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The following remark of M. de Beaumont* is most true, when applied to the case in question. “Of all nations, this is perhaps the one whose gov. ernment affords the least scope for glory. None has the burden of directing her. It is her nature and her passion to go of herself. The conduct of affairs does not depend upon a certain number of persons. It is the work of all. The efforts are universal, and any individual impulse would only interfere with the general movement. In this country, political ability con. sists not in doing, but in standing off and letting alone. Magnificent is the spectacle of a whole people moving and governing itself, but nowhere do individuals appear so small.” That which is, in every part of Europe, the peculiar care of government, is here managed by the people themselves, and the care of management is so widely disseminated, that “nowhere do individuals appear so small." Yet nowhere is the object, that of establish. ing a steady currency, so fully accomplished. In no part of the world is the amount of exchanges so great. In none do men avail themselves, to the same extent, of the facilities afforded by the banks. In none is there so general independence of action on the part of both banks and in. dividuals as in New England.
The whole amount of capital seeking investment is less than fourteen millions, the chief part of which is required for the daily purposes of life. The trade in money is carried on by one hundred and sixty-nine banks, whose operations are checked and controlled by the interests of individual capitalists, all ready to engage as rivals in the trade, should the desire of profit lead to expansions tending to interfere with the proper return to capital employed in other trades. The consequence is, that all bankers know that their own permanent prosperity can only be promoted by such measures as will tend to maintain steadiness in the currency, and in the prices of commodities, and thus prevent loss to their customers and them. selves. The whole amount of loans is $46,759,000, yielding, at 6 per cent,
$2,805,000 Deducting 1 per cent,
352,000 we have
$2,453,000 equal to 7 per cent upon the capital, being a little more than legal interest. We shall have occasion to show that much even of this small excess is due to taxes upon capital employed in banking,
In MASSACHUSETTS and RHODE ISLAND centre nearly all the exchanges of New England, the necessary consequence of which is, that the quantity of circulation required is greater than in the interior. Capital seeking employment is also placed in the banks of Boston and Providence, and thus the deposits are enlarged. The joint population is 707,000, and the currency amounts to $8,826,000. The amount of exchanges performed may be inferred from the vast proportion which the capital employed in banking bears to population, the amount being $26,538,000. The excess of loans was only 30 per cent, and the profit of bank capital was about 6 per cent. Here we have equality of profit-scarcely any tendency to unsteadinesslittle power—and that little divided among the directors of one hundred and thirteen banks.
Throughout the above examination we have confined our attention to
* Marie, ou l'Esclavage aux Etats Unis.
VOL. III.NO. II.
the state banks, excluding the Bank of the United States, because it was impossible to ascertain the mode in which its circulation and deposits were divided among the states. Could we have done so, the statement would have been still more favorable to New England, as compared with the other states.
We shall now briefly review the several systems that we have noticed.
In France, we find a vast amount of capital seeking employment-great power centralized in the directors of a single institution-great irregularity of action-and great inequality of profit.
In England, the unemployed capital is great. The Bank of England exercises great power, but slightly checked by the competition of private and joint-stock bankers. Irregularity of action and inequality of profit are
In Scotland, the capital seeking employment is great, and vast quantities are liable to be converted at short notice into currency. Power is great, but is less centralized than in England, because the trade in money has always been more free. Unsteadiness of action and inequality of profit exist to a great extent.
In the southern United States we find unemployed capital bearing a much smaller proportion than in Europe to production and trade. exists, but it is more centralized than in Scotland. There is considerable liability to irregularity of action, and also considerable inequality of profit.
In the middle states there is less power, and it is more widely distributed. There is much liability to irregularity, and considerable inequality of profit.
In New England, the amount of currency is very small. There is very little power of changing its amount, and that power is widely distributed, and effectually checked.
In Massachusetts and Rhode Island we find, almost literally, no unem. ployed capital. The amount of circulation and deposits is little more than is absolutely required for the performance of the exchanges. Neither ig. norance nor selfishness—fear nor avarice-can produce any material va. riation in the amount. In no quarter of the world is there the same ten. dency to steadiness. In none can so little power be exercised.
The amount of capital remaining in the form of gold, silver, and deposits, and constituting currency, or not, as the owners, or guardians, have, or have not, the will to employ it, is
In France equal to the labor of the nation for 135 days.
33 In the middle states,
30 In New England,
17 Taking New England as the standard, and allowing that four days' product remains idle in consequence of some remaining restrictions upon the employment of capital, and constitute an excess of currency liable to change with changes of will on the part of the owners, we shall have thir. teen days' product as the quantity absolutely necessary for the perform. ance of exchanges. The power of causing disturbance will be represented in those states by four, and in the other states or countries by the differ. ence between thirteen and their respective quantities. They will then stand as follows:
4 Middle States, •
17 Southern States,
122 The tendency to unsteadiness thus increases with every increase in the ratio of currency to production.
On a former occasion we mentioned as one of the cases in which the will of individuals tended to produce changes in the currency, that of the reserves of specie by banks for the purpose of meeting their engagements, and we now refer to it for the purpose of adding another proof that the most costly system is of necessity the least steady.
If a bank parts with its specie in discharge of its liabilities, there is no change in the currency. If it parts with it without cancelling liabilities to the same amount, the currency is thereby increased, and prices will tend to rise. Such being the case, the greater the quantity a bank is usually required to keep, the greater will be the power to disturb the currency by parting with it without cancelling its other engagements. The greater the proportion which its loans bear to its capital, the greater will be the amount of its liabilities, the greater will be the quantity of specie usually kept on hand, and the greater will be the power of disturbance when the time arises for it, as it always does with institutions which largely over.
Where every little community is permitted to provide its own money-shop, and adopt its own mode of facilitating exchanges, banks cannot much overtrade; but where restraints are numerous,"currency abounds, the liabilities of bankers are great, and they are obliged to reserve large quantities of specie to meet the possible demands upon them.
The Bank of England trades largely on the capital of others, and desires to keep a large amount of bullion. It has consequently a great amount of power to go wrong, as will be seen by the following statement :
February, 1824, £29,833,000 £13,810,000
February, 1826, 32,402,000 2,459,000 Eleven millions of bullion have been disposed of, and the liabilities are increased nearly three millions.
December, 1833, £32,629,000 £10,200,000
February, 1837, 32,098,000 4,032,000 Six millions of bullion have been paid out, and the reduction of liabilities is only six hundred thousand pounds.
In New England, banks have few liabilities that can be claimed in the form of specie, because the currency is not in excess. The constant and close competition makes it necessary, if they desire to divide common in terest, to practise economy. They require very little specie, and it is not in their power to change the condition of the currency by issuing it, except for the purpose of discharging their engagements. Economy and security, therefore, go hand in hand.
Erratum, p. 50.-Strike out “one fortieth of the annual product, and perhaps to a fiftieth or sixtieth part,” and insert " or less than one per cent of the annual product."
Art. IV.-LAWS RELATIVE TO DEBTOR AND CREDITOR
The first process for the recovery of debts in the state of Connecticut, is by a writ of attachment, or summons. The law requires that the writ shall describe the parties and the court, specify one time and place of appear. ance, and be accompanied with a declaration containing the cause of action, which instrument must be signed by the governor, lieutenant governor, a senator, judge, or justice of the peace, or the clerk of the court to which it is returnable. Attachments may be issued out against the goods and chat. tels of the defendant, and for want thereof, against his lands and person. When an attachment is prayed out, and it appears to the authority signing the same, that the plaintiff is not an inhabitant of the state, or is unable to pay the cost if a recovery is had against him, a bond is required of the plaintiff in some substantial inhabitant, that he will prosecute the action to effect, and answer all damages in case he make not his plea good. Each process is directed to the sheriff of the county, his deputy, or to either con. stable of the town in which the writ is to be served, or to some indifferent person. No writ or summons is permitted to be directed to an indifferent person, unless it appears that more defendants than one are named in one writ, and reside in different counties of the state; or unless the plaintiff or his attorney shall make oath that he believes that the claim will be lost unless an indifferent person is deputed to serve it, the cause of which oath must be recorded on the writ by the authority who administered it. All writs returnable before the Supreme Court of Errors, the Superior Court, and County Court, must be served twelve days inclusive before the sitting of the court, and all writs returnable before justices of the peace, six days inclusive. A summons is a mere legal order commanding the defend. ant to appear in court to answer to the declaration therein alleged, and no bond for prosecution is required in this instrument. It is required to be served by the reading it in the presence of the defendant, or by leaving it at his usual place of abode.
A writ of attachment is served by attaching the goods and chattels of the defendant, and if none can be found, by attaching his lands or person. Where an attachment is served by taking the body of the defendant, notice shall be given to the defendant by reading the writ in his presence, or by leaving a copy at his usual place of abode. When any estate, real or per. sonal, is attached, the officer serving the writ shall leave with the person whose estate is so attached, or at the place of his usual abode, a copy of the writ with a description of the property attached thereon ; real estate is attached, the officer serving the writ must leave a true and attested copy thereof, and a description of the estate taken, at the office of the town clerk, in the town wherein the land lies, within seven days next after attaching the estate, and unless this is done, the service is not complete so as to hold the estate against any other creditor or bona fide purchaser. The attachment of the rights or shares which any person has in
any bank, insurance, turnpike company, or other corporation, is effected by leaving a copy with the defendant, the cashier of such bank, or the clerk of such corporation. No estate attached is permitted to respond to the judgment which shall be obtained, unless the judgment creditor shall take out execution within sixty days after such judgment, unless the same is renewed, and have the same appraised or recorded within four months after such judgment shall have been obtained. If the defendant is not a resident of the state, and has estate within the same which is attached, a copy of the writ describing the estate thus attached, must be left with the agent or attorney of the defendant within the state ; and if land is attached, a like copy must be left in the office of the town clerk where the land lies. But if the defendant has no agent or attorney in this state, a like copy must be left with the person who has the charge or possession of the property attached.
PROPERTY EXEMPT FROM ATTACHMENT.
The law of this state permits the attachment of all the property of the defendant, both on the original writ and execution, with the exception of the following articles :-necessary apparel, bedding, and household furniture required for supporting life, arms, military equipments, implements of the debtor's trade, one cow, sheep under ten, two swine, wood not over two cords, hay not over two tons, beef and pork not over two hundred pounds, potatoes or turnips not over five bushels, Indian corn or rye not over ten bushels, and the meal and flower therefrom, wool or flax not over twenty pounds weight, or the yarn or cloth made therefrom, one stove and pipe, the property of any person having a wife or family, the horse, saddle, and bridle of any practising physician or surgeon, of the value not exceeding one hundred dollars, charcoal not over twenty-five bushels, coal not over two tons, wheat flour not exceeding two hundred pounds weight, the property of any person having a wife and family, cannot be taken on warrant or execution.
The jail limits are established by the county courts in each county. Their boundaries are not uniform, but they have been gradually enlarged, according to the liberal ideas which are growing up in the country relating to imprisonment for debt. They are frequently confined to the bounds of the town in which the jail is situated.
When the goods of an absent or absconding debtor are concealed in the hands of his agent, so that they cannot be come at to be attached, or where debts are due from any person to an absent or absconding debtor, it is law. ful for a creditor to bring his action against such absent or absconding debtor, and to insert in his writ a direction to the officer to leave a true and attested copy thereof, at least fourteen days before the session of the court to which it is returnable, with such absent or absconding debtor's attorney, agent, factor, trustee, or debtor, or at the place of his or their usual abode ; and from the time of serving said copy, the goods or debt in the hands of such