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Clay, Henry (1777-1852) to Nathaniel P. Tallmadge

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC05097 Author/Creator: Clay, Henry (1777-1852) Place Written: Lexington, Kentucky Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 12 April 1839 Pagination: 2 p. ; 25.4 x 20.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Expresses his agreement with a speech that Tallmadge gave recently concerning the three great systems of policy; internal improvements, the tariff, and the Bank of United States. Writes about state banks and whether or not they can supply sound, stable currency of uniform value. Remarks that he believes the banks established in New York are able to do this. Notes that if the state banks can accomplish this, there will be no need of a Bank of the United States. Confesses that he has reservations about whether or not this is possible since there are so many states in the Union with so many different banks. " I think it would not be right to commit ourselves against the employment of such an Agency [Bank of the United States], if the establishment, in the public judgment, should become indispensable hereafter." Mentions their success in an election in Connecticut. Addressed from Ashland, Clay's home in Kentucky.

Background Information: Clay was a Senator and a Representative from Kentucky who supported the Bank of the United States. Tallmadge was a United States Senator from New York.

Full Transcript: Ashland 12th April 1839
My Dear Sir

I received your favour transmitting a Copy of your Speech delivered at Masonic Hall in the City of N.Y. I had previously perceived ...it with much satisfaction, and I concur with you in most of the opinions and sentiments which it expresses. I agree with you, as to the three great systems of policy, Internal Improvements, the Tariff, and the U.S. Bank which formerly divided parties, being now so disposed of that they no longer ought to agitate the Country or its Councils. I would avail myself of your friendly suggestion, on the subject of a B. of the U.S. to write a letter for publication, but that I think I expressed myself so fully and explicitly, when I last addressed the Senate of the U.S. that I fear I should subject my elf to the imputation of being over anxious to propitiate the opponents of a Bank. On that occasion you may probably remember that I said that I hoped no one would propose the establishment of such an institution, unless [inserted: and until] it was manifestly demanded by a clear majority of the People of the U. States.
With respect to the State institutions, I am disposed to make a full and fair experiment with them, so as to ascertain whether they can pursuit a sound currency of uniform value, throughout the U. States, and perform the requisite financial officers for the General Government. It is certain, as you have stated, that the notes of the existing B. U.S. do circulate freely & maintain a uniform value in all sections of the Union. This is probably partly owing to the long established habit of receiving and crediting those notes. But I think that the notes of the well established Banks of N. York, created under your new Banking law, will also command general confidence and obtain free circulation in all parts of the Union. It was a happy provision in that system to secure Note holders in all contingencies. That feature of it will go far to stump the notes as a general medium. Assuming that the local banks can [2] supply a currency of uniform value every where in the U.S. and can execute all the duties required of them, as a financial agent of the General Government, there will be no necessity to establish a Bank of the U.S. Whilst I most sincerely wish that this may prove to be the case, I must frankly own that I am not without contrary apprehensions. There are so many States in one Union, and so many Banks already existing, with a power and a proness [sic] to create so many more, not one being under any legal responsibility to the General Government, that whilst it may be proper, in deference to public sentiment, to disavow any purpose of creating a Bank of the U.S., I think it would not be right to commit ourselves against the employment of such an Agency, if its establishment, in the public judgment, should become indispensible [sic] hereafter - I most sincerely hope that no such necessity will arise.
I tender to you cordial congratulations upon the issue of the election in Connecticut. Our success there seems to have been complete; and if our majority is less than it was last year, that fact may be fairly explained by the extraordinary and desparate [sic] exertions of our opponents. By another year, I trust that the Whigs & Conservatives will act in hearty co-operation.
I am truly and faithfy
Your friend & obt Servt
The Honble H. P. Tallmadge H. Clay
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People: Clay, Henry, 1777-1852
Tallmadge, Nathaniel Pitcher, 1795-1864

Historical Era: National Expansion and Reform, 1815-1860

Subjects: American StatesmenInfrastructureTaxes or TaxationFinanceGovernment and CivicsBankingBank of the USCongressCoins and CurrencyPoliticsElection

Sub Era: Age of Jackson

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