1st Sess on.





Praying the establishment of a National Bank.

JUNE 24, 1841.

Referred to the Select Committee on the Currency.

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled:

Your memorialists respectfully ask the earliest attention of your honorable bodies to the present condition of the finances of the country, impressed as they are with the firm conviction that at no period of our national existence has a greater degree of suffering and loss of confidence been experienced in all the departments of mechanical industry and commercial enterprise.

On the causes which have brought on us the present vitiated currency and the derangement of the exchanges, it is not the purport of this memorial to dwell they are of date recent enough to be familiar to your honorable bodies. It may be allowed this board to hope that none other than the highest considerations shall be permitted to enter into the settlement of a question in which the whole community have so deep an interest; that an enlarged and ennobling view will be had in future legislation on the subject; legislation which shall look to the restoration and to the preservation of the public credit; legislation which shall lodge the control of the currency in the hands of the General Government, in whom the constitution has so expressly delegated it.

Where lies the power now? or from whence rather does its exercise flow? From six to eight hundred local institutions scattered over the land, the creations of the different State Governments; possessed of one of the highest attributes of sovereignty-suspending or making payment of their issues as a wise or reckless system of management enables them; under the control of neither General nor State Government; daily at this time, in a large portion of our country, with impunity violating the laws of the land! We seek a remedy for these abuses, and lend no sanction to the political views of any party as to the measures which led to results so much to be deprecated. We find in the present posture of things a partial parallel to the financial condition of the country anterior to the estabGales & Seaton, print.

lishment of the late Bank of the United States; and the arguments then used for the creation of a national bank, come now with accumulated force, because what was then speculation has had the sanction of experience.

We invoke of the General Government the establishment of a fiscal agency which shall have for its object the restoration of a wholesome currency, and the easy collection and distribution of the public revenues. If the wisdom of Congress can devise an agent which, answering the purposes of a national bank, may be divested of its objectionable features and the constitutional difficulties interposed by many of our citizens, it will be for the country to test such application of its power by experiment. This board, however, have reason to believe that in a Bank of the United States will be found, under judicious control, a fit and proper medium for the regulation of the exchanges and a true conservator of the currency.

If the abuses of such proposed institution are to determine its condemnation, we answer, to all objections that might grow out of it, there is scarcely a source of public prosperity that would not be closed. In every case the evil is to be compared with the good; and in the present case such a comparison will issue in this: that the new and increased energies derived to commercial enterprise from the aid of a bank are a source of general profit and advantage, which greatly outweighs the partial ills, the overtrading of a few individuals at particular times, or of numbers in particular conjunctures.

A well-constituted bank cannot fail to augment in different ways the active capital of the country. It generates employment; it animates and expands labor and industry; and, as far as citizens of other countries become adventurers in the bank, there is a positive and immediate increase to the means of the country; whilst the inspiring of confidence at home will draw out of the coffers of the careful and prudent, and even the miserly, and transfer for safekeeping into the vaults of the bank almost the entire amount of specie which now lies uselessly hoarded.

If the paper of a bank is to be permitted to insinuate itself into all the reservoirs and receipts of a country-if it is to be tolerated as the substitute for gold and silver in all the transactions of business-it becomes, in either view, a national concern of the first magnitude; as such, the ordinary rules of prudence require that the Government should possess the means of ascertaining, whenever it thinks fit, that so delicate a trust is executed with fidelity and care. A right of this nature is not only desirable as it respects the Government, but it ought to be equally so to all those concerned in the institution as an additional title to confidence, and as a thing which can only be formidable to practices that imply fraud or mismanagement. Without, therefore, offending the most sensitive, a clause which we find recommended as part of the charter of the old Bank of North America, might be introduced at this time with all propriety, making it felony for any president, director, officer, or servant of the bank, directly or indirectly, to appropriate any of the money, property, or credit of the bank to his own use, or in any other way be found guilty of fraud or embezzlement.

It is respectfully suggested, too, that, in addition to the ordinary checks, the charter should probibit the exercise of power not expressly or impliedly granted.

That no authority shall exist in the board of directors to dispose of the effects of the bauk without a direct equivalent in value.

Voting by proxy carefully guarded; officers of the bank not to be mitted to procure or vote a proxy directly or indirectly.


Every member of the board of directors to have access at all times to all the books of the bank.

The books of every description to be subject to the full, free, and thorough investigation of Congress, the Secretary of the Treasury, or to such commission as may be appointed by either authority.

A list of stockholders of the bank to be prepared for the examination of any stockholder, at least two months before any annual election.

No loans of the funds of the institution to be made without the sanction of the board of directors had at its regular meetings.

The Board of Trade of the city of Baltimore, in respectfully urging on the constituted authorities an early decision in the matter of their memorial, are strongly impressed with the belief that indifference to the observance of contracts, a depraved state of the public mind, and rapid degradation of the public morals, are the necessary consequences growing out of the present condition of the currency. It is with them to lay the foundation of an institution which shall stay the progress of demoralization, advance the interests and conduce to the happiness of the people.

By order of the board:


Secretary B. T.

JAMES WILSON, President.

1st Session.





On the manufacture of iron and the operation of the present tariff laws.

JUNE 22, 1841.-Laid on the table.

JUNE 23, 1841.—Motion to print, debated; House adjourned without coming to a decision. JUNE 24, 1841.-Ordered to be printed.


FREEHOLD, December 31, 1841.

DEAR SIR: As one of your constituents, I take the liberty of offering for your consideration a few remarks on the operation of our present tariff laws. I perceive that it is proposed to increase the revenue by laying duties on silks, wines, &c. These certainly are fair subjects of impost, and as the condition of our national finances now calls for increased revenue, I can see no good reason for exempting these articles of luxury; and as the culture of silk may be introduced to some small extent in this country, it may be an agricultural product fairly entitled to protection. From the experiments I have made and seen in the culture of silk, I have satisfied myself that, as a business, it is not likely to be profitable in this country except, perhaps, to small farmers, who can do all the labor within themselves, or to the slaveholder, where the labor could be done by those whose labor would not be available for other productions.

The great and paramount interest of this country is agriculture; and the great question is, how shall we in the most effectual manner sustain and protect this great interest? Some of the statesmen of the South and the advocates of free trade in the North, say by removing restrictions on commerce, and allowing free trade with all the world.

If we were a nation just commencing our existence, or in the condition we were prior to our embargo and non-intercourse acts, and all other nations would allow free trade with us, this might be true. But our situation now is very different. The policy of our laws and Government ever since that period has been protection to our agriculture and manufactures; and under this policy a great manufacturing interest has been built up in support of our agriculture and independence. It appears to me that two prominent branches of this great manufacturing interest-I mean those of iron and wool-must be nearly prostrated, if not destroyed, in 1842, under the compromise act of 1833, unless some seasonable provision shall previ

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