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lars in the United States notes, if so much money is needed for the payment of the army and navy.
My approval is given in order that every possible facility may be afforded for the prompt discharge of all arrears of pay due to our soldiers and our sailors.
While giving this approval, however, I think it my duty to express my sincere regret that is has been found necessary to authorize so large an additional issue of United States notes, when this circulation and that of the suspended banks together have become already so redundant as to increase prices beyond real values, thereby augmenting the cost of living to the injury of labor, and the cost of supplies to the injury of the whole country.
It seems very plain that continued issues of United States notes, without any check to the issues of suspended banks, and without adequate provision for the raising of money by loans, and for funding the issues so as to keep them within due limits, must soon produce disastrous consequences. And this matter appears to me so important that I feel bound to avail myself of this occasion to ask the special attention of Congress to it.
That Congress has power to regulate the currency of the country, can hardly admit of doubt; and that a judicious measure to prevent the deterioration of this currency, by a seasonable taxation of bank circulation or otherwise is needed, seems equally clear. Independently of this general consideration, it would be unjust to the people at large to exempt banks enjoying the special privilege of circulation from their just proportion of the public burdens.
In order to raise money by way of loans most easily and cheaply, it is clearly necessary to give every possible support to the public credit. To that end, a uniform currency, in which taxes, subscriptions to loans, and all other ordinary public dues, as well as all private dues, may be paid, is almost, if not quite, indispensable. Such a currency can be furnished by banking associations, organized under a general act of Congress, as suggested in my message at the beginning of the present session. The securing of this circulation, by the pledge of United States bonds, as therein suggested, would still further facilitate loans by increasing the present and causing a future demand for such bonds.
In view of the actual financial embarrassments of the government, and of the greater embarrassments sure to come, if the necessary means of relief be not afforded, I feel that I should not perform my duty by a simple anouncement of my approval of the joint resolution, which proposes relief only by increasing circulation, without expressing my earnest desire that measures, such in substance as those I have just referred to, may receive the early sanction of Con
By such measures, in my opinion, will payment be most certainly secured, not only to the army and navy, but to all honest creditors of the government, and satisfactory provision made for future demands on the treasury.
JANUARY 17, 1863.
Act of February 25, 1863 (The National Currency Act) [12 Statutes at Large 665, Thirty-Seventh Congress, Chapter 58, 3d Session, Approved February 25, 1863, by Abraham Lincoln] AN ACT TO PROVIDE A NATIONAL CURRENCY, SECURED BY A PLEDGE OF UNITED STATES STOCKS, AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE CIRCULATION AND REDEMPTION THEREOF.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be established in the Treasury Bureau of Department a separate bureau, which shall be charged with the execution of this and all other laws that may be passed by Congress respecting the issue and regulation of a national currency secured by United States bonds. The chief officer of the said bureau shall be denominated Comptroller of the comptroller of the currency, and shall be under the pointment; general direction of the Secretary of the Treasury. He term; salary. shall be appointed by the President, on the nomination of the Secretary of the Treasury, by and with the advice. and consent of the Senate, and shall hold his office for the term of five years unless sooner removed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate; he shall receive an annual salary of five thousand dollars; he shall have a competent deputy, appointed by the Secretary, whose salary shall be two thousand five hundred dollars, and who shall possess the power and perform the duties attached by law to the office of comptroller during a vacancy in such office, and during his absence or inability; he shall employ, from time to time, the necessary clerks to discharge such duties as he shall direct, Clerks. which clerks shall be appointed and classified by the Secretary of the Treasury in the manner now provided by law. Within fifteen days from the time of notice of his appointment, the comptroller shall take and subscribe the oath of office prescribed by the Constitution and laws of the United States; and he shall give to the United States a bond in the penalty of one hundred thousand dollars, with not less than two responsible freeholders as sureties, to be approved by the Secretary of the Treasury, conditioned for the faithful discharge of the duties of his office. The deputy comptroller so appointed shall also take the oath of office prescribed by the Constitution and laws of the United States, and shall give a like bond in the penalty of fifty thousand dollars. The comptroller and deputy comptroller shall not, either directly or indirectly, be interested in any association issuing national currency under the provisions of this act. SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the comptroller Seal of office. of the currency, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, shall devise a seal, with suitable inscriptions, for his office, a description of which, with a certificate of approval by the Secretary of the Treasury, shall be
Oath and bond
&c., under seal to be received in evidence.
Impression may be on paper.
Rooms in Treasury building for bureau.
"United States bonds" to mean what.
Banking associations, how formed.
Certificate to specify what.
filed in the office of the Secretary of State with an impression thereof, which shall thereupon become the seal of office of the comptroller of the currency, and the same may be renewed when necessary. Every certificate, assignment, and conveyance executed by the comptroller, in pursuance of any authority conferred on him by law, and sealed with his seal of office, shall be received in evidence in all places and courts whatsoever; and all copies of papers in the office of the comptroller, certified by him and authenticated by the said seal, shall in all cases be evidence equally and in like manner as the original. An impression of such seal directly on the paper shall be as valid as if made on wax or wafer.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That there shall be assigned to the comptroller of the currency by the Secretary of the Treasury suitable rooms in the treasury building for conducting the business of the currency bureau, in which shall be safe and secure fire-proof vaults, in which it shall be the duty of the comptroller to deposit and safely keep all the plates and other valuable things belonging to his department; and the comptroller shall from time to time furnish the necessary furniture, stationery, fuel, lights, and other proper conveniences for the transaction of the said business.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the term "United States bonds," as used in this act, shall be construed to mean all coupon and registered bonds now issued or that may hereafter be issued on the faith of the United States by the Secretary of the Treasury in pursuance of law.
SEC. 5. And be it further enacted, That associations for carrying on the business of banking may be formed by any number of persons, not less in any case than five.
SEC. 6. And be it further enacted, That persons uniting to form such an association shall, under their hands and seals, make a certificate which shall specify
First. The name assumed by such association.
Second. The place where its operations of discount and deposite are to be carried on; designating the State, Territory, or district, and also the particular city, town, or village.
Third. The amount of its capital stock, and the number of shares into which the same shall be divided; which capital stock shall not be less than fifty thousand dollars; and in cities whose population is over ten thousand persons, the capital stock shall not be less than one hundred thousand dollars.
Fourth. The names and places of residence of the shareholders, and the number of shares held by each of them.
Fifth. The time when such association shall commence. Sixth. A declaration that said certificate is made to enable such persons to avail themselves of the advantages of this act.
Certificate to edged, certified, in office of comptroller.
The said certificate shall be acknowledged before a judge of some court of record or a notary public, and the acknowledgement thereof certified under the seal of such court or notary, and shall be transmitted, together with a copy of the articles of association which shall have been adopted, to the comptroller of the currency, who shall record and carefully preserve the same in his office. Copies of such certificate, duly certified by the comptrol- Authenticated ler, and authenticated by his seal of office, shall be legal and sufficient evidence in all courts and places within the United States, or the jurisdiction of the Government thereof, of the existence of such association, and of every other matter or thing which could be proved by the production of the original certificate.
how paid in.
Stock of delinholder may be Mode of sale.
SEC. 7. And be it further enacted, That at least thirty Capital stock, per centum of the capital stock of such association shall be paid in at the time of the commencement of its banking business, and the remainder of the capital stock of such association shall be paid in instalments of at least 10 per centum each on the whole amount to which the association shall be limited, as frequently as one instalment at the end of each succeeding two months from the time of the commencement of its banking operations, until the whole of the capital stock shall be paid in. SEC. 8. And be it further enacted, That if any shareholder, or his assignee, shall fail to pay any instalment on the stock when the same is required by the foregoing section to be paid, the directors of such association may sell the stock held by such delinquent shareholder, at public auction, having given three weeks' previous notice thereof in a newspaper published and of general circulation in the city where the association is located, if the same be located in a city, and if not so located, then in a newspaper printed, or of general circulation, in the county where the same is located, to any person who will pay the highest price therefor, and not less than the amount then due thereon, with the expenses of advertisement and sale; and the excess, if any, shall be paid to the delinquent shareholder. If no bidder can be found who will pay for such stock the amount due thereon to the association, and the costs of advertisement and sale, the amount previously paid shall be forfeited to the association, and such stock may subsequently be sold as the directors may order.
SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That whenever a certificate shall have been transmitted to the comptroller of the currency, as provided in this act, and the association transmitting the same shall notify the comptroller that at least thirty per centum of its capital stock has been paid as aforesaid, and that such association has complied with all the provisions of this act required to be complied with before such association shall be authorized to commence the business of banking, and
see if requis act are com
If lawfully entitled to begin
troller to give certificate to that effect.
that such association is desirous of commencing such business, the comptroller shall immediately proceed, in such manner as he shall by general rules prescribe, to examine the condition of such association; to ascertain especially the amount of money paid in on account of its capital stock; the name and place of residence of each of the directors of such association, and the amount of the capital stock of which each is the bona fide owner, and generally whether such association has complied with all the requirements of this act to entitle it to engage in the business of banking; and shall cause to be made, and attested by the oaths of a majority of the directors and by the president or cashier of such association, a statement of all the facts necessary to enable the comptroller to determine whether such association is lawfully entitled to commence the business of banking under this act.
SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That if, upon a banking, comp careful examination of the facts so reported, and of any other facts which may come to the knowledge of the comptroller, whether by means of a special commission appointed by him for the purpose of inquiring into the condition of such association, or otherwise, it shall appear that such association is lawfully entitled to commence the business of banking, the comptroller shall give to such association a certificate under his hand and official seal, showing that such association has complied with all the provisions of this act required to be compiled with before being entitled to commence the business of banking under it, and that such association is authorized to commence said business accordingly; and it shall be the duty of such association to cause said certificate to be published in some newspaper, published in the city or county where such association is located, for at least sixty days next after the issuing thereof: Provided, That if no newspaper is published in such city or county, such certificate shall be published as the comptroller of the currency shall direct.
Certificate to be published.
Association may have common seal, name, and continue not over twenty years. Powers of association.
SEC. 11. And be it further enacted, That every association formed pursuant to the provisions of this act may make and use a common seal, and shall have succession by the name designated in its articles of association and for the period limited therein, not, however, exceeding twenty years from the passage of this act; by such name may make contracts, sue and be sued, complain and defend in any court of law or equity as fully as natural persons, and may make by-laws, approved by the comptroller of the currency, not inconsistent with the laws of the United States or the provisions of this act, for the election of directors, the management of its property, the regulation of its affairs, and for the transfer of its stock; and shall have power to carry on the business of banking by obtaining and issuing circulating notes in ac