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DEBATES IN CONGRESS,
COMPRISING THE LEADING DEBATES AND INCIDENTS
OF THE SECOND SESSION OF THE TWENTY-THIRD CONGRESS:
IMPORTANT STATE PAPERS AND PUBLIC DOCUMENTS,
LAWS, OF A PUBLIC NATURE, ENACTED DURING THE SESSION:
WITH A COPIOUS INDEX TO THE WHOLE.
PRINTED AND PUBLISHED BY GALES AND SEATON.
of the banks of deposite, the Secretary of the Treasury, of a majority of this body. I presented, at the last sesunder the discretionary power vested in him by the law sion, a similar amendment to a bill then pending; and I as it now exists, may discontinue or change them at was induced to do so by the deep interest felt, both here pleasure. If the bill pass, he will no longer possess and elsewhere, in the discussions which were then car. this power; and if the object of the gentleman from ried on in Congress, touching the management of the Georgia, by his proposed amendment, be to restrict this public revenue. When, within sixty days of the meeting discretion, he cannot fail to attain his object by aiding of the Congress of the United States, I beheld the exin the passage of this bill.
traordinary spectacle of the executive head of this All parties in this House now agree that the Bank of confederacy attempting, through his power of appointthe United States is not to be rechartered, and that we ment, and the practice of removal from office, to control ought to provide other depositories and other agents and regulate the deposite of the public revenue, it did, to keep the public money, and perform the fiscal du- | I confess, awaken in my mind feelings of the deepest surties heretofore performed by that institution. If this prise and alarm. be so, I have a right to call upon all parties in the House In the controversy which was so warmly prosecuted to unite with me in passing this or some other bill upon in this House in relation to that subject, the members of the subject. The alternative is presented to the House, / Congress were divided into parties—one in favor of either to suffer the banks now employed to continue | the continuance of the Bank of the United States, and of in the service of the Treasury, under the law as it now giving to it the custody of the public revenue; another exists, or to pass a law prescribing the mode of selec- in defence of the executive interference, in its removal, tion, the securities to be taken, and the manner and and of substituting the banks of the different States. I terms on which they are to be employed. The bill be was one of a small class of Representatives on this floor fore the House is intended to accomplish the latter ob- opposed to the Bank of the United States, both because jects. It was the result of a careful and laborious ex. it was unconstitutional, and is an institution capable of amination of the subject at the last session of Congress. / wielding a power dangerous to republican government, It has undergone a careful revision, in all its provisions and also opposed to the executive interference in any and details, by the committee who reported it at the way with the revenues of the people, because I conpresent session. It is not desired to leave with the Ex- sidered it to be a vital principle in all free Governments, ecutive any discretionary power which can be restricted that the revenue must, in all respects, be under the conor defined by law. The President, in his annual mes. trol of the people or their representatives, to whom · sage, calls the attention of Congress to the subject, and alone it pertained to say how it shall be raised and colsuggests the propriety of further legislation. If the lected, by whom it shall be paid, how it shall be dishursbill be susceptible of amendment, let it be amended and ed, to what uses it shall be applied, and by whom and passed. That portion of the House who have hereto where it shall be kept. fore objected most loudly to the exercise of the discre. It was argued by the friends of the Executive, that tionary power now vested in the Executive, can cer | such an institution as the United States Bank was dantainly have no objection to unite with me in perfecting gerous to a free Government, from its extensive and and passing the bill.
powerful influence, as well over the public opinion as When Mr. Polk had concluded his speech, . the public interest. I concur in this opinion, and rejoice Mr. GORDON submitted the following amendment: | that the bank is to be put down, but I nevertheless en
Be it enacted by the Senate and Aouse of Representatives / tirely disapprove of the executive interference, in causof the United States of America in Congress assembled, ing the public money to be removed from the custody That, from and after the day of in the year where the law had placed it to the State banks, where
the collectors of the public revenue, at places the law did not direct it should be placed, and because where the sums collected shall not exceed the sum of the power and influence of a multitude of State banks,
--- dollars per annum, shall be the agents of the scattered over every portion of the country, dependent Treasurer to keep and disburse the same, and be subject on the executive will, would be a dangerous extension to such rules and regulations, and give such bond and of the patronage of the Executive, especially as tbe security, as he shall prescribe, for the faithful execution custody and control of the revenue was claimed by the of their office, and shall receive, in addition to the com friends of the administration, in this behalf, as an expensation now allowed by law, - , per centum on the ecutive power derived from the constitution itself. sums disbursed, so that it does not exceed the sum of Perceiving, I thought, that the scheme of the Executive - - dollars per annum.
would result in evils not then anticipated, I looked out Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That at places | with anxiety to discover some plan by which the federal where the amount of public revenue collected shall ex. Government might be wholly disconnected from the orceed the sum of — dollars per annum, there shall be ganized capital of the country, whether in a national or appointed by the President, by and with the advice and in State banks. And after much reflection, and consulconsent of the Senate, receivers of the public revenue, tation with wise and experienced men, I proposed to to be agents of the Treasurer, who shall give such bond effect it by an amendment to the bill then pending, and and security to keep and disburse the public revenue, presented it to the consideration of Congress; and I now and be subject to such rules and regulations as the venture once more to submit it to the notice of this body. Treasurer sball prescribe, and shall receive for their ser In taking this step, I am actuated by higher considera vices - per centum per annum on the sums dis tions than a regard simply to the safe keeping of the bursed, provided it does not exceed the sum of - dol. public treasure. I verily believe, and I think experience lars per annum.
will convince the most incredulous republican, that the Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That, from and after wise and patriotic framers of our constitution have unthe day of the whole revenue of the United | intentionally given to the executive power a fearful andStates derived from customs, lands, or other sources, shall dangerous ascendency, which makes it an overbalance be paid in the current coins of the United States.
to all the other departments of Government. Limited When Mr. G. had offered his amendment, he addressed and circumscribed within the constitutional limits, it is a the House nearly as follows:
power too great to be confided with safety to any human In presenting the amendment which has just been reall, being. According to the new construction placed upon I candidly acknowledge that I do not at this time enter its extent by the present incumbent, and his supporters tain a very distinct hope of obtaining in its favor the votes l in his behalf, it is a mass of power such as the benefi