Official Documents, &C

Official Documents, &C

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Excerpt from Official Documents, &C: In Relation to the Bank of the United States

In a little more than two years after the Government went into operation, and at a period when most of the distinguished members of the Federal Convention were either in the Executive or Legislative councils, the act, incorporating the first bank of the United States, passed both branches of Congress by large majorities, and received the deliberate sanction of President Washington, who had then recently presided over the deliberations of the Convention. The constitutional power of Congress to pass the act of incorporation, was thoroughly investigated, both in the Executive Cabinet and in Congress, under circumstances, in all respects, propitious to a dispassionate decision. There was at that time, no organization of political parties, and the question was, therefore, decided by those, who, from their knowledge and experience, were peculiarly qualified to decide correctly; and who were entirely free from the influence of that party excitement and prejudice which would justly impair, in the estimation of posterity, the authority of a legislative interpretation of the constitutional charter. No persons can be more competent to give a just construction to the constitution, than those who had a principal agency in framing it; and no administration can claim a more perfect exemption from all those influences which, sometimes, pervert the judgments, even of the most wise and patriotic, than that of the Father of his country, during the first term of his service.

Such were the circumstances, under which all the branches of the National Legislature solemnly determined that the power of creating a National Bank was vested in Congress by the constitution The bank thus created, continued its operations for twenty years - the period for which its charter was granted - during which time, public and private credit were raised, from a prostrate to a very elevated condition, and the finances of the nation were placed upon the most solid foundation.

When the charter expired, in 1811, Congress refused to renew it, principally owing, as the committee believe, to the then existing state of political parties. Soon after the bank was chartered, the two great parties that have since divided the country, began to assume an organized existence. Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison, the former in the Executive Cabinet, and the latter in Congress, had been opposed to the establishment of the bank, on constitutional grounds, and being placed at the head of the party most unfavourable to the extension of the powers of the Government, by implication, the bank question came to be regarded as, in some degree, the test of political principle.

When Mr. Jefferson came into power, upon the strong tide of a great political revolution, the odium of the Alien and Sedition laws was, in parts communicated to the Bank of the United States; and, although he gave his official sanction to an act, creating a new branch of that institution, at New Orleans, and to another to punish the counterfeiting of its bills, yet, when the question of renewing the charter came before Congress, it was discussed as a party question.

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