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pressure immediately home to those who live by their employments. That great class now begin to feel the distress. Houses, warehouses, and ships are not now, as usual, put under contract in the cities. Manufacturers are beginning to dismiss their hands on the sea-coast and in the interior; and our artisans and mechanics, acting for themselves only, are likely soon to feel a severe want of employment in their several occupations.
This, Sir, is the real state of things. It is a state of things which is daily growing worse and worse. It calls loudly for remedy; the people demand remedy, and they are likely to persist in that demand till remedy shall come. For one, I have no new remedy to propose. My sentiments are known. I am for rechartering the bank, for a longer or a shorter time, and with more or less of modification. I am for trying no new experiments on the property, the employments, and the happiness of the whole people.
Our proper course appears to me to be as plain and direct as the Pennsylvania Avenue. The evil which the country endures, although entirely new in its extent, its depth, and its severity, is not new in its class. Other such like evils, but of much milder form, we have felt in former times. In former times, we have been obliged to encounter the pernicious effects of a disordered currency, of a general want of confidence, and of depreciated State bank paper. To these evils we have applied the remedy of a well-constituted national bank, and have found it effectual. I am for trying it again. Approved by forty years' experience, sanctioned by all successive administrations, and by Congress at all times, and called for, as I verily believe, at this very moment, by a vast majority of the people, on what ground do we resist the remedy of a national bank? It is painful, Sir, most painful, to allude to the extraordinary position of the different branches of the government; but it is necessary to allude to it. This house has once passed a bill for rechartering the present bank. The other house has also passed it, but it has been negatived by the President; and it is understood that strong objections exist with the executive to any bank incorporated, or to be incorporated, by Congress.
Sir, I think the country calls, and has a right to call, on the executive to reconsider these objections, if they do exist. Peremptory objections to all banks created by Congress have not
yet been formally announced. I hope they will not be. I think the country demands a revision of any opinions which may have been formed on this matter, and requires, in its own name, and for the sake of the suffering people, that one man's opinion, however elevated, may not oppose the general judgment. No man in this country should say, in relation to a subject of such immense interest, that his single will shall be the law.
It does not become any man, in a government like this, to stand proudly on his own opinion, against the whole country. I shall not believe, until it shall be so proved, that the executive will so stand. He has himself more than once recommended the subject to the consideration of the people, as a subject to be discussed, reasoned on, and decided. And if the public will, manifested through its regular organs, the houses of Congress, shall demand a recharter for a longer or a shorter time, with modifications to remove reasonable and even plausible objections, I am not prepared to believe that the decision of the two houses, thus acting in conformity to the known will of the people, will meet a flat negative. I shall not credit that, till I see it. I certainly shall propose, ere long, if no change or no other acceptable proposition be made, to make the trial. As I see no other practical mode of relief, I am for putting this to the test. The first thing to be done is to approve or disapprove the Secretary's reasons. Let us come to the vote, and dispose of those reasons. In the mean time, public opinion is manifesting itself. It appears to me to grow daily stronger and stronger. The moment must shortly come when it will be no longer doubtful whether the general public opinion does call for a recharter of the bank. When that moment comes, I am for passing the measure, and shall propose it. I believe it will pass this house; I believe it cannot be, and will not be, defeated in the other, unless relief appears in some other form.
Public opinion will have its way in the houses of legislation and elsewhere. The people are sovereign; and whatever they determine to obtain must be yielded to them. This is my belief, and this is my hope. I am for a bank as a measure of expediency, and, under our present circumstances, a measure of necessity. I yield to no new-fangled opinions, to no fantastica) experiments. I stand by the tried policy of the country. I go for the safety of property, for the protection of industry, for the security of the currency. And, for the preservation of all these great ends, I am for a bank; and, as the measure most likely to succeed, I am for continuing this bank, with modifications, for a longer or a shorter period. This is the measure which I shall propose, and on this question I refer myself, without hesitation, to the decision of the country.
At a subsequent period of the same debate, in answer to observations of Mr. Forsyth, Mr. Webster said :
The gentleman asks, What could be done if this house should pass a bill renewing the bank charter, and the other house should reject it? Sir, all I can say to this is, that the question would then be one between that other house and the people. I speak, Sir, of that honorable house with the same respect as of this. Neither is likely to be found acting, for a long time, on such a question as this, against the clear and wellascertained sense of the country. Depend upon it, Sir, depend upon it, this “experiment” cannot succeed. It will fail, it has failed, it is a complete failure already
Something, then, is to be done, and what is it? Congress cannot adjourn, leaving the country in its present condition. This is certain. Each house, then, as I think, will be obliged to propose something, or to concur in something. Public opinion will require it. Negative votes settle nothing. If either house should vote against a bank to-day, nothing would be determined by it, except for the moment. The proposition would be renewed, or something else proposed. The great error lies in imagining that the country will be quieted and settled, if one house, or even both, should pass votes approving the conduct of the Secretary in removing the public deposits. This is a grand mistake. The disturbing and exciting causes exist, not in men's opinions, but in men's affairs. It is not a question of theoretic right or wrong, but a question of deep suffering, and of necessary relief. No votes, no decisions, still less any debates in Congress, will restore the country to its former condition without the interposition and aid of some positive measure of relief. Such a measure will be proposed; it will, I trust, pass this house. Should it be rejected elsewhere, the consequences will not lie at our door. But I have the most entire belief, that, from absolute necessity, and from the imperative dictate of the public will, a proper measure must pass, and will pass, into the form of law.
The honorable gentleman, like others, always takes it for granted, as a settled point, that the people of the United States have decided that the present bank shall not be renewed. I believe no such thing. I see no evidence of any such decision. It is easy to assume all this. The Secretary assumed it, and gentlemen follow his example, and assume it themselves. Sir, I think the lapse of a few months will correct the mistake, both of the Secretary and of the gentlemen.
The honorable member has suggested another idea, calculated, perhaps, to produce a momentary impression, which has been urged in other quarters. It is, that, if the bank charter be renewed now, it will necessarily become perpetual. Sir, if the gentleman only means that, if we now admit the necessity or utility of a national bank, we must always, for similar reasons, have one hereafter, I say with frankness, that, in my opinion, until some great change of circumstances shall take place, a national institution of that kind will always be found useful. But if he desires to produce a belief that a renewal of its charter now would make this bank perpetual, under its present form, or under any form, I do not at all concur in his opinion. Sir, nobody proposes to renew the bank, except for a limited period. At the expiration of that period, it will be in the power of Con. gress, just as fully as it is now, to continue its charter still further, or to amend it, or let it altogether expire. And what harm or danger is there in this? The charter of the Bank of England, always granted for limited periods, has been often renewed, with various conditions and alterations, and has now existed, I think, under these renewals, nearly one hundred and fifty years. Its last term of years was about expiring recently, and the Reform Parliament have seen no wiser way of proceeding than to incorporate into it such amendments as experience had shown necessary, and to give it a new lease. And this, as it appears to me, is precisely the course which the interest of the people of the United States requires in regard to our own bank. The danger of perpetuity is wholly unfounded, and all alarm on that score is but false alarm. The bank, if renewed, will be as much subject to the will and pleasure of Congress as a new bank with a similar charter, and will possess no more claim than a new one for further continuance hereafter.
The honorable gentleman quotes me, Mr. President, as having said, on a former occasion, that, if Congress shall refuse to recharter the bank, the country will yet live through the difficulty. Why, certainly, Sir, I trust it will live through it. I believe the country capable of self-government, and that they will remedy not only such evils as they cannot live through, but other evils also, which they could live through, and which they would bear, if necessary, but which, nevertheless, being great evils, and wholly unnecessary, they are not disposed to endure. Is the gentleman entirely satisfied, if he can only persuade himself that the country can live under the evils inflicted on it by these measures of the executive government ? Sir, I doubt not the people will live through their difficulties; and one way of living through them is to put a speedy close to them. The people have only to will it, and all their present sufferings are at an end. These sufferings flow from no natural cause. They come not from famine or pestilence, nor from invasion or war, nor from any external public calamity. They spring directly and exclusively from the unwise and unjustifiable interference of the Secretary of the Treasury with the public moneys. By this single act, he has disordered the revenue, deranged the currency, broken up commercial confidence, created already a thousand bankruptcies, and brought the whole business of the country into a state of confusion and dismay. This is a political evil, and a political evil only. It arises from mismanagement entirely and exclusively. This mismanagement, this sole cause of the whole distress, the people can correct. They have but to speak the word, and it is done. They have but to say so, and the public treasure will return to its proper place, and the public prosperity resume its accustomed course.
They have but to utter this supreme command, these words of high behest; they have but to give to the public voice that imperative unity which all must hear, and all must obey; and the reign of misrule and the prevalence of disaster will expire together. Public sufferings will then be removed by removing their cause. Political mischiefs will be repaired by political re