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قراءة كتاب A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 3, part 1: Andrew Jackson (Second Term)

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‏اللغة: English
A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents
Volume 3, part 1: Andrew Jackson (Second Term)

A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents Volume 3, part 1: Andrew Jackson (Second Term)

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 4

safety in its keeping.

But in the conduct of the bank may be found other reasons, very imperative in their character, and which require prompt action. Developments have been made from time to time of its faithlessness as a public agent, its misapplication of public funds, its interference in elections, its efforts by the machinery of committees to deprive the Government directors of a full knowledge of its concerns, and, above all, its flagrant misconduct as recently and unexpectedly disclosed in placing all the funds of the bank, including the money of the Government, at the disposition of the president of the bank as means of operating upon public opinion and procuring a new charter, without requiring him to render a voucher for their disbursement. A brief recapitulation of the facts which justify these charges, and which have come to the knowledge of the public and the President, will, he thinks, remove every reasonable doubt as to the course which it is now the duty of the President to pursue.

We have seen that in sixteen months ending in May, 1832, the bank had extended its loans more than $28,000,000, although it knew the Government intended to appropriate most of its large deposit during that year in payment of the public debt. It was in May, 1832, that its loans arrived at the maximum, and in the preceding March so sensible was the bank that it would not be able to pay over the public deposit when it would be required by the Government that it commenced a secret negotiation, without the approbation or knowledge of the Government, with the agents for about $2,700,000 of the 3 per cent stocks held in Holland, with a view of inducing them not to come forward for payment for one or more years after notice should be given by the Treasury Department. This arrangement would have enabled the bank to keep and use during time the public money set apart for the payment of these stocks. After this negotiation had commenced, the Secretary of the Treasury informed the bank that it was his intention to pay off one-half of the 3 percents on the 1st of the succeeding July, which amounted to about $6,500,000. The president of the bank, although the committee of investigation was then looking into its affairs at Philadelphia, came immediately to Washington, and upon representing that the bank was desirous of accommodating the importing merchants at New York (which it failed to do) and undertaking to pay the interest itself, procured the consent of the Secretary, after consultation with the President, to postpone the payment until the succeeding 1st of October.

Conscious that at the end of that quarter the bank would not be able to pay over the deposits, and that further indulgence was not to be expected of the Government, an agent was dispatched to England secretly to negotiate with the holders of the public debt in Europe and induce them by the offer of an equal or higher interest than that paid by the Government to hold back their claims for one year, during which the bank expected thus to retain the use of $5,000,000 of the public money, which the Government should set apart for the payment of that debt. The agent made an arrangement on terms, in part, which were in direct violation of the charter of the bank, and when some incidents connected with this secret negotiation accidentally came to the knowledge of the public and the Government, then, and not before, so much of it as was palpably in violation of the charter was disavowed. A modification of the rest was attempted with the view of getting the certificates without payment of the money, and thus absolving the Government from its liability to the holders. In this scheme the bank was partially successful, but to this day the certificates of a portion of these stocks have not been paid and the bank retains the use of the money.

This effort to thwart the Government in the payment of the public debt that it might retain the public money to be used for their private interests, palliated by pretenses notoriously unfounded and insincere, would have justified the instant withdrawal of the public deposits. The negotiation itself rendered doubtful the ability of the bank to meet the demands of the Treasury, and the misrepresentations by which it was attempted to be justified proved that no reliance could be placed upon its allegations.

If the question of a removal of the deposits presented itself to the Executive in the same attitude that it appeared before the House of Representatives at their last session, their resolution in relation to the safety of the deposits would be entitled to more weight, although the decision of the question of removal has been confided by law to another department of the Government. But the question now occurs attended by other circumstances and new disclosures of the most serious import. It is true that in the message of the President which produced this inquiry and resolution on the part of the House of Representatives it was his object to obtain the aid of that body in making a thorough examination into the conduct and condition of the bank and its branches in order to enable the executive department to decide whether the public money was longer safe in its hands. The limited power of the Secretary of the Treasury over the subject disabled him from making the investigation as fully and satisfactorily as it could be done by a committee of the House of Representatives, and hence the President desired the assistance of Congress to obtain for the Treasury Department a full knowledge of all the facts which were necessary to guide his judgment. But it was not his purpose, as the language of his message will show, to ask the representatives of the people to assume a responsibility which did not belong to them and relieve the executive branch of the Government from the duty which the law had imposed upon it. It is due to the President that his object in that proceeding should be distinctly understood, and that he should acquit himself of all suspicion of seeking to escape from the performance of his own duties or of desiring to interpose another body between himself and the people in order to avoid a measure which he is called upon to meet. But although as an act of justice to himself he disclaims any design of soliciting the opinion of the House of Representatives in relation to his own duties in order to shelter himself from responsibility under the sanction of their counsel, yet he is at all times ready to listen to the suggestions of the representatives of the people, whether given voluntarily or upon solicitation, and to consider them with the profound respect to which all will admit that they are justly entitled. Whatever may be the consequences, however, to himself, he must finally form his own judgment where the Constitution and the law make it his duty to decide, and must act accordingly; and he is bound to suppose that such a course on his part will never be regarded by that elevated body as a mark of disrespect to itself, but that they will, on the contrary, esteem it the strongest evidence he can give of his fixed resolution conscientiously to discharge his duty to them and the country.

A new state of things has, however, arisen since the close of the last session of Congress, and evidence has since been laid before the President which he is persuaded would have led the House of Representatives to a different conclusion if it had come to their knowledge. The fact that the bank controls, and in some cases substantially owns, and by its money supports some of the leading presses of the country is now more clearly established. Editors to whom it loaned extravagant sums in 1831 and 1832, on unusual time and nominal security, have since turned out to be insolvent, and to others apparently in no better condition accommodations still more extravagant, on terms more unusual, and some without any security, have also been heedlessly granted.

The allegation which has so often circulated through these channels that the Treasury was bankrupt and the bank was sustaining it, when for many years there has not been