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Bank heretofore created has had power to deal in bills of exchange as well as local discounts. Both were trading privileges conferred, and both exercised by virtue of the aforesaid power of Congress, over the whole Union. The question of power remains unchanged, without reference to the extent of privilege granted. If this proposed corporation is to be regarded as a local bank of the District of Columbia, invested by Congress with general powers to operate over the Union, it is obnoxious to still stronger objections. It assumes that Congress may invest a local institution with general or national powers. With the same propriety that it may do this in regard to a bank of the District of Columbia, it may as to a state bank. Yet who can indulge the idea that this government can rightfully, by making a state bank its fiscal agent, invest it with the absolute and unqualified powers conferred by this bill? When I come to look to the details of the bill, they do not recommend it strongly to my adoption. A brief notice of some of its provisions will suffice:
1st. It may justify substantially a system of discounts of the most objectionable character. It is to deal in bills of exchange drawn in one state and payable in another, without any restraint. The bill of exchange may have an unlimited term to run, and its renewability is nowhere guarded against. It may, in fact, assume the most objectionable form of accommodation. It is not required to rest on any actual, real, or substantial exchange basis. A drawer in one place becomes the acceptor in another, and so in turn the acceptor may become the drawer upon a mutual understanding. It may at the same time indulge in mere local discounts under the name of bills of exchange. A bill drawn at Philadelphia on Camden, New Jersey at New York on Bordentown in New Jersey at Cincinnati on Newport, Kentucky, not to multiply other examples, might for any thing in this bill to restrain it, become a mere matter of local accommodation. Cities thus relatively situated would possess advantages over cities otherwise situated, of so decided a character as most justly to excite dissatisfaction.
2d. There is no limit prescribed to the premium in the purchase of bills of exchange, thereby correcting none of
the evils under which the community now labors, and operating most injuriously upon the agricultural states, in which the inequalities in the rates of exchange are most severely felt. Nor are these the only consequences: a resumption of specie payments by the banks of those states would be liable to indefinite postponement; for, as the operation of the agencies of the interior would chiefly consist in selling bills of exchange, and the purchases could only be made in specie or the notes of banks paying specie, the state banks would either have to continue with their doors closed, or exist at the mercy of this national monopoly of brokerage. Nor can it be passed over without remark, that, whilst the District of Columbia is made the seat of the principal bank, its citizens are excluded from all participation in any benefit it might afford, by a positive prohibition on the bank from all discounting within the District.
These are some of the objections which prominently exist against the details of the bill; others might be urged of much force; but it would be unprofitable to dwell upon them. Suffice it to add, that this charter is designed to continue for twenty years without a competitor — that the defects to which I have alluded, being founded in the fundamental law of the corporation, are irrevocable — and that if the objections be well founded, it would be overhazardous to pass the bill into a law.
In conclusion, I take leave most respectfully to say, that I have felt the most anxious solicitude to meet the wishes of Congress in the adoption of a fiscal agent which, avoiding all constitutional objections, should harmonize conflicting opinions. Actuated by this feeling, I have been ready to yield much, in a spirit of conciliation, to the opinions of others. And it is with great pain that I now feel compelled to differ from Congress a second time in the same session. At the commencement of this session, inclined from choice to defer to the legislative will, I submitted to Congress the propriety of adopting a fiscal agent which, without violating the constitution, would separate the public money from the executive control, perform the operations of the treasury without being burdensome to the people, or inconvenient, or expensive
to the government. It is deeply to be regretted, that this department of the government cannot, upon constitutional grounds, concur with the legislative department in this last measure proposed to attain these desirable objects. Owing to the brief space between the period of the death of my lamented predecessor and my own installation into office, I was, in fact, not left time to prepare and submit a definite recommendation of my own, in my regular message; and since, my mind has been wholly occupied in a most anxious attempt to conform my action to the legislative will. In this communication, I am confined by the constitution to my objections simply to this bill; but the period of the regular session will soon arrive, when it will be my duty, under another clause of the constitution, give to the Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as I shall judge necessary and expedient." And I most respectfully submit, in a spirit of harmony, whether the present differences of opinion should be pressed further at this time, and whether the.peculiarity of my situation does not entitle me to a postponement of this subject to a more auspicious period for deliberation. The two houses of Congress have distinguished themselves, at this extraordinary session, by the performance of an immense mass of labor, at a season very unfavorable both to the health and action; and have passed many laws, which, I trust, will prove highly beneficial to the interests of the country, and fully answer its just expectations. It has been my good fortune and pleasure to concur with them in all measures, except this. And why should our difference on this alone be pushed to extremes? It is my anxious desire that it should not be. I, too, have been burdened with extraordinary labors of late, and I sincerely desire time for deep and deliberate reflection on this the greatest difficulty of my administration. May we not now pause, until a more favorable time, when, with the most anxious hope that the executive and Congress may cordially unite, some measure of finance may be deliberately adopted, promotive of the good of our common country?
I will take this occasion to declare that the conclusions to which I have brought myself, are those of a settled con
viction, founded, in my opinion, on a just view of the constitution; that, in arriving at it, I have been actuated by no other motive or desire, than to uphold the institutions of the country, as they have come down to us from the hands of our godlike ancestors; and that I shall esteem my efforts to sustain them, even though I perish, more honorable than to win the applause of men by a sacrifice of my duty and my conscience.
Extra Sessions of Congress.
Congress has been called together on extraordinary occasions nineteen times since the formation of the government, as fol lows:
Mr. Van Buren's call was made in the spring of 1837, and Congress was convened the first Monday in September of the same year. President Harrison, on the 17th of March, 1841, called Congress to gether on the last Monday in May, 1841.
Governors of the several States and Territories,
With their Salaries, Terms of Office, and Expiration of their respective Terms; the Number of Senators and Representatives in the State Legislatures, with their respective Terms.
N. C. S. C.
Maine, John Fairfield,
Ken. Robert P. Letcher,
Ohio, Thomas Corwin, Mich. John S. Barry, Ind. Samuel Bigger, Thomas Carlin, Thomas Reynolds,
Flor. Richard K. Call, Wisc. James D. Doty, Iowa, John Chambers,
Salary. Term, Term expires.
Dec. 1844 11 2 May, 1844 13 4 July, 1844 13 2
Jan. 1843 31 1 200
Oct. 1843 25 2 75 2
Jan. 1844 18 2
In all the states, except New Jersey, Virginia, and South Carolina, the governor is voted for by the people; and, if no one has a majority of all the votes, in the states in which such a majority is required, the legislature elects to the office of governor one of the candidates voted for by the people.