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to it, but I do not expect the commission will change, except perhaps in detail, the main features of Senator Aldrich's report, for I do not believe one man in a thousand will deny the proposition that it is desirable to have a central place for our reserves. That has been one of our greatest difficulties whenever we have had panic conditions. I do not believe one man in a thousand will deny the necessity for a better and more elastic currency. Every business man will agree with the proposition that provision should be made against the breaking down of our domestic exchange. Most men who have given the subject any thought will agree that we ought to have better banking methods and that the class of paper which is in general circulation should be such that it will not become a dead asset the minute it passes into the hands of a bank. As far as possible all bills should be based on commercial transactions, and I believe Mr. Warburg, to whom I have referred once before, is one of the first to point out the necessity for this kind of a bill in this country. When we have a cla of bills which can be used not only locally, but between countries, as are German, French and English bills, we shall be able, to a great extent, to prevent the shipments of gold and will also prevent the necessity which now exists that banks shall loan their surplus money in Wall street on demand, taking collateral as security-not that these loans are not essentially good, but they create conditions which may be breeders of financial troubles. Such bills as the ones to which I have referred would greatly increase the stability of bank credits, the stability of trade, and would be a safeguard to merchants, as well as to the banks themselves.
Most people will approve of Senator Aldrich's suggested taking from the banks the 2 per cent. bonds which are now the basis of our circulation and eliminating that kind of circulation in this country. I think some would even go further, and at this time provide for the retirement of greenbacks. In any case, however, a large majority, in fact, nearly all, of the propositions advanced in Senator Aldrich's report appeal to me, and I believe they will appeal to you and to all business men when they have been given careful consideration. What we need is not only a report which is sound and which would quite likely give us these better conditions, but we need to get it onto the statute booksto transfer it into legislation. Before this can be done we must face all kinds of prejudices and criticisms. These must be met and overcome by the soundness of our arguments, but we cannot do this in Congress without the help of the men who are behind the business interests of this country. In other words, a public sentiment must be aroused which will compel action, and compel action along sound lines. There should be no politics whatever in the solution of this question. It should be decided as would be any great business question with which you, as individuals, have to deal, and when those who are responsible for the final report which will be made have behind them such a sentiment and such men, we will get legislation. [Applause.]
My own hope is that next winter the Monetary commission, at the convening of Congress, will be ready to present its finished report and that an attempt will be made to get legislation in the Sixty-second Congress; but do not forget that we need every ounce of help you can give us, and for that reason we are justified in asking that you give this subject your most careful consideration. A correct solution of this question will affect favorably all classes of people; but you are organized, and organized effort will be most useful in bringing about final action. [Applause.]
The TOASTMASTER.—Gentlemen of the National Board of Trade, I know we all feel very much indebted to the Honorable Mr Weeks for his splendid speech.
As he was speaking I recalled the days of my youth, when I was a boy in a dry goods store. I remember that merchants came up from Texas and from North Carolina and Virginia and Ohio and we knew that each merchant who came in would pay us in the currency of his own town, and the head of the firm would say to me, "My boy, go down to Drexel, because John Jones of North Carolina is here, and let us find out what Drexel will take North Carolina exchange at; for John Jones, from North Carolina, is going to buy a bill of goods from us; he will pay us in North Carolina notes, and we will stick him for whatever Drexei expects to charge us for exchange." I would come back and say, “It is 8 per cent. to-day,” and so the salesman who had charge of Jones would put that 8 per cent. on the cost of the dry goods. [Laughter.]
Well, that was a cumbersome way of doing business. Our present method is a great advance over that; and we business men are back of the National Monetary Commission, every man of us, and we are going to back up that commission as best we can and teach the country that a central reserve does not mean an obnoxious central bank. The correct solution of this problem, gentlemen, is only a matter of education.
Now we are going on to another scheme. The National Board of Trade has for many years advocated the proposition that the best kind of men, as our advance agents, should be sent to be consuls to all the countries of the world. In 1906 it was the pleasure of the President of the National Board of Trade to be invited to call a Consular Reform Convention in your city. Five hundred of the leading merchants of our land came to that convention and Secretary Root and other distinguished gentlemen, appreciating the work we were doing in that line, came and addressed us. Since that day there has been a marked improvement all over the world in the character of the consuls from our country, and it has been my pleasure in traveling abroad a great deal, to make some report on the consuls representing our country. I am very free to say that the improvement has been so noticeable that the American consul abroad to-day is usually an active, ambitious, determined young agent for American commerce. [Applause.] The old political hack whom our Congressmen used to recommend as a recompense for political work in some Congressional districts, is no longer sent. They do not dare any longer to send him, because you gentlemen of commerce have insisted that your Congressman must not send a political hack across the sea to get rid of him and pay his political
debts, but he must send a real, active business man to be an advance agent for our commerce.
And that proves to my mind the influence, the importance and the respect in which this great National Board of Trade is held in the Departments in Washington, and that our Congressmen have a proper regard for our wishes. After all, these Congressmen, whom I respect very much, are our servants and they are honest and intelligent men, who desire to do good service for the country; but it is very well for the business men of the country to continue their interest and let them know what they think. We intend they shall send consuls abroad in whose work we catı all have confidence and who will promote the interests of American trade.
Following up our work in that line, and with due respect and apologies if I have hurt the feelings of any of the distinguished legislators who are present, I have the pleasure of presenting to you Mr. Wilbur J. Carr, Director of the Consular Service. [Applause.]
RESPONSE OF MR. CARR.
Mr. President, it is particularly agreeable to me to have an opportunity now to say something about the consular service, for I shall always remember with great pleasure that throughout the long struggle for the improvement in that service the banner of the National Board of Trade was always flying in the front rank. Its members were
. among the first to volunteer their aid, and they stood by their colors until the fight was won. [Applause.]
For the sake of brevity, your President has been good enough to permit me to confine my remarks to a statement of facts. As you know, the law which was passed in 1906 graded and classified the consulates, abolished all personal fees and perquisites of officers, provided a corps of inspectors to inspect every office once in two years, and announced the principle that henceforth our commercial interests abroad should be in the hands of American citizens. The law made no provision for ascertaining the qualifications of candidates for appointment or for regulating the manner in which they should be appointed. In these circumstances the country was especially fortunate in having a President so favorable to improvement and so great and instructive a mind in the State Department as that of Elihu Root. A few days before the law became effective, the President promulgated a regulation requiring, among other things, that all vacancies in the higher grades of the service should be filled by promotion upon the basis of efficiency, that candidates for appointment to the lower grades should pass an examination to determine their fitness for the service, and that neither in the examination nor appointment should the political affiliations of the candidate be considered.
Following the promulgation of these regulations, the inspectors were to set to work inspecting the offices and reporting upon them. Examinations were held to establish a list of eligibles for appointment to the lower grades. The record of every officer in the service was examined, and if it was found that an officer had not en efficient or had been guilty of serious misconduct, he was promptly recalled and his place was filled by the promotion of an efficient officer, or, if the post was in one of the lower grades, by the appointment of a candidate who had passed the prescribed examination.
Less than five years have elapsed since the enactment of the law and the promulgation of the executive regulations. Nearly every office has been inspected at least twice. A number of offices found to be of no actual or potential value have been abolished or transferred to other points where new developments or the establishment of new transportation lines had made consulates necessary; more uniform methods have been installed ; better offices have been obtained; more modern equipment supplied, and, wherever practical, American clerks and vice-consuls have been provided. No effort has been spared, consistent with available means, to make each office more fitly represent our country.
Examinations have been held from time to time under the new regulations. The total number of candidates examined, so far, is 360, and of that number 160 have ob