Thomas Jefferson on Gold Coin & Paper Money

Thomas Jefferson on Gold Coin & Paper Money

“Specie [gold and silver coin] is the most perfect medium because it will preserve its own level; because, having intrinsic and universal value, it can never die in our hands, and it is the surest resource of reliance in time of war.” ~Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813

“Paper is poverty,… it is only the ghost of money, and not money itself.”~Letter to Edward Carrington, 1788 “Experience has proved to us that a dollar of silver disappears for every dollar of paper emitted.” ~Letter to James Monroe, 1791

“It is a [disputed] question, whether the circulation of paper, rather than of specie [gold and silver coin], is a good or an evil… I believe it to be one of those cases where mercantile clamor will bear down reason, until it is corrected by ruin.” ~Letter to John W. Eppes, 1813

Specie [gold and silver coin] as a National Resource. “In such a nation [as ours], there is one and one only resource for loans, sufficient to carry them through the expense of a war; and that will always be sufficient, and in the power of an honest government, punctual in the preservation of its faith. The fund I mean, is the mass of circulating coin. Everyone knows, that although not literally, it is nearly true, that every paper dollar emitted banishes a silver one from the circulation. A nation, therefore, making its purchases and payments with bills fitted for circulation, thrusts an equal sum of coin out of circulation. This is equivalent to borrowing that sum, and yet the vendor receiving payment in a medium as effectual as coin for his purchases or payments, has no claim to interest. And so the nation may continue to issue its bills as far as its wants require, and the limits of the circulation will admit… But this, the only resource which the government could command with certainty, the States have unfortunately fooled away, nay corruptly alienated to swindlers and shavers, under the cover of private banks.” ~Letter to John W. Eppes, 1813

Dangers of Paper Money. “That paper money has some advantages is admitted. But that its abuses also are inevitable and, by breaking up the measure of value, makes a lottery of all private property, cannot be denied.” ~Letter to Josephus B. Stuart, 1817

“The trifling economy of paper, as a cheaper medium, or its convenience for transmission, weighs nothing in opposition to the advantages of the precious metals… it is liable to be abused, has been, is, and forever will be abused, in every country in which it is permitted.” ~Letter to John W. Eppes, 1813

“Scenes are now to take place as will open the eyes of credulity and of insanity itself, to the dangers of a paper medium abandoned to the discretion of avarice and of swindlers.” ~Letter to Thomas Cooper, 1814

“Private fortunes, in the present state of our circulation, are at the mercy of those self-created money lenders, and are prostrated by the floods of nominal money with which their avarice deluges us.” ~Letter to John W. Eppes, 1813

“It is a cruel thought, that, when we feel ourselves standing on the firmest ground in every respect, the cursed arts of our secret enemies, combining with other causes, should effect, by depreciating our money, what the open arms of a powerful enemy could not.” ~Letter to Richard Henry Lee, 1779

“Our public credit is good, but the abundance of paper has produced a spirit of gambling in the funds, which has laid up our ships at the wharves as too slow instruments of profit, and has even disarmed the hand of the tailor of his needle and thimble. They say the evil will cure itself. I wish it may; but I have rarely seen a gamester cured, even by the disasters of his vocation.” ~Letter to Gouverneur Morris, 1791

“All the capital employed in paper speculation is barren and useless, producing, like that on a gaming table, no accession to itself, and is withdrawn from commerce and agriculture where it would have produced addition to the common mass… It nourishes in our citizens habits of vice and idleness instead of industry and morality… It has furnished effectual means of corrupting such a portion of the legislature as turns the balance between the honest voters whichever way it is directed.” ~Letter to George Washington, 1792

“I sincerely believe… that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” ~Letter to John Taylor, 1816

“[The] Bank of the United States… is one of the most deadly hostility existing, against the principles and form of our Constitution… An institution like this, penetrating by its branches every part of the Union, acting by command and in phalanx, may, in a critical moment, upset the government. I deem no government safe which is under the vassalage of any self-constituted authorities, or any other authority than that of the nation, or its regular functionaries.” ~Letter to Albert Gallatin, 1803

“The system of banking have…[for]ever reprobated. I contemplate it as a blot left in all our Constitutions, which, if not covered, will end in their destruction, which is already hit by the gamblers in corruption, and is sweeping away in its progress the fortunes and morals of our citizens.”~Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816

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