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[428] sold. The fury and intensity of speculation forced the people into reluctant acquiescence in the depreciation of the currency. But there is this consolatory observation to be made on the subject: namely, that the classes who devoted themselves assiduously to speculation, as a general rule, cane out losers at the close of the war; while the masses of people who eschewed this disreputable avocation, generally saved a comfortable portion of their original means.

That the depreciation of the Confederate currency was partially superinduced by speculation and circumstances other than its mere redundancy, is sufficiently proved by the fact, that the grand total of circulation in the North reached the stupendous figure of nine hundred and fifty millions of dollars, while the depreciation of greenbacks, at the close of the war, was less than one and a half for one. It is plain, therefore, that depreciation is not the necessary result of mere redundancy, and may be prevented by provident and timely measures. The ability with which the Federal finances were conducted, especially in avoiding this depreciation, is one of the most remarkable incidents of the war.

If early and proper measures had been adopted, the Confederate currency would doubtless, likewise, have proved as manageable as any other branch of the Confederate finances. These measures should have looked to the provision of an adequate demand for the circulation that was issued in such profusion. This demand could have been abundantly established by means of taxation, of the sale of Government bonds of long dates, and by the intervention of a system of discounts through the instrumentality of a Bank of Exchequer. The circulation should not have been issued directly from the Treasury. It should have been placed under the absolute control of an issuing agency, which would have served as a regulator and balance-sheet in the movement, and preserved an equilibrium between the efflux and influx of the circulation. Taxation should have been imposed from the beginning, and executed promptly; not postponed several years, and then tardily put in force. The sales of bonds should have been conducted by a great and respectable banking institution, directed by eminent and reputable financiers; not entrusted to ignorant and irresponsible stock and exchange brokers. Such a financial institution could have established and maintained an influx of the circulation commensurate with the efflux. With this reflux in full flow, the volume of the currency might have been increased with impunity. And, if, besides, the circulation had been in the form of notes of the bank, rather than in that of notes of the Treasury; then, when the unfortunate end came, the debts due to the bank would still have given a partial value to this circulation; and prevented the total wreck of cash means which at last overtook the people of the South.

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