into coin when there was no demand for coin, and inconvertible when there was. They have, too generally, been issued for the exclusive benefit of the bankers, and not for the convenience of the public, and they have encouraged speculation, when their true mission was to facilitate trade. It has been the bane of a bank note circulation that it has been expanded by the avarice of the bankers, and contracted by the distrust that overissues have created.

Now, this objection to a bank note circulation applies with much greater force to government issues. There is always inducement enough for banks to keep up a full circulation, and against excessive issues there are the restrictions of law and the liability to redeem. Government notes, in the issue thereof, would be regulated only by the necessities of the government or the interests of the party in power. At one time they might be increased altogether beyond the needs of commerce and trade, thereby enhancing prices and inducing speculation; at another, they might be so reduced as to embarrass business and precipitate financial disasters. They would be incomparably worse in this respect than a bank note currency, because the power that should control circulation would be the power that furnishes it. Supplied by an authority not in sympathy with trade, they would not be accommodated to the requirements of trade. They might be the fullest in volume when there was the least demand for a full circulation, and the most contracted when there was a healthy demand for an increase. They would eventually become an undesirable circulation, because there would be no way in which the redemption of them could be enforced: they would be a dangerous circulation, because they would be under the control of political parties; an unreliable circulation, because having no connexion with trade and commerce, they would not be regulated by their necessities.

There are objections to all kinds of paper money; but, in some form, it is a commercial necessity, and no form has yet been contrived so little objectionable as that which is authorized by the national currency act. Under this act the government perform its proper functions by exercising one of its constitutional powers for the regulation of commerce, by fixing the maximum of bank note circulation, securing its solvency, and giving to it nationality of character and uniformity of value. It takes the promises, which are to go among the people through the national banks, puts its seal upon them, and guarantees their redemption, as it takes the precious ore from the mines-the property of individuals-coins it into money of the United States and fixes the value thereof. It thus performs the proper offices of government. In doing so it interferes with no State rights, meddles with no man's lawful pursuits. It stands between the bankers and the people, and while it protects the latter from imposition in the use of a bank note currency, it trespasses upon no privileges of the former. Without becoming a banker, and without, as in the case of the charter of the United States Bank, conferring peculiar if not dangerous privileges upon a single corporation, it provides a national circulation, indispensable for its own use and safety in the collection of its internal revenues, and suited to the circumstances of the country.

But while the national currency act is restrictive in its general provisions, and is expected when generally adopted to prevent expansions, there is still danger that to much capital will be invested under it during the suspension of specie payments, and in the existing unsettled condition of our political and financial affairs. When money is plenty, and fortunates are being rapidly acquired, the country is always in a feverish and unhealthy state. This is especially true at the present time. The enormous expenditures of the government, and the great advances in prices since the commencement of the war, have made many persons suddenly rich, and upon fortunes suddenly acquired, have followed reckless expenditures, extravagance, waste. Speculation is taking the place of sober and persevering industry, and thousands are deluded with the notion that the wealth of the nation is being increased by the increase of its indebtedness. The inauguration of a new system of banking, under such circumstances, is peculiarly hazardous, and I have been, from the time of my appointment, more apprehensive that too many banks would be organized, than that the system would not be sufficiently attractive to induce capitalists to become connected with it. The government is the great borrower. Its obligations compose a large portion of the discount line of banks, which are making large profits on government securities at little apparent risk, and the danger is, that the national banking system, with all its restrictions, may, during the suspension of specie payments, and the continuance of the war, add to the plethora of paper money; and that, when the war is over, the banks, deprived of the existing means of investment in government obligations, and finding no legitimate use for their capitals, may be tempted to use them in encouraging operations that will eventually prove to be as unprofitable to themselves, as they will be injurious to the country. For the double purpose, therefore, of keeping down the national circulation as far as it has seemed possible to do it, consistently with the establishment of the system throughout the country, and preventing an increase of banking capital, that might hereafter be instrumental in keeping up the inflation, and retarding the resumption of specie payments, or prove unprofitable to its owners, I have felt it to be my duty to discourage, in many instances, the organization of new banks, and in more instances to refuse my sanction to the increase of the capital of those already organized. In doing so, I may seem to have exercised a power not warranted by the act; but if not sustained by its letter, I have been by its spirit, and I am willing to let the future decide as to the correctness or incorrectness of my course.

But while I entertain the opinion that the currency of the country is already too much expanded, and that it would be a calamity if the national banking system should be the means of materially increasing it, I must not be understood as sanctioning the notion, so generally prevalent, that the high price of coin is to be altogether or chiefly attributed to it, or that gold and silver are, at the present time, the standard of value in the United States. When gold sold in Wall street, on the 1st of July last, at 185 premium, many of the best stocks, as well as productive real estate, were no higher than they have been upon a coin basis.

By referring to the gold market in New York during the three past years it will be perceived that its value has been regulated by other causes than the inflation of the currency.

In January, 1862, gold in New York was at a premium of 12 per cent. It soon fell to 1, from which it rose on the 10th of October to 37, and closed on the 31st of December at 34. On the 24th of February, 1863, it had advanced to 722, but on the 26th of March (favorable news having been received from the southwest) it went down to 4012, but in twelve days, on the receipt of less favorable intelligence from that quarter, it went up to 5912. A few days after, upon the report of the iron-clad attack upon Fort Sumter, it fell to 46, and on receipt of the intelligence of the surrender of Port Hudson to 2312. On the 15th of October it rose to 54, but reached no higher point during that year.

On the 1st of January, 1864, it opened at 52, went up to 88 on the 14th of April, and fell to 67 on the 19th of the same month. On the passage of gold bill, June 22, it rose to 130, and fell the next day to 115. On the 1st of July it was forced up to 185, but on the day following (the gold bill having been repealed) it fell to 130. On the 11th of the same month it went up again to 184; on the 15th it fell to 144, and after various fluctuations dropped on the 26th of September to 87-thus rising between the 1st of January and the 1st of July, 1864, from 52 to 185, and falling between the 1st of July and the 26th of September from 185 to 87. None of these fluctuations were brought about by an increase or decrease of the currency; on the contrary, gold rose the most rapidly when there was no considerable increase of the currency, and fell in the face of large additions to it. Nothing can be more conclusive of the incorrectness of the opinion that gold is always the standard of value, and that the high price it has commanded in the United States during the progress of the war is the result of an inflated currency, than this brief statement of its variations in the New York stock market.

Hostility to the government has been as decidedly manifested in the effort that has been made in the commercial metropolis of the nation to depreciate the currency as it has been by the enemy in the field; and unfortunately the effort of sympathizers with the rebellion, and of the agents of the rebellious States, to prostrate the national credit has been strengthened and sustained by thousands in the loyal States, whose political fidelity it might be ungenerous to question. Immense interests have been at work all over the country, and concentrated in New York, to raise the price of coin, and splendid fortunes have been apparently made by their success. The loyal importer and manufacturer of the east and the produce and provision merchant of the west have locked hands with the enemies of the republic in a common effort, although for a different object, and sometimes have produced results which have created serious apprehensions that the Union might be lost for want of means to prosecute the war, or rather on account of the excessive and unnecessary costliness of the war. The government in its struggles with a gigantic rebellion has not only been contending with

armed rebels in the field, but with unarmed rebels in the loyal States, backed by an immense interest in the hands of loyal citizens.

Gold has been a favorite article to gamble in. It has been forced up and down by those tricks and devices that are so well understood at the stock board. The reverses of our arms have been used by the operators for an "advance" to send it up, and our military successes have been turned to the advantage of those who were interested in a "decline." When the banks and the government suspended specie payments, and a new standard of value was created in the legal tenders, gold and silver, whose legal value had been fixed by the same authority, became an article of traffic, subject to the influences that have control of the market, and yet unfortunately everything necessary for use or consumption was made to follow their upward tendency, as if they were still the proper and only regulator of prices.

The effect of all this has been, not to break down the credit of the government, but to increase enormously the cost of the war and the expense of living; for however small may have been the connexion between the price of coin and our domestic products, every rise of gold, no matter by what means effected, has been used as a pretext by holders and speculators for an advance of prices, to the great injury of the government and the sorrow of a large portion of the people. It is unquestionably true that the abundance of money has facilitated the operations against the credit of the government, and that a more stringent market would have tended to check and restrain them, but it is a mistaken notion that the high price of coin is an evidence of an overissue of currency or of its depreciation. If it were generally believed that the war would be ended by the 1st of January, gold would fall before that time to 25 per cent. premium, if not lower, although the paper money in circulation might in the mean time be largely


The expenditures of the government have created a great expansion of currency and of prices. There would have undoubtedly been an expansion, in a less degree it is true, but still an expansion, if the war had been carried on upon a specie basis. Prices of all the necessaries of life as well as luxuries, and of everything which the government must purchase in the prosecution of the war, are enormously high, and the penalty is yet to be paid, for the inflation, in increased taxation, and the ruin which must overwhelm the thousands who believe, and act upon the belief, that the apparent prosperity of the country is real, and is not to be interrupted. Fortunate will the country be if the war can be closed and prices reduced to former standards without a collapse, which will as greatly excel in the extent of its disaster that which occurred at the close of the last war with England as the present war excels that in costliness and magnitude.

As long as there was any uncertainty in regard to the success of the national banking system, or the popular verdict upon its merits and security, I did not feel at liberty to recommend discriminating legislation against the State banks. It is for Congress to determine if there is any longer a reasonable uncertainty on these points, and if the time has not arrived when all these institutions should be compelled to retire

their circulation. It is indispensable for the financial success of the treasury that the currency of the country should be under the control of the government. This cannot be the case as long as State institutions have the right to flood the country with their issues. As a system has been devised under which State banks, or at least as many of them as are needed, can be reorganized, so that the government can assume a rightful control over bank note circulation, it could hardly be considered oppressive if Congress should prohibit the further issue of bank notes not authorized by itself, and compel, by taxation, (which should be sufficient to effect the object without being oppressive,) the withdrawal of those which have been already issued. My own opinion is, that this should be done, and that the sooner it is done the better it will be for the banks themselves and for the public. As long as the two systems are contending for the field, (although the result of the contest can be no longer doubtful,) the government cannot restrain the issue of paper money; and as the preference which is everywhere given to a national currency over the notes of the State banks indicates what is the popular judgment in regard to the merits of the two systems, there seems to be no good reason why Congress should hesitate to relieve the treasury of a serious embarrassment, and the people of an unsatisfactory circulation.

Some important amendments are required to the act in order that it should be fully accommodated to the wants and business of the country.

The provisions in regard to the lawful money reserve and the distribution of the assets of insolvent banks require modification.

I am still of the opinion that the rates of interest to be charged by the national banks should be fixed by Congress, and not by the States. There are too many points at which the banks may redeem their notes. All, with the exception of those in Philadelphia and Boston, should redeem in New York. The banks ought to be compelled by law to retain a part, if not all the coin received by them, for interest on their gold-bearing bonds, in order that they may be prepared to lend their influence in favor of a return to specie payments, and some provisions should be introduced by which, when specie payments are resumed, excessive importation of goods may be checked and dangerous exportations of coin may be prevented.

It is of the greatest importance that the national currency system should be independent of politics and freed from political influences. To effect this, and to facilitate the business of the banks with the Comptroller, I am clearly of the opinion that the bureau should be made an independent department, and removed from Washington to Philadelphia or New York.

I do not, however, recommend that any amendments be made by the present Congress. The act will do well enough as it is for another year. When the next Congress assembles, the defects in it will be better understood, by the practical working of the system, than they can be at the present time. The act can then be taken up, and, with

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