« ПретходнаНастави »
On the Currency.
[21st Cong, 1st Sess.
der apy circumstances, does the paper, from the remotest specie; that for bank notes of Baltimore, 2 per cent. branches, vary beyond a quarter of one per cent. in its were paid; for those of Philadelphia, 6 to 7 per cent., actual exchange for silver. Here then, is a currency as for those of New York, 15 to 16 per cent.; and for those safe as silver; more convenient, and more valuable than of Boston, 20 to 22 per cent. ; ruinous inequalities, which silver, which, through the whole Western and Southern have now happily disappeared. and interior parts of the Union, is eagerly sought in ex- 3d. The soundness of the currency may be further ilchange for silver; which, in those sections, often bears a lustrated by the present condition of the foreign expremium paid in silver; which is throughout the Union changes. equal to silver in payment to the Goverument, and pay- Exchange on England is, at the present moment, more ments to individuals in business; and with which, when than 1 per cent, under par; that is, more than 1 per cent. ever silver is needed in any part of the country, will com- in favor of the United States. This being the real fact, mand it
, without the charge of the slightest fruction of a disguised by the common forms of quoting exchange on per centage. By means of this currency, funds are trans- England at between 8 and 9 per cent. premium. mitted at an expense less than in any other country. In It would lead the committee too far from its present no other country can a merchant do what every citizen of purpose to explain, that the original estimate of the the United States can do—deposit, for iostavce, bis sil. American dohar, as being worth four shillings and six ver at St. Louis, or Nashville, or New Orleans, and re- pence, and that, therefore, the English pound sterling is
ceive notes, which he can carry with bim 1,000 or 1,500 worth $4 44, is wholly erroneous, and occasions a con| miles, to the Atlantic cities, and receive for them an equi- stant misapprehension of the real state of our intercourse
valent amount of silver, without any expense whatever ; with Great Britain. The Spanish dullar has pot, for a and in no possible event, an expense beyond a quarter of century, been worth four and sixpence: the American one per cent. If, however, a citizen does not wish to in dollar dever was ; and whatever artificial value we may cur the anxiety of carrying these notes with bim, or to run assign to our coins, is wholly unavailing to them in the the hazard of the mail, he may, instead of them, receive a crucibles of London or Paris. According to the latest draft, payable to himself or his agent aloue, so as to en- accounts from London, at the close of December last, sure the receipt of an equal amount, at an expense of dot the Spanish dollar, instead of being worth four shillings one-half
, and often not one-fourth, of the actual cost of car- and sixpence, or 54 pence, was worth only 497 pence; rying the silver. The owner of funds, for instance, at St. the American dollar at least one fourth per cent lese; 80 Louis or Nashville, can transfer them to Philadelphia for that, to produce one hundred times four and sixpence, one-balf per cent.; from New Orleans, generally without it would be necessary to send to England, not 100 dolaug charge at all--at most, one-balf per cent.; from Mo- lars, but 109 67 Spanish Dollars, or 109 25 of the United bile, from par to one-half per cent."; from Savannah, to States dollar. if' to this be added the expenses and one-half per cent.; and from Charleston, ut from par to one charges of sending the money and converting it into quarter per cent.
English gold, it will cost 111; 80 that 111 is, at this moThis seems to present a state of currency approaching ment
the real par of exchange between the United States as near to perfection as could be desired: for bere is a and England. If, therefore, a bill at sight can be procurrency issued at twenty-four different parts of the Union, cured for less than this sunt, or a bill at sixty days for one obtained by any citizen who has money or credit. Wheu per cent. less, eay 110 per cent., it is cheaper than sendin his possession, it is equivalent to silver in all his dealing silver ; that is to say: be who has silver to send to ings with all the 9000 agents of the government, througb-England can purchase a bill on London for a greater out the Union. In all his dealings with the interior, it is amount than he would get if he shipped the silver itself, better than silver; in all his dealings with the commercial and of course exchange would be in favor of the United cities, equal to silver; and if, for any purpose, he desires States against England. Now, such bills can be bought the silver with which he bought it, it is at his disposal, at a less rate, by inore than one per cent. in every city in almost universally, without any diminution, and never the United States. more than a dimioution of one quarter per cent. It is not The fact is conclusive as to the state of the currency. easy to imagine, it is scarcely necessary to desire, ady cur. If the bank notes of the country were not equal tu sperency better than this.
cie, specie would be at a premium, which it no where is It is not among its least advantages, that it bears a pro- at present. If the currency were unsound, more must per relation to the real business and exchanges of the be paid of that currency in order to produce an equal country; being issued only to those whose credit entitles amount of coin in another country, where these bank them to it, increasing with the wants of the active opera- notes do not circulate. But if, as is the case at present, tious of society, and diminishing, as these subside, in to the bank notes are convertible into specie ; if you can comparative ioactivity ; while it is the radical rice of all buy with bank notes as much as you can buy with silver ; Goveroment paper to be issued without regard to the bu- and if, in the transactions of the country abroad, the sipeas of the community, and to be governed wholly by merchants, who, if the potes were pot equal to coin, considerations of convenience to the Government. would go to the bank and ship the coin, can pay as much
After escaping so recently from the degradation of a debt in foreign countries with the notes as by sending depreciated paper currency, the committee would ab- the coin ; there seems nothing wanting to complete the stain from every thing which might, however remotely evidence of tbe boundness and uniformity of the currevive it. The period is not remote when, in the lan- rency, guage of the late Secretary of the Treasury, the country On the whole, the committee are of opinion that the was oppressed by a “currency without any basis of coin, present state of the currency is safe for the community, or other effective check, and of 'no value, as a medium and eminently useful to the government; that, for some of remittance or exchange, beyond the jurisdiction of years past, it has been improving by the infusioa into the the State whence it bad been issued-a currency that not circulating medium of a larger portion of coin, and the unfrequently imposed upon the Treasury the necessity sabstitution of the paper of more solvent banks in lieu of meeting, by extravagant premiums, the mere act of of those of inferior credit; and that, if left to the protransferring the revenue, collecting at one point, to de- gress of existing laws and institutions, the partial inconfray uvavoidable expense at another.” It is still within veniences, which still remain, of the paper currency of the recollection of the Senate, when, at the seat of Go- the last war, will be wholly and insensibly remedied. vernment itself, specie could only be bad at 20 or 22 per Under these circumstances, they deem it prudent to ab cent. in exchange for the bank paper promising to pay stain from all legislation ; to abide by the practical good
21st Cong. 1st Sess.)
(SENATE. which the country enjoys, and to put nothing to bazard by Q. 8. When the debt is annually paid off to foreigodoubtful experiments.
ers, do they remit in specie or bills of exchange? Do you The committee submit, for the information of the Sen- supply the means in either way! ate, certain questions propounded to the President of the A. 'When foreigners are paid off, a part is remitted in Bank of the United States, together with his answers other stocks, a part goes in bills, a considerable portion thereto, and a document furnished by that officer, showing of which are bílls of the bank. Specie is never resorted the rates of exchange at which drafts are drawn by the to unless the bill market is so high as to make that mode Bank of the United States and its offices of discount and of remittance cheaper. deposit; and ask to be discharged from the further con- Q. 9. Since you commenced the purchase and sale of sideration of the subject.
bills of exchange, has the rate varied; if so, to what ex
tenti Questions submitted to the President of the Bank of the the effect of preventing the great fluctuations to which
A. The operation of the Bank in exchanges bas had United States, with his answers.
they were previously liable. Question 1. When the Bank went into operation, was &. 10. What is the reason that exchange on England oot Philadelphia paper ten per cent. worse than Boston, continues above what was formerly considered the part and that much better than Baltimore!
that is, the dollar value at 4s. 6d. sterling? Is it that the Answer. Philadelphia paper was 17 per cent. worse intrinsic value of the dollar has been found to be less than than Boston to gf worse than New York paper_47 48. 6d. ? If so, what is that intrinsic value + better than Baltimore.
A. The reason is, that we chose to call our dollar 4e. Q. 2. Were not the State Banks indebted to the Gov- 16d. when it never bas been worth four and six pence, and ernment in large sums, which they could not bave paid in of course, when it goes abroad, it is estimated, not by the Bound currency! If so, to what amount ? And did not the same we give it, but according to its real value. the Bank in many instances assume those debts, and pay them in souod currency, (if so, to what amount ?) and HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. indulge those Banks until it was convenient for them
APRIL 13, 1830. pay I and did not the Bank lose money by such indul- BANK OF THE UNITED STATES. gence ? A. In the years 1817 and 1818, the Government trans- Means, to which the subject had been referred, made the
Mr. McDUFFIE, from the Committee of Ways and ferred to the Bank at Philadelphia, from the state institu. tions, 87,472,419 87, which was cashed, and $3,336,691 67 following Report : of special deposite, to be collected by the bank, making The Committee of Ways and Means, to whom was re $10,809,111 64: The loss sustained by the bank, I cannot
ferred so much of the Message of the President as estimate. I should willingly compromise for a loss of
relates to the Bank of the United States, beg leave to only $200,000.
report : Q. 3. Has the bank at any time oppressed any of the That they have bestowed upon the subject all the atState banks
tention demanded by its intrinsic importance, and not A. Never. There are very few banks which might not respectfully submit the result of their deliberations to the have been destroyed by an exertion of the powers of the consideration of the House. There are a few subjects, hav. bank. None have ever been injured. Many bave been ing reference to the policy of an established government saved. And more have been, and are constantly relieved, so vitally connected with the health of the body politic, when it is found that they are solvent, but are suffering or in which the pecuniary interests of society are so exunder temporary difficulty.
tensively and deeply involved. No one of the attributes Q. 4. When a State bank becomes indebted to the of sovereignty carries with it a nore solemn responsibilibank to an improper extent, what course do you pursue ? ty, or calls in requisition a higher degree of wisdom, than Do you let them go beyond a certain amount, and what is the power of regulating the common currency, and thus that amount
fixing the general standard of value for a great commerA. The great object is to keep the State Banks within cial community, composed of confederated States. proper limits; to make them shape their business accord. Such being, in the opinion of the Committee, the high ing to their means. For this purpose they are called upon and delicate trust exclusively committed to Congress by to settle ; never forced to pay specie, if it can be avoided, the Federal Constitution, they have proceeded to dis. but payment is taken in their bills of exchange, or suffer charge the duty assigned to them with a corresponding ed to lie occasionally until the bank can turn round; no sense of its magnitude and difficulty. amount of debt is fixed, because the principle we wish to The most simple and obvious analysis of the subject, establish is, that every bank should always be ready to as it is presented by the message of the President, exhibprovide for its notes.
its the following questions for the decision of the National Q. 5. If you give drafts on any of the branches, or Legislature : from one branch on another, or on the mother bank, what I. Has Congress the constitutional power to incorporate is the commission charged !
a bank, such as that of the United States ! A. The charge for drafts is less than the transportation II. Is it expedient to establish and maintain such an inof specie. I send a detailed statement on this point. stitution !
Q: 6. Do you, and at every branch, pay specie on de- III. Is it expedient to establish "a National Bank, mandi Has there ever been & refusal 1
the credit of the Government and its reveA. Never.
pues pas 07. Can you state whether specie is more or less 1. If the concurrence of all the departments of the abundant in the United States at present, than at any for Government, at different periods of our history, under mer period 1
every Administration, and during the ascendancy of both A. At the present moment I think specie is more abun the great political parties, into which the country was dant than usual. It comes in as usual. And the state of divided, soon after the adoption of the present Constituthe exchanges with Europe is such that it is cheaper to tion, shall be regarded as having the authority ascribed buy bills than to'ship coin. The bank had, on the first in- to such sanctions by the common consent of all well restapt, $7,608,000, which is more than it has bad for nine gulated communities, the constitutional power of Conyears past.si
gress to incorporate a bank may be assumed as a postu
H. OF R.]
Bank of the United States.
[21st Cong. 1st Sess.
late no longer open to controversy. In little more than | People to view these leaders as the apologists of a nation, two years after the Government went into operation, and already regarded in the light of a public enemy. When, at a period when most of the distinguished members of to these circumstances we add, that the stock of the the Federal Convention, were either in the Executive Bank was principally held by British subjects, and Ameor Legislative councils, the act, incorporating the first ricans of the unpopular party, the House will readily bank of the United States, passed both branches of percetve how great were the national and party prejudices, Congress by large majorities, and received the deliber, which must have been arrayed against the proposition to ate sanction of President Washington, who had then revew its charter. It was stated by Mr. Clay, in a speech recently presided over the deliberations of the Conven- delivered in the Senate, that seven-tepths of the stock betion. The constitutional power of Congress to pass longed to British subjects, and that certain English noblethe act of incorporation was thoroughly investigated, men, and a late Lord Chancellor, were among the very both in the Executive Cabinet and in Congress, under largest of the stock-holders. With all these difficulties circumstances, in all respects, propitious to a dispassion to encounter, the proposition for renewing the charter was ate decision. There was, at that time, no organization of lost only by the casting vote of the President of the political parties, and the question was, therefore, decid- Senate, and by a majority of a single vote in the House ed by those, who, from their knowledge and experience, of Representatives, were peculiarly qualified to decide correctly; and who In less than three years after the expiration of the were entirely free from the influence of that party ex charter-the war with Great Britain having taken place citement and prejudice, which would justly impair, in in the mean time the circulating medium became so disthe estimation of posterity, the authority of a legislative ordered, the public finances so deranged, and the public interpretation of the constitutional charter. No persons credit so impaired, that the enlightened patriot, Mr. Dallas, can be more competent to give a just construction to wbo then presided over the Treasury Department, with the Constitution, than those who had a principal agen the sanction of Mr. Madison, and, as it is believed, every cy in framing it; and do administration can claim a more member of the Cabinet, recommended to Congress the perfect exemption from all those influences which, some establishment of a National Bank, as the only measure times, pervert the judgments, even of the most wise by which the public credit could be revived, and the fiscal and patriotic, than that of the Father of his Country, resources of the Government redeemed from a ruinous, during the first term of his service.
and otherwise incurable embarrassment: and such bad Such were the circumstances, under which all the been the impressive lesson taught by a very brief, but branches of the National Legislature solemnly determin- fatal experience, that the very institution, which had ed that the power of creating a National Bank was been so recently denounced and rejected by the Repubvested in Congress by the Constitution. The bank thus lican party, being now recommended by a Republican created, continued its operations for twenty years—the Administration, was carried through both branches of Conperiod for which its charter was granted during which gress as a Republican measure, by an overwhelming time, public and private credit was raised, from a pros- majority of the Republican party. It is true, that Mr. trate, to a very elevated condition, and the finances of Madison did not approve and sign the bill which passed the nation were placed upon the most solid foundation. the two Houses, because it was not such a bill as had been
When the charter expired, in 1811, Congress refused recommended by the Secretary of the Treasury, and beto renew it, principally owing, as the Committee believe, cause the Bank it proposed to create, was pot calculated, to the then existing state of political parties. Soon after in the opinion of the President, to relieve the necessities of the bank was chartered, the two great parties that have the country. since divided the country, began to assume an organized But be premised his objections to the measure, by existence. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, the former“ waiting the question of the constitutional authority of in the Executive Cabinet, and the latter in Congress, had the Legislature to establish an incorporated bank, as bebeen opposed to the establishment of the bank, on con- ing, precluded, in his opinion, by repeated recognitions, stitutional grounds, and being placed at the head of under varied circumstances, of the validity of such an instithe party most unfavorable to the extension of the pow. tution in acts of the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial ers of the Government, by implication, the bank question branches of the Government, accompanied by indications, came to be regarded as, in some degree, the test of po- in different modes of a concurrence of the general will of litical principle.
the nation." Another bill was immediately introduced, When Mr. Jefferson came into power, npon the strong and would in all probability bave become a law, bad pot tide of a great political revolution, the odium of the the news of peace, by doing away the pressure of the alien and sedition laws was, in part
, communicated to emergency, induced Congress to suspend further proceedthe Bank of the United States ; and, although he gave ings on the subject, until the ensuing session. At the comhis official sanction to an act, creating a new branch of mencement of that session, Mr. Madison invited the attenthat institution at New Orleans, and to another to punish tion of Congress to the subject, and Mr. Dallas again the counterfeiting of its bills
, yet, when the question of urged the necessity of establishing a bank, to restore the renewing the charter came before Congress, it was dis- currency, and facilitate the collection and disbursement of cuissed as a party question. And, though some of the the public revenue ; and so deep and solemn was the most distinguished republicans, including Mr. Gallatin, conviction upon the minds of the public functionaries, that then Secretary of the Treasury, and Mr. Crawford, then such an institution was the only practicable means of a member of the Senate, were decidedly in favor of a re- restoring the circulating medium to a state of soundness, Dewal
, sustaining the measure by able argaments, the that, notwithstanding the decided opposition of all the votes in both branches of Congress were distinctly State banks and their debtors, and indeed, the whole marked as party votes. At no time, since the com- debtor class of the community, the act, incorporating the mencement of the Government, has there existed a more present Bank of the United States was passed by copviolent party excitement, than that which marked the siderable majorities in both branches of Congress, and apperiod under review. It was the period of the embargo, proved by Mr. Madison. non intercourse, and other commercial restrictions ; This brief history of the former and present bank, forwhen the uodiscriminating opposition of the leaders of cibly suggests a few practical reflections. It is to be rethe Federal party, to the measures adopted by the Ad- marked, in the first place, that since the adoption of the ministration, to 'vindicate our rights against British ag. Constitution, a bank bas existed under the authority of gression, bad caused the great majority of the American the Federal Government, for thirty-three out of forty
21st Cong. 1st Sess.)
Bank of the United States.
[H. of R.
years; during which time, public and private credit have fare, and its constitutionality is merely doubtful, it would been maintained at an elevation fully equal to what has seem to be one of the most obvious dictates of practical existed in any pation in the world: whereas, in the two wisdom, to regard the decision of those who had the best short intervals, during which no national bank existed, means of ascertaining the intention of the constitution, and public and private credit were greatly impaired, and, in who were actuated by the most undoubted purity and dis the latter iøstance, the fiscal operations of the Govern interestedness of motive, as of sufficient authority at least ment were almost entirely arrested. In the second place, to overrule theoretical objections, and silence individual it is worthy of special notice, that, in both the instances scruples. in which Congress bas created a bank, it has been done The committee will now submit a few remarks, with the under circumstances calculated to give the highest au- design of showing, that viewing the constitutionality of the thority to the decision. The first instance, as bas been bank as an original question, the arguments in its favor are already remarked, was in the primitive days of the Re- at least as stroog as those against it. public, when the patriots of the Revolution, and the sa- The earliest, and the principal objection urged against ges of the Federal Convention, were the leading mem the constitutionality of a national bank, was, that conbers both of the Executive and Legislative councils; and gress bad not the power to create corporations. That when General Washington, who at the head of her ar. Congress bas a distinct and substantive power to create mies, bad conducted his country to Independence, and, corporations, without reference to the objects entrusted as the head of the Convention, had presided over those to its jurisdiction, is a proposition which vever has been deliberations which resulted in the establishment of the maintained, within the knowledge of the committee; but, present Constitution, was the acknowledged President of that any one of the powers expressly conferred upon à people, updistracted by party divisions. The second in Congress, is subject to the limitation, that it shall not be stance wus under circumstances of a very different but carried into effect by the agency of a corporation, is a equally decisive character. We find the very party proposition which cannot be maintained, in the opinion of which had so recently defeated the proposition to renew the committee. the charter of the old bank, severely schooled both by If Congress, under the authority to pass all laws Deadversity, and experience, magnanimously sacrificing the cessary and proper for carrying into effect the powers pride of consistency, and the prejudices of party, at the vested in all or any of the departments of the Governshrine of patriotism. It may be said without disparage ment, may rightfully pass a law inflicting the punishment ment, that an assembly of higher talent and purer patri- of death, without any other authority, it is difficult to con otism has never existed since the days of the Revolution, ceive why it may not pass a law, under the same authorithad the Congress by which the present bank was incor-ty, for the more bumble purpose of creating a corporaporated. If ever a political party existed of which it tion. The power of creating a corporation is one of the might be truly said, that “ all the ends they aimed at lowest attributes, or, more properly speaking, incidents were their country's," it was the republican party of that of sovereign power
. The chartering a bank, for exataday. They had just conducted the country through the ple, does not authorize the corporation to do any thing, perils of war, waged in defence of her rights and honor, which the individuals composing it might not do without and, elevating their views far above the narrow and mise the charter. It is the right of every individual of the rable ends of party strife, sought only to advance the per: Union to give credit to whom he chooses, and to obtain manent happiness of the people. It was to this great end credit where he can get it. It is not the policy of any that they established the present bank.
commercial country to restrict the free circulation of creIn this review, it will be no less instructive than curi- dit, whether in the form of promissory votes, bills of exous, to notice some of the changes made in the opinions change, or bank notes. The charter of the Bank of the of prominent men, yielding to the authority of experience. United States, therefore, merely enables the corporation Mr. Madison, who was the leading opponent of the bank to do, in an artificial capacity, and with more convenience, created in 1791, recommended and sanctioned the bank what it would be lawful for the individual corporators to created in 1816; and Mr. Clay, who strenuously opposed do witbout incorporation. Mr. Girard established a bank the renewal of the charter in 1811, as strenuously sup in Philadelpbia without a charter, which was in very bigh ported the proposition to grant the charter, in 1816. credit within the sphere of its circulation; and it cannot
That may be said of the bank charter, which can be bo doubted, that he might have formed a banking co said of few contested questions of constitutional power. partnership with the principal capitalists in the other com; Both the great political parties that have so long divi- mercial cities of the Union, of which the bills would ded the country, have solemnly pronounced it to be con- bave bad a general credit in every part of the country, stitutional, and there are but very few of the prominent particularly if the Federal Government had provided men of either party, who do not stand committed its that these bills should be received in discharge of its dues favor. When to this imposing array of authorities, the The only material particular in which the charter of the committee add the solemo and unanimous decision of the Bank of the United States copfers a privilege upon the Supreme Court, in a case which fully and distinctly sub-corporation, apparently inconsistent with the State laws, mitted the Constitutional question to their cognizance, is, the exemption of the individual property of the cormay they not ask, in the language of Mr. Dallas, “ can it porators from responsibility--for the debts of the corpobe deemed a violation of the right of private opinion to ration. But if the community deal with the bank, know. consider the constitutionality of a national bank as a ques. ing that the capital subscribed is alone liable for its debts, tion forever settled and at rest?".
no one can complain either of imposition or injury; and, And here the committee beg to be distinctly under in point of fact, no one ever has complained on that score, stood, as utterly disclaiming the idea of ascribing to the or ever will
. The real complaint agaiost the bank, is decision of ady, or of all the departments of the govern pot that it has not a sufficient basis for its credit, but that ment, upon a great constitutional question, the binding its credit is too extensive. The objection lies, therefore, authority which belongs to judicial precedents, in cases not against the artificial character communicated to the of mere private right, depending upon the construction stockholders by the charter, but against the pecuniary of the ordinary acts of the legislature
. No length of operations of the bank itself. Now, these operations prescription, or concurrence of authority, can consecrate cousist in the use of its own capital-a faculty not surely the usurpation of powers subversive of public liberty, derived from the Goveroment, but, in the exercise of and destructive of public happiness. But, where the which, the Government imposes many useful restrictions power exercised is clearly conductive to the public wel. for the beuefit of itself and of the community.
H. OF R.)
[21st Cong. Ist Sess. The committee have presented this brief analysis of a But, even if it should be conceded, that the grant of bank corporation, with the view of showing that there is power to “coin money and fix the value thereof” does not, nothing in the nature of the thing which renders it unfit in its terms, give Congress the power of regulating any to be an instrument in the hands of a government, admit- other than the “coined” currency of the Union, may not ted to be sovereign in its appropriate sphere, for carrying the power of regulating ady substituted currency, and into effect powers expressly delegated.
especially one which is the professed representative of It now remains for the committee to show that the Bank coin, be fairly claimed as an incidental power—as ad es. of the United States is a " necessary and proper," or, in sential means of carrying into effect the plain intention of | other words, a natural and appropriate ineans, of execut- the constitution, in clothing Congress with the principal
ing the powers vested in the Federal Government. In the power! This power was granted in the same clause with discussion of 1791, and also in that before the Supreme that to regulate
weights and measures
, and for similar reaCourt, the powers of raising, collecting, and disbursing
the sons. The one was designed to ensure a uniform measure public revenue, of borrowing money on the credit of the of value, as the other was designed to ensure a uniform United States, and paying the public debt, were those measure of quantity. The former is decidedly the more which were supposed most clearly to carry with them the important, and belongs essentially to the General Governincidental right of incorporating a babk, to facilitate these ment, according to every just conception of our system. operations. There can be no doubt that these fiscal opera- A currency of uniform value is essential to what every, tions are greatly facilitated by a bank, and it is confidently one will admit to be of cardinal importance: the equal believed that no person has presided twelve months over action of our revenue system, upon the different parts of the Treasury, from its first organization to the preseut the Union. The state of things which existed when the time, without coming to the conclusion, that such an insti- bank was incorporated, furnished a most pregnant com. tution is exceedingly useful to the public finances in time mentary on this clause of the Constitution. The currency of peace, but indispensable in time of war. But as this of the country consisted of the paper of local banks, variview of the question has been fully unfolded in former dis- pusly depreciated. At one of the principal seaports the cussions, familiar to the House, the committee will pro- local currency was twenty per cent. below par. Now it ceed to examine the relation which the Bank of the Unit- was in vain for Congress to regulate the value of coin, ed States bears to another of the powers of the Federal when the actual currency, professing to be its equivalent, Government, but slightly adverted to in former discussions bore no fixed relation to it. This great and essential of the subject.
power of fixing the standard of value, was, in point of The power to " coin money and fix the value thereof." fact, taken from Congress, and exercised by some hunis expressly and exclusively vested in Congress. This dreds of irresponsible banking corporations, with the grapt was evidently intended to invest Congress with the strongest human motives to abuse it, because their power of regulating the circulating medium. “Coin" | enormous profits resulted from the abuse. The power of
was regarded, at the period of framing the Constitution, laying and collecting imposts and excises is expressly sub1
As synonymous with “ currency," as it was then generally ject to the condition, that they shall be uniform throughI believed that bapk notes could only be maintained in cir out the United States," and it is also provided, that no | metals. The word " coin," therefore, must be regarded Now, when it is known that the circulating medium of culation by being the true representative of the precious preference shall be given, by any regulation of commerce,
or revenue, to the ports of one State over those of another." as a particular term, standing as the representative of a Baltinore was twenty per cent below the value of the general idea. No priuciple of sound construction will justify a right adherence to the letter, in opposition to circulating medium of Boston, is it not apparent that an the plain intention of the clause. If, for example, the impost duty, though nominally uniform, would, in effect, gold bars of Ricardo should be substituted for our present make a discrimination, in favor of Baltimore, proportioned coins. by the general consent of the commercial world, to the depreciation of the local currency Congress, could it be maintained that Congress would not bave therefore, not only had the power, but, as it seems to the cause it is not coined !” This would be sacrificing sense Bank of the United States was not only an appropriate the power to make such money, and fix its value, be Committee, were under the most solemo constitutional
obligations to restore the disordered currency; and the to sound, and substance to mere form. This clause of the Constitution is analogous to that which gives Con means for the accomplishment of that end, but, in the gress the power to establish post roads." "Giving to opinion of the Committee, the only safe and effectual the word "establish” its restricted interpretation, as be- means that could have been used. This view of the subing, equivalent to "fix," or " prescribe," can it be doubted ject is in full accordance with the opinions of Mr. Madison,
But," that Congress has the power to establish a canal, or a riv. as expressed in his message of December, 1816. er, as a post route, as well as a road! Roads were the say be," for the interest of the community at large, as ordinary channels of conveyance, and the term was, there.
as for the purposes of the Treasury, it is essential
th fore, used as synonymous with “ routes," whatever might
the Nation should possess a currency of equal vabe the ebapnel of transportation, and, in like manner,
lu credit, and use, wherever it may circulate. The " coin," being the ordinary and must known form of a cir
itution bas entrusted Congress, exclusively, with culating medium, that term was used as synonymous with
ower of creating and regulating a currency of that currency.
ption, and the measures which were taken during
ist Session, in execution of the power, give every An argoment in favor of the view just taken, may se of success. The Bank of the United States, unbe fairly derluced from the fact, that the States are ex uspices the most favorable, cannot fail to be an impressly prohibited from "coining money, or emitting bills at auxiliary." of credit," and from "making any thing but gold and Such are the authorities, and such the arguments which silver a lawful tender in payment of debts." This have brought the Committee to the conclusicn, that the strongly confirms the idea, that the subject of regulating power to incorporate a bank is incidental to the powers the circulating medium, whether consisting of coin or of collecting and disbursing the public revenue, of borrowpaper, was, at the same time tbat it was taken from the ing money on credit of the United States, of paying control of the States, veste:t in the only depository in the public debt; and, above all
, of fixing and regulating wbich it could be placed, eɔnsistently with the obvious the standard of value, and thereby ensuring at least so far design of having a common measure of value throughout as the medium of payment is concerned, the uniformity the Union.
and equality of taxation.