« AnteriorContinuar »
and economical legislation, however, enabled | have suffered themselves to become enslaved, the Government 10 pay the entire amount within and inerely exchanged slave-owners for new taska period of twenty years, and the extinguish- masters in the slape of bond-holders and tax. ment of the national debt filled the land with gatherers. Besides, permanent debts pertain to rejoicing, and was one of the great events of monarchical governments, and tending to monPresident Jackson's administration. After its opolies, perpetuities, and class legislation, are redemption a large fund remained in the Treas. totally irreconcilable with free institutions. Inury, which was deposited for safe keeping with troduced into our republican system, they would the several Siates, on condition that it should gradually but surely sap its foundations, eventbe returned when required by the public wants. ually subvert our governmental fabric, and erect In 1849—the year alter the termination of an upon its ruins a moneyed aristocracy. It is our expensive war with Mexico-we found ourselves sacred duty to transmit unimpaired to our posinvolved ia a debt of $64,000,000; and this was terity the blessings of liberty which were bethe amount owed by ine Government in 1860, queathed to us by the founders of the Republic, just prior to the outbreak of the rebellion. In and by our example teach those who are to folthe spring of 1861 our civil war commenced. low us carefully to avoid the dangers which Each year of its continuance made an enormous threaten a free and independent people. addition to the debt; and wlien, in the spring Various plans bave been proposed for the payof 1965, the nation successfully emerged froin meut of the public debt. However they may the contlict, the obligations of the Government bave varied as to the time and mode in which it had reached the immense sum of $2 873 992. - should be redeemed, there seems to be a general 909. The Secretary of the Treasury shows that concurrence as to the propriety and justness of a on the 1st day of November, 1867. iliis amount reduction in the present rate of interest. The had been reduced to $2.491,504,450; but at the Secretary of the 'Treasury, in his report, recomsame time his report exhibits an iucrease during mends five per cent. ; Congress, in a bill passed the past year of $35,625,102; for the debt on prior to adjournment, on the 27th of July last, the Ist day of November last is stated to have agreed upon four and four and a half per cent.; been $2,527,129,552. It is estimated by the while by many three per cent. bas been held to Secretary that the returns for the past month be an amply sufficient return for the investment. will add to our liabilities the furtber sum of The general impression as to the exorbitancy of $11,000,000-making a total increase during the existing rate of interest has led to an inquiry thirteen months of $16 500,000.
in the public mind respecting the consideration In my message to Congress of December 4, which the Government has actually received for 1865, it was suggested that a policy should be its bonds, and the conclusion is becoming prevadevised, which, without being oppressive to the lent that the amount which it obtained was in people, would at once begin to effect a reduction real money three or four hundred per cent. less of the debi, and if persisted in discharge it fully than the obligations which it issued in return. within a definite number of years. The Secre. It cannot be denied that we are paying an extary o: the Treasury forcibly recommends legis- travagant percentage for the use of the money lation of this character, and justly urges that borrowed which was paper currency, greatly the longer it is deferred the more difficult must depreciated below the value of coin. This fact become its accomplishment. We should follow is made apparent, when we consider that bondthe wise precedents established in 1789 and 1816, holders receive from the Treasury, upon each and without further delay make provision for dollar they own in Government securities, six the payment of our obligations at as early a per cent. in gold. which is nearly or quite equal period as may be practicable The fruits of their to nine per cent. in currency; that the bonds are labor should be enjoyed by our citizens, rather then converted into capital for the national than used to build up and sustain moneyed mon- banks, upon which those institutions issue their opolies in our own and other lands. Our foreign circulation, bearing six per cent. interest; and debt is already computed by the Secretary of that they are exempt from taxation by the Govthe Treasury at $350,000,000; citizens of foreign ernment and the States, and thereby enhanced countries receive interest upon a large portion two pir cent. in the bands of the holders We of our securities, and American tax pavers are have thus an aggregate of seventeen per cent. made to contribute large sums for their support. which may be received upon each dollar by the
he idea that such a debt is to become perma- owners of Government securities. neni sliould be at all times discarded, as in- A system that produces such results is justly volving taxation too heavy to be borne and regarded as favoring a few at the expense of the payment once in every sixteen years at the many. and has led to the further inquiry, whether present rate of interest of an amount equal to our bondholders, in view of the large profits ihe original sum. This vast debt. if permitted which they have enjoyed, would themselves be to heconie pernianent and increasing, must event. averse to a settlement of our indebtedness ually be gathered into the hands of a few, and upon a plan which would yield them a fair enable them to exert a dangerous and control remuneration, and at the same time be just to ling power in the affairs of the Government. The the tax-payers of the nation. Our national borrowers would beco!ne servants to the lenders credit should be sacredly observed; but in mak--the lenders the masters of the people. We ing provision for our creditors we should not now pride ourselves upon having given freedom forget what is due to the masses of the people. to four millions of the colored race; it will then It may be assumed that the holders of our securibe our shame that forty million people, by their ties bave already received upon their bonds a own toleration of usurpation and profligacy, / larger amount than their original investment,
measured by a gold standard. Upon this state- much more than $200,000,000; now the cirment of facts it would seem but just and equita culation of national bank notes and ihose known ble that the six per cent. interest now paid by as "legal-tenders” is nearly $700,000,000 While the Government should be applied to the reduc it is urged by some that this amount should be tion of the principal in semi-annual installments, increased, others contend that a decided rewhich in sixteen years and eight months would duction is absolutely essential to the best interliquidate the entire national debt. Six per cent. ests of the country. In view of these diverse in gold would at present rates be equal to nine opinions, it may be well to ascertain the real per cent. in currency, and equivalent to the pay value of our paper issues, when compared with ment of the debt one and a half time in a fraction a metallic or convertible currency. For this less than seventeen years. This, in connection purpose let us inquire how much gold and silver with all the other advantages derived from their could be purchased by the $700.000.000 of paper investment, would afford to the public creditors money now in circulation. Probably not 'more a fair and liberal compensation for the use of than half the amount of the latter, showing that their capital, and with ihis they should be satis. when our paper currency is compared with gold fied. The lessons of the past admonish the lender and silver its commercial value is compressed that it is not well to be over anxious in exacting into $350,000,000. This striking fact makes it from the borrower rigid compliance with the the obvious duty of the Government, as early as letter of the bond.*
may be consistent with the principles of sound If provision be made for the payment of the political economy, to take such measures as will indebiedness of the Government in the manner enable the holder of its notes and those of the suggested, our nation will rapidly recover its national banks to convert them, without loss, wonted prosperity. Its interests require that into specie or its equivalent. A reduction of some measure should be taken to release the our paper-circulating medium need not necessalarge amount of capital invested in the securities rily follow. This, liowever, would depend upon of the Government. It is not now merely un. the law of demand and supply: though it should productive, but in taxation annually consumes be borne in mind that by making legal-tender $150,000,000, which would otherwise be used by and bank notes convertible into coin or its equivour enterprising people in adding to the wealth alent, their present specie value in the hands of of the nation. Our commerce, which at one time their holders would be enhanced one hundred successfully rivaled that of the great maritime per cent. Powers, lias rapidly diminished, and our indus. Legislation for the accomplishment of a result trial interests are in a depressed and languishing so desirable is demanded by the highest public condition. The development of our inexhausti considerations. The Constitution contemplates ble resources is checked, and the fertile fields of that the circulating medium of the country shall the South are becoming waste for want of means be uniform in quality and value. At the time to till them. With the release of capital, new of the formation of that instrument the country life would be infused into the paralyzed ener- had just emerged from the war of the Revolugies of our people, and activity and vigor im- tion, and was suffering from the effects of a reparted to every branch of industry. Our people dundant and worthless paper currency. The need encouragement in their efforts to recover sages of that period were anxious to protect their from the effects of the rebellion and of injudicious posterity from the evils which they themselves legislation; and it should be the aim of the Gov. bad experienced. Hence, in providing a circuernment to stimulate them by the prospect of an lating medium, they conferred upon Congress early release from the burdens which impede the power to coin money and regulate the value their prosperity. If we cannot take the burdens thereof, at the same time probibiting the States from their shoulders, we should at least manifest from making anything but gold and silver a a willingness to help to bear them.
tender in payment of debts. In referring to the condition of the circulating
The anomalous condition of our currency is in medium, I shall merely reiterate, substantially, striking contrast with that which was originally that portion of my last annual message which designed. Our circulation now embraces. first, relates to that subject.
noies of the national banks, which are made reThe proportion which the currency of any ceivable for all dues to the Government, excluding country should bear to the whole value of the imposts, and hy all its creditors, exceptirgin payannual produce circulated by its means is a ment of interest upon its bonds and the securities question upon which political economists have themselves ; second, legal-tender notes issued by not agreed. Nor can it be controlled by legisla- the United States, and which the law requires tion, but must be left to the irrevocablu laws shall be received as well in payment of all debts which everywhere regulate commerce and trade. between citizens as of all Government dues, exThe circulating mediuin will ever irresistibly flow cepting imposts; and, third, gold and silver coin. to those points where it is in greatest demand. By the operation of our presentsystem of finance, The law of demand and supply is as unerring as however, the metallic currency, when collected, that which regulates the tides of the ocean; and is reserved only for one class of Government indeed currency, like the tides, has its ebbs and creditors, who, holding its bonds, semi-annually flows throughout the commercial world.
receive their notes in coin from the national At the beginning of the rebellion the bank- Treasnry. There is no reason which will be acnote circulation of the country amounted to not cepted as satisfactory by the people why those
who defend us on the land and rirotect us on the * See resolutions of Senate and House of Represent. sea; the pensioner upon the gratitude of the naatives thereon, pp. 391.
tion, bearing the scars and wounds received while in its service; the public servants in the various pense incident to ch Astahlisbments, and let all Departments of the Government; the farmer who our precious metal be exported in bullion. The supplies the soldiers of the army and the sailors i time has come, however, when the Government of the navy; the artisan who toils in the nation's and national banks should be required to take workshops, or the mechanics and laborers who the most efficient steps and make all necessary build its edifices and construct its forts and ves arrangements for a resumption of specie paysels of war, should, in payment of their just and ments. Let specie paymenis once be earnestly hard earned dues, receive depreciated paper, while inaugurated by the Government and banks, and another class of their countrymen, no more de. the value of the paper circulation would diserving, are paid in coin of gold and silver. rectly approximate a specie standard. Equal and exact justice requires that all the Specie payments having been resumed by the creditors of the Government should be paid in a Government and banks, all notes or bills of currency possessing a uniform value. This can paper issued by either of a less denomination only be accomplished by the restoration of the than twenty dollars should by law be excluded currency to the standard established by the Con- from circulation, so that the people may have stitution; and by this means we would remove the benefit and convenience of a gold and silver a discrimination which may, if it has not already currency which, in all their business transacdone so, create a prejudice that may become deep- tions, will be uniform in value at home and rooted and wide-spread, and imperil the national abroad. credit.
· Every man of property or industry, every The feasibility of making our currency cor- man who desires to preserve what he honestly respond with the constitutional standard may be possesses, or to obtain what he can honestly seen by reference to a few facts derived from earn, has a direct interest in maintaining a safe our commercial statistics.
circulating medium-such a medium as shall be The aggregate product of precious metals in real and substantial, not liable to vibrate with the United States from 1849 to 1867 amounted opinions, not subject to be blown up or blown to $1,174,000,000, while for the same period the down by the breath of speculation, but to be net exports of specie were $741,000,000. This made stable and secure. A disordered currency shows an excess of product over net exports of is one of the greatest political evils. It under$433,000,000. There are in tle Treasury $103,- mines the virtues necessary for the support of 407,935 in coin, in circulation in the Siates on the social system, and encourages propensities the Pacific coast about $10,000,000, and a few d structive of its happiness. It wars against millions in the national and other banks in all industry, frugality, and economy, and it fosters less than $160,000,000. Taking into considera the evil spirits of extravagance and speculation." tion the specie in the country prior to 1849 It has been asserted by one of our profound and and that produced since 1867, and we have most gifted statesmen, that "of all the contrimore than $300,000.000 not accounted for by vances for cheating the laboring classes of manexportation or by the returns of the Treasury, kind none has been more effectual than that and therefore most probably remaining in the which deludes them with paper money. This is country.
the most effectual of inventions to fertilize the These are important facts, and show how com rich man's fields by the sweat of the poor man's pletely the inferior currency will supersede the brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive better, forcing it from circulation among the taxation-these bear lightly on the happiness masses, and causing it to be exported as a mere of the mass of the community compared with a article of trade, to add to the money capital of fraudulent currency and the robberies commitforeign lands. They show the necessity of re ted by depreciated paper. Our own history has tiring our paper money, that the return of gold recorded for our instruction enough and more and silver to the avenues of trade may be in than enough of the demoralizing tendency, the vited, and a demand created which will cause injustice, and the intolerable oppression on the the retention at home of at least so much of the virtuous and well.disposed of a degraded paper productions of our rich and inexhaustible gold-currency authorized by law or in any way counbearing fields as may be sufficient for purposes tenanced by Government.” It is one of the of circulation. It is unreasonable to expect a most successful devices, in times of peace or war, return to a sound currency so long as the Gov. of expansions or revulsions, to accomplish the ernment and banks, by continuing to issue irre- transfer of all the precious metals from the great deemable notes, fill the channels of circulation mass of the people into the hands of the few, with depreciated paper. Notwithstanding a where they are boarded in secret places or decoinage by our mints, since 1849, of $874,000,- posited under bolts and bars, while the peuple 000, the people are now strangers to the currency are left to endure all the inconvenience, sacrifice, which was designed for their use and benefit, and demoralization resulting from the use of deand specimens of the precious metals bearing the preciated and worthless paper. national device are seldom seen, except when During the fiscal year ending June 30, 1868, produced to gratify the interest excited by their six million six hundred and filty-five thousand novelty. If depreciated paper is to be continued seven hundred acres of public land were disas the permanent currency of the country, and posed of. all our coin is to become a mere article of traffic On the 30th of June, 1868, one hundred and and speculation, to the enhancement in price of sixty-nine thousand six hundred and forty-three all that is indispensable to the comfort of the names were borne on the pension rolls, and people, it would be wise economy to abolish our during the year ending on that day the total mints, thus saying the nation the care and ex- | amount paid for pensions, including the expenses
of disbursement, was $24,010 982, being $5,391,- | my administration to these principles, I have on 025 greater than that expended for like pur. Do occasion lent support or toleration to unlawful poses during the preceding year.
* expeditions set on loot upon the plea of repubTreaties with various lndian tribes have been lican propagandism or of national extension or concluded, and will be submitted to the Senate aggrandizement. The necessity, however, of for its constitutional action.
repressing such unlawful movements clearly inThe strength of our military force on the 30th dicates the duty which rests upon us of adapting of September last was forty eight thousand men, our legislative action to the new circumstances and it is computed that, by the 1st of January of a decline of European monarchical power and next, this number will be decreased to forty-three influence, and the increase of Arnerican repubihousand. It is the opinion of the Secretary of lican ideas, interests, and sympathies. War that within the next year a considerable It cannot be long before it will become necesdiminution of the infantry force may be inade sary for this Government to lend some effective without detriment to the interests of the country: aid to the solution of the political and social and in view of the great expense attending the problems which are continually kept before the military peace establishment, and the absolute world by the two republics of the Island of St. necessity of retrenchinent wherever it can be Domingo, and which are now disclosing themapplied, it is hoped that Congress will sanction selves more distinctly than heretofore in the the reduction which his report recommends. Island of Cuba. The subject is commended to While in 1860 sixteen thousand .three hundred your consideration with all the more earnestness Inen cort the nation $16,472,000, the sum of because I am satisfied that the time has arrived $65,682.000 is estimated as necessary for the when even so direct a proceeding as a proposisupport of the army during the fiscal year end. tion for an annexation of the two republics of ing June 30, 1870. The estimates of the War the Island of St. Domingo would not only receive Department for the last two fiscal years were, the cousent of the people interested, but would for 1867 $33,814,461; and for 1869, $25,205,669. also give satisfaction to all other foreign nations. The actual expenditures during the same periods I am aware that upon the question of further were, respectively, $95,224,415 and $123,246 618. extending our possessions it is apprehended by The estimate fubmitted in December last for the some that our political system cannot successfiscal year ending June 30.1869, was $77,124,707; fully be applied to an area more extended than the expenditures for the first quarter, ending the our continent; but the conviction is rapidly 30th of September last, were $27,219,117, and gaining ground in the American mind that, with the Secretary of the Treasury gives $66,000,000 the increased facilities for intercommunication as the amount which will probably be required between all portions of the earth, the principles during the remaining three quarters, if there of free government, as embraced in our Constishould be no reduction of the army--making tution, if faithfully maintained and carried out, its aggregate cost for the year considerably in would prove of sufficient strengih and breadth excess of $93,000,000. The difference between to comprehend within their sphere and influence the estimates and expenditures for the three the civilized nations of the world. fiscal years which have been named is thus I renew the recommendation contained in my shown to be $175,545,343 for this single branch communication to Congress dated the 18th July of the public service.
last, a copy of which accompanies this message, The total number of vessels in the navy is two that the judgment of the people should be taken hundred and six, mounting seventeen hundred on the propriety of so amending the Federal and forty-three guns. Eighty-one vessels of Constitution that it shall provideevery description are in use, armed with six First. For an election of President and Vice hundred and ninety-six guns. The number of President by a direct vote of the people, instead enlisted men in the service, including appren- of through the agency of electors, and making tices, bas been reduced to eight thousand five them ineligible for re election to a second term. hundred.
Second. For a distinct designation of the perThe ordinary postal revenue for the fiscal son who shall discharge the duties of President year ending June 30, 1868, was $16,292,600, and in the event of a vacancy in that office by the the total expenditures, embracing all the service death, resignation, or removal of both the Presifor which special appropriations have been made dent and Vice President. by Congress, amounted to $22,730,592, showing Third. For the election of Senators of the an excess of expenditures of $6,437,991. * * * United States directly by the people of the sev
Comprehensive pational policy would seem to eral States, instead of by the legislatures; and sanction the acquisition and incorporation into Fourth. For the limitation to a period of years our Federal Union of the several adjacent con- of the terms of federal judges. tinental and insular communities as speedily as Profoundly impressed with the propriety of it can be done peacefully, lawfully, and without making these important modifications in the Conany violation of national justice, faith, or honor. stitution, I respectfully submit them for the early Foreign possession or control of those comou and mature consideration of Congress. We should nities bas hitherto hindered the growth and im- as far as possible remove all pretext for violations paired the influence of the United States. Chronic of the organic law, by remedying snch imperfecrevolution and anarchy there would be equally tions as time and experience may develop, ever injurious. Each one of them, when firmly es remembering that the Constitution which at tablished as an independent republic, or when any time exists, until changed by an explicit and incorporated into the United States, would be a auihentic act of the whole people, is sacredly new source of strength and power. Conforming obligatory upon all."
In the performance of a duty imposed upon are vested all legislative powers, and upon me by the Constitution, I have thus communi. them devolves the responsibility as well for cated to Congress information of the state of the framing unwise and excessive laws, as for neUnion, and recommended for their consideration glecting to devise and adopt measures absolutely such measures as have seemed to me necessary demanded by the wants of the country. Let us and expedient. If carried into effect, they will earnestly hope that before the expiration of our hasten ihe accomplishment of the great and be respective terms of service, now rapidly drawing neficent purposes for which the Constitution was to a close, an all-wise Providence will so guide ordained, and which it comprehensively states our counsels as to strengthen and preserve the were "to form a more perfect Union. establish Federal Union, inspire reverence for the Constijustice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for tution, restore prosperity and happiness to our the common defense, promote the general wel whole people, and promote “on earth peace, fare, and secure the blessings of liberty to good will toward men." ANDREW JOHNSON. ourselves and our posterity.” In Congress WASHINGTON, December 9, 1868.
POLITICAL VOTES IN THIRD SESSION OF FORTIETH CONGRESS.
CONDEMNATION OF PRESIDENT JOHNSON'S PROPOSITION RESPECTING THE PAYMENT
OF THE PUBLIC DEBT.
Mr. Hendricks moved this as a substitute:
That the Senate cordially endorse the sentiIN SENATE.
ment in the President's message, “that our 1868, December 14—Mr. Willey submitted this national credit should be sacredly observed," resolution, which was reported from the Com- and declare that the public debt should be paid mittee on l'inance by Mr. Cattell, December 16: as rapidly as practicable, exactly in accordance Resolved, That the Senate, properly cherishing with
the terms of the contracts under which the and upholding the good faith and honor of the several loans were made, and where the obliganation, do hereby utterly disapprove of and tions of the Government do not expressly state condemn the sentiments and propositions con- upon their face, or the law under which they tained in so much of the late annual message of were issued does not provide, that they shall be the President of the United States as reads as paid in coin, they ought in right and justice to follows:
be paid in the lawful mouey of the United " It may be assumed that the holders of our
States. securities have already received upon their bonds
Which was disagreed to-yeas 7, naye 44, as
follow : a larger amount than their original investment, measured by a gold standard. Upon this state.. YEAs--Messrs. Buckalew, Davis, Ilendricks, McCreery, ment of facts, it would seem but just and eqnita Saulsbury, Vickers, Whyte ble that the six per cent. interest now paid by Cole, Conkling, Corbett, Dixon, Drake, Edmunds,
Nays-Messrs. Abbott, Anthony, Cattell, Chandler, the Government should be applied to the reduc- Ferry, Fessenden, Frelinghuysen, Grimes, Harris, tion of the principal in semi-annual installments, Henderson, líoward, Howe, Kellogg, Morgan, Morrill which in sixteen years and eight months wouli of Maine, Morrill of Vermont, Nye, Osborn. Pool, Ram
sey, Rice, Robertson, Ross, Sawyer. Sherman, Spencer, liquidate the entire national debt. Six per cent. Stewart, Sumner, Thayer, Trumbull, . Van Winkle in gold would at present rates be equal to nine Wade, Warner, 'Welch, Willey, Williams, Wilson,
Yates-44. per cent. in currency, and equivalent to the payment of the debt one and a half times in a December 18–The resolution was adoptedfraction less than seventeen years. This, in con yeas 43, nays 6, as follow: nection with all the other advantages derived from their investment, would afford to the pub. Chandler, Cole, Conkling, Corbett, Cragin. Divon, Ed
YEAS-Messrs. Abbott, Anthony, Cameron, Cattell, lic creditors a fair and liberal compensation for munds, Ferry, Fessendeu, Frelinghuysen, Grimes, the use of their capital, and with this they should Harlan, Harris, Henderson, Howard, Howe, Kellogs be satisfied. The lessons of the past admonish | Ramsey, Robertson, Ross, Sawyer, Sherman. Spencer, the leniler that it is not well to be over-anxious Stewart, Sumner, Thayer, Van Winkle, Wade, Warner, in exacting fron the borrower rigid compliance Willey, Williams, Wilson Yates—13, with the letter of the bond."
NAYS--Messrs. Davis, McCreery, Patterson of Tennessee, Saulsbury, Vickers, Whyto-6.