페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

three quarters of this year, from all sources, amount to $23,467,052,52. The estimated receipts for the fourth quarter amount to $6,943,095 25; amounting to $30,410,167 77; and making, with the balance in the treasury, on the 1st of January last, $31,397,512 80. The expenditures for the first three quarters of this year, amount to $24,734,346 97. The expenditures for the fourth quarter, as is estimated, will amount to $7,290,723 73:thus making a total of $32,025,070 70; and leaving a deficit to be provided for, on the first of January next, of about $627,557 90.

Of the loan of $12,000,000, which was ope' yrized by Congress at its late session. onl. I, -2,726 88 have been negociated. The Su0itness of time which it had to run has presented no inconsiderable impediment in the way of its being taken by capitalists at home, while the same cause would have operated with much greater force in the foreign market. For that reason the foreign market has not been resorted to: and it is now submitted, whether it would not be advisable to amend the law by making what remains undisposed of, payable at a more distant day.

Should it be necessary, in any view that Congress may take of the subject, to revise the existing tariff of duties, 1 beg leave to say, that, in the performance of that most delicate operation, moderate counsels would seem to be the wisest. The government under which it is our happiness to live, owes its existence to the spirit of compro:nise which prevailed among its framers; jarring and discordant opinions could only have been reconciled by that noble spirit of patriotism which prompted conciliation, and resulted in harmony. In the same spirit the compromise bill

, as it is commonly called, was adopted at the session in 1933. While the people of all portions of the Union will never hesitate to pay all necessary taxes for the support of government, yet an innate repugnance exists to the imposition of burthens not really necessary for thot object." In imposing duties, however, for the purposes of revenue, a right to discriminate as to the articles on which the duty shall be laid, as well as the amount, necessarily and most properly exists. Otherwise the government would be placed in the con. dition : having the same duties upon all articles, the productive as well as the unproductive. The slightest duty upon some, might have the effect of causing their importation to cease, whereas others entering extensively into the consumption of the country, might bear the heas. iest, without any sensible diminution in the amouni inported. So also the government might be justified in so discriminating, by reference to other considerations of domestic policy connected with our manufactories. So long as the duties shall be laid with reference to the wants of the treasury, no well founded objection can exist against them. It might be esteemed desirable that no such augmentation of taxes should take place, as would have the effect of annulling ine tänu proceeds distributiou act of the last session, which act is declared to be inoperative the moment the duties are increased be

ond 20 per cent., the maximum rate established by the compromise act.

Some of the provisions of the compromise act, which will go into effect on the 30th day of June next, may, however, be found exceedingly inconvenient in practice, under any regulations that Congress may adopt. I refer more particularly to that relating to the home valuation. A difference in value of the same articles, to some extent, will, necessarily, exist at different ports; but that is altogether insignificant, when compared with the conflicts in valuation, which are likely to arise, from the differences of opinion among the numerous appraisers of merchandise. In many instances the estimates of value must be conjectural ; and thus as many different rates of value may be established as there are appraisers. These differences in valuation may also be increased by the incrination, which, without the slightest imputation on their honesty, may arise on the part of appraisers, în favor of their respective ports of entry. I recommend this whole subject to the consideration of Congress, with a single uddition: remark. Certainty and permanency in any system of governmental policy are, in all respects, emi. nently desirable ; but more particularly is this true in all that affects trade and commerce, the operations of which depend much more on the certainty of their returns, and calculations which embrace distant periods of time, than on high bounties, or duties, which are liable to constant fluctuations.

At your late session, I invited your attention to the condition of the currency and exchanges, and urged the necessity of adopting such measures as were consistent with the constitutional competency of the government, in order to correct the unsoundness of the one, and, as far is practical, the inequalities of the other. No country can be in the enjoyment of its full measure of prosperity without the presence of a medium of exchange, approximating to uniformity of value. What is necessary as between the different nations of the earth, is also important as between the inhabitants of different parts of the same country: with the first the precious metals constitute the chief medium of circulation, and such also would be the case as to the last, but for inventions comparatively modern, which have furnished, in place of gold and silver, a paper circulation.

I do not propose to enter into a comparative analysis of the merits of the two systems. Such belonged more properly to the period of the introduction of the paper system. The speculative philosopher might find inducements to prosecute the inquiry, but his researches could only lead him to conclude that the paper system had probably better never have been introduced, and that society might have been much happier without it. The practical statesmen has a very different task to perform. He has to look at things as they are—to take them as he finds them—to supply deficiencies and to prune excesses as far as in him lies.

The task of furnishing a corrective for derangements of the paper medium with us, is almost inexpressibly great. The power exerted by the states to charter banking corporations, and which, having beer carried to a great excess, has filled the country with, in most of the states, an irredeemable paper medium, is an evil which, in some way or other, requires a corrective. The rates at which bills of exchange are negotiated be. tween different parts of the country, furnish an index of the value of the local substitute for gold and silver, which is in many parts so depreciated as not to be received ex.

[ocr errors]

cept at a large discount, in payment of debts, or in the purchase of produce. It could earnestly be desired that every bank, not possessing the means of resumption, should follow the example of the late United States Bank of Pennsylvania, and go into liquidation, rather than, by refusing to do so, to continue embarrassments in the way of solvent institutions, thereby augmenting the difficulties incident to the present condition of things.

Whether this government, with due regard to the rights of the states, has any power to constrain the banks either to resume specie payments, or to force them into liquidation, is an inquiry that will not fail to claim your consideration. In view of the great advantages that are allowed the corporators, not among the least of which is the authority contained in most of their charters to make loans to three times the amount of their capital, thereby often deriving three times as much interest on the same amount of money as any individual is permitted by law to receive, no sufficient apology can be urged for a longcontinued suspension of specie payments. Such suspension is productive of the greatest detriment to the public, by expelling from circulation the precious metals, and seriously hazarding the success of any effort that this government can make to increase commercial facilities, and to advance the public interests.

This is the more to be regretted, and the indispensable necessity of a sound currency becomes the more manifest, when we reflect on the vast amount of the internal commerce of the country. Of this we have no statistics nor just data for forming adequate opinions. But there can be no doubt but that the amount of transportation coast. wise by sea, and the transportation inland by railroads and canals, and by steamboats and c her modes of conveyance, over the surface of our vast rivers and immense akes, and the value of property carried and interchanged by these means, form a general aggregate, to which the foreign commerce of the country, large as it is, makes but a distant approach.

In the absence of any controlling power over this subject, which, by forcing a general resumption of specie payments, would at once have the effect of restoring

sound medium of exchange, and would leave to the country but little to desire, what measure of relief, falling within the limits of our constitutional competency, does it become this government to adopt? It was my painful duty, at your last session, under the weight of niost sol. emn obligations, to differ with Congress on the measures which it proposed for my approval, and which it doubtless regarded as corrective of existing evils. Subsequent reflection, and events since occurring, have only served to confirm me in the opinions then entertained and frankly expressed.

I must be permitted to add, that no scheme of governmental policy, unaided by individual exertions, can be available for ameliorating the present condition of things. Commercial modes of exchange and a good currency are but the necessary means of commerce and intercourse, not the direct productive sources of wealth. Wealth can only be accumulated by the earnings of industry and the savings of frugality ; and nothing can be more ill-judged than to look to facilities in borrowing, or to a redundan circulation, for the power of discharging pecuniary obligations The country is full of resources, and the people full of energy, and the great and permanent remedy for the present embarrassments must be sought in industry, economy, the observance of good faith, and the favorable influence of time.

In pursuance of a pledge given to you in my last message to Congress, which pledge I urge as an apology for adventuring to present you the details of any plan, the Secretary of the Treasury will be ready to submit to you, should you require it, a plan of finance, which, while it throws around the public treasure reasonable guards for its protection and rests on powers acknowledged in practice to exist from the origin of the government, will at the same time furnish to the country a sound paper me. dium, and afford all reasonable facilities for regulating the exchanges. When subunitted, you will perceive in it a plan amendatory of the existing laws in relation to the treasury department-subordinate in all respects to the will of Congress directly, and the will of the people in. directly-self-sustaining, should it be found in practice

« 이전계속 »