The credit bills of Pennsylvania were so much better than those of the other Governments, that there was a demand for them throughout the country as bills of exchange: but it was not a fact that they never’ sunk below the value of the gold and silver which was current in the colony before the first emission We have no account of the bullion market in provincial Pennsylvania, subsequent to the year 1738, but this table shows that those who represented to Adam Smith that the paper of the colony suffered no depreciation, were misled by making neither gold nor silver the standard, but by making the paper the standard of itself. As the Pennsylvania pound current never changed its name, they thought it never changed its value. The following table shows the rate of exchange of the The Government of Virginia appears not to have issued any paper money previous to the Revolutionary ‘Var. In respect to the paper money of the colonies generally, we may say, in the language of Adam Smith, “allowing the colony security to be perfectly good, a hundred pounds payable fifteen years hence, in a country where interest is at six per cent., is worth” little more than forty pounds ready money. To oblige a creditor, therefore, to accept of this as a full payment for a debt of a hundred pounds actually paid down in ready money, was an act of such violent injustice as has scarce, perhaps, been attempted by the Governement of any other country which pretended to be free. It bears the evident marks of having originally been, what the honest and do\vnright Dr. Douglass assures us it was, a scheme of fraudulent debtors to cheat their creditors. The Government of Pennsylvania, indeed, pretended, upon their first emission of paper money, to render their paper of equal value with gold and silver, by enacting penalties against all those who made any difference in the price of their goods when they sold them for colony paper, and when they sold them for gold and silver a regulation equally tyrannical, but much less effectual than that which it was meant to support. A positive law may render a shilling a legal tender for a guinea, because it may direct the courts of justice to discharge the debtor who has made that tender. But no positive law can oblige a person who sells goods, and who is at liberty to sell or not to sell as he pleases, to accept of a shilling as equivalent to a guinea in the price of them.”Dr. Williamson, the historian of North Carolina, says: ” Of all the varieties of fraud which have been practised by men who call themselves honest, and wish to preserve a decent appearance, none have been more frequent in legislative bodies than the attempt to pass money for more than its proper value. There are men who conceive that crimes lose their stain, when the offenders are numerous: that in the character of legislators they cannot be rogues: ” defendit numerus.” There are men who would be ashamed to acquire five shillings by stealing, picking a pocket, or robbing on the high-way; but they would freely and without blushing assist in passing a law to defraud their creditors of their just demands. There are instances of men being banished from North Carolina for stealing a hog not worth five dollars: while the men who banished them would contend for paying a debt of seven pounds with the value of twenty shillings: the moral sense is depraved by tender laws, or laws that enable the debtor to defraud his creditor, by offering him a fictitious payment. By such laws the mind is alienated from the love of justice, and is prepared for any species of chicane and fraud.” Hutchinson, the historian of massachusetts, has preserved many curious particulars of the introduction of paper money into this country, and of its operation on society. After relating the unsuccessful expedition of the Massachusetts troops against Quebec in 1690, he says: ” The Government was utterly unprepared for the return of the forces. They seem to have presumed, not only upon success, but upon the enemy’s treasure to bear the charge of the expedition. the soldiers were upon the point of mutiny for want of their wages. It was utterly impracticable to raise in a few days such a sum as would be necessary. An act was passed for levying the sum, but the men would not stay until it should be brought into the treasury. The extreme difficulty to which the Government was thus reduced, was the occasion of the first bills of credit ever issued ‘in the colonies, as a substitute in the place of money.
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