Front Page Titles (by Subject) RIGHT VIEWS AMONG THE RIGHT SORT OF PEOPLE - Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy
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RIGHT VIEWS AMONG THE RIGHT SORT OF PEOPLE - William Leggett, Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy 
Democratic Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy, Foreword by Lawrence H. White (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984).
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RIGHT VIEWS AMONG THE RIGHT SORT OF PEOPLE
May 20, 1837.
It is to the farming and mechanick interests we must look, in these days of extraordinary delusion among mercantile men, for sound views as to the causes of the evils which distract the country, and as to the proper means of bringing affairs back to their former prosperity. If the farmers and mechanicks of the Confederacy were subject to the same periodical madness which afflicts the merchants, we should indeed think there was but too much reason to despair of the republick. But while we may look to them for such a host of sound minds in sound bodies, for such a multitude of men who, like the Roman Mutius,1 are not only able and willing to act, but to suffer for their country, we shall not lose our confidence in the stability of democratick institutions.
A very sensible writer in the National Intelligencer, under the signature of “A Farmer,” makes some excellent remarks on the state of the times. . . .
. . .
The National Intelligencer speaks of the writer from whose communication we have made this extract, as, “in every sense, a country gentleman.” He is a member, then, of a class on which we must mainly depend for the steady and effectual defence of the institutions of liberty, amidst the violent assaults, which, it is easy to foresee, mercantile rapacity will fiercely wage against them. To the cultivators of the soil, gentle and simple, and to the hardy followers of the mechanick arts, we turn our eyes, in these days of passion and prejudice, for that calm good sense and intrepidity, which are necessary to the protection of the great blessing of equal political rights.
The traders, as a body, are a useful class, but not the most patriotick. The spirit of traffick is always adverse to the spirit of liberty. We care not whom the remark pleases nor whom it offends; but it is a truth, which all history corroborates, that the mercantile community, in the aggregate, is ever impelled by sordid motives of action. The immediate interests of trade, not the permanent interests of their country, supply their strongest impulse. They peruse their ledger with more devotion than the Constitution; they regard pecuniary independence more than political; and they would be content to wear ignominious chains, so that the links were forged of gold.
The American people have tested, by a reduplicated experiment, continued through a long series of years, the good and evil of a federal bank, and they have seen that the evil far outweighs the good. They have seen it fail in the cardinal objects for which it was created. They have seen that it could not prevent alternate expansions and contractions of the currency, and ruinous fluctuations in commercial affairs. They have seen, also, that it could not resist the temptation to turn its pecuniary means into political channels and, through the corrupting influence of money, attempt to rule the destinies of freemen. They have seen it purchase presses, bribe publick men, and endeavour to pollute the streams of popular intelligence at the fountain head. These are facts not merely conjectured by suspicion. They rest not on the uncertain evidence of probability. They are corroborated by proofs which defy refutation, and stand indelibly recorded on the enduring archives of the federal legislature. It was for these reasons that the people decided there should be no federal bank.
But the mercantile community acquiesce not in this decision. “We must have a national bank to regulate the exchanges!” is now their cry. This is the proposition with which they meet every argument, the answer they deem sufficient for every objection. Tell them of a constitutional impediment, and they reply that they can see only the impediments to trade. Point to the political evils of a federal bank, and they talk of its financial advantages. Tell them of the danger it would threaten to liberty, and they descant on the facilities it would render to credit. An equal currency is, with them, a phrase of better import than equal rights; a uniform system of exchange a grander object than a uniform system of freedom.
Why is it that large cities are justly considered, according to the expressive metaphor of Jefferson, the sore places in the body politick? Because the sordid spirit of trade gives them their tone, and fixes the standard of their political morals. When we hear of attempts to overawe freedom of political opinion, who are the chief actors in the outrage? The sons of traffick. When the equal right of suffrage is invaded, and proscription dictates to the poor man how he shall vote under penalty of starvation, who are they that thus tyrannize over their fellow men? The merchants. What class of society now threatens tumult and insurrection, if the federal executive dares insist on the fulfilment of the laws? What class is it that warns freemen, charged with no crime but the frank utterance of their sentiments on a subject of general interest and of general discussion, to abandon their homes, and seek elsewhere a place of refuge, if they would escape immolation in the publick streets? We are forced to repeat that this audacious conduct proceeds from the mercantile community. It springs from the selfish, grovelling, debasing spirit of trade—from that spirit which venerates its desk more than the altar, its list of bank balances more than the decalogue, and its book of accounts more than the book of God.
To the farmers and mechanicks, then, we look for safety in these days of mercantile frenzy. They gain their livelihood by wholesome industry, not by maddening speculation, and they know the value of equal laws. Blacker than the clouds which lower over our shattered commerce, would be the boding tempest of the political horizon, had we no surer trust, in the midst of our difficulties, than the patriotism of those who regard the prosperity of trade more than the prosperity of their country and, like true sons of Esau, would sell their birthright for a mess of pottage.
[1 ]One of the sons of Titus Adronicus in Shakespeare’s play of that name.—Ed.