Speech on the Bank of the United States

Reactions to Jackson’s veto of the Second Bank’s re-charter bill in July 1832 were of course mixed. Most of the pamphlets that appeared in reaction were highly partisan in nature, either praising or vilifying the President’s actions in broad terms in the hopes of influencing the presidential election that fall. Jackson ended up winning that election handily, with 219 of the 274 votes cast in the electoral college. Thus emboldened, Jackson in 1833 ordered his Treasury Secretary, Louis McLane, to remove the government’s deposits from the Second Bank and re-deposit them in state chartered banks throughout the country derisively labeled Jackson’s “pet banks.” When McLane refused, Jackson cashiered him and appointed William J. Duane in his stead. After Duane also failed to comply with the order, Jackson replaced him with the more pliant Roger B. Taney of Maryland. Soon after, Jackson rewarded Taney by making him Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Ardent Jacksonians, like William C. Rives, of course supported removal of the deposits and the President’s foes, those like Henry Clay who called him “King Andrew,” deprecated it. Some of the reactions to the removal of the government’s deposits from the Bank, however, were more nuanced. Some of those who backed the re-charter veto, for example, argued that moving the government’s deposits from the Second Bank to a plethora of state banks friendly to the administration was both illegal and poor policy. John C. Calhoun, Jackson’s jilted former Vice President, argued that the Senate, per the Bank’s charter, had to approve the Treasury Secretary’s withdrawals. Without that check, Calhoun warned, the President had seized control of the government’s purse not from private stockholders but from the people in Congress assembled.

The Senate eventually censured Jackson (a slap on the wrist it later revoked) but did not move to impeach. Jackson’s actions, which were designed to weaken the Second Bank and to strengthen the Jacksonian faction of the Democratic Party, therefore stood.