Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

hold them to the most rigid accountability. Probably no position under the laws is as closely looked after, and any dereliction of duty or malfeasance in office is impartially punished. All these duties are performed by the thousands of trustees without profit to themselves, and solely as acts of benevolence, in order that others less gifted may profit and become better and happier citizens.


The savings banks of the New England States and Maryland and New Jersey pay a small tax on deposits, which is not burdensome. The New York banks, being restricted to the class of investments, generally free from taxation, which pay a smaller rate of interest, are practically freed from all tax except upon their real estate.

The policy in the thirteen States is to encourage savings and foster good habits among the people; for they are found to be a good police regulation, a saving in the tax to support paupers, and an economy in the maintenance of prisons. The remission of tax on the savings of the poorer class assists to solve an economic problem, and, if we had a native-born population only, the system would be almost perfect; but we receive immigrants from all the world (except China), and many of a lawless class, who are systematic transgressors. Still the “Republic" has been able to bear the strain, for our government teaches self-respect and the true dignity of manhood; but its task is wearisome in dealing with a class which has lately arrived, and resort has been had to extreme measures to demonstrate that liberty is not license.


It is gratifying to report that this useful branch of the general system is at last in successful operation in thirty-five schools in five different States of the United States.

In one small city in the State of New York, seven out of nine public schools have well-managed banks. They have met with hearty approval and support in all places where they are known, and they promise as beneficial results to communities as similar banks in Europe. For several years they have had the indorsement of the National Bureau of Education, of influential magazines, and writers on Savings Banks. The author of this paper has advocated their adoption in many published articles and books since 1875, and it seems an anomaly that an enterprising people should have so long delayed the extension of a system whose principles they had approved so thoroughly for two generations; but at last we are assured that School Savings Banks will increase in number as their usefulness is demonstrated.


The establishment of Postal Savings Banks has been advocated by benevolent men for the reason that in many States no special provision is made for the safe keeping of small amounts accumulated by the industrious poor. It has been suggested that every money-order post-office, of which there are 8,089, besides money-order stations, should be indicated as a place of deposit. Now, it should be remembered that these offices are located only in large towns and cities, where national banks or bankers are already located, and that no postal deposit places are suggested or practical in villages and other sparsely populated districts where they are needed most of all, and also that the Government of the United States has no use for money in its treasury, which is now overflowing with an enormous surplus collected by unnecessary taxation. The national revenue from taxation is about a hundred million dollars per annum in excess of its requirements, and the unexpended surplus on hand is $125,000,000.

The country is now agitated as to its proper disposal, and is seeking for means to prevent further accumulations. Under these conditions, the situation would be further complicated in casting about for investment for other millions to earn interest for depositors and pay the expense of the system, which alone would cost one-half to five-eighths of one per cent., besides the loss in exchange to pay drafts at points far distant from places of deposit. Many towns, also, would suffer inconvenience and loss in being drained of their currency at certain seasons of the year by the transmission of deposits to the capital of the country. The example of other countries has no bearing on our case, the conditions not being at all similar : instead of incurring a national debt, we are paying off the one we have, and in all probability will soon set the example of a nation freed from its trammels. No sufficient reason seems to exist for us to assume this additional responsibility. Our government does not support the people, the people support the government, and all should not be taxed for the benefit of a few. It seems unwise, therefore, to establish a system here which for other peoples under opposite conditions and governments may be most wise and dutiful.

It requires no capital to start a savings bank. Men of honesty and good judgment reside in every community, and would act as trustees if the duty was fairly laid before them. Every State has some kind of property, known to its inhabitants to be good security, in which deposits might be invested and on which loans could be made. If savings banks are desirable, the material is at hand with which to begin them; and under a general law, similar to that of New York, their success would be beyond reasonable doubt.





This subject is no new one to members of the Social Science Association. It was first brought to our notice in 1874 by the late Josiah Quincy, of Boston, who wrote copiously on the questions involved, in that year and in 1875–76; and it was investigated by committees of our Social Economy department from 1874 to 1879. Our first publication of the facts collected in a report made by Robert Treat Paine and the late John Ayres, at our Detroit general meeting, in May, 1875) attracted much notice, and was followed by several other investigations by societies and individuals. Our Association continued the matter by a paper read at the Brighton meeting of the British Social Science Association in October, 1875; by an extended report read at our Boston meeting of January, 1876; by several papers (which were published) and a discussion at our Philadelphia meeting in June, 1876; and, finally, by reports at the Boston and Cincinnati meetings of our Association in 1878. At this last-named meeting, the facts concerning co-operative building associations in Cincinnati were ascertained, as they had been ascertained and made public for Philadelphia in 1875–76. Philadelphia was the first breeding-ground of these associations in America. They were introduced there, in a suburb of that city, about 1831, and by 1874 had increased in number to at least 400; while they had also spread into New Jersey and Delaware, and from Maryland had been transplanted into Ohio, but with a system of management in some respects very unlike that of the Philadelphia associations. In Cincinnati, in May, 1878, we found there were at least 15,000 members of these building associations, paying in weekly not less than $60,000 ; and this had been going on, and the associations had been increasing, in spite of the “hard times," from 1876 to 1878. Meantime, the building associations of Pennsylvania and Michigan had been suffering from these “hard times” and from certain

defects in their State laws, involving judicial decisions unfavorable to the whole system.

In the light of these facts, the State of Massachusetts, at the suggestion of Josiah Quincy, Gamaliel Bradford, Robert Treat Paine, and other members of our Association, and with the hearty support of many persons of small means, who were desirous of forming such organizations, passed its act of 1877, defining and regulating “co-operative savings fund and loan associations," as they were briefly termed by Massachusetts law. There had been much opposition in 1875-76 to the enactment of such a law, the old savings banks being fearful that these new organizations would injure them; but such has not been the result. Scarcely had the organic law been passed — May 14, 1877 — when, in July, 1877, the first of these corporations in Massachusetts the “ Pioneer Co-operative Bank " was established, with our former associate, Gamaliel Bradford, as treasurer, Mr. Quincy as president, and D. Eldredge as secretary; and we now have from these two gentlemen — Messrs. Bradford and Eldredge a report on building associations in Massachusetts, which practically covers the whole of New England, and may be summarized as follows:


In January, 1879, Josiah Quincy, writing to Mr. Sanborn, said: “ The co-operative fund and loan associations are, I think, fully established in Massachusetts. There are a dozen in the State that I understand are doing well. The two in Boston (the Pioneer and the Homestead) have nearly 1,000 members, and loan $5,000 or $6,000 a month.” This was nearly ten years ago. To-day, Mr. Eldredge reports in Massachusetts 64 co-operative banks, of which 13 have been organized since Oct. 31, 1887. The 51 previously organized are reported by the State Savings Bank Commission as having 20,735 members, an average of 400 each, with 134,164 shares, and assets amounting to $4,211,949. The present assets of the 64 banks exceed $5,000,000, the yearly increase now being nearly $1,000,000 in Massachusetts. Of these 64 Massachusetts building associations, the Pioneer Co-operative Bank is the oldest and presumably the richest. On the first of April, 1888, it had assets of $238,195.68,- an increase during the year preceding of $22,728, or more than 10 per cent. Its receipts during the year from all sources were not quite $150,000, of which more than $60,000 was from dues and fines. It had 776 members,

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »