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of local banks as fiscal agents of the govern.
ment—which gave to the institutions so selected, CHAPTER XLIX. the invidious appellation of “pet banks ;” mean
ing that they were government favorites. BANK OF THE UNITED STATES.
In the mean time the question which the Presi
dent had submitted to Congress in relation to a It has been already shown that General Jack- government fiscal agent, was seized upon as an son in his first annual message to Congress, call- admitted design to establish a government bank ed in question both the constitutionality and -stigmatized at once as a “ thousand times more expediency of the national bank, in a way to dangerous” than an incorporated national bankshow him averse to the institution, and dis- and held up to alarm the country. Committees in posed to see the federal government carried on each House of Congress, and all the public press without the aid of such an assistant. In the in the interest of the existing Bank of the same message he submitted the question to Con- United States, took it up in that sense, and vehegress, that, if such an institution is deemed es- mently inveighed against it. Under an instrucsential to the fiscal operations of the govern- tion to the Finance Committee of the Senate, to ment, whether a national one, founded upon the report upon a plan for a uniform currency, and credit of the government, and its revenues, might under a reference to the Committee of Ways and not be devised, which would avoid all constitu- Means of the House, of that part of the Presitional difficulties, and at the same time secure all dent's message which related to the bank and its the advantages to the government and country currency, most ample, elaborate and argumentathat were expected to result from the present tive reports were made—wholly repudiating all bank. I was not in Washington when this mes- the suggestions of the President, and sustaining sage was prepared, and had had no conversation the actual Bank of the United States under every with the President in relation to a substitute for aspect of constitutionality and of expediency: the national bank, or for the currency which it fur- and strongly presenting it for a renewal of its nished, and which having a general circulation charter. These reports were multiplied without was better entitled to the character of “nation regard to expense, or numbers, in all the varieal” than the issues of the local or State banks. ties of newspaper and pamphlet publication; We knew each other's opinions on the question of and lauded to the skies for their power and er a bank itself: but had gone no further. I had cellence, and triumphant refutation of all the never mentioned to him the idea of reviving the President's opinions. Thus was the “war of the gold currency—then, and for twenty years--ex- bank” commenced at once, in both Houses of tinct in the United States : nor had I mentioned Congress, and in the public press; and openly at to him the idea of an independent or sub-trea- the instance of the bank itself, which, forgetting sury—that is to say, a government treasury un- its position as an institution of the government, connected with any bank—and which was to for the convenience of the government, set itself have the receiving and disbursing of the public up for a power, and struggled for a continued moneys. When these ideas were mentioned to existence—in the shape of a new charter-as a him, he took them at once; but it was not until question of its own, and almost as a right. It the Bank of the United States should be disposed allied itself at the same time to the political parof that any thing could be done on these two ty opposed to the President, joined in all their subjects; and on the latter a process had to be schemes of protective tariff, and national intergone through in the use of local banks as depos- nal improvement: and became the head of the itories of the public moneys which required sev- American system. With its moneyed and politieral years to show its issue and inculcate its les- cal power, and numerous interested affiliations, son. Though strong in the confidence of the and its control over other banks, brokers and people, the President was not deemed strong money dealers, it was truly a power, and a great enough to encounter all the banks of all the one: and, in answer to a question put by Gene States at once. Temporizing was indispensable ral Smith, of Maryland, chairman of the Finance --and even the conciliation of a part of them. Committee of the Senate already mentioned (and Hence the deposit system-or some years' use appended with other questions and answers to
that report), Mr. Biddle, the president, showed ourselves as laid down by Mr. Jefferson ; and a power in the national bank to save, relieve or has been sometimes abused, and by each party, destroy the local banks, which exhibited it as but never to the degree supposed by Mons. de their absolute master; and, of course able to Tocqueville. He says, in his chapter 8 on Amercontrol them at will. The question was put in ican democracy: “Mr. Quincy Adams, on his a spirit of friendship to the bank, and with a entry into office, discharged the majority of the view to enable its president to exhibit the insti- individuals who had been appointed by his pretution as great, just and beneficent. The ques- decessor; and I am not aware that General tion was: “ Has the bank at anytime oppressed Jackson allowed a single removable functionary any of the State banks ?” and the answer: employed in the public service to retain his place “ Nerer.” And, as if that was not enough, Mr. beyond the first year which succeeded his elecBiddle went on to say: There are very few tion.” Of course, all these imputed sweeping rebanks which might not have been destroyed by movals were intended to be understood to have an exertion of the power of the bank. None been made on account of party politics—for difhave been injured. Many have been saved. ference of political opinion-and not for misconAnd more have been, and are constantly re- duct, or unfitness for office. To these classes of liered, when it is found that they are solvent removal (unfitness and misconduct), there could but are suffering under temporary difficulty." be no objection : on the contrary, it would have This was proving entirely too much. A power been misconduct in the President not to have reto injure and destroy—to relieve and to save the moved in such cases. Of political removals, for thousand banks of all the States and Territories difference of opinion, then, it only remains to was a power over the business and fortunes of speak; and of those officials appointed by his nearly all the people of those States and Terri- predecessor, it is probable that Mr. Adams did tories : and might be used for evil as well as for not remove one for political cause; and that M. good; and was a power entirely too large to be de Tocqueville, with respect to him, is wrong to trusted to any man, with a heart in his bosom, the whole amount of his assertion. or to any government, responsible to the people ; I was a close observer of Mr. Adams's adminmuch less to a corporation without a soul, and istration, and belonged to the opposition, which irresponsible to heaven or earth.
This was a
was then keen and powerful, and permitted noview of the case which the parties to the ques- thing to escape which could be rightfully (sometion had not foreseen; but which was noted at times wrongfully) employed against him; yet I the time; and which, in the progress of the gov- never heard of this accusation, and have no ernment struggle with the bank, received exem- knowledge or recollection at this time of a sinplifications which will be remembered by the gle instance on which it could be founded. Mr. generation of that day while memory lasts ; Adams's administration was not a case, in fact, in and afterwards known as long as history has which such removals—for difference of political power to transmit to posterity the knowledge opinion-could occur. They only take place of national calamities.
when the presidential election is a revolution of parties; and that was not the case when Mr. Adams succeeded Mr. Monroe. He belonged to the Monroe administration, had occupied the
first place in the cabinet during its whole double CHAPTER L.
term of eight years; and of course, stood in con
currence with, and not in opposition to, Mr. MonREMOVALS FROM OFFICE
roe's appointments. Besides, party lines were
confused, and nearly obliterated at that time. It I am led to give a particular examination of was called “the era of good feeling.” Mr. Adthis head, from the great error into which Tocque- ams was himself an illustration of that feeling. ville has fallen in relation to it, and which he has He had been of the federal party-brought earpropagated throughout Europe to the prejudice of ly into public life as such—a minister abroad and republican government; and also, because the a senator at home as such; but having divided power itself is not generally understood among from his party in giving support to several prom
inent measures of Mr. Jefferson's administration, on any consideration. His election was, in some he was afterwards several times nominated by degree, a revolution of parties, or rather a re-estabMr. Madison as minister abroad; and on the lishment of parties on the old line of federal and election of Mr. Monroe he was invited from democratic. It was a change of administration, London to be made his Secretary of State—where in which a change of government functionaries, he remained till his own election to the Presiden- to some extent, became a right and a duty; but cy. There was, then, no case presented to him still the removals actually made, when political
, for political removals; and in fact none such were not merely for opinions, but for conduct were made by him ; so that the accusation of M. under these opinions; and, unhappily, there was de Tocqueville, so far as it applied to Mr. Adams, is conduct enough in too many officials to justify wholly erroneous, and inexcusably careless. their removal. A large proportion of them, in
With respect to General Jackson, it is about cluding all the new appointments, were inimical equally so in the main assertion—the assertion to General Jackson, and divided against him on that he did not allow a single removable func- the re-establishment of the old party lines; and tionary to remain in office beyond the first year many of them actively. Mr. Clay, holding the after his election. On the contrary, there were first place in Mr. Adams's cabinet, took the field entire classes—all those whose functions partook against him, travelled into different States, de of the judicial—which he never touched. Boards claimed against him at public meetings; and deof commissioners for adjudicating land titles ; precated his election as the greatest of calamcommissioners for adjudicating claims under ities. The subordinates of the government, to a indemnity treaties; judges of the territorial great degree, followed his example, if not in courts; justices of the District of Columbia ; public speeches, at least in public talk and newsnone of these were touched, either in the first or paper articles; and it was notorious that these in any subsequent year of his administration, subordinates were active in the presidental elecexcept a solitary judge in one of the territories; tion. It was a great error in them. It chang and he not for political cause, but on specific ed their position. By their position all admincomplaint, and after taking the written and re-istrations were the same to them. Their duties sponsible opinion of the then Attorney General, were ministerial, and the same under all PresiMr. Grundy. Of the seventeen diplomatic func- dents. They were noncombatants. By engag tionaries abroad, only four (three ministers and ing in the election they became combatant, and one chargé des affaires) were recalled in the first subjected themselves to the law of victory and year of his administration. In the departments defeat-reward and promotion in one case, loss at Washington, a majority of the incumbents re- of place in the other. General Jackson, then, mained opposed to him during his administration. on his accession to the Presidency, was in a new Of the near eight thousand deputy postmasters situation with respect to parties, different from in the United States, precisely four hundred and that of any President since the time of Mr. Jefninety-one were removed in the time mentioned ferson, whom he took for his model, and whose by Mons. de Tocqueville, and they for all causes rule he followed. He made many removals, and --for every variety of causes. Of the whole for cause, but not so many as not to leave a manumber of removable officials, amounting to jority in office against him-even in the execut many thousands, the totality of removals was tive departments in Washington City. about six hundred and ninety and they for all Mr. Jefferson had early and anxiously studied
Thus the government archives contra- the question of removals. IIe was the first dict Mons. de Tocqueville, and vindicate General President that had occasion to make them, and Jackson's administration from the reproach cast with him the occasion was urgent. His election upon it. Yet he came into office under circum- was a complete revolution of parties, and when stances well calculated to excite him to make re-elected, he found himself to be almost the only movals. In the first place, none of his political man of his party in office. The democracy had friends, though constituting a great majority of been totally excluded from federal appointment the people of the United States, had been ap- during the administration of his predecessor; alpointed to office during the preceding administra- most all offices were in the hands of his politition; and such an exclusion could not be justified | cal foes. I recollect to have heard an officer of
the army say that there was but one field officer fy, are not proper subjects of removal, except in in the service favorable to him. This was the the case of attorneys and marshals. The courts type of the civil service. Justice to himself and being so decidedly federal and irremovable, it is
believed that republican attorneys and marshals, his party required this state of things to be al- being the doors of entrance into the courts, are tered; required his friends to have a share pro- indispensably necessary as a shield to the repubportionate to their numbers in the distribution of lican part of our fellow-citizens; which, I believe, office; and required him to have the assistance
is the main body of the people. of his friends in the administration of the govern- Six days after, he wrote to Elbridge Gerry, ment. The four years' limitation law—the law afterwards Vice-President, thus: which now vacates within the cycle of every “Mr. Adams's last appointments, when he knew presidential term the great mass of the offices he was appointing counsellors and aids for me, not - was not then in force. Resignations then, as
for himself, I set aside as fast as depends on me. now, were few. Removals were indispensable
, office, such as marshals packing juries, &c., I
Officers who have been guilty of gross abuse of and the only question was the principle upon shall now remove, as my predecessors ought in which they should be made. This question, justice to have done. The instances will be few, Mr. Jefferson studied anxiously, and under all and governed by strict rule, and not party pasits aspects of principle and policy, of national sion. The right of opinion shall suffer no inva
sion from me. Those who have acted well have and of party duty; and upon consultation with nothing to fear, however they may have differed his friends, settled it to his and their satisfaction. from me in opinion: those who have done ill, The fundamental principle was, that each party however, have nothing to hope; nor shall I fail was to have a share in the ministerial offices, to do justice, lest it should be ascribed to that
difference of opinion.” the control of each branch of the service being in the bands of the administration; that removals To Mr. Lincoln, his Attorney-General, still were only to be made for cause; and, of course, writing in the first year of his administration, he that there should be inquiry into the truth of says: imputed delinquencies. “Official misconduct," “I still think our original idea as to office is “personal misconduct," " negligence," "inca- best; that is, to depend, for obtaining a just parpacity,” “inherent vice in the appointment,
» ticipation. on deaths, resignations and delinquen
cies. This will least affect the tranquillity of the “ partisan electioneering beyond the fair exercise people, and prevent their giving into the suggesof the elective franchise;" and where “the heads tion of our enemies—that ours has been a contest of some branches of the service were politically for office, not for principle. This is rather a slow opposed to his administration ”-these, with Mr. operation, but it is sure, if we pursue it steadily, Jefferson, constituted the law of removals, and deviating resolution I could have wished. To
which, however, has not been done with the unwas so written down by him immediately after these means of obtaining a just share in the his inauguration. Thus, March 7th, 1801-only transaction of the public business, shall be added four days after his induction into offico-he one more, to wit, removal for electioneering acwrote to Mr. Monroe:
tivity, or open and industrious opposition to the
principles of the present government, legislative "Some removals, I know, must be made. and executive. Every officer of the government They must be as few as possible, done gradual- may vote at elections according to his conscience; ly, and bottomed on some malversation, or in- but we should betray the cause committed to our herent disqualification. Where we should draw care, were we to permit the influence of official the line between retaining all and none, is not patronage to be used to overthrow that cause. yet settle), and will not be until we get our ad- Your present situation will enable you to judge ministration together; and, perhaps, even then of prominent offenders in your State in the case we shall proceed i tatons, balancing our measures of the present election. I pray you to seek them, according to the impression we perceive them to to mark them, to be quite sure of your ground, make."
that we may commit no errors or wrongs; and
leave the rest to me. I have been urged to remove On the 23d of March, 1801, being still in the Mr. Whittemore, the surveyor of Gloucester, on first month of his administration, Mr. Jefferson grounds of neglect of duty and industrious oppo
sition; yet no facts are so distinctly charged as wrote thus to Gov. Giles, of Virginia :
to make the step sure which we should take in “Good men, to whom there is no objection but this. Will you take the trouble to satisfy youra difference of political opinion, practised on only
self on the point ?” 80 far as the right of a private citizen will justi- This was the law of removals as laid down by
Mr. Jefferson, and practised upon by him, but their bread, not because they had neglected their not to the extent that his principle required, or duties, not because they had taken an active part that public outcry indicated. He told me him- against the ministry, but merely because they
had owed they situations to some (whig) nobleself, not long before his death (Christmas, 1824), man who was against the peace. The proscripthat he had never done justice to his own party tion extended to tidewaiters, to doorkeepers. -had never given them the share of office to One poor man, to whom a pension had been given which there numbers entitled them—had failed for his gallantry in a fight with smugglers, was
deprived of it because he had been befriended by to remove many who deserved it, but who the (whig) Duke of Grafton. An aged widow, were spared through the intercession of friends who, on account of her husband's services in the and concern for their distressed families. Gene- navy, had, many years before, been made house ral Jackson acted upon the rule of Mr. Jefferson, keeper in a public office, was dismissed from her but no doubt was often misled into departures by marriage with the (whig) Cavendish family."
situation because she was distantly connected from the rule; but never to the extent of giving to the party more than their due proportion of This, to be sure, was a tory proscription of office, according to their numbers. Great cla- whigs, and therefore the less recommendable as mor was raised against him, and the number of an example to either party in the United States, 80-called "removals” was swelled by an abuse but too much followed by both-to the injury of the term, every case being proclaimed a “re- of individuals, the damage of the public service, moval,” where he refused to reappoint an ex- the corruption of elections, and the degradation incumbent whose term had expired under the of government. De Tocqueville quotes removals four years' limitation act. Far from universal as a reproach to our government, and although removals for opinion's sake, General Jackson, as untrue to the extent he represented, the evil has I have already said, left the majority of his op- become worse since, and is true to a sufficient ponents in office, and re-appointed many such extent to demand reform. The remedy is found whose terms had expired, and who had approved in Mr. Jefferson's rule, and in the four years' themselves faithful officers.
limitation act which has since been passed; and Having vindicated General Jackson and Mr. under which, with removals for cause, and some Adams from the reproach of Mons. de Tocque-deaths, and a few resignations, an ample field ville, and having shown that it was neither a would be found for new appointments, without principle nor a practice of the Jefferson school the harshness of general and sweeping removals. to remove officers for political opinions, I now
I consider "sweeping" removals, as now prac feel bound to make the declaration, that the doc- tised by both parties, a great political evil in our trine of that school has been too much departed country, injurious to individuals, to the public from of late, and by both parties, and to the great service, to the purity of elections, and to the detriment of the right and proper working of the harmony and union of the people. Certainly, government.
no individual has a right to an office: no one The practice of removals for opinion's sake is has an estate or property in a public employbecoming too common, and is reducing our pre- ment; but when a mere ministerial worker in a sidential elections to what Mr. Jefferson depre- subordinate station has learned its duties by excated, “ a contest of office instead of principle,” perience, and approved his fidelity by his conand converting the victories of each party, so far duct, it is an injury to the public service to exas office is concerned, into the political extermi- change him for a novice, whose only title to the nation of the other; as it was in Great Britain place may be a political badge or a partisan between the whigs and tories in the bitter con- service. It is exchanging experience for inexpetests of one hundred years ago, and when the rience, tried ability for untried, and destroying victor made a “clean sweep” of the vanquished, incentive to good conduct by destroying its releaving not a wreck behind. Mr. Macaulay thus ward. To the party displaced it is an injury, describes one of those “sweepings:
having become a proficient in that business, ex" A persecution, such as had never been known finding it difficult, at an advanced age, and with
pecting to remain in it during good behavior, and before, and has never been known since, raged in every public department. Great numbers of fixed habits, to begin a new career in some new humble and laborious clerks were deprived of walk of life. It converts elections into scram