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November 1, 1884
The Record and Guide.
THE RECORD AND GUIDE.
Publit?ied every Saturday,
191 Broadway, N. Y
ONE rCAR, in adrance, SIX DOLLARS.
Commurdcatioaa should be addreaaed to
C. W. SWEET, 191 Broadvay.
J. T. LINDSEY, Busineaa Manager.
NOVEMBER 1, 1884.
The proposed amendment to the State constitutioQ, limiting the
local debts of cities to ten per cent, of the real eatate valuation, is
to be voted upon before the next issue of this publication. As we
regard it as of vaatly more importance to tax-payers than the result
of the presid^tial election, we earnestly entreat all our readers to
vote for the amendment and get all their friends to do likewise.
Elsewhere will be fonud a ticket containing an approval of the
amendment, which can be cut out by persons wishing to vote for it.
Anyone wanting ballots to give their friends can procure them at
the office of The Record and Guide, 191 Broadway, up to the
close of bueiness hours on Monday next. This amendment is
substantially a copy of provisions of the same kind in the consti¬
tutions of Missouri, Illinois and other States. The time is com¬
ing, we hope, when a further amendment will restrict local
indebtedness to five per cent, of the assessed valuation of real
estate, but the ten per cent, restriction will be a good beginning
to a reform which, if adopted, will permanently improve the value
of real property. '
Notwithstanding the enthusiastic approval of our city press when
Judge Gresham was appointed Secretary of the Treasury, we ven¬
tured to question hia fitness for that position. Hie resignation after
having held that office for so short a term was unquestionably due
to the fact that his experience as an army officer and a judge on a
local western circuit was not such as to qualify him for being the
head of a department which required not only special technical
knowledge but a wide acquaintance with all questions affecting the
finances of the government. The selection of Mr, Hugh McCul-
loch in place of Judge Gresham is a.wise one. That gentleman
has not only the experience in the business department, but is a
man of sound practical judgment. Secretary McCulloch is a bi-
metallist, although originally he favored the gold unit of value. He
probably is opposed to the further coinage of silver dollars, but he
will give silver a fair chance and hia influence in the cabinet will
be exerted towards bringing about international treaties, rein¬
stating if possible silver in its old place as a money metal having
equal power with gold in establishing prices. Mr, McCulloch had
to leave the cabinet belore because he favored equalizing (he price
of gold and greenbacks; but subsequent events have justified the
position he took. Mr. McCulloch will stand head and shoulders
above any other member of the cabinet of President Arthur, This
is not much to say, for it must be confessed that the other advisers
of the President are none of them men of mark. Secretary Chand¬
ler is not lacking in ability, but he does lack about every other
quality which should be Dosseseed by a cabinet officer.
The new Secretary of the Treasury is on record as having
recently criticised the decision of the Supreme Court on the legal-
tender question adversely. He holds that gold and silver is the
only coitBtitulional currency, and that no mere act of Congress can
give value to a piece of paper. It is strange how this astonishing
decision of our highest court should have been passed by in silence.
Neither in the press, in political conventions nor in State legisla¬
tures has its legality or justice been impugned; but jet if it holds
good we will certainly be treated to another trial of fiat money.
Irredeemable paper currency has been tested over and over again
and always with the most disastrous results. This legal-tender
decision is as important in its way as was the Dred-Scott decision
and is quite as surprising. We believe that the one will finally be
eet aside just as the other waa, for it is not in the power of all the
governments on earth to give value to a piece of paper, unless the
latter ie convertible into one or both of the precious metale.
Among the questions with whichSecretary McCulloch will have
to deal is the bank note circulation. In four years the banks ha-
voluntarily surrendered $67,000,000, but within the sam^ tenod
nearly .tano nno nn» ..ih .^a ,n,., v,,n;„„ v-„ .„„-
most of which has entered into the currency of tbe country in th©
shape of coin certificates. It is eatimated that the net increase of
currency in four years' time is about $129,000,000. A writer in the
Commercial Bulletin predicts that the Treasury Department will
have to double its gold and silver notes within the next few months
in substitution of surrendered tack circulation, as the aame returns
for redemption. The writer adds:
In view of the early surrender of more than half the national bank cir¬
culation, the following eatiinate of the note circulation six months or a
year hence may not be out of place:
Fives, greenback ............................ |28f>,000,000
Tena, silver...............................^... 2(10.000,000
Twentiea. gold............................... 300,000,000
ODea and twos, greenback...............,___ 66,681,000
Total Treasury......................... «846,68I,000
Bank notea,.................................. 150,000,000
Grand total,........................... J046,681,OOO
Present Circulation.......................... 869,681,000
Allowed for increaaa................... $77,000,000
It really looks as if the entire bank circulation would iv a few
years be replaced by gold notes, silver certificates or greenbacks.
For safety this would be au ideal currency, but something should
be done to make it elastic, that is, to devise something that would
vary with the wants of the business world. The banks in the long
run would get along quite as well without the power to issue notea,
and there would be an advantage in a circulation which could not
be rapidly contracted by frightened and Irresponsible corporations.
It ia evident that the money question will be a leading topic for
discussion for several years to come, yet strange enough all refer¬
ence to it has been carefully excluded from the national platforms
of the two parties.
The Republicans have made an excellent nomination for Mayor
in the person of Senator Gibbs, who so heartily seconded Theodore
Roosevelt in the reform measures passed by the Legislature last
winter. It is very evident, however, that Mr. John J. O'Brien has
no desire to elect a Republican Mayor, nor does he take an interest
in any RepubUcan candidate, save his nominee for District
Attorney, Charles S. Spencer. In view of the division between
Tammany and the County Democracyandtbelargevote Blaine will
poll the Republicans had a "dead sure thing "if a good candidate
was nominated, who would be heartily supported by the machine ;
but a candidate who could be elected would have to be a first-class
man, and such an one in office would have antagonized Mr. O'Brien
at once. So that worthy has made a deal, and we have no doubt
that tbere is somewhere in existence a document apportioning the
offices to be appointed by the Mayor during his forthcoming term
between Johnny O'Brien and--well, with whom it is difficult to
say. The popular impression is that the deal is with Tammany,
but there are many reasons for believing that Hubert O. ThompBon
is one of the parties to the bargain. Mr. O'Brien seems to have
arranged matters very ingeniously for destroying every chance the
Republicans had of carrying their county ticket. In the meantime
the Tammany ticket is not losing strength, for upon the whole it is
an excellent one, and should Mayor Grace be returned he will
bring experience at least to the discharge of his duties. All New
York should be grateful to him for his creation of our very efficient
street cleaning commission,
In Switzerland all general laws must be referred to the great
body of the voters for endorsement before they cau become laws.
In that pure Democracy no authority is given to the Legislature
which the people can exercise themselves; hence, what is called the
Referendum. The moat keenly contested elections are those in
wbich important laws are submitted to the people for their endorse¬
ment. How diflfereht are elections in this country \ All our polit¬
ical contests are personal. There is really no vital issue between
the parties. The mighty struggle going on is between two men
and the matter to be decided ie not a programme of principles, but
a distribution of the public patronage. Constitutional amendments
of the utmost importance receive little attention from the voters.
There is an amendment pending to be voted upon next Tuesday
which is of the utmost moment to every one who pays taxes, and
yet the newspapers which daily give up page after page to personal
politics have only had occasional paragraphs touching the neces.
sity of endorsing the constitutional amendment limiting all locj
debts hereafter to 10 per cent, of the valuation of real estate, and
forbidding taxing officers from levying annually more than 3 per
cent. OE the 22.'),000 ballots which will probably be cast next
Tuesday we doubt if 40,000 will be deposited for or against this
^IgjsarBuSiness World of last week we gave a condensation of
Jngineer Kent's address on the " Insanity of Capital," which waits
until prices are high before engaging in any enterprise. Railways