Summary of Legislative Debate on Resolution Relative to Public Depositories, 17 January 18391
The resolutions from the Senate, upon the subject of the deposites of public money in the Banks, coming up for consideration—2
Mr. CALHOUN said he had been represented by others as being opposed to the State Bank. He was not so. He thought the public money ought to be deposited in the Banks of this State, while they continue to be deposited in Banks. He wanted to see the resolutions put in such a shape as that he could vote for them.
He did not wish unjust censure cast any where, and he thought the resolutions in their present shape, did so upon the President of the United States. A slight amendment would make the resolutions acceptable to him.
Mr. WILLIAMS said it was immaterial where the fault lie. Whether in the Executive of the United States, in Congress, or the Banks. The fact was, the Government is depositing the public money in Banks out of the State, and he thought it ought to be remedied. The State has chartered Banks, whose currency circulates among us. One of our Banks has the privilege to issue small bills, but the deposite act excludes such Banks. He asked whether that law was defensible? The only inquiry ought to be whether the Banks are good, and Congress acted improperly when they undertook to force the Legislatures of the States to alter their legislation upon the subject.3
Mr. W. said that the Secretary of the Treasury had recently selected 16 Banks as depositories which were situated similar to our own. He did not know that these Banks had issued small bills, but they had not commenced specie payments at the last dates. These very Banks had $900,000 on deposite from 1837, which they had not paid. Mr. W. then read from the report of the Secretary of the Treasury to show the number of Banks which were then employed as depositories. The Secretary stated that it was still the duty of the Department to select Bank depositories, where they were not excluded by the deposite act.4
The Secretary had evidently from his report selected Banks as depositors which were situated similarly with our own. Mr. W. stated that he had learned from good authority that Mr. Biddle’s Bank had been selected as a special depository, and that he had recently made $10,000 by the operation. Mr. W. thought it was time we had done truckling to the Administration. Our own Banks might as well have made this $10,000 as Mr. Biddle.
Mr. SMITH, of Wabash, asked Mr. Williams to name the sixteen Banks which had been selected. Mr. S. stated it was well known that he had always been in favor of our own Banks and of their having the deposites. Our own branch Bank at Quincy had been lately made a special depository as he was informed. Mr. Smith said he was not satisfied with the remarks of the gentleman from Adams. If it was true that the 16 Banks he had named were selected, and if it was true also that those Banks were similarly situated to our own, he should certainly vote for the original resolutions.
Mr. WILLIAMS named the Banks.
Mr. CLOUD offered an amendment to strike out all after the enacting clause and insert the following:
That we consider it but just and right while the General Government continues to make deposites with State Banks that the Banks in the States in which the revenue is collected should be employed as such depositories where such Banks do not render themselves incapable of becoming deposite Banks under the acts of Congress regulating the deposites of public moneys.
Resolved, That as citizens of Illinois, and Representatives of the people thereof, we view with regret the deposite of public money collected from our own citizens in our own State, in the Bank of Missouri, to the detriment of the citizens and Banks of our own State.
Resolved, That if the State Bank of Illinois and the Bank of Illinois at Shawneetown shall comply with the regulations enacted by Congress in reference to deposites, and shall properly authenticate the fact to the proper department, we as the Representatives of the people of the State of Illinois respectfully yet earnestly ask and claim as an act of justice the deposite of the revenue collected in this State to be made in the banks thereof so long as the Government shall continue to deposite her funds with the State Banks, and so long as the Banks of the State conform to the acts of Congress on the subject of deposites.
Resolved, That if the General Government shall neglect and refuse to deposite the money collected in this State in the Banks thereof after evidence is laid before the proper department that the Banks of Illinois have removed all disabilities on their part to become deposite Banks, the people of the State will have just grounds to complain of the policy of the General Government as unfair and partial.
Resolved, That if proper evidence be given to our Senators and Representatives that the Banks of Illinois come within the purview of the deposite act, that our Senators be instructed and our Reprhsentatives requested to use their influence to procure the doposites for the Banks of this State.
Resolved, That the Governor be requested to forward a copy of the foregoing resolutions to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress.
Mr. WILLIAMS hoped the amendment would not prevail.
Mr. HAPPY said the gentleman from Adams had not read the whole deposite law He then read the entire law. Much pains had been taken to show that this was no party question, yet when we wish to strike out the party matter in the resolutions, the gentlemen of the Whig party refuse to give us a chance to do so.5 Mr. Happy then read from the Sangamo Journal, the organ of the Whig party. That paper says that the resolutions are instructions to our Senators to vote against the Sub. Treasury system.6 It does not say any thing about depositories. What do gentlemen say to this? Those gentlemen who on this floor, are endeavoring to soft soap the members by saying there is no party. Mr. Happy said the gentlemen from Adams had proved that there were only four general depositories in the United States, and the Bank of Missouri happened to be one of them.7 Ought we to get in a great pet with the General Government for not giving us a share of the deposites? There were 16 special depositories, and Mr. H would ask what would be our share? Two million and a little upwards was the whole amount on deposite in banks, including the Nick Biddle bank, which had been spoken of. Mr. H. could not understand that any other object was intended than an attack upon the Administration. Their organ at Springfield had asserted in advance what they were. The editor had been too fast, however, for his friends here. The editor said they were party resolutions, and more, that they would pass this House!8 Probably some of his friends here had told him so—those very friends who softly told us here there is no party! Mr. Speaker, I detest this political hypocrisy! Gentlemen tell their organ at Springfield that these resolutions are equivalent to instructions to our Senators against the Sub-treasury bill; but here they sing a totally different tune! Here they say there are no instructions intended!
Mr. H. said he had confidence in one of the banks—the Shawneetown bank; but he had heard rumors of the State bank which, if upon investigation, should turn out to be true, he should have no confidence in that bank. He had heard that she had made $500,000 off the State—that she was also engaged in the lead trade.
Mr. BAKER said that the gentleman from Morgan (Mr. Happy) always introduces the bank into every subject he discusses. But he should let that pass. The gentleman had also said that the Globe was the party organ. Mr. B. would quote from that organ in 1832. It then condemned the sub-treasury bill, as bringing the money of the nation one step nearer the President, &c[etc]. The gentleman from Morgan had never quoted this from the Globe. Mr. B. said he did not acknowledge the sentiments of some stray writer in the Sangamon Journal as his sentiments. He did not think the resolutions were party resolutions.9
Mr. B. then referred to the report of the Secretary of the Treasury. It appeared that special depositories had been established. He thought the argument of the gentleman from Adams was unanswerable. These special depositories were general depositories at last. The money is placed to the special credit of the treasurer, and the banks have the use of the money until the treasurer wants it. He thought our own banks ought to be placed in the same condition. Mr. B. contended that it was not the amount of the deposites which should determine this question. Whether the deposites were much or little, the principle is the same. If it is right to deposite at all in banks, and he thought it was, the amount of the deposites is nothing.
Mr. B. said the bank which had lately been selected in Mobile owed the government from 1837. The Bank of Missouri had only gone into operation lately. She had always paid specie, he supposed, but the effect of keeping her a depository, and not our own, was to cripple our banks and the community in which they were. Mr. B. asked whether it was wise legislation in Congress to exclude our banks. That the legislation was partial, no one could doubt. Its effect was to draw our substance from us never to return. This was the manner in which we were treated by a government which severed the order of Providence, who returns the dews of Heaven for all he takes away. He, Mr. B., said the resolution was not of a party nature. If the government had acted partially, as he thought it had, we ought to speak out without regard to party, and have speedy and active redress.
Mr. WALKER, of Vermillion, contended that what he wanted was to express the opinion that while the government used banks, she ought to use ours. But the resolutions, as they now read, would not accomplish the purpose. The gentleman from Sangamo had stated yesterday that the General Government was no longer the protector of the State, because she did not deposite her money in banks. Mr. Walker did not expect to hear such doctrines advanced on this floor. The gentleman seemed to think that we must hurl our defiances in the teeth of the General Government, as on some foreign enemy. He seemed to scout the idea that the Legislature ought to memorialize Congress. He called it a humiliation. Mr. Walker thought such doctrines as these worse than nullification.10
Gentlemen condemn the Secretary of the Treasury for violating the deposite law in selecting some sixteen deposite banks, and at the same time condemn him for not violating the law still further by selecting our own banks against the law. This was inconsistent. Mr Walker then referred to the opinion of the press of these resolutions. The Whig papers had broke party grounds upon them, they called them a death-blow to the sub-treasury, and amounting to an instruction to our Senators to vote against that bill. It was in vain for gentlemen to say there was no party intended. They had voted down all amendments, they had gone against all investigation. They had opposed all modification, by which the resolutions could be put in such a form as to carry both parties generally. This course falsifies the declarations of gentlemen that there is no party.
Mr BAKER replied, denying that he was in any sense a nullifier. Mr Calhoun, he believed, the great nullifier, was now acting with the party to which the gentleman from Vermilion belongs.
Mr. HAPPY said he hoped he would not be asked to throw off his party trammels, by gentlemen who stick so tight to their own. Mr H. asked the gentleman from Sangamo what party it was that voted in favor of the sub-treasury in 1832? Was it not his own party?
Mr BAKER vindicated his party for their course then, by saying that the ban of the Administration was then upon them.
Mr ENGLISH said he should vote for the amendment, he believed it was better calculated to attain the object desired by every gentleman in this House; he was opposed to the Senate Resolutions, not that he was unfriendly to the object proposed to be accomplished by them, but that they accused in strong language the Administration with wanton partiality towards our banks. Mr E said he would go as far as any other gentleman to promote the interest of our own banks, but that he was unwilling to vote to censure the General Government until he was convinced that such partiality had been shown by the government. If gentlemen believed that such partiality existed, why did they oppose the resolution offered by the gentleman from Sangamo, Mr Calhoun, calling for the correspondence between the Secretary of the Treasury and the banks of Illinois; are gentlemen afraid to have the facts come to the light?11 Mr E. was friendly to our own institutions, and was anxious to see them made the depositories of the public monies collected in our own State while the Government continues to make deposites in banks, which he hoped might not long be the case. Mr E., understood the gentleman from Sangamo (Mr Baker) to say, that any gentleman that would not vote for the resolutions as they now are, must be so tramelled by party shackles as to be unworthy to represent a free and intelligent people, that there is nothing in these resolutions of a party character, that gentlemen ought to soar above party considerations on this question. Mr E. replied to this part of the argument by saying, he should vote for the amendment, and that if the resolutions were not amended, he should vote against them notwithstanding the declaration just made by the Hon. gentleman from Sangamo. Mr E. said, he was willing to admit that he was a party man to a certain extent, and that he did not know a gentleman on this floor that was not. Mr. E. said, he thought the cry of no party, came with rather an ill grace from that quarter. Mr E. said if he was permitted to guess, he should guess that no gentleman on this floor would hollow louder and throw his hat higher at a party victory, than the Hon. gentleman from Sangamo. Mr E. hoped the amendments might be agreed to.
Mr LINCOLN said, he would be willing that the word partiality should be stricken out if he thought it was not true. The Legislature would be more respected by the Government if it used plain language, whenever that language is true. Mr L. then summed up the arguments which had passed, and contended that the position was fully made out that the Government had been partial. He was willing to take the gentleman from Vermilion by the hand. He says that by our course we strike our own party friends. Well, we are willing to go it. Let him do the same with his party friends. Gentlemen insist that they cannot pass on these resolutions without investigation. He had heard similar arguments often made to put off trial in court.
Mr WILLIAMS pointed out the distinction between the resolutions and the substitute.12 He believed that the resolutions were true, and he hoped gentlemen would come up and vote on them. He hoped no newspaper opinions would be taken as authority. Let gentlemen judge for themselves whether they instruct our Senators against a sub-treasury or not, and vote accordingly. Mr W. declared that from the documents in his hand, it was evident that Mr Woodbury considered it in his power to employ banks.
Mr W. said, that he and his friends were willing to modify the resolutions in a manner which he thought would be acceptable.
Mr MURPHY hoped the substitute would be withdrawn, as he desired to have the resolutions modified as had been suggested.
Mr CLOUD did not think he could withdraw it. He could not vote for the seventh resolution, which instructed our Senators to use their influence to deposite the money in the State.13
Mr WALKER, of Vermilion said, he thought as the question would be first taken upon the first amendment, a compromise might be made upon the language of the seventh resolution.14
The question was then taken on striking out all after the word resolved in the first resolution, and decided by yeas and nays as follows:
Yeas—Messrs.[Messieurs] Alexander, Allen of Franklin, Allen of Greene, Bainbridge, Brown, Calhoun, Carpenter, Churchill, Cloud, Compher, Copland, Crain, Daley, Edmonson, English, Fisk, Flood, Foster, French, Gouge, Green of Clay, Green of Greene, Hankins, Happy, Harris, Houston, Kercheval, Logan, McWilliams, Maus, Moore, Murphy of Cook, Naper, Pace, Robinson, Roman, Robert Smith, Thomas of St. Clair, Walker of Vermilion, Webb of Alexander, Wood, Zimmerman, and Mr. Speaker—43.
Nays—Messrs. Aldrich, Archer, Baker, Craig, Cunningham, Dawson, Dubois, Dunn, Edwards, Elkin, Elliott, Emmerson, Ficklin, Gilham, Hardin, Henderson, Henry, Holmes, Hull, Johnson, Jones, Kent, Kerr, Lincoln, Lyons, McCormack, McMillan, McCutchen, Menard, Morgan, Murphy of Perry, Murphy of Vermilion, Otwell, Phillips, Rawalt, Read, Roberts, Smith of Wabash, George Smith, Stapp, Thomas of McLean, Thornton, Walker of Fulton, Webb of White, and Williams—45.15
The question was then taken on striking out the word partiality and inserting policy, and decided in the affirmative—yeas 54, nays 34.16
Mr. CALHOUN moved to strike out the fifth resolution.
Mr. THORNTON asked whether the resolutions would receive the support of the gentleman from Sangamon if thus amended.
Mr. CALHOUN said they would.
The question being taken, the fifth resolution was stricken out.17
Mr. LINCOLN moved to lay the resolutions and amendments on the table until the 4th of July, which was decided in the affirmative, by yeas and nays as follows:
Yeas—Messrs. Alexander, Allen of Franklin, Allen of Greene, Bainbridge, Brown, Carpenter, Churchill, Cloud, Compher, Copland, Crain, Daley, Dubois, English, Ficklin, Fisk, Flood, Foster, French, Gouge, Green of Clay, Green of Greene, Hankins, Happy, Harris, Henderson, Holmes, Houston, Kercheval, Lincoln, Logan, Lyons, McCormick, McMillan, McWilliams, Moore, Murphy of Cook, Naper, Read, Robinson, Roman, George Smith, Walker of Vermilion, Webb of Alexander, Zimmerman, and Mr. Speaker—46.
Nays—Messrs. Aldrich, Archer, Baker, Craig, Cunningham, Dawson, Dunn, Edmonson, Edwards, Elkin, Elliott, Emmerson, Gilham, Hardin, Henry, Hull, Johnson, Jones, Kent, Kerr, McCutchen, Maus, Menard, Morgan, Murphy of Perry, Murphy of Vermilion, Otwell, Pace, Philips, Rawalt, Roberts, Smith of Wabash, Robert Smith, Stapp, Thomas of McLoan, Thomas of St. Clair, Thornton, Walker of Fulton, Webb of White, Williams, and Wood—42.
The House then adjourned.
2William J. Gatewood introduced these resolutions in the Senate on December 19, 1838. Gatewood’s eight resolutions opposed the federal government’s policy of depositing public money collected in Illinois in banks of other states, in preference to banks in which the State had an interest. The state government had a vested interested in two banks: the State Bank of Illinois and the Bank of Illinois. The charter of the State Bank set aside $100,000 of the bank’s capital stock--out of a total of $1,500,000--for purchase by the state. The charter of the Bank of Illinois and the act extending it stipulated that one-third of the bank’s $300,000 in capital stock was reserved for purchase by the state.
The federal banking system was governed by “An Act to Regulate the Deposites of the Public Money,” or the Deposit Act for short. Enacted on June 23, 1836, the Deposit Act was a compromise plan to create a national banking system in the aftermath of Andrew Jackson’s veto of the re-charter bill for the Second Bank of the United States and use of select state banks, called “pet banks” by Jackson’s critics, for federal deposits. Section one required the secretary of the treasury to select at least one bank in each state and territory, provided certain conditions were met, including if the secretary believed the banks so selected were solvent and safe enough to be repositories of public money.
The Treasury Department did not employ either the State Bank of Illinois or the Bank of Illinois as repositories of public money, and the federal government had deposited revenue from land sales in Illinois in the State Bank of Missouri. Gatewood hoped to correct this situation with his resolutions. The Senate passed the resolutions on January 4, 1839. The House received the resolutions on January 5.
Illinois Senate Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 90-91, 97, 130, 131, 132, 133; Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 172-73; “An Act to Incorporate the President, Directors and Company of the Bank of Illinois,” 28 December 1816, Laws of Illinois Territory (1817), 11-19; Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Bank War: A Study in the Growth of Presidential Power (New York: W. W. Norton, 1967), 169-70; “An Act to Regulate the Deposites of the Public Money,” 23 June 1836, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):52, 53.
3The Sangamo Journal claimed that the government excluded the State Bank because it paid out notes in denominations of less than five dollars and had suspended specie payments. Section five of the Deposit Act stipulated that these actions would disqualify a bank to serve as a depository, and the State Bank had taken both.
“An Act to Regulate the Deposites of the Public Money,” Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):53; Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 19 January 1839, 2:2.
4For a list of these “special depositories,” see “Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on Finances,” December 5, 1838, in Public Documents Printed by the Order of the Senate of the United States, Third Session of the 25th Congress (Washington, DC: Blair and Rives, 1839), v. 1, no. 2, 52. This data may also be accessed at “Report on Finances, December 1838, 224, Fraser, accessed August 2, 2018, https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/title/194/item/5483/toc/276876.
5Most likely a reference to an amendment proposed by Harvey T. Pace to amend the first resolution by striking out the word “partiality,” and insert “policy.” The first resolution read as follows: “Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Illinois, That we view, with deep regret, the partiality exercised by the General Government, in causing the deposites of public moneys, collected in the State of Illinois, to be made in Banks without the same.”
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 172, 230.
6The Sangamo Journal did view Gatewood’s resolutions as instructions to the Illinois congressional delegation to vote against legislation for an independent sub-treasury. President Martin Van Buren called for the creation of an independent sub-treasury to replace deposit banking in his message to a special session on Congress on September 5, 1837--a session called to address the Panic of 1837. Silas Wright introduced the first sub-treasury bill, formally titled “A Bill Imposing Additional Duties as Depositories, in Certain Cases, on Public Officers,” on September 14, 1837. This bill passed the Senate on October 4, but the House of Representatives tabled it on October 14. Wright introduced a second sub-treasury bill, titled “A Bill to Impose Additional Duties, as Depositaries, upon Certain Public Officers, to Appoint Receivers General of Public Money, and to Regulate the Safe-Keeping, Transfer, and Disbursement of the Public Moneys of the United States,” on January 16, 1838. This bill passed the Senate, but failed in the House. In December 1838, Van Buren in his annual message to Congress renewed calls for an independent sub-treasury, and Wright and Churchill C. Cambreleng wrote and introduced another bill on January 30, 1839. The Senate passed the bill, but the House did not bring it up for a vote. On July 4, 1840, Congress finally managed to pass an independent treasury bill. It would survive only a little over one year; the Whigs, who gained majorities in the House and Senate and the presidency in the election of 1840, repealed the law on August 13, 1841.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 12 January 1839, 2:1; Message From the President of the United States, to the Two Houses of Congress, at the Commencement of the First Session of the Twenty-Fifth Congress, September 5, 1837 (Washington, DC: Blair and Rives, 1837), 3-22; S. 6 25th Cong. (1837); U.S. Senate Journal. 1837. 25th Cong., 1st sess., 50-55; U.S. House Journal. 1837. 25th Cong., 1st sess., 193-97; S. 157, 25th Cong. (1838); U.S. Senate Journal. 1838. 25th Cong., 2nd sess., 145; S. 258, 25th Cong. (1839); “An Act to Provide for the Collection, Safe Keeping, Transfer, and Disbursement of the Public Revenue,” 4 July 1840, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):385-92; “An Act to Repeal ‘An Act to Provide for the Collection, Safe Keeping, Transfer, and Disbursement of the Public Revenue,’ and to Provide for the Punishment of Embezzlers of Public Money, and for Other Purposes,” 13 August 1841, Statutes at Large of the United States 5 (1856):439-40; Major L. Wilson, The Presidency of Martin Van Buren (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas), 101-10; 126-27; Message From the President of the United States, to the Two Houses of Congress, at the Commencement of the Third Session of the Twenty-Fifth Congress, December 4, 1838 (Washington, DC: Thomas Allen, 1838), 11-12.
7The other three general deposit banks were in New York and Georgia (two banks).
“Report of the Secretary of the Treasury on Finances,” December 5, 1838, in Public Documents Printed by the Order of the Senate of the United States, Third Session of the 25th Congress, v. 1, no. 2, 46. This data may also be accessed at “Report on Finances, December 1838,” 225, Fraser, accessed August 2, 2018, https://fraser.stlouisfed.org/title/194/item/5483/toc/276876.
9Democrats in the House contended that the Whigs supported Gatewood’s resolutions--and by extension, the deposit banking system--as a party measure against the independent sub-treasury plan. Whigs countered that Democrats opposed the resolutions as a party measure in favor of an independent sub-treasury plan and against banks in general, and against the State Bank in particular. In Illinois, the Democrats and Whigs battled over paternity of the State Bank, each side blaming the other for fathering the faltering bank. The Sangamo Journal claimed that the Democrats refused to adopt Gatewood’s resolution because they wanted to see the bank, which they viewed as a Whig project, “crippled and destroyed.” Whigs found Democrat opposition to banks ironic, given that a common complaint of the deposit banking system was the Jackson and Van Buren administrations selected banks friendly to the Democratic cause, shunning those associated with the Whig Party and other critics. Congress enacted the Deposit Act in part to correct this abuse, but it did not prove entirely effective.
Sangamo Journal (Springfield, IL), 2 February 2:3; Proceedings of Whig Meeting in Hall of House of Representatives regarding Present Administration; Illinois State Register (Springfield), 14 December 1839, 3:2; Robert V. Remini, Andrew Jackson and the Bank War, 125, 170.
10Reference to the Nullification Crisis.
11Calhoun introduced a preamble and resolutions on January 5 after the House had referred the Senate resolutions to the Committee of the Whole.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 173-74.
13The seventh resolution read as follows: “Resolved, That our Senators be instructed, and our Representatives be requested, to use the influence which their station gives them, to change the present system of calling out of the State the revenues collected therein, no matter by what rule or regulation the same be countenanced and supported.”
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 173.
16The vote on Pace’s amendment. Lincoln voted no.
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 231.
17The fifth resolution read: “Resolved, That we consider submission, on the part of our public functionaries in and out of Congress, to the practice of withdrawing from our State the revenues collected here, and depositing them to the support of another banking institution in a neighboring State, as a humiliating surrender of the rights of our citizens, and their claims to equal justice, protection, and support.”
Illinois House Journal. 1838. 11th G. A., 1st sess., 173.
Printed Document, 1 page(s), Illinois State Register & People’s Advocate (Vandalia, IL), 22 January 1839, :2-5.