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their bitterness, though it is no palliation for their barbarities.
Mr. Speaker, upon no subject has there been more or looser declamation than on the causes of this Rebellion. At one moment, we are assured that slavery is the one great criminal; at the next, that it was brought about by the fraud, falsehood, and violence of a few unprincipled leaders.
Passing this subject now with the remark, that masses of men are not easily moved, that civil convulsions are fed by deeper fires, I ask your attention to two facts which seem to be clearly established. The first is, that, when the acts of secession were passed, the majority of the people of the revolting States, with the exception of South Carolina, were loyal to the Union; and the second is, that to-day their feelings are changed, their loyalty turned to treason, and love to hate. Passion is eloquent; but do not content yourselves with bitter denunciation. Pause, I beseech and adjure you, and inquire what is the cause.
The war brought to their homes and firesides will account for much; but do you not believe that a conviction has been settling down into the minds of men, who at the beginning of our troubles were loyal, that these extreme measures point to some other end than the restoration of the Union with the rights of the States preserved; that they mean subjugation and reconstruction “ by permission of the military power, and not before”? Once committed to this policy, once afloat on this sea of revolution, neither you nor I may live to reach the haven of Union and peace.
If these measures shall be finally adopted, I pray God I
may prove a false prophet, and that “out of this nettle danger we may pluck the flower safety;” that his strength may be manifested in our weakness; and that he may overrule all our errors and shortcomings for the good of our beloved country.
THE TREASURY-NOTE BILL.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, FEB. 6, 1862.
The House being in Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union, and having under consideration the Treasury-note Bill, Mr. THOMAS said,
Mr. CHAIRMAN, —I am anxious to vote for some measure for the speedy relief of the Government. I have listened with care to the whole debate, with the hope that the difficulties which had occurred to my own mind might be relieved. Nay, more: I have diligently sought to convince myself that it was in the power of Congress to pass this bill, including the provision making the treasury notes legal tender for all public and private debts. I have wished to see also that the bill could be passed, and the good faith of this Government maintained. I have failed upon both of these points ; and, with the indulgence of the Committee, will state briefly some of the reasons which will lead me to vote against the bill as it now stands.
The question at the threshold of the discussion is that of legal power, the competency of Congress to pass the bill. Congress has upon this subject the powers given to it by the Constitution. This is a Government of specific powers, supreme in their sphere, but the sphere confessedly limited.
We look to the Constitution to see if the
is given. We do not say the power is not denied, and therefore exists; but that it is not granted, and therefore does not exist. The powers granted are express or implied, are given in terms, or are the reasonable inferences from the express grants. Now, it is conceded that there is no express power given to Congress to make the notes or bills of the Government legal tender. There is a power given to Congress upon the subjectmatter. It has the power “to coin money, regulate the value thereof and of foreign coins.”
These words, “to coin money," have a plain and obvious meaning. The only coinage is that of the metals, “hard money.” To coin money, and regulate the value thereof, is to fix its legal value, the value for which it is to be received as an equivalent in commerce and in discharge of obligations and contracts. This constitutional power of coinage was first executed by the statute of 1792, and that statute has a provision making the coins legal tender; but there can be no doubt, that, whenever money is coined by Government under the Constitution, it becomes ipso facto legal tender. But, whether legislation be necessary to carry the provision into effect or not, it is too plain for argument, that the power to coin money and regulate its value is the power to say for what value it shall be received.
There being no express power in the Constitution to make these treasury notes a legal tender, is such a power to be reasonably inferred from any of the express powers ? Before answering this question, two things are to be observed.
The first is, that, there being an express grant of power upon this subject of the coining of money and fixing its legal value, we should not reasonably expect to find an additional power on the same subject given by implication. The expression of the one would ordinarily be the exclusion of the other. The second thing to be noted is, that it appears by the debates of the Constitutional Convention, and by the note of Mr. Madison, that this subject was before the convention, and that a grant of power to emit bills of credit, with the apparent purpose of making them legal tender, was refused.
Pages 1343–46. It is said that the power to make these notes a legal tender is a reasonable implication from the power“ to regulate commerce with foreign nations, among the States, and with the Indian tribes.” The argument is, and it is entitled to consideration, that money is one of the great instruments of commerce, as much so as the ship; and that the power to regulate the principal thing is the power to regulate its instrumentalities. I confess, that, at first, this view of the question impressed me. But further reflection has satisfied me it is not sound. If the Constitution were otherwise silent upon the subject, the implication would doubtless be a strong
But the Constitution has spoken; has indicated what shall be money under its provisions, and the power of Congress over it.
Again: the practical construction of the Constitution has been, that no such power existed. Though the exigencies of the Government have heretofore been great,