legislature to prohibit in four years from the date of the act the issue of notes of a less denomination than ten dollars, or in ten years of a less denomination than twenty dollars.
No director4 was to be indebted to the bank at any time, either by loans or endorsements, or in any manner, to an amount exceeding five thousand dollars.
This acts was declared to be a public act for the time limited by the charter; provision was made: “that if said corporation shall fail to go into operation, or shall abuse or misuse
i Charter, Sec. 18.
4 Ibid, Sec. 22.
their privileges under this charter, it shall be in the power of the legislative assembly of this territory, at any time, to annul, vacate, and make void this charter."
3. Confirmation of the Charter by Congress.
Congress, in the Act confirming the banking laws of Wisconsin, amended the charter of The Miners' Bank of Dubuque in several particulars.
The bank was forbidden to issue bills or notes for circulation until one-half of the amount of its capital stock was paid in; and, in order to enable the directors to comply with this limitation, they were authorized to make calls according to the provisions of their charter, to an amount not exceeding, at any one time, forty per cent. upon the whole amount of stock subscribed by each stockholder, instead of being restricted to ten per cent. at any one time, as provided in the charter.
The privilege of determining whether the capital of the bank should be increased to more than two hundred thousand dollars was not left entirely within the power of the stockholders, but the previous consent of Congress must be obtained.
The bank must go into operation before the first of January, 1838, or the charter would be deemed void and of no effect.
4. The Opening of the Bank.
The commissioners readily accepted these provisions and immediately set in motion the necessary legal machinery to carry the modified charter into effect. In the Du Buque Visitor of May 17, 1837, we find in the editorial columns the statement that: “ The books for the subscriptions of the stock of the Du Buque bank, chartered by the Territorial Assembly and sanctioned by Congress, will be opened on the 22nd
i Charter, Sec. 23.
2 Approved March 3, 1837. Chap. LXXV, U. S. Statutes at Large, Vol. V, p. 198, 26th Cong. 2d Sess.
inst. See advertisement." The advertisement furnished the information that the books for subscriptions would be opened at the store of Francis Gehon, in the town of Dubuque, on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of May next, and at that time ten per cent. of the amount subscribed would be required to be paid to the commissioners, making the amount to be paid in at that time twenty thousand dollars, which, as far as any of the conditions of the accepted charter were concerned, might be in either currency or silver.
In an editorial in the Iowa News of June 3rd, 1837, which felicitates the community upon the establishment and opening of a banking institution in their midst, it is said:
" That we are happy to state that the whole of the stock of the Miners' Bank of Du Buque was subscribed for on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th, and 30th ult., on which days the books for the subscriptions were kept open by the commissioners of the bank.”
In an advertisement in the Iowa News of June 3, 1837, there is a call for the payment of forty dollars upon each share of the capital stock of the bank at their office on the second Monday of October next — fifty per cent. of said installment to be specie. This was signed "By the order of the Board, E. Lockwood, President."
In the same newspaper as above, at a later date, notice is given of an election of directors to be held in accordance with the provisions of the charter, on Monday, the second day of October, at the counting room of E. Lockwood. As this date would not give the necessary thirty days' notice required by the charter, there is in the issue of September 30, 1837, an additional notice postponing the election to October 14th, at the same place.
Up to this date the notices in regard to subscriptions, payment of subscriptions, and official organization, had been made in accordance with the legal requirements of the charter and its modifications by Congress.
THE LEGISLATIVE INVESTIGATIONS OF 1837-38.
The First Investigation. The bank opened its doors for the transaction of business on October 31, 1837, with E. Lockwood as President, and G. D. Dillon as Cashier. The act of organization and selection of officers had been accompanied with considerable friction. E. M. Bissell, one of the commissioners, had at first been chosen for the position of cashier, but for some cause the appointment was revoked and G. D. Dillon substituted in his place.
Charges as to an attempt upon the part of stockholders with large holdings to secure the shares of the small holders were freely made. Charges were also made that the full amount of the required capital was not paid before issuing notes; and that the specie was borrowed for the specie payment upon the capital stock. These were followed with all kinds of rumors of corrupt action upon the part of the officers of the bank.
The public mind was in a condition to be easily influenced by such rumors and by the very nature of the past actions of banks, to be easily, almost willingly, led to believe them. The little community of Dubuque was soon agitated over its bank war.
These rumors soon reached the Legislative Assembly, then in session at Burlington, and on the fifteenth of November, 1837, Mr. Sholes, in the House of Representatives, moved that a committee of five? be appointed to inquire into the
1 It was first located in the house of Le Roy Jackson, near the corner of Clay and Ninth streets. 2 Iowa News, Nov. 2, 1837.
condition and acts of the banks of the Territory. This was modified and passed on the next day, and a committee of three,' consisting of Messrs. Sheldon, Sholes and Engle, were appointed to make an examination of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque, Bank of Mineral Point and Bank of Milwaukee, and to report to the House at as early a date as possible.
This committee immediately proceeded to discharge the duties assigned to them by the resolution of the House. The committee stated that in consequence of the excitement, existing to some extent in the public mind, which had been propagated by rumors that were “calculated to affect injuriously the interests of the public and of the institution,” and because the proper officers were not present from whom they would "receive the necessary information concerning the actual condition of the bank, they thought it necessary, and within the power vested in them by the resolution, to personally visit the bank.” An additional reason was given for this course that by pursuing it there would be an opportunity afforded to the citizens of the town where the bank was located of stating to the committee the facts in their knowledge as to the character, management and operation of the institution.
The committee, upon their arrival at Dubuque, submitted in writing a list of questions to the President and Cashier of the Miners' Bank of Dubuque. The President of the bank was absent from the town, but the questions were answered by the Cashier.
From the answers returned by the Cashier to their interrogatories, they report that $100,000 of capital stock had been actually paid in, $41,147 of which was in specie, and the balance in the notes of the various banks of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan. The amount of specie on hand was reported to be $42,118. The bank at that time had a circulation of $11,435, of which $2,000 were in
a demand notes, and $9,435 in post notes of twelve months after date. The individual deposits were—only $3,043. The debts
1 Iowa News, December 9, 1837.