Harper's Weekly 03/10/1866


CONGRESS.

February 20:

In the Senate, Mr. Wade introduced a joint resolution
to amend the Constitution so that no President shall be
eligible for a second term of office, and made a speech in-
sinuating that the President was too ambitious of power.
—The question then comes up whether, notwithstanding
the President's objections, the Freedmen's Bureau Bill
should be passed, and was decided against the passage,
there not being a two-thirds majority. The vote stood
yeas 30 to nays 18. Among those voting in the negative
were Senators Morgan, Dixon, and Doolittle. Vice-Presi-
dent Foster voted in the affirmative; also Mr. Fessenden
and Mr. Wilson.


In the House, the entire session was taken up in noisy
discussion on a motion of Mr. Stevens, that “in order to
close agitation upon a question which seems likely to dis-
turb the action of the Government, as well as to quiet the
uncertainty which is agitating the minds of the people of
the eleven States which have been declared in insurrec-
tion, no Senator or Representative shall be admitted into
either branch of Congress from any of the said States, un-
til Congress shall have declared such States entitled to
such representation.” Mr. Stevens moved the previous
question. For several hours a persistent attempt was
maintained to prevent a vote, but Mr. Stevens triumphed
at last, and the resolution was adopted, 109 to 40.


February 21:

In the Senate, Mr. Fessenden attempted in vain to intro-
duce the concurrent resolution which Mr. Stevens had
rushed through the House the day before. The Constitu-
tional Amendment was then debated.


In the House, the great topic of discussion was the
Loan Bill, authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury,
when he deems it expedient, to convert obligations not
bearing interest, and also to dispose of any of the Govern-
ment bonds, either in this country or Europe, for the pur-
pose only of retiring other obligations, but not for any in-
crease of the public debt. Mr. Morrill favored the bill.
Mr. Stevens proposed to amend the bill by striking out
the discretionary power of the Secretary and the foreign
loan clause. He complained that the bill placed sixteen
hundred and forty-four millions at the absolute control of
the Secretary. Mr. Hooper spoke in favor of the bill at
great length. He reviewed the financial history of the
country for the past five years. He said: “According to
the estimates of the Treasury Department, and the actual
results of the first half of the present fiscal year, the rev-
enue of the Government from the existing system of tax-
ation, and from other sources, will not be less than
$500,000,000; while the annual expenditures for the fiscal
year ending the 30th June, 1867, including the interest on
the public debt, is $284,317,181 88. It is apparent, there-
fore, that the present rates of taxation will, under any cir-
cumstances, yield an amount of revenue much in excess
of what is necessary to secure the amount required for the
ordinary expenses of the Government, the interest on the
public debt, and a reasonable appropriation for its extin-
guishment within the lifetime of many of those who now
bear the burdens of this taxation.”—Mr. Hooper thus
summed up the terms of our debt: “It may be well to re-
capitulate the statement of the different forms of obliga-
tions which now represent the debt of the country; and
also to state the amount of debt existing in each of those
forms on the 1st of January, 1866:
Bonds, the principal and interest pay-
able in good

Legal tender Government notes, includ-
ing the fractional currency, not bear-
ing interest

Seven and three-tenths Treasury notes
payable in three years, and convertible
at maturity into six per cent. bonds

Legal tender compound interest Treasu-
ry notes, bearing interest payable with
the principal three years from date

Certificates of indebtedness, payable one
year from date, with interest

Certificates of deposit of temporary
loans, payable with interest on de-
mand, or in ten days from demand,
after thirty days

Amount of the war debt
Adding other Government debts
Total amount of debt Jan. 1, 1866
At the same time there was in the Treas-
ury, in coin

Less gold certificates of
deposit

$38,447,410 69
Add in currency
Total amount to the credit of the Unit-
ed States in the Treasury



It was essential, Mr. Hooper said, that our currency should
not be subject to fluctuation. This could only be done by
a gradual reduction of its amount until the remainder shall
circulate as the equivalent of coin. The first step in that
direction should be to exchange the interest-bearing legal-
tender notes for long bonds; and at the same time to re-
duce the rate of interest on temporary loans to at least four
or five per centum. This reduction of the rate of interest
on temporary loans would enhance the value of certificates
of indebtedness, which bear six per cent. interest; and,
being payable at a period fixed by the Treasury Depart-
ment, they are a more convenient form of loan, while at
the same time they provide a mode of anticipating the
revenue at times when it may be needed. When the only
unfunded obligations of the Government are the legal
tender notes and fractional currency, costing nothing for
interest, we can more easily determine to what extent, and
when, they shall be withdrawn from circulation. They now
constitute a fund or loan amounting to over $450,000,000
without any cost to the Government for interest. They
constitute a loan from the people; and before I consent to
their conversion into bonds that will require the addition
of $27,000,000 to the annual payment for interest, I wish
to know how much benefit is to be derived by assuming so
large an increase to the amount of interest we now have
to pay; and also, for whose benefit it will be….My chief
objections to withdrawing the United States notes from
circulation by converting them into bonds are, besides the
expense that would be incurred for interest on the bonds,
my belief that a larger amount of money than formerly is
now required for the business of the country, and my fear
that some other paper-money not so good may be allowed
to take their place, by which the country would be further
than ever from a currency convertible into coin.”


February 22:

Congressional proceeding were interrupted to give place
to the memorial service in honor of the late Hon. Henry
Winter Davis. The eulogy was pronounced by Mr. Cress-
well, Senator from Maryland.


February 23:

In the Senate, a new Freedmen's Bureau bill was intro-
duced by Mr. Wilson, and was referred to the Committee
of Fifteen.


In the House, Mr. Washburn was declared entitled to
the contested Indiana seat by a vote of 87 to 36.


February 24:

In the House, Messrs. Clark, Plants, Beaman, and Brom-
well made speeches on the subject of reconstruction.


February 26:

In the Senate, the credentials of the Arkansas Senators
were laid upon the table, 29 to 17.—Mr. Sherman spoke
against the resolution for the indefinite exclusion of South-
ern representatives. He held that the lately rebel States
were States still. He showed that President Johnson's
policy only differed from Lincoln's as being severer against
rebels. He deprecated a needless conflict with the Presi-
dent. No act of the President's, he said, up to the present
hour had been inconsistent with his obligations to the
great Union party that elected him.


In the House, Mr. Bingham reported back the Constitu-
tional Amendment that “Congress shall have power to
make all laws which shall be necessary and proper to se-
cure to the citizens of each State all the privileges and
immunities of the citizens of the several States, and to all
persons in the several States equal protection in the rights
of life, liberty, and property.” The amendment was laid
over.



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