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In the course of the debate, which lasted until July 28, Clay became very impatient and threatened to amend the rules of the Senate so as to lay some restrictions on speech - making. The majority in the House had already done something in that direction by the adoption, July 7, of what was called the "hour rule."1 Clay's strenuous appeal for "action, action" was sarcastically re-echoed by Calhoun, in a form which, he said, revealed its true meaning, as "plunder, plunder"; and the suggestion of limiting discussion aroused such feeling that the majority in the Senate wavered, and Clay was forced to abandon the attempt.2 Finally a compromise relative to the constitutional objection concerning branches of the bank in the states was reached by a clause providing that the assent of every state whose legislature did not expressly declare itself to the contrary at its first session after the passage of the act should be assumed.3 This amendment was adopted on July 27, in the absence of a Whig senator opposed to the compromise, by 25 to 24, and thus was made possible the passage of the bill by 26 to 23* The House immediately took it up, and after a very brief discussion passed it, August 6, 1841, by a vote of 128 to 97. The normal Whig majority of 44 had fallen in this case to 31.
1 Cong. Globe, 27 Cong., 1 Sess., 155, 160; Benton, Thirty Years' View, II., 247. 'Ibid., 249-257.
3 Represented by Congressman Botts as approved by Tyler himself. Per contra, see Tyler, Tylers, II., 56.
*Cong. Globe, 27 Cong., 1 Sess., 256, 260; Niles' Register, LX., 1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 63-68.
The decision lay with Tyler, who kept the bill until August 16, and then returned it with his veto. His objections were partly to the creation by Congress of a bank to operate " per se"—that is, by virtue only of the powers with which Congress vested it— throughout the United States, which he considered unconstitutional; and partly to the provision for local discounts, which he regarded as "a fruitful source of favoritism and corruption." * On the question of passing the bill over the veto, which was finally presented to the Senate on August 19, the vote was 25 ayes and 24 nays.
When the news of the veto spread, the excitement in Washington was intense. On its being read in the Senate, there was a demonstration in the galleries that roused Benton to a great outburst of indignation; and that night a disorderly crowd gathered near the White House and manifested its condemnation of the veto after the manner of mobs; but Tyler himself seems to have paid little attention to the incident, which was, in fact, only a passing ebullition.
Scarcely had the veto been promulgated before negotiations were on foot for an agreement between the president and the majority in Congress. Tyler was first approached by A. H. H. Stuart, a Whig member from Virginia, who suggested a basis for such an agreement in one of the rejected amendments to the bill, which had provided for subordinate "agencies" in the states which should be allowed to deal in exchange and to exercise certain other banking functions, and which might be convertible into offices of discount and deposit where the states did not expressly dissent.1 This provision was so modified by the president as to make the establishment of such branches dependent on state consent, and to withhold from them the privilege of discount.
The Whigs held a caucus and decided to use as the foundation of a new bill one already on the House docket, which had been reported from the special committee on the currency. The caucus appointed Senator Berrien and Congressman Sergeant to see the president and endeavor to conform the bill to his views as reported by Stuart. How far the effort was honestly made remains uncertain; it seems to have gone no further than to meet his objection to local discounts, leaving out of account the more weighty question of constitutionality. Webster and Ewing were appointed by the president to confer with Berrien and Sergeant; and a cabinet meeting was held, August 18,1841, to discuss the matter. Finally, on the 19th, the subject was taken up in the House; and a bill embodying what was claimed to be an agreement that had been reached was introduced as a substitute for the Tyler, Tylers, II., 76-79.
pending House bill, and was hurried through with inconsiderate haste,1 reaching final passage in that chamber on the 23d by a vote nearly the same as that on the original measure—125 to 94. Next day the bill was read in the Senate and referred, and on September 3 it was finally passed there by a vote of 27 to 22. September 9, Tyler returned it without his signature, repeating the objections made in his first veto, and claiming that the new plan covertly authorized local discounts under the form of exchange.2
The president had spoiled the Whig programme, but had he kept faith? The Whig leaders and editors attacked him furiously, and all the members of his cabinet except Webster resigned, each joining with more or less emphasis in the condemnation. All the resigning members except Granger, the postmaster-general, published statements,3 in which they charged that Tyler had committed himself to the bill, one of them claiming on hearsay that the president had seen and approved it before it was introduced. This statement was repeated in substance in a report made in August, 1842, by the majority of a select committee of the House headed by John Quincy Adams, the report being signed by ten members, including Mr. Adams himself.4 To all this Tyler opposed his positive public denial,1 and the judicial investigator will scarcely believe him guilty of falsehood. In support of his assertion there is independent evidence, including a letter of Webster's dated August 10, 1841, in which he said that Tyler was "wholly uncommitted,"2 except as might be gathered from his "public and official acts," to any measure for a bank that Congress might pass. The committee of investigation seems to have been too ready to accept the positive assertions so widely current in Washington at the time of the second veto message, without undertaking a careful review of the testimony. The four resigning members of the cabinet who published statements were decided partisans of Clay; Webster disagreed with them; and Granger, Webster's only close political follower in the cabinet, published no statement.
1 Von Hoist, United States, II., 430-433.
* Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 68-72. *Niles' Register, LXL, 33-35, 53-55.
* Ibid., LXII., 395-397. For minority reports, 407-411.
Various theories have been put forward to explain Tyler's conduct, to his discredit. One explanation was that he was led by the flattery of a little group of his personal friends to overestimate himself and aspire to another term in the presidency.3 Another charges him with sending his second veto because of an insulting letter written about him by John M. Botts, a Whig member of
1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, IV., 193; Tyler, Tylers, II., 98.
2 Ibid., 85. I am unable to say whose the italics are. 'Schouler, Untied States, IV., 372.