What The Experts Say...
HT 34C, Low 20C
Whatever truth there may have been in the charges of weakness and subservience to Jackson and his friends which were brought agaisnt agaisnt Van Buren by his political enemies, it is now generally admitted that his financial ability was great, and as Fiske says, "The principal achievement of his administration was the divorce of Bank and State." To his successful "experiment" is due the establishment of the Subtreasury system, which finally took shape in 1846. The Independent Treasury Bill was introduced in Congress, September2, 1837, and rejected, but was passed with some modifications in 1840, and though repealed under Tyler, at length became the established Government policy, without regard to party. Briefly the experiment was to withdraw the Government funds from State Banks, - private institutions chartered under State Laws, - and place them in the hands of United States Government officers. The result of this was to separate the Government funds from all others, and to free its Treasury from any dependence upon the banks in its fiscal operation; the collection, safe-keeping, transfer and disbursement of the public money was to be performed solely by agents of the Government, - called "Fiscal Agents," - and all payments by or to the Government were made in specie. One can but wonder at the opposition these sound financial principles aroused.
The tortoise with a sife on its back on the tokens has been said to allude to the slow progress which the experiment made, and the running jackass to Van Buren's rapid growth in popularity - which is doubtful. The withdrawal of public funds from the banks, with other reasons, led to a contraction of the currency and great changes in apparent values, which under the loose methods that had previously obtained, may be said to have been the apparent causes of "Hard Times." The true causes lay further back, and are easily discernible by the student of history.
(Rulau 9th Edition)