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would give rise to importunate and clamorous calls for indulgence, and for an injudicious extension of discounts, which no administration would have the firmness to resist. Every one who has witnessed the urgency and unanimity with which the representatives of the States indebted for public lands have pressed the claims of their citizens for indulgence and remission, must be satisfied, that, if the citizens of all the States should become indebted much more largely for bank loans, the Government would have scarcely any faculty of resistance, when appeals for indulgence should come from all quarters of the Union, sustained by the strong plea of public distress and embarrassment.
The policy of extending indulgence to the public debtors, and of granting more liberal loans to the community, would, in the natural course of things, become the favorite theme of those who aspired to popular favor. Political parties would come to be divided upon the question of observing towards the public debtors a strict banking policy, indispensable to the maintenance of specie payments, on the one hand, or a liberal Government policy, necessarily involving a suspension of specie payments, on the other. And when it is considered that the whole class of debtors, always the most numerous and active portion of the community, would be naturally in favor of increasing bank issues, and extending bank indulgences, it can scarcely be doubted that specie payments would be suspended in the first great pecuniary exigency, growing out of embarrassments in our commerce, or deficiencies in our revenue.
The Government, therefore, which is under the most sacred obligations to constrain all the banks to maintain specie payments, with a view to the uniformity and soundness of the currency, would, by its own example, pero petuate the great national evil of a fluctuating and depreciated circulating medium.
These evils, which would be so highly probable in time of peace, would be almost certain in the event of war. The temptation to supply the Federal Treasury by the easy process of bank issues, rather than resort to the unpopular process of internal taxation, would be too fascinating to be resisted. We should thus experience, what every nation has experienced in like circumstances, the manifold evils of a mere paper currency, having no relation to any standard of intrinsic value. In these views the committee are fully sustained by the opinion of Mr. Lowndes, expressed in 1819. These are his words: “That the destruction of the [United States] Bank would be followed by the establishment of paper money, he firmly believed; he might almost say, he knew. It was an extremity from which the House would recoil, if now proposed; but if the resolution on the table were passed, it would very soon be proposed. The subject was too large for an incidental discussion. Gentlemen thought the amount of Government paper might be limited, and depreciation prevented, by the rate of interest which should be exacted. Inarlequate every where, the security was particularly ineffectual in the United States.”
But the inevitable tendency of a Government bank to involve the country in a paper system, is not, in the opinion of the committee, the greatest objection to it. The powerful, and, in the hands of a bad administration, the irresistible and corrupting influence which it would exercise over the elections of the country, constitutes an objection more imposing than all others united. No matter by what means an administration might get into power, with such a tremendous engine in their hands, it would be almost impossible to displace them without some miraculous interposition of Providence,
Deeply impressed with the conviction that the weak point of a free Go, vernment is the absorbing tendency of Executive patronage, and sincerely believing that the proposed bank would invest that branch of the Government with a weight of moneyed influence more dangerous in its character, and more powerful in its operation, than the entire mass of its present patronage, the committee have felt that they were imperiously called upon, by the highest considerations of public duty, to express the views they have presented, with a frankness and freedom demanded by the occasion. It is, at the same time, due to their own feelings, that they should state unequivocally their conviction, that the suggestion of the Chief Magistrate, which they have thus freely examined, proceeded from motives of the most disinterested patriotism, and was exclusively designed to promote the welfare of the country. This is not the mere formal and heartless homage, sometimes offered up to official station, either from courtesy or interest, but a tribute which is eminently due, and cheerfully rendered, to the exalted character of the distinguished individual on whom it is bestowed,
Extract of a letter from an intelligent merchant in Charleston, South
Carolina, to the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, illustrating the exchange operations of the Bank of the United States.
- This effect of diminishing the vast difference of exchange between the yarious points of the country, was evidently produced by the bank. The advantages produced by this institution, in the intercourse between the Western and Atlantic States, can be duly appreciated only by one who sees, passing before him, the actual operation of the system of exchange it has created. For example: Lexington, in Kentucky, annually accumulates a large surplus of funds to her credit in Charleston, derived from the sale of horses, hogs, and other live stock, driven to that as well as to other Southern markets by her citizens. Philadelphia is indebted to Charleston for exchange remitted, dividends on bank stock, &c. and Lexington is indebted to Philadelphia for merchandise. Without the transportation of a single piece of coin, Lexington draws on Charleston, and remits the check to Philadelphia in payment of her debt there; which operation adjusts the balance between the three points of the triangle almost without expense or trouble. Could such facilities be obtained from any other than an institution having branches in different parts of the Union, acting as co-partners in one concern? Local hanks, whatever might be their willingness, could not accomodate in the same manner and to a like extent.”
“ The discounting of bills on the low terms established by the Branch · Bank at this place, is a great benefit to the agricultural interest, particularly
in enhancing the price of cotton and rice; and were the bank to stop its operations, there iş.no saying how far these staples would be depressed. The private dealers in exchange would take the place of the bank in that business, and their profits on bills would be taken out of the pockets of the planters, as the merchants would always regulate the price they would give for an agricultural production, by the high or low rate at which they could negotiate their bills. On account of its connexion with all parts of the Union, the bank affords this important advantage to the public: it is always a purchaser and always a seller of exchange at fixed and low rates, and thus pres vents extortion by private dealers.” * * * * * * " Before this bank went into operation, exchange was from 8 to 10 per cent. either for or against Charleston, which was a loss to the planter to that amount on all the produce of Georgia and South Carolina, and indeed you might say, all the produce of the Southern and Western States." * * *
“If the Bank of the United States were destroyed, the local banks would again issue their paper to an excessive amount; and while a few adventurous speculators would be much benefitted by such an issue, the honest and unsuspecting citizens of our country would, finally, be the losers. If we look back to what took place in New York, Pennsylvania, the Western States, and even in our own State, we shall see the grossest impositions committed by banks, commencing with a few thousand dollars in specie, buying up newspapers to puff them as specie-paying banks, in order to delude the pub. lic, and, after getting their bills in circulation, blowing up, and leaving the unsuspecting planter and farmer victims of a fraud, by which they were deprived of the hard earnings of years of honest industry. But, sir, I believe the bank owes a great deal of the opposition which exists, and has existed, to the fact that it has put down these fraudulent institutions, got up by combinations and conspiracies of speculators; and who, after receiving large dividends, managed to destroy the credit of their own paper, and, by the agency of brokers, bought it up at half its nominal value.
" Since I last wrote you, I had a conversation with a gentleman in the confidence of some of the moneyed men of the North, and he says they are determined to break up the United States' Bank, to enable them to use their money to advantage; as that institution gives so many facilities to the community, as to deprive them of their former profits." * * *
" There is another consideration: the distress would be immense, which à refusal to renew the charter would produce among those who are indebted to the institution: for I find that to this branch, the planters owe upwards of a milion of dollars; and I have no hesitation in saying, as safe a debt as is owing to any bank in the Union. But if the bank should wind up its affairs, these planters could not get credit from other institutions, and as the bank can sue in the United States' Court, where judgment is obtained almost at once, property would be greatly depressed, and moneyed men would buy it up for half its value. Throughout the Union, all classes would suffer, except those who should hold up their money to go into the brokerage business, or buy property at a sacrifice. If I were sure the bank would not be rechartered, I would convert my property into money, with a view to dealing in exchange. I could make a vast fortune by it.”
APPENDIX No. 1.
1829, 1816, 1829, 1816, 1 1829, 1816, 1829. | 1816, 1829, Dec. 5. July 1. Dec. 5. July 1. Dec. 5. July 1. Dec. 5. July 1. Dec. 5.
18) adv par a ad 18 adv. I.
17 | 45 adv. 1
par 12a14 ad
9 . par 8 a 9 ad
- 11 dis.
13 dis. | 1 dis. 4 advs a dis.
21a22 dis dis a par| 7 dis. N. Carolina'
13 dis. 1 dis. 14 adv
do | 1 dis. I