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and that the proper power be given to that department for closing, finally, any portion of their business which may remain to be settled.
It is also incumbent on Congress, in guarding the pecuniary interests of the country, to discontinue, by such a law as was passed in 1812, the receipt of the bills of the Bank of the United States in payment of the public revenue; and to provide for the designation of an agent, whose duly it shall be to take charge of the books and stock of the United States in that institution, and to close all connexion with it, after the 3d of March, 1836, when its charter expires. In making provision in regard to the disposition of this stock, it will be essential to defioe, clearly and strictly, the duties and powers of the officer charged with that branch of the public service.
It will be seen from the correspondence which the Secretary of the Treasury will lay before you, that not withstanding the large amount of the stock which the United States hold in that institution, no information has yet been communicated which will enable the Government to anticipate when it can receive any dividends or derive any benefit from it.
Connected with the condition of the finances, and the flourishing state of the country in all its branches of industry, it is pleasing to witness the advantages which have been already derived from the recent laws regulating the value of the Gold Coinage. These advantages will be more apparent in the course of the next ycar, when the branch mints, authorized to be established in North Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana, shall have gone into operation. Aided, as it is hoped they will be, by further reforms in the banking systems of the States, and by judicious regulations on the part of Congress, in relation to the custody of the public moneys, it may be confidently anticipated that the use of gold and silver, as a circulating medium, will become general in the ordinary transactions connected with the labor of the country. The great desideratum in modern times, is an efficient check upon the power of banks, preventing that excessive issue of paper, whence arises those fluctuations in the standard of value, which render uncertain the rewards of labor. supposed by those who established the Bank of the United States, that froin the credit giving to it by the custody of the public moneys and other privileges, and the precautions taken to guard against the evils
which the country had suffered in the bankruptcy of many of the State institutions of that period, we should derive from that institution all the security and benefits of a sound currency, and every good end that was attainable under that provision of the constitution which authorizes Congress alone 10 coin money, and regulate the value thereof. But it is scarcely necessary now to say that these anticipations have not been realized. After the extensive embarrassment and distress recently pro. duced by the Bank of the United States, from which the country is now recovering, aggravated as they nere by pretensions to power which defied the public authority, and which, if acquiesced in by the people, would have changed the whole character of our Government, every candid and intelligent individual must admit that, for the attainment of the great advantages of a sound currency, we must look to a course of legislation radically different from that which created such an institution.
In considering the means of obtaining so important an end, we must set aside all calculations of temporary convenience, and be influenced by those only which are in harmony with the true character and the permanent interests of the republic. We must recur to first principles, and see what it is that has prevented tbe legislation of Congress and the States, on the subject of currency, from satisfying the public expectation, and realizing results corresponding to those which have attended the
action of our system when truly consistent with the great principle of equality, upon which it rests, and with that spirit of forbearance and inutual concession, and generous patriotism, which was originally, and must ever continue to be, the vital element of our Union.
On this subject I ain sure that I cannot be mistaken, in ascribing our want of success to the undue countenance which has been afforded to the spirit of monopoly. All the serious dangers which our system has yet encountered, may be traced to the resort to implied powers, and the use of corporations clothed with privileges, the effect of which is to advance the interests of the few at the expense of the many. We have felt but one class of these dangers exhibited in the contest waged by the Bank of the United States against the Government, for the last four years. Happily, they have been obviated for the present by the indigpant resistance of the People; but we should recollect that the principle whence they sprung is an ever active one, which will not fail to renew its efforts in the same and in other forms, so long as there is a hope on success, founded either ou the inattention of the People, or the treachery of their Representatives, in the subtle progress of its infuence. The Bank is, in fact, but one of the fruits of a system at war with the genius of all our institutions-a system founded upon a political creed, the fundamental priociple of which is a distrust of the popular will as a safe regulator of political power, and whose great ultimale object, and inevitable result, should it prevail, is the consolidation of all power in our system in one central Government. Lavish public disbursements, and corporations with exclusive privileges, would be its substitutes for the original, and, as yet, sound checks and balauces of the constitution the means by whose sibient and seciet operation a control would be exercised by the few over the political conduct of the many, by first acquiring that control over the labor and earnings of the great boily of the
People. Wherever this spirit has effected an alliance with political power, lyranny and despotisin have been the fruit If it is ever used for the ends of Government, it has to be incessantly watched, or it corrupts the sources of the public virtue, and agitates the country with questions unfavorable to the harmonious and steady pursuit of its true interests,
We are now to see whether, in the present favorable condition of the country, we cannot take an effectual stand against this spirit of monopoly, and practically prove, in respect to the cur as well as other important interests, that there is no necessity for so extensive a resort to it as that which has been heretofore practised. The experience of another year has confirined the ulter fallacy of the idea that the Bank of the United States was necessary as a fiscal agent of the Governmont. Without its aid, as such, indeed, in despite of all the embarassment it was in its power to create, the revenue has beca paid with punctuality
by our citizens; the business of exchange, both foreign and domestic, has been conducted with convenience; and the circulating medium has been greally improved. By the use of the Slale Banks, which do not derive their charters from the General Government, and are not controlled by its authority, it is ascertained that the moneys of the United States cau be collected and disbursed without loss or inconvenience, and that all the wants of the community, in relation to exchange and currency, are supplied as well as ihey have ever been before. Il, under circumstances the most unfavorable to the steadiness of the money market, it has been found that the considerations on which the Bank of the United States rested its claims to the public favor, were imaginary and groundless, it cannot be doubted that the experience of the future will be more deci. sive against them.
It has been seen, that, without the agency of a great moneyed monopoly, the revenue can be collected, and conveniently and safely applied to all the purposes of the public expenditure. It is also ascertained, that, instead of being necessarily made to promote the evils of an unchecked paper system, the management of the revenue can be made auxiliary to the reform which the Legislatures of several of the States have already cornmenced in regard to the suppression of small bills; and which has only to be fostered by proper regulations on the part of Congress, 10 secure a practical return, to the extent required for the security of the currency, to the constitutional medium. Severed from the Government as political engines, and not susceptible of dangerous extension and combination, the State Banks will not be tempted, nor will they have the power which we have seen exercised, to divert the public funds from the legitimate purposes of the Government. The collection and custody of the revenue being, on the contrary, a source of credit to thein, will increase the security which the States provide for a faithful execution of their trusts, by multiplying the scrutinies to which their operations and accounts will be subjected. Thus disposed, as well from interest as the obligations of their charters, it cannot be doubted that such conditions as Congress may see fit to adopt respecting the deposites
in these institutions, with a view to the gradual disuse of the small bills, will be cheerfully compied with ; and that we shall soon gain, in place of the Bank of ihe United States, a practical reform in the whole paper system of the country. If, by this policy, we can ultimately witness the suppression of all, bank bills below twenty dollars, it is apparent that gold and silver will take their place, and become the principal circulating medium in the coinmon business of the farmers and mechanics of the country. The attainment of such a result will form an era in the history of our country which will be dwelt upon with delight by every true friend of its liberty and independence. It will lighten the great tax which our paper system has so long collected from the earnings of labor, and do more to revive and perpetuate those habits of economy and simplicity which are so congenial to the character of republicans, than all the legislation which has yet been attempted.
To this subject I feel that I cannot too earnestly invite the especial attention of Congress, without the exercise of whose authority, the opportunity to accomplish so much public good must pass unimproved. Deeply impressed with its vital importance, the Executive has taken all the steps within his constitutional power, to guard the public revenue, and defeat the expectation which the Bank of the United States indulged, of renewing and perpetuating its monopoly, on the ground of its necessity as a fiscal agent, and as affording a sounder currency than could be obtained without such an institution. In the performance of this duty much responsibility was incurred which would have been gladly avoided, if the stake which the public had in the question could nave been otherwise preserved. Although clothed with the legal authority, and supported by precedent, I was aware that there was, in the act of the removal of the deposites, a liability to excite that sensitiveness to Executive power which it is the characteristic and the duty of freemen to indulge: but I relied on this feeling, also, directed by patriotism and intelligence, to vindicate the conduct which, in the end, would appear to have been called for by the best interests of my country. The apprehensions natural to tàis feeling, that there may have been a desire, through the instrumentality of that measure, to extend the Executive influence, or that it may have been prompted by motives not sufficiently free from ambition, were not overlooked. Under the operation of our institutions, the public servant who is called on to take a step of high responsibility, should feel in the freedom which gives rise to such apprehensions, bis highest security. When unfounded, the attention which they arouse, and the discussions they excite, deprive those who indulge them, of the power to do barm ; when just, they but hasten the certainty with which the great boily of our citizens oever fail to repel an attempt to procure their sanction to any exercise of power inconsistent with the jealous maintenance of their rights. Under such convictions, and entertaining no doubt that my constitutional obligations deinanded the steps which were taken in reference to the removal of the deposites, it was impossible for me to be deterred from the path of duty by a fear that my motives could be misjudged, or that political prejuvlices could def..at the just consideration of the merits of my conduct. The result has shown how safe is this reliance upon the patriotic tenper and enlightened discernment of the People. That measure has now been before theni, a'ud bas stood the test of all the severe analysis which its general importance, the interests it affected, and the apprehensions it excited, were calculated to produce ; and it now remains for Congress in consider what legislation has become necessary in consequence.
I need only add to what I have ou fornier occasions said on this subject generally, that in the regulations which Congress may prescribe respecting the custody of the Public Moneys, it is desirable ihal as little discretion as may be deenied consistent with their safe keeping, should be given to the Executive agents. No one can be more deeply impressed than I am with the soundness of the doctrine which restrains and limits, by specific provisions, Executive discretion, as far as it can be done consistently with the preservation of its constitutional character. In respect to the control over the public nioney, this doctrine is peculiarly applicable, and is in harmony with the great principle which I felt I was sustaining in the coutroversy with the Bank of the United States; which has resulted in severing, to some extent, a dangerous connexion between a moneyed arid political power. The duty of the Legislature to define, by clear and positive enactments, the nature and extent of the action which it belongs to the Executive to superintend, springs out of a policy analagous to that with enjoins upon all the branches of the Federal Government an-abstinence from the exercise of powers not clearly granted. In such a goveroment, possessing only limited and specific powers, the spirit of its general administration cannot be wise or just, when it opposes the reference of all doubtful points to the great source of authority, the States and the People ; whose number and diversified relations, securing them against the influences and exciteinents which may mislead their agents, make them the safest depository of power. In its application to the Executive, with reference to the Legislative branch of the Goverument, the same rule of action should make the President ever anxious to avoid the exercise of any discretionary authority, which can be regulated by Congress. The biases wbich may operate upon him will not be so likely to extend to the Representatives of the People in that body.
In my former messages to Congress, I have repeatedly urged the propriety of lessening the discretionary authority lodged in the various deparinients, but it has produced no effect, as yet, except the discontin
uance of extra allowances ju the Army and Navy, and the substitution of fixed salaries in the latter. It is believed that the same principles could be advantageously applied, in all cases, and would promote the efficiency and economy of the public service, at the same time that greater satisfaction and more equal justice would be secured to the public officers generally.
The accompanying report of the SECRETARY OF WAR will put you in possession of the operations of the department confided to his care, in all its diversified relations, during the past year.
I am gratified in being able to inform you that no occurrence has required any movement of the inilitary force, except such as is common to a state of peace. The services of the Arny have been limited to their usual duties at the various garrisops upon the Atlantic and inland
frontier, with the exceptions stated by the Secretary of War. Our small military establishinent appears to be adequate to the purposes for which it is maintained, and it forms a nucleus around which any additional force may be collected, should the public exigencies unfortunately require any increase of our military means.
The various acts of Congress which have been recently passed in relation to the army, have improved its condition and have rendered its
organization inore useful and efficient. It is at all times in a state for prompi and vigorous action, and it contains within itself the power of extension to any useful limit; while, at the same time, it preserves thai knowledge, both theoretical and practical, which education and ex
perience alone can give ; and which, if not acquired and preserved in time of peace, must be sought under great disadvantages in time of war.
The duties of the Engineer Corps press heavily upon that branch of the service; and the public interest requires an addition to its strength. The nature of the works in which the officers are engaged render necessary professional knowlerige and experience, and there is no economy in committing to them more duties than they can perform, or in assigning these to other persons temporarily employed, and too often, of necessity, without all the qualifications which such service demands. I recommend