Monday, February 15, 2010

Panic and Depression 1832

When President Andrew Jackson refuses to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States and transfers government funds to state banks, Nicholas Biddle, head of the National Bank calls in commercial loans. A panic and recession follows.

Eight hundred banks close and the banking system collapses. One third of manual laborers are out of work in New York City alone. Nationwide, unemployment reaches 10 percent.


During the term of Andrew Jackson while in office as President March 4,1833, to March 4, 1837.

Washington, December 3, 1833
Volume: III Page: 31 (extract) "Since the last adjournment of Congress the Secretary of the Treasury has directed the money of the United States to be deposited in certain State banks designated by him, and he will immediately lay before you his reasons for this direction. I concur with him entirely in the view he has taken of the subject, and some months before the removal I urged upon the Department the propriety of taking that step. The near approach of the day on which the charter will expire, as well as the conduct of the bank, appeared to me to call for this measure upon the high considerations of public interest and public duty.

The extent of its misconduct, however, although known to be great, was not at that time fully developed by proof. It was not until late in the month of August that I received from the Government directors an official report establishing beyond question that this great and powerful institution had been actively engaged in attempting to influence the elections of the public officers by means of its money, and that, in violation of the express provisions of its charter, it had by a formal resolution placed its funds at the disposition of its president to be employed in sustaining the political power of the bank.

A copy of this resolution is contained in the report of the Government directors before referred to, and however the object may be disguised by cautious language, no one can doubt that this money was in truth intended for electioneering purposes, and the particular uses to which it was proved to have been applied abundantly show that it was so understood. Not only was the evidence complete as to the past application of the money and power of the bank to electioneering purposes, but that the resolution of the board of directors authorized the same course to be pursued in future.

It being thus established by unquestionable proof that the Bank of the United States was converted into a permanent electioneering engine, it appeared to me that the path of duty which the executive department of the Government ought to pursue was not doubtful. As by the terms of the bank charter no officer but the Secretary of the Treasury could remove the deposits, it seemed to me that this authority ought to be at once exerted to deprive that great corporation of the support and countenance of the Government in such an use of its funds and such an exertion of its power.

In this point of the case the question is distinctly presented whether the people of the United States are to govern through representatives chosen by their unbiased suffrages or whether the money and power of a great corporation are to be secretly exerted to influence their judgment and control their decisions. It must now be determined whether the bank is to have its candidates for all offices in the country, from the highest to the lowest, or whether candidates on both sides of political questions shall be brought forward as heretofore and supported by the usual means.

At this time the efforts of the bank to control public opinion, through the distresses of some and the fears of others. are equally apparent, and if possible, more objectionable. By a curtailment of its accommodations more rapid than any emergency requires, and even while it retains specie to an almost unprecedented amount in its vaults, it is attempting to produce great embarrassment in one portion of the community, while through presses known to have been sustained by its money it attempts by unfounded alarms to create a panic in all.

These are the means by which it seems to expect that it can force a restoration of the deposits, and as a necessary consequence extort from Congress a renewal of its charter. I am happy to know that through the good sense of our people the effort to get up a panic has hitherto failed, and that through the increased accommodations which the State banks have been enabled to afford, no public distress has followed the exertions of the bank, and it can not be doubted that the exercise of its power and the expenditure of its money, as well as its efforts to spread groundless alarm, will be met and rebuked as they deserve. In my own sphere of duty I should feel myself called on by the facts disclosed to order a scire facias against the bank, with a view to put an end to the chartered rights it has so palpably violated, were it not that the charter itself will expire as soon as a decision would probably be obtained from the court of last resort.

Source of Information: A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents 1789-1897" By: James D. Richardson....A Representative from the State of Tennessee. Publisher: by Authority of Congress..1899. Ten Volumes total. Copyright: 1897 by James D. Richardson; New International Encyclopedia, Dodd, Mead and Co.-NY, Copyright: 1902-1905 21 Volumes; The Bicentennial Almanac, Thomas Nelson, Inc. publishers, New York. Copyright

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