S P CHASE Hon. W. P. Fessenden.
|On January 12, the House of Representatives began consideration of H.R. 659, a major finance bill. Thaddeus Stevens, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, also presented his own alternate version of the bill, which he offered as a substitute to that favored by the majority of the committee. Both versions authorized loans of up to $900 million, Chase's estimate of the amount of additional resources necessary for fiscal 1863 and 1864. The committee's bill would authorize the issue of up to $300 million in interest-bearing notes. Stevens's version provided for $300 million, in addition to the $900 million, in legal tender notes without interest. The committee's bill also contained a section, which Stevens's did not, for taxation of bank notes. Later in January, Chase asked Elbridge Gerry Spaulding to make extensive amendments to the bill, which finally passed in March. Chase to Stevens, Dec. 23, 1862 (above); Chase to Spaulding, Jan. 21, 1863 (below); Congressional Globe, 37tb Cong., 3d sess., 1862-63, 283-84; Statutes at Large, 12:709-13; Report of the Secretary . . . for the Year ending June 30, 1862, 6.|
|See Chase's letter to Fessenden of January 7 (above).|
|Chase had sent Thaddeus Stevens a copy of his January 7 letter to Fessenden, along with the proposed bill to deal with the immediate problem of military expenditures. Chase to Homer Plantz, Jan. 7, 1863 (Chase Papers, Cinc. Hist. Soc.).|
|See Chase's letter of January 10 to Galusha A. Grow (above).|
|On January 7, Samuel Hooper had introduced a bill (H.R. 656) that embodied Chase's plan for a national banking system. The bill's formal title called it a measure "to provide a national currency." When Chase wrote to Fessenden on January 11, resistance to the banking bill had already manifested itself in the House. The bill did pass Congress, and Lincoln signed it into law on February 25. It authorized the formation of banking associations (national banks, in effect), each of which would deposit with the Treasury interest-bearing bonds equivalent to one third of the bank's capital. In return, the bank would receive 90 percent of the value of the bonds in the form of U.S. currency, and the act provided for the issue of circulating notes for that purpose. Sections of the law relating to the banks' operations were intended to guarantee their soundness. The comptroller of the currency, head of a bureau newly created by the act, would oversee the system. H.R. 656 (Orig. Bills, 37th Cong., Recs. of U.S. House of Reps., Nat. Arch.); Hammond, Sovereignty, 287, 296-307; Statutes at Large, 12:665-82.|
|Spoken by Polonius, Ophelia's father, in Hamlet, act 2, scene 2, lines 187-88.|
|Apparently Chase had escorted his sister, Helen Chase Walbridge, to New York for continuing medical care of her lameness. While there, as he indicated to Fessenden, he intended to confer with financiers. The Treasury was also embarking on the construction of new revenue steamers. Chase to Simon Cameron, Jan. 11, 1863 ( Dauphin Co. Hist. Soc., Harrisburg, Pa.); Chase Papers, 1:424; Report of the Secretary . . . for the Year ending June 30, 1862, 30.|
Letterpress copy of autograph letter. Chase Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania ( micro 24:0741).
At Home Cor. E, & 6th, Jany 20, 63
My Dear Sir,
I have just been reading your remarks in the House.1 On one great point are we agreed--the undesirableness of large issues of U.S. notes. Give me the means of protecting the credit & supporting the bonds