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the same price on some future day. Did the law ever intend to convey the authority to the Secretary to sell Treasury notes at par, when the market price is from three to five per cent. above that price!
And suppose this to be the market price when these notes are to be “ re-issued”that is the word—will the Secretary stand justified in selling government property, to a certain individual, below the price at which it would sell if offered in fair open market? We think not, and we do not believe there is a man who will assert to the contrary. Now, can it be asserted that Mr. Morgan does not expect to get his notes back at par, no matter at how high a price above it they are selling in the market, when the time fixed for their re-issue shall arrive? That he certainly does so, we believe and we moreover offer it as our opinion, that if the Secretary purchased $800,000 Treasury notes at par under the law, with an understanding that he would sell them back at par, no matter what might be the market price at the time, he may be impeached, and deservedly so, for a violation of the spirit and letter of a law of Congress.
The desence of the Secretary is based upon the law, allowing him to purchase Treasury notes. The justification of this special act is, that the government thereby saved six thousand dollars interest ! For the purpose of this saving, the gentleman selling, is willing to lose $24,000!—very generous truly!
It would be a curious piece of history, if the community could get all the details of this negotiation,—the private bargaining, and the little unwritten understanding between these gentlemen. It would be interesting to learn how much skill was exhibited by this Secretary, in commercial negotiations, for the purpose of saving to the government six thousand dollars interest!—but we are never to get at the facts,-they are to form for ever a part of the unwritten financial history of the country. Whatever may
be the result, every man believes and will continue to believe, that the whole affair was a bargain, not for the benefit of government, but for the benefit of
no matter who. The Union is kind enough to denounce the community for their ingratitude to Secretary Walker. The course he pursued, and the responsibility he took in the matter, was with the generous view of relieving the money market from the distressing closeness under which it labored-by the process, $800,000 which were locked up in those dark and gloomy dungeons of the sub-treasury, were released for the benefit of the mercantile community! This is the most candid admission of the evils of the Sub-Treasury we have yet seen !—evils which the Secretary admits, and which he is trying to avert, even by what we believe a violation of law.
The Secretary is clothed with a dangerous power. If by law he may relieve, he may also tighten the market to suit his own purposes, and, as we suppose his are best subserved by relieving the market, at this time, perhaps the community should be grateful for this act! That it has relieved the money market there is no doubt, and we are rejoiced that the effect has been to the benefit of banks and merchants,—but we enter our protest against the exercise of illegal power for any purpose whatever.
The Sub-Treasury law is enacted. Let us go through with it, and see how it works-even to the end. That it has diminished the capital and deadened the enterprises of the country, we believe, and we further believe, that the people will soon find it out to their cost. It is a barbarous law, totally at variance with the character of the people and the spirit of the age—it is anti-commercial, and has retarded the progress of our national wealth and resources to a very great extent.
We are willing that the law should be well tried.-We know that it does not and cannot work well either for the government or the people. The extra safety of a few millions of public money, is a small matter when compared with the national loss, amounting to many more millions, by the depreciation of labor and property, which the stringent action of the Sub-Treasury produces.
This question is one which should rise above all party consideration. It affects all classes, and will ultimately be condemned as a system more deranging to internal trade and commerce than any other that has ever been tried. If, as has been said, the system prevents fluctuation in the prices of all property, it is only by rendering property stagnant and unsaleable. The fluctuations are dounward under its influence. This has been its effects, and such effects must flow from it while it continues in force.
With regard to the safety of the public money which it was said it would secure, we would ask what system was more safe than under the law which required all banks, having the public deposits, to deposit an equal amount of government security with the government as a guarantee?
The evil of the present system has not yet been felt in its full force. In the contingency of large imports (which imply also the payment of heavy duties) and a rise in foreign exchange to the specie shipping point—what is there to prevent a crisis of great severity upon the commercial interests of the country? This is the point at which the evil will be most clearly seen and felt, and it may not be so far off as people imagine. Independent of its barbarous and benighted principles, it is anti-national and at war with the enterprise of the country. It is a law which makes rich men richer and diminishes the value of the savings of the poor. It curtails business and renders the circulation of property and money sluggish and unprofitable. If our nation were not young and vigorous, the Sub-Treasury would spread a chill over the movements of every branch of home industry, which not even its vigor and strength could counteract.
Public Men.—A strenuous resistance to every appearance of lawless power; a spirit of independence carried to some degree of enthusiasm ; an inquisitive character to discover, and a bold one to display, every error of government, these are the qualities which recommend a man in open and popular elections.—Burke.
OPINIONS OF LORD BROUGHAM
UPON THE BANK OF ENGLAND, CURRENCY, AND OTHER TOPICS.
Consequences of Contracting the Currency. And now it was, when a general commercial distress began to prevail, that the consequences of our paper circulation, and the banking operations connected with it, not gradually, as had been expected, but almost instantaneously, developed themselves. The Bank of England not very slowly limited its discounts, and diminished its issues of paper about three millions. At one period, indeed, the amount of notes in circulation had exceeded that to which they were now reduced, by six millions : but the average had been for some time about three millions higher. The country banks, acting less upon system, and more under the influence of alarm, lessened their discounts in a much greater degree. A single failure would stop all such transactions over a whole district: and I could mention one large stoppage, which made it difficult for a length of time to discount a bill anywhere in three or four counties.
The persons who felt this change most severely were of course those who had been speculating in any way, but above all others, speculators in land: those who had either purchased or improved beyond their actual means upon the expectation of that credit and accommodation being continued, which had enabled them to commence these operations. Ordinary traders have much greater facilities in the money market; and their speculations are much more speedily terminated. The improver of land has to deal with property not easily convertible into money, and his adventures extend over a long course of years. Persons in this situation soon found their borrowed capital withdrawn. When the fall of produce made it difficult for them to pay the interest, they were suddenly called upon for the principal : they had gotten into a situation which no prudence could have enabled them to avoid, because it was the result of events which no sagacity could have foreseen. They had for many years been tempted to speculate by a facility of obtaining capital or credit, which in a month or two was utterly withdrawn; and before the least warning had been given, either by the course of events, or by the dealers in money and accommodation, a support was removed which the most cautious of men might well have expected to be continued indefinitely, or at any rate, to be gradually removed.
House of Commons, April 9, 1816. Dangerous Influence of the Bank of England. It had been an opinion of a predecessor of the Right Honorable the Master of the Mint-a man somewhat distinguished for his scientific attainments and excellent judgment—I mean Sir Isaac Newton; it has been the opinion of Sir Isaac Newton, that an increase of even threepence in the price of gold is sufficient to endanger every guinea in the
country. This opinion that great man has published, and has signed his name to it; and, if threepence in the price of gold can have such an influence on the gold coin of the realm, what must the effects of an equal or greater rise in silver be on the silver currency?
Yet, to this danger is the country constanıly exposed, while it remains with the Bank of England, by a single stroke of the pen, to derange the market prices of both gold and silver by a sudden and unrestricted issue of their paper currency. I can assure the House that I speak of the Bank with the greatest respect—a respect mixed with dread and alarm. I respect the Bank, but I fear it also. It is in vain to hope for any security for the circulation of the new coinage unless the earliest opportunity is taken of withdrawing that control which at present restricts the Bank from the payment of their notes and tokens in specie. The moment the Bank pays on demand, all danger is at an end.
March 5, 1817.
Dangerous Monopoly of the Bank of England. Much has been said upon the proceedings of the Bank of England during the late panic of the country. Without wishing to throw blame upon the conduct of that body, I cannot help expressing my conviction that an end must come to that system which exerts so powerful an influence at present, not only on the money-market, but on the whole trade of the country. Some change ought to be effected, by which the interests of the whole empire, together with the fortunes of every family in it, should be withdrawn from the absolute control and direction of four and twenty men; be they bankers, or be they merchants, whether they are to be looked up to as a political corporation or a powerful commercial company, it is too much to trust the whole properiy of the country to the absolute will or caprice of a few men, lest in ihe exercise of a power which is constantly changing all the relations of that property-sometimes increasing their issues and raising its value, then as suddenly contracting them and leaving commercial transactions in a state of corresponding embarrassment—now restricting their discounts, and now enlarging them-now restricting their issues and lowering the rate of interest, and again suddenly enlarging their issues and raising the rate of interest. Just such as we have lately witnessed are the fearful consequences of that system upon all the property of the countrysuch are the confusion and disorder which must continually prevail in all its concerns, so long as the influence of that system is allowed to prevail.
I mean not to say I distrust the present Bank directors; but I distrust, and ever shall distrust, the wisdom of any set of men placed in their situation, and who, unless they possess the gift of prophecy, cannot be safely intrusted with powers such as those at present vested in the Bank of England, without check or control. Let the monopoly of the Bank of England be restricted, and let other companies have an opportunity of raising themselves up in opposition to them; then, and not till then, will the money-market and the commercial transactions of the country be placed upon a steady and secure footing.
Feb. 2, 1826.
Imperishable Monuments to a Nation's Fame. I cannot sit down without once more adverting to a most interesting topic, to which I drew the notice of the House when I last had the honor of addressing them. Every day has discovered to the committee (of Education) more and more proofs of the munificently charitable disposition of individuals in former times. What I wish you to do is, only to turn with grateful attention to the benevolence of your forefathers, and to endeavor to prevent the memorials of that benevolence from being defaced.
We are occupied in raising monuments to the glory of our naval and military defenders, and fashioning them of materials far more perishable than their renown; all I ask is, that we should protect from the operations of time and from the injuries of interested malversation, those monuments of the genuine glory of our ancestors, those trophies' which they won in a pious and innocent warfare, and left to commemorate triumphs unmingled with sorrow, unpolluted by blood, gained over Ignorance, that worst enemy of the human race, and over her progeny, Vice!—Thus we shall perform a greater service to the public; we shall contribute to exalt the name and the fame of this country more than by all the other acts of public munificence in which, as a great and victorious nation, we have been justly indulging. Whatever may be attempted to impede the attainment of this object, I hope that we shall so vigilantly protect the commissioners in the execution of their duty, as to prove to all persons that any efforts to frustrate the views of this House, and to defeat the hopes of the country, are vain; and I trust that all who have hitherto obstructed, or who may, yet endeavor to thwart our views, whether from an interested dread lest their own malversations should be detected, or from scarcely less base fellow-feelings for the malversations of others, or from a silly and groundless fear of they know not what dangers—that all who, on whatever grounds, hold out a protecting hand to corruption, from the hereditary enemy of improvement, and the mitred patron of abuse, down to the meanest peculator in the land, may learn that the time is gone by when the poor can be robbed with impunity.
June 3, 1818.
Pressure of Taxation on the Agriculturists. But on no class does the pressure so seriously lie as on the agricultural body. Indeed, there are special causes why the same weight falling on the other branches cannot, in its effects, be so injurious as to them. The agriculturist is very differently circumstanced in the control of his concerns from the manufacturer. He does not, like him, possess the power of accommodating his supply to the demand. There are causes intrinsically affecting his concerns which give him far less power over them. He is exposed to the operations of the seasons, and to all the accidents of the elements. Besides all these, the House will see that the imposition of a tax on a falling market must be injurious to the grower of the commodity, inasmuch as he is unable to shift it on