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a matter of profit brought before them, namely, the substitution of the notes of the national bank for their own; that they, in the contest for business, may at least contend with weapons of equal temper, the one as true steel as the other. To this point, again, not so much as a matter of economy, but through that economy as resulting eventually, and it seems to us necessarily, in the attainment of the greatest element of financial safety and prosperity to the countrywe mean oneness and uniformity in our bank note issues, do we turn the special attention of those who are now deliberating (as who is not) on our most advisable course in this urgent
5. But we have a fifth point, and that one of no small
For the first three or four years of the late Bank of the United States, it existed but as the prey of speculators-a condition that long impeded its usefulness, and for the time blasted its reputation. Now, can any guard be taken in a new charter against such abuse? We think there can, and that the remedy is as simple as it will be found efficacious, although we still deem, that under the modifications already suggested, the possibility of the evil of such gross abuse is already avoided. The present suggested alteration, however, will be a still farther guarantee that its stock will be always placed in right hands. It is this—limit its dividends. Nor only so. Let it accumulate no rest or surplus to tempt cupidity. Let its rate of profit be fixed-say at six, perhaps five per cent. — the latter, certainly, if the government—the largest stockholder, with right of representation in its government, become also its guarantee ; a point which we suggest rather than urge, as bearing rather on the question of its capital, whether coming from abroad or at hoine. Its annual surplus to be by charter appropriated to the states, but whether according to their congressional representation, or according to the national circulation maintained within them, or in any other equitable manner, we content ourselves with hinting at as an open, and not a fundamental question. It is sufficient to see, that under such provision, its stock would offer no temptation to the speculator, and be as far below his ambition as it would be aborc his power.
6. Shall we not open, too, a sixth question, touching the bank's connection with the government, and the government's power over it, a point rendered necessary to be looked into, as exhibited in the last few years of the late bank's
NO. XVI. -VOL. VIII.
national existence? That some remedy is here needed, cannot be a matter of doubt, inasmuch as enormous evils resulted from the case as it then stood. Thus far, at least, is clear; but what its remedy shall be, where applied, how guarded ? this is obviously a matter on which there will be much difference of opinion — with some, as to the end sought — with most, as to the best means of securing an unquestioned one. Premising for ourselves, that we open this question, in the latter point only as debatable ground, and entering a protest against prejudicing, what we deem our scientific demonstrations, with objections drawn from these our prudential judgments, we proceed to touch upon this more delicate question according to our views of expediency.
In the first place, we think there is no doubt as to principles. Some, as above said, doubt about the end. We do not. We hold to perfect independence, on the part of the bank, as looked at in connection with government, within its chartered rights and duties; we mean, and hold that the administration or acting secretary of the treasury should have as little rights within its counter as within a bar of justice. The bank is to be governed by law and not by prerogatire. Its contract with the government is to be carefully and equitably made, and legally interpreted and adhered to, subject only to the action of Congress. The tongue of politics and the hand of power are to be deemed equal intruders into the bank parlor. The voice of the governinent is to be heard there but as a stockholder, through its representatives at the board. Of the leading provisions of that contract, little, we think, need be altered from the last one, beyond the power of removing deposites ; for the safety of which, security of stock should be given, so as to avoid the plea of urgent necessity on the part of the government; and then all legal action on the subject be left to the wisdom of Congress, to which body should the bank make annually direct report : and to this, we would add, as a farther bond of unanimity of action between government, the bank, and the public, that its notes should be receivable in all dues to government until otherwise ordered by Congress.
But what shall we say, touching the necessary battle for renewal? This — that for the prevention of such contest for recharter, as was exhibited, in some measure though more secretly by the first bank, but in disgraceful notoriety, as well as ruinous struggle, by the last, it is all-important now to adopt some adequate guard : what it shall be, may be an open question; to us, it seems, it may be done in two ways, either, first, by removing far off all such exciting question - say fifty years, leaving the charter, in the mean time, subject to the sovereign action of Congress, at all times, as to necessary modifications; or, secondly, what, perhaps, is better, a charter of indefinite duration, subject, however, every ten years to the prospective action of Congress upon its continuance, to take effect at the end of the ensuing ten years — the bank thus holding over from term to term a tenant at will at the end of every tenth year, but requiring ten years' notice to quit. The operation of such provision would be, we deem, highly favorable both to the bank and the country, removing both in opinion and truth from it, all dangerous independence, but leaving it subject, at the same time, to no temporary or capricious executive or party will ; and thus leading practically, we think, to an identification of its interests with those of the constitution of the country, tying, in short, its fates and fortunes to those of the federal union itself.
7. The location of such bank is our last remaining query. We need not here ask whether our past charters require herein to be amended. The commerce of the country answers it for us. The experience of past years, even if that were fully satisfactory, which we deem of late it was far from being, would not at any rate be our actual experience, or suit our present wants. The current of trade, then accidentally determined, has now worked itself into its permanent channels, as determined conclusively by the relative advantages of nature, such as rivers, lakes, and easy access from behind, with safe, commodious, and accessible port before ; thus determining which is "the mart of nations." Hitherto, therefore, we have spoken of the location of this governing board with its central branch, as at the settling-house of the commercial exchanges of the country; we now change our speech and say, the city of New York. To some, indeed, such open and early decision of an invidious question may appear unwise and premature, prejudicing in truth the result desired. We think otherwise, and for this reason: the power of such blind prejudice lies solely in its being a silent one; for it seems to make that a inatter of choice which is demonstratively a case not of choice, but of necessity. So long as men shut their eyes, they may doubt whether the docks and slips which the river has withdrawn from, shall or shall not be rebuilt as a station for shipping; but when they open their eyes they see that they must follow the rirer, and make the new docks where alone the ships come. Equally conclusive is it, that the regulator of the national currency and the equalizer of its exchanges should there sit, where the currency is in truth measured, and its exchanges in fact equalized; at the point where the two extremes meet, of foreign and domestic exchange — that point of contact where they are to be made by touching to sympathize with each other. The national bank is that connecting sympathizer; in its right hand it holds the one, and in its left ihe other; and this it can do nowhere but in the city of banks and street of banks, namely, in Wall street, New York. He who supposes that he thinks otherwise, deceives himself; he does not think, but dream ; for he dreams that it is a matter of doubt, whether the steersman should stand at the wheel or at the windlass; he doubts whether he who holds the reins had betier sit on the box or in the basket; he doubts whether the engineer of a railroad train should ride on the locomotive or in one of the passenger coaches; for all these are in fact but exemplifications of the same absurdity, all equivalent to supposing that the national regulator of the currency should be placed anywhere but where the currency is in fact regulated — in the city of New York. It is a case, in short, we again say, not of choice, but of necessity.
But there is a farther and more satisfactory answer to this fear of local influence — more satisfactory, as removing the ground of it. Such influence was, we admit, not unknown nor unfelt under the rule of the late United States Bank, and that for two reasons, both of which causes under our proposed plan will be removed. The first was, that, acting from its local position often against the natural current of exchanges, even the slightest derangement made a ripple in the waters; an equal effect would not therefore follow such cause moving, as in New York it would move, with the current. But secondly, the very cause itself is removed. This lay clearly in the governing body being also a local body - ihe same voice determining Philadelphia private discounts and New York general averages. Under the proposed division of these powers, no such jar can take place; for the governing body will not have the interest to mislead it, and the interested body will not have the power to gratify it. To say, indeed, that no abuse of power can ever take place in its government were absurd; but to charge or anticipate such local abuse from a general board, is evidently just as reasonable as to suspect the New York Court of Chancery, inasmuch as it sits in Albany, of a leaning in favor of an Albany suitor; or the custom-house in New York of making duties lighter to a New York importer. Let one consideration at least make men loathe to use such an argument; they who thus suspect become themselves suspicious, even that duty is not always strong enough for interest. But, as already said, interest in this case there is and can be none. Let but stockholders choose, as doubtless they will choose, men of known probity for governors; and the charter remove from them, as above proposed, all temptation of private or local interest, or solicitation of friendship, or even increased profit to the bank, and all is done that law or man can do whether in legal, financial, or civil office — to guard against abuse, and to enchain men to their duty: the next link is that which binds them to a higher judgment seat.
ART. VI.Storia del Reame di Napoli, dal 1734, sino al
1825, del Generale Pietro COLLETTA. Quarta Edizione. Capolago Cantone Ticino, Tipografia é Libreria Elvelica : 1836.
Such is the title, and such is the date of a book which is now openly sold and extensively read in Italy; and very probably, indeed, printed there also, though the etiquette of despotism masks its indulgence, and saves its credit, with this pretence of a “Swiss press and publication.” Perhaps this work may still be probibited in Rome, or even in Naples; but in Florence you find it in all the shops, and hear of it in every conversation, where Naples furnishes the subject-matter. There is a vast deal of practical improvement in Tuscany, while the theory of tyranny is still entire ; but the truth is, the present grand duke is a man of sense, and education, and refinement; and such a man cannot possibly be a tyrant. Under such a man's government, again, now that the world is in peace, a nation makes progress in strength and knowledge, and will be able, probably, in case of need,