Imágenes de páginas

manufactures, and by the diminished products of the mines. The existing amount of specie, however, must support the paper circulations, and the systems of currency, not of the United States only, but of other nations also. One of its great uses is to

pass from country to country, for the purpose of settling occasional balances in commercial transactions. It always finds its way, naturally and easily, to places where it is needed for these uses.

But to take extraordinary pains to bring it where the course of trade does not bring it, where the state of debt and credit does not require it to be, and then to endeavor, by unnecessary and injurious regulations, treasury orders, accumulations at the mint, and other contrivances, there to retain it, is a course of policy bordering, as it appears to me, on political insanity. It is boasted that we have seventy-five or eighty millions of specie now in the country. But what more senseless, what more absurd, than this boast, if there is a balance against us abroad, of which payment is desired sooner than remittances of our own products are likely to make that payment?

What more miserable than the boast of having that which is not ours, which belongs to others, and which the convenience of others, and our own convenience also, require that they should possess? If Boston were in debt to New York, would it be wise in Boston, instead of paying its debt, to contrive all possible means of obtaining specie from the New York banks, and hoarding it at home? And yet this, as I think, would be precisely as sensible as the course which the government of the United States at present pursues. We have, without doubt, a great amount of specie in the country, but it does not answer its accustomed end, it does not perform its proper duty. It neither goes abroad to settle balances against us, and thereby quiet those who have demands upon us; nor is it so disposed of at hoine as to sustain the circulation to the extent which the circumstances of the times require. A great part of it is in the western banks, in the land offices, on the roads through the wilderness, on the passages over the lakes, from the land offices to the deposit banks, and from the deposit banks back to the land offices. Another portion is in the hands of buyers and sellers of specie; of men in the west, who sell land-office money to the new settlers for a high premium. Another portion, again, is kept in private hands, to be used when circumstances shall tempt to the purchase of lands. And, gentlemen, I am inclined to think, so loud has been the cry about hard money, and so sweeping the denunciation of all paper, that private holding, or hoarding, prevails to some extent in different parts of the country. These eighty millions of specie, therefore, really do us little good. We are weaker in our circulation, I have no doubt, our credit is feebler, money is scarcer with us, at this moment, than if twenty millions of this specie were shipped to Europe, and general confidence thereby restored.

Gentlemen, I will not say that some degree of pressure might not have come upon us, if the treasury order had not issued. I will not say that there has not been over trading, and over production, and a too great expansion of bank circulation. This may all be so, and the last mentioned evil, it was easy to foresee, was likely to happen when the United States discontinued their own bank. But what I do say is, that, acting upon the state of things as it actually existed, and is now actually existing, the treasury order has been, and now is, productive of great distress. It acts upon a state of things which gives extraordinary force to its stroke, and extraordinary point to its sting. It arrests specie, when the free use and circulation of specie are most important; it cripples the banks, at a moment when the banks more than ever need all their means. It makes the merchant unable to remit, when remittance is necessary for his own credit, and for the general adjustment of commercial balances. I am not now discussing the general question, whether prices must not come down, and adjust themselves anew to the amount of bullion existing in Europe and America I am dealing only with the measures of our own government on the subject of the currency, and I insist that these measures have been most unfortunate, and most ruinous on the ordinary means of our circulation at home, and on our ability of remittance abroad.

Their effects, too, by deranging and misplacing the specie which is in the country, are most disastrous on domestic exchanges. Let him who has lent an ear to all these prornises of a more uniform currency, see how he can now sell his draft on New Orleans or Mobile. Let the northern manufacturers and mechanics, those who have sold the products of their labor to the south, and heretofore realized the prices with little loss of exchange, let them try present facilities. Let them see what reform of the currency has done for them. Let them inquire whether, in this respect, their condition is better or worse than it was five or six years ago.

Gentlemen, I hold this disturbance of the measure of value, and the means of payment and exchange, this derangement, and, if may so say, this violation of the currency, to be one of the most unpardonable of political faults. He who tampers with the currency robs labor of its bread. He panders, indeed, to greedy capital, which is keen-sighted, and may shift for itself; but he beggars labor, which is honest, unsuspecting, and too busy with the present to calculate for the future. The

prosper ity of the working classes lives, moves, and has its being in established credit, and a steady medium of payment. All sudden changes destroy it. Honest industry never comes in for any

. part of the spoils in that scramble which takes place when the currency of a country is disordered. Did wild schemes and projects ever benefit the industrious ? Did irredeemable bank paper ever enrich the laborious ? Did violent fluctuations ever do good to him who depends on his daily labor for his daily bread ? Certainly never. All these things may gratify greediness for sudden gain, or the rashness of daring speculation; but



and regress

they can bring nothing but injury and distress to the homes of patient industry and honest labor. Who are they that profit by the present state of things? They are not the many, but the few. They are speculators, brokers, dealers in money, and lenders of money at exorbitant interest. Small capitalists are crushed, and, their means being dispersed, as usual, in various parts of the country, and this miserable policy having destroyed exchanges, they have no longer either money or credit. And all classes of labor partake, and must partake, in the same ca lamity. And what consolation for all this is it, that the public lands are paid for in specie? that, whatever embarrassment and distress pervade the country, the western wilderness is thickly sprinkled over with eagles and dollars ? that gold goes weekly from Milwaukie and Chicago to Detroit, and back again from Detroit to Milwaukie and Chicago, and performs similar feats of egress

in many other instances, in the western states? It is remarkable enough, that, with all this sacrifice of, general convenience, with all this sky-rending clamor for government payments in specie, government, after all, never gets a dollar. So far as I know, the United States have not now a single specie dollar in the world. If they have, where is it? The gold and silver collected at the land-offices is sent to the deposit banks; it is there placed to the credit of the government, and thereby becomes the property of the bank. The whole revenue of the government, therefore, after all, consists in mere bank credits; that very sort of security which the friends of the administration have so much denounced.

Remember, gentlemen, in the midst of this deafening din against all banks, that, if it shall create such a panic or such alarm as shall shut up the banks, it will shut up of the United States also.

Gentlemen, I would not willingly be a prophet of ill. I most devoutly wish to see a better state of things; and I believe the repeal of the treasury order would tend very much to bring

the treasury

about that better state of things. And I am of opinion, gentlemen, that the order will be repealed. I think it must be repealed. I think the east, west, north, and south will demand its repeal. But, gentlemen, I feel it my duty to say, that, if I should be disappointed in this expectation, I see no immediate relief to the distresses of the community. I greatly fear, even, that the worst is not yet. I look for severer distresses; for extreme difficulties in exchange, for far greater inconveniences in remittance, and for a sudden fall in prices. Our condition is one which is not to be tampered with, and the repeal of the treasury order, being something which government can do, and which will do good, the public voice is right in demanding that repeal. It is true, if repealed now, the relief will come late. Nevertheless its repeal or abrogation is a thing to be insisted on, and pursued, till it shall be accomplished. The executive control over the currency, this power of discriminating, by treasury order, between one man's debt and another man's debt, is a thing not to be endured in a free country; and it should be the constant, persisting demand of all true whigs“ Rescind the illegal treasury order, restore the rule of the law, place all branches of the revenue on the same grounds, make men's rights equal, and leave the government of the country where the constitution leaves it, in the hands of the representatives of the people in congress.” This point should never be surrendered or compromised. Whatever is established, let it be equal, and let it be legal. Let men know, to-day, what money may be required of them to-morrow. Let the rule be open and public, on the pages of the statute-book, not a secret, in the executive breast.

Gentlemen, in the session which has now just closed, I have done my utmost to effect a direct and immediate repeal of the treasury order.

I have voted for a bill anticipating the payment of the

[ocr errors]


« AnteriorContinuar »