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J[ohn] Van Buren to MVB, 4 February 1834

My dear Father,

In writing to you last night I spoke cursorily of the Pension account: upon reflexion, I am convinced that a better thing in all respects, could not be done. We must rely upon the Safety fund Banks in this State, to supply the place of the United States Bank as well as to defeat its useless assaults upon the Currency & Individual credit. Now you cannot imagine, without more knowledge of the business transactions of the M. & F. Bank, how interwoven the prosperity & even existence of the Western Banks in this State, are with that Institution. They look to it for advice & lean upon it for aid at certain seasons. Tho’ all perfectly solvent, they require advances at the business seasons of the year which are uniformly afforded by the M & F. B. <unclear> a pittance therefore afforded to the M & F. B, <unclear> to strengthen the Country Banks in this State & <unclear> ^to^ the benefit of the <unclear> in the Country generally. Now, there can hardly be a doubt that the present pressure upon the large cities will re-act upon the Country & that too at a season (the Spring) when they are least prepared for it. Therefor, these ideas were suggested themselves from conversations with intelligent merchants but principally with Mr. Olcott, tho’ I write of my own accord without being requested so to do by any one. In addition this it has occurred to me if it should not be tho’t necessary in ordinary times to strengthen the M. & F. Bank, at this particular juncture it may not only be timely but necessary. Mr. Knower’s failure without having in any degree impaired the solvency of the Bank, cannot fail to produce more or less effect upon its credit. All tendency to panic & distrust would be immediately put down by such a mark of confidence on the part of Government; the importance of the arrangement in this point of view must strike you forcibly.

Besides Mr. Olcott has claims upon the favor of <Govt.> (if it were necessary to put the measure upon the ground of favor) which are not exceeded by those of any person ^not a politican^ in the Union. He has suffered severe retaliation from the Bank in return for his early & uniform opposition to that Institution, an opposition which, I cannot doubt originated from principle inasmuch as it was directly adverse to his interests. Be good enough to ask Mr. Butler in relation to <this> O’s conduct in relation to the Bank, if I am not misinformed it has been most <unclear>. O. has offended some of our people by expressing himself in favor of a National Bank. I think they are wrong for he like many monied men tho’t such a Bank necessary & like many more, never reflected upon the Constitutional <unclear> difficulties. O. deserves more credit for giving it up, than he does blame for <entertaining> it. If you can accomplish anything in this matter, I think it quite clear that it wd. be just & expedient & I am sure if it is done, I shall be very much gratified. But if after conversations with Mr. Butler you don’t see fit to move in it, why, I shall conclude it’s all for the best & as Jack Downing says, screw my spectacles round to ‘New Orleans’ & ‘glory’.

Mr. Wright’s speech was received here last night & is entirely approved of by all the right sort of people. It is very clear, well expressed & in fine temper. You will have observed that Mr. Croswell published an article in a somewhat similar strain a few days since & will follow it up tomorrow or next day. I heard a man say today when told that we should all be ruined by opposing the Bank “Well, let it come. There never will be a better time. I am fifty & shall not grow younger. I can better work for my bread now than twenty years hence’. There can be no doubt at the result. Even the failures help us, for every one of the large failures <relieves> the community, increases the <accomodations> of the small dealers: Read Stebbins Bank Commissioners report with care: it is drawn up with much attention & is thought here to be very able.

The mail is off.

Yours in haste



P.S. Larry & lucas who are here & well just sent for me: they are lobbying their d—d bank. Dr. Beekman, I fear, is going to die.


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Source: PSt Pennsylvania State University, Pattee Library
Collection: Alexander Duer Harvey Collection of Martin Van Buren Correspondence, 1814-1866 (PSt)
Series: Series 7 (4 March 1833-3 March 1837)