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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

And it likewise suspended specie payments


[Sidenote:

Death of Madison]

Ex-President James Madison died this year at the ripe age of eighty-five. His entire career was such as to make him one of the great line of Southern Presidents of Virginian stock: Washington, Jefferson and Monroe.

[Sidenote: Seminole War]

[Sidenote: American railroad development]

The military campaign against the Seminoles was far from satisfactory. Many of the soldiers sent into Georgia and Florida succumbed to disease. They had to abandon Forts King, Dane and Micanopy, giving up a large tract to the Indians. The Indians were defeated in battle at New Mannsville, and in the fall of the year General Call rallied them on the Withlacoochee, but could not drive them into the Wahoo Swamp. A change in commanders was once more made, and Jesup succeeded Call. With 8,000 men he entered on a winter campaign. The Indians were forced from their positions on the Withlacoochee, and were pursued toward the Everglades, and at the end of 1836 sued for peace. On December 15, the Federal Post-Office and Patent-Office burned down. Irreparable loss was caused by the destruction of 7,000 models and 10,000 designs of new inventions. At the close of Jackson's Administration some three thousand miles of railroad had been constructed. Eight years previously, when he came into office, no railway had ever been seen in America.

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1837

[Sidenote: American financial crisis]

[Sidenote: Government relief measures]

[Sidenote: Sub-Treasury system]

[Sidenote: Texas independent]

The financial crisis of this year was not only one of the most severe, but also the most remarkable in the financial history of the United States. A Congressional act of the previous year provided that after January 1, 1837, all surplus revenues of the government should be divided as loans among the States. The amount to be distributed this year aggregated $28,000,000. No part of this large sum was ever recalled. When the government called for its deposits in order to distribute the surplus an immediate shrinkage of specie was the result. As bank after bank suspended, it was found that the paper issue had increased from $51,000,000 in 1830 to $149,000,000 in 1837. Jackson's attacks on the National Bank had shaken public confidence in this institution, and it likewise suspended specie payments. The mercantile failures of a single fortnight in New York City amounted to $100,000,000. A repeal of Jackson's order that payments for public lands should be in coin filled the National Treasury with paper money. Congress met in special session to relieve the financial distress. A law was passed authorizing the issue of $10,000,000 in Treasury notes. This brought some relief. President Van Buren's first message recommended the adoption by the government of the Sub-Treasury plan. A bill for the establishment of an independent treasury passed the Senate, but was defeated in the House by a union of Whigs and Conservatives. The Sub-Treasury plan, as eventually carried out, provided for complete separation of the National Bank and the government, and established the principle that the government revenues should be received in coin only. President Van Buren in his message specially deprecated any interference by Congress in the struggle between Texas and Mexico. Texas, which had been bargained away by Southern votes in 1819, was now an eagerly desired prize. It had now become a part of Coahuila, and had declared its independence. Still Congress persisted in its attempt to interfere, but a bill to that effect was voted down by the adherents of the President.


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