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Source global Wall Street Journal     time 2022-12-17 15:01:16
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The South was well pleased with the purpose and with the result of the Dred Scott decision and with the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. It is probable, however, that if the Dred Scott decision had not given to the South so full a measure of satisfaction, the South would have been more ready to accept the leadership of a Northern Democrat like Douglas. Up to a certain point in the conflict, they had felt the need of Douglas and had realised the importance of the support that he was in a position to bring from the North. When, however, the Missouri Compromise had been repealed and the Supreme Court had declared that slaves must be recognised as property throughout the entire country, the Southern claims were increased to a point to which certain of the followers of Douglas were not willing to go. It was a large compliment to the young lawyer of Illinois to have placed upon him the responsibility of leading, against such a competitor as Douglas, the contest of the Whigs, and of the Free-soilers back of the Whigs, against any further extension of slavery, a contest which was really a fight for the continued existence of the nation.

The management of the Treasury, a responsibility hardly less in importance under the war conditions than that of the organisation of the armies, was placed in the hands of Senator Chase. He received from his precursor an empty treasury while from the administration came demands for immediate and rapidly increasing weekly supplies of funds. The task came upon him first of establishing a national credit and secondly of utilising this credit for loans such as the civilised world had not before known. The expenditures extended by leaps and bounds until by the middle of 1864 they had reached the sum of ,000,000 a day. Blunders were made in large matters and in small, but, under the circumstances, blunders were not to be avoided and the chief purpose was carried out. A sufficient credit was established, first with the citizens at home and later with investors abroad, to make a market for the millions of bonds in the two great issues, the so-called seven-thirties and five-twenties. The sales of these bonds, together with a wide-reaching and, in fact, unduly complex system of taxation, secured the funds necessary for the support of the army and the navy. At the close of the War, the government, after meeting this expenditure, had a national war debt of something over four thousand millions of dollars. The gross indebtedness resulting from the War was of course, however, much larger because each State had incurred war expenditures and counties as well as States had issued bonds for the payment of bounties, etc. The criticism was made at the time by the opponents of the financial system which was shaped by the Committee of Ways and Means in co-operation with the Secretary, a criticism that has often been repeated since, that the War expenditure would have been much less if the amounts needed beyond what could be secured by present taxation had been supplied entirely by the proceeds of bonds. In addition, however, to the issues of bonds, the government issued currency to a large amount, which was made legal tender and which on the face of it was not made subject to redemption.


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