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Dec. 21, 1836. }
orable gentleman from South Carolina. Let him, then, reached him. He had then been in a foreign country. adopt the President's recommendation, and the evil ap The enemies of liberty throughout the world were all prehended could not take place. But should the Senale looking to this country with anxious eyes, and with hopes pass the bill which had now been introduced, they would highly raised, that this last experiment in favor of human have passed the Rubicon, and the distribution policy freedom would prove to be a failure. The most exagwould, in spite of all opposition, become the settled pol- gerated accounts of the division of opinion in this coun. icy of the Government.
try, on the subject of the tariff, were spread throughout Mr. W. called upon the Senate and upon the country Europe, and the expectation appeared to be general to remark that they were now invoked by the gentleman that our Union would be dissolved, and the republic exfrom South Carolina to create a surplus for the purpose pire. In such circumstances, when he heard that a comof distribution.
promise had been effected, his bosom had been pervaded Mr. CALHOUN, in reply, complained of having been by a feeling such as lie had never known before. With. entirely misstated by the Senator from Mississippi. He out being acquainted with the particulars of the bill, he had not invoked the Senate to any such act, nor had he was prepared to approve of it in advance. On further said any thing like it. But he had said that no adminis. examination, however, he could not say whether he tration could honestly plead any necessity for demanding should have supported the bill or not, but the country back the deposites from the siates, unless in the contin had received ii; the great manufacturing and agriculgency of a foreign war. So far from having expressed tural interes's had welcomed it, and to this moment rea desire to create and distribute a surplus, he had, on the lied upon it as, in some sense, the charter of their hopes. contrary, expressly declared that he should greatly pre Other prevailing interests of the country shared in the fer a reduction of the revenue, if it could be safely ef feeling, and never would Mr. B. give his vote in favor fected; and he had expressed his willingness to send the of touching one of its provisions. That could not be bill to a committee opposed to his own views, that, if donc without extensively and injuriously affecting, not possible, this might be effected. Yet the gentleman only the agricultural and manufacturing, but another accused him of a design to create a surplus.
great interest of his own Slale. He referred to the The gentleman biad again said that one of the argu: mining interest. On the whole, he hoped that they ments urged by bim in favor of the distribution bill had should have a report from a committee; and should it been, that the deposite of the public money in banks was even be adverse to the bill, yet, such were the wella great instrument of fraud and speculation. This was a known zeal, perseverance, and talents, of the honorable great mistake. He had said no such thing. The Presi- gentleman from South Carolina, that he would still find dent, however, hal undertaken to legislate on the sub. ways and means to bring the merits of his project fully ject, and had issued an order, which was much more like before the minds of the Senate. an act of Congress than an executive measure. The Mr. WALKER said that the Senator from South CarPresident deemed the evil so great, and the remedy so olina had appealed to him to indulge him with a special specific, that he had ventured on a great stretch of power committee. But that gentleman would do well to reto realize the object. Now, after what the President member that, when on a former occasion he (Mr. W.! hal said on this subject, any man who should vote to had introduced a bill of great importance to Mississippi, leave the public money in deposite banks stood openly and asked its reference to a select committee, that genconvicted of being in favor of speculators.
lleman bad opposed the motion, and had sent the bill to Mr. C. hoped the Senator would not persist in his mo the Committee on Public Lands, which he well knew to tion to refer the bill to a committee which he knew to be opposed to every one of its provisions. In insisting, be utterly opposed to it. Nothing could be more unpar. therefore, on his original motion to refer this bill to the liamentary. He loped the gentleman would at least Committee on Finance, he had only followed an exindulge him with a special committee.
ample which the gentleman had set him. Mr. BUCHANAN, without expressing any opinion on Mr. W. then went into some explanations to show the merits of the bill, was in favor of its commitment. that he had not misunderstood or misrepresented the obThe subject extended itself into so many ramifications, jects of the Senator from South Carolina. If that gen. was so complex and so extensive, that nó leading meas tleman should oppose the President's recommendation ure ought to be adopted in relation to it without its in regard to selling the public lands to actual settlers previously undergoing the careful investigation of a only, it would, in ellect, be equivalent to voting to create committee. There were two counter projects now be. a surplus. Mr. W. said he had no wish to alarm the fore the Senate, which were essentially incompatible manufacturing interest, toward which he entertained no with each other. One had been reported by the Sena- hostility; but he would now tell that interest throughout tor from Kentucky, [ur. Clar,) which proposed to dis this country, that if they wished to preserve the comtribute the proceeds of the public lands among the prom se bill, the mode was to prevent an exorbitant States on certain conditions; the other to deposite the sur. sale of the public lands. If this were permitted to conplus that might accre, under the provisions of the bill oftinue, a surplus revenue could not be prevented withthe last session. Both these plans, it was obvious, could out touching the compromise bill. Mr. W. had, on the not prevail; while the President had recommended the last session, offered a resolution calling on the Secresale of the public domain to actual sellers only. On tary of the Treasury to ascertain and report to Congress this matter Mr. B. expressed no opinion, but should be wliat reduction in the tariff and in the price of the pub. guided in a great measure by the wishes and opinions of lic lanıls woukl be necessary to bring down the revenue gentlemen coming from the new States.
to the wants of the Government, but in such a manner Should the President's recommendation be adopied, as not to infringe on the compromise. The Senator there woull probably be no surplus. He should like to from Massachusetts (Mr. WEBSTER] had moved to lay see a responsible report from the Committee on Finance. that resolution on the table; not because he was particOn the question whether there would or would not be a ulirly hostile to it, but because he wished to press some surplus on the 1st of January next he expressed no other suhject which was before the Senate; and afteropinion.
ward there had been no opportunity to call it up. Mr. While up, he would add one word on the subject of w. should not now depart from the spirit of that resowhat was commonly called the compromise act. Never lution. He had no wish to violate the compromise, but shonli he forget the impression made upon his own desired that the reduction should be in conformity with mind when the news of the passage of that act first the 6th section of that bill, (which he read.)
(Dxc. 21, 1836.
The Senate had been told by the gentleman from Ken Committee on Finance, but as the Senator from Souih tucky (Mr. CLAY] that the faith of the nation stood Carolina considered the denial of a special commiltee as pledged to preserve that bill inviolate. But that bill de. involving s'me want of courtesy, he would stale the conclared, in the most express terms, that the reduction of siderations which led him to the conclusion that that the revenue was not to be made by depositing it with would be the proper commitree. The Senator himself the States--that was no feature of the compromise-but bad said, but yesterday, that the Commillee on Finance by a reduction of duties. He bad ascertained that the was the committee to whom the entire subject of the re. reduction which his plan would effect would amount to duction of the revenue specially belonged. The Sena. three millions of dollars. Deduct this from the eight tor bad entered into a calculation to show that there millions derived from the side of public lands to actual would be a surplus in the Treasury at the commencesettlers, and it would leave five millions of dollars, be ment of the year, and on this he grounded his biil. The ing just the amount which the Senator fiom South Caro- question, therefore, at the root of the whole matter was, lina had thought it was proper to retain as an unexpend. whether there would be such a surplus. This was a ed balance in the Treasury. Mr. W. insisted on his question which obviously pertained to the Finance Commotion for referring the hill to the Committee on mittee. The gentleman, relieving himself from every Finance.
thing like a pledge to abide by the provisong of the comMr. CALHOUN rejoined and explained, with a view promise ac', expressed his strong preserence of a reduce to show that the case of which the gentleman from Mis. tion of the revenue to its distribution; but the question sissippi complained was not parallel to the present, and wliether i: could safely be reduced certainly was a ques. still insisted on the propriety of allowing bim a special tion coming within the range of the appropria'e duties committee. If, however, the Senate should resolve to of that committee. Mr. R. reverted to the history of the send this bill to the Committee on Finance, he should deposite bill, and expressed his satisfaction at the reflec. not be at a loss to understand the movement. He had | tion that he had rendered it bis hearty support, He read the President's mes-age attentively. It was an es. did not now recede, in the slighiest degree, from the traordinary document. He had read with no less care ground lie had then occupied. But the Senate was now the report of the Secretary of the Treasury: that, tov, in a different position; they were at the opening of a new was an extraordinary document. The perisal had sug: session of Congress, and were enabled, from all the lights gested some suspicions to his mind; and should the pres. of past experience, to look ahead with something like ent bill be sent to the Finance Committee, those sus. certainty. If they foresaw the probability of a surplus piciong would be fully confirmed. Such a measure of revenue, they were bound to guard against it by al. would go far to convince him that the policy of the ad. tempting a reduction. That, beyond question, was the ministration was agreed upon, and that it would be to true policy. Mr. R. adverted to the prophecy by Mr. make a demonstration on a reduction of the revenue, C. that the policy of the administration was to be a false but, in fact, to leave that revenue in the deposite banks. and deceitful demonstration on reduction, while none was The end of this session was not far off, and that would 10 be made, and the money was to remain in the depostell wbether he were not correct in his opinion. He ite banks. [Mr. Calhoun shook his head at the words would now, in his turn, venture to become a prophet, “ false and deceitful.”] Well, a demonstration, at all and he would predict that, if the present molion suc events, was to be made, and all that had been said by ceeded, that very thing which the President in his mes the President in his message against surplus revenue sage had most decidedly condemned would be the thing would turn out a delusion. (Mr. C. assented.] Yet ihe actually realized. Nor withstanding the President's op: gentleman had, no longer ago than yesterday, expressed position to the collecting of the surplus revenue, and all the highest satisfaction with the Finance Committee, and he had said on its tendency to promote speculation and been lavish of his compliments on the gentlemen com. corrupt the public morals, that was the thing which posing it, when the object was to refer this very nieaswould be done. He was sorry he did not see the Sena. ure of reduction to that committee. Did the gentleman tor from New York (Mr. WNIGHT) in his place. On mean nothing nore than a demonstration? Had he not that gentleman, peculiarly, lies the obligation to pro- been in earnest? le hoped the gentleman bad no such vide for the reduction of the revenue. Mr. C. well policy, por could he suppose him to have. knew the difficulty of touching this subject. He had Mr. CALHOUN repelled the charge of inconsistency. luimself had a full and sound trial of that operation. He He had been in favor of sending the subject of a reducknew the efforts by which the existing reduction had lion of the revenue to the Committee on Finance, be. been effected, and he felt very sure that the Senator cause he considered the subject as appropriale to their from New York could not be sanguine in the expec'a-specific dulies; but he was opposed to sending this bill tion of effecting a reduction to any greai amount. He to that committee, because they were known to be ad. had heard much said in private on that subject, and be Ferse to its object. In one case, he had gone on the could not but regret that the President, when alluding great parliamentary principle that propositions were to to it in his message, bad not referred to the difficulties be referred to committees favorable to the object pro. Attending it. Mr. C. thought he saw how things were posed; and in the other case, he still had sent it io a com. to go, and he thus openly announced what his conviction mirtee at least not unfavorable to the measure. He was was. He believed nothing would be done to reduce the rejoiced to hear the honorable Senator from Virginia de. revenue; that the money would still be collected, and clare so explicilly that he did not repent the course he would be left, not where it ought to be found, in the bad taken in reference to the compromise bill; he was treasuries of the States, but in the deposi'e banks. confident the gentleman never would bave reason to re
If the Finance Committee would report an adequale pent the able and honorable course he had pursued on reduction of the revenue, Mr. C. would consent to willie that memorable occasion; and lie trusted the gentleman draw his bill. He should infinitely prefer a reduction would agree in sentiment with those who were opposed to a distribution, provided the thing could be done. In to leaving the public money in the deposite banks. Mr. the meanwbile tlie South claimed the execution of the C. had given many evidences of his desire that a reduc. compromise bill; it had not only closed a long and pain. tion should be made in the revenue; and had, on a for. ful controversy, but had enabled them 10 make some mer occasion, sent a bill to the Committee on Manufac. feeble stand against the progress of executive influence. tures for ihat object, which afterwards had passed the Sen. Ile concluded ty moving for a special committee, ale almost unanimously, and had been sent to the other
Mr. RIVES was in favor of referring the bill to the Ilouse, after which it was never again heard of. He
Dec. 21, 1836.)
was not the man, however, to disturb the terms of the believe to be illegal or injurinus to the public interests. compromise, which had so happily been effected, unless In both these respects, the Treasury order of the 11th it should be done by common consent. The South were of July appears to me objectionable. I think it not war. prepared to assent to such a step, and if the North ranted by law, and I think it also practically prejudicial. would also agree to it, there need be no difficulty in the I think it has contributed not a little to the pecuniary case. The gentleman from Virginia seemed to suppose difficulties under which the whole country has been, that, because it was the duty of the Finance Committee and still is, laboring; and that its direct effect on one to consider the question wheiher there was likely to be particular part of the country is still more decidedly and # surplus revenue or not, therefore this bill ought to be severely unfavorable. sent in them. The argument was too wide: on the same The Treasury order, or Treasury circular, of the 11th principle, every proposition which related to the appli- of July last, is addressed by the Secretary to the recation of any portion of the public resources must be ceivers of public money, and to the deposite banks. It sent to tbat committee. It would swallow up almost all instructs these receivers and these banks, after the 15th the business of the Senate. He concluded by demanding day of August then next, to receive in payment of the the yeas and nays on the question of commitment. public lands nothing except what is directed by existing
Mr. RIVES briefly rejoined. As the Senator from laws, viz: gold and silver, and, in the proper cases, Vire South Carolina was only conditionally in favor of the ginia land scrip; provided that till the 15th of Decem. proposition in the bill, in the event that there would be ber then next, the same indulgence heretofore extended, à surpius, and that the revenue could not be reduced; as to the kind of money received, may be continued, for and as the question whether it could be reduced belonged any quantity of land not exceeding 320 acres, to each confessedly to the Committee on Finance, it involved no purchaser who is an actual seliler or bona fide resident violation of the parliamentary principle to which the in the State where the sales are made. Senator had alluded, to send this bill to that committee. The exception in favor of Virginia scrip is founded Mr. R. hoped he should not be understoorl as wishing on a particular act of Congress, and makes no part of wantonly to interfere with the provisions of the com the general question. It is not necessary, therefore, to promise bill; he was far from desiring any such thing. He refer farther to that exception. The substance of the held the compromise in great respect, as having effect general instructions is, that nothing but gold and silver ed a great national good in the settlement of an shall be received in payment for public lands; provided, agitating and alarming question. But he was free to however, that actual settlers and bona fide residents in say that, if any mode could be devised of bringing the States where the sales are made, may purchase in down the revenue to the wants of the Government, with quantities not exceeding 320 acres each, and be allowed out interfering with the enactments of that bill, he to pay as heretofore. But this provision was limited to should be opposed to disturbing them in any way. But the 15th day of December, which has now passed; so it was a fundamental duty of legislation to dispense with that, by virtue of this order, gold and silver are now reall unnecessary taxes, and reduce the burdens of the quired of all purchasers and for all quantities, people as far as the necessities of Government would I am very glad that a resolution to rescind ibis order permit. If this could not be done without touching has been thus early introduced; and I am glad, too, since some parts of the compromise bill, it must be touched; the resolution is to be opposed, that opposition comes but if it could, then that bill, in all its provisions, ought early, in a bold, unequivocal, and decided form. The to be sacredly maintained.
order, it seems, is to be defended as being both legal The question of referring the bill to the Committee and useful. Let its defence, then, be made. on Finance was taken by yeas and nays, and resulted as The honorable member from Missouri (Mr. Berton] follows:
objects even to giving the resolution to rescind a second YEAS – Messrs. Brown, Buchanan, Ewing of Illinois, reading. He avails himself of his right, though it be not Fulton, Grundy, Hendricks, Hubbard, King of Ala- according to general practice, to arrest the progress of bama, King of Georgia, Linn, McKean, Niles, Page, the measure at its first stage. This, at least, is open, Parker, Rives, Robinson, Ruggles, Sevier, Strange, bold, and manly warfare, Tallmadge, Walker, Wall-22.
The honorable member, in bis elaborate speech, NAY: Messrs. Bayard, Benton, Black, Calhoun, founds his opposition to this resolution, and bis support Clay, Crittenden, Davis, Ewing of Olio, Kent, Knight, of the Treasury order, on those general principles reMoore, Morris, Nicholas, Prentiss, Robbins, Southard, specting currency which he is known to entertain, and Swift, Tipton, Tomlinson, Webster, White, Wright-22. which he has maintained for many years. His opinions
The yeas and nays being equal, the Chair voted in the some of us regard as altogether ultra and impracticable; affirmative.
looking to a state of things not desirable in itself, even So the bill was referred to the Committee on Finance. if it were practicable; and, if it were desirable, as being TREASURY CIRCOLAR.
far beyond the power of this Government to bring about.
The honorable member has manifested much perseThe Senate proceeded to the further consideration of verance and abundant labor, most undoubtedly, in sup. Mr. Ewist's joint resolution, rescindling the Treasury port of his opinions; he is understood, also to have bad order of July 11th, 1836, and prohibiting the Secre- countenance from high places; and what new hopes of tary of the Treasury to delegate the power to specify the success the present moment holds out to him, I am not kind of funds to be received in payment for the public able to juuge, but we shall probably soon see. It is lands. The question being on ordering the resolution precisely on these general and long-known opinions that to a second reading,
he rests his support of the Treasury order. A question, Mr. WEBSTER rose and addressed the Senate as fol. therefore, is at once raised between the gentleman's lows:
principles and opinions on the subject of the currency, Mr. President: the power of disposing of this impor- and the principles and opinions which have generally tant subject is in the hands of gentlemen, both here and prevailed in the country, and which are, and have been, elsewhere, who are not likely to be influenced by any entirely opposite to his. That question is now about to opinions of mine. I hare no mutive, therefore, for ad. | be put to the vote of the Senate. In the progress and dressing the Senate, but to discharge a public duty, and by the termination of this discussion, we shall learn to fulfil the expectations of those who look to me for op whether the gentleman's sentiments are or are not to position, whether availing or unavailing, to whatever Il prevail, so far, at least, as the Senate is concerned. The
(Dec. 21, 1836.
country will rejoice, I am sure, to see some declaration | far as I know, or so far as we are informed, in the manof the opinions of Congress on a subject about which so ner of receiving payment for the public lands.
Every much has been said, and which is so well calculated, by thing stood on the 11th of July, 1836, as it had stood at its perpetual agitation, to disquiet and disturb the confi- the opening of the session, in December, 1835. How dence of society,
so different a view of things happened to be taken at We are now fast approaching the day when one ad. the two periods, we may be able to learn, perhaps, in ministration goes out of office, and another is to come the further progress of this debate. in. The country has an interest in learning, as soon as The order speaks of the “evil influence " likely to possible, whether the new administration, while it re result from the further exchange of the public lands into ceives the power and patronage, is to inherit, also, the “paper money.” Now, this is the very language of topics and the projects of the past; whether it is to keep the gentleman from Missouri. He habitually speaks of up the avowal of the same objects and the same schemes, the notes of all banks, however solvent, and however especially in regard to the currency. The order of the promptly their notes may be redeemed in gold and sil. Secretary is prospective, and, on the face of it, perpet. ver, as “paper money.” The Secretary has adopted ual. Noihing in or about it gives it the least appearance the honorable member's phrases, and he speaks, too, of of a temporary measure. On the contrary, its terms all the bank notes received at the land offices, although imply no limitation in point of duration, and the gradual every one of them is redeemable in specie, on demand, manner in which it is to come into operation shows plain. but as so much “paper money.' ly an intention of making it the setiled and permanent In this respect, also, sir, I hope we may know more as policy of Government. Indeed, it is but now beginning we grow older, and be able to learn whether, in times its complete existence. It is only five or six days since to come, as in times recently passed, the justly obnox. its full operation has commenced. Is it to stand as the ious and odious character of "paper money” is to be law of the land and the rule of the Treasury, under the applied to the issues of all the banks in all the States, administration wbich is to ensue? And are those notions with whatever punctuality they relcem their bills. This of an exclusive specie currency, and opposition to all is quite new, as financial language. By paper money, banks, on which it is defended, to be espoused and main. in its obnoxious sense, I understand paper issued on tained by the new administration, as they have been by credit alone, witliout capital, without funds assigned for its predecessor? These are questions, not of mere curi- its payment, resting only on the good faith and the fue osily, but of ihe highest interest to the whole country. lure ability of those whó issue it. Such was the paper
In considering this order, the first thing naturally is, money of our revolutionary limes; and such, perlaps, to look for the causes which led to it, or are asign:dfr may have been the true character of the paper of partic. its promulgation. And these, on the face of the order ular institutions since. But the notes of banks of itself, are declared to be "complaints which have been competent capitals, limited in amount to a due propor. made of frauds, speculations, and monopolies, in the tion to such capitals, maile payable on demand in gold purchase of the public lands, and the aid which is said to and silver, and always so paid on demand, are paper be given to effect these objects by excessive bank cred., money in no sense but one; ibat is to say, they are made its, and dangerous if not partial facilities through bank of paper, and they circulate as money. And it may be drafts and bank deposites, and ibe general evil influence proper enough for those who maintain that nothing likely to result to the public interest, and especially the should so circulate but gold and silver, to denominate safety of the great amount of money in the Treasury, such bank notes “paper money," since they regard and she sound condition of the currency of the country, them but as paper intruders into channels which should from the further exchange of the national domain in this fiuw only will gold and silver. If this language of the manner, and chiefly for bank credits and paper money." order is au:hentic, and is to be so hereafter, and all bank
This is the cataloglie of evils to be cured by this or. notes are to be regarded and stigmatized as mere “pader. In what these frauds consist, what are the monop. per money,” the sooner the country knows it the belter. olies complained of, or what is precisely intended by The member from Missouri charges those who wish to these injurious speculations, we are not informed. All rescind the Treasury order with two objects: first, to is left on the general surmise of fraud, speculation, and degrade and disgrace the President, and, next, to over. monopoly. Ii is not avowed or intimated that the Gov. Uhrow the ci institutional currency of the country. ernment has sustained any loss, either by the receipt of For my own part, sir, I denounce nobody; I seek lo bank nutes which proved not to be equivalent to specie, degrade or disgrace nobody. Holding the order illegal or in any other wy. And it is not a little remarkable and unwise, I shall certainly vote to rescind it; and, in that these evils, of fraurl, speculation, and monopoly, the discharge of this duty, I hope I am not expected to should bave become so enormous and so notorious, on shrink back, lest I should do something which might call the 11th of July, as to require this executive interfe- in question the wisdom of the Secretary, or even of the rence for their suppression, and yet that they shoull not President. And I hope that so much of independence have reached such a height as to make it proper to lay as may be manifested by free discussion and an honest the subject before Congress, although Congress re vote is not to cause denunciation from any quarter. If mained in session until within seven days of the date of the it should, let it come. order. And what makes this circumstance still more re. As to an allempt to over: hrow the constitutional curmarkable, is the fact that, in his annual message at the com rency of the couniry, if I were now to enter into such a mencement of the same session, the President had spoken design, I should be beginning, at rather a late day, to of the rapid sales of the public lands as one of the mosi wage war against the efforts of my whole political life. gratifying proofs of the general prosperity of the coun From my very first concern with public affairs, I have try, without suggesting that any danger whatever was looked at the public currency as a matter of the highto be apprehended from fraud, speculation, or monopo est interest, and hope I have given sufficient proofs of a ly. His words were: “ Among the evidences of the in- disposition at all times to maintain it sound and secure, creasing prosperity of the country, not the least gratify against all attacks and all dangers. When I first entered ing is that afforded by the receipts from the sales of the the other House of Congress, the currency was exceed. public lands, which amount, in the present year, to the ingly deranged. Most of the banks had stopped pay. unexpected sum of eleven millions." From the tiine of ment, and the circulating medium had then become, inthe delivery of that message down to the date of the deed, paper money. So soon as a state of peace ena. Treasury order, there had not been the least change, so bled us, I took some part in an effurt, with others, to
Dec. 21, 1836.)
restore the currency to a better state; and success fol. vide for the receipt of sundry things, besides gold and lowed that effort.
silver. As early as 1797, the public stocks of the Gov. But what is meant by the “constitutional currency," ernment were made receivable for lands sold; the six about which so much is said? What species, or forms of per cents. at par, and other descriptions of stock in pro. currency, does the constitution allow, and what does it portion. This policy had, probably, a double purpose forbid?" It is plain enough that this depends on what in view—the one to sustain the price of the public stocks, we understand by currency. Currency, in a large, and and the other to hasten the sale and settlement of the perhaps, in a just sense, includes not cnly gold and sil. lands. Other statutes have given the like receivable ver and bank notes, but bills of exchange also. It may character to Missi-sippi stock, and to Virginia land include all that adjusts exchanges, and settles balances, scrip. So Treasury notes were made receivable for duin the operations of trade and business. But if we un ties and taxes; and, indeed, if any such should now be derstand by currency the legal money of the country, found outstanding, I believe they constitute a lawful that which constitutes a lawful tender for debts, and is mode of payment, at the present moment, whether for the statute measure of value, then, undoubtedly, nothing duties and taxes or for lands. is included but gold and silver. Most unquestionably But, in regard both to taxes and payments for lands, there is no legal tender, and there can be no legal ten. Congress has not left the subject willout complete legal der, in this country, under the authority of this Govern regulation. It has exercised its full power. The stat. ment or any other, but gold and silver, either the coin. ules have declared what should be received, from debtage of our own mints, or foreign coins, at rates regulated ors and from purchasers, and have left no ground whatby Congress. This is a constitutional principle, perfectly ever for the interference of executive discretion or explain, and of the very highest imporiance. The States ecutive control. So far as I know, there has been no are expressly prohibited from making any thing but gold period when this subject was not subject to express legal and silver a tender in payment of debts; and, although provision. When the duty act and the tonnage act were no such express prohibition is applied to Congress, yet, passed, at the first session of the first Congre.s, an act as Congress has no power granted to it, in this respect, was passed also, at the same session, containing a section but to coin money, and to regulate the value of foreign which prescribed the coins, and fixed their values, in coins, it clearly has no power to substitute paper, or which those duties were to be paid. From that time to any thing else, for coin, as a tender in payment of Jebts, this, the medium for the payment of public debts and and in discharge of contracts. Congress has exercised dues has been a matter of fixed legal right, and not a this power, fully, in both its branches, It has coined matter of executive discretion at all. The Secretary of money, and still coins it; it has regulated the value of the Treasury has had no more power over these laws foreign coins, and still regulates their value. The legal than over other law's. He can no more change the legal tender, therefore, the constitutional standard of value, mode of paying the duty than he can change the amount is established, and cannot be overthrown.
To over of the duty to be paid; or alter ihe legal means of pay. throw it, would shake the whole system.
ing for lands, with any more propriety than he can alter But if the constitution knows only gold and silver as the price of the lands themselves. It would be strange, a legal tender, does it follow that the constitution can indeed, if this were not so. It would be ridiculous to not tolerate the voluntary circulation of bank notes, con say that we lived under a Government of laws, if an exvertible into gold and silver at the will of the holder, as ecutive officer may say in what currency, or medium, a part of the actual muney of the country? Is a man not may shall pay his taxi's and debts to Government, and only to be entitled to demand gold and silver for every may make one rule for one man, and another rule for debt, but is he, or should he be, obliged to demand it in another. We miglil as well aclinit that the Secretary all cases? Is it, or should Government make it, unlaw- had authority to remit or give in the debt of one, while ful to receive pay in any thing else? Such a notion is he enforced payment on the other. too absurd to be seriously treated. The constitutional I desire, sir, even at the expense of some repetition, tender is the thing to be preserved; it ought to be pre to fix the attention of the Senate to this proposition, that served sacredly, under all circumstances. The rest re. Congress, having by the constitution authoriiy to dispose mains for judicious legislation by those who have com. of the public territory, has passed laws for the complete petent authority.
exercise of that power; laws which not only have fixed I have already said that Congress has never supposed the price of the public lands, the manner of sales, and itself authorized to make any thing but coin a tender, in the time of payinent, but which have fixed also, witli the payment of debts, between individual and individual; equal precision, the medium, or kinds of m'ney, or of but it by no means follows from this, that it may not au other ihings, which shall be received in payment. It thorize the receipt of any thing but coin in payment of has neglected no part of this important trust; it has del. debis due to the United States.
egated no part of it; it has left no groun, not an inch, These powers are distinct, and flow from different for executive interposition. sources. The power of coinage is a general power; a The only question, therefore, is, what is the law, or portion of sovereignty, taken fiom the States and confer. what was the law, when the Secretary issued his order? red on Congress, for the sake both of uniformity and The Secretary considers that that which has been uni. greater security. It is to be exercised for the benefit of formly done for twenty years, that is to say, the receive all the people, by establishing a legal tender and standing of payment for the public lanıls in the bills of specieard of value in all transactions.
paying banks, is against law. He calls it an "indula But when Congress lays duries and taxes, or disposes gence," and this " indulgence" the order proposes to of the public lands, it may direct payment to be made continue for a limited time, and in favor of a particulier in whatever medium it pleases. The authority to lay class of purchasers. If this were an indulgence, and taxes includes the power of deciding how they shall be against liw, one might well ask, how has it happened pail; and the power granted by the constitution to dispose that it should have continued so long, especially through of the territory belonging to the United States carries recent years, marked by such a spirit of thorough and with it, of course, the power of fixing not only the price, searching reform? 11. miglit be asked, too, if this be il. and the conditions, and time of payment, but also the legal, and an indulgence only, why continue it longer, medium of payment. Both in respect to duties and tax and especially why continue it as to some, and refuse to es, and payments fur lanifs, it has been, accordingly, the continue it as to others? constant practice of Congress, in its discrction, in pro But, sir, it is time to turn to the slalute, and to see