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large an amount of foreign bullion and coins was received at New York as at Philadelphia. This is shown by the following tables : Statement of gold of domestic production deposited at the mint, Philadelphia,
and at the assay office, New York, for the fiscal years 1855 to 1861, inclusively, showing whence it was receired.
Statement of the foreign bullion and coins received at the ports of New York and Philadelphia from June 30, 1854, to June 30, 1860.
The public inconvenience and loss arising from coinage at so great a distance from the port into which bullion and coin are chiefly brought long ago attracted the notice of the mercantile community, and also of the government of this country. The attention of Congress was frequently directed to the subject by President Polk; and Mr. Walker, when Secretary of the Treasury, presented it to the consideration of the public on every suitable occasion.
He justly regarded coinage in New York as of great importance to the financial operations of the treasury, as well as highly advantageous to the national commerce. In his communication to Congress, dated December, 1848, he used the following words :
"I renew the recommendations contained in all my annual reports for the establishment of a branch of the mint of the United States in the city of New York. That city, our great commercial metropolis, is advancing to its ultimate position, so important to the whole country as the emporium of universal commerce, the centre of international exchanges, and the storehouse of the products of the world. To attain this result we must secure for our great emporium, in competition with foreign cities, the command of her due proportion of coin and bullion. Now it is clear that where bullion cannot be coined, and the recoinage can take place, this cannot be accomplished. America is the great continent of the precious metals; they are now found in extraordinary quantities in our own Union, and to a vast extent in countries adjacent; yet nearly all this coin and bullion are diverted to other countries, and especially to Great Britain, being one of the chief instruments in aiding that country to maintain her command of the business of the world.
By steamships and by exports of her own products and fabrics, she accumulates coin and bullion in London, and provides for their coinage and recoinage in the least time and without expense; and yet in our own commercial emporium we have no mint, or even a branch mint, for the important process of coinage or recoinage. If we would command the commerce of all nations, it must be through some one American emporium, the great centre of our own trade and business. The bistory of trade demonstrates that some such great point is indispensable to enable any nation to command universal commerce, and that such concentration at some one city, instead of injuring other cities, or parts of the same countries, is of immense benefit to all. There cannot be two or more financial centres of the foreign commerce of any one nation, any more than there can be two or more centres of a circle. The same principle of the centre of the trade of a nation applies to the trade of the world. There can be but one such centre for the world, and but one for each nation, which, in this country, from natural causes, must be at New York, where the competition must soon commence with foreign cities for the control of interna. tional commerce. Now, as the command of the specie of the world is of immense benefit to our whole country, and can only be secured by making one of our own cities the centre of universal commerce, it is indispensable to success in this great American enterprise that specie and bullion should be invited from all the world to New York, not by any unjust advantages, but by giving to it equal facilities with our other cities for coinage and recoinage.
"It is not for New York inerely, or for its commerce, that this mint is desired, but for the benefit of the whole Union. The storehouse of the goods and products of the Union must become the storehouse of its specie. Where the commerce and goods are, there the representatives of their value must be also, and there also should be every facility which a mint would give for increasing those circulating values, and for bringing them into immediate and active use in any form which might be desired. It is in vain to say that the specie or bullion brought by our commerce to New York can be sent to a distant point where there is a mint with but little delay, risk, or expense. It is clear there must be some risk, delay, and expense operating as a tax on the business of our commercial emporium, and to that extent rendering unequal her contest with European cities for universal commerce. Coinage and recoinage should be immediate, without any risk, expense, or delay; and it might be said as regards merchandise, with nearly the same truth as is urged in relation to specie, that it would be no injury to the commerce of the Union if light and costly articles should be sent at but trifling expense, risk, or delay, from New York to some distant city, there be stamped, marked, or labelled, and then returned to New York for sale and distribution in the general markets of our own country or of the world.
" It seems to be forgotten by those who present such arguments, that in a great coinmercial capital where business to the amount of millions of dollars is transacted from ten to three o'clock, how important time is, where the delay of a day, nay, often an hour, may be most disastrous, and change the balance of profit to loss. Merchants and men of business should be permitted to change their bullion or foreign coin for American in a few hours or moments, as could be done at a mint, or receive at once mint certificates of deposit, which often might be to them of the greatest importance. The trade in bullion and specie, in itself one great branch of commerce indispensable in the transaction of business, and especially of international exchange, already exists to a great extent in New York, but is limited in diffus. ing its benefits to American commerce and exchanges by the want of a mint. Now it is subject to expense, risk, and delay to put it in a form for circulating values, that delay being itself a great loss of capital, while the foreign coin, consisting of denominations almost unknown to the great body of our people, is almost useless for the purpose of general circulation. It is the rapidity of the circulation of coin that gives it its chief value, and accumulates capital by the speedy realization of profits ; and the American eagle, or half eagle, and other decimal coinage, might, in a few months, perform more of the functions of money and pass more rapidly through a greater variety of hands, than if it were in some foreign and unknown coin which would not circulate among the people. Hence it is that a mint at New York, to give activity to our specie-circulating capital by converting it at once into American coin, would be of vast importance to the whole Union.
* But whilst the department will have coined, from the 1st March, 1845, to 1st March, 1849, more than $40,000,000, the amount would have been augmented to the extent of several millions of dollars every year if there had been a branch of the mint at the city of New York. This is proved by the fact that most of the foreign coin sent from New York and other points to Philadelphia for coinage has been that portion which was received for government dues and transferred mainly, not by the people or the merchants, but by order of this department from the several government depositories ; and but little coin comparatively has gone from New York, transmitted voluntarily by individuals, for recoinage to Philadelphia. Individuals will not, to any great extent, subject themselves to the risk, expense, and delay of this process; whereas the whole of the coin and bullion, amounting to many millions of dollars, that comes to New York by the operations of commerce or by emigration-now a very large sum -would be changed into American coin if there was a mint in that city.”
Since the case in its plain justice was thus stated by Mr. Walker, many of the considerations named by him have acquired greater force. The amount of coinage named by him as that of the whole country, from the 1st of March, 1845, to the 1st of March, 1849, was about $40,000,000, while the amount of gold and silver sent from New York alone to Philadelphia for coinage last year, (October, 1860, to October, 1861,) was more than $58,000,000. The whole amount of
, gold coined in 1849 at the mint in Philadelphia, and at the branches in New Orleans, Charlotte, and Dahlonega, was $9,007, 761, or less than one-sixth of the amount of gold sent from New York for coinage last year alone. The annual average amount of the bullion thus sent from the assay office, New York, during the seven years of its exist. ence, was $15,301,346. Since 1849 the commerce of New York has increased from $138,530,469 to $349.045, 526 in 1860, having been multiplied almost threefold.
The full importance of coinage at New York, the central focus for trade in the precious metals on this the chief continent for their production, may never be perceived until the leading commercial nations of the world have adopted an uniform system of decimal coinage, a project which is already regarded with much favor by many thoughtful and philanthropic individuals in various countries and would conduce greatly to the advantage of mankind by facilitating commerce and rendering the common representative of value in every nation intelligible to every civilized man.* A greatly increased proportion of the bullion arriving at New York would then be coined there, if the desired facilities for that purpose are granted, and would become an universal currency throughout the globe.
A decimal system of division already prevails by law in nearly every country of the European continent, except Germany and Russia. Not long ago a counmittee of the House of Commons in Great Britain, reported in favor of its adoption, and Congress in 1857 directed the Secretary of the Treasury to appoint a coiumissioner to confer with the proper functionaries of the British government in relation to a plan for arranging the coinage of England and the United States on the same basis.
The present and increasing necessity for the privileges to be
granted by the accompanying bill, admits of no doubt or question. It is amply proved by statistical records.
Among the trusts confided to Congress by the Constitution of the United States is the “power to coin money and regulate the value thereof." A faithful performance of this trust requires that the necessary facilities for coinage should be established in the city of New York, where bullion can be coined with the greatest degree of economy to the government and the greatest degree of convenience to the largest number of our citizens.
The Committee on Commerce would therefore recommend that a coinage department be established in the United States assay office, in the city of New York, and herewith report a bill for that purpose.
H. Rep. Com. 106—2