Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

SOUTHERN REVIEW.

NO. XV.

NOVEMBER, 1831.

ART. I.-1. Report of the Committee of Finance of the Senate of

the United States, 29th March, 1830. Mr. S. SMITH, of Maryland, Chairman. 2. Report of the Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Representatives of the United States, relating to the Bank of the United States, 13th April, 1830. Mr. GEORGE McDuffie, of South-Carolina, Chairman. 3. Dissertation on Banks and Currency. American Quarterly

Review, No. 16, for December, 1836, p. 441; attributed to Mr. ALBERT GALLATIN. 4. On the Bank of the United States. American Quarterly Review, No. 17, for March, 1831, p. 246; attributed to Mr.

ALBERT GALLATIN. 5. Supplement to Walsh's National Gazette, February 26, 1831,

on the renewal of the Charter of the Bank of the United States. 6. Another Supplement to the same newspaper, on the same subject; and, also, in reply to Mr. Benton's argument in the Senate of the United States ; no date, but distributed in June and July,

1831. 7. Letters of Brutus to George McDuffie, Esq. Parts First

and Second. Philadelphia. 1830. 8. Review of the Report of the Committee of Ways and Means, of 13th April, 1830, in relation to the Bank of the United States. By AUGUSTIN S. CLAYTON, Judge of the Western District of the State of Georgia. Milledgeville. 1830. VOL. VIII.-NO. 15.

9. Speech of Mr. BENTON, of Missouri, in the Senate, on 2d of

February, 1831, against renewing the Charter of the Bank of the United States. Washington.

10. Mr. JEFFERSON's objections to the Bank of the United States. Works, Vol. IV. p. 523, &c.

The preceding list contains every thing material that has hitherto been subunitted from the public press, on the very important questions, relating to the renewal of the charter of the United States' Bank. The first six of these publications, of which the second, fourth, fifth and sixth, have been widely circulated and distributed, are in support of the renewal of the charter--the last four are opposed to it.

On the 3d of March, 1816, the present Bank was chartered ; on the 1st of January, 1817, it went into operation; on the 3d of March, 1836, the charter will expire. It has now about four years to continue, before it must be renewed, or cease to exist in its present form. This is a period quite short enough to admit of the necessary discussions relating to the policy that must then be adopted ; and the public interest requires, that all the views of which this interesting subject admits, should be presented to the public, and become familiar before the day of final legislation.

We have carefully perused the tracts enumerated in the foregoing catalogue, and are desirous of laying before the readers of the Southern Review, the conclusions that have been forced on us by that perusal, with the arguments that tend to support them ; for these we shall be, in a great measure, indebted to the publications now under review ; but the wider the leading ideas are disseminated, and the more familiar the public become with the strong features of the question, the more likely will our legislators be to consult effectually the public interest, when the day of decision arrives,

The objections to the present Bank of the United States, are,

1st. That it is unconstitutional. To which the reply is, tbat the constitutional question has been long settled, as it ought to be, in favour of the Bank charter.

2dly. That such an institution was not absolutely necessary at the time when it was first incorporated, viz : March, 1816. To this, the reply is, that the notorious circumstances of that day, rendered such an institution absolutely necessary.

3dly. That its influence is dangerous. To which it is replied, that no danger, but much benefit, has resulted from its influence.

4tbly. That it interferes with the fair claims of States, and of State Banks. To this it is replied, that it has interfered no further than the want of a wholesome currency, and the interest of the public, will fully justify.

Jihly. That some modification of the present Bank, with diminished influence, or some substitute in lieu of it, is imperiously called for. The advocates of the Bank deny that any privileges have been given it, but what are necessary and proper to the performance of its useful functions; nor can any substitute be adopted, from which more benefit and less danger is to he apprehended.

We propose to take up these issues separately, and to state the prominent facts and arguments on each side.

The tracts in favour of the renewal of the Bank charter, dwell more on its utility than on its constitutionality. All of them are ably and fairly argued ; those of Mr. McDuffie and Mr. Gallatin eminently so; but whether conclusively or not remains to be seen.

Opposed to the Bank, the letters of Brutus are not argumentative, but declamatory, and tell for little. The pamphlet of Judge Clayton is chiefly occupied with the question of constitutionality. It is a specimen of condensed reasoning, seldom exceeded in force and effect. The speech of Mr. Benton, dwells chiefly on the evils that have arisen, or may arise from the imprudent accumulation of power and privilege granted to that institution. It is the production of no common intellect; and although it has been treated by its opponents with something like disrespect, it is calculated to make a deep impression on the mind of every attentive reader. Indeed, if no other publications appear, the subject has been treated pro and con, most fully and ably ; but as few will be at the trouble of reading all the tracts enumerated at the head of this article, something like a soin mary of the controversy becomes absolutely necessary. We have sat down to this investigation, with a full resolution to present a fair and impartial view of the whole question; whether we have done so satisfactorily or not, the public must judge.

The constitutionality of the Bank is advocated,

1st. Because it is necessary and proper, as an incidental power, to the efficient collection and disbursement of the debts, duties, and taxes, levied for the use of the United States, and to the distribution of the Government funds at the points where payment is wanted to be made ; that it is necessary also to the regulation of the money-system of the United States, which was in great confusion at the time of the establishment of the

ties. It was an of that day, and his proposal, by all and

present Bank. This necessity for a Bank, was profoundly felt and acknowledged, at the time of its proposal, by all the prominent statesmen of that day, and by the wisest men of all parties. It was accordingly passed with the concurrence of Mr. Madison, Mr. Dallas, Mr. Crawford, Mr. Calhoun, &c. and the legislature of 1816.

That it was proper also for the purpose intended, appears, inasmuch as all the evils proposed to be remedied, and all the services expected to be rendered by this Bank, have, in fact, been remedied and rendered. That the recurrence to specie payments by all the other Banks—the substitution of a sound in lieu of an unsound currency—the regularity of the receipts and distributions of the national funds at every point, without expense to the treasury-are advantages resulting from this institution, not denied by any of its opponents.

That if this Bank be necessary and proper to the efficient collection and distribution of the revenue, it is constitutional. Nor are the words, necessary and proper, to be construed in the most strict grammatical sense that can be attached to them, but popularly, and with that reasonable latitude that fulfils their object and true intent and meaning. If, among the usual means employed and suggested, and among the incidental powers proposed, the Bank be the most apt, efficient and proper for the purposes required, the term, “necessary,” is complied with. But no other of equal efficacy was, or has been yet proposed. That although the power of erecting corporations is not among the enumerated powers granted to Congress, and therefore no corporation can be erected as being thus authorized as an original power, yet, if a corporation be necessary to carry into execution any of the original powers—if it be so necessary and proper for that purpose, that the original power cannot effectually be put in force without it—then, a corporation may be erected as an incidental power, as a necessary and proper means to the end aimed at. When the present Bank was proposed, in 1816, the absolute necessity of such a corporation was so strongly felt, that the most rigid interpreters of constitutional powers were compelled to give up their objections to the existing necessity.

2dly. It is constitutional, because, the question of its constitutionality has been long, and often, and deliberately, and even obstinately debated. li was so at the proposal of the first Bank of the United States, by Col. Hamilton, in 1790; but it received the support of the most able statesmen ofthat day, who had themselves been among the framers of the Constitution, and could not mistake the views and sentiments of their colleagues in Convention-General Washington, Robert Morris, Col. Hamilton, &c. Accordingly, Congress passed the act in its favour, February, 1791. An act, that implies a contenporary construction of the Constitution by the most eminent among the sages who drew it up.

3dly. It has received the sanction of repeated legislative acts and judicial decisions. It has been extended into other States with their consent. Property, to an immense amount, has been invested, and has been held under its authority Such frequent recognition, during twenty years of the first Bank, and almost as many of the present, by a series of legislative and judicial sanctions unbroken and uncontested, cannot now be shaken by mere theoretical considerations at this late day. If they can, then can nothing be considered as stable among our institutions; no rule of property, no long adopted measure or maxin, can be out of the reach of party prejudice or popular clamour. Interest reipublicæ ut denique sit finis litium.

These two last are the arguments principally relied on by Mr. McDuffie and Mr. Gallatin. They were advanced and supported by Mr. Madison on giving his assent to the present Bank in 1817; in his late letter to the Editor of the NorthAmerican Review ; and in his letter to Mr. Ingersoll, June 25th 1831.

4thly. Mr. Gallatin, in the 17th No. of the American Quarterly Review, argues further—that such is the imperfection of language and of human foresight, no Constitution can be drawn up, of which almost any part or any phrase may not admit of various interpretation by the efforts of human ingenuity.

Thus, during General Washington's administration, the institution of a National Bank, the appropriation to carry into effect the British treaty, the carriage tax, the proclamation of neutrality, were all opposed.

In Mr. John Adams' time, the alien and sedition laws were subjects of violent debate.

In Mr. Jefferson's administration, the repeal of the judiciary law, the embargo for an indefinite period, the purchase of Louisiana, were controverted on the ground of constitutionality.

During Mr. Madison's presidency, the United States' Bank again, the power of the Government over the militia of a State, the right of constructing roads under the authority of the Fed-, eral Government, were agitated.

In Mr. Monroe's time, the right of Congress to pass a bankrupt law, lo lay protecting duties in favour of domestic manufactures, to appropriate money for the relief of the poor in the District of Columbia.

« ZurückWeiter »