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Special Message

February 17, 1840

To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.

I submit to Congress a communication from the Secretary of the Treasury, repeating suggestions contained in his annual report in regard to the necessity of an early provision by law for the protection of the Treasury against the fluctuations and contingencies to which its receipts are exposed, with additional facts and reasons in favor of the propriety of the legislation then desired.

The application assumes that although the means of the Treasury for the whole year may be equal to the expenditures of the year, the Department may, notwithstanding, be rendered unable to meet the claims upon it at the times when they fall due.

This apprehension arises partly from the circumstance that the largest proportion of the charges upon the Treasury, including the payment of pensions and the redemption of Treasury notes, fall due in the early part of this year, viz, in the months of March and May, while the resources on which it might otherwise rely to discharge them can not be made available until the last half of the year, and partly from the fact that a portion of the means of the Treasury consists of debts due from banks, for some of which delay has already been asked, and which may not be punctually paid.

Considering the injurious consequences to the character, credit, and business of the country which would result from a failure by the Government for ever so short a period to meet its engagements; that the happening of such a contingency can only be effectually guarded against by the exercise of legislative authority; that the period when such disability must arise, if at all, and which at the commencement of the session was comparatively remote, has now approached so near as a few days; and that the provision asked for is only intended to enable the Executive to fulfill existing obligations, and chiefly by anticipating funds not yet due, without making any additions to the public burdens, I have deemed the subject of sufficient urgency and importance again to ask for it your early attention.


Martin van Buren, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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