The Second Part of the South-Sea Stock (1721)


This pamphlet was originally published in Boston in March of 1721. The identity of the author remains unknown. It was reprinted by Andrew McFarland Davis in Colonial Currency Reprints, 1682-1751, Boston: The Prince Society, 1911, volume II, pp. 304-32. The author is, as the title suggests, a hard money advocate. The author's temperate discussion and conscientious recitation of the history of the Massachusetts currency make this pamphlet especially useful.

The Second Part

OF

South-Sea STOCK.

Being

An Inquiry into the Original

OF

Province Bills

OR

Bills of Credit



WHEN I heard the first News of the South-Sea Stock, rising to such a Considerable heigth, That a Person that had one Hundred Pounds cast into that Stock, was raised to that pass that he could Sell it out, at a Thousand, and Eleven Hundred, per Cent. I could think no other, but the People concerned in this New Contrivance were a company of Mad-men; at least they look'd like a company of Gamesters, eagerly gaming daily, least their Chance should be at an end; And when I heard of Men of low Degree, being advanced to their Coaches; What could I think but the World is turning upside down; but all on a sudden the Scale is turned; the next News is That abundance are broke by the fall of Stocks, It's fallen from Eleven hundred, under Three hundred; and none cares to buy; [ ] all are for Selling, and where one hath Gained by this Evil Trade, many poor Families have been ruined, brought to Poverty, and turned beggars. The Trade of the City of London, one of the finest in the World, hath been very much shortned, few Ships have been built, or fitted to Sea, during the Reign of the South-Sea Company. O fine! Common Wealths Men, sure you have been the Heroes of your day. But into what a condition do you think have you brought your Country? Will not they bless you in Generations to come, saying, These are the Men that Contrived our good, and Welfare! But why do I talk of South-Sea Stock only, is not Mississippi Stock as bad, or worse, Are not Holland, and Spain, and others, contriving to be at the same Sport? Truly, as far as I can learn, the Greatest part of Europe, is Infatuated with the same Spirit!

But as I am in New-England, and not so much concerned with the State of Europe, or London, but to pity it, and desire to see it better; I shall now proceed to consider the State of my Country, as to Province Bills or Bills of Credit, and I shall endeavour to Answer these several Questions following, Viz.

I. How came Bills of Credit first to be Emitted? and the Consequences thereupon?

II. The Progress made therein by the General Court, and the several Heads they have been brought out upon?

III. Whether the Postponing the Province Bills, did serve the Interest of the Country; or was prejudicial to the Credit of the Bills?

IV. Whether there be any One Instance in the wh[ole] World, of Paper Bills being Serviceable to a Kingdom, St[ate] or Province; more especially to these Provinces in America[?]

V. If these Province Bills have; or have not been Serviceable: Whether it is best under Our present Circumstance[s,] to make a greater or a lesser quantity of them; or who[lly] to Suppress them?

VI. I shall consider something of the State of my [poor] Neighbours that have borrowed these Province Bi[lls on] their Estates; And what must needs be done for their Relief, under the difficult Circumstances they are brought into?

VII. I shall consider something of the State of my Country, what is was before we had any Province Bills; and what it is at this day; And so shall wind up my thoughts on this Affair?

I. How came Bills of Credit first to be Emitted? and the Consequences thereupon?

For Answer,

In the Year 1690, the Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay, Considering the hard War they laboured under, from both French, and Indians; Contrived an Expedition against Canada; and the Conduct of that Affair was Committed to Sir William Phipps, who doubtless was very hearty in that matter, and made an Attack on the Town of Quebeck in the River of St. Lawrence; But by the Over-ruling Providence of GOD, Whether by the Season of the Year, or the Storms that attended the Fleet, or Contrary Winds, or want of a sufficient store of Powder, or the delay of Attacking the Place; they were beat off, and their design frustrated. This was a very heavy Stroke upon this Country, and brought them low; partly by the loss of their Vessels, and partly by the great loss of their Men; some whole Vessels Companies were lost, and some whole Companies of the Militia, never heard of. And those that did come home, brought a dreadful Sickness with them; so that abundance died after the Fleets Arrival at home; And upon this the Country was greatly brought in Debt. This, we must all acknowledge, was a sad and lamentable Condition we were brought into; and how to discharge the heavy Debt, lying on the Province; was a business lay much at heart, with those that had the Government upon them at that day, the debates then had about it I am not now able to give you; but the result they then came to, was to Issue out a number of Colony Bills to discharge the Debts then fallen upon them, by the Expedition.

The Orders of the General Court follow,

At the General Court of Their Majesty's Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, sitting in Boston by Adjournment, December 10th, 1690.

WHereas for the maintaining and defending of Their Majesty's Interests against the Hostile Invasions of Their French & Indian Enemies (who have begun and are Combined in the Prosecution of a Bloody War upon the English of Their Majesty's Colonies and Plantations inNew-England:) This Colony has necessarily Contracted sundry considerable Debts; Which this Court taking into Consideration, and being desirous to approve themselves Just and Honest in the discharge of the same: And that every Person who hath Credit with the Country for the use of any of his Estate, Disbursments, or Service done for the Publick, may in Convenient time Receive due and equal Satisfaction; withal Considering the present Poverty and Calamities of the Country, and (through Scarcity of Money) the want of an Adequat Measure of Commerce; whereby they are Disadvantaged in making present Payment as desired; yet being willing to Settle and Adjust the Accompts of the said Debt, and to make Payment thereof with what speed they can:

IT is Ordered by this Court, That Major Elisha Hutchinson, Major John Phillips, Captain Penn Townsend, Mr. Adam Winthrop and Mr. Timothy Thornton, Or any Three of them be and are hereby appointed and Empowred a Committee for the granting forth of Printed Bills in such Form as is agreed upon by this Court (none under Five Shillings; nor Exceeding the Sum of Five Pounds in one Bill) unto all such Persons who shall desire the same, to whom the Colony is indebted, for such Sum or Sums of Money as they shall have Debentures for from the Committee or Committees that are or shall be Appointed to give out the same; Every of which Bills according to the Sum therein Expressed shall be of Equal Value with Money; And the Treasurer and all Receivers Subordinate to him, shall Accept and Receive the same accordingly in all Publick Payments. No more of the said Bills to be Printed or Granted forth than for the Sum of Seven Thousand Pounds: And the Colony is hereby Engaged to Satisfy the Value of the said Bills as the Treasury shall be Enabled: And any Person having of the said Bills in his hand may accordingly return the same to the Treasurer, and shall Receive the full Sum thereof in Money, or other Publick Stock at the Money-Price as Stated for that time: And if any of the said Bills be worn in any Persons hands, so as they desire to renew them, returning them to the Committee, they shall have new ones of the same Numbers and Sum's given out.

Printed and Published by Order of the Court,

Isaac Addington, Secr.

At a General Court for Their Majesty's Colony of the Massachusetts-Bay in New-England, Holden at Boston, February the 3d. 1690.

WHereas the Committee appointed for the Granting out Bills of Credit Committee appointed for the Granting out Bills of Credit (in the Form agreed upon by this Court at their Session in December last past) for the Publick Debts necessarily Contracted by this Colony, in the Maintenance and defence of Their Majesty's Interests, against the Hostile Invasions of Their French and Indian Enemies, were Limited to a certain Sum, which is found to be far short of what is absolutely Necessary:

IT's therefore Ordered that the said Committee do in like manner proceed to the Printing and giving forth of the said Bills to all Persons desiring the same, who shall produce and deliver unto them a Debenture or Debentures from the Committee or Committees that are or shall be thereunto Appointed, or shall produce an Order of this Court or of the Governour and Council, for the full Sum expressed in such Debenture or Order: Every of which Bills of the Sum of Twenty Shillings shall be Accepted in all Publick Payments by the Treasurer and all Constables or other Receivers Subordinate to the Treasurer, in Lieu of Money, at Twenty-One Shillings, and so Proportionably for all Bills of Greater or Lesser Sums (no one Bill to be for a less Sum than Two Shillings, nor Exceeding the Sum of Ten Pounds) And the Selectmen of each Town may send the Debentures of the several Persons in their Town to the said Committee by some meet Person, who shall Receive Bills for the same, to be delivered to the said Select-men, and by them given out to the Persons to whom they are due. And the Colony hereby stands Engaged to Satisfy the Value of the said Bills as the Treasury shall be Enabled. And any Person having of the said Bills in his hand, returning the same to the Treasurer, shall accordingly Receive the just Sum expressed in the said Bills in Money, or other Publick Stock at the Money-price as stated for that time.

Printed and Published, by Order of the Court,

Isaac Addington, Secr.

Before this; viz. December 10th. 1689. The Council and Representatives Appointed Mr. Eliakim Hutchinson, Mr. Peter Sergeant, Mr. Samson Sheaf, Mr. John Eyre, and Mr. Thomas Brattle, to grant Debentures for Souldiers Wages; who faithfully and industriously attended that Service.

Some Approved this Emission as a good thing; others said, They and their Children would Rue the day that ever they were Invented. However so it was, the Bills were made, the Sailors and Souldiers were paid off with them. Now for the Consequences;

It put the Country into Confusion as to their Trade. The Bills then made, did in some measure answer the End, because they did discharge the Debt; but with what a great loss, was it to those Poor Men, who ventured their Lives, in the Expedition? They were forced to buy such Goods as its likely they had hardly any need of, to get rid of their New-Coyn'd Money. And what they bought, was so to their disadvantage, that they put off their Bills, at Twelve or Thiteen Shillings in the Pound; so that indeed they had in effect, one third part of their pay struck off; a thing too much at the Bottom of all the aforesaid Stocks. The Justice of the proceedings, I shall leave to the Reader.

The other Consequence was, that it was the first step, or leading stroke, to all the Bills of Credit, that have been put out in this Province, and not only this Province, but the several Colonies, and Plantations, round about us; And if I am not misinformed, One of the principal Islands in the West Indies, took their measures, of making Bills of Credit, from a Gentleman brought up in New-England; who advised them of the great benefit, they were to this Country. but he thought only of the beginning, and not of the End; when he gave them that Advice.

II. The Progress made therein by the General Court, and the several heads they have been brought out upon.

As to the Progress made in the Quantity of Province Bills; it hath been something large, I must confess; but as to the growing, or thriving of the Province thereby, I cannot as yet see through it. After the making the first Bills for the Canada Expedition, it being found, an easy way of paying of Debts, several more Expeditions were contrived, the Number, and Form, of them, is needless here to insert; but we had found a way to pay for them, by still Issuing out a farther Number of Paper Bills; So that whether they succeeded or not, we had found an easy way of paying for them, and shuffling the Saddle off our own backs, on to our Children; when the Debt was to be paid, it was but raising so many Thousand Pounds to be paid in such years to come, and the matter was over, the Tax lay no heavier on the Subject, than before: But by the way, I would have it considered, that part of those Taxes are yet to be raised on the Coming Generation. In the year 1711. the second Expedition to Canada was formed, and all things seemed to smile on that Affair, the General Court of this Province saw good to Advance Forty Thousand Pounds for the supply of the Fleet, for that Expedition, and to take their pay in Bills on the Government, in Great Britain. This was a considerable Addition to what Bills were out before, and all on a Fund for Years to come. All this while the Silver and Gold, that the Country had gotten by their good Husbandry before now, flew away, faster than ever it came to us; and by reason of the Scarcity of Silver and Gold, for a Medium, the Government were perswaded still to go on in the old Road, of Issuing out of Paper Bills. The several Bills Emitted until this time were upon Impost and Excise, and a Tax upon Polls and Estates within this Province, which was a good Fund, so far, as it could conveniently run. Then it being thought improper to strain that matter too far, or stretch the string till it broke; a new Method was contrived, the Sum of Fifty Thousand Pounds was made, to Let out to the Inhabitants of this Province, on their Real Estates; and they took it up upon Interest, Mortgaging their Real Estates for those Bills, and to pay Interest for the same. About this time the Silver being pretty well drained from the Country, the Bills Outstanding on the former Fund, continually going in to the Treasury in Order to be Sunk; it was contrived, to alter the Fund, and put off the payment for a longer time, by lessening the Tax about one half. This being not a sufficient stop, it was brought to about a quarter part, and I think continues thereabouts to this day, the other being put off for those who come after, in reality. Altho' we are told, the Impost and Excise makes it up; yet it is plain, the first Fund was not upheld, if it had, the first Bills, I mean those before the Fifty Thousand Pounds, had been now (if not altogether) yet almost at an end. Every Mans hands, not being full of Paper-Money as yet, Out comes another Flood of Paper, A Hundred Thousand Pounds, in much like manner, as the Fifty Thousand Pounds, upon Real Estates, to pay Interest for the same. And here we come to a stand at present; and I hope will stand; or my Country will be in a great measure lost. Time will not allow me, to be so particular, as to recite the several Laws; I shall keep as near to Matter of Fact, as my Acquaintance with these things will allow me. But to proceed,

III. Whether the Postponing of the Province Bills, did serve the Interest of the Country; or was prejudicial to the Credit of the Bills?

And here, I do think, was such a stroke struck to the lessening of the Value of these Bills, that will not easily be amended. I would desire in this Case, to bring the state of a Province, to a particular Man, and indeed, it is no other; Altho' we were told, at the time of the Altering the Fund, it was only a breach of promise made to our Selves. But I must ask their pardon, who say so, and I will begin with the first coming out of the Bills, and say, Had there not been Men of Substance in this Country, some that had Money, and some that had Goods; you might have made paper Bills till you had been blind, they would never have fed your Bellies, nor have clothed your Backs. I pray, what would an Hundred Thousand Pounds, in Paper-Bills have signified, to have been made, when the Indians Inhabited this Country; so that it's plain, they have a Credit from some substance that the People, amongst whom they are, Injoy. And now let me suppose, That a Man come to you, that Read this Paper, and desire you to Lend him a Thousand Pounds, or any smaller Sum, telling you he will give his Bond, to pay you in Twelve Months; and at Years end, he comes and tells you, I can pay you but Five hundred, I will pay you the other the next Year. And at the next Years end, he comes and tells you, I will pay but Two hundred and fifty, I will pay you the other hereafter: would you not think, this is a strange Man; would you not take the benefit of the Law upon him, or use some means or other to get your Money; or at least, would not his Credit be fallen with you; would not a Merchant, a Shop-keeper, making the same comparison, be of the same mind. Doubtless, if you speak your Minds in this, you all agree. Well, the same it is in the case of Paper-Bills; the Man that hath an Estate, either Money, Goods, or Lands; so far as his Estate goes, he gives Credit to these Bills; the country by an Act promises to take them again, at such a time, but do not; Surely, this lessens the Mans Credit of them: I will not, (saith he) Sell so much Silver, or Gold, or Goods, or Houses, or Lands, for the Paper Bills, as I did before. And this may serve to show that the Altering of the Fund, hath been prejudicial to the value of these Bills.

IV. Whether there be any One Instance in the whole World, of Paper Bills being Serviceable to a Kingdom, State, or Province; more especially to these Provinces in America?

It is well known to all Persons who are acquainted with the other parts of the World, either by Travelling, or Reading the Histories of them, That several parts have made use of Paper Notes and Bills. And I do think on Emergent Occasions, and in times of great straits and difficulties, they may have been Serviceable, and in such times only. So it was with us in our first Expedition to Canada. And could the door have been shut, that they had been paid off, and the fund Complyed with, and no more Bills made; it might have been well. But the opening such a door to the making more Bills, and continuing for near Thirty Years, in my Opinion, is such a Damage, that I do think it would have been better the Country had given Twenty per Cent. for Money, than to have let in the following Evils. But doubtless the Country might then have borrowed Money at Six per Cent. and their Security have been good. But if they wanted such a Sum of Silver or Gold now, it would be more difficult for them to come at it. As great as some Men would have the Country to be. I understand the States of Holland, and the Duke of Venice, have at some times, made use of Paper-bills or Notes, but could never learn, that they made them their only Mediumof Exchange. And as to the Kingdom of England, to come to our own Nation; there have been several Sorts of Notes used for the carrying on the Trade of that Great Nation: The Bank of England being the Chief that have used that practice, and held it with a steady Currency; it may be said to be the most practicable, and beneficial of any I know of in the World. But then we must observe, that they have always had the favour of the King, and Parliament, to grant them such Acts, as support them; which we can never expect to procure, at so great a distance. And then further, That is carried on in such a manner, that there is a considerable supply of Silver Money for the Exchange of those Bills; and any Man desiring to Exchange the Bills he possesses, going to the Office in Office-hours, shall not have it said to him, Come again in the Afternoon, or a quarter of an hour hence; but always Officers enough to attend, and Money to Exchange the bills brought to them. And I am informed, That these Bills carry with them, an Interest of at least Three per Cent. to be paid to the possessor. Now I would Observe a little, how contrary this is to our Province; no Man can Exchange his Bills at any Publick Office, at any rate. If he wants Money for his Bills, he must go to the Merchant, or the Extravagant Money-changers, who will take all Opportunities to play on a Mans necessities. I would take notice of one thing more on this head, and that is the Practice of Letting these Paper-Bills on Interest. Surely, the Makers of these Bills are very hard with those that take them; Or else the Bank of England, are very Generous: The one receiving Five per Cent. for their Bills of the Man that possesses them; the other, paying Three per Cent. to the possessor. Now let a man make the Comparison of a Single man, with the Country: Suppose a man of a considerable Estate, whose Credit would be taken for a large Sum, should say, I will give out my Notes, or Bonds, to such a value, be it Ten Thousand Pounds, more or less; would any number of men take them, and say, We will give you an Interest of Five per Cent. for them; No surely, they would say, What will you allow to us, to take these Bonds, and Notes? But the Country are got into such a Case, that all men almost run Mad for these Bills; there not being enough of them to answer the Trade; nor never will, if all the Paper in the Province were made into Bills; for the more is made, the less in my Opinion, they will produce; and its thought by many, that if the last Hundred Thousand Pounds, which was upon the Anvil, had been hammered out, those Bills added to the former, would not have purchased, near so much Silver-Money, Goods, or Lands, as these Bills now out, would have done without them.

As to the Kingdom of France, I shall advise the Reader to Consult the Publick Prints, and see how beneficial Paper-Money, hath been to them. About Paris, and the Sea-Posts, they tell you, all things are so exceeding dear, that the People are brought into great want, they cant get Food to Eat, nor Fewel for the Fire: The People who have such things hoard them up, rather than take Paper-Money for them, which daily falls on their hands. And at Marsellies, where the Plague rages violently, they tell you, its owing to the Peoples eating Raw fruit, not being able to purchase Food with Paper-Money.

As to the Plantations who have made use of the Paper Bills, I shall begin with the most remote, viz. Barbadoes, South and North Carolina. As for Barbadoes, I have a little Inquired into the state of that Island of one who was an Eye-Witness to the proceedings there. A certain Gentleman going out of this Country about the Year 1702, and being received into favour with the Government in Barbadoes, Advised them of the great benefit that Paper-Bills were to this Government. They took his counsel so far, as to make Sixteen Thousand Pounds: The fund, as I am informed, being a Tax of Three Shillings and Nine Pence, upon the Negroes Heads, to be paid in Six Months time, from the coming out of the Bills. This being a new thing to the People, they so undervalued the Bills, that they fell immediately to Twenty-five per Cent. discount for Silver. But the Tax being for so short a time, and no Bills to back them, they raised their value again to be near as good as Silver-Money. But then, came forth an other set of Bills, called Bank-Bills, to the Value, or Number of Eighty Thousand Pounds, put out by the Treasurer of the Island, and let upon Land Security, in the same manner, as I am Informed, with our Fifty, and Hundred Thousand Pounds; and the Term they were to have it, was Five Years, at Four per Cent. These Bills being Issued forth, soon fell in value Forty per Cent. below Silver-Money. And the Island was brought into a distracted Condition. Complaints were made against the government, the issue of which was an Order from the Queen, That whereas, such Bills were Issued forth for the Term of Five Years; they should all be paid in, in Eighteen Months; and no more be Issued out, without Licence from the Supreme Powers. Which Check, I think, should make all the Plantations take Warning lest they fall under the same fate. These Bills being called in after so sudden a manner, several persons were ruined thereby. One person I heard of, who had taken Thirty-five Hundred Pounds of this Bank-Money, Mortgaged a Plantation valued at Nine Thousand Pounds;and being some-what Indebted besides, fearing he should loose his Plantation, carried off his Coppers and Still, when Execution was Extended. This Plantation was taken at Four Thousand Pounds, it broke the Man's heart, and in a short time he died. His Widow and Children, came to the Vendue in Mourning, to see the Negroes Sold, and to endeavour to save some of the best of them; but could not. I was informed of the Man's Name, but shall shun giving it to the Publick; not designing to mention any Name, or to point my discourse at any particular person whatsoever. This stop being put so suddenly to Paper-Bills, was look'd upon to be the greatest Service that could be done to that Island, at that time, by those who were considerate Men. So much of this account received from my Friend.

As to South Carolina, the Fund I am not so able to give an account of; but this I have heard from them, that the Credit of their Bills hath run so low, that Silver-Money hath been Sold for Thirty-seven Shillings and Six Pence, and Forty Shillings per Ounce. And North Carolina, their Bills have been so out of Credit, that they would buy hardly any thing of the produce of the Country.

As for New-England; the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode-Island, and New-Hampshire, they are much alike, and all governed by the Credit of the Massachusetts; that being the Center of Trade. There is about Ten Thousand Pounds put out in New-Hampshire lately, which, if it were not for the Credit of the Massachusetts Bills, passing with them would be little better than so many Blank Papers.

V. If these Province Bills have; or have not been Serviceable: Whether it is best under Our present Circumstances, to make a greater, or a lesser Number of them; or wholly to Suppress them?

This Article I take to be of Considerable Moment, to this my poor Country, and I could wish them the Advice of the best Men in the World, in answering to a business of so great a concern. I know the Country is greatly divided at this day in this matter; but before our Paper-Money, or rather after the coming out of some of it, we fell into a very great disorder relating to our Silver Money. When it was brought to go by Tale, evil-minded Men made a trade of clipping, rounding, filing, and debasing the Money; and by that means, our Paper Bills in some measure lost their Credit, being equal but to that light Money then passing. Whereas, when they came first out, the Money was at Seventeen Penny weight. We may remember it was the same in the Kingdom of England, in the time of the late King William, as to the debasing the Coyn; but that Wise Prince made a thorough Alteration in that affair, by calling in all the Old Money; and new-coyning it. Truly, it look'd like a hard and difficult thing, insomuch I have heard that the French King should say upon it, If this doth not undoe him, nothing will. But this very thing proved the greatest Service to the Nation of any thing done for many Generations. And do I think it a thing of great concern to any People to keep their Coyn at a steady price, and not to waver, and make alterations. But let us a little consider of the profit made by these Paper Bills. I will first begin with the merchant, and ask what he hath got? I confess a Medium seems as necessary for him as any body: but without a good Medium, you had better have none at all, and come to Barter; which I acknowledge is difficult. But look a little into your Books, consider what stock you began with; if you had One Thousand Pounds Silver Money at Seventeen Penny Weight, at your first setting out; and have not now Seventeen Hundred and Fifty in Paper bills, or the value of them; you have gone behind hand; and its time to consider whether these Bills have done you any Service? Indeed some Men have grown rich in the time of this Paper Money; and so it will always be, an alteration in Families, if there were no Medium at all. But the case rightly stated is thus, Whether the Merchants in general have gained according to the above proportion? Nextly, Ile ask the Landlords of Houses, that put out your Money at Seventeen Penny Weight, Whether you have got the Interest of your Monies, making the difference between Silver and Paper, as it now passes. Some, I am informed, built Houses in the Town of Boston, when Money was at Seventeen Penny Weight, that do not see above Four per Cent. Rents in Paper Bills. Considering your repairs, I do think you had as good even to have kept your Money in your Chest. I will next ask the Userers, What progress you have made, and whether or not the Money let by you at Six per Cent. hath not fallen in the value, near as much hitherto, as the Interest came to? I will next ask the Gold, and Silver Smiths, What progress, they have made, Whether working those Mettals has not been lessened in proportion to the growing Country since the new found Medium; or whether the Merchant hath not raised the price of Silver and Gold upon you? I will next ask the Men that live upon Salaries; as Ministers, School-masters; Whether you are better supplyed by the Paper Bills, or whether it hath not forced you to seek for larger Salaries? I will next ask the Poor Labourer, that works for Five Shillings per day, half Money, half Goods, Whether he lives better now than when he received Four Shillings a day in good Silver Money, at the rate of Seventeen Penny Weight for Six Shillings?

But unto all this it will be answered, Silver Money is gone, and how shall we get it again? For answer, I do think the People seem to be so spirited in that matter, they will not have it till necessity forces it upon them; I do think of all the Plantations in His Majesty's Dominions, none so capable of having Silver Money, as this Province, considering the great quantity of Fish, and Oyl raised out of the Sea; the Fish all Selling for Money; and a great quantity of Ships built, which Trade to most parts of the World; and might do to many more; and the ability of the Province to supply it self with Victuals and Clothes, I do think none so able as this Province to be furnished with a Medium of Trade. But after all, if the Door be not shut against Paper-money, the Door will never be open for Silver-Money to come in Shut but the Door against Paper-Money, and if the Silver dont come in in some measure, suitable to our wants; you shall say, I am a blind man, or a mad man, or what you please to call me. The Quantity of Bills out in this Government, I suppose is not above Two Hundred Thousand Pounds of all sorts; and the Fish and Oyl caught every Year produces near that Money. Now how easy would it be to get a Medium, did not the Country in general set themselves against it. For the finishing this head, I shall recommend to you the saying of a Great and Wise King, quoted in a late Pamphlet, relating to a Medium of Trade, Printed in the Town of Boston, The saying was, That its better to run through the fire, than towalk through it: And this I would apply to our case as to Paper Bills; not to call them in at once, but to call them in as they shall become due, according to the Fund they are out upon, and come to a certain Determination, that no more be Issued out; that so all people may know the End of it is coming; and not leave the Poor to designing men, to make a prey of them. For Example, in this great work, I would have consulted the Noble president of the late King William, in altering the Coyn in Great Britain, and the great Service done the Island of Barbadoes, in putting a full stop to their Paper bills. They have since had a competency of Silver Money; whereas had their Paper Bills gone on, they had been drained of their Silver, as we are.

As to the several sorts of men before mentioned, as Merchants, Landlords, Userers, Goldsmiths, Salary Men, and Labourers by the Day, which exceed in number all the rest; And add to these the Husbandmen, which exceed in number all other Trades and Callings whatsoever, in this Country. And I wonder the most of all at them who get their living out of the ground, that they should be so diligent in Mortgaging their Lands so make a Medium for the Merchant to Trade on. And now one would think I should have the greatest part of these several denominations of men, joyn hand in hand in putting a final end to all Bills of Credit. But here lyes the bane of all, These several sorts of men are to be brought into two Parties; the man Free from Debt to his Neighbours; and the man Involved in Debt, that he knows not how to get out. And here's the unhappiness of all Societies of men, when ever they come together. There are many involved in Debt, their ingagements are so great, and self-love so powerful; its hard to forgoe dear Self; and here I am out-voted. Upon the whole, I doubt not but before Seven Years have passed over our heads, if we live to see that time, we shall see things of this nature in another Form; for I think the Makers of Paper Bills, are almost out of breath, for want of a Fund to bring them out upon. There have been of late several things talk'd of in the late Pamphlets dispersed about the Country. One great thing proposed hath been the building a Bridge over Charles River, and that it would be a Service to us, to have Paper-Bills come out of the Treasury for this work. This I look at to be next to building Castles in the Air. For if we could sink Forty or Fifty Thousand Pounds in building such a Bridge, the matter is uncertain, whether it would answer the end. For I can't learn of a fast Bridge over such a River, where there is such a Stream, in the whole World; and if the project should fail, where are your Paper-Bills then? But if the thing should take, the country would be but so much in Debt, and would not be supplyed with a Medium, if they should build such a Bridge every Year. They may, it's true, raise Bills of Credit, and put off the payment for many Years. but if they should do so, they will hardly deserve the Name of Bills of Credit; their Credit would run so low. Some talk of Fortifying the Eastern Country, and the Frontiers, so far as is necessary. As to that, I hope the Country will do what is necessary. But to do that to make a Medium, I think is wholly beside our Interest. Upon the whole, I do think we have gone as far with Bills of Credit, as our Credit will bear; and it's time wholly to suppress them; and I do think Necessity calls for it.

VI. I shall consider something of the State of my poor Neighbours that have borrowed these Province Bills on their Estates; And what must be done for their Relief, under the difficult Circumstances they are brought into?

The condition of my poor Neighbours, I shall in some sort describe, by bringing the comparison to a Single man, which I think the true way to describe things of this nature. I will then suppose, That one of my Country-men is in want of Money, his Neighbour hath not more than for his own use; but the man in want comes to his Neighbour and saith to him, Neighbour, your Credit is better than mine, give your Bond for me, and I will Mortgage my House and Land to you, for your becoming Surety for me, and I will be Obliged to pay you Five per Cent. per Annum for your kindness in being Surety for me. The rich man, one would think, should grow rich apace, and the poor man grow poor as fast. But the rich and the poor being Neighbours, and living one by the other, the rich man is forced to forgive his Neighbour part of the Debt, or else both fall in Credit together; altho' the rich hath a great advantage over the poor. And this I take in some sort to be the state of this Province, and those who have borrowed Money from it. We will say there is but Two Hundred Thousand Pounds in the Province, the Province hath One Hundred Thousand Pounds in their own hands, and let it out at Five per Cent. to an hundred men, and this Money is let to men that have Real Estates; not men of Trade, but few; nor great Landlords; they are generally wiser than to take it; if they do, will soon return it; not to Userers, they have no need of it; not much to Merchants, because the needy part of them have not Real Estates to Mortgage for it. But it is generally a poor man that hath a piece of Land, and wants to build a House upon it; or a man that hath a Farm, and no Stock; or his Farm not big enough to maintain his Family; or besides his Farm he wants to be fingering of Trade, or to keep a Tavern, or such like. But alas! the Money in turning once or twice, gets into the hand of the Merchant, Landlord, or Userer; and the poor man that first borrowed it, hardly ever sees it again; he can't get so much as will pay the Interest; what think you will he do to get the Principal? The end is, his House and Land goes to the Country. Well, what will the rich man do with his poor Neighbour, he can't make Money of him; his House and Land will lye dead, unimproved, it will pay no Taxes; Why the rich man concludes, I'le put my Neighbour into his House again, and take no Interest of him, provided I can make good or my being Surety for him. And the Country may depend upon it, That all the Money they will get from these Mortgaged Estates, will never be near so much as they delivered out, for both Interest and Principal. A few Years will fill the Court with Petitions on this subject, and something must be done to ease them. I would not be thought to fault the Court in this affair; but the People who have brought this upon themselves, and I do think something must speedily be done for their Relief. If a Committee were chosen by the Court to set the price of the produce of the Country something higher than the Market price; or if it were confined only to Flax and Hemp; and the Treasurer receive it of or in the behalf of the Committee who let the Bills, at a price set by a Committee chosen for that purpose, and ordered to set the price something higher than the Market. Something of this nature must be done, that your Poor Neighbour may work out his Debt, and so the rich man take up his Bonds and burn them.

VII. I shall consider something of the State of my Country, what it was before we had any Bills of Credit; and what it is at this day; And so shall wind up my thoughts on this Affair.

New-England in its first Settlement, was setled by men of generous principles, and were accounted men of good Morals; but they had their difficulties in their settling these Colonies; A vast number of Indian Enemies to encounter with. but they were carried through those difficulties in a great measure, before we fell into the Labyrinth of Bills of Credit. The Money they brought with them, and had acquired by their Care and Industry, was good. The New-England Shillings, and other pieces Coyned here, were as good Silver, if not better, than the Sterling-Money of Great Britain. And the Fishing Trade brought in considerable Quantities of Spanish pieces of Eight, and some other Coyns we had passing amongst us; so that the condition we were in (considering the Infancy of the Country, and the many Enemies they had to Encounter with) was as flourishing as could be expected. The People in that day were generally good Husbands, every man that could get a House & Land, it was generally his own, that is, It was not Mortgaged, or Incumbred with Debts upon it. Although the House was smaller than our Houses now generally are; yet the man chose rather to live in it, than to Mortgage it, to make a fine House. Altho' some had their Extravagancies then, as well as now; yet it was not so general; a man that had Mortgaged his Estate then, was look'd upon next door to a Bankrupt. Many now living can remember it so to be accounted. The Country when our Province Bills were made, I do suppose had not less than One Hundred Thousand Pounds in Silver Money at Seventeen Penny Weight, for Six Shillings, running Cash, circulating in Trade; and at least One Hundred Thousand Pounds more, that did not circulate. I do think I could name Five Families in the Country, that had Fifty Thousand Pounds, which they made no use of in that day. And other People, doubtless had Fifty Thousand more, which made up Two Hundred Thousand Pounds. But since, its well drained out of their hands. The Trade was not so great in those days as it hath been since. But what Trade they had, was carried on with much greater advantage to the Trader, than now it is. Every honest Labourer was honestly paid for his work, in general, without troubling his Neighbour in the Law for his pay; and these things considered, I think the Country was very happy at that day on Temporal accounts.

I shall now consider what the Country is at this day. Altho' we have a considerable number of men of generous principles, and good Morals, following the Steps of their Forefathers; yet there is a Generation of men amongst us of a selfish, contriving Spirit, who consider more their own Interest, and their Friends, than the Publick good. As to the Indian War, which was so hard upon the Country formerly; I would hope it is pretty well come to an end, considering the small number of Indians left, that were in Hostility with us; and the increase of the Province in numbers of men; and the good Agreement between Great Britain and France; the French being the Supporters and Incouragers of the Indians, in a time of War; that I hope that matter is pretty near come to a stand. This we owe to the good Hand of Providence over us, and not to any means of our own.

And now I come to consider the State of the Country at this day as to a Medium, and what the Consequences of it are.

I do suppose there may be near about Fifty Thousand Pounds of the old Province Bills yet outstanding, the Fund being altered, and the time of payment put off for longer time; I mean those Bills which were Emitted, before any Bills were made to lend to particular men upon Loan. Then there is one Loan of Fifty Thousand Pounds, and another of One Hundred Thousand Pounds; all makes the Sum of Two Hundred Thousand Pounds. This is the only Medium this Province injoys. Indeed there are Bills of the Neighbouring Provinces passing amongst us; but then we do suppose they have as many, or more, of ours in the room of them. But one of our Neighbour Provinces is so wise, that I am told, they are going to shut up their Bank. I wish the rest may be so wise as to follow them speedily; that the Generation that led in this Error, may lead out of it; and not leave their Children in the dark. Now I would make some Comparison of our State. Formerly we hadTwo Hundred Thousand Pounds in good Cash; now we have Two Hundred Thousand Poundsin Paper-Bills; and these Bills have driven away our Cash; and yet the cry is, We are richer than formerly. But it seems to me, we have spent the Two Hundred Thousand Pounds of Cash, and are become Two Hundred Thousand Pounds in Debt. O say some men, We are in Debt to our Selves, and so no great matter. But I desire to know, where is the difference, if the Country borrow of themselves Paper Bills, and put them out, they doubtless design to take them in again, and if they take them, and let to the Inhabitants, they doubtless intend to receive them again; so that the Country are Indebted to themselves for Fifty Thousand Pounds, and the Inhabitants are Indebted to the Country for One Hundred and Fifty Thousand Thousand Pounds, and this is all our Medium of Exchange. Now this fine Medium of Exchange hath cost us all our Silver Money; and our Plate, (of which our Country was well Stored in former days) is now flying from us apace. I am told, That in the last Ships that Sailed this Winter, some Thousands of Pounds worth of wrought Plate was Ship'd off for Great Britain; some new Plate, as fine Tea-Pots, Coffee-Pots, and sundry other Sorts, made by the best work-men in Boston, and Sold at the price of Bullion. And how comes this to be? Why, its through our fine Medium for Trade. Well, is our Country the better, or richer for all these things Shipt off, No, but the poorer.

Well, What hath our Country for all this Silver Money and Plate?

Why, we have as good Clothes as we can get, and thats even all, or the most part: Well, Wherein is our Country Richer, and more flourishing, than it was formerly? Why, Our great Riches lyes in great Houses, Costly furniture, and rich Cloathing, beyond men of our degree.

Well, Is this all the great Riches you brag of? Why truly, we have nothing more than we had formerly. The Land we had before, when we had our Silver-Money; but since the Peace, the Country doth increase; but in my judgment, it is vastly hindred for want of our Old Medium; and every mans thoughts are so taken up about the New Medium, That I am of Opinion that if the Country Owed to a Foreign Province, a Hundred Thousand Pounds; and could get the Paper bills Intirely stopt, the burden would be much less than the Medium we have now got. For as it is now, the Father is set against the Son; and the Son against the Father; Brother against Brother; Neighbour against Neighbour; a man can't speak to his Neighbour against making Paper Bills, but he is ready to fly in his face!

If he be ask'd, Why what Service will they do you, saith One?

Oh! I owe some Money upon Bond, and I want more Money to be made to pay it; Or I have bought a great many Goods, and don't know how to pay for them, &c.

But this Cheap Money will prove dear in the End; if I mistake not.

There was, not many Years since, a private Bank on foot in the Town of Boston, it was thought it would have proved a greater damage than this Publick Bank; but I am of the mind if that had gone on, that this kind of Medium would have been at an end before this time: The Credit of that would soon have been spun out. Almost every mans cry is Make more Money, Make enough! But every man that hath his eyes about him sees, that every time Paper-Bills are Emitted, it raises all Commodities; That if it were possible to get out Five Hundred Thousand Pounds, it would not fetch so much as Two Hundred Thousand Pounds now doth. Now it seems to me, the further we go, the worse it is. And for my own part, I would be contended to pay my part of the Hundred Thousand Pounds to a Foreign Province, (as before mentioned) rather than to continue in these Broils about a Medium of Exchange.

Some will say, It will be a dark time between these Province Bills, and Silver Money. Its true, we have reason to fear that; and who may we thank for it? But yet to continue longer, and go farther, will make it darker. But I don't think the day will be so dark, as some men make it. I observe the Country-men are turning good Husbands, and making their own Clothes. If BostonPeople would be content to wear their Old Clothes over again, I am apt to think a few Years would bring us to rights.

But some will say, It's hard going back; and the Poor will be much hurt. It's true, the Poor are to be pittied in this day, but I hope as Providence hath provided for us plentifully this Year; So He will go on. For He who knows our difficulties, is able and I hope will carry us through them.

Some may say, on Reading these Lines, That this Man is one that hath Mortgaged his Estate to the Country, or is a Userer, or the like.

In Answer to which, I shall take the liberty, instead of my Name

To Sign

One that never Borrowed, or Let, An Hundred Pounds upon Interest, for Six Months, in the Course of my Life.

January 27th. 1720, 1.


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