« НазадПродовжити »
try, extravagantly as we have used it, what good have we derived from it? Useful or useless, good or bad, our internal improvements constructed within that period -- is it the money which has been borrowed on the strength of State credit that has called them into being ? Far, very far from it. We have gone into debt to European capital to an amount of nearly two hundred millions of dollars, on which, independently of the principal, which will soon begin from time to time to fall due, we must pay an annual tax on our whole industry and wealth of about twelve millions of dollars, – but does the simple reader suppose that it is money we have been borrowing, through all this period ? If he does, we beg leave to undeceive him. It is no such thing, though we have been most ingeniously made to believe such to be the fact; and that the surplus wealth of European accumulation was thus seeking a mutually advantageous investment in our public works of improvement, at rates of interest attractive to the foreigner, while lower than the value of the use of capital among us. The truth is, that though we have contracted so enormous a debt, expressed in figures, and payable, principal and interest, in real money, we have actually received scarce a dollar of it from Europe. The process has been simply this. We have imported an excess of imports about equivalent to the amounts of public stocks we have sold to the European market. We have eaten, and drunk, and worn, and in various ways consumed them. Little if any trace of them now remains, except the debt which we have thus contracted to pay for them, and which must itself be paid by the sweat of our own and our children's brows. An inflation of our own paper currency at home, and an unhealthy expansion of private commercial credits, have represented the amount of money presumed to be brought into the country as the proceeds of the sale of these public stocks. And if any one wishes to trace out the ultimate sequel and result of the whole, and ascertain what has become of the nominal amounts of European wealth brought to our shores by this stock-jobbing financiering, he will find them so soon as the Bankrupt Law goes into effect, like the fairy money which the next morning converts into dry leaves, standing in imposing array of figures and ciphers, among the worthless assets of many a broken bank and ruined speculator.
To some of our readers the proof of the assertion here made will be necessary to enable them fully to realize its truth. It can casily be drawn from a comparative view of the exports and imports of the country, taken in connexion with the simultaneous issues of State stocks, within the period referred to. It was in the course of the year 1839, that the European money-market for
American stocks may be said to have been destroyed. No considerable ainounts have been sold since the summer of that year, putting out of view the mere hypothecations which may have been made of some amounts in the possession of the Bank of the United States, and some few other institutions.
The heavy issues of State stocks may be said to have commenced about 1830. The amounts created prior to that date had been comparatively small, though after that they went, up to and including 1838, rapidly crescendo. We use the tables compiled by an able hand, in the fall of 1839, from authentic official sources.
The amount of stock authorized to be created by eighteen States, in each period of five years, from 1820 to 1838, was as follows, viz:
And the following are the objects for which these debts were authorized by the respective legislatures to be created, viz:
An examination of the imports and exports, as shown by the annual reports of the Secretary of the Treasury during the same time, furnishes the following results. For the sake of the comparison between them, it is divided into two periods, the first from 1820 to 1830, and the second from 1831 to 1838, both inclusive :
From this table we see that the total excess of imports over exports (all kinds included) in the first period, eleven years, was $37,662,959, or an annual average of only three millions four hundred thousand dollars.
In the second period, eight years, the same excess rises to the enormous sum of $ 194,319,920, or an annual average of more than twenty-four millions of dollars.
In order to ascertain the actual surplus importations of merchandise within these periods, it is necessary to deduct from these sums the respective surplus imports over the exports of the precious metals within the same periods. A view of the latter is presented by the following table, similarly divided as before by the year
Exports. $2,413,169 7,440,334 1,275,091
Year. 1821 1822 1823 1824 1825 1826 1827 1828 1829 1830
IMPORTS AND EXPORTS OF GOLD AND SILVER Coin.
From this table we see that there was an excess of exports over imports of gold and silver in the first of these periods of $1,788,015, or an annual average of about a hundred and seventynine thousand dollars.
In the second period there is an excess of imports over exports of gold and silver amounting to $53,345,172, - or an annual average of about six millions six hundred thousand dollars.
Comparing together these tables, and confining our view to the commerce of merchandise alone, it appears that in the first period the excess of the imports of merchandise over the exports of the same, was $39,450,974,
In the second period, the excess of the imports of merchandise over the exports of the same, is in like manner seen to be $ 140,974,748,- or an annual average of $17,621,843.
The amount of State stocks issued within the first period, we have seen to have been $26,470,417. In the second we have seen them to rise to $148,226,577.
The total excess of imports in the first period having been, as above stated, $37,662,959, about $20,000,000 may be assumed as the legitimate excess of imports, representing the commercial profit; the balance of that sum being a moderate allowance for the proceeds of so much of the State stocks issued as were sold in the foreign market. When issued thus moderately, it is probable that a considerable proportion of them found purchasers at home. To double that amount would then be a large allowance for the corresponding commercial profit within the second period of eight years; the deduction of which from the total excess of imports, as above stated, would leave about $154,319,920. Deduct from this about six millions as probably taken up on this side of the Atlantic, and we show the unnatural and unhealthy excess of imports (with a proper allowance for the commercial profit) corresponding exactly with the amount of the sales of the public stocks abroad. Who, then, will pretend that the issue of the stocks has done anything more than simply to run up this enormous amount of debt, for this enormous amount of extravagant consumption, upward of a hundred and fifty millions of dollars in excess above our exports, after full due allowance for the commercial profit ?
This system is now, we trust, at an end. After the bitter expe. rience which so many of our States have reaped of its fruits, we hope that there is none now in which the people will tolerate any further issues of public stocks-whatever may be the delusive
pretences by which their advocates may seek to recommend them to sectional interests, or to the cupidity of the present generation, which is thus made so dishonestly and oppressively to saddle posterity with debt for the indulgence of its own present extravagance. We should rejoice to see a prohibition inserted in the constitution of every State of the Union, against the legislative power of contracting a public debt for any purpose whatsoever. If we were willing to except the case of war and the public defence, it would be a reluctant and dissatisfied concession to existing popular delusions too strong to be immediately contended with. Taxation, direct taxation, by the voluntary action of the people themselves, is the only true and just and proper mode of raising whatever funds may be necessary for any of the legitimate duties of government. Taxation, direct taxation, we mean, for the whole amount wanted for the principal, -not for the mere provision of the annual interest, to be paid to the foreigner as a virtual tribute of financial slavery. Shall we read in history of the devotion with which the citizens of besieged towns, or invaded kingdoms, have poured their wealth into the public treasury, unstinted and unregretted, for the public defence—when even woman has not only exulted in offering on the altar of patriotism the last jewel or ornament of gold which bound her hair, but has even delighted to weave the flowing beauty of those locks themselves into bow-strings for the public service-shall we read of
such things, we repeat, and yet doubt the readiness and the lavish - abundance with which our people, when attacked by insolent and
unjust foreign aggression, if we will only trust to them and appeal to them, will furnish every necessary to carry the country safely and honorably through any such crisis, however suddenly it may come? We repeat that we see no necessity for public borrowing, even in such great public emergencies as this; and no war ought ever to be undertaken by this country, unsustained by such a public sentiment as would make the people fully prepared to contribute, both by direct taxation and voluntary service, all the means necessary to enable the government to maintain the national cause with honor and success. The ancients waged their wars without public loans; and Bonaparte bequeathed no debt to posterity, to pay for all his gigantic military operations. After deducting the large contributions which he forced from allied and conquered nations, there remains an enormous amount which, sustained as he was by the enthusiasm of the nation, he was easily able to extract directly from the industry and resources of France itself. In the case of public improvements, there is still less reason for having recourse to borrowing, to obtain the money for