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which flow through our vast interior. It is enough for me to know that the object is a good one, an important one, within the scope of our powers, and called for by the fair claims of our commerce. So that it be in the Union, so that it be within the twenty-four States, or the twenty-six States, it cannot be too remote for me. This feeling, Sir, so natural, as I think, to true patriotism, is the dictate also of enlightened self-interest. Were I to look only to the benefits of my own immediate constituents, I should still support this

Is not our commerce floating on these Western rivers ? Are not our manufactures ascending them all, by day and by night, by the power of steam, incessantly impelling a thousand engines, and forcing upwards, against their currents, hundreds of thousands of tons of freight? If these cargoes be lost, if they be injured, if their progress be delayed, if the expense of their transportation be increased, who does not see that all interested in them become sufferers? Who does not see that every producer, every manufacturer, every trader, every laborer, has an interest in these improvements ? Surely, Sir, this is one of the cases in which the interest of the whole is the interest of each. Every man has his dividend out of this augmented public advantage. But if it were not so, if the effect were more local, if the work were useful to the Western States alone, or useful mainly to Kentucky and Indiana alone, still I should think it a case fairly within our power, and important enough to demand our attention.

But, Mr. President, I felt the more pain at the result of the last vote of the Senate on account of those Western gentlemen, who are so much interested in this measure, and who have uniformly supported appropriations for other parts of the country, which, though just and proper, are, as it seems to me, no more just or proper than this.

These friends have stood by us. They have uniformly been found at our side, in the contest about internal improvement. They have upheld that policy, and have gone with us through good report and evil report. And I now tell them that I shall stand by them. I shall be found where they look for me.

I have asked their votes, once and again, for objects important to the Atlantic States. They have liberally given those votes. They have acted like enlightened and wise statesmen. I have duly estimated the high justice and liberality of their conduct. And having now an object interesting to them, and to their constituents, a just object, and a great object, they have a right to find me at their side, acting with them, acting according to my own principles, and proving my own consistency. And so they shall find me; and so they do find me.

On this occasion I am with them; I am one of them. I am as Western a man, on this bill, as he among them who is most Western. This chair must change its occupant, another voice will address the Senate

from this seat, before an object of this nature, so important, so constitutional, so expedient, so highly desirable to a great portion of the country, and so useful to the whole, shall fail for the want, here, either of a decisive vote in its support, or an earnest recommendation of it to the support of others.

G*

SPEECH

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, ON INTRODUCING THE

PROPOSITION FOR THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE SURPLUS REV. ENUE. MAY 31, 1836.

MR. PRESIDENT: I have no desire to make myself responsible, in any special manner, for what may either be done or omitted, on this subject. It is surrounded with difficulties, some of them, as I think, unnecessarily created; and as these have been produced by measures in which I did not concur, it naturally belongs to others, who did concur in those measures, and who now possess the power, to apply the remedy according to their judgments, and on their own responsibility. But I incline, nevertheless, to express my opinions on a subject of such very high interest, and to let them have what weight they are entitled to, if it may be supposed that they are entitled to any weight at all.

On one point, I presume, we are all agreed, and that is, that the subject is of great importance. It affects the finances of the country, the security of the public money, and the state of the currency; and it affects, also, the practical and actual distribution of power among the several branches of the Government.

The bill comprises provisions for two objects :

First, regulations for the custody of the public money, between the time of its collection and the time of its disbursement; and, as naturally connected with this, it contemplates, or must at least very materially affect, the currency of the country, the exchanges, and the usual operations of credit in the commercial world.

The second direct object of the bill is, a reduction, positive or contingent, of the amount of money in the Treasury.

It seems probable, Sir, the bill, so far as it respects the first of these objects, may be so modified as to receive the approbation of a majority of the Senate. A committee acting in a spirit of conciliation, and with an honest desire to avoid the points of former difference, might, I think, agree on the regulations to be prescribed to the deposit banks. The sentiments which have been advanced in the course of the discussion do not appear to be irreconcilable. In the present state of things, I see no way but to employ State banks as depositories of the public money; and I have a sincere desire to subject them to such regulations, and such only, as shall

make them, in the highest practicable degree, safe to the Government and useful to the country.

To this end, I am of opinion that the first step is, to increase their numbers. At present their number, especially in the large cities, is too small. They have too large sums in deposit, in proportion to their capital and their legal limits of discount. By this means the public money is locked up. It is hoarded. It is withdrawn, to a considerable extent, from the general mass of commercial means, and is suffered to accumulate, with no possible benefit to Government, and with great inconvenience and injury to the general business of the country. On this point there seems little diversity of opinion. All appear to agree that the number of deposit banks should be so far increased, that each may regard that portion of the public treasure which it may receive, as an increase of its effective deposits, to be used, like other moneys in deposit, as a basis of discount, to a just and proper extent.

I regard this modification of the present system as indispensable.

I think, too, that, for the use of these deposits, the banks should pay a moderate interest. They can well afford it. The best banks in the States will be ready, I do not doubt, to receive the deposits, on that condition among others. What the rate of interest should be, depends very much on what we may do with the surplus revenue. If we leave that surplus undistributed, the banks ought to pay a large interest. If we provide for distributing the surplus, thus leaving but a small amount in the banks, and making it their duty, at the same time, to transfer the public funds from place to place when requested, without charge, the rate of interest should of course be less.

I agree, too, to what has been suggested, respecting the authority to change those banks. They ought not to be changed, but for plain and specific cause, set down and provided for in the law itself. Any restriction less than this, will place a discretion in the hands of the Executive, which will be very capable of being abused.

Nor should the Secretary be at liberty to order funds from one bank to another, for any other reason than the exigencies of the public service. He should not be at liberty to use the public treasures for the purpose of upholding the credit, or increasing the means, of any State institution.

The bill proposes that all the deposit banks shall be bound to keep, at all times, an amount of specie in their vaults bearing a certain proportion to their debts and liabilities. I approve of this, not so much from any belief that the solidity of the banks can be secured by any such provisions, as because a regulation of this kind may tend, in some measure, to retain a certain quantity of specie in the country, and by that means to secure, in some small degree, the

general circulation against violent shocks. But I do not attach great importance to this.

In my opinion, Mr. President, if the bill pass with these modifications, a considerable benefit will be conferred on the community. Confidence will be, in some measure at least, restored; the banks will possess the power of useful action, and the distressing uncertainty which now hangs over every thing being dispelled, the commercial community will find its way out of its present embarrassment.

Still, Sir, I am bound to say that the present system, in my opinion, can never be perfect. It can never be the best system. It can never be a safe regulator of the currency of the country, nor furnish solid security against derangement. It can never give to the mercantile world the cheapest, safest, and best means of facilitating domestic exchanges. The State banks were not made for these general purposes; they are not fitted for them; they have not the unity and comprehensiveness of plan and of operation which the successful accomplishment of such purposes requires. They are subject to various limitations by their charters, and it may even be doubtful, in some cases, whether they can legally bind themselves in such stipulations and contracts as we propose to submit to them. They were established for local, not for general objects. They did not expect to receive Government deposits; and it might possibly be thought important to their stockholders and customers to be informed whether, in case of failure or insolvency, the priority of the United States would prevail, as in other cases, to the postponement of all other debts and claims. It is certainly my opinion, Sir, that we are running great hazards with the currency of the country. I see no well-assured reliance for its safety in this system of deposit banks, regulated as well as they may be. Nevertheless, regulation is necessary, nay, it is indispensable; and some present benefit at least would arise, I am persuaded, from the passage of a

I come now, Sir, to the other important object of this bill - the reduction of the amount of money in the Treasury. And here the first question is, whether there will be any surplus

Will there be any thing to divide at the end of this On this point opinions are not agreed, but I think there will be a surplus, and a large surplus. I do not see any probability either of such a falling off of income, on the one hand, or such an increase of expenditure on the other, as shall leave the Treasury exhausted at the end of this year. I speak of this year only, because the measure which I shall propose will be limited to the end of this year. My plan is to provide for the surplus which may be on hand at the end of this year, and to stop there. As to the probable state

proper law.

revenue.

year?

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