Jackson Versus Biddle: The Struggle over the Second Bank of the United States

By George Rogers Taylor | Go to book overview

George Bancroft: A LETTER, Dated Northampton, October 1, 1834
THE United States Bank, as at present constituted, ought never to be renewed. The reasons are obvious.
1. The capital is too vast. In proportion to the wealth of the country, it is the largest moneyed monopoly in the world. Not England with its hundred millions of subjects, and its aristocratic factions for leaders, not the France of Napoleon, nor the legitimacy, nor of Louis Philippe, not Russia with its despotic government and its millions of serfs, has ever created a moneyed institution with resources comparatively so great. Republican America, the Virgin of the New World, the Government which is especially charged by wholesome legislation to prevent all extreme inequalities of fortune, has surpassed every country in Europe in the lavish concession of influence and privileges to a moneyed corporation.
2. There is equal room for objection to the power of the United States Bank to accumulate and retain real estate under the form of mortgages; a power as durable as its charter, equal to that of the Massachusetts General Hospital in its character, and co-extensive with the Union; a feature in the bank, so offensive, that it is now condemned even by its friends.
3. The power of establishing branches at its will in any portion of the Union, is another too lavish concession. An institution, lifted above the local laws, and defying the powers of state legislation, by which it can never be taxed, can offer no just motive for a branch, except where it may be required as an organ of the treasury.
4. The power of the bank to supply the currency with bills of a small denomination, is, in a national point of view, too little restricted. Under its operation and the rivalry of the state banks, specie is almost entirely withdrawn from the hands of the people; and credit, which is so fluctuating and so delicate, has been pushed to such an excess, that every little scarcity in the money market is felt throughout the country with fourfold severity. The excessive use of credit and frequent ruinous pressures are inseparable.
5. The power of the bank to resist inquiry is too great. I hold to the republican doctrine of strict accountability. Every organ of the government, and every corporation that lives by the favor of the government, should be exposed to the searching influence of a "roving hunt" and a diligent inquiry. The severer the scrutiny, the better. . . .

Of these objectives against the United States Bank, the one, relating to its immense capital, is the most weighty. I have been surprised at the apathy of the people on this subject. . . . [We must try to] sink deep in the hearts of the people

____________________
This selection is part of a letter addressed to Messrs. S. Judd, J. H. Flint, S. Parsons, C. Clark, C. P. Huntington, and J. Wright, printed in the Boston Courier, October 23, 1884.

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