Page images

incompatible with the constitutionality of the State banks? We believe he is, and notwithstanding his professions of regard for them, that he is very nearly prepared to abolish them. No man has said harder things against them, and we believe his soberest convictions are, that the Federal government only has a right to incorporate a bank. It becomes the friends of State banks to look well to Mr. Webster's arguments for a sound, uniform, national bank paper currency. Just as much power as he claims for the Federal government over the paper currency of the country, just so much does he deny to the States; and as he claims the supreme control for the Federal government, he of course leaves nothing to the State governments.

The Bill under consideration is also accounted objectionable, by some, because it will lock up the money of the country in the government vaults, and keep it from general use. But this can be the case only to a limited extent. It is not the policy of modern governments to hoard money. The true theory of our government is to collect no more money than is wanted for its necessary expenditures. Consequently what is collected must always be immediately disbursed in payment of government creditors, and go again into general circulation. Very little will be kept constantly on hand. Mr. Wright thinks about five millions, Mr. Calhoun, in our judgment more correctly, thinks three millions will be nearer the truth. The Bill will tend if adopted to keep down the taxes or revenues. The business portion of the community, who are now for high taxes, because they have the loan of the government funds, will, when they find they can make no use of them, and derive no advantage from them, exert their whole influence to keep them down to the wants of government, and also to keep the wants of government as few as is compatible with its free and healthy action. In this way altogether more will be gained to the country than will be lost by suffering a few millions of dollars to lie idle in the government vaults.

It is said that the Bill increases the patronage of the government. It adds nine additional clerks to the present list of government agents, and creates four new offices of receivers general. This is not much, not sufficient to alarm a man possessed of any tolerable nerves. As for the power of the government over the public funds, it remains precisely the same under the new arrangement as under the old. The change in this respect is merely taking away the control of the banks over the public money, without increasing that of the government. The objection would be nearer the truth if it read, The Bill diminishes the influence of the banks over the fiscal concerns of the government. Put it in the worst light possible, all that can be said is, the safe-keeping of the government funds is placed in the hands of government officers, instead of the hands of irresponsible bank presidents and directors. Is this a weighty objection ?

The money will not, it is said, be safe. All safety is comparative. They who have money must run the risk of losing it. Government vaults may be made as safe as bank vaults, and perhaps there may be government officers, who are as honest, as trustworthy, as the officers and agents of banks, whether State, or National. The chances against loss are much greater under the Bill, than under the deposite system, in either of its forms. Under the Bill honesty and ordinary prudence alone will suffice to keep them safe, for they are locked up. Under the deposite system they are loaned out, and it depends on the sagacity and accurate calculations, as well as the honesty, of the bank agents, and on the honesty and ability of the bank debtors, whether they shall be kept safe or not.

These are the principal objections which we have heard urged against the Bill. It is in reality unobjectionable, and the opposition to it does not arise from any conviction that the measure itself will not work well, but from the fact, that it does not give to the business community the use of the government funds, VOL. I. NO. III.


during the period which elapses between their collection and disbursement. From the organization of the Federal government up to the present moment, the business community, by means of the funding system and bank agency, have had, in a greater or less degree, the use of the public funds, and made them, to a great extent, the basis of their credit and business operations. They have had the use of these funds so long that they seem to have forgotten that they were originally collected, not for them, but for the government. They seem to think that long possession has given them a right to them. And now that the government proposes to reclaim them, and to make them sacred to the uses for which they were collected, they feel themselves sorely grieved, and talk of the government, as though it were doing them a wrong. We hope, however, they will moderate their wrath, and reflect with a little soberness. If they do, we think they must be satisfied that the government is not wronging them. For ourselves, we can see no

on why the business portion of the community should have, directly or indirectly, the use of the government funds. will charge upon no class of our fellow citizens the doctrine that the government ought to protect, or specially favor one portion of the community, as the means of benefiting other portions of the community. We do not believe that the business men will maintain, in general thesis, that government ought to favor them, facilitate their operations, in order to enable them to advance the interests of the farmer and the artisan. There is, we devoutly hope, nobody among us to contend that the government should hire one class to take care of another. For, here, everybody knows, government can give to one class only what it takes from another. We go against all special protection, against all special favors. We wish well to commerce, well to manufactures, well to agriculture, well to the mechanic arts. These are all sister interests; and when government does not choose


to single out one as the special object of its caresses, they all live harmoniously together, and add to each other's comfort.

If, however, any interest in this country needs to be protected more than another, it is the interest of what may be termed productive labor. Commerce and manufactures do not need with us any especial care of the government. Of all interests among us they are those which can best take care of themselves. Money always secures the influence needed for its own protection. It is those who come not into the moneyed class, honest, but humble laborers, who are usually deficient in the power to protect themselves. But for these we ask no special protection, no special governmental action. Leave industry free, unshackled, and they will work out their own salvation.

If this Bill become a law, it will, in our judgment, mark a new era in the history of our government. It will greatly diminish the business of the government, lessen the demand for legislation, and leave more to individual freedom, skill, and enterprise. Some inconveniences at first must doubtless be anticipated. It will take some little time for things to settle down, business to find a smooth and safe channel. No important change, however beneficial or desirable, can be effected without more or less of inconvenience and suffering. We gained not our national independence, without inconvenience, without long and painful sacrifices. Yet it is thought now to be worth all it cost


If this Bill become a law, we shall have gained, in addition to our political independence, social independence, which is still more valuable. The moneyed interest will be prevented from converting our government from a democracy into a timocracy, and the people, the whole people, will be in fact, not in name only, the state, under justice, the real sovereign. Our Republic will continue its peaceful march of freedom, and realize the Idea of its venerated founders. There is a glorious Future before us. If we only possess

the wisdom to decide rightly the great questions, as they from time to time come up, we shall assuredly realize it. We love to contemplate the destiny which may, and which we trust will be ours; and we could expatiate with no little enthusiasm on it; but we forbear. Whatever may be the fate of the Bill, we despair not of the Republic. The people here are strong; and though they may err for a moment, or for a moment be deceived, they will come round right in the end, and prove that “ vor populiis, after all, the surest rendering of “ vox Dei.

Art. IV. — The American Democrat, or Hints on the

Social and Civic Relations of the United States of America. By J. FENIMORE COOPER. Cooperstown: H. & E. Phinney. 1838. 12mo. pp. 192.

The creator of Natty Leatherstocking and the author of the Bravo can hardly write a book that shall be read without interest, or fail to deserve the respectful consideration of his countrymen. He possesses talents of a high order, is not wholly without genius, and has, in the course of his reading and travels, amassed much useful information. He has contributed something to American literature, and gained a name that will not be forgotten for some time to come.

It would be interesting to ourselves, and perhaps to our readers, were we prepared to do it, to enter into the consideration of Mr. Cooper's merits as a writer, into a critical examination of his works, and some speculations as to their probable influence upon the thought and literature of this country. The thing is to be done, and will be done; but is not for us, at present at least, to do it. His earlier novels amused us; his later productions have done something to quicken our thinking powers, and to instruct us.

« PreviousContinue »