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of its notes in circulation; and entrusted as the depository of the government with all the accumulations of the public treasure; the National Bank, independent of its immediate capital, will enjoy every recominendation which can merit and secure the confidence of the public. Organized upon principles of responsibility, but of independence, the National Bank will be retained within its legitimate sphere of action without just apprehension from the misconduct of its directors or from the encroachments of the government. Eminent in its resources, and in its example, the National Bank will conciliate, and lead the State Banks in all that is necessary for the restoration of credit, public and private. And acting upon a compound capital, partly stock and partly of gold and silver, the National Bank will be the ready instrument to enhance the value of the public securities and to restore the currency of the national coin."

The subject was immediately given into the care of the Committee on the National Currency; and on the 8th of January, 1816, Hon. John C. CALHOUN, of South Carolina, in behalf of that Committee, made an able and voluminous report, recommending the immediate chartering of a Bank of the United States, of which the leading features were given in an accompanying bill : the capital was to be, at first, thirty-five millions—to be gradually augmented to fifty: the bảnk to have the power of erecting branches, and none but resident citizens of the United States were to be directors either of its branches or the parent bank. A bonus of a million and a half was to be paid by the bank for its charter. When this bill came before the House it received the ardent and considerate support of Mr. Clay, who thereby evinced a change of his opinions since 1811, when he had opposed the

re-charter, on the ground, among others, of its unconstitutionality. Had his objections, then, been founded wholly upon considerations of expediency, his subsequent support of the bill would not in the least have impugned his political consistency: for the weight and character of these considerations must, of course, change with the varying circumstances from which they take their rise. In 1811, the State Banks were eminently sound, answered all the purposes for which any Banks were needed by the national treasury, enjoyed the full confidence of the people and preserved the currency of the country in a healthy condition. A national institution, under these circumstances, did not seem necessary for the purposes of the government: and there were many reasons which led Mr. Clay, at that time, to believe, that such a bank would be made to subserve the purposes and increase the strength of the Federal party, by whom its creation was chiefly desired. These reasons would of themselves have ensured and justified Mr. Clar's opposition to a bank in 1811; but in 1816 they had lost all their force. The issues of the State Banks had became unusually large; in no section of the country did they enjoy the confidence of the people; they had universally suspended specie payments; their paper was greatly depreciated, and, with the small amount of gold and silver, which the necessity of going abroad for our manufactured goods had left in the country, there was, in fact, no national currency no money of equal value in all parts of the Union. Upon grounds of expediency, therefore, Mr. Clay might, consistently, have opposed the charter of a National Bank, in 1811, and been its ardent advocate in 1816. But, in the former case, he had partially based his opposition on the ground, which he then assumed, that, under the constitution, Congress had no power, either

expressed or implied, under any circumstances, to create such an institution. This opinion he of course saw reason to change, or he could not have given his support to the bank in 1816, no matter how profound his convictions of the necessity of such an institution, at that time, might have been. He became convinced that, not only the expediency, but also the constitutionality, of the measure, depended upon the condition and necessities of the country. If a bank were absolutely requisite; in order that Congress might exercise that healthful control over commerce and the currency, which the constitution expresssly gives it, he saw that it must, therefore, be a constitutional measure. If it were not needed, it would not be constitutional. Thus, in fact, its constitutionality and expediency, from distinct and opposing questions, became identical and harmonious. With these convictions, Mr. Clay gave his support to the bank bill of 1816.

Founded, as it evidently was, upon the purest principles of devotion to the public good, Mr. Clay, by this change of opinion upon a prominent political subject, has never forfeited the respect of a single man, whose respect was worth possessing. Party clamor has distorted the deed, and belied his motives, to his temporary hurt; but candor and justice have always regarded it, as posterity will regard it, as a noble act of an unselfish statesman,-too right-minded and courageous to cling to error, merely because he feared the opprobrium of not having been born as wise as he became by experience.

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The bill to re-charter the Bank was a subject of animated discussion for many weeks, in the House. The vote was taken, on its third reading, on the 14th of March, when it

was finally passed : 80 ayes to 71 nays: and sent to the Senate for concurrence, On the 2d of April, after the bill reported by the Financial Committee had received a full and thorough discussion, it was finally passed in that body by a vote of 22 to 22-(wo members only being absent. The amendments of the Senate were speedily adopted by the House, and on the 10th of April the bill became a law, by the signature of the President. The bank did not commence operations until 1817; and, through a temporary mismanage ment, for the first few years, its action did not fully justify the expectation of its friends. The State Banks, however, after a desperate struggle, were enabled to resume specie payments, by the help of three millions of specie, furnished by the National Institution, aided in turn by the public funds and the favor of the government; and, after four or five years, things assumed a more healthy aspect. The notes of the United States Bank were everywhere received in payment of the public dues, and thus had a uniform value all over the Union : the bills of the State Banks were received at all the -branches, and frequent settlements were required, so as effectually' to prevent over-issues; the branches, being chiefly located at the great commercial points, by the privilege they had of dealing in foreign exchange, were able to preserve a healthy equality between our exports and imports--sufficient, at least, to prevent an excess against us, which should drain them of their specie ; and, by a judicious extension, or contraction, of her discounts, the bank could regulate the currency of the country as the necessities of trade demanded. Periodical revulsions of course occurred; but these changes were occasioned by a periodical increase of commercial activity, consequent upon the ingathering of crops and the returns of mercantile enterprise ; and excessive imports were

thus opportunely checked; the basis of the currency was strengthened; and those changes, so slightly felt by the community at large, seemed, in fact, as essential to commerce and trade, as the periodical vicissitudes of the season to the full development of the products of the soil.

Very soon after Congress assembled, the Treaty, just concluded with Great Britain, of course became a subject of discussion. Some of the members, and especially Mr. RANDOLPH, bad ventured to sheer at it, as being a dishonorable close of a war, they had so violently opposed. Mr. Clay mingled but little in this debate; but, on the 29th of January, he rebuked the spirit thus manifested in an eloquent speech. “I gave a vote," said he, "for the declaration of war. I exerted all the little influence and talent I could command, to make the war. The war was made, and is terminated; and I declare with perfect sincerity, if it had been permitted to me to lift the veil of futurity and to have foreseen the precise series of events which has occurred, my vote would have been unchanged." In reply to the complaints that no stipulation on the subject of impressment was made, he said: “One of the great causes of the war and of its continuance, was the practice of impressment exercised by Great Britain ; and if this claim had been admitted by necessary implication or express stipulation, the rights of our seamen would have been abandoned. It is with utter astonishment that I hear it has been contended in this country, that, because our right of exemption from the practice had not been expressly secured in the treaty, it was there given up! It is impossible that such an argument can be advanced on this floor. No member, who regarded his reputation, would venture to advance such a doctrine.

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