S.M. Brice

Financial Catechism
and
History
of the
Financial Legislation
of the
United States,
from 1862 to 1882

Chicago
1882

PREFACE.


In presenting this work to the public, the author is fully conscious that great obstacles are to be overcome before it can meet with success.  The prejudice existing in the minds of those who have never investigated the subject of financial economy against accepting any proposed change which may be recommended, on account of the fear that the change will be for the worse instead of the better, deters many from investigating this subject who have no fear of the investigation of any other.

The false theory which has been so long taught, that financial economy, or the relation of money to labor, is of such an intricate character that it cannot be understood by the common people, has discouraged the masses from attempting to inform themselves on the subject, and to trust to its management entirely by those whose business it is to deal in money—the result of which has been a constant drain of the wealth of the laboring people into the coffers of those who produce no wealth, but sit “at the receipt of custom,” masters of the financial situation.

It is from this class that the most formidable opposition to the introduction of any work intended to educate the common people on this subject arises ;  for they know that when the gauzy veil of falsehood is torn from the subject, and the people view it in the sunlight of truth, they will see that the creation of money is an act of sovereignty inherent in the people, and that in order to maintain a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” that that sovereign power must be exercised by the people’s Representatives for the benefit of all, instead of that class who deal in money alone.

It is no matter of wonder that this class who control the destinies of the people by controlling their finances, are strongly opposed to the education of the people on the subject of finance, for they know that when this is effected their dominion as financial rulers must cease.

The prime object of the formation of our government was to “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and promote the general welfare.”

It is the strong desire of the author that these declarations made by our fathers, who had passed through seven years of bloody war in order to rid themselves of British oppression, may grow to that fruition which it was their design should crown their efforts, that has impelled him, in the evening of his days on earth, to devote whatever ability he may possess in the preparation of a work designed to assist in its accomplishment.

While our government has been lavish in its expenditures for the education of the people on all other subjects, the science of money ;  what it is ;  its relation to labor and commerce ;  who should make it, and how its volume should be governed, are subjects which have been entirely neglected in our general system of education.  The plan of this work is intended to supply this want.

It is believed that by adopting the form of catechism, or questions and answers, the subject is made, so plain and easy of comprehension that it strips it of that dry, irksome monotony which so frequently wearies the student without enlightening.

The author has adopted this system of questions and answers from his own experience in making the investigations which have led him to the conclusions he now entertains on the practical workings of the financial systems of the civilized world as now administered.

No plan of education is as successful as that which arouses the spirit of inquiry and permits the student to ask the questions which arise in his own mind and receive short and explicit answers.  The questions in this work are arranged so as to, as nearly as possible, represent those which will arise in the mind of every inquirer as he pursues his investigations, and the answers are short, simple, and concise.

The historical portion consists of facts gleaned from history, from the earliest period of civilization, before money was known in commerce, down through the ages to 1882.

The history of the financial legislation of the United States is carefully prepared and faithfully presented ;  as obtained from the records of the proceedings of Congress and reports of the heads of departments.

Great pains have been taken to insure accuracy in every department of the work, in order to make it a reliable text book for that great class of workers who may desire to inform themselves on the subject that most of all others interest them—the relations of money to their several avocations and to free government, and the danger which is constantly accumulating, of the loss of civil liberty, in consequence of the growing power of concentrated capital and its manifest disposition to seek for its support monarchial power.

The starving condition of famine—cursed and lethargic India and down-trodden but struggling Ireland are the legitimate results of class legislation, which as certainly follows large accumulations of capital in the hands of the few as the ebbing follows the flowing of the tide ;  and if not prevented by a determined effort of an enlightened and intelligent laboring population, the virgin soil of these United States will be grasped by the same insatiate power, and its teeming millions of laborers doomed to suffer all the horrors which have been, and are now being, suffered in these unhappy countries, crushed under the iron-heel of concentrated capital, in the name of Christian civilization.

There are but two methods by which the American people can prevent having fastened upon them an untaxed, non-productive aristocracy as a governing class, with all the overbearing arrogance on the one hand, and all the degradation and misery on the other, which has followed its footsteps through all the older countries of Europe.  The one is an honest, intelligent and fearless exercise of the elective franchise, and the other is revolution—that last resort of the people to secure to themselves and their posterity liberty, equity and justice.

The first can only be produced by arousing to activity an unconquerable spirit of inquiry and energetic action in the minds of the great mass of wealth producers, until they are able to comprehend the fact that the future destiny of themselves and their posterity rests entirely in their own hands ;  that it is for them to say whether constitutional liberty shall be perpetuated under the peaceful but determined influence of the ballot-box, with happiness and contentment for all ;  or whether it must be secured after passing through all the horrors of civil war, or perhaps forever lost through their own neglect to assert their manhood until all of manhood is lost.

If this work shall be instrumental in assisting those who peruse its pages to an easier solution of what constitutes their duty as citizens of a people’s government, and stimulates them to use the means which rests in their own hands for its perpetuity, the object of the author will be accomplished.