« ForrigeFortsett »
to propitiate the favour of the money power by distinguished zeal and devotion in its service. The result of the ill-advised legislation which established this great monopoly was, to concentrate the whole money power of the union, with its boundless means of corruption and its numerous dependants, under the direction and command of one acknowledged head; thus organizing this particular interest as one body, and securing to it unity and concert of action throughout the United States, and enabling it to bring forward, upon any occasion, its entire and undivided strength to support or defeat any measure of the government. In the hands of this formidable power, thus perfectly organized, was also placed unlimited dominion over the amount of the circulating medium, giving it the power to regulate the value of property and the fruits of labour in every quarter of the union; and to bestow prosperity, or bring ruin, upon any city or section of the country, as might best comport with its own interest or policy.
"We are not left to conjecture how the monied power, thus organized, and with such a weapon in its hands, would be likely to use its The distress and alarm which pervaded and agitated the whole country when the Bank of the United States waged war upon the people, in order to compel them to submit to its demands, cannot yet be forgotten. The ruthless and unsparing temper with which whole cities and communities were impoverished and ruined, and a scene of cheerful prosperity suddenly changed into one of gloom and despondency, ought to be indelibly impressed on the memory of the people of the United States. If such was its power in a time of peace, what would it not have been in a season of war, with an enemy at your doors? nation but the freemen of the United States could have come out victorious from such a contest; yet, if you had not conquered, the government would have passed from the hands of the many to the few; and this organized money power, from its secret conclave, would have dictated the choice of your highest officers, and compelled you to make peace or war as best suited their wishes. The forms of your government might for a time have remained, but its living spirit would have departed from it.
"The distress and sufferings inflicted on the people by the bank are some of the fruits of that system of policy which is continually striving to enlarge the authority of the federal government beyond the limits fixed by the constitution. The powers enumerated in that instrument do not confer on Congress the right to establish such a corporation as the Bank of the United States, and the evil consequences which followed may warn us of the danger of departing from the true rule of construction, and of permitting temporary circumstances, or the hope of better promoting the public welfare, to influence, in any degree, our decisions upon the extent of the authority of the general government. Let us abide by the constitution as it is written, or amend it in the constitutional mode, if it is found to be defective.
"The severe lessons of experience will, I doubt not, be sufficient to prevent Congress from again chartering such a monopoly, even if the constitution did not present an insuperable objection to it. But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people
is the price of liberty; and that you must pay the price if secure the blessing. It behoves you, therefore, to be watchful in your states, as well as in the federal government. The power which the monied interest can exercise, when concentrated under a single head, and with our present system of currency, was sufficiently demonstrated in the struggle made by the Bank of the United States. Defeated in the general government, the same class of intriguers and politicians will now resort to the States, and endeavour to obtain there the same organization which they failed to perpetuate in the union; and with specious and deceitful plans of public advantages, and state interest and state pride, they will endeavour to establish, in the different states, one monied institution with overgrown capital, and exclusive privileges sufficient to enable it to control the operations of the other banks. Such an institution will be pregnant with the same evils produced by the Bank of the United Sates, although its sphere of action is more confined; and in the state in which it is chartered, the money power will be able to embody its own strength, and to move together with undivided force, to accomplish any object it may wish to attain. You have already had abundant evidence of its power to inflict injury upon the agricultural, mechanical, and labouring classes of society; and over those whose engagements in trade or speculation render them dependent on bank facilities, the dominion of the state monopoly will be absolute, and their obedience unlimited. With such a bank and paper currency, the money power would, in a few years, govern the state and control its measures; and if a sufficient number of states can be induced to create such establishments, the time will soon come when it will again take the field against the United States, and succeed in perfecting and perpetuating its organization by a charter from Congress.
"It is one of the serious evils of our present system of banking, that it enables one class of society, and that by no means a numerous one, by its control over the currency, to act injuriously upon the interests of all the others, and to exercise more than its just proportion of influence in political affairs. The agricultural, the mechanical, and the labouring classes, have little or no share in the direction of the great monied corporations; and from their habits and the nature of their pursuits, they are incapable of forming extensive combinations to act together with united force. Such concert of action may sometimes be produced in a single city, or in a small district of country, by means of personal communication with each other; but they have no regular or active correspondence with those who are engaged in similar pursuits in distant places; they have but little patronage to give to the press, and exercise but a small share of influence over it; they have no crowd of dependants about them, who grow rich without labour, by their countenance and favour, and who are, therefore, always ready to execute their wishes. The planter, the farmer, the mechanic, and the labourer, all know that their success depends upon their own industry and economy, and that they must not expect to become suddenly rich by the fruits of their toil. Yet these classes of society form the great body of the people of the United States; they are the bone and sinew of the country, men who love liberty, and desire nothing but equal right and
equal laws, and who moreover hold the great mass of our national wealth, although it is distributed in moderate amounts among the millions of freemen who possess it. But, with overwhelming numbers and wealth on their sides, they are in constant danger of losing their fair influence in the government, and with difficulty maintain their just rights against the incessant efforts daily made to encroach upon them. The mischief springs from the power which the monied interest derives from a paper currency, which they are able to control; from the multitude of corporations, with exclusive privileges, which they have succeeded in obtaining in the different states, and which are employed altogether for their benefit; and unless you become more watchful in your states, and -check this spirit of monopoly, and thirst for exclusive privileges, you will, in the end, find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away, and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations."
The latest packet from America brings intelligence that the Bank of the United States have consented to assist the merchants in making their remittances to England. The following correspondence has passed between the President, Mr. Biddle, and some of the mercantile houses in New York.
TO MR. N. BIDDLE, PRESIDENT OF THE BANK OF THE UNITED STATES. "NEW YORK, MARCH 28, 1837.
Sir, "In consequence of the peculiar position in which the commercial community is placed, it was resolved at a meeting of the merchants held this day, that the Bank of the United States be invited to interpose at this conjuncture by a shipment of coin, and by the use of their credit, so as to meet the exigencies of the occasion, and by the sale of bills of exchange on Europe, by the issue of post notes, payable at Philadelphia, and of bonds payable at some distant day in London, Paris, and Amsterdam, to facilitate negociations at home, and furnish safe remittances abroad, and thus, not only be of service to this city, but to the United States at large.
66 By order of the meeting,
"J. A. STEVENS, Chairman. "C. A. HEKSCHER, Secretary. (Signed by 101 houses.)
"NEW YORK, MARCH 29.
66 Sir, "I had this day the honor of receiving your communications of the 28th instant, accompanied by the signatures of many highly respectable citizens of New York, requesting the interposition of the Bank of the United States to assist in removing the existing embarrassments of the commercial community. The board of directors, on
learning from a committee of your fellow-citizens the existence of these difficulties, directed me to visit New York for the purpose of ascertaining their nature and the most effectual mode by which the bank could be useful. All the suggestions for that purpose contained in your letter will accordingly be presented to the board of directors, from whom they will receive the most respectful and early attention. In the mean time what my own observation suggests as the cause of these troubles is, that recent events in the South and in Europe have, in concurrence with reasons of an earlier date, produced a paralysis of private credit, which deranges the whole system of our foreign and domestic exchanges. For this the appropriate remedy seems to be to substitute for the private credit of individuals the more known and established credit of the bank, until public confidence in private stability has time to revive. To the foreign exchanges I would apply that restorative, by issuing the engagements of the bank, payable in London, Paris, and Amsterdam, to be remitted in lieu of private bills. These will be ready by the next packet, and they will enable the country to make, without injury, an early provision for the adjustment of the foreign exchanges, by the natural operation of remitting its produce and its coin. A similar operation I shall recommend to the board in respect to the domestic exchanges, by an enlarged and immediate purchase of bills of exchange on the distant sections of the union.
"These are the two measures which seem to be the best adapted for the present emergency. They are proposed with the sincerest desire that they may be useful, and with a clear conviction that, aided by the spirit and intelligence which belong to this community, they will carry it triumphantly through its present difficulties. The surest ground of confidence for others is confidence in ourselves; and I have seen this community bear up against calamities which would have broken the spirit of a less free and generous people.
"President of the Bank of the United States."
The following communication upon the subject, is from a correspondent of the Times:
"NEW YORK, APRIL 2, 1837.
"For several days past the money market has been in a most agitated and alarming state. When the packet of the 24th ult. sailed from this place, public confidence was greatly shaken, and the commercial men of the country appeared to be tottering on the brink of ruin. Through the instrumentality of the United States Bank light is again breaking in upon the mercantile community. At no period since the war of 1812 have the capitalists experienced greater apprehension, or the rate of interest been so high, as during the past week. An arrangement has been effected with Mr. Biddle, in pursuance of which he has agreed to issue the bonds of the United States Bank for a specified amount, payable 12 months after date, in London, Paris, or Amsterdam,
at the option of the purchaser. For these bonds he receives mercantile notes at a rate which will bring the bonds a fraction below the cash price of first-rate private bills of exchange; thus enabling the merchant, by extending the time of payment a few months, to continue his remittances, in bills or paper of solidity equal to any which can be made in Europe or America. The American merchants, as a class, are men of great enterprise and industry; many of them are opulent; but the injudicious interference of the government in attempting to regulate the currency has produced such a scene of speculation and such a transfer of specie to the interior, as to embarrass all the regular business of the country. It may not be uninteresting to retrospect.
"Immediately on the removal of the public deposits from the late Bank of the United States, speculations in its stock on a fall to a large amount ensued. Here the mania commenced. New local banks were thereupon chartered by the several states, and their stocks became the object of speculation. Paper money being abundant in the hands of a favoured few, these gentlemen turned their attention to the national domain. The disease had now become contagious, and consequently almost universal. Every description of property, foreign or domestic, personal or landed, was greatly enhanced in price; but more especially lands. In the height of this mania, the President directed the Secretary of the Treasury, under the date of the 11th of July, 1836, to instruct the receivers of public money in the Western and South Western States, to take nothing in payment of the public lands but gold or silver, or the notes of banks in their vicinity that would be redeemed forthwith in specie.
"The effect of this order was twofold. It compelled the Western and South Western banks to contract their loans, and thus gradually withdraw from circulation a portion of their paper, lest they should subject themselves to a run. At the same time it compelled both the speculator and the actual settler, who wished to purchase the public land, to provide himself in the Atlantic States with specie, and transport it to the place where his payment was to be made.
"By these anti-commercial regulations, the gold and silver was withdrawn from the marts of commerce, where it ought to have been left, as the means of regulating and balancing the accounts between the United States and foreign countries; and it was thrown into a district of territory, where it remains unemployed in the vaults of certain banks, in the form of deposits, to the credit of the government. This is an unnatural state of things, and has tended incalculably to embarrass the merchants on the seaboard. It may be asked, in what manner have these merchants been so much embarrassed, if they have not entered into these land speculations? it is due to them to give the explanation.
"I have already remarked, that the Western and South Western banks were compelled to restrict their loans. The effect of this was to prevent, to a limited extent, the merchants in those states from remitting the amount they owed in the Atlantic cities. But this was not the greatest evil. Many of the interior merchants, allured by the brilliant prospects of realizing fortunes, sold the goods which they had