Deja vu all over again-Old Hickory and the 2nd Nat'l Bank
To my fellow little “d” democrats and big “D” Democrats:
July 10th is a very significant day in the development of both the Democratic Party and democracy in America. On that date in 1832 President Andrew Jackson vetoed the bill to re-charter the Second National Bank.
The second national bank was second. But it was not national. It was the privately held Bank of Philadelphia. And it was not just a bank. The notes issued by that private bank were the currency. Private interests had control of the monetary and banking policy of the United States. The bank veto was the issue of the 1832 election but was not a stand-alone issue. The Bank Veto Message was effectively the platform of The Democracy, as the Democratic party was then often called, and made democracy the basis of legal, social, economic, and national policy.
The Democracy believed that people like those who fought and won the Battle of New Orleans should have the right to vote and should settle and make America a continental nation. That required an expanding and sound monetary policy contrary to the BUS (Bank of the United States). It also required Jackson’s hard money policy based on specie (gold and silver). It also required a Homestead Act and not an auction of the western lands. After much wrangling during the administrations of Presidents Van Buren and Tyler, finally under “Young Hickory” President James K. Polk we acquired Texas, the Oregon Territory, and the lands west to California, established an independent federal treasury, and lowered the tariffs.
The reference in the Bank Veto Message to the “humble members of society” defined the Democratic Party as the Party of the People:
‘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.”
II the very next passage, President Jackson seemed to address those who now claim government is the problem:
“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.”
In this day and age of banks too big to fail, the relevance of President Jackson’s Bank Veto Message cannot be denied. For example, in the Book TV program on “13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown” based on the heads of the 13 largest banks in the U. S. visiting President Obama, the author about one hour greatly praises President Jackson Bank Veto.