Press enter after choosing selection

Another Veto

Another Veto image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

To the House of Representatives of the United States; It is with extreme regret that I feel myself constrained by the duty fuithfully to execuie the office of the President of the United States, nnd to the best of my ability "to preserve, proteet and defend the constitution of the United States,'' to return to the House in which it originaled the bill "to provide for the better collection., .safe keeping and disbursenjent of the public ïevenue by means of a corporation to be Btyled the Fiscal Corporation of the Uniled States" with my w ritten objections. In my message sent io the Senate on the I6th day of August last, returning the bilí "to incorpórate the subscribers to the Fiscal Bank of the Uniied States," I distinctly declared "thnt my own opinión has been uniforinly proclnimed to be against the exercise of the power of Cpngross to créate a Nutional Bank to opérate perst over the Union," aTid entertaining that opinión, my raain objection io tha{ bill was based jpon the highest moral and religious obh'gations af conscience and the Constitution. I readily admit, that whilst the qualified Veto with which the Chief Magistrate is invested, ihould be regarded, and was ntended by the wisc men who made t a part of the constitution, as a great conservative principie of our syslem, without the exercise of which, on important occasions, a mere representative majority might urge the government, in its legislation, beyond the limita fixed by its Iramers, or raight exert U just powers too hastily or oppressively, yet, il is a power which ought to be most cautiously exerted, and perhaps never, except in a case eminently involving the public interest, or in which the oath of the President, acting under his convictions both mental and inoral, imperiously iequires its exercise. In siich a case he has no alternative. He must either exert the negative power entnisted to him by the constitution chiefly for its own preservation, protection, and defence, or cotniuit an act of gross moral turpitude. Mere regard to the will of majority, must not, in a constitutional rcpublic like ours, control this 6acred and solemn duty of a sworn officer. The constitution itselfl regard and cherish as the einbotlied and written will of the whole people of the United States . It is their fixed and fundamental law, which they unanimously prescribe to the public functionaries their mere trustees and servante 1 This their will, and the law wliich they have given us as the rule of our oclion, has no guard, no guarantee of preservation, protection, and defence, bul the oatlis which it prescribes to public officers, the sanctity with which they shall religiously observe those oflths, and the patriotism with which the peoplö shall a'.iield it by their owu eovereignty, which has made the cunstitution supreme. It must be exerted against the will of a mere representalive majority or not all. It is alone in pursuance of that will that any measure can ever reach the President; and to say that because a majority in Congress have passed a bill the President should therefore sanction it, is to abrógate tbc power altogether, and to render its mserttoii in the constitution a work of absolute supererosation. The duty is to gua rd he fundamental will of the people themselves from- in this case I admit unintentional - change or mfraction by a majority in Congress; and in thal light alone do f regard the constitutional auty which I now most reluctantly discharge. ís this bill, now presented for my approval or öisapproval, such a bill as I have already declared could not receive rny sanction? Is it such a bill as calis for the exercise of the negative power under the constitution? Doesit viólate the constitution by creating a National Bank to opérate per se over the Union? lts title, in the first pluce, describes its general character. It is An act to provide for the better coilection, safe keeping nnd disbursement of the public revenue by means uf a Corporation, to be atyled the Fiscal Corporation of the United ötates." In style, then, it is plainly national in its clmracter. lts powers,functione, and duties, are tbose that pertain to the collectmg, ceping, and disbuising the public revenue. - llienieansby which these are to be exerted, is a Corporation, to be styled the Fiscal CorPpration of the United States. It is a corporaon created by the Congress of the United otates, m ts clmracter of a national legislature 'or the whole Union, to periorm the Gscal purPp8es,meet the fiscal wants and exigencies,supPy the fiscal uses, and exert the fiscal agencies m the treasury of the United States. Such is lts own description of itself. Do its provisions contradict ts own title? They do not. It is un at t8 fif3t Bect ÏOU il provides that it snall be established in the District of Colombia. Dut the amount of its capital- the manner in oich ts Btock is to be subscribed for and held -the persons and bodies corpor and politie '7 whora its stock may be held- ihe nppoiatnent of ita directora, and their powers and du'7" ts fundamental articles, especially that to Ublish agencies in any part of the Union-the corporate powers and business of sueh ajgencies - the prohibtion of Congress to estabi lish any'other Corporation, with similar powers, for 20 years, with express reservation, in the same clause, to modify or créate any bank for the District of Columbia so that tbe oggrerate capital shall not exceed five millioiis-without enumerating other features which are equally d6tinctive and characteristic - cleariy show that it cannot be regarded aa other than a Bank of the United States, with powers seemingly more limitcd ihan have heretofore been graiited by stich an institutio.i. It operaten per se over the Union, by virtue of the unaided, and, in my view, aftóumed authority of Congress as a national legislature, as distinguished from a Bank created by Congress for the district of Columbin, as the local legislature of the District. Every United States Bank heretofore created, has had power to deal in Bills of Exchange as woll as local discounts. Uoth were trading privileges conferred, and both exercised by virtue of ?he aforesaid power of Congress, over the whole Union. The question of power remains unchanged without reference to the extent of privilege granted. lf this proposed Corporation is to be regarded as a local Bank of the District of Colunibia, invested by Congress with general powers to opérate over the Union, it is obnoxious toeijll stronger objections. Itassumes that Congress may invest a local instituljon with general or nntional powers. WiU the sarne propnety Uiat it may do this in regard to a Bank of the District of Columbia, it may as to a State Bank. Yot, who can indulge the idea that this Government can righttully, by making a State Bank ite fiscal agent, invest it with the absolute and unqualified powers conferred by this bill? When 1 come to look to the details of the Bill, :hey do not recornmend it slrongly to my adoption. A brief nolice of some or'its provisions will suifice:- lst. It may justify eubstantially a system of discounts of the most objectionable character. [t is to deal in bilis of exchange drawn in onê state wad payable in anotner, without any restraint. The bill of exchange may have an unlimited term to run, and lts renewability is no where guarded against. It may, in fact,assume ;he most objectionable form of accommodation. It is not required to rest on any actual, real or substantial exchange basis. A drawer in one jlace becomes the acceptor in another, and so n turn the acceptor may become a drawer upon a mutual underetanding. It may at the same time indulge in mere local discounts under the ïame of bilis of exchange. A bill drawn at Pniladelphia on Camden, New Jersey - at New York on border town in New Jersey - at Cincinnati on Newport, Kentuck y, not to multiply other examples, might for any thing in this bill to restrain it, become a mere matter of local accommodation, Cities thus relatively situated would possess advantages over cities otheiwise situated, of sodecided a character as mostjustly to excite dissutisfaction. Second , There is no limit prescribed to the jremium in the parchase of bilis of exchange, thereby correcting none of the evils under which the community now labors, and operaiing most injuriously upon the agricultural States,in which the inequalities in the rates of exchange! are most severely feit , Nor are these the only consequences: a resumption of specie payments :y the banks of those States would be Hable to! indefinite postponement - for, as the operation of the agencies of the interior would chiefly consic-t in selling bilis of exchange,and the purchases could oniy be made in specie or the notes ot banks paying specie, the State banks would either have to continue with their doors closed, or exist at the mercy of this national monopoly of brokerage. Nor can it bo passed over without remark, that, whilst the District of Columbia is made the seat of the principal bank, its citizens are excluded from all participation in J any üenefit it nught afford, by a positiva 1 nbition on the bank from all discounting within the District. Those are some of the objections which prominently exÏ6t against the deUnla of the bill, others might be urged of much force - but it world be unprofitable to dweil upon thcm. Suffice it to add, that this charter' is desiuned to continue for twenty years without a competitor - that the defects lo which I have alluded, being founded in the fundamental law of the Cor-' poration, are irrevocable - and that ir" the objoctions be well founded it would be over hazard - ous to pass the bill into a law. In conclusión 1 lake leave most respectfully to 6ay, that I have feit the most anxious solicitude to meet the wishes of Congress m the adoption of a Fiscal Agent which, avoiding all constitutionul objections, should harmonize con flicting opinions. Actualed by this feeling, I have been ready to yield much, in a spirit of conciliation , to the opinions of others. And it is with greut pain that I now feel compelled to differ from Congress a second time in the same session. At the commencement of this session, inclined fiom choice to defer to tlie legislative will, I submitted to Congress the proprietyof adopting a Fiscal Agent which without violating the Constitution, would seperate the public money from the Executive control, perform the operations of the Treasury without bting burthensome to the people, or inconvenient, or expensive to the government. It is deeply to be regretted, that ihis Department of the Government cannot, upon constitutional grounds, concur with the Legislative Department in this last mensure proposed to attain these desirable object. Owing to the brief space between the period of the deáth of my lamented predecessor and my own installation into office. I was, in fact, not left time to prepare and aubmit a definite recommendation of my own, in my regular message; and since, my mind has been wholiy occupied in a most anxious attempt to conform my action to the legislative will. In Ihis communicatlon, I am confina1 by the Constitution to my objections, sitnply to this bill, but the period of the regular session will soon arrive, when it will be my duty under another clause of the Constitution "to give to the Congress information of tlie state of the Union, and reconnnend to their consideration such raeasures a6 I shall judge necessary and expedient." Aud I most reepectfully aubrait,--■ - - - aam in a spirit of harmony, whether the present ( dinerences of opinión should be pressed funher ! at this time, and whether the peculiarity of my , situation, does not entitle me to a postponement of this subject, to a more auspicious penod for deliberation. The two housea of Congress have distinguised themselves at this I extraordinary session, by tiie performance of an immense mass of labor, at a season very unfavornble, both to health and action; and have passed many laws, which I trust will prove nighly beneficial to tho interest of the country, ' and fully answer its just expectations. It has I been my good fortune and pleasure, to concur ' with them in all measures except this. And ; why should our difference on this alone be i ptiBhed to extremes? It is my anxious desire that it should not be. I too have been burthened with extraordinary labora of late, and I ! cerely desire time for deep and delibérate i flection, on this, the grcatest difficulty of my : administration. May we not now pause, until ! a'more favorable time, when, with the most Í anxious hope that the Executive and Congress i may cordiaüy unite, some measure of finance ' may be deliberately adopted, promoiive of the good of our common country. I will take this occasion to decíate that the conchisions to which I have brought myself, are thofie of a scttled conviction, founded in my opinión on a just view of the Constitution.- That in arriving at it, I have been actuated by no olher motive or desire, than to uphold the institutions of the country, as they have come down to us from the hands of our God-like ancestors - and that I shall esteem my efforls to sustain them, even though I perish, more honorable than to win the applause of men by a sacrifice of my duty and my conscience.