United States. Congress.

Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives online

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Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 77 of 184)
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to render it as odious as possible in the eyes of
the world, in order that it might ultimately
fail. He recollected a parallel instance. Dur-
ing the war with Great Britain, Mr. Pickering
and some others denounced a loan which went
to carry on the war, and endeavored to dissuade '
capitalists from embarking in this loan. What
had now been the course of gentlemen on the
other side, whom he regarded as modern
Federalists? To denounce this Bank — to de-
clare that this stock would never be taken up,
and to say that they would agitate the question
of repeal till it was effected. With regard to
the time to be thus consumed on this measure,
and the others in contemplation — such as the
distribution of the proceeds of the public lands
— ^have not these subjects been discussed over
and over, and what necessity can there be of
making long speeches on them now ? Was it
not all a wasteful delay of public business?
It must be admitted that the abilities of the
Senators on the other side were very great;
but they were not gi-eat enough to put out the
light which had gone abroad, and shown the
people where their true interests lay. Let those
Senators go into the country, and they will
find the whole body of the people complaining
of the delay and interruption of the national
business, by their long speeches in Congress;
and if they will be but admonished by the
people, they will come back with a lesson to
cut short their debating, and give their atten-
tion more to. action than to words. Who ever
heard that the people would be dissatisfied
with the abridgment of speeches in Congress ?
He had never heard the shortness of speeches
complained of. Indeed, he should not be sur-
prised if the people would get up remon-
strances against lengthy speeches in Congress.

With regard to the intimation of the gentle-
man from South Carolina, (Mr. Calhoun,) he
understood him and his course perfectly well,
and told him and his friends that, for himself,
he knew not how his friends would act ; ho
was ready at any moment to bring forward
and support a measure which should give to
the majority the control of the business of the
Senate of the United States. Let them de-
nounce it as much as they pleased in advance ;
unmoved by any of their denunciations and
threats, standing firm in the support of the in-
terests which he believed the country de-
mands, for one, he was ready for the adoption
of a rule which would place the business of the
Senate under the control of a majority of the

Mr. Calhoun said there was no doubt of
the Senator's predilection for a gag law. Let
him bring on that measure as soon as ever he



1st Sess.]

Fiscal Bank of the United States.

[July, 1841.

Mv. Benton. Oome on with it
Mr. Oaliioun said that it must be admitted
that, if the Senator was not acting on the
Federal side, he would find it hard to persuade
the American people of the fact, by showing
them his love of gag laws, and strong disposi-
tion to silence both the national councils and
the press. Did he not remember something
about an alien and sedition law, and can he fail
to perceive the relationship with the measure
he contemplates to put down debate here?
What is the difference, in principle, between
his gag law and the alien and sedition law?
"We are gravely told that the speaking of the
representatives of the people, which is to con-
vey to them fuU information on the subjects
of legislation in their coimcils, is worse than
useless, and must be abated. Who consumed
the time of last Congress in long speeches,
vexatious and frivolous attempts to embarrass
and thwart the business of the country, and
useless opposition, tending to no end but that
out of doors, the Presidential election ? Who
but the Senator and his party, then in the
minority? But now, when they are in the
majority, and the most important measures
ever pressed forward together in one session,
he is the first to threaten a gag law, to choke
off debate, and deprive the minority even of
the poor privilege of entering their protest.
What does the minority contend for, but their
undoubted right to question, examine, and dis-
cuss those measures which they believe in their
hearts are inimical to the best interests of the
country ? It was objected that on one amend-
ment seven speeches had been made on this
side of the House. And what if there were ?
Was it any thing extraordinary in the fact that
seven Senators from different parts of the
Union, should have different views and differ-
ent interests to consider, or that each should
require time to deliver his views on a question
of the utmost importance — on a question reach-
ing to every man In the community — a ques-
tion demanding publicity in relation to the
power of creating fluctuations in the currency
which adjusts the price of every man's labor
and property? Yet the remonstrance against
keeping a thing of such vital interest secret
from the people, is now pronounced by the
Senator from Kentucky the best of reasons
for urging his odious gag law upon those who
have dared to remonstrate. The Senator re-
fers to the course pursued by Mr. Pickering in
a contest with the foreign enemies of the
country. He (Mr. 0.) would not say that he
and his friends were contending with domestic
enemies; but they did insist that they were
opposing principles which were as important
as those involved in that contest. What,
now, is the situation of parties here? The
Senator from Kentucky and his friends, accord-
ing to the belief of the minority in this body,
are trying to enforce measures which that
minority believes are against the best inter-
ests of the people of the United States ; and

that minority is trying to resist, and, if they
cannot prevent those measures, to make tliem
at least as harmless as they can. He (Mr.
Oalhoun) never had but one opinion ; that
from the time the suspension of the banks took
place, and the issue was before the people be-
tween a Sub-Treasury and a National Bank,
it was the same vital principles of high taxes,
high tariff, funded debt, and distribution,
which were to be made the basis of obtaining
political power ; and all that was wanting
was, the machine for concentrating thesei
elements of power. And he did trust that the
gentlemen with whom he acted, would go on
and do their duty, without being deterred by any
menace of a gag law from making such amend-
ments as they might think proper.

One word as to this ten millions. Have
we got it ? No. From whom are we to get
it? Prom the people of the United States,
How ? By a mortgage on their property and
labor at 5 per cent. It is to be made up by a
tax on them. This borrowed capital and tax
are to be brought to this city and placed in the
hands of nine men, to do what they please with
it — to distribute it to distant offices to be lent
to their pi'ivate friends and acquaintances.
The loaning capacity of these nine men is
nothing; but they may hand it to others to
loan out. Whatever is to be done with it, is to
be done in secret, and kept from the people.
Now, is it not better to leave this money in
the people's own pockets, and let them dispose
of it themselves? What right has Congress
to lend money at all ? That question is no new
question of discussion. Has it ever been
settled that Congress has that right? Then
if Congress has no such right — if the Govern-
ment has no sueh right — if no individuals con-
nected with any of these Departments has the
right — neither collectively nor separately —
how can the right be derived from them
through a thing of their creation ? The truth
is, when it is proposed to establish a corpora-
tion to do what you caimot do yourselves, you
erect something to deceive the people into a
belief that it has a vitality and power which its
creators had not, and consequently could not
impart, but which has a sort of mysteriousness
about it that serves to blind those who look
at it into some vague belief in its capacity.

Mr. Linn said he supposed he had precisely
the same right as any other Senator on that
floor to speak his sentiments freely, and to.
take as wide a range of debate as he might
think proper, adverting to whatever topic, he
might deem necessary, whether connected
with the motion under discussion or not. He
would proceed on this assumption of right, till
stopped ; but if the Senate pronounced that, in
this course, he was out of order, aiad should
not go on, he would, of course, submit ; but
then he would require the same rule to be ap-
plied to others as to him. Having said so
much by way of preface, be would now begin
by reminding the gentkmen on the other side,



July, 1841.]

Fiscal Bank of the United States.

[27iH Cong.

of a good old saying of a celebrated Roman
Consul — which they cannot be reminded of too
often — that men out of power entertain very
different sentiments from those they are
governed by when in power. This is the say-
ing of a very brave and wise Consul of a great
ancient Republic, and should not be too easily
forgotten. He (Mr. Linn) knew very well
that the Democratic party was considered the
dregs of the earth by the favored few who con-
trived to rule every thing. He knew that even
women and children were persuaded that none
but those favored few and their families, and
the wives and daughters of bank directors,
were fit society for any one of fashionable or
decent notions. The doors of such people
were shut against the best young men in the
country, if they were known to entertain De-
mocratic notions, as if they were something
beneath the notice of good society. But
there were some places yet left where these
unfashionable Democrats might raise up their
voices. He (Mr. Linn) would, for his part,
make a few remarks here, and in doing so he
intended to be as pointed as possible, for he
had now, he found, to contend for liberty of
speech, and while any of that liberty was left,
he would give his remarks the utmost bounds
consistent with his own sense of what was due
to himself, his constituents, and the comitry.

The Whigs, during the late Administration,
had brought to bear a system of assault against
the majority in power, which might justly be
characterized as frivolous and vexatious, and
nothing else ; yet they had always been treat-
ed by the majority with courtesy and forbear-
ance; and the utmost latitude of debate had
been allowed them without interruption. In
a session of six months, they consumed the
greater part of the time in speeches for elec-
tioneering effect, so that only twenty-eight bills
were passed. These electioneering speeches,
on all occasions that could be started, whether
the presentation of a petition, motion on a reso-
lution, or discussion of a bill, were uniformly
and studiously of the most insulting character
to the majority, whose mildest form of designa-
tion was "collar men," and other epithets
equally degrading. How often had it been
said of the other branch of Congress, "What
could be expected from a House so constitu-
ted ? " Trace back the course of that party,
step by step, to 1834, and it may be tracked in
blood. The outrages in New York in that year
are not forgotten. The fierce and fiendish
spirit of strife and usurpation which prompted
the seizure of the public arms, to turn them
against those who were their fellow-citizens, is
yet as fresh as ever, and ready to win its way
to what it aims at. What was done then,
under the influence and shadow of the great
money power, may be done again.

He (Mr. Linn) had marked them, and
nothing should restrain him from doing his duty
and standing up in the front rank of opposi-
tion to keep them from the innovations they

meditated. Neither the frown nor menace
of any leader of that party — no lofty bearing
or shaking of the mane — would deter him from
the fearless and honest discharge of those obli-
gations which were due to his constituents and
to the country. He next adverted to the con-
duct of the Whig party when the Sub-Treasury
was under discussion, and reminded the pres-
ent party in power of the forbearance with
which they had been treated, contrasting that
treatment with the manifestations now made to
the minority. We are now, said Mr. Linn in
conclusion, to be checked ; but I tell the Sena-
tor from Kentucky, and any other Senator who
chooses to tread in his steps, that he is about to
deal a double-handed game at which two can
play. He is welcome to try his skill. But I
would expect that some on that side are
not prepared to go quite so far ; and that there
is yet among them sufficient liberality to coun-
terbalance political feeling, and induce them
not to object to our right of spending as
much time in trying to improve their bill as
they have taken themselves to clip and pare
and shape it to their own fancies.

Mr. Walkek said, in reply to the remark of
the Senator from Kentuclqr, (Mr. Clay,) that
those who were opposed to the bill were
endeavoring to make it odious by the amend-
ments they proposed; that he had not, and
would not, pursue such a course. On the con-
trary, feeling that this bill was likely to become
a law, he had voted alone for those amend-
ments which, in his opinion, went to improve
the bill. Influenced by this motive, he had
voted for amendments proposed by the Sena-
tor from Kentucky and his friends, and opposed
some of those which were proposed by his (Mr.
W.'s) political friends. He held that the course
which the Senator from Kentucky had un-
justly attributed to the opponents of the bill,
would be entirely improper and unparliamen-
tary. With regard to the remark of the Sena-
tor as to the time consumed by the opponents
of the bill, nearly two days were occupied in
discussing five amendments proposed by him-
self, (Mr. W.,) and four of which were adopted.
Did the Senator attribute to a majority of the
body a design to render the bill odious? And
what were those amendments which he (Mr.
W.) had proposed, and which had been adopt-
ed? The first was to permit any ten or more
stockholders, or their agent, to inspect all the
proceedings of the Bank, including individual
accounts; the second was, that upon all dis-
counts over one thousand dollars, where any
director dissented, the vote should be taken by
ayes and noes, and these be open to inspection,
so as to secure individual responsibility and
prevent abuses — the third was to prevent any
director anywhere from being liable to the
Bank in more than ten thousand dollars, so as
to prevent these directors loaning out to them-
selves one-fourth of the whole loans of the
Bank, as it was officially proved they had
done in many States — and fourthly, the amend-



1st Sess.]

Fiscal Bank of the United States.

[July, 1841.

ment proliibiting any loan or discount to any
member of either House of Congress — and was
not this right ? Ought we, first, by our votes
to create a Bank, put into it, in stock and de-
posits, more than twenty millions of the public
money, and then draw from this Bank as
much money as we could obtain from this
Bank, created by our votes? Besides, we
were to determine each year, whether the
public moneys could continue on deposit in this
Bank — the Senate were to vote upon the ap-
pointment of at least one-third of the directors
every year, and both Houses were annually, if
they pleased, to investigate all the individual
accounts of and business of the Bank, and it
was proper we should be borrowers, and
might we not fear that investigation would
be voted down, when forty-four members of
Congress should be again borrowers from the
Bank to the amount of half a million, as it was
ofiBcially reported by Mr. CtAvioN that they
were in 1832? "Was it odious to apply to the
members of Congress the sacred prayer, " lead
us not into temptation " — to prevent their
being placed in a situation as to this Bank, in
which we are told by Holy Writ, that the
borrower was the servant of the lender ? Was
it odious, by avoiding these Bank loans, to lift
the representatives of the States and of the
people, above derogatory suspicions, and above
all imputations, true or false ?

He appealed then to the Senate, and to the
Senator from Kentucky himself, whether it
was just to characterize these amendments, all
adopted in part by the aid of his friends, as
designed to make the bill odious ?

As to the amendment proposed by the
Senator from New York, he was in favor of it.
We are told that it is necessary for the Govern-
ment to subscribe to the amount of ten, or per-
haps sixteen mUlions, to secure the public
money which may be on deposit. The Secre-
tary of the Treasury seems to think that the
average amount on deposit will be four mil-
lions, although Mr. W. thought it would be six
millions. Then we have to subscribe sixteen
millions to secure four or six millions. This
was an extraordinary rate of insurance, and
one to which he shoidd not give his consent.

Mr. Alien wished to correct an error that
had fallen from an honorable Senator opposite,
and that was in attributing the defalcation of
Swartwout as a fruit of the Independent
Treasury, which was not in existence until a
considerable time after his defalcations were
discovered. They took place under the State
bank deposit system, and would have taken
place had the United States Bank system been
in existence. So far as he knew, and if the
fact had been otherwise, it would have been
made public, not a single dollar has been lost
since the establishment of the Independent
Treasury, and this was a suflBcient comment on
the system itself.

It is contended on the other side, also, in
opposition to this amendment, and in favor of

the connection of the Government with this
Bank, that it will be a profitable speculation,
and the results of the old Bank connection are
adduced to show how many millions were
made by* it. This Government is invoked to
become a speculator in stocks ! Suppose there
was a hundred millions made by the connection
with the late Bank. How was it made ? Off
of whom was it made? The people. The
people. And this system of speculating on
people is well kept up in the bill reported from
the committee this morning, and which is now
on your table, to distribute the revenue from
the sales of the public lands. The bill profess-
es to give the people of the States three mil-
lions annually, but does not tell them that three
millions and a half are to be raised by taxes
from the same people, to supply its place ia
carrying on the operations of the Government.
The States may with propriety say as said one
of the ancient heroes : " I fear the Greeks,
though they bring gifts in their hands." The
proposition is in reality to give three millions,
and to take back three millions and the ex-
penses attending the .collection and distribution
of it.

Mr. Buchanan' said it was with the greatest
reluctance he engaged in this debate. He had
intended to offer two or three amendments to
this bill before it was taken out of the com-
mittee, upon each of which he would probably
make a few remarks, but nothing was further
from his intention or expectation than that he
should be called on to take part in any discus-
sion which lAight arise on the bill to-day. But
the Senator from Kentucky had denounced in
the strongest terms the Jacobinical doctrine of
the repeatability of charters. Now he (Mr.
B.) contended that the power of repeal, in this
particular case, existed not only under the con-
stitution, but was sanctioned by judicial deci-
sions. The Supreme Court, Chief Justice Mar-
shall presiding, had declared that in public
corporations, to be employed in the adminis-
tration of the Government, the right of repeal
existed, but that it did not exist in private cor-
porations. But did it require the decision of a
court to establish this principle ? Can Con-
gress annihilate the sovereign legislative powers
conferred upon it for the benefit of the whole
people by transferring them to a corporation ?
If it can do this for one year, what would pre-
vent it from doing for fifty years, or forever ?
The decision of the Supreme Court was, that
if the corporations were of public concern —
were a grant of political power to be employed
in the administration of the Government, it
was subject to repeal or modification by the
legislative power. This was the decision of
the judiciary, and was the spirit of the consti-
tution, unless it could be contended that Con-
gress had the right to divest itself of its legis-
lative discretion, and virtually destroy itself.
Is this Bank a public or private corporation ?
It is a Government fiscal agent, an agent of the
Treasury Department, and the power to estab-



July, 1841.]

Fiscal Sank of the United States.

[2:7th Cong.

lish it is inferred from the clause in the con-
sitution, conferring upon Congress that high
attribute of sovereign power, to lay and collect
taxes from the people. Did any Government ever
divest itself of the power of regulating accord-
ing to its own will, the collection, safe-keeping,
and disbursement of its revenue, or transfer
this right irrevocably to corporations ? If Con-
gress possessed this power, they could transfer
the liberties of the country to a corporation.

Mr. B. then referred to a case decided in
the Supreme Court, between Goszler and the
corporation of Georgetown, in support of the
principle for which he contended. The Ee-
porter understood this to be a decision, that
the corporation were not bound to execute an
agreement into which they had entered with
the lot holders by an ordinance for grading the
streets, on the principle that such a gradation
was a matter of public concern, regarding the
interests of the citizens generally, and that,
like a public law, might be repealed. It was
not a subject of private grant; and on the
same principle he held we had a perfect right
to repeal or modify this charter whenever we
thought it proper to do so.

But while he asserted this power, he ad-
mitted that it would be an extreme case in
which he would be in favor of exercising it.
If this bill is to be rushed through Congress
when the country is not prepared for it ; when
the people have not asked for it; when no
question has been made before the people on
the subject, and in Virginia and North Caro-
lina, even the Whig party, in the Presidential
Canvass, taking ground against it, as witness
the speech of Mr. Badger, the present Secre-
tary of the Navy, and the address of the Whig
Convention in Virginia, and that this was the
fact generally he would appeal from the Sena-
tor from Kentucky to Mr. Tyler, the oflScial
head of the party, if the measure was to be
adopted under such circumstances, and es-
pecially if the gag was to be applied to that
body, a proper regard to the interests of those
we represented would prompt us to sound the
cry of repeal throughout the land, and that
question will be carried, unless the people of
this country are willing to be transferred to the
government of bank corporations.

He thought the doctrine, though an excellent
one, of the inviolability of contracts, came with
an ill grace from those who had, but a few
months since, violated the contract of Blair
and Eives, the Printers to the Senate. There
was a clear and unequivocal case of contract,
founded on a law of the land, the bond was
signed, sealed, and delivered, and was approv-
ed of by your Secretary. And yet, in the
face of all this, the Senate of the United States
was faithless to its solemn contract, and Blair
and Rives were dispossessed of their rights, and
another Printer has since been elected.

He was firmly of the opinion, that the best
thing the friends of the Bank could do would
be to go home, and defer the passage of the bill

until the next session. Let them wait the result
of the fall elections ; and should there be a
decided expression of the popular will in favor
of the Bank, much as he was opposed to it,
he would not be the first to move in the ques-
tion of repeal.

Mr. Clay, of Kentucky, said that when the
conqueror of Continental Europe, the hero of
Marengo and Austerlitz, was in the zenith of
his power, an old maiden lady of Baltimore
expressed, in warm terms, her disapprobation
of his conduct. Madam, said the Frenchman,
with much gravity, to whom she was address-
ing her remarks, I am sorry you entertain such
sentiments of the Emperor ; I am sure he will

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 77 of 184)