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Court. To this conclusion I cannot assent. venient, a useful, and essential instrument in the Mere precedence is a dangerous source of au- prosecution of the government’s ‘fiscal operathority, and should not be regarded as deciding tions,' they conclude that to 'use one must be questions of constitutional power, except where within the discretion of Congress;' and that the acquiescence of the people and the States the act to incorporate the Bank of the United can be considered as well settled. So far from States, is a law made in pursuance of the constithis being the case on this subject, an argument tution. But,' say they, where the law is not against the bank might be based on precedent. prohibited, and is really calculated to effect any One Congress, in 1791, decided in favor of a of the objects intrusted to the government, to bank; another, in 1811, decided against it. One undertake here to inquire into the degree of its Congress, in 1815, decided against a bank; an- necessity, would be to pass the line which cirother, in 1816, decided in its favor. Prior to cumscribes the judicial department, and to tread the present Congress, therefore, the precedents on legislative ground.' drawn from that source were equal. If we re- “The principle, here affirmed, is, that the 'desort to the States, the expressions of legislative, gree of its necessity,' involving all the details of a judicial, and executive opinions against the bank banking institution, is a question exclusively for have been, probably, to those in its favor, as four / legislative consideration. A bank is constituto one. There is nothing in precedent, there- tional ; but it is the province of the legislature fore, which, if its authority were admitted, ought to determine whether this or that particular to weigh in favor of the act before me.

power, privilege, or exemption, is ' necessary and “If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered propers to enable the bank to discharge its duthe whole ground of this act, it ought not to ties to the government; and from their decision control the co-ordinate authorities of this gov- there is no appeal to the courts of justice. Unernment. The Congress, the Executive, and the der the decision of the Supreme Court, therefore, court, must each for itself be guided by its own it is the exclusive province of Congress and opinion of the constitution. Each public officer the President to decide whether the particular who takes an oath to support the constitution, features of this act are é necessary and proper,' swears that he will support it as he understands in order to enable the bank to perform, conveniit, and not as it is understood by others. It is ently and efficiently, the public duties assigned as much the duty of the House of Representa- to it as a fiscal agent, and therefore constitutiontives, of the Senate, and of the President, to al ; or unnecessary and improper, and therefore decide upon the constitutionality of any bill or unconstitutional." resolution which may be presented to them for passage or approval, as it is of the supreme With regard to the misconduct of the institujudges, when it may be brought before them tion, both in conducting its business and in refor judicial decision. The opinion of the judges has no more authority

over Congress than the sisting investigation, the message spoke the genopinion of Congress has over the judges; and eral sentiment of the disinterested country when on that point the President is independent of it said: both. The authority of the Supreme Court must not, therefore, be permitted to control the Con- "Suspicions are entertained, and charges are gress, or the Executive, when acting in their made, of gross abuses and violations of its charter. legislative capacities, but to have only such in- An investigation unwillingly conceded, and so fluence as the force of their reasoning may de- restricted in time as necessarily to make it in

complete and unsatisfactory, discloses enough to “But in the case relied upon, the Supreme excite suspicion and alarm. In the practices of Court have not decided that all the features of the principal bank, partially unveiled in the abthis corporation are compatible with the consti- sence of important witnesses, and in numerous tution. *It is true that the court have said that charges confidently made, and as yet wholly the law incorporating the bank is a constitution uninvestigated, there was enough to induce a al exercise of power by Congress. But taking majority of the committee of investigation, a into view the whole opinion of the court, and committee which was selected from the most the reasoning by which they have come to that able and honorable members of the House of conclusion, I understand them to have decided Representatives, to recommend a suspension of that, inasmuch as a bank is an appropriate further action upon the bill, and a prosecution means for carrying into effect the enumerated of the inquiry. As the charter had yet four powers of the general government, therefore the years to run, and as a renewal now was not nelaw incorporating it is in accordance with that cessary to the successful prosecution of its busiprovision of the constitution which declares that ness, it was to have been expected that the bank Congress shall have power to make all laws itself

, conscious of its purity, and proud of its which shall be necessary and proper for carrying character, would have withdrawn its application those powers into execution. Having satisfied for the present, and demanded the severest scruthemselves that the word 'necessary, in the tiny into all its transactions. In their declining constitution, means 'needful,' 'requisite,' essen- to do so, there seems to be an additional reason tial,''conducive to,' and that'a bank' is a con- why the functionaries of the government should




proceed with less haste, and more caution, in cease and determine on or before the 3d day of the renewal of their monopoly.”

March, 1836; and, within the same period, its

debts must be collected, as no new contract can The appearance of the veto message was the be made with it, as a corporation, for the resignal for the delivery of the great speeches of newal of loans, or discount of notes or bills,

after that time." the advocates of the bank. Thus far they had held back, refraining from general debate, and Mr. Senator White of Tennessee, seizing upon limiting themselves to brief answers to current this open entrance into the political arena by objections. Now they came forth in all their the bank, thanked Mr. Webster for his candor, strength, in speeches elaborate and studied, and and summoned the people to the combat of the covering the whole ground of constitutionality great moneyed power, now openly at the head and expediency; and delivered with unusual of a great political party, and carrying the forwarmth and vehemence. Mr. Webster,


tunes of that party in the question of its own Clay, Mr. Clayton of Delaware, and Mr. Ewing continued existence. He said: of Ohio, thus entered the lists for the bank.

“I thank the senator for the candid ayowal, And why these speeches, at this time, when it

that unless the President will sign such a charwas certain that speaking would have no effect ter as will suit the directors, they intend to inin overcoming the veto—that the constitutional terfere in the election, and endeavor to displace majority of two thirds of each House to carry it, him. With the same candor I state that, after so far from being attainable, would but little this declaration, this charter shall never be ra

newed with my consent. exceed a bare majority? The reason was told

“Let us look at this matter as it is. Immedi by the speakers themselves—fully told, as an ately before the election, the directors apply for appeal to the people—as a transfer of the ques- a charter, which they think the President at tion to the political arena-to the election fields, any other time will not sign, for the express

purpose of compelling him to sign contrary to and especially to the presidential election, then his judgment, or of encountering all their hosimpending, and within four months of its con- tility in the canvass, and at the polls. Suppose summation—and a refusal on the part of the this attempt to have succeeded, and the President, corporation to submit to the decision of the con- through fear of his election, had signed this charstituted authorities. This was plainly told by be destructive of the liberty of the people who

ter, although he conscientiously believes it will Mr. Webster in the opening of his argument; have elected him to preside over them, and prefrightful distress was predicted: and the change serve their liberties, so far as in his power. of the chief magistrate was presented as the What next? Why, whenever the charter is only means of averting an immense calamity on

likely to expire hereafter, they will come, as they do

now, on the eve of the election, and one hand, or of securing an immense benefit on compel the chief magistrate to sign such a charter the other. He said:

as they may dictate, on pain of being turned out “It is now certain that, without a change in gratify this moneyed aristocracy, to the whole

and disgraced. Would it not be far better to our public councils, this bank will not be con- extent at once, and renew their charter for ever? tinued, nor will any other be established, which, The temptation to a periodical interference in according to the general sense and language of

our elections would then be taken away. mankind, can be entitled to the name. In three

“Sir, if, under these cirumstances, the charter years and nine months from the present mo- is renewed, the elective franchise is destroyed, and ment, the charter of the bank expires; within the liberties and prosperity of the people are that period, therefore, it must wind up its con- delivered over to this moneyed institution, to be cerns. It must call in its debts, withdraw its disposed of at their discretion. Against this I bills from circulation, and cease from all its or enter my solemn protest.” dinary operations. All this is to be done in

and nine months; because, although The distress to be brought upon the country there is a provision in the charter rendering it by the sudden winding up of the bank, the sudlawful to use the corporate name for two years den calling in of all its debts, the sudden withafter the expiration of the charter, yet this is allowed only for the purpose of suits, and for drawal of all its capital, was pathetically dwelt the sale of the estate belonging to the bank, and upon by all the speakers, and the alarming pio for no other purpose whatever. The whole ac- ture thus presented by Mr. Clayton: tive business of the bank, its custody of public deposits, its transfers of public moneys, its "I ask, what is to be done for the country? dealing in exchange, all its loans and discounts, All thinking men must now admit that, as the and all its issues of bills for circulation, must present bank must close its concerns in less than

three years


four years, the pecuniary distress, the commer- tion of its charter-and the question of the recial embarrassments, consequent upon its de- newal was not decided until within the last days struction, must exceed any thing which has ever of the existence of its charter-yet there been known in our history, unless some other bank can be established to relieve us. Eight was no distress, and no pressure upon its debtand a half millions of the bank capital, belong-ors. A trust was created; and the collection ing to foreigners, must be drawn from us to of debts conducted so gently that it is not yet Europe. Seven millions of the capital must be finished. The trustees are still at work: and paid to the government, not to be loaned again, but to remain, as the President proposes, de within this year, and while this application for a posited in a branch of the treasury, to check the renewed charter to the second bank is going on, issues of the local banks. The immense avail they announce a dividend of some cents on the able resourses of the present institution, amount- share out of the last annual collections; and ining, as appears by the report in the other House, timate no time within which they will finish; to $82,057,483, are to be used for banking no longer, and nearly fifty millions of dollars in so that this menace of distress from the second notes discounted, on personal and other security, bank, if denied a renewal four years before the must be paid to the bank. The State banks must pay over all their debts to the expiring in- expiration of its charter, and four years before stitution, and curtail their discounts to do so, the commencement of the two years to which it is or resort, for the relief of their debtors, to the entitled, was entirely gratuitous, and would have old plan of emitting more paper, to be bought been wicked if executed. up by speculators at a heavy discount.”

Mr. Clay concluded the debate on the side of This was an alarming picture to present, and the bank application, and spoke with great arespecially as the corporation had it in its power

dor and vehemence, and with much latitude of to create the distress which it foretold—a con

style and topic—though as a rival candidate for summation frightfully realized three years later

the Presidency, it was considered by some, that a -but a picture equ

unjustifiable and gratu- greater degree of reserve might have been comitous. Two years was the extent of the time,

mendable. The veto, and its imputed undue after the expiration of its charter, that the cor- exercise, was the theme of his vehement declaporation had accepted in its charter for winding

mation. Besides discrediting its use, and deup its business; and there were now four years

nouncing it as of monarchial origin, he alluded to to run before these two years would commence. the popular odium brought upon Louis the 16th The section 21, of the charter, provided for the by its exercise, and the nickname which it caused contingency thus:

to be fastened upon him. He said: 6: And notwithstanding the expiration of the “The veto is hardly reconcilable with the term for which the said corporation is created, genius of representative government. It is toit shall be lawful to use the coporate name, style tally irreconcilable with it, if it is to be freand capacity, for the purpose of suits for the quently employed in respect to the expediency final settlement and liquidation of the affairs of measures, as well as their constitutionality. and accounts of the corporation, and for the sale It is a feature of our government borrowed from and disposition of their estate real, personal and a prerogative of the British King. And it is remixed: but not for any other purpose, or in any markable that in England it has grown obsolete, other manner whatever, nor for a period exceeding not having been used for upwards of a century. two years after the expiration of said term of At the commencement of the French Revolution, incorporation.”

in discussing the principles of their constitution,

in the national convention, the veto held a conBesides the two years given to the institution spicuous figure. The gay, laughing population after the expiration of its charter, it was perfect- of Paris bestowed on the King the appellati of ly well known, and has since been done in its Monsieur Veto, and on the Queen that of Madame

Veto.” own case, and was done by the first national bank, and may be by any expiring corporation, Mr. Benton saw the advantage which this dethat the directors may appoint trustees to wind nunciation and allusion presented, and made reup their concerns; and who will not be subject lentless use of it. He first vindicated the use to any limited time. The first national bank, and origin of the veto, as derived from the instithat which was created in 1791, and expired in tution of the tribunes of the people among the 1811–had no two years, or any time whatever, Romans, and its exercise always intended for the allowed for winding up its affairs after the expira- | benefit of the people; and, under our constitu

tion, its only effect to refer a measure to the Mr. Clay also introduced a fable, not takea
people. for their consideration, and to stay its from Æsop—that of the cat and the eagle—the
execution until the people could pass upon it, and moral of which was attempted to be turned
to adopt or reject it at an ensuing Congress. It against him. It was in allusion to the Presi-
was a power eminently just and proper in a re- dent's message in relation to the bank, and the
presentative government, and intended for the conduct of his friends since in "attacking" the
benefit of the whole people; and, therefore, institution; and said:
placed in the hands of the magistrate elected by

They have done so; and their condition now the whole. On the allusion to the nickname on reminds me of the fable invented by Dr. Frankthe King and Queen of France, he said: lin, of the Eagle and the Cat, to demonstrate

that Æsop had not exhausted invention, in the “ He not only recollected the historical inci- construction of his memorable fables. The eadent to which the senator from Kentucky had gle, you know, Mr. President, pounced, from his alluded, but also the character of the decrees to lofty flight in the air, upon a cat, taking it to which the unfortunate Louis the 16th had affixed be a pig. Ilaving borne off his prize, he quickhis vetoes. One was the decree against the emi- ly felt most painfully the claws of the cat thrust grants, dooming to death and confiscation of deeply into his sides and body. Whilst flying, estate every man, woman, and child who should he held a parley with the supposed pig, and attempt to save their lives by flying from the proposed to let go his hold, if the other would pike, the guillotine, and the lamp-post. The other let him alone. No, says puss, you brought me was a decree exposing to death the ministers of from yonder earth below, and I will hold fast religion who could not take an oath which their to you until you carry me back; a condition to consciences repulsed. To save tottering age, which the eagle readily assented.” trembling mothers, and affrighted children from massacre-to save the temples and altars of God Mr. Benton gave a poetical commencement to from being stained by the blood of his minis- this fable; and said: ters—were the sacred objects of those vetoes; and was there any thing to justify a light or re- “An eagle towering in his pride of height proachful allusion to them in the American was-not by a mousing owl, but by a pig under Senate? The King put his constitutional vetoes a jimpson weed-not hawked and killed, but to these decrees; and the canaille of Saint An- caught and whipt. The opening he thought toine and Marceau-not the gay and laughing grand ; the conclusion rather bathotic. The Parisians, but the bloody canaille, instigated mistake of the sharp-eyed bird of Jore, he by leaders more ferocious than themselves-be-thought might be attributed to old age dimgan to salute the King as Monsieur Veto, and ming the sight, and to his neglect of his spectademand his head for the guillotine. And the cles that morning. He was rather surprised at Queen, when seen at the windows of her prison, the whim of the cat in not choosing to fall, seeher locks pale with premature white, the effect ing that a cat (unlike a politician sometimes), of an agonized mind at the ruin she witnessed, always falls on its legs; but concluded it was a the poissardes saluted her also as Madame piece of pride in puss, and a wish to assimilate Veto; and the Dauphin came in for the epithet itself still closer to an aeronaut; and having gone of the Little Veto. All this was terrible in up pendant to a balloon, it would come down France, and in the disorders of a revolution; but artistically, with a parachute spread over its why revive their remembrance in this Congress, head. It was a pretty fable, and well told; but successor to those which were accustomed to the moral—the application? Æsop always had call this king our great ally ? and to compliment a moral to his fable; and Dr. Franklin, his imhim on the birth of that child, stigmatized le petit puted continuator in this particular, though veto, and perishing prematurely under the inhu- not yet the rival of his master in fabulous repumanities of the convention inflicted by the hand | tation, yet had a large sprinkling of practical of Simon, the jailer? The two elder vetoes, sense; and never wrote or spoke without a Monsieur and Madame, came to the guillotine in point and an application. And now, what is Paris, and the young one to a death, compared the point here ? And the senator from Kento which the guillotine was mercy. And now, tucky has not left that to be inferred; he has why this allusion ? what application of its moral ? told it himself. General Jackson is the eagle ; Surely it is not pointless; not devoid of meaning the bank is the cat; the parley is the proposi. and practical application. We have no bloody tion of the bank to the President to sign its guillotines here, but we have political ones: charter, and it will support him for the presisharp axes falling from high, and cutting off dency—if not, will keep his claws stuck in his political heads! Is the service of that axe in- sides. But, Jackson, different from the eagle voked here upon 'General Andrew Veto ?' If with his cat, will have no compromise, or barso, and the invocation should be successful, then gain with the bank. One or the other shall Andrew Jackson, like Louis 16th, will cease to fall! and be dashed into atoms ! be in any body's way in their march to power.” "Having disposed of these preliminary topics

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Mr B. came to the matter in hand—the debate servative Senate and the Tribunitial Assembly on the bank, which had only commenced on the made him emperor by construction; and the side of the friends of that institution since the same construction which was put upon the 22d return of the veto message. Why debate the article of the French constitution of the year bank question now, he exclaimed, and not de VIII. may be as easily placed upon the general bate it before? Then was the time to make welfare' clause in the constitution of these converts; now, none can be expected. Why United States. are lips unsealed now, which were silent as the “ The Bank is in the field, and the West,grave when this act was on its passage through the Great West, is the selected theatre of her the Senate ? The senator from Kentucky him- operations. There her terrors, her seductions, self, at the end of one of his numerous perora- her energies, her rewards and her punishments, tions, declared that he expected to make no are to be directed. The senator from Massaconverts. Then, why 'speak three hours ? and chusetts opened yesterday with a picture of the other gentlemen speak a whole day? Why ruin in the West, if the bank were not recharthis post facto-post mortemthis posthumous tered; and the senator from Kentucky, Mr. -debate ?—The deed is done. The bank bill Clay, wound up with a retouch of the same picis finished. Speaking cannot change the minds ture to day, with a closeness of coincidence of senators, and make them reverse their votes; which showed that this part of the battle still less can it change the President, and make ground had been reviewed in company by the him recall his veto. Then why speak? To associate generals and duplicate senators. Both whom do they speak? With what object do agree that the West is to be ruined if the bank they speak? Sir! exclaimed Mr. B., this post be not rechartered ; and rechartered it cannot facto debate is not for the Senate, nor the Pres- be, unless the veto President is himself retoed. ident, nor to alter the fate of the bank bill. It is This is certainly candid. But the gentlemen's to rouse the officers of the bank-to direct the ef- candor did not stop there. They went on to show forts of its mercenaries in their designs upon the the modus operandi ; to show how the ruin people--to bring out its stream of corrupting influ- would be worked, how the country would be de ence, by inspiring hope, and to embody all its re- vastated,-—if Jackson was not put down, and the cruits at the polls to vote against President Jack-bank rechartered. The way was this: The West son. Without an avowal we would all know owes thirty millions of dollars to the bank; the this; but we have not been left without an bank will sue every debtor within two years afavowal. The senator from Massachusetts (Mr. ter its charter expires; there will be no money in Webster), who opened yesterday, commenced the country to pay the judgments, all property his speech with showing that Jackson must be will be sold at auction; the price of all property put down; that he stood as an impassable bar- will fall; even the growing crops, quite up to rier between the bank and a new charter; and Boon's Lick, will sink in value and lose half their that the road to success was through the ballot price! This is the picture of ruin now drawn by boxes at the presidential election. The object the senator from Massachusetts; these the words of this debate is then known, confessed, declared, of a voice now pleading the cause of the West avowed; the bank is in the field; enlisted for against Jackson, the sound of which voice never the war; a battering ram—the catapulta, not happened to be heard in favor of the West during of the Romans, but of the National Republicans; the late war, when her sons were bleeding under not to beat down the walls of hostile cities, but the British and the Indians, and Jackson was peto beat down the citadel of American liberty; rilling life and fortune to save and redeem her. to batter down the rights of the people; to de- “This is to be the punishment of the West if stroy a hero and patriot; to command the elec- she votes for Jackson; and by a plain and natutions, and to elect a Bank President by dint of ral inference, she is to have her reward for put

ting him down and putting up another. Thirty “The bank is in the field (said Mr. B.), a com- millions is the bank debt in the West; and batant, and a fearful and tremendous one, in the these thirty millions they threaten to collect presidential election. If she succeeds, there is by writs of execution if Jackson is re-elected; an end of American liberty—an end of the re- but if he be not elected, and somebody else be public. The forms of election may be permitted elected, then they promise no forced payments for a while, as the forms of the consular elec- shall be exacted, -hardly any payment at all! tions were permitted in Rome, during the last The thirty millions it is pretended will almost years of the republic; but it will be for a while, be forgiven; and thus a bribe of thirty millions only. The President of the bank, and the Pres- is deceitfully offered for the Western vote, ident of the United States, will be cousins, and with a threat of punishment, if it be not taken! cousins in the royal sense of the word. They But the West, and especially the State of Ohio, will elect each other. They will elect their suc- is aware that Mr. Clay does not use the bank cessors; they will transmit their thrones to their power, in extending charities-coercion is his descendants, and that by legislative construc- mode of appeal—and when President Clay and tion. The great Napoleon was decreed to be President Biddle have obtained their double hereditary emperor by virtue of the 22d article sway, all these fair promises will be forgotten. of the constitution of the republic. The con- Mr. B. had read in the Roman history of the

VOL. I.-17

bank power.

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