Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/594

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

The objections to this legislation are, in my judgment, manifold and grave.

First. The act of February 17, 1864, levied a tax on the Treasury notes then outstanding far exceeding that levied on any other species of property, and which could be justified only by the consideration that the additional contribution thus exacted from the holders of these public credits would be compensated in whole or in part by the increased value of the new currency which was issued for the old at the rate of $2 of the former for $3 of the latter. The act revoked all authority theretofore given to issue Treasury notes, and it was generally if not universally considered that the provisions of that law constituted an implied pledge of the faith of the Government that no further issues of notes should be made than those therein provided for. It would be scarcely consistent to take from the holder one-third of the nominal amount of the currency in hand for the purpose of reducing the currency as set forth in the title of the law; to unite with this exaction a previous authority to issue notes, and afterwards to provide for an expansion of the currency in opposition to the principles of the act of February 17, 1864, to the evident detriment of the holders of the currency under that act.

Second. Independently of the objection just stated, the effect of a new issue of Treasury notes would be disastrous. The passage of the law would be accepted as proof that there is no limit to the issue of Treasury notes except the pleasure of the Government, and the people will be persuaded that whenever an emergency arises it will be met by additional issues of paper money. Such a conviction, once rooted in the popular mind, could not be eradicated, and the depreciation of the notes in circulation would increase so rapidly as effectually to destroy the whole value of what is outstanding and leave the country without a circulation and the Government without credit.

Third. The bill, although intended by Congress for the benefit of the Army, to which we all acknowledge the most sacred obligations of justice and gratitude, would have an effect the reverse of that designed. It would despoil the soldier, instead of paying him. If money be raised by taxation for paying arrears due the Army, the demand thus created for the notes enhances the value and enables the public creditor who receives them to make them avail-