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JUNE 21, 1834.)
(H. of R.
resources of the country in the times of great pressure, or into general circulation in the United States, would be when one metal shoull be preferred in commerce to the fully if not more than equivalent to eighty-eight hunother, is the difference in their intrinsic value, which ad- dredths of one per cent., the difference between 15.86 mirably adapts the one to the purposes of effecting small and sixteen to one. Therefore, am I decidedly in favor Payments, and the other to the purposes of transportation, of the amendment offered by the honorable chairman of in defraying travelling expenses, in liquidating state and the committee on coins, which makes the eagle weigh national balances, and in discharging every where two hundred and thirty-two grains pure gold, and two throughout the world large obligations.
hundred and fifty-eight standard, nine-tenths fine, which In these views Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Baring, the most is equivalent to one of gold for sixteen of silver. I am in esperienced and distinguished financiers of the age, per- favor of this proportion, not from any selfish or local confectly agree. They admit the fact, upon which the gen- siderations, but because I sincerely believe that it is for tleman from New York (Mr. SELDEN) has so much relied, the public good that both metals should be coined at our that, when the coins of the two metals are placed upon mint, and that nothing short of the proportion proposed an equal footing in the payment of debts, a change in in the amendment offered by the chairman of the committheir relative market value would produce a change in tee will place the two coins upon a level in the commertheir relative legal value, and that that metal which be- cial world, and ensure their concurrent circulation in the comes the cheapest will drive the other from circulation, United States. and become alone the practical standard and currency. When Mr. CLOWNEY sat down, The truth of this theory has long since been clearly ex Mr. GORHAM rose and said, it was important that the emplified in the history of the monetary system of Eng- true ratio of gold and silver should be accurately fixed. If land, and also in the monetary system of these United there was too much gold in the eagle, every body would States. Although, by our constitution and laws, gold is pay their debts in dollars; if too little, all would pay in regarded as money, and is made a legal tender, the same eagles. It was very difficult, and a matter of great nice. as silver, in the payment of debts, yet, in consequence of ty, to fix their relative value. At first, it had been deterthe vast difference in the value of gold at our mint, com- mined that one ounce of gold was worth fifteen ounces of pared with its relative value to silver in general commerce, silver. This continued to be the relative value establishit has long since departed from the United States, leaving ed by law, from the year 1792 till about fifteen years ago. silver the only metallic currency. In order to restore this continued to be very near the truth for about thirty gold again to our currency, and keep it in circulation, it years, when the proportion had suddenly changed. is only necessary to raise its value in our coinage so as to whence the change had proceeded it was not easy to tell, correspond with its value relatively to silver in general probably from an increased production of silver and a commerce. "In the use of both metals,” says Mr. Baring, proportionable decrease in the production of gold; or in his examination before the committee on coins in Eng- because more gold had been employed in the coinage of land, in 1828, “one of two courses must be taken, either Great Britain. Whatever the cause might be, the value to leave them to chance, and give to the debtor the advan- had risen from fifteen ounces to fifteen and a half and tage of the option, as was the case under the old English fifteen and three-quarters. That was the very extent, system, or fix at once which is to be your standard, and This bill fixed it at sixteen. However the standard was adjust, at given periods, your other metal to it. if fixed, it ought not to be changed every day. He did not you want the a lvantages of the fixity of standard of one know that it was very essential to change it at all. The metal, with the facilities and conveniencies of two, you present standard had long been found a very good one. must take the latter course. The system of occasional But if any change were made, it must be done with the adjustment has been practised in France, and in these greatest care. It was now only fisteen years since gold matters practical experience is worth all the theories of and silver were in concurrent circulation in this country, mere speculation.
and debts were demanded and paid in either indifferentIn attempting to fix the value of gold at our mint, with ly. And ever since that period, the business of the counthe sole view of introducing it into circulation with silver, try had got along very well until the late disturbance on so that the one may not be preferred to the other in the the subject of the currency. The question in this bill, payment of debts, a due regard must be paid to the rela- Mr. G. observed, was one purely and wholly separate tive value of bullion in the great marts of the world, and from all politics. It was a question of business, which more especially in those nations with which we have the rested altogether on different grounds. It was impossigreatest commercial intercourse. In addition to this, we ble for thai House, by any act of its legislation, either to must also take into consideration the fact, which the liis- take from or to add to ihe value of gold. That value tory of the two metals incontestably proves, to wit: the was fixed by other things than acts of Congress. The universal tendency of gold to rise in value relatively to Government might mark its own coin with what value it silver; and also the fact, proved by the table to which I pleased, but it could not give it that value; and if by have referred, furnished by the lirector of our mint, that law they allowed money to be a lawful tender for more much more of the iwo metals are now coined upon the than its value, they immediately affected the obligation basis that gold is in value to silver as one to sixteen, than of contracts, which they were forbidden by the constituie according to any other proportion. It is true, the average tion to do. Their law could no more change the value market value of gold and silver buillion, or of foreign coins, of gold than it could make gold. The real use of a mint which are esteemed as bullion in the markets of England, was only to assure the people that the piece stamped was France, and Holland, has been for many years past, and of a certain weight and fineness. If that weight could be is now, between 15.8 and sixteen to one. But to adopt for stamped in figures, it would be all that was wanted. our standard the minimum market value of the metals in Mr. G. said the danger of establishing an improper either of these three nations would be, I am confident, to standard was sufficiently obvious. The value of gold, in continue the evils of our present system. Independent comparison with silver, had risen in England and France, of the considerations as to the tendency of gold to rise in so that, as he had slated, an ounce of guld was worth value relatively to silver, and the fact that the average fifteen and three-fourths ounces of silver. If, then, he proportion of gold to silver in the coinage in much the owed ten dollars, and had an eagle which was worth in largest portion of the world is now sixteen to one, the dif- England ten dollars and forty-five cents, he certainly ference in the expense and convenience of exporting gold should not pay his debt with that; but should retain this and silver, added to the advanced value of gold, arising piece and save his forty-five cents.
All men would pay from an increased demand for it, in case it were introduced in the cheapest metil they could. No man would pay bis
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(JUNE 21, 1834.
debts in gold if it was fixed too high, and the consequence which he wished to offer, and which, indeed, had been now was, that every body who must pay in coin, paid in the chief inducement for his troubling the House at this silver. Our silver coin answered the ordinary purposes time. It was admitted that there must be a concurrent of business to pay small debts, and the country had but circulation of silver and gold. The difficulty of fixing little more than was required for this purpose. This, in the ratio of their relative value arose from the various fact, was all for which a metallic urrency could ever be causes which concurred perpetually to alter the value of needed; for a bank bill, if known to be as good, would both, and which no one could control. If the ratio should always be preferred, especially to the smaller gold coins; be fixed to-day, these causes would change it to-morrow. they were more easily carried, and not so easily lost. As But there was one mode of completely remedying the to the gold dollars, provided in this bill, they would es. practical evil arising from this state of things. Let every cape from the pocket as readily as a sixpenny piece, which payment, beyond a small amount, be made one-half in indeed they would greatly resemble. The introduction of gold and one-half in silver. The effect of this would be coins of this description never would supersede the use to compel the banks to keep a supply of both metals. of small bank bills, because, from their inconvenience, whichever happened to be the cheapest, the advantage they would always be at three or four per cent. discount. would be
equally shared between the bank and its cusMr. G. warned the House not to bring about, by its tomer. This would relieve the difficulty entirely. hasty legislation, the same state of things in relation to As to the abrasion of the two metals, the same amount silver which had heretofore existed respecting gold. The of it upon the gold piece which happened to one of silver gold at present in circulation was obtained from two would be fifteen times as great in value; besides that, silsources, one in Russia and the other in our own Southern ver would actually suffer less abrasion than gold. The States. That from Russia was found in the Ural moun- gold pieces thus reduced in weight would be kept in cir. tains, whence from one to three millions sterling's worth culation; for, whenever the goldsmiths wanted to use was obtained annually; while about a million and a half money as bullion for purposes of the arts, they always was obtained here. An increase in this latter source choose the heaviest they could get. If the law should might go to make gold cheaper; but it would be better make gold too cheap, the country would have no silver not to legislate until the price of gold should go down. circulation; for who would bring silver here on which he The ratio of 16 to 1 had never been established by the must lose two and a half per cent.? We should soon legislation of any nation but Spain, and it was ungues have the same cry about the want of silver coin which tionably above the true value. It might be asked how there was now about gold. Then the next step would be we were to get the true value? The answer he should to tamper with the value of the dollar; and thus the nagive was, go into the great market of the commodity; tion would be vacillating in its currency like a boy upon a there the average of demand and supply would be accu. plank. But, if debts should be paid half in one metal and rately fixed, and there only. That average, in England, half in the other, all danger would be done away. was, at present, 15.771 to 1. In France, it was 15.68 to Mr. G. said he should vote for the amendment propo1. Here, in the United States, it was only 15.63 to 1. sed by the gentleman from New York, [Mr. SELDEN,) and The medium of these three rates would be 15.731 to 1. by that gentleman's consent would append his own moTo appeal from these great marts to the standard of the tion to his, as an amendment. Spanish Government was futile. If that Government [The following is the amendment proposed by Mr. choose to say the rate should be 16 or 18 to 1, it could do GORHAM.) 80; but it would be a mere arbitrary dictum, without any Sec. 3. Be it further enacted, That from and after the real effect in practice. As to the Spanish doubloon passa first day of January, 1840, the legal tender for the paying at so high a rate, the true reason was that that partic- ment and discharge of all debts contracted or obligations ular description of coin was better known than any other for the payment of money incurred after the passage of by those half-civilized and savage natiòns who received this act, shall be one-half in the silver coins and one-half gold in traffic. All the inhabitants of the East and West in the gold coins which by law shall be made current in Indies were, and bad long been, in the habit of receiving the United States: Provided, however, that any sum less that coin at a specific valuation. The same was formerly than five dollars, and that fraction or remainder of e the case with the Spanish pillar dollars, as they were larger sum which shall be less than five dollars, may be called. Dollars with that particular stamp, though in- paid in the silver coins current by law within the United trinsically worth no more than others, yet commanded a States. premium of five or six per cent., because they were better Mr.SELDEN consented to admit this as a modification known, and more readily received by the Chinese and of bis amendment, in order that a question might be taken some other nations. If the House should insist on fixing upon it. the ratio of gold to silver at 16 to 1, what would they do Mr. CAMBRELENG said that, if the gentleman from with gold but what Congress had once done with silver, Massachusetts [Mr. Gorham) wished to bring bis proposed viz: attempt to fix by legislation what nothing could fix plan to a fair test, the best way would be to try it alone. but the mercantile transactions of the country. The Mr. GORHAM replied that he could not do this, as House at one leap would add two and a half per cent. to there was one amendment already before the House; and its value. They would add more in one hour than the the only way to get a vote upon his was to attach it as an course of commerce would do in five years. If this bill amendment to the amendment pending. should pass, what would be its effect on the policy of all Mr. JONES, of Georgia, addressed the Chair as folbanks which held large amounts of silver? Did gentle- lows: men suppose such banks would issue their bills very free Mr. Speaker: Before I proceed to the examination of ly, when Congress had diminished their value two and a the substitute offered by the honorable chairman of the half per cent.? The obvious tendency of such a measure committe on coins, [Mr. Wate,) and the amendment must be to prevent discounts. Were he a director, he proposed by his colleague, (Mr. SELDEN,] I will call the would call in silver immediately, and pay for it in cheap attention of the House to the amendment offered by the gold, by which he would make two and a half per cent. gentleman from Massachusetts, (Mr. Gorham,] and adopt. So far from returning the silver now in the banks to the ed as a part of his amendment by the gentleman from circulation of the money market, the bill would offer an New York. Sir, that amendment proposes to make gold inducement to every bank in the country to hold it up. and silver coins a legal tender in payment of all debts, in As to imposing a charge for coinage, he considered it a equal amounts that is to say, one-half of the debt is to very proper measure. But there was one suggestion be paid in gold, and the other half in silver coins. For
one, I cannot give my vote in favor of this amendment. bitrary, and I might say gratuitous. It is not yet even the In my opinion, this Gorernment has no authority by the legal value. True, it is proposed by him to make it the constitution to make any thing a legal tender in payment legal value; and if the amendment should be adopted, and of debts. To Congress is given the power "to coin mo. the bill passed into a law, it may then properly be called ney and regulate the value thereof.". To the States is re- the legal value, at least, so far as this country is concerned. tained the power to make gold and silver, and them only, And, sir, the commercial value cannot be considered the a tender in payment of debts. I know that some gentle-real value. This would make the real value continually men believe that when the value of coin is fixed by Con. Auctuating. In the English market it ranged, during the gress, it becomes necessarily a legal tender, and that the last 74 years ending with 1833, from 1 to 14.29 up to 15.96. courts will so decide. To this I offer no objection. If From 1760 to 1790, its average was 14.48; from 1790 to such be the legal effect, be it so. One thing, however, 1820, its average was 14.73; from 1820 to 1828, its ave. is certain: if such be not the legal effect, Congress has rage was 15.77; from 1828 to 1833, its average was 15.88; no power to make any coin a legal tender; and if this be showing a periodically increasing value from 1760 up to the legal and necessary effect, then there is no necessity 1833, inclusive. In New York there has been still great. for Congress to do it. This being the case, it is certainly er fluctuation, ranging from 3 to 10 per cent. above the unnecessary to insert it in this bill.
value fixed by our law. The commercial value, then, be. Sir, the circumstances under which the substitute to the ing so fluctuating, cannot be considered the real value. original bill presented by the committee has been offer. But if the gentleman, by the real value, meant the comed to the House by the honorable chairman of that com- inercial value, then, sir, he was mistaken. The gentleman mittee, require a few observations from me, more espe- from Massachusetts (Mr. GORIAM] has correctly told you cially as that gentleman has been charged by his colleague that England is the great bullion market of the world, and (Mr. SELDEN] with yielding his own opinion to mine. that the average commercial value there, for the twelve These remarks are made more in justice to the honorable years ending in 1829, is 1 to 15.77. This is true; but for chairman than to myself.
the last five years, ending with 1833, the average value is It will be recollected that when this bill was in Commit- 1 to 15.88. A short calculation will show that the ratio of tee of the Whole, I consented it might be reported to the 1 to 16, as proposed by the substitute, is not 1 per cent., House without amendment; and at the same time gave no- being only three-fourths of one per cent. over the commer. tice I should more to amend the same when it came be- cial value. This being the case, the question is present. fore the House, by changing the relative value of gold and ed, whether it will be proper to fix the value of our gold silver, from 1 to 15.625, as reported by the committee, to coins three-fourths of one per cent. above the commer1 to 16; in other words, to make one ounce of gold worth | cial value in England, the great bullion market of the 16 ounces of silver. Since that time I have conversed world? fully, freely, and candidly, with the honorable chair In fixing upon this ratio, we shall avoid the extremes man, and he has consented to present the substitute on either side. In Russia the ratio is 1 to 18; in Den. which is now before the House, and which obviates all mark 1 to 164; in Spain 1 to 16; in South America 1 to 16; the objections which I had to the original bill, and meets in France 1 to 153; and in England, nominally and legalwith my entire approbation. For his courtesy, and this ly, 1 to 15.2; but really, as we have seen, 1 to 15.88. If, evidence of his regard to my opinion, he has iny thanks, then, we adopt the ratio of 1 to 16, adopted by all Ameri. and I have no doubt by this course he has also met the ca and proposed by the substitute, we shall have taken wishes of many of his friends.
the middle course, the course of prudence as well as of In making this alteration, it will be seen, however, that safety. In medio tulissime ibis is the language of wisdom the honorable chairman bas not so far departed from his and experience. own views and principles as a superficial view of the mat. The great object to be attained in regulating the rela. ter might induce you to believe. The original bill pro- tive value of gold and silver is to obtain the circulation of poses to make the eagle or integer worth 1 to 15.625, and both, if practicable, as the currency of the country. It the integral parts (which are called subsidiary currency) is well known and admitted that the value of gold, as now worth 1 to 161. Add these two together, and divide them, fixed by law, is such that, so soon as our gold coins can be so as to get the medium, and you shall have 1 to 16 1-16, obtained from the mint, they are immediately exported; being one-sixteenth more than the substitute now propo- and it is earnestly desired to correct this evil. The genges to make the ratio.
tleman from New York (Mr. SELDEN) has told you, if you It is admitted by all that the present legal value of gold, adopt the substitute our gold coins will go out of the councompared with silver, to wit: 1 to 15, is too low, and thai try when the balance of trade is against us, and when it ought to be raised; and how much it will be proper to it is in our favor they will return again, and by this operaraise it is a question difficult to determine, and on which tion our merchants will lose two and a half per cent. there may honestly exist much difference of opinion. For have already shown you that the proposed ratio of 1 to 16 tunately, however, there is not a wide difference between is not one per cent. above the commercial value; and if the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York, the gentleman is correct in saying our gold coins will re. (Mr. SELDEN,) and the substitute proposed by the chair- turn to us again after they have once left us, I can only say, man of the committee. The amendment proposes 1 to this is “a
consummation most devoutly to be wished.” 15.625, as originally inserted in the bill, instead of the Hitherto, like the tracks to the lion's den, they have been ratio, 1 to 16, contained in the substitute. It is my pur- all one way-to Europe, and not one solitary eagle has pose to call the attention and consideration of the flouse ever made good its cis-Atlantic flight. The desideratum to the remarks of that gentleman in support of his amend- of which we are in search is to keep the coins in the ment, and in opposition to the substitute of the honorable country, and if this ratio will have the additional effect to chairman of the committee on coins.
bring them back again, it must be considered an addition, We have been told by the gentleman from New York al recommendation to the substitute. (Mr. SELDEN] that the substitute proposes to raise the The gentlemen from New York (Mr. SELDEX) and value of gold two and a half per cent. above ils real value. Massachusetts [Mr. GORHAM] have told you
is that I am at a loss to know how the gentleman has ascertained whatever value you may fix upon gold can only affect it the real value of gold. If he has fixed on 1 to 15.625, the here, and can have no effect upon it in foreign countries." ratio proposed by his amendment, as the real value, then that the cominercial value will be uninfluenced by any he is right in saying the substitute proposes to raise it 23 value we may place upon it. This is only partially true, per cent. above that value. But, sir, this is certainly ar. as will be shown hereafter. The value placed upiin gold
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[JUNE 21, 1834.
by the laws of any country, must have a partial effect so the legal value of United States coins must affect their upon its commercial value in those countries with which commercial value in those countries with which we have it has commercial intercourse.
commercial intercourse. It follows, then, that the low We have been told by both those gentlemen, that the legal value of our gold coins heretofore has operated to proposed value is too high, and that it will have the effect keep down the commercial value of those coins, and if we to drive the silver coins from circulation, and make them now raise the value of those coins, there will be some in. mere merchandise for exportation. I am free to admit, if crease in their commercial value. The proposition of the there were great difference in their value, this effect gentleman from New York [Mr. SELDEN) is below the might be produced. But, sir, the difference in the value market value. The ratio proposed by the director of the of gold and silver, according to the ratio proposed, will mint is also below the average market value for the last be so small (being less than one per cent.) that it will be five years. We have seen there is a continual increase in no more than equivalent to the difference in the expense the value of gold, and if the increase of the legal value and risk in transporting them. The gentleman from cause any increase in the market value, it must be evident New York (Mr. SELDEN] has told you that the difference that one to sixteen (which is about eight-tenths of one per in the bulk of the two metals will make the risk and cent. over the mint proposition, and only three-fourths of expense of shipping silver greater than that of shipping one per cent. over the present market value) will, in a gold. This is correct, and well known to every gentle- short time, be only equal to the increased market value. man upon this floor. And yet with this fact well known, It' we stop short of this, we shall soon be compelled again that gentleman proposes to make the value 1 to 15.625, to increase the value of that metal, or to struggle with the 1 and 3-4 per cent. less than the commercial value of same difficulties which now prevent the circulation of our gold. While reading from the table, found in the report precious metals. of the committee, the various rates which had been rec You have been told that this alteration of the value of ommended, he omitted to read (madvertently, perhaps,) gold will be a violation of the compromise of the tariff of the ratio recommended by the director of the mint, and the last session. This is most strange. By that very act that by Mr. Sanford, Senator from New York, when the pound sterling is estimated in the price of cotton goods chairman of the committee on coins. Mr. Sanford then at $4 80, while the sovereign or pound sterling of gold is proposed to make 1 to 15.9 the relative value. The only worth $4 56-and when you are asked to raise the director of the mint, in 1832, proposed 1 to 15.865, as the value of the sovereign or pound sterling of gold to the ratio, wbich would make the mint value of the metals value of the pound sterling's worth of cotton goods, you equal, according to the commercial value of the years are told it will be a violation of the compromise. 1829,'30, but which is less than the market value now. The gentleman from Massachusetts has told you that But, sir, if you make their mint value equal, the necessary this bill will not prevent the circulation of bank noles, as consequence will be, that gold will be selected for ex. has been expected; but that, while the banks are good, portation, from the increased risk and expense of export- people will take the bank notes, from the greater conveing silver. You must make the mint value of gold a little nience of carrying them. Sir, I am well aware such will more than silver to secire an equal circulation of both be the case to a great extent-and this is a must conclusive metals; and can three-fourths of one per cent. be more argument with me, that the ratio proposed by this substithan will most probably be necessary to effect so desirable tute is not too high, and that if you adopt a lower one, the an object?
gold will not only be supplied by bank notes, in the circuBy reference to a table I have before me, containing a lation of the country, but will be continually exported, as statement of actual sales of gold coins in New York, from bullion, as fast as they are coined; and we shall have all the 1827 to May, 1834, inclusive, I find United States gold expense of the mint, as we have heretofore, without any coins sold from 10 to 3 per cent. premium, and English corresponding benefit. gold coins from 104 to 3 per cent.premium-being from But the gentleman from New York (Mr. Selden) con64 to 7 per cent. above the legal value, and the substitute siders this increase of the value as a tariff upon gold, and in your table proposes to raise that value six and two-thirds expresses the hope that the gentlemen from the South per cent. The sales of Spanish doubloons has been great- have abandoned their opposition to the measure.
Since the beginning of 1832, up to the end of May, gentleman is mistaken. This is not a tariff, nor have the 1834, the average sales of any month has been more than gentlemen from the South been opposed to a tariff-a $16, except in one month, and then it was more than constitutional tariff, for raising revenue. They are, and $15 90. In two months it averaged more than $17, and have been, opposed to a tariff for the protection of domesthe market price in New York, for May last, was $16 57. tic manufactures. They consider such a tariff unconstiWe have been told by the gentleman from Massachusetts tutional, unjust, and oppressive-well calculated to alien[Mr. Gonuam] the price for which doubloons have sold ate the affections of the people of the South from this Gor can form no fáir criterion upon which to fix the relative ernment. They do consider it an incubus upon the system, value of gold and silver; for that, by a royal ordinance, paralyzing the honest industry of the South-a perfect Spanish doubloons are worth $17 in Cuba, and the in- vampyre feeding upon their vitals, and sucking the heart's creased price of doubloons has been occasioned by the in- blood of the people. Its advocates know that it is unconscreased legal value in that island. Sir, this is a little at stitutional; that ihey abuse a constitutional power for a war with the proposition of that gentleman, and the gen. purpose which they know is unconstitutional, and which tleman from New York, [Mr. Selden,) " That what they dare not avow. They are compelled to cover the ever value you may fix can have no effect upon the real object of the extravagant duty.' While it is consticommercial value in other countries." If this proposi- tutional to impose duties for revenue, they know it is untion be correct, then the value fised by the royal ordi- constitutional to impose them for protection. They are nance can have no effect upon the commercial value in careful the title of the act shall be for raising revenue, and the United States. But I agree with the gentleman from dare not declare by its title that it is for the protection of Massachusetts, that the sales in the United States have manufactures. They are well aware the Supreme Court been affected by the royal ordinance; and they must agree cannot go beyond the title and bill to inquire into the mowith me, that the legal value of coin will have some effect tives for imposing those duties, and they well know that upon the commercial value, more particularly in those a bill laying duties for the protection of manufactures will countries where there exists commercial intercourse. be declared unconstitutional. “This bill is a tariff upon That as the legal value of doubloons in Cuba alone has gold.” A tariff upon gold! If it were, it has one thing affected the commercial value of them in the United States, Ito recommend it--of which the tariff that we complain of
June 21, 1834.]
(H. or R.
is wholly destitute-it is constitutional. We are acting be preferred to dollars, they could therefore be exportwithin the legitimate spbere of Congress in fixing a value ed. Within the last year the bank bas reduced her upon coins; and three-fourths of one per cent. is a poor | loans to fifty-four millions. Her notes have become pittance with which to purchase the South and bring them scarce, and, therefore, the dollars must be imported to to the support of an unconstitutional tariff. No, sir; they supply their place; and it will always be in the power of are not thus to be bought. They cannot be induced to the bank to produce this plenty and scarcity of specie, violate the constitution, if, instead of three-fourths of one to prevent its exportation, and to demand its importation. per cent. you should offer them fifty per cent., and thus The passage of this substitute cannot entirely control plunder the people of the other States to fatten and en- these operations; but it will go far to furnish a circularich themselves. Mr. Speaker, I regret I have been ting medium, well calculated to supply the wants and drawn into this subject. ' A compromise has now been meet the exigency of the country. As the Bank of the made of this unpleasant question, and I had hoped it would United States will soon expire by its own limitation, not be disturbed, though I have awful fears, if the system something which will pass current every where is imperiof internal improvement goes on, which I have seen urged ously demanded, to supply the place of her notes which upon this House, we shall see the attempt made to renew will be taken out of circulation. Nothing can do this so that disastrous system which had well nigh severed this well as gold. It has an intrinsic value which is every where Union and blasted all our prosperity.
acknowledged. It can easily be conveyed from place But we have been told, by the gentleman from New to place without inconvenience, and he who is furnished York, (Mr. SELDEN,] if you pass this substitute, the Bank with this coin has no fears of the solvency of banks or of the United States will make $800,000. There must the depreciation of their notes. be some doubt of this, else, I presume, the gentleman Mr. "GILLET said that he must congratulate the would have been found advocating instead of opposing it. House and nation, that Congress, near the close of a sesHe seems to have taken great interest in the interests of sion of seven months, devoted, to a great extent, in dethe bank, and to have taken it under his peculiar care. bates on the subject of the currency, was at last seriously Sir, it is not my intention to make any reflection upon engaged in discussing an interesting and important branch that gentleman. He believes that institution beneficial to of an undoubted constitutional currency. The interests the country, and it is not surprising that he should en- and wishes of the people of the United States demanded deavor to advance its interests. I believe it destructive our prompt action upon this subject, and he could discoyof the best interests of the country, and it should not ex- er no reason why those interests and wishes should not cite surprise that I should be found in opposition to it. be responded to in a satisfactory manner. This bill, as I entirely agree with the gentleman from Massachuseits, proposed to be amended by his colleague, (Mr. Wurte,] that the value which this substitute fixes upon gold will fixes the value of our gold coins, as compared with silver, not prevent it from being exported when the necessities at 16 to 1, and to coin eagles, half eagles, quarter eagles, of commerce require its exportation. I am well satisfied and dollars. Another colleague of his (Mr. Senden) had that no value which we could fix by law would do so. If proposed an amendment to the amendment, which re. we make the eagle worth twenty, instead of ten dollars, quired these several coins to be of a greater weight. A when the exigencies of commerce demand its exporta- gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. GORUAM) had protion, it must go.
posed a modification of the amendment to the amendThe gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. GORIAM] has ment, which required, in the payment of all sums over said that the South American dollars which come to New five dollars, that one-half should be paid in gold and the Orleans, instead of being scattered over the United States, other in silver. To this last amendment he could not yield will be immediately exported to Europe. Surely, sir, bis assent. It was wholly arbitrary and unjust, and the gentleman has forgoiten that Spanish and South Amer. would bear with peculiar hardship upon farmers, shopican dollars are worth one-half to three-quarters per cent. keepers, and small dealers, who collected in their busimore than dollars of the United States; and it is within ness small sums, but who might be compelled to pay out the knowledge of all who hear me, that Spanish and in large ones. It might also apply to collectors of taxes, South American dollars furnish all our present circulation, and others, who collect and disburse the public revenue. notwithstanding the difference in value between them an individual might be compelled to pay a large debt at and the dollars of the United States. I have already a distant place, and certainly he ought to be allowed the shown that the value of gold, by this substitute, will only privilege of paying it in that coin which he could the be of one per cent. over the value of silver; and most easily transport to the place of payment. He could that the difference of the risk and expense of transport. see no good that could possibly result from this proposiation will nearly or quite equal this difference; and if tion, and he hoped it would not be adopted by the House. the Spanish and South American dollars have not been there, then, remained but two questions of importance to driven from the country by the difference in value be- pass upon. First, is it expedient to increase the circulation tween them and the dollars of the United States, we need of gold in the country? and, second, is 16 to 1 the proper mut fear any such consequences from this bill.
proportion between gold and silver? You have been told by the gentleman from New York As to the first question, Mr. G. said he thought the that silver is now abundant, and if this substitute be true interests of the country called for an increased ciradopted, it will soon be scarce. I apprehend a much culation of the precious metals, and particularly of gold, better cause can be given for the plenty and scarcity of which was light and portable, and would prove conve. specie than the passage of any law. It will be recollect- nient in the transaction of business, and he was confident ed, that for a short time previous to the examination of the voice of the American people demanded it. He was the Bank of the United States in 1832, that institution aware that we had, on another occasion, been told of a had exported some five or six millions of dollars, and that currency better than gold and silver, which had been fursome millions have been imported within the last three nished by a corporation. He entertained no such opinion or four months. A very little reflection will teach us of the productions of any corporation. He preferred a why it was exported then, and imported at this time. It currency recognised by and resting upon the laws of the will be recollected that, just before the exportation of Union, the value of which should not depend upon the specie in 1831, the Bank of the United States had ex-good or ill fortune of a corporation, or its ability fo pay its tended her discounts from forty-two to seventy millions. debts, and which should not vibrate, contract, or expand, Hez notes were then plenty, and, as the gentleman from with the uncontrolleil will of a soulless body. Our conMassachusetts has told you, the bills of good banks will stitution had given us the “power to coin money and
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