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tion, to overthrow or abolish this system, although it certainly was the object of the constitution to abolish bills of credit, and all paper intended for circulation, issued upon the faith of the States alone. Inasmuch as whatever then existed, of the nature of money or currency, rested on State legislation; and as it was not possible that uniformity, general credit, and general confidence could result from local and separate acts of the States, there is evidence-I think abundant evidence—that it was the intention of the framers of the constitution to give to Congress a controlling power over the whole subject, to the end that there should be, for the whole country, a currency of uniform value. Congress has heretofore exercised this authority, and fulfilled the corresponding duties. It has maintained, for forty years out of forty-nine, a national institution, proceeding from its power, and responsible to the General Government. With intervals of derangement, brought about by war and other occurrences, this whole system, taken altogether, has been greatly successful in its actual operation. We have found occasion to create no difference between Government and people-between money for revenue, and money for the general use of the country. Until the commencement of the last session, Government had manifested no disposition to look out for itself exclusively. What was good enough for the people, was good enough for Government. No condescending and gracious preference had, before that period, ever been tendered to members of Congress, over other persons having claims upon the public funds. Such a singular spectacle had never been exhibited, as an amicable, disinterested, and patriotic understanding, between those who are to vote taxes on the people, for the purpose of replenishing the Treasury, and those who, from the Treasury, dispense the money back again among those who have claims on it. In that respect I think the Secretary stands alone. He is the first, so far as I know, in our long list of able heads of Departments, who has thought it a delicate and skilful touch, in financial administration, to be particularly kind and complaisant to the interest of the law-makers,—those who hold the tax-laying power; the first whose great deference and cordial regard for members of Congress have led him to provide, for them, as the medium of payment and receipt, something more valuable than is provided, at the same time, for the army, the navy, the judges, the revolutionary pensioners, and the various classes of laborers in the pay of Government.

Through our whole history, sir, we have found a convertible paper enrrency, under proper control, highly useful, by its pliability to circumstances, and by its capacity of enlargement, in a reasonable degree, to meet the demands of a new and enterprising community. As I have already said, sir, we owe a permanent debt of a hundred millions abroad; and in the present abundance of money in England, and the state of demand here, this amount will probably be increased. But it must be evident to every one, that, so long as, by a safe use of paper, we give some reasonable expansion to our own circulation, of at least do not unreasonably contract it, we do, to that extent,

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create or maintain an ability for loans among ourselves, and so far diminish the amount of annual interest paid abroad.

But let me now, Mr. President, ask the attention of the Senate to another subject, upon which, indeed, much has already been said: I mean that which is usually called the CREDIT SYSTEM.

Sir, what is that system? Why is credit a word of so much solid importance, and of so powerful charm, in the United States? Why is it that a shock has been felt through all classes and all interests, the first moment that this credit has been disturbed ? Does its importance belong, equally, to all commercial States? Or are there peculiarities in our condition, our habits, and modes of business, which make credit more indispensable, and mingle it more naturally, more intimately, with the life-blood of our system?

A full and philosophical answer to these inquiries, Mr. President, would demand that I should set forth both the ground-work and the structure of our social system. It would show that the wealth and prosperity of the country have as broad a foundation as its popular constitutions. Undoubtedly there are peculiarities in that system, resulting from the nature of our political institutions, from our elementary laws, and from the general character of the people. These peculiarities most unquestionably give to credit, or to those means and those arrangements, by whatever names we call them, which are calculated to keep the whole, or by far the greater part of the capital of the country in a state of constant activity, a degree of importance far exceeding what is experienced elsewhere.

In the old countries of Europe there is a clear and well-defined line, between capital and labor : a line which strikes through society with a horizontal sweep, leaving on one side wealth, in masses, holden by few hands, and those having little participation in the laborious pursuits of life; on the other, the thronging multitudes of labor, with here and there, only, an instance of such accumulation of earnings as to deserve the name of capital. This distinction, indeed, is not universal and absolute in any of the commercial States of Europe, and it grows less and less definite as commerce advances; the effect of commerce and manufactures, as all history shows, being, every where, to diffuse wealth, and not to aid its accumulation in few hands. Bút still the line is greatly more broad, marked, and visible in European nations, than in the United States. In those nations the gains of capital, and wages, or the earnings of labor, are not only distinct in idea, as elements of the science of political economy, but, to a great degrce, also, distinct in fact; and their respective claims, and merits, and modes of relative adjustment, become subjects of discussion and of public regulation. Now, sir, every body may see that that is a state of things which does not exist with us. We have no such visible and broad distinction between capital and labor; and much of the general happiness of all classes results from this. With us, labor is every day augmenting its means by its own industry; not in all cases, indeed, but in very many. Its savings of yesterday become its capital, therefore, of to-day. On the other hand, vastly, the greater portion of


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the property of the country exists in such small quantities that its holders cannot dispense altogether with their own personal industry; or if, in some instances, capital be accumulated till it rises to what may be called affluence, it is usually disintegrated and broken into particles again, in one or two generations. The abolition of the rights of primogeniture; the descent of property of every sort to females as well as males; the cheap and easy means by which property is transferred and conveyed; the high price of labor; the low price of land; the genius of our political institutions; in fine, every thing belonging to us, counteracts large accumulation. This is our actual system. Our politics, our constitutions, our elementary laws, our habits, all centre in this point, or tend to this result. From where I now stand, to the extremity of the northeast, vastly the greatest part of the property of the country is in the hands and ownership of those whose personal industry is employed in some form of productive labor. General competence, general education, enterprise, activity, and industry, such as never before pervaded any society, are the characteristics which distinguish the people who live, and move, and act in this state of things, such as I have described it.

Now, sir, if this view be true, as I think it is, all must perceive that, in the United States, capital cannot say to labor and industry, "Stand ye yonder, while I come up hither;" but labor and industry lay hold on capital, break it into parcels, use it, diffuse it widely, and, instead of leaving it to repose in its own inertness, compel it to act at once as their own stimulus and their own instrument.

But, sir, this is not all. There is another view still more immediately affecting the operation and use of credit. In every wealthy community, however equally property may be divided, there will always be some property-holders who live on its income. If this property be land, they live on rent; if it be money, they live on its interest. The amount of real estate held in this country on lease, is comparatively very small, except in the cities. But there are individuals and families, trustees and guardians, and various literary and charitable institutions, who have occasion to invest funds for the purpose of annual moneyed income. Where do they invest? where can they invest? The answer to these questions shows at once a mighty difference between the state of things here, and that in England. Here, these investments, to produce a moneyed income, are made in banks, insurance companies, canal and railroad corporations, and other similar institutions. Placed thus immediately in active hands, this capital, it is evident, becomes at once the basis of business ; it gives occupation, pays labor, excites enterprise, and performs, in short, all the functions of employed money. But, in England, investments for such purposes usually take another direction. There is, in England, a vast amount of public stocks, as eight or nine hundred millions sterling of public debt actually exists, constituting, to the amount of its annual interest, a charge on the active capital and industry of the country. In the hands of individuals, portions of this

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debt are capital ; that is, they produce income to the proprietors, and income without labor; while in a national point of view, it is mere debt. What was obtained for it, or that on account of which it was contracted, has been spent in the long and arduous wars, which the country has sustained, from the time of King William the Third, to our own days. There are thousands of individuals, therefore, whose fixed income arises, not from the active use of property, either in their own hands, or the hands of others, but from the interest on that part of this national charge to which they are entitled. If, therefore, we use the term capital not in the sense of political economy exactly, but as implying whatever returns income to individuals, we find an almost incalculable mass so circumstanced as not to be the basis of active operations.

To illustrate this idea further, sir, let us suppose that, by some occurrence, (such as is certainly never to be expected,) this debt should be paid off ; suppose its holders were to receive, to-morrow, their full amounts; what would they do with them? Why, sir, if they were obliged to loan the one-quarter part into the hands of the industrious classes, for the purposes of employment in active business ; and if this operation could be accompanied by the same intelligence and industry among the people which prevail with us, the result would do more toward raising the character of the laboring classes, than all reforms in Parliament, and other general political operations. It would be as if this debt had never been contracted ; as if the money

had never been spent, and now remained part of the active capital of the country, employed in the business of life. But this debt, sir, has created an enormous amount of private property, upon the income of which its owners live, which does not require their own active labor or that of others. We have no such deht; we have no such mode of investment; and this circumstance gives quite a different aspect and a different reality to our condition.

Now, Mr. President, what I understand by the credit system is, that which thus connects labor and capital, by giving to labor the use of capital. In other words, intelligence, good character, and good morals bestow on those who have not capital, a power, a trust, a confidence, which enables them to obtain it, and to employ it usefu ly for themselves and others. These active men of business build their hopes of success on their attentiveness, their economy, and their integrity. A wider theatre for useful activity is under their feet, and around them, than was ever spread before the eyes of the young and enterprising generations of men, on any other spot enlightened by the sun. Before them is the ocean. Every thing in that direction invites them to efforts of enterprise and industry in the pursuits of commerce and the fisheries. Around them, on all hands, are thriving and prosperous manufactures; an improving agriculture, and the daily presentation of new objects of internal improvement: while behind them is almost half a continent of the richest land, at the cheapest prices, under healthful climates, and washed by the most magnificent rivers that on any part of the globe pay their homage to the sea. In the midst

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of all these glowing and glorious prospects, they are neither restrain ed by ignorance, nor smitten down by the penury of personal circumstances. They are not compelled to contemplate, in hopelessness and despair, all the advantages thus bestowed on their condition by Providence. Capital though they may have little or none, CREDIT supplies its place ; not as the refuge of the prodigal and the reckless; not as gratifying present wants with the certainty of future absolute ruin ; but as the genius of honorable trust and confidence; as the blessing, voluntarily offered to good character and to good conduct; as the beneficent agent, which assists honesty and enterprise in obtaining comfort and independence.

Mr. President, take away this credit, and what remains ? I do not ask what remains to the few, but to the many? Take away this system of credit, and then tell me what is left for labor and industry, but mere manualtoil and daily drudgery? If we adopt a system that withdraws capital from active employment, do we not diminish the rates of wages ? If we curtail the general business of society, does not every laboring man find his condition grow daily worse? In the politics of the day, sir, we hear much said about divorces; and when we abolish credit, we shall divorce labor from capital; and, depend on it, sir, when we divorce labor from capital, capital is hoarded, and labor starves.

The declaration, so often quoted, that “all who trade on borrowed capital ought to break,” is the most aristocratic sentiment ever uttered in this country. It is a sentiment which, if carried out by political arrangement, would condemn the great majority of mankind to the perpetual condition of mere day-laborers. It goes to take away from them all that solace and hope which arises from possessing something which they can call their own. A man loves his own; it is fit and natural that he should do so; and he will love his country and its institutions, if he have some stake in it, although it be but a very small part of the general mass of property. If it be but a cottage, an acre, a garden, its possession raises him, gives him self-respect, and strengthens his attachment to his country. It is our happy condition, by the blessings of Providence, that almost every man of sound health, industrious habits, and good morals, can ordinarily attain, at least, to this degree of comfort and respectability; and it is a result devoutly to be wished, both for its individual and its general consequences.

But even to this degree of acquisition, that credit, of which I have already said so much, (as its general effect is to raise the price of wages, and render industry productive,) is highly important. There is no condition so low, if it be attended with industry and economy, which this credit does not benefit, as any one will find, if he will examine and follow out its operations.

Such, Mr. President, being the credit system in the United States, as I understand it, I now add, that the banks have been the agents and their circulation the instrument, by which the general operations of this credit have been conducted. Much of the capital of the country, placed at interest, is vested in bank stock, and those who borrow, borrow at the banks and discounts of bills, and anticipation of pay

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