This letter’s content divulges fraud and corruption perpetrated by the elected officials in Mississippi government associated with the sale of stocks and bonds by the new State Banks that were created following the dissolution of the National Bank by President Andrew Jackson.
The author, who feared for his life and therefore refused to sign his name, intended his letter for the editor of the New York Herald, James Gordon Bennett. He errantly addressed the letter to Thomas Gordon Bennett, however. Unlike most newspapers of the day, the Herald owed no allegiance to any particular political party and earned a reputation for unbiased reporting.
Addressed to Thomas Gordon Bennet, Esq., Herald Office, New York [City]
Grand Gulf [Mississippi]
March 8, 1845
I consider your paper as the Court of Correction of ____ and placing fraud in its true light. I came to this place with intent of settling here, but the proceedings of the Legislature has made me resolved to return.
Son after Gen’l. Jackson broke down the U.S. Bank, he recommended the different states to establish banks so that the 35,0000 might be in circulation. This State, by the act of the legislature, established five banks — among them was the Bank of Vicksburg, Grand Gulf & Port Gibson. The stock was all subscribed for by paying $10 and notes for $90. The Certificate of Stock was delivered to the subscribers who went on to the North and sold the shares to the different banks and individuals at par. The object was stated that the capital was to be loaned to planters to enable them to purchase slaves to raise cotton. As soon as the planters had drawn from the banks all they could lend and their bonds became due, they applied for an injunction to stop proceedings against them as having forfeited their charter by nonpayment.
____ and a ___ Warrant was issued to try the Charter of each Bank. Not content with those proceedings, the Legislature has passed an Act which I send you by this mail to take the property of the Banks from the agents & assignees who were appointed by the Northern Stockholders to look after their interests. When the assets of the bank comes under Sale of Bonds &c. belonging to the Bank, no one will be able to bid unless at the risk of his life. Therefore, a Bond Mortgage for $20,000 will be purchased for $200. You may see that the stockholders who are in New York & Philadelphia will never receive a cent. No, the same with respect to the Bonds issued by the State and sent to England for sale. Our Legislature authorized the offering of the Bonds and as soon as they were all sold & the money received, the next Legislature declared the Bonds were not any lean on the State as the former Legislature had no authority to sell those bonds.
The Northern Stockholders never will receive one cent from the Vicksburg or Grand Gulf Bank as the proceeds of the sales of the assets will go into the hands of the commissioners appointed by the Court. All judges &c. are elected by the people and must follow the suit of the people or they are turned out. I do not believe in the annals of the world there was ever so corrupt State as this. Every man is a debtor to the bank. The Governor and all the Legislature are linked together to prevent payment. You must say with safety that this state has swindled the North out of 30,0000 of dollars. I do not sign my name to this but will call on you in June when I return. — Kent