James Madison Papers

James Madison to Elisha Smith, 11 September 1831

Sepr. 11. 1831

I have recd. Sir, your letter of the 24th ulto in which you request my opinion on several points involved in the question of the Bank of the U. S.

It might not be proper at any time & especially at the present, to advance mere opinions in such a case, without discussing the grounds on wch’ they rest. And this is a task which I may be excused from undertaking at the age I have reached, now the 81st. year; and under a painful Rheumatism, which has for some time been my companion.

I may say in brief, as may be gathered from Newspapers, that I consider the opinions adverse to the Constitutionality of the Bank of the U. S., as overruled by the kind & degree of sanctions given to the establishment; that the restraint on the States from emitting bills of credit was understood to have reference to such as were made a legal tender; and that a Bank of the U. S. may be of peculiar aid in controuling suspensions of specie payments & in State Banks in Securing the advantages of a sound & uniform currency.

As to the precise course to be taken by Congress on the Expiration of the existing Charter I am willing to confide in the wisdom of that Body availing itself of the lights of experience, past and in progress.

Well assured of the worthy motives <of> your letter, I could not withhold this mark of respect for them; adding only a request that it may not bring me in any way before the public, and that you will accept the offer of my friendly salutations and good wishes

Draft (DLC).

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