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beyond the praise or the censure, the reward nency and a lesson for my friend from Michior the punishment of the House.
gan [Mr. Conger). I knew a merchant in New “ His aged widow is now here asking for the York who sat by the side of an old commerpayment of the sum of $136 which the Gov- cial correspondent as the wires were about to ernment owed her husband for services he had tick that Virginia had seceded from the Union. rendered. That is the question. This House The Virginian said, What shall I do if my can refuse to pay this claim. The claim is State secedes?! The merchant said: 'If you seized upon by the gentleman from Michigan have purchased your goods, take them and do [Mr. Conger) as an occasion for delivering to the best you can ; no man who knows you will this side of the House a lecture, and to vent refuse to deliver them even after Virginia has what seems to be bis inexhaustible spleen seceded. Within half an hour the news came against the South and the cause of the South that Virginia had seceded. The Virginian upon this side of the House, which has South- then said to the inerchant, .You of course will ern Representatives. This claim is made the not trust me now. The merchant said to him: occasion of the long speech which he has de- 'Yon purchased the goods fairly on yesterday. livered here—the claim of the old widow of an I will send them, and I will take all the risks. officer who reflected credit upon his country; I have known you for ten years, and know that the widow now coming here and asking the you will pay for them if you can ; let the conGovernment to pay the small debt that it owed sequences be what they may, every dollar of to her dead husband.
the merchandise shall go if you want it.' It “It does seem to me that there could not be did go. a more meritorious claim presented to Con “Five years after the war was over, or pergress than the claim of this old widow. I haps three, this merchant of Richmond, Virhave nothing more to say about it."
ginia, Breeden by name, a thorough rebel who Mr. S. S. Cox, of New York: “When, sir, gave his all for the success of the Confederate are we to bave peace? Just after the war, as cause, returned to the merchant in New York we all know, General Grant reported that the and paid for the goods, every dollar, principal Southern States were anxious for contentment and interest. and deserved confidence and amnesty. He was “Now, it seems to me that if there be a solicitous, willing to be at peace and amity widow asking for $136 honestly due her huswith them, and they with the rest of the Union. band who was an officer of the United States They needed peace to give to their toil its re- Navy, a debt for services which preceded ward, and our good-will to give them those the rebellion—if this Congress refuses to pay interchanges which build up a common pros- the debt, they, in my judgment, do an act perity. Have fifteen years made no difference which appeals to the manhood outside of Conwith you of the other side? Are you jealous gress to see that another Congress shall find a because the South is growing in population and way to pay it with double interest." [Approsperity, in planting, manufacturing, and plause on the Democratic side.) commerce; that her cattle, cotton, and corn Mr. Bragg, of Wisconsin : “This is a quesare enriching her abundantly? Surely not. tion, Mr. Chairman, in my judgment, which Why, then, this continual debate, as if their in- is, as I have said, a question involving a printerests and ours were not one?
ciple. It is a bill which involves, it is true, a “What is the object of opposing this bill? very trifling amount. The debt is not disputed. What can be the "It was not the stamp-tax that brought on object in trying to cut down or deny this little the Revolution. It is the principle involved claim of an old widow, a claim of $136.85? Is and underlying this thing. Shall we wipe out it only a pretext to display old animosities? all legislation which prevents men once in the Was there ever such monstrosity built on so service of the United States, and who abansmall a foundation? Is it not time to have a doned their duties, from coming back again as better spirit in reference to the relations be- claimants upon the public Treasury, because, tween North and South?
forsooth, the leader of the claimants is a lady, “When General Butler was in our midst on old and gray, whose husband, in his youthful the other side, and we debated a bill to restore days, did serve his country with honor and to men who had been in the rebel army the distinction? If we do away with the princiold swords which they had worn gallantly in ple here, where shall we end? If we pay this the battle of New Orleans, he favored the woman because she is old, if we pay her bemeasure with touching and patriotic eloquence. cause she is needy, that is one thing. But it He had the spirit of true soldierly chivalry. we pay her because she was the wife of an offiHe said, "Give back to the old soldiers the cer who resigned, and under whose resignation swords they wore in the war of 1812'; and there comes up this bill and penalty which demen on both sides applauded the patriotic sen- prived him of his pay, he having placed himtiment. What would he say were he here to- self in the position of suffering the penalty, day?"
that is another thing." Mr. Chittenden, of New York: “I know a Mr. Davis, of North Carolina: “Was there little historic incident connected with the out- any such law in existence at that time, any law break of the rebellion which has some perti- that would deprive him of his pay?"
Mr. Bragg: “There was this law, and it is the honored dead, or harsh and uncharitable recognized everywhere, that he who deserts cominents upon the character of the Southern his country's flag in the hour of his country's people. She prefers to relinquish that claim peril is entitled to no respect from that coun- for ever, and allow the Government to hold in try afterward, except such as she gives him by its coffers money fairly and honorably earned a mere generosity and as a gratuity."
by her husband, rather than afford any excuse Mr. Davis, of North Carolina: “If there for an attack upon his good name, which she was no such law, then there is a constitutional holds more precious than money or even life right.”
itself. Mr. Bragg: “Mr. Chairman, I am not here “Now, sir, with the permission of the House, to discuss the Constitution. If I were, I should I want to make a single remark with reference say that the gentlemen who broke the Consti- to myself. Since the debate of last Friday tution and fled from it are not the men to hold it has been charged by Republican newspait before me and ask me to support it. [Ap- pers throughout the country, and it was inti. plause on the Republican side.]
mated in that debate upon the floor of this “ If this bill pass, there is no man who was House, that my object in presenting this petiin the American service, whether civil, mili- tion was insidiously to establish a precedent tary, or naval, but will come back to the Treas- for the payment of Southern war claims, ury of the United States for something which “I want to say to this House and the coun. may bave been due him for some few days be- try that no charge could have been more unjust fore he deserted his country.
and more destitute of any foundation what“I am anxious, Mr. Chairman, as anxious as ever. I presented that petition because it was any man in this House, never to see again or my representative duty to do so after it had hear of the subject of the Southern rebellion. been sent to me for presentation. I presentIt strikes me as deeply and keenly as any man ed it because I believed the country justly upon the floor of this House, and I would fain owed the amount of money named to the eswipe it out for ever from sight and memory. tate of Captain Page. I presented it because But I say to my friends from the South, that I believed section 3,480 of the Revised Statutes when you want to end this controversy, when to be clearly unconstitutional and void, so far you want to close up these memories, it is no as claims of this character are concerned. I proper way to do it by bringing forward claims presented it because I utterly deny the power here and presenting them for consideration of the American Congress to pass any ex post which keep alive those memories by constantly facto law or bill of attainder. I presented it stirring up something that involves the discus- because I did not suppose that a single represion of the rebellion and the troubles which sentative of the American people could be have grown out of it.”
found who would be willing to withhold from Mr. Goode: "I move to recommit the bill this lady money honestly earned by her husto the committee. On that, I believe, I have a band in the service of his country, especially right to be heard.
as by that service he had illustrated American “Now, Mr. Speaker, since the discussion of prowess, and shed additional luster on the this bill on last Friday, I have received a letter American name.". from the widow of Captain Page, in which she Mr. Conger : “Mr. Speaker, I have nothing instructs me peremptorily to withdraw her pe- to reply to the remarks of the gentleman from tition. If I felt at liberty to consult my own Virginia if he says that he never has in this feelings or be guided by my own judgment in House presented or adtocated the payment of this matter, I would without hesitation press war losses or war claims so called, with this this bill to a final vote in this House, because I statement that he excepts from that, because believe her claim to be a perfectly valid one, he does not consider them war claims, two and the Government is bound to recognize it cases he has advocated here, one of them the by every consideration of justice and fair deal. William and Mary College claim, which we ing. But I feel constrained, as I have stated, all remember, which the country remembers, to obey the instructions I have received from which was thundered through this land from this petitioner. The House will readily under- North to South, exciting apprehension and fear stand and fully appreciate the motives which in every hamlet in the North of the consehave impelled her to this step. Her feelings quence of passing such a law, and exciting have been so wounded by the fierce assault hope and expectation in the hearts of ten thoumade upon the memory of her dead husband sand men in the South who bad war claims that she is no longer willing to furnish any in which they were interested. I say I have pretext for a renewal of that assault. Her pe- nothing to say in reply to the remark of the tition would never have been presented here gentleman from Virginia that he has never adif she could possibly have foreseen the result. vocated war claims. Of course, we look upon She had not the remotest idea that the simple the name of these war claims and war losses presentation of a humble petition for payment differently, and I give the gentleman the full of a just debt by this Government would be credit for his avowal upon that subject accordseized upon and made a pretext for a rude and ing to his own construction. violent attack upon the cherished memory of “But, sir, when the gentleman stands there
as the representative and mouth-piece of all applied in part to the extinguishment of that Southern representatives on the floor, when he debt. Bonds maturing on the 31st of Decemassumes to rise in his place and claims to speak ber last were paid out of the accruing revenues. for all Southern men here and all through the So that there will remain the sum of $637,South, and says that they do not now press, and 350,600, to be provided for and funded at the they never have pressed, war claims properly option of the Government at such rate of inso called—that they have not done so in every terest as may be deemed advisable by Congress possible combination of language and words, and can practicably be obtained. by bills and memorials and petitions, that the “The sums that we are dealing with are human mind can conceive-the gentleman must enormous, affecting the welfare of every branch allow me to question whether he does repre- of our country's industry and of our entire sent the people of the South, whether he does people. The opportunity for reducing the rate represent other representatives of the South on of interest upon this enormous sum, and not this floor, whether he does represent the mill- only that, but of placing the national debt ions of people of the South interested in the more under the control of the Government in passage of war claims.
regard to future payments, is now before us. “I say that the time has come, if these The opportunity for doing this upon favorable statements are correct, and if the gentleman terms should not be lost, and the only question does speak for the whole South, that the before us as legislators is how we can best and wagons and the carts and the wheel-barrows most practically take advantage of the hour. should be brought here, and this accumula “Two propositions have been made, one by tion of petitions, memorials, bills, and affi- the House of Representatives and one from davits, and proofs that now fill the pigeon- the executive branch of the Government. The holes in the room of the Committee on War Secretary of the Treasury, at page 12 of his Olaims should be taken away. Yes, sir, I report, has recommended the refunding of would like to see the procession formed. I $400,000,000 of the national debt at a rate not would like to see the representatives of the exceeding 3•65 per cent. South who have presented petitions and me " It is also recommended that authority be given to morials and bills favoring the passage of war sell at par an amount not exceeding $400,000,000 of claims and the payment of war losses take their bonds of the character and description of the 4 per bundles of papers and march with them away bearing a rate of interest not exceeding 3.65 per cent
cent bonds of the United States now outstanding, but from that committee-room and away from the per annum, and redeemable at the pleasure of the Capitol. And who would be left out of that United States after fifteen years, the proceeds to be grand and solemn procession? I can myself applied to the payment of bonds redeemable on or imagine the whole Democratic side of this before July 1, 188i. House in marching order, carrying back to "The House of Representatives has proposed their constituents the petitions and the memo- that we should fix the rate of interest at 3 per rials and the bills and the proofs, marching off cent, and make the bonds payable in ten years, to Long Bridge to the music of Carry me with the option to the Government to redeem back to old Virginia, to old Virginia shore.'” them in five years. Upon careful deliberation, [Great laughter.]
and considering all the arguments from every Mr. Goode: "I move to lay the whole sub- respectable source that we could obtain, the ject upon the table. I think that ought to be committee of the Senate have modified both satisfactory."
the proposition of the Secretary and the propoThe Speaker: "The question will be taken sition of the House. We have reported to the on the motion to lay on the table."
Senate the issue of the $400,000,000 of bonds The motion was agreed to.
recommended by the Secretary and the House,
but we have fixed the interest at 35 per cent, In the Senate, on February 15th, the House being a shade lower than that proposed by the bill to facilitate the refunding of the national Secretary and a slight increase upon the rate debt was considered:
proposed by the House, and we have fixed the Mr. Bayard, of Delaware: "Mr. President, time of payment at twenty years instead of in little more than sixty days from this date á ten, with the option of paying the debt at the loan of the United States, bearing 5 per cent end of five years. The term five-twenties interest, and amounting to $469,651,050, will, at would therefore continue to be applicable to the option of the Government, become payable. this form of the national debt, and one as to On the 30th day of June next two other loans, which having had experience of a most favoreach bearing 6 per cent, the first for $145,786,- able character, and to which the people of the 500, and the other $57,787,250, will also ma- country have become accustomed, it was ture at the option of the Government. These thought that feature alone gave it weight and facts are stated in the last report of the Secre- increased the probability of its success. tary of the Treasury, and will be found on page “There are various reasons for this. Opin10 of his report of last December. He has in- ions have differed, and always will differ, as to formed us that the surplus revenue accruing this matter. Intelligent and patriotic men beprior to the 1st of July, 1881, will amount to lieve that it is practicable to fund the whole of about fifty million dollars, and can and will be this debt at the rate of 3 per cent. Others
again, equal to them in experience, ability, and which to their government, under a system of opportunities of judgment, have told us there permanent indebtedness, is a matter of absolute would be risk in the attempt. Speaking for indifference. There are conditions in this myself and for the inajority of the committee, country which render it imperative to mainwe believe that the weight of authority is in tain our bonds at par or over par. The Secfavor of running no risk, and that the rate of retary of the Treasury has spoken of the tradi34 per cent per annum is that which under all tions of the country and its policy to maintain the circumstances it is wiser and better for the our bonds at par. That statement bas the auUnited States to adopt in order to obtain free- thority of the country's bistory, but there is ly the desired loans from the public.
something more practical and practicable than “Consider for a moment the experience of mere tradition and policy. There is an absoother nations in this regard. At the head of lute necessity for us to see to it that as we the commercial world is the Empire of Great have tied our systems of banking and currency Britain. Nowhere has government been more to the fate of our national bonds, they must permanent or its institutions more stable, or stand or fall together. The currency of this the certainty of the repayment of loans and country, upon w bich the main part of its busiindebtedness secured by law more perfectly. ness is conducted, and to which it has been The conditions, therefore, of low interest have made essential, is based upon the national been as perfect there as human institutions credit. That currency is obtainable only by have ever been able to procure; and yet what the deposit of national bonds, 90 per cent of is the result? When, in the last half century, currency being issued for 100 per cent of bonds the especial period of her progress and suc- upon their face value, and the sense of security cess, have the consols of Great Britain not paid so absolutely found in the excess of value of more than 3 per cent to the investor? Yet the pledge, the responsibility of the sharethose bonds have a feature which is denied to holder, and the reserve established by law, our own, and for my own part I can not regret have made this credit money of the Governit, and that is, the creation of a permanent ment national-bank notes receivable with abdebt. During the last fifty years the loans of solute and unshaken confidence. Senators, Great Britain have touched par, I believe, but that confidence existing almost solely upon twice.
credit, must not be disturbed. We have to“It may be stated in regard to the rate of day what is called a resumption of specie payinterest returned upon the investment of Eng- ments, but, to speak more accurately, we should lish consols that it has varied between 4 and call it a redemption of notes that are at once 3} per cent. I am speaking now of the return reissued at the will of the debtor, How is upon the cost of the British consols to the that resumption assured ? It can not be said to investor. Sometimes it has paid more than 4, be assured by the coin in the Treasury. We and sometimes even less than 3 per cent, but had at last accounts in gold coin and bullion those have been the extremes of depression $140,952,837, and of standard silver money and exaltation of price. It may be said upon $47,084,459; and that is to answer for $346,authority that the investor in British consols000,000 of demand notes, and ultimately for bas during the last quarter of a century re the $350,000,000 of notes issued by the Govceived on an average rather more than 31 per ernment through the national banks. What, cent income.
then, is to-day our security that resumption can " At page 5 of a pamphlet containing the be maintained ? Not the coin in the Treasury, report of an interview between the Secretary surely; but the existence of the power secured of the Treasury, the Comptroller of the Treas- by the act of January 14, 1876, that gives to ury, and the Treasurer, with the Committee on the Secretary of the Treasury the right to sell Finance, will be found a statement taken from Government bonds bearing 4, 45, or 5 per cent the London Economist' of the 6th of No- interest, to any amount necessary to buy gold vember, 1880, to which I invite the attention and pay the United States notes whenever preof the Senate as corroborating the statement I sented at the Treasury. It is, therefore, this have made.
potentiality standing in impressive and power“I have drawn the attention of the Senate ful reserve that overshadows any attempt to to the fact that the consols of Great Britain make what is called “a run upon the Treasoffered to investors permanence and absolute ury'or endanger the permanence of resumpsecurity, not simply ultimate security, but that tion; and yet, bear in mind, those bonds, security which can be availed of at almost any which under law are to be sold in order to day; and with these two elements so favorable supply the exigencies and meet the demand for to a low rate of interest they have not been gold, can not be sold at less than par. Thereable to maintain at par a loan at a rate of in- fore I say that we should permit nothing to go terest which it is proposed now to issue and upon the statute-book, and take no step in the maintain at par in this country. I shall ask management of our finances, that even tends the Senate to consider the difference of condi- to send our bonds below par, because the par tions in this country and Great Britain as af- value of those bonds is essential to the absofecting our bonded debt, and to show that we lute maintenance and security of specie recan not safely permit that fluctuation in prices sumption. It is the power to sell those bonds
under the act of 1875 that stands as the corps profitable, and the rate of interest increases in de reserve to enable the Government to pay corresponding ratio with the profit on the use specie for its notes on demand, and cause them of capital. thus to be an equivalent for specie. Under “ Under certainty of law for securing the the free-banking system now in existence, the prompt repayment of loans, interest is low; volume of our currency depends upon commer for it is not the ultimate security, but it is the cial demand and not upon political exigencies. punctual and reliable payment of money exExcept for wise restriction as to the securities pected that makes the rate of interest low. for loans and supervision as to reserve, the Money will be cheap where confidence is estabaffairs of the banks styled national banks' lished. The more absolute the security, the are managed and controlled by the rules only lower will be the rate of interest. I hold it of enlightened self-interest. They loan to whom, that the demands for the employment of capiand as often, and as much as the directors tal in legitimate enterprises all over the United elected by the private stockholders see fit—no States under this all-pervading sentiment of more and not otherwise-and the Government confidence that exists now, will make a Govhas no voice or control in their affairs except ernment loan at 35 per cent equitably low in the manner that I have referred to; that is enough. Money in the United States securely to say, supervision of the securities for loans invested will be worth on an average-I am and as to the reserve. In other words, to re- speaking now of business investments—anystrain them from conversion into trust and where 5 per cent, and in some parts of this loan companies instead of banks, and unfitting country from 6 to 7 per cent, and this last only themselves for the true functions of banking. in the newly-settled districts. The United
" I say, then, if nothing else must be looked States is a younger country than Europe; it to, the duty of placing resumption of specie is more progressive; newer enterprises in the payment beyond doubt would be worth ten development of the natural wealth of this countimes the amount of the difference between 3 try necessarily exist here than in longer-settled and 3} per cent, and I hold that we have no countries, and employment of capital will find right to run any risks on this point; and as I 'fresh fields and pastures new,' and the profits have said and believe, the weight of opinion of industry are greater in the United States is against our running such risks as we would than elsewhere. The superiority in profitable do if we adopt the rate of 3 per cent. Why employment of capital, therefore, in this counshould we take a step in the dark when it may try justifies a rather higher rate of interest than be taken so clearly in the light? Why should it would in Europe. we create a ripple upon this placid stream of “We are sometimes told, 'Look at the presprosperity upon which the affairs of our coun ent advanced value of the 4 per cent bonds ; take try are now floating? There is neither wise them as your standard ; they are now worth dom nor economy in taking steps that tend to 113 in the market; if à 4 per cent bond is check in the minds of the American people worth that, surely a 3 per cent is worth par,' contidence in their progress and prosperity. etc. Why, as a matter of fact, has not this Let us only take such steps as we can to justify agitation of the issuing a 3 per cent loan that confidence, and secure them against retro- been diligently and clamorously used for the gression.
last year-I do not say improperly, but vigor“Let us solidify our credit, and secure our ously used as a species of menace to enhance bonds and our credit moneys against depres- the price of the 4 per cents? If there should sion and possible fluctuation. Wise, moderate, be a compulsory power exercised by this Govand timely legislation can do this.
ernment, which I deprecate, toward the stock“The rate of interest is, after all, controlled holders of the national banks to force this loan by the average rate of protit derived from the upon them as the single and arbitrary condieinployment of capital. The profit of em- tion of their continuing in business or going ploying capital in industrious undertakings into ruinous liquidation; if that power does controls the rate of interest. A high rate of exist, necessarily men will value that which profit will always cause a high rate of interest. pays them one fourth more interest, and the There is history for that. Where you have a price of the bond that secures it will be neceslow rate of profit, the interest for the employ- sarily advanced. Therefore I am compelled ment of money necessarily will be less. The to consider the present price one of those Dutch were the leaders of the commercial fluctuating advances, temporary in its nature world in the seventeenth and the greater part and caused by the abnormal and unsettled conof the eighteenth century; but they had re dition of things, that has given the 4 per cent sorted to a system of overtaxation, and, bur- bond the advance from par, at which it was dened by taxation, but little profit was left for sold, to the great premium which it now enthe employment of money; and the result was joys. I do not think it is either sound judgthat, as after all there is but a limited profit in ment or reasonable common sense to take the production, and that profit must be shared by present advanced price of the 4 per cent bonds labor and capital, the rate of interest fell to an as a basis for calculation for the sale and mainextraordinarily low rate; but where taxes were tenance of the price of 3 per cent bonds. lighter, the employment of money was more " I would here note that section 5 of the