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of Alexander Johnston's Representative American Orations; F. W. Taussig's State Papers and Speeches on the Tariff; the American State Papers; Josiah Quincy's Figures of the Past; George Tucker's Progress of the United States in Fifty Years; John Trumbull's Autobiography; Amos Kendall's Autobiography; Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America; S. G. Goodrich's Recollections of a Lifetime; Hugh McCulloch's Men and Measures of Half a Century; Nathan Sargent’s Public Men and Events; John Quincy Adams's Memoirs; J. A. Hamilton's Reminiscences; Men and Events at Home and Abroad ; Thomas H. Benton's Thirty Years' View; Ben. Perley Poore's Perley's Reminiscences; Mrs. Chapman Coleman's Life of John J. Crittenden; Basil Hall's Travels in North America in the Years 1827 and 1828 ; John Finch's Travels in the United States and Canada (1833); Mrs. Trollope's Domestic Manners of the Americans; Michael Chevalier's Society, Manners, and Politics in the United States (1834-1835); Harriet Martineau's Society in America (1834-1836); Seba Smith's Letters of Major Jack Downing (satirical); Martin Van Buren's Inquiry into the Origin and Growth of Political Parties in the United States ; General Court of Massachusetts, State Papers on Nullification; the Letters, Speeches, and Works of the leading public men of the day
THE BANK AND THE TREASURY
AGAIN in 1832, as in 1828, it had been a man rather than a party that had won the presidential election. The real issue of the contest had been the re-election or rejection of General Jackson, upon his record as President and political leader. Although he took the result as a verdict against South Carolina, as a verdict against every one who withstood his authority either as man or as President, the nullification issue had not been made a test of doctrine or policy by either party. It was passed by, as if politicians wished to ignore it. So far as it was a contest concerning policy at all, and not a mere attack of the conservative forces of the country upon General Jackson himself as a radical and the author or spokesman of all revolutionary error, the contest centred upon the question of the Bank. It was the President's hostility to the United States Bank that was the Opposition's chief item of indictment against him. They attacked him also, it is true, for his unfriendly attitude towards the protective system and for his unwillingness to allow liberal outlays to be made for internal improvements. But he had in fact been more tractable than they had expected in those matters. He had really suffered Congress to go its own way in adjusting the tariff, and had yielded now and again to its ardor for spend
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ing money out of the federal treasury for the improvement of harbors and for the prosecution of other public works which promised to result in a general benefit to commerce. Only on the question of the Bank had he stood stubborn and forced the fighting.
The charter of the Bank was not to run out until 1836. It had not been necessary or wise to force the
question of its renewal to an issue in 1832, to be confused with the question of General Jackson's popularity and personal prestige. The conservatives in Congress had been betrayed into a grave tactical blunder, because they shut their eyes to the real signs of the times. They did not yet know the rules of prudence in a day of personal politics; did not understand the subtle elements of the play; did not know the opinion of the country or comprehend the drift of affairs.
The Bank of the United States had been first created in 1791, and the question of the right of Congress to establish it had been duly fought out then, as it were at the very founding of the government. Both Congress and the Executive had accepted the conclusions of Mr. Hamilton in the matter, and rejected the conclusions of Mr. Jefferson. Mr. Jefferson's party had allowed the charter of the Bank to lapse in 1811, when their day of power came, professing themselves opposed to it on principle; but in 1816, finding the exigencies of finance powerful solvents of their scruples, they had changed their minds and had given it another twenty-year charter. Three years later the Supreme Court of the United States (McCulloch vs. Maryland, 1819) confirmed the reasoning of Mr. Hamilton with regard to its constitutionality in a formal decision, and set the views of every scholarly lawyer in the country once for all at rest on the matter.
But General Jackson had come in "to simplify and purify the workings of the government, and to carry it back to the times of Mr. Jefferson,—to promote its economy and efficiency, and to maintain the rights of the people and of the States in its administration”; and from the outset, with something of the instinct of the communities in which he had been bred, he looked upon the Bank as an enemy of constitutional and democratic government. His attack upon it, begun in his first inaugural address, had been continued in every annual message he sent to Congress. He had begun by plainly intimating a doubt as to the legality of its institution, the Supreme Court to the contrary notwithstanding; and had asserted that it had failed to establish a stable currency. He next pronounced it an "un-American monopoly.” Finally he expressed serious misgivings
as to the soundness of its management. At each mention of it his warmth sensibly increased; his hostility became more open and aggressive. The purpose apparently grew upon him to destroy it. He forced it to meet him, as challenger, and fight for its life in the open field of politics. Influences were at work upon him which were only by degrees disclosed to his opponents,
The constitution of the Bank unquestionably placed it very near the government itself. Its capital stock was $35,000,000, and of this the federal treasury held nearly one-third by direct subscription ($11,000,000); five of its twenty-five directors were appointed by the President of the United States; it was the depository of the public funds and enjoyed the use of them without interest; it was empowered to issue circulating notes to the full par value of its capital stock; and its notes were made receivable by the United States as cash for all debts. Congress pledged itself to create no other bank while the charter stood. In return, the Bank had paid the federal government a million and a half dollars for its franchise, and undertook to negotiate the loans of the government without charge or commission. Its notes it was obliged by law to redeem in specie on demand. Although a private corporation and carefully planned upon conservative and prudent principles, it was unquestionably the ruling force in the money market, and took its power from its connection with the government. Undoubtedly, too, it had been intended to play this dominating part and was by design a political institution. It had been Mr. Hamilton's object, in setting up the first Bank of the United States, to bring the money transactions of the country under a