Jackson's Veto of the Bank of the United States Bill (July 10, 1832)

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The first Bank of the United States was chartered in 1791 despite Jeffersonian opposition. In 1811 its charter expired, but in 1815 the bank was rechartered, with little opposition, as the Second Bank of the United States. The Supreme Court in mcculloch v. maryland (1819) upheld the constitutionality of the bank. In 1832 Congress extended the charter of the Second Bank. For a variety of reasons President andrew jackson opposed the extension. In his veto message Jackson asserted, more emphatically than previous Presidents, the necessity of exercising the presidential veto power on constitutional grounds, rather than on grounds of policy or expediency. Jackson rejected McCulloch, arguing that "Mere precedent is a dangerous source of authority," which should not decide "questions of constitutional power except where the acquiescence of the people and the States can be considered as well settled." Furthermore, Jackson believed Supreme Court opinions "ought not to control the coordinate authorities of this Government." Rather, each branch of the government must "be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution" because a public official swears to support the Constitution "as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others." Jackson argued that the Bank was neither a necessary nor a proper subject for congressional legislation, and so he felt constitutionally obligated to veto the bill.

Paul Finkelman


Remini, Robert V. 1967 Andrew Jackson and the Bank War: A Study in the Growth of Presidential Power. Norton Essays in American History. New York: Norton.

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Jackson's Veto of the Bank of the United States Bill (July 10, 1832)

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Jackson's Veto of the Bank of the United States Bill (July 10, 1832)