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law in 1791. The bank was to continue for twenty years, its capital was to be $10,000,000, of which $2,000,000 was to be subscribed by the government. In return the government was to receive a loan of $2,000,000, repayable in yearly installments of $200,000. Congress agreed to charter no other bank within twenty years. The public subscriptions were to be payable one-quarter in coin and three-quarters in three or six per cent. national debt certificates.
The bank was authorized to establish branches, and its notes were to be received in payments to the United States. Although Jefferson had originally opposed the bank on the ground of the unconstitutionality of its charter, he nevertheless while President recognized its constitutionality by signing various acts affecting it, and in the courts the legitimacy of its existence was never questioned. Its efforts to obtain a renewal of its charter from the United States at the expiration of its existence in 1811 were unsuccessful, as were the efforts to prolong its life by a Pennsylvania State charter, and so it went out of existence. The head office of the bank was at Philadelphia. The government stock in the bank was sold to English bankers in 1802 at a premium of fifty-seven per
cent. The bank had paid dividends averaging over eight per cent. per annum; while in liquidation it was bought out by Stephen Girard, of Philadelphia, one of the stockholders, and continued by him as a private institution.
In 1816 the second Bank of the United States was incorporated. Public sentiment had been inclined in favor of such a renewal by the financial difficulties attending the war of 1812, but although the subject was broached as early as 1814, it was two years later before the act passed. This time it was the Federalists that were opposed to it, and by in turn supporting and opposing each of two rival plans, they had compassed the defeat of both. The powers of the bank were much the same as those of the first. Its capital stock was $35,000,000, payable one-fifth in cash and four-fifths in government stock. It was to have the custody of public
funds, and five of the twenty-five directors were to be appointed by the government. Mismanagement brought the bank into a precarious position, and the new bank president was obliged, as a matter of necessity, largely to curtail its loans. The stringency thus created awakened considerable feeling against the bank. The first intimation of any connection of the bank with politics was the demand of certain of President Jackson's political friends for the removal of the president of a New England branch who was politically obnoxious to them. The president of the bank, Nicholas Biddle, refused, denying any connection of his institution with politics. President Jackson was opposed to the bank, and his messages to Congress in 1829, 1830 and 1831 expressed strong dislike of the institution. In 1832 a bill to recharter passed both Houses, but was vetoed by the President and failed to pass over the veto. The elections of that year produced a House, the majority of which, supported the President. On the plea that the bank was not safe, the President now removed the government deposits and placed them with State banks, which were called Banks of Deposit, and nicknamed “Pet Banks.". In this he was supported by the House, which decided against a renewal of the charter and ordered an investigation of the bank. Of this nothing came. The bank was chartered by the State of Pennsylvania, and was thereafter known as the Nicholas Biddle’s United States Bank. Only one more attempt to establish such a bank was made. This was in 1844, while Tyler was President. Two bills having that end in view passed Congress, but they were both vetoed.
Bankruptcy is a state of inability to pay all debts; it is also the process by which an individual may secure a discharge of his indebtedness by surrendering his property and complying with the law. The Constitution of the United States (Article 1, section 8, clause 4) gives Congress power “to establish
uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States.” As the States also have the right to pass similar laws affecting their own citizens whenever there is no national law on the subject in force, it is customary to distinguish between National and State laws by calling the former bankrupt, and the latter insolvent laws. Three times only in the history of the government has there existed a bankrupt law. The first was passed in 1800 and was repealed in 1803; the second became law in 1841, and was taken from the statute books in 1843; the third had the longest life: it became law March 2, 1867, and was repealed on June 7, 1878, the repeal to take effect September 1st of that year. There is at present a considerable demand for another bankrupt law to secure uniformity throughout the country.
Banks of Deposit. (See Deposit Banks.)
Barbary Pirates.-The countries on the Mediterranean coast of Africa from Egypt_to the Atlantic, namely, Morocco, Algeria, Tunis and Tripoli (which are known collectively as the Barbary Powers) had been in the habit of preying on the commerce of nations that refused to pay a tribute to them. Shortly after the Revolution the operations of these pirates were directed against our commerce, to protect which treaties were negotiated with the Barbary States, in 1786–7 with Morocco, in 1795 with Algiers, in 1796 with Tripoli, and in 1799 with Tunis. By these treaties the United States purchased immunity for its commerce by gross sums or yearly tributes. This shameful course was made necessary by our lack of an effective navy, which was due to the action of the Republican party of those days. But the government was now forced to organize a small navy, which was found useful against Tripoli. That country, becoming. dissatisfied with the tribute, declared war in 1801. In 1803 some half a dozen American vessels were dispatched to the Mediterranean. In October the frigate Philadelphia ran aground in the harbor of Tripoli and was captured. Decatur in the following February sailed into the port at night, boarded the Philadelphia under the guns of the enemy, killed or forced overboard every one of her deferders, set fire to the vessel, and escaped without losing a man and with only four wounded. A land expedition conducted by General Eaton, American
Consul at Tunis, terminated the war and forced Tripoli to make peace in June, 1805. In 1812 Algiers declared war against the United States. As soon as the war then commencing against England had been brought to an end, our government turned its attention to Algiers. The Algerian war was short and decisive. In the spring of 1815 Commodore Decatur was sent with nine or ten vessels to chastise the pirates. In June he captured the largest of their frigates, and soon after took another vessel. He then dictated a treaty to the Dey of Algiers, which was signed June 30, 1815, relinquishing all claims to tribute in the future. . Tunis and Tripoli were next forced to pay an indemnity for permitting British menof-war to seize American vessels in their harbors during the war of 1812. Thenceforth there was no more tribute paid to the Barbary States, and their depredations on American commerce ceased. The troubles with these countries had forced the formation of a navy on the country, despite the wishes of the Republicans, and thus prepared us for the war with England. They also led to a slight increase in customs duties in 1804 and following years for the purpose of forming the Mediterranean Fund, as it was called, to protect American commerce.
Bargain. (See Political Bargain.)
Bar'l.–A slangy abbreviation for the word barrel, used in politics to denote that which the “barrel ” is supposed to contain, namely, money. Any rich polițician who opers his coffers for the benefit of his party is said to “tap his bar'l.”
Barnburners.-A name applied to the followers of Van Buren, when in 1844 the Democratic party in New York split into two factions. The story of a farmer that burned his barn in order to free it from rats, was often told and the case of the party likened to it. Hence the name. Later they were known as the Softs or SoftShells. Their opponents, while known as Barnburners, were the Hunkers; while known as Softs, the Hards or Hard-Shells. (See Free Soil party.)
Battle Above the Clouds, The.—The capture of Lookout Mountain by General Joseph Hooker during the Civil War, is known as the battle above the clouds. Bayard, James Asheton, was born in Pennsylvania, in 1767. He was graduated at Princeton and then practiced law in Delaware. From 1797 to 1801 he represented that State in Congress. He served in the Senate from 1804 to 1813. The posts of Minister to France and also to Russia were at different times offered to him, but declined. He aided in negotiating the Treaty of Ghent. He died August 6, 1815. He was a Federalist.
Bayard, James A., was born in Wilmington, Delaware, November 15, 1799, and died June 13, 1880. He served in the United States Senate from 1851 to 1864. In 1867 he was returned to the Senate. He was the son of James Asheton Bayard and the father of Thomas F. Bayard. He was a Democrat.
Bayard, Thomas F., was born at Wilmington, Delaware, October 29, 1828. He is a lawyer by profession. In 1853 he was appointed United States District Attorney for Delaware, but resigned in the next year. He was elected to the United States Senate for the term commencing 1869, his father, James A. Bayard, being at the same time re-elected to the other senatorship. He continued in the Senate until appointed Secretary of State by President Cleveland.
Beecher, Henry Ward, was born at Litchfield, Connecticut, June 24, 1813; he died in Brooklyn March 8, 1887. After acting as pastor in two different Presbyterian churches in Indiana, he was called to Plymouth Church, Brooklyn, a Congregationalist organization. Over this he presided until his death. He was a man of independent and outspoken views, singularly eloquent, and a leader in the Anti-Slavery agitation. He was a liberal-minded man, active in politics and one of the leaders of the revolt in the Republican party in 1884.
Bell, John, was born near Nashville, Tennessee, February 15, 1797, and died September 10, 1869. He was a lawyer, a graduate of the University of Nashville. He was à Congressman from 1829 to 1841, as a Whig; also Secretary of War under Harrison and Tyler. He became the presidential candidate of the Constitutional Union party in 1860.