« ПредишнаНапред »
session. It was immediately assailed byment, which had been suspended in the several members as violent and unconsti- country for thirty years, was resumed, and tutional, tending to civil war, and de- gold and silver became the currency of the nounced as the bloody bill”-the “force land; inspiring confidence in all the purbill," &c. The bill was vindicated in the suits of industry. Senate, by its author, who showed that it As indicative of the position of the decontained no novel principle; was sub-mocratic party at that date, on the subject stantially a revival of laws previously in of the kind of money authorized by the force; with the authority superadded to Constitution, Mr. Benton's speech in the remove the office of customs from one Senate is of interest. He said: “In the building or place to another in case of first place, he was one of those who beneed. The bill was vehemently opposed, lieved that the government of the United and every effort made to render it odious States was intended to be a hard money to the people, and even extend the odium government; that it was the intention and to the President, and to every person the declaration of the Constitution of the urging or aiding in its passage. Mr. United States, that the federal currency Webster justly rebuked all this vitupera- should consist of gold and silver, and that tion, and justified the bill, both for the there is no power in Congress to issue, or equity of its provisions, and the necessity to authorize any company of individuals for enacting them. He said, that an un- to issue, any species of federal paper curlawful combination threatened the integ- rency whatsoever. Every clause in the rity of the Union; that the crisis called Constitution (said Mr. B.) which bears for a mild, temperate, forbearing but un- upon the subject of money—every early flexibly firm execution of the laws; and statute of Congress which interprets the finally, that public opinion sets with an meaning of these clauses--and every hisirresistible force in favor of the Union, in toric recollection which refers to them, go favor of the measures recommended by hand in hand in giving to that instrument the President, and against the new doc- the meaning which this proposition ascribes trines which threatened the dissolution of to it. The power granted to Congress to the Union. The support which Mr. Web- coin money is an authority to stamp mester gave to these measures was the regular allic money, and is not an authority for result of the principles which he laid emitting slips of paper containing promises down in his first speeches against nullifi- to pay money. The authority granted to cation in the debate with Mr. Hayne, and Congress to regulate the value of coin, is he could not have done less without being an authority to regulate the value of the derelict to his own principles then avowed. metallic money, not of paper. The prohiHe supported with transcendent ability, bition upon the States against making the cause of the constitution and of the anything but gold and silver a legal tencountry, in the person of a President to der, is a moral prohibition, founded in vir. whom he was politically opposed, whose tue and honesty, and is just as binding gratitude and admiration he earned for his upon the Federal Government as upon the patriotic endeavors. The country, without State Governments; and that without a distinction of party, felt the same; and written prohibition; for the difference in the universality of the feeling was one of the nature of the two governments is such, the grateful instances of popular applause that the States may do all things which and justice when great taleộts are seen they are not forbid to do; and the Federal exerting themselves for the good of the Government can do nothing which it is country. He was the colossal figure on not authorized by the Constitution to do. the political stage during that eventful The framers of the Constitution (said Mr. time; and his labors, splendid in their B.) created a hard money government. day, survive for the benefit of distant They intended the new government to reposterity.
cognize nothing for money but gold and During the discussion over the re-charter silver; and every word admitted into the of the Bank of the United States, which Constitution, upon the subject of money, as before mentioned, occupied the atten- defines and establishes that sacred intention of Congress for several years, the tion. country suffered from a money panic, and a Legislative enactment came quickly to general financial depression and distress the aid of constitutional intention and was generally provalent. In 1834 a mea- historic recollection. The fifth statute sure was introduced into the House, for passed at the first session of the first Conequalizing the value of gold and silver, gress that ever sat under the present Conand legalizing the tender of foreign coin, stitution was full and explicit on this head. of both metals. The good effects of the It declared, “ that the fees and duties paybill were immediately seen. Gold began able to the federal government shall be to flow into the country through all the received in gold and silver coin only.” It channels of commerce, foreign and domes- was under General Hamilton, as Secretary tic; the mint was busy; and specie pay- l of the Treasury, in 1791, that the policy
of the gorernment underwent a change. I of Friends of Philadelphia, urging the
between the federalists and the republi- resolution which was adopted in the House
The first session of the 35th Congress pose of enhancing the value of the State
, and the money even voted for proportion to their representation in Conthat purpose ; but offense was taken at the gress, to be returned when Congress should President's message, and payment refused call for it; and this was called a deposit until an apology should be made. The with the States, and the faith of the states President commented on this in his mes- pledged for a return of the money. It sage, and the Senate had under consider- was stigmatized by its opponents in Conation measures authorizing reprisals on gress, as a distribution in disguise—as a French shipping. At this point Great deposit never to be reclaimed; as a migBritain offered her services as mediator be erable evasion of the Constitution; as an tween the nations, and as a result the in- attempt to debauch the people with their demnity was shortly afterwards paid. own money; as plundering instead of de
Agitation of the slavery question in the fending the country. The Bill passed both
. Evil-disposed persons had largely dozen aspirants to the Presidency, who
pointed every calculation made upon it. cratic school, as understood at the original To the States it was no advantage, raising formation of parties. expectations which were not fulfilled, and The President, however, was scarcely upon which many of them acted as reali- settled in his new office when a financial ties. The Bill was signed by the Presi-panic struck the country with irresistible dent, but it is simple justice to him to say force. A general suspension of the banks, that he did it with a repugnance of feel- a depreciated currency, and insolvency of ing, and a recoil of judgment, which it re- the federal treasury were at hand. The quired great efforts of his friends to over- public money had been placed in the cuscome, and with a regret for it afterwards tody of the local banks, and the notes of all which he often and publicly expressed. In these banks, and of all others in the couna party point of view, the passage of this try, were received in payment of public measure was the commencement of calam-dues. On the 10th of May, 1837, the ities, being an efficient cause in that gen- banks throughout the country suspended eral suspension of specie payments, which specie payments. The stoppage of the dequickly occurred, and brought so much posit banks was the stoppage of the Treaembarrassment on the Van Buren admin-sury. Non-payment by the government istration, ending in the great democratic was an excuse for non-payment by others. defeat of 1840.
The suspension was now complete; and it The presidential election of 1836 re was evident, and as good as admitted by sulted in the choice of the democratic can-those who had made it, that it was the didate, Mr. Van Buren, who was elected effect of contrivance on the part of politiby 170 electoral votes; his opponent, Gene- cians and the so-called Bank of the United ral Harrison, receiving seventy-three elec- States (which, after the expiration of its toral votes. Scattering votes were given national charter, had become a State corfor Mr. Webster, Mr. Mangum, and Mr. poration chartered by the Legislature of Hugh L. White, the last named represent- | Pennsylvania in January, 1836) for the ing a fragment of the democracy who, in a purpose of restoring themselves to power. spirit of disaffection, attempted to divide The whole proceeding became clear to the democratic party and defeat Mr. Van those who could see nothing while it was Buren. At the opening of the second ses- in progress. Even those of the democratic sion of the twenty-fourth Congress, Decem-party whose votes had helped to do the ber, 1836, President Jackson delivered his mischief, could now see that the attempt to last annual message, under circumstances deposit forty millions with the States was exceedingly gratifying to him. The power- destruction to the deposit banks; that the ful opposition in Congress had been broken repeal of President Jackson's order, known down, and he had the satisfaction of seeing as the “specie circular”-requiring payfull majorities of ardent and tried friends ment for public lands to be in coin-was to in each House. The country was in peace fill the treasury with paper money, to be and friendship with all the world; all ex- found useless when wanted; that distress citing questions quieted at home; industry was purposely created to throw blame of in all its branches prosperous, and the it upon the party in power; that the revenue abundant.
a happy promptitude with which the Bank of the sequence of this state of affairs, the Senate United States had been brought forward on the 16th of March, 1837, expunged as a remedy for the distress, showed that it from the Journal the resolution, adopted had been held in reserve for that purpose ; three years previously, censuring the Presi- and the delight with which the whig party dent for ordering the removal of the de- saluted the general calamity, showed that posits of public money in the United States they considered it their own passport to Bank. He retired from the presidency power. Financial embarrassment and with high honors, and died eight years general stagnation of business diminished afterwards at his home, the celebrated the current receipts from lands and “ Hermitage,” in Tennessee, in full posses- customs, and actually caused an absolute sion of all his faculties, and strong to the deficit in the public treasury. In conselast in the ruling passion of his soul—love quence, the President found it an inexoraof country.
ble necessity to issue his proclamation conThe 4th of March, 1837, ushered in an- vening Congress in extra session. other Democratic administration-the be The first session of the twenty-fifth Conginning of the term of Martin Van Buren gress met in extra session, at the call of 28 President of the United States. In his the President, on the first Monday of Sepinaugural address he commented on the tember, 1837. The message was a review prosperous condition of the country, and of the events and causes which had brought declared it to be his policy to strictly abide about the panic; a defense of the policy of by the Constitution as written-no latitu- the “specie circular," and a recommendadinarian constructions permitted, or doubt- tion to break off all connection with any ful powers assumed; that his political bank of issue in any form; looking to the chart should be the doctrines of the demo- establishment of an Independent Treasury,
and that the Government provide for the ! date, who was elected by the full Whig deficit in the treasury by the issue of vote with the aid of a few democratstreasury notes and by withholding the de- friends of Mr. Calhoun, who had for seveposit due to the States under the act then ral previous sessions been acting with the in force. The message and its recom- Whigs on several occasions. The House mendations were violently assailed both in excluding the five contested seats from the Senate and House by able and effec- New Jersey, was really Democratic; havtive speakers, notably by Messrs. Clay and ing 122 members, and the Whigs 113 memWebster, and also by Mr. Caleb Cushing, bers. The contest for the Speakership was of Massachusetts, who made a formal and long and arduous, neither party adhering elaborate reply to the whole document to its original caucus candidate. Twenty under thirty-two distinct heads, and recit- scattering votes, eleven of whom were ing therein all the points of accusation classed as Whigs, and nine as Democrats, against the democratic policy from the be- prevented a choice on the earlier ballots, ginning of the government down to that and it was really Mr. Calhoun's Democratday. The result was that the measures ic friends uniting with a solid Whig vote proposed by the Executive were in sub- on the final ballot that gained that party stance enacted; and their passage marks the election. The issue involved was a an era in our financial history-making a vital party question as involving the or. total and complete separation of Bank and ganization of the House. The chief meaState, and firmly establishing the principle sure, of public importance, adopted at this that the government revenues should be session of Congress was an act to provide receivable in coin only.
for the collection, safe-keeping, and disThe measures of consequence discussed bursing of the public money. "It practiand adopted at this session, were the cally revolutionized the system previously graduation of price of public lands under in force, and was a complete and effectual the pre-emption system, which was adopt- separation of the federal treasury and the ed; the bill to create an independent Government, from the banks and moneyed Treasury, which passed the Senate, but corporations of the States. It was violentfailed in the House; and the question of ly opposed by the Whig, members, led by the re-charter of the district banks, the Mr. Clay, and supported by Mr. Cushing, proportion for reserve, and the establish- but was finally passed in both Houses by a ment of such institutions on a specie basis. close vote. The slavery question was again agitated in At this time, and in the House of Reconsequence of petitions from citizens and presentatives, was exhibited for the first societies in the Northern States, and a time in the history of Congress, the prememorial from the General Assembly of sent practice of members "pairing off," as Vermont, praying for the abolition of it is called; that is to say, two members of slavery in the District of Columbia and opposite political parties, or of opposite territories, and for the exclusion of future views on any particular subject, agreeing slave states from the Union. These peti- to absent themselves from the duties of the tions and memorials were disposed of ad- House, for the time being. The practice versely; and Mr. Calhoun, representing was condemned on the floor of the House the ultra-Southern interest, in several able by Mr. John Quincy Adams, whò introspeeches, approved of the Missouri com- duced a resolution: “That the practice, promise, he urged and obtained of the first openly avowed at the present session Senate several resolutions declaring that of Congress, of pairing off, involves, on the federal government had no power to the part of the members resorting to it, interfere with slavery in the States ; and the violation of the Constitution of the that it would be inexpedient and impolitic United States, of an express rule of this to interfere, abolish or control it in the House, and of the duties of both parties in District of Columbia and the territories. the transaction, to their immediate constiThese movements for and against slavery tuents, to this House, and to their counin the session of 1837-38 deserve to be no- try.” This resolution was placed in the ticed, as of disturbing effect at the time, calendar take its turn, but not being and as having acquired new importance reached during the session, was not voted from subsequent events.
That was the first instance of this The first session of the twenty-sixth justly condemned practice, fifty years after Congress opened December, 1839. The the establishment of the Government; but organization of the House was delayed by since then it has become common, even ina closely and earnestly contested election veterate, and is now carried to great lengths. from the State of New Jersey. Five De The last session of the twenty-sixth Conmocrats claiming seats as against an equal gress was barren of measures, and neces number of Whigs. Neither set was admit- sarily so, as being the last of our administed until after the election of Speaker, tration superseded by the popular voice, which resulted in the choice of Robert M. and soon to expire; and therefore restricT. Hunter, of Virginia, the Whig candi- Ited by a sense of propriety, during the
brief remainder of its existence, to the de-| ballots, and report the result of the same tails of business and the routine of service. to their several delegations, together with The cause of this was the result of the such facts as may bear upon the nominapresidential election of 1810. The same tion; and said delegation shall forthwith candidates who fought the battle of 1836 re-assemble and ballot again for candidates were again in the field. Mr. Van Buren for the above offices, and again commit was the Democratic candidate. His ad- the result to the above committees, and if ministration had been satisfactory to his it shall appear that a majority of the balparty, and his nomination for a second lots are for any one man for candidate for term was commended by the party in the President, said committee shall report the different states in appointing their dele- result to the convention for its consideragates; so that the proceedings of the con- tion; but if there shall be no such majorivention which nominated him were en- ty, then the delegation shall repeat the tirely harmonious and formal in their na- balloting until such a majority shall be ture. Mr. Richard M. Johnson, the ac- obtained, and then report the same to the tual Vice-President, was also nominated convention for its consideration. That the for Vice-President.
vote of a majority of each delegation shall On the Whig ticket, General William be reported as the vote of that State; and Henry Harrison, of Ohio, was the candi- each State represented here shall vote its date for President, and Mr. John Tyler, of full electoral vote by such delegation in Virginia, for Vice-President. The lead- the committee.". This was a sum in poliing statesmen of the Whig party were tical algebra, whose quotient was known, again put aside, to make way for a milita- but the quantity unknown except to those ry man, prompted by the example in the who planned it; and the result was—for nomination of General Jackson, the men General Scott, 16 votes; for Mr. Clay, 90 who managed presidential elections be- votes; for General Harrison, 148 votes. lieving then as now that military renown And as the law of the convention impliedwas a passport to popularity and rendered ly requires the absorption of all minorities, a candidate more sure of election. Availa- the 106 votes were swallowed up by the bility-for the purpose—was the only abili- 148 votes and made to count for General ty asked for. Mr. Clay, the most promi- Harrison, presenting him as the unaninent Whig in the country, and the ac- mity candidate of the convention, and the knowledged head of the party, was not defeated candidates and all their friends deemed available; and though Mr. Clay bound to join in his support. And in this was a candidate before the convention, the way the election of 1840 was effected—à proceedings were so regulated that his process certainly not within the purview nomination was referred to a committee, of those framers of the constitution who ingeniously devised and directed for the supposed they were giving to tlie nation afterwards avowed purpose of preventing the choice of its own chief magistrate. his nomination and securing that of Gene The contest before the people was a ral Harrison; and of producing the intend- long and bitter one, the severest ever ed result without showing the design, and known in the country, up to that time, and without leaving a trace behind to show scarcely equalled since. The whole Whig what was done. The scheme (a modifica-party and the large league of suspended tion of which has since been applied to banks, headed by the Bank of the United subsequent national conventions, and out States making its last struggle for a new of which many bitter dissensions have again national charter in the effort to elect a and again arisen) is embodied and was President friendly to it, were arra'ged executed in and by means of the following against the Democrats, whose hard-money resolution adopted by the convention : policy and independent treasury schemes, “ Ordered, That the delegates from each met with little favor in the then depressed State be requested to assemble as a delega- condition of the country. Meetings were tion, and appoint a committee, not exceed- | held in every State, county and town; the ing three in number, to receive the views people thoroughly aroused; and every and opinions of such delegation, and com- argument made in favor of the respective municate the same to the assembled com- candidates and parties, which could posmittes of all the delegations, to be by them sibly have any effect upon the voters. The respectively reported to their principals ; canvass was a thorough one, and the elecand that thereupon the delegates from tion was carried for the Whig candidates, each State be requested to assemble as a who received 234 electoral votes coming delegation, and ballot for candidates for from 19 States. The remaining 60 electothe offices of President and Vice-Presi- ral votes of the other 9 States, were given dent, and having done so, to commit the to the Democratic candidate ; though the ballot designating the votes of each candi- popular vote was not so unevenly divided; date, and by whom given, to its commit- the actual figures being 1,275,611 for the tee, and thereupon all the committees Whig ticket, against 1,135,761 for the hall assemble and compare the several | Democratic ticket. It was a complete rout