Page images

This word “experiment” appears likely to get into no enviable notoriety. It may probably be held, in future, to signify any thing which is too excruciating to be borne, like a pang of the rheumatism or an extraordinary twinge of the gout. Indeed, from the experience we now have, we may judge that the bad eminence of the Inquisition may be superseded by it, and if one shall be hereafter stretched upon the rack, or broken on the wheel, it may be said, while all his bones are cracking, all his muscles snapping, all his veins are pouring, that he is only passing into a better state through the delightful process of an “experiment.”

Gentlemen, you will naturally ask, Where is this to end, and what IS TO BE THE REMEDY? These are questions of momentous importance; but probably the proper moment has not come for considering this. We are yet in the midst of the whirlwind. Every man's thoughts are turned to his own immediate preservation. When the blast is over, and we have breathing-time, the country must take this subject, this all-important subject of relief for the present and security for the future, into its most serious consideration. It will undoubtedly first engage the attention and wisdom of Congress. It will call on public men, intrusted with public affairs, to lay aside party and private preferences and prejudices, and unite in the great work of redeeming the country from this state of disaster and disgrace. All that I mean, at present, to say, Gentlemen, is, that the government of the United States stands chargeable, in my opinion, with a gross dereliction from duty, in leaving the currency of the country entirely at the mercy of others, without seeking to exercise over it any control whatever. The means of exercising this control rest in the wisdom of Congress, but the duty I hold to be imperative. It is a power that cannot be yielded to others with safety to itself or to them. It might as well give up the power of making peace or war to the States, and leave the twenty-six independent sovereignties to select their own foes, raise their own troops, and conclude their own terms of peace. It might as well leave the States to impose their own duties, regulate their own terms and treaties of commerce, as to give up control over the currency in which all are interested.

The present government has been in operation forty-eight years. During forty of these forty-eight years we have had a national institution performing the duties of a fiscal agent to the government, and exercising a most useful control over the domestic exchanges and over the currency of the country. The first institution was chartered on the ground that such an institution was necessary to the safe and economical administration of the Treasury Department in the collection and disbursements of its revenue. The experience of the new government had clearly proved its necessity.

At that time, however, there were those who doubted the power


of Congress, under the provisions of the Constitution, to incorporate a bank; but a majority of both houses were of a different opinion. President Washington sanctioned the measure, and among those who doubted, those of most weight and consideration in the country, and whose opinions were entitled to the highest respect, yielded to the opinion of Congress and the country, and considered it a settled question. Among those who first doubted of the power of the government was one whose name should never be mentioned without respect and veneration, one for whom I can say I feel as high a veneration as one man can or ought to feel for another, one who was intimately associated with all the features of the Constitution — Mr. Madison; yet, when Congress had decided on the measure, by large majorities; when the President had approved it; when the judicial tribunals had sanctioned it; when public opinion had deliberately and decidedly confirmed it, — he looked on the subject as definitely and finally settled. The reasoners of our day think otherwise. No decision, no public sanction, no judgment of the tribunals, is allowed to weigh against their respect for their own opinions. They rush to the argument as to that of a new question, despising all lights but that of their own unclouded sagacity, and careless of the venerable living and of the mighty dead. They poise this important question upon some small points of their own slender logic, and decide it on the strength of their own unintelligible metaphysics. It never enters into all their thoughts that this is a question to be judged of on broad, comprehensive, and practical grounds; still less does it occur to them that an exposition of the Constitution, contemporaneous with its earliest existence, acted on for nearly half a century, in which the original framers and government officers of the highest note concurred, ought to have any weight in their decision, or inspire them with the least doubt of the accuracy and soundness of their own opinions. They soar so high in the regions of self-respect as to be far beyond the reach of all such considerations.

For sound views upon the subject of a National Bank, I would commend you, Gentlemen, to the messages of Mr. Madison, and to his letter on the subject. They are the views of a truly great man and a statesman.

As the first Bank of the United States had its origin in necessity, so had the second; and, although there was something of misfortune, and certainly something of mismanagement in its early career, no candid and intelligent man can, for a moment, doubt or deny its usefulness, or that it fully accomplished the object for which it was created. Exchanges, during all the later years of its existence, were easily effected, and a currency the most uniform of any in the world existed throughout the country. The opponents of these institutions did not deny that general prosperity and a happy state of things existed at the time they were in operation, but contended that equal prosperity would exist without them, while specie would take the place of their issues as a circulating medium. How have their words been verified? Both in the case of the first bank and that of the last, a general suspension of specie payments has happened in about a year from the time they were suffered to expire, and a universal confusion and distrust prevailed. The first bank expired in 1811, and all the State banks, south of New England, stopped payment in 1812; the charter of the late bank expiring in March, 1836, and in May, 1837, a like distrust, and a like suspension of the State banks, takes place.

The same results, we may readily suppose, are attributable to the same causes, and we must look to the experience and wisdom of the people and of Congress to apply the requisite remedy. I will not say the only remedy is a National Bank; but I will say that, in my opinion, the only sure remedy for the evils that now prey upon us, is the assumption, by the delegates of the people in the national government, of some lawful control over the finances of the nation, and a power of regulating its currency.

Gentlemen, allow me again to express my thanks for the kind ness you have shown me this day, and in conclusion to assure you, that, though a representative in the federal government of but a small section, when compared with the vast territory that acknowledges allegiance to that government, I shall never forget that I am acting for the weal or woe of the whole country, and so far as I am capable, will pledge myself impartially to use every exertion for that country's welfare.




[From tho Madison Republican Banner, June 7.] DANIEL WEBSTER visited our town on Thursday last. Notice had been given the day previous of the probable time of his arrival. At the hour designated, crowds of citizens from the town and country thronged the quay. A gun from the Ben Franklin, as she swept gracefully round the point, gave notice of his approach, and was answered by a gun from the shore. ' Gun followed gun in quick succession, from boat and shore, and the last of the old national salute was echoing among hill and glen, as the Franklin reached the wharf. Mr. Webster was immediately waited on by the committee appointed to receive him, and, attended by them, a committee of invitation from Cincinnati, and several gentlemen from Louisville, he landed amidst the cheers and acclamations of the assembled multitude. He was seated in an elegant barouche, supported by Governor Hendricks and John King, Esq., and, with the different committees, and a large procession of citizens in barouches, on horseback, and on foot, formed under the direction of Messrs. Wharton and Payne, of the committee of arrangements, marshals of the day, proceeded to the place appointed for his reception, an arbor erected at the north end of the market-house, fronting the large area formed by the intersection of Main and Main Cross Streets and the public square; and tastefully decorated with shrubbery, evergreens, and wreaths of flowers. In the back.ground appeared portraits of Washington and Lafayette, the Declaration of Independence, and several other appropriate badges and emblems, while in front a flag floated proudly on the breeze, bearing for its motto the ever-memorable sentiment with which he concluded his immortal speech in defence of the Constitution, “ LIBERTY AND Union, NOW AND FOREVER, ONE AND INSEPARABLE.” When the procession arrived, Mr. W.ascended the stand in the arbor, supported by Governor Hendricks and the committee of arrangements, when he was appropriately and eloquently addressed by J. G. Marshall, Esq. on behalf of the citizens, to which he responded in a speech of an hour's length.


LOUISVILLE, May 30, 1837.

Hon. DANIEL WEBSTER: Sır - Your fellow-citizens of the town of Madison, Indiana, deeply impressed with a sense of the obligations which they and all the true lovers of constitutional liberty, and friends to our happy and glorious Union, owe you for the many prominent services rendered by you to their beloved, though now much agitated and injured country, having appointed the undersigned a committee, through whom to tender you their salutations and the hospitalities of their town, desire us earnestly to request you to partake of a public dinner, or such other expression of the high estimation in which they hold you, as may be most acceptable, at such time as you may designate.

Entertaining the hope, that you may find it convenient to comply with this request of our constituents and ourselves, we beg leave, with sentiments of the most profound respect and regard, to subscribe ourselves,

[blocks in formation]

GENTLEMEN: I feel much honored by the communication which I have received from you, expressing the friendly sentiments of my fellow-citizens of Madison, and desiring that I should pay them a visit.

Although so kind an invitation, meeting me at so great a distance, was altogether unlooked for, I had yet determined not to pass so interesting a point on the Ohio without making some short stay at it. I shall leave this on Thursday morning, and will stop at Madison, and shall be most happy to see any of its citizens who may desire to meet me. I must pray to be excused from a formal public dinner, as well from a regard to the time which it will be in my power to pass with you, as from a general wish, whenever it is practicable, to avoid every thing like ceremony or show in my intercourse with my fellow-citizens. You truly observe, gentlemen, that the country at the present moment is agitated. I think, too, that you are right in saying it is injured; that is, I think public measures, of a very injurious character and tendency, have been unfortunately adopted. But our case is not one that leads us to much despondency. The country — the happy and glorious country in which you and I live - is great, free, and full of resources; and, in the main, an intelligent and patriotic spirit pervades the community. These will bring all things right. Whatsoever has been injudiciously or rashly done, may be corrected by wiser counsels. Nothing can, for any great length of time, depress the great interests of the people of the United States, if wisdom and honest good sense shall prevail in their public measures. Our present point of suffering is the currency. In my opinion, this is an interest with the preservation of which Congress is charged — solemnly and deeply charged. A uniform currency was one of the great objects of the Union. If we fail to maintain it, we so far fail of what was intended by the national Constitution. Let us strive to avert this reproach from that government and that Union, which make us, in so many respects, ONE PEOPLE! Be assured that, to the attainment of this end, every power and faculty of my mind shall be directed; and may Providencé

« PreviousContinue »