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protestation," which would leave the matter exactly where it was; that this transaction had been conducted throughout with a frankness honourable to both nations; that to annex to it such an evidence of mutual distrust, would be discreditable to both that both branches of the legislature had passed one of the bills for carrying the treaty into execution and would soon pass the other;" on which he exchanged the ratifications without the protestation.
It further seems from this letter that Spain had entered a protestation against the ratification of the treaty by the United States, on the grounds-First, that the first consul had not executed the conditions of the treaties of cession: and secondly, that he had broken a solemn promise not to alienate the country to any nation. Mr. Livingston was also told that if the French commissioner Lausat was heartily disposed to carry the order of the first consul into execution, he could command a volunteer force at New Orleans, and would have the aid of the troops of the United States; but that if he was not so disposed, they would take possession, and leave it to France to adopt the act as her own, and thus entitle herself to the complete execution of the treaty.
The President recommends a repeal of the Bankrupt Law. Bank of the United States. Statistics of Louisiana. Amendment to the Constitution. Naturalization Law. Judge Pickering impeached and removed. Yazoo claims. Loss of the frigate Philadelphia. His increasing popularity. Views of the Federal Party. Death of Mrs. Eppes. Correspondence with Mrs. Adams. Mr. Jefferson vindi
cates his course. Letter to Mazzei. Various speculations to which the acquisition of Louisiana gave rise. Mr. Jefferson's view of the consequences of a separation. Expedition against Tripoli. Presidential Election. Meeting of Congress. President's Message.Gun-boats. Impeachment of Judge Chase-his trial and acquittal.
MR. JEFFERSON's steadfastness in the principles he had professed before he was in power, was exhibited on more than one occasion at this period. It was at his instance, it is believed, and certainly with his hearty concurrence, that the bankrupt law, which had been first enacted in one of the last years of Mr. Adams's administration, and afterwards modified, was at this session repealed. As this law authorized a majority of the creditors to discharge a bankrupt trader from all his preceding debts, it was regarded by many of the other classes of men as an invidious privilege to the mercantile community; especially in the southern states, where the agricultural pursuits are predominant; and as it was found that by the power of making discriminations in favour of some creditors, and in fact of making surreptitious creditors, there was no difficulty in general in obtaining the sanction of the requisite majority for the debtor's discharge,
the law was condemned as affording but too much encouragement to fraud, waste, and a rash spirit of adventure. It was therefore not viewed with favour by one half of the nation. Yet with the other half it was still more approved, and it scarcely could be doubted, when it is considered how much stronger was the sentiment in support of it than that opposed to it, and the extensive patronage it afforded to the executive in the appointment of the numerous commissioners who were to execute it, that the administration would have gained far more by the continuance of the law than by its repeal. The President, however, showed the same indifference to patronage, or rather the same disinclination to possess it, at the expense of what he believed to be the public interest, as in the repeal of the internal taxes, and the abolition of the host of revenue officers which thereby ensued. Those who had favoured the policy asserted no such claims to consistency, but readily concurred in depriving the administration of this source of influence. By the only recorded vote taken in the process of repeal, there were ninety-nine votes in favour of the measure to thirteen against it.
The Bank of the United States afforded him another occasion of testing his sincerity in the principles he professed, and his integrity in adapting his practice to his profession. After having noticed with approbation the extension of the same principle of rotation to the branches, which the law had prescribed in the case of the principal bank, he thought the executive ought not to lend its sanction to any other principle. But, adverting to the disposition manifested by the bank to establish a branch in New Orleans, he reiterates his first objections to the institution in the following strong language:
"This institution is one of the most deadly hostility existing against the principles and form of our constitution.
The nation is, at this time, so strong and united in its sentiments, that it cannot be shaken at this moment. But suppose a series of untoward events should occur, sufficient to bring into doubt the competency of a republican government to meet a crisis of great danger, or to unhinge the confidence of the people in the public functionaries; an institution like this, penetrating by its branches every part of the Union, acting by command and in phalanx, may, in a critical moment, upset the government. I deem no government safe, which is under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or any other authority than that of the nation, or its regular functionaries. What an obstruction could not this bank of the United States, with all its branch banks, be in time of war? It might dictate to us the peace we should accept, or withdraw its aids. Ought we then to give further growth to an institution so powerful, so hostile ?"
These general considerations are then followed by cogent arguments ad hominem. That it is hostile we know, 1. From a knowledge of the principles of the persons composing the body of directors in every bank, principal or branch; and those of most of the stockholders. 2. From their opposition to the measures and principles of the government, and to the election of those friendly to them: and 3. From the sentiments of the newspapers they support. Now, while we are strong, it is the greatest duty we owe to the safety of our constitution, to bring this powerful enemy to a perfect subordination under its authorities. The first measure would be to reduce them to an equal footing only with other banks, as to the favours of the government. But in order to be able to meet a general combination of the banks against us, in a critical emergency, could we not make a beginning towards an independent use of our own money, towards holding our own deposits in all the banks where it
is received, and letting the treasurer give his draft or note, for payment at any particular place, which, in a well-conducted government, ought to have as much credit as any private draft, or bank note or bill, and would give us the same facilities which we derive from the banks?" It seems probable that this hint suggested the plan thrown out by President Jackson, when he first stated his opposition to the last bank of the United States. But the public danger from such an institution, on which Mr. Jefferson's hostility rested yet more than on its supposed unconstitutionality, appears to have been egregiously overrated by him. The power of so wealthy a corporation, using all its money in loans, and able by its high credit, so to multiply its money, would indeed be formidable, if it were possessed of a monopoly; but as its privileges are shared with other banks, and as those created by the states are everywhere equal, or superior in wealth to the branches of the United States bank, its power of doing mischief is almost neutralized, while that of rendering facilities to commerce remains. It would seem to furnish a conclusive argument against the imagined extent of their power, that it was not sufficient in 1811 to preserve its own existence; and that its successor, with far more ample means and resources, and directed, according to its enemies, with an unexampled unity and energy of purpose to this single object, has not been a whit more capable of self-preservation.
The President had, during the session, communicated to both Houses a digest of the information which the executive had been able to procure relative to Louisiana, as to its physical and political state. In the geographical account of upper Louisiana, and a supplement to it on the 29th of November, it was therein stated on the authority of traders who had visited it, that one thousand miles up the Missouri, there was a salt mountain, which was said to be eighty miles long and forty-five wide, composed of solid rock salt, with