” Let the Americans,” said Wm. Pitt, ” adopt their funding system, and go into their Banking institutions, and their boasted independence will be a mere phantom.” No small number of Americans were of a similar opinion: but it was contended by others, that if the revolutionary debt was not funded, injustice would be done to the public creditors. Out of this funding system sprung the old Bank of the United States, for three-fourths of its capital consisted of public stocks. The Bank, its friends averred, was necessary to support the public credit, and aid the fiscal operations of the Federal Government. Its opponents contended that it was anti-republican in its tendency, and that the Constitution gave Congress no power to establish such an institution. The period immediately succeeding the Revolutionary War, was, in a peculiar sense, an age of speculation. Trafficking in soldier’s certificates, in the public lands, and in the various evidences of the public debt, was the business of many who had money, and of many who had not. Perhaps the fortunes some thereby acquired, may have excited envy, and thus increased the opposition to the system which had its origin with some in political, and with others, in moral reasons. Be this as it may, the Bank of the United States was regarded as the cap-stone of a policy which was viewed as very objectionable: and the democratic journals of the day abounded in what one of our most respectable authors calls” abuse of the Banking and funding system.”Mr. Jefferson’s opposition to Banks was of the most decided character. In his preface to Destitute Tracy’s Political Economy, he denounces them as parasitical institutions: and he seldom let slip an opportunity of expressing his abhorrence of their whole scheme of operations. His objections to the Bank of the United States on constitutional grounds were equally strong. “I consider,” he says, ct the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground, that ” all powers not delegated to the United States by the Con situation, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or the people.” To take angle step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the power of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of plover, no longer susceptible of definition. The incorporation of a Bank, and other powers assumed by this Lill, have not, in my opinion, been delegated to the United States by the Constitution.” After showing that the powers were not among those specially enumerated, nor in any of the general phrases, he says” It is known that the very power now proposed as a means was rejected as an end by the Convention which formed the Constitution: a proposition was made to them to authorize Congress to open canals, and an commendatory one to empower them to incorporate; but the whole was rejected, and one of the reasons urged in the debate was, that then they would have power to create a Bank, which would render the great cities, where there were prejudices or Jealousies on this subject, adverse to the reception of the Constitution.” The Bank was not established by a strict party vote, for eleven out of thirty-nine who voted for it were democrats, and six out of twenty, who opposed it, were federalists; but it afterwards became, as Mr. Niles says, one of the landmarks of party, and, in the second Congress, a resolution declaring the Bank charter unconstitutional, was within one vote of passing the House. The hostility of the democratic party to the Bank, was but little abated for many years; but, as the time approached for the expiration of the charter, enmity to the institution gave way, in a great degree, to fear of the distress which the winding up of its affairs would produce. The pens of numerous caribes were employed in portraying the manifold evils which must come upon the country, and deputations of merchants and mechanics were sent from Philadelphia to Washington, to beg Congress to avert the impending danger.
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