on Retiring (March 4, 1837) (Excerpt)

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I trust. They succeeded in obtaining a tariff of duties bearing most oppressively on the agricultural and labouring classes of society. rely upon it. unless it is required to execute some one of the specific powers intrusted to the government. and is now far below the amount originally contemplated by its advocates. enhances by so much the price of the commodity to the consumer. sustained the course of the executive. and in such a case it is unquestionably the duty of the government to reduce them. is not yet abandoned. endeavoured to arrest this prodigal scheme of injustice. however. and to swell the revenue beyond the real necessities of the public service. notwithstanding the tariff was reduced. the money raised by these imposts is drawn from their pockets. and have too much at stake. and unjust and oppressive. perhaps. and to impose unnecessary burdens upon the people. are too strong. The most productive and convenient sources of revenue were necessarily given to it. in order to fasten upon the people this unjust and unequal system of taxation. for the purpose of purchasing influence in other . The good sense and practical judgment of the people.T here is. Thus. and producing a revenue that could not be usefully employed within the range of the powers conferred upon Congress. to surrender the contest. Congress has no right under the Constitution to take money from the people. and to produce an overflowing treasury. it is an abuse of the power of taxation. and this plan of unconstitutional expenditure for the purposes of corrupt influence is. no one of the powers conferred on the federal government. nor in taking away the money of the people when it is not needed for the legitimate wants of the government. one unconstitutional measure was intended to be upheld by another. and. When. and to obtain the means of profuse expenditure. they do not so readily attract the attention of the people as smaller sums demanded from them directly by the tax-gatherer. Many powerful interests are continually at work to procure heavy duties on commerce. It may indeed happen that the revenue will sometimes exceed the amount anticipated when the taxes were laid. the design to collect an extravagant revenue. to squander the money and to purchase support. Plain as these principles appear to be. that it might be able to perform the important duties imposed upon it. finally overthrown. it is easy to reduce them. Designing politicians will support it to conciliate their favour. you will yet find that there is a constant effort to induce the general government to go beyond the limits of its taxing power. and the large accumulation of a surplus in the treasury. and to bring back the legislation of Congress to the boundaries prescribed by the Constitution. and the country has already felt the injurious effects of their combined influence. The corporations and wealthy individuals who are engaged in large manufacturing establishments. and the abuse of the power of taxation was to be maintained by usurping the power of expending the money in internal improvements. by its veto. But the tax imposed on goods. extravagant schemes of internal improvement were got up. desire a high tariff to increase their gains. this is ascertained. The various interests which have combined together to impose a heavy tariff. and if they raise more than is necessary for such purposes. You cannot have forgotten the severe and doubtful struggle through which we passed when the executive department of the government. for no circumstances can justify it in assuming a power not given to it by the Constitution. and to burden you with taxes beyond the economical wants of the government. But. The result of this decision has been felt in the rapid extinguishment of the public debt. so liable to abuse as the taxing power. in various quarters. and as many of these duties are imposed on articles of necessity which are daily used by the great body of the people. when the subject was brought before them. and the taxes which it lays upon commerce being concealed from the real payer in the price of the article.

the mechanic. and even enlightened men. a system of injustice. And when these issues have been pushed on. or by the influence of those who hope to profit by it. except for the purposes enumerated in the Constitution. and substituted one of paper in its place. and having of itself no intrinsic value. my fellow-citizens. thereby rendering property insecure. it should be forthwith reduced. to confine the general government rigidly within the sphere of its appropriate duties. It was not easy for men engaged in the ordinary pursuits of business. Do not allow yourselves.quarters. And. to be surprised at the facility with which laws were obtained to carry into effect the paper system. and must end in ruin. moreover. without violating the principles of the Constitution. It has no power to raise a revenue. and we ought not. and. from day to day. and political partisans to gratify? It will certainly not be returned to those who paid it. they are tempted by the prospect of gain. and are honestly entitled to it. to foresee all the consequences of a currency exclusively of paper. in order to obtain a surplus distribution. the states should disregard the principles of economy which ought to characterize every republican government. if persisted in. are sometimes misled by the specious and plausible statements of the designing. or impose taxes. by holding out to them the deceitful prospect of benefits to be derived from a surplus revenue collected by the general government. Honest. and if its income is found to exceed these wants. and the policy pursued since the adoption of our present form of government. cannot be relied upon to keep the circulating medium uniform in amount. it is liable to great and sudden fluctuations. The paper system being founded on public confidence. The corporations which create the paper money. and the wages of labour unsteady and uncertain. and assuming powers which have not been granted. on that account. will inevitably lead to corruption. It is. and that is. when confidence is high. There is but one safe rule. but who will receive it when distributed among the states. and the unfortunate course of legislation in the several states upon the same subject. and the labouring classes of society. then a reaction takes . — from the farmer. In times of prosperity. to extend their issues of paper beyond the bounds of discretion and the reasonable demands of business. and who have most need of it. But experience has now proved the mischiefs and dangers of a paper currency. they will. and annually divided among the states. In reviewing the conflicts which have taken place between different interests in the United States. and it rests with you to determine whether the proper remedy shall be applied. But the establishment of a national bank by Congress. until public confidence is at length shaken. drove from general circulation the constitutional currency. The federal government cannot collect a surplus for such purposes. and since the people have decided that the federal government cannot be permitted to employ its income in internal improvements. if encouraged by these fallacious hopes. we find nothing that has produced such deep-seated evils as the course of legislation in relation to the currency. and the burdens of the people so far lightened. whose attention had not been particularly drawn to the subject. find themselves oppressed with debts which they are unable to pay. The Constitution of the United States unquestionably intended to secure to the people a circulating medium of gold and silver. before long. efforts will be made to seduce and mislead the citizens of the several states. and the temptation will become irresistible to support a high tariff. The surplus revenue will be drawn from the pockets of the people. to be misled on this subject. and should indulge in lavish expenditures exceeding their resources. with the privilege of issuing paper money receivable in the payment of the public dues. where it is to be disposed of by leading state politicians who have friends to favour.

and produce an unexpected and ruinous contraction of the circulating medium. it will foster this eager desire to amass wealth without labour. It is not by encouraging this spirit that we shall best preserve public virtue and promote the true interests of our country. and although. their intelligence. their love of liberty. and the mischievous consequences of their imprudence or cupidity are visited upon the public. and prepared to employ it. These ebbs and flows in the currency. and where this respectable portion of our citizens are so proudly distinguished from the labouring classes of all other nations. and inevitably lead to corruption. at no distant day. Recent events have proved that the paper money system of this country may be used as an engine to undermine your free institutions. We have already seen its effects in the wild spirit of speculation in the public lands. seized upon such a multitude of our citizens. the temptation to obtain money at any sacrifice will become stronger and stronger. and their bravery in war has covered us with glory. and various kinds of stock. It is the duty of every government so to regulate its currency as to protect this numerous class as far as practicable from the imposition of avarice and fraud. While they have capitals not greatly disproportioned to each other. These frauds are most generally perpetrated in the smaller notes. Your banks now furnish your only circulating medium. which are used in the daily transactions of ordinary business. unless silver and gold are restored to circulation. according to the quantity of notes issued by them. Some of the evils which arise from this system of paper. But if your currency continues as exclusively paper as it now is. where the government is emphatically the government of the people. press with peculiar hardship upon the class of society least able to bear it. and whose daily wages are necessary for their subsistence. they cannot combine for the purposes of political influence. yet from their number and dispersed situation. and felt . The banks by this means save themselves. it will multiply the number of dependants on bank accommodations and bank favours. and they immediately withdraw the credits they have given. which within the last year or two. and the moral tone of society. suddenly curtail their issues. which will find its way into your councils. are aware of its power. the pecuniary concerns. and destroy. but there is another consideration which should still more strongly press it upon your attention. and no one of them can exercise dominion over the rest. their high tone of moral character. A portion of this currency frequently becomes depreciated or worthless. of the paper currency. they are competitors in business. and threatened to pervade all classes of society and to withdraw their attention from the sober pursuits of honest industry. It is more especially the duty of the United States. and to govern by corruption or force. in the present state of the currency. whose situation and pursuits put it out of their power to guard themselves from these impositions. and the losses occasioned by them are commonly thrown upon the labouring classes of society. and the government of the United States will but ill discharge its duties if it leaves them a prey to such dishonest impositions. and that those who desire to engross all power in the hands of the few. These views alone. Their industry in peace is the source of our wealth. their power of mischief must necessarily be confined to a narrow space. and all of it is easily counterfeited in such a manner as to require peculiar skill and much experience to distinguish the counterfeit from the genuine note. which is felt by the whole community. by their independent spirit. Nor does the evil stop here. and money is plenty or scarce. are sufficient to call for immediate reform. Yet it is evident that their interests cannot be effectually protected. these banks may and do operate injuriously upon the habits of business. the purity of your government. and these indiscreet extensions of credit. naturally engender a spirit of speculation injurious to the habits and character of the and whatever may be the disposition of some of them.

The distress and sufferings inflicted on the people by the bank are some of the fruits of that system of policy which is continually striving to enlarge the authority of the federal government beyond the limits fixed by the Constitution. but its living spirit would have departed from it. it asserted (and undoubtedly possessed) the power to make money plenty or scarce. the business of any one of them which might incur its resentment. ready at all times to execute its mandates. and permitting an expansion. to propitiate the favour of the money power by distinguished zeal and devotion in its service. From its superior strength. under the direction and command of one acknowledged head. the government would have passed from the hands of the many to the hands of the few. as best suited to their own wishes. as might best comport with its own interest or policy. thus perfectly organized. according to its own will. for their own safety. if not destroy. obliged.only in their own immediate neighborhoods. thus organized. of the circulating medium. and in any quarter of the Union. We are not left to conjecture how the moneyed power. by controlling the issues of other banks. if you had not conquered. ought to be indelibly impressed on the memory of the people of the United States. or compelling a general contraction. therefore. The result of the ill-advised legislation which established this great monopoly was to concentrate the whole moneyed power of the Union. But when the charter for the Bank of the United States was obtained from Congress. it perfected the schemes of the paper system. cannot yet be forgotten. and with the banks necessarily went also that numerous class of persons in our commercial cities who depend altogether on bank credits for their solvency and means of business. with its boundless means of corruption. and a scene of cheerful prosperity suddenly changed into one of gloom and despondency. at its pleasure. giving it the power to regulate the value of property and the fruits of labour in every quarter of the Union. The distress and alarm which pervaded and agitated the whole country. would have dictated the choice of your highest officers. from its secret conclave. and they soon generally became its obedient instruments. what would it not have been in a season of war. and with such a weapon in its hands. The powers enumerated in that . and securing to it unity and concert of action throughout the United States. it could seriously injure. individuals impoverished and ruined. and who are. thus organizing this particular interest as one body. In other words. In the hands of this formidable power. or bring ruin upon any city or section of the country. The other banking institutions were sensible of its strength. and gave to its advocates the position they have struggled to obtain from the commencement of the federal government down to the present hour. and enabling it to bring forward. and to bestow prosperity. its entire and undivided strength to support or defeat any measure of the government. when the Bank of the United States waged war upon the people in order to compel them to submit to its demands. with an enemy at your doors? No nation but the freemen of the United States could have come out victorious from such a contest. and compelled you to make peace or war. upon any occasion. The ruthless and unsparing temper with which whole cities and communities were oppressed. If such was its power in a time of peace. and its numerous dependants. was also placed unlimited dominion over the amount of the circulating medium. at any time. yet. and this organized money power. The immense capital and peculiar privileges bestowed upon it enabled it to exercise despotic sway over the other banks in every part of the country. The forms of your government might for a time have remained. and it openly claimed for itself the power of regulating the currency throughout the United States. would be likely to use it.

and with specious and deceitful plans of public advantages. that it enables one class of society — and that by no means a numerous one — by its control over the currency. even if the Constitution did not present an insuperable objection to it. when concentrated under a single head. With such a bank. Such an institution will be pregnant with the same evils produced by the Bank of the United States. and state interests. the mechanical. and to move together with undivided force. Such concert of action may sometimes be produced in a single city. and to exercise more than its just proportion of influence in political affairs. although its sphere of action is more confined. the time will soon come when it will again take field against the United States. by means of personal communications with each other. and in the state in which it is chartered. But you must remember. to influence in any degree our decisions upon the extent of the authority of the general government. and the labourer. but they have no regular or active correspondence with those who are engaged in similar pursuits in distant places. and the evil consequences which followed may warn us of the danger of departing from the true rule of construction. all know that their success depends upon their own industry and economy. Yet these classes of society form the great body of the people of the United States. that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty. have little or no share in the direction of the great moneyed corporations: and from their habits and the nature of their pursuits. and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing. be sufficient to prevent Congress from again chartering such a monopoly. mechanical. to act injuriously upon the interests of all the others. and that they must not expect to become suddenly rich by the fruits of their toil. The planter. always ready to execute their wishes. The severe lessons of experience will. which they failed to perpetuate in the Union. they have no crowd of dependents about them. and their obedience unlimited. and of permitting temporary circumstances. the money power would in a few years govern the state and control its measures. and with our present system of currency. or amend it in the constitutional mode if it is found to be defective. The agricultural. Let us abide by the Constitution as it is written. was sufficiently demonstrated in the struggle made by the Bank of the United States. one moneyed institution with overgrown capital. the dominion of the state monopoly will be absolute. The power which the moneyed interest can exercise. they will endeavour to establish. and exclusive privileges sufficient to enable it to control the operations of the other banks. they are incapable of forming extensive combinations to act together with united force. and succeed in perfecting and perpetuating its organization by a charter from Congress. and labouring classes of society. and over those whose engagements in trade or speculation render them dependent on bank facilities. It is one of the serious evils of our present system of banking. by their countenance and favour. as well as in the federal government. therefore. they are the bone and sinew of the country. and state pride. Defeated in the general government. to accomplish any object it may wish to attain. the same class of intriguers and politicians will now resort to the states. and exercise but a small share of influence over it.instrument do not confer on Congress the right to establish such a corporation as the Bank of the United States. therefore. the money power will be able to imbody its whole strength. It behooves you. or in a small district of country. or the hope of better promoting the public welfare. my fellow-citizens. the mechanic. and if a sufficient number of states can be induced to create such establishments. who hope to grow rich without labour. the farmer. to be watchful in your states. in the different states. I doubt not. and endeavor to obtain there the same organization. You have already had abundant evidence of its power to inflict injury upon the agricultural. men who love . and the labouring classes. and who are. and a paper currency. they have but little patronage to give to the press.

But with overwhelming numbers and wealth on their side. moreover. and the means of guarding and perpetuating your free institutions. from the multitude of corporations with exclusive privileges. and something. when once made known. however. as I trust they ever will. But enough yet remains to require all your energy and perseverance. and of which it is the main support. and to eradicate the evil. and to check the spirit of monopoly and other abuses which have sprung up with it. has been done towards the accomplishment of this most desirable object. . and to you every one placed in authority is ultimately responsible. if you determine upon it. in the end. In your hands is rightfully placed the sovereignty of the country. and desire to perpetuate them. that you must not hope the conflict will be a short one. And while the people remain. to restore the constitutional currency of gold and silver. and it will require all your efforts to check their further growth. and who. It is always in your power to see that the wishes of the people are carried into faithful execution. The power. The men who profit by the abuses. But it will require steady and persevering exertions on your part to rid yourselves of the iniquities and mischiefs of the paper system. and with difficulty maintain their just rights against the incessant efforts daily made to encroach upon them. must sooner or later be obeyed. monopoly and exclusive privileges. and which are employed altogether for their benefit. and the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations. you will. and check this spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges. The paper money system. the government is safe. and desire nothing but equal rights and equal laws. and its natural associates. and the remedy must and will be applied. and will seek. will continue to besiege the halls of legislation in the general government as well as in the states. uncorrupted and incorruptible. and unless you become more watchful in your states. nor success easy. they are in constant danger of losing their fair influence in the government. So many interests are united to resist all reform on this subject. The mischief springs from the power which the moneyed interest derives from a paper currency which they are able to control. find that the most important powers of government have been given or bartered away. and their will. and the cause of freedom will continue to triumph over all its enemies. It is to yourselves that you must look for safety. by every artifice. I trust. although it is distributed in moderate amounts among the millions of freemen who possess it. hold the great mass of our national wealth. is in your hands. to mislead and deceive the public servants. which they have succeeded in obtaining in the different states.liberty. have already struck their roots deep in the soil. My humble efforts have not been spared during my administration of the government. and continue watchful and jealous of their rights.

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