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Hon. Henry Waldron On The Finances

Hon. Henry Waldron On The Finances image
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The House of Representatives on the 2sth vilt. having ander cousideration the bill to establish frce banking, lr. f Waldfon, of tliis State, said : Mr. Speaker - I have notliing to add to, the variety óf the plans, theones, and devices which have boen proscnted to this body as furnibhing a solution tor wliat has been termed " the financial problem." A man iuust be indoed fastidious who cnnnot find soinethiug in the numraous prtfjects of tlie hour Which tallies with his preferences and judgnunt. 1 only desire to anuounce the oonvictions which will govorn niy vote on tho different Bohemes that have been brought befare this Congress. In the first plaee, I regard tha issuing of a paper ourrency by the Government as at least a doubtful exercise of power, and certainly most pernicious in its influente on the business interests of the poople. We have aequieseed in its exercise when the salvtition of the nation seemed to require it, but tho necessity has passed away, and the paper whieh was the oreature of the necessity should now gradually be retired. 80 long as the policy of issuing irredeemable papei is persisted in, so long shall we have instability, uncertainty, fluctuations, and panics. Constant pressure will be brought upon Congress to in crease or contract the volume of the currency. Tho business of the country ill be, as it is to-day, paralyzed because of the uncertainty of our legislation. Men refrain from oiubarking in business enterprises because values as measured by an irre,deemable curreney are continually rising or falliog as the volume of paper increases or ditninishes, So long as the power is exercisod by the Government, or any departuieut thereof, to issue inconvertible paper, just so long is an element of uncertainty added to the operations of the business world, which fosters speculations, stimulates ganibling, and cripples legitímate trade. Look at the spectacle of to-day. No 111:111 can teil within $1 1,000,000 wüat tho limit of our legal tender currency is, or is to be. No man can teil whetherour steps are to be in the direction of resumption of specie payment, or in the opposite diroction of expansión. Now, what the country wants is stability, permanence, persistence in some fixed policy. When our policy is aunounoed, the business of the country will adjust itself to it ; but so long as we disregard the world's standard of value, and leave the amount of our currency to the changiug legislation of Congress, or the disoretiou of a departmeut, we are at sea without pilot or chart. Auother objection that I hve to our irredeemable curreucy is that its continuance is debauching und corrupting the moral sense of the uation. We are actually farther from resumption to-day than we were at the close of the war. Men begin to argue that gold and silver are not the best representatives of value, and overlooking the tact that industry is the source of woalth, they would substituto a printing-press to manufacture curreney. The issue of irredeemable promises to pay adds nothing to the wealthand prosperity of a people ; but there is this perniuious peuuliarity attonding it, that every issuo only createa the (Iemand tor additional issues ; the tirst step yielded, the others readily ibllow. The history of the civilized world is full of instruction aud warning to us, to which it were ïnadness to shut our eyes ; and as to its intluence on the industries of a nation, we have the testimony of the great Massachusetts statesman, Daniel Webster, inauy years ago. He said : " A disordered currency is one öf the greatest of political evils. It undermines the virtues necessary for the support of the social system, and encourages propensities destructivo of its happiness. It is against industry, frugality and economy ; aud it fosters the evil spirits of extravagance and speculation. Of all the contri vanees for cheating the laboring classes of mankind none has been more effectual than that whiuh deludes them with paper currency. This is the most effectual of inventions to fertilize the rich man's field by the sweat of the poor man's brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation, these bear lightly on the nias of the community compared with the fraudulent currency and the robberies committed by a depreciated curreiwiy Uur owu hislory has recordedfor iagjjr L' tion enough, and more than ti&ftïtP' the demoralizing tendency, the ijr' ugL and the intolerable oppressioif, f v' tuous andwell-disposed of % 'ra(ledpaI per currency authonzed b in ƒ way couhtenanced by y ernment. - Believing that tb? y al tender curren. cy is the obstade. tfi. te res tion of specie paymentaV m n favor of its re. tireraent, and. tb. ' substitution in its place of the nationalj ► ank currency. 1 would divorce the le;i" ernment trom the bankïngbw leaving it to the supervisión of banfciw corporations so as to insure protwöe" j to the bill-holder, and making the feu' lness of banking .tree to all persons or coporations who will coinply with tho requirements of law. The present " nking law is the best which the ingenuity of man has devised. lts value has been tested by years of experience, and more especially by the panic of last autiimn, While that revulsión struck down merchants, manufacturers, and business iaterests of all kinds, the national banks of the country went safely through. Out of 2,100 banks organized under the law but eleven have failed in eleven years ; and even in their case no bill-holder has lost a dollar. Such a business is without a parallel in any business experience. Now, the only objection that can be urged to this system is that it is limited by law. It is alleged that it is a monopoly, and from that objection I would relieve it by throwing it open to any and all who desire to invest their capital in banking. And, as a proliminary to throwing it open, a polioy should be adopted which looks to the retirement of the legal tender notes. As for the different modes suggested for tho redemption of the greenbacksl am wedded to no particular plan, although I prefer the passage of a law which shall provide that oue-fourth of the eustoms duties may be paid in greenbacks and the notes destroyed. Sinco the closo of the war the Government has usod its surplus gold to pay its bonded debt before it was ,jue - let it now use it to retire a deinand debt long past due. This policy would at once appreciate the greenbacks in value and would retire forty millions a year, the other three-fourths of the custems duties being payable in coin and furnishing the gold to pay the interest on the public debt. It may be urged that this would be too slow a redemption of the legal tender currency, but it should be slow, it should be gradual, there should be 110 sudden and violent contraction of the eurrency. No unnecessary derangement of tho business of the poople, but let the policy be fixed ; let it be steady and permanent ; let it be, above all, in the right direction, holding every inch that we gain, and although we should cancel but one-tenth of the greenbacks in a year, yet tho inrluence would be feit at once in their steady approach fo a gold standard of value. Long before the time has elapsed which would be necessary to absorb tbis paper, it would be at par with gold. The withdrawal of a fraction of it through the custom-house, coupled with a demand for it on the part of new national banks as a reserve, would soon so circumscribe the amount in circulation that it would be within the means of the Government to redeeiu it in gold long before the time was reached tor its entire withdrawal. And while this retirement of greenbacks is going on a free banking system will supply to the country currency just as the ueeds of business and wants of trade demand, and it is much better to leave that matter to the laws of trade than to any arbitrary action of Congress or departments. At the half-yearly meeting of London the General Omnibus Company it was stated in the report that the number of miles run was 5,873,964, while the number of passengerst c&rried was more than 24,000,000.


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