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[423] and put away by the people, and did not emerge from their retreat until after the close of the war. They then began again to be seen in the hands of the people. But they had come forth from their hiding places too late. The banks had been ruined, and were found unable to pay any part of their debts except a percentage upon their circulation. The notes of the different institutions varied in market value according to the accidental circumstances which influenced the original amount of accommodations which they had granted in 1861 to the Confederate Secretary of the Treasury.

In the aggregate these accommodations had considerably exceeded the capital stock of the banks. The Confederate Treasury had paid off the accommodation notes due the banks with Treasury notes. The whole amount of private discounts due the banks from individuals were discharged by the agency of the same medium. Thus the whole capital stock and assets of the banks were soon transformed into Treasury notes; while the heavy amount of their own notes which they had lent to the Government, disappeared from circulation and went into private hoards, where they could not be reached. They had a heavy debt outstanding, which could not be discharged; and their whole available means consisted of a daily depreciating currency, which they were obliged to receive in payment of all dues to themselves. At the close of the war this currency turned into dead leaves, and they were left in the possession of no assets at all except the small amount of real estate occupied by their counting houses, and the small modicum of specie which they had been able to save from taxes, impressment, and robbery. Stockholders thus lost all their shares, and the value of assets in hand was sufficient to meet but a meagre percentage of the outstanding circulation, which the banks had imprudently put forth in originally granting such liberal loans to the Confederate Government.

With the negotiation of the fifteen million loan, and the exhaustion of the means of the banks, all regular financiering ceased with the Confederate Government. After that, money was manufactured by machinery to meet the wants of the Government, and paid out as rapidly as it was needed. Thus the volume of the circulation increased almost in equal ratio with the expenditures of the Government. Considerable loans in the form of bonds at long dates were authorized, and a good deal of success was obtained in disposing of the bonds. But these sales were exceedingly out of proportion to the magnitude of the expenditures; and the heavy margin of deficiency was boldly made up by the issue of Treasury notes. We might recite here in detail the various acts of Congress that were passed authorizing the different loans and directing the preparation and employment of Treasury notes of circulation. But the recital would be tedious, dreary, and insipid. Suffice it to say that no measure whatever was taken to secure a reflux of the circulation to the source of issue, and thereby to

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1861 AD (1)
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