Friday, December 7, 2012

Shall the branches of the State Bank continue to . . .

. . . redeem their bills in gold and silver, as a literal construction of the Constitution seems to require?  In giving an answer to this question it is proper to say that the redemption of their notes in gold and silver will defeat the object of their creation which was to furnish a sound and convertible currency.  While the banks in the country are in a state of suspension, all of them refusing to redeem their notes in coin, Iowa banks cannot do it without at once withdrawing their paper from circulation.  This they are able, and so far as we know, willing to do.  But just as soon as brokers have gathered up all their bills and drawn the gold for them we shall have nothing in circulation in this State except foreign bank paper – bills of Eastern banks that we know nothing about.  It is fair to presume that with this foreign currency in the hands of our people we shall again pay roundly for the privilege of using it as in stump-tall times, exchange going up, &c., &c. – When there is a resumption of specie payments we shall find ourselves “stuck” with worthless and broken bank paper – for the more worthless it is the farther away from home it is sent, as a general rule.

How this matter may strike others we cannot say, but it seems to us that the spirit of its charter would require the State Bank to furnish a good, sound convertible home currency, which it only can do by redeeming its paper in Treasury notes, which Congress has made a legal tender.  Thus can the State Bank save the State from being plundered by the Eastern Banks.  Should this course be resolved on and properly carried out it must redound greatly to the benefit of the people of Iowa.  On the other hand a continuance to pay coin will wind up our banks, so far as circulation is concerned, in quick time, and long before July not a State Bank bill will be seen.  We think it is better that they redeem in Treasury notes and keep their bills afloat than that their con should all go into the hands of brokers.  And that it does into the hands of brokers we need only say that of $90,000 paid over its counter in redemption of its notes since the 1st of January by the Burlington Branch, over $85,000 was paid brokers, mostly from other States.  What the people want is a currency which is safe and sound, kept at par or convertible into par funds, with exchange at a fair rate.

– Published in The Burlington Weekly Hawk-Eye, Burlington, Iowa, Saturday, April 5, 1862, p. 1

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