Andrew Jackson photo

Special Message

February 04, 1834

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

I deem it my duty to communicate to Congress the recent conduct of the Bank of the United States in refusing to deliver the books, papers, and funds in its possession relating to the execution of the act of Congress of June 7, 1832, entitled "An act supplementary to the 'Act for the relief of certain surviving officers and soldiers of the Revolution."' The correspondence reported by the Secretary of War, and herewith transmitted, will show the grounds assumed by the bank to justify its refusal to make the transfer directed by the War Department. It does not profess to claim the privilege of this agency as a right secured to it by contract, nor as a benefit conferred by the Government, but as a burden, from which it is willing to be relieved. It places its refusal upon the extraordinary ground that the corporation has a right to sit in judgment upon the legality of the acts of the constituted authorities in a matter in which the stockholders are admitted to have no interest, and it impedes and defeats, as far as its power will permit, the execution of a measure of the Administration, because the opinion of the corporation upon the construction of an act of Congress differs from that of the proper officers of the United States.

The claim of this corporation thus to usurp the functions of the judicial power and to prescribe to the executive department the manner in which it shall execute the trust confided to it by law is without example in the history of our country. If the acts of the public servants, who are responsible to the people for the manner in which they execute their duty, may thus be checked and controlled by an irresponsible money corporation, then indeed the whole frame of our Government is changed, and we have established a power in the Bank of the United States above what we derive from the people.

It will be seen from the accompanying statement (marked A) that according to the latest accounts received at the War Department the Bank of the United States and its branches have in their possession near half a million of the public money, received by them under the law of 1832, which they have not yet accounted for, and which they refuse to pay over to the proper agents for the use of those persons for whose benefit it was withdrawn from the Treasury. It is to be regretted that this attempt on the part of the bank to guide and direct the Executive upon the construction and execution of an act of Congress should have been put forward and insisted on in a case where the immediate sufferers from their conduct will be the surviving veterans of the Revolutionary war, for this evil falls exclusively upon the gallant defenders of their country and delays and embarrasses the payment of the debt which the gratitude of the nation has awarded to them, and which in many instances is necessary for their subsistence and comfort in their declining years.

The character of the claim set up by the bank and the interest of the parties to be immediately affected by it make it my duty to submit the whole subject to the consideration of Congress, and I leave it to their wisdom to adopt such measures as the honor of the Government and the just claims of the individuals injured by the proceedings may be deemed to require.

Having called for the opinion of the Attorney-General upon this occasion with a view to a thorough investigation of the question which has thus been presented for my consideration, I inclose a copy of the report of that officer and add my entire concurrence in the views he has taken.


Andrew Jackson, Special Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives