James Madison Papers

Memorandum from Roger Sherman, [ca. 4 February] 1791

Memorandum from Roger Sherman

[ca. 4 February 1791]

You will admit That Congress have power to provide by law, for raising, depositing & applying money for the purposes enumerated in the constitution, & generally of regulating the Finances1 That they have power so far as no particular rules are pointed out, in the constitution to make such rules & regulations as they may Judge necessary & proper to effect these purposes. The only question that remains is—Is a Bank a2 proper measure for effecting these purposes?

And is not this a question of expediency rather than of rights?

Printed facsimile (Lewis H. Boutell, The Life of Roger Sherman [Chicago, 1896], p. 261). Boutell noted that the document then was “in the possession of Hon. G. F. Hoar.” Notation in JM’s hand: “Feby 4. 1791. This handed to J. M by Mr Sherman, during the debate on the constitutionality of the Bill for a National Bank. The line marked X given up by him on the objection of J. M. The interlineation of ’a necessary &[’] by J M. to which he gave no answer other than a smile.”

1Italicized words encircled on the Ms by JM, who also placed an “X” in the margin.

2JM here interlined “a necessary &.”

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