GUBERNATORIAL CAMPAIGN SPEECH
August 20, 1867
The arguments of the public speakers who now sustain the Peace Democracy, on the subject of finances, present a curious medly [sic]. Mr. Vallandigham is the only prominent public man of the party who has ventured boldly to commit himself in favor of issuing greenbacks enough to pay off the whole national debt. He is prepared, apparently, to ruin the present paper currency of the country by adding to its volume some two or three thousand millions of dollars. Judge Thurman has not yet spoken distinctly on this question. But his well-known opinion that even the necessities of war did not authorize, under our Constitution, the issue of the legal-tender currency coupled with the fact that he speaks of it in his Waverly speech as currency of ‘rags—only rags,’ warrants me in saying that he is probably opposed, on grounds both of constitutional law, and of expediency, to the financial scheme of Mr. Vallandigham and of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Judge Ranney and Judge Jewett are also evidently unwilling to accept the inflation theories of the Enquirer. They are both opposed to taking up the greenbacks now in circulation by an issue of bonds bearing interest, and repeat the same arguments against this policy of Johnson’s Administration, which were urged by the Cincinnati Gazette, and by Thaddeus Stevens and Judge Kelley, with much more cogency, a year or two ago. Mr. Pendleton seems desirous to occupy a position midway between the boundless expansion of Vallandigham and the anti-rag doctrine of Judge Thurman. He says: “The five-twenties should be paid in greenbacks, as they mature, or as fast as can be done without too great derangement of the currency.”
It is enough for my present purpose, to say that when Judge Thurman and the Peace Democracy, in State Convention or otherwise, can agree upon the best mode of paying the national debt, the Union party will be glad of their assistance in the support of any plan by which it can be honestly done “without,” in the words of Mr. Pendleton, “too great derangement of the currency.”
Judge Ranney and Judge Jewett both complain that the Johnson Administration is now engaged in taking up greenbacks by issuing, in their stead, interest-bearing bonds. I heartily concur with them in opposing that policy. As a member of the House, I voted against it a great many times, in the Thirty-ninth Congress. And I regret that their party friends in that Congress did not entertain the same opinion, and vote as I did. The Cincinnati Enquirer, of a recent date, contained this paragraph:
“While the bonded debt has only been diminished a little over four millions of dollars from the 1st of June to the 1st of August, the Secretary of the Treasury has reduced the circulating medium twenty millions of dollars within that time. The aim of the Secretary is to call in the greenbacks and every other Government issue upon which the people are not charged interest, while he allows all the interest-bearing debt to remain. It would not do, he thinks, to save the people the immense sums of money they are now paying as interest upon the debt.”
Now, under what law is Secretary McCulloch doing this? Judges Jewett and Ranney talk as if it was the work of the Union party. Not at all. If those gentlemen had examined the proceedings of Congress, as given in the Congressional Globe, they would have learned that the law which authorizes this to be done is one of the pet measures of the Johnson Administration; that it was voted for by every Democratic member of Congress in both Houses, who voted on the question; that a majority of the Union members of the house voted against it, and that the bill would have failed if a majority of the Democratic members had opposed it. The votes will be found in the proceedings of the 16th and 23d days of March, 1866. The Democratic Representatives from Ohio, Messrs. Finck and Le Blond, voted for the bill, and all the Union members of the House from Ohio, except three, voted against it. Senators Sherman and Wade both voted against it. The President approved the bill. The policy which these gentlemen condemn is, therefore, proved by the record not to be the policy of the Union party. If any party is responsible for it, as a party measure, it is the Johnson party to which the Democracy belonged in 1866.