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in the declaration of the war, and had every motive and disposition to sustain the administration, and to vote every aid to carry on the war. Immediately after my arrival, I had a full conversation with Mr. Dallas, at his request. I entertained very kind feelings towards him, and assured him, after he had explained his plan, that I would give it my early and favorable attention. At that time I had reflected but little on the subject of banking. Many of my political friends expressed a desire that I should take a prominent part in favor of the proposed bank. Their extreme anxiety aroused my attention, and, being on no committee (they had been appointed before my arrival), I took up the subject for a full investigation, with every disposition to give it my support. I had not proceeded far before I was struck with the extraordinary character of the project; a bank of $50,000,000, whose capital was to consist almost exclusively of Government credit in the shape of stock, and not bound to pay its debts during the war, and for three years afterward, to furnish the Government with loans to carry on the war! I saw, at once, that the effect of the arrangement would be, that the Government would borrow back its own credit, and pay six per cent. per annum for what they had already paid eight or nine. It was impossible for me to give it my support under any pressure, however great. I felt the difficulty of my situation, not only in opposing the leading measure of the administration at such a crisis, but, what was far more responsible, to suggest one of my own, that would afford relief to the embarrassed treasury. I cast my eyes around, and soon saw that the Government could use its own credit directly, without the intervention of a bank; which I proposed to do in the form of treasury notes, to be issued in the operations of the Government, and to be funded in the subscription to the stock of the bank. Treasury notes were, at that time, below par, even with bank paper. The opposition to them was so great on the part of the banks, that they refused to receive them on deposit, or payment, at par with their notes ; while the Government, on its part, received and paid away notes of the banks at par with its own. Such was the influence of the banks, and to such degradation did the Government, in its weakness, submit. All this influence I had to encounter, with the entire weight of the administration thrown into the same scale. I hesitated not. I saw the path of duty clearly, and determined to tread it, sharp and rugged as it was. When the bill came up, I moved my amendment, the main features of which were, that, instead of Government stock already issued, the capital of the bank should consist of funded treasury notes; and that, instead of a mere paper machine, it should be a specie-paying bank, so as to be an ally, instead of an opponent, in restoring the currency to a sound condition on the return of peace. These were, with me, indispensable conditions. I accompanied my amendment with a short speech of fifteen or twenty minutes, and so overpowering was the force of truth, that, notwithstanding the influence of the administration, backed by the money power, and the Committee of Ways and Means, which was unanimous, with one exception, as I understood, my amendment prevailed by a large majority ; but it, in turn, failed —the opposition, the adherents of the administration, and those who had constitutional scruples, combining against it. Then followed various, but unsuccessful, attempts to charter a bank. One was vetoed by the President, and another was lost by the casting vote of the Speaker (Mr. Cheves). After a large portion of the session was thus unsuccessfully consumed, a caucus was called, in order to agree on some plan, to which I, and a few friends who still adhered to me after such hard service, were especially invited. We, of course, attended. The plan of compromise was unfolded, which approached much nearer to our views, but which was still objectionable in some features. I objected, and required further concessions, which were refused ; and we were told the bill could be passed without us ; at which I took up my hat and bade good-night. The bill was introduced in the Senate, and speedily passed that body. On the second reading, I rose and made a few remarks, in which I entreated the House to remember that they were about to vote for the measure against their conviction, as had been frequently expressed ; and that, in so doing, they acted under a supposed necessity, which had been created by those who expected to profit by the measure. I then reminded them of the danger of acting under such pressure ; and I said that they were so sensible of the truth of what I uttered, that, if peace should arrive before the passage of the bill, it would not receive the support of fifteen members. I concluded by saying that I would reserve what I intended to say on the question of the passage of the bill, when I would express my opinion at length, and appeal to the country. My objections, as yet, had not gone to the people, as nothing that I had said had been reported—such was my solicitude to defeat the bill without extending our divisions beyond the walls of the House, in the then critical condition of the country. My object was to arrest the measure, and not to weaken confidence in the administration.

In making the supposition, I had not the slightest anticipation of peace. England had been making extensive preparations for the ensuing campaign, and had made a vigorous attack on New-Orleans, which had just been repelled ; but, by a most remarkable coincidence, an opportunity (strange as it may seem) was afforded to test the truth of what I said. Late in the evening of the day I met Mr. Sturges, then a member of Congress from Connecticut. He said that he had some information which he could not withhold from me; that a treaty of peace had been made ; and that it had actually arrived in New York, and would be here the next day—so that I would have an opportunity of testing the truth of my prediction. He added, that his brother, who had a mercantile house in New-York, had forwarded the information to him by express, and that he had forwarded the information to connected houses in the Southern cities, with directions to purchase the great staples in that quarter, and that he wished me to consider the information as confidential. I thanked him for the intelligence, and promised to keep it to myself. The rumor, however, got out, and the next day an attempt was made to pass through the bill ; but the House was unwilling to act till it could ascertain whether a treaty had been made. It arrived in the course of the day—when, on my motion, it was laid on the table ; and I had the gratification of receiving the thanks of many for defeating the bill, who, a short time before, were almost ready to cut my throat for my persevering opposition to the measure. An offer was then made to me to come to my terms, which I refused, declaring that I would rise in my demand, and would agree to no bill which should not be formed expressly with the view to the speedy restoration of specie payments. It was afterwards postponed, on the conviction that it could not be so modified as to make it acceptable to a majority. This was my first lesson on banks. It has made a durable impression on my mind.

My colleague, in the course of his remarks, said, he regarded this measure as a secret war waged against the banks. I am sure he could not intend to attribute such motives to me. I wage no war, secret or open, against the existing institutions. They have been created by the legislation of the States, and are alone responsible to the States. I hold them not answerable for the present state of things, which has been brought about under the silent operation of time, without attracting notice or disclosing its danger. Whatever legal or constitutional rights they possess under their charters ought to be respected ; and, if attacked, I would defend them as resolutely as I now oppose the system. Against that, I wage, not secret, but open and uncompromising hos


tilities, originating not in opinions recently or hastily formed. I have long seen the true character of the system, its tendency and destiny, and have looked forward for many years, as many of my friends know, to the crisis in the midst of which we now are. My ardent wish has been to effect a gradual change in the banking system, by which the crisis might be passed without a shock, if possible ; but I have been resolved for many years, that should it arrive in my time, I would discharge my duty, however great the difficulty and danger. I have thus far faithfully performed it, according to the best of my abilities, and, with the blessing of God, shall persist, regardless of every obstacle, with equal fidelity, to the end.

He who does not see that the credit system is on the eve of a great revolution, has formed a very imperfect conception of the past and anticipation of the future. What changes it is destined to undergo, and what new form it will ultimately assume, are concealed in the womb of time, and not given us to foresee. But we may perceive, in the present, many of the elements of the existing system which must be expelled, and others which must enter it in its renewed form.

In looking at the elements at work, I hold it certain, that in the process there will be a total and final separation of the credit of Government and that of individuals which have been so long blended. The good of society, and the interests of both, imperiously demand it, and the growing intelligence of the age will enforce it. It is unfair, unjust, unequal, contrary to the spirit of free institutions, and corrupting in its consequences. How far the credit of Government may be used in a separate form, with safety and convenience, remains to be seen.

To the extent of its fiscal action, limited strictly to the function of the collection and disbursement of its revenue, and in the form I have suggested, I am of the impression it may be both safely and conveniently used, and

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