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Second. A statement of the associations whose business List of associ has been closed during the year, with the amount of their circulation redeemed, and the amount outstanding. Third. To suggest any amendment to the laws relative Suggestion of to banking by which the system may be improved, and the security of the bill-holders and depositors may be increased.
Fourth. To report the names and compensation of the clerks employed by him, and the whole amount of the expenses of the banking department during the and such report shall be made by or before the first day of December in each year, and the usual number of copies for the use of the Senate and House, and one thousand copies for the use of the Department, shall be printed by the public printer and in readiness for distribution on the first meeting of congress.
Names, &c., of expenses of
When report to printed.
be made and
Any lawfully may become an under this act.
SEC. 61. And be it further enacted, That any banking association or corporation lawfully in existence as a bank of circulation on the first day of January, Anno Domini eighteen hundred and sixty-three, organized in any state, either under a special act of incorporation or a general banking law, may, at any time within - years after the passage of this act become an association under the provisions of this act; that in such case the certificate of Proceedings in association provided for by this act shall be signed by the directors of such banking association or corporation, and in addition to the specifications required by this act, shall specify that such directors are authorized by the owners of two thirds of the capital stock of such banking association or corporation, to make such certificate of association, and such certificate of association shall thereafter have the same effect, and the same proceedings shall be had thereon, as is provided for as to other associations organized under this act. And such association or corporation thereafter shall have the same powers and privileges, and shall be subject to the same duties, responsibilities, and rules, in all respects, as is [are] prescribed in this act for other associations organized under it, and shall be held and regarded as an association under this act.
SEC. 62. And be it further enacted, That any bank or banking association, authorized by any State law to engage in the business of banking, and duly organized under such State law at the time of the passage of this act, and which shall be the holder and owner of United States bonds to the amount of fifty per centum of its capital stock, may transfer and deliver to the treasurer of the United States such bonds, or any part thereof, in the manner provided by this act; and upon making such transfer and delivery, such bank or banking association shall be entitled to receive from the comptroller of the currency, circulating notes, as herein provided, equal in
Certain existing bonds may and receive
ing banks own
Provisions in case such bank fails to redeem such circulation.
Bonds forfeit may be can
celled or sold.
This act may at any time be repealed, &c.
amount to eighty per centum of the amount of the bonds so transferred and delivered.
SEC. 63. And be it further enacted, That upon the failure of any such State bank or banking association, to redeem any of its circulating notes issued under the provisions of the preceding section, the comptroller of the currency shall, when satisfied that such default has been made, and within thirty days after notice of such default, proceed to declare the bonds transferred and delivered to the treasurer, forfeited to the United States, and the same shall thereupon be forfeited accordingly. And thereupon the circulating notes whch have been issued by such bank or banking association shall be redeemed and paid at the treasury of the United States, in the same manner as other circulating notes issued under the provisions of this act are redeemed and paid.
SEC. 64. And be it further enacted, That the bonds forfeited, as provided in the last preceding section, may be cancelled to an amount equal to the circulating notes redeemed and paid, or such bonds may be sold, under the direction of the Secretary of the Treasury, and after retaining out of the proceeds a sum sufficient to pay the whole amount of circulating notes, for the redemption of which such bonds are held, the surplus, if any remains, shall be paid to the bank, or banking association from which such bonds were received.
SEC. 65. And be it further enacted, That Congress reserves the right, at any time, to amend, alter, or repeal this act.
APPROVED, February 25, 1863.
Annual Report, Comptroller of Currency (Hugh McCulloch)
[November 28, 1863]
OFFICE OF THE COMPTROLLER OF THE CURRENCY,
November 28, 1863.
In compliance with the requirements of 60th section of the act of Congress entitled an "Act to provide a national currency secured by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof," I have the honor to submit the following report. Up to the present time there have been organized under said act one hundred and thirty-four banks, which are located as follows:
A statement of the condition of some of the banks, on the first of October last, accompanies this report. Most of those now organized had not at that time commenced business; hence the partial returns.
A statement of the names and compensation of the clerks employed by me, and of the expenses of the bureau up to the first of July, the commencement of the financial year, also accompanies this report.
The same section of the act makes it my duty "to suggest any amendment to the laws relative to banking by which the system may be improved, and the security of the billholders and depositors may be increased."
The national currency act, although admirable in its leading features, is not altogether symmetrical in its arrangement, nor clear, if it is even consistent in all of its provisions. I respectfully suggest, therefore, that the act be carefully revised; that those parts of it that refer to the same subject be placed in juxta-position, and that it be relieved of certain obscurities and apparent inconsistencies that render some of its provisions of difficult construction. A law of so much importance as this, which is to be interpreted by so many people, and is to be the charter of so many banking institutions, should be methodical in its arrangement, clear in language, and comprehensive and consistent in its provisions. In these respects the national currency act is somewhat defective. Sections relating to the same subject are scattered throughout the act. Words of different significance are sometimes used as if they were convertible. Many passages are ambiguous in language, if they do not contain inconsistent provisions. For example, the law requires that articles of association should be entered into, and organization certificates executed, stating for what purpose the certificates shall be made, and indicating other and different things to be provided for in the articles of association, and yet in some instances these certificates and articles seem to be referred to as if they were one and the same instrument. Section 6 makes certified copies of organization certificates legal and sufficient evidence of the existence of associations, while section 11 provides that the associations shall have succession, &c., by the name designated in their articles. The last mentioned section, which confers banking powers upon the banks, has also a provision which bankers find it difficult to interpret. After bestowing upon the banks general powers to discount bills, notes, and other evidences of debt, it authorizes the loan of money "on real and personal security, in the manner specified in the articles of association, and for the purposes authorized by the act." This is the only power conferred by this section, the exercise of which is made dependent upon the articles of association, and it has been found difficult to give a precise meaning to the language, and to form articles that should cover and secure the power intended to be conferred.
Section 13 authorizes associations to provide in their articles of association for an increase of capital, subject to the limitations of the act; but there is no limitation in the act of the capital stock of the associations, separately or in the aggregate. The same section seems to require that the Comptroller shall certify to the banks the amount of their increased stock, instead of giving him the power to authorize the banks to increase their capitals, and to approve of the increase, upon his being furnished with evidence that the additional capital has actually been paid in.
Section 15 provides that United States bonds to the amount of onethird of the paid-in capital of an association shall be deposited with the Treasurer, and a fair construction of the act has seemed to me to warrant the decision that the banks should not only deposit with the Treasurer, but that they should keep with him constantly, this proportion of bonds; while section 30 provides that the Comptroller may (shall) direct the return of any such bonds to the association that transferred the same, upon the surrender to him and the cancellation of a proportionable amount of its circulating notes &c., &c. This provision, construed by itself, might nullify the requirements of the 15th section, even if it did not defeat the most important object of the act. Section 37, literally construed, might prevent the national banks from discounting on the security of the stocks of other corporations, many of which stocks are regarded by bankers as among the most desirable collaterals; while the object of the restrictions in this section undoubtedly was, merely to prevent banks from discounting upon the security of their own stocks and from engaging in stock speculations. I have decided that under section 41, three-fifths of the twenty-five per cent. of lawful money required to be kept on hand by the national banks might be kept in similar associations in the cities named, but in no others. The ninth article of the 45th section is supposed, however, by many to indicate that no such restriction in regard to the character of the depositary was intended.
An absolutely strict construction of another part of section 41 would seem to deny to banks in the cities named the privileges granted to those in other places, but I have thought and decided that a more liberal construction should be given to it, because it was not reasonable to suppose it to have been the intention of Congress to withhold from banks in Chicago privileges granted to banks in Buffalo, nor from our banks in Providence privileges granted to banks in Hartford, New Haven, &c., &c.
These, and others like them, may be regarded as minor defects, and such as do not materially affect the proper working of the system, but they serve to embarrass the bankers, and may cause improper decisions on the part of the Comptroller. The law would be greatly improved if it were relieved of them.
I suggest, also, that section 47 be struck out entirely. While it is true that large loans to a single individual or firm should, as a general thing, be avoided, there may be, and frequently are, exceptional cases in which such loans are both necessary and judicious. I think, therefore, that this is a matter that should be left to the discretion of the managers of the banks, and that it can be safely intrusted to them. I suggest, also, that section 39 be so amended that the affairs of the national banks may be managed by not more than thirteen directors instead of nine, and that only two-thirds of the directors be required to be residents of the State in which the banks are respectively located. I can conceive of no valid reason why the stockholders of a national bank should be prohibited from electing more than nine directors. It is not likely that the stockholders of many banks will be inclined to do so; but some State banks have more than nine directors, and if they should be converted into national banks, and the stockholders thereof should desire to retain their present number, or if any new associations should prefer a larger number than nine, they should have the privilege of doing it.