The Civil War in America.The Illustrated London News, vol. 39, no. 1124, p. 656.
December 28, 1861
By the arrival of the City of Baltimore we have telegrams from New York to the evening of the 13th inst. Congress has not done anything of importance except to pass a resolution in favour of the adoption of measures for an exchange of prisoners. The President has refused for the present to furnish that body with the correspondence between the Federal Government and foreign Powers relative to the European intervention in Mexico.
A mass of correspondence between Mr. Seward and the American Ministers in Europe has been presented to Congress. The matters treated of relate to the concession of belligerent rights to the Confederate States, at which Mr. Seward is highly offended, and to the adhesion of the United States to the Declaration of the Congress of Paris relative to maritime rights, an adhesion which Great Britain and France would only receive without prejudice to the rights of the seceded States, and which was therefore withdrawn by the United States. The dispatch of reinforcements to Canada was also complained of, but justified on the ground of the distrust of the United States' Government entertained by that of Great Britain and of the vague menaces uttered by Mr. Seward.
Mr. Chase in July estimated the expenditure of the current fiscal year (July 1, 1861, to June 30, 1862) at 318,520,000 dollars; but, in consequence of the increased number of men levied for the army, his amended estimate is raised to 532,520,000 dollars. Of this aggregate he has already raised by loans the sum of 197,243,000 dollars. The revenue, which he had estimated would produce 80,000,000 dollars, had, partly owing to Congress refusing to pass measures he had recommended, and partly owing to the depression of trade, so fallen off that he only expected to receive 54,500,000 dollars from it. For the purpose of filling up the deficit, the Secretary recommends the confiscation of the property of rebels, whether found in the loyal or disloyal States, but his main reliance is on loans and taxation. He recommends that the duty on brown sugar should be increased to 2½ cents per pound, on clayed sugar 3 cents, on green tea to 20 cents, and on coffee to 5 cents. He further recommends that the direct tax be increased, so as to produce 20,000,000 dollars from the loyal States alone, and not only their proportion of the same, on the fiction that all the States were loyal. He has a plan of excise and stamp taxes. He proposes duties on stills and distilled liquors, on tobacco, bank-notes, on carriages, legacies, evidences of debt, and instruments for the conveyance of property and other like subjects, such as will produce 20,000,000 dols. more. From the 3 per cent income tax he hopes to procure ten millions more. The whole direct and indirect taxes will thus produce 90,000,000 dols. This sum is small compared with the aggregate property and annual earnings of the people.
The Secretary's great resource lies in supplanting the banks. Their circulation in the loyal States and Western Virginia amounts to about 150,000,000 dols. He argues that this currency is a loan from the people to the banks, costing the latter nothing but the expense of issue and redemption and the interest on the specie kept in hand. These advantages ought to be transferred from the stockholders of the banks to the national Government. He claims to find authority in the United States' Constitution for this measure, under the powers to regulate commerce and the value of coin. His method of issue is to hand this national currency to the banks, who shall secure their redemption by pledge of United States' stocks and an adequate provision of specie. The people will thus have a uniform currency and the Government enjoy the advantages of a loan without interest. The competition of local bank-notes is to be annihilated by a special tax. He estimates the specie now in the United States at 275,000,000 dols. Existing Acts of Congress enable the Secretary to raise 75,000,000 dols. more than he has yet raised on bonds and Treasury notes payable on demand, and 50,000,000 dols. more must be raised by another loan.
For the fiscal year 1863 no reliable estimates can be made. The Secretary hopes that the present war will be over before midsummer; but in order to be prepared for all eventualities he submits estimates based on the hypothesis that the war will continue. These estimates (including 43,000,000 dols. as interest on debt) amount to 475,331,000 dols., of which 95,800,000 may be raised by revenue, leaving a balance to be provided for of 379,531,000 dols. On July 1, 1862, the Public Debt will be 517,373,000 dols., and on the above hypothesis 897,373,000 dols, on July 1, l863. He thinks the loyal States alone could pay off this latter sum in thirty years. Of the 72,000,000 dols. worth of bullion deposited in the United States' Mint in 1861, 37,000,000 dollars came from Europe. The Secretary closes his report by recommending the adoption of an international decimal system of weights, measures, and coins.
The bankers and financiers do not relish the propositions of Mr. Chase, so far as they relate to the suppression of the bank currency.
The Federals were about to occupy Tybee Island, at the entrance to the Savannah River.
Federal accounts state that the late artillery duel at Fort Pickens resulted in no harm to the fort, but that Warrington and part of the Pensacola Navy-yard were burnt.
A Government agent had been appointed to superintend the packing of cotton by the aid of the negroes in the neighbourhood.
The jounals report considerable activity throughout Canada in organising the Militia and Volunteers.