An account taken from the books of merchants in Virginia shows that the depreciation there regularly fol!owed that in Philadelphia, though, towards the close, it sometimes Jagged a month or more behind. Thus, when exchange was at Philadelphia at 100 for 1, in January, 1781, it was in Virginia at 75 for 1 : and in April, when exchange in Philadelphia was at 135 for 1, it was in Virginia at 100 for 1. As late as May, 1781, speculations were entered into at Philadelphia, to purchase continental money at 225 for I, and sell it at Boston at 75 for 1. It is worthy of remark ” that the depreciation of continental money never stopped the circulation of it. As long as it retained any value at all, it passed quick enough: and would purchase hard money or any thing else, as readily as ever, when the exchange was 200 for 1, and when every hope, or even idea, of its being ultimately redeemed at nominal value had entirely vanished.”· The facility of raising ways and means, in the early part of the war, by issues of paper, led to much extravagance ill the commissary department, and prevented the establishment of a sound system of finance. It is said that when a proposition was before Congress to estab1ish a regular revenue system, one member exclaimed, “Do you thinh, gentlemen, that I will consent to load my constituents with taxes, when we can send to our printer, and get a waggon load of money, one quire of which will pay for the whole !”t Our ancestors were lavish of their blood, in defense of their rights. If it was through a wish to save their treasure, that they resorted to paper money, they did not succeed in their object. As a mode of raising revenue, it might be compared to a tax, the expenses of collecting which were many times as great as the sum brought into the treasury. the benefit the Government derived from it, was in no way commensurate with the burden it imposed on the people. Most of the loss fell on the Whigs as it was in their hands the paper depreciated. The Tories, who had from the beginning no confidence in it, made it a rule to part with it as soon as possible. This continental money was, in its true character, a simple evidence of debt due by the Government and may, as such, in the first stage of its operation, be compared to the forced loans which the potentates of Europe have at times extracted from their su ojects. As a forced currency, it may be compared to the base coin which the same potentates have issued in other seasons of difficulty. The resort to it can be justified (if it can be justified at all,) only on the plea of state necessity-a plea so easily made that it ought never to be admitted without close examination. It is difficult to believe that a people so devoted to liberty as were the Americans of that day, would have been backward in their contributions for the necessary expenses of war, if they had not been taught by some of their leading men that taxation was quite unnecessary, and that paper money would supply every financial want. “What a shame it is” said a patriotic old lady, ” that Congress should let the poor soldiers suffer, when they have power to make just as much money as they choose.” The best, if not the only excuse, for the policy which was adopted is, perhaps, to be found in the opinion then prevalent, that money was something which derived its value from the authority of Government. In no other way can we apologize for the acts which imposed severe penalties on those who refused to exchange their merchandise for paper, and which in some instances even outlawed the supposed offender. When the continental money was first issued, an expression of doubt as to its value, involved suspicion of disaffection to the cause of the country. As the issues increased, the prices of goods necessarily rose; but this was attributed to combinations of the merchants to raise the price of their merchandise, and to sink the value of continental money. They were called Tories, speculators, and many other hard names; and their stores were forcibly broken open, and their goods sold at limited prices by committees of the neighbors.· the fatal error” says Mr. Webster, “that the credit and currency of continental money could be kept up and supported by acts of compulsion, entered so deep into the minds of Congress, and all departments of administration
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