Bill for the protection of Treasury notes, and against the exportation of coin, &c.
--The House of Delegates on Monday passed a bill for the protection of Treasury notes, the main features of which are the following:
Forbidding the sale or exchange of any Bank note or Confederate Treasury note, for any sum in gold or silver less than the nominal value of said Bank or Treasury note.
Laying the same restriction upon the sale of Confederate notes for Bank notes.
Forbidding the exportation of gold or silver, or Bank or State Treasury notes, without the written consent of the Governor or the Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederate States.
Prescribes the penalty, which is forfeiture, fine, and imprisonment.
Against selling, or giving and receiving in exchange, any Bank or Treasury note, &c., issued within the limits of the United States.
As the House of Delegates failed to inform the world, we are unable to see how far, and in what particular, the currency is to be benefited by this bill should it become a law. There is not a country in the world, we believe, in which attempts of the same kind have not been made, and not one instance in which they have ever been of the slightest benefit.--The present bill appears to have been more particularly suggested by the proceedings of the Jacobins in the convention during the early stages of the French Revolution
These worthy legislators having issued a currency which speedily fell a thousand per cent.,
fell upon the wise expedient of giving it a forced circulation.
They therefore passed a law from which we should have supposed this was copied had we not known the just contempt in which our philosophers of the Legislature hold all historical precedents, in which they declared it an offence, to be punished by the guillotine, for any man to give or receive for an assignat any sum in gold
less than its nominal value.
They also passed a law against the exportation of gold
— punishing the first offence with five years labor in irons, and the second with the guillotine.
These laws had not the smallest effect.
No man wanted the assignats so badly as to give the nominal value for them in coin; and all who wanted them bought them as they had always done, at their real
value only, taking care to make the transaction secret.
As the gold seller demanded a proper indemnification for the risk he ran, he, of course, charged a huge additional per centum for his gold, and thus contributed to run down the value of the assignats more than could have happened had the transaction been open and above board.
So far from checking exportation these laws enhanced it prodigiously.
Few people who had coin wished it to lie idle, and as they wished to invest it neither in assignats nor in the national domain, from distrust of the success of the Government
, they invested it in foreign securities, bills of Exchange on London
, English stocks, &c. Pitt
was even accused of opening a credit for persons thus circumstanced in order to drain France
, as much as possible, of the precious metals.
, about the year 1809, Parliament passed a law rendering it highly penal to give more than twenty-one shillings for guineas of standard weight.
The consequence was, that the standard guinea disappeared from circulation altogether.
It was carried over to the continent, where full value could be obtained for it, which could not be done in England
, where the paper currency was depreciated.
The light guinea — that is, the guinea which from abrasion or clipping weighed less than sterling — almost entirely supplied the place of the new or standard guinea, upon the well known principle that when two currencies are in circulation the inferior will always supplant the better.
Besides, no price had been fixed for the light guinea; and although greatly inferior in value, it sold readily for twenty-four shillings, while the foolish penal law restricted the standard guinea, just from the mint, to twenty-one shillings. Such was the result of an attempt to give a factitious value to a depreciated currency.
It drove nearly all the good guineas out of the country.
In the debate on the report of the Bullion Committee
in the House of Commons in 1811, Canning
said that penal laws forbidding the exportation of coin always, wherever they had been tried, had acted as a premium
At that very moment the Spanish
milled dollar was circulating in England
to such an extent that it had entirely supplanted the crown piece, although the latter was, intrinsically, more valuable.
is, and always was, the most obstinately bigoted of all nations, except Portugal
, in keeping up the absurd regulations against the exportation of bullion, which is the favorite policy of semi-barbarous sovereignties.--The reason of all this is obvious.
seek the point at which it can be most profitably employed.
This silly law, however, leaves itself so completely open to evasion that, even were its object otherwise attainable, they could not be reached under its enactments.
It makes it penal to export gold
to foreign countries.
A man has only to carry his gold
to North Carolina
, which is not a foreign country, and there being no restriction there, he can do with it what it may please him to do. Indeed, the title of the act should be, "An act to drive gold
to the adjoining States." In the meantime, we venture to say, there is not a man in the House of Delegates who, if he wanted gold, would not at once go to the brokers, who have it, instead of Mr. Memminger
, who, we dare say, has it not. The trade will be as brisk as ever; but whereas it was formerly open, it will now be conducted in secret.