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RELATING TO THE
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE.
A 3 1873/74
To the Senate and House of Representatives:
Since the convening of Congress, one year ago, the nation has undergone a prostration in business and industries such as has not been witnessed with us for many years. Speculation as to the causes for this prostration might be indulged in without profit, because as many theories would be advanced as there would be independent writers-those who expressed their own views, without borrowing-upon the subject. Without indulging in theories as to the cause of this prostration, therefore, I will call your attention only to the fact, and to some plain questions as to which it would seem there should be no disagreement.
During this prostration two essential elements of prosperity have been most abundant: labor and capital. Both have been largely unemployed. Where security has been undoubted, capital has been attainable at very moderate rates. Where labor has been wanted, it has been found in abundance, at cheap rates compared with what-of necessaries and comforts of life-could be purchased with the wages demanded. Two great elements of prosperity, therefore, have not been denied us. A third might be added: our soil and climate are unequaled, within the limits of any contiguous territory under one nationality, for its variety of products to feed and clothe a people, and in the amount of surplus to spare to feed less favored peoples. Therefore, with these facts in view, it seems to me that wise statesmanship, at this session of Congress, would dictate legislation ignoring the past; directing in proper channels these great elements of prosperity to any people. Debt, debt abroad, is the only element that can-with always a sound currency— enter into our affairs to cause any continued depression in the industries and prosperity of our people.
A great conflict for national existence made necessary, for temporary purposes, the raising of large sums of money from whatever source attainable. It made it necessary, in the wisdom of Congress-and I do not doubt their wisdom in the premises, regarding the necessity of the times to devise a system of national currency, which it proved to be impossible to keep on a par with the recognized currency of the civilized world. This begot a spirit of speculation involving an extravagance and luxury not required for the happiness or prosperity of a people, and involving, both directly and indirectly, foreign indebted ness. The currency being of fluctuating value, and therefore unsafe to hold for legitimate transactions requiring money, became a subject of