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by whomsoever instituted and carried on. Over this whole subject matter, it is just as absolute, unlimited and uncontrollable, as if the constitution had never been adopted, because, in the formation of that instrument, it was reserved without qualification.
The principle is conceded that the states cannot rightfully tax the operations of the general government. They cannot tax the money of the government deposited in the state banks, nor the agency of those banks in remitting it; but will any man maintain that their mere selection to perform this public service for the general government, would exempt the state banks and their ordinary business from state taxation? Had the United States, instead of establishing a bank at Philadelphia, employed a private banker to keep and transmit their funds, wouid it have deprived Pennsylvania of the right to tax his bank and his usual banking operations? It will not be pretended. Upon what principle, then, are the banking establishments of the bank of the United States, and their usual banking operations, to be exempted from taxation? It is not their public agency or the deposites of the government which the states claim a right to tax, but their banks and their banking powers, instituted and exercised within state jurisdiction for their private emolument, those powers and privileges for which they pay a bonus, and which the states tax in their own banks. The exercise of these powers within a state, no matter by whom or under what authority, whether by private citizens in their original right, by corporate bodies created by the states, by foreigners or the agents of foreign governments located within their limits, forms a legitimate object of state taxation. From this and like sources, from the persons, property, and business that are found residing, located, or carried on under their jurisdiction, must the states, since the surrender of their right to raise a revenue from imports and exports, draw all the money necessary for the support of their governments and the maintenance of their independence. There is no more appropriate subject of laxation than banks, banking, and bank stocks, and none to which the states ought more pertinaciously to cling.
It cannot be necessary to the character of the bank as a fiscal agent of the government, that its private business should be exempted from that taxation to which all the state banks are liable; nor can I conceive it “proper that the substantive and most essential powers reserved by the states shall be thus attacked and annihilated as a means of executing the powers delegated to the general government. It may be safely assumed that none of those sages who had an agency in forming or adopting our constitution, ever imagined that any portion of the taxing power of the states, not prohibited to them nor delegated to Congress, was to be swept away and annihilated as a means of executing certain powers delegated to Congress.
If our power over means is so absolute that the supreme court will not call in question the constitutionality of an act of Congress, the subject of which is not prohibited, and is really calculated to effect any of the objects entrusted to the government," although, as in the case before me, it takes away poivers expressly granted to Congress, and rights scrupulously reserved to the states, it becomes us to proceed in our legislation with the utmost caution. Though not directly, our own powers and the rights of the states may be indirectly legislated away in the use of means to execute substantive powers. We may not enact ihat Congress shall not have the power of exclusive legislation over the District of Columbia, but we may pledge the faith of the United States, that, as a means of executing other
powers, it shall not be exercised for twenty years or for ever. not pass an act prohibiting the states to tax the banking business carried on within their limits; but we may, as a means of executing our powers over other objects, placeihat business in the hands of our agents, and then declare it exempt from state taxation in their hands. Thus may our own powers and the rights of the states, which we cannot directly curtail or invade, be frittered away and extinguished in the use of means employed by us to execute other powers. That a bank of the United States, competent to all the duties which may be required by the government, might be so organized as not to infringe on our own delegated powers, or the reserved rights of the states, I do not entertain a doubt. Had the executive been called upon to furnish the project of such an institution, the duty would have been cheerfully performed. In the absence of such a call
, it was obviously proper that he should confine himself to pointing out those prominent features in the act presented, which, in his opinion, make it incompatible with the constitution and sound policy. A general discussion will now take place, eliciting new light, and settling important principles; and a new Congress, elected in the midst of such discussion, and furnishing an equal representation of the people according to the last census, will bear to the capitol the verdict of public opinion, and, I doubt not, bring this important question to a satisfactory result.
Under such circumstances, the bank comes forward and asks a renewal of its charter for a term of fifteen years, upon conditions which not only operate as a gratuity to the stockholders of many millions of dollars, but will sanction any abuses and legalize any encroachments.
Suspicions are entertained, and charges are made, of gross abuse and violation of its charter. An investigation unwillingly conceded, and so restricted in time as necessarily to make it incomplete and unsatisfactory, disclosed enough to excite suspicion and alarm. In the practices of the principal bank partially unveiled, in the absence of important witnesses, and in numerous charges confidently made, and as yet wholly uninvestigated, there was enough to induce a majority of the committee of investigation, a committee which was selected from the most able and honorable members of the House of Representatives, to recommend a suspension of farther action upon the bill, and a prosecution of the inquiry. As the charter had yet four years to run, and as a renewal now was not necessary to the successful prosecution of its business, it was to have been expected that the bank itself
, conscious of its purity, and proud of its character, would have withdrawn its application for the present, and demanded the severest scrutiny into all its transactions. In their declining to do so, there seems to be an additional reason why the functionaries of the government should proceed with less haste and more caution in the renewal of their monopoly.
The bank is professedly established as an agent of the executive branches of the government, and its constitutionality is maintained on that ground. Neither
upon the propriety of present action, nor upon the provisions of this act, was the executive consulted. It has had no opportunity to say that it neither needs nor wants an agent clothed with such powers, and favored by such exemptions. There is nothing in its legitimate functions which makes it necessary or proper. Whatever interest or influence whether public or private, has given birth to this act, it cannot be found either in the wishes or necessities of the executive department, by which
present action is deemed premature, and the powers conferred upon its agent not only unnecessary, but dangerous to the government and country.
It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoy. ment of the gifts of Heaven, and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law. But when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages, artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer, and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society, the farmers, mechanics, and laborers, who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower iis favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me, there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.
Nor is our government to be maintained, or our Union preserved, by invasions of the rights and powers of the several states. In thus attempting to make our general government strong, we make it weak. Its true strength consists in leaving individuals and states as much as possible to themselves; in making itself felt, not in its power, but in its beneficence
, not in its control, but in its protection, not in binding the states more closely to the centre, but leaving each to move unobstructed, in its proper orbit.
Experience should teach us wisdom. Most of the difficulties our government now encounters, and most of the dangers which impend over our Union, have sprung from an abandonment of the legitimate objects of government by our national legislation, and the adoption of such principles as are embodied in this act. Many of our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by acts of Congress. By attempting to gratify their desires
, we have, in the results of our legislation, arrayed section against section, interest against interest, and man against man, in a fearful commotion, which threatens to shake the foundations of our Union. It is time to pause in our career, to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the revolution and the fathers of our Union. If we cannot at once, in justice to interests vested under improvident legislation, make our government what it ought to be, we can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many, and in favor of compromise and gradual reform in our code of laws and system of political economy. I have now done my duty to my country. If sustained by my
fellow citizens, I shall be grateful and happy; if not, I shall find in the motives which impel me, ample grounds for contentment and peace. In the difficulties which surround us, and the dangers which threaten our institutions, there is cause for neither dismay nor alarm. For relief and deliverance, let us firmly rely on that kind Providence which, I am sure, watches with
peculiar care over the destinies of our republic, and on the intelligence and wisdom of our countrymen. Through His abundant goodness, and their patriotic devotion, our liberty and union will be preserved.
FOURTH ANNUAL MESSAGE.
DECEMBER 4, 1832.
It gives me pleasure to congratulate you upon your return to the seat of government, for the purpose of discharging your duties to the people of the United States. Although the pestilence which had traversed the Old World has entered our limits, and extended its ravages over much of our land, it has pleased Almighty God to mitigate its severity, and lessen the number of victims, compared with those who have fallen in most other countries over which it has spread its terrors. Notwithstanding this visitation, our country presents on every side marks of prosperity and happiness, unequalled, perhaps, in any other portion of the world. If we fully appreciate our comparative condition, existing causes of discontent will appear unworthy of attention, and with hearts of thankfulness to that Divine Being who has filled our cup of prosperity, we shall feel our resolution strengthened to preserve and hand down to posterity that liberty and that union which we have received from our fathers, and which constitute the sources and the shield of our blessings.
The relations of our country continue to present the same picture of amicable intercourse that I had the satisfaction to hold up to your view at the opening of your last session. The same friendly professions, the same desire to participate in our flourishing commerce, the same disposition to refrain from injuries unintentionally offered, are, with few exceptions, evinced by all nations with whom we have any intercourse. This desirable state of things may be mainly ascribed to our undeviating practice of the rule which has long guided our national policy, to require no exclusive privileges in commerce, and to grant none. It is daily producing its beneficial effect in the respect shown to our flag, the protection of our citizens and their property abroad, and in the increase of our navigation, and the extension of our mercantile operations. The returns which have been made out since we last met, will show an increase, during the last preceding year, of more than 80,000 tons in our shipping, and of near forty millions of dollars in the aggregate of our imports and exports.
Nor have we less reason to felicitate ourselves on the position of our political than of our commercial concerns. They remain in the state in, which they were when I last addressed you - a state of prosperity and peace, the effect of a wise attention to the parting advice of the revered father of his country on this subject, condensed into a maxim for the use of posterity, by one of his most distinguished successors, to cultivate free commerce and honest friendship with all nations, but to make entangling alliances with none. A strict adherence to this policy has kept us aloof from the perplexing questions that now agitate the European world, and have more than once deluged those countries with blood. Should those scenes unfortunately recur, the parties to the contest may count on a faithful per
formance of the duties incumbent on us as a neutral nation, and our own citizens may equally rely on the firm assertion of their neutral rights.
With the nation ihat was our earliest friend and ally in the infancy of our political existence, the most friendly relations have subsisted through the late revolutions of its government; and from the events of the last, promise a permanent duration. It has made an approximation in some of its political institutions to our own, and raised a monarch 10 the throne who preserves
, it is said, a friendly recollection of the period during which he acquired among our citizens the high consideration that could then have been produced by his personal qualifications alone.
Our commerce with that nation is gradually assuming a mutually beneficial character, and the adjustment of the claims of our citizens has removed the only obstacle there was to an intercourse not only lucrative, but productive of literary and scientific improvement.
From Great Britain, I have the satisfaction to inform you that I continue to receive assurances of the most amicable disposition, which have on my part on all proper occasions been promptly and sincerely reciprocated. The attention of that government has latterly been so much engrossed by matters of a deeply interesting domestic character, that we could not press upon it the renewal of negotiations which had been unfortunately broken off by the unexpected recall of our minister, who had commenced them with some hopes of success. My great object was the settlement of questions which, though now dormant, might hereafter be revived under circumstances that would not endanger the good understanding which it is the interest of both parties to preserve in violate, cemented as it is by a community of language, manners, and social habits, and by the high obligations we owe to our British ancestors for many of our most valuable institutions, and for that system of representative government which has enabled us to preserve and improve them.
The question of our northeastern boundary still remains unsettled. In my last annual message, I explained to you the situation in which I found that business on my coming into office, and the measures I thought it my duty to pursue for asserting the rights of the United States, before the sovereign who had been chosen by my predecessor to determine the question; and also the manner in which he disposed of it. A special message to the senate, in their executive capacity afterwards brought before them the question, whether they would advise a submission to the opinion of the sovereign arbiter. That body having considered the award as not obligatory, and advised me to open a further negotiation, the proposition was immediately made to the British government; but the circumstances to which I have alluded have hitherto prevented any answer being given to the overture. Early attention, however, has been promised to the subject, and every effort on my part will be made for a satisfactory settlement of this question, interesting to the Union generally, and particularly so to one of its members.
The claims of our citizens on Spain are not yet acknowledged. On a closer investigation of them than appears to have heretofore taken place il was discovered that some of these demands, however strong they might be upon the equity of that government, were not such as could be made the subject of national interference
. And, faithful to the principle of asking nothing but wbat was clearly right, additional instructions have been sent to modify our demands so as to embrace those only on which, according to the laws