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might be appointed by the government, would must be deprived of their chief means of probe required to report to the Executive as fully tection against its abuses; for, whatever conas the late directors have done, and more fre- flicting opinions may exist as to the right of quently, because the danger is more imminent; the directors appointed in January, 1833, to and it would be my duty to require of them a hold over until new appointments shall be made, full detail of every part of the proceedings of it is very obvious that, whilst their rejection the corporation, or any of its officers, in order by the Senate remains in force, they cannot, that I might be enabled to decide whether I with propriety, attempt to exercise such a should exercise the power of ordering a scire power. In the present state of things, therefacias, which is reserved to the President by the fore, the corporation will be enabled effectually charter, or adopt such other lawful measures as to accomplish the object it has been so long the interests of the country might require. It endeavoring to attain. Its exchange commitis too obvious to be doubted, that the miscon- tees, and its delegated powers to its president, duct of the corporation would never have been may hereafter be dispensed with, without inbrought to light by the aid of a public proceed curring the danger of exposing its proceedings ing at the board of directors.
to the public view. The sentinels which the " The board, when called on by the govern- law had placed at its board can no longer appear ment directors, refused to institute an inquiry there. or require an account, and the mode adopted by “Justice to myself, and to the faithful offithe latter was the only one by which the ob- cers by whom the public has been so well and. ject could be attained. It would be absurd to so honorably served, without compensation or admit the right of the government directors to reward, during the last year, has required of give information, and at the same time deny the me this full and frank exposition of my motives means of obtaining it. It would be but another for nominating them again after their rejection mode of enabling the bank to conceal its proceed by the Senate. I repeat, that I do not question ings, and practice with impunity its corruptions. the right of the Senate to confirm or reject at In the mode of obtaining the information, there- their pleasure; and if there had been any reafore, and in their efforts to put an end to the son to suppose that the rejection, in this case, abuses disclosed, as well as in reporting them, had not been produced by the causes to which the conduct of the late directors was judicious I have attributed it, or of my views of their and praiseworthy, and the honesty, firmness, duties, and the present importance of their rigid and intelligence, which they have displayed, performance, were other than they are, I should entitle them, in my opinion, to the gratitude of have cheerfully acquiesced, and attempted to the country:
find others who would accept the unenviable “If the views of the Senate be such as I have trust. But I cannot consent to appoint direcsupposed, the difficulty of sending to the Senate tors of the bank to be the subservient instruany other names than those of the late directors ments, or silent spectators, of its abuses and will be at once apparent. I cannot consent to corruptions; nor can I ask honorable men to place before the Senate the name of any one undertake the thankless duty, with the certain who is not prepared, with firmness and honesty, prospect of being rebuked by the Senate for its to discharge the duties of a public director in faithful performance, in pursuance of the lawful the manner they were fulfilled by those whom directions of the Executive.” the Senate have refused to confirm. If, for performing a duty lawfully required of them by This message brought up the question, virthe Executive, they are to be punished by the tually, Which was the nominating power, in the subsequent rejection of the Senate, it would case of the government directors of the bank ? not only be useless but cruel to place men of
was it the President and Senate ? or the bank character and honor in that situation, if even such men could be found to accept it. If they and the Senate ? for it was evident that the failed to give the required information, or to four now nominated were rejected to gratify take proper measures to obtain it, they would the bank, and for reasons that would apply to be removed by the Executive. If they gave the information, and took proper measures to ob- every director that would discharge his duties tain it, they would, upon the next nomination, in the way these four had done-namely, as be rejected by the Senate. It would be unjust government directors, representing its stock, in me to place any other citizens in the predic-guarding its interest, and acting for the governament in which this unlooked for decision of the Senate has placed the estimable and honor- ment in all cases which concerned the welfare able men who were directors during the last of an institution whose notes were a national year.
currency, whose coffers were the depository of “If I am not in error in relation to the prin- the public moneys, and in which it had a direct ciples upon which these gentlemen have been interest of seven millions of dollars in its stock. rejected, the necessary consequence will be that the bank will hereafter be without government It brought up this question : and if negatived, directors and the people of the United States virtually decided that the nominating power
should be in the bank; and that the govern- of the other, would not, and could not, fail, in ment directors should no more give such infor- the end, to break up all harmonious intercourse mation to the President as these iour had given, deplore as highly injurious to the best interests
between them. This your committee would And this question it was determined to try, and of the country. The President, doubtless, asks that definitively, in the persons of these four himself, in the case of every nomination for nominated directors, with the declared deter- office, whether the person be fit for the office; mination to nominate no others if they were
whether he be actuated by correct views and
motives; and whether he be likely to be influrejected; and so leave the government without enced by those considerations which should representation in the bank. This message of alone govern him in the discharge of his duties re-nomination was referred to the Senate's Com- -is he honest, capable, and faithful ? Being mittee of Finance, of which Mr. Tyler was chair- satisfied in these particulars, the President sub
mits his name to the Senate, where the same man, and who made a report adverse to the re- inquiries arise, and its decision should be prenominations, and in favor of again rejecting the sumed to be dictated by the same high consinominees. The points made in the report were, derations as those which govern the President first, the absolute right of the Senate to reject
in originating the nomination.
“For these reasons, the committee have altonominations; secondly, their privilege to give gether refrained from entering into any discusno reasons for their rejections (which the Pre- sion of the legal duties and obligations of direcsident had not asked); and, thirdly, against the tors of the bank, appointed by the President general impolicy of making re-nominations, and Senate, which forms the main topic of the
message. while admitting both the right and the practice
“The committee would not feel that it had in extrordinary occasions. Some extracts will fully acquitted itself of its obligations, if it did show its character: thus:
not avail itself of this occasion to call the at
tention of the Senate to the general subject of "The President disclaims, indeed, in terms, renomination. all right to inquire into the reasons of the Sen- “The committee do not deny that a right of ate for rejecting any nomination; and yet the renomination exists; but they are of opinion message immediately undertakes to infer, from that, in very clear and strong cases only should facts and circumstances, what those reasons, the Senate reverse decisions which it has delibwhich influenced the Senate in this case, must erately formed, and officially communicated to have been; and goes on to argue, much at large, the President. against the validity of such supposed reasons. “ The committee perceive, with regret, an inThe committee are of opinion that, if, as the timation in the message that the President may President admits, he cannot inquire into the not see fit to send to the Senate the names of reasons of the Senate for refusing its assent to any other persons to be directors of the bank, nominations, it is still more clear that these except those whose nominations have been alreasons cannot, with propriety, be assumed, ready rejected. While the Senate will exercise and made subjects of comment.
its own rights according to its own views of its “In cases in which nominations are rejected | duty, it will leave to other officers of the gofor reasons affecting the character of the per- vernment to decide for themselves on the mansons nominated, the committee think that no ner they will perform their duties. The cominference is to be drawn except what the vote mittee know no reasons why these offices should shows; that is to say, that the Senate with- not be filled; or why, in this case, no further holds its advice and consent from the nomina- nomination should be made, after the Senate tions. And the Senate, not being bound to has exercised its unquestionable right of rejectgive reasons for its votes in these cases, it is ing particular persons who have been nominot bound, nor would it be proper for it, as the nated, any more than in other cases. The Sencommittee think, to give any answer to remarks ate will be ready at all times to receive and founded on the presumption of what such rea- consider any such nominations as the President sons must have been in the present case. They may present to it. feel themselves, therefore, compelled to forego "The committee recommend that the Senate any response whatever to the message of the do not advise and consent to the appointment President, in this particular, as well by the rea of the persons thus renominated.” sons before assigned, as out of respect to that high officer.
While these proceedings were going on in “ The President acts upon his own views of the Senate, the four rejected gentlemen were public policy, in making nominations to the paying some attention to their own case; and, Senate; and the Senate does no more, when it confirms or rejects such nominations.
“memorial” addressed to the Senate and “* For either of these co-ordinate departments to the House of Representatives, answered the to enter into the consideration of the motives charges against them in the Directors' Report,
and vindicated their own conduct in giving the has been done to them by the late measure of information which the President requested
the Secretary of the Treasury, in removing the reasserted the truth of that information; and public deposits, an elaborate statement has been
prepared and widely circulated; and taking gave further details upon the manner in which that as their basis, it has been resolved by the they had been systematically excluded from a majority to present a memorial to the Senate participation in conducting the main business and House of Representatives. We have not, of the bank, and even from a knowledge of what and do not interfere in the controversy which
exists between the majority of the board and was done. They said:
the executive department of the government;
but unjustly assailed as we have been in the “ Selected by the President and Senate as statement to which we have referred, we regovernment directors of the Bank of the United spectfully claim the same right of submitting States, we have endeavored, during the present our conduct to the same tribunal, and asking year, faithfully to discharge the duties of that of the assembled representatives of the Ameriresponsible trust. Appointed without solici- can people that impartial hearing, and that fair tation, deriving from the office no emolument, protection, which all their officers and all we have been guided in our conduct by no views citizens have a right to demand. We shall but a determination to uphold, so far as was in endeavor to present the view we have taken of our power, those principles which we believe the relation in which we are placed, as well actuated the people of the United States in es- towards the institution in question as towards tablishing a national bank, and in providing by the government and people of the United States, its charter that they should be represented at to prove that from the moment we took our the board of directors. We have regarded seats among the directors of the bank, we have that institution, not merely as a source of profit been the objects of a systematic opposition ; to individuals, but as an organ of the govern- our rights trampled upon, our just interferment, established by the nation for its own
ence prevented, and our offices rendered utterly benefit. We have regarded ourselves, not as useless, for all the purposes required by the mere agents of those whose funds have been charter'; and to show that the statements by subscribed towards the capital of the bank, but the majority of the board, in the document to as officers appointed on behalf of the American which we refer, convey an account of their propeople. We have endeavored to govern all our ceedings and conduct altogether illusory and conduct as faithful representatives of them. incorrect.” We have been deterred from this by no preconcerted system to deprive us of our rights, The four gentlemen then state their opinions by no impeachment of our motives, by no false of their rights, and their duties, as government views of policy, by no course of management which might be supposed to promote the inter- directors—that they were devised as instruests of those concerned in the institution, at ments for the attainment of public objectsthe danger or sacrifice of the general good. that they were public directors, not elected by We have left the other directors to govern stockholders, but appointed by the President themselves as they may think best for the interests of those by whom they were chosen. and Senate—that their duties were not merely For ourselves, we have been determined, that to represent a moneyed interest and promote where any differences have arisen, involving on the largest dividend for stockholders, but also the one hand that open and correct course to guard all the public and political interest of which is beneficial to the whole community, and, on the other, what are supposed to be the the government in an institution so largely interests of the bank, our efforts should be sharing its support and so deeply interested in steadily directed to uphold the former, our re- its safe and honorable management. And in monstrances against the latter should be re- support of this opinion of their duties they solute and constant; and, when they proved unavailing, our appeal should be made to those quoted the authority of Gen. Hamilton, founder who were more immediately intrusted with the of the first bank of the United States; and that protection of the public welfare.
of Mr. Alexander Dallas, founder of the second “In pursuing this course we have been met and present bank ; showing that each of them, by an organized system of opposition, on the part of the majority. Our efforts have been and at the time of establishing the two banks thwarted, our motives and actions have been respectively, considered the government direcmisrepresented, our rights have been denied, tors as public officers, bound to watch over the and the limits of our duties have been gratu- operations of the bank, to oppose all malpracitously pointed out to us, by those who have bought to curtail them to meet their own policy, tices, and to report them to the government not that which we believe led to the creation whenever they occurred. And they thus quoted of the offices we hold. Asserting that injury the opinions of those two gentlemen :
"In the celebrated report of Alexander Ha- ceived that 'a right to inspect the general acmilton, in 1790, that eminent statesman and counts of the bank,' would enable government financier, although then impressed with a per- 'to detect the evils of a mal-administration, suasion that the government of the country and their detection he thought sufficient. He might well leave the management of a national was mistaken: at least so thought Congress bank to the keen, steady, and, as it were, mag- and their constituents, in 1815. Hence the innetic sense of their own interest,' existing flexible spirit which prevailed at the organizaamong the private stockholders, yet holds the tion of a new bank, in establishing an interior following remarkable and pregnant language : agency in the direction of its affairs,' by the * If the paper of a bank is permitted to insinu- appointment of public officers, through whom ate itself into all the revenues and receipts of a the evils of a mal-administration might be carecountry; if it is even to be tolerated as the fully watched and prevented.” substitute for gold and silver, in all the transactions of business; it becomes, in either view, The four gentlemen also showed, in their mea national concern of the first magnitude. As morial, that when the bill for the charter of the such, the ordinary rules of prudence require present bank was under consideration in the that the government should possess the means of ascertaining, whenever it thinks fit, that so
Senate, a motion was made to strike out the delicate a trust is executed with fidelity and clause authorizing the appointment of the go
A right of this nature is not only desir- vernment directors; and that that motion was able, as it respects the government, but it ought resisted, and successfully, upon the ground that to be equally so to all those concerned in the institution, as an additional title to public and they were to be the guardians of the public inprivate confidence, and as a thing which can terests, and to secure a just and honorable adonly be formidable to practices that imply ministration of the affairs of the bank; that mismanagement.'
they were not mere bank directors, but govern“In the letter addressed by Alexander James Dallas, the author of the existing bank, to the ment officers, bound to watch over the rights chairman of the committee on a national cur- and interests of the government, and to secure rency, in 1815, the sentiments of that truly a safe and honest management of an institution distinguished and patriotic statesman are ex- which bore the name of the United States—was plicitly conveyed upon this very point. Nor can it be doubted,' he remarks, that the de- created by it—and in which the United States partment of the government which is invested had so much at stake in its stock, in its depowith the power of appointment to all the im- sits, in its circulation, and in the safety of the portant offices of the State, is a proper depart-community which put their faith in it. Having ment to exercise the power of appointment in vindicated the official quality of their characrelation to a national trust of incalculable magnitude. The national bank ought not to be re- ters, and shown their duty as well as their garded simply as a commercial bank. It will right to inform the government of all mal-pracnot operate on the funds of the stockholders tices, they entered upon an examination of the alone, but much more on the funds of the nation. Its conduct, good or bad, will not affect
information actually given, showing the truth the corporate credit and resources alone, but of all that was communicated, and declaring it much more the credit and resources of the go-to be susceptible of proof, by the inspection of vernment. In fine, it is not an institution cre- the books of the institution, and by an examiated for the purposes of commerce and profit nation of its directors and clerks. alone, but much more for the purposes of national policy, as an auxiliary in the exercise of “We confidently assert that there is in it no some of the highest powers of the government. statement or charge that can be invalidated; Under such circumstances, the public interests that every one is substantiated by the books cannot be too cautiously guarded, and the guards and records of the bank; that no real error has proposed can never be injurious to the commer- been pointed out in this elaborate attack upon cial interests of the institution. The right to us by the majority. It is by suppressing facts inspect the general accounts of the bank, may well known to them, by misrepresenting what be employed to detect the evils of a mal-admin- we say, by drawing unjust and unfair inferences istration, but an interior agency in the direc- from particular sentences, by selecting insulated tion of its affairs will best serve to prevent phrases, and by exhibiting partial statements; them.' This last sentence, extracted from the by making unfounded insinuations, and by unable document of Secretary Dallas, developes worthily impeaching our motives, that they enat a glance what had been the experience of the deavor to controvert that which they are unAmerican government and people, in the period able to refute. When the expense account shall which elapsed between the time of Alexander be truly and fully exhibited to any tribunal, if Hamilton and that immediately preceding the it shall be found that the charges we have formation of the present bank. Hamilton con- stated do not exist; when the minutes of the
board shall be laid open, if it shall be found the to the President, and especially as it related resolutions we have quoted are not recorded; to the appointment and the conduct of the exwe shall acknowledge that we have been guilty change committee. of injustice and of error, but not till then.
A few years afterwards “We have thus endeavored to present to the a committee of the stockholders, called the assembled representatives of the American peo “ Committee of Investigation,” made a report ple, a view of the course which, for nearly a upon the conduct and condition of the bank, in year, the majority in a large moneyed institu- which this exchange committee is thus spoken tion, established by them for their benefit, have thought proper to pursue towards those who of: “The mode in which the committee of exhave been placed there, to guard their interests change transacted their business, shows that and to watch and control their conduct. We there really existed no check whatever upon have briefly stated the systematic series of ac- the officers, and that the funds of the bank tions by which they have endeavored to deprive them of every right that was conferred on them
were almost entirely at their disposition. That by the charter, and to assume to themselves a committee met daily, and were attended by the secret, irresponsible, and unlimited power. We cashier, and at times, by the president. They have shown that, in endeavoring to vindicate or exercised the power of making the loans and to save themselves, they have resorted to accusations against us, which they are unable to settlements, to full as great an extent as the sustain, and left unanswered charges which, board itself. They kept no minutes of their were thoy not true, it would be easy to repel. proceedings-no book in which the loans made, We have been urged to this from no desire to and business done, were entered; but their enter into the lists with an adversary sustained decisions and directions were given verbally to by all tho resources which boundless wealth affords. We have been driven to it by the na- the officers, to be by them carried into exture and manner of the attack made upon us, ecution. The established course of business in the document on which the intended memo
seems to have been, for the first teller to pay rial to Congress is founded."
on presentation at the counter, all checks, But all their representations were in vain. notes, or due bills having indorsed the order, Their nominations were immediately rejected, a or the initials, of one of the cashiers, and to second time, and the seal of secrecy preserved place these as vouchers in his drawer, for so inviolate upon the reasons of the rejection. much cash, where they remained, until just The “proceedings” of the Senate were allowed before the regular periodical counting of the to be published; that is to say, the acts of the cash by the standing committee of the board Senate, as a body, such as its motions, votes, on the state of the bank. These vouchers reports, &c., but nothing of what was said were then taken out, and entered as 'bills repending the nominations. A motion was made ceivable,' in a small memorandum-book, under by Mr. Wright to authorize the publication of the charge of one of the clerks. These bills the debates, which was voted down; and so were not discounted, but bore interest semi-andifferently from what was done in the case of nually, and were secured by a pledge of stock, Mr. Van Buren. In that case, the debates on or some other kind of property. It is evidentthe nomination were published; the reasons ly impossible under such circumstances, to asfor the rejection were shown; and the public certain or be assured, in regard to any particuwere enabled to judge of their validity. In this lar loan or settlement, that it was authorized case no publication of debates was allowed; the by a majority of the exchange committee. It report presented by Mr. Tyler gave no hint of can be said, however, with entire certainty, the reasons for the rejection; and the act re- that the very large business transacted in mained where that report put it-on the abso- this way does not appear upon the face of lute right to reject, without the exhibition of the discount books—was never submitted to any reason.
the examination of the members of the board And thus the nomination of the government at its regular meetings, nor is any where endirectors was rejected by the United States tered on the minutes as having been reported Senate, not for the declared, but for the known to that body for their information or approreason of reporting the misconduct of the bank bation.”