« 上一頁繼續 »
H. of R.] Gold Coins. [JUNE 21, 1834.
regulate the value thereof, and to regulate the value of in he states: “In reference to any two given places, when foreign coins.” This clause of the constitution olo balance of trade is against the one, gold and silver all the power Congress has over this subject. It had there will be of less value than at the other, by the exbeen aptly called “a hard-money power.” Under this, pense of transportation; and the exchange will always be it was our duty to declare the value of foreign gold and about equal to that expense. The nature of trade will silver, and make such coins as the wants of our country keep this balance alternating, and it may be, generally, require. It appeared to him to be the duty of Congress to against one place in a certain direction, while, at the provide that which was most convenient, and such as same time, it will be in its favor in another direction; but would be a legal tender in payment of debts. Congress the design of making paper circulation for the purpose of had no power to make any other currency, and if it pos- exchange, better than the specie it represents, appears sessed it, its exercise would be inexpedient. He said he to be in a great degree fallacious. The bank can never was aware that banks had become so interwoven with equalize exchange; the expense of exchange must be the transactions of the country, that it might be impossi- borne by the debtors, in the debtor part of the country, ble to return to an entire specie circulation, if it were ex- and every attempt to give it a different direction will be pedient to do so. Large transactions among commer. baffled. It is alien to the inflexible laws of trade, and cial men and bankers might well be in large bills, the cannot be realized.” representatives of money; but all the minor channels of Mr. G. said he concurred in these sentiments; they circulation ought to be filled with gold and silver. With- established, conclusively, that the bank was unnecessary out a broad basis of the precious metals, a secure paper to regulate the price of exchange, and that the price circulation could not be sustained. He hoped to see all would be about the expense of transporting your coins. small bills retire from circulation, and their place filled Then, so far as exchange is concerned, what coins ought with coins. This would place in the hands of the poor to be introduced, so far as it can be done by a law of and laboring classes a safe and sound currency, which Congress, and what would be the most beneficial to the would remain unaffected by the crumbling of rotten people? He would answer, gold coins, the expense of banks, and the fearful agitations of panics. Then the hum- transporting which is only about one-sixteenth as much, ble individual whose all might consist of a few dollars would on a given number of dollars, as on silver. This would not be injured or alarmed by the cry of partisans and materially lessen the price of exchange. demagogues on the subject of currency. If our circu- . In every point in which he had viewed this subject, he lation had been, during the past year, principally of coins, deemed it our duty so to shape this bill as to give the counwe should not have heard people advised to demand try, as far as possible, a gold currency. . It was due to specie on State bank paper, because all paper but that the character of the nation to relieve it from the stigma of the United States Bank was nearly worthless. Nor of having a swollen, vicious, and fluctuating currency, should we have heard much of panic and apprehended which was not a legal tender in payment of debts, and
danger. All would have been quiet on that point. Un- which caused the price of our property to fluctuate with der the paper system, banks have broken, and, he would every shifting breeze. The adoption of the proposition ask, on whom did the loss most severely fall? Upon the of his colleague [Mr. White] would accomplish the obpoor, who understood little of the condition and credit of ject which he so much desired, and which, he believed, banks. The wealthy usually foresaw the evil and pro- would prove advantageous to the nation. tected themselves. He feared this had even been done Mr. G. said the debate, on the present occasion, had at the expense of the poor, but he hoped not often. It principally been on the question of proportion of gold to was due to the American people that this Congress silver. The relative value differed, in different parts of should change the order of things, and give to the peo- the world, from fourteen to one to eighteen to one. The ple a currency which should not fluctuate in value, as countries from whence we receive most of our gold and corporations might manage well or ill, or be fortunate or silver have adopted the proportion of sixteen to one. He unfortunate. We ought to give them a currency that alluded to the present and former dominions of Spain. He should be as immutable as the metals of which he Prood this to be the right proportion. This proportion posed to make it. had been objected to by his colleague, [Mr. SELDEN, )
Would a farmer be willing to have the title to his farm and the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Gonnax, j depend upon the good or ill fortune of a corporation, and on the ground that the mercantile value, as bullion, was upon the honesty and integrity of some thirteen men only about 15.75 to 1. From the best information he whom he could not control, and whom he did not know? could obtain, this value fluctuated from 15.75 to 1 to 16 Would he not prefer its resting upon the laws of the to 1. The latest prices in England were 15.83 to 1. But Government? He then submitted that a currency of Admit that, in a city, say New York, for the purpose of coins, established by the laws of the land, and having an local use, 15.75 to 1 was the true intrinsic value, he conintrinsic value, must be preferable to one depending upon tended that, for purposes of general use and circulation the contingencies he had suggested. He thought the
as coin, throughout the country, gold would have the people of the United States generally desired this im- preference over silver at 16 to 1, on account of its limitprovement in the currency, which would render their led weight and bulk, and its conveniences in travelling transactions more certain and more beneficial. and business. When the cost of transportation is con
Mr. G. said, in circulation, paper was the antagonist of sidered, gold being only one-sixteenth as much as that of gold, and our gold being at present undervalued, the pa-silver, it would have the advantage in all cases where per had driven it out of circulation. And our silver was there was any considerable land carriage. It would be too bulky and cumbersome to be retained in general use. found that gold would have an advantage over silver of From its light and convenient form, gold would, if prop-about one-half of one per centum on every hundred miles erly valued, obtain a very general circulation in all limit- of such transportation. At that rate, in all cases of land ed transactions. transportation of four hundred miles, gold, at 16 to 1,
Mr. G. said it had been alleged that a specie currency would bear a premium. This Government, in its paywould be found impracticable, and that a paper one, of a ments to our distant troops, and to the western Indians general and unlimited credit, was necessary, among other would be the gainer by paying a premium of two pe; things, to regulate exchanges. He thought this ground centum for gold, instead of transporting silver for that untenable. He had read a report made by Mr. Hemp-purpose. hill, of Pennsylvania, to this House, in 1823, in response to a memorial from the Bank of the United States, where
Mr. G. said this convenience, in carrying gold wherever we might go, and its being a certain tender for all we
might owe, and its possessing intrinsic value throughout the world, would always give gold a preference over silver, or any paper representative of coin. He had no doubt but every member of Congress would willingly receive gold coins, at 16 to 1, in pay for his services this session, in preference to receiving silver. From statements he had seen, he thought there could be no doubt that the average rate of preinium for gold in our large cities would range so high as to warrant our going for a proportion quite as high as 16 to 1. He thought the introduction of gold coins into general use would prove highly advantageous to the newly-settled parts of the country, and would not occasion injury to the old. The establishing such a proportion as to give silver the advantage would defeat the very object in view, by keeping gold, as heretofore, out of circulation, and continuing the use of bills, which might, one day, pass at the rates named on their face, and on the next might not be worth onetenth part of that sum. The argument of his colleague, [Mr. SELDEN,) that we ought to keep the value of gold down, as we were producers of the article, and because our most extensive transactions were with England, where gold was the principal currency, did not strike him as making in favor of the position the gentleman had taken; but, on the contrary, he thought, inasmuch as we were producers of this metal, we might well make it our principal currency at home. Our currency here cannot control our transactions abroad. There, our coins had been, and would continue to be, mere bullion, and sold at their intrinsic value. No statute we can make will increase or diminish the intrinsic value of gold and silver, here or elsewhere; but we can make a currency of coins that shall be uniform as a standard of value, and which shall give permanency and stability to that measure. A farm which is worth a pound of pure gold will still be worth that quantity of gold, whether such gold is coined as sixteen to one of silver, or at a hundred to one. The object to be attained is a certain standard, which shall not, by its constant changes, raise or lower the price of such articles as we have to exchange, or affect outstanding debts. Let us fix our coins as may be most conve. nient for our fellow-citizens, and other things will find their proper level, and adjust themselves to them as the standard or measure of value. Mr. G. said there was but one further remark which he would make. The gentleman from Massachusetts had called to his aid, against the proposition of sixteen to one, the United States Bank. He understood him to say that it was probable, if we adopted this proportion, the bank would call in its discounts in order to collect in silver, which was worth more than our gold would hereafter be; and, in that way, the people would be injured and distressed. He, Mr. G., had no fears on this ground. He, however, must thank the gentleman for the admission of the manner in which the bank created distress. We had heard little else for near seven months from the friends of the bank, but panic and distress; which had been charged to the action of the Executive. But it now seems that the action of the bank can produce that effect. That it had unnecessarily called in its debts in certain points, and in that way produced a portion of this panic and distress, was, in his opinion, undoubtedly true; though he thought the nation indebted to this Capitol for a share of this panic and consequent distress; that the bank had closed its doors upon our committee, and concealed its secret orders and doings, was known to the world; and we had a right to infer they would not bear scrutiny. And now its ability to produce evil is held up to us as a terror against making this gold currency, which is demanded alike by the dictates of sound policy and the voice of an intelligent people. The gentleman, no doubt, gave us his best deliberations; but his conclusions were precisely such as he, Mr. G.,
should have expected from the bank, if it desired to render our efforts, in giving the country a convenient constitutional currency, entirely unavailing; so that it might present to a future Congress the failure of this attempt, as an important argument in favor of a recharter. Whether the bank did intend to defeat our efforts, the country would determine after witnessing the course of events in Congress. If the friends of that institution should resist the effort to give the nation a gold currency, the people would draw but one conclusion, and they would place the responsibility where it belonged. He hoped, however, that this bill might be acted upon, without being connected with the fortunes of the bank, even though the effect of the measure might deprive the advocates of that corporation of an argument in its favor. The country imperiously called for such legislation as shall restore the use of a constitutional currency, and his vote would be uniformly given with the view of producing that result. Mr. BINNEY said that, without occupying the ground which had been taken by the gentlemen who preceded him, he would offer some remarks upon the questions arising out of the change in the bill proposed by the gentleman from New York, [Mr. White.] He would endeavor, at the same time, not to name the Bank of the United States in connexion with the subject, as he had often remarked that the mention of this name disturbed the course of argument of worthy gentlemen on this floor, who, in general, had no difficulty in adhering to the subject of discussion. What the Bank of the United States had to do with the matter he did not know; but what he did know was, that banks of all names and descriptions could, and probably would, make a profit out of a derangement in the proportional value of the gold and silver coins, and, therefore, that it was the duty of the House not to give them the opportunity. Upon the subject of a tender in both metals, proposed by the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. GoRHAM, he was not at present prepared to act definitively. If now called on to decide, he should probably vote against it, though he had no doubt, from his reliance on the sagacity and judgment of that gentleman, that, if he thought fit to press the measure, he would put the House in possession of strong reasons for its adoption. From one remark, to which this proposition of tender had given rise, he deemed it his duty to express his entire dissent. The gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Jon Es] had denied the authority of Congress to declare any thing a legal tender, and had also denied that a declaration of the legal value of coins by Congress would have the effect of making them a legal tender. If this remark had any foundation whatever, in law or in the constitution, it might follow that, by the foreign silver coins act, just passed, Congress had made provision for a succession of law suits, until the States should pass tender laws, or the highest judicial tribunal in the Union should settle the question. For himself, he would say that, if the state of his health had not compelled him to be absent when the silver coins bill was passed, he should have voted against any change of that language to which we had been accustomed for more than forty years, though by no means from a belief that the words substituted were not of perfectly equivalent import. He entertained no doubt whatever, that Congress had power to make gold and silver coins a legal tender, at such value as they chose to establish; nor that words declaring those coins to be of a certain legal value, did in effect make them a legal tender at that value. He knew that a proposition which had been suggested elsewhere, to restore to the foreign silver coins bill the original language of our coin laws, did not lead to the amendment, from the universal opinion that no amendment was necessary. The power of Congress was to coin money,
and to regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin.
They could, therefore, make a rule or law for the value
ion might have been submitted to the House, and delib-
were given for British gold, and not for American, which
Juxe 21, 1834.] by the same paper had been almost uniformly three per cent. worse. This fact, however, though it defeated the argument, was one for which he was not prepared. He was not disposed to admit that such a difference had prevalled with any thing like the uniformity stated in the paper; and, indeed, what reliance the paper deserved, in any respect, it was impossible to say. It was entirely unauthenticated. If these had been the reasons which had induced the chairman of the committee to surrender his own well-considered ratio to the gentleman from Georgia, it was not probable that, by the mere force of reason, many persons would be brought to concur with him. In his judgment, (Mr. B. said,) there was nothing in these or in any other suggestions that had been made, to justify the extreme valuation now proposed by the chairman of the committee on coins. In regard to this or any other change in the value, there were two remarks that he would submit to the House. In the first place, he did not entertain the opinion that any change would materially increase the metallic circulation of the country. Gold, however estimated, would not, to any extent, take the place of bank paper, while bank paper was permitted by law to circulate as it now did. A traveller might be induced to take gold for his expenses, if he could not obtain paper that would travel with him without loss; and while gold should be a novelty, a few more pieces might be seen in the pockets of the citizens; but the increase of the mass in circulation from these causes would not be considerable. Wherever gold should come, in the present condition of our bank paper, it would in general displace silver, without adding to it. This was the first remark he had to submit. The other was, that no change in valuation would produce any considerable increase of specie in the banks. Under the proposed change they would have a greater amount of gold, but at the same time they would have a less amount of silver. Nothing would induce the banks, nor could any thing compel them, to keep more of either metal on hand than was necessary to sustain their paper circulation; and what they did keep on hand, whether it should be gold or silver, would be of the same use to them and to the country. Little or nothing was to be gained by the substitution of gold for silver. The mass would not be augmented, though its complexion might be changed. It was, therefore, a delusion to suppose, as had been proclaimed in the public papers, that this bill would give a specie currency to the country; neither would it give increased stability to bank paper. The extent of its effect would be, if gold should be rightly valued, to give the country some more gold than it previously had, and to about the same extent to diminish the silver; and it would also give to the holder of gold its real value immediately, in every transaction, without compelling him to seek it through a transaction with a broker. If overvalued, its effect would be to enable a debtor to pay his present debts with less than he owed, and to that extent, consequently, to defraud his creditor; and it would, if considerable, place silver exactly in the condition in which gold now was, and make it an article of trade instead of currency. In the end, we might have to change the relative vulue of the two metals to keep silver here, as we now proposed to do to keep the gold. It had not, indeed, occurred to him that it was as important as some had thought to raise gold even to what he admitted to be its true proportional value. The real value had always been obtained, and would continue to be obtained, by the American holder, in the shape of a premium in the market, and this without any law for the purpose, except the law of commercial ex. changes. Indeed, it was from this very premium that its true value, when compared with silver, was obtained. It would facilitate the gain of this premium by the holder of gold, to raise the legal value of gold to the same extent
or thereabouts, and to this extent he was willing to go, but not beyond it.
The whole question for the House was, then, whether the proposed ratio, which in round numbers might be stated at 1 to 16, did not overvalue the gold; and this was a simple question of fact, depending upon evidence.
The gentleman from Georgia admitted that the proposed ratio overvalued the gold, and went beyond the evi. dence. He appeared to have satisfied himself that the tendency of the overvaluation to produce the exportation of silver was only so much as would be counteracted by the smaller expense of exporting gold; but he began by admitting a present overvaluation; and if he assumed the highest ratio having any color of support, that of 1 to 15.865, his valuation exceeded that by nearly one per cent. much more than the difference of expense in the transportation of the two metals to Europe; and we had the authority of one of the reports from the gentleman from New York for saying that “the difference of a minute fraction of one per cent. would cause either to be withdrawn from circulation.” It was wholly inadmissible to tamper with our coins in this way, by screwing gold up to its highest imagined value, and then to raise it one per cent. higher, upon a speculation that it was worth so much more than silver to export, from the greater cheapness of its exportation. What it was really worth, when estimated in silver, was not easy to determine; but the House might select from any source of information whatever, and they would find that the proposed ratio went beyond the extremest point; and it was extraordinary that this should be proposed at the moment when the gold mines of the United States and of Russia were throwing in their supply to diminish this value, if the predictions of gentlemen were to be credited. He asked the House to consider all the statements which had been furnished to show the relative value of the metals. They would find that not one of them justified that surrender of opinion which the gentleman from New York had apparently made to the gentleman from Georgia. The highest ratio suggested by the mint was 1 to 15.865; a lower ratio had been recommended by the late Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Ingham, by Mr. Gallatin, and by the committee on coins. The average of all the ratios, stated on page 79 of the report, gave that of 1 to 15.699. The relative value of fine gold to fine silver, in London, from 1821 to 1832, was about the same, being;1 to 15.77. In Paris, from 1826 to 1832, it had been 1 to 15.68. [Table B, doc. 8, p. 22.] The average premium on gold in the United States, from 1821 to 1832, had been by the same table 4 1-5 per cent. above the ratio of 1 to 15, which gave a ratio in a very small degree higher than that of 1 to 15.625 proposed by the bill as reported. In Mr. Gallatin’s Essay on Banks and Currency it was stated that the relative value of gold to silver, whether deduced from the premium on the French gold coins in the market of Paris, or by assuming that of gold to silver bullion as purchased by the French mint, or at the apparent market rate in England during the last three or four years, would give respectively the ratios of about 15.6, 15.7, and 15.25 to 1 (p. 595) and the average of these was a fraction lower than the ratio proposod by the committee in the reported bill. The decisive weight of evidence was therefore against that ratio which was now recoinmended by the chairman of the committee on coins. The proportion originally recominended appeared to have the greatest mass of evidence in its favor, although he would consent to a ratio something higher, for the purpose of meeting the views of other gentlemen; but to go beyond all the evidence, upon a vague speculation that future circumstances might justify it, when the present effect was to do injustice to contracts, and its probable tendency was to displace the silver coins of the country, and to produce the other mischiefs which had been so clearly and ably shown in the remarks of the gentleman from New York, [Mr. Seldex,] and in those also of
the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. Gonh AM, ) was a degree of accommodation to opinions, unsupported by argument, which he thought did not merit the approbation of the House. He should vote for the ratio first proposed by the committee, and now again by the gentleman from New York, of 1 to 15.625, which gave an advance to gold beyond its present legal value of 4.166 1-000 per cent. ; but he could not, in the present state of his information and opinions, vote for the ratio now proposed by the chairman of the committee on coins. Mr. EWING said he had intended to give a silent vote on the bill originally reported by the committee, because
lations now uttered are calculated, if not intended, to cover the view in perspective, of a local, uncertain, depreciating paper currency, to which the practical policy of some of the friends of a cajoling system of experiments must, in the end, inevitably lead, unless they be arrested and cease. The subject, altogether, is one of great difficulty, and he hoped no party views would be allowed to prevent its equitable adjustment. We are told the United States Bank keeps coin out of circulation, and exports large sums of gold, and that this measure will be a sovereign remedy. He (Mr. E.) could readily suppose the bank held and exported specie, if gain en
he was satisfied its provisions were founded upon equita-sticed her to do so; but would we have more specie in ble principles, and he believed it necessary and proper to circulation, or would less be exported, if that were not raise gold to the standard of silver. He had long thought in existence? The contrary has been taught by our exthe mint price of gold was too low to retain a proper por- perience; and our most enlightened financiers, Hamilton, tion of it in home circulation, as our foreign commercial Gallatin, Dallas, and Crawford, show the existence of a relations, operated upon by the varying rates of exchange, national bank to be necessary to retain specie in the coun
of common use.
could not consent to place it above an equitable standard. Indeed, a change, to be of general public utility, should give no value to gold beyond its relative value with silver; otherwise, silver will hereafter disappear out of circulation in proportion as gold shall be introduced, and in the same manner operated upon by the demand and relative price in foreign markets. He wished he could sanction the views of a member on his left, who had so deliberately, and he (Mr. E.) thought gratuitously, congratulated himself at the ideal prospect of a great increase to our metallic currency, by the adoption of the amendment of the chairman of the committee on coins. He, on the contrary, lamented that the amendment seemed better calculated, as he, (Mr. E.) conceived, to afford a mere exchange, and substitute, than an increase to the coin in circulation. Most assuredly, it will soon substitute gold, rated above its true value, for our own silver, which will be of choice hereafter sent in exchange to foreign markets, because it is rated at its true value; and the substitution will thus lose all the good effect that might be ensured by a fair and just estimate of each. That member, in his calculating zeal for the amendment, overlooks the fact that the legal relative standard of our coin, be it what it may, will only regulate coins and bullion in our own internal exchanges, and that the great money markets of Europe will continue to speculate upon every relative inequality, if any be allowed to exist. Sir, said Mr. E., the bill, as originally reported, would be preferred by me to the amendment of the chairman of the committee. He told the House that party views did not operate in preparing that measure, and in establishing either a metallic or paper currency; such views should never be allowed to operate. But the amendment offered to-day by that gentleman bears an aspect so different, and will operate so unequally, as far as it may operate, that he could not assent to it. The amendment last offered by his colleague [Mr. SELDEN) is more just, and he should therefore vote for it. Before he proceeded to assign the reasons which induced him to prefer the last-offered amendment, which he now hoped would find favor in the House, he would finally discharge himself from the necessity of further notice of the premature congratulatory remarks in relation to a metallic currency. That party supremacy has labored to wield and direct the country is well known; the present unhappy situation of large sections of the country affords irrefutable evidence of that fact. And what is the present condition of credit, trade, and enterprise, every where? The rapidly-expanding interests and growing population of the West are not peculiarly suffering, because they are peculiarly circumstanced
would continue to entice its export, and thus keep it out try, and secure specie payments. But although he was desirous of a
change, to allow our gold coins a relative true value, he
they must in time suffer in common. But the congratu
Each of these great men, when at the head of the Treasury, demonstrated that a national bank is necessary to perform the fiscal operations of the Government, and to promote the general welfare, if not absolutely essential to the durability of the Union itself. The congratulations we have heard, and party garbage we may read, will not cause a wise people to disregard the authority of the distinguished names I have mentioned, nor cause new recruits to muster to the impracticable and delusive ideas sent abroad for party effect, promising an abundant currency of gold and silver. Indeed, all such delusions may be satisfactorily exposed by passages of the reports of the committee on gold and silver coins, placed on our tables at an early period of the session, which I will now read. Mr. E. proceeded to read and comment upon different paragraphs of the reports, to show that, in a country situated as the United States, a paper medium, to subserve the objects of commerce, cannot be dispensed with; that a sound paper currency will effect exchanges and payments as satisfactorily as gold and silver; that it is not the composition or material of currency, but the confidence reposed in it, and the uniformity of its value, that interests the public; that the substitution of a paper currency, sustained by the faith and credit of the country, for a portion of gold and silver money, tends to promote industry, by affording increased profit, while at the same time it increases the objects of enterprise and consumption; that the diversified wants of the Union, and of all classes of our citizens, as well as the intercourse of all sections of the country, require a sound paper currency, let the relative standard value of gold and silver be what it may. [A portion of the extracts read were from Smith, Ricardo, and other writers on political economy.] Mr. E. said he did not desire to be found in opposition to any measure calculated to give increased value to any of our own productions, (and gold now classes, with them,) but, as he would protect all alike, he would give unequal value to none. The production under consideration (gold) is a standard of value for all others; and, therefore, its ratio with silver should be founded upon an accurate estimate of its intrinsic relative value. He believed the amendment last offered [Mr. SELDEN’s] will be nearest that estimate. He had satisfied his own mind, to a certainty, that the amendment of the chairman [Mr. WHITE] would render gold of at least 1 per cent, more value in the eye of the law than it should be, and thus operate as a tax or tariff upon all the other products of the country, the value of which are not established by law. As far as it may operate, it tends, evidently, to enrich a few gold owners, at the expense of the agricultural and mechanical classes. The great West will, in time, be subjected to an undue portion of the loss of any inequality established in the true value of the circulating