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others desire that I should make them known. Indeed, on the great topics that now engage public attention, I hope I may flatter myself that my opinions are already known.
Recent evils have not at all surprised me, except that they have come sooner and faster than I had anticipated. But, though not surprised, I am afflicted I feel any thing but pleasure in this early fulfilment of my own predictions. Much injury is done, which the wisest future counsels can never repair, and much more that can never be remedied but by such counsels and by the lapse of time. From 1832 to the present moment, I have foreseen this result. I may safely say I have foreseen it, because I have presented and proclaimed its approach in every important discussion and debate in the public body of which I am a member. In 1832, I happened to meet with a citizen of Wheeling, now present, who this day reminded me of what I then anticipated, as the result of the measures which the administration appeared to be forming in regard to the currency. In the summer of the next year, 1833, I was here, and suggested to friends what I knew to be resolved upon by the Executive, viz. the removal of the deposits, which was announced two months afterwards. That was the avowed and declared commencement of the " experiment.' You know, Gentlemen, the obloquy then and since cast upon those of us who opposed this "experiment." You know that we have been called Bank agents, Bank advocates, Bank hirelings. You know that it has been a thousand times said that the experiment worked admirably, that nothing could do better, that it was the highest possible evidence of the political wisdom and sagacity of its contrivers: and none opposed it or doubted its efficiency but the wicked or the stupid. Well, Gentlemen, here is the end, if this is the end of this notable "experiment." Its singular wisdom has come to this—its fine workings have wrought out an almost general bankruptcy.
Its lofty promises, its grandeur, its flashes, that threw other men's sense and understanding back into the shade, where are they now? Here is the "fine of fines and the recovery of recoveries." Its panics, its scoffs, its jeers, its jests, its gibes at all former experience, — its cry of a new policy," which was so much to delight and astonish mankind, to this conclusion has it come, at last:
"But yesterday, it stood against the world;
Now lies it there, and none so poor to do it reverence."
It is with no feelings of boasting or triumph, it is with no disposition to arrogate superior wisdom or discernment, but it is with mortification, with humiliation, with unaffected grief and affliction, that I contemplate the condition of difficulty and distress to which this country, so vigorous, so great, so enterprising, and so rich in internal wealth, has been brought by the policy of her government
We learn to-day that most of the eastern banks have stopped payment-deposit banks as well as others. The experiment has exploded. That bubble, which so many of us have all along regarded as the offspring of conceit, presumption, and political quackery, has burst. A general suspension of payment must be the result; a result which has come even sooner than was predicted. Where is now that better currency that was promised? Where is that specie circulation? Where are those rivers of gold and silver, which were to fill the treasury of the government, as well as the pockets of the people? Has the government a single hard dollar? Has the treasury any thing in the world but credit and deposits in banks that have already suspended payment? How are public creditors now to be paid in specie? How are the deposits, which the law requires to be made with the States on the first of July, now to be made? We must go back to the beginning, and take a new start. Every step in our financial banking system, since 1832, has been a false step; it has been a step which has conducted us farther and farther from the path of safety.
The discontinuance of the National Bank, the illegal removal of the deposits, the accumulation of the public revenue in banks, selected by the Executive, and for a long time subject to no legal regulation or restraint, and finally the unauthorized and illegal Treasury order, have brought us where we are. The destruction of the National Bank was the signal for the creation of an unprecedented number of new State banks, some of them with more disproportionate, and even more nominal capital than the National Bank had possessed. These banks, lying under no restraint from the general government, or any of its institutions, issued paper corresponding to their own sense of their immediate interests and hopes of gain; the deposit with the State banks of the whole public revenue, then accumulated to a vast amount, and making this deposit without any legal restraint or control whatever, increased both the power and disposition of these banks for extensive issues. In that, the government seems to have administered every possible provocation to the banks to induce them to extend their circulation. It uniformly, zealously, and successfully opposed the land bill—a most useful measure, by which accumulation in the treasury would have been prevented; and, as if it desired and sought this accumulation, it finally resisted, with all its power, the deposit among the States. It is advanced as a reason for the present overthrow, that an extraordinary spirit of speculation has gone abroad, and has been manifested, particularly and strongly in the endeavor to purchase the public lands; but has not every act of the government directly encouraged this spirit? It accumulated revenue which it did not need, all of which it left in the deposit banks. The banks had money to lend, and there were enough who were ready to borrow,
for the purpose of purchasing the public lands at government prices. THE PUBLIC TREASURY WAS THUS MADE THE GREAT AND effiCIENT MEANS OF EFFECTING THOSE PURCHASES WHICH HAVE SINCE BEEN SO MUCH DENOUNCED AS EXTRAVAGANT SPECULATION AND THE
EXTENSIVE MONOPOLY. THESE PURCHASERS BORROWED
PUBLIC MONEY; THEY USED THE PUBLIC MONEY TO BUY THE PUBLIC PROPERTY; THEY SPECULATED ON THE STRENGTH OF THE PUBLIC MONEY;—and while all this was going on, and every man saw it, the administration resisted, to the utmost of its power, every attempt
to WITHDRAW THIS MONEY FROM THE BANKS AND FROM THE HANDS OF THOSE SPECULATORS, AND DISTRIBUTE IT AMONG THE PEOPLE
TO WHOM IT BELONGED. If there has been overtrading, the government has encouraged it; if there have been rash speculations in the public lands, the GOVERNMENT HAS FURNISHED THE MEANS OUT OF THE TREASURY. These unprecedented sales of the public domain were boasted of as proofs of a happy state of things, and of a wise administration of the government, down to the moment when Congress, in opposition to executive wishes, passed the distribution law, thus withdrawing the surplus revenue from the deposit banks. The success of that measure compelled a change in the executive policy, as the accumulation of a vast amount of money in the treasury was no longer desirable. This is the most favorable motive to which I can ascribe the treasury order of July. It is now said that that order was issued for the purpose of enforcing a strict execution of the law which forbids the allowance of credits upon purchases of the public lands; but there was no such credit allowed before-not an hour was given beyond the time of sale. In this respect, the order produces no difference whatever. Its only effect is to require an immediate payment in specie, whereas, before, an immediate payment in the bills of specie-paying banks was demanded. There is no more credit in the one case than in the other; and the government gets just as much specie in one case as in the other; for no sooner is the specie, which the purchaser is compelled to procure, often at great charge, paid to the receiver, than it is sent to the deposit banks, and the government has credit for it on the books of the bank; but the specie itself is again sold by the bank, or disposed of, as it sees fit. It is evident that the government gets nothing by all this, though the purchasers of small tracts are put to great trouble and expense. No one gains any thing but the banks and the brokers. It is, moreover, most true that the art of man could not have devised a plan more effectually to give the large purchasers or speculators a decided preference and advantage over small purchasers, who purchased for actual settlement, than the treasury order of July, 1836. The stoppage of the banks, however, has now placed the actual settler in a still more unfortunate situation.
How is he to obtain money to pay for his quarter section? He must travel three or four times as many miles for it as he has dollars to pay, even if he should be able to obtain it at the end of that journey.
I will not say that other causes, at home and abroad, have not had an agency in bringing about the present derangement. I know that credits have been used beyond all former example; that it is probable the spirit of trade has been too highly excited; that the pursuit of business may have been pressed too fast and too far. All this I am ready to admit. But instead of doing any thing to abate this tendency, our government has been the prime instrument of fostering and encouraging it. It has parted voluntarily, and by advice, with all control over the actual currency of the country. It has given a free and full scope to the spirit of banking; it has aided the spirit of speculation with the public treasures; and it has done all this, in the midst of loud-sounding promises of an exclusive specie medium, and a professed detestation of all banking institu
It is vain, therefore, to say that the present state of affairs is owing, not to the acts of government, but to other causes, over which government could exercise no control. Much of it is owing to the course of the national government; and what is not so, to causes, the operation of which, government was bound, in duty, to use all its legal powers to control.
Is there an intelligent man in the community, at this moment, who believes that, if the Bank of the United States had been continued, if the deposits had not been removed, if the specie circular had not been issued, the financial affairs of the country would have been in as bad a state as they now are? When certain consequences are repeatedly depicted and foretold from particular causes, when the manner in which these consequences will be produced is precisely pointed out, beforehand, and when the consequences come in the manner foretold, who will stand up and declare, that, notwithstanding all this, there is no connection between the CAUSE and the. CONSEQUENCE, and that all these effects are attributable to some other causes, nobody knows what?
No doubt but we shall hear every cause but the true ones assigned for the present distress. It will be laid to the opposition in and out of Congress; it will be laid to the Bank; it will be laid to the merchants; it will be laid to the manufacturers; it will be laid to the tariff; it will be laid to the North Star, or to the malign influence of the last comet, whose tail swept near or across the orbit of our earth, before we shall be allowed to ascribe it to its just, main causes, a tampering with the currency and an attempt to stretch Executive power over a subject not constitutionally within its reach.
We have heard, Gentlemen, of the suspension of some of the eastern banks only; but I fear the same course must be adopted by all the banks throughout the country. The United States Bank, now a mere State institution, with no public deposits, no aid from government, but, on the contrary, long an object of bitter persecution by it, was, at our last advices, still firm. But can we expect of that bank to make sacrifices to continue specie payment? If it continue to do so, now the deposit banks have stopped, the government will draw from it its last dollar, if it can do so, in order to keep up a pretence of making its own payments in specie. I shall be glad if this institution find it prudent and proper to hold out; but as it owes no more duty to the government than any other bank, and, of course, much less than the deposit banks, I cannot see any ground for demanding from it efforts and sacrifices to favor the government, which those holding the public money, and owing duty to the government, are unwilling or unable to make. Nor do I see how the New England banks can stand alone in the general crush. I believe those in Massachusetts are very sound, and entirely solvent; I have every confidence in their ability to pay; and I shall rejoice if, amidst the present wreck, we find them able to withstand the storm; but at the same time I confess I shall not be disappointed, if they, seeing no public object to be attained, proportioned to the private loss, and individual sacrifice and ruin, which must result from the means necessary to enable them to hold out, should not be distinguished from their southern and western neighbors.
I believe, Gentlemen, the "experiment" must go through. I believe every part and portion of our country will have a satisfactory taste of the "better currency." I believe we shall be blest again with the currency of 1812, when money was the only uncurrent species of property. We have, amidst all the distress that surrounds us, men in and out of power, who condemn a national bank in every form, maintain the efficacy and efficiency of State banks for domestic exchange, and amidst all the sufferings and terrors of the " periment," cry out, that they are establishing "A BETTER CURRENCY.” The "experiment"-the experiment upon what? The experiment of one man upon the happiness, the well-being, and, I may almost say, upon the lives of twelve millions of human beings—an "experiment" that found us in health, that found us with the best currency on the face of the earth, the same from the north to the south, from Boston to St. Louis, equalling silver or gold in any part of our Union, and possessing the unlimited confidence of the European powers and people, and leaves us crushed, ruined, without means at home, and without credit abroad.
* The mail of that day brought advice of its suspension.