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The Second Bank of the United States
Digital History ID 217

Author:   Jonathan Roberts


After a second national bank was chartered, legislators in several states sought to restrict the bank's operations by imposing a tax on the bank notes of banks not chartered by their state. One state that considered levying such a tax was Pennsylvania. In the following letter, Jonathan Roberts (1771-1854), a Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, defends the bank. During the Missouri Crisis of 1819 and 1820, Roberts proposed legislation that would have prevented the introduction of any more slaves into Missouri.

Document: I think I have seen a motion made in your behalf to inquire into the expediency of taxing the United States Bank and branches in the state. What feelings prevail on this subject I know not. I should regret the proposition should be entertained. I regret the motion has been agitated. It must...[en]danger...the Union. The Bank of the United States was a measure of and is a sensible necessity. Till now we had no real [national] currency.... The bank has to struggle against stupendous difficulties but has been of immense benefit already. Such a measure [the imposition of a tax on its notes] cannot be undertaken without affecting its credit.... It [the bank] has established branches liberally to accommodate the public all of which...are an expense. An immense Bonus & benefit of subscription has been obtained from it by this government for the benefit of all. If full proportion of burden has been imposed upon it I doubt if any state Bank has contributed more to the revenue. But I can not enlarge on this subject. I think a little reflection will discover the evil with which the proposition is fraught. You will excuse these remarks, they are made in the freedom of friendship. If they be different from your ideas I hope you will let them pass as they are offered.

Source: Gilder Lehrman Institute

Additional information: Jonathan Roberts to Tobias Sillon

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