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vance of their representatives, both in patriotism and spirit. They are now, and for a long time have been, unable to obtain representatives who will carry forward their wishes, or second their love of enterprise. How long this is to continue seems beyond the reach of conjecture, for our elections, State and National, afford us no alternative but to select representatives from conflicting partisans; who, when elected, and of whatever creed, are still the representatives of a party, with all its petty interests, rather than the representatives of a great people, whose public interests are one and indivisible.
THE ALTERNATIVE OF A SUSPENSION OF IMPROVEMENTS OR
AN INCREASE OF DEBT.* At present, when no alternative is presented to the people but an increase of our State debt or a cessation of our internal improvements, ought we not to inquire soberly into the nature of the alternative?
Five per cent. stock will now sell at about eighty dollars for a hundred dollars of stock, and till the price shall fall below seventy-one dollars, forty-three cents, the State will not be paying more than seven per cent. the year interest for the money it borrows;- because, though the State calls the stock a hundred dollars which it sells for eighty, yet the twenty dollars apparent loss the State need never pay un. less it please. Such are the terms on which the stock is purchased. The State agrees that it will not pay before twenty years, and that it will not pay till such time after twenty years as it shall please. The bond of John Jacob
* Published in 1842.
Astor for a thousand dollars, payable a hundred years hence, secured by a mortgage on the Astor House, would be worth now only one dollar, fifteen cents, because a dollar, fifteen cents, placed at compound seven per cent. interest for a hundred years, will amount to a thousand dollars. We may judge, therefore, how small the true value is of the twenty dollars which the State need not pay till it shall please. But even this view of the case is less beneficial to the State than the facts that exist; for when the State shall wish to diminish its debt, the State need not pay the hundred dollars for the stock, but purchase it in market for what the price may happen to be. If the price shall fall, as some persons apprehend, the easier will be the terms on which the State debt can be paid.
While the State can sell, as at present, a hundred dol. lars of five per cent. stock for eighty, the operation is, therefore, far from being so ruinous as some persons apprehend. Should the State take the eighty dollars thus obtained, and loan it to a farmer on mortgage at seven per cent, interest, as it loaned the United States deposit money, the farmer would pay therefor five dollars and sixty cents the year, interest. This would yield the State sixty cents the year, interest, more than the State will pay the holder of the hundred dollar five per cent. stock. Now sixty cents the year, thus received, for twenty years, together with seven per cent. interest thereon, duly compounded, will, at the end of twenty years, amount to lwenty-six dollars, eighty-seven cents, four mills; being six dollars, eightyseven cents, four mills, more than the apparent twenty dollars loss to the State, should the State choose to redeem its stock at par at the end of twenty years. And should the State prefer to let the stock remain unpaid for thirty-seven years, the accumulation of the sixty cents gain of each year
ALTERNATIVE OF CONTINUING OUR STATE DEBT, ETC. 253
and the annual interest thereon duly compounded, will then amount to a hundred and three dollars, thirty-four cents, four mills, with which the State can pay its stock, and thus gain by the process the whole of the eighty dol. lars that was originally received for the stock, and in addi. tion, three dollars, thirty-four cents, four mills.
Instead of wondering, therefore, with some persons, at the high price which our State pays for the money that it borrows, we may rather be glad of the opportunity to ob. tain it on terms so favorable as the present rates. And though accidental circumstances caused our stocks, some years back, to sell at high prices, the same circumstances enhanced the price of labor and provisions; so that we may well doubt whether the eighty dollars which the State now obtains for a hundred dollars of stock, will not make as much canal and railroad as the larger sum made some years back.
THE ALTERNATIVE OF CONTINUING OUR STATE DEBT OR
LIQUIDATING IT BY TAXATION.* So far as income is a test of the amount of business which a canal facilitates, it is important; but whether any such income shall be collected or not, is a question of national policy, the benefits of abandoning an income being, in some cases, greater than the income. The debt, also, which our State has contracted in the construction of its canals will not injure posterity, should we not pay it, provided we transmit the canals with the debt; just as a parent will not injure his heir by entailing on him the purchasemoney of a lucrative landed estate, which he transmits to the heir with the debt. Should we create a canal and
* Consolidated from two articles published in 1834 and 1842.
wear it out in our day, leaving posterity nothing but the debt, posterity might well complain; but such will not be the condition of our canals, which promise to increase in lucrativeness as our country increases in population and productiveness.
The true question, therefore, for us to decide, in relation to completing our canals, is, Whether the additional debt to be created will yield a permanent equivalent for the interest of the debt? That we should refuse to create the debt, un. less the investment will pay not merely the interest of the debt but the principal also, is a most unreasonable requirement. Especially unreasonable is the requirement which politicians, in compliance with a supposed prejudice of the public, usually demand, that the only improvement which will justify the creation of a debt is one that will repay in twenty years the whole cost of its construction. Even a private citizen, whose calculations are necessarily affected by the brevity of human life, will invest his capital and credit in a farm, without limiting his purchases to such only as will repay the purchase money, in addition to the annual interest thereon.
Our notions in relation to a public debt are founded on the national debt of Great Britain, which was created by the expenditures of war in past ages, and which we deem analogous to the proverbial burden of paying for a dead horse, or for clothes worn out and cast off. In contrast with the canals that we shall transmit to posterity, with the debt for their construction, our estimates of England's debt may be correct. But even the debt of Great Britain she would not accept a release from, on the condition of relinquishing the territorial acquisitions, commercial extensions, and other existing benefits, in many forms, which were procured by the debt.
THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR; OR, MONEY AS A MOTIVE FOR ACTION.*
Among pugilists no possession is so highly prized as pugilistic skill, and among anglers no fame is so envied as skill in angling. In the degree that persons of any given taste preponderate thus in any community, their taste becomes the standard by which all social pursuits are estimated in the community. We need not wonder, therefore, that the United States is the paradise of millionaires, money pursuits engrossing the activity of nearly all its inhabitants, among whom the possession of a hundred thousand dollars confers a dignity equal to a baronetcy in England. Five hundred thousand equals an earldom; a million makes a duke, and two millions a prince of the blood royal, with power to confer knighthood by the investiture of merely a passing recognition. When such a man dies at eighty, the event is deemed an inscrutable dispensation, and his last will is published as a precious curiosity. But we are not a fawning people; indeed, thrift would not follow fawning, our money passion not permitting us to part from money for so unsubstantial an exchange. Money sways us by rather a kingly right divine, originating in the complacency we feel thereto, irrespective of any selfish ex
# Published in 1856.