[I tried to find out what physically happened to the money—did government agents actually march into the bank in Philadelphia, make a huge withdrawal, and move specie to a treasury vault in Washington? It’s all rather murky, but as I understand it, what Jackson actually did was direct the government to use its deposits in the Second National Bank for operating expenses while at the same time to cease making deposits to the bank, so that within a short time, Biddle’s bank had more banknotes circulating than it had specie to cover them. If anyone reading this knows the particulars, I’d love for you to comment.]Jackson did this while Congress was adjourned, and no matter how one feels about the national bank and its patron “American System,” Jackson’s action was a usurpation of Congressional power, and don’t forget that no matter how arrogant we allow Congress to become or how worthless our representatives prove, they still represent the people of the United States. The executive tasked to carry out the laws they promulgate should respect that. He has veto power, and the people’s representatives have override.
Jackson’s move didn’t come out of the blue...well, kinda, maybe, sorta. The National Republicans had expected him to try something. During his annual report to Congress that past December, Jackson had referenced the Bank of the United States as an unsafe repository for America’s money, and he’d earlier requested the government sell its extensive bank stock, but Congress denied the request. In September 1833, with his trusted advisors, Post Master General Amos Kendall and Francis Blair watching approvingly, Andrew Jackson removed his disapproving Secretary of the Treasury, William Duane, and replaced him with his more amenable attorney general, Roger Taney. Taney had, in fact, drafted the lion’s share of Jackson’s bill vetoing the bank’s re-charter. Taney dubbed the National Bank an unfit habitat for the people’s money, citing as misconduct: political partisanship, the denial of information to government-appointed directors, monolithic financial power, and the inherent corruption of the democratic principles of the Republic. With that justification, he...um, “reallocated” let’s say, the use of government deposits. At the same time, Jackson dispatched Kendall to find safe repositories for the government’s money in private banks.