« ForrigeFortsett »
H. OF R.)
Bank of the United States.
[Feb. 7, 1791.
The interpretation of the Constitution, like the President and Senate. His rule of interpretaprerogative of a sovereign, may be abused; but tion then was therefore more liberal than it is from hence the disuse of either cannot be in- now. In the other case, Congress determined ferred. In the exercise of prerogative the by law, with the sanction of the President, minister is responsible for his advice to his sov- when and where they should hold their next ereign, and the members of either House are session, although the Constitution provides that responsible to their constituents for their con- this power should rest solely in the two Houses. duct in construing the Constitution. We act The gentleman also advocated this measure, at our peril; if our conduct is directed to the and yet appears to be apprehensive of the attainment of the great objects of Government consequences that may result from a construcit will be approved, and not otherwise; but this tion of the Constitution which admits of a Nacannot operate as a reason to prevent our dis- tional Bank. But from which of these meacharging the trusts reposed in us.
sures is danger to be apprehended? The only Let us now compare the different modes of danger from our interpretation would be the reasoning on this subject, and determine which exercise by Congress of a general power to form is right, for both cannot be.
corporations; but the dangers resulting from The gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Madison) the gentleman's interpretations, in the cases has urged the dangerous tendency of a liberal alluded to, are very different; for what may construction; but which is most dangerous, a we not apprehend from the precedent of having liberal or a destructive interpretation? The assumed a power on which the Constitution liberty we have taken in interpreting the Con- was silent, and from having annexed it to the stitution, we conceive to be necessary, and it Supreme Executive? If we have this right in cannot be denied to be useful in attaining the one instrance, we may extend it to others, and objects of it; but whilst he denies us this make him a despot. And here I think it necesliberty, he grants to himself a right to annul sary to declare, that such is my confidence in part, and a very important part of the Consti- the wisdom, integrity, and justice of the Chief tution. The same principle that will authorize Magistrate, as that I should be at ease, if my a destruction of part will authorize the destruc- life, liberty, and property were at his disposal; tion of the whole of the Constitution; and if but this is a trust which I am not authorized to gentlemen have a right to make such rules, they make for my constituents; and as his succeshave an equal right to make others for enlarg: sors in office will possess equal powers, but ing the powers of the Constitution, and indeed may not possess equal virtues, caution, with reof forming a despotism. Thus, if we take the spect to them is necessary. Again, what may gentleman for our pilot, we shall be wrecked on be the result of the precedent relating to the the reef which he cautions us to avoid.
session of Congress? If we had a right by law The gentleman has referred us to the last to determine where the next Congress should article of the amendments proposed to the Con- hold their session, one Congress may oblige anstitution by Congress, which provides that the other to sit in Kentucky, or in the intended powers not delegated to Congress, or prohibited State Yazoo, under the protection of a Choctaw to the States, shall rest in them or the people; chief, or His Excellency Governor Tallan. and the question is, what powers are delegated? It must therefore be evident that the usage of Does the gentleman conceive that such only Congress in both instances is against the genare delegated as are expressed? If so, he must tleman, and that the dangers from the preceadmit that our whole code of Jaws is unconsti- dent of establishing a bank are comparatively tutional. This he disavows, and yields to the small to those resulting from the other meanecessity of interpretation, which, by a fair sures referred to. and candid application of established rules of The gentleman from Virginia has endeavorconstruction to the Constitution, authorizes, as ed to support his interpretation of the Constituhas been shown, the measure under consideration by the sense of the Federal Convention; tion.
but how is this to be obtained? By applying The usage of Congress has also been referred proper rules of interpretation? If so, the sense to; and if we look at their acts under the exist of the Convention is in favor of the bill; or are ing Constitution, we shall find they are gene: we to depend on the memory of the gentleman rally the result of a liberal construction. I will for a history of their debates, and from thence mention but two. The first relates to the esta to collect their sense? This would be improblishment of the Executive Departments, and per, because the memories of different gentlegives to the President the power of removing men would probably vary, as they had already officers. As the Constitution is silent on this done, with respect to those facts; and if not, subject, the power mentioned, by the gentle. the opinions of the individual members who man's own reasoning, is vested in the States or debated are not to be considered as the opinthe people; he, however, contended for an as- ions of the Convention. Indeed, if they were, sumption of the power, and when assumed, no motion was made in that Convention, and urged that it should be vested in the President, therefore none could be rejected for establishalthough, like the power of appointment, it was ing a National Bank; and the measure which by a respectable minority in both Houses con- the gentleman has referred to was a proposition ceived that it should have been vested in the merely to enable Congress to erect commercial
FEB. 8, 1791.]
Bank of the United States.
(H. OF R.
corporations, which was, and always ought to be, that whilst the Conventions were silent on this negatived.
subject, and had no objections to such a meaThe gentleman's arguments respecting the sure, several of them had proposed amendments sense of the State Conventions have as little to the Constitution for restraining Congress force as those relating to the Federal Conven-from, establishing, commercial corporations; tion. The debates of the State Conventions, which evinced their disapprobation of such inas published by the short-hand writers, were stitutions, and admitted at the same time, in generally partial and mutilated; in this, if the some degree, the power of Congress, under the publications are to be relied on, the arguments existing Constitution, to form them. were all on one side of the question, for there Mr. G. then showed that as a monopoly had is not in the record which is said to contain the been urged as an objection to the bill, no such Pennsylvania debates a word against the ratifi- consequence could result from it; for the bill cation of the Constitution; although we all does not restrain State or private banks, or know that arguments were warmly urged on both even individuals, from negotiations of a similar sides. The gentleman has quoted the opinions, nature with those permitted to the stockholders; as recorded in the debates of this State and nor does it restrain the States from forming North Carolina, of two of our learned judges; similar corporations. This plan has not a feabut the speech of one member is not to be con- ture of monopoly, and the gentlemen who opsidered as expressing the sense of a Conven pose it contend for a bank, which, according to tion; and if it was, we have no record which its original institution, was founded in monocan be depended on of such speeches. Indeed, poly. had even this been the case, the Union was at He then answered the argument urged against that time divided into two great parties, one of the authority of Congress to enable corporawhich feared the loss of the Union if the Con- tions to hold lands, when they had no power stitution was not ratified unconditionally, and themselves of purchasing and holding land; the other the loss of our liberties, if it was. and showed that although Congress are restrainThe object on either side was so important as ed from purchasing lands, (except in certain perhaps to induce the parties to depart from cases,) and from exercising over the same excandor, and to call in the aid of art, flattery, clusive legislation, yet that they may hold professions of friendship, promises of office, lands obtained by executiora, conquest, and by and even good cheer; and when these failed, other means as well as by those clauses of the the federal Bull was published, denouncing Constitution which relate to lands now belongpolitical death and destruction to antifederaling to the Union; and that Congress had often infidels. Under such circumstances, the opin invested others with powers which they themions of great men ought not to be considered as selves could not exercise. authorities, and in many instances could not He then noticed the argument, that, by a law of be recognised by themselves.
Virginia, notes payable to the bearer, or order, Mr. G. then observing that the sense of the could not circulate in that State; and observed States respecting a bank would be best ascer- that this law could not be supposed to extend tained by their legislative acts, showed, from the to bank notes; and if it did, it would be null journals of Congress, that when restrained by and void, because the Constitution of the Union the Confederation from exercising any powers and laws, made in, pursuance thereof, were but what were expressly delegated, Congress paramount to the laws and Constitutions of the had, without any authority, established a bank several States. Having considered the arguwhose capital might extend to ten millions of ments against the constitutionality of the bill, dollars; and had not only pledged the faith of he entered into the policy and utility of the the Union not to erect any other, but had recommended it to the States to prohibit any State establishment of the kind, and had also
TUESDAY, February 8. determined that the bank bills should be re
Mr. Tucker, from the committee appointed ceivable in the taxes and duties of every State. for the purpose, presented a bill to alter the That the States did not remonstrate against, or time of the next meeting of Congress, which tacitly acquiesce in, but actually supported the
was twice read, and ordered to be engrossed. measures of Congress relative to the bank, whilst the war continued, and after the peace. House that they have passed the bill making
Á message from the Senate intormed the That this was the strongest evidence the States could give that they thought the measure salu- appropriations for the support of the Govern
ment for the year 1791. tary, and had no objection to it on the ground of its being constitutional. He then urged that
BANK OF THE UNITED STATES. if the States and the people at large had no ob- The House resumed the consideration of the jection to a bank in that case, they certainly bill for incorporating the Bank of the United could not in this; and inquired whether there States. was any evidence of their disapprobation of The question still being on the passage of the such an institution in the debates of their Con- bill, ventions or propositions for a nendments? To Mr. Vining apologized for rising to offer bis this he answered in the negative, and urged sentiments on this subject, which had been al
H. OF R.]
Bank of the United States.
[Feb. 8, 1791.
ready so ably discussed; but considering the containing the power of removability; in which nature of the objections as arising from consti- the utmost latitude of construing the Constitututional principles, it had acquired an import- tion was contended for and adopted; and, said ance which would justify his troubling the he, the funding system cannot be defended on House with some remarks.
any other principle than of implication. He began by noticing the leading argument He then inquired, of what right does this inof Mr. Madison respecting the sense of the corporation deprive a single citizen? And can Continental Convention on the power proposed an act possibly meet the disapprobation of a to be exercised by Congress in this bill. He single person which does not intringe his rights, showed that the opinion of the gentleman, in and which puts money into his pocket? I think this instance, was, if not singular, different from not. He insisted that the power of Congress that of his contemporaries; at least a similar alone was equal to establishing a bank compeobjection had not been started by those gentle. tent to creating a currency which shall pervade men of the Senate, who had been members of all parts of the Union; the paper of the State the Convention; but granting that the opinion Banks cannot circulate beyond the bounds of of the gentleman from Virginia had been the the particular States. full sense of the members of the Convention, From the restrictions to the Government their opinion at that day, he observed, is not a contended for by the opposers of the bill, he sufficient authority by which for Congress at compared the Constitution to a horse finely the present time to construe the Constitution. proportioned in every respect to the eye, and
Mr. V., in explaining the powers proposed by elegantly caparisoned, but deficient in one, and the bill to be given to the corporation of the the most essential requisite, that of ability to Bank, adverted to the particular power of carry the owner to his journey's end; he had “making rules and regulations not contrary to rather, he said, mount the old Confederation, law." He showed that this term law, means the and drag on in the old way, than be amused common law; and alluded to the inquiry of Mr. with the appearance of a Government so essenMadison, as to what law was intended by this tially defective. clause, who, in answering his own question, Mr. Madison observed, that the present is a said, that if the laws of the United States question which ought to be conducted with mo. were intended, the power contemplated was deration and candor; and, therefore, there is dangerous and unconstitutional, as those laws no occasion to have recourse to those tragic were very few in number. "
representations which have been adduced. Mr. V. observed, that the restriction con-Warmth and passion should be excluded from tended for by the gentleman as the result of his the discussion of a subject which ought to deobjection would annihilate the most essential pend on the cool dictates of reason for its derights and privileges of the citizens of the Uni- cision. ted States.' He then observed, a-corporation is Adverting to the observation of Mr. SMITH, nothing more than constituting, a body with of South Carolina, " that it would be a deplorpowers to effect certain objects in a combined able thing for the Senate of the United States to capacity, which an individual may do in his in- have fallen on a decision which violates the dividual capacity, agreeable to the usage and Constitution,” he inquired, What does the customs of coinmon law.
reasoning of the gentleman tend to show but Adverting to the act by which the United this, that from respect to the Senate this House States became a free and independent nation, ought to sanction their decisions? And-from he said, from that declaration, solemnly recog hence it will follow, that the President of the nised at home and abroad, they derive all the United States ought, out of respect to both, to powers appertaining to a nation thus circum- sanction their joint proceedings; but he could stanced, and consequently the power under remind the gentleman of his holding different consideration. He traced the origin of corpo- sentiments on another occasion. rations to the tiine of Numa, the first of which Mr. M. then enlarged on the exact balance was for agricultural purposes; they were after- or equipoise contemplated by the Constitution, wards extended to other objects; and from that to be observed and inaintained between the day to this, all civilized and independent nations several branches of Government; and showed, have been in the practice of creating them, and that except this idea was preserved, the advanwhat do they amount to but this--enabling a tages of different independent branches would number of persons, in a combined capacity, to be lost, and their separate deliberations and dedo that to a more certain effect that an indivi- terminations be entirely useless. dual may do; but subject to the control of com- In describing a corporation he observed, that inon law, in all its regulations and transac- the powers proposed to be given are such as do tions.
not exist antecedent to the
existence of the corOn the doctrine of construction, as applied to poration; these powers are very extensive in the Constitution, he observed, that on some oc- their nature, and to which a principle of perpecasions the Constitution is like the sensitive tuity may be annexed. plant, which shrinks from the smallest touch; He waived a reply to Mr. VINING's observaon others, it is like the sturdy oak which braves tions on the common law, (in which that gentlethe force of thunder. He referred to the act | man had been lengthy and minute, in order to
FEB. 8, 1791.]
Bank of the United States.
(H. OF R.
invalidate Mr. Madison's objections to the channels which would otherwise be occupied by power proposed to be given to the Bank, to the precious metals. This, experience shows make rules and regulations, not contrary to is the uniforın effect of such a substitution. law.) Mr. M. said, the question would in- The right of Congress to regulate trade is volve a very lengthy discussion; and other ob- adduced as an argument in favor of this of crejects more intimately connected with the sub- ating a corporation; but what has this bill to do ject remained to be considered.
with trade? Would any plain man suppose The power of granting charters, he observed, that this bill had any thing to do with trade? is a great and important power, and ought not He noticed the observation respecting the to be exercised unless we find ourselves ex- utility of banks to aid the Government with pressly authorized to grant them. Here he loans. He denied the necessity of the institudilated on the great and extensive influence tion to aid the Government in this respect. that incorporated societies had on public affairs Great Britain, he observed, did not depend on in Europe. They are powerful machines which such institutions; she borrows from various have always been found competent to effect ob- sources. jects on principles in a great measure inde- Banks, it is said, are necessary to pay the pendent of the people.
interest of the public debt." Then they ought He argued against the influence of the prece. to be established in the places where that interdent to be established by the bill; for though it est is paid; but can any man say, that the bank has been said, that the charter is to be granted notes will circulate at par in Georgia. From only for a term of years, yet he contended, that the example in Scotland, we know that they granting the powers on any principle is grant cannot be made equal to specie, remote from ing them in perpetuum; and assuming this right the place where they can be immediately conon the part of the Government involves the as. verted into coin; they must depreciate irr case sumption of every power whatever.
of a demand for specie; and if there is no moral Noticing the arguments in favor of the bill, certainty that the interest can be paid by these he said, it had been observed, that “Govern bank bills, will the Government be justified in ment necessarily possesses every power.” depriving itself of the power of establishing However true this idea may be in the theory, banks in different parts of the Union? he denied that it applied to the Government of We reason, and often with advantage, from the United States.
British models; but in the present instance Here he read the restrictive clause in the there is a great dissimilarity of circumstances. Constitution; and then observed, that he saw The bank notes of Great Britain do not circuno pass over this limit.
late universally. To make the circumstances The preamble to the Constitution, said he, parallel, it ought to have been assumed as a has produced a new mine of power; but this is lact, that banks are established in various parts the first instance he had heard of, in which. the of Great Britain, at which the interest of the preamble has been adduced for such a purpose. national debt is paid; but the fact is, it is only In his opinion, the preamble only states the ob- paid in one place. jects of the Confederation, and the subsequent The clause of the Constitution which has clauses designate the express powers by which been so often recurred to, and which empowers those objects are to be obtained; and a mean is Congress to dispose of its property, he supproposed through which to acquire those that posed referred only the property Teft at the may be found still requisite, more fully to effect conclusion of the war, and has no reference to the purposes of the Confederation.
the moneyed property of the United States. It is said, “there is a field of legislation yet The clause whích empowers Congress to pass unexplored.” He had often heard this lan all laws necessary, &c. has been brought forguage; but he confessed he did not understand ward repeatedly by the advocates of the bill; it. Is there a single blade of grass- Is there he noticed the several constructions of this any property in existence in the United States, clause which had been offered. The conclusion which is not subject of legislation, either of the which he drew from the commentary of the particular States, or of the United States? He gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. GERRY,) contended that the exercise of this power, on the was, that Congress may, do what they please; part of the United States, involves, to all in- and recurring to the opinion of that gentleman tents and purposes, every power which an in- in 1787, he said the powers of the Constitution dividual State may exercise. On this princi- were then dark, inexplicable, and dangerous; ple, he denied the right of Congress to make but now, perhaps, as the result of experience, use of a bank to facilitate the collection of they are clear and luminous! taxes. He did not, however, admit the idea, The constructions of the Constitution, he asthat the institution would conduce to that ob- serted, which have been maintained on this ocject. The bank notes are to be equal to gold casion, go to the subversion of every power and silver, and consequently will be as difficult whatever in the several States; but we are told, to obtain as the specie. By means of the ob- for our comfort, that the Judges will rectify jects of trade on which gold and silver are em our mistakes. How are the Judges to determine ployed, there will be an influx of those articles; in the case; are they to be guided in their de. but paper being substituted, will fill those I cisions by the rules of expediency?
H. of R.]
Bank of the United States.
[Feb. 9, 1791.
It has been asked, that if those minute powers of the Western Territory this had been thought of the Constitution were thought to be necessa- essential. The holders of six per cent. securiry, is it supposable that the great and important ties will derive undue advantages. Creditors power on the table was not intended to be at a distance, and the holders of three per cent. given? Mr. M. interpreted this circumstance securities, ought to be considered, as the pubin a quite different way, viz: if it was thought lic good is most essentially proinoted by an equal necessary to specify in the Constitution those attention to the interest of all. minute powers, it would follow that more im- I admit, said he, that the Government ought portant powers would have been explicitly to consider itself as the trustee of the public on granted, had they been contemplated.
this occasion, and therefore should avail itself of The Western Territory business, he observ- the best disposition of the public property. ed, was a case sui generis, and therefore can- In this view of the subject, he objected to the not be cited with propriety. West Point, so bill, as the public, he thought, ought to derive often mentioned, he said, was purchased by greater advantages from the institution than the United States, pursuant to law, and the those proposed. In case of a universal circulaconsent of the State of New York is supposed, tion of the notes of the proposed bank, the proif it has not been expressly granted; but, on any fits will be so great that the Government ought occasion, does it follow that one violation of the to receive a very considerable sum for granting Constitution is to be justified by another? the charter.
The permanent residence bill, he conceived, There are other defects in the bill, which renwas entirely irrelative to the subject; but he der it proper and necessary, in my opinion, that conceived it might be justified on truly consti- it should undergo a revision and amendment tutional principles.
before it passes into a law. The power vested The act vesting in the President of the United by the bill in the Executive to borrow of the States the power of removability has been quo- bank, he thought was objectionable; and the ted; he recapitulated, in a few words, his rea- right to establish subordinate banks ought not sons for being in favor of that bill.
to be delegated to any set of men under HeaThe Bank of North America he had opposeil, ven. as he considered the institution as a violation of The public opinion has been mentioned. If the Confederation. The State of Massachu- the appeal to the public opinion is suggested setts, he recollected, voted with him on that with sincerity, we ought to let our constituents occasion. The Bank of North America was, have an opportunity to form an opinion on the however, the child of necessity; as soon as the subject. war was over, it ceased to operate as to Continen- He concluded by saying, he should move for tal purposes. But, asked he, are precedents in the previous question. war to justify violations of private and State
The previous question, "Shall the main quesrights in a time of peace? And did the United | tion now be put?” being determined in the afStates pass laws to punish the counterfeiting the firmative, notes of that bank? They did not, being con- Mr. GERRY rose to reply to Mr. Madison; vinced of the invalidity of any such law; the but the House discovering an impatience to bank, therefore, took shelter under the author- have the main question put, after a few reity of the State.
marks, he waived any further observations. The energetic administration of this Government is said to be connected with this institu
The yeas and nays were then taken as foltion. Mr. M. here stated the principles on
lows, on the passage of the bill: which he conceived this Government ought to YEAs.--Messrs. Ames, Benson, Boudinot, Bourne, be administered; and added, other gentlemen Cadwalader, Clymer, Fitzsimons, Floyd, Foster, may have had other ideas on the subject, and Gerry, Gilman, Goodhue, Hartley, Hathorn, Heister, may have consented to the ratification of the Huntington, Lawrence, Leonard, Livermore, P. MuhConstitution on different principles and expec- lenberg, Partridge, Rensselaer, Schureman, Scott, tations; but he considered the enlightened opi. Sedgwick, Seney, Sevier, Sherman, Sylvester, Sinnion and affection of the people the only solid nickson, Smith, of Maryland, Smith, of South Carobasis for the support of this Government.
lina, Steele, Sturges, Thatcher, Trumbull, Vining, Mr. M. then stated his objections to the sev
Wadsworth, and Wynkoop.--39. eral parts of the bill. The first article he ob.
Nars.--Messrs. Ashe, Baldwin, Bloodworth, jected to was the duration. , A period of twenty Brown, Burke, Carroll
, Contee, Gale, Grout, Giles, years was, to this country, as a period of a cen- Jackson, Lee, Madison, Matthews, Moore, Parker, tury in the history of other countries; there was
Stone, Tucker, White, and Williamson.--20. no calculating for events which inight take place. He urged the ill policy of granting so long a term, from the experience of the Govern
WEDNESDAY, February 9. ment in respect to some treaties, which, though Mr. HUNTINGTON, from the committee apfound inconvenient, could not now be altered. pointed for that purpose, reported a bill, for in
The different classes of the public creditors, creasing the penalties contained in an act for he observed, were not all put on an equal foot the encouragement of learning, which was twice ing by this bill; but in the bill for the disposal | read and committed.