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26TH CONG..., 1st Sess.
Bankrupt Act--Mr. Anderson.
Executive shall unite with the moneyed power ment is composed of land holders, who must have offered by my distinguished friend (Mr. WRIGHT) for mutual assistance, the one using the influence || large incomes to support them in luxury and ex from New York. Several propositions which he of station to obtain for his ally a valuable mo travagance, every sensible man will behold a mean made, intended to effect this object to a greater nopoly, and the other endeavoring.to wrest from and sordid motive in English statesmen. In the extent, I regret to say it was the pleasure of the the people obedience to a tyrannical chief by annals of Rome we read of contests between the Senate, by very small majorities, to reject. I adroitly operating on their business and affecting | patricians and plebeians, and one would suppose voted for most of them, in order to make ihis bill their pecuniary condition. If a President, en that the latter designed to rob the former of their less exceptional than I believed it to be as origindeared to the people by his eminent qualities and property; but modern historians have discovered | ally reported by the select committee. Still,
sir, sustained by the patronage of the Government, that the Senate wished to divide the national do I look upon it as a measure teeming with misfound it difficult to withstand a wealthy corpora main among its own members, and this was the chiefs of no ordinary character to ihe highest tion, is it not to be feared that a coalition of the origin of their intestine commotions. Whether welfare of the Republic. political and moneyed influences of the country the Government be monarchical, aristocratical, or I shall not now advert to the constitutional queswould be perfectly irresistible. No one supposes of any other form, there will always be an effort || tions which this bill involves. They have althat a direct assault would be made on public lib to use it for private purposes. The king will think | ready been fully and ably discussed by others, and erty, for we are not prepared to bend the knee to of himself and family; the nobles will desire to I shall, therefore, call the attention of the Senate a master, but the offices of the country would be perpetuate their authority; and the ambitious por to the expediency and probable results of this used to gratify the ambition of corrupt politicians, tion of a republic will struggle to escape from an measure. I confess, sir, I cannot contemplate and its legislation would be directed according to equality odious to their pride and destructive to its passage without the deepest solicitude for the the selfish purposes of individuals, and not for their hopes of living without labor and at the ex interests and character of our common country. the glory and welfare of the whole people. Should pense of their neighbors. Sir, now is a propitious | Without, as it seems to me, sufficient evidence of this bill become a law, and the declaration go time for destroying this loathsome seed of dis- | public opinion, we are pushing it forward with forth that privileges and immunities be no longer cord; let us send forth the declaration that no class an ardor and a haste for which we can offer no conferred on private associations, our politicians of the people and no kind of industry are to receive adequate justification. We have before us the will not be tempted from the path of duty by the peculiar patronage from this Government; all progress of more than fifty years of fruitful exhope of making selfish partisans, and no class in should depend on their own exertions, and every perience, and it is now nearly forty since we disour extensive country will have its feelings and occupation should live or die, according to iis fit missed from our statute-book with disgust and opinions of public affairs affected by other con ness for the country, and the skill of those who | indignation the trial of this system, which was siderations than those of enlarged patriotism.
made in 1800. We had then a population of not Honorable gentlemen have spoken strongly of These are the doctrines contained in the bill on much more than four million people and the difthe injury inflicted on all branches of industry by your table; they are the doctrines of the Consti ference between that number and sixteen millions; the strife which we have witnessed during the tution; they are the bulwarks of civil liberty, and between thirteen independent sovereignties and last eight years. They have been pleased to say without them any form of Government will be twenty-six of greater magnitude; with our agriculthat the “war on the currency" has deranged come a nuisance and a tyranny. And while we ture, commerce, and manufactures multiplied in business, destroyed confidence, and wasted the are struggling in the glorious cause, will the peo a far higher proportion; with the pursuits of men means of the people; and they conclude that noth ple forget their faithful friends, and desert iheir not only augmented, but in the general progresing but a return to the old paihs will insure safety || ancient principles? Can they be drawn off by a sion of everything immensely diversified beyond to trade, stability to agriculture,
and wages to the hue and cry about small faults, and permit an any former example, has added much to the inhonest laborer. Sir, I draw a different moral from enemy, whom they have often conquered, to re creased importance of the question under considthe past; it reaches that a barrier should be raised establish his power? Are low debauch and dis- || eration, and, as I think, to ihe doubtful character between politicians and bankers; that no future || gusting charlatanry to be substituted for reason of its policy. opportunity should be given foragitating the coun and reflection? If so, we are unworthy of the Sir, in such circumstances, what are we about try, and mixing private affairs with the intrigues | blessings for which our fathers suffered, and we to do? We seem upon the very verge of exerof politics. Whiat careth the Jew for the cries are prepared to be slaves.
cising a power which is destined to search this of his victim if he obtain the “pound of flesh?”
vast and extended population, to try its most vital When did the spirit of party listen to the sugges
interests, to take absolute and summary possestions of reason? The ignorant and bigoted par
sion of the great relations of creditor and debtor, tisan will use any weapon to overthrow an oppo SPEECH OF HON. A. ANDERSON, to supersede, at a single step, long-established nent; patriotism has no abiding place in his heart;
opinions, to overlay the varied customs and lethe sentiment of honor is buried in the desire of
gislation of twenty-six States, differing widely in success; nothing too low or contemplible for his
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, their interests. All this is to be done by one great, alliance; nothing so sacred as to escape pollution;
June 25, 1840,
paramount, inflexible, and uniform law-a law ay, he would sacrifice the honor of his father and On the bill to establish a uniform system of bankruptcy. which tramples beneath its foot the private rights the fame of his mother to gain a miserable tri Mr: ANDERSON said:
of individuals and the judicial power of the States umph. Is it wise, then, to separate the Govern Mr. President: The bill upon your table is | which interposes for relief or remedy between the ment from the business of the people? If gen now on its final passage; and I rise, with very creditor and debtor; a law which carries with it tlemen succeed, and renew the connection, the great reluctance, to ask the indulgent attention of into twenty-six distinct and independent jurisdicstruggle will be continued by those who hon ihe Senate while I state, in the briefest possible tions more than the power of the writ of sumestly entertain the principles we advocate; and manner, the reasons which will induce me to re mons, and more than the power of the writ of posthe mere Swiss, who fight for bread and popu cord my vote against it. There are occasions, session. Release is founded upon the oath, and larity, will ever be ready to keep up strife and sir, when a man may not be excused for his fraud legally presumed at the will of the applicant. turmoil. Is it not best, then, for the agricultur- || silence; and so I think my duty, under the present The house and lands of the citizen are to be taken ist, the merchant, the mechanic, and the laborer, circumstances, to the State which I have the honor without notice or preparation. The whole systo have peace and certainty? The dews of heaven in part to represent, demands of me that I should tem of things is to be changed by the single move will fall, and the grain will spring forth under the bear, thus publicly, my testimony against this dan- | of the creditor or debtor. In a contradictory spirit industry of man; economy, skill, and ingenuity | gerous and searching measure.
of concession you give to the most wicked of will push to supremacy our infant manufactures; My distinguished colleague, before the recom either class the right to destroy others, and comenterprise will spread over every ocean our glori mitment of the former bill, took the occasion, pel, by your policy, the more virtuous to enter ous banner, and all that is necessary is protection || then, to express his entire disapprobation of the into the competition. Accidents and oaths, under from the Government.
adoption of any general bankruptlaw at this time, this law, may accomplish either end, and it offers Every man knows what he can do, what are whatever might be its provisions, and adverted to the singular spectacle of granting the immunities his means, and what his capacity; the eagerness the fact that he had no reason to suppose that of voluntary bankruptcy to all upon the condition for improving his condition will stimulate him to Tennessee wished a system of this kind. I con that the creditors inay make a particular class of great efforts; the resources of the country will be curred most fully in the views which he enter debtors liable to their compulsory process. Thus developed, and its wants supplied by the good | tained, and have now to state that I have not the catastrophe of bankruptcy is to be completed, sense of the people, if they be left to themselves. myself, up to this time, received any evidence || where undisturbed industry, prudence, integrity, Freedom is the life-blood of our institutions; let that the opinions of the people of Tennessee are and talent, might relieve the incumbent, without it be extended to all things and to every occupa
in favor of the passage of a bankrupt law. It may the odium of the injury forever clinging to his tion. If bank paper be useful, it will continue in well be supposed, therefore, that at the moment name and rankling in his heart. the service of the country; if it be a curse, lime when such a mighty power is about to be brought If the proposition were now made for the first will moderate the evil until a substitute can be into existence, in a crisis of such peculiar charac time to grant this power, have no doubt it would prepared. But let the Federal Government desist ter as that which now pervades this country, I be refused by a large majority of the American from granting special favors, or conferring ex should feel the deepest anxiety for the result, people. It has an extent, as it stands in the Contraordinary privileges on any class of the people.. which may, perhaps, fall most unwelcomely and stitution, far beyond what could originally have Wherever this has occurred, under whatever pre- unexpectedly upon my constituents.
been designed, and which partly arises from the tense rulers have acted, the invariable result has This bill provides that all persons may become more fully developed and better understood nabeen to oppress the great mass, and ultimately to bankrupts at their election, upon petition, veri ture and construction of our peculiar Government. diminish the strength and wealth of the couniry. fied by oath, and stating their inability to pay their Hitherto the danger has been that of obtaining Great Britain prohibits the entry of foreign corn debts; and that a certain other class, including the power by construction, but this is so broad and until the domestic article rises to a
a high price,
and merchants, shall be liable to be made bankrupts, so comprehensive, in its literal sense, that we find thousands of the poor rarely have their hunger under particular and specified circumstances. It ourselves resorting to the expedient of reducing satisfied. The excuse for such legislation is most has been partially modified, with a view to pro it by appealing to the standard of English aupatriotic; but when it is remembered that Parlia tect the interests of the creditor, by amendments thority. And, sir, there is no country in the world
where its practical influence would be so pecu without being able to say who shall escape and they have been of the last; and although over one liarly felt as in ours, both by the people and the who shall be counted last.
half of the nation they are now suspended, and Government. It would turn the fears and the This measure, let it be remembered, has been refusing to pay their own notes in specie, the uthopes of the one to an entire concentration upon urged by an eloquent appeal to our sympathies; most extent of their paper currency is not more the other, and bring that other into the possession that he whose head was bowed down should be than $100,000,000, not equal to the precious metof a strength which would give it a consolidated lifted up; that the tears of his wife and his inno als which they have driven into retreat. It is in mastery, ultimately, over all things, over men, cent children should be dried; that the wretched this state of things thai you propose this measure and over States. In this may be found, in part, and forlorn should again take their place in soci- of voluntary and compulsory bankruptcy. And, connected with other intrinsic objections, the ex ety. Sir, no man, I trust, feels more deeply for sir, to whom have you given that power of coerplanation why the exercise of the power was his fellow-man than I do, or would go further to cion, upon mere petition, without being verified so long postponed, though pressed from 1790 an relieve him under the pressure of distress. But, upon outh; without even the right of traversing nually unul 1800, and why it was afterward so sir, does justice, does humanity require that we the question of fraud by a trial by jury, until after early discontinued, and has been since so stead should save some by destroying oiliers? That to the decrce is entered up, until after the blow is ily resisted, until at length, yielding under a suc dry tears which already flow we should strike struck? We most graciously propose to bestow cession of panics and disasters, the natural prod new fountains from which they would be shed it upon those very banks, as well as upon india uct of the vast bank power of the land, we seem more abundantly? That we should multiply the viduals--the banks, to whom we have been told, about to reenact this great statute sponge, to be
unfortunate in order to relieve them? That we in this debate, that i here is a sum of $ 460,000,000 applied retroactively upon all the pecuniary re
should disregard the claims, the interests, and owed by the citizens of the United States. They sponsibilities in the country. Sir, this long post condition of the largest business class of men in are to be brought into the great field of action, and ponement, the early repeal of the law, the resist the nation; and that, of all others, they should be to become the potent competitors in the general ance against its introduction since, present to us made to feel that we legislate not for them, but work of ruin and distress. Are we prepared for the instructive portion of the history of this sub- for those who are already desperate? Is this fair? a scene like this-one vast scene of disaster, of ject, and we ought to regard it, until we shall be Is it just? Is it wise? Is it humane? Will you which no man can tell the end? One wide, deep, otherwise informed, as expressive of the deeplay your hand most heavily upon the commer and lasting excitement? Sir, the country will sense of the American people in favor of the policy cial community under a mere suspicion thatthey stand aghast at the practical march of this measof leaving the power entirely dormant in the Gen- | may deal harshly with others, while your gene ure, with its train of clients, of debts, of agents, eral Government, and to be supplied by the legis- rosity is poured redundantly upon the head of the of assignees, of lawyers, of courts, of power, and lation of the States. speculator? Is this, sir, the boasted love of that
of patronage! And who will reap the harvest? The first blow which will be struck I fear will great interest? Is ihis the tender mercy which Most surely not the creditors. What is the exfall heavily upon the moral feeling of society. It che mercantile class is to receive at the hands of perience of ihose who bore a part in the adminiswill superiduce on the one side temptations to their peculiar friends? Sir, it the embrace of tration of the bankrupt act of 1800? I have before seek immediate relief by a single act of surrender, death-death to credit, death to confidence; that me the testimony of one whose lulents and charwhere perseverance and skill would in the course confidence which procures rank and station to the acter entitle his opinions to the highest respect. of a few years recover the unfortunate debtor | trader, which sustains him in many a sore and try I am not disposed to surrender a question of this from his embarrassments. It is certainly true ling struggle; that confidence which, when every magnitude to the mere authority of names; but that the very offer of legal relief in the first moment honest etiori is expended, would, upon a surren Mr. Tazewell, of Virginia, delivered this testiof a public panic is an invitation to cease to make der of his effects, discharge him from his liubili- |mony in the Senate, upon the debate on the bankefforts, and will practically be an extinguislimene || ties; that confidence, above all, which reposes rupt bill in 1827, and spoke of that which he perof all debts without a struggle to pay. On the upon our justice and our wisdom!
sonally knew, and which no man will venture to other hand, it bestows a power upon ihe creditor Mr. President, this measure has, to my mind, controvert, and which I have no doubt, upon ex*which it is illusory to suppose will not be often the most peculiar aspect. It comes before us un amination, will be found to be sustained by the abused, and as often productive of the most mis der the potent auspices of the most singular com facts that transpired in almost every State of the chievous results. The whole basis of the meas promise ever presented in legislative history: 1 Union. I beg leave, sir, to read his statement. ure inviles fraud on the one side and suspicion on repeat, it is no more nor less than that the volunthe other. You bring into active application two lary bankrupt is to be allowed to escape from his " When the former bankrupt law was in existence he utterly antagonistical principles, the newly-awak- || creditor upon condition that creditors may be al resided in a sea-port town, and was engaged in almost every ened hope of the debtor to escape from respon lowed to oppress a particular class of debtors.
case of bankruptcy that occurred during its operation; and
he could assure the Senate that he never knew a solitary sibility and the vigilance of the creditor to over The first would not be permitted, but it is the con case in which the creditor obtained one cent. The debtors take the debtor for a delinquency which he may dition of power to the latter; and, on the other had often large estates, there was a large amount of property not disregard for fear of leaving to him the ulti- || hand, the latter is to be conceded on the condition somewhere; but by the time it had been filtered through mate advantage of the law upon the same terms. of that special benefit to the former. It seems to
the lands of the assignees, or the commissioners and their
deputies and agents, and this, and that, and the other offiThe main pillar of credit, that confidence which me, sir, that if either would be wrong, and pub- il cer, appointed to act upon it, not a fraction was left for the is mutually inspired by integrity and by justice, licly mischievous singly, because of the peculiar creditor. The whole liad been absorbed in its progress.'s will be struck down at a single blow. You de state of the country, that the two united will cer And such, sir, I have no doubt will be the progstroy at once all mutuality of feeling, of forbear- tainly augment the measure of injury. I am un ress of this measure in the contact and process ance, and of interest. No compositions will ever able to understand the philosophy of this subject of agents and of courts. be proposed, and which might be effected at less in any other way. It has been contended that There is another consideration connected with expense and less risk between the parties. It will neither alone ought to be adopted. If so, a com the subject which I think is entitled to some be a race of escape and pursuit, and in the present promise by which both may be efficient, must weight, and ought to be felt at least by those who condition of the country we will confound the therefore, I think, add a double force to the ob- | complain of the expenditures of this Government. honest and persevering debtor, who would finally jection that lies against this great experiment. The total sum which will, in all probability, be pay, with the man of desperate fortunes. We will Sir, I would address Senators in the language | extinguished, either by payment or discharge, make an indiscriminate sweep of the unfortunate, of Mr. Burke, when he wrote to his constituents, cannot fall much short of $200,000,000. The'numwho yet bear themselves against the tide, with the with whom he had differed, “I would appeal || ber of bankrupts will be, perhaps, not less than two bold and reckless speculators who are already from the opinions which you now have to the hundred thousand. I have heard it estimated to be ruined; and with this solitary act we will render opinions which you will have five years hence;” much greater. Be this as it may, it is very cermemorable in all time to come the present epoch | from the present excitement to the practical re tain that your courts, as at present constituted, of our calamity by a great legal catastrophe, fash sults which we are now preparing, and when cannot possibly execute the immense mass of ioned with singular zeal, anxiety, and labor from every other influence will have passed away ex business, the almost endless suits, in addition to our own hands. If it were possible to limit the cept that experience which will ihen come home
the separate cases of bankruptcy which will be effect of the bill before us I'am not prepared to to the feeling and observation of all men.
cast upon them. It is true that this bill provides say that it would be without a useful and happy The policy of this measure may be partly esti that they shall be considered as always open to influence upon the condition of society. But, sir, | mated by the amount of debt which exists in the applications under the act, but their number is one of the very features which recommend it most country, and upon a large portion of which it too few to enable them to go through but a small strongly to the support of its warmest advocates will be immediately directed. It is probably a portion of the causes. You will be compelled to is that it goes to the extent of every interest and fair calculation that the mercantile debt owed by increase the number of your judges, and subdievery class in the community, not by merely dis that portion of the country which is now within vide your present districts, or to create a special charging the contracts of those who are hopeless | the range of the suspended banks is equal to set of commissioners for the sole purpose of exand remediless, but that the offer of emancipation | $100,000,000. Of this, I understand the compu ecuting this law. Let those who are the special from debt is universal. The practical effect of tation for the city of New York alone to be up friends of this measure be prepared to take also this we know will spread itself through all the ward of sixty millions. The remainder may this responsibility. It will be found to be one of relations of life, but the final end no man can be divided between Philadelphia and Baltimore. no inconsiderable magnitude. tell. When you shall have broken up the moral This debt is to be extinguished in two methods; The period now fixed at which it is to take bond of union which strengthens and protects the by the voluntary act of the bankrupt, and by the effect is the 1st of February next... Why not, transactions of men as much as law itself legal- || compulsory process which you give to the hand then, postpone any legislation until the next sesizes them, it is impossible to estimate the conse of the creditor. The contracts were made in a sion of Congress, as we shall have, in the intera quences. I speak not of solitary exceptions; the period of the highest prices and a swollen cur val, the opportunity of returning to our constituplundered, willing or unwilling, must struggle rency. That currency has been reduced by the ents and consulting them upon a subject scarcely with the plunderers, the virtuous with the vicious, curtailment of the banks, and with their action inferior in importance to any which may require and the blow which fells to the earth your next has fallen the price of wages and of property.
their consideration? Or is it possible thai the neighbor will carry with it another and another, Il They were the primary causes of the first, as anxiety to pass this bill will not brook delay?
26TH CONG....1st SESS.
District Banks - Mr. Petrikin.
HO. OF REPS.
Sir, that delay would bring back upon us the come when it may demand some system of this of the people. We are told that the people ask judgment which may reverse the decision which kind for relief and for remedy; but let us not for the recharter of these banks. I well know we are probably this day to make.
hastily and prematurely, at the first alarm, pro what is meant by these bankers when they say Mr. President, I fear it is in vain to hope for duce a revolution in our laws and the laws of that the people require us lo legalize their swindthe defeat of this measure. But, sir, I think it twenty-six States, which, when put into motion, | ling. By the term “ people" is meant banks and would have been prudent, in the midst of the cannot be arrested by a hand less powerful than bankers; not the mass of the citizens; not those present excitement and pressure, to have trusted our own. Let us not be borne down by the mental whom a Whig member a few days since, on this a little longer to the forbcarance and magnanimity | pressure of the moment; but, standing erect, with floor, called the rabble;" not the laboring man, of the creditor; to the honesty, the industry, and a wise forecast, ask ourselves the question how mechanic, and farmer, who by the sweat of their the perseverance of the debtor. In Tennessee, this will be after the experiment has been passed, | brows support their country, but the nabob who sir, like every other portion of this Union, we are and the experience of years has sealed its charac rides in his coach and four through the streets considerably in debt; and although we cannot pay ler.
of this city, and the speculator who, vampireto-day or to-morrow or next day, we are essen
like, sucks the hearts'blood of the industrious tially a solvent and a paying people. We want
and laboring part of the community. These are no sponging retroaction; but will in the end, with
they who are called "the people" by the bankfew exceptions, pay the last cent for which we DEBATE IN THE HOUSE, I aver, sir, that a large majority of the peoare liable. But establish this law, and though it may cast the sunshine of liope upon the path of
Wednesday, July 1, 1840.
ple of this District are opposed to the recharter
ing of these banks. But a few, irr comparison lo many a worthy and unfortunate man wbois bent The following bill from the Senate, extending the char the whole number of the people, are indebted to beneath the burden of his disasters, it will just
ters of the banks in the District of Columnbia coming up in the banks. I would venture to say, if the truth
orderas surely overshadow with misfortune others of
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
could be ascertained, that of the whole number equal merit, who would, if undisturbed, pass tri of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That of persons resident in the District at this time, umphantly through the impending calamities. the charters of the Farners' and Mechanics' Bank of exclusive of members of Congress, and the ofFor every bankruptit may relieve, the very moral
Georgetown, the Bank of the Metropolis, Patriotic Bank ficers and directors of banks and their connec
of Washington, and Bank of Washington, in the city of as well as compulsory power of its provisions Washington, and the Farmers' Bank of Alexandria, and
tions, there are not three hundred individuals who will follow, pari passu, io add its victim to that Bank of Potomac in the town of Alexandria, be, and the
owe the banks one dollar. object of your mercy. The very mercy of this sume are hereby, extended to the 4th day of July, 1842, un We are told that if these charters are not retwofold system will stimulate the fears of the less Congress shall, in the mean time, oiherwise order and
newed a great deal of distress will be produced direct, upon condition that neither of said banks shall issue creditor, who will most naturally avail bimself of and pay out the notes of any other bank, banker, or banking
among the people. This I deny, because, as I every advantage against the debtor, whom the law institution or corporation, which is in a state of suspension have said before, the mass of the people owe the has armed with the choice of his own fortunes, or non-payment of its liabilities in specie; and upon the banks nothing, and the bankers will be cautious and we shall exhibit the great national spectacle further condition that the said banks, vor either of them,
how they distress each other. There being no elecshall take a stay of exccution on any judgment recovered of fierce passions and private plunder overruling against them in any case whatever, nor appeal froin such
tions in this District, real panics will not answer the mastery of every nobler feeling, under the in judgment, nor take a certiorari thereon, except on an affi any political purpose; but an imaginary panic is fluence of such temptations as few can resist and davit of merit
now in full force here, with a view to operate on the impulse of such a revolution as none can stay. After some remarks by Messrs. W. C. JOHN- || Congress; for if we look around us we see very Instead of being a measure to cure the evils under SON and ADAMS in favor of the bill,
few symptoms of distress among those who deal in which we are suffering it will propagate bank Mr. PETRIKIN addressed the Chair, and was banks, that is, if we are to judge from their manruptcies with a prolific hand. Whatever may be recognized by the Speaker as being entitled to the ner of living and the extravagance of their habthe theory of gentlemen upon this subject, how floor, in opposition io
its. But admitting, for the sake of argument, that ever they may expect to bring peace, hope, and Mr. JOHNSON, of Maryland, who claimed it our refusal to recharter these banks would projoy to the bosom of the ruined, there is another on the ground that he had, out of courtesy, given duce distress among a part of the people of the side of this picture upon which the statesman way to Mr. Adams.
District who happen to be their debtors, is that cannot look without apprehension and doubt: it Mr. PETRIKIN having insisteil on his right, | any reason why we should act in direct violation of is where those are to be seen on whorn ruin will under the rules, the Speaker decided that he was every principle of justice, by legalizing the frauds be brought. The law will take its course. The correct; and he proceeded, as follows:
and violations of law which these banks have comfears and cupidity of men will sweep over the Mr. Speaker, I have known for years that mitted? When was crime punished without proland in one deep and rapid stream. Noindustry, || banks and their agents claimed and possessed ex ducing some distress? When was any great politno integrity, no perseverance, no probable pros clusive rights and privileges on all occasions; and ical or moral reform obtained without individual pect of success, can arrest it. I would that we that the claims of individuals, here and elsewhere, suffering? And what greater evil could exist than couid pause before we adopt this terrible and de have been, in most instances, postponed at their || legalized swindling by the few at the expense of lusive measure. There is nothing in the history wink and nod. I am glad that for once a hum the many? What greater moral and political reof the past to assure us of the wisdom of the step ble individual has been able, on this foor, to have form could take place for the benefit of our counwe are about to take.
his rights respected in opposition to these pow- || try than to reform the banking system of this If the Constitution contemplates such a meas erful institutions. I am opposed to the recharter District as an example to other evil-doers? We ure as this for the protection of commerce, our of these banks in the way they demand it to be are not to inquire whether it is expedient or inprosperity for nearly forty years is proof that it done; for, Mr. Speaker, they do not merely re expedient to comply with the demands made of is not demanded. It is said to have this basis quest a renewal of their charters, but they de but we must first inquire, what do justice and for its policy in England; but with all her advan mand it.
the public good require at our hands? tages, and the aid of its protection and encourage We are told that the present bill must be acted Mr. Speaker, we have witnessed the operation ment, we have advanced many per cent. in the upon immediately, and passed by a pliant vote. of these speculators upon the people of this Disproportion of the whole beyond her commercial Individuals have to petition for their rights; they trict, and throughout ihe Union. We have seen and navigating interests. As a permanent meas have to ask respectfully, year after year, without the effects of their systematized violations of law ure, it would be found, as I think, to have no being able to get a hearing before Congress, or and common bonesty on the industrious, honest such influence. Even as a temporary remedy, a redress of their grievances, and such is the case laborers of the country, who have been cheated the power is too dangerous, and the consequences even with the war-worn soldier, the widow, and
out of their hard earnings by the worthless deare too alarming.
the orphan; but when the agents of banks, their preciated paper issued by the banks. We have Let iis pause before we pass this bill. It will presidents, cashiers, and directors command it, on record before us, that these very banks now array the North against the South. It will engen all business, both public and private, must be asking us to extend their charters, have three der å suspicion, a distrust, a deep-rooted preju- || laid aside, and Congress is required, and when so times, in the short space of six years, suspended dice, which can scarcely be obliterated during the required must do for the banks all that they ask; || specie payments, depreciated their stock and quarter of a century. I will be a standard sub and not content with that, the banks must have notes, and that their officers and directors have ject of reference for the guidance and action of it done without delay and without debate. What purchased them, thus depreciated, at a discount the next generation; and, instead of promoting is it that is now demanded by the banks of this of from ten to fifty per cent.; defrauding in this the prosperity of cornmerce, I fear it will mate District? Why, sir, we are asked, ay, peremp- | way the unsuspecting widows and orphans of the rially affect its best interests, particularly by its torily commanded, to pass a law sanctioning their District. I repeat that we have proof before us premature adoption.
violations of law and the rights of the people. that the banks of this District have three times Besides all this, the country has not had half We are asked to legalize swindling and fraud of flooded the country with their irredeemable paper, time to right itself; to recover from the stupor of every species without any regard to the rights of || knowing that they did not intend, nor could not its extravagance; to return to habits of economy; || the community. Let an atiempt be made to amend do, what their noies on their face promised; and to make a stendy, united, and persevering effort the charter of a bank, and they are met at once that they as often swindled the poor people by to pay its debts. Let us, therefore, look not so with the cry of "an infringement of contracts," purchasing their paper themselves at from ten to much lo fear as to hope; to despair as to a firm “a violation of chartered rights,' &c.; though fifty per cent. discount. We know that they resolve to pay; to the forbearance of creditors; to banks claim the right to violate their contracts have four times had their swindling doings legals the justice and industry of debtors. Our country with impunity, and demand the sanction of the ized by Congress, and they are the subjects of men are full of a noble love and a noble confidence constituied authorities for the grossest frauds. the sympathy of the bank advocates on this floor. toward each other; and it becomes us, as the The banks, while in a state of suspension, by Is not this a pretty commentary on the morality grave advisers and lawyivers of the land, not to which they violate a solemn contract of promise of those who composed the Congresses that weaken, discourage, or destroy these sacred rela lo pay on demand, have the barefaced impudence | passed these acts? And shall we again be opertions. We may rely upon it, sir, public opinion to ask Congress to give its sanction to crime, al ated upon by the banks, to legalize for a fifth time is not fully ripe for this measure. leging as a reason for it that it is for the benefit
such vilely dishonest transactions? Are those
The time may
26th Cong..., 1st Sess.
District Banks - Mr. Petrikin.
HO. OF REPS.
banks deserving your pity and sympathy? Willfense on the merits was filed; and all that was rather than be the means, by my vote, of the Democrats in this House violite iheir solemn alleged in the affidavit was, that the bank was un aging such public swindling by an extension of obligation made before God and the country, to able to pay its notes, and that the plaintiff bought these bank charters without sufficient provisions faithfully represent their constituents, by obey- | them. Is it not time to enact some law to pre to restrain them from a repetition of their past ing the demands of these swindling, insolvent cor vent the repetition of such a gross violation of law acts, of providing means of summarily punishing porations? I hope not, and that we will exhibit and justice? Here is proof that even the judi- l the guilty individuals. io the world, what is an anomaly in these times, i ciary is made to subserve the corrupt practices of If, as the gentleman from Massachusetts says, one legislative body, a majority of which is not the banks. The president of the Bank of the Me- the Government did get the nioney from the banks, under the control of the necromancy of banks, or tropolis, not content with the use he made of the li does he wish us to suppose that it was without operated upon by the talismanic influence of bank court to defraud the holder of his own notes, way its being paid for? Does not every man know diotes.
laid Causten, knocked him down with a club and that bankers are all Shylocks? They require not Mr. Speaker, it was my lot to be a member of beat him, in order, no doubí, to deter others from only " the Inst pound of flesh nearest the heart," the Committee for the District of Columbia during asking for their rights.
but take the heart also without mercy. But the the session of 1837–38, when these banks applied There is another instance of the gross dishon Government does not get the money to pay the for a recharter; and to me was assigned by that esty of the officers of this same bank, which is members from the banks. committee the duty of examining and inquiring a matter of record in the proceedings of this The bank partisans, by misrepresentations of into their condition at that time. I made the al House. At the extra session of 1837, the Speaker this kind, are continually endeavoring to induce tempi, and prosecuted it as faithfully as time and deposited the money for the pay of the members a belief that banks are essential to the well-being circumstances would permit; and alihough I had of the House of Representatives in the Bank of of the Government; but the truth of this matto take their own statements in writing, yet I the Metropolis. Roderick Dorsey, the Sergeant ter is that so far from the Government being benelearned enough to satisfy me that they were a rot al-Arms, as honest and confiding a man as lives, fited by the banks, the contrary is the fact. The ten, profligate concern, unable to pay their lia not doubting the honesty of men who make such Speaker of the House of Representatives has been bilities, and practicing a gross imposition on the large professions as the bank officers, took the in the habit of drawing from the Treasury of the public. Having had an opportunity to know a specie to the bank in bags and boxes; but when United States the whole amount necessary to pay little about them, I shall offer a few amendments to he came to count it out there was a deficiency of the members and depositing it in one of the bariks, the bill from the Senate; not such as I would wish nearly four thousand dollars. This deficiency from which it is drawn us wanted during the sesto have enacted; not such as will fully protect the the bankers refused to make good, although the sion. public against those corporations; but as much or whole money was counted by one of the clerks The Democratic members of this body have more than I expect will be carried. I have before of the bank when disbursed, and the books of but yesterday declared their willingness to sepame the lesson of bank influence in the State Le the bank, when compelled by a committee of the rate the Government from the banks, and I hope gislatures. I have seen a decided majority elected House of Representatives to exhibit them, showed they will show by their votes on the bill now beto the Pennsylvania Legislature aliis last session, that the deficiency did exist. This is a specimen fore the House that they are as ready to protect for the express purpose of producing bank reform; of bank morality, and this is one of the institu the individuals who compose the community as and I have seen that majority reduced to a minor tions for which ihe Whigs of this House claimed they are the Government, from fraud and imposiily, and that Legislature obeying the directions the sympathy of its members. I could state tion. The contest between the banks and the and dictations of bank agents. I have seen that other instances of bank morality which would country is not yet ended. The campaign is only Legislature, or a part of it, violate their pledges startle even the Whigs; but I will confine myself fairly commenced; and he that thinks differently to the people, or grant to the banks all they asked to what is of record and easy of proof. I will will find his mistake if he lives a few years. The or desired, by passing a law legalizing a suspen- | ask any honest man, if restrictions by legal en bankers wield a power more dangerous to the sion of specie payments--a violation of the laws | actmenis inflicting personal punishment on bank liberty of the people than an army of one hunof common honesty. I have known the Legisla- | officers, and giving a true and summary remedy dred thousand foreigners would be, and the banks tures of other States of the Union to do the same to individuals against banks, is not absolutely act openly or covertly, as may best suit their thing; and I cannot expect the members of this necessary to prevent such gross tyranny and dis- | views, or the subject to be acted upon. The first House to be more than human beings, and be able || honesty as I have quoted, and which no man on victory of the people over the banks, the Indeto resist the posse of bank directors, presidents, this floor dare attempt to deny or even apologize | pendent Treasury law, is only half won. Vigiland cashiers who I now see thronging our Hall, for?
ance is the watch word, and perseverance the only and leading members out of their seals to impor It is not long since my colleague [Mr. OGLE] guarantee of success. I hope the Democrats will tune and operate on them. Under all these cir- | anathematized ihe President of the United States be found recording their names on the present cumstances I have reason to fear that the bill as a " horrible specimen of aristocracy” because question consistently with their votes yesterday, will pass, as it did two years since, just as the he rode in a plain carriage with two horses; but so as to strengthen that measure. We will then bankers wish it; yet I will not be delerred from we hear no complaints from him, or any other of be able to show to the State Legislatures an examdoing my duty. I will raise my voice, feeble as the bank party in this House, of the aristocracy | ple worthy of being followed, and will be entitled it is, to protect all classes, but particularly the of the president of one of the insolvent banks of | io receive from our constituents, when we return humble but industrious part of the community, this city, who has his coach and four gray horses, to them, the cordial and gratifying welcome of by asserting on this foor their grievances. Il with several liveried servants as outriders, driving “ Well done ye good and faithful servants.” The fail in protecting them from the ruthless gripe of along the streets of this city. He may well afford | eyes of the American people are upon us, anxbankers, it shall not be for want of a willio do it. | to have his coach and four, with servants in livery, || iously waiting to see whether we will retrograde
I propose, by the first clause of the amendment, | when his bank, of which I am told he is the prin or advance; whether we will row one way and to make the president and directors of the banks cipal stockholder, can pay its debts of several look another; and whether the banks and their inliable for their acts in their individual capacities. || hundred thousand dollars at fifty cents on the fluences are as formidable and successful as they It is no more than right that they should be re dollar. I do not know this man, and if half I || always have been in legislative halls.
Have we stricted by the fear of personal accountability, have heard of him be true, I hope I never may every motive to resist wrong and to do our for men, as corporations, will do things that they be his associate. If, Mr. Speaker, you or I were duty ? will not do when made liable for their acts. Were allowed to contract debts to the exient these peo Mr. Speaker, I had intended only to submit my I creating a new bank I would include, in this in- l ple have, and pay them in the same way, we too amendments to the bill without any remarks, undividual liability, the stockholders to the amount might have a coach and four; but would we have til the friends of the banks showed a disposition of the stock subscribed; but as most of the stock that sympathy which the sage legislators have to stifle all inquiry. I have now occupied much of the banks now before us is in the hands of expressed here for those insolvent banks? Would more of the time of the country than I had thought persons who purchased it under their present we be permitted to pay our debts at that rate and I would, but the importance of the subject recharters, and as it would have the appearance of yet have property to the amount of thousands of quires it. I now close. unfairness to create a new liability against them, dollars untouched? No sir, we would not, as in Mr. P. then submitted the following amendI will not go to that extent.
dividuals, be permitted to do so; but as corporaThe second clause of the amendment is intended tors and bankers, I have nb doubt but we would Provided, also, That the president and directors of each to prohibit the banks from declaring dividends be, provided we used the proper means to enlist of said banks shall be joinily and severally, in their indiwhile they refuse to pay their debis. No honest
vidunt capacity, liable for all notes issued or debts conthe sympathies of members.
tracted by' saw banks respectively, from and after the day man can oliject to such a provision.
We have been told by the member from Mas
this act goes into effect, to be recovered as other debts of The third clause of the amendment is for the sachusetts [Mr. Adams) that we dare not refuse like amount may at the time be by law recoverable: And purpose of enabling individuals to bring suit and to extend the charters of these banks, for if we be it further provided, That the said banks shall not make recover debts from the banks. At present the do not extend them we will not receive our pay
any division of profits, or declare any dividends, during
the time said banks shall refuse to pay all their liabilities judges of the courts here claim and exercise the as members. I had supposed that the Govern in specie on demand; and the president and directors of right to issue injunctions at the instance of the ment of the United States provided the means to any of said banks, who shall make any such division of banks when sued for their notes, prohibiting jus- || pay its officers, and it is news to me that members
profits, or declare any such dividend, or consent to or vote
for the same, shall be liable to pay double the amount of tices of the peace from entering a judgment even are dependent on banks for their pay. I have no
the sim so divided or declared, to be recovered of them where there was no defense. As proof of this doubt that some are dependent on them for one in their individual capacity, by any person suing for the fact I will refer the members of this body to House kind of pay, in the shape of fair business trans same, as debts ot like amount are recoverable, one half of Document No.53 of the extra session of 1837. In actions, but not for their per diem. I have always
said forfeiture to go to the person suing, and the other half
to the corporation where said bank is located. that document it will be found that James H. held that every man has his price if that price can
Be it further enacted, $c., That justices of the peace Causten sued one of the banks for notes which be ascertained. I have no wish to claim exemp within the District of Columbia shall have jurisdiction in the officers refused to pay; that the judge of the tion from the common frailty of human nature, all actions of debt against any of the banks whose chardistrict court issued an injunction prohibiting the but I can assure the gentleman that if he rates
ters are hereby extended, for suns not exceeding $100,
anıl no appeal, certiorari, or injunction, shall be allowed, justice of the peace entering a judgment, and that himself at eight dollars per day, that price will
granted, issued, or directed by any court within said Disthe prohibition was obeyed. No affidavit of de not buy me. I will willingly sacrifice my pay trict, unless an affidavit be first inade and placed in said
26TH CONG....1st SESS.
District Banks—Mr. Steenrod.
HO. OF REPS.
court by the president, or one or more of the directors of Mr. STEENROD said: Mr. Speaker, I regret | fidelity and probity, the duties imposed on them the bank so sued, that such appeal, certiorari, or injunc
that I cannot meet the earnest request of the by virtue of their charters as a consideration for tion is not asked for the purpose of delay, but because he or they believe there is just defense on the merits, and that gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. SALTON the exclusive rights granted them? No, sir. They injustice is likely to be done if said appeal, certiorari, or STALL] who has just taken his seat, and give my have closed their doors, and pertinaciously reinjunction should not be granted.
vote for this bill without disregarding my party, fused to pay their just debts, while they have, on Mr. VANDERPOEL said it was not necessary predilections and party principles. I understand the other hand, exacted from the debtor commuto the purpose he had in view, in the few remarks that the bill under consideration proposes to con nity uniform reduction or payment of their oblihe intended to submit, to classify the House by tinue the existence of the incorporated banking | galions. They have assumed to keep their paper denominating one portion of it bank men, and an institutions of this District until July of the al its par value, convertible into gold and silver other party enemies of the banks. Nor was it his year 1842; I also understand that those institu at the will of the holder; they have disregarded purpose to cast imputations upon gentlemen be tions, with a single exception, are all acknowl their public engagements, and have suffered their cause they happened to be connected with banks. || edged to be in a state of suspension in direct paper lo depreciate, and the loss to fall on the It was his pleasure to know some of the gentle violation of their charters; or, in other words, community. While, as public institutions, cremen who were connected with the institutions in in open and public insurrection against the laws, ated to subserve the public interest, (and they question, and it was but just to them to say that Shall we, then, in view of this condition of things. should have subserved the public interest by prethey were gentlemen for whom he entertained confer on these institutions the exclusive right | serving a sound currency,) they have, as brokers very high respect. Still, he felt it his duty to say to issue paper as a measure of value withoutim and stockjobbers, deranged the exchanges by that the bill under consideration, considering the posing on them corresponding obligations to meet their undue exactions and extortions. With these situation in which all the banks of this District their engagements with the holders of their notes? ofienses, then, resting on those institutions, the now exhibited themselves, was a very extraordi Shall we give to them the incorporated privileges | gentleman may entertain no surprise that any nary one. They were in a state of suspension; to withdraw from circulation the gold and silver one here should “intimate that these banks were of open delinquency; of open violation of the law to be hoarded up in their vaults, and to issue in swindling concerns.” that created them; and while in this condition, their stead to this people their depreciated and irre But we have been appealed to not to apply to our they came and asked for an unqualified extension deemable paper : These, in fact, are the ques- || legislation for the people of this District our rigid or renewal of their charters. licould not be, that tions submitted to our consideration, and these party principles. To this I must answer that I after our doings of yesterday, we were prepared are the affirmative propositions maintained in have no two sets of principles, one for my imto vote for this bill, without any amendment to this bill. By whom are such principles as these mediate constituents, and another for what 'I bedrive the banks back to their duty. What a advocated and sustained here, and who are the lieve is intended for the especial benefit of the spectacle would we exhibit to the nation by so friends of the bill now under consideration? The bankers here. If, as an American citizen, I would doing! It was our incumbent duty to set a better same members of this House who have so ofien ever disdain to seek or accept of any franchise or example to the States. The facility with which denounced, and the same party who has depre- || privilege from this or any other legislative body
he banks the several States nowadays sus cated, the great public measure providing for the which was not to be conferred alike on all my pended specie payments was, indeed, a reproach safe-keeping, transfer, and disbursing the reve countrymen, as an American legislator, I will reto our country. An honorable merchant, during nues of the Government, as an innovation that fuse to confer immunities on one portion of my a pecuniary or commercial revulsion, would often would furnish iwo currencies, one for the Gov fellow-citizens that are denied to or withheld from times sacrifice hundreds of thousands of dollars ernment and another for the people. But char others. We have been told by the high and disto maintain his credit and integrity; but, accord- || tered privileges to such institutions as these to tinguished authority of the gentleman from South ing to the ethics of banks, they suspended specie withdraw from circulation, and to hoard up, all Carolina (Mr. THOMPSON) that the respective payments whenever it became a little inconvenient the gold and silver currency, and to issue their || Legislatures have refused, yes, that they have to maintain them. Indeed, they seemed to sus irredeemable and depreciated paper, they can ap been afraid to carry out the principles of the Repend sometimes for pretty much the same reason prove and support. Yes, sir, the banks may publican party on the subject of the currency, and that Betty assigned for skinning her eels," be use and hoard up the better currency, and issue iherefore, (I suppose the argument is) that we, cause they liked it." It was high time that we the legalized worse currency for the people, and too, should refuse, and prove ourselves afraid to do at least should set our face against the facility these gentlemen can view the act with composure so. But, sir, these are not the tenets of the political with which the banks assumed this unjust, this
cency; but they are convulsed with school in which I was educated. Oue who has demoralizing position. That portion of the House indignation, and startled with apprehension at a imbibed an early reverence for the men of the that was now coming out for the recharter of these simple public measura that proposes to collect Revolution, and who entertains great respect for suspended banks, had always told us that it was and pay out the revenues of the Government in those time-honored exemplars of American printhe duty of Congress to regulate the currency of gold and silver; and can see, in such a measure ciples, would first rather study the virtue and utilthe country; that the friends of the Administra as that, one currency furnished for the Govern- || ity of a public measure, to know whether it was tion were subject to the reproach of permitting an ment and another for the people. To those gen to promote the good of the community at large important power, conterred upon us by the Con tlemen who would condemn what they may sup before passing upon it; and if it was for the pubstitution, to lie dormant.
pose to be the tendency of a measure of the lic good, then be not discouraged by fears or And was this a specimen of the manner in Government, and approve a like measure in the swerved from his honest purposes by the rash and which they would put this alleged power into banks, I have nothing to say. Bul, sir, what reckless denunciations of others, but pursue the execution? Was this the mode in which they are the arguments advanced here in support of even tenor of his way urtil he shall witness a would regulate the currency,"recharter a batch this bill, and what has been said by its friends consummation of his principles. of banks that are daily in the open violation of to commend it to our support? We have been Our organic State laws of distribution in delaw and duty. They could not pay their debus informed by the gentleman from Maryland (Mr. scents, and the prohibition of entailments and prior redeem their bills; but what could they do, || Johnson) that the adjoining States (and Vir- | mogeniture, have been cited as a barrier to the what had they done under our very eyes? Whyginia and Maryland have been mentioned) have encroachments of these corporations. It is true make dividends of profits while in a state of sus passed similar acts to this, and therefore we should that these laws were established to fortify our pension-yes, profils made at a time when the copy the precepts of this State legislation, and democratic Government, and to prevent the enpoor market woman, with one of their notes, was do likewise. I had supposed, sir, that it rather croachments of property on right. But no proliable to be shaved to the tune of from five to ten became us, as legislators, to set an example of tection is afforded by these laws if the respective per cent.
Were we prepared to legalize such wise and good legislation, and not to follow the legislative bodies will create and multiply a swarm doings by voting for an unqualified renewal of bad or imprudent legislation of particular States. of corporations for the purpose of amassing and these charters; one that would involve no rebuke I have never seen an act in the statute-book of managing property-“corporations whose disfor, but would rather sanction, their past and Virginia similar to the bill now under considera tinguishing attribute is to live forever, and whose present demerits? If we passed this bill, what a tion. It is true the State of Virginia has legalized | legal entity may forever remain the same. beautiful commentary would it be upon our doings the suspension of the Slate banks, but never with “Property thus holden in perpetual succession of yesterday y-a day signalized by the passage of out at least giving an apparent protection to the cannot come under the full operation of our stalthat great measure of reform! He would never note-holders as a remedy for the abuse of this utes of distribution.” The privileged corps which consent to vote for the bill unless a provision was privilege.
are thus fortified are rendered more formidable to inserted that the banks should resume specie pay The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. || equal rights and liberty than they could be by the ments within thirty, or, at farthest, sixty days. || Briggs] expressed great surprise that any one English statutes of entails and primogeniiure. As matter of example and principle, this bill here should intimate that these institutions were What protection can there be to the masses if extended in iis operation beyond ihe ten miles swindling concerns. Sir, I here in my place, valuable immunities are denied to individuals and square. It was commensurale with the Union. before this House and the country at large, arraign conferred on corporations? Exclusive privileges By passing it in its present state, we would pro those institutions, and charge this upon them, and monopoly are as dangerous in an incorpoclaim to the world, to the institutions of the States, and invite an examination of the proofs. I will rated association of persons as in the person of a the immoral sentiment that a state of suspension not here refer to the conclusive evidence adduced nobleman or lord; and the Government that would is not a state of palpable and most reprehensible to day by my able and eloquent young friend distinguish in favor of one over the other, by condelinquency.
from Ohio (Mr. WELLER) of the frauds of these ferring power, but shows its folly by adding to After some remarks by Messrs. BRIGGS, || institutions, but to the acknowledged facts in their crime. These organic laws of our States but THOMPSON, of South Carolina, and JOHN- || history. The rights of the people have been demonstrate that these irresponsible powers are SON of Maryland, in favor of the bill, and Mr. || abridged to confer on those institutions high priv- l opposed to the genius of our institutions and COOPER, of Georgia, in favor of certain amend- ileges and profitable immunities, and in return popular freedom; and as such, as Americans, we ments proposed by himself, compelling specie for which these institutions have assumed re should wage against them an earnest war-open payments, and probibiting the issue of notes of sponsible trusts, beneficiary functions to this com hostility. less denomination than len, twenty, and thirty | munity. How have they demeaned themselves The gentleman from South Carolina also dis. dollars, at given periods,
in their offices? Have they discharged, with coursed most eloquently on the banking institu