Welcome to the MAKING OF A NATION – American history
in VOA Special English.
national election of eighteen thirty-two put Andrew Jackson in the White House
for a second term as president. One of the major events of his second term was
the fight against the Bank of the United States. Jackson believed that the bank
had grown too powerful. He urged Congress not to renew the bank's charter to do
business. He also stopped putting federal money into the Bank of the United
States. Instead, he put the money into state banks.
of the Bank of the United States was Nicholas Biddle. Biddle fought with all
his power to keep the bank open. He created a financial panic and blamed it on
President Jackson. Biddle did this by demanding immediate repayment of loans.
Businesses struggled without the bank's financial assistance. Workers lost
their jobs. President Jackson was warned that a mob could march on Washington. But
nothing happened. Most of the battle against the Bank of the United States was
fought in Congress.
this week's program in our series, we continue the story with Bob Doughty and
Henry Clay of Kentucky led the support for the bank. Clay was head of the
opposition political party, the National Republicans. Clay argued his case on
the floor of the Senate for three days. He strongly urged the Senate to re-new
the bank's charter. He said:
country is in the middle of a revolution ... not yet a bloody revolution. But
things are happening that point to a total change of the pure republican
character of our government. Power is being centered in the hands of one
man." He meant President Jackson.
"If Congress does not act, the government will fail. And we will all die
as slaves." Clay then asked the Senate to condemn Jackson for violating
the constitution and the nation's laws. The Senate approved the resolution.
went better for Jackson in the House of Representatives. James Polk defended
Jackson's opposition to the bank. Polk said: "The bank set itself up as a great,
irresponsible, competing power of the government. If the bank wins this fight,
no man afterwards can expect to be elected to high office in this country
without first surrendering to the bank. The question is," Polk said,
"if we shall have the republic without the bank or the bank without the
passed, businessmen began to see that the Bank of the United States was being
much tighter in its money policy than was necessary. They began to feel that it
was Biddle -- not Jackson -- who was responsible for the serious economic
situation in the country. Biddle took no responsibility for the financial
crisis. He said:
relief must come from Congress, and Congress alone. The bank feels no need to
right the wrongs caused by these miserable people. This president thinks he is
to have his way with the bank. He is mistaken."
then made a serious mistake. He asked the governor of Pennsylvania to make a speech
to the state legislature--a speech supporting the bank.
same time, Biddle refused to lend the state of Pennsylvania three hundred-thousand
dollars. The governor was furious. Instead of making a speech supporting the
bank, he made one that sharply criticized it. The upper house of the
Pennsylvania legislature agreed with the governor. Although Nicholas Biddle
threatened all sorts of action, the upper house passed a resolution that
Congress should not give the bank a new charter.
later, the governor of New York proposed that the state sell four or five
million dollars of stock for loans to help state banks. The New York
legislature approved selling even more.
action would strengthen the state banks and help to break the power of the Bank
of the United States. Nicholas Biddle began to see that the battle was lost. He
started making more loans to businesses. The economic panic he had started
victory over the Bank of the United States was clear. Biddle started to lose
the support of many members of Congress. In the House of Representatives, James
Polk proposed four resolutions on the bank. One said the bank should not get a
resolution said government money should not be deposited in the bank. The third
said the government should continue to put its money in state banks. And the
fourth proposed an investigation of the bank and the reasons for the economic
panic in the country. All four of these anti-bank resolutions were approved.
Biddle's assistants described the feelings of bank officials.
day," he said, "should be ripped from the history of our republic.
The president of the United States has seized the public treasury in violation
of the law of the land. And the representatives of the people have approved his
words were shorter: "I have won a glorious triumph."
major event of Andrew Jackson's second term as president was the situation in
Texas. In an agreement with Spain in eighteen nineteen, the United States had
given up its claim to Texas. In exchange, Spain gave the United States all of Florida.
Mexico won its independence from Spain in eighteen twenty-one, the United
States tried to buy Texas. Mexico did not want to sell. When Andrew Jackson
became president he, too, tried to buy Texas. Mexico still refused to sell.
a rich land. But it was empty. Mexico decided to permit Americans to build
colonies in Texas. Stephen Austin formed the first colony in eighteen twenty-two.
Each farming family in his colony could have about eighty hectares of land.
family that wished to raise cattle could have about two thousand hectares. The
settlers in Texas were able to buy the land for almost nothing. But they had to
promise to join the Roman Catholic Church. They also had to promise to obey the
laws of Mexico.
the settlers came from the states of Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana. Many
owned slaves and brought the slaves with them to Texas. During the eighteen twenties,
Americans poured into Texas for the low-priced land.
of one American colony got into trouble with the Mexican government. He was
ordered to leave, but refused. With the help of a few supporters, he seized the
town of Nacogdoches. He declared Texas to be an independent republic. He called
expected the other American colonists to join him against Mexico. He was wrong.
Most of the colonists did not support him. In fact, some even joined the
Mexican force that put down his rebellion. The man fled back across the border
into the United States.
rebellion failed. But it made Mexican leaders see the danger of continuing to
permit Americans to settle in Texas. The Mexican government sent an official to
inspect conditions along the border with the United States. The official
reported that as he traveled north through Texas, he saw less and less that was
Mexican and more and more that was American.
there were very few Mexicans in some towns. And these Mexicans, he said, were
extremely poor. He said the American settlers were not becoming true Mexicans.
They were not speaking Spanish. They were not becoming Roman Catholics. And
they were not accepting Mexican traditions. The official said the situation in
Texas could throw the whole Mexican nation into revolution. He urged Mexico to send
troops to occupy Texas.
be our story next week.
Our program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Bob
Doughty and Sarah Long. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our programs are
online, along with historical images, at voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again
next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION - an American history series in VOA
This is program #62 of THE
MAKING OF A NATION