Front Page Titles (by Subject) WHAT WE MUST DO, AND WHAT WE MUST NOT - Democratick Editorials: Essays in Jacksonian Political Economy
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
WHAT WE MUST DO, AND WHAT WE MUST NOT - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
WHAT WE MUST DO, AND WHAT WE MUST NOT
May 13, 1837.
There are from three to four millions of dollars in specie in circulation in this city at the present moment. That it does not circulate very freely is probable enough; for people may very naturally be supposed not particularly anxious to exchange real value for broken promises. It is nevertheless in circulation, and would circulate actively, if confidence were restored, forming an ample understratum of currency, without the help of small notes. The great object then is to restore confidence, and the question arises, How is this to be done?
The Journal of Commerce cannot suppose that legislative authority to bankrupt institutions to continue their business, after they have declared themselves destitute of the means of business, to continue to issue their promises, after they acknowledge they have no means of redeeming them, will restore confidence to the community. Bank notes may, it is true, and perhaps must, be taken as the medium of barter, from those who have no actual money; but it is as certain as any result which depends on figures, that prices will be appreciated, and will be constantly fluctuating, while the community has to depend on such a medium, and that there will be a wide difference between the price for money, and the price for the spurious and dishonoured representative of money.
We agree with the Journal of Commerce that we require legislative action; but with a difference as to the kind of action we should ask for. That paper would have the legislature tinker and patch up the leaky and battered system of banking; while we would have it remove those impediments which hinder enterprise from supplying the place of the old system, demonstrated to be so utterly inefficient, with a bran[d] new one. Remove all legal restraints from capital, and how long does the Journal of Commerce suppose it would be before we should have a voluntary banking association in this city, with fifty millions of actual capital, certified and secured in such a manner as would command the publick confidence, and going into harmonious operation with such celerity as to restore, almost as by magick, financial order out of chaos?
If this is so—and our convictions have not been lightly adopted—it is manifestly the duty of the press to exercise its influence to bring about such a state of things. Let the broken banks take care of their own affairs as well as they can under the conditions of their charters. We are sorry for the losses in which they involve thousands who had no share in their misdoings; but we can see no good reason why these exclusively privileged insolvents should receive aid from the legislature, more than the unprivileged insolvents who have been breaking for months past. The best thing to do, in our judgment, and that which would have the speediest, as well as the most certain efficacy, is to emancipate the trade in money wholly from legal restraint. We have tried the forcing and monopoly system; let us now try the voluntary and free trade system.