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resources of the country in the times of great pressure, or when one metal should be preferred in commerce to the other, is the difference in their intrinsic value, which admirably adapts the one to the purposes of effecting small payments, and the other to the purposes of transportation, in defraying travelling expenses, in liquidating state and national balances, and in discharging every where throughout the world large obligations. In these views Mr. Gallatin and Mr. Baring, the most experienced and distinguished financiers of the age, perfectly agree. They admit the fact, upon which the gentleman from New York [Mr. Seldes] has so much relied, that, when the coins of the two metals are placed upon an equal footing in the payment of debts, a change in their relative market value would produce a change in their relative legal value, and that that metal which becomes the cheapest will drive the other from circulation, and become alone the practical standard and currency. The truth of this theory has long since been clearly exemplified in the history of the monetary system of England, and also in the monetary system of these United States. Although, by our constitution and laws, gold is regarded as money, and is made a legal tender, the same as silver, in the payment of debts, yet, in consequence of the vast difference in the value of gold at our mint, compared with its relative value to silver in general commerce, it has long since departed from the United States, leaving silver the only metallic currency. In order to restore gold again to our currency, and keep it in circulation, it is only necessary to raise its value in 'our coinage so as to correspond with its value relatively to silver in general commerce. “In the use of both metals,” says Mr. Baring, in his examination before the committee on coins in England, in 1828, “one of two courses must be taken, either to leave them to chance, and give to the debtor the advantage of the option, as was the case under the old English system, or fix at once which is to be your standard, and adjust, at given periods, your other metal to it. If you want the a vantages of the fixity of standard of one metal, with the facilities and conveniencies of two, you must take the latter course. The system of occasional adjustment has been practised in France, and in these matters practical experience is worth all the theories of Inere speculation. In attempting to fix the value of gold at our mint, with the sole view of introducing it into circulation with silver, so that the one may not be preferred to the other in the payment of debts, a due regard must be paid to the relative value of bullion in the great marts of the world, and more especially in those nations with which we have the greatest commercial intercourse. In addition to this, we must also take into consideration the fact, which the history of the two metals incontestably proves, to wit: the universal tendency of gold to rise in value relatively to silver; and also the fact, proved by the table to which I have referred, furnished by the director of our mint, that much more of the two metals are now coined upon the basis that gold is in value to silver as one to sixteen, than according to any other proportion. It is true, the average market value of gold and silver bullion, or of foreign coins, which are esteemed as bullion in the markets of England, France, and Holland, has been for many years past, and is now, between 15.8 and sixteen to one. But to adopt for our standard the minimum market value of the metals in either of these three nations would be, I am confident, to continue the evils of our present system. Independent of the considerations as to the tendency of gold to rise in value relatively to silver, and the fact that the average proportion of gold to silver in the coinage in much the largest portion of the world is now sixteen to one, the difference in the expense and convenience of exporting gold
into general circulation in the United States, would be fully if not more than equivalent to eighty-eight hundredths of one per cent., the difference between 15.86 and sixteen to one. Therefore, am I decidedly in favor of the amendment offered by the honorable chairman of the committee on coins, which makes the eagle weigh two hundred and thirty-two grains pure gold, and two hundred and fifty-eight standard, nine-tenths fine, which is equivalent to one of gold for sixteen of silver. I am in favor of this proportion, not from any selfish or local considerations, but because I sincerely believe that it is for the public good that both metals should be coined at our mint, and that nothing short of the proportion proposed in the amendment offered by the chairman of the committee will place the two coins upon a level in the commercial world, and ensure their concurrent circulation in the United States.
When Mr. CLow NEY sat down,
Mr. GORHAM rose and said, it was important that the true ratio of gold and silver should be accurately fixed. If there was too much gold in the eagle, every body would pay their debts in dollars; if too little, all would pay in eagles. It was very difficult, and a matter of great nicety, to fix their relative value. At first, it had been determined that one ounce of gold was worth fifteen ounces of silver. This continued to be the relative value established by law, from the year 1792 till about fifteen years ago. This continued to be very near the truth for about thirty years, when the proportion had suddenly changed. Whence the change had proceeded it was not easy to tell, probably from an increased production of silver and a proportionable decrease in the production of gold; or because more gold had been employed in the coinage of Great Britain. Whatever the cause might be, the value had risen from fifteen ounces to fifteen and a half and fifteen and three-quarters. That was the very extent. This bill fixed it at sixteen. However the standard was fixed, it ought not to be changed every day. He did not know that it was very essential to change it at all. The present standard had long been found a very good one. But if any change were made, it must be done with the greatest care. It was now only fifteen years since gold and silver were in concurrent circulation in this country, and debts were demanded and paid in either indifferently. And ever since that period, the business of the country had got along very well until the late disturbance on the subject of the currency. The question in this bill, Mr. G. observed, was one purely and wholly separate from all politics. It was a question of business, which rested altogether on different grounds. It was impossible for that House, by any act of its legislation, either to take from or to add to the value of gold. That value was fixed by other things than acts of Congress. The Government might mark its own coin with what value it pleased, but it could not give it that value; and if by law they allowed money to be a lawful tender for more than its value, they immediately affected the obligation of contracts, which they were forbidden by the constitution to do. Their law could no more change the value of gold than it could make gold. The real use of a mint was only to assure the people that the piece stamped was of a certain weight and fineness. If that weight could be stamped in figures, it would be all that was wanted.
Mr. G. said the danger of establishing an improper standard was sufficiently obvious. The value of gold, in comparison with silver, had risen in England and France, so that, as he had stated, an ounce of gold was worth fifteen and three-fourths ounces of silver. If, then, he owed ten dollars, and had an eagle which was worth in England ten dollars and forty-five cents, he certainly should not pay his debt with that; but should retain the
and silver, added to the advanced value of gold, arising
from an increased demand for it, in case it were introduced
piece and save his sorty-five cents. All men would pay in the cheapest metal they could. No man would pay his
debts in gold if it was fixed too high, and the consequence now was, that every body who must pay in coin, paid in silver. Our silver coin answered the ordinary purposes of business to pay small debts, and the country had but little more than was required for this purpose. This, in fact, was all for which a metallic currency could ever be needed; for a bank bill, if known to be as good, would always be preferred, especially to the smaller gold coins; they were more easily carried, and not so easily lost. As to the gold dollars, provided in this bill, they would escape from the pocket as readily as a sixpenny piece, which indeed they would greatly resemble. The introduction of coins of this description never would supersede the use of small bank bills, because, from their inconvenience, they would always be at three or four per cent. discount. Mr. G., warned the House not to bring about, by its hasty legislation, the same state of things in relation to silver which had heretofore existed respecting gold. The gold at present in circulation was obtained from two sources, one in Russia and the other in our own Southern States. That from Russia was found in the Ural mountains, whence from one to three millions sterling's worth was obtained annually; while about a million and a half was obtained here. An increase in this latter source might go to make gold cheaper; but it would be better not to legislate until the price of gold should go down. The ratio of 16 to 1 had never been established by the legislation of any nation but Spain, and it was unques. tionably above the true value. It might be asked how we were to get the true value? The answer he should give was, go into the great market of the commodity; there the average of demand and supply would be accurately fixed, and there only. That average, in England, was, at present, 15.771 to 1. In France, it was 15.68 to 1. Here, in the United States, it was only 15.63 to 1. The medium of these three rates would be 15.731 to 1. To appeal from these great marts to the standard of the Spanish Government was futile. If that Government choose to say the rate should be 16 or 18 to 1, it could do so; but it would be a mere arbitrary dictum, without any real effect in practice. As to the Spanish doubloon pass. ing at so high a rate, the true reason was that that partic. ular description of coin was better known than any other by those half-civilized and savage nations who received gold in traffic. All the inhabitants of the East and West Indies were, and had long been, in the habit of receiving that coin at a specific valuation. The same was formerly the case with the Spanish pillar dollars, as they were called. ... Dollars with that particular stamp, though intrinsically worth no more than others, yet commanded a premium of five or six per cent., because they were better known, and more readily received by the Chinese and some other nations. If the House should insist on fixing the ratio of gold to silver at 16 to 1, what would they do with gold but what Congress had once done with silver, viz: attempt to fix by legislation what nothing could fix but the mercantile transactions of the country. The House at one leap would add two and a half per cent. to its value. They would add more in one hour than the course of commerce would do in five years. If this bill should pass, what would be its effect on the policy of all banks which held large amounts of silver? Did gentlemen suppose such banks would issue their bills very freely, when Congress had diminished their value two and a half per cent.” The obvious tendency of such a measure must be to prevent discounts. Were he a director, he would call in silver immediately, and pay for it in cheap gold, by which he would make two and a half per cent. So far from returning the silver now in the banks to the circulation of the money market, the bill would offer an inducement to every bank in the country to hold it up. As to imposing a charge for coinage, he considered it a very proper measure. But there was one suggestion
which he wished to offer, and which, indeed, had been the chief inducement for his troubling the House at this time. It was admitted that there must be a concurrent circulation of silver and gold. The difficulty of fixing the ratio of their relative value arose from the various causes which concurred perpetually to alter the value of both, and which no one could control. If the ratio should be fixed to-day, these causes would change it to-morrow. But there was one mode of completely remedying the practical evil arising from this state of things. Let every payment, beyond a small amount, be made one-half in gold and one-half in silver. The effect of this would be to compel the banks to keep a supply of both metals. Whichever happened to be the cheapest, the advantage would be equally shared between the bank and its customer. This would relieve the difficulty entirely. As to the abrasion of the two metals, the same amount of it upon the gold piece which happened to one of silver would be fifteen times as great in value; besides that, silver would actually suffer less abrasion than gold. The gold pieces thus reduced in weight would be kept in circulation; for, whenever the goldsmiths wanted to use money as bullion for purposes of the arts, they always choose the heaviest they could get. If the law should make gold too cheap, the country would have no silver circulation; for who would bring silver here on which he must lose two and a half per cent.” We should soon have the same cry about the want of silver coin which there was now about gold. Then the next step would be to tamper with the value of the dollar; and thus the nation would be vacillating in its currency like a boy upon a plank. But, if debts should be paid half in one metal and half in the other, all danger would be done away. Mr. G. said he should vote for the amendment proposed by the gentleman from New York, [Mr. SELDEN,) and by that gentleman's consent would append his own motion to his, as an amendment. [The following is the amendment proposed by Mr. GoRhAM.] Sec. 3. Be it further enacted, That from and after the first day of January, 1840, the legal tender for the payment and discharge of all debts contracted or obligations for the payment of money incurred after the passage of this act, shall be one-half in the silver coins and one-half in the gold coins which by law shall be made current in the United States: Provided, however, that any sum less than five dollars, and that fraction or remainder of a larger sum which shall be less than five dollars, may be paid in the silver coins current by law within the United States. Mr. SELDEN consented to admit this as a modification of his amendment, in order that a question might be taken upon it. Mr. CAMBRELENG said that, if the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. GoRHAM] wished to bring his proposed plan to a fair test, the best way would be to try it alone. Mr. GORHAM replied that he could not do this, as there was one amendment already before the House; and the only way to get a vote upon his was to attach it as an amendment to the amendment pending. Mr. Jon ES, of Georgia, addressed the Chair as follows: Mr. Speaker: Before I proceed to the examination of the substitute offered by the honorable chairman of the committe on coins, [Mr. White,) and the amendment proposed by his colleague, [Mr. SELDEN,) I will call the attention of the House to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Gorth AM, and adopted as a part of his amendment by the gentleman from New York. Sir, that amendment proposes to make gold and silver coins a legal tender in payment of all debts, in equal amounts—that is to say, one-half of the debt is to be paid in gold, and the other half in silver coins. For
one, I cannot give my vote in favor of this amendment. In my opinion, this Government has no authority by the constitution to make any thing a legal tender in payment of debts. To Congress is given the power “to coin money and regulate the value thereof.” To the States is retained the power to make gold and silver, and them only, a tender in payment of debts. I know that some gentlemen believe that when the value of coin is fixed by Congress, it becomes necessarily a legal tender, and that the courts will so decide. To this I offer no objection. If such be the legal effect, be it so. One thing, however, is certain: if such be not the legal effect, Congress has no power to make any coin a legal tender; and if this be the legal and necessary effect, then there is no necessity for Congress to do it. This being the case, it is certainly unnecessary to insert it in this bill. Sir, the circumstances under which the substitute to the original bill presented by the committee has been offered to the House by the honorable chairman of that committee, require a few observations from me, more especially as that gentleman has been charged by his colleague [Mr. SELD EN] with yielding his own opinion to mine. These remarks are made more in justice to the honorable chairman than to myself. It will be recollected that when this bill was in Committee of the Whole, I consented it might be reported to the House without amendment; and at the same time gave notice I should move to amend the same when it came before the House, by changing the relative value of gold and silver, from 1 to 15.625, as reported by the committee, to 1 to 16; in other words, to make one ounce of gold worth 16 ounces of silver. Since that time I have conversed fully, freely, and candidly, with the honorable chairman, and he has consented to present the substitute which is now before the House, and which obviates all the objections which I had to the original bill, and meets with my entire approbation. For his courtesy, and this evidence of his regard to my opinion, he has my thanks, and I have no doubt by this course he has also met the wishes of many of his friends. In making this alteration, it will be seen, however, that the honorable chairman has not so far departed from his own views and principles as a superficial view of the matter might induce you to believe. The original bill proposes to make the eagle or integer worth 1 to 15.625, and the integral parts (which are called subsidiary currency) worth 1 to 163. Add these two together, and divide them, so as to get the medium, and you shall have 1 to 161-16, being one-sixteenth more than the substitute now proposes to make the ratio. It is admitted by all that the present legal value of gold, compared with silver, to wit: 1 to 15, is too low, and that it ought to be raised; and how much it will be proper to raise it is a question difficult to determine, and on which there may honestly exist much difference of opinion. For. tunately, however, there is not a wide difference between the amendment offered by the gentleman from New York, [Mr. SELDEN,) and the substitute proposed by the chairman of the committee. The amendment proposes 1 to 15.625, as originally inserted in the bill, instead of the ratio, 1 to 16, contained in the substitute. It is my purpose to call the attention and consideration of the House to the remarks of that gentleman in support of his amendment, and in opposition to the substitute of the honorable chairman of the committee on coins. we have been told by the gentleman from New York [Mr. SELDEN] that the substitute proposes to raise the value of gold two and a half per cent. above its real value. I am at a loss to know how the gentleman has ascertained the real value of gold. If he has fixed on 1 to 15.625, the ratio proposed by his amendment, as the real value, then he is right in saying the substitute proposes to raise it 2%
per cent. above that value. But, sir, this is certainly ar.
bitrary, and I might say gratuitous. It is not yet even the legal value. True, it is proposed by him to make it the legal value; and if the amendment should be adopted, and the bill passed into a law, it may then properly be called the legal value, at least, so far as this country is concerned. And, sir, the commercial value cannot be considered the real value. This would make the real value continually fluctuating. In the English marketit ranged, during the last 74 years ending with 1833, from 1 to 14.29 up to 15.96. From 1760 to 1790, its average was 14.48; from 1790 to 1820, its average was 14.73; from 1820 to 1828, its average was 15.77; from 1828 to 1833, its average was 15.88; showing a periodically increasing value from 1760 up to 1833, inclusive. In New York there has been still greater fluctuation, ranging from 3 to 10% per cent. above the value fixed by our law. The commercial value, then, being so fluctuating, cannot be considered the real value. But if the gentleman, by the real value, meant the commercial value, then, sir, he was mistaken. The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Goan AM] has correctly told you that England is the great bullion market of the world, and that the average commercial value there, for the twelve years ending in 1829, is 1 to 15.77. This is true; but for the last five years, ending with 1833, the average value is 1 to 15.88. A short calculation will show that the ratio of 1 to 16, as proposed by the substitute, is not 1 per cent., being only three-fourths of one per cent. over the commer. cial value. This being the case, the question is presented, whether it will be proper to fix the value of our gold coins three-fourths of one per cent, above the commercial value in England, the great bullion market of the world? In fixing upon this ratio, we shall avoid the extremes on either side. In Russia the ratio is 1 to 18; in Denmark 1 to 163; in Spain 1 to 16; in South America 1 to 16; in France 1 to 153; and in Engfand, nominally and legally, 1 to 15.2; but really, as we have seen, 1 to 15.88. If, then, we adopt the ratio of 1 to 16, adopted by all America and proposed by the substitute, we shall have taken the middle course, the course of prudence as well as of safety. In medio tulissime ibis is the language of wisdom and experience. The great object to be attained in regulating the relative value of gold and silver is to obtain the circulation of both, if practicable, as the currency of the country. It is well known and admitted that the value of gold, as now fixed by law, is such that, so soon as our gold coins can be obtained from the mint, they are immediately exported; and it is earnestly desired to correct this evil. The gemtleman from New York [Mr. SELDEN) has told you, if you adopt the substitute our gold coins will go out of the country when the balance of trade is against us, and when it is in our favor they will return again, and by this operation our merchants will lose two and a half per cent. I have already shown you that the proposed ratio of 1 to 16 is not one per cent. above the commercial value; and if the gentleman is correct in saying our gold coins will return to us again after they have once left us, I can only say, this is “a consummation most devoutly to be wished.” Hitherto, like the tracks to the lion's den, they have been all one way—to Europe, and not one solitary eagle has ever made good its cis-Atlantic flight. The desideratum of which we are in search is to keep the coins in the country, and if this ratio will have the additional effect to bring them back again, it must be considered an additional recommendation to the substitute. The gentlemen from New York [Mr. SELnks] and Massachusetts [Mr. GonnaM] have told you “that whatever value you may fix upon gold can only affect it here, and can have no effect upon it in foreign countries.” That the commercial value will be uninfluenced by any value we may place upon it. This is only partially true, as will be shown hereafter. The value placed upon gold
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 inmere 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. Seldes] 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, that gentleman proposes to make the value 1 to 15.625, 1 and 3-4 per cent. less than the commercial value of gold. While reading from the table, found in the report of the committee, the various rates which had been recommended, he omitted to read (eiadvertently, perhaps,) the ratio recommended by the director of the mint, and that by Mr. Sanford, Senator from New York, when chairman of the committee on coins. Mr. Sanford then proposed to make 1 to 15.9 the relative value. The director of the mint, in 1832, proposed 1 to 15.865, as the ratio, which would make the mint value of the metals equal, according to the commercial value of the years 1829, '30, but which is less than the market value now. But, sir, if you make their mint value equal, the necessary consequence will be, that gold will be selected for exportation, from the increased risk and expense of exporting silver. You must make the mint value of gold a little more than silver to secure an equal circulation of both metals; and can three-fourths of one per cent. be more than will most probably be necessary to effect so desirable an object? By reference to a table I have before me, containing a statement of actual sales of gold coins in New York, from 1827 to May, 1834, inclusive, I find United States gold coins sold from 10 to 3 per cent. premium, and English gold coins from 10% to 33 per cent. premium—being from 6% to 7 per cent. above the legal value, and the substitute in your table proposes to raise that value six and two-thirds per cent. The sales of Spanish doubloons has been greater. Since the beginning of 1832, up to the end of May, 1834, the average sales of any month has been more than $16, except in one month, and then it was more than $15 90. In two months it averaged more than $17, and the market price in New York, for May last, was $16 37. We have been told by the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Gouh AM] the price for which doubloons have sold can form no fair criterion upon which to fix the relative value of gold and silver; for that, by a royal ordinance, Spanish doubloons are worth $17 in Cuba, and the in. creased price of doubloons has been occasioned by the increased legal value in that island. Sir, this is a little at war with the proposition of that gentleman, and the gen. tleman from New York, [Mr. SELDEN,) “That what. ever value you may fix can have no effect upon the commercial value in other countries.” If this proposition be correct, then the value fixed by the royal ordi. nance can have no effect upon the commercial value in the United States. But I agree with the gentleman from Massachusetts, that the sales in the United States have been affected by the royal ordinance; and they must agree with me, that the legal value of coin will have some effect upon the commercial value, more particularly in those countries where there exists commercial intercourse.
If we stop short of this, we shall soon be compelled again to increase the value of that metal, or to struggle with the same difficulties which now prevent the circulation of our precious metals. You have been told that this alteration of the value of gold will be a violation of the compromise of the tariff of the last session. This is most strange. By that very act the pound sterling is estimated in the price of cotton goods at $4 80, while the sovereign or pound sterling of gold is only worth $4 56—and when you are asked to raise the value of the sovereign or pound sterling of gold to the value of the pound sterling’s worth of cotton goods, you are told it will be a violation of the compromise. The gentleman from Massachusetts has told you that this bill will not prevent the circulation of bank notes, as has been expected; but that, while the banks are good, people will take the bank notes, from the greater convenience of carrying them. Sir, I am well aware such will be the case to a great extent—and this is a most conclusive argument with me, that the ratio proposed by this substitute is not too high, and that if you adopt a lower one, the gold will not only be supplied by bank notes, in the circulation of the country, but will be continually exported, as bullion, as fast as they are coined; and we shall have all the expense of the mint, as we have heretofore, without any corresponding benefit. But the gentleman from New York [Mr. SELDEN) considers this increase of the value as a tariff upon gold, and expresses the hope that the gentlemen from the South have abandoned their opposition to the measure. The gentleman is mistaken. This is not a tariff, nor have the gentlemen from the South been opposed to a tariff—a constitutional tariff, for raising revenue. They are, and have been, opposed to a tariff for the protection of domestic manufactures. They consider such a tariff unconstitutional, unjust, and oppressive— well calculated to alienate the affections of the people of the South from this Government. They do consider it an incubus upon the system. paralyzing the honest industry of the South—a perfect vampyre feeding upon their vitals, and sucking the heart’s blood of the people. Its advocates know that it is unconstitutional; that they abuse a constitutional power for a purpose which they know is unconstitutional, and which they dare not avow. They are compelled to cover the real object of the extravagant duty. While it is constitutional to impose duties for revenue, they know it is unconstitutional to impose them for protection. They are careful the title of the act shall be for raising revenue, and dare not declare by its title that it is for the protection of manufactures. They are well aware the Supreme Court cannot go beyond the title and bill to inquire into the motives for imposing those duties, and they well know that a bill laying duties for the protection of manufactures will be declared unconstitutional. “This bill is a tarist upon
That as the legal value of doubloons in Cuba alone has
affected the commercial value of them in the United states, to recommend it—of which the tariff that we complain Gr
gold.” A tariff upon gold! . If it were, it has one thins:
is wholly destitute—it is constitutional. We are acting within the legitimate sphere of Congress in fixing a value upon coins; and three-fourths of one per cent. is a poor pittance with which to purchase the South and bring them to the support of an unconstitutional tariff. No, sir; they are not thus to be bought. They cannot be induced to violate the constitution, if, instead of three-fourths of one per cent. you should offer them fifty per cent., and thus plunder the people of the other States to fatten and enrich themselves. Mr. Speaker, I regret I have been drawn into this subject. A compromise has now been made of this unpleasant question, and I had hoped it would not be disturbed, though I have awful fears, if the system of internal improvement goes on, which I have seen urged upon this House, we shall see the attempt made to renew that disastrous system which had well nigh severed this Union and blasted all our prosperity. But we have been told, by the gentleman from New York, [Mr. SELDEN, ) if you pass this substitute, the Bank of the United States will make $800,000. There must be some doubt of this, else, I presume, the gentleman would have been found advocating instead of opposing it. He seems to have taken great interest in the interests of the bank, and to have taken it under his peculiar care. Sir, it is not my intention to make any reflection upon that gentleman. He believes that institution beneficial to the country, and it is not surprising that he should endeavor to advance its interests. I believe it destructive of the best interests of the country, and it should not excite surprise that I should be found in opposition to it. I entirely agree with the gentleman from Massachusetts, that the value which this substitute fixes upon gold will not prevent it from being exported when the necessities of commerce require its exportation. I am well satisfied that no value which we could fix by law would do so. If we make the eagle worth twenty, instead of ten dollars, when the exigencies of commerce demand its exportation, it must go. The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. GoRhAM] has said that the South American dollars which come to New Orleans, instead of being scattered over the United States, will be immediately exported to Europe. Surely, sir, the gentleman has forgotten that Spanish and South American dollars are worth one-half to three-quarters per cent. more than dollars of the United States; and it is within the knowledge of all who hear me, that Spanish and South American dollars furnish all our present circulation, notwithstanding the difference in value between them and the dollars of the United States. I have already shown that the value of gold, by this substitute, will only be 3 of one per cent. over the value of silver; and that the difference of the risk and expense of transportation will nearly or quite equal this difference; and if the Spanish and South American dollars have not been driven from the country by the difference in value between them and the dollars of the United States, we need not fear any such consequences from this bill. You have been told by the gentleman from New York that silver is now abundant, and if this substitute be adopted, it will soon be scarce. I apprehend a much better cause can be given for the plenty and scarcity of specie than the passage of any law. It will be recollected, that for a short time previous to the examination of the Bank of the United States in 1832, that institution had exported some five or six millions of dollars, and that some millions have been imported within the last three or four months. A very little reflection will teach us why it was exported then, and imported at this time. It will be recollected that, just before the exportation of specie in 1831, the Bank of the United States had extended her discounts from forty-two to seventy millions. Her notes were then plenty, and, as the gentleman from Massachusetts has told you, the bills of good banks will
be preferred to dollars, they could therefore be exported. Within the last year the bank has reduced her loans to fifty-four millions. Her notes have become scarce, and, therefore, the dollars must be imported to supply their place; and it will always be in the power of the bank to produce this plenty and scarcity of specie, to prevent its exportation, and to demand its importation. The passage of this substitute cannot entirely control these operations; but it will go far to furnish a circulating medium, well calculated to supply the wants and meet the exigency of the country. As the Bank of the United States will soon expire by its own limitation, something which will pass current every where is imperiously demanded, to supply the place of her notes which will be taken out of circulation. Nothing can do this so well as gold. It has an intrinsic value which is every where acknowledged. It can easily be conveyed from place to place without inconvenience, and he who is furnished with this coin has no fears of the solvency of banks or the depreciation of their notes. Mr. GILLET said that he must congratulate the House and nation, that Congress, near the close of a session of seven months, devoted, to a great extent, in debates on the subject of the currency, was at last seriously engaged in discussing an interesting and important branch of an undoubted constitutional currency. The interests and wishes of the people of the United States demanded our prompt action upon this subject, and he could discover no reason why those interests and wishes should not be responded to in a satisfactory manner. This bill, as proposed to be amended by his colleague, [Mr. White, fixes the value of our gold coins, as compared with silver, at 16 to 1, and to coin eagles, half eagles, quarter eagles, and dollars. Another colleague of his [Mr. SELDEN] had proposed an amendment to the amendment, which required these several coins to be of a greater weight. A gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Gomh AM] had proposed a modification of the amendment to the amendment, which required, in the payment of all sums over five dollars, that one-half should be paid in gold and the other in silver. To this last amendment he could not yield his assent. It was wholly arbitrary and unjust, and would bear with peculiar hardship upon farmers, shopkeepers, and small dealers, who collected in their business small sums, but who might be compelled to pay out in large ones. It might also apply to collectors of taxes, and others, who collect and disburse the public revenue. An individual might be compelled to pay a large debt at a distant place, and certainly he ought to be allowed the privilege of paying it in that coin which he could the most easily transport to the place of payment. He could see no good that could possibly result from this proposition, and he hoped it would not be adopted by the House. There, then, remained but two questions of importance to pass upon. First, is it expedient to increase the circulation of gold in the country? and, second, is 16 to 1 the proper proportion between gold and silver? As to the first question, Mr. G. said he thought the true interests of the country called for an increased circulation of the precious metals, and particularly of gold, which was light and portable, and would prove conve. nient in the transaction of business, and he was confident the voice of the American people demanded it. He was aware that we had, on another occasion, been told of a currency better than gold and silver, which had been furnished by a corporation. He entertained no such opinion of the productions of any corporation. He preferred a currency recognised by and resting upon the laws of the Union, the value of which should not depend upon the good or ill fortune of a corporation, or its ability to pay its debts, and which should not vibrate, contract, or expand, with the uncontrolled will of a soulless body. Our con
stitution had given us the “power to coin money and