"Brigadier General Garfield had been fond and an active proponent of targeting and attacking civilians and their dwelling places and their food supplies. Following the war he joined the House of Representatives and legislated for bond interests. Rhe reconstructionist party was also the party of money power. If the Southern Senators and Representatives had been allowed to take their seats they would have prevented the establishment of permanent debt, the turning treasury notes into gold bonds, the credit strenghtening act The federalists and the whigs had been struggling to establish permanent debt and banknote as unit of measure, legal-tender and currency from day one; the southern withdrawal and the war gave them the opportunity, and they progeny were not going to let the pesky ones back in until they accomplished their aims."
House of Representatives
Friday, May 15, 1868.
Speech of future President James Garfield, on the
Financial Policy of the Country.
Mr. Garfield. Mr. Chairman, I am aware that financial subjects are dull and uninviting in comparison with those heroic themes which have absorbed the attention of Congress for the last five years. To turn from the consideration of armies and navies, victories and defeats, to the long array of figures which exhibit the debt, expenditure, taxation, and industry of the nation, requires no little courage and self-denial; but to those questions we must come, and to their solution Congresses, political parties, and all thoughtful citizens must give their best efforts for many years to come. Our public debt, the greatest financial fact of this century, stands in the pathway of all political parties and, like the Egyptian Sphynx, propounds its riddles. All the questions which spring out of the public debt, such as loans, bonds, tariffs, internal taxation, banking, and currency, present greater difficulties than usually come within the scope of American polities. They cannot be settled by force of numbers nor carried by assault, as an army storms the works of an enemy. Patient examination of facts, careful study of principles which do not always appear on the surface, and which involve the most difficult problems of political economy, are the weapons of this warfare. No sentiment of national pride should make us unmindful of the fact that we have less experience in this direction than any other civilized nation. If this fact is not creditable to our intellectual reputation, it at least affords a proof that our people have not hitherto been crushed under the burdens of taxation. We must consent to be instructed by the experience of other nations, and be willing to approach these questions, not with the dogmatism of teachers, but as seekers after truth.
It is evident, that both in Congress and among the people, there is great diversity of opinion on all these themes. He is indeed a bold man who, at this time, claims to have mastered any one of them, or reached conclusions on all its features satisfactory even to himself. For myself, I claim only to have studied earnestly to know what the best interests of the country demand at the hands of Congress. I have listened with great respect to the opinions of those with whom I differ most, and only ask for myself what I award to all others, a patient hearing.
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