Theodore Sedgewick [Jr.] to MVB, 11Mr34
11th March 1834
My dear Sir
I recd your letter of the 18th inst, and also a few days since Mr Cambreleng’s speech, which you have been so good, as to enclose to me. We must confess, that upon the opening of the session, the prospect was very dark, but even now I think we can see, that the waters begin to abate, the sky to clear up, and that we may be able soon to send a Dove out of the ark to bring back the harbinger of safety. But to drop the figure; it seems that confidence begins though slowly to be restored, the panic to subside; and what is most important, a few, though but a few, of the more national friends of the Bank, begin to think, that it will not be sustained by the votes of the people. If that point could be settled tomorrow & forever, a great portion of the pecuniary distress of the Country would vanish at once; and whatever should remain might be accounted for upon those plain principles which could be made intelligible. Let us however take ever so favourable a view of this affair, there are great difficulties to be encountered, many artificial, but some real; and there is required for this and every great Crisis, the utmost firmness and dignity, as well as moderation. Allow me then to speak with candour. I am sorry that these repeated interviews between the President & Committees should have taken place; they answer no good purpose, but they serve many bad ones. Of these conversations, it is impossible that exagarated statements should not be made; when we consider that here are two parties, whose views are as wide a part as the poles, and whose opposition to each other is unavoidably increased by political conflict. But there are other considerations which strike me as of <
illegible> importance, resulting from the great weight of character which the president has with the people, founded upon a deep conviction on their part of his integrity, and generally enlightened views of their Interests. These interviews have no doubt been very annoying to him, convinced as he is of the selfishness, intrigue and corruption of many individuals in this business. So much has this been the case, that when making ^only^ a reasonable allowance for truth and accuracy in the Reports of these Committees, he seems to have been thrown from his Balance, & ^at times^ to have lost self possession. All this is taken advantage of, and certainly nothing leads ^us^ so more naturally to suspect the soundness of any cause, as an appearance of violence and vindictiveness. And this is the more to be regretted, as it is so unlike the general tenor of his official conduct, and State Papers, as Chief Magistrate. If this Bank is to be put down, it must be reasoned down. You are aware that there are intrinsic difficulties in this subject, which stand in the way of many honest and enlightened men, which requires not only the most skillful, upright and well tempered management, as well as ^but^ the inexorable firmness, of such a man as the President. Some of these difficulties are obvious, such as the great ignorance there is in the minds of most men upon the subject of Banks, currency and money. Besides that, we have to encounter all the natural prejudice there is in favour of one of the earliest institutions < illegible> of the Government, which has been approved by all parties, and the most eminent patriots of the nation, and which till now so far from bringing any calamity upon it, has proved highly beneficial to many, and has seemed so to nearly all. I cannot but hope therefore, that the President will remember, that if the multitude have prejudices, they are honest prejudices. But these personal interviews cannot be salutary; and such repeated sacrifices of time, and personal comfort cannot be demanded of the Chief Magistrate, though he be bound in some form or other to hear every complaint. What then is to be done, for I hear, there is to be another Committee from Boston, and there may be another, and another. And this leads me to another part of this subject. If there ever was one good reason against rechartering this Bank, or anything like it, there are now a hundred. The Development of it’s power since the removal of the Deposits, to flood the Country with paper money; to create unnatural business, speculation, and overtrading; to give to the rich enormous <illegible> powar, to interrupt trade; arrest manufactures; and turn poor people who live by the daily wages into the streets. I say, this development of the power of the Bank, has mainly been made since the President gave his reasons to the Cabinet. It appears to me then, that a plain, firm, and affectionate exposition from the President to the people, (he availing himself of this occasion of the Boston Committee, or some other proper occasion) of this part of the subject, and of the new lights which are every day furnished, would come from him at this moment with prodigious effect. It would inspire new Animations, by assurances of an impossibility on the part of the Bank to change the sentiments of the people. It is plain then, that the President is perfectly at liberty, to say to the Boston, or any other Committee, that these conversations which are so liable to be misunderstood, and misrepresented, cannot be satisfactory to either party, and that if they will state their complaints in writing, he will answer them. Reflections however on his part of the same thing, from day to day, or week to week, cannot be expected. Upon a subject so interesting to us all, and calculated to have so durable an influence upon the future character, and prosperity of the Country, we are bound to be equally candid with each other, & with our fellow citizens. I must say therefore, that I have thought from the beginning, that the Deposits were not a proper matter for the interference of the President; at the same time I do not in the least doubt, that what he has done, has been ^done^ with a single eye to the good of his country. It seems to me equally plain, that the Secy not only has the power to remove, but has discreetly used it. One thing more my dear sir, but I will not take up your time with that topic. I consider what we do now, as paving the way, for the Repeal in the States of the restraining acts which exist in some of them; upon that great principle of free trade and no monopoly, which is as applicable with few Limitations to money, as to everything else, at a proper stage of ^the^ civilization wealth and credit of a country.
With great respect
your obt servt