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Bulloch History with Roger Allen: Second National Bank stirs states' rights issues
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Roger Allen - photo by Special

    Note: The following is part of a series of columns looking at the establishment and evolution of the banking system in Georgia and Bulloch County.

    Georgia Congressman Augustin Smith Clayton was the leader of Georgia's Nullifiers, who wanted to "maintain, preserve and defend the rights and privileges of the free citizens of this State."
    Clayton accused the Second National Bank of the United States of issuing illegal branch drafts, selling foreign coin, refusing to issue notes at some branches, making donations for canals and roads, and building and renting houses.
    The National Bank, he said, was too powerful. In fact, it did handle 15–20 percent of all bank loans, issued 40 percent of the nation's bank notes and had reserves ($35 million) worth more than two times the federal budget.
    So, not surprisingly, President Andrew Jackson, a Carolinian, vetoed the Second National's re-charter in 1832. The Milledgeville Southern Recorder newspaper declared Jackson's move a "proper step in returning to the Constitution."
    Georgia's two political party leaders, George Troup and John Clark, went to war. The Clarkite Federal Union newspaper warned the U.S. couldn't "regulate its currency" without a national bank.
    The Troupite Georgia Journal declared the veto was a glorious victory that "restored the rights and interests of farmers and all the other classes of industrious yeomanry of the country."
    Seeing the public response to the veto, the Clarkite faction did an about-face. The "Federal Union" now proclaimed that Second National presented "such a grave danger to the Republic that it must be eliminated."
    However, when Jackson next withdrew all federal monies from Second National, the Southern Recorder called his action an "unwarrantable usurpation of the powers of Congress."
    States' Rights members declared they were under attack. Augusta Chronicle editor (and avowed Nullifier) Alfred H. Pemberton raged that the only choices left for Southerners now were "Liberty or Slavery."
    Rather curiously, the only Georgia State's Rights candidate who supported re-chartering the bank was Savannah's own Richard W. Habersham. He believed only a national bank could manage government funds.       

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. Email Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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