« ForrigeFortsett »
should be made, and two prisons similarly administered be chargeable on the county. Without, however, considering this question, they are clearly of opinion that considerations of palpable economy exist to induce the Legislature to extend the limitation and authorize sentences for four or five years to be made to the county prison. The effect of the present law in connexion with the system of solitary confinement with labor, is to fill the prisons with those who merely serve an unprofitable apprenticeship. By the time the trade is learned and the prisoner ceases in his inexperience to be wasteful, his term of service expires, and he is succeeded by some other who is to be an equal burthen. Out of an average of two hundred prisoners in the county prison not more than one half are working hands-hence a disproportionate expense of this department.
The committee are happy to state that a renewed effort is contemplated by those who administer the prisons to retrench the expenses, and that at the county prison to which their attention has been mainly directed, a confident hope is entertained that considerable reductions will be effected.The same disposition exists at the Eastern Penitentiary. In one particular, however, no control can be exercised by the Inspectors. So long as magistrates are permitted to imprison for "further hearing" and then discharge on payment of costs, or indeed so long as the power of imprisonment even finally for trivial offences is exercised without supervision, the burthen of prison expenses cannot be materially lightened. A power should be at one given to the Judges in conjunction with the Inspectors periodically to examine the causes of commitment, and discharge such prisoners as in their sound discretion, may be deemed proper objects for their interposition. Any one at all familiar with the course pursued in relation to prisoners thus committed, will see the necessary effect of such a measure.
The laws too on the subject of vagrancy should be completely revised.
6. Board of Health.
It was the intention of the committee to examine the expenditures of this department in detail, but they have been prevented by want of time from doing more than stating results. Since 1836 the amount paid directly by the County for the support of the Health establishment is $54,000-or an average of $10,800 for five years. This, however, is understood to have been caused by the extinguishment of the Cholera Debt, and the purchase of the present Health Office in the City of Philadelphia, and no requisition for either the current, or the ensuing year. Appended to this Report is a communication from the Board of Health, in reply to a call from the committee. It was, however, received too late to
fifty millions of dollars. Its price as a marketable article is 80 for the 100 of five per cents. and par for the six per cents. The first matter which has attracted the observation of the committee is the market value of the county stock relatively to other securities of the same description. The State 5 per cents. command the same price, whilst the city stock (5 per cents.) commands a much higher price, the last sales known to the committee being 98 for a par of $100. No other comparison with reference to ultimate security can be made with state stock than this, the only security for state debt is the public faith as pledged by law without any mode by process of law to enforce its payment. Against the city and the county, there is a mode of enforcing liability of equal efficacy. The interest on each is punctually paid in coin or its equivalent.
The value of the county stock in the foreign market may depend on a variety of considerations too minute to be here detailed. Superior facilities may be given for the disposal of the city stocks—the relation of the City as a municipal corporation may be better defined and more intelligible to distant capitalists than those of the county-but there are causes operating on the credit of the county at home more palpable, and which may be easily obviated. The two that most naturally suggest themselves are the want of such an organization of county officers as to inspire full confidence that its financial condition is the object of careful guardianship and supervision and above all the want of a secure provision by law for the ultimate liquidation of the principal of the public debt.
To the latter part the committee has mainly directed their attention. It will require and no doubt command the early attention of the Legislature.
Two plans have occurred to the committee, the one requiring the consent of the loan holders and therefore not so easily accomplished. The other a measure which only needs legislative sanction to carry it into full effect.
The loans of the county are payable at different times between 1860 and 1873, and bear a different rate of interest, the largest portion however being at 5 per cent. It would be very desirable to consolidate these loans and to defer the period of their payment to such a time as to make an annual appropriation to the sinking fund as little burthensome as possible. In this way the sinking fund would be made part of the contract. This would probably be an inducement to the loan holders to agree to the reduction of the rate of interest on certain portions of the loan, so as to make the whole consolidated loan bear an interest of 5 per cent. If the loan be made reimbursable in 1880, the annual appropriation of $35,000 to a sinking fund would entirely discharge it.
allow the committee to examine it with the attention it de- without delay for the punctual liquidation of the existing If this plan be not adopted, provision ought to be made serves. The committee are unable to form any judgment debt. A law ought at once to be passed creating a commison the suggestions contained in this communication. They, however, sincerely hope that the anticipation of the Board sion for this purpose, and the committee believe with the as to an increasing revenue and diminished expenditure, may be realized, and that nothing will be allowed to interfere with such a strict economy of resources as in this and every department of the_county administration is so much needed.
IV.-The Funded Debt.
sinking fund should be combined an interest fund, which would secure beyond all doubt, the punctual payment of the interest as it fell due. The features of the plan the committee recommend are the following:
1. That certain portions of secure revenue be not only pledged but actually paid over to commissioners, to be called Commissioners of the Interest and Sinking Fund.
The proceeds of the taxes for the current year will not be less than $500,000. The amount of interest payable in specie will not exceed $55,000. Not less than $35,000 should be applied to a sinking fund, making in all $120,000. This sum from the tax income as it is realized should be paid over to the commissioners.
Although not strictly among the objects referred to the committee, the subject of the funded debt of the county is entitled at least to an incidental notice at their hands. A vast amount of capital has been voluntarily invested in it, and under the authority of law it is made an investment for the property of minors, trustees, and others whose rights the law means to protect. It is distributed in sums varying from $100,000 to $50,000-and is held by citizens as well as foreigners. Its amount as above stated is $1,498,000 and the annual amount of interest on it is in round numbers, the rate being five and six per cent. $85,000. The security on which it rests is the legal obligation of the county as a municipal corporation which may be enforced by legal process, 3. The commissioners should be public officers, so selectand the personal and real estate of the whole city and county ed as to combine as far as possible permanent official tenure worth at the last assessment upwards of one hundred and with a direct responsibility to the public, whose interests
2. These commissioners should be required to invest the moneys thus paid over to them, either by the purchase of the county stock, at a price not above par, or in such other certain public securities as may be designated. They should also at such times as the half yearly payments of interest are to be made, realize and pay over to the treasury, the amount required to meet the same.
they are to guard. They should not be so numerous as to make it difficult to convoke them. The committee indicate the following persons as combining these qualifications:The Judges of the Court of Common Pleas, the County Treasurer, and the Senators for the time being, for the city and county of Philadelphia.
The committee do not doubt that such an enactment would have an immediate and material effect on the public credit and the value of the county stocks. It is due to the public creditors, to those who relying merely on the public faith, have advanced their money to defray expenses which the county has deliberately incurred. It is due also to those who are to come after us that the day of payment of the debt we have incurred should be anticipated, and the promise to pay be not found to be illusory. The committee would be willing to go one step further, and as representatives of the city and county, by statute forbid any further increase of the city or county debt, without special legislative authority, and extend the prohibition to all the incorporated districts of the county, a maximum first being ascertained which sound economy might justify or actual necessity require.
Such measures as these with such a re-organization of the county administration as may be needed or even without it, will re-animate its credit, and make its stock as eligible as that of any municipal corporation in the Union.
Connected with this, the committee will direct the attention of the Board, to the last matter which they have been able to consider, viz:
V. The re-organization of the County Board, &c. Until the year 1834 the affairs of the County of Philadelphia were administered wholly by three commissioners, one of whom was elected annually by the people. The commissioners appointed the Treasurer. In 1835 the County Board was created by law. It consisted of the Senators and Representatives for the time being in the Legislature from the city and county of Philadelphia. The functions of this Board have varied from time to time, and are now merely to fix the rate per centum of tax and authorize loans, the proceeds of which they can specifically appropriate. Over the proceeds of taxes they have no control. The Treasurer is now elected by the people.
This system, however defective in detail, has unquestionably operated very successfully. The supervision of the Board has been salutary. It may, however, in the opinion of the committee be made still more direct by giving to the Board the power of specifically appropriating the proceeds of the taxes as well as of the loans, and requiring of them constant and periodical meetings. Loans are no less burthens on the people than taxes, and there is no reason why the proceeds of the one should be more exempt from control in its disbursement than the other. If with this power conferred on the Board its members be required to meet, at least during the recess of the Legislature, at stated periods, and the condition of the county affairs be submitted to them, far greater confidence would be reposed in the county administration and in the opinion of the committee the system be rendered as efficient as possible.
The committee in concluding this report earnestly commend the facts stated in it to the attentive consideration of the Board and their fellow citizens. They are in every way worthy of it. They have been stated candidly and in a spirit of entire impartiality. In the suggestions they make, the committee are unanimous. Every matter of opinion on which the committee have differed has been purposely suppressed, in order that the suggestions they have made should have the full effect which unanimity alone can give them. No political feeling has had influence with the committee, and none, they are sure will operate on the Board.
It is earnestly hoped by the committee that some, if not all the measures of retrenchment and reform which they have recommended, will receive the early attention of the Legislature.
WILLIAM B. REED,
Philadelphia, September 13, 1841.
A correspondent of the N. Y. Journal of Commerce writing from Canandaigua, says:
which has excited no little curiosity. A sturdy oak, one of "A discovery has been made in this part of the country the primeval settlers, had been felled, for the purpose of being converted into ship timber. During the process of sawing, a number of incisions were discovered which had evidently been made with some sharp instrument of iron or steel, and these cuts were found to be 400 grains from the outer bark, each grain being the growth of one year. According to this idea, this country must have been traversed 400 years ago by men accustomed to the use of iron and steel instruments; but whether of their own manufacturing or not, must at present remain a mystery.”
Boston and Maine Railroad.
Dover, with about 200 stockholders and passengers. The The cars were run Wednesday, for the first time, into in that large and beautiful village, they returned to the city first run was very successful. After about five hours spent at 7 o'clock. The road will be open for the public in a few days. We learn that the company contemplate continuing the road, this fall, to the line of the State, and Great Falls. Boston Mercantile Journal, Sep. 2.
Crime in New Orleans.
During the late session of the New Orleans Criminal Court, commencing December 21st, 1840, and ending July 30th, 1841, there were 314 cases tried. Of that number, 82 were acquitted and 232 convicted. It thus appears that three fourths of those who are tried, are convicted. Of those convicted, 97 were for larceny, 70 for assault and battery, 6 for burglary, 4 for robbery, 16 for various kinds of forgery, 9 for "contravention of law" by free colored persons, 5, for pocket picking, 3 for slave stealing, 2 for manslaughter, and 1 for murder.-N. O. Bee.
Vermont and the United States Bank.
In the list of States where the stock of the United States Bank was held, six shares were set down to Vermont. These six shares belong to an officer of the revolutionary war who resides at Bennington, and is now ninety-two years old. He was a subscriber to the first National Bank. When that became local and the old United States bank was incorporated, he placed his money in the latter. When that became extinct and the thirty-five million bank was incorporated, he again transferred his money. Now, his money and the policy of a National Bank, have come to an end together.
Shipment of Ice.
There are sixteen companies now engaged in the business of shipping ice in Boston. They formerly sold ice in New Orleans at six cents a pound; but now sell it at one cent, and by the consequent increase of consumption and the quantity prevented from melting by despatch of sales, they make four dollars now where they made one formerly.The ice is sawed into square blocks not less than twelvo inches thick, and is packed into vessels with straw and hay, boxed with thin lumber made air tight. One Boston company paid $7,000 last year for the straw and hay they used for packing.-Boston paper.
Coal and Iron Valuable Discovery. The report mentioned by the Williamsport Banner, that deposits of anthracite coal and iron ore had been discovered in the vicinity of Hancock, in this State, is confirmed. The estate upon which it has been found it is said, belongs to Mr. Caton, who is making extensive arrangements for working the mines. The mines lie within a few hundred yards of the Chesapeake and Ohio canal.
Attorney General's Opinion on the Revenue Law
ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE,
JOHN GILMORE, Esquire, State Treasurer.
Dear Sir-Having returned home a few days ago, I avail myself of the earliest opportunity that occurs, to answer the inquiries submitted to me, in your letter of the 23d of August, more fully and explicitly than I had time to do in the brief reply which I furnished you, on the same day that yours was put into my hands.
I regretted at the time, that the very few moments allowed me for the preparation of that reply, before starting on a journey of some distance, would render it necessary that I should trouble you with a more complete and detailed answer. You will find that my opinion expressed in both my former and present letters rests upon the same basis.
Your inquiries in reference to the "proper construction" of certain sections of the act of the 4th of May, 1841, entitled "an act to provide revenue to meet the demands on the Treasury, and for other purposes," are as follows: (See Vol. IV. page 297.)
1st. "Section 26. In distributing the amount of Loan not taken among the accepting banks, it is not essential that such distribution be made in accordance with the 7th Section? Or in compliance with such distribution can any one bank take a larger amount than its proportion as designated in the 7th Section?
2d. "Section 28. In accepting the provisions of the act referred to, is it not essential that this section be complied with by giving the proper notice within forty days after its passage? Or can a bank incorporated since the expiration of forty days now legally accept.
3d. "Is the faith of the Commonwealth pledged for the redemption of any notes, not issued in strict accordance with the several provisions of the act before referred to ?"
It is not to be questioned, that the interests depending upon these propositions, are of great magnitude. Appropriations to pay numerous classes of meritorious public creditors-to pay pensions and gratuities-to sustain the Common Schools-Orphan Asylums-House of Refuge, and Asylums for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb-to keep the railroads and canals in repair, and to carry on operations upon them, and indeed for all the purposes of government, must be deeply affected by any solution to these questions, which the proper authorities see fit in their measures to give. That the consideration of this subject is wholly free from embarrassment, I am not at liberty to presume, or else you would not have thought it necessary to submit these inquiries to me.
Before I proceed to give specific answers to each question, I will briefly advert to a few general rules of construction applicable to this case, which have been repeatedly recognized not only by the highest judicial tribunals in this country, and in that from which we derive the fundamental principles of our laws, but by the universal concurrence of the common sense of mankind.
I do not suppose these general rules will be for a moment disputed by any one, nor do I think there is much more ground for denying their application in the present instance; of that, however, I will presently afford you the clearest demonstration. The following rules of construction furnish us with a complete guide in our present inquiry, and as I think, remove all difficulty that might be supposed to exist.
1. That a legislative act is to be interpreted according to the intention of the Legislature apparent upon its face.Wilkinson vs. Leland, 2 Peters' Reports, p. 262.
2. That a law is the best expositor of itself; that every part of an act is to be taken into view, for the purpose of discovering the mind of the Legislature, and that the details of one part may contain regulations restricting the extent of general expressions used in another part of the same act.Pennington vs. Coxe, 2 Cranch Reports, p. 33.
3. That the consequences are to be considered in expounding laws where the intent is doubtful. United States vs. Fisher, 2 Cranch Reports, p. 358.
4. Laws are construed liberally to give a remedy or effect an object declared in the law. Whitney vs. Emmet, 1 Baldwin Reports, p. 316.
5. Positive and explicit provisions, comprehending in terms a whole class of cases, are not to be restrained by applying to those cases an implication drawn from subsequent words, unless that implication be very clear, necessary and irresistible. Faw vs. Maistiller, 2 Cranch Reporter, p. 23. Let us now with these rules before us, drawn from the highest judicial authority in this country, proceed to examine with great brevity, into the general nature and object of the Act of Assembly under consideration. The first section provides that the Governor shall be authorized to negotiate a loan, on certain terms, terms therein specified, for the repayment of which the faith of the Commonwealth is pledged to an amount not exceeding $3,100,000. The second section provides that the several banks of this Commonwealth, except those hereafter excepted, whenever called upon by the Governor, shall be authorized to subscribe to the stock hereby created, and upon paying the amount into the State Treasury, in notes of a certain description set forth, shall be entitled to a credit for the amount, in the books of the Auditor General, in conformity to the first section.
The third, fourth, fifth and sixth sections prescribe the manner in which said notes shall be redeemed, and penalties in case of failure, &c. &c.
The seventh section restricts the banks to certain amounts which they shall be allowed to subscribe in proportion to the extent of their respective capitals. The eighth section provides the manner in which the notes shall be receivable. The ninth and tenth sections relate to taxes: the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth sections authorize any bank of this Commonwealth, except the Bank of the United States to transfer portions of the funded debt of the State upon the books of the Auditor General, and to issue notes of a denomination not less than five dollars on the credit of the same. The fourteenth and fifteenth sections specially appropriate the amount of the loan to the general purpose already mentioned, and denounce certain penalties on its misapplication. The eighteenth section prescribes how the form of the notes shall be fixed and the intervening sections, including the twenty-fifth confer certain privileges upon the Bank of the United States. The twenty-sixth section imposes penalties on the Banks refusing to take the Loan; and provides that the omission or refusal of any such bank as aforesaid, shall not affect the right or privileges hereby conferred on the banks complying with the same, but the amount of the said loan not taken may be distributed among the other banks of the Commonwealth, according to the proportions designated in the seventh section of this act.
The twenty-seventh section prescribes certain penalties on Banks refusing to deposit State stock. The twenty-eighth section provides that the several banks desirous to avail themselves of the provisions of this act, shall notify the Governor in writing, within forty days after its passage, of their willingness to comply with the same; and the twentyninth section points out how the banks shall be notified of the passage of this act.
I have been thus minute in making an abstract of this law, because I deem it material to take all its provisions into consideration, in determining the construction of those sections to which you have invited my attention. Some of these provisions are obscure, and some appear to conflict with others in meaning; but when we take a comprehensive view of all parts of this law together as a whole, the diffi culty vanishes, and the sense is clear.
The great leading object of this law, manifestly apparent in every provision, was to "provide revenue to meet the demands on the Treasury." It is a fact known to the world that independent of this law, no mode was devised by the Legislature to supply the pecuniary means for redeeming the plighted faith and honor of the State, and for carrying on the affairs of the government, so far as the appropriations contained in it were essential to this end. If the method adopted by this bill to supply the exhausted treasury wholly failed, the salutary objects to which it made appropriations, of course failed in the adequate means of completion, for
no other resources were furnished. Had this calamity befallen us, it would have been indeed a dark and disgraceful hour for Pennsylvania. The Legislature surely intended to avert it; surely believed the privileges conferred upon the Banks would induce these institutions to seize with avidity the boon it presented.
Hardly a man doubted at the passage of this law, that the Loan would be promptly taken and paid in the manner prescribed by it. Lest some of the banks however, might happen to refuse or omit to accept of the law, it was thought expedient to provide in the twenty-sixth section, that such refusal or omission should not affect the rights or privileges of the complying banks, but that the amount not taken, might be distributed amongst them. From some cause not material to ascertain, few of the banks have seen fit to take their due portion of the loan, and a very large amount of it remains to be taken. There are, I understand, a few of the banks ready and willing to take a considerable share of the part remaining to be taken, and the important question now presented is whether they are authorized to do so by law. This, I understand to be the substance of your first inquiry. In answering your question, it is proper that I should state my belief, that the Legislature did not anticipate so general a refusal or omission on the part of the banks to take their due proportion of the loan, as has actually occurred; but it certainly did anticipate that some indefinite number might do so, and it provided for the contingency by directing the distribution of the balance among the others. This provision it seems to me, clearly settles the principles on which the Legislature intended to have this loan disposed of. It was to be taken at all events, if not by all the banks, by a part of the banks, and whether that part should be the half, the quarter, or a single bank is not specified. The number was left to be fixed by circumstances. But we are met at the threshold of the inquiry with this supposed difficulty; that the untaken portion of the loan is to be distributed among the other banks: "according to the proportion designated in the seventh section of this act." And it is supposed the seventh section limits the banks to the proportionate amount on their respective capitals therein mentioned, and that under no circumstances can any bank take more.
Let us inquire how far the seventh section of this act can be considered a limitation upon the banks which take the residue of the loan, omitted or refused by the others. It is obvious to the most cursory observer, that the seventh section was introduced to regulate and control the subdivision of the loan, on the supposition that all the banks would be desirous to take their "due proportion" of it. It graduates the proportions so as to allow each bank to obtain a just and reasonable share, and to prevent the monopolizing of the whole loan by a few banks, while there were others willing to come in for their equal part.
This is clear from the language of the seventh section, even independent of the reason of it, by which this construction is fully warranted and indeed rendered incontrovertible. How else will such language as this be interpreted? "No bank shall be allowed to subscribe for a larger amount of the loan authorized by the first section of this act, nor shall any bank of this Commonwealth (whether such bank is liable to the payment of a tax on their dividends, or is exempt from such payment) issue a larger amount of notes, authorized by any portion of this act, than as follows," &c. &c. Had the several banks, as the Legislature expected, taken their "due proportion" of the loan, the limitation in this seventh section, would have been wise and salutary; but when any considerable number of the banks refuse or omit to take their proportions, and the residue is distributed among the others, this limitation becomes not only unreasonable, but it, in truth, defeats the very object of the law. It reduces the sum which each bank may take to so small an amount, that although there may be several willing to accept the whole balance untaken, yet they cannot do it, because it is prohibited by the very law that directs it to be done! We should not attribute to any act of the Legislature, so absurd an operation, unless constrained to it, by the most positive language. Happily such is not the case here. When we consider the seventh section in conjunction with
the twenty-sixth, we perceive at once the intention of the Legislature, and the sound policy of these provisions.
I have shown the object and meaning of the seventh section; now let us turn our attention to the twenty-sixth, which provides for quite another state of things. A large portion of the banks, having refused to take their due proportion of the loan, can the balance be distributed among the others, in case the proportion of each or any of them, exceed that designated in the seventh section? I think it can. I think it is clear that the reference in the twentysixth section to the proportions designated in the seventh, is not for the purpose of absolute limitation, but for precisely the same purpose, applied to the banks among which the residue is distributed, as it is used for, in the seventh section, among the banks that subscribe, to wit, as a rule of fair and equitable division. It is designated to place the banks taking the loan, in both contingencies, on exactly the same relative ground to each other.
This construction reconciles the apparent conflict of these two sections, renders them both reasonable and practicable, gives effect to the law and accomplishes the true intent and meaning of the Legislature in passing it. Any other construction renders one or both of these sections impracticable, inconsistent and nugatory. I cannot therefore, doubt that the portion of the loan not taken, may be distributed among those banks of the Commonwealth, willing to accept in the proportions relative to each other, designated in the seventh section, but not limiting these banks to the per centage on their capitals designated in said seventh section, if that per centage be insufficient to consume the entire residue of the loan.
In answer to the second subject of your inquiry, I state as my opinion, that any bank desirous to avail itself of the provisions of the act in question, must show that substantially at least, it has notified the Governor in writing of its willingness to accept and comply with the provisions of the act. Such is the requisition of the law, and if complied with substantially, I do not perceive that any precise form is required, nor that any specific officer is directed to keep the notice. If it be given by authority, which the bank previously or subsequently recognizes and sanctions, I think it is enough. Two very good reasons for this notice were supposed by the Legislature to exist:-first to apprize the public what banks are amenable to the penalties inflicted on noncomplying banks-and secondly, to enable the Governor to distribute the balance of the loan not taken by the refusing banks, among the other banks of the Commonwealth. Both of these reasons are rendered fully effective by, the construction proposed to be given.
The latter clause of your inquiry, under this head, whether -"A bank incorporated since the expiration of the forty days, can now legally accept?" must depend altogether on circumstances attending its incorporation. I know of but one bank that can come under this description, the "Lancaster County Bank,” and premising it was in reference to that bank you made the question, I proceed to examine the ground on which it stands. It appears upon reference to the certificates of the Clerks of the two Houses, dated the 5th May, 1841, that the "Act to incorporate the Lancaster County Bank" became a law on the 4th day of May, the same day the Revenue Bill under consideration passed. It appointed certain persons commissioners to carry into effect the establishment of a bank. It directed that books should be opened for subscriptions-twenty-five per cent. in specie paid in at the time of subscribing, and real estate unincumbered, lying in the county of Lancaster, be pledged and mortgaged to trustees, to the amount and value of the whole stock subscribed, for the security of the various liabilities of the bank. When the whole stock was subscribed, and the twenty-five per cent. paid in, and mortgages executed according to law, The Commissioners and Trustees appointed by said act, were to certify these facts to the Governor, who was thereupon to direct letters patent to issue to the said corporation. These directions have been pursued, and the letters patent obtained, some time since the expiration of forty days after the passage of the Revenue Bill.
By virtue of the sixth section of the bill incorporating
the Lancaster County Bank, the persons named as Com-they are all issued by one bank or by fifty banks, is a matter missioners, are also appointed Directors of the said bank, to serve until the first Saturday of November next. In their proper capacity, I learn they gave the notice required, to the Governor, of the willingness of that bank to accept the provisions of the Revenue Law, within the forty days, and now having completed their organization, desire to come in and claim the privileges of such acceptance. Although a subject of some intricacy and nicety, I do not think it is one of any very great real difficulty.
of comparative indifference. The holders are equally safe
The act of incorporation, it will be observed, became a law on the same day the Revenue Bill passed. And as there are no fractions of a day, it should be considered a law cotemporaneous with the other. It is peculiar in its provisions. It is styled "An Act to incorporate the Lancaster County Bank," and provides on performance of certain conditions, that letters patent shall issue. It appoints the Directors, and provides that mortgages shall be given, and certain other acts done, treating the said bank as to some extent in existence, before the actual issuing of the letters patent. It is my opinion, considering all the circumstances of the case, that the Directors of the bank might within the forty days, and before letters patent in fact issued, give sufficient notice under the Revenue Law of its acceptance, and upon the subsequent recognition of the bank, and compliance with the law, become entitled to take a portion of the loan "whenever called upon by the Governor." It cannot escape observation, that there is no prohibition against the allowance of a bank situated as the Lancaster County Bank is, to take a portion of the loan found in the Revenue Bill. Reason and justice do not seem to forbid it, and I am at a loss to perceive in any mere technical objections, sufficient ground to reject its voluntary offer to aid in carrying the Revenue Bill into effect. Were there even some slight ir-" regularity of form, or of technical propriety, not affecting the real merits of the question, I should think it might be, and ought to be, waived by the Governor when the interests at stake are so important to the public welfare as they are in the present instance.
National Faith.-British Debts.
As I have entered upon the defence of our "National Faith." I will give a brief, but, I think, a satisfactory consideration to an attack upon it in another morning paper.Your correspondent has, at least, the merit of having enlisted his feelings in behalf of our own citizens, while the other has given his sympathies to British creditors, with quite as little justice or reason, for to justice they are certainly en titled. I presume his sympathies, on this occasion, flow in a very natural channel. He has proposed a number of 'Queries suggested by Mr. Biddle's Letter." His especial complaint is concerning what he supposes to be injustice done to our foreign creditors, under the treaty with Great Britain of 1794. I promise at once, that the United States have acted towards these creditors, not merely with strict justice and a faithful performance of the stipulations of the treaty, which is all that the national faith was pledged for, but with a most liberal indulgence to them. Let us see what was required of our national faith by that treaty, and what has been done in the fulfilment of it.
The third question which you have propounded to me, I answer in the language of the eighth section of the act under consideration:-"All notes which may be issued under the provisions of this act shall be receivable," &c. &c. Undoubtedly the faith of the Commonwealth is pledg- By the provisional articles agreed upon between the Ameed, only in case the law making the pledge, be complied with, rican and British Commissioners, on the 30th of November, in its essential parts. Here the sole and entire discretion of 1782, it was agreed-" that the creditors on either side shall negotiating the loan authorized by the law, and of distribut- meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full ing the untaken balance of the same, is vested in the Go-value, in sterling money, of all bona fide debts heretoforé vernor. He is made the exclusive judge, subject to his contracted." In the definitive treaty of September, 1783, popular and official responsibility, of the time and manner, this article is repeated. It is here to be observed, that there when and how, and the institutions with which the loan or is no undertaking or guaranty on the part of either govern loans are to be negotiated. If the money, such as is direct- ment for the recovery of these debts; nor any assumption or ed be paid into the State Treasury, in pursuance of his ne- promise to pay them, in the event of ordinary difficulties, or gotiation, the credit on the books of the Auditor General be a final failure in obtaining them. The stipulation is not given, and the State receive the benefit contemplated by the more than that there shall be no lawful impediment interAct of Assembly, every obligation of equity, of law, and of posed, of course, by a lawful act of authority, between the plighted faith, calls upon her to discharge her duty to the creditor and his debtor. As to all other impediments, diffiholders of the notes, and to observe with scrupulous integ-culties and delays-" the law's delay"-which are incident rity, the sanctity of the contract solemnly entered into in due form of law, by Legislative authority. Let not the idea be countenanced for an instant, that a State which has bound herself, and pledged her faith, through the medium of competent authority, can be released from her obligations, because some unimportant formality or requisition has been overlooked or even disregarded, when it does not in the slightest degree reach the real merits of her obligation. This would be as revolting to every sentiment of patriotism and of honor, as it would be to every principle of justice. It may be possibly objected against the foregoing construction, that it would authorize some banks to issue an amount of notes beyond the amount of their capital, and that this would produce a most unreasonable and unsound condition of things. It is certainly true that a few banks might, if others refused to take the loan, become entitled to issue notes to a greater amount than their capital; but what of that? The banks are not ultimately responsible for the payment of these notes. The State is bound for their payment and whether VOL. V.-26
to the recovery of debts of long standing, scattered over a great extent of country—from numerous debtors, many of whom were dead, and their estates passed into other hands; as to all those impediments and delays, which are as well known in the Courts of England, as in any other country in the world; in short, as to every impediment but such as might be imposed by the lawful authority of the State, especially affecting these debts the British creditor here, and the American creditor in England, was left to encounter and overcome them as he could, and as every other suitor would have to do. At this period, it is well known, that from the weakness of our confederation, the Federal Government, if it can be said we had one, had very little influence, and less coercive authority over the acts of the several States. We had no judicial power to compel them to do what they were not inclined to.
After the adoption of the new Constitution, the treaty of 1794 was made between the United States and Great Britain. It is to this treaty the Querist particularly refers in his stric