Treasury Note Bill.
Speech of Mr. Benton,
Mr. Benton said he should not have risen in this debate, had it not been for the misapprehensions which seem to pervade the minds of some Senators as to the character of the bill. It is called by some a paper-money bill, and, by others, a bill to germinate a new national debt. These are serious imputations, and require to be answered, not by declamation and recrimination, but by facts and reasons, addressed to the candor, and to the intelligence, of an enlightened and patriotic community.
I dissent from the imputations on the character of the bill. I maintain that it is neither a paper money bill, nor a bill to lay the foundation for a new national debt; and will briefly give my reasons for believing as I do on both points.
There are certainly two classes of Treasury notes one for investment, and one for circulation; and both classes are known to our laws, and possess distinctive features which define their respective characters, and confine them to their respective uses.
The notes for investment bear an interest sufficient to induce capitalists to exchange gold and silver for them, and to lay them by as a productive fund. This is their distinctive feature, but not the only one; they possess other subsidiary qualities; such as transferability only by indorsement payable at a fixed time not re-issuable nor of small denomination and to be cancelled when paid. Notes of this class are in fact loan notes notes to raise loans on by selling them for hard money either immediately by the Secretary of the Treasury, or, secondarily, by the creditor of the Government to whom they have been paid. In a word, they possess all the qualities which invite investment, and forbid and impede circulation.
The act of 1812 authorized an issue of notes of this description. They bore five and two-fifths per cent. interest, with an express clause that the Secretary of the Treasury might raise money upon them by loan. I presume there are Senators present who were members of the House of Representatives in 1812 who gave the sanction of their approbation to the Treasury note law of that year, and who would be very unwilling to hear the epithets applied to that law which are lavished upon this bill, which is, copied from it.
The Treasury notes for currency are distinguished by features and qualities, the reverse of those which have been mentioned. They bear little or no interest. They are payable to bearer transferrable by delivery re-issuable of low denominations and frequently re-imbursable at the pleasure of the Government. They are, in fact, paper money, and possess all the qualities which forbid investment, and invite to circulation. The Treasury notes of 1815 were of that character, except for the optional clause to enable the holder to fund them at the interest which commanded loans at seven per cent.
These are the distinctive features of the two classes of notes. Now try the committee's bill by the test of these qualities. It will be found that the notes which it authorizes belong to the first named class; that they are to bear an interest, which may be six per cent.; that they are transferrable only by endorsement that they are not re-issuable that they are to be paid at a day certain; to wit, within one year that they are not to be issued of less denomination than one hundred dollars are to be cancelled when taken up and that the Secretary of the Treasury is expressly authorized to raise money upon them by loaning them.
These are the features and qualities of the notes to be issued, and they define and fix their character as notes to raise loans, and to be laid by as investments, and not as notes for currency, to be pushed into circulation by the power of the Government, and to add to the curse of the day by in creasing the quantity of unconvertible paper money.
The execution of the act, and especially the cardinal feature of the quantum of interest, is left to the President and the Secretary of the Treasury. I presume it will be executed as a law to borrow money; and in that point of view the interest was left open, under a maximum limit, as is proper to be done in all propositions for loans. Bids may be invited by advertisement; the competition of lenders may fix the interest; capitalists may fix it by competition, though nominally left to the discretion of the President and Secretary; and at whatever rate it is thus fixed at whatever rate a loan of gold and silver is commanded at that rate the whole issue, made at any one time, ought to go. There should not be two rates of interest; a high one for the independent and opulent capitalist, and a low one for the helpless and necessitous public creditor. This is my opinion of the character of these Treasury notes, and of the mode of using them. I cannot doubt but that lenders will present themselves, and that the whole ten millions may be borrowed in gold and silver, just as fast as the Government needs it. That opinion is formed upon data upon the great amount of specie now in the country its unproductiveness to its present holders, and the facility with which large amounts of specie were borrowed immediately after the bank suspensions; and the commercial revulsions of 1819.
The specie in the United States cannot now be less than it was six months ago, to wit, eighty millions of dollars; for it is shown by the custom-house reports, and other data, that, notwithstanding the efforts to ship it to Europe, the imports and exports are about even during that time; and that, taking the whole fiscal year together, the imports now exceed the exports by nearly four millions of dollars; and that near nine hundred thousand dollars in gold have been coined in the first three quarters of the present calendar year.
The specie in the country cannot, therefore, be less than $80,000,000, and, upon the calculation of last year, is more. The whole of this vast amount is lying idle, barren, and unproductive to its owners not that they are all unwilling to lend it, and to receive interest, but for want of borrowers in whom they have confidence. The United States will present that borrower, and will bring forth the hoarded treasures which the lack of general confidence now consigns to sterility in private chests, and in special bank deposites. Thus, it was in 1819, '20. The commercial and bank catastrophe of that period took place in 1819; in less than a year afterwards, from the collapse of business, and the stagnation of commerce, money in the Atlantic cities was abundant, idle, and seeking investment at four or five per cent. So says Mr. Cheves so we can all remember but to refresh memories, and establish this important fact, I will read a paragraph from Mr. Cheves's late letter to Dr. Cooper:
"Before the close of the first year of my administration, adequate capital had been assigned to the offices in which it had been deficient, and the bank and its offices generally, then or very soon after, were in a condition to do extensive business, had the situation of the country permitted it. But the commerce of the country became perfectly stagnant. Money was a drug. The bank, to keep up its business as far as possible, discounted long paper, say at four and six months, and perhaps longer. It was even proposed, with the same object, to lower the rate of interest to five per cent. I believe local banks at Boston did, in some instances, discount at that rate. In Philadelphia, I think, the local banks discounted paper having nine months to run, and perhaps more. The commerce of the country was reduced from a state of great excitement, such as we have just witnessed, to a state of collapse, such as I fear we may soon suffer. Under these circumstances the discounts fell off, the bank was too safe. It had, at times, I believe, as much specie, perhaps more, in its vaults than it had notes in circulation. Under this want of demand for money, I was so fortunate as to obtain the public loans, to the amount of six millions of dollars, which the bank was able to pay for, and retain an abundance of specie in its vaults."
Such is the testimony of Mr. Cheves, and thus easily and rapidly did the recuperative energies of this young, vigorous, athletic country recover from the depression and desolation of that day. The effect cannot be different now; on the contrary, the recovery must be more rapid and easy; for the distress now is not the tythe of what it was then; the real money in the country, the gold and silver, was not the fourth part then of what it is now; the distress then was all real, and no part of it assumed, pretended, artificial, forced, and fictitious, contrived with malice aforethought, to govern elections and politics, and to coerce the revivification of a national bank.
I remember the times of which Mr. Cheves speaks. I came to the Senate in 1820; and I know that his picture of the abundance of money, the facility of getting loans, and the low rate of interest, is entirely just. Our own legislation proves it; for a loan of three millions was authorized in the session of 1819-20, and another at the ensuing session for five millions, both expressly to defray the current expenses of the Government; and both loans were eagerly bid for by capitalists, and at rates considerably below six per cent. It was six millions out of these eight that Mr. Cheves congratulates himself for having been fortunate enough to obtain for the Bank of the United States.
The picture drawn by Mr. Cheves is correct as applicable to the Atlantic board for which he intended it; it is not correct as applicable to the West, and was not so intended by him. That great region did not recover for several years after 1819. It had been eviscerated of its gold and silver to sustain the Bank of the United States ! It had been sacrificed to save that bank ! At the time that Mr. Cheves refers to, it was, so far as the precious metals were concerned, the empty skin of an immolated victim, sacrificed upon the altar of salvation to a foreign institution.
Not so now. Thanks to the ever-glorious Treasury order ! That order has saved the West from the fate which overwhelmed her for so many years after the revulsion of 1819. She is not now, in respect to money or any thing else, the empty skin of a sacrificed victim. She has her fair proportion of all the blessings of good government, as well as her fair proportion of all the blessings of Heaven. She is able and willing to pay her share of the public revenue in solid money. The sales of the public lands, since the suspension of specie payments, are fully equal to what they were in the best years before the two years of bank expansions and mad speculations. These sales have gone on in June, July, and August, at a rate to yield near four millions per annum, which is equal to the best years before 1835 and '36.
Mr. Cheves was right in his picture of the moneyed plethora on the Atlantic hoard. It was a drug there in less than one year after the great catastrophe of 1819; it will be a drug there again, and from the same causes stagnation of trade and collapse of business within a few months. It is on the Atlantic board that these Treasury notes will be borrowed. Money will be loaned upon them. They will be taken as investments, to be laid by; not as currency, to be shoved into circulation.
The bill has been denounced as the germ of a new national debt. It certainly proposes the creation of a debt. But for what purpose, and under what circumstances ? To comply with the maxim, that a public debt is a public blessing ? By no means ! But to relieve the States from being called upon for a reimbursement of any part of the twenty-seven millions of dollars which have been deposited with them to relieve the merchants from an immediate payment of four millions and to relieve the late deposite banks from an immediate press for six millions. This is the object. The loan of ten millions on the Treasury notes comes in place of the four and six millions due from merchants and the banks. It is because we cannot collect one, that we create the other. If we had the ten millions from the merchants and the banks, we should not want the Treasury notes; not being able to collect those ten millions, we give time to our debtors, and borrow an equivalent sum. The outstanding debt due to the United States is equal to the debt created; it will be a fund to pay it, interest and all; for the merchants and banks are to pay interest; and then the Treasury note debt becomes a mere nominal transaction, so far as debt is concerned, being no burden to the United States, and a relief to her debtors.
This is the object of this nominal debt, and under what circumstances is it created ? Under the same which occasioned eight millions to be borrowed by direct loan in the two succeeding sessions after the catastrophe of 1819. We have run the career of that period over again, and the parallel is exact in every particular. Then, as now, we had had our dream of inexhaustible surpluses, and were waked up to the reality of an empty treasury. Then, as now, we had our forty-seven millions of revenue; our nine millions of annual surplus our bank expansions our mad speculations our bloated and delusive prosperity; and then, as now, we were called together to borrow eight millions for the support of the Government, to hear the cries of distress, and the calls for relief. The eight millions borrowed then, and borrowed with the approving voice of some who now stigmatize a similar loan, under similar circumstances, and for the same object, was not considered as the germ of a new national debt, neither will our loan be so considered by the country.
I trust I have vindicated the bill from the stigma of being a paper currency bill, and from the imputation of being the first step towards the creation of a new national debt. I hope it is fully cleared from the odium of both these imputations. I will now say a few words on the policy of issuing Treasury notes in time of peace, or even in time of war, until the ordinary resources of loans and taxes had been tried and exhausted.
I am no friend to the issue of Treasury notes of any kind. As loans, they are a disguised mode of borrowing, and easy to slide into a currency: as a currency, it is the most seductive, the most dangerous, and the most liable to abuse of all the descriptions of paper money.
"The stamping of paper (by Government) is an operation so much easier than the laying of taxes, or of borrowing money, that a Government, in the habit of paper emissions, would rarely fail, in any emergency, to indulge itself too far in the employment of that resource, to avoid as much as possible, one less auspicious to present popularity."So said General Hamilton; and Jefferson, Madison, Macon, Randolph, and all the fathers of the republican church, concurred with him. These sagacious statesmen were shy of this facile and seductive resource, "so liable, to abuse, and so certain of being abused." They held it inadmissible to recur to it in time of peace, and that it could only be thought of amidst the exigencies and perils of war, and that after exhausting the direct and responsible alternatives of loans and taxes.
Bred in the school of these great men, I came here at this session to oppose, at all risks, an issue of Treasury notes. I preferred a direct loan, and that for many and cogent reasons. There is clear authority to borrow in the Constitution; but, to find authority to issue these notes, we must enter the field of constructive powers. To borrow is to do a responsible act; it is to incur certain accountability to the constituent, and heavy censure if it cannot be justified; to issue these notes is to do an act which few consider of, which cakes but little hold of the public mind, which few condemn and some encourage, because it increases the quantum of what is vainly called money. Loans are limited by the capacity, at least, of one side to borrow, and of the other to lend; the issue of these notes has no limit but the will of the makers and the supply of lampblack and rags. The continental bills of the Revolution, and the assignats of France, should furnish some instructive lessons on this head.
Direct loans are always voluntary on the part of the lender; Treasury note loans may be a forced borrowing from the Government creditor as much so as if the bayonet was put to his breast; for necessity has no law, and the necessitous claimant must take what is tendered, whether with or without interest whether ten or fifty per cent. below par. I distrust, dislike, and would fain eschew, this Treasury note resource. I prefer the direct loans of 1820-21. I could only bring myself to acquiesce in this measure when it was urged that there was not time to carry a loan through its forms, nor even then could I consent to it until every feature of a currency operation had been eradicated from the face of the bill.
I have spoken to the points which induced me to rise, and might here terminate my remarks; but the committee, of which I am a member, has been assailed, and, being on my feet, I will say a word in its defence.
Senators have said that the committee has reported nothing for the relief of the country nothing, in fact, of any value or consequence. With deference to their judgments, I presume to think otherwise, and, with the indulgence of the Senate, will undertake to convince them of their mistake. First, there is the merchants' bond bill; it relieves a class of debtors to the amount of four millions of dollars, and through them it relieves many others. This bill also grants additional credits on bonds to become due for a year hence, and in that grants further relief to the same class and to their numerous dealers. Then there is the deposite bank relief bill. This gives time to another class of debtors to refund six millions, and through them it relieves all their debtors, and besides, enables them to give temporary assistance to the country generally. Then comes this Treasury note bill; a measure of relief to the States to the amount of ten millions, and through them a relief to all their citizens, by supplying the Treasury from our own resources, and thus staving off the contingency on which they became subject to re-imburse ten, out of the twenty-seven million deposite, while still in the very act of receiving it.
The Senate, on the motion of the Senator from Pennsylvania, who sits over the way, [Mr. Buchannan] has since abrogated this contingency, and substituted the will of Congress; but this change, while it admonishes us to say, farewell a long farewell to the twenty-seven millions ! and even to fear the approaching departure of the nine millions, cannot diminish the merit of the committee, which had first deferred the contingency before the Senator's motion abrogated it for ever.
These are instances of direct relief large as well as direct and extending into all the ramifications of society. It is four millions to the merchants, six millions to the banks, and ten millions to the States in all, twenty millions; and, though nominally, to the merchants, the banks, and the States, it is in reality to the whole body of the community to all the citizens to whom merchants, banks, and States resort to collect the money which is to be paid over to the Federal Treasury.
To these three bills of immediate, direct, large, and positive relief, the committee have added two others, less general in their scope, and more indirect in their action, but still well entitled to be classed among relief measures one to abolish credits at the custom-houses, after a given time; and the other to relieve this city, and these ten miles square, in which Congress has exclusive jurisdiction, from the evils of an irredeemable paper currency, and the pestilence of paper ticket change.
The divorce bill the bill to dissolve the connection between Bank and State and to enable the Government to keep in its own hands its own means of existence will certainly be a relief to one of the parties, if not to both. These bills have been reported by the Finance Committee, and will enable the country to judge how far they are obnoxious to the charge of reporting nothing for relief, and nothing of any value. They are six in number of great value and efficacy in my estimation and they comprise all the subjects on which that committee were expected to produce any thing for the action of the Senate.
There is another bill which may come from another committee, the Judiciary, and which I shall rejoice to see come from it a bill of most potential and universal relief to the whole country! to relieve us from a most crying imposition, which now afflicts and oppresses every thing in our America, from the Federal and State Government, and their elevated functionaries, down to the tub of the washerwoman and the cart of the drayman. It is the bill to apply the penalties of bankruptcy to their ancient, original, appropriate, and primitive subject, and the one from which the law itself takes its name. Broken bank bancus and ruptus is the Roman designation of the law. Broken banks, and not broken merchants, broken tailors, broken lawyers, and broken farmers, were the Roman, the Grecian, the Asiatic, and the Egyptian subjects of this law. The English, and other moderns, have diverted it to humbler game; and President Van Buren is the first in the list of Executive magistrates to propose to restore it to its original and most appropriate subjects. I shall rejoice to see that bill come in. It will be tidings of forthcoming relief to an afflicted and prostrate empire. It will fix the day for the general resumption of specie payments, and will furnish a rule, and provide an engine, for separating the solvent from the insolvent, "promisers to pay."
That bill has been denounced in advance upon this floor, and war to the knife has been declared against it. The assault has even assumed the character of a combined movement against the nervous system of the friends of the measure. It seems as if they would terrify us. I have not communed with others to learn how they stand the shock of this precocious assault; but, for one, my nerves remain unaffected, and my feet do not feel as if they meditated flight, and intended to bear off my body from the perils of the coming conflict.
That bill has been denounced in an unusual, unexpected, and precipitate manner. I do not return the denunciation; nor do I now undertake its defence, by obliquing into an argument foreign to the question before the Senate; but I am free to declare myself friendly to the measure, and ready to support it as soon as it is brought forward. I am not deterred by the imposing apparition of sovereign States, engaged in the trade, or associated in the business, of banking. My own State, even Missouri, has embarked in the perils and mysteries of this trade. She has chartered a moneyed corporation, and gone into partnership with it; and if ever that concern shall dishonor its "promises to pay," I, for one, shall be ready to apply the penalties of bankruptcy to the whole establishment, and shall make no discrimination between the effects of individual stockholders and the effects of the State embarked in the partnership.
I say this, not in defiance, but in candor, in sincerity, and in openness of heart. I am for the measure, and avow it in my place here; and if the consequences of this avowal should be what some seem to think an extinction of political existence, and a perpetual exclusion from the purlieus of this ten miles square I stand here now ready to do the deed, and to pay the forfeit to vote for the bill without faltering, and to march from this Capitol without looking back.
Appendix to Mr. Benton's Speech on the Treasury Note Bill.
Having pointed out, in this speech, the similitude between the catastrophe of 1819 and of the present year,  Mr. Benton republishes, in an appendix, the remarks which he made upon that point in a speech on the rescinding resolution of Mr. Ewing at the last session of Congress.
Mr. B. wished to point out to the Senate the great similitude which existed between the present state of things in our country, and that which existed about twenty years ago. There was instruction to be derived from the retrospect, and he would use the highest authority for the fidelity of the picture which he proposed to recall. He would have recourse to the highest official papers the message of Presidents to Congress and would read the parts which were applicable to his purpose. He read:
Extract from President Madison's annual Message at the meeting at Congress, the first Monday of December, 1816.
"It has been estimated that, during the year 1816, the actual receipts of revenue at the Treasury, including the balance at the commencement of the year, still excluding the proceeds of loans and Treasury notes, will amount to about the sum of $47,000,000; that, during the same year, the actual payments at the Treasury, including the payment of the arrearages of the War Department, as well as the payment of a considerable excess, beyond the annual appropriations, will amount to about the sum of $38,000,000; and that consequently, at the close of the year, there will be a surplus in the Treasury of about $9,000,000."
Extract from President Monroe's annual Message, the first Monday of December, 1817.
"A considerable and rapid augmentation in the value of all the public lands; proceeding from these and other obvious causes, may, henceforward, be expected. * * * * * The public lands are a public stock, which ought to be disposed of to the best advantage for the nation. The nation should, therefore, derive the profit from the continual rise in their value"
Extract from President Monroe's annual Message, the third Monday of November, 1818.
"The sale of the public lands during the year has also greatly exceeded, both in quantity and price, that of any former year, and there is just reason to expect a progressive improvement in that source of revenue."
This is the picture for 1816, '17, and '18, and a glowing one it is. The Treasury full and overflowing; forty-seven millions of revenue in one year, thirty-eight millions paid out; nine millions of surplus on hand; public lands selling with unprecedented rapidity, the sales for 1818 being seventeen millions of dollars, which, in proportion to the population, were larger sales than those of the last year, when twenty-five millions were received. At the end of the year 1818, this gorgeous picture of prosperity still augmenting, and the President so elated with the prospect of income from the lands, that he advises their price to be raised from two dollars per acre, which was then the minimum, to a sum not stated in his message, but understood to be five dollars; and concludes with expressing his opinion that there was just reason for expecting a progressive improvement in the sales of these lands. Now, (said Mr. Benton) let us resume our readings; and see what manner or picture is presented by the same President in the ensuing Messages. He read:
Extract from President Monroe's annual Message at the meeting of Congress, December 1819.
"Although the pecuniary embarrassments which affected various parts of the Union, during the latter part of the preceding year, have, during the present, been considerably augmented, and still continues to exist, the receipts into the Treasury to the 30th of September last have amounted to $19,000,000. * * * * * The causes which have tended to diminish the public receipts could not fail to have a corresponding effect upon the revenue which has accrued upon imposts and tonnage during the first three quarters of the present year. * * * * * The great reduction in the price of the principal articles of domestic growth, which has occurred during the present year, and the consequent fail in the price of labor, apparently so favorable to the success of domestic manufactures, have not shielded them against other causes adverse to their prosperity. The pecuniary embarrassments which have so deeply affected the commercial interests of the nation, have been no less adverse to our manufacturing establishments in several sections of the Union. The great reduction of the currency, which the banks have been constrained to make in order to continue specie payments, and the vitiated character of it where such reductions have not been attempted, instead of placing within the reach of these establishments the pecuniary aid necessary to avail themselves of the advantages resulting from the reduction in the prices of the raw materials and labor, have compelled banks to withdraw from them a portion of the capital heretofore advanced to them. That aid which has been refused by the banks has not been obtained from other sources, owing to the loss of individual confidence from the frequent failures which have recently occurred in some of our principal commercial cities."
And recommends encouragement to manufactures.
Extract from President Monroe's annual Message at the meeting of Congress, December, 1820.
"The receipts into the Treasury from every source (including a loan of three millions) to the 30th of September last, amount to $16,794,107; whilst the public expenditures to the same period amount to $16,871,534. The sum of three millions, authorized to be raised by loan, by act of the last session of Congress, has been obtained on terms advantageous to the Government. It is proper to add, that there is now due to the Treasury, for the sale of the public lands, $22,996,545. In bringing this subject to view, I consider it my duty to submit to Congress, whether it may not be advisable to extend to the purchasers of these lands, in consideration of the unfavorable change which has occurred since the sales, a reasonable indulgence. It is known that the purchases were made when the price of every article had risen to its greatest height, and that the instalments are becoming due at a period of great depression. It is presumed that some plan may be devised, by the wisdom of Congress, compatible with the public interest, which would afford great relief to these purchasers."
What a change of language! said Mr. Benton. It looks like enchantment! and all to take place between the meeting of one session of Congress and the meeting of the next ! What a change ! No more forty-seven millions of income; no more surpluses; no more seventeen millions from public lands; no more propositions to raise their price; no more of all this glowing picture ! But the income from customs fallen down to thirteen millions; the income from lands to less than one million; a loan of eight millions authorized to carry on the Government; all the public expenditures cut down to the lowest point; universal distress; banks failing; currency deranged; prices depressed; manufactures sinking, and calling for a new tariff; relief to them recommended; the purchasers of the public lands twenty-three millions in debt to the Government, unable to pay, calling for relief, and relief recommended and granted; the twenty-three millions of debt for lands either released, or payment deferred on extended credit; and the minimum price, instead of being raised to five dollars per acre, reduced to one dollar twenty-five cents. Such was the change of picture which it was the fate of the same President to present in the short interval which elapsed between two sessions of Congress! and what is the instruction which we should derive from it ? Certainly, that similar effects follow similar causes, and that the past should be a lesson and a warning for the future.
We are now in the circumstances of 1816, '17, '18; overflowing Treasury, large surpluses, great sales of the public lands; the price of every thing high. And what made that state of things ? Bank issues; bank expansions; bank loans; bank facilities ! And what made the cruel reverse which took place in 1818-19 ? Contraction of bank issues; contraction of expansions; curtailment of loans; withdrawal of facilities; and the explosion of innumerable banks ! The paper system the paper system was the real and sole cause of the illusive and deceptive prosperity which, for a while, smiled treacherously upon the country, and was so suddenly followed by a sad and real distress. And are we not at this moment, and from the same cause, realizing the first part the deceptive, the illusive, the treacherous part of this picture ? and must not the other part, the sad and real sequel, inevitably follow ?
Mr. Benton said it must follow, and went over several reasons to show it to be more certain now than in 1818-19. In the first place, there were three times more banks now than then, and increasing much faster now than they did then, and dealing in millions now for hundreds of thousands then. In the next place, there is now a great political party, confederated with a powerful moneyed institution, to produce derangements of the currency, and pecuniary distress in the country, and to lay it upon the Government, when no such party existed in 1816, 17, 18. In the third place, the business of banking is now carried on in a more complex and critical form than formerly, by institutions using each others notes as cash; issuing notes at one place payable at another, and a distant place, and entering into temporary and voluntary arrangements for keeping up the credit and circulation of their notes at places where payments of them are not exigible by law.
These are points in which the present trade of banking is more dangerously exposed, and more critically situated, than it was twenty years ago. On the other hand, there are some safeguards now which did not exist then; first, the great amount of specie, now near eighty millions of dollars, which the wisdom of President Jackson's administration has accumulated in the country; secondly, the avoidance, thus far, of the error of former administrations in using local paper for a national currency; thirdly, the Treasury order of July 11th, 1836, which saved the western banks last fall, and which it is the object of this bill to rescind and supersede. Two of these safeguards are in danger of being removed by law the second and the third of them. The first will remove itself whenever the premium on foreign exchange rises to 10½, (at which point it is profitable to export specie,) and that premium is now at near 10, and rising! and, it, will remove itself whenever the Federal Government, relapsing into the fatal error of receiving, and paying out paper money, shall cease to create a home demand for the employment of gold and silver.
The day of revulsion, said Mr. B. may come sooner or later, and its effects may be more or less disastrous, but come it will, and disastrous to some degree it must be. The present bloat in the paper system cannot continue; the present depreciation of money, exemplified in the high price of every thing dependant upon the home market, cannot last. The revulsion will come, as surely as it did in 1819-20. But it will come with less force if the Treasury order is maintained, and if paper money shall be excluded from the Federal Treasury. But, let these things go as they may, and let reckless or mischievous banks do what they please, there is still a refuge for the wise and good: there is still an ark of safety for every solvent bank, and for every prudent man; it is in the mass of gold and silver now in the country the seventy odd millions which the wisdom of President Jackson's administration has accumulated and by getting their share of which, all who are so disposed can take care of themselves.