Gordon Clark
Shylock: as banker

Shylock’s Defeat of Honest Money.

Of the regular session of Congress which convened on the second of December, 1861 the most important Committee, that of Ways and Means, was made up with Thaddeus Stevens as Chairman.  The committee appointed a sub-committee, its chairman being E.G. Spaulding.  This gentleman, like Thaddeus Stevens himself, had probably no equal in the country for the task assigned to him.  He was both a lawyer and a banker, and when the work finally had to be done, he drew up the National-Bank Act.  He understood the uses and abuses of money and has availed himself of both; but he was faithful to the people in the hour of their greatest need and for that fidelity they will never forget to be thankful.[1]

In 1861 Mr. Stevens and Mr. Spaulding tried with all their might to give us a system of money that would not slay our fathers and brothers from the rear, while they were saving our lives and property by fighting at the front.

In his 1869 book on the history of the legal-tender U.S. notes, Gerry Elbridge Spaulding (one of the fathers of greenbacks) frankly told anyone who cared to read his book that in 1861 a plan was formulated to establish a national currency bank system, make the notes of these banks legal-tender, have these banks issue $300million of their notes, and finance the war using these notes.
By the end of 1861 it became clear to the fathers of this plan (Gerry Spaulding, Portland Chase, Samuel Hooper, John Sherman) that this package cannot be passed in Congress in time to finance the war;  so a two-stage plan was adopted:  first they issued legal-tender U.S. notes and a year later passed the National currency Bank Act, then re-placed US notes with national bank notes.

In December 1861, Secretary Chase requested Gerry Spaulding to prepare a national currency bank bill as soon as possible. The texts of the bills that became the legal-tender act and the national bank act, were composed by Elbridge Spaulding and Portland Chase;  the bills were guided throught the House of Representatives by Spaulding and Samuel Hooper, and through the Senate by John Sherman:

"while preparing the national currency bank bill, upon mature reflection [Spaulding] came to the conclusion, that it could not be passed and made available quick enough to meet the crisis then pressing upon the Government for money to sustain the Army and Navy.  He therefore drafted a legal tender Treasury note section to be added to the bank bill, hoping, at first, that it might be made available by issuing legal tender notes direct from the Treasury, while the bank bill was put in operation throughout the country.  In order to bring the subject of issuing legal tender fundable notes before the country, the section thus prepared by Mr. Spaulding was furnished to the New York Tribune, and published in the issue of the 31st December, 1861."

"Upon more mature consideration and further examination, Mr. Spaulding came to the conclusion that the bank bill, containing sixty sections, could not be passed through both Houses of Congress for several months, and that so long a delay would be fatal to the Union cause. Mr. Spaulding, therefore, changed the legal-tender section, intended originally to accompany the bank bill, into a separate bill, with alterations and additions, and on his own motion introduced it into the House by unanimous consent on the 30th of December, 1861.  It was read twice, and referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, and ordered printed (House Bill 182)."

"On the 2d February, 1863, the National Currency Bank bill, (Senate bill 486, to provide a national currency, secured by a pledge of United States stocks, and to provide for the circulation and redemption thereof) as prepared by Mr. Spaulding, in December, 1861, after being altered and amended in several important particulars, was reported from the Finance Committee to the Senate by John Sherman of Ohio."

As for Thaddeus Stevens, Mr. Clark's designated hero; in 1824, 32-year old Thaddeus Stevens made the acquintance of Nicholas Biddle and shortly after that became one of his many attorneys in the service of the Bank of the United States...... On January 19, 1836, it was representative Thaddeus Stevens who introduced in the Pennsylvania house of representatives the bill that rechartered the Bank of the United States as a Pennsylvania State bank. ---Mr. Clark could have, should have known this, it was public record

In one sense this system of money was not new.  It was just six hundred and ninety years old.  For not to mention the "lost arts" of Rome and Carthage, the first issue of the United States treasury-note of 1861 was essentially a copy of the old divisible inscription of the Bank of Venice.  The difference was this: one was a government credit on the ledger of a nation’s fiscal agency and the other was a government credit in the hands of the nation itself — in the hands of anybody who had earned it.  This money epitomized the whole worth of the Bank of Venice, supplemented by the only honest invention and real improvement ever due to the Bank of England, her circulating issues, if indeed these were not first due to the Bank of Genoa.[2]  The plan in fact was so simple and sensible, upright and safe, that no other could have been conceived and adopted at the time, except in the interest of corruption and plunder.

The Union was to be preserved and the people were to pay the cost.  Their agent the government was to make all disbursements, but ultimately the people themselves were to meet the expenses in some form of taxation.  If a citizen, therefore, furnished any kind of property to the government, he was to be paid for it in government certificates of its value, good for all public dues.  But such public dues were also the private debts of every citizen owning property — the unavoidable liabilities of the whole people.  To no honest citizen, certainly, could anything be better money than these national certificates of value, received by all the people, for all the people, and payable for all claims against any one of the people.

It must be said, however, that Mr. Stevens, Mr. Spaulding, and their Congressional advisers had no intention of being monetary philosophers or advanced economic reformers.  They were simply a number of the most sensible and solid persons in America, of the usual sort — lawyers, bankers, merchants and manufacturers, especially familiar with business in every relation.  It was no purpose of theirs to supplant gold and silver with paper money.  They merely determined to place the boundless credit of their country at par with coin among American citizens, all alike.  Their purpose — to repeat it specifically — was to put our national debt partly into the form of small circulating notes, without interest, for a currency and partly into the form of interest-bearing bonds payable "in coin" at the end of twenty years.  The currency-notes were to be limited by law to a volume sufficient only to make them the absolutely needed vehicles of exchanging commodities.  This limit would hold them at par.  But to make sure that the government should not be guilty of "inflation" as the banks had always been, the bonds were to be constantly on sale — an excellent investment in which any surplus of the circulating medium might be cut off and funded.

Mr. Stevens and Mr. Spaulding drew up their bill to give us honest money.  But as soon as the bill was made public, the whole tribe of Shylock went into spasms.  Every banker and broker in the land who had determined to prey upon the government and the people saw that the whole swindle of cornering production with their special knave of clubs called "the gold standard" was in danger of being suppressed for twenty years if not forever.  For twenty years at least, there would be never a "shave" in Wall-Street on a lump of bullion and not one balloon of inflation to burst over a gold-pot.  So a delegation of bankers and coin-venders hastened once again to Washington.  They organized, and requested the Committee of Ways and Means of the House, and the Finance-Committee of the Senate to meet them at the office of the Secretary of the Treasury.  Their request was complied with on the 11th of January, 1862.

They asked a few favors.

They asked for a direct tax to the amount of a hundred and twenty-five millions of dollars — to shut off from the people, to that extent, a tax-saving money-volume.

They asked to have no more "demand notes" emitted by the government, but that an issue of a hundred million dollars be made in treasury notes running two years, receivable for internal taxes but non-receivable for duties on imports.

They asked that the government should deposit with the banks — which had all suspended specie-payments — and should check out their depreciated paper-currency.

They asked that the Secretary of the Treasury should negotiate loans with them, the modest money-power, as best he could, after an issue of money partially repudiated by the government issuing it.

They asked that, when the loans became due, he should renew them with government-bonds at the market price — that is, at any figure which large capitalists might have the assurance to demand.

This appears, according to Mr. Spaulding’s account of it, to be about all that "the bankers and bullionists" asked of their troubled, imperiled country, at just that moment.  But within a month they overcame all such insipid bashfulness and asked substantially for "the earth," so far as it contained anything to prevent the government from conducting the war with integrity and economy.  For instance:—

They asked that United States notes — the people’s only money to put down the Rebellion, carry on their business, and pay their debts — should not be invested with the right of legal-tender, and thus should not be made money at all.

They asked that it should be legally deprived of power to pay the bankers and bullionists themselves the interest on their own special investments in the nation’s bonds.

They asked for the issue of two hundred millions of government notes, redeemable in coin, in one year.

They asked to have two hundred and fifty millions of bonds emitted for them, running thirty-one years at seven per cent, and that these bonds be exchanged for the bills of suspended banks in New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.

They asked that one hundred millions of United States notes, at three years and at seven and three-tenths per cent interest — which had been legalized on the 17th of July, 1861 and were owned by the "Associated Banks" — should be made legal-tender; so as to displace a hundred millions of legitimate currency.

They asked that the Treasury Department should receive United States currency-notes on deposit, in rich men’s aggregations of “not less than one hundred dollars,” and pay five per cent interest on them; the main purpose being to avoid the necessity of putting the notes into bonds and aiding the government to re-issue its circulation.

They asked also that these United States currency-notes might be made convertible into the government issues bearing an interest of seven and three-tenths per cent and due in somewhat more than two years.  “Parties may buy these notes at a discount,” said the great Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, “and put them into notes payable in bullion at two years, at seven and three-tenths interest — for that is a part of the whole system.”

But enough.  Shylock’s delegation of bankers and brokers — really the most despicable of all traitors to their country in 1861 and 1862 — were what their meek dupes have been taught to call "honorable gentlemen."  They belonged to the "higher classes."  It was very unfortunate they did.  Had they been a delegation of burglars with "jimmies" sticking out of every pocket they never could have had the demonic impudence to press their propositions.  When their intrigues assumed form and passed the Senate, as what Thaddeus Stevens termed "the amended bill" of "the Associated Banks," his blood boiled with righteous indignation.

“Was there ever” [he exclaimed] “a more convenient contrivance got up, into which blind mice run, to catch them !  Was ever before such a machine got up for swindling the government and making the fortunes of the gold-bullionists in one single year ?”

It was simply a plot by which the law-makers of the United States, instead of upholding the unlimited credit of the government, should be procured to knock it down from forty to sixty per cent, taking the vast difference out of the people and turning it over to the delegation themselves, with the wealthy classes for whom they were scheming, but whose property the masses were fighting and dying to sustain and save.[3]

Those "gold-bullionists" were deplorably successful.  It was not, however, that their purposes were misunderstood.  Their whole scheme was explained and exposed on the instant.  According to "The Financial History of the War,"

“The Sub-Committee of Ways and Means objected, through Mr. Spaulding, to any and every form of ‘shinning’ by government through Wall or State Street, to begin with; objected to the knocking down of government stocks to seventy-five or sixty cents on the dollar — the inevitable result of throwing a new and large loan on the market without limitation as to price;  claimed for Treasury notes as much virtue of par value as the notes of banks which had suspended specie payments but which yet circulated in the trade of the North; and finished with firmly refusing to assent to any scheme which should permit a speculation of brokers, bankers and others, in the government securities and particularly any scheme which should double the debt of the country and double the expenses by damaging the credit of the government to the extent of sending it to ‘shin’ through the shaving shops of New York, Boston and Philadelphia.”

Mr. Spaulding’s great Honest-Money Bill went before the House of Representatives undebauched by rascals.  The House of that term was an assemblage of men fresh from the people and distinguished by unusual patriotism, integrity and ability.  Thaddeus Stevens made one of his most earnest and powerful speeches to close the debate.  He covered all objections and all points.  He was impressive, sarcastic, humorous, pathetic.  In concluding his speech, he said:

“The Committee of Ways and Means have labored in the preparation of this measure to the best of their poor abilities.  We are not infallible.  We do not come near it.  I am but poorly qualified for anything of this kind.  But we have given it our most anxious consideration and have consulted those whom we believed to be the best qualified to advise us. * * * So far as I am concerned, I shall be modest enough not to attempt any other scheme. * * * We believe that the credit of the country will be sustained by it, that under it all classes will be paid in money which all classes can use, and that it will confer no advantage on the capitalist over the poor laboring man.  If this bill shall pass, I shall hail it as the most auspicious measure of this Congress;  if it shall fail, the result will be more deplorable than any disaster which could befall us.”

The Bill passed the House, by a vote of 93 to 59.

But the "gold-bugs" of that day had for some time given up all hope of coaxing, frightening, or corrupting the House of Representatives and had applied their machinations exclusively to the Senate.  Of that assemblage, Mr. William A. Berkey,[4] one of the most upright and useful annalists of our monetary legislation — and one who has specially gained the confidence of the "common people," has not hesitated to speak thus:

“The Senate at that time was a small body, but twenty-four States being represented with but three or four members whose ability rose above mediocrity.  The occupants of seats once filled by statesmen whose ability and eloquence had made the Senate of the United States famous throughout the world, they became puffed-up with ideas of self-importance which, with the venality of the Shermans of the body, rendered them easy prey for the sharks of Wall Street. * * * That the Senate was controlled in its action, in regard to the Legal-Tender bill, by improper influences, is not a matter of conjecture, but of history.”[5]

On this point, in his Philadelphia speech of January 15th, 1876 Hon. William D. Kelley said with a little more euphemism:

“The bill went to the Senate, which is a small body, and unhappily is not always the most intelligent assemblage in the world; and being very much pressed, is sometimes seduced by plausible arguments put forth by men of great respectability such as bank-presidents and dealers in national securities.”

But let the record stand in the language of Thaddeus Stevens himself.  Referring to the passage of the bill in the House, he said:

“A doleful sound came up from the caverns of bullion-brokers and the saloons of the associated banks.  Their cashiers and agents were soon on the ground and persuaded the Senate, with but little deliberation, to mangle and destroy what it had cost the House months to digest, consider and pass.”[Speech to the House, February 20th, 1862.]
---[Unfortunately the Record stands as such: on February 6, 1862, 82 members of the House voted FOR interest on bonds payable in gold coin !!! then, Thaddeus pulled a fast one]

In that hour of war, however, no time was to be lost.  The bill had to go through in some shape;  for the Union depended on it.  Judge Kelley[6] told the story in this way:

“I remember the grand old commoner, with his hat in his hand and his cane under his arm, when he returned to the House from the final conference, shedding bitter tears over the result.  ‘Yes,’ said he, ‘we have had to yield.  The Senate was stubborn.  We did not yield until we found that the country must be lost or the banks be gratified;  and we have sought to save the country in spite of the cupidity of its wealthiest citizens.’”

On the 25th of February, 1862, the Legal-Tender Act passed the Senate for the last time and became a law.  But it was the law of the banks, of Wall Street, and of the "cousins of the Jews."  The Senatorial servants, not of the people but of this now gleeful crew of pirates scuttling the ship of State, had deprived United States currency of the power to pay interest on the United States bonded debt, making this special hoard of Shylock payable only in "coin."  As a consequence it became necessary to make imports also payable in coin, in order to raise for Shylock his exceptional pound of flesh: and this was done, with fire in the eye and indignation on the lips, by Thaddeus Stevens himself.

“Without such provision,” said he, [of coin-interest on bonds], “there would have been no demand for a single dollar of gold to be used in this country. * * * Being unable to defeat this provision, I procured to be inserted a provision making the duties on imports payable in gold.  This was to enable the government to meet the payment of interest in coin. * * * These combined provisions form a mine of wealth for brokers and bankers.  The duties and interest will require sixty millions of dollars in gold annually and soon double that amount.  Now our banks and brokers have scarcely that amount on hand.  They may put the price as high as they please — it must be paid. * * * The gold would return to their vaults, possibly, by the payment of interest on the very bonds they held themselves and so be ready for the same operation at the next semi-annual payment, doubling their capital in three years.” [Speech in the House of Representatives, December 19th, 1862.]

Mr. Spaulding —a banker, remember— and the most distinguished American banker of the time —the man who by reason of his special ability was assigned to draw up the Legal-Tender Act, and who is called "the father of the greenback"— was quite as severe in denouncing the miserable botch-work of the Senate as was Thaddeus Stevens himself.

“Mr. Chairman,” said he, “I desire especially to oppose the amendments of the Senate which require the interest on bonds and notes to be paid in coin. * * * I am opposed to all those amendments of the Senate which make unjust discriminations between the creditors of the government.  A soldier or sailor who performs service in the army or navy is a creditor of the government.  The man who sells food, clothing, and the material of war for the use of the army and navy is a creditor of the government.  The capitalist is a creditor of the government.  All are creditors of the government on an equal footing. * * * Why make this discrimination ?  Who asks to have one class of creditors placed on a better footing than another class ? * * * Sir, it is a very respectable class of gentlemen, but a class of men who are very sharp in all money transactions.  They are not generally among the producing classes — not among those who by their labor and skill make the wealth of the country. * * * The legal tender note bill is a great measure of equality.  It proposes a currency for the people which is based upon the great faith of the people and all their taxable property. * * * The very discrimination proposed carries on its face notice to everybody that although the notes are declared to be ’lawful money and a legal tender in payment of debts,’ yet there is something of a higher value * * * to pay a peculiar class of creditors * * * — a kind of absurdity and self-stultification which does not appear well on the face of the bill.  It is an unjust discrimination which does not appear well now and will not look well in history.  You will, if the Senate’s amendment is adopted, depreciate by your own acts your own bonds and notes and effectually destroy the symmetry and harmonious workings of the whole plan.” [Speech in the House, February 19th, 1862.]

Samuel Hooper of Massachusetts — another member of the Committee of Ways and Means, and another banker — after stating that all the banks, with the whole business of the country, had suspended specie payments, the Government being obliged to do the same, said:

“The object of this Treasury-Note Bill is to furnish a substantial and uniform currency that will aid the Government and enable it to receive its dues and make its payments, like all others, with credits.  This bill declares that for all dues to the Government and for all payments by the Government, these notes shall be received ‘the same as coin.’ One way to make them the same as coin would be to make them at all times convertible into coin.  Another is to use them, so far as possible, for all purposes for which coin is used; and in this latter mode their value will be the same as coin, unless the amount that is issued exceeds the amount needed for such uses. * * *

“I am opposed to the amendment of the Senate which requires the interest of Government notes and bonds to be paid absolutely in coin, because its effect will be to depreciate these notes as compared with coin by declaring them in advance to be so depreciated.  It creates a necessity for the Government to obtain a large amount of coin by purchase * * * which holds out an inducement to speculate on the necessity of the Government, by collecting and hoarding the coin against the time that it will be required by the Government to pay its interest.”

In regard to another Senate amendment — the selling of Government bonds “at the market price” to get the very gold for which a needless demand was created to pay Shylock’s exceptional interest — Mr. Hooper exclaimed:

“I consider the adoption of the fifteenth amendment of the Senate which authorizes the Treasurer to sell the bonds at ‘the market price,’ as an invitation to the public to depreciate their value and so entirely contrary to the principles of the bill, that I move to lay the bill with the amendments on the table.”

Knowing that the bill would pass without his own aid, Mr. Hooper finally voted against the Legal-Tender Act, to show his abhorrence of the iniquities appended to it.

But that "small body," the Senate of 1862, gave no heed to Stevens, no heed to Spaulding and Hooper, no heed to its own few experts — no heed to anything but the pressure of the money-power and as concentrated in the very worst exponents of it.  At the beck of those who stayed at home from the war and fattened on the gains of cheating the people and their defenders, William Pitt Fessenden, with his Senatorial infant-class in finance, outraged his country as cruelly and much less courageously than did Jefferson Davis and General Beauregard.[7]  Three years and eight months later — on the 31st of October, 1865 — the debt of the United States stood at nearly three thousand millions of dollars.  Conceived in pillage and born in corruption, this debt had necessarily been nurtured in hypocrisy and chicane.  So the Government scrip of indebtedness had been issued in a multitude of forms which nobody but gold-sharks and their lawyers had time to keep track of.[8]  As for that part of the debt used more or less for a currency, it had been purposely created in such shapes that it could only achieve its purpose in a crippled and halting way.  One half the volume, put out properly, would have done the work better than the whole nineteen hundred millions of it.  The demand for gold, which the conclave of Shylock had induced the Government to cause, soon had its effect.  Starting at par with coin in January, 1862 it took a dollar and thirty-seven cents of the United States Notes to buy a gold dollar before the end of the year.  Before the end of the war, it took, at one period, two hundred and eighty-five dollars in soldier’s, sailor’s and the people’s currency to pay for one hundred dollars in metal.  Thus our bonds — our Government securities for the people’s debt — were sold to the rich as low as thirty-five dollars on the hundred, to be paid at their full face with high interest.  The average difference between the greenback and the gold dollar shows the unnecessary and corrupt increase of the National Debt.  We have seen that Mr. J.S. Gibbons, supposed to be an expert in the matter, has figured out the amount purloined by the bullion-corner at not less than a thousand millions of dollars during the few years of the war only.  Montgomery Blair, General Dix, and others reached a similar amount of difference between a specie and a paper debt though from an opposite point of view.[9]  Judge Kelley said, in 1876:

“That crime perpetrated by the Senate of the United States has cost the American people more than all the war would have cost, had the House bill been adopted as originally passed.  That crime or blunder called into existence the Gold-room of New York; it invited from all the money-centers of the world their most voracious vampires to come and fatten upon the life-blood of the American people.  It converted commerce into a mere system of gambling and made such creatures as Jay Gould and Jim Fisk possible in American history.”

The exact figures are of no consequence.  But when the shrewd yet honorable banker, Mr. Spaulding, acting as Chairman of the Sub-Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Representatives indignantly protested that the demands of Wall Street and the Banks would "double the debt of the war," his estimate in advance was probably as near the truth as any that has been made since.

Those cormorants of the war-days occasionally buy, even yet, a eulogy of themselves from some newspaper, especially if there is anything in sight to steal.  But Senator Voorhees once uttered a panegyric upon them which they never repeat.  Of the American money-power he said:

“Not a patriotic act can be found in its history.  It neither volunteered its services nor submitted to a draft.  Its support of the government was purchased at the highest price ever paid by a bleeding people.  It was in truth a traitor to the existence of the Union — a baser traitor than he who fought to destroy it on the field of battle.  It hid itself from danger, and sold its assistance only for enormous pay, while the rebel soldier offered his life on the field of battle for nothing except his devotion to an erroneous principle.  While the soldiers of the North, too, were freely going to the front by the million, the capitalists, who now trample upon them and their children, were allured from their safe retreats in the midst of their hoarded treasures only by vast golden bribes.  Neither in law nor in equity, neither in the sight of human courts nor courts divine, have they any claim upon the forbearance or gratitude of the American people.”[10]


1 Hon. Elbridge Gerry Spaulding is now (March, 1894) supposed to be the richest citizen of Buffalo, N.Y.  He is not reputed to be benevolent.  The widow or the orphan would hardly expect to be saved by him from the profitable foreclosure of a mortgage.  What may be his by law is not apt to be possessed by others.  In regard to his own course during the Civil War, he sometimes appears to have grown rather flaccid under the criticism of a banking class who never speak in behalf of their country, but always of themselves.  Mr. Spaulding is not framed in the mould of a Stevens — is not a hero;  but in a great historical crisis, as a public man, he was honest and just.  As men and things have turned out, that was much.

2 Colwell says the Bank of Genoa originated the bank-note.

3 There were many and glorious exceptions to these bank-bandits.  Stevens and Spaulding received letters from honest bankers, all over the country, repudiating the demands and the conduct of the dishonest ones.  Mr. J.M. Ganson, one of Mr. Spaulding’s fellow bank presidents of Buffalo, wrote to him:  "Send home the Bank Committee: their proposition is awful.  Let the demand notes assume the place of specie in every particular."  The great Bank of Commerce, in New York, assured Mr. Spaulding that the "Committee" did not represent that institution, though the Cashier, Mr. Henry F. Vail, afterwards admitted to him:  "You are correct in your supposition regarding my instrumentality in procuring the interest on bonds, &c., being made payable in coin."  The Commercial forces of the country — Boards of Trade and Chambers of Commerce — demanded the greenback pure and simple — the same kind of money for everybody.  Hon. Louis F. Allen summed up the general voice.  "I trust," said he, in a letter to Mr. Spaulding, that "both Houses will put it" (the Legal Tender Act) "right along through, regardless of what the New York note-shavers and usurers may say;  for they and the like are the only ones who will oppose it, and that for the reason that they cannot make ten, twenty or fifty per cent by buying in and selling out the stocks, which they want passed by the Government, in place of the sound, available, Constitutional currency which you propose." — (See Spaulding’s “History," &c.)

4 In his "Money Question," fourth edition, page 199.

5 Mr. Berkey’s reference, here, to John Sherman, is general — not specific as to time.  On the 13th of February, 1862 Sherman made the strongest speech in the Senate in favor of legal-tender treasury-notes and while he voted for the worst amendment to the House bill — "the exception clause" — he appears to have been willing to do anything needed to save his country in that perilous exigency.  There is nothing to show that he had yet become a commodity.  Again, in the Senate of that day there was one man at least who fully comprehended and frankly exploded the whole English banking-system.  It was Senator Howe of Wisconsin who took exactly the position, on that subject, taken in this book.  On the 12th of February, 1862, he said:  "All paper currencies have been and ever will be irredeemable.  It is a pleasant fiction to call them redeemable;  it is an agreeable fancy to think them so.  I would not expose that fiction, only that the great emergency which is upon us seems to render it more than usually proper that the nation should begin to speak the truth to itself, to have done with shams, and to deal with realities."

6 In the address just mentioned — one of the ablest speeches of its kind ever made in America.

7 Mr. Fessenden, then Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Senate, was honest, perfectly so it would seem in the ordinary, conventional sense.  He was simply a rather small man, a very good technical lawyer, and a person of prodigious gab, self-assertion and self-importance.  Wendell Phillips used to criticise him as soured and minimized by dyspepsia.  His sin against the American people was the sin of an attorney — accustomed to take a case and do what his client wanted.  The money-power, vastly impressive to second-rate men, persuaded him though doubtless without a retainer, to act in their behalf.  His plea for them, as the record shows, was merely a string of their own sophistries which they knew to be advanced implements for housebreaking but which he knew not at all.  He went so far with them as even to vote against making the Treasury Note a legal-tender, though Senator Wilson, one of the best business men of New England, assured him it was solely "a contest between brokers, jobbers and money-changers on the one side, and the people of the United States on the other."  Every competent person knew well enough — as the distinguished Washington banker Mr. Corcoran afterward declared in a letter to Spaulding — that without the legal-tender currency, "the War could not have been carried on six months longer."

8 "I counted the different varieties of paper which were emitted until, if my memory serves me right, the number reached thirty-three, when I gave up in despair." — Letter of F.A. Conkling to E.G. Spaulding, Oct. 17th, 1875.

9 “I did not concur in the measure (the Legal-Tender Act) then, and still think it only aggravated the evils it was intended to meet and added, as Gen. Dix estimates, at least $1,000,000,000 to our debt." — Blair to Spaulding, Oct. 19th, 1875: Spaulding’s History.

10 Quoted with more like it and with great fervor by Berkey in his "Money Question" (page 361) who calls Mr. Voorhees "the eloquent champion of the people’s cause."  How uncertain is the biography of a man before it is finished !