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well for them if they are not fascinated and become parties in a grand swindle of the confiding and unthinking portion of the community."
Thus far the report is climacteric, and one only wishes that the public printer had done more to aid the writers in the unaccustomed task of composition; but their conclusion is weak. They "are not willing to take the responsibility of saying that there shall be no banks chartered at this session of the legislature," and only recommend certain amendments in case the council should see fit to grant any of the charters. These amendments limited the amount of stock of each bank to $300,000, reduced the maximum rate of interest chargeable to eighteen per cent., provided for the deposit of certain securities with the State treasurer, and made the stock non-transferable except after three months' public notice of the contemplated transfer. More than a dozen bank bills were introduced at this session, but only two of them passed, the charters in these cases being the same as those granted the previous year. The governor vetoed both these bills, in his veto message modestly stating that he was willing to throw himself into the gulf to save his country; but a two-thirds vote passed the charters over his veto, and the unclosed chasm, having thus swallowed down the self-complacent Curtius, still yawned horribly for more.
In the autumn of 1857 every bank in Nebraska failed. The immediate cause of the panic this year was the failure in Cincinnati of the Ohio Life and Trust Company, and the collapse of the then famous New York broker, John Thompson. At first the Western newspapers insisted that the panic could not possibly hurt their section of the country. The Omaha Nebraskian early in September echoed a Chicago paper which asserted that "even should there be a much greater tumbling among these institutions [the Eastern banks] than we have now any reason to expect, our Western banks
will scarcely feel the shock. Wall Street may be the money centre, the great stock and currency regulator, but the money strength of the country is in the West." This obscure and illogical declaration of financial independence failed to nullify the laws of trade. The assertion of Messrs. Reeves and Miller that the bank charters were not sought by "sovereign squatters of Nebraska, was well borne out by the condition of affairs in the Territory at the time the panic reached her. It was found that only one of the " capitalists" concerned in her banking enterprises was a resident of the Territory. The Platte Valley Bank, the capital invested in which was owned by a resident of the city where the bank did business, was the only one that redeemed all its currency at par. This was done, not because there was anything intrinsically sound in the institution itself, but because S. F. Nucholls would not have it said that any money bearing his name had been worth less than its face value.
The Western Exchange Bank of Omaha was the first chartered, the most pretentious of the early enterprises, and the first to fail. L. R. Tuttle and A. U. Wyman, who were respectively cashier and teller of this bank, were both of them at a later period prominently connected with the management of our national finances. The president of the bank, Thos. H. Benton, Jr., issued an address, and trustees were appointed, the promise being made to wind up affairs as quickly and economically as possible. But most of the banks went out of existence without the formality of trustees, or statements, or anything else pertaining to a decent and orderly financial "taking-off." As a typical case of abjectest failure the Nemaha Valley Bank of Brownville may be taken. After the time when the cashier, seeing reason to anticipate a run, had thoughtfully locked the front door and slipped out the back one, the editor of the Brownville Advertiser ob
tained leave to examine the books, and announced in the next issue of his paper that every thing was sound, only time was needed. According to his account there was $33,000 of the Nemaha Valley currency in circulation. The assets of the concern consisted of "stock notes, $73,000; discounted paper at thirty and sixty days, over $5,000; cash, over $1,000." It surely required a Western journalist, characteristically impressed with the need of maintaining public confidence, to state that such a condition of things indicated soundness. Suppose, for instance, that it should transpire that the stock notes" were virtually worthless. Such a thing was not uncommon, as the stockholders of the old State banks used often to "pay up" their capital by giving their personal notes, and then when occasion offered they could take measures to make these notes entirely worthless. Suppose further that the discounted paper had been received from those who were not reliable, at least in a financial crisis. Suppose also that the alleged "cash" consisted of the bills of other banks as worthless as the one under investigation, and suppose, finally, that the books had been "fixed," and that in reality much more than $33,000 of currency had been issued.
Such was very nearly the condition of the Nemaha Valley Bank. The machinery of the courts was put in motion to enforce the redemption of the currency, and nearly a thousand dollars of the old bills are stored among the records of the district court. Property was levied upon that usually turned out to belong to some one else, and finally the sheriff reports having levied upon and sold a safe, a table, a stove, and a letter press, which altogether brought sixty-three dollars. The last plea which the absent president ventured to make was, that the so called "Nemaha Valley Bank" could not be sued, since in reality it had not been legally incorporated
at all! The only record to be found of the assets of the Bank of Nebraska, at Omaha, is in the return of a writ of execution by the sheriff of the county, when he reports having levied upon and sold the following property: "Thirteen sacks of flour, one large iron safe, one counter, one desk, one stove drum and pipe, three arm chairs, and one map of Douglas County."
But in many instances the collapse was more mischievous because not so sudden and complete. The institutions had legally forfeited their charters, elastic as those charters were; yet they continued to drag out a precarious existence, getting cases postponed in the courts, compromising with their creditors, and circulating their bills below par.
People, thus finding that poor money kept on circulating, apparently ceased to care how bad it might happen to be. Banks having not the faintest shadow of a legal claim to existence sprang up in various parts of the State. Such was the Omaha and Chicago Bank, which issued bills bearing date as late as May 1861. Such also were the Corn Exchange and Waubeek Banks, both of De Soto. Another of the same kind was the Omaha City Bank and Land Company. The bills of this company were stamped with the legend, "Capital, $300,ooo; circulation, $200,000." To add to the general confusion the city of Omaha issued scrip to the amount of $100,000 to aid in the completion of a public building. This scrip at first passed at par, but soon depreciated, and except as some of it was used in the payment of taxes, it was never redeemed at all. "The Brownville Hotel Company" was also encouraged by the newspapers of the time to take the same method of making a loan, but am not sure that it ever did so. The governor of the Territory took steps to secure the prosecution of the illegal concerns, but accomplished as little as some of the governors of our own time in their attempts to prune off the illegalities of more
powerful corporations. As each new bank
began business, the newspapers hastened to urge that it was just as legal and sound an enterprise as any of like nature in the Territory, which was true in the strictest possible sense.
In 1858 some enterprising strangers appeared in Omaha and began the work of "wiring through a bill" to incorporate the State Bank of Nebraska, which was to be established at Omaha with branches in different parts of the Territory. It was to have direct dealings with the Territorial government, lend it money, and be of use in many ways. The sleek gentlemen who had the enterprise in hand were near being successful, but before the bill had passed the council, their attempts to bribe certain men who were not bribable, got them into trouble, and they found it to their interest to flit Eastward swiftly and secretly.
What were the actual losses to bill holders from these wildcat banks, there is no means of ascertaining. None of them ever made any of the required reports to the Territorial auditor; few of their old books are preserved, and some of them seem hardly to have troubled themselves with books at all. In the report of the comptroller of the currency for 1876, we find the statistics of the old State banks in so far as they have been preserved. The table of the Nebraska banks is obviously incomplete. For the year 1857 only four banks are reported, which have an aggregate capital of $205,000, and an aggregate circulation of $353,796. In 1858 six banks are given, but their aggregate capital is only $15,000, and their total circulation $41,941. For 1859 but two banks are given, for 1860 none, and for 1861 but one; later than this there is no report. Now it is certain that there was no lawful bank in the Territory after 1857, and it is equally certain that there were between five and a dozen of the unlawful, wildcat variety.
None of these banks issued bills of a denomination higher than ten dollars, and only two of them issued anything larger than
fives. All their energies were devoted to getting their currency to circulate as fast and as far as possible, and the farther the better. Most of it ceased to circulate only when it had found its way into the possession of those least able to appreciate its worthlessness, and least able, also, to bear the loss that its worthlessness entailed. Iowa learned in the bitter school of experience how mischievous it might be, and her newspapers used to publish long statements of the various discounts at which Nebraska money should be received, and to caution her people in a general way against receiving it at all. Long after the Nemaha Valley Bank had, in a court of law, entered the plea that it did not exist, an enterprising citizen of Brownville took a pocketful of its bills down below St. Louis and passed them as good money. Even in the early days of the war many of the Nebraska soldiers found it profitable to carry a supply of the worthless State bank currency, as they often met those who could be persuaded to receive it.
And from this it follows that we cannot wisely ignore even such an apparently unimportant chapter in the banking history of our country, for the evil does not stop at the boundaries of the State or Territory over which a single incompetent or dishonest legislature may have authority. Each individual must directly or indirectly depend upon the integrity, not only of the legislature which he helps to elect, but upon that of many legislatures chosen by constituencies to which he does not belong. It is proved that money of almost any quality can be made to circulate across State lines, and even a new, raw Territory can disturb the finances of half a dozen States. Nebraska was one of the last of the Territories having a chance to do this kind of blundering, and a statement of how disastrously she availed herself of the opportunity, may have value at the present time as a reminder of the financial nadir to which it is possible for a State to sink.
A. G. Warner..
INDIAN WAR PAPERS. IV.-BATTLE OF "OLD CAMP CURRY."
While the three columns were marching as fast as they could, from different sides towards Stein Mountains, which at last accounts had all told some two thousand Indians filling various camps, returning scouts and messengers met me every few hours. At last, on the 19th, word came that the hostiles 'were no longer in those mountains, nor in that neighborhood; that they had on the approach of Bernard's troop, lost courage and so made forced marches or better, perhaps, a wild run— more than one hundred miles westward into a barren country, very hilly and heavily wooded, southwest of Camp Harney. In the evening of the same day, I heard from Captain Bernard that he had reached our point of concentration and finding the Indians gone, had pressed on after them, following their plain trails, and putting his troops to their utmost speed.
It is well now to pay a brief visit to the enemy's encampment, to inquire in the light of subsequent events what produced this sudden change of plan on his part, and the strange abandonment of so strong a position as that in the Stein Mountains.
No masses of men have ever accomplished much without organization and leadership. When the Indians set out from Fort Hall, the redoubtable Buffalo Horn, young, brave, skilful, and energetic, was the Bannocks' chosen leader. When he was killed, there was no other Bannock chief whom the people would follow. Winnemucca, as before remarked, had no sympathy with the war, and deserted the hostiles, coming to us. Egan, the next chief, the leader of all Pi-Utes at the Malheur Agency, was at first very reluctant to fight. He, it was said, had even refused
and had been made a prisoner by the others. An old Too-at or Dreamer, Oytes by name, was for a time the actual chief. He was full of superstition, believing, or pretending to believe, that the time had come when the Indians were to rise in their might and regain all their old camping-grounds and cherished haunts. While the Indians listened to his wizard performances and raving revelations, they looked upon him as civilized men do upon ministers
they wanted a regular military chief. At last, after much pressure of threats and persuasion, Chief Egan, taking Oytes as his counselor, resumed the chieftainship, and became for the war the military head of all the Indians there gathered. He had fought General Crook and other officers in former years. He had quite a reputation among both white men and Indians. His method was never to risk everything in a pitched battle. He heard that I was coming with three distinct bodies of fighting men, with plenty of guns and ammunition. He had no cannon and but a limited amount of cartridges or provisions. So he advised them to move rapidly westward to his old camping-grounds, where the Indians would have the protection of extensive forests, where they could scatter and deceive, by numerous trails, the pursuing foes. hoped, further, that some Klamaths and many Umatillas were watching to join him. as soon as he got far enough west of Camp Harney. These allies would bring supplies. Again, the hearts of the bravest talkers, even the heart of old Oytes himself, began to weaken as their scouts, rushed up the mountain crying that more than a thousand horsemen were moving to attack them. Then almost a panic ensued. Away they
went, marching more than forty miles in a day, though they were encumbered with women, children, and baggage. No white community of like size could stand such strain and fatigue.
As Major Stewart's command was threading its way towards Stein Mountains by the route of Willow Creek and the Malheur Agency, I left him for a while and passed on with my staff to a little mountain town called by the suggestive name of Malheur City. During Stewart's march, alarming reports and rumors of fresh Indian trails, came from nearly every direction. One example will suffice to indicate their nature. A party of Indians-so said an excited citizen by the name of Harlan---had passed straight through the Burnt River country going northward, at least thirty miles off the main road. Lieutenant Shofner, with a detachment, using wagons so as to make the quickest time, was sent by a night march to test the report. He found no Indians, and really no valid signs of them. The Lieutenant returned to his command without delaying the column. Such lateral marches, like reconnaissances, were frequently made. These, with the aid of our numerous citizen scouts, who had become spirited in their enterprising rides, soon put a stop to the small raiding parties of the hostiles, and deceived them as to what we were really doing.
Meanwhile I had sent Lieutenant Wilkinson, with two soldiers, and the two Indian women, Sarah and Mattie, for guides, to take his way by the stars across the country to Camp Harney. I sent the party on this. perilous journey not only because of the rumored flight of the Indians and the vigorous pursuit by Bernard, but because of a report, which had a semblance of truth, that Captain McGregor's troop of cavalry had met Egan, and had had a disastrous fight, ending in defeat and the loss of his horses. Could Wilkinson get through sixty or seventy miles to Camp Harney, he could quickly verify the report of Egan's presence in Har
ney Valley, and satisfy me with regard to Bernard's and McGregor's condition. For I firmly believed that by this time McGregor's troop, which went from Camp Harney, must have joined Bernard, so that if McGregor had been badly handled, so had Bernard, and Camp Harney was in danger. In fact the Indians' flight had changed the whole field of operations, and necessitated new planning and new instructions.
Whilst everybody else was in motion, I held my staff at Malheur City for two days. All the workingmen who were employed on the immense mining ditch in that neighborhood, were organized for scouting under a most enterprising citizen by the name of Packwood, a foreman on the work. They scouted and watched the country, rough and wooded as it was, for the breadth of a hundred miles. From Mr. Packwood I obtained prompt and accurate information, and secured a few Indian prisoners, who had strayed away from Egan's flying column. Major Stewart's command, never halting save for the necessary night camping, entered the famous Malheur Agency grounds the morning of the 23d. Here the same morning, by a rapid cross-cut with my staff and scouts, I overtook him.
The Indian agent, Rhinehart, who had fled from the agency at the first outbreak, now came back and joined us here. There was not at that time an Indian on any of the lands of the reservation. The buildings were standing, but were in a deplorable condition. They appeared to have been robbed of every valuable. "Windows were broken; doors were forced in; and the floors covered with the debris of articles rendered useless, of bedding, wearing apparel, table furniture, and cooking utensils." In the storehouses there was considerable flour, and a little salt. Fortunately for our hungry soldiers, there was still unharvested a crop of potatoes and other vegetables in the garden. These they were not slow to find, harvest, and issue. Judging from Agent Rhine