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officers who at present have great salaries, oblige them to serve in their respective offices for 258. per month, with their share of the mess provisions, and throw the rest of their salaries into the seaman's treasury. If such a press-warrant was given me to execute, the first person I would press should be a recorder of Bristol, or a Mr. Justice Foster, because I might have need of his edifying example, to show how such impressing ought to be borne with ; for he would certainly find, that, though to be reduced to 258. per month might be a private mischief, yet that, agreeably to his maxim of law and good policy, it ought to be borne with patience for preventing a national calamity. Then I would press the rest of the judges; and, opening the Red Book, I would press every civil officer of government from £50. a year up to £50,000., which would throw an immense sum into our treasury; and these gentlemen could not well complain, since they would receive their 25s. a month and their rations, and that too without being obliged to fight. Lastly, I think I would impress the King, and confiscate his salary ; but, from an ancient prejudice I have in favor of that title, I would allow him the gentleman merchant's pay. I could not go farther in his favor; for, to say the truth, I am not quite satisfied of the necessity or utility of that office in Great Britain, as I see many flourishing states in the world governed well and happy without it.
Page 177. “For I freely declare, that ancient precedents alone, unless supported by modern practice, weigh very little with me in questions of this nature."
The modern practice, supported by ancient precedents, weigh as little with me. Both the one and the other only show that the constitution is yet imperfect, since in so general a case it doth not secure liberty, but destroys it; and the parliaments are unjust, conniving at oppression of the poor, where the rich are to be gainers or savers by such oppression.
Page 179. “I make no apology for the length of my argument, because I hope the importance of the question will be thought a sufficient excuse for me in this respect."
The author could not well have made his argument shorter. It required a long discourse to throw dust in the eyes of common sense, confound all our ideas of right and wrong, make black seem white, and the worse appear the better opinion.
REMARKS AND FACTS
RELATIVE TO THE AMERICAN PAPER MONEY.
Mr. Vaughan says, in his edition of the author's writings; “The
“ best account I can give of the occasion of the Report, to which this paper is a reply, is as follows. During the war there had been a considerable and unusual trade to America, in consequence of the great fleets and armies on foot there, and the clandestine dealings with the enemy, who were cut off from their own supplies. This made great debts. The briskness of the trade ceasing with the war, the merchants were anxious for payment; which occasioned some confusion in the colonies, and stirred up a clamor here against paper money. The Board of Trade, of which Lord Hillsborough was the chief, joined in this opposition to paper money, as appears by the Report. Dr. Franklin, being asked to draw up an answer to their Report, wrote the following paper."
In addition to the facts here communicated on the general subject of American paper money, the author explains the causes of the various denominations of the currency in the different colonies; that is, why the number of shillings and pence assigned to a dollar was larger or smaller in one colony than in others. This topic is curious, if not important, even at the present day; since the practice of forty years, founded on a coin of the decimal notation, universally adopted in the transactions of the government, has done little to effect a change in the habits of the people, who, in many parts of the country, still adhere to the old mode of reckoning by shillings and pence. - Editor.
This paper is a very able vindication of the provincial papermoney system. The mere authority of Franklin's opinion at this period of his life, as he was now fifty-eight years old, with all his sagacity, practical good sense, activity of observation, and great experience, is of itself of great weight. His arguments are, besides, of great cogency. It is to be observed that he vindicates the system
on the ground of its absolute necessity, as the means of a supply of a circulating medium. The existence of such necessity is then the main question. The suppression of the paper currency in Massachusetts, in 1747, in pursuance of Hutchinson's proposal, and its suppression in the other New England provinces, afford very strong grounds of argument against the existence of any such necessity, notwithstanding the difference in the circumstances of the middle provinces, from those of the New England provinces, pointed out by Franklin in this paper; since, after all, the cause imagined for this necessity, namely, the excessive importations, the constantly outstanding balance due to the British merchants, and the consequent remittances of specie, existed no less in New England than in the middle provinces. It may be gravely doubted whether the operation of these causes was so different in the different provinces as Franklin supposes.
The paper-money system was vindicated upon two distinct grounds; the one, the necessity of a currency, and the impossibility of keeping a sufficient supply of gold and silver in the country, and so, as Dr. Franklin said before the committee of the House of Commons, if you cannot have what you would prefer, the expediency of taking the next best thing; the other, the absolute advantages of this currency, even over the precious metals. One of these advantages was the revenue derived to the government from it. Thus Pownall, after describing the situation of the colonies, says, “In a country, under such circumstances, money lent to settlers upon interest creates money. Paper money thus lent upon interest will create gold and silver in principal, while the interest becomes a reserve that pays the charges of government. This currency is the true Pactolian stream, which converts all into gold that is washed by it. It is upon this principle, that the wisdom and virtue of the Assembly of Pennsylvania established, under the sanction of government, an office for the emission of paper money by loan.” — POWNALL's Administration of the Colonies, 4th ed. p. 186.-W. Phillips.
In the Report of the Board of Trade, dated February 9th, 1764, the following reasons are given for restraining the emission of paper bills of credit in America, as a legal tender.
1. “ That it carries the gold and silver out of the
province, and so ruins the country; as experience has shown, in every colony where it has been practised in any great degree.
2. “That the merchants trading to America have suffered and lost by it.
3. “That the restriction has had a beneficial effect in New England.
4. “That every medium of trade should have an intrinsic value, which paper money has not. Gold and silver are therefore the fittest for this medium, as they are an equivalent, which paper never can be.
5. “ That debtors, in the Assemblies, make paper money with fraudulent views.
6. “That in the middle colonies, where the credit of the paper money has been best supported, the bills have never kept to their nominal value in circulation, but have constantly depreciated to a certain degree, whenever the quantity has been increased.”
To consider these reasons in their order; the first is,
First. “That paper money carries the gold and silver out of the province, and so ruins the country; as experience has shown, in every colony where it has been practised in any great degree.” This opinion of its ruining the country seems to be merely speculative, or not otherwise founded than upon misinformation in the matter of fact. The truth is, that, the balance of their trade with Britain being greatly against them, the gold and silver is drawn out to pay that balance; and then the necessity of some medium of trade has induced the making of paper money, which could not be carried away. Thus, if carrying out all the gold and silver ruins a country, every colony was ruined before it made paper money. But, far from being ruined by it, the colonies that have made use of paper money have been, and are, all in a thriving condition. The debt