James Madison Papers

Elisha Smith to James Madison, 24 August 1831

Rockcastle County Kentucky
Mount Vernon Augt. 24. 1831


I have read with much pleasure and instruction your late letter to Mr Ingersol on the U. S. Bank. It has been the pleasure of the citizens of this County to honur me with a seat in the Legislature. The expediency of re-charting that institution I know will command the attention of the next Legislature. My prepossessions are in favor of the Bank. As to its Constitutionality it is not now to be questioned, and as to the expediency of a National Bank I have no doubt, but wheather the Present Charter should be extended, without modification I am some what at a loss.

Knowing your long experience with the affairs and policy of the Government, that you are unconnected with Political Parties, and have no motives to conceal an Opinion, where the interest of the Nation is involved, will I trust plead the appoligy of this Communication. As information is my only object, be pleased as soon as convenient to give me your opinion upon the following points. Your compliance will be gratefully remembered.

First, Is it expedient to extend the Present Charter of the Bank without modification, Or should the Charter be so modified as to permit the stock to be raised by new subscription.

2d. Is there any thing objectionable in foreigners holding stock in the Present Charter.

3d. Is not the Bank essentially necessary to an eficient administration of the fiscal concerns of the Government.

4. What is your opinion upon that clause of the Federal Constitution prohibiting the states from emiting Bills of credit, and can the States (Constitutionally) create corporations such for instance as the Bank of Virginia. Our State Elections have closed with a majority of 12 for Mr. Clay) upon joint ballot. I think it likely Mr. Clay will go in to the U. S. Sennate. Accept the assurance of my ardent wishes for your heath, happiness and a long life.

Elisha Smith


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