« ZurückWeiter »
far reduced by depreciation of money, and by appreciation of the total valuation of the estates liable for the debt, as to make the real burthen in 1806, not one-third of that of the year 1791, as may be seen by the scale, page 187, for the comparative burthens of each year.
UNITED STATES FINANCIAL MONEY-METER
To explain the effects of loans, and sinking funds, on the physical and
moral abilities and energies of a commonwealth.
Foreign loans of specie may fill the meter.
Twenty-five dollars for each person the highest specie level.
Specie level or average of commercial Europe
in 1805. Money will gently begin to flow off before it
reaches the general level. Real estates sell at twenty five to thirty years
purchase, Lands higher and near their acme. Interest 5
per cent. Science extending. All real estate at a fair
price, and labour also. Commerce brisk, the arts flourish, neat hus· bandry prevails. Back lands rise, labour lowers, interest six per
cent. Industry gains ground with commerce and
agriculture. Commerce flourishes, and with it every thing
improves. Back lands begin to sell at two dollars, in small
parcels. Money reaches the middle country; all labour
very high, in 1800. Money still centers in the cities; usury twelve
per cent. in 1806. Idleness abounds; usury at twenty to thirty per
cent. Extreme distress, universal distrust, govern
ment in danger.
The principal drains are, by sinking funds, or reimbursements of foreign loans in bills or specie.
Different views of the United States debt, at different periods.
For depreciation, see variation tables, page 142.
It cannot be too often repeated, till it is fully impressed, that our foreign loans of money are lightened continually, both by our increasing ability and by the depreciation of all money, and that none of the calculations for the old world, will explain our fortunate situation, particularly in the former instance ; for while our back lands are so far below European rates, a comparatively small addition only to our specie medium, by raising the demand and price for these lands, has an almost incredible effect. All which is explained in another part of this work, on the utility of loans to any young and under valued country, such as the United States ; and perhaps in future, New Holland.
The views in the first and second columns only of the last table, have hitherto governed our committees of ways and means; but they are very deceptive, owing to the continual variation of money by depreciation, by increased population, and by the consequent approach of all our real estates to their acme; to which though they may not arrive in the present century, they rapidly advance, and stop only
when checked by the antifinancial conduct of that legislature whose duty it is to provide for the general welfare. Our ancestors well knew we wanted only MEN AND MONEY, to bring the averaged value or rental of our real estates equal to those of England, now near three dollars the acre, which they multiply by 30 to ascertain the true value in fee of all landed estate. This valuation for England increases as the old rents fall in, and new leases are granted, governed by the depreciation of all money : these are now often at 60s. that fifty years since were given at 58. to 108. (See the British agricultural reports.) Hence, if as an outline for fifty years, we rate the acme of our public lands at fifty dollars, we shall be still within the mark Till our financial conduct is governed by the rules of HUME, of Locke, and all other correct statesmen, “ to keep money always on the increase," to quadrate with our population, and with the universal depreciation of all money, we shall virtually pay AN ENORMOUS. TAX to all the foreign and commercial nations who are not equally, short sighted with us. • To the resemblance of the duties of a financier to those of the watch at the nilometer, for wholesome distributions of the rich; circu. lating fluid on the Egyptian delta, another simple illustration may be added. Whenever the public lands do not rise in demand, and sell in the ratio with the increase of our population, including the depreciation of all money throughout the commercial world, we may compare their stagnant situation to water at the bottom of a deep well, with a short, a cracked, or a crazy pump or piston. If in such exi. gencies we have often seen a bucket of the essential fluid, borrowed from a neighbouring fountain, immediately produce a plentiful supply, and no injury arise from even an excessive surplus in consequence, can we yet be at a loss how to act where the cases are so exactly similar? We have been wrong for near twelve years ; hence the total of our United States valuation, that ought to have more than quadrupled its rate in 1791, and at least doubled that of the present year, is now nearly at a stand in comparison with the effects of the correct individual enterprize of many of our industrious citizens. To know that we have been financially wrong, we have only to compare the price of the public property with that of private persons, out of the reach of the baneful effects of our public errors. Our public property, in real estate, is chiefly in lots in Washington, and in lands in the west, both of which, entirely owing to our errors in finance, have been falling in price! while other property has risen rapidly every where, in spite of the scarcity of our money....a scarcity created by the drains of our injurious cash sinking fund; to which, if the present or a future congress, like Smollet's Mrs. Eramble, on her marriage, should“ grow more economical than ever,” they may add, a man sinking fund, and export our labourers, and thus re. move all the obligations we are under to the old world, that we may be no longer in debt! Our financial character will then surely be complete, if it be not already at the cap of the climax,
In order further to elucidate the public debt of the United States, it may be proper to give the following extracts, viz. as the soldiers did not all know the truth, they did not suppose that any real want of financial skill, had occasioned their many hardships from grievous disappointment; hence in their camp meetings, they plainly told each other, they had lost all confidence in the gentlemen their country had chosen to provide for the general weal; and therefore, as they had won 300 millions of acres from British Canada, in addition to the territory of the colonists, whose independence they had pledged their lives to establish, it was urged that out of these surplus lands, they might pay themselves, by immediate possession of the entire property to which they were entitled, on the principles that govern our cruising ships; thus one half of the prize lands belonged of right to the captors, after discharging all the claims for outfits and expensesl; then the remaining half would belong to the owners of the ship, who during the cruise had remained in safety at home.
They acknowledged that both the owners and crew had sometimes employed the same agents;. but this was by no means: neces. sary. Justice might be done by the confidential trustees of each party, while acting in concert with the same justice in view, for the benefit of all parties; they therefore proposed, that army agents should meet an equal number only on these grounds; some soldiers were entirely opposed to trusting any thing to the depreciation men, as congress were called, for having issued paper money, payable without date, without time, and without interest; and calling these barren old rags money, to defraud either the soldier or his assignee by a depreciation that they all knew might be limited by this simple sentence, WITH LEGAL INTEREST TILL PAID. Such men cannot regain our confidence, said they, we will have no agents but honest men of our own chusing, who shall liquidate all just claims at home and abroad against our prize-of-war lands: they are amply sufficient for every thing. In the details of the various pians of those days, one proposed that the public or prize lands should be surveyed and offices established, in which all liquidated claims should be received at one dollar the acre ;. each applicant was to have his choice of the property in the order of the application ; an interest was to accrue at the same moment, both for the lands and for the claims by certificates, all equitably liquidated to a day. The land officers were to be permitted to sell for cash, to defray, the interest of all liquidated claims, provided the same rule was observed in the price, or that a small advance should be demanded of cash purchasers, to raise the price of the certificates, at least to par, after the existing war debt was thus amply provided for, in lands sacredly appropriated. The agents were to inform congress of the quantity of lands remaining, and to agree with them on an equal. mode of division by lot; and then the army agents were to distribute certificates for their pait, proportioned by a general army scale for. the amount; the certificate holders were to receive either the acres or the interest, at their option, in exchange, with the right to sink both
in the land offices at any time within 20 years, after which all the outstanding claims were to be deemed void, and the certificates therefor as lost forever.
This plan was by many thought visionary at the time ; but it has since been proved that it was eligible with some additions, and could have been carried into effect by the joint agreement of all the parties; perhaps to great general advantage, as far as the increase of our specie circulation only was concerned; but if it would have given to the army, for their half of the prize, above an hundred millions of acres, or one hundred millions of dollars, it was too much; the poor remaining soldiers have however the misfortune, as their affairs now stand, to be ( many of them !) in a very dependent and forlorn state, by not being able to prove, by external marks, that their present inabilities are the effect of excessive hardships in their country's service.
The following is perhaps the best written among the letters that circulated in the camp, at these trying times : it cost general Washington, and his best friends, much anxiety and labor before the army could be reconciled to congress, who they believed had deceived them by design.
It may be proper before we give this artful letter, to state further, that a memorial was presented to congress, in December, 1782, in behalf of the army, by three commissioners, consisting of maj. gen. M'Dougall, and two field officers, in which their wishes were thus expressed: “1. present pay....2. a settlement of the arrearages of pay and security for what is due....3. a commutation of the half pay allowed by different resolutions of congress for an equivalent in gross....4. a settlement of the account of deficiences of rations and compensations....5. a settlement of the accounts of deficiences of cloathing and compensation.” In April following, the army was informed, by their commissioners, that congress had “ decided on nothing of moment for them.” Upon this, a meeting of the general and field officers was called at the public building, for the express purpose of considering “ what further measures (if any) should be adopted to obtain redress.” This anonymous summons was accompanied with the letter in question.
" TO THE OFFICERS OF THE ARMY. Gentlemen....A fellow soldier, whose interest and affections bind him strongly to you, whose past sufferings have been as great, whose future fortunes may be as desperate as yours; would beg leave to address you.
Age has its claims, and rank is not without its pretensions to advice; but though unsupported by both, he flatters himself that the plain language of sincerity and experience, will neither be unheard nor unregarded.
Like many of you, he loved private life, and left it with regret. He left it, determined to retire from the field with the necessity that called him to it, and not till then, not till the enemies of his country, the slaves of power, and the hirelings of injustice, were compelled to