<meta name="generator" content="Yamaguchy Incorporated">House of Representatives
Mr. CAMPBELL.[James Hepburn Campbell (February 8, 1820 - April 12, 1895), Pennsylvania (R); studied law, admitted to the bar] Mr. Chairman, it is proper that each member of this House should, however briefly, express his views on the pending bill one of the most, if not the most, important bills of this session. To support our armies in the field and navies on the seas is a plain, patriotic, and necessary duty; to do this with prudence, economy, and foresight, is the highest evidence of statesmanship. That we have vast national resources all admit; that the public debt has for its security the whole property of the nation is equally plain. The powers of the Government are ample. They extend to life and property. He would fall short of his duty in this tremendous issue, in which free Government is on its final trial, who would not, if necessary, vote the last man and the last dollar to defend and perpetuate the priceless inheritance of our fathers.
I humbly conceive my duty to be a plain one. The path I have marked out for myself I will follow, let it lead where it may. Whatever meas ure is now or hereafter may become necessary to adopt in order to maintain the Union and perpetuate free Government, that will I support. Speak not to me of "objections" and "scruples" and "dangers," of "constitutional objections" and "conservative influences." Sophistry is ever plausible, and opposition to a just and necessary measure generally wears the mask of a "constitutional objection." The highest duty of every member is to maintain the Union to sustain the Constitution against this causeless and wicked rebellion; and in doing this, let us bear in mind that the Constitution was made for the people to secure to them and their posterity the blessings of free Government. Therefore with me the primary inquiry is, is this measure necessary to suppress the rebellion ? If it is, here am I ready to sustain it. It will be found the Constitution gives ample power to sustain this view.
The bill now before the committee is necessary to sustain the credit of the country, and to carry on the war. It is with reluctance that I have come to this conclusion. I do not like the necessity which exists for the legal tender clause. Still less do I like to place the issues of the Government in the hands of the brokers and money-lenders of the country. Depreciated now, let the legal tender clause fail, and mark the result to-morrow. The Treasury notes will fall from four per cent. to fifteen and twenty-five below par, and the Government will have to pay that percentage additional for every article they purchase. Your soldiers will be shaved that amount on their blood-bought wages, and the country, flooded with a vast amount of depreciated paper, will grow restless and discontented under so fatal a mistake. If we make the Government issues a legal tender, the demand for specie will be so limited that they will maintain their value.
The measure before us, one of several necessary to support the Government, comes to us with the indorsement of the very able chief at the head of the finances and the Committee of Ways and Means. The country demands its passage. Too much time has already been spent in its discussion. Let us sustain the measure, and show the country we are equal to our position.
One word more, Mr. Chairman. I trust during the present session we shall introduce the most complete and ample measures of reform in public expenditures, and in the salaries of all Government employes. Let us begin with our own pay, by making a liberal reduction therefrom; and thus placing ourselves right before the country, we can introduce, with propriety, reform in the remuner ation of others.
The CHAIRMAN. The Chair will state that, by order of the House, the general debate upon this bill is now closed.
Mr. Spaulding. I have listened with a great deal of attention to the arguments and propositions which have been submitted by the various gentlemen who have addressed the House, but I shall not now make the concluding speech. I shall leave it to the able chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means to close the debate. If I may be indulged, however, in a single remark, I desire to say, in summing up, first, that all agree
Mr. Lovejoy. I rise to a question of order. If debate is closed by order of the House, the remarks of the gentleman are out of order.
The Chairman. The Chair will state, in response to the gentleman from Illinois, that by the rules and practice of the House the member who has reported a bill always has a right to conclude the debate on that bill, and has one hour for that purpose.
Mr. Lovejoy. But the gentleman is not doing that, according to his own statement.
The Chairman. The Chair understands that the gentleman is doing it.
Mr. Spaulding. We all agree that taxation, in the various forms, must be imposed to the amount of at least $150,000,000, on which to rest the credit of these notes and bonds, a sum sufficient to pay the ordinary expenses of Government on a peace footing, the interest on all the war debt, and a sinking fund to liquidate annually a portion of the principal.
2. We all agree that hereafter the war must be carried on principally upon the credit of the Government, and that paper in the form of notes and bonds must be issued to an equally large amount, whichever plan is adopted. After deducting the sum raised by revenue, by taxation, and duties on imports, the amount of paper to be issued can only be limited by the actual expenses of the Government. The respective plans of Messrs. Vallandigham, Conkling, and Morrill require the same amount of paper to be issued as the legal tender bill proposed by the Committee of Ways and Means, and supported by the Secretary of the Treasury.
3. The main difference between the several plans is, that the legal tender bill stamps the demand notes as money, with the highest sanction of the Government to circulate as a national currency, the same as bank notes, in all the channels of trade and business among all the people of the United States; whilst all the other plans proposed contemplate the issue of an inferior currency, that will not in my opinion circulate as money either among the banks or the people, but will on the contrary be depreciated and sold at a large discount by all officers, soldiers, and others that are compelled to receive it from the Government in payment for services, supplies, and materials furnished. For myself, I prefer to issue the demand notes, based on adequate taxation, and with the highest legal sanction that can be given to them by the Government.
Mr. Lovejoy. I rise to a point of order. I object to the gentleman's yielding the floor.
The Chairman. If objection is made, the gentleman from Pennsylvania cannot occupy the floor. The gentleman from New York cannot yield the floor to him except by unanimous consent.
Mr. Morrill, of Vermont. I trust no objection will be made. Only the same time will be consumed.
Mr. Lovejoy. Well, I will withdraw the objection.
Mr. Stevens. Mr. Chairman, this bill is a measure of necessity, not of choice. No one would willingly issue paper currency not redeemable on demand and make it a legal tender. It is never desirable to depart from that circulating medium which, by the common consent of civilized nations, forms the standard of value. But it is not a fearful measure; and when rendered necessary by exigencies, it ought to produce no alarm.---[Does Mr. Stevens consider gold and silver coin to be the standard of value of the civilized nations ?!]
The first inquiry then is, is this measure necessary ? The late Administration left a debt of about $100,000,000. It bequeathed us also an expensive and formidable rebellion. This compelled Congress, at its extra session, to authorize a loan of $250,000,000 $100,000,000 of these were taken at seven and three tenths per cent., and $50,000,000 of six per cent. bonds, at a discount of over $5,000,000; $50,000,000 were used in demand notes payable in coin, leaving $50,000,000 undisposed of. Before the banks had paid much of the last loan they broke down under it, and suspended specie payments. They have continued to pay that loan, not in coin, but in demand notes of the Government that has kept them at par. But the last of that loan was paid yesterday; and on the same day the banks refused to receive them. They must now sink to depreciated currency. The remaining $50,000,000 the Secretary of the Treasury has been unable to negotiate. A small portion of it, say $10,000,000, has been issued at seven and three tenths in payment of debts.
All this has been used; and there is now a floating debt, audited and unaudited, of at least $180,000,000. The Secretary intended to use the balance of the authorized loan by paying it out to creditors in notes of seven and three tenths; that becoming known they immediately sunk four per cent., and if he had persevered it is believed they would have run down to ten per cent. discount. But even if these could be used (about $40,000,000) there would remain due about $90,000,000, the payment of which is urgently demanded. The daily expenses of the Government are now about $2,000,000. To carry us on until the next meeting of Congress would take $600,000,000 more, making, before legislation could be had at next session, about $700,000,000 to be provided for. We have already appropriated $350,000,000 making our entire debt $1,050,000,000.
The grave question is, how can this large amount be raised ? The Secretary of the Treasury has used his best efforts to negotiate a loan of but $50,000,000, and has failed. Several modes of relief have been suggested; the most obvious is to borrow on Government bonds, bearing an interest of six per cent. That it is known can only be effected by putting the bonds into the market to the highest bidder. If but a small sum were wanted it might probably be had at a small discount. But if sufficient to meet our wants up to next December, or $700,000,000, were forced into the market, as it is wanted, I have no doubt they would sell as low as sixty per cent., as in the last English war; and even then it would be found impossible to find payment in coin. A large part of it must be accepted in the depreciated notes of non-specie-paying banks, for I suppose no one expects the resumption of specie payments until the war shall be ended. But as this Congress must provide for appropriations to the end of the fiscal year 1863, seven months more must be added to these expenses. That would require $420,000,000 added to these $700,000,000 before estimated, and the aggregate would be $1,100,000,000. The discount on that sum at forty per cent, would be $440,000,000. At the minimum discount that any reasonable man could fix, say twenty-five per cent., it would be $275,000,000. It would, therefore, require at least bonds to the amount of $1,500,000,000 to produce sufficient currency to make $1,100,000,000, and carry us to the end of the next fiscal year. This sum is too frightful to be tolerated.
Certain bankers have suggested that the immediate wants of the Government might be supplied by pledging seven and three tenths percent. bonds with a liberal margin, payable in one year, to the banks, who would advance a portion in gold and the rest in currency. The effect would be that Government would pay out to its creditor's the depreciated notes of non-specie-paying banks. And as there is no probability that the pledges would be redeemed when due, they would be thrown into the market and sold for whatever the banks might choose to pay for them. The folly of this scheme needs no illustration.
Another is to strike out the legal tender clause, and make them receivable for all taxes and public dues; but it is not proposed to make any vision for redeeming them in coin on demand. I do not believe that such notes would circulate anywhere except at a ruinous discount. No notes not redeemable on demand, and not made a legal tender, have ever been kept at par. Even those who could use them for taxes and duties would discredit them that they might get them low. If soldiers, mechanics, contractors, and farmers, were compelled to take them from the Government, they must submit to a heavy shave before they could use them. The knowledge that they were provided for by taxation, and would surely be paid twenty years hence, would not sustain them.
The Secretary of the Treasury, in his report, recommended a scheme to produce a uniform national currency, and furnish a market for Government bonds. It proposes that the banks shall receive their circulation from the Government to the amount of Government bonds pledged, with the Treasury for their security; and that no more notes should be issued than the par value of such bonds, and should be redeemed by the banks. As a general system of banking in ordinary times, it might be very useful in regulating the currency, and by the sale of the bonds the Government might command coin. But while the banks are in suspension, it is not easy to see how it would relieve the Government. If the notes were procured it must be by accepting payment by the Government in depreciated circulation. How would that be any better than the Government's own notes ? The security of the Government is equal to that of the banks, and would give as much currency. To the banks I can see its advantage. They would have the whole benefit of the circulation without interest, and at the same time would draw interest on the Government bonds from the time they got the notes. Now, it is very plain that, if the United States issued those notes direct, they would have the benefit of the whole circulation. In other words, it would be equal to a loan, without interest, to the full amount of the circulation. This project, therefore, however desirable as a banking system, could afford no immediate relief, especially as it would afford no sale for additional bonds, as the banks have already as many as would form the basis of their operations. Having, as I think, shown the impossibility of carrying on the Government in any other way, let us briefly notice some of the objections to it. First, is it constitutional ?
The power to emit bills of credit and make them a legal tender is nowhere expressly given in the Constitution; but it is known that but few of the acts which Government can perform are specified in that instrument, it would require a volume larger than the Pandects of Justinian or the Code Napoleon to make such enumeration, whereas our Constitution has but a few pages. But everything necessary to carry out the granted powers of the Government is not only implied but expressly given to Congress. If nothing could be done by Congress except what is enumerated in the Constitution, the Government could not live a week.
The States are prohibited from making anything but "gold and silver coin a tender in the payment of debts;" but such prohibition does not extend to Congress. The Constitution is silent as to the power of Congress over that subject. The whole question of the right to emit bills of credit by Congress was considered in the convention that framed the Constitution. It was reported as a part of the power to "borrow money." It was objected to as as tending to make paper a currency with legal tender, and a motion was made to strike it out and insert an express prohibition. That was resisted, because, as Mr. Mason said, "it could not be foreseen what the necessities of the Government might at some time require." "The late war," he said, "could not have been carried on had such prohibition existed." It was finally agreed to strike out the express power, and not to insert the prohibition, leaving it to the exigencies of the times to determine its necessity. The right to emit bills of credit, which the convention expressly refused to grant as a substantive power, has for fifty years, by the common consent of the nation, been practiced, and is now conceded by every opponent of this bill. With what grace can the concomitant power to make them a legal tender be objected to ? The Supreme Court have settled certain principles with regard to the power of Congress over measures not expressly enumerated in the Constitution. The principle is, that where anything is necessary to carry into effect the granted power it is constitutional. The eighth section of the first article of the Constitution gives Congress power
"To make all laws which may be necessary and proper to carry into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the United States or in any department or officer thereof."
The Constitution nowhere gives Congress power to create corporations or to establish a bank of the United States. But as Congress had power to regulate commerce, and to regulate the value of coin, and it deemed the establishment of a bank necessary to effectuate those powers, the Supreme Court pronounced it constitutional. In short, whenever any law is necessary and proper to carry into execution any delegated power, such law is valid. That necessity need not be absolute, inevitable, and overwhelming if it be useful, expedient, profitable, the necessity is within the constitutional meaning. Whether such necessity exists is solely for the decision of Congress. Their judgment is absolute and conclusive. If Congress should decide this measure to be necessary to a granted power, no department of the Government can rejudge it. The Supreme Court might think the judgment of Congress erroneous, but they could not review it. Now, it is for Congress to determine whether this bill is necessary "to raise and support armies and navies, to borrow money, and provide for the general welfare." They are all granted powers. It is for those who think that it is not "necessary, useful, proper," to propose some better means, and vote against this; if a majority think otherwise, its constitutionality is established.
If constitutional, is it expedient ? It is objected by the gentleman from Ohio, that the legal tender clause would depreciate the notes. All admit the necessity of the issue. But some object to their being made money. It is not easy to perceive how notes issued without being made immediately payable in specie, can be made any worse by making them a legal tender. And yet that is the whole argument, so far as expediency is concerned. Other gentlemen argued that this would impair contracts, by making a debt payable in other money than that which existed at the time of the contract, and would so be unconstitutional. Where do gentlemen find any prohibition on Congress against passing laws impairing contracts ? There is none, though it would be unjust to do it. But this impairs no contract. All contracts are made not only with a view to present laws, but subject to the future legislation of the country. We have more than once changed the value of coin. Neither our gold nor our silver coin is as valuable as it was fifty years ago. Congress in 1853, I believe, regulated the weight and value of silver. They debased it over seven per cent., and made it a legal tender. Who ever pretended that that was unconstitutional ? The gentlemen from Vermont [Mr. Morrill], and Ohio [Mr. Pendleton]; think it an ex post facto law. It is not wonderful that my distinguished colleague, not being a professional lawyer, should not be aware that the ex port facto laws prohibited by the Constitution refer only to crimes and misdemeanors, and not to civil contracts. The gentleman from Ohio no doubt knew, but forgot it.
It is said that this will inflate the currency and thus raise the price of commodities and stimulate speculation. How do gentlemen expect that using the same amount of notes without the legal tender will inflate it less ? It will take the same amount of millions, with or without the legal tender, to carry on the war, except that the one would be below par and the other at par. No instance can be given of a currency not redeemable on demand in gold that did not immediately depreciate. But if made a legal tender, and not a redundancy of it emitted, it will be par. I fear gentlemen have not well consulted standard writers on this subject, but have substituted their own fancy and wild declamation.
McCulloch, one of the most learned of writers on that subject, says:
"But though the condition that they shall be paid on demand, with the belief that this condition shall be complied with, will be necessary to sustain the value of notes issued by private parties or associations, it is not necessary to sustain the value of paper money, properly so called, or of notes which have been made a legal tender. The only thing required to sustain the value of the latter description of currency is that it should be issued in limited quantities.
"Every country has a certain number of exchanges to make; and whether these are affected by the employment of a given number of coins of a particular denomination, or by the employment of the same number of notes of the same denomination, is, in this respect, of no importance whatever. Notes which have been made legal tender, and are not payable on demand, do not circulate because of any confidence placed in the capacity of the issuers to retire them; neither do they circulate because they are of the same real value as the commodities for which they are exchanged; but they circulate because, having been selected to perform the functions of money, they are, as such, readily received by all individuals in payment of their debts. Notes of this description may be regarded as a sort of tickets or counters to be used in computing the value of property, and in transferring it from one individual to another. And as they are nowise affected by fluctuations of credit, their value, it is obvious, must depend entirely on the quantity of them in circulation as compared with the payments to be made through their instrumentality, or the business they have to perform."
The value of legal tender notes depends on the amount issued compared with the business of the country. If a less quantity were issued than the usual and needed circulation they would be more valuable than gold.
The same author says:
"By reducing the supply of notes below the supply of coin that would circulate in their place were they withdrawn their value may be raised above the value of gold, while by increasing them to a greater extent it is proportionally lowered." * * * * "There cannot, however, be the least difference, as respects value, in the provinces, between Bank of England paper, now that it is legal tender, and gold."
Mr. Thomas, of Massachusetts. I desire to ask the gentleman a question in connection with that passage. McCulloch laid down the doctrine that the paper is limited to the amount necessary for currency. Let me ask the gentleman from Pennsylvania whether he now expects, in managing these financial matters, to limit the amount of these notes to $150,000,000 ? Is that his expectation ?
Mr. Stevens. It is. I expect that is the maximum amount to be issued.
Mr. Thomas, of Massachusetts. You do not expect to call for any more ?
Mr. Stevens. No, sir; I do not. Increase gold and silver beyond the amount needed, and you depreciate its value. Such inflation of the currency is just as injurious as if it were in paper, so far as raising prices and stimulating speculation are concerned.
I know the danger of granting to irresponsible institutions or individuals the right to issue paper currency not immediately convertible, because their avarice would always abuse the privilege and over issue. But when the Government thus issues, the fault and the crime is theirs if they do not restrain it within proper bounds. Is the proposed issue of $150,000,000 too much ? It is believed that the ordinary business of the country, especially now, requires a circulation of $400,000,000. The bank circulation has been about $200,000,000, with coin to the amount of $250,000,000. The bank paper, now in suspension, would largely disappear before this par paper; and during suspension, which means during the war, there will be but little coin circulation. If the whole $150,000,000 of United States notes could be kept circulating, I do not think the surviving bank paper would furnish a sufficient currency for commercial purposes some coin must be added. But it is not probable that it could all be kept out; much would rest in banks, in the pockets of private individuals, or await investment temporarily, at least, for a while.
But my distinguished colleague from Vermont fears that enormous issues would follow to supply the expenses of the war. I do not think any more would be needed than the $150,000,000. The notes bear no interest. No one would seek them for investment. In the rapid circulation of money, $100 in a year is turned so often as to purchase ten times its value. This money would soon lodge in large quantities with the capitalists and banks, who must take them. But the instinct of gain, perhaps I may call it avarice, would not allow them to keep it long unproductive. A dollar in a miser's safe unproductive is a sore disturbance. Where could they invest it ? In United States loans at six per cent., redeemable in gold in twenty years, the best and most valuable permanent investment that could be desired. The Government would thus again possess such notes in exchange for bonds, and again reissue them. I have no doubt that thus the $500,000,000 of bonds authorized would be absorbed in less time than would be needed by Government; and thus $150,000,000 would do the work of $500,000,000 of bonds. When further loans are wanted, you need only authorize the sale of more bonds; the same $150,000,000 of notes will be ready to take them.
I contend that this currency will be better than any this country can produce. Bank notes are merely local. The holder of them in St. Louis, wishing to transmit to New York, must pay a discount of from one to ten per cent. If he has gold, the cost of transportation is considerable. If he travel, it is cumbersome. But if he has United States par notes, he can send them without cost all over the Union.
Gentlemen are clamorous in favor of those who have debts due them, lest the debtor should the more easily pay his debt. I do not much sympathize with such importunate money-lenders. But widows and orphans are interested, and in tears lest their estates should be badly invested. I pity no one who has his money invested in United States bonds, payable in gold in twenty years, with interest semi-annually.
But while these men have agonized bowels over the rich man's case, they have no pity for the poor widow, the suffering soldier, the wounded martyr to his country's good, who must receive these notes without legal tender or nothing, and who must give half of it to the Shylocks to get the necessaries of life. Sir, I wish no injury to any, nor with our bill could any happen; but if any must lose, let it not be the soldier, the mechanic, the laborer, and the farmer.
Let me restate the various projects. Ours proposes United States notes, secured at the end of twenty years to be paid in coin, and the interest, raised by taxation, semi-annually; such notes to be money, and of uniform value throughout the Union. No better investment, in my judgment, can be had; no better currency can be invented.---[You just pre-authorized the Credit Strengthening Act of 1869; to pay the 5/20s in gold.]
The amendment of the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Vallandigham] proposes the same issue of notes, but objects to a legal tender; but does not provide for their redemption on demand in coin. He fears our notes would depreciate. Let him who is sharp enough to see it instruct me how notes that every man must take are worth less than the same notes that no man need take, and few would, being irredeemable on demand. But he doubts its constitutionality. He who admits our power to emit bills of credit, nowhere expressly authorized by the Constitution, is a sharp and unreasonable doubter when he denies the power to make them a legal tender.
The proposition of the gentleman from New York [Mr. Roscoe Conkling] authorizes the issuing of seven per cent. bonds, payable in thirty-one years, to be sold ($250,000,000 of it) or exchanged for the currency of the banks of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
Sir, this proposition seems to me to lack every element of wise legislation. Make a loan payable in irredeemable currency, and pay that in its depreciated condition to our contractors, soldiers, and creditors generally ! The banks would issue unlimited amounts of what would become trash, and buy good hard money bonds of the nation. Was there ever such a temptation to swindle ?
He further proposes to issue $200,000,000 United States notes, redeemable in coin in one year. Does not the gentleman know that such notes must be dishonored, and the plighted faith of the Government broken ? No one believes that we could then pay them, and it would ran down at once. If we are to use suspended notes to pay our expenses, why not use our own ? Are they not as safe as bank notes ? During the suspension, the Government would have the benefit of the whole circulation, without interest, until they were funded that is, the interest of all we could keep out would accrue to the Government. If the $150,000,000 were constantly afloat, it would be a loan to Government, without interest, to that amount, $9,000,000 a year. But if we used the suspended paper of the banks our bonds would bear interest from the instant we got their notes a good thing for suspended banks. Besides, Government would have the benefit of all the lost and destroyed notes a considerable item.
Last comes the substitute of the minority of the committee. I look upon it as a curiosity. It proposes to issue United States notes, not a legal tender, bearing an interest of three and an sixty-five hundredths per cent., [3.65] and fundable into seven and three tenths per cent. bonds, [7.30] but not payable on demand, but at the pleasure of the United States. This gives one and three tenths per cent. higher interest than our loan, and not being redeemable on demand, would share the fate of all non-specie paying notes not a legal tender. But the ingenious minority have invented a kind of currency never before known a circulation bearing interest. Bonds or notes intended for investments bear interest, but no one expects they will be used as currency; whether in the shape of bonds or notes they will be used only as investments, or as pledges on which to procure loans. Suppose a tailor, shoe maker, or other mechanic or laborer, were to take one of these bills, and in a week he should wish to use it in market, or store, or elsewhere, he must sit down and calculate the interest on the days he has had it to find its value. This would be rather inconvenient in a frosty day. This currency would make it necessary for every man to carry an arithrmetic or interest table with which to gauge the value of the circulating medium. Gentlemen must see how ridiculous, if not impracticable, this scheme is.
Here, then, in a few words lies your choice. Throw bonds at six or seven per cent. on the market between this and December, enough to raise at least $600,000,000 about this sum is already appropriated, $557,000,000 or issue United States notes, not redeemable in coin, but fundable in specie-paying bonds at twenty years; such notes either to be made a legal tender, or to take their chance of circulation by the voluntary act of the people.
I maintain that the highest sum you could sell your bonds at would be seventy-five per cent., payable in currency itself at a discount. That would produce a loss which no nation or individual doing a large business could stand a year.
I contend that I have shown that such issue, without being made money, must immediately depreciate, and would go on from bad to worse. I flatter myself that I have demonstrated, both from reason and undoubted authority, that such notes, made a legal tender and not issued in excess of the demand, will remain at par and pass in all transactions, great and small, at the full value of their face; that we shall have one currency for all sections of the country and for every class of people, the poor as well as the rich.
Some gentlemen are as much frightened as if this were an unwonted apparition, for the first time prowling forth to swallow the rich creditor and nurse the poor debtor. No nation, it is said, has ever tried anything like it.
Let us look at the greatest and wisest commercial nation in the world. In 1797 England was struggling for existence against armed Europe. She needed money, as we do now. She found it impossible to borrow. Gold was likely to leave the country. She passed a law prohibiting the Bank of England from paying coin for her notes until six months after the final ratification of peace. That law remained in force till 1823. It is said she did not make those notes a legal tender. She provided that whoever refused to take them for a debt should have no remedy for its collection; and that a plea of such tender should be a bar to the action. This, I think, is the most stringent legal tender; yet those notes never depreciated to any great extent.
Mr. Vallandigham. Did they not depreciate twenty per cent.?
Mr. Stevens. No, sir; at no time after they were made a legal tender did they depreciate twenty per cent.
Mr. Vallandigham. I have the authority of Mr. Canning, which I think is good as that of McCulloch. They were receivable all the time for Government dues.
Mr. Stevens. Yes, sir; but they still run down until they were made a legal tender, and after that they never depreciated a single dollar. Had they been made an absolute tender, they would not have depreciated a farthing. But now, in times of peace, the notes of the Bank of England are a legal tender in all the vast business of that nation, and in every place, except at the counter of the bank. What else are Bank of England notes than bills of credit of the Government ? Her whole capital consists of Government securities, and her issues are based on that alone. Prussia holds the currency in paper issuable by Government alone, and is always at par. What be comes of the fine-spun theories of the opponents of this bill ? I think they have distressed themselves very unnecessarily; and yet gentlemen have shown all the contortions, if not the inspirations, of the Sibyl, lest Government should make these notes a uniform currency, rather than leave them to be regulated by sharks and brokers. I look upon the immediate passage of this bill as essential to the very existence of the Government. Reject it, and the financial credit not only of the Government but of all the great interests of the country will be prostrated.
Mr. Chairman, let me say in conclusion that unless this bill is to pass with the legal tender clause in it, it is not desirable to its friends or to the Administration that it should pass at all, and those who think as I do will have to vote against it if it shall be thus mutilated and emasculated. If it is to be defeated, I should be glad if we had the power which they have in the British Parliament to resign our places on the Committee of Ways and Means and leave it to those who oppose this bill to mature some other measure. So far as I am concerned, I shall be modest enough not to attempt any other scheme. The Committee of Ways and Means have labored in the preparation of this measure anxiously and 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 best qualified to advise us. We have sought to harmonize conflicting views in the substitute which the majority of the committee have prepared, and we hope it will pass. 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 should fail, the result will be more deplorable than any disaster which could befall us.
The general debate on the bill being now closed, The Chairman stated the question to be on the amendment proposed by Mr. Crisfield to the first section of the bill, to strike out after the words "United States," in line thirteen, the following:
And for all salaries, debts, and demands owing by the United States to individuals, corporations, and associations within the United states; and shall also be lawful money and a legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private, within the United States.
Mr. Wickliffe. I move to amend the amendment of the gentleman from Maryland, so as to make it apply only to that part of the clause which makes these notes a legal tender in the payment of debts between individuals.
Mr. Crisfield. I would suggest to the gentleman that he can attain his object by asking for a division of the question.
Mr. Wickliffe. Then I ask for a division of the question.
Mr. Vallandigham. Is it in order to strike out the enacting clause of the bill ?
The Chairman. It is in order.
Mr. Vallandigham. I make that motion for the purpose of enabling me to submit a remark in reply to the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means.
The Chairman. A motion to strike out the enacting clause is not debatable.
Mr. Vallandigham. Then I move to strike out the last paragraph of the amendment.
The Chairman. That is in order.
Mr. Vallandigham. The gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Stevens] in speaking a few moments ago of the decline or depreciation of the notes of the Bank of England, affirmed that McCulloch, his authority, and my humble self, diferred in relation to facts he denying the depreciation and I affirming it. Now, sir, I propose to refute him by his own authority, and show that there is not any "difference between McCulloch and myself." On page 78 of McCulloch's Commercial Dictionary, he says:
"For the first three years of the restriction, their issues were so moderate that they not only kept on a par with gold, but actually bore a small premium. In the latter part of 1800, however, their quantity was so much increased that they fell to a discount of eight per cent., as compared with gold, but they soon after rose nearly to par; and it was not until 1808 that the decline of their value excited any considerable attention. Early in 1810, they were at a discount of about thirteen and a half percent., and this extraordinary fall having attracted the attention of the Legislature, the House of Commons appointed a committee to inquire into the circumstances by which it had been occasioned. The committee examined several witnesses, and in their report, which was drawn up with considerable rapidity, they justly ascribed the fall to the over issue of bank paper, and recommended that the bank should be obliged to resume cash payments within two years. This recommendation was not, however, acted upon, and the value of bank paper continued to decline, as compared with gold, till 1814."
So that, except for some five or six years, during nearly twenty-seven years of suspension, it varied from eight to sixteen, and finally fell to twenty per cent. discount, and even more.
Mr. Stevens. That was all before it was made a legal tender.
Mr. Vallandigham. Ah, but the gentleman said only a little while ago, that they made it a "most stringent legal tender" indirectly from the first in 1797. But it was not made directly a legal tender until 1834, and then only partially; gold being still really and substantially the tender.
Mr. Stevens. And after that, it never depreciated.
Mr. Vallandigham. Certainly not. But why ? Because it was made a quasi legal tender ? Not at all. But because it was not a legal tender at all, unless the bank paid specie. It is the fact that the bank pays specie that prevents depreciation. And besides, the Bank of England notes are at no time a legal tender between the bank and its creditors.
During the suspension, it was not made a legal tender, but the bank was authorized to refuse payment in specie. And what kept the notes then in circulation ? It was the fact, that during all the time while the English Government was making enormous expenditures in carrying on the war with Napoleon, these notes were receivable in payment of Government dues as cash.
Mr. F.A. CONKLING. I rise to oppose the amendment of the gentleman from Ohio. I do so for the purpose of illustrating the remarks which the gentleman from Ohio has just submitted. I hold in my hand a letter from an eminent citizen of New York, from which I propose to read a few extracts. The writer says:
"The advocates of a paper substitute may find an argument in the necessities of the crisis, but are certainly not guided by the light of experience if they recur to the fact that in 1814 a Boston bank note was capable of buying twice its nominal value in Treasury notes.
"I had some, little experience of the working of 'paper vs. gold,' in Denmark, in 1813, when their currency, which was printed on blue paper, depreciated to such an extent that the king, to remedy the evil, issued a new currency, printed on white paper, accompanied by an edict that one rix dollar of the new emission should be regarded in all transactions as worth six of the old, and taken as a legal tender, which required an amount of faith equal to that which was exacted by Lord Peter of Martin and Jack: that they should believe 'a loaf of brown bread to be a shoulder of mutton,' or suffer for their incredulity.
"This arbitrary edict led to the ruin of many creditors, especially mortgagees, who were thus compelled to receive 'rags and lampblack' in satisfaction of debts contracted in gold and silver.
"At that time I had bargained with the king's painter, in Copenhagen, to take my portrait, (a half length, still in my possession,) for the sum of three hundred rix dollars, the frame included. Such was the rapid decline in the paper currency of the Government, that when it was completed I purchased with nine Spanish milled dollars the three hundred rix dollars to pay for the portrait and frame; and such was the faith and loyalty of the painter, that he believed, or was bound by law to believe, that the one currency was just as good as the other ! Being in London during the same year, I was guilty of the felonious act of selling my golden guineas for twenty-seven shillings in paper, while honest, patriotic, and credulous John Bull insisted that in theory their value was the same, and the right honorable the Chancellor of the Exchequer could cause the transportation to Botany Bay of any man who practically proved the contrary."
Mr. HUTCHINS. I would like to inquire as to the occupation of the gentleman who wrote that letter ?
[Here the hammer fell.]
Mr. Crisfield. In order to accommodate what seems to be the wish of the committee, or some members of it, I propose to modify my amendment, by confining the motion to strike out to[sic] the words "and shall also be lawful money and a legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private, within the United States."
---[appropriating bodily and almost literally several pages of Macaulay’s History of England, in the effort to maintain himself on Macaulay’s level without Macaulay’s aid,]
Mr. Chairman, I rise to oppose the pending amendment. I did desire to submit to the committee some views touching this measure when we were in general debate, but omitted to do so in deference to the more matured views which other members of the committee desired to submit. I propose to occupy the few moments I have, in making some statements in relation to the charges of bad faith and injustice which have been so persistently, earnestly, and, doubtlessly, sincerely made by the opponents of the bill.
Now, sir, I think it must be plain, beyond all cavil, that if these notes, proposed to be issued under this bill, are made of the value impressed upon them by law, so that they will be to the citizen the true and real representatives of that amount of the intrinsic wealth of the country which is stamped by law upon them as their nominal value, then there can be no practical injury, injustice, or bad faith in the law which makes them pay a debt precisely equal to that real value or wealth of the country, which that note, so made a tender, represents. It is, of course, not my purpose now either to discuss or state those views by which others see in this measure as distinguished from those they advocate only disaster, in the shape of "destruction of all standards of value;" in the "inflation of the business and the prices of the country;" in disordering the "operations of trade and commerce;" and in the ultimate "bankruptcy" of the Government and of the people. I have no doubt this cry is made sincerely by many, and perhaps is believed by all who make it. I do not discuss the sources and reasonableness of this cry of alarm, but only wish to present a parallel to it, and say that this cry is, to my mind, as unreasonable as that other to which I allude. I find that parallel in the history of the growth of the debt of England; and in the light of that history, I declare that this cry of "bankruptcy" and national disaster and ruin is utterly unreasonable, and just now most pernicious.
Sir, the history of the growth of that debt which one of the great commoners of England calls "the greatest prodigy that ever perplexed the sagacity, and confounded the pride of statesmen and philosophers," as conclusive refutations of the theories and predictions of our alarmists of this House, as it did in the past of other Parliaments. Sir, at the end of the war of England with Louis XIV, in 1713, the debt of England was, in round numbers, $250,000,000. But, sir, at that period, not pot-house politicians merely, but profound thinkers, declared the Government permanently crippled. But while these were engaged in proving the nation ruined, the nation was growing richer and richer. Soon came that war which was ended by the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle; and the national debt had come to be $400,000,000 in 1748. Now, again, historians, statesmen, and economists, concurred in declaring that the case of England was certainly now desperate; but now again the nation persisted, although demonstrated by the books to be a bankrupt, in becoming far richer than in any period of her history. Soon the nation became again involved in the continental wars of the reign of George II, and at the end of Chatham's administration, at the period of 1760, the national debt came to be $700,000,000. Then, again, it is declared that both men of theory and of business united in declaring that now, at all events, the fatal day had certainly arrived. Adam Smith, the father of politico-economical science, thought the limit had been reached, and an increase of the debt would be fatal. David Hume, the profoundest man of his is age, declared it would have been better that England had been conquered and crushed by Prussia and Austria, than by debts for which all the revenues of the kingdom north of Trent and west of Reading were mortgaged. He said the madness of England exceeded that of the crusaders. Richard Cœur de Lion and St. Louis had not gone in the face of arithmetic. England had. You could not prove that the road to Paradise was not through the Holy Land; but you could prove that the road to national ruin was through a national debt. But still, in defiance of Hume and Smith, and even Burke, the nation would live and grow richer, and pay the interest on its public debt.
Then came George Grenville's policy to tax the colonies of America to help pay the interest on this debt, and that brought on our war of the Revolution. In that England lost the colonies, and found an addition to her public debt of $500,000,000 making the aggregate, at the time of the treaty of peace, $1,200,000,000. Again England was pronounced hopeless; but again she continued to be more prosperous than ever before.
Then came the wars growing out of the French Revolution; and the debt of England ran up to $4,000,000,000. Again the cry of despair and of bankruptcy was louder than ever; but also again the cry was false as ever; and the interest on the debt of England not only continued to be paid to the day at the bank, but such was her prosperity that at the close of these French wars her people expended for railroads in the island, in a few years, more than $1,200,000,000 !
Such is a sketch of the history of the debt of England, and such the refutation furnished by the logic of history to the logic of abstract reasoning, however profound.---[According to your concept: war is very good for business; not so much for those who are on receiving end of the blood-bath; unfortunately, everything you know about economics, you learned it from the Bank of England, and british Whigs]
A great historian and a great commoner of England declares that all these cries of bankruptcy and ruin were based on a double fallacy. They who raised these cries imagined that there was an exact analogy between the case of an individual who is in debt to another, and the case of a society which is in debt to part of itself; and they also forgot that other things grew as well as the debt.
Sir, I do not make this allusion to the debt of England to show that "a national debt is a national blessing," nor to indicate that this nation ought permanently to depart from its old and traditionary policies of avoiding public debt and direct taxation. I do not think we either ought or will. But, sir, this parallel between the alarms of this day and this country, and those of the past in another country, is only introduced to indicate the strange infirmities of vision in all these prophets of evil, and to indicate how unjust and cruel it is to weaken, by these refuted cries of ruin and bankruptcy, the faith of the people in the Government, which now, in its day of peril, so pre-eminently rests upon the faith of her children.
Sir, all these obligations of this Government go out to the people borne up by all the faith and all the property of the people; and they have all the value which that faith untarnished, and that property inestimable, can give them. It is not because they lack intrinsic value that they need the quality of "lawful tender." But it is to secure to the Government in their issue their true value, and to retain for them that true value as you pass them as all agree you must to your noble soldiery in the field, and to all classes of the people not engaged, as the most persistent outside opposition to this bill is, in endeavoring to destroy the value of these, so that out of the blood of their sinking country they may be enabled to coin the gains of their infamy.
Mr. Morrill, of Vermont. I move to amend the amendment by striking out the words "and private." I think it will be better if nothing else be stricken out; but I merely move the amendment pro forma. I do not desire, Mr. Chairman, to have this bill go before the House and country as the bill of the majority of the committee. Whatever it may be worth, it is not the bill of more than one half of the committee. In behalf of the other members of the committee, I wish to have it understood that they are as cordially united on their project as the other four gentlemen are on theirs. The bill presented by me was not particularly mine, but more the work of my friend from Ohio, [Mr. Horton] in which we have all cordially agreed. It will again be presented, perhaps slightly modified in form, in order to suit all the members of the House who object to the "legal tender" clause.
But, Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is all powerful in sneers. If he is not that, he is not anything. We all know how difficult it is to refute a sneer. But however amusing such things may be, they are not arguments. He admits that if his project does not succeed, and if any other project shall pass without making these notes a legal tender, our Treasury notes will go down to seventy-five per cent., and possibly to sixty per cent. Now what does that disclose ? Why, it discloses that there is to be a fictitious value of twenty-five per cent., and then of forty per cent. Now, is it worse to cheat the soldier and the country in that insidious form, by giving currency to what you call a dollar, but which will not purchase more than seventy-five or sixty cents' worth of property ? I prefer the honest and straight-forward way of doing business, that whenever our currency shall depreciate it shall be seen and known of all men. But I do believe that if we take the course proposed by this substitute, we shall sustain our credit. I do not believe that the Treasury notes will fall much, if any, below par, if our substitute shall be adopted and then supported as we propose, by a proper tax bill.
Then, sir, what becomes of the cry of "sharks" ! and "brokers ?" I do not pretend to legislate for sharks and brokers; but when it comes to that point, I say that there are more sharks and brokers engaged on the other side, by one half, at least, than are engaged in sustaining the currency at its specie standard.
In regard to the Bank of England, I do not think that the gentleman from Pennsylvania made what may be called a fair statement. What are the facts ? By its recent charter the Bank of England is allowed to issue an amount of notes just equal to its capital, £14,000,000, or $70,000,000.
[Here the hammer fell.]
Mr. Hickman. The only question, Mr. Chairman, which I have ever had with reference to this bill, has not been a question as to the powers of Congress, but as to the policy of the enactment. I would myself have preferred that this bill had followed the tax bill. I would have preferred that, before the credit of the Government had been tried to that extent, the basis of that credit should have been exhibited to the country. Before I take my neighbor's note, I should require him to show me on what his credit rests; of what his capital consists. I have, therefore, had great doubt as to the propriety of voting for this bill as it stands at this time. But being assured by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means that the Treasury, and, perhaps, the Administration, regard this as a governmental necessity, I am disposed to waive the question of propriety or expediency, and to vote for it as a necessity, having no doubt about the right. That clause of the Constitution which gives to the Government the right to coin money and to regulate the value thereof is, to my mind, conclusive of the great question that has been raised in this House. "To coin money." It does not say to "coin gold or silver money." It does not indicate of what the material shall consist, which is to be regarded as money. It might be gold or silver or copper or brass or iron, at the pleasure of the Government. In other words, it is not demanded that the thing itself, which shall be coined as money, shall have any intrinsic value. The coining of money is merely impressing upon that which is designed to be circulating medium the mark of the sovereign, indicating the will of the sovereign that it shall be received in the exigencies of trade and commerce at the stated value. And that mark of the sovereign, indicating the will of the sovereign, may just as well be impressed upon paper as upon gold and silver. Nothing else can be made out of the Constitution in this regard.
According to the arguments which have been adduced against this bill, the Constitution should have been made to read: "Congress, or the Government, shall have power to coin gold and silver money according to their intrinsic value." Why, sir, the Government is not restricted as to material out of which it may make money; is not restricted as to the metal that shall be adopted as money; it has perfect power to adopt iron as well as any other metallic basis; and if any other metal, why not paper ? Why not impress upon paper the mark of the the will of sovereign indicating the sovereign as to the value at which it shall be received, and make it a circulating medium, there being nothing in the Constitution to restrict us in this necessary exercise of sovereign power, without which no Government can carry on its operations, without which no Government could exist ?
I have no doubt whatever in regard to the right of Congress to pass this bill, and I am therefore willing to vote for it upon the ground that it is a necessity at this time.
Mr. Morrill, of Vermont, by unanimous consent, withdrew his amendment.
Mr. Lovejoy. I move, pro forma, to strike out, after the word "public," the words "and private."
Mr. Chairman, I have endeavored for a day or two to obtain the floor for the purpose of expressing my views a little more at length than I can in the five minutes to which I am now limited; but, by an arrangement between the Chair and the Committee of Ways and Means, my purpose has been thwarted.
I will now simply say in regard to the question of constitutionality that there has not been a respectable argument advanced in defense of the constitutionality of this bill; and, inasmuch as great talent and eminent ability have been brought to bear upon it, I take it that no respectable argument can be made in vindication of the constitutionality of this bill. I would admit the plea of necessity, if I believed it; and I think it is more manly to confess, as Jefferson did, that the thing was necessary, but unconstitutional, than it is to attempt to torture the Constitution into the support of a measure which everybody must see to be unconstitutional.
Now, Mr. Chairman, in regard to the general idea of the bill, it is a mere fallacy. The whole argument used in favor of the issue of these legal tender notes is based upon precisely the same foundation as the old theological dogma, crede ut edes, et edes believe that you eat the real flesh of Christ in the wafer, and you do eat it. Believe that this piece of paper is a five dollar gold piece, and it is a five dollar gold piece; believe it is worth five dollars, and it is worth five dollars.
Now, sir, I am prepared to state that it is not in the power of this Congress, nor in the power of any legislative body, to accomplish an impossibility in making something out of nothing. The piece of paper you stamp as five dollars is not five dollars, and it never will be unless it is convertible into a five dollar gold piece; and to profess that it is, is simply a delusion and a fallacy. You may say even by legislative enactment that sixty or eighty or even ninety-nine cents are a hundred, but the rigid, inexorable digits will stand fixed and immovable by your legislative legerdemain.
Mr. Chairman, we are urged by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means to pass this bill, because ruin is before the Government if we do not pass it. It reminds me very forcibly of Cowper's Needless Alarm. I cannot undertake to give it in rhyme, but I will give the substance of it. You will remember that, hearing the deep baying of the hounds, and the sound of the hunter's horn, the sheep coursed round and round the field, until the frightened flock came to the brink of a precipice, and to get away from the hounds and huntsmen the pater gregis advised them thus:
"I hold it, therefore, wisest and most fit
That life to save we leap into the pit."
The matron of the flock, more discreet than her spouse, replies:
"How ? leap into the pit our life to save ?
To save our life leap all into the grave ?"
Sir, there is no precipice, there is no chasm, there is no possible, yawning bottomless gulf before this nation so terrible, so appalling, so ruinous, as this same bill that is before us, and that it is proposed to pass under the pressure of these influences brought to bear upon it.
You issue $100,000,000 of those notes. The gentleman tells us they are already due. We have got to pay the paper out almost before we can make it. It has taken us six months to manufacture $50,000,000, and we cannot manufacture it as fast as we shall spend it at that rate; so that when we have issued $100,000,000 we must issue another $100,000,000, and then anotler $100,000,000. And thus we plunge from lower depth to still lower, till we are buried in an ocean of inconvertible paper. At every step your paper will depreciate more and more, until the expenses of the war will swell to such an appalling sum that redemption will be impossible and repudiation inevitable. Facilis deocensus Averni, &c., which means it is easy to slide down hill, but very hard work to draw the sled back over smooth ice. But the question is pressed: what will you do ? What do you propose ? I propose this:
First, adequate taxation, if need be, to the extent of $200,000,000,
Second. Adopt legislation that shall compel all banking institutions to do business on a specie basis. Every piece of paper that claimed to be money, but was not, I would chase back to the man or corporation that forged it, and visit upon the criminal the penalties of the law. I would not allow a bank note to circulate that was not constantly, conveniently, and certainly convertible into specie.
Thirdly, I would issue interest-paying bonds of the United States, and go into the market and borrow money and pay the obligations of the Government. This would be honest, business-like, and in the end economical. This could be done. Other channels of investment are blocked up, and capital would seek the bonds for investment.
This is, in substance, what I propose. This would bring us through the war poor indeed, for half the nation has to support the other half, but with the health and vigor of the athlete, and not with the bloated flesh of the beer guzzler. Did I not know that the passage of this bill was a foregone conclusion, I would move to recommit with instructions to that effect.
[Here the hammer fell]
Mr. Roscoe Conkling obtained the floor.
Mr. Lovejoy. I ask permission to go on for a few minutes.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I will yield to the gentleman.
Mr. Stevens. I think we had better confine ourselves to the rule, or we shall never get through with this bill.
Mr. Lovejoy. I think it is very courteous in the gentleman, after I gave him an hour when it was to my power to have prevented him.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I am glad to have the floor to oppose the amendment of the gentleman from Illinois, chiefly for the purpose of saying that I concur in every word he says; and especially do I concur with him in that portion of his remarks in which he expresses his astonishment that this debate, upon a measure which is to be so lasting in its effects upon our history, has been allowed to close without argument, without pretext of solid argument by any member in favor of the constitutionality of the one feature of this bill.
It was well said by the gentleman from Vermont that the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means is mighty in sneers; and as he devoted one or two of them to me, I want, with great respect, to set him right upon two or three matters of fact. I want to say to him, in the first place, that, defective as may be the proposition which I presented after a great deal of thought, it is not defective because of the facts which he states.
The gentleman said the Bank of England had made its notes a legal tender. Sir, I deny it. Never, sir; never were the notes of the Bank of England a legal tender. What did Parliament do ? The notes of the Bank of England, while the Bank of England paid specie, were made a legal tender by a recent statute as between whom ? The party issuing the notes and others ? No, sir, never; but as between third persons. But by statute of George, like the revised statute of the State of New York, and of all the States I presume, the notes of the Bank of England were a good tender unless they were objected to because gold was more profitable. These are the only provisions relating to the notes of the Bank of England, except one. By the statute of George, he who refused to take for a debt a note of the Bank of England when offered, could not pursue to jail or dungeon the man who offered it. Imprisonment for debt was lifted from that case. In every other respect the debt stood, and it stands now; and so far as England is concerned, this is the only measure upon which such an attempt is to be made.
One more remark. I have said that I agreed with the gentleman from Illinois, [Mr. Lovejoy.] Rarely have I heard him, or other gentlemen, utter remarks with which I so fully agree. I agree with some other gentlemen who said that this bill was a legislative declaration of national bankruptcy. I agree with still another gentleman, who said that we were following, at an humble and a disgraceful distance, the confederate government, as it is called, which has set up the example of making paper a legal tender, and punishing with death those who deny the propriety of the proposition.
Insolvency, sir, is ruin and dissolution; and I believe in passing this bill, as was said by the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. THOMAS,] we are to realize the French proposition about virtue that it is the first step that costs. Another and another and another $100,000,000 of this issue will follow. I believe, sir, that we are plunging into an abyss from which there are to be no resuscitation and resurrection.
Mr. Lovejoy, by unanimous consent, withdrew his amendment to the amendment.
Mr. Hooper. I move a pro forma amendment. The opponents of this bill, in the discussion of it, have represented it as substituting paper issued by the Government for the coined money which, they say, is now the currency of the country. Every intelligent man knows that coined money is not the currency of the country, and that the real point at issue is, whether the Government shall depend on the irredeemable and depreciated notes of suspended banks, and use them as the medium in which to pay its debts to contractors and soldiers and others, or whether it shall make use of a paper issue of its own, based on, and convertible into the bonds of the Government, payable in twenty years, with interest, at the rate of six per centum per annum, in gold and silver. To strike out the legal tender clause from this bill would make it useless to the Secretary of the Treasury, because many of the banks now refuse to receive and pay out the demand notes; the effect, therefore, of issuing an additional amount, without making them all a legal tender, would be that the contractors and others who might receive these notes for debts due them from the Government, must sell the notes at the best rate they can obtain in the currency of suspended bank notes, or use them as a security to pledge for loans in suspended bank notes.
No one here supposes for one moment that these Government notes will be sold for coined money, or that coined money will be borrowed on them.
It is fair to suppose that the opponents of the Administration well understand that this would be the effect of accepting the amendment to strike out the legal tender clause from the bill; and that their object, while they talk about coined money to deceive some of our friends, is to oblige the Government to give up the sub-Treasury, and to use for its payments the depreciated notes of the suspended banks; thereby flooding the whole country with those irredeemable notes, and producing, in time, a state of financial confusion and distress that would ruin any Administration. The proposed issue of Government notes guards against this effect of inflating the currency by the provision to convert them into Government bonds, the principal and interest of which, as before stated, are payable in specie.
Mr. Stevens. We have, I think, had debate enough on this proposition, and are all ready to vote. I move, therefore, that the committee rise, in order to close debate on this amendment.
Mr. Lovejoy. I ask unanimous consent to say a few words in reply to the gentleman from Massachusetts.
Mr. Stevens. I decline to withdraw my motion that the committee rise.
Mr. Lovejoy. I hope, then, that motion will be defeated.
The motion was agreed to ayes one hundred and three, noes not counted.
So the committee rose; and the Speaker having resumed the Chair, Mr. Mallory reported that the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union had, according to order, had the Union generally under consideration, and particularly, House bill No. 240, to authorize the issue of United States notes, and for the redemption and funding thereof, and for funding the floating debt of the United States, and had come to no conclusion thereon.
Mr. Stevens. I move that debate be closed upon the pending amendment to the Treasury note bill in half a minute after its consideration shall be resumed.
A MEMBER. Say all debate on the first section.
Mr. Stevens. I accept that as a modification of my motion.
The question was taken; and the motion was agreed to.
Mr. Stevens moved that the rules be suspended and the House resolve itself into the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union.
The motion was agreed to.
So the House resolved itself into the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, (Mr. Mallory in the chair.)
The CHAIRMAN stated that the amendment to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Hooper] was the first question to be considered.
Mr. Hooper, by unanimous consent, withdrew his amendment to the amendment.
The question recurred on Mr. Crisfield's amendment.
Mr. Crisfield demanded tellers.
Tellers were ordered; and Messrs. ALLEY and Shanks were appointed.
The question was taken; and the tellers reported ayes 53, noes 93.
So the amendment was rejected.
Mr. Crisfield, by unanimous consent, withdrew the second amendment that he had proposed.
Mr. Walton, of Maine. I move to insert in the first section, after the word "interest," the words, "payable semi-annually."
Mr. Stevens. I am not opposed to that amendment. I would say to the gentleman, however, that the Committee of Ways and Means, in the substitute that I will move for this bill, have included a like provision.
Mr. Walton, of Maine. It is not certain that that substitute will be adopted, and I would therefore prefer to have my amendment voted on. Unless these words be inserted, the interest on these bonds will not be payable until the expiration of the twenty years which they have to run.
Now, Mr. Chairman, if the amendment is adopted, I shall be in favor of the bill, for the following reasons:
Necessity compels us to pay our creditors in Treasury notes. Our credit is exhausted; or perhaps it will be more accurate to say that the means of those who are willing to lend to the Government have become exhausted.
To lay and collect taxes will require considerable time; besides, it cannot reasonably be expected that revenue enough can ever be derived from taxation to meet all the expenses of the Government while the war lasts. Practically, therefore, our Government is reduced to the necessity of paying not only its other creditors, but our brave soldiers, in its own notes. Thus compelling our creditors (our brave soldiers included) to take their pay in Treasury notes, is it not just, is it anything more than common honesty, to allow them to pay their debts in the same way ?
If these Treasury notes are made a legal tender, they will circulate as readily as specie in the payment of debts, and will only cease thus to circulate, if ever, when they have reached the hands of those who have no debts to pay. And if, as the enemies of the legal tender clause predict, they ever fall in value below par, will not the loss fall upon those who have money, and no debts to pay ? And can it fall on a class who will feel it less ? And as it is this class of persons that constitute our money-lenders, it will be rather a favor than an injury to them; for these notes are convertible into United States bonds, with semi-annual interest coupons attached, and therefore accomplishes for them just what they desire a safe loan of their money. I say a safe loan, for the issue of these notes is to be followed by vigorous taxation; and in equity the tender will have a lien on the whole property of the United States as security for every dollar of his debt, and a pledge of the public faith that this security shall be made available.
The legal tender clause of the bill, therefore, while it secures to our soldiers and the poorer class of our citizens who have debts to pay great advantages, does no real injury to capitalists, and ought to be retained.
The constitutional objections have not been overlooked. I think the Federal Government has the same power to make these notes a legal tender that it has to make anything else a legal tender. It can make nothing a legal tender by virtue of any express power. It is but an implied power in any case. And if it is admitted, as it always has been, that the Government possesses the power to declare what shall be a legal tender in any case, it has it without limitation. It can make one thing a legal tender as well as another; and whether these notes shall have that character or not, is a question of expediency only, and not one of power.
It is objected by some that to make these notes a legal tender will impair the obligation of contracts, and is therefore unconstitutional. But this is not true. In every contract payable in money, and no particular kind of money is named, it is implied, and is a part of the contract, that it may be discharged in what shall be the legal currency at the time of payment. A change or enlargement of the legal currency of the country, and payment in such new currency, is no violation of the contract, but is in pursuance of one of its implied conditions.
Having the power, and believing on the whole that the legal tender clause is a beneficial one, I am in favor of retaining it in the bill.
Mr. Stevens. I hope that the amendment will be adopted.
The question was taken, and the amendment was adopted.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I move to amend by inserting after the word "percentage" the words "in coin," so that it will read, "interest at six per centum per annum payable in coin."
The amendment was agreed to, eighty-two members having voted in the affirmative.
Mr. Lovejoy. I move to insert before the word "coin" the words "gold and silver," so that it will read "payable in gold and silver coin."
The question was taken, and the amendment was agreed to.
Mr. Woodruff. I move to add after the words "per centum" the words "per annum." As it reads now it will provide for twelve per cent., instead of six per cent. per annum.
The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. Rice, of Massachusetts. I move to insert on page 2, line thirty-two, after "payable there," the following:
Provided, That the Secretary of the Treasury shall, upon presentation of said certificates of deposit, issue to the holder thereof, at his option, and instead of the bonds already described, an equal amount of bonds of the United States, coupon or registered, as may by said holder be desired, bearing interest at the rate of seven per cent. per annum, payable in coin semi-annually, and redeemable at the pleasure of the United States after five years from the date thereof.
Mr. Chairman, I would be glad if the committee would permit me to explain my amendment.
Mr. Vallandigham. I will not object this time, but I will hereafter.
Mr. Stevens. If the gentleman be allowed to go on, there will have to be an answer, and I want this debate to close.
Mr. RICE, of Massachusetts. The proposition, if adopted, will facilitate the funding of these notes.
The amendment was disagreed to.
Mr. Diven. I move to insert the following after the word "those," in line thirty-two, first section:
And it shall be lawful for any holder of such notes to deposit the same with the sub-Treasurers of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and St. Louis, respectively, in amounts of not less than $500, and for a period of time not less than thirty days, and to receive in exchange therefor a certificate for the same, which it shall be the duty of the respective sub-Treasurers aforesaid to issue, stipulating for the return of the amount so deposited at the period indicated in such certificate, with interest at the rate of six per cent. per annum in said demand Treasury notes provided for by this act: Provided, That the Secretary of the Treasury shall have the right to give sixty days, notice of the intention of the Government to decline to receive such deposits on interest; and in case such notice shall be given, said notes shall cease to be a legal tender for debts throughout the United States.
Mr. F.A. CONKLING. I move to amend the amendment, so as to make the interest therein specified five and forty-seven hundredths per cent. instead of six per cent. That will facilitate the calculation of interest very much.
The amendment to the amendment was not agreed to.
The amendment was not agreed to.
Mr. MAYNARD. I move to amend by striking out the following:
Or in sums not less than $2,500, for which, if requested, the Secretary, if he deems it expedient, may issue similar bonds, the principal and interest of which may be expressed in the currency of any foreign country, and payable there.
Mr. Spaulding. The Committee of Ways and Means, so far as I know, are willing that these words should be stricken out.
The amendment was agreed to.
Mr. F.A. CONKLING. I move to amend by striking out the words, in the eighth line, "at the pleasure of the United States," and inserting in lieu thereof the words "one year after date."
The amendment was not agreed to.
Mr. MORRILL, of Vermont. I desire to appeal to the committee that we may make some arrangement by which we can come to a vote. All must be aware that this voting will result in nothing. The chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means will, in the end, propose a substitute, which he has perfected; and if they choose to abide by it we will, in the end, have an opportunity to vote for our alternative proposition. I ask whether it will not be better for gentlemen to withdraw their various propositions, and give the chairman an opportunity to modify his original proposition, to allow me to introduce our alternative proposition, and then go into the House and have a fair and square vote by yeas and nays. [" Agreed !" "Agreed!"]
Mr. COX. Will the gentleman give us the yeas and nays upon these questions in the House ?
Mr. Stevens. Undoubtedly, on the main question.
The CHAIRMAN. If there is no objection, the bill will be reported to the House.
Mr. Riddle. Will that cut off any further amendment ? I desired to offer an amendment which should prohibit the circulation of foreign bank notes.
The Chairman. That is a question for the House to decide.
Mr. Lovejoy. Does this proposition cut off debate ?
The Chairman. It does.
Mr. Lovejoy. Then I object.
Mr. Vallandigham. I move to strike out the second section.
Mr. Lovejoy. I withdraw my objection.
Mr. Vallandigham. I object, if the effect is to close debate upon the whole bill.
The Chairman. It will close debate upon the whole bill.
Mr. Vallandigham. I understood that the object was merely to withdraw the substitute.
The Chairman. The motion was that the committee rise.
Mr. Vallandigham. I move to strike out the second section.
The second section was read.
Mr. FENTON. I have an amendment to offer by way of perfecting the section before the vote is taken on the motion to strike it out.
Mr. Vallandigham. My purpose is, after a few remarks, to withdraw the substitute I proposed, and thus to comply with the suggestion of the gentleman from Vermont, [Mr. Morrill] so that debate may be closed upon this bill, and a vote had by yeas and nays between it and the substitute to be submitted, as I understand, by my colleague, [Mr. Horton] I acquiesce in the proposition, but reluctantly. Very naturally I prefer the substitute which, with considerable labor and care, I have prepared. The details, in some respects, to my mind at least, are preferable to those of the substitute which will be submitted; and as to the principle or idea upon which it proceeds, I believe that in practice it will be found preferable also to that of the one for which I feel obliged to vote. The difference between the two consists in this: the substitute which I offered provides for the issue of Treasury notes, or Treasury certificates, receivable for the public dues, made sure and sufficient by taxation, and having that, and their capability of being funded in interest bearing stocks, as their only title to credit, and intended to circulate primarily between the Government and its creditors and debtors: the substitute to be proposed, as I understand, is in accordance with the precedents of Treasury note acts passed for some fifty years back; and in that respect, therefore, I can have no objection to it. But I cannot persuade myself that in practice it will be found available or adequate to meet the wants of the Treasury, and thus to preserve the public credit. For this reason, and because I believe that my proposition is more conformable to the principle upon which the Government ought to proceed, I would prefer my own substitute, which, not recognizing any right in the Federal Government to provide a currency for the people in their ordinary transactions, does admit its right to furnish a temporary currency between the Government and its debtors and creditors, its tax payers and tax consumers. But at the same time, for the purpose of meeting the wishes, and conforming also to the opinions of a portion of the Committee of Ways and Means, and of other gentlemen also who comprehend this subject better than I do, and because the proposition will not materially vary from that which has been sanctioned by the practice and experience of many years, I cannot decline to vote for it, not of choice, but rather of necessity, and to combine the greatest strength against the iniquitous and monstrous and ruinous measure which is about to be forced through the House.
Mr. Stevens. I wanted to suggest whether we could not make this arrangement: that the committee rise and let the bill come into the House, and the previous question be called and sustained upon it; and then let each substitute be offered in its turn, with the understanding that any gentleman who wants the yeas and nays may have them. Then we shall get the one we like best.
Mr. Vallandigham. My objection to that is twofold. First, I prefer the other method because I have agreed with others to do it; and in the next place, there are other substitutes which cannot be introduced under that arrangement.
I withdraw my substitute, and yield the floor to the gentleman from New York, [Mr. Roscoe Conkling]
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. Every person who conscienciously pursues any work, and arrives at a result, of course feels some interest, even if he feels no pride, in the result which he arrives at; and I should be uncandid if I did not admit to devoting a good deal of time to this subject. I believed, and still believe, that the substitute which I proposed, with such modifications of form or otherwise, if necessary, as might be suggested, would be a working, and an adequate working scheme for the purpose which is now to be supplied.
Nevertheless, sir, inasmuch as I believe that no possible result to which the committee or the House can arrive will be so bad, so lastingly detrimental, will lay the foundations of regret so enduring, as the adoption of any plan by which paper is to be made a legal tender for the payment of debts, past, present, and future; believing that, and knowing that the Committee of Ways and Means, exactly half of the committee, the acting committee, is prepared to propose a substitute which avoids that objection; and thinking, as I do, with great respect to the chairman, that at least half of the weight of the committee is in favor of this scheme to be presented, I withdraw, and very cheerfully withdraw, the substitute I presented, and yield the floor to the gentleman from Ohio, for the purpose of presenting the substitute.
Mr. Horton. I offer an amendment, in the form of a substitute, for the bill now before the committee. It is a bill which has the sanction of one half of the Committee of Ways and Means.
The substitute, which was read, was to strike out all after the word "that," and insert the following:
For temporary purposes, the Secretary of the Treasury be, and he is hereby, authorized to issue on the credit of the United States $100,000,000 of Treasury notes, bearing interest at the rate of three and sixty-five hundredths per cent. per annum, payable in two years after date, to bearer, at the Treasury of the United States, or at the office of the Assistant Treasurer, in the city of New York, or at the office of the designated depository in the city of Cincinnati, and of such denominations as he may deem expedient, not less than five dollars each ; and such notes shall be receivable for all public dues, except duties on imports, and for all salaries, debts and demands owing by the United States to individuals, corporations and associations, within the United States, at the option of such individuals, corporations and associations ; and any holder of said United States notes, depositing any sum not less than fifty dollars, or some multiple of fifty, with the Treasurer of the United States, or either of the Assistant Treasurers, or either of the designated depositories at Cincinnati or Baltimore, shall receive in exchange therefor duplicate certificates of deposit for the amount, with any accumulated interest thereon, one of which may be transmitted to the Secretary of the Treasury, who shall thereupon issue to the holder an equal amount in bonds of the United States, coupon or registered, as may be desired, bearing interest at the rate of seven and three-tenths per cent. per annum, payable semi-annually in coin, and redeemable at the pleasure of the Government after ten years from date ; and such Treasury notes shall be received the same as coin, at their par value, with accumulated interest, in payment for any bonds that may be hereafter negotiated by the Secretary of the Treasury ; and the Secretary of the Treasury may, from time to time, as the exigencies of the public service may require, issue any amount of such Treasury notes equal to the amount redeemed. There shall be printed on the back of the Treasury notes, which may be issued under the provisions of this act, the following words : The within note is receivable in payment of all public dues, except duties on imports, and is exchangeable for bonds of the United States, bearing seven and three-tenths per cent. per annum, payable in coin, semi-annually.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to fund the Treasury notes and floating debt of the United States, he is hereby authorized to issue, on the credit of the United States, coupon bonds, or registered bonds, to an amount not exceeding $500,000,000, $200,000,000 bearing interest at the rate of seven and three-tenths per cent. per annum, payable semi-annually in coin, and redeemable at the pleasure of the Government, after ten years from date, and $300,000,000, redeemable at the pleasure of the Government, after twenty-four years from date, and bearing interest at the rate of six per cent. per annum, payable semi annually in coin. And the bonds herein authorized shall be of such denominations, not less than fifty dollars, as may be determined upon by the Secretary of the Treasury ; and the Secretary of the Treasury may also exchange, at par, such bonds at any time for lawful money of the United States, or for any of the Treasury notes that have been, or may hereafter be, issued under any former Act of Congress, or that may be issued under the provisions of this Act.
SEC 3. And be it further enacted, That the Treasury notes and the coupon or registered bonds authorized by this Act, shall be in such form as the Secretary of the Treasury may direct, and shall bear the written or engraved signature of the Treasurer of the United States and the Register of the Treasury ; and also, as evidence of lawful issue, the imprint of a copy of the seal of the Treasury Department, which imprint shall be made under the direction of the Secretary, after the said notes or bonds shall be received from the engravers, and before they are issued ; or the said notes and bonds shall be signed by the Treasurer of the United States, or for the Treasurer, by such persons as may be specially appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury for that purpose, and shall be countersigned by the Register of the Treasury, or for the Register, by such persons as the Secretary of the Treasury may specially appoint for that purpose ; and all the provisions of the Act entitled, An Act to authorize the issue of Treasury notes, approved the 23d day of December, 1857, so far as they can be applied to this act, and not inconsistent therewith, are hereby revived and re-enacted ; and the sum of $300,000 is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to carry this act into effect.
Sec 4. And be it further enacted, That any person or persons, or any corporation, holding Treasury notes, may, at any time, deposit them, in sums of not less than $500, with any of the Assistant Treasurers or designated depositaries of the United States, authorized by the Secretary of the Treasury to receive them, who shall issue therefor, transferable certificates of deposit, made in such form as the Secretary of the Treasury shall prescribe, and said certificates of deposit shall bear interest after thirty days, at the rate of five and two-fifths of one per cent. per annum ; and any Treasury notes so deposited may be withdrawn from deposit at any time, on the return of said certificates, but no interest shall be allowed except after thirty days. And all such deposits shall cease and determine at the pleasure of the Secretary of the Treasury, and after ten days notice shall have been given to the depositor.
Sec 5. And be it further enacted, That if any person or persons, shall falsely make, forge, counterfeit or alter, or cause or procure to be falsely made, forged, counterfeited or altered, or shall willingly aid or assist in falsely making, forging, counterfeiting, or altering any note, bond or certificate, issued under the authority of this act, or heretofore issued under acts to authorize the issue of Treasury notes or bonds, or shall pass, utter, publish, or sell, or attempt to pass, utter, publish, or sell, or bring into the United States, from any foreign place, with intent to pass, utter, publish or sell, as true, or shall have, or keep in possession, or conceal, with intent to utter, publish or sell, as true, any such false, forged, counterfeited or altered note, bond or certificate, with intent to defraud anybody, corporate or politic, or any other person or persons whatsoever ; every person so offending, shall be deemed guilty of felony, and shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not exceeding $5,000, and by imprisonment and confinement to hard labor, not exceeding fifteen years.
As a young lawyer, Thaddeus Stevens was an attorney of the Bank of the United States. Naturally, the future grand old commoner, radical reconstructionist and greenbacker joined the pro-Bank, anti-Jackson Anti-Mason party.
From 1833, Thaddeus Stevens was the able leader of the Pennsylvania Legislature where he organized Whigs (pro-Bank) and Anti-Masons to vote together.
The years between 1832 and 1836 were the years of Andrew Jackson's war against the Bank of the United States. Followed by 4 years of agitation against banks and for an Independent Treasury......
The Charter of the Bank of the United States was to expire on March 4, 1836. On January 19, 1836, Thaddeus Stevens reported a bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, "to continue and extend the improvement of the State by railroads and canals". This bill included a section for "other purposes," which "contained the entire draught of a charter for the Bank of the United States, adopting it as a Pennsylvania State bank." Thaddeus pushed the bill through the House with a Midas touch that amazed and impressed even Nicholas Biddle.
Thaddeus is now pulling a fast one and is sneaking through a version of the greenback bills that no one has seen.]
Mr. Stevens. I move to strike out the whole of that substitute, and to insert what I send to the Clerk's desk.
I wish to state in regard to my amendment that it is a modification of the original bill. Those who are in favor of the original bill have agreed upon this in lieu of it. We thought it better to adopt the suggestion contained in the amendment of the gentleman from Ohio of $150,000,000, retiring the $50,000,000 of demand notes, and of making $150,000,000 the maximum to which they shall go. That is about all the change there is, except that we have left out the foreign circulation clause which is in the other; and we have agreed to adopt an amendment by which the holders of these notes may convert them either into twenty years bonds, at six per cent., or five years' bonds, at seven per cent., at their option.---[Thaddeus here openly lies to the members of the House: his substitute does not contain the clause for which 82 members (a confortable majority) voted that the semi annual interest on the bonds authorized by this bill be payable in gold and silver coin. On February 19, Thaddeus Stevens, with pretended indignation objects to the Senate's re-inserting the "payable in coin" clause]
Mr. Vallandigham. I suggest to the gentleman that he simply modify the original proposition, and let the vote be taken on the substitute of my colleague, [Mr. Horton]
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I was about to suggest to the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means that the effect of his motion will be to bring us to a vote when we get into the House, first on his substitute; and if that prevails the House will never come to a vote on the substitute of the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Horton] I suggest to him, therefore, whether he had not better propose his as a substitute for the original bill, and then let the gentleman from Ohio propose his as a substitute for that.
Mr. Stevens. As the matter now stands, the House will understand perfectly well that it is a question between the two measures.
Mr. Wickliffe. I would like to vote for this substitute, with an amendment that I propose to make. I am not sufficiently familiar with the rules of the committee to know whether I can state my reasons for it. I move to strike out in the fourteenth line of the first section the words, "except duties on importations of foreign goods, wares, and merchandise."
Mr. Vallandigham. I rise to a question of order.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. Those words are out now.
The Chairman. The amendment of the gentleman from Kentucky is not in order. It is an amendment to the first section of the bill, and that has been passed.
Mr. Wickliffe. There has been no vote taken on the first section. It was read only for information.
The Chairman. The amendment is not in order.
Mr. Horton. I gave way to the gentleman from Pennsylvania to offer his substitute. I desire now, with the leave of the committee, to make one or two verbal amendments in my own substitute.
Mr. Wickliffe. I understood that the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Horton] had moved to amend the original bill.
The Chairman. He offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute.
Mr. Wickliffe. Well, is it not in order to move to amend that substitute before it is voted on ?
The Chairman. It is. The Chair understood the gentleman to propose his amendment to the original bill.
Mr. Wickliffe. Oh, no, sir; I move to amend the substitute of the gentleman from Ohio, by striking out that clause of the first section which provides that these notes shall not be received in payment of duties on imported goods.
The Chairman. The clause the gentleman from Kentucky proposes to strike out is not in the substitute proposed by the gentleman from Ohio. He has modified it so as to strike that out.
Mr. Wickliffe. He has modified it so as to strike that out ?
The Chairman. Yes, sir.
Mr. Wickliffe. I am very much obliged to him.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I desire to correct the Chair as to a matter of fact. The words which the gentleman moved to strike out are not in the substitute, but the meaning is there. The substitute as now offered contains the words, "except duties on imports," although the more redundant expression is not there. So that the motion of the gentleman from Kentucky was well taken in substance, though the words he moved to strike out have been changed.
Mr. Wickliffe. I am told that there is a mistake, and that the words I propose to strike out have not been stricken out.
The Chairman. To what substitute, and to what line of that substitute, does the gentleman from Kentucky propose his amendment ?
Mr. Wickliffe. It is a substitute that has the name of Mr. JUSTIN S. MORRILL printed on it, and which I understand the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Horton] to have offered. In the fourteenth line of that substitute, these words yet remain: "except duties on importations of foreign goods, wares, and merchandise."
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. The gentleman from Kentucky will allow me to inform him that those words have been changed.
Mr. Wickliffe. The gentleman from Kentucky understands that those words have not been stricken out.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. All but two of them have.
Mr. Wickliffe. Which two ?
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. If the gentleman will look to the fourteenth line of the substitute as it now stands, he will find that it reads thus: "except duties on imports."
Mr. Wickliffe. Ah ! That is the very thing I want to strike out.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. Precisely; and that was the very thing I wanted to call the gentleman's attention to.
Mr. Wickliffe. I move to strike out the words "except duties on imports." I want no currency that the Government itself will not receive.
Mr. Hickman. I move that the committee rise, for the purpose of moving an adjournment.
The question was taken; and the committee refused to rise.
Mr. Lovejoy. I will oppose the amendment of the gentleman from Kentucky pro forma. I would inquire if it is the purpose of the gentlemen who have the management of this bill to have a vote upon it to-night ?
Mr. Stevens. It is very desirable that we should take the vote on it to-night.
Mr. Lovejoy. Then I wish to say before that vote is taken, in reply to the remarks of the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Hooper] that I think it very unjust, and that it betrays a great want of confidence in the actual merits of the measure, that those who are opposed to a particular mode of raising this money should be charged with being in opposition to the Administration. Now, it is not true, and I was surprised that a gentleman usually so candid and just should indulge in any remark of that nature in reference to those who conscientiously oppose this bill I suppose it is not too much to say, as conscientiously as those who support it.
There is a certain class of individuals who seem determined to take this Administration under their peculiar guidance and care, and to make a kind of protégé of it. I want to say that, in proportion to my abilities, I did as much to place this Administration in power as any other man in the United States; and that there is no man who gives it a more cordial support than I do. Those engaged in the administration of affairs, civil and military, have not only my sympathy, but they have my sincere prayers for their success and divine guidance in the trying circumstances in which they are placed. But I cannot bring myself to believe that this is the best mode of raising money; and therefore I am opposed to this measure. It is unjust, however, to say that I am therefore opposed to the amendment. Amicus Plato, amicus Socrates, sed magis amica. With these remarks, I will not further trespass upon the time of the committee.
Mr. Vallandigham. There seems to be a misapprehension as to the agreement entered into some time since, and I desire to have that misapprehension corrected. I propose that the substitute which I submitted may be restored to its place. The gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Morrill] suggested that as two substitutes and amendments were pending to the original bill, they should be withdrawn, and that my colleague [Mr. Horton] should be allowed to propose one in place of both of them, so that the vote might be taken between the bill, on which the advocates of the measure have rallied, and the substitute which my colleague desired to submit. With that understanding I withdrew my substitute, and the gentleman from New York [Mr. Roscoe Conkling] also withdrew his.
Now, after my colleague has proposed a substitute which was agreed upon by half of the members of the Committee of Ways and Means, and sanctioned by many other members of the House, the chairman of that committee proposes one which is to take the place of all of them, the effect of which is that no direct vote can be had on the proposition of the gentleman from Ohio. If there was a misunderstanding on the part of the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, I presume he will not object to my restoring the substitute which I offered, to the place which it held.
Mr. Morrill, of Vermont. Mr. Chairman
The Chairman. Debate is out of order, and cannot be continued without unanimous consent. If there be no objection, the gentleman from Vermont will make his statement.
Mr. Kellogg, of Illinois. I object. I rise to a question of order. The text of the bill having been passed upon, the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Horton] moved the first substitute. Then it was competent for another substitute to be moved; and that was done by the gentleman from Pennsylvania. I object to any further substitute or change from that order of proceeding.
The Chairman. The Chair sustains the point of order of the gentleman from Illinois.
Mr. Morrill, of Vermont. All I can say is, that that is not the understanding of the House or of the committee.
The Chairman. The Chair cannot be responsible for that.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I rise to a question of privilege. There were two amendments to the bill pending, one of which I myself submitted. I withdrew that proposition on a certain understanding; and one only. That understanding was
Mr. Richardson. I raise the question of order that there can be no question of privilege in the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union.
The Chairman. The Chair thinks that the gentleman from New York is in order.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I was proceeding to state my question of privilege. There was before the committee a bill reported by the Committee of Ways and Means. To that bill an amendment in the nature of a substitute had been offered by the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Vallandigham] To that amendment I offered a substitute. A proposition was made by the gentleman from Vermont, [Mr. Morrill] that a vote should be taken in this mode.
Mr. Kellogg, of Illinois. I rise to a question of order. The fact whether a substitute shall come in now or not, or whether there was an agreement, is a question of the order of business, and not a question of privilege.
The Chairman. In the estimation of the Chair, the gentleman from New York has stated no question of privilege.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. I am about to state my question of privilege. It is this: by the assent of the committee I did a certain act, to wit: withdrawing an amendment, which I did under a misunderstanding, or on an agreement that is not to he kept. My point is, that I have a right to have my substitute reinstated if the committee led me into a misunderstanding under which I withdrew it.
The Chairman. The Chair overrules the question of order or privilege raised by the gentleman from New York.
Mr. Horton. I ask leave to withdraw my amendment to the original bill.
Objection was made.
Mr. Vallandigham. As it was not amended, the gentleman has a right to withdraw it.
The Chairman. So the Chair decides.
Mr. Horton. Then I withdraw my substitute.
Mr. Vallandigham. I now propose the substitute which I offered some time ago.
Mr. Stevens. And I move mine as an amendment to that substitute.
Mr. Richardson. I raise the question of order that the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Horton] has no right to withdraw his substitute.
The Chairman. The Chair has decided that the gentleman from Ohio had a right to withdraw his substitute.
Mr. Hickman. I move that the committee do now rise and report the bill, with the amendments, to the House.
Mr. Vallandigham. Before the motion is put, I withdraw the substitute which I offered.
The Chairman. The Chair thinks that the motion of the gentleman from Pennsylvania is not in order.
Mr. Hickman. I do not understand on what ground it is not in order.
The Chairman. Because the amendments are only pending and have not been acted on.
Mr. Lovejoy. I move that the committee rise.
The motion was not agreed to.
The Chairman. The question is first on the substitute offered by the gentleman from Ohio.
Mr. Stevens. The gentleman from Ohio withdrew it.
Mr. Vallandigham. The gentleman from Pennsylvania offered his as a substitute to mine, and thereupon I withdrew mine.
Mr. Stevens. Then I offer mine as a substitute to the original bill. I do not care what order the questions take, as I suppose the House has sense enough to know how it is voting.
Mr. Horton. I offer mine as a substitute for that of the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. Stevens. Is it in order to move that the committee rise and report the bill to the House, with the understanding that there shall be a vote by yeas and nays on the substitute, in the House ?
The Chairman. The Chair thinks it can only be done by unanimous consent.
Mr. Sedgwick. I desire to offer an amendment to the substitute proposed by the gentleman from Ohio.
The Chairman. It is not in order. There are two substitutes already pending.
Mr. Sedgwick. I do not desire to move mine as a substitute, but as an amendment to one of the sections of the substitute of the gentleman from Ohio, in order to perfect it.
The Chairman. No further amendment is in order. There are two already pending.
Mr. Stevens. I move that the committee rise, with the understanding which I have indicated.
The Chairman. Is there any objection to the motion of the gentleman from Pennsylvania ?
Mr. Cox. I should like to know in what order these substitutes will be voted on in the House ?
The Chairman. The vote will be first on the substitute of the gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Horton] and then on the substitute of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Stevens]
Mr. Phelps, of California. I raise the question of order that these substitutes having been once offered and withdrawn, stand in the position of having been rejected by the committee, and cannot be offered a second time.
The Chairman. The Chair overrules the point of order.
Mr. Wickliffe. I rise to a question of order. I am sorry that my little amendment has created all this difficulty. My point of order is, that this committee cannot rise without unanimous consent while an amendment is pending. We cannot report a pending amendment as a part of the bill. I do not wish to make a captious objection; but I wish to have a decision of the House upon the question, whether they will prohibit the use of Treasury notes in payment of duties on imports from foreign nations.
The Chairman. The Chair will suggest to the gentleman from Kentucky, that the amendment offered by him was to the substitute offered by gentleman from Ohio, [Mr. Horton] which having been withdrawn, of course carried the gentleman's amendment with it.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling. And more than that, the amendment was voted on.
Mr. Wickliffe. No, sir; the amendment was not voted on.
The Chairman. The Chair will further say to the gentleman from Kentucky, that there being already two amendments pending to the bill, no further amendment is in order.
Mr. Wickliffe. I know the amendment is not now in order, and therefore it is that I do not want the committee to rise until there can be an opportunity of offering it.
The Chairman. The Chair asks whether there is objection to the proposition of the gentleman from Pennsylvania that the committee rise and report the bill, with the two substitutes, to the House ?
No objection was made.
So the committee rose; and The Speaker having resumed the chair, Mr. Mallory reported that the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union had, according to order, had the Union generally under consideration, and particularly House bill No. 240, to authorize the issue of United States notes, and for the redemption or funding thereof, and for funding the floating debt of the United States, and had instructed him to report the same back to the House, with certain propositions to amend.
Mr. Stevens. I move the previous question upon the engrossment and third reading of the bill.
The previous question was seconded, and the main question ordered to be put.
The SPEAKER stated the question first to be upon the substitute proposed by Mr. Horton.
Mr. Roscoe Conkling demanded the yeas and nays.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The question was taken; and it was decided in the negative yeas 55, nays 95; as follows:
Yeas Messrs. Ancona, Baxter, Biddle, George H. Browne, William G. Brown, Cobb, Frederick A. Conkling, Roscoe Conkling, Conway, Corning, Cox, Cravens, Crisfield, Crittenden, Diven, Eliot, English, Goodwin, Grider, Harding, Holman, Horton, Johnson, Law, Lazear, Lovejoy, May, Menzies, Justin S. Morrill, Morris, Nixon, Noble, Norton, Nugen, Odell, Pendleton, Perry, Pomeroy, Porter, Edward H. Rollins, Sedgwick, Sheffield, Shiel, William G. Steele, Stratton, Benjamin F. Thomas, Francis Thomas, Train, Vallandigham, Wadsworth, E.P. Walton, Ward, Webster, Chilton A. White, and Wright 55.
Nays [the greenbackers in the House] Messrs. Aldrich, Alley, Arnold, Ashley, Babbitt, Goldsmith F. Bailey, Joseph Baily, Baker, Beaman, Bingham, Francis F. Blair, Jacob B. Blair, Samuel S. Blair, Blake, Buffinton, Burnham, Campbell, Chamberlin, Clark, Colfax, Cutler, Davis, Delano, Delaplaine, Duell, Dunlap, Dunn, Edgerton, Edwards, Ely, Fenton, Fessenden, Fisher, Franchot, Flank, Gooch, Grayer, Gurley, Haight, Hale, Hanchett, Harrison, Hickman, Hooper, Hutchins, Julian, Kelley, Francis W. Kellogg, William Kellogg, Killinger, Knapp, Lansing, Leary, Loomis, McKean, McKnight, McPherson, Marston, Maynard, Mitchell, Moorhead, Anson P. Morrill, Olin, Patton, Timothy G. Phelps, Pike, Price, Alexander H. Rice. John H. Rice, Richardson, James S. Rollins, Sargent, Shanks, Shellabarger, Sherman, Sloan, Spaulding, John B. Steele, Stevens, Trimble, Trowbridge, Upton, Van Horn, Van Valkenburgh, Van Wyck, Verree, Wall, Wallace, Charles W. Walton, Whaley, Albert S. White, Wickliffe, Wilson, Windom, and Worcester 95.
So the substitute was disagreed to.
During the call of the roll,
Mr. Verree stated that his colleague, Mr. Covode, being indisposed, had paired with Mr. Riddle.
Mr. Clark stated that Mr. Wheeler was confined to his room.
Mr. Kellogg, of Illinois, stated that Mr. Washburne had been called home by severe affliction in his family.
Mr. Steele, of New York, stated that his colleague, Mr. Smith, was still unable to attend the sessions of the House.
Mr. Alley stated that Mr. Dawes had been called to New York by business connected with the special committee on Government contracts.
Mr. Wickliffe. I understand I have voted wrong. I want to understand from the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means whether I have, for if so I will change my vote.
The Speaker. No debate is in order.
Mr. Wickliffe. Suppose I voted under a mistake, have not I the right to correct the mis take ?
The Speaker. The gentleman can change his vote, but not give his reasons for it.
Mr. Wickliffe. But I have voted right. I do not want to change. [Laughter.]
The Speaker. No debate is in order.
The vote was announced as above recorded.
The question recurred upon the substitute offered by Mr. Stevens.
The substitute was adopted.---[This was the substitute offered by Mr. Stevens and sent to the Clerk after the substitute by the other half of the Committee of Ways and Means was read. From the looks of it, Mr. Stevens' substitute was not read out-loud --and Mr. Spaulding wrote in his book that it was not read-- and when the representatives voted on the bill, originally offered by Spaulding, Hooper and Corning, they did not know --or at least some of them did not know-- that they were voting on Stevens' version and not on the one they had read and amended during the previous two hours; hence the surprise of Mr. Dunn on February 19th, when the bill came back from the Senate, that some of the clauses which the House voted for, were not in the bill that passed the House. Seems Mr. Wickliffe was confused, too, as to what he voted on.]
The bill, as amended, was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time; and being engrossed it was accordingly read the third time.
Mr. Stevens demanded the previous question on its passage.
The previous question was seconded, and the main question ordered to be put.
Mr. Vallandigham called for the yeas and nays upon the passage of the bill.
The yeas and nays were ordered.
The question was taken; and it was decided in the affirmative yeas 93, nays 59; as follows:
Messrs. Aldrich, Alley, Arnold, Ashley, Babbitt, Goldsmith F. Bailey, Joseph Bailey, Baker, Beaman, Bingham, Francis P. Blair, Jacob Blair, Samuel S. Blair, Blake, Buffinton, Burnham, Campbell, Chamberlin, Clark, Colfax, Cutler, Davis, Delano, Delaplaine, Duell, Dunn, Edgerton, Edwards, Ely, Fenton, [Samuel Clement] Fessenden [Maine (R)], Fisher, Franchot, Frank, Gooch, Granger, Gurley, Haight, Hale, Hanchett, Harrison, Hickman, Hooper, Hutchins, Julian, Kelley, Francis W. Kellogg, William Kellogg, Killinger, Lansing, Leary, Loomis, McKean, McKnight, McPherson, Marston, Maynard, Mitchell, Moorhead, Anson P. Morrill, Nugen, Olin, Patton, Timothy G. Phelps, Pike, Price, Alexander H. Rice, John H. Rice, Riddle, James S. Rollins, Sargent, Shanks, Shellabarger, [Socrates Norton] Sherman [NY (R)], Sloan, Spaulding, John B. Steele, Stevens, Trimble, Trowbridge, Lipton, Van Horn, Van Valkenburgh, Van Wyck, Verree, Wall, Wallace, Charles W. Walton, Whaley, Albert S. White, Wilson, Windom and Worcester93.
Messrs. Ancona, Baxter, Biddle, George H. Brown, Cobb, Frederick A. Conkling, Roscoe Conkling, Conway, Corning, Cox, Cravens, Crisfield, Diven, Dunlap, Eliot, English, Goodwin, Grider, Harding, Holman, Horton, Johnson, Knapp, Law, Lazear, Lovejoy, Mallory, May, Menzies, Justin S. Morrill, Morris, Nixon, Noble, Norton, Odell, Pendleton, Perry, Pomeroy, Porter, Richardson, Robinson, Edward H. Rollins, Sedgwick, Sheffield, Shiel, William G. Steele, Stratton, Benjamin F. Thomas, Francis Thomas, Train, Vallandigham, Voorhees, Wadsworth, E.P. Walton, Ward, Webster, Chilton A. White, Wickliffe and Wright59.
So the bill was passed.
During the call of the roll,
Mr. Lovejoy stated that Mr. Potter had been called home in consequence of sickness in his family.
Mr. Johnson stated that Mr. Cooper was confined to his room in consequence of indisposition.
The vote was announced as above recorded.
Mr. Stevens moved to reconsider the vote by which the bill was passed; and also moved to lay the motion to reconsider on the table.
The latter motion was agreed to.
Mr. Granger, from the Committee on Enrolled Bills, reported that the committee had examined and found truly enrolled an act (H.R. No. 224) making appropriations for the support of the Military Academy for the year ending the 30th of June, 1863; when The Speaker signed the same.
And then, on motion of Mr. Edwards, (at twenty minutes before six o'clock, p.m.) the House adjourned.
Bill 240 as it passed the House, on the 6th of February, 1862:
An Act to authorize the issue of United States notes, and for the redemption funding thereof, and for funding the floating debt of the United States.
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled : That to meet the necessities of the Treasury of the United States, and to provide a currency receivable for the public dues, the Secretary of the Treasury is hereby authorized to issue, on the credit of the United States, $150,000,000 of United States notes, not bearing interest, payable to bearer at the Treasury of the United States, at Washington or New York, and of such denominations as he may deem expedient, not less than five dollars each. Provided, however, that $50,000,000 of said notes shall be in lieu of the demand Treasury notes authorized to be issued by the Act of July 17, 1861 ; which said demand notes shall be taken up as rapidly as practicable, and the notes herein provided for substituted for them : And provided, further, that the amount of the two kinds of notes together, shall, at no time, exceed the sum of $150,000,000. And such notes, herein authorized, shall be receivable in payment of all taxes, duties, imports, excise, debts and demands of every kind due to the United States, and for all salaries, debts and demands owing by the United States to individuals, corporations and associations within the United States, and shall also be lawful money and a legal tender, in payment of all debts, public and private, within the United States. And any holders of said United States notes, depositing any sum not less than $50, or some multiple of $50, with the Treasurer of the United States, or either of the Assistant Treasurers, shall receive in exchange therefor duplicate certificates of deposit, one of which may be transmitted to the Secretary of the Treasury, who shall thereupon issue to the holder an equal amount of bonds of the United States, coupon or registered, as may by said holder be desired, bearing interest at the rate of six per centum per annum, payable semi-annually, at the Treasury or Sub-Treasury of the United States, and redeemable at the pleasure of the United States, after twenty years from the date thereof. Provided, that the Secretary of the Treasury shall, upon presentation of said certificates of deposit, issue to the holder thereof, at his option, and instead of the bonds already described, an equal amount of bonds of the United States, coupon or registered, as may by said holder be desired, bearing interest at the rate of seven per cent. per annum, payable semi-annually, and redeemable at the pleasure of the United States, after five years from the date thereof. And such United States notes shall be received the same as coin, at their par value, in payments for any loans that may be hereafter sold or negotiated by the Secretary of the Treasury, and may be re-issued from time to time, as the exigencies of the public interests shall require. There shall be printed on the back of the United States notes, which may be issued under the provisions of this act, the following words : The within is a legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private, and is exchangeable for bonds of the United States, bearing six per centum interest at twenty years, or in seven per cent. bonds at five years.
§ 2. And be it further enacted, That to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to fund the Treasury notes and floating debt of the United States, he is hereby authorized to issue, on the credit of the United States, coupon bonds, or registered bonds, to an amount not exceeding $500,000,000, and redeemable at the pleasure of the Government, after twenty years from date, and bearing interest at the rate of six per centum per annum, payable semi-annually ; and the bonds herein authorized shall be of such denominations, not less than fifty dollars, as may be determined upon by the Secretary of the Treasury ; and the Secretary of the Treasury may dispose of such bonds at any time for lawful money of the United States, or for any of the Treasury notes that have been, or may hereafter be, issued under any former act of Congress, or for United States notes that may be issued under the provisions of this act ; and all stocks, bonds, and other securities of the United States, held by individuals, corporations, or associations, within the United States, shall be exempt from taxation by any State or county.
§ 3. And be it further enacted, That the United States notes and the coupon or registered bonds, authorized by this act, shall be in such form as the Secretary of the Treasury may direct, and shall bear the written or engraved signatures of the Treasurer of the United States, and the Registry of the Treasury, and also as evidence of lawful issue, the imprint of copy of the seal of the Treasury Department, which imprint shall be made under the direction of the Secretary, after the said notes or bonds shall be received from the engravers, and before they are issued ; or the said notes and bonds shall be signed by the Treasurer of the United States, or for the Treasurer by such persons as may be especially appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury for that purpose, and shall be counter-signed by the Register of the Treasury, or for the Register by such persons as the Secretary of the Treasury may especially appoint for that purpose ; and all the provisions of the act entitled An act to authorize the issue of Treasury notes, approved the 23d day of December, 1857, so far as they can be applied to this act, and not inconsistent therewith, are hereby revived and re-enacted ; and the sum of $300,000 is hereby appropriated out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, to enable the Secretary of the Treasury to carry this act into effect.