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to realize its promises in theory, and repeala le a the pleasure of Congress.
It proposes, by eilectual restraints, and by invokirg the true spirit of our institutions, to separate the purse from the sword; or, more properly to speak, denies any other control to the president over the agents who may be selected to carry it into execution, but what may be indis. pensably necessary to secure the fidelity of such agents; and, by wise regulations, keeps plainly apart from each other private and public funds. It contemplates the es. tablishment of a board of control, at the seat of government, with agencies at prominent commercial points, or wherever else Congress shall direct, for the safe-keeping and disbursement of the public moneys, and the substitution, at the option of the public creditor, of treasury notes, in lieu of gold and silver. It proposes to limit the issues to an amount not to exceed $15,000,000, without the express sanction of the legislative power. It also authorizes the receipt of individual deposits of gold and silver to a limited amount, and the granting certificates of deposite, divided into such sums as may be called for by the depositors. It proceeds a step farther, and authorizes the purchase and sale of domestic bills and drafts, resting on a real and substantial basis, payable at sight, or having but a short time to run, and drawn on places not less than a hundred miles apart; which authority, except in so far as may be necessary for government purposes exclusively, is only to be exerted upon the express condition that its exercise shall not be prohibited by the state in which the agency is situated.
In order to cover the expenses incident to the plan, it will be authorized to receive moderate premiums, for cer lifcntes issued on deposits, and on bills bought and sold and thus, as far as its dealings extend, to furnish facilities 10 commercial intercourse at the lowest possible rates, and to subduct from the earnings of industry the least possible zum. It uses the state banks at a distance from ilic agencies, as auxiliaries, without imparting any power to trade in its name. It is subjected to such guards ano restraints as have appeared to be necessary. It is the creature of law, and exists only at the pleasure of the
legislature. It is made to rest on an actual specie basis, in order to redeem the notes at the place of issue; produces no dangerous redundancy of circulation ; affords no temptation to speculation ;. is attended by no inflation of prices; is equable in its operation; makes the treasury notes, which it may use along with the certificates of deposite and the notes of specie-paying banks, convertible at the place where collected, receivable in payment of government dues; and, without violating any principle of the constitution, affords the government and the people such facilities as are called for by the wants of both. Such, it has appeared to me, are its recommendations, and in view of them it will be submitted, whenever you may require it, to your consideration.
I am not able to perceive that any fair and candid ob. jection can be urged against the plan, the principal outlines of which I have thus presented. I cannot doubt but that the notes which it proposes to furnish, at the voluntary option of the public creditor, issued in lieu of the revenue and its certificates of deposite, will be maintained at an equality with gold and silver everywhere. They are redeemable in gold and silver on demand, at the places of issue. They are receivable everywhere in payment of government dues. The treasury notes are limited to an amount of one fourth less than the estimated annual receipts of the treasury, and, in addition, they rest upon the faith of the government for their redemption. If all these assurances are not sufficient to make them available, then the idea, as it seems to me, of furnishing a sound paper medium of exchanges, may be entirely abandoned.
If a fear be indulged that the government may be tempted to run into excess in its issues at any future day, it seems to me that no such apprehension can reasonably be entertained, until all confidence in the representatives of the states and of the people, as well as of the people themselves, shall be lost. The weightiest considerations of policy require that the restraints now proposed to be thrown around the measure, should not, for light causes, be removed. To argue against any proposed plan its liability to possible abuse, is to reject every expedient since everything dependent on human action is iiable to abuse. Fifteen milions of treasury notes may be issued as the maximum, but a discretionary power is to be giver. to the board of control, under that sum, and every consideration will unite in leading them to feel their way with caut un. For the first eight years of the existence of the late bank of the United States, its circulation barely exceeded $4,000,000, and for five of its most prosperous years, it was about equal to $16,000,000. Furthermore, the authority given to receive private deposits to a limited amount, and to issue certificates in such sums as may be called for by the depositors, may so far fill up the channels of circulation as greatly to diminish the necessity of any considerable issue of treasury notes.
A restraint upon the amount of private deposits, has seemed to be indispensably necessary, from an apprehension, thought to be well founded, that in any emergency of trade, confidence might be so far shaken in the banks as to induce a withdrawal from them of private deposits, with a view to insure their unquestionable safety when deposited with the government, which might prove eminently disastrous to the state banks. Is it objected that it is proposed to authorize the agencies to deal in bills of exchange? It is answered that such dealings are to be carried on at the lowest possible premium, are made to rest on an unquestionably sound basis, are designed to reimburse merely the expenses which would otherwise devolve
and are in strict subordination to the decision of the Supreme Court, in the case of the bank of Augusta against Earle, and other reported cases; and thereby avoids all conflict with state jurisdiction, which I hold to be indispensably requisite. It leaves the banking privileges of the states without interference ; looks to the treasury, and the Union; and, while furnishing every facility to the first, is careful of the interests of the last.
But above all, it is created by law, is amendable by. law, and is repealable by law; and, wedded as I am to no theory, but looking solely to the advancement of the public good, I shall be among the very first to urge its repeal if it he found not to subserve the purposes and objects for which it may be created. Nor will the plan be submitted in any overweening confidence in the sufficiency of my own judgment, but with much greater reliance on the wisdom and patriotism of Congress. I cannot abandon this subject without urging upon you, in the most emphatic manner, whatever may be your action on the suggestions which I have felt it to be my duty to submit, to relieve the chief executive magistrate, by any and all constitutional means, from a controlling power over the public treasury. If, in the plan proposed, should you deem it worthy of your consideration, that separation is not as complete as you may desire, you will, doubtless, amend ii in that particular. For myself, I disclaim all desire to have any control over the public moneys, other than what is indispensably necessary to execute the laws which you inay pass.
Nor can I fail to advert, in this connection, to the debts which many of the states of the Union have contracted abroad, and under which they continue to labor. That indebtedness amounts to a sum not less than $200,000,000, and which has been retributed to them, for the most part in works of internal improvement, which are destined to prove of vast importance in ultimately advancing their prosperity and wealth. For the debts thus contracted, the states are alone responsible. I can do no more than express the belief that each state will feel itself bound by every consideration of honor, as well as of interest, to meet its engagements with punctuality. The failure, however, of any one state. to do so, should in no degree affect the credit of the rest; and the foreign capitalists will have no just cause to experience alarm as to all other state stocks, because any one or more of the states may neglect to provide with punctuality the means of redeeming their engagements. Even such states, should there be any, considering the great rapidity with which their resources are developing themselves, will not fail to have the means, at no very distant day, to redeem their obligations to the uttermost farthing; nor will I doubt but that, in view of that honorable conduct which has ever. inore governed the states, and the people of this Union, they will each and all resort to every legitiriate expe
dient, before they will forego a faithful compliance with their obligations.
From the report of the Secretary of War, and other reports accompanying it, you will be informed of the pro. gress which has been made in the fortifications designed for the protection of our principal cities, roadsteads, and inland frontier, during the present year, together with their true state and condition. They will be prosecuted to completion with all the expedition which the means placed by Congress at the disposal of the executive will allow.
I recommend particularly to your consideration that portion of the secretary's report which proposes the establishment of a chain of military posts from Council Bluffs to some point on the Pacific Ocean, within our limits. The benefit thereby destined to accrue to our citizens engaged in the fur trade over that wilderness region added to the importance of cultivating friendly relations with savage tribes inhabiting it, and at the same time of giv, ing protection to our frontier settlements, and of establishing the means of safe intercourse between the American settlements at the mouth of the Columbia River, and those on this side of the Roc xy Mountains, would seem to suggest the importance of carrying into effect the recommendations upon this head with as little delay as may be practicable.
The report of the Secretary of the Navy, will place you in possession of the present condition of that important arm of the national defence. Every effort will be made to add to its efficiency, and I cannot too strongly urge upon you liberal appropriations to that branch of the public service. Inducements of the weightiest character exist for the adoption of this course of policy. Our extended and otherwise exposed maritime frontier, calls for protection, to the furnishing of which an efficient naval force is indispensable. We look to no foreign conquests, nor do we propose to enter into competition with any other nation for supremacy on the ocean; but it is due not only to the honor, but to the security of the peonle of the United States, that no nation should be permitted to invade our waters at pleasure, and subjec. our towns and villages