Slike strani

then appointed Postmaster of Philadelphia, and was commissioned as one of the two Deputy Postmasters General of British North America in 1753. The length of the post roads in the thirteen colonies was then 1,532 miles, North Carolina having the most, New Hampshire the least, and New York 57 miles. After improving and enlarging the service and returning to the British Crown, as he says, three times as much clear revenue as the Post Offices of Ireland, he was dismissed as Deputy Postmaster General 6 by a freak of Ministers” in 1774. But in the next year, July 26, 1775, he was elected Postmaster General of the United Colonies by the unanimous vote of the Continental Congress.

An advance of fifteen years brings us to 1790, the official documents of which exhibit through some meagre details the extent of the Post Office operations of the first year of the present Government of the United States. The whole mail service was comprised in twelve contracts and consisted of a line of posts from Wiscasset to Savannah, with branches to Providence and Newport; to Norwich and New London; to Middletown; to Pittsburgh; to Dover and Easton; to Annapolis; and to Norfolk and Richmond-upon no portion of which was the mail sent oftener than tri-weekly; and on much of it but once in two weeks. Between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh "a complete tour” was performed once in twenty days. The annual cost of the whole service was $22,702 07. The number of Post Offices was seventy-five, and the length of post routes 1,875 miles.

If with this service of the first year, we compare that of the 58th year of the Government, we shall find the growth of this institution in the United States, the length of its routes and the frequency of its mails unequalled in rapidity and extent by any other nation since the begin

ning of time.


We have 16,159 Post Offices, whilst those of France in 1847, were 3,582, and of Great Britain, including 3,009 Receiving Houses, 4,785. We have 162,208 miles of post roads and 41,012,579 miles of annual transportation of the mail, inland. What the extent of the transportation is in France or Great Britain there are no statistics at hand to show,-much less than ours, undoubtedly. But the circulation in the French mails was about 115 millions of letters in 1847, and in the British about 300 millions; whilst ours was less than 60 millions ; whereas our population is but about 43 per cent. less than that of France and 26 less ihan that of Great Britain. This shows that we make a greater provision of mails per capita, but that they are less used by the public in proportion to population than in England or France. The greater equality of our service in favor of the dispersed and remote population, and the greater absorption in the French and English mails of the city, and town letters going from street to street, with little comparative loss of accommodation on our part, are more than sufficient to account for the small difference in favor of France, whose Paris letters alone number - millions annually.—Not so with Great Britain. For the difference in her favor we must look to other causes, and we find them in the higher rates of our postage and the defective ma

chinery of our system—both of which interpose checks to a universal
resort to the mails. A change in the mode of business at the offices
that will give more regularity to the mails, more certainty to the accounts
and more exactness to all the details of the service, and the liberalizing
of the system by reducing the charge of transport, will produce inevil-
ably a larger use of the Post Office by the people, and result in a vast
improvement to all the business and social interests of the country.
I remain with the highest respect, your ob't serv't,

First As't P. M. Gen'l.


The following extracts are from the evidence taken before the Secret Committee of the House of Commons, March, 1848, appointed to inquire into the causes of the Commercial Distress of 1847.

These extracts will give the views of the present Governor of the Bank, and of Mr. Tooke and Mr. Pease.

Evidence of J. Morris, Esq., Governor of the Bank.

Amount of Gold and Silver in Circulation.

Chairman.-Can you give the Committee any information with respect to the amount of gold and silver in circulation?-(Mr. Morris.) A calculation has been made by our chief cashier; he seems to make the gold in circulation on the 1st of January, 1848, £44,835,000; but that is an exceedingly rough calculation; it has been supposed to range between £40,000,000 and £60,000,000.

Does that include the gold in the Bank reserve ? — The £44,835,000 is supposed to include the amount of gold coin in the Bank.

What is the amount of silver ?—The amount of silver is supposed to be about £11,000,000; but that includes the amount of coin in the colonies.

Your chief cashier has paid a good deal of attention to the subject, has he not ?- I am not aware that he has paid more attention to it than other parties; but he has based his opinion upon a calculation.

Have you the particulars of the calculation ?—Yes; from the calculations made upon the calling in of the light gold coin in 1842 and 1843, it was supposed that the amount of sovereigns in circulation was about £26,000,000; the sovereigns put into circulation from January, 1844, to January, 1848, were £17,702,000, making together £53,702,000. from which deduct sovereigns sent to America, £4,000,000, and light sovereigns abstracted, £4,867,000 making together £8,867,000; it will leave in circulation on the 1st of January, £44,835,000; this calculation does not include the £6,000,000 of coin which we had at the Bank and ai the various branches. I have another calculation, made by a party who is equally capable of making it. In June, 1842, gold with the public, £31,500,000, with the Bank, £4,500,000, making together, £36,000,000. From July, 1842, to December, 1847, £28,502,254 ; melted at the Mint of light gold, £15,857,113, which, deducted from the £28,582,254, leaves £12,645,141; exported in 1846 and 1847, £4,000,000, that leaves £8,645,141, and added to the £36,000,000, makes £44,645,141, supposed to be the amount of gold coin in the country.

Thai is very near the other calculation ?-Yes, except that the one includes the amount of gold coin in the Bank, and the other is exclusive of it, so that there is a considerable discrepancy between the two, which shows the difficulty there is in arriving at an accurate result; but the general calculation is between £40,000,000 and £60,000,000, which is a very large range.

Evidence of J. Pease, Esq.

Inconvenience of gold currency illustrated. Small notes desirable.


At this moment, supposing there were to be again a general contraction of accommodation, and there were to be a drain of £8,000,000 or £10,000,000 of our bullion, or more, in what state would the productive and trading classes of this country be?-1 am satisfied what course I should take; desiring to keep up the appreciation of paper as much as I possibly could, under circumstances very discouraging, I should issue one or two millions of £1 notes, and thereby get the sovereigns in; I should by that means take the sting out of the Act, though for my own part I prefer 50s. notes, and I should be very

I glad to see 50s. notes. The present gold circulation of the country is a very harassing and inconvenient circulation indeed; the circulation of bullion is carried to an extent that is extremely harassing to men of business; we want a cheaper medium of circulation; the wages that I am called upon to pay will not be less than £10,000, or £12,000, or £15,000 a month; a great portion of that I have to raise in specie: I am forced to seek that gold round about, of the bankers in the district; I frequently pay an agio for obtaining it; and if I send the gold to London, my friends do not like to take it; they say that whatever they weigh it at, the Bank of England always weigh it at less, and they can never get the value of it at the Bank, and they will not even return the gold to them; and therefore, the circulation of gold to the present extent is a most inconvenient and vexatious one to men of business who have large amounts to pay; I believe that the substitution of a lower denomination of paper-money by the Bank of England would keep much more gold in this country, without depreciating paper at all, and I think the Bank would have a larger reserve to meet any difficulties.

Would you have £2, £3, and £A notes ? — I have no prejudice against £1 notes; but 50s. notes, especially if there were a power of paying a larger amount in silver, would be a wonderful relief to the working classes and to the currency.

Would a 50s. note pay an individual workman's wages ?-Yes : we

will you

pay by the fortnight, and in a very large number of cases, a 50s. note would

the wages;

and I should like to see silver a legal tender to a larger amount.

To what amount ?-Two hundred pounds, or £100 at least.

Do you think that would tend to replace the gold that was displaced by these smaller notes ?—The issue of 50s. notes and £1 notes would most certainly do so.

And you think that the Bank would be more fortified by the larger amount of its bullion so obtained against adverse exchanges ?-I have no doubt of it; I wish particularly to guard myself, by saying that the £l notes should be Bank of England circulation.

Mr. Wilson.—You stated that your remedy for a period of pressure would be, lowering the denomination of the convertible note, taking care at all times to secure its convertibility, by the Bank holding a sufficient reserve;

inform the Committee of the precise operation by which you expect that the currency of the country would be relieved by a system of that kind ?-First of all, I entertain the opinion, in common with many others, that a gold currency is an expensive currency; and I have stated the difficulty that we have in obtaining that currency, and the depreciation at the Bank of England from the loss of weight. Some of my friends in London have told me, that after they have taken gold as of the proper weight from country bankers, they lose £200 or £300 a year from its being reported by the Bank of England as below weight by their scales. First of all, there is the expense of the gold; and taking the gold in by the issue of £1 notes would tend to lessen the pressure in time of scarcity; I can have no doubt, speaking of my own district more particularly, that every one of the notes issued, or a very large proportion of those notes, would be repaid in sovereigns, which would find their way to the Bank coffers.

Then it would really place at the command of the country so much additional boná fide capital for profitable purposes ?—That is decidedly

Would you propose, in the event of a lower denomination of note being issued, and thereby the amount of the Bank circulation increased, that the Bank should hold a proportionate amount of reserve to maintain the convertibility of those notes - I am of opinion that the amount held of reserve in bullion need not be increased relatively with that increase of the paper circulation; but I would be quite content to take Government securities, if they exceeded the present limits.

my view.

Evidence of Thomas Tooke, Esq.
National advantages derived from the Bank of England limited by the

Bank Act.

Chairman.-Do you consider that the existence of the Bank of England is an advantage to the public ?-Unquestionably; its existence upon its present scale arises from the circumstance of its being the Government Bank; but taking it all in all, I should say that it is an institution which, if it did not exist, and you were constructing a system de novo, it would be desirable to have.

What advantages do you consider to flow from the existence of the Bank of England ?—The principal one is precisely that which was taken away from it by the Act of 1844, viz., that upon a general failure of credit there is this vast establishment, with its enormous capital and its unquestioned credit, which can come in and fill the vacuum created by such a general derangement of credit as might otherwise occasion a total suspension of business.

Do you conceive that during the late difficulties the Bank of England has been of any benefit in assisting public credit?-It has been a benefit, in spite of the system; it has been of no more benefit till the letter of suspension came than any private bank, except taking into consideration its inagnitude. I think it has been a very great mistake, that of causing the Bank of England to cease to be a bank of issue; I think there never was a greater blunder made; the whole of the commercial concerns of the country for 150 years were moulded upon the elasticity of the credit of the Bank of England, and you have now taken that away, and have introduced this separation of departments, reducing the Bank of England, barring only the difference of its capital, to the same functions as those of Jones, Loyd and Company, or Glyn and Company, or Smith, Payne and Company; now, that I conceive to be a most egregious error.


From the London Penny Cyclopædia.

Coin: metal stamped for currency; derived by some from the Greek xirvos, common; by others from the Latin, cuneus, a wedge ; the first currency of metal, in all probability, being in the form of wedges, or ingots. Commerce, in the earliest periods, was carried on by the mere exchange of articles, and it is remarkable that throughout the early part of Scripture, as well as through the poems of Homer, not a single passage occurs from which we can infer either the use or the existence of stamped money. Metals, however, being close and compact in form, universal as to use, and admitting of division into larger or lesser parts, soon became the representatives of value, though at what exact period remains in doubt. Herodotus, I. 94, speaking of the Lydians, expressly says they were the first people on record who coined gold and silver into money. The Parian Chronicle, however, ascribes the origin of coined money to the Æginetans, under Pheidon, king of Argos, 895 years before Christ.

Ælian, in his Various History,' corroborates this statement as far as the Æginetans are mentioned: and our best numismatic antiquaries agree in considering the coins of Ægina, from their archaic form and appearance, as the most ancient known. They are of silver, and bear on the upper side the figure of a turtle, and on the under an indented mark, as if the metal, at the time of striking, had been fixed upon a puncheon, and from the weight of the blow had received a deep

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