In 1836 the Treasury issued the "specie circular," an order to its public land agents to receive for the sale of public lands only specie, and to refuse the notes issued by the banks. The order aimed to repress land frauds, to discourage the extension of bank notes and bank credits, and to protect the Treasury. The circular restricted particularly the activities of western banks and their eastern agents. This restriction, in conjunction with the failure of a number of foreign banks and the failure of the crops between 1835 and 1837, precipitated a panic which had been brewing for some time. When the transfer of public deposits was suddenly halted, banks and projects founded on the expectation of receiving these funds failed straightway and the government lost heavily. During the long period of depression that followed, the number of banks, after increasing to 901 in 1840, declined to 691 in 1843, and their circulation contracted from $149,000,000 in 1837 to $59,000,000 in 1843.