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The November Number of our Review contained our opinions on this subject at considerable length, in connexion with two remarkable disclosures of the ultimate designs of the Philadelphia papermoney speculators, viz. the unlucky letter of Mr. Biddle, of the 5th of April last, and Mr. Carey's adroit attempt at defending its principles, under the title of “The Credit System of France, Great Britain and the United States.” Our readers we hope will not regard our recurrence to this topic as unwelcome, since nothing can be so vitally essential to the public welfare, as the equal and substantial value of the measure by which all contracts are settled, and every description of property estimated, amidst the infinite variety of interchange which necessarily occurs in all civilized communities.
The attempts which have been recently made, to create a necessity similar to that of the deplorable state of affairs under which the public finances were formerly compelled to be surrendered to the practical control of private and irresponsible individuals, have not only subjected our political institutions to severe trials, but have ruthlessly destroyed the property and prospects of thousands of industrious and worthy citizens. But neither the gigantic speculations excited in 1835 and 1836, nor their issue, the total banishment of sound currency from circulation in 1837, have effected the object designed. To secure its eventual accomplishment, an entire change in the tactics of the warfare which has been unremittingly waged against the political rights of the people and the security of their permanent interests, appears to have lately taken place. The vigilance and firmness of the responsible public officers elected by the people to execute the laws having baffled the deeply laid measures concerted by the paper-money speculators, they have now undertaken to subvert the principles of justice and equal rights among the people themselves. The exhibition of their self-sufficient im
portance, and contempt for the people—the promulgation of opin ions that the people are their own worst enemies, and in the man agement of important affairs are unworthy of regard and confidencehaving failed, we now find these unwearied schemers professing a degree of subservience to the unrestrained cupidity of every individual in the community which exposes the rights of property to universal overthrow. We now see the devisers and supporters of the monopoly scheme of paper currency, to be alone by law re ceivable into the public treasury, boldly asserting the unqualified right of the whole people to manufacture paper currency which shall be received in all payments. We now witness the projectors and advocates of a tariff policy which levied heavy burdens upon those whom the fluctuations of a monopoly paper currency could not directly reach, by imposing n enormous tax upon articles of prime necessity entering into the consumption of every individual in the community, becoming all at once the great champions of free trade, and denouncing all shackles upon productive industry, and especially that most important and substantial protection afforded by a sound and equal measure of value. In short the mischievous anarchical doctrines by which the whole property of the country is now proposed to be brought into jeopardy with a design to produce the necessity for the reconstruction of the great monopoly paper-coining machine, which shall exercise irresponsible control over the American people and their institutions of government, manifests a far greater want of respect for the discernment and good sense of the community at large, than the denunciations of the “swinish multitude" at a former period.
The most elaborate and insidious appeal to the insurgent passions of unreflecting men that we have happened to meet with, appeared at the commencement of the present year, in a work recently established by the Whig party near the federal seat of government, in professed rivalry and opposition to the Democratic Review,-in the guise of a reply to our former Article, from the pen of Mr. Carey. During the prostrated condition of practical morality in England through the operation of the South-Sea scheme and the other gambling speculations of that era of bubbles, Mandeville published his famous treatise to prove that private vices were public benefits. The book being written with talent and ingenuity excited great alarm among the sober and religious portions of the community. After the usual fashion of former days, instead of shewing the failacy of its doctrines, those who considered them to be dangerous prosecuted the publishers for endeavouring to subvert the foundations of society. This brought the work into general notice, and gave the author an opportunity of publishing his vindication, in which he undertook to show that the tendency of his doctrines was beneficial to society, since the excesses of men must inevitably
lead to those precautions for the general security which constitute the necessity for government, and are the main foundations of its strength and power. The principles of this new performance of Mr. Carey might possibly have been supported by a similar exercise of ingenuity so far as respects the encouragement and justification it affords to the extravagance, immorality and vice incident do gambling,--but they proceed to an immeasurably greater length than any doctrines before published. While Mandeville only contended that the vices of individuals would in the long run be counterbalanced by the accession of strength to the body politic, the main object of the reply is to break down this strength. The des. truction of all the safeguards by which the sober, industrious and honest portions of the community are protected from the consequences of the profligacy of others, is now for the first time deliberately advocated. The checks which are intended to save the innocent from becoming involved in the destruction which sooner or later overtakes the guilty, are denounced as hostile to human freedom. The whole community are in effect to be punished for the fraudulent cupidity of a few gamblers and speculators.
The doctrines contained in this reply greatly exceed, therefore, in their results, any which have been hitherto seriously addressed to the understandings of a peaceful, law-abiding and religious people in any age of the world. Were not these results carefully concealed from the observation of light and superficial readers, by a plausible perversion of language, wherever they would be likely to shock the moral sense by their transparency, we should leave this reply to find its proper estimation among the Whig party, to which it seems to be particularly addressed, without any remarks on our part. But the mode now adopted, as we have already suggested for subverting the rights of the people by attempting to poison the fountain of power, imperiously requires that every friend of public liberty should endeavour to expose such designs and prevent their influence. The corruption of the moral sense of the people-the purity and correctness of which are the main foundation upon which the success of our great experiment of self-government essentially depends—is too alarming an enterprize to be witnessed with unconcern, by any well-wisher to human happiness.
Our readers will doubtless bear in recollection that the design of our former Article was to shew that “the credit system” of this coun. try, by confounding two things radically and diametrically opposed to each other in their influences upon industry and enterprize-mere credit and actual capital-had impaired the security of property, and had deeply affected that mutual confidence and good faith among men which is so essential to social prosperity. We traced the present credit system of this country to its corrupt origin in the intrigues of Morris and Hamilton for bringing into operation an irresponsible controlling power wholly independent of the people, after their plans for that purpose were defeated in the Convention which formed the Constitution of the United States.
We explained the course of management which had been pursu. ed by the second Bank of the United States for the overthrow of the standard of value which it was one of the main objects of the Constitution to secure: and we endeavoured to illustrate the operation of the credit system of this country, and its consequences upon our productive interests, by the condition into which the people of England and France had been plunged by the adoption of a similar system. : The most reasonable feature in this reply, regarding it according to its professed import, is that not a single word can be found in it, from beginning to end, upon the principal and most important subject of our Article—the origin and operations of the credit system heretofore existing in the United States. We state this explicitly and distinctly in order that the friends of this system may first examine our Article and the performance which purports to be a reply, before they shall decide that Mr. Carey has refuted the facts and arguments contained in the Democratic Review. The reply takes up entirely new grounds—the right of the whole people to issue paper currency to be received in all payments. It commences with a flourish upon the progress of the age, and the increasing power of the people, and immediately falls into the track of our illustrations of the injurious consequences of paper currency sanctioned by Government, which we had brought to bear upon the operations of the two Banks of the United States. In effect, the credit system of the United States as managed by the banks is abandoned to its fate as totally indefensible, and a new crotchet is brought forward to supersede them.
Now, bad as we believe the management of many of the banks to have been, we think them to be far less injurious to the common welfare than Mr. Carey's substitute as explained by himself. None can be more deeply anxious to promote the progress of human improvement than ourselves. It is precisely because we wish that the great advancement which is daily developing itself may not become a retrograde movement tenfold more rapid in its pace, which shall overwhelm at once all hopes of political and social amelioration, that we desire the American people to ponder well this vital question of paper currency. Upon this rock many a gallant ship of state has already been wrecked. More poverty, misery and oppression have been created in the world by mistakes upon this question than by any other scheme of mis-government.
As the most dangerous of Mr. Carey's doctrines, because the most likely to impose upon inexperienced minds, are artfully enveloped in terms used in a sense wholly different from their ordinary signification, we regard it as an indispensable preliminary to explain, that several expressions of the most frequent recurrence in the reply, do not convey to our minds the ideas which he assumes to be their import. It would indeed seem from many recent instances that the literati of the Philadelphia paper-money school are equally bent upon the destruction of all confidence in language as well as in currency. We do not regard the circulating medium of a great producing and commercial people, as a proper subject for the indulgence of an arbitrary and frivolous play upon words, and as it is obviously impossible to discuss usefully any subject unless in language mutually comprehended between the writer and reader, we propose to state explicitly what we do not understand by several of these phrases.
1. By the term freedom as applied to individuals, we do not understand an absolute exemption from every restraint upon the unbri. dled passions and fraudulent cupidity of mankind. By freedom of commerce, we do not mean a scheme of legalized plunder under the pretence of the protection of industry, vainly adopted to prevent the operation of the great laws of trade upon a false and deceptive measure of value. We think the experience of the last two years bas sufficiently established, that free trade, in the proper sense of the term, cannot exist either between the several States of the Union, or between this and foreign countries, except by a rigid adherence to the sound and equal measure of value established for that very purpose by the Constitution of the United States.
2. We do not understand the word capital to mean mere facilities and contrivances for borrowing the fruits of labor. We regard tlıat individual only to be a capitalist who is the proprietor of the accumulated proceeds of labor without being indebted to the producers for the amount. Those individuals without actual property, who lavish large sums in ostentatious and luxurious display, for the purpose of obtaining the credit of being men of wealth, are not capitalists in our acceptation of the term—even should several combine, with or without a charter procured from the legislative power, under whatever pretences or management, and club their mutual obligations together as the basis of paper currency to be imposed upon a credulous community as a substitute for the only sound and equal measure of value. Capital is not created by law, but by labor. Paper currency may enable individuals by law to obtain the proceeds of labor without expense or exertion, but we do not regard the privilege of manufacturing it to constitute a capi. talist—although its actual cost to the industrious and producing interests is fully equal to that of metallic currency, besides the hazard of its perishing in their hands like the manna of the Israelites, should it be kept in possession beyond the day on which it is acquired, and thereby producing improvidence and consequent distress.
3. By the term security, as applied to currency, we do not under