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WEDNESDAY, January 3, 1844. The Senate met pursuant to adjournment. A quosum of members having answered to their names, Mr. Livingston, of Madison County, was called to the Chair, for the purpose of organizing the Senate.
On motion of Mr. Haughton, the Senate proceeded to the election of officers; whereupon George Walker, Esq. of the Western District, was declared duly elected President of the Senate, Thomas Brown, Secretary, John F. Webb, Assistant Secretary, A. A. Fisher, Sergeant-at-Arms, and James Livingston, Messenger, and were duly sworn into office by S. S. Sibley, Esq.
After the fourth ballot, there being no election of Foreman, on motion of Mr. Livingston, further ballotting was dispensed with and the election postponed until to-morrow.
On motion, the Senate proceeded to the election of a Printer; whereupon Joseph Clisby was declared duly elected.
On motion of Mr. Baltzell, a Committee of three was appointed to draft Rules for the government of the Senate ; and in the meantime the Rules of the last Session were adopted for the present government of the Senate.
Messrs. Baltzell, Livingston and Walker, were appointed said Committee.
Mr. Baltzell gave notice that he will, so soon as the Senate is organized, introduce a Bill to be entitled, An act to provide for the election by the people of Governor and Brigadier General of Florida."
On motion, the Senate adjourned until to-morrow, 12 o'clock.
THURSDAY, January 4, 1844. The Senate met pursuant to adjournment, and the proceedings of yesterday were read and approved.
Mr. Baltzell, from the Committee to draft rules for the government of the Senate at this session, made the following
REPORT: The Select Committee appointed on yesterday to draft rules for the government of the Senate, report, the rules of the last session, and recommend their adoption.
THOMAS BALTZELL, Chairman. Mr. Baltzell then moved to strike out the words, "appointed by the President,” in the first and second lines of the 30th rule, and insert, “elected by the Senate by ballot.”
Which motion was laid on the table until to-morrow, on motion of Mr. Walker, of Leon.
On motion of Mr. Yonge, the Senate proceeded to the election of a Foreman.
Whereupon J. M. C. Rowell, was declared duly, elected.
On motion, Messrs. Yonge and Cooper were appointed a Committee to inform the House of Representatives of the organization of the Senate.
The Senate then adjourned until to-morrow 12 o'clock, M.
Friday, January 5, 1844. The Senate met pursuant to adjournment, and the proceedings of yesterday were read and approved.
On motion, Mr. Long was added to the Committee appointed on yesterday, to inform the House of Representatives of the organization of the Senate.
Mr. Yonge, from said Committee, reported that the Committee had performed that duty.
Mr. Walker, from a Committee of the House of Representatives, announced to the Senate that the House of Representatives was organized and ready for business.
On motion, Messrs. Haughton, Hart and Ramsay,
were appointed a Committee, jointly with the House of Representatives, to wait on the Governor of the Territory of Florida, and inform his Excellency that both Houses of the Legislative Council were organized and ready to receive any communication which his Excellency may have to make.
After a short interval, Mr. Haughton reported to the Senate that the Committee had performed that duty jointly with a Committee of the House of Representatives, and that his Excellency had desired him to inform the Senate that he would send in his communication in a few minutes.
The Senate received from his Excellency, the Governor, by the hands of his private Secretary, Mr. Geo. W. Call, the following message :-Gentlemen of the Senate
and House of Representatives : We have been visited with many calamities during the past year. Some of our citizens have suffered by fire, others by flood and storms, and the destruction of the cotton crop by catterpiller, has been an evil co-extensive with its cultivation in this Territory. But notwithstand. ing these fatal and varied disasters, we have abundant cause to be grateful for the blessings we enjoy. The provision crop is adequate to the supply of the people, peace has been restored to our borders, and health has generally prevailed throughout the Territory. For these sources of enjoyment, our heartfelt gratitude is due to the Su. preme Ruler of the Universe.
Although the pecuniary embarrassments of the country have been but partially relieved, we have reason to hope that the darkest hour of our adversity has passed, and that the dawn of a more prosperous day is at hand. The depreciated currency of the Territory has retired from circulation, and our markets, though still depressed, have advanced, giving promise of a healthy action, and a more extensive improvement. The active employment of the cotton factories, foreign and domestic, the increased demand for their products, and the revi. val of commerce, have already produced a visible improvement in business of every kind, and cannot fail, in due course of time, aided by the industry, enterprise and economy of the people, to restore our country to its former prosperity.
Since the close of the last session of the Legislative Council, no improvement has taken place in the condition of the Union Bank of Florida, the Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company, or the Bank of Pensacola. Their paper has disappeared from circulation, but the credit of neither of them has revived. The Bank of Pensacola may be considered as having ceased to exist, and the Southern Life Insurance and Trust Company, having made an assignment of its assets, it will perhaps never renew its banking operations.
It is believed that all the certificates of that institution, guaranteed. by this Territory, and negotiated in such a manner as to fix our re. sponsibility, have been returned to the Executive, and have been cancelled, in pursuance of the provisions of an act of the Legislative Council. Should this be the case, the Territory is discharged from the responsibility assumed for that institution.
I regret to inform the Legislative Council, that the Union Bank is still delinquent, on account of the interest due to the holders of the Bonds of the Territory. There are now five instalments of interest due on these Bonds, amounting to $340,350. The holders of these Bonds, with a forbearance which should commend them to our atten. tion, have made no demand on the Territory for this large amount. But the public faith having been pledged, with all the forms and cer. emonies known to the law, for the payment of the interest on these Bonds, according to their tenor and effect, I deem it my duty, after so many repeated failures, to present the delinquency of the Bank for your consideration, and invoke the exercise of such authority as the Legislature may possess, for the purpose of compelling this institution to pay the interest now due, as well as that which may hereafter accrue, according to the provisions of the 11th section of the charter of incorporation.
It is due the President and Directors of the Bank, that I should inform you that they are in no manner culpable for the failure to pay the interest on these Bonds ; but on the contrary, that they have availed themselves of all the means in their power, to accomplish this object. The principal cause of the delinquency of the Bank, may be traced to the elements of its organization. By the provisions of its charter, each stockholder had a right to draw from the Bank, as a permanent loan, two-thirds of the value of the property mortgaged by them as an indemnity to the Territory. This right has almost invaria. bly been exercised, and thus two-thirds of the whole capital of the Bank, raised on the faith and responsibility of the Territory, has passed into the hands of a few individuals, who, with a trivial exception, have been unable or unwilling to pay the interest. There is now due the Bank, from the accumulation of interest on these loans, 216,000 dollars, and for interest on accommodation paper, a greater amount, which has produced a total inability on the part of this insti. tution to pay the interest due semi-annually to the bond-holders. The Bank has, in many instances, resorted to legal process to compel the delinquent stockholders to comply with their engagements. But so far as I am advised, it has been hitherto unsuccessful, and the opinion is entertained by many, that the stockholders may continue to enjoy the loan, until the expiration of the time specified in the mortgages, (most of which have yet upwards of twenty years to run,) without the payment of any portion of their annual interest, and continue, at the same time, to enjoy the possession and use of the property mortgaged to the Bank. This opinion appears to me as absurd in its concep.
tion, as it is demoralizing in its tendency. The provision of the charter under which those loans were made, is in the following plain and comprehensive language : “ That each and every stockholder shall be entitled to a credit or loan equal to two-thirds of the total amount of his shares : Provided, that notes or obligations for re-payment of the
money shall be annually received, and the interest paid up.” Ano. ther provision of the charter contained in the 28th section, authorizes the interest to “ be paid or deducted in advance.” The Bank, I learn, has strictly pursued the provisions of the charter. The notes have all been made payable within one year from their respective dates, and the interest has been deducted in advance for the same period. But the notes have not generally been renewed. I cannot conceive that there is room to doubt the rights and obligations accruing to the respective parties under the express provisions of the charter. But the subject is one of too much magnitude to the people of this Territory, to be permitted to remain in a dubious condition, and if a doubt can be reasonably entertained of the right of the Bank in such cases, to maintain an action for the recovery of both the principal and interest, that doubt should be removed by the immediate action of the Legislative Council, so far as it can be done consistently with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States.
So large an amount of capital having been withdrawn from the Bank, as a permanent loan by the Stockholders, unless the interest is punctually paid, the Bank must be unable to pay the interest due the bond-holders. And if this inability shall continue until the expiration of the charter, the responsibility of the Territory assumed for the Bank, will be increased more than 100 per cent, while the property mortgaged to the Bank, as an indemnity to the Territory, will probably not more than pay the principal debt, leaving upwards of $3,000,000, accumulated by interest unpaid, to the manifest injury of the Territory and injustice to the bond-holders. I most earnestly invite the attention of the Legislative Council, to this highly important and interesting subject, and fervently hope that an adequate remedy may be found to avert these anticipated evils.
The time has arrived when we can no longer be passive specta. tors of a scene, in which the interest, the honor, and the good faith of the Territory are placed in jeopardy. The crisis demands prompt and immediate action. Our responsibilities are increasing in a ratio, with the accumulation of interest on the bonds, and the longer we delay, the greater will be the amount of that responsibility. The in. terest due from the stockholders to the bank must be paid. And the interest due from the Bank to the bond-holders, must in like manner be paid. The punctuality of the first party will create an ability in the second party to discharge its obligations; but until some efficient measures are adopted, for this purpose, many of the stockholders repo. sing in the imaginary security they enjoy, in the want of power on the part of the Bank to enforce collections, will not, it is apprehended, make the necessary exertions to pay the interest now due, or that which will hereafter accumulate.