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THE EVILS AND THE REMEDY OF USING
“Promise to pay to the bearer on demand”
AS A MEASURE OF WALUE.
N E W Y O R K :
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by DION THOMAS, In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.
JoBIN M. DAVIS, STEAM BOOK AND JOB PRINTER,
THE present monetary condition of the people, imposed on their government by a gigantic rebellion, is attracting the attention of thinking men ; and they are beginning to inquire, if money, or a measure of value, can be made of paper, without committing or sanctioning a fraud 3
Who Makes Money 2
Long ago it was asserted, and it has since been admitted by eminent writers on finance, that coining money and regulating the value thereof; or in other words, that the making of a measure of value, by which the worth of all things that are bought and sold can be measured, is a prerogative which cannot be safely intrusted to individuals, associations, or corporations, for it is an act of sovereignty. The same class of writers also asSume, and assert as an axiom, that no material can be used as a measure of value, which is not of itself, as an article of commerce, of equal value, or nearly so, with that for which it is used as a measure, and for which it may be exchanged, for the use of an article of commerce, as a measure of value, cannot add value to it, because the custom. or law of trade, which governments did not make and cannot unmake, will not permit it. A government stamp is only for convenience; it is evidence of quality and quantity or weight and fineness, nothing more. The above admission, assertion, assumption, and axiom, have received the sanction of custom, and the confirmation of experience ; yet there have been some, —there are some now, who doubt their truth, or at least pretend to, and are constantly urging further and new experiments to remove or confirm their doubts, or some other cause.
The use of Paper as Money.
The use of paper as money, probably had its origin in a lack of faith. Greedy creditors and delinquent debtors sometimes have treacherous memories; hence, differences between them may have sometimes happened. To avoid this, it seems likely, memorandums of transactions were made and sanctioned by the parties interested, as preliminary to negotiations that involved value and usury. We read, Deut. ch. xxiii. v. 20,–
“ Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury, but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend.”
This shows that the custom of receiving and paying usury is very ancient, and that the Jewish lawgiver knew something of the evils which giving and receiving usury engendered in families. But the Jews, as we have been told, are a peculiar people, and may be considered by the Gentiles as a sort of exception. They are domiciled, perhaps synagogued, in all the commercial centres of the known world. They have no country, yet claim their fathers had one on the borders of the Arabian desert, which was and is, as travellers, both ancient and modern say, mountainous; composed of barren, chalky cliffs, incapable of being made to support either men or beasts in large numbers, except as thieves or robbers. This country, they claim, their fathers left about the time the great channel of trade from the East to the West was changed from the land to the sea. Be these things as they may, the Jews are human beings, subjected to laws and vicissitudes as well as Gentiles. They are what they are, from their peculiar mode of life; they reap where they have not sown. Their hands are against every man's, because every man's hand is against theirs; and we find the uncircumcised and the circumcised are alike who adopt a similar mode of life, whether from social influence or individual energy. Whether or no the Jews were the inventors or the discoverers of the
method of obtaining interest on money owed, which is the basis of all our present schemes of banking, they, according to history, seem to have been its first successful “operators.” The mode of “operating” first instituted, however, has since been subjected to many modifications by special legislation, and banking now means a special privilege, granted by a charter or a general law to receive interest, instead of paying it, on promises to pay. That the business of banking is a special privilege, is not now any mystery, for every one knows that no special charter or general law is needed to enable him to get interest on his own money; yet there is still some mystery about the methods by which bankers get interest on their promises to pay. This obscurity arises in some measure, no doubt, from the multiplicity of methods that have been adopted from time to time, for the accomplishment of the same object. They are as various, if not as numerous, as those adopted by professional gamblers to win money from the simple but ambitious.
Banking; Its Improvements and Effects.
The various modifications which banking has undergone, have been called improvements by those who instituted them; and perhaps they have been so in some cases: but in no instance has the principle of the Hebrew original been abandoned by the Gentiles who have adopted a Jewish mode of life. Though the changes called improvements have received the sanction of our State Legislatures, and promises to pay the bearer on demand have been used as money or a measure of value, they have not always been redeemed, and when they have not been, the holder has learned they were a fraud, because they were not worth as much as the thing which he had exchanged for them.
The results of the legal sanction of paper as money by these States, have been, as shown by experience, great and sudden fluctuations in the value given to, or anticipated for all articles of commerce; and it has sometimes caused values to be fixed in anticipation, on that which had no existence outside of the excited imaginations of men. These fancied valuations have been sometimes followed or accompanied by commercial revulsions which have, in an hour as it were, deprived the many of the products of their toil, which had been slowly and honestly acquired, and transferred it wrongfully, though perhaps legally, into the possession of a few designing men.
The wrongs that have been thus inflicted on individuals, by the use of paper as money, have sometimes reacted on the institutions that issued it, and they have caved in, or failed, and nobody or thing was held responsible, in law, for the loss thus imposed on bill-holders. But in our country, where it has been said that the distance from the pocket to the brain is not great; where legislators, who grant banking privileges, are held to be only agents for the people, and where laboring men are their constituents, legislators are looked up to as the proper parties to remedy the evils they by special legislation inflict; but in no case, thus far, have they assailed, by law, the principle of fraud on which all banking institu