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on the best terms that he could, the specific sum of one hundred pounds, but in October, 1666, the following was the language used in the resolve passed for the purpose of raising money for the colony's use:
"It is ordered that the Secretary and Treasurer shall signe all such orders as the Comitte impowred to raise money for the Country's use shall agree upon, & give them signed under their hands, in order to the raysing of the said money, & for the security of such as shall lend
In this case not only does a committee intervene, but the secretary is associated with the treasurer in the signing of the obligations to be issued by the colony. The fact that the amount to be raised was indeterminate may have been the cause of this unusual formality.
The session of the court in which the foregoing order was recorded is nominally October 10, 1666,3 but there is entered as though it constituted a part of the proceedings of the same session a copy of a letter ordered by the court to be written, which bears date October 24th. Following this letter in the record is an order authorizing Mr. Henry Ashcourt with others in London, to “take up upon loane to the value of one thousand pounds"—to the payment of which the court bound itself, the order closing in the following words:
"And in testimony of this Courts obligation thereto, wee have appointed our Treasurer to signe this order as the Act of this Court, and that there be affixed the seale of the colony hereto.”
In April, 1668, the court recited that they had “passed an act whereby they have obliged the treasurer for the payment of a very considerable summe of money,"4 and in case there should be any failure of the money coming from the expected sources the treasurer was authorized and empowered to borrow as much money at interest as the engagement of the court should require.
1 Mass. Colonial Records, Vol. IV., Pt. 2. p. 123. 2 Ibid., p. 328. 3 Ibid., p. 329. • Ibid., p. 369.
In February, 1675–76, the court announced that the country treasury was exhausted through disbursements in prosecuting the Indian war. As the war was still in progress and more money was needed, the faith of the colony was pledged to those who should make loans to the government. A receipt under the hand and seal of the treasurer was to be sufficient evidence that the lender was entitled to the further security of the public and common lands and the interest of the colony in any conquered lands. The treasurer was to arrange with lenders as to the time of their respective loans and the interest thereon.
The close of the Indian war was followed by a period of relative quiet during which there was a great abatement of taxation and an apparent cessation of borrowing, although in February, 1683–84, the treasurer was ordered to "procure” one hundred pounds for a special purpose. The fact that borrowing had then practically ceased was perhaps demonstrated by the action of the court in May, 1684, in ordering half a country rate to be collected, the same “to be improved for emergent occasions, &c.” This may indicate that the financial condition of the colony was such that there was no longer need for resort to borrowing, or that the credit of the government was affected by the legal proceedings taken for the abrogation of the charter in England. The moderation of the rates at this period would seem to favor the former proposition. In any event, the days of borrowing as a colony were over, but the foregoing quotations from the records show that beginning with the recognition of certain treasurer's notes, for the execution of which no trace of authority is to be found, we from time to time find evidence of borrowing
Mass. Colonial Records, Vol. V., p. 71. ? Ibid., p. 432.
by the treasurer and of his furnishing lenders with obligations, such debentures being emitted under varying degrees of formality, but with an evident recognition of the need for greater circumspection as the size of the loans increased.
PRESIDENT AND COUNCIL.
The proceedings under the President and Council in the days of Dudley and Andros might, perhaps, be disregarded altogether in this connection. The decision in the scire facias case had annulled the charter and the arbitrary form of government substituted in its place, carrying with it the claim on the part of many that all colonial laws had been abrogated, would probably have caused capitalists to hesitate before lending to an administration whose demands for recognition were based upon such obnoxious theories. The records of the council, both under Dudley' and under Andros,' have been published. They contain no allusion to any other methods of raising money than by taxation, nor is there any indication in the discussions at a later date concerning the accounts of Wells and of Usher, treasurers during this period, of any credits due to unusual sources.
PROVISIONAL GOVERNMENT. It was during the brief life of the provisional government which assumed control on the arrest of Andros, that an entirely new and theretofore unheard of method of supplying the treasury was inaugurated.
A combined military and naval expedition was organized for the capture of Quebec and was dispatched upon its mission without any arrangements being made for payment of the wages of the soldiers and sailors or for the settlement
" Proceedings Mass. Hist. Soc., 2d Series, Vol. XIII., p. 226. ? Proceedings Am. Ant. Soc., Vol. XIII., Pt. 2, p. 239; Vol. XIII., Pt. 3, p. 463.
3 See Acts and Resolves, Prov. of Mass. Bay, Vol. VII., P. 645 et seq. Consult the Index for further references to these accounts.
of the expenses incurred in its preparation. The disastrous failure of the expedition prevented the colony from making payment out of the expected plunder from Quebec, and the ingenious scheme was resorted to, of adjusting these accounts by means of certificates of debt, issued by the colony, having different denominational values and capable of being used in lieu of money.
The provincial government continued to make use of this device during a period of a little over fifty years, the same being practically coincident with the first half of the eighteenth century. The method of proceeding, which soon became stereotyped, was to meet from year to year all outstanding debts and immediately impending obligations of the government, by emissions of bills of public credit in the form of due bills. Accompanying each emission was a pledge that the same amount of bills should be called in by tax at a specific future date. The taxes, therefore, of this period were laid, not for the purpose of meeting obligations or paying debts, but for the retirement of bills of public credit. The government, indeed, instead of being a borrower, became a lender,-not of money, but of bills, which were defined to be “in value equal to money.” Loans were made to citizens, either direct or through counties or towns, from which positive gain was expected in the form of interest, and through which it was hoped that the disturbance to the circulating medium from the funding process, which took place annually when taxes were collected, would be lessened. These loans were called “banks."
Such were the processes by means of which the colonists were accustomed to furnish supplies for the treasury in the days of the province; in fact, such only were the processes which were in vogue under the second charter
from its arrival in 1692 down to 1750. The expenses of the Phipps expedition had been met with “Old Colony bills.” The Hill and Walker expedition could not have gone forward except for the loans of province bills made to the Boston merchants. The chronic troubles with the eastern Indians and the expedition to Nova Scotia were all met through the same means, and, finally, the great coup of Shirley, the Louisburg expedition, was made possible through the power of the province to create bills of public credit at will. The marvellous, and almost incomprehensible success which attended this expedition was gained at the expense of the bankruptcy of the province, but the very fact that affairs in Massachusetts were so deplorable, compelled recognition on the part of the British government that this condition had been mainly brought about in securing for Great Britain a prize useless to the province, but of enormous value to the home government in the negotiations through which the peace of Aix-laChapelle was accomplished. Thus, an expedition begun under circumstances which seemed capable of producing only military disaster, and conducted, so far as the financial methods of the province were concerned, in a way that could lead only to ruin, through the extent of its success in the field and of the overwhelming bankruptcy which it produced at home, brought about the reimbursement of the province in coin, for expenditures made in bills of public credit, and gave opportunity for the resumption of specie payments.
For upwards of fifty years the government had been exempted from the necessity of borrowing. The time had now come when the conditions were such that there would probably be a period each year when the treasury would be empty and so far as the immediate future was concerned, the situation was aggravated by the obstructions placed in the way of the redemption of the bills through the delays of collectors in remitting to the treasurer.