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fully commit to gain any earthly reward, and which would justly subject me to the ridicule and scorn of all virtu
I deem it entirely unnecessary at this time to enter upon the reasons which have brought my mind to the convictions I feel and entertain on this subject. They have over and over again been repeated. If some of those who have preceded me in this high office have entertained and avowed different opinions, I yield all confidence that their convictions were sincere. I claim only to have the same measure meted out to myself. Without going further into the argument, I will say that, in looking to the powers of this government to collect, safely keep, and disburse the public revenue, and incidentally regulate the commerce and exchanges, I have not been able to satisfy myself that the establishment, by this government, of a bank of discount, in the ordinary acceptation of that term, was a necessary means, or one demanded by propriety, to execute
What can the local discounts of a bank have to do with the collecting, safe-keeping, and disbursing of the revenue?
So far as the mere discounting of a paper is concerned, it is quite immaterial to this question, whether the discount is obtained at a state bank or a United States Bank.
They are both equally local — both beginning and both ending in a local accommodation. What influence have local discounts, granted by any form of banks, in the regulating of the currency and the exchanges ? Let the history of the late United States Bank aid us in answering this inquiry.
For several years after the establishment of that institution, it dealt almost exclusively in local discounts, and during that period the country was, for the most part, disappointed in the consequences anticipated from its incorporation. A uniform currency was not provided, exchanges were not regulated, and little or nothing was added to the general circulation; and in 1820 its embarrassments had become so great, that the directors petitioned Congress to repeal that article of the charter which
made its notes receivable every where, in payment of public dues.
It had, to that period, dealt to but a very small extent in exchanges, either foreign or domestic; and as late as 1832, its operations in that line amounted to little more than $7,000,000 per annum : a very rapid augmentation soon after occurred, and in 1833 its dealings in the exchanges amounted to upward of $100,000,000, including the sales of its own drafts; and all these immense transactions were effected without the employment of extraordinary means. The currency of the country became sound, and the negotiations in the exchanges were carried on at the lowest possible rates.
The circulation was increased to more than $22,000,000, and the notes of the bank were regarded as equal to specie all over the country; thus showing, most conclusively, that it was their capacity to deal in exchanges, and not in local discounts, which furnished these facilities and advantages. It may be remembered, too, that notwithstanding the immense transactions of the bank, in the purchase of exchange, the losses were merely nominal, while in the time of discounts, the suspended debt was enormous, and found most disastrous to the bank and the country. Its power of local discount has, in fact, proved to be a fruitful source of favoritism and corruption, alike desiructive to the public morals and to the general weal.
The capital invested in banks of discount in the United States at this time exceeds $350,000,000 ; and if the discounting of local paper could have produced any beneficial effects, the United States ought to possess the soundest currency in the world; but the reverse is lamentably, the fact.
Is the measure now under consideration of the objectionable character to which I have alluded ?'. It is clearly so, unless by the 16th fundamental article of the 11th section it is made otherwise. That article is in the following words:
“The directors of the said corporation shall establish one competent office of discount and deposit in any state
in which two thousand shares shall have been subscribed, or may be held, whenever, upon application of the legislature of such state, Congress may, by law, require the
And the said directors may also establish one or more competent offices of discount and deposit in any territory or district of the United States, and in any, state, with the assent of such state; and when established, the said office or offices shall be only withdrawn or removed by the said directors, prior to the expiration of this charter, with the previous assent of Congress.
Provided, in respect to any state which shall not, at the first session of the legislature thereof, held after the passage of this act, by resolution, or other usual legislative proceeding, unconditionally assent or dissent to the establishment of such office or offices within it, such assent of the said state shall be thereafter presumed; and provided, nevertheless, That, whenever it shall become necessary and proper for carrying into execution any of the powers granted by the Constitution, to establish an office or offices in any of the states whatever, and the establishment thereof shall be directed by law, it shall be the duty of the said directors to establish such office or offices accordingly.”,
It will be seen by this clause that the directors are invested with the fullest power to establish a branch in any state which has yielded its assent, and, having established such branch, it shall not afterward be withdrawn except by order of Congress. Such assent is to be implied, and to have the force and sanction of an actually expressed assent, provided, in respect to any state which shall not, at the first session of the legislature held thereof after the passage of this act, by resolution or other usual legislative proceeding, unco
conditionally assent or dissent to the establishment of such office or offices within it, such assent of such state shall be presumed.” The assent or dissent is to be expressed unconditionally, at the first session of the legislature, by some formal
, legislative act; and if not so expressed, its assent is to be implied, and the directors are therefore invested with power, at such time thereafter as they may please, to establish branches, which cannot afterward be withdrawn, except by resolve of Congress : no matter what may be the cause which may operate with the
legislature, which either prevents it from speaking, or addresses itself to its wisdom to induce delay, its assent is to be implied — binding and inflexible. It is the lawgiver of the master to the vassal; an unconditional answer is claimed forthwith, and delay, postponement, or incapacity to answer, produces an implied' assent, which is ever after irrevocable.
Many of the state elections have already taken place, without any knowledge on the part of the people, that such a question was to come up. The representatives may desire a submission of the question to their constituents preparatory to final action upon it, but this high privilege is denied; whatever may be the motives and views entertained by the representatives of the people to induce delay, their assent is to be presumed, and is ever afterward binding, unless their dissent shall be unconditionally expressed at their first session after the passage of this bill into a law.
They may by formal resolution declare the question of assent or dissent to be undecided and postponed, and yet, in opposition to their express declaration to the contrary, their assent is to be implied. Cases innumerable might be cited to manifest the irrationality of such an inference. Let one or two in addition suffice — the popular branch of the legislature may express the dissent by a unanimous vote, and its resolution may be defeated by the vote of the Senate; and yet the assent is to be implied. Both branches of the legislature may concur in a resolution of decided dissent, and yet the governor may exert the veto power conferred on him by the state constitution, and their legislative action be defeated; and yet the assent of the legislative authority is implied, and the directors of this contemplated institution are authorized to establish a branch or branches in such state, whenever they may find it conducive to the interest of the stockholders to do so; and having once established it, they can under no circum-stances withdraw it, except by an act of Congress.
The state may afterward protest against any such unjust inference — but its authority is gone. Its assent is implied by its failure or inability to act at its first session, and its voice can never afterward be heard. To inferences so violent, and, as they seem to me, irrational, I cannot yield
No court of justice would or could sanction them, without reversing all that is established in judicial proceedings, by introducing presumptions at variance to the fact, and inferences at the expense of reason. A state in a condition of duress would be presumed to speak, as an individual manacled and imprisoned might be presumed to be in the enjoyment of freedom. Far better to say to the states boldly and frankly — Congress wills, and submission is demanded.
It 'may be said that the directors may not establish branches under such circumstances; but this is a question of power, and this bill invests them with full power to do so. If the legislature of New York, or Pennsylvania, or any other state, should be found in such condition as I have supposed, could there be any security furnished against such a step on the part of the directors ? Nay, is it not fairly to be presumed that this próviso was introduced for the sole purpose of meeting the contingency referred to ? Why else should it have been introduced ?
And I would submit to the Senate, whether it can be believed, that any state would be likely to sit quietly down, under such a state of things? In a great measure of public interest their patriotism may be successfully appealed to; but to infer their assent from circumstances at war with such inference, I cannot but regard as calculated to excite a feeling at fatal enmity with the peace and harmony of the country. I must therefore regard this clause as asserting the power to be in Congress to establish offices of discount in a state, not only without its assent, but against its dissent; and so regarding it, I cannot sanction it.
On general principles, the right in Congress to prescribe terms to any state, implies a superiority of power and control, deprives the transaction of all prétence to the compact between them, and terminates, as we have seen, in the total abrogation of freedom and action on the part of the states. But fourth ; the state may express, after the most solemn form of legislation, its dissent, which may from time to time thereafter be repeated, in full view of its own interest, which can never be separated from the wise and beneficent operations of this government; and yet Congress may, by virtue of the last proviso, overrule its law, and upon grounds which, to such state, will appear