Ideas for a Science of Good Government
COIN AND PAPER CURRENCY.
TWO OPEN LETTERS TO HIS EXCELLENCY R.B. HAYES.
New York, June 1, 1877.
HONORED SIRAllow me to offer you my heartfelt thanks for the wise and independent course you have adopted in the discharge of the responsible and difficult duties, that you have been called upon to perform. The deep interest you are manifesting in the nations welfare, has already sent a thrill of hope and joy into the hearts of suffering millions throughout our country. They are looking to you with anxious hope, that you will urgently recommend and insist upon the establishment of justice in the dealings of the Government with the people ; as that is the only possible way, by which the general welfare of the nation can be promoted.
Your noble course has, thus far, inspired the people with the hope and trust, that you will, in the providence of God, be our countrys Moses, to lead the people from a threatened bondage, that now hangs over the liberties and the happiness of the American people.
This bondage has its manifold centre and its secret force in more than two thousand banks, that are scattered throughout the country. All these banks, are organized expressly to loan out their own money and the money of all those, who will entrust them with deposits. These loans are made to men, whose business-lives will soon become dependent on money, borrowed from corporations, that have a special interest of their own. Such a power of wealth, under the control of the selfish instincts of mankind, will always be able to control the action of our Government, unless that Government is directed by strict principles of justice and of the public welfare. The banks will favor a course of special and partial legislation, in order to increase their power for even the good want power ; they will never cease to ask for more, as long as there is more, that can be wrung from the toiling masses of the American people.
Such a power should never be allowed to go out from the entire and complete control of the peoples Government. The struggle with this money-power, intrenched in the special privileges of banks, has been going on from the beginning of the history of this country. It has engaged the attention of our wisest and most patriotic statesmen. Franklin, Jefferson, Webster, Calhoun, Jackson have all spoken of the danger of such a power and the necessity of guarding against it. . . .
The present Secretary of the Treasury, Sherman, speaking in the Senate, when the subject of regulating the currency was under consideration, declared it to be a fact, that every citizen of the United States had conformed his business to the legal tender clause. That Senator further declared, as appears by the Congressional Record, that if the bondholder refuses to take the same kind of money, with which he bought the bonds, he is an extortioner and a repudiator. . . . There is no such burdensome loan negotiated by any civilized nation in the world as our five-twenty bonds, if they are to be paid in gold. And yet these very six per cent. bonds, that were issued under a law, that made them payable in the currency of the country, have by a most cruel and unaccountable change in the law, been made payable in goldthe very bonds which had been sold at from forty to sixty dollars in gold for one hundred in currency, thereby causing a debt, that now hangs like a millstone on the neck of the nation. It should always be remembered that debt, in all the ages of the world, has been the most effectual means for holding the mass of mankind in a species of enslavement.
Within my own recollection unmarried white men could be sold for debt in the State of Connecticut ; so that debt is a species of slavery, as commerce is a kind of commercial war. It is a war of interests, as all nations are using their highest arts to buy as cheap and sell as dear as they can.
Our Government can only regain its former prosperity as a nation by adopting a similar national policy to that, which has made and protected the industries of France.
One of the causes, that brought on the Revolutionary War, as will appear by the following statement, were the laws, that were passed by England expressly to deprive her colonies of the right to manufacture for themselves :
The first attempt at manufacture in the American colonies was followed by interference on the part of the British Legislature. . . . In 1710, the House of Commons declared, that the erecting manufactories in the colonies tended to lessen their dependence on Great Britain. In 1732, the exportation of hats from province to province, and the number of apprentices, were limited. . . . In 1750, the erection of any mill or engine for slitting or rolling iron was prohibited. . . . In 1765, the exportation of artizans from Great Britain was prohibited, under a heavy penalty. . . . In 1781, utensils, required for the manufacture of wool or silk, were prohibited. . . . In 1782, the prohibition was extended to artificers in printing calicoes, muslins, or linens, or in making implements, used in their manufacture. . . . In 1785, the prohibition was extended to tools, used in iron and steel manufacture, and to workmen so employed. . . . In 1799, it was so extended as to embrace even colliers.
The war of the Revolution of our own country was brought on by a war of commercial interests. It was a war that showed a determination on the part of the mother country to keep her colonies entirely dependent on England for all forms of manufactured articles. Laws were enacted to prevent the colonies from manufacturing out of their own good raw materials things indispensable for their own use, and necessary to give employment to those, who have nothing to sell but their own labor.
Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, and the Revolutionary fathers were men, who could see how utterly impossible it would be for the American people to buy anything cheap from foreign countries, that must be bought at the expense of leaving our own good raw materials unused and our own laborers unemployed.
Our Constitution has declared, that Congress shall have power to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper, to lay and collect taxes, duties, imports, excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and the general welfare of these United States. Also to borrow money on the credit of these United States.
It was by this constitutional power, vested in Congress, that all forms of Treasury notes were issued and used as so many dollars of legal money of the country. At the close of the war of the Rebellion, our Government found itself encumbered with promises to pay that, which it did not possess and could not command, only as the amount could be drawn from the people in some form of taxation. The promise to pay should never have been made. It should have been a promise to receive, instead of a promise to pay tokens of debt, which the Government had been compelled to pay out as money in its struggle for the nations life. It was a currency, that had proved itself, as President Grant had declared it to be, the best money, that our country had ever possessed, . . . that there was no more of it in circulation, than what is required for the dullest business season of the year.
These facts being established by a condition of unsurpassed national prosperity, that prevailed throughout our whole country at the close of a great and terrible war. After such a demonstration of the strength, wealth and power of a nation, there was no good reason for acts of legislation avowedly to strengthen the credit of a nation, that had carried on such a war and obtained such a victory.
What must the American people think, when they come to know and understand, that a governmental policy has been adopted which has taken from the people their currency, that was furnished by the people without cost, and turned into such an oppressive debt, as now burdens and paralyzes the industries of the country ?
The amount of currency, so found in circulation at the close of the war, should never have been allowed to increase or diminish, only as per capita with the increase of the inhabitants of the country.
Such a currency should have been made receivable for all forms of taxes, duties and debts. That would have made our national paper money as much more valuable, than gold in proportion as it would be more easily and cheaply handled in large sums.
Our national currency must be made receivable for all purposes throughout the country, and interconvertible with three per cent. Government bonds ; it would then, like the consols of England, soon become an ever-strengthening bond of national union. Such a currency would have been worth more to the American people, than all the gold mines, that had ever been discovered on the continent of America.1
I hold our Government bound to give back to the people their small currency, that was costing them nothing, and then call in the silver currency, that has been put in its place at a cost of $31,738,400 paid for silver up to April 20, 1877. This silver should be immediately withdrawn, and used in the purchase of foreign bonds, thus saving for the American people an amount of interest, if compounded, that would pay the national debt several times in one hundred years, and at the same time give the country a more convenient currency, which would be more than paid for by the amount, that would be worn out and lost by its use. If silver change is ever needed, it can be had with only the cost of coining it by the Government, as nearly all the silver, produced in the country, will go into coins, whenever the Government will coin it without cost to its owners.
I find myself compelled to agree with Senator Jones, where he says that the present is the acceptable time to undo the unwitting and blundering work of 1873. . . . We cannot, we dare not, avoid speedy action on the subject. Not only does reason, justice and authority unite in urging us to retrace our steps, but the organic law commands us to do so, and the presence of peril enjoins what the law commands.
I have ventured this long letter in the firm belief, that the adoption of a permanent, unfluctuating national currency, as before stated, equal to the amount actually found in circulation at the close of the war, and that amount should never be increased or diminished, only as per capita with the increase of the inhabitants of our countrysuch a measure of all internal values, with a revenue tariff of specific duties to be obtained from the smallest number of articles, that will give the amount needed for an economical governmentsuch a national policy would introduce prosperity once more into the trade, commerce and finances of this country.
NOTE.Expansion versus Contraction.The following statistics from the London Economist demonstrate the fact, that the expansion of French Government legal tenders has kept pace with the accumulation of specie, and materially develops the home interests of that country :
Of legal tenders in April, 1869, the circulation was 214 millions dollars, and in April, 1876, 494 millions, being an increase in seven years of 280 millions, or 130 per cent. !
Of specie and bullion in December, 1869, the stock was 247 millions dollars, and in November, 1876, 432 millions, or an increase in seven years of 185 millions, or 75 per cent. !
The striking prosperity of French industries under the above fiscal policy augurs strongly for an expansion equal to the amount found in circulation at the close of the war, and against a contraction.
Our Government has, from its origin, neglected to perform one of the most important duties, enjoined on it by the Constitution, where it says, that Congress shall have power, not only to coin money, but to regulate the value thereof. This can be and should have been done by an Act of Congress to regulate the value of money by fixing the amount, that can be legally collected as interest for the use of money.
When such an Act has been provided to prevent extortionate demands for the use or interest on money, and when the law has been repealed, that is now paralyzing the country with the terrible fact, that some fifteen hundred millions of dollars, now due from the people to the banks, with all the other debts, that are to become due in 1879, are by law made payable in gold, then the way will be opened for a restoration of confidence and a permanent financial relief. The law ; contracting the currency is now taking from the people their legal money, costing the Government and the people nothing, and then converting this same currency into a national debt, for which the people are to be taxed for the next thirty years. It should never be forgotten, that the first sixty millions of Treasury notes were issued and made receivable in payments of duties on imports a lawful money and a legal tender.
The fact that the sixty millions then issued did continue receivable at the Treasury on a par with gold, when gold was selling at 285 in currency, this fact is proof positive, that had the Government made all the greenbacks full legal tender, instead of sending them out partially demonetized and repudiated, they would never have fallen below par. It was the partial demonetization and the contraction of the currency, that has so effectually destroyed confidence and dried up the sources of both production and consumption. The people are deprived of their currency, which had for years formed the life blood of the trade and commerce of our country.
My efforts in all I have written, have been to call and fix the attention of the American people on those truths and principles, so grandly set forth and declared in the Preamble to the Constitution, formed for us by the Fathers and founders of a Government, intended to establish justice as the true and only sure means, by which the general welfare of the American people can be substantially promoted.
Hoping and believing, that your best efforts will be given to secure for our beloved country the blessings of a good Government,
I remain, yours, with great respect,
1 The following is a statement of the interest, of money paid by the United States since the close of the war of the Rebellion. The following statement shows, that $1,422,057,577 has been paid in interest in 11¾ years :
NEW YORK, August 6, 1877.
HIS EXCELLENCY R.B. HAYES,
HONORED SIRAlthough I have but lately addressed you an open letter on the sad state of the industrial and financial conditions of our common country, and the causes, that have brought it about ; yet the events, that have since transpired, while they have given additional emphasis to that appeal, justify me in once more addressing you on the same subject.
Surely, the peaceful expostulations and complaints of so many thousands of your fellow-citizens, going up from every part of this distressed country, not to speak of the violence and lawlessness, which this distress has occasioned, not only appeal to your humanity and patriotism, but call for the most earnest and instant action on the part of the Government, of which you are the chief Executive.
From your past patriotic life and action, and from your present wise and conciliating conduct in the political affairs of this country, we have every reason to hope a new and straight path of relief will be found for the manifest evils, under which this country is laboring.
It is with this hope, and, at my advanced age, with no other motive than the welfare of our beloved country, that I unite with thousands of my fellow-citizens in calling your attention, and that of your political advisers, not only to the facts, which are obvious enough, but to the causes and the remedies, that ought to be considered in devising the best means of curing the present evils. The facts themselves are appalling to any patriotic heart.
More than two hundred thousand men, within the last few weeks, have joined in strikes on the various railroad lines, the workshops and the mines of the country, on account of further reduction in their wages, already reduced to the living point. That some of these strikes have been attended with lawless and unjustifiable violence, only shows the intensity of the evils complained of, and the despair of the sufferers. For four years past, since the panic of 1873, millions of men and women, in this hitherto rich and prosperous country, have been thrown out of employment, or living on precarious and inadequate wages, have felt embittered with a lot, in which neither economy nor industry, nor a cheerful willingness to work hard, can bring any alleviation.
Is it to be wondered at, that enforced idleness has made tramps of so many of our laboring population, or induced them to join the criminal and dangerous classes ?
During this same period, immigration into this country of the hardy and industrious of all nations, who have hitherto built up our country, has, in a great measure, stopped, while thousands of artisans and mechanics, whom a prosperous country cannot spare, are emigrating to other countries. Our manufactories are, many of them, closed, or running at a loss, or giving starvation prices to their operatives. Our merchants are demanding the reduction of their rents, discharging many of their employés, and such as are in debt are fast going into bankruptcy. The mining and railroad interests of the country, on which the income and the employment of so many thousands depend, are fast succumbing to the general failure in the finances of the country, so that their stocks have become depreciated or worthless, and their employés discharged or mutinous on account of reduced wages. Real estate has depreciated to less than half of what it would have brought four years ago ; much of it cannot be sold for any price, and mortgages of one-quarter its value, if foreclosed, swallow up the whole. The thriving and enterprising farmer of the West, especially, feels this rise in the value of money, as compared with labor or property. With the hardy toil of years, he has opined and improved his farm, and the comparative small loan, which laid but a light weight on the resources of his land in prosperous tunes, and with a sufficiency of money, is now threatening to swallow up the labor of his life ! Even the banks and the loaning institutions, not being able to invest their money on good securities, are embarrassed on both sidesthe failure of their debtors, that throws so many of the securities on their hands, and makes bonds and mortgages a glut in the market, and the difficulty of making any new loans or investments, so that money goes a begging at one and a half and two per cent.!
But these moneyed men are very patient with their troubles in this respect, for they know, that money is appreciating in value all the time ! It may be now that loanable capital, on good security, is gathered largely in the moneyed centres, and much of it comparatively idle ; but this is no great hardship to those, who own the capital, in the presence of the fact, that money is appreciating in its relative value, while waiting for active investment. This is the secret why money seeks no active investment now, but only good security, or idleness. The country at large, its various industrial enterprises and its labor are in want of money. Is there any fact more obvious than this ? Nor is it the rich that want money, but the poor, as a necessary condition for selling the labor, which is their sole possession. Hence, to the poor man, cheap money is equivalent to cheap bread.
Ever since 1865, this country has been losing its money.
During the last ten years, thousands of millions of money have been swallowed in Government and railroad bonds and other securities, and in importations which, till lately, have far exceeded our exportations. It is a fact on record in the books of the United States Treasury, and by such authorities as Spaulding in his History of the Currency, Mr. Maynard, Chairman of the Committee on Banking and Currency in Congress, and Spinner, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, that this country had, up to the year 1865, issued in different forms of currency, and treasury notes, current as money among the people, $2,192,395,527 ! This vast sum had, on the first of November, 1873, shrunk to $631,488,676 (see Congressional Record, March 31, 1874).
In the year 1865, there was in the hands of the people, as a currency, $58 per head ; in 1875 the currency of all kinds was only a little more than $17 per head.
You may call this currency a vast debt of the people, as it was incurred by the Government to save the life of the nation. But it was moneyevery dollar of it. It was paid by the Government for value received; it was used by the people to pay their debts, to measure the value of their property, and, as your present Secretary of the Treasury, Sherman, said in his seat in the Senate, every citizen of the United States had conformed his business to the legal tender clause.
This currency was also the creature of law, and under the entire control of the Government, but held in trust for the benefit of the people, as are all its functions. Was it either just or humane to allow $1,100,000,000 of this currency, a large part bearing no interest, but paying labor, and fructifying every business enterprise, to be absorbed into bonds in the space of eight years, bearing a heavy interest, of which the bondholder bore no share ? (See Spauldings History of the Currency.) The Government seemed to administer this vast currency, as if there was but one interest in the nation to be promoted, and that the profit of those, who desired to fund their money with the greatest security, and to make money scarce and of high rate of interest ! This is the issue of the hour ; this is the battle of the people and for the people, in which the present administration is called upon to declare which side it will take. If this policy was unjust and ruinous at the first, it is unjust and ruinous now. If it has led us from prosperity into adversity, the only course is to retrace our steps, to stop this funding and give the people back their money, justly earned and hardly won by the toils, perils and sacrifices of the people. But as this vast and life-giving currency has now gone irretrievably into bonds, and the bonds have gone largely abroad for importations, that have still further depressed the industry of our people by buying abroad what we could and should have manufactured at home, I would respectfully suggest the following policy for your administration in the present emergency and for the future prosperity of the people of this country :
First. Let the Government give immediate relief to unemployed labor, either through definite methods of help, given to settlers of unoccupied lands in the West, or by great and obvious public improvements, which are seen to be necessary to the prosperity and safety of the countrysuch as a North-western and a South-western Railroad. Both these methods might be used, in view of the great distress, now, of the laboring classes. The railroads will invite settlements, protect the country from Indian wars, more costly than the railroads themselves, and give employment and the money, which will enable the poor man to settle the lands. Even State and municipal help might be evoked to this end of employing labor, by issuing currency, for the bonds of States and Municipalities, that could employ labor profitably in any local improvements.
Secondly. Restore the silver coinage as a legal tender ; and while it swells the currency, it may be made as light as paper, for transportation, by Bills of Exchange, or by a currency that represents silver. The demonetization of silver was a trick of the enemies of the poor mans currency. The remonetization of silver will be a great relief now, in the depression of all business, if not the final and best measure.
Thirdly. Let us adopt a permanent policy of public finance, that shall hereafter control both the volume and the value of the national currency, in the interest of the whole people, and not of a class. Let us have a national currency fully honored by the Government, and not as now, partially demonetizedthe sole currency and legal tender of the country, taken for all duties and taxes, and interconvertible with the bonds, at a low but equitable rate of interest. This will forever take the creation of currency and its extinction out of the hands of banks, and those interested in making it scarce and high, and put it completely under the control of law and the interests of the people.
Fourthly. Let us promote and instruct industry all over the land by founding, under National, State and municipal encouragement, INDUSTRIAL SCHOOLS of every kind, that can advance skill in labor. The rich need the literary and professional school and colleges, and they should have them ; but the poor need the industrial school of art and science ; and it should be made the duty of the local governments to provide a practical education for the mass of the people, as the best method of guaranteeing to every State a republican form of government.
Fifthly. The Government can do much toward promoting the industry of this people, and encouraging capital to enter upon works of manufacture, by a judicious tariff upon all importations, of which we have the raw material in abundance, and the labor ready to be employed in the production. It is no answer to this to say, Buy where you can cheapest. I have said before, We cannot, as a nation, buy anything cheap, that leaves our own good raw materials unused and our own labor unemployed.
Sixthly. Let us have a civil service as well organized and specific as the military or naval service. Let us take the civil service out of mere political partisanship, and put such appointments upon the ground of honesty, capacity and educational fitness, so that no man can hold his office and receive its emoluments without a faithful discharge of the duties prescribed by the law. The noble and efficient recognition, that you have already given to this principle, in divorcing politics from the ordinary clerical and civil service of the country, entitles you to the thanks of every citizen.
By these methods of immediate relief and future administration, we may pass safely, I think, the great crisis through which our beloved country is now laboring.
The producing cause of all prosperity, says Daniel Webster, is labor, labor, labor. . . .
The Government was made to protect this industryto give it both encouragement and security. To this very end, with this precise object in view, power was given to Congress over the currency and over the money of the country.
Though the influences, that are now working against the rights of labor and the true interests of a Republican Government, are insidious and concealed under plausible reasons, yet the danger to our free institutions now is no less than in the inception of the Rebellion, that shook our Republic to its centre. It is only another oligarchy, another enslaving power, that is asserting itself against the interests of the whole people. There is fast forming in this country an aristocracy of wealththe worst form of aristocracy, that can curse the prosperity of any country. For such an aristocracy has no country absenteeism, living abroad, while they draw their income from the country, is one of its common characteristics. Such an aristocracy is without soul and without patriotism. Let us save our country from this, its most potent, and, as I hope, its last enemy. Let your fellow-citizens beseech you, Mr. President, to consider well what the crisis of the country demands of you and your political advisers, not losing sight of the fact, that there are great wrongs, which must be righted in the administration of the finances of this country, for the last twelve years. Old issues of North and South are, in a great measure, passing away, and that patriotism and far-sightedness which has so far guided your administration, we hope and trust, will find a way to relieve the present distress of the country. There is no section of our common country, that needs so much the reviving influence of an abundant and a sound currency, as the South. The Southern people have the finest natural resources our country affords ; every facility for manufacturethe material, labor and water-power indefinite. They need only money, wisely distributed among its working and enterprising population ; and it was well said, lately, by one of the Southern statesmen, that the Government had impoverished, discomfited and crushed the South more by its financial policy, since peace was declared, than by its arms during the whole war of Rebellion !
If the people can look for no relief from the present Congress and Administrationif those, who now sway the financial interests of the country, cannot see their great opportunitythen new men must be chosen by the people whom they can trust to make laws and execute measures that shall secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity.
LABOR PROSPERITY IN ENGLAND FROM 1797 TO 1815.
Extract from MARVIN WARRENS Work on American Labor.
Sir Archibald Alison, author of the History of Modern Europe, says : The next eighteen years of the war, from 1797 to 1815, were, as all the world knows, the most glorious, and taken as a whole, the most prosperous, which Great Britain had ever known. Ushered in by a combination of circumstances the most calamitous, both with reference to external security and internal industry, it terminated in a blaze of glory and flood of prosperity, which have never since the beginning of the world descended upon any nation. Prosperity universal and unheard of pervaded every part of the empire. Our colonial possessions encircled the Earth ; the whole West India Islands had fallen into our hands ; an empire of sixty millions of men in Hindoostan acknowledged our rule ; Java was added to our eastern possessions ; and the flag of France had disappeared from every station beyond the sea. Agriculture, commerce and manufactures at home had increased in an unparalleled ratio ; the landed proprietors were in affluence ; wealth to an unheard of extent had been created among the farmers ; the soil, daily increasing in fertility and breadth of cultivated lands, had become almost adequate to the maintenance of a rapidly increasing population ; our exports, imports and tonnage had more than doubled since the war began.
What caused this prosperity ? Exactly the same thing in kind that causes the present French prosperity. This eighteen years of English prosperity commenced in 1797, when the Bank of England was authorized by the Government to suspend specie payment, and continued just so long as it was not insisted upon by any party, that the bank should be required to pay specie, and ceased immediately as soon as that requirement was seriously urged. The money of England during that eighteen years was irredeemable paper money ; it was rag baby in its nature. The very kind of money, that the ministers of finance in our country tell us is a sore evil to have. True, like our present greenback money, it was inferior to the French paper money, because it was not a fall legal tender for all debts in the country. Of course, then, it depreciated some in value as compared to gold, and did not have that full and complete beneficial effect, in dispensing its benefits to all interests and to everybody, as it otherwise would, and as the French money does. But like the French money in one respect, it was not redeemable in specie on demand, and hence it could be and was issued in quantities for the most part to adapt itself to the necessities of labor and business. Take notice, American laborers, that this period of English prosperity lasted just the eighteen years of time, that the money of England was not disturbed by redeemability in specie, nor seriously threatened so to be, and not any longer. So that English experience and French experience as to what causes prosperity accord one with the other, and they both are to the effect, that prosperity comes at once, upon the liberation of the money or currency of the country from being redeemed in specie, and then issued in quantities, suited to put the labor of the country all into active and profitable employment.
And take notice, also, just what kind of prosperity that was. It was the prosperity of labor ; all honest, useful labor. It was prosperity universal and unheard of, and it pervaded in every part of the empire. Agriculture, commerce and manufactures at home had increased in an unparalleled ratio. And take notice, American farmers, the landed proprietors were in affluence, and wealth to an unheard of extent had been created among the farmers.
And I say this, also, that there was not in that English prosperity anything at all savoring of fiction, or wanting of substantiality. It was built on labor, and the labor stimulated by honest principles of finance, that simply rewarded the laborer, instead of robbing him. If those principles had been followed up and perfected, and kept alive in the laws of the country, instead of being supplanted by fraud and fiction, as they were afterward that prosperity would have lasted to this day, and would last as much longer as the true principles might be preserved. And so in our own country, we cannot only have that prosperity, but we can establish it upon principles, that shall make it enduring, and that is the business of the true men of this generation.
Why was it that just in that eighteen years of war England authorized her national banking institution to suspend specie payments and issue money in quantities, suited to the industrial and commercial wants and prosperity ? It was, because Napoleon was then pressing her by his military power, and the very existence of the Government and nation itself required all the resources of the nation to be brought into active use for its defence, suspending for the time being the avaricious gains of the monied nobility. As stated above by the historian, this eighteen years was ushered in by a combination of circumstances the most calamitous, both with reference to external security and internal industry. Think of it. All this prosperity came, not by favored circumstances, but in spite of circumstances, external and internal, the most calamitous ; all simply through the power of honesty and truth, in the money of the country.
But in 1815, the war closed by the capture of Napoleon at Waterloo. The scourge of war now being removed, it seems to have been thought, that the country could endure without entire destruction a scourge far worse than the war ; and the Shylocks, with Sir Robert Peel at their head, or as an associate, began to insist seriously upon a law for resumption of specie payments. And then what took place ?
Let Thomas Doubleday, in his Financial, Monetary, and Statistical History of England, tell what took place. He says : Prices fell on a sudden to a ruinous extentbanks brokewages fell with prices of manufactures ; and before the year 1816 had come to a close, panic, bankruptcy, riot and disaffection had spread through the land. Vast bodies of starving and discontended artisans now congregated together and demanded reform of the Parliament. The discontents, as usual, the Government put down by an armed force. As the memorable first of May, 1823, drew near, the country bankers, as well as the Bank of England, naturally prepared themselves by a gradual narrowing of their circulation for the dreaded hour of gold and silver payments on demand. . . . The distress, ruin, and bankruptcy, which now took place, were universal, affecting both the great interests of land and trade.
Peel and his Shylock backers pressed the matter of the specie resumption law, and it was passed in 1819, requiring by its terms, specie payments to commence May 1, 1823four years. Between the years 1815 and 1825, inclusive, by the specie resumption law, and by the loss of confidence, growing but of its pendency, more than four-fifths of the land-owners of England lost their possessions. The number of land-owners was reduced from 160,000 to 30,000. The very farmers, who had accumulated wealth to an unheard of extent in the eighteen years of suspension, now became bankrupt and penniless.
Wendell Phillips, in a letter to the New York Legal Tender Club, dated August 23,1875, though slightly inaccurate in two or three historical dates and some other forms of expression, draws a faithful sketch of this English resumption, as compared to our own, now in progress but not completed. The following is an extract of the letter :
History is repeating itself. England never knew more prosperous years than from 1800 to 1820, during which she, had neither gold nor wished to have it, nor promised to pay gold to any one whatever. All that while she extended and contracted her currency without any regard whatever to gold. Her enormous trade and expenditures were all paper, resting on credit and nothing else. We had similar prosperity during the war, and after on the same terms. In 1820, England, listening to theorists, tried to put this new wine into old bottles, and dragged her business back to methods a century oldto specie. Bankruptcy, the very history of which makes the blood cold to-day, blighted the empire. It took half a generation to recover from the mistake. No man can to-day begin to show, that such suffering was necessary, that it achieved any good, or that it effected any change, which could not have been as well made without it.
The object was not to have the paper currency redeemed in specie ; there was really no desire or expectation of that ; but simply that the paper money be driven from circulation, by making this impossible requirement of specie payment in respect to it, thus leaving but very little currency in circulation of any kind, and forcing down prices of labor and property, real estate especially, to almost nothing, rendering debtors unable to pay their debts, that their estates might be bought in at forced sales, or voluntary to prevent the forced, at prices ruinous, and quite likely still leaving them in debt and without means to pay.
The scheme worked like a charm. By it under the forms and sanction of law, the property of the English people was gathered up in vast sweeping accumulations, and handed over to the nobility, and thus was the genius of the British society, its distinction of nobility and vassalage, restored intact.
The specie resumption law of this country, passed in January, 1875, is in substance and design a copy of the British law of 1819, above mentioned. Bear in mind the excuse is to redeem the paper currency in specie, the real object, is to drive from circulation the currency of the country, reduce prices, and so rob the debtor class.
But let us look at the matter. What will the national bank-notes be redeemable in, when the greenbacks are with drawn and burned up ? The bank-notes must be redeemable in something, else they will be worthless, for they are not a legal tender for debt, as the greenback money is. At present the bank-notes are redeemable in legal tender greenbacks, and that makes them good. But the greenbacks withdrawn and burned up, and then what ? Why, the banknotes must then be redeemable in specie of course, as the resumption law provides. And where will the banks get the specie to redeem with ? Some of the strongest of them will be able to get it, and continue their business. But it seems to us the bank-note circulation will be contracted instead of enlarged under the operation of this specie resumption law. Contraction has been the effect of it so far, and we have every reason to believe it will be more and more so up to the time of resumption. The requirement to redeem in specie causes this. That was the effect in England, as shown in the foregoing extract from Doubledays History.
The contraction under our specie resumption law up to November 1, 1876, was $30,710,732 of national bank-notes, and $14,464,284 of greenbacks, besides $20,910,946 more of greenbacks deposited in the treasury of the United States for the retirement of national bank-notes, making a total contraction of the currency of $66,085,962 up to the date mentioned, and the contraction and destroying of the greenback money are still going on.
But when this contraction has gone on for a certain time, instead of a diffused and large credit pervading the country, we have all the loanable capital concentrated in the great money centres, and controlled by the banks, then expansion of credits will be the order of the day. Bank credit will be thrown out in unlimited quantity, in the shape of bank-notes, ostensibly redeemable in specie, but really not ; but all secured as loans on the property of the borrower. Then the banks and the money lenders have only to contract these loans, and the securities being suddenly thrown upon the market, sweeps the property of the many into the hands of the few. This is the game of all banking.
We purpose not to be an alarmist, and believe we are not. We think we have no motive or desire whatever to create misapprehension, groundless fear or unjust distrust of the integrity or capacity of those in authority. But, if this greenback money, constituting as it now does more than half of the currency of the country, be withdrawn from circulation by the first of January, 1879, the time fixed for resumption, there will be no enlargement of the bank-note circulation to take its place, or at least a very inadequate one, and probably a contraction instead, and at that time there will be precipitated upon the people of this country a financial disaster and loss of estates, like unto and probably equal to that, which was brought upon the English people in 1823, when more than four-fifths of the land-owners of that country were robbed of their possessions. All our principal finance laws, passed in the last eleven years, seem to us framed with a direct reference to a grand future crisis of that kind, to be brought about by contraction of the currency. We do not believe there has been a single annual report of our Secretary of the Treasury in all that eleven years, that did not contain one or more recommendations, equally monstrous with that one just quoted from the last report, seeming to us to ignore the plainest dictates of common reason, common justice, and practical experience, and aiming for a future crisis such as above mentioned.
I now ask the reader to again peruse carefully the progress of the English crisis from its beginning, in 1815, to its culmination, in 1823, the time of resumption, as given in the above extract from Doubledays History, and compare therewith, as far as we have progressed, our own experience, embracing the last eleven years of our history, again inspecting withal the table of bankruptcies. It will be found, that we are travelling the same road exactly, and unless our people demand a halt, or restrain the Government by popular demands, we are destined to the same end. The only difference is, that the game here has to proceed slower and more cautiously, more shifts and devices are needed, and more newspaper aid has to be employed here to befog the people, than was required in England ; because history throws more light on the subject now than it did then, and because the people here have more to do in the cause of Government than they had in England ; and moreover, by reason of our greater natural resources, our country is able, without total and immediate ruin, to endure a greater amount of robbery. I do not believe there was ever such a horrid system of usury practised among men, as preys upon this country at this very time.
The crisis proceeds here as it did in England, with increasing bankruptcy of business firms, throwing laborers more and more out of employment. According to reliable statistics, failures in bankruptcy in this country have had a general increase for the last eleven years, being nineteen times as much in 1876 as in 1865. And every increase of bankruptcy has been marked by an increase of pauperism, suffering, death from destitution, disaffection, political and governmental corruption, and a failing of the confidence of our own people in our own republican institutions.
Specie basis or specie payments should be something of great value to cost so much suffering. What is it, therefore, and what is it for ? This specie basis, or specie payment, is a something written down in the books of British science, and from thence copied into ours. Specie is a something, that a very few wealthy men, of almost any country, can buy up and hold at will, substantially the entire stock in that country, as is done now in the United States. This being done, then if there be no law for any legal tender paper money in the country, but all the money, in order to be good, must be either specie or redeemable in specie, these few men will hold entire control of the money of the country, and can control all business and prices, and virtually own nearly everything in the country sooner or later, as always is done, where this specie basis fraud exists.
Again, this same specie is good to make watch cases, watch chains, and gold and silver dishes off, and to work into an innumerable variety of ornaments for persons, male and female, and otherwise to gratify the whims, vanity and pomp of the wealthy classes. And to what extent it may, be required for this purpose in any one country depends upon the changes of fashion and the ability of men to indulge in it, either of which is unstable as the waves of the sea. Likewise in times of war, danger, or financial uncertainty, this specie is good to hoard up, and is hoarded by men, who are able, from motives of both security and speculation.
And besides these things occurring within the country, the like casualties all over the world, together with the uncertainty of the yield of the mines, and the ever-varying laws of the different countries in monetizing and demonetizing gold and silver and other materials, make the presence and availability of specie, either for money or the basis of currency, one of the most unreliable things in this unreliable world.
Yet British science calls this most fickle commodity the most reliable for a money basis. This policy will do for the British nobility as a most excellent fiction, by which to turn systematically to themselves the earning of the British laborers, as is constantly done in that country. It may also do for American politicians or office-seekers (who, as we are aware, are excusable, if they have no ideas of their own) to prate about, so as to please the money-dealers and get their money support. But an American farmer, who is entitled to vote, and has a farm that he desires to keep and not have filched from him, and every other person identified with the labor interests of the country, should consult his own common reason and his practical observation of things, and not lay aside either of these to be misled and ensnared by British fiction and clap-trap.
To know anything about this subject of money, it is necessary to pause right here and consider definitely what specie basis or specie payments mean. Most people think they do understand it, and yet do not exactly. Very many think that because we, the greenback men, oppose specie basis, we oppose specie money. This is furtherest possible from the truth. We do not object to specie money. The greenback principles, if thoroughly carried out, will make specie abundant in the country. Nor do we very seriously object to having our paper money promise to be redeemed in specie. The dependence on resumption in specie as an exclusive basis, so calledthis is what we do object to most strenuously, and having the value of currency depend in the least degree upon its being so redeemed in specie. That is, the paper currency, whether so redeemed or not, should be a full legal tender for all debts throughout the country, the same as specie, so as to keep it par with specie in value. Owing to the fickle nature of specie there is, in fact, no such thing as specie basis for the currency of any commercial nation. Specie basis means no basis at all, but the absolute power of a few men to decide in their own interest, how much currency the people shall have for business, or whether any at all or not, with power to change the amount to suit their own speculative purposes.
To illustrate still more completely the real nature of this specie basis idea, take, for example, our own country, the United States. Now, any one year of prosperous business throughout this country would be attended always by two things : one is the activity of its money, passing from hand to hand, the other is growth. In other words, if we have a single year of active, healthy business, we are ready the next year to do a still greater business. Business grows with its growth. Growth of business requires a corresponding growth in the quantity of money, just exactly as a tree, that grows vigorously one year by the nourishment of the earth : and air, received through the sap, requires a greater quantity of that sap the next year to continue the growth and health of the tree. Hence we see in the Creators order of things, as a tree grows larger, its roots fibres, and foliage reach forth deeper and higher, and broader that they may gather and transmit the necessary increase of sap and nourishment to the whole tree. Circumscribe those roots and fibres, or otherwise withhold the necessary increase of sap, required by nature, and you dwarf the tree or kill it.
Precisely so it is with nations. Prosperity, if we have any, is attended with growth, and a necessity for an increase of money. Withhold the increase of money and you will dwarf the nation, or kill it, and murder the inhabitants. Under a specie basis order of things what has the supply or specie to do with the wants of the nation for more or less money. Is it anywhere revealed to us, that mines and jobbers will always give forth a supply just suited to the business necessities ? Nay, verily. But in proportion as you attempt to actually base the currency on specie will the jobbers grasp the specie and keep it out of legitimate business. Thus you limit the money of the country by an arbitrary, irresponsible power, that feels no sympathy with the money wants of the nation. The theory, therefore, of basing the money of country upon specie, the most liable of all materials to be snatched away for luxury, vanity and speculation, and all the more sure to be so snatched away as the more we attempt actually to base money upon it, is a diabolical idea, a wholesale, murderous conception, and contrary to the Creators order of things. To say that such materials, gold or silver, or both together, constitute the best basis for currency, is as contrary to the truth as to say that a brothel is the best place to preserve chastity, or that the taking of strong drink is the best way to keep temperate, or that a deep-sounding bed of quicksand is the best foundation for a house.
England herself does not in reality base her currency on specie, nor could she without bringing all business to a dead stop in a very short time. She just mixes enough of this specie basis fiction in her finances to continually or periodically divest the laboring classes of their earnings for the benefit of the nobility. But for the real basis of value to her currency, she makes the notes of the Bank of England, as well as her coins, a full legal tender for the payment of debts, but not the notes of the other banks. From this we see, that even in England specie basis is a mere fiction, a false pretence.
We have already seen what a terrible siege of robbery, destitution, suffering and death the Government of England made its people pass through from 1815 to 1823 to reach specie basis, or specie payments, the pretended haven of rest and happiness. And what was the result ? The following statement being condensed from an article in the St. Louis Commercial of March 23, 1876, shows what that specie payment bliss amounted to when obtained :
At the time of Napoleons defeat at Waterloo, in 1815, the Bank of England and the country banks had an issue of $270,000,000. The cry of resumption being raised, the banks set about a sharp contraction of both their issues and their discounts. Between 1815 and 1823, they reduced the volume of their issue 33 per cent.
The crissis was at its height from the 12th to the 17th of December, 1825. Up to the night of the 14th the Bank of England had restricted its issues ; but at that time, becoming sensible of its error, it resolved to make common cause with the country, and issued circulating notes to the amount of $25,000,000. This policy was crowned with the most complete success. The panic was stayed almost instantly. Credit was revived, and a needless and protracted period of suffering was averted. This remedy consisted in a profuse issue of irredeemable paper money to the amount of $25,000,000.
Similar but less disastrous panics happened in 1836 and 1839, and from then to 1843 general commercial stagnation prevailed throughout England.
In 1844, Peels restriction act was passed by Parliament, forbidding the bank to issue beyond 14,000,000 pounds sterling on the Government stocks, except she has the gold in her vaults, pound for pound.
Three years after this act was passed, in 1847, the next panic ensued. The extreme pressure began September 23d and continued until October 23d, when the terrible game was played out. The Queens Government ordering the act suspended and the currency expanded, two millions of dollars, with the assurance, that plenty more could be had, cured this panic instanter.
In 1857 the most unexpected and disastrous crisis they had ever experienced, swept across to them from our shores. To stop this panic the bank act was suspended again, and the currencypaper moneywas expanded nearly $34,000,000, in excess of the limit, which then stood at nearly 15,000,000 pounds.
In 1866 they had it again. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said the excitement was without parallel. On the evening of this black Friday, the ministry advised the suspension of the bank act, which was done the next morning, and in the course of five days $60,000,000 of paper money issued to the entire relief of business and restoration of confidence.
From the above it will be seen what a beautiful thing this forced specie payment was, when reached through the horrible robbery of the English people in 1823. After it was reached it was maintained with increasing suffering and misery for two years and seven months, and then December 17, 1825, a suspension had to take place, and $25,000,000 of irredeemable paper money had to be issued to stay the wretchedness. And again another author, Hon. Isaac Buchanan, says : England seems to the world to have survived the process of a return to specie payment, although how she has done so, if gone into in detail, would be the saddest and most harrowing record of human suffering. . . . At the end of thirty years (in 1839) the revenue, or in other words the property of the country, got fairly broken down, under the insidious operations of the English money system. Further the honorable gentleman says that, in the 1847 panic, thousands died of starvation in the cellars of the manufacturing and seaport towns of Great Britain.
Such are the effects of specie basis, or specie payments, so called, a thing that the English Government pretended to think of such great value and so desirable that, in order to reach it, she dragged her people from a condition of prosperity universal and then unheard of, through eight years of unheard-of bankruptcy, starvation and misery, and then, when reached, the result was a continuation of the same horrors, until relieved again in two years and seven months by a temporary return to suspension of specie payments and the issue of irredeemable paper money. And then again, after twenty years more of miserable existence on the part of the labor of the country, we find the laborers dying by thousands of starvation, in the cellars of the manufacturing and seaport towns. And still these scenes have been followed by successive horrors of a similar kind at intervals ever since, relieved in every instance by a return to suspension and an issue of irredeemable paper money.
And still further, as late as 1875, we find the Chamber of Commerce of the British kingdom unanimously adopted a resolution praying the Chancellor of Exchequer to appoint a commission to inquire, amongst other things, into the constitution and actual management of the Bank of France, as compared with the constitution and actual management of the Bank of England ; as to the points of difference in the constitution and actual management of those banks respectively, to which may be attributed the crisis and panics, which occur periodically in the English money market, and do not occur in the French money market at all.
Now, it is to be borne in mind, that there has been no specie payments in France since 1870, or at least no law yet in force requiring it ; and yet the paper money of that country, unlike that of England, is all a full legal tender, and all the time substantially par with gold. This is the one essential point of difference between the two systems of money of those two countries, the French paper currency, or money, is a full legal tender for the payment of all debts, public and private, within the realm, and can, therefore, issue continually, and does issue, in sufficient quantities for the business of the country, without any depreciation of value. Whilst in England, the bills of none of the banks, except the Bank of England, are a general legal tender for debt, but depend for their value on being redeemed in specie, or in the Bank of England bills ; whilst the bills of the Bank of England, although a legal tender, are limited usually to such amount as can be redeemed in specie. That is, in short, the English paper money is, to some extent at least, specie basis money, whilst that of France is irredeemable, rag-baby stuff, essentially such as England had in time of her great prosperity, and yet such as the prevailing authorities of this country and England call a pernicious evil, but which the commercial or mercantile interests of England are longing to have established in opposition to the specie basis fiction of the money craft of that country.
NOTE.The foreign balance of trade, in our favor at present, is, in this instance, not the result of prosperity of home, but of lack of employment and poverty among our people. Our bankruptcies and bankrupt sales, being of greater number than any former year, and laborers more unemployed than ever, would seem to indicate, that we have not been producing more, but have been selling abroad cheap, and buying less from abroad, because of increased poverty among laborers. That is, we sold cheap abroad, because our own people were too much unemployed and poor to buy and use what were to them the necessaries of life and of business. And our own factories, to a very large extent, are unable to be run at all, only because, having changed hands, the present owners got them almost for nothing, and are able to get work-hands on the same scale of prices. What a triumph is this of governmental political economy ? The real test of prosperity is, whether or not labor has been employed and well paid. And labor was never so much unemployed, and never so poorly paid in any one previous year as in 1876, showing a constant decline in our industrial and financial condition, despite of constant prediction to the contrary by our Government functionaries and their Shylock admirers.
And, furthermore, the withdrawal of the greenback money from circulation, as recommended by our Secretary of the Treasury and President Grant, also, will itself bring greatly increased prostration of labor and business, and turn the flow of specie away from us, provided we shall then have any to flow away.
When Mr. Chase was Secretary of the Treasury, in time of the war, and before the commencement of this eleven years of decline, he desired authority from Congress to receive deposits of money in the Treasury from our people, payable back on ten days notice in our own lawful paper money, with interest at five per cent. This would have been on the like principle of interconvertible bond, now urged by the greenback advocates. Had the plan of Mr. Chase been carried out, it would have enabled our Government to obtain constant credit among our own business men to the amount of several hundred millions of dollars, much to the benefit of the men themselves, and the saving of gold bonds being issued to foreigners. But Congress was full of bankers, as it always is, and they wanted these private deposits to bank on themselves ; for which reason the Secretary was permitted to receive only one hundred millions in this way, which was eagerly deposited.
One Secretary of the Treasury under President Grants administration, by long-continued effort, funded five hundred millions of our national debt in gold bonds and sold them in the foreign market, when, had our people been provided with legal tender paper money, so as to have kept our labor employed at home, after the French manner, we could have paid off the whole five hundred millions in less time than, the Secretary was funding it. The policy seems to be to foster gold debts abroad and prostration of the industries at home ; because this double fostering tends to increase our debts, public and private, and especially as we are going to base our currency all on specie, we must have these foreign debts to take the specie away from us in the shape of interest, then we will be without specie, without money basis, without money of course, and without price for anything ; then will we be in good condition for our merciful British nobility benefactors, and their generous coadjutors on these shores, to take us, with this little heritage of ours, into their kind care and keeping, both for ownership and government, civil and military. Then we shall have nothing to do but to hew their wood, draw their water, cultivate their soil, and fight such battles as they see fit, for their own glory and amusement, to set in array for us.
The demonetizing of silver, as was done by act of Congress of February 12, 1873, is a part of this same scheme, taken in connection with issuing of foreign gold bonds, to get the country destitute of specie, and in that condition force specie payments, and thereby create a sweeping transfer of the peoples property to a moneyed few, in the same manner as was done in England, and to establish the same condition of things here as there, to wit : a noble few to own the country and rule it, and a vassalage to perform the work. If this is the destiny intended for us by the founders of our Government, I have labored under a great mistake all my life.
NOTE.In place of over-producing, we have imported, in the last ten years, over one thousand million dollars, ($1,000,000,000) in excess of what we are able to pay by sales of exports, proving positively, that over-importation is one cause of our financial troubles, and under-production to be the real cause, instead of over-industry. These balances must have been paid by sending our bonds abroad, thus alienating our national debt, and having to pay the interest abroad.
To reduce our imports two hundred millions annually is giving our laboring and producing classes annually two hundred million dollars of additional employments. This can easily be done by means of proper tariff law, without cost, and without borrowing.
A large increase of duties on foreign industries of our own kind, is no increase of taxes upon our own people, but the reverse, being an increase of wealth to them, as our Government requires only a certain amount of revenue for its support, which is as large under low as under protective duties. The difference and gain to our people is the increase of employment and gold, corresponding with the reduction made in the amount and gold cost of our imports.
The unparalleled prosperity of France, fresh from her disastrous war, can only be attributed to her wise protective policy, which results in having annually a balance of trade of over one hundred millions in her favor.
I favor a free list and low duties for all necessary productions imported, which we ourselves do not produce and sell.
A tariff for revenue, and not for the protection of American industries, would quickly cause our great Republic to be reduced to the level of European countriesfor workingmen, a country to migrate from to seek elsewhere work and a living.
There are two ways to renew specie payments. One is by contracting and destroying our present and only money and continue low duties, and leave all in poverty, so that eventually we cannot import for the want of funds, which would necessarily largely reduce imports and give us the balance of trade. The other way is a large increase of duties, which would cause a like large reduction of imports, and cause a large demand for American employments and productions at home, to supply the reduction made in imports.
Our Congress should make our paper currency as good as gold, a legal tender for import duties, and at the same time largely increase the duties, to cover the loss in the difference of value in gold and currency, and to largely reduce imports below trade exports.
Whenever our nations annual exports (exclusive of gold debt payments sent abroad) will not fully meet and pay all foreign demands, both for purchased imports, debt and interest annually due abroad, then we should increase duties to retrench and economize our nations foreign extravagance in purchasing imports. Then our country could not be impoverished as now, either of its own employments or its own gold.
When either of the real producers of our countrys wealth, manufacturers, miners, or farmers, are impoverished by foreign competition, then all are made to suffer ; because each ones productions add to the one total production of our country.
There is only one quick way to possess an abundance of specie, and that is this way, which is a very old oneDo not spend so much specie with other nations for foreign productions. Manufacture and produce more for ourselves. This will give our people more specie and more employment and wealth. A high tariff alone will do this.
The protectionists of foreign industries in Congress are easily known. They are always in favor of taxing heavily American productions three hundred per cent., and would tax tea and coffee, which our poor people must have and should not be taxed ; because it will not increase our employments, as duties on foreign industries would do.
Our American people cannot support all other nations industries and our own besides, as low duties now cause us to do. A tariff law for American industries alone would dissolve this ruinous and unnatural division of our market, as was found necessary to do after the bankruptcies of 1837 and 1857, to our countrys immediate relief from depression of business.
ADDRESS TO THE NEW YORK PRESS CLUB.
The following address delivered by the Hon. Peter Cooper at the dinner of the New York Press Club, December 12, was listened to with much attention, and the speaker loudly applauded at the close :
Mr. President and Gentlemen : It is now more than twenty years since I cut from a newspaper a statement, that made a deep impression on my mind.
The writer in a few words proclaimed a fact of unmeasured importance to our country and the world. He said that knowledge, economy, and labor are the shining virtues of civilized man.
A man without knowledge is a helpless animal ; and without science he is a straying wanderer.
Science, my friends, presents to the world a revelation of laws, designed in infinite wisdom for the use and elevation of mankind.
They are laws that have, as the poet says, connected in this, our world, our greatest virtue with our greatest bliss ; and have made our own bright prospect to be blest, our strongest motive to assist the rest.
Science, my friends, is the knowledge of laws actually demonstrated by the experience of mankind.
The knowledge and application of science, when rightly and wisely understood and applied to all the useful and necessary purposes of life, will enable man to unlock the deep mysteries of creation, and draw from its silent depths, all that is good for food, and pleasant to the eye, and calculated to make us wise.
When we as a people become wise enough to make all laws in accord with scientific principles, they will then become so clear, plain and positive, that no man can long hold office and receive its emoluments, without a faithful performance of those duties required by the law.
The true object of all good Government must be forever the promotion of human welfare. This will never be more grandly set forth and described than it now is in the preamble to the Constitution of these United States.
There we find, that the true object intended by the framers of the Constitution was clearly and fully expressed. They declared that We, the people of these United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty ; to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain this Constitution for the people of these United States.
They then and there declared that the Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of these United States, or any department or officer thereof.
This Constitution holds every officer bound by his oath of office to perform his every act, as intending to establish justice and promote the general welfare.
Our Independent Party holds it to be a fact, that our Government is now, and ever has been bound by an act of justice to the American people to coin money and regulate the value thereof, and also to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States.
It was made the duty of Congress to receive in payment for all taxes, duties and debts, all the various forms of paper money, that have been issued for what was used and consumed in the prosecution of the war. The American people are coming to know hat every dollar, paid out by the Government in legal money for value received, has thereby become the peoples money as effectually as it would be, if every dollar had been paid them in gold.
For a Government to withdraw from the trade of a country such a currency, which the people had paid for and owned as honestly as they owned their land or the clothes on their backs. It had become by its use the countrys currency, that was giving its benefits without costing the people or the Government anything but the printing and the paper on which it was made. This much abused paper money had actually purchased and paid for all the labor and materials, that were consumed in our struggle for the nations life. Such a currency should have been regarded by Congress, at the close of the war, as a treasure of more value than all the gold mines, that have ever been discovered in our country.
It was a currency, that had not only saved the nations life, but it had demonstrated a principle of incalculable value to our country and the world.
It had proved, that Plato was right in saying, that a currency should be that, which is most valuable to the State, and of no value for any other purpose, exactly like our greenbacks.
Our currency had demonstrated the fact, that paper money with the stamp of the Government upon it, promising to receive it in payment for all forms of taxes, duties and debts, and interconvertible with the bond of the Government at a low, but equitable rate of interest, would be the most convenient currency, that the world had ever seen.
Such a currency should have been limited to the amount of the peoples money actually found in circulation at the close of the war, as that was the price of the Nations life. That amount of legal money, having been wrongfully taken from the people by allowing war taxes to continue, after the war had come to an end, should now be reissued and used in the purchase and the extinguishment of all the bonds, now due and held by the Government as a security for the money issued by the National Banks.
All banking would then be done with a National money, representing the whole property of the American people.
The amount of paper money, so found in circulation as a currency at the close of the war, should never be increased or diminished, only as per capita with the increase of the inhabitants of the country.
One National money would diminish the chance of loss by counterfeit money in the proportion as one would bear to the whole number of National Banks. Instead, the National Banks present more than 2,000 sets of pictures to become acquainted with, we should then have but one National money, that all would soon learn to know at sigh ; and that such a currency would become an ever-strengthening bond of National union.
Such a currency, made as secure as the embodied wealth and power of a nation can make it, would give a stability and security to the operations of trade and commerce ; and would more effectually secure the reward of labor to those, who earn it than any other form of currency ever before introduced.
The Constitution has declared that the Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to provide for the common defense and the general welfare of these United States.
The power of Congress is ample to restore to the people their money, that had been wrongfully taken from them by war taxes ; and then, this same money has been converted into a national debt. More than one thousand four hundred millions of dollars has been wrung from the toiling masses to pay the interest on a currency, that had belonged to the peoplea currency President Grant declared was the best currency, that the country had ever possessed ; and that there was no more in circulation than was needed for the darkest period of the year. The present Secretary of the Treasury has said, that the peoples currency had been so long used that every citizen of the United States had conformed his business to the legal tender clause, of the law regulating the currency of the country.
This same Secretary declared, that the man, who would refuse to receive the same kind of money, that he had paid out, would be a repudiator and extortioner. He also declared when a Senator, that to take from the people such a currency would be an act of folly without an example in ancient and modern times.
PETER COOPERHIS REPLY TO CASHIER WILLIAMS.
(From the Albany Evening Post, October 19, 1878.)
The reply of Peter Cooper to the errors, contained in Cashier C.P. Williams communication, was published in last evenings journal. It is short and conclusive, and, in a few well turned paragraphs, entirely disposes of the crudities of the Cashier. Mr. Williams has an idea, that nothing but redeeming paper money in gold can ever make it as valuable as gold. Mr. Cooper thus disposes of this illogical conclusion :
If England and France were to-morrow to demonetize gold and silver, and make their treasury notes the exclusive legal tender of their respective realms, they would immediately be at a premium over gold. Venice practically demonetized gold and silver in large transactions, her paper was accepted as legal tender, and was at a premium over gold for several centuries ; sometimes as much as thirty per cent. premium, so that a law was actually passed, prohibiting the charge of a higher premium than twenty per cent.
What says Cashier Williams to this ? Mr. Cooper is opposed to resumption in January. We give his reasons :
If we resume on January first next, it will be only on suffrance by the foreigner, who, unquestionably, has the ability, if he shall choose to exercise it, to drain every dollar of gold from the Treasury, which Mr. Sherman has collected to begin resumption.
Cashier Williams is opposed to the substitution of greenbacks for bank notes. Mr. Cooper is not. We quote Mr. Cooper :
The substitution of greenbacks for National bank notes, will make a uniform currency of money. A greenback legal tender is to the full as much real money as a gold legal tender, the only difference being, that as many nations make gold a legal tender, there is more demand for it, than for paper legal tenders, which have the sovereign stamp of only one Government.
The substitution of greenbacks for National bank notes, would have the bounty now paid to banks, which, being invested as a sinking fund, would in less than thirty years pay off the whole debt of the country.
OPEN LETTER TO HON. JOHN SHERMAN,
SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
MY DEAR SIR : Since I had the honor of your call at my house, and since the letter I sent you and the receipt of your reply, I have reflected seriously on the few minutes conversation I had with you on that occasion, and on the acts of Government since that time.
I hope you will recollect how earnestly I endeavored to show you, that the Constitution has made it the first and most important duty of Congress to take and hold the entire control of all, that should ever have been allowed to circulate as the money, weights and measures of the nation.
In all that I have written, I have labored to make plain the fact, that the establishment of justice, with the making of the necessary and proper laws, were the most important duties enjoined on Congress by the Constitution of the United States.
I believe I have shown, that nearly all the financial laws, that have been passed during and since our last war, have been passed under the advice and in the interest of a class of men, who have been allowed to control the moneyed interests of our own and other countries.
The worst of these laws were passed in direct opposition to your own earnest and eloquent declarations, made by you in 1869 in the Senate of the United States. You there and then warned the country in the most emphatic language, showing that a national policy, designed to contract the circulating medium, would cause gold to appreciate in value, as it has since done, so that gold will now purchase double the amount of real estate, that the same amount of gold would have purchased four years ago.
You were right, when you declared, that every citizen of the United States had conformed his business to the legal tender clause of the law for the regulation of the currency.
You were also right, in 1869, when you gave to Congress that most timely warning against any attempt to shrink and contract the volume of a legal money, which the Government had been compelled to issue, as the only means for the nations salvation.
At that time you declared, in language never to be forgotten, that an act of Government, intended to contract the currency of the country, would paralyze all industries, as it has done. You made it plain, that the purchasing power, of gold would increase in the same proportion. The contraction has actually shrunk the value of real estate to a condition, where it cannot be sold, or mortgages obtained on it for more than half the amount, that the same property would have brought four years ago.
Those cruel financial acts of the Government have cost the nation thousands of millions of dollars, and have brought wretchedness and ruin to the homes of millions of the American people, proving what you said in the Senate in 1869 to be true. You then declared, that such a policy would be an act of folly without example in ancient or modern times.
I here quote from my last published appeal in behalf of those suffering millions, whose lawful money and property have been wrongfully taken from them by a course of legislation in direct violation of the first and most important requirement of the Constitution of our country. That Constitution, as I have said, covers in a few words the whole of the nations wants.
It must never be forgotten, that there is no effect in nature without a cause equal to its production.
In view of this fact, I have found myself compelled, by an inextinguishable desire, to do all in my power to call and fix the attention of the American people on a cause, that has actually brought upon a great nation all those dire calamities, so admirably foretold by you in your speech, made in the Senate, in 1869.
The American people have come to know, that our country has been subjected to a cruel national financial policya policy, which has (as I have said) converted the peoples money, that was actually found circulating as a national currency at the close of the war, without cost to either the Government or the people, into a National Debt.
Your speech in the Senate was intended to show, that a nations currency could not be contracted without bringing ruin on the debtors and on the laboring classes throughout our country.
We may well ask what will the people do, when they come to realize the fact, that their money has, not only been wrongfully taken from them as a circulating medium, but has been converted into a national debt, and that debt has been unjustly released from bearing any part of the burdens of the State or National taxation.
To show the ruin, that the contraction policy would bring on the country, you declared in the Senate that every citizen of the United States had conformed his business to the legal tender clause of the law, regulating the currency of the country.
In my late appeal to all legislators and religious teachers, I have demonstrated a fact, which cannot be disproved, viz.: that all the legal money, paid out by the Government for labor and property during the war, was beyond all controversy, the peoples money. To establish justice, this money must be given back to them in the purchase of all the outstanding interest-bearing bonds of the Government.
By this plan a partial justice can be established, and the general welfare of the nation can be surely and effectually promoted.
This plan will return to all the original holders of Government bonds, nearly double the amount in the same kind of legal money, that was originally paid for the bonds at the time they were first issued.
The holders of these bonds should not complain, after having been so kindly treated by a Government, that has altered the laws four times on their urgent solicitation, and on a most ridiculous pretence, namely, that such alterations in the laws were necessary to strengthen the credit of a nation, that had just conquered one of the greatest rebellions ever known.
All that is now, or ever has been needed to secure a continued prosperity, was and is a national currency, made permanently receivable for all forms of taxes, duties and debts, public and private.
It must be just such a money as Secretary Chase declared our greenbacks to be. He said a greenback is simply the credit of the American people, put in the form of money for circulation among the people, whose whole property is represented in its use. When I was Secretary of the Treasury, the question arose how should the soldiers in field and the sailors in ships be fed. . . . I found, that the banks of the country had suspended specie payment. What was I to do ? The banks wanted me to borrow their credit, or pay interest on their credit. They did not pay gold or propose to pay any themselves, but wanted me to buy their notes. I said : No, gentlemen ! I will take the credit of the people and cut it up into little bits of paper. This is the true idea of the greenback. It is the credit and the property of the American people, made to serve the purposes of money. It was that money that saved the nations life, when gold and silver had entirely failed to meet the wants of the Nation.
Our paper money did all this, notwithstanding a part of its purchasing power had been repudiated by an act of Government.
This money can be made an ever strengthening bond of national union, by making the peoples money, as found, the permanent unfluctuating measure of all values, and never to be increased only with the increase of the inhabitants of our country.
Such a currency can be made as uniform in its purchasing power as the yard, the pound, or the bushel measure.
The Constitution of our country has also declared, that Congress shall have power to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or any department of office thereof.
The Declaration of Independence expressly says, that it was to secure these rights that Governments are instituted among men and that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its power in such form, as to them shall seem most likely effectually to promote their safety and happiness.
And further, that Declaration states, that
All experience has shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than they are to right themselves by abolishing the forms, to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to provide new guards for their future security.
Such has been the patient sufferance of the American people ; they have long borne with a course of financial laws, that were as cruel as they are unjust. By these laws there has been taken from the people the very money, which the Government had authorized and paid out in exchange for all the forms of labor and property, used and consumed by the Government in a four years struggle for the national life.
This money was actually paid out to the people, as I have said, for value received by the Government. It was clothed with all the legal attributes of money, and sanctioned as such by the Supreme Court of the United States. It had become the peoples money for all intents and purposes, as effectually as though it had all been paid to them in gold. The Government had lost all control over this money, so paid to the people, except to tax it as all other property, to meet the current expenses of the Government. This money had been used for years by the Government and the people, as a national currency, costing the Government nothing but the paper on which it was made ; it had been allowed to circulate as legal money until, as you declared when a Senator, that every citizen of the United States had conformed his business to the legal-tender law regulating the currency of the country.
The people are compelled to remember the noble sentiments you expressed in 1869, when, you gave to Congress and the country that most fearful warning against any attempt to shrink the volume of legal money, which the Government had been compelled to issue for the nations salvation. You declared on that occasion, in language never to be forgotten : . . .
That the appreciation of the currency is a far more distressing operation than Senators supposed.
You then stated that,
It is not possible to take this voyage without the sorest distress to every person, except a capitalist out of debt, or a salaried officer or annuitant. It is a period of loss, danger, lassitude of trade, fall of wages, suspension of enterprise, bankruptcy and disaster. To every railroad it is an addition of one-third to the burden of its debts, and more than that deduction to the value of its stock. . . . It means the ruin of all dealers, whose debts become twice their (business) capital, though one-third less than their actual property. It means the fall of all agricultural productions, without any great reduction of taxes. What prudent man would dare to build a house, a railroad, a factory, or a barn, with the certain fact before him, that the greenbacks he puts into his improvement, will in two years be worth thirty-five per cent. more than his improvement is worth. . . . When that day comes, all enterprise will be suspended, every bank will have contracted its currency to the lowest limit, and the debtor will be compelled to meet in coin a debt contracted in currency ; he will find the coin hoarded in the Treasury, no adequate representation of coin in circulation, his property shrunk, not only to the extent of the appreciation of the currency, but still more by the artificial scarcity, made by the holders of gold. . . . . To attempt this task by a surprise on our people, by arresting them in the midst of their lawful business, and applying a new standard of value to their property, without any reduction to their debts, or giving them an opportunity to compound with their creditors, or to distribute their losses, would be an act of folly without an example of evil in modern times.
It would be literally impossible for you to have drawn a more perfect picture of the scenes of wretchedness and ruin, that you so manfully opposed in the Senate, in 1869, a policy, which you then declared was an act of folly without an example in ancient or modern times.
It seems unaccountable, how you, with your views, as expressed, could have drawn the Resumption Act, and now use all the powers of your mighty mind to consummate a ruin that you so well described as an act of folly without an example in ancient or modern times.
Those frightful evils you then predicted in the Senate, are now being painfully verified by the many thousands of failures, that are annually taking place as the result of the unjust and unconstitutional laws, that have been passed. Laws, promising to pay some four or five hundred millions in gold, which the Government did not possess and could not command.
The Constitution has never given to Congress any such unreasonable power. It has made it the duty of Congress to coin the money and regulate the value thereof, without saying whether money should be coined out of gold, silver, copper, nickel, or paper.
That this unconstitutional promise to pay money in gold, which they could not command, has been further made an occasion for Congress to listen to, and adopt, the advice of the men, who control the moneyed power of our own and other countries. These men have, by their arts, succeeded in obtaining from our Government a course of financial legislation to advance their own interests as a class. They have doubled the expenses of the war by their influence, in defeating a financial law in the Senate, that had passed the House of Representatives, after the most mature consideration.
The banks and the moneyed interests of our own and other countries have prevailed on our Government to so change the laws, as to make the bonds, that were at first made payable in national money to be paid in coin. They next got the law so altered, as to make coin mean gold. They then succeeded in getting the gold bonds relieved from being taxed for any part of the burdens of the State or National Government. It should be remembered, that all bonds were originally issued to be payable in currency. This currency our Government had deliberately depreciated by refusing to receive it for duties on imports, or interest on bonds.
And then our Government allowed war taxes to continue, until they had taken from the people the very money the Government had stamped and paid out, as so many dollars of real value, made legal money, to be used as a national currency to enable the people to exchange commodities, and furnish all the supplies, that were needed in a four years struggle for the nations life.
When that life was saved, the people had become the rightful owners of both their currency and their country.
Our Government had no constitutional right to invalidate contracts by lessening the volume of the national currency, after the same had been issued and allowed to circulate as legal money in the payment of debts for so many years.
Such money, having been paid out by the Government for value received, cannot be lessened in, volume, without invalidating contracts. This our Government has done by leaving drawn from the people their money, which represents all forms of labor and property the people had given in exchange for the money they received.
Was it not a most absurd act of legislation to invite foreign capital, in the shape of gold, to take up our good money, at forty and fifty cents on the dollar, and turn that money into a Government bond at par, payable, both principal and interest, in gold ? Was ever a nation more deliberately and cruelly put under a heavy yoke of bondage by its rulers ?
All these unjust acts must be rescinded. The people will not submit to them, when they come to know their true nature and purpose.
It must be manifest to all, that commerce cannot be regulated with foreign nations, and among the several States without a national system of money as a standard, over which Congress can exercise an entire control. This can never be done by the use of gold, while Congress allows local banks to expand and contract, appreciate and depreciate the money of the country in their own interests as a class.
Thomas Jefferson was right when he said that BANK PAPER MUST BE SUPPRESSED, AND THE CIRCULATING MEDIUM MUST BE RESTORED TO THE NATION TO WHOM IT PROPERLY BELONGS. He wisely declared, that it is the only fund, on which the Government can rely for loans ; it is the only resource, which can never fail them, and it is an abundant one for every necessary purpose.
I find it impossible to frame an apology for a Congress, that could make an unconstitutional promise to pay hundreds of millions in gold, which they could not command, instead of promising to receive such money as the Government was compelled to issue as the only resource, which can never fail them.
Money, so issued and accepted by the people, should have been considered, as it was, the most sacred treasure our country had ever possessed. It should have been held as more especially precious, after it had fed and clothed our armies, and had carried our country safely through a most terrible war, proving to the world, that President Grant was right, when he declared, that the money, so issued by the Government, was the best currency our country had ever possessed, and that there was no more in circulation than was needed for the dullest period of the year.
If our Government had taken the advice of Franklin, Jefferson, Calhoun and Webster, in the enactment of financial laws, they would never have put our country in the power of the most dangerous community of banks, that obtained power in any country. They would also have saved to our country the one-half of the cost of the late war, and the disgrace of being compelled to sell our nations bonds at some fifty or sixty per cent. below the face value of the bonds.
Senator Beck, of Kentucky, in the Senate of the United States, has drawn for the American people a most frightful picture of the course of special legislation, that has taken from the people, as I have before stated, the peoples money and has converted the same into a national debt.
The following startling amounts have been wrung from the toiling masses of the American people, leaving the debt in the main as large as ever.
The Senator says, the bondholders had, up to 1869, received $100,000,000 of profit before they got the principal of their bonds made payable in gold.
It can be shown by the Treasurers reports, from year to year, giving the amount of bonds sold each year, and the premium on gold from 1862 to 1869, that the purchase of the bonds with paper at its face value, and the purchase of the paper at the discounts, gave a profit to the bondholders as follows :
AN ACCOUNT OF THE BONDHOLDERS CLEAR PROFIT,
arising from no investments at all, may therefore be stated in the following tabular form :
On account of 5 per cent. bonds. . . . 98,297,864
This most remarkable statement was, as Senator Beck declared, carefully and truthfully prepared. The proof is in the official records. It will satisfy the country, says the Senator, and ought to satisfy the bondholders and their advocates, that they ought not to insult a suffering people, whose hard earnings have gone to enrich them, by any complaint of want of good faith to them, in the effort we are making to save the country from bankruptcy.
As the present Secretary of the Treasury you have before you all the facts, referred to in Spauldings and other histories of the public debt.
On June 30, 1864, there were outstanding United States notes :
Postal fractional currency.................. 22,894,877.25
Interest-bearing legal tenders.......... 168,571,377.25
Certificates of indebtedness........... 160,720,000.00
National Bank notes.......................... 25,825,695.00
Old State Bank circulation ............ 135,000,000.00
Seven-thirty Treasury Notes, temporary
deposits, for which certificates were issued.......................72,356,150.00
The record shows, that there were outstanding
in October, 1865, $830,000,000 of seven-thirty
Treasury Notes, which, Assistant Spinner states,
were engraved, stamped and paid out to the
soldiers as legal tender money, at the close of the war
This amount of legal money was paid out by the Government and accepted by the people as so many dollars of real value, and had thereby become the peoples money, which, as I said before, President Grant said, was the best currency, that our country had ever possessed.
And that there was no more in circulation than was needed for the dullest season of the year.
Our Government, in addition to all the other acts of class legislation, has taken from the American people their small currency, that was costing them nothing, and has put in its place, unsolicited by the people, a more inconvenient silver currency, thereby creating a debt of some forty millions of dollars to be paid by the already overtaxed people of our country.
With regard to the demonetization of silver, every intelligent man must see, that inasmuch as silver now forms more than one-half of the coin money of the world, that the effect of demonetizing silver must not only lessen the volume of the worlds money, but must appreciate the value of gold in proportion as the value of silver has been reduced.
The plan for demonetizing silver is said to have been first presented to the great bankers of Europe, assembled at the great Paris Exposition.
It required but little examination to show them, that the demonetization of silver would appreciate the value of gold, and add hundreds of millions to their wealth, if they could only persuade the American Government to join with them in the demonetization of silver.
These bankers appointed a committee to visit our Government for the accomplishment of their object, which, as the Congressional Record states : The suggestion to the House Committee, made by the gentlemen from England in regard to the demonetization of silver, was incorporated into the House Bill and passed.
Nothing can be more important for us as a nation, than to ascertain and remove a cause, that is shrinking the value without shrinking debts in the same proportion. Our national policy, in trying to force specie payments on a debtor country, is now producing a similar condition of wretchedness to that, which was brought on England, by their attempt to force specie payments on that country, after a suspension of more than twenty years. During all that time their paper money had not only carried their country through their wars with Napoleon, during more than twenty years of suspension of specie payment, but that same paper money had secured to England the greatest national prosperity ever known in that country.
This policy, according to Sir Archibald Alison, brought on England a greater scene of widespread bankruptcy and ruin than all the wars, pestilences, and famines, which had ever afflicted that country. Notwithstanding the warnings of such an example, Mr. McCulloch, in his address, made at the banquet, given by the Chamber of Commerce in New York, spoke boastingly of his earnest efforts, both personally and in writing, with Members of Congress, in trying to persuade them to allow him to take out of circulation the peoples money, which (in his address) he states : had all the legal attributes of money.
He stated, that in the very year, in which the war closed, the reduction of the debt was commenced, and this reduction has been steadily continued, to the amazement of foreign nations. He adds :
In none of the Treasury statements, which I have seen since the advent of the administration, has any mention been made of the reduction of the debt, previous to the present one. . . . . A person, looking at one of these statements, would suppose, that the reduction of the debt was commenced with General Grants administration while in fact the previous reduction had been reported of two hundred and fifty millions of dollars, according to the books and published statements of the Treasury, while a larger sum than this was paid to the War and Navy Department, which did not yet appear on the books of the Department.
Thus does Mr. McCulloch speak of having contracted and taken out of the currency of the country, during his administration, some five hundred millions of dollars, that had been paid out by the Government and received by the people as money ; possessing, he declared, all the legal attributes of money.
Secretary McCullochs great mistake consisted in his regarding the money, actually authorized and paid out by the Government for value received, as something to be got rid of as soon as possible.
Mr. McCulloch stated at the banquet, that the legal money, which was then serving the country so well, gave him more anxiety than all the rest of the national debt. It seemed, that it cost him much writing and a great deal of personal effort to persuade Senators and Members of Congress to allow him to take from the American people, by a continuation of war taxes, the very money the people had received as dollars in payment for all the labor and property, that had been consumed in the prosecution of the war.
I do not wonder, that Mr. McCulloch found, that it required the strongest kind of personal and written arguments to persuade Senators and Members of Congress to allow him to take from the people their money and convert the same into a national debt, after the same money had been allowed to circulate, until (as I have said) it had bought and sold many times more in value, than the whole property of the nation.
If crime is to be measured by the misery it produces, the the act of taking from our people their money, and converting it into a national debt, must rank as one of the most unjust and cruel acts ever known to any civilized legislation. I do most heartily unite with Senator Jones, when he says :
The present is the acceptable time to undo the unwitting and blundering work of 1873, and to render our legislation on the subject of money conformable to the Constitution of our country. . . . We cannot, we dare not, avoid speedy action on the subject. Not only does reason, justice and authority unite in urging us to retrace our steps, but the organic law commands us to do so ; and the presence of peril enjoins what the law commands.
The claims of common humanity, with all that can move the manhood of the American citizen, demand of our Government the return to the people of their currency. We must get back our currency. This can be done in a way, that will restore prosperity to the paralyzed industries of our suffering country, and establish justice in obedience to that first most imperious requirement of the Constitution. It will only require an act of Congress, declaring, that the is peoples money, actually found in circulation at the close of the war, shall be returned, as I have said, in the purchase of all the outstanding interest-bearing bonds of the Government.
Such a national policy will put the tools of trade again in the hands of the people, and will enable them to work out their salvation from the enslavement of an interest-bearing debt, created by taking their own money, wrongfully taken from them, and then by converting the same into national interest-bearing bonds, that now hang like a millstone on the neck of the nation.
In the fervent desire of promoting the welfare of our common country, I subscribe myself,
Yours most respectfully,