96. Financial troubles of the South.
The following is the circular of the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury
, which was addressed to the Commissioners
appointed to receive subscriptions to the Produce Loan
, in receive subscriptions to the Produce Loan
, in reply to a call for relief from the cotton planters.
The Southern planters, seriously oppressed by the blockade, appealed to the rebel Government either to purchase the entire cotton crop of the year, or to make an advance upon its hypothecated value.
To both these proposals their Financial Secretary
declined to accede:
Mr. Memminger on the produce Loan.
Comments of the Richmond Whig.
The Richmond Whig
of the 24th of October, in discussing the above circular of Mr. Memminger
, gives the following picture of the financial condition of the South
If we understand correctly the proposition for buying the cotton and tobacco crops with Treasury notes, Mr. Memminger
wholly misapprehends it. He looks upon it as a scheme for the “organization of labor” --as a sort of socialist project, by which Government undertakes to provide for the wants of a thriftless and worthless community, for and in consideration of — nothing.
This is a total misconception of the project, and of the deep and devoted spirit of patriotism which prompts it on the part of the people.
Its object is to bring the vast resources of the country, now lying dormant and inert, into vigorous action, to repel the public enemy, and make good our independence.
No land more abounds in all the substantial materials for comfort and independence, and, when the markets of the world are open, in the elements of wealth; but, under existing circumstances, they are of little avail.
The tokens or representatives of value are wanting us. To supply this deficiency, and save ourselves from perishing in the midst of abundance, is the end proposed by this scheme.
But Mr. Memminger
tells us that this scheme, instead of aiding the Government
, will embarrass it; that the Government
will have to raise two hundred millions to prosecute the war; that to raise an additional hundred millions for the relief of the planting interest will be an additional burden, to that amount, on the resources of the Government
If this were so, his conclusion would be right, and the scheme would at once be rejected.
But his error proceeds
from the fallacy of regarding the people of the Confederate States
and the Government
thereof as separate, independent, and antagonistic entities.
The idea is founded on “the projection” (to use a map-maker's phrase) of the old Yankee system at Washington
, and should not be tolerated for a moment in the new Republic of the South
For every moment of its existence the Confederate Government is indebted to the people, whose creature it is, and who have breathed into it the breath of life.
But is the issue of a hundred millions of Treasury notes by the Government
equivalent to the payment of so much specie by the Government
They may serve the people as money, but they cost the Government
nothing but the paper on which they are printed.
They do not bear interest; and if the article for which they are given be intrinsically valuable, the solvency and ultimate redemption are insured, at the same time that the community is relieved by a timely and judicious use of its credit.
But, says Mr. Memminger
, this one hundred millions of Treasury notes will come in competition with the two hundred millions necessary for the war, and depreciate the value of the whole, and enhance the price of whatever Government wishes to buy. To prevent this result, Mr.
M. withholds the hundred millions, but suggests that planters get the same amount of paper money from the banks: as though this paper money would not inflate prices quite as much as the same amount of any other sort of paper money.
To prevent the country from being flooded with this worthless paper money, which in the end will swamp the banks and scatter ruin through the land, is one great reason with us for desiring a paper currency which will possess an intrinsic value.
“The suspension of specie payments throughout the entire Confederacy (says Mr.
M.) relieves each bank from calls on coin” --i. e., those institutions that already have out four for one, may throw out as much as they choose; there is no check upon them whatever.
This unfolds a terrible future for the country.
It is this incapacity we complain of which, along with other evidences of inefficiency, excites so much distrust and alarm in the country.
We believe that the cotton and tobacco crops, in the hands of a wise, energetic, and enterprising Government, would, in spite of the blockade and war, be sources of boundless credit and irresistible strength.
Those articles are in demand all over the civilized world.
Suppose our Government, six months ago, had had in warehouse and insured two hundred million dollars' worth of tobacco and cotton, bought at eight and ten cents, they could, by proper energy, have had credit to that amount in London
, and our coast might at this moment be thoroughly guarded by steel-plated steamers.
The same result, by the same means, might still be effected perhaps in time to anticipate the inroads which the enemy meditate against us. We know they are making immense preparations to burn our cities and ravage our river shores, by means of iron-cased vessels; and yet, so far as we are advised, our authorities are making no preparations to meet them.
It will be a poor boast for Mr. Memminger
that he has expended but fifty millions, if, for the want of a few additional millions, our cities are destroyed and our land desolated.
suggests as serious objections “the possession, transportation, and management of the crops by the Government
We do not understand that the scheme proposes to throw these labors on the Government
Let the crops be sent to warehouses and insured by the planter for twelve months, the certificate of the inspector and the policy of insurance to be forwarded to the Treasury Department.
A few additional clerks to register these would be the only increase of patronage involved in the proceeding.
Even if five hundred agents were required, the scheme would be less obnoxious than that which has sent forth five or six thousand collectors and assessors in quest of a petty tax, which may serve little other end than to reimburse the officers and harass the people.
, though interested in this scheme, is to a less amount than the States to the south of us. The Cotton States, which produce but a single crop, are reduced to a very painful condition.
They cannot sell their cotton; they are not even permitted to deliver it in readiness for sale.
The consequence is, that they will, for the means of subsistence, be at the mercy of the usurers.
If this were all, they, as well as we, would make a shift to weather the storm; but the safety of the Republic
is at stake.
's policy is playing into the hands of the enemy, and aggravating the evils of the blockade, which, under a wiser dispensation, instead of evils, would be blessings.