« PreviousContinue »
II. OF R.)
(Oct. 13, 1837.
time to pause.
from North Carolina, [Mr. Bynum,) was addressing the their own political aggrandizement. Sir, I intend no disHouse and characterizing such petitioners as panic-makers, respect to the members of this body, nor to the people who speculators, and rag-barons! Great Heaven! I exclaimed send them here. I but speak of a custom which I conceive to myself, can such things be? The petitions of freemen to be justly obnoxious to censure. I speak of men as I trampled under foot, and the petitioners themselves de find them, and as they are. I am aware, sir, of the irrelnounced by their own representatives ! I sprung to my evancy of these remarks, and will not further occupy the feet at the first opportunity ; but before my mouth was time of the committee by pursuing them. opened, the honorable gentleman from New Hampshire, Previously to approaching the subject properly before the [Mr. Cushman,] whose head is said to "blossoin and cominittee, I will briefly notice certain remarks of the genbloom with the*previous question,” availed himself of his tleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. NAYLOR,) who has just privilege. The previous question was moved—and there taken his seat. He has paid high and deserved complicould be no reply.
ments to the working men of the North-to their intelliSuch, sir, is the mode in which measures have been gence and to their integrity. To these sentiments my heart forced through the House during this session. It is now most cordially responded. He represented himself to be a
I solemnly believe that the prosperity of working man ; he professed great regard for the interests of the country and the “sub-Treasury system” cannot long working men; he declaimed most energetically in their beexist together. It will check the tide of our advancement. half; but he uniformly votes against every measure which It will endanger our liberties. I call upon gentlemen to they advocate. During the present session he has voted. pause ere the Rubicon be passed.
for the United States Bank; he has expressed his determiBefore Mr. Naylor had concluded his remarks, as giv- nation to vote against the bill on your table. But he knows en entire above, the House took its usual recess till four that the working men are opposed to the United States o'clock.
Bank; that they are in favor of the divorce bill, so called; EVENING Session.
and I feel justified in saying that ninety-nine out of every The House again resumed the consideration of the sub- hundred working men are favorable to this bill. Sir, the Treasury bill.
relation in which I stand to the laboring classes enables Mr. ELY MOORE rose and addressed the Chair as me to judge of their views on this subject. I am in daily follows:
correspondence with working men in different parts of the Mr. Chairman, it is with a degree of reluctance that I Union; and I know that a unanimity of opinion and of sentisolicit the indulgence of the committee at this late period of ment in its favor prevails among them. Sir, I cannot conthe session. It is well known that, since I have had the ceive how the honorable gentleman can reconcile his prohonor of a seat in this House, I have troubled it but sel- sessions with his practice. If he knows the feelings and dom with remarks of my own.
Indeed, I have long con the opinions of the working men, as he ought to know them; sidered it neither proper nor respectful in any member of and if he estimates their intelligence and their integrity as any legislative body to engross the time to be devoted 10 pub- he professes to estimate them; why then does he go counter lic business in speech-making, unless the speaker have it in to their views and to their will? Sir, the laboring classes his power to impart some important information, or shed have had too many such advocates! They have been too new light on the subject of debate. And here, sir, I feel often flattered and betrayed by politicians! Too often debound to confess that, were I now to bo governed strictly ceived by those who caressed and bepraised them! But, by this rule, I would have refrained from participating in sir, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, not content with this discussion.
culogizing the laboring men of the North, has made a false Mr. Chairman, I regret to say that, such is the poor and issue with the gentleman from South Carolina, (Mr. Pickunprofitable fashion of the times, unless the people's repre- Ens,] by misrepresenting his views. Sir, what was the sentatives occasionally make long and lusty speeches, they position taken by the gentleman from South Carolina ? I are but too liable to incur the people's displeasure. And for understood him to say that the incorporated monopolies of this reason they often deem it expedicnt to make elaborate the North were inimical to the interests and the liberties of speeches on some given sulijeci, that shall, when printed, the laboring classes; were calculated to abridge their natuoccupy so many columns of a newspaper, or so many pages ral and political freedom, and to suliject them 10 a money, of a pamphlet. In order to comply with this requisition, ed aristocracy; and, for the expression of these sentiments, the member is often compelled, especially when the subject the gentleman from Pennsylvania has thought proper to does not happen to be a very fruitful one, or the speaker does rebuke him. But let me tell the gentleman from Pennsylnot chance to possess that kind of creative power which can rania, that the laboring classes of the North are apprehenproduce something out of nothing, so to draw out and dilate sive of the very evils so ably depicted by the gentleman his ideas, that the reader, should he judge from their texture from South Carolina. Look at their organs; consult their and gossamer properties, would be liable to conclude, that, papers; and you will find that exclusive legislation—that like the spider's web, they had been spun rather from the the grants of chartered monopolies-are regarded by them bowels than the brain. The cause of this evil, sir, lies, in a as hostile to their interests and dangerous to their liberties. great mea ure, with the people thenıselves. The represent And did not the gentleman from Pennsylvania, previous to ative, unless he inflicts sone half dozen speeches upon the his election, and during the canvass, did not he intimato body to which he may belong, in the course of a session-his opposition to these very moneyed monopolies, now diga whether called for or not, whether to the purpose or not, nified by him under the title of institutions? And how returns to his constituents under the apprehension that he has he answered the expectations which he created by his will not receive at their hands the gratifying welcome of professions ? By voting for a United States Bank! By "well done, good and faithful servant.” The political as opposing the bill which proposes to disconnect bank and pirant, therefore, must either make up his mind to swim State! In a word, by warring with all the principles and with the current of public opinion, and speak often, or to opposing all the wishes of the laboring classes ! “If such remain silent, and sink beneath its waves. And as legis- be thy gods, O! Israel! wo! wo! to those who bow belators, like other men, are more or less moved by self-love, fore them !" pride, and ambition-passions upon which hang the fever I now, sir, feel constrained to notice, briefly, some reof the world, and which stimulate men to action-they are marks which were made yesterday by my honorable and but too liable to consult their own rather than their coun much respected colleague, (Mr. HFFNAN,] while addressing try's interest, and to embarrass the business of the nation, this committee on the bill under consideration. I underby making speeches designed for home consumption, and stood him to say, sir, that the present Chief Magistrate is,
Oct. 13, 1837.)
[H. OF R.
in a great degree, indebted to the influence of the banks for behalf of the unfortunate; when we see them promptly his political elevation. Sir, I deny the correctness of this and eagerly rushing to the rescue ? assertion. I am satisfied that Martin Van Buren owes his And, sir, here I must be permitted to intimate to my elevation to his own merits, and to the unbought suffrages political opponents, that in order firmly to establish their of a majority of the American people. But, sir, if my col characters for superior patriotism and philanthropy, it will league represents this matter truly, and the election of Mr. be necessary for them to act as well as to feel. Van Buren to the Presidency was achieved through bank know the remedy, gentlemen, and apply it not, tho sinofficers or bank influence, what an important lesson does cerity of your professions may be doubted. The unchariit teach us? And how forcibly does it illustrate the dangers table may surmise that party is your object, and public of the banking system? If banks band together in one good the scape-goat. Sir, what would we think of the political contest, they may in another. If they unite their patriotism of the man who was able, but unwilling, to energies in behalf of one individual, they also may unite succor his country in the hour of her extremity ? Or what in behalf of another, without any regard to his merits, his would we say of the benevolence of a physician who revirtues, or his qualifications, provided he will lend himself fused to administer to bis sick and dying patient the remeto their interests. This is a fruitful theine, but I will not dies which he knew would restore him to life, health, and pursue it at present. I now turn to the subject of political vigor And are not gentlemen aware that, after having changes, on which my colleague has said so much. If I so constantly, so earnestly, and so eloquently, bewailed the mistake not, he took occasion to rebuke the chairman of fallen fortunes of their country, they will naturally be lookthe Committee of Ways and Means for certain alleged po- od to by that country with anxious, shuddering solicitude litical somersets, which he is said to have made some few for the remedies competent to heal the deep disease, which years since. My friend over the way (Mr. CAMBRELENG] we are told is preying upon its vitals? Are they not is fully competent to defend himself from the charge, and aware that their benevolence will be questioned, and their I shall, therefore, leave this part of the subject in his hands. sincerity doubted, even by the confiding and the faithful ? On the general topic of political changes, my colleague But, sir, we have been told that the friends of the ad[Mr. Hoffman) has all the advantages over me which ministration have the power, and that the responsibility practice and experience can give. It would, therefore, be rests with them! Sir, what are we to understand by this? manifestly imprudent for me to enter the lists with so old Is it meant to be insinuated that the administration party and so experienced a tactician in this branch of political in this House have the power to relieve the distresses of science. Did I desire instruction on this subject, my col- this country, but that they have not the will to exercise it ? league would be the very first man to whom I would apply. | Is it meant to be affirmed that the dominant party are so He should be my preceptor above all others; for I am satis utterly destitute of feeling and of patriotism as willingly and fied that none can be better qualified than himgelf, to des intentionally to withhold the aid which they might rightcant on the facility with which political changes can be fully and constitutionally extend to the people? Is it their made ; none have the power to speak more feelingly and intention to represent us to the American people in so understandingly on the subject. It was but a short time odious and offensive a light? Sir, I am aware that the since, sir, when my colleague and myself stood foremost gentlemen in the opposition have long claimed all the wisin the ranks of the democracy : when the old wigwam re- dom, and all the worth, and all the decency ; but I did sounded with our respective voices ; when we advocated the not suppose, until now, that they also claimed all the patsame measures and the same men ; when we sang the same riotism, and all the benevolence, and all the sympathy. political hosannahs, and worshipped at the same political For one, sir, I protest against such unwarrantablo and altar. But, sir, that time has passed ; and my colleague, unfounded pretensions. I am clearly against this additioninstead of joining with me in the old rallying cry, chooses al monopoly. If the gentlemen really possess all the charity to lift up his musical voice in a political palinode ; and we and benevolence which they clai I trust that they will now find ourselves planted foot to foot as political oppo not. be inexorable towards us; that they will not thrust nents, instead of standing shoulder to shoulder, as political us beyond the pale of humanity ; that they will not associates, as we were wont to stand. In the course of his strip us of all the common attributes of civilized men, Temarks, my colleague discoursed right eloquently on the nor paint us as savages or brutes, liy representing us to be calamities of the times and on the sufferings of the people. deaf or indifferent to the voice of distress. Why should But on this topic he is not singular nor alone. All his we be thus treated as guilty of the grossest injustice-of wbig brethren have strenuously emulated each other in the most flagrant inhumanity? If the gentlemen of the their extraordinary professions of peculiar love for the pa- opposition do not consider adequate the means of relief tient people. When I reflect on the wonderful solicitude proposed by the Executive, let them suggest such as will manifested by the members of the opposition for the wel be effective, and, my life on it, if these means shall be just, fare of the nation, I cannot withhold an expression of ad- proper, and constitutional, the friends of the administration miration at the patriotic and benevolent spirit which per- will cheerfully yield them their most cordial and hearty vades and warms and expands their benevolent bosoms. support. We confess that we know no other remedies for
We have heard gentlemen from the East and the West, the ills complained of than those we have already suggestfrom the North and the South, mingling their notes of ed. And if the gentlemen in the opposition have it in their lamentations over the sufferings of the unfortunate wher power, as they would have us and the country believe, of ever found. Every fibre of their heads and hearts, every proposing an efficacious and constitutional remedy, for feeling of their souls and bodies, appears to be attuned to beaven's sake let them tell us what it is! If there be a benevolence, and to vibrate with deepest sympathy at the balm in Gilead-if there be a physician theremlet him adcalamities which they assure us have befallen our common minister the balm to our afficted country. Do not, I becountry. Sir, these are honorable feelings, and highly seech you, gentlemen, do not any longer keep secret your creditable to human nature. Patriotism so exalted, phi- | political catholicon, like quack physicians; but, like good lanthropy so generous, sympathy so sincere, benevolence and true patriots, make it publicly known, that it may be so pure, holy, and disinterested, cannot fail to challenge employed for the healing of the nation, our warınest admiration. When we hear men sincerely My colleague has pronounced the sub-Treasury system deplore the misfortunes of their fellows, we cannot but unconstitutional, but did not attempt to prove it so. Now, admire, honor, and respect them. But how are these feel sir, by way of a set-off, I pronounce unconstitutional the ings of respect and admiration strengthened and augment substitute of my colleagne-a national bank; and so I shall ed when we behold them exerting their utmost energies in endeavor to prove it by calm and dispassionate arguinent.
A national bank being the principal antagonist measure to lers of incorporation, I believe never have been, and I p proile bill under discussion, I shall confine iny remarks prin sume never will be, regarded as synonymous, even by the cipally to that subject; and, as this is the only point that most desperate “constructionists. Those, therefore, who has not been fully and thoroughly discussed in the progress pretend to find authority to grant charters of incorporation of this debate, there will be the greater propriety in this in the article under consideration, must look for it in the
I shall, therefore, attempt to argue at length this words “common defence and general welfare." And it part of the subject.
is from these words that some pretend to derive the power I can find no authority in the constitution for granting to incorporate a national bank. Can those who have concharters of incorporation, of whatever name, kind, or de tended for this construction have considered well of the scription; and no honorable gentleinan, I presume, will consequences which must inevitably follow from an exerhazard the declaration that such power is directly given to cise of such implied powers? Have they reflected that, Congress by the constitution. The most hardy and reck- by giving to these words the construction they contend for, less advocates of a national bank have never ventured to they render the enumeraled powers of the constitution nuaffirm that such power was specific and direct; that the gatory; that they virtually annul the powers reserved to warrant was express. They all resort to the doctrine of the State Governments; break down all the constitutional implication and construction. Sir, let us examine this guards designed to protect the rights of the States and of doctrine; let us take up the constitution in a spirit of hon- | the people, and make the constitution itself, in the hands esty and soberness, and see what clause of that instruinent, of Congress, what clay would be in the hands of the potif any, vests in Congress even an implied power to incor ter? And, lastly, have they considered that this doctrine porate a national bank.
is flatly contradicted by the tenth amendinent to the conSir, I am aware of the vastness of the subject which I stitution, which expressly declares that “the powers not propose to examinc. I am aware that the constitutionality delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor proof a national bank has been repeatedly discussed by the hibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States resmost eminent jurists and statesmen of the nation. And I pectively, or to the people ?" General Hamilton, latitudiam also aware that an attempt, on my part, to grapple with narian as he was on the subject of construction, had too a subject of such magnitude, and under such circumstances, much regard for his reputation to give to the words "to will be attributed by many to a want of discretion, if not provide for the common desence and general welfare," a to a culpable vanity. Be it so. I conceive it to be my construction that would confer on Congress powers not duty-I know it to be my right-to express my views fully enumerated in the constitution. By reference to his report on this subject; and, although I may be unable to shed any on manufactures, it will be found that he confines, in every additional light on this long agitated and vexatious ques- instance, application of these words to the power given tion, yet I will, nevertheless, slate the arguments and con by the first sentence of the clause; and, in this particular, siderations which exert a controlling influence on my judg- Mr. Jefferson agrees with him. The latter, in adverting ment. Permit me, then, sir, to call, for a moment, the to this subject, calls it “a grammatical quibhle, which has attention of the committee to the peculiar character of our countenanced the General Government in a claim of uniGovernment. It is conceded by all parties, I believe, to versal power. For," continues he, “in the phrase to lay be a Government of limited and specified powers; which taxes, to pay the debts, and provide for the general wel. powers are expressly prescribed by the constitution. To fare, it is a mere question of syntax, whether the two last the constitution, then, and to the constitution alone, must infinitives are governed by the first, or are distinct and coCongress look for all and every power they would exercise. ordinate powers; a question unequivocally decided by the Unless, therefore, the power to grant charters of incorpo exact definition of powers immediately following." Sir, I ration be expressly granted by the constitution, the exer conceive that the clause of the constitution under considera cise of such power, on the part of Congress, would be a ation admits of but two constructions- the one limiting violation of that instrument. But, say gentlemen, although the powers of Congress, as contended by General Hamilwe do not pretend to assert that the power to incorporate is ton and Mr. Jefferson ; the other conferring on Congress given in direct terins to Congress by the constitution, we powers incompatible with the spirit, and utterly subversive contend, nevertheless, that such power is derived by fair of all the express powers of the constitution-powers indeand legitimate construction. But, when the advocates of pendent of, and paramount to, the constitution itself-pow, this doctrine have been called upon to designate the clause ers indefinite, boundless, omnipotent. If the latter conof the constitution which confers on Congress the power struction be admitted, the will of Congress, and not the to incorporate a bank, they have been sadly puzzled to constitution, is the law of the land. Or if, peradventure, comply with the requisition, but have wandered and wan Congress should think it expedient to revert to the consti. dered from article to article, and from clause to clause, tution at all, it would only be necessary to refer to that part seeking in vain for authority. When driven from one po of it containing the cabalistic words "common defence and sition they flee to another ; ever vacillating ; never fixed in general welfare." And as these words, according to certheir views; never satisfied with their own, nor with each tain commentators, convey a plenary power on all subjects, others' arguments. No unity of opinion prevails among and are applicable to all cases that come within the juristhem as to the particular clause in the constitution, where diction of the national legislature, it would be quite unnethis doctrine of construction and implication, authorizing cessary to look further. This would be economical, witbal, acts of incorporation, is to be found; but, like certain de- saving much precious time to the people's representatives, luded ones of old, one cries, lo! it is here; and another, which otherwise might be squandered in wandering about lo! it is there; when, as was the case with the asses of the constilutional kingdom in search (as well search for the Kish, it happens to be “ nowhere." But, sir, let us ex lost pleiad) of the enumerated powers, which, unfortunateamine those parts of the constitution where this power is ly, have been swallowed up by the implied powers discov. said to reside. Some have attempted to locate it in the ered in the words “common defence and general welfare." first article of the eighth section of the constitution, which Let us suppose the doctrine here combated to be established gives Congress the power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, and carried out into practical legislation. Congress is apimposts, and exciscs, to pay the debts, and provide for the plied to by a number of influential individuals for an act of common defence and general welfare of the United States." incorporacion, granting to them and to their successors and The power to "lay and collect taxes" and to “pay the assigns forever, the sole and exclusive right, extending tu debts of the United States;" in other words, the power to all the States in the Union, of smelting iron ore with anraise and appropriate money, and the power to grant char thracite coal, and of manufacturing the same. The meino.
Oct. 13, 1837.]
[H. or R.
rialists set forth in their petition the immense benefits that republican system of the United States into an absolute, or would result to the nation from their contemplated enter at best a mixed monarchy.” prise. They dwell upon the advantages incident to asso Mr. Madison, in his report commenting on this resoluciated capital, and concentrated wisdom and industry. tion, observes : They represent that the mining interest of the country “ The first question here to be considered is, whether a would be benefited in proportion to the extent of the mu- spirit has in sundry instances been manifested by the Fednopoly-inasmuch as the products of the iron and cual eral Government to enlarge its powers by forced construcmines would ever find a ready market at the company's tions of the constitutional charter. works; that the public in general would be enabled w ob “ The General Assembly having declared their opinion tain the manufactured articles at a much cheaper rate and merely by regretting, in general terms, that forced construcof a better quality; and that, in time of war, arms and ord. tions for enlarging the federal powers have taken place, it nance could be furnished with greater facility, and of su does not appear to the committee necessary to go into a perior temper and calibre. The States, notwithstanding specification of every instance to which the resolution may all these plausible representations, remonstrate-individu- allude. The alien and sedition acts, being particularly als remonstrate. The States urge that the grant would named in a succeeding resolution, are of course to be unbe a violation of their reserved rights, and the principle derstood as included in the allusion. Omitting others upon which the Union was founded, and demand of Con. which have less occupied public attention, or been less exgress the source whence the power is derived to grant such tensively regarded as unconstitutional, the resolution may a charter of incorporation. Congress very complacently be presumed to refer particularly to the bank law, 'which, point them to the potent words “common defence and gen from the circumstances of its passage, as well as the latieral welfare," and the thing is settled. Individuals repre- tude of construction on which it is founded, strikes the atsent that an equality of civil and political rights constitute tention with singular force; and the carriage tax, distinthe basis of purely democratical Governments; that none guished also by circumstances in its history, having a simbut equal laws can legitimately flow from the principle of ilar tendency." equal rights; and that all laws which invade that principle “1. The general phrases here ineant must be those of conflict with the spirit of our institutions, and are, to all providing for the common defence and general welfare.' intents and purposes, legislative frauds upon the rights of “ In the · Articles of Confederation,' the phrases are used the people; and, consequently, utterly destitute of consti as follows, in article 8: •All charges of war, and all other tutional sanction. They further show, that an exercise of expenses that shall be incurred for the common defence and power such as asked for by the petitioners, would confer general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Conexclusive privileges and legislative favors—infringe on their gress assenbled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasunatural and political rights-violate the sacred principles of ry, which shall be supplied by the several States, in projustice and political equality, and, for this reason, be clearly portion to the value of all land within each State, granted unconstitutional. But Congress, regardless of the truth to or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildand propriety of these representations, grant the charter of ings and improvements thereon shall be estimated, accordincorporation, and, when called upon to show their consti- ing to such mode as the United States in Congress assemtutional right to do so, triumphantly refer to the magical | bled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.' words "common defence and general welfare," and there “In the existing constitution, they make the following the matter ends. I have put this case for the purpose of part of sec. 8: The Congress shall have power to lay and illustrating the evils consequent upon-an assumption of collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, io pay the debts, power, such as contended for by those who maintain that the and provide for the common defence and general welfare of clause we have been examining authorizes. Congress to es the United States.' tablish a federal bank. And, as legislators are as much " This similarity in the use of these phrases in the two subject to infirmities as other men, and the world not have great federal charters, might well be considered as rendering, as yet, approached that desirable state of which Plato ing their meaning less liable to be misconstrued in the latdreamed" the perfectibility of man"—it is not only pos- ler; because it will scarcely be said that, in the former, they sible, but very probable, that cases of this kind inight fre were ever understood to be either a general grant of power, quently happen. Nor can those who contend for the prin- or to authorize the requisition or application of money by ciple which merges all power in the words “common de- the old Congress to the common defence and general wel. fence and general welfare,” or, what amounts to the same fare, except in cases afterwards enumerated, which explainthing, in the will of Congress, object to any case coming ed and limited their ineaning; and if such was the limited within that principle, however dangerous and pernicious in meaning attached to these phrases in the very instrument its conséquences. As this clause of the constitution has revised and remodelled by the present constitution, it can been, and is still much relied on by the advocates of a never be supposed that, when copied into this constitution, United States bank, I will take the liberty of introducing a different meaning ought to be attached to them. such authority in opposition to their views, as will, I trust, «J'hat, notrvithstanding this remarkable security against have weight, both with this House and the nation. The misconstruction, a design has been indicated to expound fourth resolution passed by the General Assembly of Vir- | these phrases in the constitution so as to destroy the effect ginia, in December, 1798, reads as follows:
of the particular enumeration of powers by which it ex" That the General Assembly doth also express its deep plains and limits them, must have fallen under the obser. regret, that a spirit has in sundry instances been inanifested vation of those who have attended to the course of public by the Federal Government, to enlarge its powers by for- transactions. Not to multiply proofs on this subject, it ced constructions of the constitutional charter which delines will suffice to refer to the debates of the federal legislature, them; and tha: indications have appeared of a design to ex in which arguments have on different occasions, been pound certain general phrases (which, having been copied drawn, with apparent effect, from these phrases, in their from the very limited grant of powers in the former articles indefinite meaning."-Elliot's Debates, vol. 4, pp. 577—8. of confederation, were the less liable to be misconstrued) Again, the same distinguished personage, in a letter to so as to destroy the meaning and effect of the particular Mr. Stevenson, Jated November 27, 1830, in which he enumeration which necessarily explains and limits the gen- examines the origin and progress of the clause under coneral phrases; and so as to consolidate the States, by desideration, remarks: grees, into one sovereignty ; the obvious tendency and in “A special provision could not have been necessary evitable result of wbich would be to transform the present ' for the debts of the new Congress; for a power to pro
vide money, and a power to perform certain acts, of miltee with any further remarks on this point, but proceed which money is the ordinary and appropriate means, to examine the third paragraph of the Bth section of the must, of course, carry with them a power to pay the constitution, which gives Congress the power to reguexjen e of performing the acts. Nor was any special late commerce with foreign nations, among the several provis on för debts proposed, till the case of the revolu- Stales, and with the Indian tribes." This clause has been tionary debts was brought into view; and it is a fair pre-appealed to by the advocates of internal improvements, as sumption, from the course of the varied propositions which authorizing Congress to construct roads and canals, &c. ; have been noticed, that, but for the old debis, and their as it has also been appealed to by the friends of the tariff syssociation with the terms .common defence and general tem, as vesting in Congress an implied power to protect welfare,' the clause would have remained, as reported in our domestic manufactures; and, lastly, it has been apthe first draft of the constitution, expressing generally "a pealed to as authorizing Congress to establish a United power in Congress to lay and collect taxes, duties, im- States bank. Now, sir, in my humble opinion, the power posts, and excises,' without any addition of the phrase to regulate commerce does not include the power to make
to provide for the common defence and general welfare.' | internal improvements of the character just noticed--10 With this addition, indeed, the language of the clause be- protect manufactures by imposing a tariff-nor to establish ing in conformity with that of the clause in the articles of a national bank. Neither the clause immediately under conconfederation, it would be qualified, as in those articles, sideration, nor any other found in the constitution, authorizes by the specification of powers subjoined to it. But there Congress, in my judgment, to do either of those three things. is sufficient reason to suppose that the terms in question Sir, is it meant to be affirmed that the power to “ reguwould not have been introduced, but for the introduction late commerce,” includes the power to regulate the curren. of the old debts, with which they happened to stand in a cy of the several States? If so, then is Congress authofamiliar, though inoperative relation. Thus introduced, rized, under the power to "regulate commerce," to reguhowever, they pass undisturbed through the subsequent late the issues of all the State banks; for these constitute slages of the constitution.
the principal currency of the country. On the other hand, “If it be asked why the terms .common defence and if it be meant that Congress have not the power, under general welfare, if not meant to convey the comprehen- this clause of the constitution, to regulate ihe currency, sive power, which, taken literally, they express, were not how can it be said that Congress are thereby authorized to qualified and explained by some reference to the particular charter a bank for the purpose of regulating commerce, power subjoined, the answer is at hand, that although it when the only object of a national bank, as we are told, inight easily have been done, and experience shows it might is to regulate and equalize the exchanges and currency of be well it it had been done, yet the omission is accounted the country? Again : If the power “to regulate comfor by an inattention to the phraseology, occasioned, merce” includes the power to incorporate a bank, why doubtless, by the identity with the harmless character at. may it not also include the power to grant charters of intached to it in the instrument from which it was borrowed. corporation for other purposes? Why not authorize Con
“But may it not be asked, with infinitely more progress to incorporate companies for objects of internal impriety, and without the possibility of a satisfactory an provements-for manufactures-or, what would appear to swer, why, if the terms were meant to embrace not only be rather more congenial, for ordinary commercial purposes ? all the powers particularly expressed, but the indefinite If Congress can, by this clause of the constitution, authopower which has been claimed under them, the intention rize one set of men, under an act of incorporation, to deal was not so declared ; why, on that supposition, so much in bank paper, they possess equally the power to authorize critical labor was employed in enumerating the particular another set to deal in silks and satins, calicoes and gingpowers, and in defining and limiting their extent ?
hams. Nor can this position be controverted. Tho
stockholders and agents of a bank are as much traffickers “ The obvious conclusion to which we are brought is, and dealers in paper money, which is a species of commerthat these terms, copied from the articles of confederation, cial commodily, as merchants are in broadcloths and caswere regarded in the new, as in the old instrument, mere simeres. If an act of incorporation, therefore, can be ly as general terms, explained and limited by the subjoin- | claimed in the one case, as a proper and necessary means ed specifications, and therefore requiring no critical atten to “regulate commerce, it unquestionably can in the tion or studied precaution.
other. But the clause in question confers no such power.
The power to “regulato commerce," and the power to "Mr. Wilson, justly distinguished for his intellectual grant charters of incorporation, are separate and distinct. powerf, being deeply impressed with the importance of a The former is conferred by the constitution, the latter is bank at such a crisis, published a small pamphlet, entitled not. Sir, what was the nature of the power which the • Considerations on the Bank of North America,' in which framers of the constitution intended to confer on Congress he endeavored to derive the power from the nature of the by this clause? Evidently, to authorize Congress to preUnion in which the colonies were declared and became scribe or establish certain rules by which commerce should independent States; and also from the tenor of the arti- be governed. But will it be pretended that the authors of cles of confederation' themzelves. But what is particular- the constitution meant that this power, which they vested ly worthy of notice is, that, with all his anxious search in in Congress alone, should be transferred by Congress to those articles for such a power, he never glanced at the an incorporated company? That a chartered company terms 'common defence and general welfare,' as a source should possess the exclusive power of regulating the comof it."--Elliot's Debates, vol. 4, pp. 616-'7.
mercial interests of the nation-of prescribing rules for its And here, sir, I think I may safely rest this part of the Government-of determining the principles on which it subject.
should be conducted, and thus place one of the great inThe second paragraph of the 8th section of the constitu terests of the country beyond legislative and constitutional tion, which vests in Congress the power " to borrow money control ? No one, I presume, will say, in direct terms, on the credit of the United States," has also been appealed that such was the intention of the framers of the constituto by the friends of a national bank. But as nothing like tion; and yet such is the inevitable result to which the an argument has ever been adduced in support of this po- doctrine of construction here combated leads. If such sition, as it rests upon mere conjecture, without the shadow rules of construction prevail, it will be impossible to defino of authority to support it, and as a bill to charter a bank the limits of the power of the Federal Government under is not a bill to borrow money, I will not trouble the com the clause " Congress shall have power to regulate com