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STATEMENT OF TAXES ON THE CITY OF CHICAGO FOR THE MUNICIPAL YEAR 1851-52.
Total...... $8,562 72 We gather, also, from the same official report, a few educational statistics, as follows:-The school taxes paid by Chicago for eleven years, from 1840 to 1851, inclusive, amounts to $55,674 07; the revenue from school fund from other sources, for same time, to $52,723 22; showing a total of $108,397 29, raised and expended in eleven years for the free schools of that city. The number of children taught in public schools in 1842 was 513, and in 1851, 2,287. The school fund of the city in 1851 amounted to $205,187 66. Chicago with a population in 1850 of 28,269 had six school houses.
THE BOSTON BOARD OF BROKERS.
We cut from the Boston Commonwealth the following criticism of a writer in the Bunker Hill Aurora, who, we are told, “indulges the readers of that paper with a violent attack upon the Brokers' Board." The Commonwealth, after noticing the "ignorance and prejudice which prevails to some extent in regard to stock transactions," goes on to defend those upon whose broad shoulders it is a common practice to lay all the eccentricities of stock fluctuations, and upon whom it is the pleasure of every petty speculator to vent his spleen.
The Brokers' Board is a private association of intelligent, high-minded, and honorable men, whose object in thus associating together is simply the convenient and expeditious transaction of stock business. In pursuance of this design, some forty or fifty brokers, representing various interests, and holding various opinions as to the value of stocks, meet together at stated hours. Nothing can be fairer than the mode of conducting business at these sessions. The presiding officer commences by reading the list of stocks, and the members, each occupying a regular seat, make their bids for purchase or sale, as each stock is called. These bids can be accepted or refused by any one present, and are announced in an audible voice by the president as soon as made. A sale being effected, it is at once recorded by the clerk, and the contracting parties are mutually bound thereby, settlement for cash transactions being made on the following day. Stringent rules and by-laws regulate the whole proceedings; forty active, wide-awake minds attentively follow every bid, and the slightest deviation from that which is considered just and equitable in trade is instantly checked, either by the presiding officer or some of the members. Every stock on the list has its friends and opponents at the Board, and any movement to its prejudice or advantage is promptly met by one or the other. With such a system of checks and balances, it is impossible to practice any deception of magnitude, and it would be a very difficult matter to devise a mode of operations which will better conform to general ideas of free trade and equal rights.
Fictitious sales are guarded against by the severest penalty in the power of the Association to inflict, namely: expulsion from the Board; and the insinuations of the writer in the Aurora to the contrary notwithstanding, we assert unhesitatingly, that this regulation is rarely, if ever, violated, and that the sales, as reported in the papers,
are strictly reliable and true, in the great majority of cases. It may answer the purposes of some individuals, who would fain desire to foist their rotten stocks upon the public, at prices to suit themselves, to stand at a distance and snarl at the Brokers' Board for making “fictitious sales"—but where a matter can be easily tested, by an order for purchase or sale given to a member of the Board, it is surprising that such skeptics do not try the experiment, and ascertain to a certainty whether they can realize stock or cash, at the quotations ruling for the day. This charge, so often repeated, is, in point of fact, substantially and glaringly false, and we are prepared to maintain this position against any and all comers.
The writer of the Aurora phillipic complains of the practice of "selling short," and calls it "an iniquitous form of gambling." What terms of abuse in the vocabulary of this flippant writer will express his ideas of the operations of speculators in cotton, sugar, flour, and various other articles of traffic? In view of a superabundant crop, dealers in cotton, flour, or sugar will make contracts to deliver at a future date; but this is not "gambling"-it is speculation. It is a fair presumption that "buying long" is equally opposed to the writer's views as well as selling short," and if so, what causes of complaint can he not find in the speculative transactions of a very respectable class of merchants, who consider it fair and honest to buy up cotton, flour, sugar, and dry goods for a rise. We have known grave, sober minded, out enterprising dry goods merchants to combine and buy up certain desirable styles of domestic goods, and after obtaining control of the market, agree upon an advanced price. Others we have known to monopolize the entire manufacture of a mill-but we do not remember to have heard such operations stigmatized as "gambling." The history of trade is full of such examples, and no fact is better known. Is it not a subtil distinction which calls such operations in stocks "gambling," and in everything else legitimate "speculation?" A broad, well-defined line separates speculation from gambling, however common it may be to confound the two practices together in ordinary conversation and careless newspaper writings.
Speculation calls into exercise intelligence, foresight, and discrimination. Gambling is the turning of dice-the result of chance.
Speculation is frequently abused, but no more so in stocks than in other kinds of business; and it is not its abuse, but its legitimate use, that we claim as the universal privilege of the citizens of this free country. The conservative influence of the “bear” policy in stocks has saved thousands from ruin, and a fair exercise of it serves to prevent a system of inflation and humbug, which would otherwise prevail to an intolerable extent. The "ups and downs" of the Vermont Central stock, which our friend of the Aurora lugs in by the way of illustration, would serve us admirably in the same way. An attempt was made last autumn by powerful outside speculators to inflate the price of this fancy altogether beyond its real value. Partial success for a time attended this movement, and but for the constant and healthful opposition of the "bears" losses of ten times the magnitude of those which actually occurred, would have resulted to the infatuated and ill-advised persons who would have been tempted into its purchase.
The members of the Brokers' Board of Boston have the reputation of being an upright, honorable body of men, and their actions will bear the test of as close an examination as any of the trading or professional classes in this community. Let them be treated fairly and with proper courtesy, until something more definite and real than the vague charges of the Aurora writer can be brought against them.
LAW OF CALIFORNIA RELATING TO BILLS OF EXCHANGE.
The recent law relative to Bills of Exchange and Promissory Notes, passed by the State of California, provides that the damage on Bills of Exchange protested for nonpayment elsewhere, shall be as follows:
If payable in either of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, 15 per cent. If payable in Europe or any foreign country, 20 per cent, with interest from the time of demand.
If the bill is payable in the currency of a foreign country, the amount due shall be determined by the rates of exchange at the time of demand, and exclusive of damages. The damage on Bills of exchange protested for non-acceptance shall be the same as on those protested for non-payment.
THE COINAGE OF FRANCE.
With regard to the coins of France, the Constitutionel gives some interesting information in an article lauding in courtier-like style the late decree. The decree changes for the eighth time since the introduction of the decimal system in 1793, the type of French coins. The pieces of gold and silver are estimated at—
106,000,000 francs. struck by the first republic.
with the effigy of Napoleon Bonaparte.
with the effigy of Louis XVIII. and Charles X.
by the republic of 1848.
A great portion of the above coins is no longer in existence. Refiners have found their account in melting up the silver pieces particularly, which contain a certain proportion of gold. It will be observed that about one-third of the whole sum bears the effigy of Louis Philippe. But this is just the proper proportion, for he reigned eighteen years-about one-third of the space of time elapsed since 1793. It will be especially gold coin which will now be struck with the effigy," Louis Napoleon Bonaparte." Gold has lately been imported in large quantities in France. From 1st January to 20th December, 1851:
Of silver during the same space of time, as appears from official custom returns, the amounts are as follows:
In 1850, gold coins were struck here to the value of 85,000,000 francs.
It is supposed that the copper money of France, which is in a miserable state, will be now promptly recoined with the effigy of the ruling prince, under the late drecree. The only copper coin struck by the late republic, has been the 1 centime piece of the value of the fifth part of our cent.
RAGGED BANK NOTES.
The Cincinnati Gazette publishes the following communication relating to the reduction of the ragged bank-notes in circulation. The inconvenience complained of is felt by all, and some remedy should be devised to remove it. That suggested by the correspondent of the Gazette might be effectual, if modified so that the banks shall be prohibited from reissuing ragged notes only.
MESSRS. EDITORS:-The number of bank-notes in circulation, torn, ragged, and hardly able to hold together, has become an intolerable evil. To say nothing of the care required in handling them, or the dirt they have contracted, they are in this State the most active agents of contagion. Dr. Buckler, of Baltimore, has recently called attention to this last danger. The teller of one of the Columbus banks contracted the small pox from handling a package of bills from this city, and died of the disease.
In the existing state of trade and Commerce, nearly all bills find their way back to their respective banks in the course of a few weeks at longest. They are reissued again and again, after they have become unfit for circulation. Why? Because the banks expect to gain by their being defaced and destroyed in the process of circulation. What is the remedy? A law prohibiting banks from issuing the same bill a second time. The Bank of England never reissues a note. Let such a law be passed, and we should have a clean and a far safer paper currency. Will the Legislature attend to it?
IDENTITY OF INDORSERS.
The following remarks from our Philadelphia cotemporary of the Evening Bulletin, deserve the attention of our banking institutions in every section of the country:There is no mercantile proceeding more loosely managed, perhaps, than that in reference to identifying indorsers. Jones & Co., of Nashville, for instance, send a draft to the firm of Smith and Brown, who, forthwith indorsing the document, dispatch their clerk to the broker or bank on whom it is drawn. Smith & Brown are a new house, probably, or their signature, from other causes, is either strange, or but little known, to the bank or broker; yet, in many cases, the bill is paid, simply to prevent altercation, though, if the indorsement should turn out a forgery, the broker or bank will be liable.
Now all this is wrong. No person on whom a draft is drawn ought to pay it, unless he is entirely satisfied of the correctness of the indorsement, and this he cannot be unless he is familiar with the signature, or has it verified by some responsible individual. If the liability was reversed, so that the loss in case of error fell on the drawer, the enforcement of this rule would be demanded by the universal voice of merchants; but because the law fixes the loss on the bank or broker, the rights of the latter are apt to be overlooked, and considerable indignation expressed if a bill is not honored, no matter how ignorant the payor may be of the genuineness of the indorsement.
We have frequently met such instances in our own experience, and we have more frequently heard of others. It seems to touch men's self-importance in a peculiarly delicate manner, to tell them that you know neither them nor their signature. And yet why should it? No bank can be expected to be familiar with every business firm in the city, and much less can a broker. If it is a wonder to so many that a paying teller can recollect every peculiarity of a customer's signature, how much greater is the wonder that a bank or broker should know every trading house in town, and be able to pronounce whether a signature was theirs or not. No sensible man can, after a moment's reflection, expect such a miracle. He might almost as well expect the Legislature to know every signature attached to a petition.
There ought, we repeat, to be greater strictness exercised in this matter. We have heard of drafts being paid that were indorsed by persons who had no right whatever to do so, and who did not even pretend to imitate the signature required. Can a business transaction be looser than this? Strictly speaking, the party paying such bills is still liable to the drawer, while the indorser is amenable to the pains and penalties of forgery. The entire practice needs reforming.
CAPITAL AND DIVIDENDS OF BANKS IN WORCESTER.
We give below a statement of the semi-annual dividends of the banks in the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, on the 1st of April, 1852:
A portion of the surplus of the Quinsigamond Bank was divided to the old stockholders in July last, when new stock was created.
An extra dividend of 10 per cent, amounting to $20,000, was paid to the old stockholders of the Worcester Bank, July 1, 1851, when the new stock was created.
VIRGINIA EXEMPTION LAW.
The Virginia Legislature has passed the tax bill, which exempts every head of a family to the value of $100 worth of cattle, sheep, and hogs, or in lieu thereof, $100 worth of any other property not exempted, and all mineral productions in the hands of the producer or miner, and all wool of last year's clip. The products of any mechanic's labor kept by him for sale, are also exempted.
MINT LAW OF NEW YORK.
The following act, "to exempt the Mint or Branch Mint of the United States, in the city of New York, from tax or assessment," was passed March 3, 1852, by the "people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly,” in anticipation of the establishment of a branch mint in the city of New York:
SECTION 1. No tax or assessment shall at any time be imposed, assessed, or collected upon the Mint or Branch Mint of the United States which may be authorized by act of Congress to be established in the city of New York; neither upon the land on which the buildings used or to be used therefor shall or may be erected, nor upon the buildings used or to be used therefor, nor upon the machinery used or to be used therein, nor upon bullion or metal deposited for coinage, nor upon coin deposited for recoinage, nor upon coin stamped at said Mint or Branch Mint of the United States in the city of New York.
This act will take effect after the removal of the Mint of the United States, or as soon as a Branch Mint is established in the city of New York by an act of Congress, should (as most probably will) such an event transpire.
WHAT ARE CONSOLS?
Every one who reads the accounts of the European money markets, no doubt, desires to know what "consols" are; and here we have the thing correctly explained, we know not by whom :-"They are 3 per cent English stocks, which had its origin in an act of the British Parliament, consolidating (hence the name) several separate government stocks into one general stock, called in the act, "Consolidated Annuities," and commonly quoted, for brevity, as "consols.” When the consolidation took place, the principal of the several funds, thus merged, amounted to £9,137,821; but, by the funding of additional and subsequent loans and parts of loans into this stock, it amounted, on the 5th of January, 1836, to £356,768,258. Since that period, only one loan has been raised, that for compensation to the West India planters, on the emancipation of the slaves-£20,000,000-and a few millions have been paid off. The total at the present time, is between three hundred and seventy and three hundred and seventy-five millions. This stock, from its amount and the immense number of its holders, is more sensitive to financial influences than any other, and is, therefore, the favorite stock for the operations of speculators and jobbers. Its dividends are payable semi-annually."
SHIPMENTS OF GOLD DUST AT SAN FRANCISCO.
The following amounts of gold dust have been exported from San Francisco during the month of March, 1852, as per manifests deposited at the Custom-House :
March 1st, Steamer Northerner, for Panama.
March 1st, Steamer Independence, for San Juan..
March 13th, Steamer California, for Panama..
The Alta California says, "It would be a very moderate estimate to say that half a million has left the country in the hands of passengers during the same period; which would make over $3,000,000 exported during the first half the month !”
FINANCES OF NEW JERSEY IN 1852.
From the Message of Governor Fort to the Legislature of New Jersey, we take the subjoined summary of the finances of that State :
The receipts into the Treasury during the year were $139,166,20, which, with $13,002 30 on hand January 1st, 1851, makes the available funds $152,168 50. The disbursements for ordinary expenses of government $84,792 00. For State Institutions $66,112 69, leaving a balance in the Treasury of $1,263 12. The total revenue for 1852 is estimated at $136,648 13, and the disbursements $135,570 00, leaving a balance in the Treasury of $1,078 13.