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The funding system, as it is called, is a modern governmental policy of about 150 years standing, and having attained its maturity, is apparently now fast falling into decay. The dividend interest is rapidly getting into a position hostile to the industrial interests; and a conflict is in preparation that must be terrible in its effects and speedy in its results. The whole system of public credit is wrong in principle, founded in fraud, raised in injustice, and sustained by deception. It is the mere instrument by which profligate and irresponsible governments exact from the people the means of carrying out their own schemes to the ultimate injury of the state. All great writers on natural civil law agree with Puffendorf, as follows:
“ Natural law is only the determination, by reason, of that which must be done to preserve the sucial state of mankind. It follows that the first law of nature is this; that the social state is to be guarded and preserved to the uttermost, by and for every man. This comprehends the duty of a good citizen towards the state, that nothing shall be preferred by him before the safety and integrity of the state ; and that he shall freely and at all times, offer his life, his means and his fortune, to preserve that state's safety and integrity."
Following these maxims, it results that each individual in a state is liable, in case of emergency, to sustain it with his whole means, or, in the words of Grotius-De Jure Belli et Pacis. “In cases of great urgency, the law revives, to use all things as if they were common property.
These rules are undoubtedly sound, on the supposition that the state is composed of individuals equal in rights and of a common general interest, and that the "urgency' is common to, or sanctioned by all; that is to say, that the object for which the expenses are to be incurred, is one, the necessity of which is recognised for the common good. To arrive at common assent, universal suffrage and general representation are indispensable. When, under such circumstances, it is ascertained that a war or other great expense is unavoidable, then “the law revives, to use all things as if they were common
• Ist. A Financial, Monetary and Statistical History of England, from the Revolution of 1688 to the present time, derived principally from Official Documents
. Addressed to the Young Men of Great Britain. By Thomas Doubleday, Esq., author of the " True Law of Population." Lon. don : E. Wilson, Royal Exchange.
2d. Direct Taxation. Blackwood, for March.
property.” The state and the people have then a right to spend all the property they have earned or possessed, or all they may earn during their lives; and may contract a debt to be paid within that term. If, however, all the property in a state is liable to its wants, of whom is money to be borrowed ?' Who are the favored persons whose money is not only exempt from a demand which holds all others, but who require 'full interest for its use, as applied to objects in which their interest is as great as those who borrow of them? It is very clear that if all citizens owe equal duties to the state, there can be no lenders to the state except in foreign countries. Nor can a state borrow of foreign countries for a longer term than the probable life of the borrowing generation. They have no more right to draw upon the next generation than upon another country. This was clearly set forth in the letter of Thomas Jefferson to J. W. Eppes, in June, 1813. If a debt is contracted in the manner of the European governments, in perpetuity, the interest always to be paid by the people to the lenders, the labor of posterity is indefinitely mortgaged to a few persons. As all money, or all property received by state creditors as interest, is the result of the labor of the existing generation, a continued contraction of debt must ultimately cause its interest to reach an amount which will require the whole industry of a people to discharge it, leaving the mass of_laborers nothing for their own enjoyment. This is nearly the case now in England; and that it is not entirely so, is owing only to the fact, that the system is of modern date. As thus, suppose the ancient Britons had contracted debts to repel the Romans ; the latter incurred it to support the pro-consuls and their forces ; the Saxons to repel the Danes, and subsequently the Normans; the latter to establish their power; the Crusaders to prosecute the holy wars, and so on do to the present time, how great would have been the debt? Its interest would soon have outrun the industrial powers of the Anglo-Saxon race, and "repudiation" long since have cleared the score. It was not, however, until the time of Charles II. that the government recognised in the monied portion of its citizens a class not only exempt from supporting the state, but entitled to make money at the expense of the remainder, by lending to the government. The existing debt had a most fitting commencement, viz., an agreement to repay a theft of Charles II. At that time there was a kind of paper money issued by goldsmiths as a "receipt for coin,” lodged with them on deposit. Charles, always in a strait for money, and surrounded by prostitutes and a most profligate set of men, was unable to borrow; his credit was gone. He therefore, with his worthy coadjutors, contrived to create a panic, during which he induced the goldsmiths and merchants to lodge their money, 2664,263, in the exchequer for security. As soon as this was done, he abstracted the money and spent it in his revels. This sum, bearing six per cent. interest, commenced that English debt which is now £800,000,000. The people of England have paid interest on the money Charles stole, and gave to his women, £40,000 per annum, for 181 years, making £7,240,000, or $32,000,000, and the debt is no nearer extinguishment than before. Gradually increased during the eighteenth century, the debt rose to £263,463,043 in 1793. In the following 22 years, which is the estimate for the life of a generation, it was increased £540,000,000 ! Suppose every generation should borrow a like sum, who would pay ? Surely Mr. Pitt and his generation had no exclusive right to borrow. Of thirty generations which passed away from the Norman conquest down to the French war, each one had as much right to borrow as that of Mr. Pitt, and nearly every one had as much necessity. Suppose they had done so, where would have been his ability to borrow? The generations that have passed away since the contraction of the debt have quietly submitted to pay its interest, but
the one now in being has begun strongly to question both his right to borrow at all, the justice of the debts he did contract, and the equity of continuing to pay. When this matter comes once to be seriously discussed, the death knell of the funding system may be considered as being struck.
The doctrine of repudiation is by no means new in England; it was advised and confidently predicted by Thomas Paine, in his able writings, while the mischief was going on. After him came the late celebrated William Cobbett, who, Sept. 12, 1815, three months after the battle of Waterloo, wrote as follows:
" It is now hoped by some persons, that the restoration of the Pope, the Inquisition, the Jesuits and the Bourbons, will so far brutalize the people of the continent of Europe, that we shall have no rivals in the arts of peace ; and that thus we shall be left to enjoy a monopoly of navigation, commerce and manufactures, and be, thereby, enabled to pay the interest on our debt, and meet the enormous annual expenses of our government. Without stopping to comment on the morality and humanity of this hope, entertained in a country abounding with bible societies, I venture to give it as my decided opinion, that the hope is fallacious. Russia, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, Austria, Spain, the Italian States, and even the Bourbons, will all push forward for their share of the benefits of the arts of peace.”
This view, taken thirty years ago, has been confirmed by subsequent events. The extension of commerce, the "rivalship in the arts of peace,” have continually pressed upon England's industry, reducing the money value of labor, and, as a consequence, increasing the value of dividends and annuities. The debt which was contracted in a cheap depreciated paper currency, is now being paid in a dear metallic currency of increasing value. These circumstances have in effect doubled the debt since the war. A stock of £100, for which £50 was given in 1814, was worth in 1846, £100, or double its cost, and this is not nominally but really so, because the £30 interest per annum, received by its holders, will buy for him double the products of industry that the same sum would have produced for him in 1810 and 1815. Hence it is, that the burden of this debt has increased with the population. That is to say, if £30,000,000, the amount of the interest per annum, represented the products of 10,000,000 persons in the cheap money of 1816, it represents the industry of 20,000,000 persons in the dear money of 1847. The financial history of England since 1815, has been that of a constant struggle against the oppression of the debt in the manner set forth in the extracts from Cobbett.
Each succeeding minister has felt the approach of the crisis, and, no doubt, has watched with anxiety the growth of the repudiating party, the strength and boldness of which is indicated in the book mentioned at the head of this article. It is a London edition, published a few weeks since, clumsily written and badly printed. The writer is thoroughly inspired with the view of Mr. Paine, particularly with his paper on the “Decline and Fall of the English system of Finance;" and follows his views very strictly as far as they went. He has, however, but a very crude notion of the financial affairs of the United States, as the following, in relation to the currency, will indicate :
" He (General Jackson) refused, during the first four years of his Presidency, to sign a renewal of the charter of the bank ; and on being re-elected, his cabinet, under his auspices, carried a series of measures, one of which was a return to those cash payments which had been suspended from and after the war of 1814, to the great injury both of the morals, credit and prosperity of the Union."
This piece of stupidity is characteristic of English writers on American matters. It is, howerer, not the less important on that account. Its object is to set forth the inevitable and speedy approach of the repudiation of the English debt, as an unjust burden upon an industrious people, "who have