The commoner. (Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-1923, October 04, 1901, Page 4, Image 4
i ijv1 j yr,Tpy-"'M"y J SSrrirwrnqyq:' f - "Wn ci'v 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- The Commoner. 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 lawn. 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 the act. 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 justice. 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."