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The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

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736. BANKS, Scarcity of Medium and.—[continued].
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736. BANKS, Scarcity of Medium and.—[continued].

We are called on to add
ninety millions more to the circulation. Proceeding
in this career, it is infallible, that we
must end where the Revolutionary paper
ended. Two hundred millions was the whole
amount of all the emissions of the old Congress,
at which point their bills ceased to circulate.
We are now at that sum, but with
treble the population, and of course a longer
tether. Our depreciation is, as yet, but about
two for one. Owing to the support its credit
receives from the small reservoirs of specie in
the vaults of the banks, it is impossible to say
at what point their notes will stop. Nothing
is necessary to effect it but a general alarm;
and that may take place whenever the public
shall begin to reflect on, and perceive the impossibility
that the banks should repay this
sum. At present, caution is inspired no
farther than to keep prudent men from selling
property on long payments. Let us suppose
the panic to arise at three hundred millions, a
point to which every session of the Legislature
hastens us by long strides. Nobody
dreams that they would have three hundred
millions of specie to satisfy the holders of
their notes. Were they even to stop now, no
one supposes they have two hundred millions
in cash, or even the sixty-six and two-third
millions, to which amount alone the law compels
them to repay. One hundred and thirtythree
and one-third millions of loss, then, is
thrown on the public by law; and as to the
sixty-six and two-thirds, which they are legally
bound to pay, and ought to have in their
vaults, every one knows there is no such
amount of cash in the United States, and
what would be the course with what they
really have there? Their notes are refused.
Cash is called for. The inhabitants of the
banking towns will get what is in the vaults,
until a few banks declare their insolvency;
when, the general crush becoming evident,
the others will withdraw even the cash they
have, declare their bankruptcy at once, and
have an empty house and empty coffers for
the holders of their notes. In this scramble
of creditors, the country gets nothing, the
towns but little. What are they to do? Bring
suits? A million of creditors bring a million
of suits against John Nokes and Robert
Styles, wheresoever to be found? All nonsense.
The loss is total. And a sum is thus
swindled from our citizens, of seven times
the amount of the real debt, and four times
that of the fictitious one of the United States,
at the close of the war. All this they will
justly charge on their Legislatures; but this
will be poor satisfaction for the two or three
hundred millions they will have lost. It is
time, then, for the public functionaries to look
to this. Perhaps it may not be too late. Perhaps,
by giving time to the banks, they May
call in and pay off their paper by degrees.
But no remedy is ever to be expected while
it rests with the State Legislatures. Personal
motive can be excited through so many avenues
to their will, that, in their hands, it will
continue to go on from bad to worse, until
the catastrophe overwhelms us.—
To J. W. Eppes. Washington ed. vi, 243. Ford ed., ix, . 414.
(M. Nov. 1813)