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Juxe 21, 1834.]
coin. To demonstrate this, the present aspect of our paper currency, with the fact that gold is the most portable metal of value, and the large remittances (required to meet engagements in Eastern cities) from that section of country, should satisfy every member. The people of the West have long prayed for the adoption of measures founded upon reciprocity and equality; they seek nothing more; but it seems they seek in vain. If this amendment of the chairman prevails, will not banks and money holders be gainers to a large amount? And the South, opposed to a tariff to protect our farmers and me. chanics, are here to join in enacting a tariff to operate to the benefit of their mining district. Be it so; but let it be founded upon fair and upright principles. The amendment of the chairman he did not conceive to be so founded; the trade of the West would be taxed by it, and (until the value of silver shall be changed) the trade of every portion of the country will be indirectly subjected to a portion of the same tax. He contended it would impair existing contracts, by lessening their value as the value of a tender is increased; and the laborer, and mechanic, and consumer, would all feel their several proportions of the injurious effect. We all know that the ability of our country can only sustain a certain quantity of metallic coin; because it has an intrinsic value, and cannot be procured or retained advantageously, unless
much to say on that and other questions, but he believed he should follow the example of the gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. An AMs,) and publish what he might have said in the House in some other form. He rose now, however, merely to say a word or two in reply to what had fallen from gentlemen in the course of to-day’s debate, and upon the bill as now presented. To the bill originally reported by his colleague [Mr. White] he had decided objections. He felt certain that a majority of the House would never consent to authorize the circulation of a strictly local and depreciated currency; however, the policy has been, and continues to be, sustained by enlightened nations. He felt sure that the House would not adopt a system by which two halves and four quarters of the eagle were not intrinsically worth an eagle by some four or five per cent. But the object of his colleague was what we all desired, to secure the permanent circulation of a gold currency; and the plan now proposed would accomplish the purpose by less exceptionable means. The question was, what ratio should be established between gold and silver? His colleague [Mr. White] proposed one to sixteen; another colleague [Mr. SELDeN] proposed one to fifteen and five-eighths. The latterratio had been strenuously supported by that gentleman and by the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. BIN
|NEY:] it had also been recommended by the president
our surplus produce may command and preserve it. and directors of every bank in New York but one, and
Now, destroy the uniform paper currency, which is by Mr. Gallatin.
mainly founded upon credit, and which costs little to
He was bound, by every consideration, to treat these authorities with great respect. But, sir, the
create, and will our surplus command gold and silver basis of this calculation of the relative value of gold and
sufficient to answer the purposes of our constituents? He silver is wholly illusory.
apprehended the contrary. And if we increase the relative value of gold, and thus entice its increased circulation, must not such increase of unequal value produce a very unequal tax? He thought so.
The value of the metal is a greater, quantity of gold.
The average ratio of gold to silver for ten years past in this country, and the present low value of gold here, should never govern us in permanently adjusting the ratio so as to secure an equal, if not It was the ratio best suited
not increased abroad, and the labor and products of the to the customary (not mint) but current valuations of the agriculturist and the mechanic at home remain, as here- world, which would ultimately best adapt itself to the curtofore, regulated by the market prices, which are always rency of the country and the commerce of the world.
affected by foreign demand. Now, if we give an undue value to gold, at the moment a uniform paper currency is about to be withdrawn, the consumers of the West must suffer. If the standard we fix be one or two per cent. more than the importing merchant of dry goods or shipper can expect, although bound to receive it at par value within the United States, he will levy that sum, whatever it be, on the consumers, as a necessary addition to the cost, and the consequence is evident: the citizens of the West, using gold of necessity, on account of transportation, will suffer most severely. why should such inequality be , enacted? The country cannot gain, because, if the quantity be increased, it wiil only fill the place of a safer article, and the cost, danger, and delay of transportation, would add to the loss. It is, said Mr. E., the internal trade that mainly enriches the country; the amount of that trade, and the coasting trade, and the effect of a total revolution of the currency upon these, should be narrowly watched. Mr. E. contended that the effect of the amendment last offered [Mr. SELDEN’s] would be the most salutary of the two—it would be at least subject to the vicissitudes of trade. He then adverted to the effect of a currency of unequal value, the principles involved in a bill, now lying upon the table, he had presented. . He contended, under existing circumstances, that the adoption of something like his bank plan, to afford a sound paper currency, and equalizing the relative legal value of gold and silver, were measures necessary at this time to give vigor to the moral and political union of these States, and to place the trade and enterprise and industry of the country upon a just basis. Mr. CAMBRELENG assured the House that he did not rise, late in June, to make a speech, more especially one upon the subject of the currency. He had, to be sure,
The relative prices in this country for ten years past had nothing to do with the permanent ratio between gold and silver, no more than it had between silver and any other commodity which was prohibited by our laws from circulation or consumption. Ours was merely a market where prohibited gold might be purchased for the use of ho mints of Europe, whenever it could be procured low|er here than in other markets. At fifteen and fiveeighths it could be sent to Europe at a profit, as fast as it was coined at our mint or brought in the course of trade from other countries. The tendency of our ancient ratio of one to fifteen was constantly to keep down the price of gold in this country, when gold was not only exported to Europe, but to the countries south of us. The ratio existing under such laws, and in such a condition of wade, was not the just medium between the two metals. Raise your ratio, restore your gold currency, enable those who are employed in our foreign trade to dispose of their gold for the consumption and circulation of their own country, and your ratio of fifteen and five-eighths would vanish at once, and the price of gold would soon approximate to your proposed mint valuation. Our past prices for gold form no just criterion--the prices of gold abroad should be our guide. There has been, Mr. Speaker, too much refinement and speculation on this question of the relative value of gold and silver and of currency. I am persuaded that the currency of every country would have been infinitely more sound, if less speculation and refinement had been introduced into legislation through the agency of mint directors and bankers. We are now endeavoring to adjust this question permanently, to aid in reforming the currency of the country, and what do we find? Why, sir, after all this legislative wisdom, after altering and realtering the ratio, after alternately adopting gold or silver as a curren
cy, we find the most enlightened nations of Europe with debased currencies, for the purpose of keeping at home that which should be the medium of the world; and that, after all their inquiries and refinements, no two of them agree in establishing the relative value of gold and silver. Now, sir, with great deference to these authorities, in establishing a permanent ratio, I prefer following a less fluctuating example. I prefer looking to the South—to our own neighbors, where the same unvarying ratio has continued for generations--to those mining countries where the ratio is established which will influence and control the relative value of gold and silver, notwithstanding all our laws and the temporary fluctuations at different times and in particular countries. We all, sir, have our particular speculations upon this subject. One gentleman proposes fifteen and five-eighths; the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Go RHAM] would go as high as fifteen and three-quarters; and, sir, I have my own speculation about it; the just average, according to the best calculation I can make, is fifteen, eighty-six and a half. The ratio proposed by my colleague [Mr. White] is a fraction less than one per cent. higher than the result of my calculations. Independent of these calculations, I have always thought that, in establishing a ratio for our coins (situated, as we are, intermediately between the mining countries and Europe) we should go higher than most of the European regulations, and fall a little below the ancient Spanish ratio, which is still the regulator in most countries where there are no controlling laws. But, sir, willingly surrender all my speculations on this subject; It is much more safe to establish a valuation of gold too high than too low; by adopting a higher ratio, we shall be more certain of accomplishing our object, which is to secure for our own country the permanent circulation of gold coins. Some objections have been stated which I do not believe well founded. We are alarmed at a mere fractional variation. Of the importance of this objection we may judge by the facts stated in this debate. We are told that the mint valuation in France is fifteen and a half, while the current value is fifteen and seven-tenths; that in England, fifteen and a fifth, or less by another calculation; while the actual ratio is about fifteen and eightythree hundredths. Sir, the current ratio between gold and silver bullion may, as it does, fluctuate with the increased or diminished demand for either for temporary use. But, with a just ratio, your currency will not be affected by such fluctuations. Great fears have been expressed, too, about driving silver out of the country. I cannot believe, sir, that the trifling advantage given to gold, an advantage not equal to one per cent, will produce any such effect. Neither of them would go out, unless to pay temporary balances, and under the proposed regulations for our coin. If the Mexican and Pe: ruvian dollars were exported, the fractions of the dollars of every kind, and the gold, would remain. I cannot perceive how this result would injure the country. Another apprehension is indulged, as I think, equally unfounded. Calculating erroneously upon the existing relative value of gold and silver in this country as the true and proper value, and forgetting that it is altogether the artificial work of our own laws, we are gravely told of the danger of authorizing the circulation of both metals together, and particularly when you value gold two or three per cent. higher than it ought to be. The error is in assuming that fifteen and five-eighths is the just average ratio of gold and silver in the markets of the world, while that average is within a fraction of one per cent. of that proposed by my colleague, [Mr. White.] Pass the bill, and gold would immediately assume its just relative
value, and whatever small difference might exist, would be immediately controlled by law and custon. The opinion that the two metals cannot circulate together,
and both be made a lawful tender, is, I know, general;
but it is rather speculative than sound. It may be logically proved in theory; but, like many other theories, it is contradicted by experience. It is extraordinary that we should indulge these alarms in the face of the examples of France and of all the nations south of us, where both metals circulate, and are received in the payment of debts, without inconvenience or any derangement of the currency. Those, sir, who go for a low value for gold, overlook the object of this bill, and we should be left, upon their plan, precisely where we are now, without a gold currency. Looking upon this measure, as I do, to be the most important that has been presented to us during the present session, in its ultimate effects upon the currency of the country, I cannot think it an injury to give a trifling advantage to gold over silver. It will tend to give us a broader basis for our paper circulations, and moderate the too rapid growth of corporations, which are overshadowing the land. Put your gold coins in circulation, and the effect on public opinion, the only salutary corrective of bad legislation, whether State or federal, would be more powerful than thousands of our speeches. Every man would see the fallacy of the supposed necessity for our small-note circulations, and of granting to corporations the power to flood the country with bank notes. Those who would come here, as well as those who would be sent to our four-and-twenty Legislatures, would entertain very different opinions upon the questions of currency and banks. We should not then propose to sustain the currency or the Government by an abuse of power and an abuse of credit. These are the remote consequences of the measure we are now about to adopt, which would be entirely defeated by accepting the amendment proposing too low a valuation of gold. Mr. GOIRHAM observed that the House was going to make gold cheaper than silver, and the necessary result must be, that the gold would be retained and the silver sent abroad. The cost of carrying the two kinds of specie being the same, a man going abroad would, of course, take that kind in preference which would bring him the most where he was going; and if there was even a small difference, it would be sufficient to determine his choice. He had offered a proposition which he believed would meet and obviate the difficulty, and keep both metals among us. Unless some such expedient should be adopted, he was very certain that the silver would shortly disappear, and nothing but gold would get into circulation; and then just the same difficulty would occur with gold as did now respecting silver. Mr. McKIM opposed the amendment suggested by Mr. Gonham, which, he said, would, in practice, derange all the commercial affairs of the community. It required that all payments must be made one-half in gold. What if the gold was not in the country? and such was notoriously the fact. The low standard which had long prevailed in this country for that metal had driven it all away. The amount of gold coin in the United States had been regularly diminishing for years past. Gold alone was a legal tender in Great Britain, and this caused all the gold to centre there. Such an arrangement as was suggested by the gentleman last up would, if insisted upon, give an entirely new train to our commercial business. Every man would be set to hunting about to find where any gold was to be found, and the use of notes would, in a great degree, be discontinued. He thought the ratio of 16 to 1 certainly too high; he believed 15.825 would be a better standard; but if it was found that they had gone a little over the mark, it was a matter that might be easily regulated. The effect, in the mean while, would be to extend some encouragement to our gold mines at the South. The exportation of gold, at present, was a regu
lar trade, and the effect was to injure men of small capital. Another result of the bill would be to drive out the circulation of bank notes, to a certain degree, which, perhaps, would not be a bad thing. But he hoped the half. and-half plan of the gentleman from Massachusetts would not be adopted. Mr. GORHAM now withdrew his amendment. The question being now loudly demanded, it was put upon, Mr. SELDEN’s amendment to the amendment proposed by Mr. White, (fixing the ratio of gold to silver at 15.625 to 1,) and decided by yeas and nays: Yeas 52, nays 127. Mr. GORHAM, observing that he felt much anxiety as to the practical effect of the bill in driving out the silver from our country, proposed an amendment altering the relative proportions of fine and standard gold in the eagle, as follows: instead of 232 grains of pure gold to 258 grains of standard gold, he proposed 234 grains of the one to 260 grains of the other; in the half eagle, to change 116 to 117 grains of fine gold, and 129 to 130 of standard gold; and in the quarter eagle, 58 to 584, and 644 to 65. Mr. WILDE said that this was the very highest ratio to which he could bring his mind. If it should be set high. er, the inevitable effect would be to banish silver, and substitute gold in its place. The question being put, Mr. GoRhAM’s amendment was rejected: Yeas 69, nays 112. The question then recurring on the amendment offered by Mr. WHITE, Mr. BINNEY offered an amendment, providing that a certain number of the pieces coined in each year should be reserved and assayed, to ascertain whether they were of the proper fineness. This, he said, was recommended by the director of the mint; and he offered it in the form of a new section to the bill. Mr. WHITE accepted this as a modification of his amendment; and the amendment thus modified was agreed to without a division. The bill was then ordered to its third reading, and read a third time; and the question being “Shall this bill ??? Mr. ADAMS said he should vote in the affirmative, though he did it very reluctantly, and in the hope that the ratio would be amended elsewhere. He considered it as decidedly too high; but as the bill was a very important one, he should not oppose its passage. Mr. ARCHER said he hoped that the House would be influenced by this suggestion of his friend from Massachusetts to vote for the bill. Mr. GORHAM said that if the House should vote, by any very large majority, for the bill, he was assured the Senate would not alter it. He hoped all who were oppo. sed to the bill would vote against it, without any view to amendments hereafter. Mr. WILDE admitted that, by the existing law, gold was undervalued; but by this bill it would be so greatly overvalued that of the two he should prefer the old law. The question being put, the bill was passed: Yeas 145, nays 36. Another coin bill, regulating the value of certain foreign gold coins within the United States, was then taken up, and having, on motion of Mr. WHITE, been so amended as to conform it to the ratio established in the preceding bill, it was in like manner read a third time, passed, and sent to the Senate for concurrence. Two private bills having been carried through Committee of the Whole and passed, the House spent a short time on the bill from the Senate, granting double pensions to the surviving relatives of the sailors killed on board the French frigate Suffren, in the bay of Toulon; when the farther consideration of the bill having been postponed till Monday, the House, at 8 o’clock, adjourned.
Monn AY, JUNE 23.
Mr. CHINN, from the Committee on the District of Columbia, reported the following resolution; which was disagreed to by the House: Resolved, That the bills on the Speaker's table, reported by the Committee on the District of Columbia, shall be the special order for this day, from and after twelve o'clock. Mr. POLK rose to move that the rule by which this day was set apart for the presentation of memorials and petitions should be suspended at two o'clock, at which hour the House should resume the consideration of the bill to regulate the terms by which the deposites are to be held by the State banks. Mr. DENNY wished to have the harbor and fortification bills taken up, and with that view called for a divi. sion of the question, and for the yeas and nays on the motion to suspend the rule; which having been ordered, Mr. J. Q. ADAMS moved, as an amendment, that “five” o'clock should be inserted as the hour at which the House should take up the deposite bill. This being the last day for the presentation of petitions, it was, he said, due to the people that they should have the benefit of it. After that hour, he was willing to remain until midnight for the disposition of the other business. The amendment was rejected, and the question as to the suspension of the rule having been divided, so as to be taken on the suspension simply— The House agreed to suspend the rule: Yeas 127, nays
61. A desultory and lengthened discussion then arose as to the business which was entitled to precedence, in which Mr. SELDEN, Mr. Hub BARD, Mr. HUNTINgtoN, Mr. Dicksox, Mr. Evans, Mr. CLAY, and Mr. BENNY, participated; after which, The House finally negatived the other part of the motion, viz: to take up the deposite bill at 2 o'clock: Yeas 124, nays 65—not two-thirds. The House then proceeded to the orders of the day, being the presentation of memorials, &c.
RHODE ISLAND RESOLUTIONS.
The resolutions from the Ulegislature of Rhode Island, presented by Mr. Bunges, for the restoration of the deposites and recharter of the bank, coming up as the unfinished business,
Mr. PEARCE, who was entitled to the floor on this question, addressed the House at length on the subject. Having spoken of the delay which had occurred in the presentation of these memorials, he said his object was to correct some mistakes which, in his opinion, prevailed, as to these resolutions. The report was, that they were resolutions of the popular branch of the Legislature of Rhode Island. They were understood to be such from the statements of his colleague, [Mr. BURGES,) on a former day. Mr. P. said, his object was to satisfy the House that they were not the resolutions of the Legislature of Rhode Island—not the resolutions of the popular branch of that Legislature. For this purpose, he would call their attention to what these resolutions really were. And, first, he would call attention to their caption; from which it would appear that they were not the joint action of the Senate and House of Representatives of Rhode Island. It did not appear, from the resolutions themselves, what was the action of the Senate with regard to them. His colleague, indeed, had said that two of these resolutions did receive the authority and sanction of the Senate.
He (Mr. P.) did not know on what authority his colleague made this statement. According to all that appeared, these acts of the House of Representatives were dead, even as acts of the House of Representatives of the State of Rhode Island. For the moment the Senate, in a committee of conference, refused to agree to these
resolutions, they became a mere nullity. All that House
contemplated an existence too prolonged for any such
was from the pressure of business before the House. It would be found that the people of Rhode Island had not ceased to complain, and he held in his hands another memorial from Ghent county on the same subject. When it was reflected how memorials were received there, with that scowl with which they were received by the British Parliament in the reign of George the Third, it was not surprising that more had not been sent. He would tell
the gentleman, his colleague, that their little State would lose the last ounce of its treasure, its last cent, its last sword, its last drop of blood, ere it would agree to sustain the conduct of the present administration. These resolutions (said Mr. B.) were passed by the popular branch of the Legislature, and the reason why they had not passed the Senate was because that body, or certain leading members of it, wished to display its loyalty to the present Executive. They were influenced by a gentleman who had great executive patronage and expectation there. In the popular branch nineteen towns out of thirty-two had voted for the resolutions, comprising more than three-fifths of the population. And it would be found that five-sevenths of the whole constituency of the State were in favor of most of the resolutions, and onethird more in favor of the remainder. Mr. B. defended the conduct of the members of the Hartford convention, in reply to the charge made by his honorable colleague that the framer of these resolutions had been a member thereof. Even had the men of that convention acted wrong, were there not others who had done the same? He could point out persons who had changed their opinions very suddenly; and, if their course were right now, must have been wrong once. The gentleman had said that the deposites ought not to be restored to the Bank of the United States till the issue between that institution and the administration had been settled. Let him ask, was there a gentleman present who could point to a single fact in which the bank had not performed all the duties assigned to it? The truth was, that the outcry against the bank had originated among the stock-jobbers in Wall street—miscreants who fattened upon the indus. try of the people. He denied that the resolutions had been sent there by broken-down and broken-winded politicians, but by as upright, respectable, and honorable men as any in the State. Mr. B. concluded by moving that the resolutions be referred to the Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, with instructions to report that the reasons of the Secretary for removing the deposites from the Bank of the United States were and are insufficient. * . . Mr. PEARCE was happy to find his colleague come out as the open advocate of the Hartford convention. He had read the history of that event; and he remembered something of the circumstances connected with it, though he was young at the time. Their object was a separation of the union of the United States, and he had seen a letter from Mr. Lowell, of Massachusetts, proving that to be so; and these were the men supported and advocated by his colleague. At what period was this convention organized? At a most critical period of the country, when exchequer bills were at a discount of thirty-five per cent. and what did they do? Go among the soldiers and sailors and advise them to decline serving their country. Mr. MARSHALL rose to a question of order. subject had no connexion with the resolutions. Mr. PEARCE was replying to his colleague. It was in his (Mr. P.'s) recollection that when the news of war arrived in the town where his colleague resided, the bells were set ringing; and this was the place where those patriotic men lived who sent their complaints to that House. he would refer to the language and conduct of the friends of that convention in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. He had always thought his colleague was a friend to it; but he had never expected to have heard any one enter upon its defence on the floor of that House. With regard to the resolutions, Mr. P. said, they were not sent there for presentation. Let him ask why they had been so long postponed? It was agreed by his colleague and a Senator from Rhode Island that they should be presented to both branches of the Legislature on the same day, in order that a greater effect might be produ
treat memorials, whether they came from friend or foe,
with respect. Still he maintained that they had been got up by disappointed and broken-winded politicians. He had stated nothing but facts in relation to those persons who had got up those petitions, and he should continue to do so. The gentleman had charged him with changing his opinions during the last two years. What was the truth? Two years ago he represented the views and opinions of the people of Rhode Island; he did so still. The people had changed, and he was still with them. He denied, also, that he was a hunter for office. He neither sought, desired, or expected office, and if it came, it would come unexpectedly. Mr. P. made a few further remarks in defence of the Senate. He had not sought a controversy with his colleague, nor ever would, but he should never shrink from an open avowal of his opinions. o Mr. DENNY moved to lay the resolutions and restric tions on the table; which was agreed to without a division. Mr. WHITTLESEY now called for the orders of the day. Äner some discussion as to precedence of business, the House took up THE HARBOR BILL. The question being on the amendment of Mr. Menckm, appropriating $29,000 for surveys, including arrears— Mr. HAWES moved a call of the House; but the call was refused. ...-Mr. SMITH, of Maine, inquired whether a portion of this appropriation for surveys was not to meet arrears? Mr. POLK replied in the affirmative. Mr. SMITH then wished to call the attention of the House to the fact that they were now asked to pay money which had been expended without authority by one of the officers of Government. Would the House sanction this course on the part of public officers? If, after a specific sum had been appropriated for certain objects, the officers of Government were to go on expending still more, and then come to the House and ask for the surplus, under the name of arrears, where was such a course of expenditure to stop? or what was to limit it? This course of things seemed now to be expected and counted upon: Congress had so often sanctioned demands of the kind that it seemed to be calculated upon as a matter of course. Officers would at length come to the conclusion that they might exceed the amount appropriated at pleasure. . If they might do it one year, they might another; and if they could exceed by $17,000, why not by 100,000 or 1,000,000? Ought not the House to put a stop to such a practice? Ought they to agree to the amendment, if this was involved in it? . Such items “for arrears” were excellent contrivances to cover up these excesses of expenditure. This was his objection to a part of the amount; and as to the residue, it only went to open a track to new works of internal improvement by the General Government—a thing on which the people had put their most emphatic veto. On that ground he should vote against the whole appropriation. Mr. STEWART rose to state a fact, viz: that the arrearages in this item were not for voluntary excesses of expenditure by the War Department, but expenses incurred unavoidably in executing the express orders of the House. Laws were passed requiring the Department to execute certain surveys; and it often would happen that either the order of the House must remain unexecuted, or some excess of expenditure beyond the amount appropriated be unavoidably incurred. And would the House, after imposing this necessity, turn round and say they would not indemnify the Department for expenditures actually made; or, what was the same thing, would refuse to pay for work actually done? Engineers had been engaged, and chain-bearers and other assistants hired; they
ced. Mr. P. repudiated the charge that he had failed to
had gone into the field, and on the faith of the Govern