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The Humble Members of Society
President Andrew Jackson - bank veto the issue of the 1832 presidential campaign

Who wrote this in support of “the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers” :

 “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society-the farmers, mechanics, and laborers-who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.”

 It was 182 years ago on July 10, 1832 President Andrew Jackson vetoed the bill re-chartering the Second National Bank. Professor H. W. Brands calls this an democratic manifesto. H. W. Brands - "a Democratic Manifesto" This was THE VETO of all vetoes. It was the definition of democracy and the Democratic Party which was often then called The Democracy.

The name, the Second National Bank, was accurate only in that it was second. It was not national; it was the private bank of Philadelphia. Its public function was to control the banking and monetary policy of the nation. Its notes were currency. Ultimately under Young Hickory, President James K. Polk, an independent treasury was established.

The bank veto was THE issue of the 1832 presidential election. It was critical to platform of democracy on which Jackson ran. Turning critical public policies and powers over to a private entity certainly is undemocratic as were property and other limits on the right to vote which the Jacksonian Democrats also opposed. Also, the Democrats believed that American democracy should be extended “from sea to shining sea.” This nation could not expand with such a restrictive monetary and banking policy. For example, someone in Harlan County or the Jackson Purchase of Kentucky could not redeem bank notes except at the nearest branch office of the Bank of the United States which might be in Louisville.

 The Jacksonian Democrats supported the original homestead legislation so the “humble members of society” could be part of the westward expansion. Jackson’s boots on the ground policy was critical to establishing American territorial claims contested by England and Spain. The first homestead legislation was part of the Jackson platform.

 About 20% of the stock of the national bank was owned by English. The supporters of the Bank argued that their right to vote was limited and they did not have a majority. To the Celtic soul of English hating, democracy loving Andrew Jackson who had both as a teenager in the American Revolution and at the Battle of New Orleans fought the English, 20% ownership was 20% too much.

In this day and age when the large investment banks created and caused the Great Recession of 2008 from which we still suffer, we should take heed of what was said and done in 1832. Then as now, the national interest and the interest of the humble members of society are one and the same. Unfortunately, the strength of both our nation and its individual citizens continue to be harmed by these banks. There is a smaller number of these large banks holding more power. Unfortunately, President Obama appointed Timothy Geithner, an architect of the Republican TARP bailout of Wall Street to the exclusion of Main Street, as Treasury Secretary and passed “stress tests” and the cumbersome Dodd-Frank rather than re-enacting the Glass-Steagall Act.

Where are the real small “d” democrats and large “D” Democrats when you need them?




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