The one is that the Government should purchase the entire crops of the country; the other that an advance should be made of part of its value. In either case the payment is to be made by the issue of Treasury notes, and, therefore, if we put aside for the present the many and serious objections to the possession, transportation, and management of the crop by the Government, it becomes simply a question of amount. To purchase the whole crop would require its whole value less the amount of the subscriptions made to the Government. If we estimate the whole crop of cotton at $200,000,000 and the subscriptions at $50,000,000, the purchase would then require $150,000,000 of Treasury notes; and if to this sum be added the amount of values for other agricultural products, which would certainly claim the same benefit, the sum required would probably reach $175,000,000. The amount called for by the other plan of making an advance would depend upon the proportion of that advance. Few of the advocates of this plan have put in lower than 5 cents per pond on cotton, and at the same rate on other produce. It may, therefore, be very fairly set down at about $100,000,000.
If we consider first the least objectionable of these plans, it is certainly that which requires the smallest sum, and if this be found impracticable, the larger must necessarily be rejected. Our inquiry, then, may be narrowed down to a proposal that the Government should issue $100,000,000 of Treasury notes, to be distributed among the planting community, upon the pledge of the forthcoming crop. The first remarkable feature in this scheme is that it proposes that a new government, yet struggling for existence, should reject all the lessons of experience and undertake which no government, however long established, has yet succeeded in effecting. The "organization of labor" has called forth many ingenious attempts, both speculative and practical, among well-established governments, but always with disastrous failure. With us, however, the experiment is proposed to a new government, which is engaged in a gigantic war, and which must rely on credit to furnish means necessary to carry on that war. Our enemies are in possession of the munitions and workshops which have been collected during forty-five years of peace; their fleets have been built up at our joint expense. With all these on hand, they yet are obliged to expended nearly $10,000,000 per week to carry on the war. Can we expect to contend with them at less than half that expenditure? Supposing that it may require $200,000,000, then the proposal is that at a time when we are called upon to raise this large sum for the support of the Government we shall raise a further sum of $100,000,000 for the benefit of the planting interest. For it must be observed, first, that the Government receives no benefit whatever from this advance. The money is paid to each individual planter, and in exchange the Government receives only his bond or note; if the cotton be purchased, the Government receives only certain bales of cotton. That is to say, the Government pays out money, which is needful to its existence, and receives in exchange planters' notes or produce, which it does not need and cannot in any way make use of.
It must be observed, in the next place, that Treasury notes have not become the currency of the country. They are, therefore, at present the measure of value. In this view it is the duty of the Government to limit their issue, as far as practicable, to that amount which is the limit of its currency. Every person acquainted with this branch of political science is aware that if the currency passes this point it not