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SMALL NOTE CIRCULATION - William Leggett, Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy 
Democratic Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy, Foreword by Lawrence H. White (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1984).
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SMALL NOTE CIRCULATION
August 6, 1834.
Title added by Sedgwick.
Now that real money has come into circulation—now that the country is plentifully supplied with gold and silver—we trust the friends of a sound currency will take pains, and adopt all proper measures, to banish small notes from use. We call upon every man who professes to be animated with the principles of the democracy, to assist in accomplishing the great work of redeeming this country from the curse of our bad bank system. We never shall be a truly free and happy people while subject, as we now are, to Bank domination. No system could possibly be devised more certainly fatal to the great principle on which our government rests—the glorious principle of equal rights—than the Banking system, as it exists in this country. It is hostile to every received axiom of political economy, it is hostile to morals, and hostile to freedom. Its direct and inevitable tendency is to create artificial inequalities and distinctions in society; to increase the wealth of the rich, and render more abject and oppressive the poverty of the poor. It fosters a spirit of speculation, destructive of love of country—a spirit which substitutes an idol of gold for that better object which patriotism worships—a spirit which paralyzes all the ardent and generous impulses of our nature, and creates, instead, a sordid and rapacious desire of gain, to minister to the insatiable cravings of which becomes the sole aim of existence.
We do not expect and do not desire to overthrow our pernicious Banking system suddenly. We would not, if we could, do aught to infringe the chartered privileges of Banks already existing. Were they ten times worse in their effects than they are, we would not justify a breach of the public faith to get rid of the evil. But we desire most ardently that it may not be permitted to spread more widely. The legislatures may at least say, “Thus far shalt thou go and no further; here shall thy proud waves be stayed.” They may refuse to grant any more charters of incorporation, and may take effectual measures to prohibit the small note issues. These measures constitute the proper first step in the great reformation for which we contend, and these measures the democracy of the country—if we do not strangely misinterpret their sentiments—will demand.
But in the meanwhile, the means are within the reach of the people themselves to do much—very much—towards the accomplishment of the desired object. Let employers provide themselves with gold to pay their hands; and let the hands of those employers who continue in the practice, which has been too extensive, of procuring uncurrent money to pay them, take such measures to remedy the evil as are within their reach, and not inconsistent with prudence. The practice is wholly unjustifiable, and stands, in a moral point of view, on a footing not very different from that of clipping coins. The law, however, which we all know is not always framed in the most perfect accordance with the principles of ethics, makes this important difference, that while to the one species of dishonesty it extends full protection, the other it visits with the most ignominious punishment. But though protected by the law, workmen may do much to rid themselves of the evils of this practise, and at the same time forward the great object of democracy—ultimate emancipation from the shackles of a detestable Bank tyranny. Let them remember, when paid in small uncurrent notes, that the longer they retain possession of those notes the greater is the profit of the Bank that issued them, and therefore let them take the best means within their reach of causing them to be returned to the Bank. Every dollar-note in circulation has displaced an equal amount of gold and silver, and, on the other hand, every dollar of gold and silver you keep in circulation, will displace twice or three times its amount in paper money.
Paper money is fingered by a great many hands, as may be easily perceived from the soiled and worn appearance of many of the bills. A cheap, and, to a certain extent, most effectual method of disseminating the principles of those opposed to incorporated rag-money manufactories, would be for them to write upon the back of every bank-note which should come into their possession, some short sentence expressive of their sentiments. For example—“No Monopolies!” “No Union of Banks and State!” “Jackson and Hard Money!” “Gold before Rags!” and the like. When it should become their duty to endorse a bill issued by a Bank, the charter of which was obtained by bribery and collusion, (as many such there be) it would be well to inscribe upon it in a clear and distinct hand, “Wages of Iniquity!”
What we have here recommended may seem to be but child’s play; but we are satisfied that if the workingmen, upon whom the worst trash of Bank rags are palmed off, would only adopt such a practice, and persist in it for a short time, they would see the good result. The worst class of uncurrent notes would soon be plentifully endorsed, for it is the worst description of money which is generally bought to pay away to mechanics, in order that their employers may avoid paying them as large a proportion as possible of their just wages. Let them consider the hints thrown out in this article, and they can hardly fail, we think, to perceive, that if generally acted upon, they would have an important effect in assisting the introduction of gold as a currency, in the place of the small note circulation of which there is so much reason to complain.