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About The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923 | View Entire Issue (Oct. 4, 1901)
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of that either. People have a sentimental attach
ment for greenbacks. If anybody Is going into
the business of non-lntcrest-bearing loans, how
ever, of course the government ought to be the
party, but I hope to see the greenbacks eliminated
by the simple process of self-retirement.
"I boliovo in a United Statos bank similar to
tho bank of England. I got it from heredity, I sup
pose, for my grandfather, Nicholas Ridgely, was an '
officer of tho old United States Bank, which Jack
con broko up."
It may not be out of place to observe that
Mr. Ridgely's prejudice against the greenback
as a non-interest bearing loan does not extend
to those other loans in tho form of National
Bank notes, which the banks obtain from tho
govcrnmen not only without the payment of
interest, but while, at the same time, the banks
arc the recipients of interest on the bonds de
posited for tho security of the notes.
It is in keeping with the notions of Repub
lican financiers and politicians that a descend
ant of an officer of "the old United States Bank
which Jackson broke up" should become Comp
troller of tho currency at this time. Mr.
Ridgely's grandfather doubtless had tho courage
of his conviotions and boldly and bluntly de
fended "tho old United States Bank." Were
lie alive today, Grandfather Ridgely would
probably bo as greatly prejudiced against the
greenbacks aB his distinguished descendant
appears to be.
It cannot be denied that Mr. Ridglyhas
plenty of company among leading politicians
in the Republican party in his position con
covning the abolition . of tho Subrreasury
system and the establishment of a United
States bank. As wo recall it, Secretary Gage
is already committed to such a bank and it will
not be surprising if. in the near futuroan or
ganized effort is made to build up in this
country tho very institution which wont down
before the righteous wrath of Andrew Jackson.
Speaking of Andrew Jackson recalls the
f ,ct that he, as well as the distinguished grand
eon of Nichols Ridgely, had an opinion on this
United States bank question. History records
the tenacity with which General Jackson ad
hered to this opinion and the, courage and vigor
with which he defended it. The evils of tho
United States bank in Jackson's time suppy
us with a hint of the evils that would attend a
United States bank if established now.
Some of these evils wero well pointed out by
President Jackson in a message to congresB
wherein he said:
"It is was not until late in tho month of Aug
ust that I received from tho government directors
an official report establishing beyond question
that this great and powerful institution had been
actively engaged in attempting to influence tho
elections of the public officers by means of its
money, and that, in violation of the express pro
visions of its charter, it had by a formal resolu
tion placed its funds at the disposition of its pres
ident to be employed in sustaining the political
power of the bank. A copy of this resolution is
contained in tho report of the government direc
tors before referred to, and however the object may
be, disguised by cautious language, no one can
doubt that this money was in truth intended for
electioneering purposes, and tho particular uses
to which it was proved to have been applied abun
dantly show that it was sp understood. -Not only
.was tho evidence complete as to the past applica-
tion of the money and power of the bank to elec
tioneering purposes, but that the resolution of tho
board of directors authorized the same course to
be pursued in future.
"It being thus established by unquestionable
proof that the Bank of the United States was con
verted into a permanent electioneering engine, it .
appeared to me that the path of duty which the
executive department of the government ought to .
pursue was -not doubtful. As by the terms of the
bank charter no officer but the secretary of the
treasurer could remove the deposits, it seemed to
rao that this authority ought to be at once Exerted
to deprive that great corporation of the support
and countenance of the government in such a use
of its funds and such an exertion" of its power. In
this point of the case the question is distinctly pre
sented whether the people of the United States are .
to govern through representatives chosen by their
unbiased suffrages or whether tho money and
powei of a great corporation are to be secretly ex
erted to influence their judgment and control their
decisions. It must now be determined whether
the bank is to have its candidates for all offices
in the country, from the highest to the lowest, or
whether candidates on both sides of political ques
tions shall be brought forward as heretofore and
supported by the usual means.
Allen and Sedition Law.
At this time an .inspection of, the "Alien and
Sedition Laws" will be interesting. This title was
eoployed" to' describe' two acts Of congress passed
by the federalists in 1798.' ' ' '
Tho "Alien law," 'in brief authorized the 'pres
ident to order out 6f this country all sUch' aliens
as ho might regard as, dangerous to the peace of
tho United States.
The ''Sedition law," in brief? provided fine, and
imprisonment for any one who should write or
print any false, scandalous or malicious things
against tho administration or congress.
These laws remained on the statute books un
til 1801 when they. expired by limitation. The
downfall of the federal party is credited in part to
tho fact that that party was responsible for these
The details are described by the American
Statesman as follows:
"Of the first mentioned of these acts, (tho
Alien law), the first section authorized the presi
dent to order all such aliens as he should judge
drrirous to the peace and safety of the United
States, or should have reasonable grounds to sus
pect were concerned in any treasonable or secret
machinations against the government thereof, to
deport out of the country within a given time, to
be expressed in tho order. An alien so ordered to
depart who should, after the time limited for his
'departure, be found at largo without a license from
the president to reside in the United States, was
liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years,
and was never to be admitted, to become a citizen.
On satisfactory proof being given by an alien that
no injury or danger would arise from his remain
ing hero tho president might grant him a license
to remain for such time and at such place as he
should designate. Tho president might also re
quire a bond with sureties for his good behavier.
Section 2 authorized the president, whenever
he deemed it necessary for the public safety, to
remove out of the country all persons in prison
in pursuanco of the act, and all who had been or
dered to depart and remained without a license.
And on their return, they might be imprisoned so
long as, in the opinion of the president, the public
safety- might require.
Section 3 required,.masters of vessels coming
Into ports pf the United; States to report all aliens
on .board, the country., from which they came, and.
the nation to which they owed allegiance, their
occupation, a description of their persons, etc.,
under a penalty of $300.
Section 4 gavejto the circuit and district courts
of the United States cognizance of offenses against
Section 5 secured to aliens the right of dispos
ing of their property.
Section 6 limited tho act to the term of two
years from its passage.
All courts of the United States and of the sev
eral states, having criminal jurisdiction, were au
thorized, upon complaint against aliens or alien
enemies at large, to the danger of the public peaco
or safety, and contrary to the intent of the proc
lamation or other regulations established by tho
president, to cause them to be apprehended and
brought before any such court, judge, or justice;
and after a full examination and hearing and for
sufficient cause appearing, to order their removal,
or to require sureties for their good behavior, or
to restrain, imprison, or otherwise secure them,
until the order should be performed. Marshals
of the districts were to provide for their removal,
and to execute the order for their apprehension,
.under a warrant of the president, or of a judge or
Vhe act relating to "the punishment of certain
crimes against the United States," or, as it is called
the "Sedition law," provided that any persons un
lawfully combining or conspiring together, to op
pose any measure of the government of the United
States, or any of its laws, or to intimidate or pre
vent any officer under that government from un
dertaking oi performing his duty; and any per-,
sens, with such intent, counselling or -attempting
to procure any insurrection, riot, or unlawful com-,
bination, were to be deemed guilty of a high mis
demeanor, and punishable by a fine not exceed-
ing $5,000, and by imprisonment not less than sis:
months, nor exceeding five years; and, at tho. dis-.
cretion of the court, they might also be held to find
sureties for their good behavior. . i :...
But tho. provision deemed .most objectionable,' v
was the second section, which declared that any .
person who should write, print, utter or publish,
or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing,
any false, scandalous, or malicious writing against
the government, congress, or the president of the
United States, with intent to defame them, or to.
bring them into disrepute, or to stir up sedition
within tjhe United States, or to excite any unlawful
combinations for opposing or resisting any law
o" tho United States, or any act of ttfe president
done in pursuance of any such law, or to resist or
defeat any such law, or to aid or abet any hostile
designs of any foreign nation against the United
States, their people or government, should bo
liable to bo fined not exceeding $2,000, and impris
onment not exceeding two years,
The act further provided that any person
prosecuted for writing or - publishing such libel,
might, in his defense, give in evidence the truth
of the matter contained in the publication charged
as a libel; and the jury had the right to deter
mine the law and the fact under the direction of
the court, as in other cases. This was an essen
tially mitigating provision of this obnoxious law.
The English law of libel was at that time a part
of the common law of this country. The defen
dant in a libel suit was not permitted to justify
by proving the truth of the statement charged as
libelous. Hence, the common expression, "Tho
greater the truth, the greater the libel." But
this law allowed no conviction except in cases in
which the defendant failed to furnish evidence of
tho truth of his statement. This provision, now
Incorporated into tho laws or constitutions of all :
the states, had.then been adopted only in the states
of Pennsylvania, Delaware and Vermont.
The act was to contlnuo in force until tho 3d
of March, 1801, and no longer.
These laws wero intended to counteract tho
schemes of the , unprincipled French directory,
whose emissaries in this country abused the free
dom of the press by defaming the administration,
and exciting the' opposition of the people to tho
government and laws of tho union. They did not,
however, accord with the disposition and liberal-
viows of tho American people."