Financial Speculation Undermines Government

April 15, 1864

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes President Lincoln from New York about the problems of gold speculation: “Two topics seem to occupy exclusively the attention of New York — Speculation and the Metropolitan Fair. Today the tidings from Paducah create a momentary diversion — something this way “A horrible affair that at Paducah”. “Yes, really ’twas terrible”. Then a little pause — then, “how’s gold now?”

The sales which have been made here yesterday & today seem to have reduced the price; but the reduction is only temporary, unless most decisive measures for reducing the amount of circulation & arresting the rapid increase of debt be adopted. These measures can only be put in operation by Congress, and Congress will be slow to act with the promptude absolutely indispensable unless you manifest a deep sense of their importance and make members feel that you regard their cooperation as essential to the success of your administration.

Thus far every financial measure has been crowned with success; but I have always warned gentlemen in Congress and in the Administration that debt could not be increased indefinitely by selling bonds & issuing notes; and the time has come when taxation and retrenchment must play their parts. They ought to have been called into activity a year ago; but is not yet too late. Without them it is my duty to say emphatically there is no hope of continued financial success.

Next to taxation and retrenchment a uniform national currency is most important. This can be accomplished only through the passage of the National Banking Law now before Congress; or by some bill embracing its leading amendments of the act of last year. In my judgment the Banks organized under this law should pay their full share of taxation; but they should be taxed under National & not under State laws. The National Government will need to pay interest on debt, current expences, &, as long as the war lasts, its extraordinary expences, vast sums from taxes. Duties on imports are the only exclusive resource of the Nation as distinguished from the States. Why should not the National Banks & their property and franchises be added? I see no good reason: while uniform taxation by Congress would put all the Banks throughout the Country upon a equal footing and secure the unity & completeness of the system. Some of the New York Members have urged their objection to state taxes, & some concessions have, I think unwisely, been made to their wishes. It would be much better could they be prevailed on to yield their wishes to the public good.

The National Banking bill should be followed by the bill to tax local bank circulation & prohibit after some fixed period its further issue.4

These two bills will give us what we must have, if success is wanted, a national currency.

If you concur with me in these judgments, may I not hope that you will send for such members as are disposed, from any cause, to be lukewarm or opposed & urge them to give the needful support to the bills– Mr. Hooper5 in the House and Mr Sherman6 in the Senate will gladly furnish you all necessary information as to the views of Senators & Representatives.

Since I have been writing a gentleman has come in who tells me that gold after declining to 171 & 170 was carried up again on the news of the disaster at Paducah, exaggerated as much as possible, interested & unfriendly persons, to 174.

President Lincoln receives an invitation to speak at the upcoming Sanitary Fair in Pittsburgh. House Speaker Schuyler Colfax writes President Lincoln about his upcoming trip to Baltimore to speak at the Sanitary Fair there: “I gladdened the hearts of the officers of the Maryland State Fair by informing them of your promise to me to attend next Monday evening at its opening, & they enclosed are letters they directed me to lay before you. But for other previous engagements I would have come up in person this morning to deliver them.”

Mr. [William J.] Albert expects you & Mrs Lincoln to stay with him. I understand he has very ample accommodations.

The trains go up at 3 P. m, 4.30 P. m & 5.20. I suppose they would prefer your coming at 3. I shall go over with my family, & stop at a friend’s, Mr. Shoemakers.

Mr. Albert says he received no reply to his invitation. I suppose because you had not decided it till recently. Please apprise them of the time when you will come that they may make the necessary arrangements

New Arkansas Governor Isaac Murphy writes President Lincoln: “Both houses of the Legislature have organized today a quorum being present The vote for Constitution twelve thousand one-hundred and seventy nine against it Two hundred & twenty six (226) For Govr Twelve thousand four hundred & thirty1 we ask your sympathy & aid The Country north & south of the Arkansas River is full of Guerillas One (1) member killed coming here If reinforcements are not sent soon or Gen [Frederick] Steele ordered to return we are in great danger.”

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Published in: on April 15, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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