Stop Reduction of Currency


An Act to suspend further Reduction of the Currency.

Paulson debt to America Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act, the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to make any reduction of the currency, by retiring or cancelling United States notes, shall be, and is hereby suspended; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the cancellation and destruction of mutilated United States notes, and the replacing of the same with notes of the same character and amount.

Schuyler Colfax,
Speaker of the House of Representatives
B.F. Wade,
President of the Senate pro tempore

Indorsed by the President: "Received January 23, 1868."

[Note by the Department of State. -- The foregoing act having been presented to the President of the United States for his approval, and not having been returned by him to the House of Congress in which it originated within the time prescribed by the Constitution of the United States, has become a law without his approval.]



May 31, 1878.
An Act to forbid the further retirement of United States legal-tender notes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That from and after the passage of this act it shall not be lawful for the Secretary of the Treasury or other officer under him to cancel or retire any more of the United States legal-tender notes. And when any of said notes may be redeemed or be received into the Treasury under any law from any source whatever and shall belong to the United States, they shall not be retired cancelled or destroyed but they shall be re-issued and paid out again and kept in circulation:  Provided That nothing herein shall prohibit the cancellation and destruction of mutilated notes and the issue of other notes of like denomination in their stead, as now provided by lawAnd provided further, That in the event of any determination by the Secretary of the Treasury under section 6 of the Old Series Currency Adjustment Act that an amount of said notes has been destroyed or irretrievably lost and so will never be presented for redemption, the amount of said notes required to be kept in circulation shall be reduced by the amount so determinedThe Secretary shall not be required to reissue United States currency notes upon redemption.

All acts and parts of acts in conflict herewith are hereby repealed.



Public law June 30, 1961---

Sec. 7. The first paragraph of the Act of May 31, 1878, entitled "An Act to forbid the further retirement of United States legal-tender notes" (Title 31, United States Code, sec. 404), is amended by inserting immediately before the period at the end thereof the following: ": And provided further, That in the event of any determination by the Secretary of the Treasury under section 6 of the Old Series Currency Adjustment Act that an amount of said notes has been destroyed or irretrievably lost and so will never be presented for redemption, the amount of said notes required to be kept in circulation shall be reduced by the amount so determined".



Public Law 103-325, September 23, 1994---
Section 602. Technical amendments to the Federal banking laws.
subsection (g) Amendments to other laws
sub-sub-section (14)

Section 5119(b)(2) title 31, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following:  "The Secretary shall not be required to reissue United States currency notes upon redemption".

Title 31, United States Code, Section 5119
greenbacks 1915


Fortieth Congress
March 4, 1867 - March 4, 1869
Second Session


House of Representatives
Saturday, December 7, 1867.


Reduction of the Currency


Mr. SCHENCK.  I report back from the Committee of Ways and Means House bill No. 213, to suspend the further reduction of the currency, with a recommendation that it do pass.

The bill was read.  It provides that from and after the passage of this act the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to make any reduction of the currency by retiring or canceling United States notes shall be, and hereby is, suspended.

Mr. Schenck.  I will state that this bill is reported by the unanimous instruction of the Committee of Ways and Means.  It is an exceedingly short bill, as short as we could make it, and covers the whole ground of a proposition upon which every one has thought more or less, and in the discussion of which most have engaged, if not here at least elsewhere.  Under the instruction of the committee I will ask immediate action upon this subject, and for that purpose I intend to demand the previous question.  Before doing so, I wish to remark that it is no purpose of the committee to prevent, but rather to court a general discussion of this currency question, and upon reporting a general bill relating to the currency and kindred subjects it is the purpose of the committee to throw the whole subject open for general discussion.  What they ask now is simply action upon this one point which relates to the contraction of the currency, upon which we suppose all minds are made up.

Mr. Ingersoll.  I ask the gentleman to yield to me a moment.

Mr. SCHENCK.  I will do so.

Mr. INGERSOLL.  On the first day of the present session I introduced a bill which I had carefully prepared, which proposed to repeal the section of the law passed April 12, 1866, authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to retire from circulation $4,000,000 of currency a month.  That bill, which was referred to the Committee of Ways and Means, provides for the repeal of so much of the act of April 12, 1866, as authorizes the retiring of the currency.  The second section provides--

"That from and after the passage of this act the further reduction of the currency by retiring or canceling United States notes shall be, and hereby is, prohibited."

This bill was referred to the committee.

Mr. Schenck.  I did not yield for an argument.

Mr. INGERSOLL.  I merely wish to state the facts in connection with it.  I do not desire to find fault with the committee, but I desire justice shall be done me and every other member of the House.  When a bill is referred to a committee which contains the essential features of the bill reported back by the committee for action by the House it is but fair and just that it should have some recognition as the bill introduced by the author.  This bill reported by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means contains almost verbatim the second section of my bill.  I challenge a comparison.  In each the authority or power of the Secretary of the Treasury is suspended and further contraction of the currency prohibited.

The bill which I introduced, in addition to suspending the power of the Secretary, repeals that portion of the law which authorizes the retiring of the currency, but the bill reported by the committee does not so repeal it.  And why does it not do so ?  Simply because those who favor contraction, or expect to favor it hereafter, believe it to be an easier task to repeal the act reported by the committee which simply suspends the functions of the Secretary for the time being, to be revived hereafter simply by repealing this act.  The bill that I introduced, and which was referred to the committee, upon which they have so far made no report, repeals that part of the law in toto, and prohibits the further retiring of the currency.

Now I offer my bill, with the leave of the chairman of the committee, as a substitute for the report of the committee.  I ask that it be read.

Mr. SCHENCK.  I do not propose to yield to allow the amendment to be offered.  It may be read for information.

Mr. INGERSOLL.  Let my bill be read.

The Clerk read the bill, as follows:

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled, That so much of an act entitled "An act to amend an act entitled 'An act to provide ways and means to support the Government,' approved April 12, 1866," as authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to retire United States notes to an amount not exceeding $4,000,000 in any one month, is hereby repealed.

Sec. 2.  And be it further enacted, That from and after the passage of this act the further reduction of the currency by retiring or canceling United States notes shall be, and hereby is, prohibited.

Mr. PRUYN.  Will the gentleman from Ohio yield to me ?

Mr. SCHENCK.  Not till I take some notice of the remarks made by the gentleman from Illinois, [Mr. Ingersoll] As I said in the beginning, it is not the purpose of the committee themselves to discuss this bill which I have reported back.  We waive for the present all purpose of doing so, intending that there shall be an open discussion hereafter upon the general subject of the currency if the House desire it.  But if I reply to the gentleman from Illinois it will not be in the nature of debate upon the bill.  What he remarks is in the nature of complaint against the course pursued by the committee.  He has succeeded in showing that his bill is in one of its features very different from the bill reported by the committee.  That ought to satisfy him why we have not reported his bill.  If the bill reported by the committee were precisely the same and the phraseology only altered, which he does not claim, then there might possibly be some ground of complaint.

But the gentleman from Illinois will permit me to explain to him that, although with his usual vigilance in representing fairly his constituency and the country he presented this matter at an early day, yet he has not been alone;  we have had referred to us some ten or twelve resolutions and bills relating to this particular subject, all about substantially the same, asking a repeal of any law giving the Secretary of the Treasury power over this subject.  After considering the whole of them we were enabled to harmonize the opinions of the committee and we believed that we would be able to harmonize opinions in the House by presenting a bill of our own in the shape that we have reported;  and if gentlemen will take the trouble to refer to the bill, which is printed and upon their files, they will find that it is all summed in the single brief, terse provision that all the power of the Secretary of the Treasury given to him by law to reduce the currency of the country by retiring or canceling United States notes be, and the same is hereby, suspended, and that is the whole of it.  It covers not only the section of the bill which relates to the four millions a month, but it covers all the power that has been given to the Secretary of the Treasury.

Mr. INGERSOLL.  Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question ?

Mr. SCHENCK.  Certainly.

Mr. INGERSOLL.  Will the gentleman explain to the House what objection he has, or the committee has, to repealing the act conferring authority upon the Secretary of the Treasury to retire and contract the currency ?

Mr. SCHENCK.  I am not authorized to refer to the discussion that took place in the committee covering this whole ground.

Mr. INGERSOLL.  What is your own objection ?

Mr. Schenck.  I have no particular objection to inform the gentleman.  So far as I am concerned I would readily vote for his bill.  I will also readily and cheerfully vote for the bill which the committee has presented, a little more so for the reason that I have discovered that this will harmonize more generally the opinions in the House, as it did in the committee.

Mr. PRUYN.  I would like to ask the gentleman a question.

Mr. Schenck.  I have already stated, and I repeat at the request of some gentlemen who have made the inquiry, that the committee is unanimous in reporting this particular bill in its present form.

Mr. Pruyn.  In view of the statement made by the chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, that it is the intention of that committee to mature and present a bill to this House covering the whole ground, I would inquire of him whether it would not be judicious to limit the operation of this suspension until the 1st day of May next.  I think the country will be taken by surprise by action of this kind, indefinite in its character.

Mr. Schenck.  We thought not in the committee, and have therefore made the suspension indefinite, thus making it necessary for the law-making power to act again before this authority can be restored to the Secretary of the Treasury.

Mr. PRUYN.  I would like to move to amend the bill by adding the words "until the 1st day of May next."

Mr. SCHENCK.  I do not propose to give way for amendments if I can get the previous question.

Mr. PRUYN.  Then accept the amendment.

Mr. SCHENCK.  Nor do I propose to accept any amendment.

Mr. Garfield.  Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question ?

Mr. SCHENCK.  Certainly.

Mr. Garfield.  I wish to know if I am to understand from what the gentleman says that they propose to settle by a definite law this great question of financial policy, under the operation of the previous question, without debate, and then allow members to debate it at their leisure in the Committee of the Whole after the bill has been passed.  I ask him if it is proposed to revoke and overturn the declared financial policy of Congress, which has been followed during the last three years, without debate ?

Mr. LOGAN.  Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question ?

Mr. GARFIELD.  I am holding the floor by the courtesy of my colleague, but I am ready to answer any question.

Mr. LOGAN.  I will ask the gentleman if he was not in favor of settling the impeachment question in that way ?

Mr. GARFIELD.  After nine months' opportunity, in which the gentleman has done his best, the question has been settled this morning;  and if he will allow the House four hours for the discussion of this great financial question we will be content.  The whole party of these gentlemen, who felt so outraged this morning, were fully heard both in the report and the speech of the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. BOUTWELL.]  On the subject before us no debate whatever is to be allowed.

Mr. SCHENCK.  In answer to the interrogatory of my colleague, [Mr. GARFIELD,] which contains a stump speech in its belly, [laughter,] I will say that the committee have gone only this far:  they believe the House is prepared, the opinion of members upon the one side or the other made up, on the single proposition in regard to continuing in the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to further contract the currency.  We put that one proposition to the House.  If the House is not prepared to act upon it now, but wish to discuss it fully, as well as to discuss other things connected with finances, which they will have the opportunity to do hereafter, then they will vote down the previous question.

Mr. GARFIELD.  Will my colleague permit me to submit a proposition to the House ?

Mr. SCHENCK.  I will hear it.

Mr. GARFIELD.  I desire to obtain permission to offer the following resolution, and thus have the whole subject of currency considered together.  If the pending bill required a suspension of contraction for a limited term I should not think it so unreasonable, but we are asked to repeal utterly the Secretary's authority to reduce the volume of the currency.  I ask that the following resolution may be considered:

Resolved, That the bill forbidding the further contraction of the currency be recommitted to the Committee of Ways and Means, and that they be instructed to report to this House such legislative measures as shall most speedily and safely lead to resumption of specie payments.

Mr. SCHENCK.  I am not disposed to yield the floor to permit that resolution to be offered.  We will give our attention to all these matters in due time, and will try to do the best we can.  When I call the previous question the House will understand that it means simply this:  I put this question to the House of Representatives, Are you ready to vote now upon the single proposition in regard to the contraction of the currency ?

Mr. LOGAN.  Will the gentleman allow me to make an inquiry of his colleague, [Mr. GARFIELD?]

Mr. SCHENCK.  Very well.

Mr. LOGAN.  I desire to ask the gentleman this question;  he said, "this party who have had nine months to prosecute the impeachment of the President."  I would like to know to what party he refers, and to what party he now belongs, in that state of the case.

Mr. GARFIELD.  If the gentleman pleases I did not say "party;"  I said "these gentlemen."  If I made a mistake in calling them "gentlemen" I am very sorry;  but I do not think I made a mistake.  I made no reflection upon any political party.

Mr. Stevens, of Pennsylvania.  I would refer the gentleman to the party of the Masonic Temple of Boston.

The SPEAKER.  Debate in regard to impeachment is not in order on this bill.

Mr. SCHENCK.  I now call the previous question.

Mr. INGERSOLL.  Will the gentleman yield to me for an inquiry ?

Mr. Schenck.  As the gentleman seems to be very anxious to put to me an interrogatory I will yield to him.  I hope he will make but an inquiry.

Mr. Ingersoll.  As this is a question of great importance, deemed so not only by the country but by every member of this House, I appeal to the gentleman to allow a vote to be taken upon my bill, for I believe a majority of the House are in favor of it.

Mr. DAWES.  I object to the form of the inquiry. [Laughter.]

Mr. Schenck.  I am acting under the instructions of the Committee of Ways and Means.  I now renew the demand for the previous question.

The previous question was seconded, upon a division-- ayes 94, noes 31.

The main question was then ordered, and under the operation thereof the bill was ordered to be engrossed and read a third time;  and being engrossed it was accordingly read the third time.

The question was then upon the passage of the bill.

Mr. SCHENCK.  I call for the previous question.

The previous question was seconded, and the main question ordered.

Mr. PRICE.  I ask for the yeas and nays on the passage of the bill.

The yeas and nays were ordered.

The question was then taken;  and it was decided in the affirmative-- yeas 127, nays 32, not voting 28; as follows:

YEAS-- Messrs. Adams, Allison, Anderson, Archer, Arnell, James M. Ashley, Axtell, Baker, Banks, Barnes, Barnum, Beaman, Beck, Benjamin, Benton, Bingham, Boutwell, Boyer, Bromwell, Brooks, Buckland, Burr, Butler, Cary, Churchill, Reader W. Clarke, Sidney Clarke, Cobb, Coburn, Cook, Covode, Cullom, Dixon, Dodge, Donnelly, Driggs, Eckley, Eggleston, Ela, Eldridge, Farnsworth, Ferriss, Ferry, Fields, Golladay, Gravely, Griswold, Halsey, Hamilton, Harding, Hawkins, Hill, Higby, Holman, Hopkins, Hotchkiss, Asahel W. Hubbard, Hulburd, Hunter, Ingersoll, Jones, Judd, Julian, Kelley, Kelsey, Kerr, Ketcham, Knott, Koontz, Laflin, William Lawrence, Lincoln, Loan, Logan, Loughridge, Lynch, Marvin, Maynard, McCarthy, McClurg, Mercur, Miller, Moorhead, Morgan, Mullins, Mungen, Myers, Newcomb, Niblack, Nunn, O'Neill, Orth, Paine, Perham, Pile, Plants, Polsley, Robertson, Ross, Sawyer, Schenck, Shanks, Smith, Starkweather, Aaron F. Stevens, Thaddeus Stevens, Stewart, Stokes, Stone, Taylor, Thomas, Trimble, Trowbridge, Upson, Van Aernam, Robert T. Van Horn, Van Trump, Van Wyck, Cadwalader C. Washburn, Henry D. Washburn, Welker, Thomas Williams, William Williams, James F. Wilson, John T. Wilson, Stephen F. Wilson, and Woodbridge --127.

NAYS-- Messrs. Ames, Delos R. Ashley, Blaine, Broomall, Dawes, Eliot, James A. Garfield, Getz, Glossbrenner, Grover, Haight, Hooper, Richard D. Hubbard, Humphrey, Johnson, George V. Lawrence, McCullough, Peters, Phelps, Pike, Poland, Price, Pruyn, Randall, Sitgreaves, Spalding, Taber, Van Auken, Ward, Ellihu B. Washburne, William B. Washburn, and Woodward --32.

NOT VOTING-- Messrs. Bailey, Baldwin, Blair, Cake, Chanler, Cornell, Finney, Fox, Chester D. Hubbard, Jenckes, Kitchen, Mallory, Marshall, Moore, Morrell, Morrisey, Nicholson, Pomeroy, Raum, Robinson, Scofield, Selye, Shellabarger, Taffe, Twichell, Burt Van Horn, Windom, and Wood --28.

So the bill was passed.

Mr. SCHENCK moved to reconsider the vote just taken, and also moved that the motion to reconsider be laid on the table.

The latter motion was agreed to.




Senate, December 19



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