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As collected in the pamphlet “The Contraction of the Currency” by C. K. Backus, Editor of Detroit Post and Tribune, compiled for the Honest Money League of the Northwest, Chicago, Ill., 1878, (quotes taken from front and back pages)
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"A return to specie payments at the earliest period compatible with due regard to all interests concerned, should ever be kept in view. Fluctuations in the value of currency are always injurious, and to reduce these fluctuations to the lowest possible point will always be a leading purpose in wise legislation. Convertibility, prompt and certain convertibility into coin is acknowledged to be the best and surest safeguard against them. — ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Annual Message, Dec., 1862. "Such a medium (paper money) has been always liable to fluctuation. Its value is continually changing; and these changes, often great and sudden, expose individuals to immense loss, are the source of ruinous speculations, and destroy all confidence between man and man." — CHIEF JUSTICE [JOHN] MARSHALL, U.S. Supreme Court decision. "The Secretary recommends no mere paper money scheme; but on the contrary, a series of measures looking to a safe and gradual return to gold and silver as the only permanent basis, standard and measure of value recognized in the Constitution." — SALMON P. CHASE, Annual Report as Secretary of the Treasury, 1862. "The loss which America has sustained, since the peace, from the pestilent effects of paper money, on the necessary confidence between man and man, on the necessary confidence in the public councils, on the industry and morals of the people, and on the character of Republican government, constitutes an enormous debt against the States chargeable with this unadvised measure, which must long remain unsatisfied, or rather it is an accumulation of guilt which can be expiated no otherwise than by a voluntary sacrifice on the altar of justice of the power which has been the instrument of it."— JAMES MADISON, in the Federalist. "Of all the contrivances for cheating the laboring classes of mankind, none has been more effectual than that which deludes them with paper money. It is the most effectual of inventions for fertilizing the rich man's field by the sweat of the poor man's brow. Ordinary tyranny, oppression, excessive taxation bear lightly on the masses of community, compared with fraudulent currencies and the robberies committed by depreciated paper money." "We have suffered more from this cause than from any other cause or calamity. It has killed more men, pervaded and corrupted the choicest interests of our country more, and done more injustice than even the arms and artifices of our enemy." — DANIEL WEBSTER. "Surely we must all be against paper money. * * * We must all set our faces against any proposition like the present, except as a temporary expedient, rendered imperative by the exigency of the hour. * * * Reluctantly, painfully, I consent that the process should issue. And yet I cannot give such a vote without warning the government against the dangers from such an experiment. The medicine of the constitution must not become its daily bread." — CHARLES SUMNER, in the debate on the issue of the first legal tender notes. "The Committee thought an assurance should be given to the country, if this bill becomes a law, that it is not to be resorted to as a policy; that it was what it pretends to be, but a temporary measure. The opinions of the Secretary of the Treasury (Mr. Chase) are perfectly well known. He has declared that, in his judgment, it is, and ought to be, but a temporary measure. * * * And all the gentlemen who have written on the subject, except some wild
speculators in currency, have declared that as a policy it would be ruinous to any people. * * * A stronger objection than all that I have urged, is that the loss must fall most heavily upon the poor." — WM. P. FESSENDEN, Chairman Senate Finance Committee, in debate on Legal Tender Act. "No one would willingly issue paper currency not redeemable on demand, and make it a legal tender. It is never desirable to depart from the circulating medium which, by the common consent of civilized nations, forms the standard of value." — THADEUS STEVENS, Chairman Ways and Means Com., in debate on legal Tender Act. "There is no precipice, there is no chasm, no possible yawning gulf, before this nation so terrible, so appalling, so ruinous, as this same bill that is before us." — OWEN LOVEJOY, in debate on Legal Tender Act. "The evils produced by a bad state of the currency, are not such as have generally been thought worthy to occupy a prominent place in history; yet it may well be doubted whether all the misery inflicted on the English nation in a quarter of a century by bad kings, bad ministers, bad parliaments and bad judges, was equal to the misery caused in a single year by a bad currency." — LORD MACAULAY, in History of England. "The theory (of paper inflation) in my belief, is a departure from the true principles of finance, the national interest, national obligation to creditors, Congressional promises, party pledges on the part of both political parties, and of the personal views and promises made by me in every annual message sent to Congress and in each inaugural address." — U. S. GRANT. "If there be, in regard to currency, one truth which the united experience of the whole commercial world has established, I had supposed it to be that emissions of paper money constitute the very worst of all conceivable species of currency." — HENRY CLAY. "Some other States are, in my opinion, falling into the very foolish and wicked plans of emitting paper money. I cannot give up my hopes, however, that we shall ere long adopt a more just and liberal system of policy." — GEORGE WASHINGTON. "I cannot but lament in my inmost soul that lust for paper money which appears in some parts of the United States. There will never be any uniform rule, if there is any sense of justice, nor any clear credit, public or private, nor any settled confidence in public men or measures, until paper money is done away."— JOHN ADAMS. "There never was, nor ever could be use for any other kind, (than redeemable currency,) except for speculators and gamblers in stocks; and this to the utter ruin of the labor and morals of the country. A specie currency gives life and action to the producing classes, on which the prosperity of all is founded." — ANDREW JACKSON. "I will pay cash or pay nothing. While I live I will never resort to irredeemable paper." — NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. "The way to resume is to resume."— HORACE GREELEY. "Preparation to resume specie payment is, in my opinion, the first great duty of the
government." — OLIVER P. MORTON. "I am not content with the lone postponement of specie payments; I believe the time has come for this blessing, and I begin to be impatient when I see how easily people find excuses for not accepting it. " — CHARLES SUMNER. "Capital may be produced by industry, and accumulated by economy; but jugglers only will propose to create it by legerdemain tricks with paper." — THOMAS JEFFERSON. "The evils of a redundant paper circulation are now manifest to every eye. It alternately raises and sinks the value of every man's property. It makes a beggar of the man tomorrow who is indulging in dreams of wealth to-day. It converts the business of society into a mere lottery; while those who distribute the prizes are wholly irresponsible to the people. When the collapse comes, as come it must, it casts laborers out of employment, crushes manufacturers and merchants, and ruins thousands of honest and industrious citizens." — JAMES BUCHANAN, Debates in Congress, volume 14, part 1, 1837, page 56. "We advise any man who wants to cheat himself into the belief that the funded debt of the United States may lawfully be paid in greenbacks, not to read this handy volume, (Spaulding's Financial History of the War,) unless he is anxious to know that he is a rascal, and that every one sees it."— HORACE GREELEY, 1869. "Among the evils growing out of the rebellion, is that of an irredeemable currency. It is an evil which I hope will receive your most earnest attention. It is the duty, and one of the highest duties, of the government, to secure to its citizens a medium of exchange of fixed and unvarying value. This implies a return to specie payment, and no substitute for it can be devised."— U. S. GRANT, First Annual Message. "The history of the irredeemable paper currency repeats itself whenever and wherever it is used. It increases present prices, deludes the laborer with the idea that he is getting higher wages, and brings a fictitious prosperity from which follow inflation of business and credit and excess of enterprise in ever increasing ratio, until it is discovered that trade and commerce have become fatally diseased, when confidence is destroyed, and then comes the shock to credit, followed by disaster and depression, and a demand for relief by further issues. The universal use of, and reliance upon, such a currency tends to blunt the moral sense and impair the natural self-dependence of the people, and trains them to the belief that the Government must directly assist their individual fortunes and business, help them in their personal affairs, and enable them to discharge their debts by partial payment. This inconvertible paper currency begets the delusion that the remedy for private pecuniary distress is in legislative measures, and makes the people unmindful of the fact that the true remedy is in greater production and less spending, and that real prosperity comes only from individual effort and thrift. When exchanges are again made in coin, or in a currency convertible into it at the will of the holder, this truth will be understood and acted upon."— B. H. BRISTOW, Secretary U. S. Treasury.
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