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celebrated, and never would permit his own to be celebrated, where he could help it.
He seemed to be afraid of the effects of hero-worship of any description. It is the great danger of a democracy. It will remain so until the end of time. Men ought to be taught more and more to reverence laws and institutions and less and less to reverence offices and men.
I shall quote from page 122 of Merwin's "Thomas Jefferson":
"The ascendancy of Jefferson and the Republican party pro duced a great change in the government and in national feeling, but it was a change, the most important part of which was intangible, and is therefore hard to describe. It was such a change as takes place in the career of an individual when he shakes off some controlling force, and sets up in life for himself. The common people felt an independence, a pride, an elan, which sent a thrill of vigor through every department of industry and adventure.
“The simplicity of the forms which President Jefferson adopted were a symbol to the national imagination of the change which had taken place. ..."
Now for substantial results of Jeffersonian simplicity in the public business. There must be, to use the words of his Inaugural Address, “a wise and frugal government.” It behooved him first then to simplify our bookkeeping and to unmystify our finances — to render all plain of comprehension to the people. It was their right, because it was their money. Let us then instruct our Secretary of the Treasury.
Jefferson's letter to Gallatin, of April 1, 1801, inaugurating this reformation, is condensed by Professor Tucker as follows: —
"On the 1st of April, 1801, Mr. Jefferson addressed a letter to him on this subject, in which, after approving the secretary's plan of having one aggregate fund from which every thing was to be paid, he further suggests that all the money in the treasury should form a consolidated mass, from which the whole expenditure should be paid, and should have preference in the following order — 1. The interest of the public debt. 2. Such parts of the principal as the creditors had a right to demand. 3. The expenses of the government. 4. Such parts of the debt as the government had the right of paying. To this he proposes that degree of clearness and simplicity in the accounts that every intelligent man in the Union could readily understand them, and detect abuses. Our predecessors,' he remarks, ‘have endeavored, by intricacies of system, and shuffling over the investigation from one officer to another, to cover everything from detection. I hope we shall go in the contrary direction, and that by our honest and judicious reformations, we may be able, within the limits of our time, to bring things back to that simple and intellectual system on which they should have been organized at first.""
As soon as possible, on Gallatin's recommendation, Jefferson authorized the sale of the United States Bank stock, owned by the government. The money was put into the sinking fund. Thus begins the dissolution of the marriage between the monied element and the government, so carefully solemnized by the Federalists.
"Now let us adjust our income and expenditures to one another!” He recommended the abolition of internal taxes, which shocked the Federalists — not believing that he could carry on the government without them, because they had said that they were necessary. Congress obeyed his wish, and did abolish the internal taxes, and we did get along without them, with a larger annual surplus and a larger annual payment on the public debt than had been found possible under his predecessor.
Further pursuing his simplification of government, he urged the abolition of unnecessary offices, thereby decreasing the patronage at his disposal and, at a time, when a new and hungry party was coming into power. He promised later to lay before Congress a list of superfluous offices. This he did, and over one-fourth of the former Executive patronage was abolished.
The policy of making appropriations in "lump sums," as it has been called, he reprobated, because it carried no information to the citizens concerning the precise purpose for which the money was to be spent, and he suggested that wherever possible the purpose of the appropriation of each dollar be specifically stated in the law appropriating it. He recommended provisions which would prevent executive officers from deflecting amounts appropriated for one purpose to another, or devoting amounts appropriated in lump sum to unexpected purposes, which was really the evil struck at. To a surprising extent this evil was corrected by that Congress. He recommended placing the duty of accounting for all the public money in one department. This recommendation prevailed and is in use today: “Auditors in the Treasury Department for the Post Office Department” and ”for” other departments being the instrumentality through which it is done.
While he was a candidate for the Presidency, the Federalists had everywhere said that he would repudiate the public debt. The truth is, he wanted to pay it off as rapidly as possible and Hamilton did not want unduly to hasten this process, because the outstanding debt "interested” the monied classes in the “stability” of the government, and thereby “strengthened”
it. Jefferson proceeded at once to pay off the debt and continued its payment to its extinction, once more falsifying the predictions of his enemies.
I think I may safely say that this has become a cardinal doctrine with the party which he founded and has ever since been professed as such by its leaders, even when temporarily varied from in practice. Cleveland's first administration, 1884-88, furnished an example, almost equal to Jefferson's, of the theory and its observance.
Under Jefferson's and Gallatin's thoroughly simple and comprehensible management, the difficulty of purchasing an imperial domain, and at the same time meeting the interest and all payable principal of the public debt, was managed hand in hand with the abolition of some old taxes and without levying a single new tax or increasing an old one. It was managed upon the Jeffersonian principle of providing for the interest and the sinking fund, so that the debt might be completely satisfied within the life of a generation.
Professor Albert Bushnell Hart does not seem to be one of those who accept, without any sufficient reason for it, the legend that our present treasury system comes over from Hamilton. The truth is, that there was a marked revolution even in the method of keeping the books, and in the whole policy of the Treasury, when Gallatin went in as Jefferson's Secretary Professor Hart well says: —
"The system established by Gallatin remains to this day, and is undoubtedly one of the most perfect organizations of a great financial machine, which can be found anywhere in the world.”
SOME MINOR MATTERS
Coinage System Jefferson is the father of our coinage system. More justly described, his was a scheme of coinage, weights and measures, because the cardinal idea of it was the decimal system, applied equally to all three. In it he recommended the pendulum as a standard of measure. Or, if this was difficult in practice, a measure taken at latitude 45°, corresponding to it. He reinforced his selection of latitude 45° as the place of measuring his uniform cylindrical rod, as being a place “upon which the nations of both hemispheres might unite.”
He shattered Robert Morris's proposed unit of value scheme, and succeeded in having substituted for it his own. It is the very simple and remarkably satisfactory system which we have now. His common sense suggested at once that the Spanish milled dollar, which “circulated more with us than any other coin," should be taken as the basis for both division and multiplication. This was the Spanish "Piece of Eight," i. e., eight bits, a bit being one-eighth of a dollar. The phrase "two-bits," meaning twenty-five cents, and “four-bits,” meaning fifty cents, and “sixbits,” meaning seventy-five cents, are still in use in the South, and I have seen old bookkeepers indicate on their books "eight bits" instead of a dollar.
Indians In his time as Secretary of State he also had the duties of the present Secretary of the Interior. In this capacity, Jefferson delivered a Cabinet opinion in which