« AnteriorContinuar »
21st Cong. 1st Sess.]
Annual Treasury Report.
(SEN. AND H. OF REPS.
tion; in the allowances to persons instructed to investi- existing revenue laws, as well for the convenience of gate transactions of Custom Houses and Land Offices; to those employed in commerce and navigation, as for the assistant counsel, and for costs in suits and prosecutions; better security of the revenue. and for various services of less magnitude. The pay The law in relation to licenses for coasting and fishing ments for these objects are usually made by Collectors vessels, operates unequally and injuriously upon some and Receivers of Public Moneys, or by drafts on them braaches of that business; it requires, upon every change from the Treasury Department; being considered as in- of structure of the
vessel, or of ownership, by the transcidental to these branches of revenue. It is desirable fer of the rigbt of one partner, the taking out of a new that all such payments should be as specifically sanction license, and the payment of a new duty. .ed by law as those made out of moneys in the Trea The bounty allowed on vessels employed in the cod Aury.
fisheries is understood to be unlawfully obtained by some The Secretary of the Treasury deems it proper to make of those engaged in the mackerel fisheries. It is believed known to Congress, that the duties imposed upon woollen that a bounty on the fish cured or exported, without regoods, under the act of the 19th May, 1828, bave, in pur. ference to the origin of the salt, would better promote Buance of an instruction from the Treasury Department, whatever encouragement may be considered as proper dated the 15th of October, 1828, been charged upon the to be given to the fisheries ; this could be graduated to value of such goods, 'without the addition of 20 per centum any scale, and, being more simple in its form, would be on the cost of those imported from the Cape of Good Hope, less liable to abuse. or any place beyond the same, or from beyond Cape Horn, It is found that the present mode of compensating Cusor 10 per centum on those from any other place or coun- tom House officers operates unequally, and not in protry.
portion to the service rendered. As striking instances of The law, it is believed, may admit of a different con- this inequality, Inspectors, in many places, receive more otrpetiop; but, as the orders for the importations, since the than double the compensation of the Collectors wbo em. instruction above referred to, were given with a kuow-ploy them ; and, at some ports, Custom Houses are built, ledge of its operation, now to add the 20 or the 10 per or purchased by the Government, while at others, they dent to the cost of such goods, would probably transfer are provided at the expense of Collectors. the whole of them into a class higher than was fairly con The fees of office are liable to be variously computed, templated by the importer, and increase the duty very pre- and are a constant source of embarrassment in the transjudicially to his interest. Under these circumstances, and action of business. These, it is believed, may be geperas there may be some doubt as to the intention of the law, ally abolisbed, and the mode of compensation by salary it has been deemed proper not to disturb the existing con beneficially substituted; retaining, bowever, those op struction, but to submit the matter to the consideration of manifests, clearances, entries, and permits, and that class Congress.
of service wbich makes it the interest of the officers to reAnother subject somewhat singular in character, has quire a strict observance of those acts on the part of masbeen, for special reasons, differently disposed of. A de. ters of vessels, and shippers, wbich may be deemed esduction of five per cent. on the invoices of broadcloths, sential to the security of the revenue. for measurement, bas become ad established usage of The commissione pow allowed to Collectors on bonds trade. This usage was particularly noticed in an instruc put in suit might be advantageously divided between tion issued by the Treasury Department, on the 9th Sep. them and the District Attorneys. The former, would tember, 1828, but which had been differently construed by thereby be more interested in taking proper security, and the Custom-house Officers at different ports': at some, the the latter have a salutary stimulus to the discharge of deduction having been made from the measurement, and their duties. at others from the cost; by which different rates of duties Some additional provision of law is deemed necessary were imposed. It was deemed not only a legal, but con- to compel the surrender of public books and papers of stitutional obligation, so far as the powers vested in the District Attorneys, Marshals, Custom-house and Land Department would 'admit, to render the duty uniform officers, in pursuance of orders from the proper department. througbout the United States. In preparing the necessary The labors of the appraisers of imported goods have regulations for this purpose, it was considered that the five been greatly increased by the "act in alteration of the per cent deduction was originally intended, as it purports several acts imposing duties un imports," passed 19th to be, on" measurement," and 'not on price. This basis May, 1828. To give the proper efficiency to that branch was also recommended by another and more important of service, it is necessary to have warehouses and officonsideration, viz: the uniformity of its effect. The allow-ces, conveniently adapted for the examination, measurance being made for measurement, the mercbant pays duty ing, and repacking of goods; and that the persons emon the number of yards purporting to be imported; but, ployed by appraisers should be more immediately under if made on price, it is nugatory, except the cloths are their control. In the port of New York, where pearly thereby transferred from a higher to a lower class, in half the importations into the United States are made, the which case it diminishes the duty by the amount of the whole labor of appraising devolves on two officers, who difference between the duties charged on such classes. An are exclusively responsible for that duty; and yet, all the iostruction was accordingly issued on the 8th of August, assistance which can be provided for them is supplied in1829, directing the allowance of the five per cent to be directly, and under an implied power. To avoid the emmade on the measurement only. But this unavoidably barrassment that must arise from sickness, or other nedeprived a number of importers, whose orders had been cessary absence of one or both of these officers, an addipreviously given, of the expected benefit of the deduc- tional appraiser at that port seems indispensable. It is tion, in determining the classes of dutiable prices to which also deemed advisable that the commissioned appraisers at their cloths belonged; such cloths are consequently sub- all the ports should be authorized, under proper restricjected to a rate of duty higher than was contemplated tions, to employ persons to act as assistants, under reguwhen the orders were given. The regulation bás, there lar official responsibility; these being distributed upon fore, injuriously affected the interest of these import- the different classes of business, could not fail to increase ers, and their case is submitted to the favorable con- the power of the appraisers for an efficient and faithful sideration of Congress, who alope can give the proper performance of their duties, and without any naterial inrelief.
crease of expense. The Secretary of the Treasury respectfully invites The present system of storing goods for debenture, or the attention of Congress to some modification of the in security for duties, may, it is believed, be beneficially
SEN, AND H. oF REPs.]
Annual Treasury Report.
[21st Cong. Ist SESS.
modified. Goods are now stored under various circum- Wine, Spirits, and Teas, and goods entitled to drawback. stances.
It is apparent, from these facts, that very great facilities 1st Teas may, at the option of the importer, and at his are given for illicit trade. If a single port can be found, expense, be stored under the direction of the Custom-house where, through the negligence of the officers of the cusofficers, in security for the duties, for two years.
toms, or other cause, goods can be thus introduced, there 2d. Wine and spirits may be stored, in like manner, for is no sufficient obstacle to their being transported by wa
ter, to another and a better market. The mere power 8d. All other goods may be stored, in like manner, for to board a coasting vessel, and demand her manifest
, the term of credit on the duties respectively.
without any obligation on the master, to report her to the 4th. Wipes and Spirits, to be entitled to drawback, Collector, is wbully insufficient for proper security against must be deposited in a public store, and there remain, frauds, and especially in those ports where an extensive from their landing, until shipment : or, op being trans- coasting and foreign navigation is carried on. ported coastwise, may be again stored or shipped. There is also a feature in the law, in relation to the
6th Goods, irregularly imported, are stored until they seizure of goods suspected to have been smuggled, can be disposed according to law.
which, it is believed, may be beneficially modified. These Private stores are usually rented for these purposes by goods are usually seized in small quantities; the owners, the Collectors; but the facility of access to such buildings perhaps, escape, or no one appears to claim them, renders the security of little avail: and that abuses have and yet the goods cannot be sold until libelled, and connot more frequently occurred, is attributable much more demped in a court of the United States; the costs attendto the integrity of the merchants than the efficacy of the ing which, frequently amount
to more than the proceeds system. The remedy proposed, is to erect warehouses, of the articles, when sold. The officer not only loses his at the public expense, at the principal ports, for all the reward, but the United States are subjected to costs, and permanent objects connected with this branch of service; what was intended as an inducement to vigilance, beto be so situated and constructed as to be conveniently comes worse than nugatory. This might be remedied by guarded, and rendered inaccessible except by permission authorizing the sale, without condemnation, of such goods of officers io charge. This being done, the warehouse as may be unclaimed, after a reasonable notice. An addisystem may be extended to all goods entered for draw. tional and salutary stimulus may also be given to the actiback, and the right of debenture continued as long as they vity of Revenue Officers by authorizing a relinquishment remain in store. There can be no doubt that a moderate to them, of a portion of the proceeds of forfeited goods, charge for storage would remunerate the Government for which may accrue to the Government. The sum thus the expenditure, while the revenue would be rendered relinquished would probably be much more than repaid, more secure, and the iaterests of navigation essentially in the increased security of the revenue, arising from the promoted.
iucitement to greater vigilance. The intercourse between the United States and adja: The power to search for, and seize goods found on land, cent foreigo territories requires some special regulation, requires to be enlarged, and better defined. To avoid as well for the convenience of the officers of the customs unnecessary vexation, the exercise of the power might be as of travellers, and also for the better security of the re- limited to a reasonable distance from the coast, navigable venue. Persons transiently coming into the Uvited rivers, canals, or the interior border. It is known that States on business, and returning, are obliged to pay duty considerable exertions are makipg for introducing goods for the horses and vehicles employed, without benefit of into the United States, in violation of the revenue laws : drawback. Ferry-boats, baving foreigu goods op board, and the Secretary of the Treasury finds bimself compelart required by law to enter and pay fees apon every trip led to invite the special attention of Congress, to the across a boundary water. It is also desirable that United adoption of such measures, as may be calculated to preStates' vessels, of whatever burden, laden with foreigo vent an evil, not less dangerous to the morals of those goods, passing on those waters, should be subject to the exposed to the temptation, than injurious to the interests same regulations that are now imposed on coasting ves of the Nation. Every measure intended for this object sels, passing from one district to another, not in an adjoid- will unavoidably subject the fair trader to some inconveniing state. It may, however, be doubted, whether any ence; but this should be considered more than counterregulation short of a total probibition of the importation balanced, by the protection it affords against the ruinous of goods, not the growth or product of the Territories competition of those, who can only be restrained by efficontiguous to the United States, and of their transportation cient laws, rigorously executed. upon the boundary waters in vessels of the United States, The present credit system, it is believed, may be matewithout accompanying evidence of the duties baring been rially improved. If the purchaser of goods, or any other paid, will effectually prevent illicit importations from those person than the importer, could be lawfully substituted, countries.
as the principal on Custom house bonds, in all cases where The laws in relation to the coasting trade do not afford the importer was not indebted op bonds due and unpaid, the necessary means for preventing the uplawful intro the security of these debts might be greatly increased. duction of foreign goods through that channel. The It would, in such case, depend on the solvency of a class United States are divided into three great districts: let, of merchants exposed to less hazard in their business, be. From their eastern limits to the southern limits of Geor- sides being divided among a greater number. The cregia. 2d, From the southern limits of Georgia to the dits pow allowed are also unnecessarily complicated. Perdido River. 8d, From the Perdido River to the The long credits on teas have been a source of heavy loss Western limits of the United States. Masters of vessels, to the revenue, and consequently injurious to the interlicensed for carrying on the coasting trade, may now ests they were intended to promote. Experience has with a given amount of cargo, pass from one port to ano- proved, that, by furvishing an opportunity for, they stimther, within either of these districts, or to a port in an ulate adventurous speculation, not less ruinous to those adjoining State, without delivering a manifest or obtain- connected with them, than prejudicial to the Government. ing a permit previous to their departure, and without The terms of payment for duties, now presented by law, making any report on entering their vessel at the port of are as follows: destination; nor does the law require any evidence, ex All sums not exceeding fifty dollars, are payable in casb ; cept the oath of the master in certain cases, of duties all sums exceedmg fifty dollars, for duties on the produce having been paid on foreign goods transported from one of the West Indies, (except salt) or places north of the port to avother, except by a defective provision as to equator, and situate on the eastern shores of America, or
21st Cong. 1st Sess.]
[SEN. AND H. OF REPs.
its adjacent seas, bays, and gulfs, one half in 6 months, one and interrupt and disturb that gradual growth which best half in 9 months :
promotes and secures substantial prosperity. So injuriOn salt, 9 months:
ous are great and sudden fluctuations in human emplog. On wines 12 months :
ments, that it has been even doubted whether the inyenOn all goods imported from Europe, (other than wines, tive genius of man, in the development of means for salt, and teas,) one third in 8 months, one third in 10 saving labor, and multiplying mechanical power, has not months, and one third in 12 months :
proved rather an evil than a benefit. A close observance On all goods, (other than wines, salt, and teas,) import of this operation will, however, demonstrate that, whated from any other place than Europe and the West Indies, ever there may be of evil in it, arises only from the sudone third in 8 months, one third in 10 months, and one denness of the change. Employments essential to the tbird in 18 months :
support of many, have been superseded so suddenly as On teas imported from China or Europe, stored as se to leave them dependent on the charities of those who curity for duties, a credit of two years is allowed. When may have profited by the event; this would not have oe. delivered for consumption, the duties, not exceeding one curred had the process been graduated as to time, more hundred dollars, on a credit of four inonths with se- conformably to the habits and conditions of those liable curity; if over one hundred dollars, and not exceeding to be affected by it. The employments thus superseded, five hundred dollars, eight months ; over five hundred will, however, scarcely be known to, or needed by, the dollars, twelve months ; the credit not in any case to ex- next generation; others will take their place, and those tend beyond the two years allowed on deposite of the who cannot enter upon new pursuits, though without teas.
hope for themselves, may yet be consoled with a better On wines and spirits, stored as security for duties, the prospect for posterity. same credit, on delivery, as if not stored : not to exceed It may not be unprofitable to observe, that a total revotwelve months.
lution is taking place in many of the productive employThe term of six, nine, and twelve months, might be ments throughout the civilized world. The improveadopted as a fair average of existing credits. A change, ments in science and arts, no longer interrupted by var, if introduced prospectively, could not be seusibly felt in have been directed to other objects, and have so increased the price of any article of importation; and the reduc- the power of production that the tide of prices, wbich bad tion of the duties op teas, and some other importations been long on the flood, is gradually ebbing, even under a from countries south of the equator, if that be thought depreciated currency. The relative values between labor advisable, would contract the effect of a shortened credit and products have also changed, but are not yet adjusted. upon the interests of navigation in that region.
The depression of prices, falling unequally on tbe different The average proposed somewhat increases the length species of property, is ruinous to many, and repugnant to of the credits on importations from the West Indies. the feelings even of those who do not really suffer. It Upon this point it may be observed, that the profits of may be long before a proper adjustment of these values the West India trade, being reduced to their minimum, removes the evil; and until then, the busy world will be every proper facility given to it, could not but be felt in the agitated by the convulsive struggles of its various inteagriculture, as well as the commerce and navigation of the rests, each to avert from itself, and throw upon others the United States ; those colonies being almost the only mar- impending adversity. The ramifications of these connectket for many of the staple products of several of the ing and conflicting operations are so complicated, that it States. The same object may be further promoted, by may be doubted whether any degree of intelligence, howthe reduction of duties on coffee, spices, and some other ever free from the influence of special interests, could, by products of these Islands.
the exercise of its political power, materially lessen the It is also worthy of consideration, whether any modifi- evil
. The active energies of man, stimulated by necescation of the revenue system, with a view to improve the sity, emulation, and love of wealth, are baps the agents West India trade, might not, with advantage, be arranged most to be relied upon, io maintaining a salutary equiliin such manner, as to give a preference to the productions brium in the various operations of human enterprise. of those colonies into which American navigation is per- Every new disposition, therefore, of the money power, to mitted.
be safe, should be gradual, and requires great caution to The effects of a change in the credit system, and of a avoid increasing the unequal and irregular action which is reduction of duties, upon the various interests of the na: so obviously prejudicial, both to individual and public tion, other than revenue, are suggested as incidental welfare. considerations, which, though they might not be deemed Whatever objects may, in the wisdom of the Governof such a character as to justify a revision of the revenue ment, be found for the application of surplus revenue, aflaws, yet cannot safely be overlooked in a modification ter the public debt shall be paid, there will probably recalled for by other indispensable objects. It may be main a considerable amount, which may be dispensed proper, however, in all measures of this nature, to keep with, by a reduction of the import duties, without prejuin view, that the money power of the Government, dice to any branch of domestic industry. Such a redúcwhether exerted in the imposition, distribution, or re- tion will present a favorable opportunity for averting a duction of taxes, or in the disbursement of the public portion of the evil resulting from the general depression in treasure, requires to be exercised with the most guarded the price of property before referred to. The repeal of and steady purpose of uniting absolute and relative justice a tax is similar in its effects to the relinquishment of so in the same point. Whatever propels an undue portion much annual debt; relieving, to that amount, the various of capital into one pursuit, must tend, where capital is species of labor upon which it was charged, and distributabundant, sooner or later to overcharge it
, and lessen the ing its benefits, in proportion to consumption, upon every profits. The same operation will cause at least a relative individual of the nation. increase in the profits of other pursuits from which capi The extinguishment of the public debt tends to the tal bas been withdrawn. The application of the money same result in another way. The interest is now paid to power of the Government to regulate the unequal action capitalists, out of the profits of labor; not only will this caused by such, or any other changes in human economy, labor be released from the burden, but the capital thus is, in its nature, incapable of precise and certain adapta- thrown out of an unproductive, will seek a productive tion to its end; bence, the necessity for care and modera- employment;, giving thereby a new impetus to entertion in all measures of this character. Every mistake prise, in agriculture, the arts, commerce, and navigation, must increase the irregularities iutended to be remedied, at a lower charge for interest than before. The heavy
On the Current Coins.
[21st Cong. 1st Sess.
impositions on the labor employed in these pursuits, in lity to small and cxact payments, will prevent the abuse those nations where the arts bave attained their highest of burthening creditors, with an inconvenient amount of perfection, had become in a great measure counterbal- these coins. When our copper coins shall be thus conlanced, in latter years, by the increased capacity of that tined to very small payments, the objection often made, labor; but these burthens still remain, and with but little that they are too heavy for the purpose of money, will prospect of diminution. In the mean time, the industry have little force. of the United States will have a positive advantage over All our silver coins are now, indiscriminately, legal that of other countries, equal to the difference between money for all payments; and any debt, however large, their respective rates of taxation; and it is worthy of con- may be discharged in the small coins of this metal. sideration, that there bas been probably do period, in The design of a system which employs gold, silver, which such an opportunity for advancing the general and copper as money, is, that the several metals' should economy of the American People, and aiding them to be used for the respective offices to which euch of them maintain a successful competition with that of other coun-is peculiarly adapted ; that gold should be used chiefly for tries, could bave been more propitious, or more necessary large payments; that payments which are neither very to their interests, than that wbich is now approaching. It great nor very small, should be made in silver; and that is known that the most unexampled exertions are making copper should serve only for payment of very small sums. in all civilized nations, to increase the productive power; The object of different coins of the saine metal is, that the and those who shall stand foremost in this laudable strife, smaller coins should be used to pay the small sums which will be assured of success in maintaining, not merely the they express. prosperity of their People, but a high rank among the All these are objects of real and great convenience. family of nations.
But when small coins, so Convenient for small and exact e All which is respectfully submitted.
payments, are used to discharge large debts, their inconS. D. INGHAM, venience is manifest. All the coins offered in payment,
Secretary of the Treasury. idust be counted; every piece must be examined, at least, TREASURY DEPARTMENT, Dec. 14, 1829.
by inspection; and the labor of effecting a payment is
Dearly in proportion to the number of pieces used for that REPORT ON THE CURRENT COINS,
purpose. To abridge this labor, large coins are necessary;
and public convenience requires, that such coins should be Made to the Senate of the United States, Jan. 11, 1830. used in payment of large sumy. Mr. SANFORD, from the Select Committee appointed ends ; but we have hitherto made no discrimination be
Our various coins are well adapted to these different to consider the state of the current coins, and to report tween our different coins, in respect to their use io pay. such amendments of the existing laws concerning coins, as may be deemed expedient, made the following
We have four silver coins less than a dollar; and we alReport:
low to the debtor the option to pay either gold or silver The law of the second day of April, 1792, establishing coins. It is not expedient that he should also have the the Mint, and directing cuins of gold, silver and copper, option to pay, a large debt in these small coins of silver. expressly enacts, that the gold and silver coins shall be Where all the coins are equally applicable to all paya legal tender, in all payments ; but it is not declared ments, the community seldom enjoy, to a convenient exby that law, or by any express enactment, that our copper tent, the use of the larger coius. Large coins are withcoins shall be legal money. The currency of all other drawn from circulation sooner, and more frequently, than copper coins is expressly probibited by the law of the 8th smaller pieces. The coins most convenient to the manuday of May, 1792. It is, and from the first institution of facturer, to the merchant, who exports coins, and to all our coins has been, an uncertain question, whether a debtor who deal in the precious metals as merchandize, are the can compel his creditor to receive payment in cents or pieces which contain the greatest quantity of metal. All balf cents. A discussion of this question, as it now these persons select large coins for their purposes, in stands upon the existing laws, is bere unnecessary. Our preference to small pieces; and where the same quan. copper coins are either legal money, or they are not. If tity of metal may be obtained either id lurge pieces or they are a legal tender, they are so without limitation of small coins, the greater convenience of large pieces for amount; and any debt, however great, may be dis- the uses to which coins are applied by these persons, is, charged io cents and half cents. If they are not a legal alone, a decisive reason for this preference. Another tender, they are not so in any case, or for the smallest cause concurring with this convenience, operates, powersum ; and we have no legal money for very small pay fully, to withdraw large coins from currency. Circulat. ments. Both branches of this alternative are upfit; and ing coins are never entirely uniform in weight. Small neither of them should be law. The coins of copper are coins lose a greater proportion of weight than large altogether unsuitable for payment of large sums; they are coins, by circulation ; and where the different coins have not necessary for payments wbich may be made by coins been in use during the same period, large coins are less of silver or gold; and their peculiar destination is, to diminished in weight and intrinsic value. The merchant make those small payments which cannot be made by or the manufacturer who selects large pieces instead of coins of higher value. The copper coins should, there- small coins, not only finds the large pieces more convefore, be contined to their proper province; and within pient, but he generally finde, also, a considerable gain in that sphere they should be legal for all purposes of the quantity of metal which he obtains by this prefemoney.
rence. This disproportion is, moreover, a direct induceIt is proposed that the amount for which the copper ment to convert large coins into bullion. As the diminucoins shall be a legal tender shall be ten cents. A sum tion of small coins is often much greater than that of large greater than ten cents would be inconvenient: and coios, the larger pieces are converted into bullion, for the though five cents may be paid in silver by a half dime, gain which this operation affords : these conversions are and teo cents by a dime, or two balf dimes, yet it is con- extensive, in proportion as they are profitable; and are venient that the debtor should also be able to pay these profitable, according to the degree of disproportion of small sums in the copper coins. The sum of ten cents, weight between large coins and small pieces. Motives as a rule for this purpose, seems to adjust, reasonably, of convenience, and motives of profit, thus co-operate to the question of convenience between creditor and debt- the same result; and demands for gold or silver, wbich or: and this regulation, while it will afford entire faci-fall upon the coins, are satisfied from the largest pieces
21st Cong. 1st Sess.]
On the Current Coins.
which can be procured. The larger coins constantly their value; but, to be entirely convenient, they should depart from circulation, while the smaller coins remain ; require only to be counted : and when weight becomes and it is often found, that nearly all the coins remaining the necessary, or ordinary test of the value of coins, in use consist of the minor pieces.
much of their convenience is lost When actual weighThe large coins which are converted into bullion, ex- ing decides that coins are greatly dimjoished, it decides ported from the country, or used in manufactures, are the that they are no longer fit for convenient use. Coins 80 coins which are most convenient to the whole communi- inferior in usefulness, cannot be justly ranked with those ty, when large sums are to be paid and received; and the wbich being of full weight, or slightly reduced, afford the public interest is, that a considerable portion of the cur- great convenience of a currency by tale. rent coins should be those which are adapted to the ob While a coin retains the stamp of the mint, that imject of paying large sums with facility. A due portion pression certifies the denomination of the piece, and the of large coins should therefore, not only be issued, but quality of the metal. When coins are
BO worn, that also be retained in circulation. This end is to be attain their inscriptions and distinctive marks are effaced, they ed only by rendering such coios necessary for the large bave lost the cbaracter which they received from the payments to wbich they are adapted.
mint; and without that manifest character, they are not As a regulation in this respect, it is proposed that the coined money. When a piece is so reduced, that its apsilver coins less than a dollar, shall not be a legal tender peareance does not indicate whether it is of one denomifor any eum exeeding ten dollars. The sum proposed nation or another, or whether it is of the national mint or for this purpose, by Mr. Lowndes, in a report made in of foreign coinage, its purity and weight are uncertain the House of Representatives, on the twenty-sixthi day and it wants the qualities of money. That coids reduced of January 1819, was five dollars ; but this sum.seems too to disks of smooth metal, should be legal money, is quite low. If a new bystem were now to be instituted, or if too inconvenient ; and it is unnecessury that they sbould be all our different coins were in circulation, in due propor- so, where the public mint is always ready to convert them tion to each other, the sum of sive dollars might be taken into perfect pieces. as the convenient rule, in this particular. Iu the actual All such coins are vofit for circulation by tale; and state of our coins, the sum of ten dollars appears pre- their compulsory currency, by weight, is an inconveferable ; and this sum will sufficiently guard creditors nience to which the community ought not to be sub against the inconvenience of receiving large payments in jected. small silver coins.
The currency of diminished coios has a powerful tenThe sixteenth section of the act of the second day of dency to expel perfect coins from circulation. In every April, 1792, is in these words: “All the gold and silver society where coins are used, they are treated very dif" coins wbich shall have been struck at, and issued from ferently, by two classes of persons. One class, compris" the said mint, shall be a lawful tender in all paymeuts ing far the greater pumber, pay and receive coins, with"wbatsoever; those of full weight, according to the out regard to their actual weight; and the great circula“respective values hereiubefore declared, and those of tion of the community takes place, by mere tale. Apo“ less than full weight, at values proportional to their ther class consists of persons who, in various ways, deal "respective weights."
in the precious metals as merchandise ; and this class The legal value of our coins of gold and silver, thus traffic in coins, according to their actual weight and independs on their actual weight. This regulation in- trinsie value. Wbile nu immense majority of the society volves the inconvenience, that our coins must be actually are incessantly circulating diminished coins, as equivalent weighed, when weighing is required; but this inconve- to those of full weight, dealers in gold and silver are nience cappot be avoided, without incurring a greater constantly making the discrimination which is not made evil. Coins unequal in weight and iatriosid value, but by others; and their business is to derive profit from these bearing the same legal value, are a source of grievous disparities. Wbile others circulate by tale, they ascerdisorder and injustice; and all coins, however uniform tain the value of coins by weight. They receive coins in weight, when they leave the mist, afterwards become of full weight, and pay those of reduced weight; they reduced and unequal in intrinsic value. Our system, exchange diminished coins for coins of full weight; and therefore, prescribes the weights wbich shall be given to the constant commerce of the society renders these subour coins by the mint, and their legal values when they stitutions easy and endless. When a diminished coiu has have those weights; and direct, that coius of less than been used to obtain a coin of full weight, for gain, the full weight, sball bave legal values, 'according to their coin of full weight circulates no more. It is converted actual weights. The currency of our gold and silver into bulliobor treated as bullion; and is exported, or coins, by mere tale, is neither enforced nor prohibited; used iu manufactures, as bullion is wanted for either of but is left to take place, according to convenience and these objects. consent. But in enacting the principle, that the value While the weight of coins is incessantly reduced by shall be controlled by the weight, universal terms have the friction of ordinary use, this is not the sole cause of been used, by wbich all our gold and silver coio how their diminution. Coins are easily reduced to any inever diminished in weight, are made legal money, and in ferior weight, by artificial means. Various processes, this respect, a restriction is necessary.
some of which are denominated filing. clipping, boring, The smallest and lightest rempant of a coin, is now scaling, and sweating, are employed to substract from legal money, equally with a perfect piece of a full coins of full weight, a portion of their metal. The coins weight; and it is in the option of a debtor, to discharge so reduced, are put into circulation by tale; and the value his debt, either in coins of full weight, or in those which of the metal withdrawn, is gained by those who perform are diminished to any inferior weight.
these operations. These practices are forbidden by law; Coins which must be weighed to ascertain their value, but as they are, or may be secret, they cannot be are very inconvenient money. When coins, manifestly repressed. much diminished, are offered in payment, the creditor Ordinary use and artificial reductions thus co-operate must, in justice to hiinself, require that they shall be actu- to diminish the weight of coius : and new aliment is conally weighed; and weigbing must be followed by the stantly given to the business of proeuring coins of full calculations requisite to convert weights into pecuniary weight by means of those which are lighter. But these values. These proceedings are exceedingly troublesome. exchanges are not limited to the acquisition of coins of Coins should, indeed, be liable to examination of their full weight. When all the coins are below full weight, actual weight, as the ultimate and controlling test of they still, to a great extent, circulate by tale. But some