James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Samuel Carswell, 28 January 1811

From Samuel Carswell

Philada. Jany. 28th. 1811

Dear sir,

I last had the pleasure to address you in March 1810, since which time I have had nothing interesting to communicate.1 I beg leave to congratulate you, on the decision of the US Bank question,2 as it is so favorable to the future welfare of this Country, & is another triumph of American Virtue, over British corruption & intrigue. It must be obvious to every one, who has the least knowledge of that Bank & is not wilfully blind, that it has always been under the influence of those who are inimical to the Republican principles of this Government—that it has been partial in the distribution of its favors & more disposed to withold, than to bestow them, on such persons, as were active to diffuse those principles. An Institution that can receive into it’s bosom, a friend & fellow conspirator of Burr, & in favor of which, another notorious traitor, openly & impudently appears, cannot, in it’s operation be friendly to this Republic.3

I am glad, since the majority opposed to it, was so small, that the decision took place early enough to prevent the effect, which the uncommon exertions of it’s friends here, might have had. They had two public meetings in this place last week. One, of the Merchants:4 The other, of the Mechanics.5 At those meetings many appeared & approved of their object, who hitherto stood in the Republican ranks, some through ignorance, some thro apostacy, but more from motives of fear. This last reason, is a strong argument, in favor of it’s dissolution. No institution, capable of extending it’s influence so greatly, as the US Bank was & of establishing that influence, by so powerful a motive, as a sense of dependence in those connected with it, should be suffered to exist in this Country. If we must have monied institutions, Congress cannot use too much care to render them harmless; that the people may enjoy the benefits arising from them, without having their independence shackled & this can be effected in no other way, than by preventing any one, from having a superiority to the rest, in point of privelege & power. It is to the advantage which the US Bank possessed in this respect, that the distress of our Citizens ought to be attributed, & not to a great scarcity of money, for the defered 6 per Ct. Stock cannot be had under 104 & the 3 per Ct. Stock is from 62½ to 65. It is true, the Bank paid on the first of the Month, $1.700.000 Dolls. on Acct. of Government, but that did not throw much money into circulation, as $1.100.000, was due to her. It is, her almost unbounded influence, then that has occasioned the great cry of distress, you have heard.

I understand that Doctor Bache will be removed from the Office of Surveyor of this Port. In prospect of such an event, I take the liberty, to submit to your consideration for that Office, William J. Duane.6 You are, doubtless, acquainted with his public character; with his integrity & correctness as a politician & the ability with which he discharged his Duty, as a Representative of this District, in our Legislature. I believe, his private character, stands equally fair, at least, I have never heard any thing alleged against it. I do not know any person, better calculated, to fill that Office & as he is Brother-in-Law to the Doctor, it will be keeping the Office in the family. With Sentiments of Respect I have the honor to be Your Obdt. Hble. Sert.

Saml Carswell

RC (DLC). Cover marked “Private” by Carswell. Docketed by JM.

1Besides his letter of 29 Mar. 1810, Carswell had written to JM on 16 June 1810 (PJM-PS description begins Robert A. Rutland et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Presidential Series (3 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1984—). description ends , 2:291–92, 382–83).

2On 4 Jan. 1811 William Burwell of Virginia introduced in the House of Representatives a bill to continue in force the 1791 act incorporating the subscribers to the Bank of the United States. After much debate, the House voted on 24 Jan. by 65 to 64 to postpone the bill indefinitely (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 11th Cong., 3d sess., 488, 826).

3The presence of foreigners, former Loyalists, and the associates of Aaron Burr—such as Mathew Carey, Tench Coxe, and Erick Bollmann—in the ranks of those favoring the recharter of the Bank of the United States drew much hostile comment from those Republicans opposing recharter. The Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser remarked on 19 Jan. 1811 that if Burr’s adherents were friendly to the Bank of the United States, “the bank cannot be friendly to the country.”

4Carswell referred to a meeting held at the Merchant’s Coffee House on 23 Jan. 1811 and chaired by Joseph Grice. A committee of five was formed to draft a petition in favor of rechartering the Bank of the United States and to convey it to Washington (Poulson’s American Daily Advertiser, 25 Jan. 1811).

5The Master Mechanics and Manufacturers of Philadelphia held a meeting at the Shakespeare Hotel on 24 Jan. 1811 to memorialize Congress on behalf of the Bank of the United States. The meeting was chaired by Gen. John Barker (ibid., 26 Jan. 1811).

6William John Duane (1780–1865) was the eldest son of William Duane, editor of the Philadelphia Aurora General Advertiser. Between 1809 and 1820 he served three terms in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In 1833 President Andrew Jackson appointed him secretary of the treasury but dismissed him after he refused to remove the deposits of the Second Bank of the United States (Higginbotham, Keystone in the Democratic Arch, p. 355 n. 74).

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