Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

inspection and examination, or in any other manner, that any of the said institutions have violated the provisions of this act, the said commissioners shall immediately report the facts ascertained from such inspection and examination, or otherwise, to the Secretary of the Treasury, who shall proceed forthwith, as he shall deem expedient, to protect the public from loss or damage, according to the provisions of this act, or the existing laws of the United States.

SEC. 19. That it shall be the duty of the said commissioners, in the month of December, in every year, to report to Congress the manner in which they shall have discharged the duties imposed upon them by this act, and to accompany their report, so to be made by them, with such other statements and abstracts as they may deem useful to the public interest.

SEC. 20. That the said commissioners shall not disclose the names of the debtors of any of the said institutions which may be examined by them, nor any information obtained in the course of such examinations, unless required in a court of justice, or in some proceeding authorized by this act. SEC. 21. That every officer, agent, or clerk of the said institutions, who shall make false statements, or false entries, in the books of such institutions, or shall exhibit false papers, with intent to deceive the said commissioners as to the condition of such institution, shall be deemed and adjudged to be guilty of felony, and, upon conviction thereof in due course of law, shall be sentenced to imprisonment, and kept at hard labor for a term not less than three nor more than ten years.

SEC. 22. That it shall be the duty of the board of currency to devise and ordain all necessary rules and ordinances for the convenient transaction and good government of their operations, and to secure the observance of this act and all its provisions by the several States thereunto assenting, and for the faithful performance of their several duties and obligations; and to require such statements, from time to time, as may be deemed essential to the due protection of the public interest; for which purpose the said commissioners shall have power and full authority, by and in virtue of this act.

SEC. 23. That the Secretary shall receive the per centage to be paid by the States, make all needful disbursements thereof, under the direction. of the board, and account to Congress for any balance which may remain. SEC. 24. That each of the members of the board of currency shall be entitled to receive dollars per diem for the time necessarily employdollars for every twenty miles of necessary travel

ed therein, and

ling on the business of the board.

SEC. 25. That the District of Columbia, and each of the Territories of the United States, shall be entitled to a contingent of the currency to be created by this act, under such conditions and limitations as may be enacted for such purposes; and whenever any of the said Territories shall be admit ted into the Union, the same shall be entitled, as a State, to all the benefits and immunities of this act; and the amount of the currency shall be commensurately increased for that purpose.

SEC. 26. That it shall be the duty of the board of currency to keep fair records of all their proceedings, and the same shall be open to the inspection of either House of Congress, or any committee thereof; and the right to modify or repeal this act, or any of its provisions, shall be reserved subject to the just fulfilment of all existing unsatisfied engagements.

SEC. 27. That it shall be the duty of the board to consider all subjects connected with the currency in relation to the interests of agriculture, man

ufactures, or commerce, which may be charged upon it by either branch of Congress, and report thereon from time to time.

SEC. 28. That a majority of the commissioners shall be necessary to constitute a quorum for transacting the general business of the board; but any six of the members, with their president, may transact the ordinary business, in conformity to the rules and ordinances.

SEC. 29. That in case of sickness, or necessary absence of the President, he shall designate a member of the board to act as president pro tempore for ordinary business; and, in default of such designation, the board (any seven members being present) may elect a president pro tempore.

From the aforegoing it will be seen that a connexion of institutions belonging to the States exclusively, or to such as they would be responsible for, is contemplated; and it is not to be supposed that such responsibility would be assumed without an entire or principal interest in the capital, and an actual control in the management.

It appears that the highly beneficial principle of assuming the sovereign right of banking, has been adopted and improved in several of the States, and, with the progressive developments of its benefits, the more has it gained upon the public favor; its most potent enemy is that which has grown out of an excess of grants to private corporations for such purposes. But if the regulation of the currency is to be regarded as A PUBLIC RIGHT; if the good of the whole is to be preferred to the special interests of a favored few; and if there be enough of intelligence among the people to understand the proposition, and to appreciate its merits, (which cannot be doubted,) we may well anticipate the eventual establishment of a national currency, under the agency of a connected system of institutions belonging solely to the States.

The doctrine of the great father of democracy is peculiarly apposite and interesting at the present crisis, as it presents a practicable succedaneum, through the medium of a measure of value, which, by its "solidity, universality of circulation, and receivability in all public payments, would make its way, and supplant the paper of private banks or corporations of individuals." These are the views of JEFFERSON; and although the Congress may not be authorized to establish a paper currency as an absolute tender in private contracts, yet the influence they may exercise in securing its soundness, through the collections of the revenue, has been admitted by the purest patriots and most enlightened statesmen of this republic in various departments of the Government.

In the early annals of the constitution, the power was affirmed by Gen. Hamilton, in his public character, "to designate or appoint the money or thing in which the taxes are to be paid," as being "not only a proper, but a necessary exercise of the power of collecting them; accordingly, Congress, in the law coucerning the collection of the duties ou imposts and tonnage, have provided that they shall be payable in silver or gold. But while it was an indispensable part of the work to say in what they should be paid, the choice of the specific thing was a mere matter of discretion. The payment might have been required in the commodities themselves; taxes in kind are not without precedent, even in the United States; or they might have been in the paper money of the several States, or of the bills of the Banks of North America, New York, or Massachussetts, all or each of them; or it might have been in bills issued under the AUTHORITY OF THE

UNITED STATES. No part of this, it is presumed, can be disputed. The appointment of the money or thing in which the taxes are to be paid, is an incident to the power of collection; and, among the expedients which may be adopted, is that of bills issued under the authority of the United States." These are the views of HAMILTON; and this contemporaneous commentary has received the sanction of succeeding sages, in the practical employment of the TREASURY NOTES as a medium of EXCHANGE AND CIRCULATION.

It therefore appears that a paper currency is not inhibited by the constitution; and that such a currency may be created by the General Government, and distributed among the States, under proper guards and regulations to insure its credit and convertibility into gold or silver, and to promote, incalculably, the common welfare, is equally evident; as the productive principles of a high and valuable prerogative would thereby be diffused, by its operations, to the whole people, and not confined to the benefit or profit of a special few or privileged order. The plan, indeed, is esteemed sufficient for all the beneficial purposes in contemplation, without the evils of a soulless combination of corporators; it is, in effect, A NATIONAL BANK OF EXCHANGE AND DEPOSITE, without the privileges of issuing notes or loaning money as regards the General Government, in connexion with an equitable and secure system for the receipt and distribution of the federal revenue— commensurate, in fact, with the wealth and credit of the several States, embracing the entire property and population of the whole Union. To each and every of the States it would impart a rich resource in public income, and diffuse the means of propelling industry and enterprise, and, by accelerating improvements throughout the country, promote the amelioration of every interest and class of society; and while such a system would essentially enlarge the specie basis, and adapt the local circulation to the common uses and demands of ordinary business, the national currency would supply the facilities of interchanges in large transactions, on terms convenient and economical.

In reference to the pending question, the great object of desire is A MEDIUM OF UNIFORM AND EQUAL VALUE THROUGHOUT THE UNION; to accomplish which, it is proposed that A CURRENCY SHALL BE CREATED BY THE UNITED STATES upon the FAITH AND CREDIT OF THE WHOLE NATION, GUARANTIED BY THE STATES, RECEIVABLE EVERYWHERE IN ALL PUBLIC PAYMENTS, AND CONVERTIBLE INTO SILVER OR GOLD, on presentation at each and every of the institutions of the States. If a better medium can be devised, it remains to be demonstrated.

For the more ample illustration and better understanding of the matter, some additional views in relation to the expediency and justice of the proposition, and in support of the practical effects anticipated to flow from the operations of the interesting measures in contemplation, will be submitted.

By the federal compact, the entire revenue from duties on imports is ceded to the General Government exclusively; and the States are conse quently reduced to the necessity of resorting to direct taxation, or to inci dental sources, for defraying the expenses of their administrations. receipt of income to the national Treasury from the mere circulating me dium, does not appear to have entered into the consideration of the framer of that compact; and the benefits derivable from the resource in question may be justly regarded as a reservation of the whole people, to be enjoye in their respective States.

From documentary information, and estimates entitled to credit, it may be fairly inferred that the amount of contributions extorted from the people for the use of a public right, and eventually drawn from the land and labor of the country, has exceeded annually the average avails of the duties on imports for the last three fiscal years.

In a critical examination of this topic, it would seem that, if such a course of contribution is to be tolerated, the resulting revenue ought to enure to the common benefit, and not to enrich a favored few, or privileged order of corporators; and the more especially, as the resources of the States, with the aid of the national currency and the capital imparted by the public deposites, would abundantly sustain the proposed system, under judicious regulations properly administered.

It is not to be presumed, nor even supposed, that the plan presented could be carried immediately into full effect throughout the Union, as the existence of charters conferring vested rights might operate to impede, or virtually preclude, its useful action in some of the States for years to come. But many members of the confederation are unincumbered by such grants, and all, in time, might be relieved by ther expiration, or otherwise.

The full enjoyment of this prerogative being susceptible of producing avails of vast extent, would not only enable the several States to perfect their lines of intercommunication already in progress or in prospect, as well as to promote improvements in literature, and other desirable ameliorations, but tend incalculably to increase productions in every interest, and, by augmenting exportable commodities, to supply and nourish exterior commerce, and essentially enhance the means of comfort among the people.

With reference to the private corporations in which the public moneys have been deposited, they are not calculated, by the nature of their organization, nor the course of their administration, to inspire confidence as depositories of the national treasures. Neither are they to be viewed as the most eligible vehicles of distribution, nor as the most competent regulators of monetary interchanges in remote regions, having, as they have, different interests and variant points of policy. Among the many objections to which those corporations are obnoxious in the public estimation, some are similar to such as existed in the late Bank of the United States. And, although less eminently calculated to attract rival investments, and to generate foreign influences, or to combine a concentration of power in the possession of a few, or a single individual, dangerous to the peace and prosperity of the country, or to the vital principles of the Government, yet, composing, as they do, a distinct community, with inordinate power to act in private, and having privileges superior to the common mass of our population-constituting, in fact, an order which consumes the fruits of the common labor, without contributing to its production in due degree-they may well be viewed as hostile to the spirit of a free republic; and the paper of such, (emitted by irresponsible corporations, acting in conclave, with a sole regard to private benefits,) from apprehensions of its solidity arising from the frequency of their failures, or depreciation, could not maintain that uniform and equal value which would SUSTAIN THE ISSUES OF A BOARD BASED UPON

THE WEALTH AND CREDIT OF THE WHOLE NATION, GUARANTIED BY THE

STATES, RECEIVABLE IN ALL PUBLIC PAYMENTS, and immediately coN

VERTIBLE INTO GOLD OR SILVER.

Respectfully submitted:

LITTLETON DENNIS TEACKLE, of Maryland.

« ForrigeFortsett »