Friday, December 16. The Senate met pursuant to adjournment.
Mr. Abercrombie presented the petition of Thomas Hearne, praying to be paid for a negro man named Moses, executed in pursuance of the sentence of the circuit court of Montgomery for murder; which was read and referred to the committee on propositions and grievances to consider and report thereon.
Mr. Jackson of L. presented a communication from C. B. Roundtree of Lauderdale county, requesting to be paid for taking the census of said county, as deputy marshall in the year 1820, according to the instructions of the then marshall of the Alabama district; which was read and referred to the committee on propositions and grievances to consider and report thereon.,
Mr. Powell presented the account of Robert H. Warren, which was referred to the committee on accounts and claims.
Mr. Abercrombie, from the committee on county boundaries to whom was referred the petition of sundry inhabitants of Monroe county, praying for the establishment of a new county, reported, That upon an examination of the map it appears that there is not sufficient territory to form a new county without infringing the constitutional limits of some of the counties now in existence. They are, therefore, of opinion, that the prayer of the petitioner ought not to be granted; which was concurred in.
Mr. Abercrombie, from the same committee to whom was referred a resolution instructing them to inquire into the propriety of restoring to Walker county certain townships therein named, reported, "That the committee have had the same under consideration and find it would reduce the county of Fayettee below its constitutional limits. Your committee therefore ask leave to be discharged from the further consideration of the resolution, which was agreed to.
Mr. Merriwether from the special committee to which was referred the petition of the trustees of Concord Academy, reported a bill to be entitled, an act to incorporate the Concord Academy in the county of Greene; which was read, and ordered to be read the second time to-morrow.
Mr. Jackson, of Laud, from the joint committee appointed to inspect the general accounts in the books of the State Bank, submitted the following report: the joint committee appointed by both houses of the General Assembly to inspect the general accounts in the books of the State Bank, with full powers to sent for persons and papers, beg leave to submit in part the following report:
They have required of the Cashier to exhibit to them a list of the debtors of th ban, and the evidence of debts; the ledger, termed by the cashier, the individual ledger; the discount book; and the offering book: all of which he has refused to exhibit, as will appear by a memorandum in writing, hereto annexed,- marked A.
The ground of refusal is stated to be, that provision in the charter, which takes away from the General Assembly the right of "inspecting the account of any private individual or individuals, or any body politic or corporate, with the bank.
By the 12th section of the law establishing the Bank, it is made the duty of the President and Directors to furnish to the General Assembly, within the first week of every session, statements of the amount of capital stock of said corporation, and of the debts due to the same; of the monies deposited therein; of the notes in circulation, and of the cash on hand; together with all other property of said Bank, both real and personal. And it is provided "that the General Assembly shall have a right to inspect such general accounts as shall relate to the said statement."
If the General Assembly have no more power over the affairs of the Bank than is now admitted by it officers, it must be evident, that they have not control over the institution, except such as arises from the election of its directors; and that even here they must proceed without sufficient light to direct their chose. If the power given to the General Assembly to inspect the general accounts of the bank, extends no further than to see that the statement furnished by the president and directors, is a true copy from the books as kept by the officers of the Bank, then is this power useless.
It is believed by the joint committee, that the power reserved to the general Assembly was designed to enable the two Houses to ascertain whether the provisions of the charter have been observed; whether individuals have, or have not, had greater discounts than are allowed by the charter; whether the several counties have, or have not, had their proper proportion of discounts; whether the Directors who are chosen by the General Assembly, and are amendable to it, have, or have not, honestly and faithfully discharged the trust reposed in them; and finally, whether the funds which have been invested in the State Bank, are or are not, secure.
The ascertainment of these things is a matter of mush interest to the State, and materially concerns the general welfare. But if the construction given by the Directors and Cashier to the charter, be correct, the General Assembly is debarred of all this information.- The cannot ascertain, that any debts are due agents are placed beyond scrutiny. By this construction too, the funds of the State are placed beyond the inspection of control of the representatives of the people.
These are the results from the construction given by the officers of the Bank to its charter. They shew the fallacy of the reasoning which leads to such conclusions.
But it is necessary to resort to any thing but the charter itself to shew that
this construction is full error. In the 16th section, of the act establishing the Bank, a right is given to the comptroller to inspect "all the accounts and books of the Bank- provided, that this act shall not be construed to imply a right of inspecting the accounts of any private individual or individuals with the Bank. By this section the same restriction is placed upon the comptroller, in relation to private accounts, as is in another part of the same act, imposed upon the General Assembly. Yet in the same section, the power is given to him to inspect all the books of the Bank. If the comptroller be not prohibited by the above mentioned restrictive words, from an inspection of the books of the Bank, it follows irresistibly, that the general assembly, whose powers over the Bank are limited only by the same restrictive words, is not restrained from an examination of its books.
The people of the state are the stockholders in this institution. In every bank, of which the committee have any knowledge, the right of examining all the books, accounts and debts, due to the bank, is reserved to the stockholder. They beg leave to refer to the charters of the several banks established in this state, to shew that such a power is reserved to the stockholders. An construction of the charter of the state bank, which denies to the representatives of the people, who are the stockholders in this bank, the power of examining the transactions of the bank, takes from them a right which it has been deemed important to secure by charter to the stockholders in every other bank. To require of the president and directors to make a statement of the situation of the bank to the general assembly, and yet to deny the general assembly the power to ascertain the truth of such statement, is an inconsistency, of which the framers of the charter cannot have been guilty.
The joint committee were the less prepared to hear from the officers of the bank, a denial of their right to inspect the books of the bank; inasmuch as that right had been distinctly admitted, and the scrutiny invited by the president and directors in their annual statement. The president and directors say, that "the general assembly has every properly reserved to itself the right of examining, by a joint committee, the general assembly and books of the bank relating to such statement, whenever it may be deemed necessary. If such committee should now be appointed, it would be a matter of gratification to the directors; and they would very respectfully suggest the propriety & policy of making it an established custom to appointed, at each session of the general assembly, a joint committee, to inspect the books, & examine the operations of the bank. This might be very efficacious in preventing or detecting, at an early period, any mismanagement in its affairs.
By the individual accounts, the joint committee understand the cash accounts of individuals., Many individuals have accounts with banks, who have had no discounts. In these accounts the bank can have no interest; and therefore the directors and stockholders have no right to examine them. In all banks, so far as the committee are informed, a rule exists similar to that contained in the charter of state bank. But this rule has never been construed to prohibit the directors from examining the discount book. Without a frequent recurrence to the credit book, which shews the amount discounted for each individual, the affairs certain whether any individual have been accommodated as far as his credit would justify. In the case of the state bank, it cannot be perceived how it would be possible to ascertain whether any individual had received more that the sum allowed by the charter to be discounted; or whether any county has received its due proportion of discounts, without a resort to this book.
The joint committee are very clear in the opinion, that they have not exceeded the authority vested in them by the law creating the state bank, in requiring of the cashier an exhibit of the books of the bank and the debts due to that institution. And for the purpose of ascertaining the sense of the two houses in relation to their powers over the state bank, they submit to them the following resolution, the adoption of which they recommend: Resolved, that the general assembly have the right to inspect, by a joint committee, all the books of the bank, and all the evidences of debt due to that institution.
The exhibit referred to in the report as marked A is as follows.
[A] The cashier refuses to submit to the committee, the individual of ledger, the discount book, the offering book, and note book- because either of these books cannot be shewn without divulging the private accounts. He also objects to exhibiting the notes discounting, for the same reasons; they being, as the board conceived, the basis of the principal part of all the accounts of that kind in bank.
Ordered, That the report and exhibit lie on the table, and that one hundred copies of each be printed for the use of the Senate.
Mr. Jackson of L. offered the following resolution: Resolved, that the judiciary committee be instructed to inquire into the expediency of reducing the salaries of the judges of the circuit courts, with leave to report by bill or otherwise; which was adopted.
A message from the House of Representatives, by Mr. McLellan, their engrossing clerk: Mr. President- The House of Representatives have read three times, and passed bills which originated in their House of the following titles, to wit: an act to authorize Ceasar Kennedy to erect a toll bridge; an act the more effectually to prevent the trading with slaves, and for other purposes; An act to change the name of, and legitimate certain person therein named; An act authorizing the county court of Morgan county, to make certain allowances therein mentioned; An act to change the name of David Toppence; An act to establish the permanent seat of justice in the county of Walker, and for other purposes; An act to change the name of, and legitimate James Bum; And an act supplementary to an act, appointing agents to select a certain quarter section of land for the county of Shelby, and other counties therein named, passed Dec. 13, 1824. In all of which, they desire your concurrence. All the bills mentioned in the foregoing message, except the last, were severally read the first time. Ordered, that they be made the order of the day for a second reading tomorrow.
A bill from the House of Representatives entitled an act supplementary to an act, appointing agents to select a certain quarter section of land for the county of Shelby, and for other counties therein named, passed Dec. 15, 1824; was read the first time, and ordered to lie on the table.
Bills to be entitled an act to incorporate the school commissioners of the fourth township, eighth range, west of Huntsville, and for other purposes; An act to incorporate the town of Blountsville, in the county of Blount; And an act to provide for the removal of certain public offices to the town of Tuskaloosa; were severally read the second time, and ordered to be engrossed for a third reading tomorrow.
A message from the House of Representatives, by Mr. Anderson, their assistant clerk: Mr. President- The House of Representatives have read three times, and passed a bill which originated in their House, entitled an act to compensate the county court clerks for paying printer's fee for publishing the appraisement of certain strays, and for other purposes; in which they desire the concurrence of the Senate. Which said bill was read the first time in the Senate, and ordered to be read the second time tomorrow.
Mr. Crabb offered the following resolution: Resolved, that the judiciary committee be instructed to inquire into the propriety of so amending the constitution of this state, that hereafter there shall be biennial sessions of the General Assembly, in lieu of annual sessions, as now provided for by the constitution, also to amend said instrument, that sheriffs shall be eligible to hold their office as long as they may be the choice of the people, and should the judiciary committee deem the amendment advisable, they shall report a proposition by the reso-
lution to that effect in conformity to the provision of the constitution; which was adopted.
Mr. Crawford called up a bill to be entitled an act to admit to the rights of citizenship certain individuals therein named. Ordered that the same be referred to the committee on the judiciary to consider and report thereon.
On motion of Mr. Miller, ordered that Mr. Jackson of L. be added to the committee on propositions and grievances.
And then the Senate adjourned till 10 o'clock tomorrow.