J[ohn] Van Buren to MVB, 3 February 1834
Feby. 3rd. 1834
My dear father,
You don’t tell me what to do with <illegible>. Shall I give him twenty five dollars?
Benjamin Knower has stopped payment. Mr. Olcott has frequently said within the last four months, that Knower’s business was so extended, that any embarrassment of commerce must prostrate him: but I never dreampt it was so serious a matter. However, this afternoon we had a meeting of the board & Mr. O. announced Knower’s failure. K. has resigned the Presidency of our Bank, & Mr. Dudley is President pro tem. Knower owes the Bank nothing directly nor has he for a year & upwards. He has considerable business paper in the Bank on which he is an endorser, but all of it is perfectly safe without <him>. The paper in which he is thus interested was not equal in amount our surplus profits and <bonds>.
Mr. Knower must be worth at least $300,000 over & above his debts. The best opinion is that after his affairs are settled he will have an immense fortune left. He made $200,000 this year. To show how utterly hopeless it was, that he should be able to meet his engagements, I need only mention, that he paid in <about> $170,000 in <Jany.> (last) 100,000: had $7,000 to pay today, <1000> tomorrow, 15,000 Wednesday & about $100,000 a month for this & the three succeeding months.
Men of such extended operations must go by the board in these times. I fear the result of this failure upon the party may be injurious, however it will soon be understood. By the way, Cass ought to give that pension account to Olcott by all means forthwith. <Marchonde’s> resolution here two years ago was drafted by O. The <Country> Banks lean upon the Mers. & Fars. sometimes pretty <hard>. It wd. be both just & polite to transfer that acct. to Olcott & I am surprised Cass <don’t> do it. It can do the New York Banks no good & would be of great <service> here. O. was formerly the pension agent before the U.S. Bank.
The Patroon sends his compliments to you & begs a copy of Preston’s speech: ‘they talk so much about it,’ as he says.
Have you those Race papers? I trust there is no doubt at Washington about the proper man for District attorney. Sutherland’s friends are very anxious about it & I promised to remind you of it.
Please remember me to the Butlers & tell Mrs. B. that Hoyt, on hearing of Knower’s disaster, determined to fail too: but recollecting that he had paid Landon’s bill, concluded he wd lose money by it.