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As a very important source of strength and security, cherish Public Credit.
One method of preserving it is, to use it as sparingly as possible; avoiding occasions of expense, by cultivating peace; but remembering also, that timely disbursements to prepare for danger, frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it; avoiding, likewise, the accumulation of debt, not by shunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertions, in time of peace, to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear.
The execution of these maxims belongs to your representatives; but it is necessary that public opinion should co-operate. To facilitate to them the performance of their duty, it is essential that you should practically bear in mind, that towards the payment of debts there must be Revenue; that to have Revenue, there must be Taxes; that no Taxes can be devised, which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant; that the intrinsic embarrassment,
inseparable from the selection of the proper objects, (which is always a choice of difficulties,) ought to be a decisive motive for a candid construction of the conduct of Government in making it, and for a spirit of acquiescence in the measures for obtaining Revenue, which the public exigencies may at any time dictate.
An adequate provision for the support of the Public Credit, is a matter of high importance to the national honor and prosperity.
The country does not want resources, but we the means of drawing them forth.
No nation will have it more in its power, to repay what it borrows, than this. Our debts are, hitherto, small. The vast and valuable tracts of unlocated lands, the variety and fertility of climates and soils, the advantages of every kind which we possess, for commerce, insure to this country a rapid advancement in population and prosperity, and a certainty, its independence being established, of redeeming, in a short term of years, the comparatively inconsiderable debts it may have occasion to contract. 1781.
The concurrence of virtuous individuals, and the
combination of economical societies, to rely, as much as possible, on the resources of our own country, may be productive of great national advantages, by establishing the habits of industry and economy.
The system proposed by Congress, being the result of the collected wisdom of the continent, must be esteemed, if not perfect, certainly the least objectionable of any that could be devised. And if it shall not be carried into immediate execution, a national bankruptcy, with all its deplorable consequences, will take place, before any different plan can possibly be proposed and adopted.
Let us, as a nation, be just; let us fulfil the public contracts, which Congress had undoubtedly a right to make, for the purpose of carrying on the war, with the same good faith we suppose ourselves bound to perform our private engagements.
I entertain a strong hope, that the state of the national finances is now sufficiently matured, to enable you to enter upon a systematic and effectual arrangement, for the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt, according to the right which has
* The House of Representatives.
been reserved to the Government. No measure can be more desirable, whether viewed with an eye to its intrinsic importance, or to the general sentiment and wish of the nation.
No pecuniary consideration is more urgent, than the regular redemption and discharge of the public debt. On none can delay be more injurious, or an economy of time more valuable.
SPEEDY EXTINGUISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL DEBT.
Posterity may have cause to regret, if, from any motive, intervals of tranquillity are left unimproved for accelerating this valuable end.
BANK OF THE UNITED STATES.
In two hours after the books were opened by the Commissioners, the whole number of shares was taken up, and four thousand more applied for, than were allowed by the institution; besides a number of subscriptions which were coming on. This circumstance was not only pleasing, as it related to the confidence in the Government, but as it exhibited an unexpected proof of the resources of our citizens.
That no man can be more opposed to State Funds, or local prejudices, than myself, the whole tenor of my conduct has been continual evidence of. No man, perhaps, has had better opportunities, to see and feel the pernicious tendency of the latter than I have.
I am well aware, that appearances ought to be upheld, and that we should avoid, as much as possible, recognizing, by any public act, the depreciation of our Currency.
But, I conceive, this end would be answered, as far as might be necessary, by stipulating,* that all money payments should be made in gold and silver, being the common medium of commerce among nations, at the rate of four shillings and sixpence for a Spanish milled dollar; by fixing the price of rations on an equitable scale relatively to our respective circumstances; and by providing for the payment of what we owe, by sending in provision and selling it at their market.
It is our interest and truest policy, as far as it may be practicable, on all occasions, to give a currency
* With the British General Howe.