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[424] restrict the volume of currency within manageable limits, and create a demand for it essential to the maintenance of its value. The patriotism of the people, however, provided a partial demand for these notes. The growing redundance of currency produced high prices; and high prices produced large funds for investment in the hands of the wealthy classes. These made it a point of patriotism to invest their surplus capital in the securities of the Government. Legislatures authorized and the courts directed the funds held by fiduciaries to be invested in the eight and seven per cent. bonds of the Confederacy. Necessity also came in aid of patriotism to promote these investments. The great majority of capitalists knew not what better disposition to make of their Treasury notes than to convert them into Confederate bonds. The bonds drew interest; the notes drew none; except indeed those hundred dollar seven-thirty notes, which in fact were bonds. For a brief period after the first rise of prices consequent upon the inflation, real estate came briskly into market, and a great deal of it changed hands. But this species of investment soon terminated. Speculation in the necessaries of life and in the staples of the country was resorted to extensively by the class of men known as sharpers; but it was distasteful to respectable people and highly disreputable in public opinion. The consequence was, that the wealthy and respectable capitalists, who were men of public spirit and patriotic impulses, eschewed these questionable operations, and converted their treasury notes into interest-bearing bonds, drawn at long dates. Many, indeed, in an unbounded faith in the success of the Confederacy, purchased negroes; but the amount of this property available for purchase was very small in proportion to the vast capital accumulated in the hands of the people.

It so happened, therefore, that the very redundance of the currency produced in partial degree a remedy for its own cure. The very excess of circulation produced a necessity for its conversion into bonds. But the misfortune was, that the remedy, as long as it lasted, always came too late for the cure of the evil. It did not come into action until the depreciation of the currency had taken place. The reflux did not return by a natural flow, but resulted from a damming — up process. A competent agency should have been employed, which should have watched, directed, and controlled the movement from the beginning; an agency clothed with absolute power over the circulation, and endowed with a sufficient capital to ensure a ready sale at reasonable prices of the public bonds.

The progress of the depreciation of the Confederate money was at first gradual; but afterwards very rapid. In was worth at the brokers' shops in Richmond one dollar twenty cents in currency. In January 1863, the value varied from twelve to twenty. It afterwards, as we shall

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January, 1863 AD (1)
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