Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

their arms to such officers as may be appointed by the general-in-chief of the United States armies, and at a point to be agreed upon by the commissioners.

2. Mexican officers shall preserve their arms and private effects, including horses and horse furniture, and to be allowed, regular and irregular officers, as also the rank and file, five days to retire to their respective homes, on parole, as hereinafter prescribed.

3. Coincident with the surrender, as stipulated in article 1, the Mexican flags of the various forts and stations shall be struck, saluted by their own batteries; and immediately thereafter, forts Santiago and Conception, and the castle of San Juan d'Ulloa, occupied by the forces of the United States.

4. The rank and file of the regular portion of the prisoners to be disposed of after surrender and parole, as their general-in-chief may desire, and the irregu. lar to be permitted to return to their homes. The officers, in respect to all arms and descriptions of force, giving the usual parole, that the said rank and file, as well as themselves, shall not serve again until duly exchanged.

5. All the materiel of war, and all public property of every description found in the city, the castle of San Juan d'Ulloa and their dependencies, to belong 10 the United States; but the armament of the same (noi injured or destroyed in the further prosecution of the actual war) may be considered as liable to be restored 10 Mexico by a definitive treaty of peace.

6. The sick and wounded Mexicans to be allowed to remain in the city, with such medical officers and attendants, and officers of the army as may be necessary to their care and treatment.

7. Absolute protection is solemnly guarantied to persons in the city, and property, and it is clearly understood that no private building or property is to be taken or used by the forces of the United States without previous arrangement with the owners, and sor a fair equivalent.

8. Absolute freedom of religious worship and ceremonies is solemnly guarantied. (Signed in duplicate.) W. J. WORTH, Brigadier General.

GID. J. PILLOW, Brigadier General.
JOS. G. TOTTEN, Colonel and Chief Engineer.
JOSE GUTIERREZ DE VILLANUEVA.
PEDRO MANUEL HERRERA.

MANUEL ROBLES. Captain Aulick, appointed a commissioner by Commodore Perry on behalf of the navy, (the general-in-chief not being able, in consequence of the roughness of the sea, to communicate with the navy until after commissions had been exchanged,) and being present by General Scott's invitation, and concurring in the result and approving thereof, hereto affixes his name and signature.

J. H. AULICK, Captain U. S. N. Head-quarters of the army of the United States of America, Camp Washing. ton, before Vera Cruz, March 27, 1847. Approved and accepted:

WINFIELD SCOTT,

M. C. PERRY,
Commander-in-chief U. S. N. forces, Gulf of Mexico.

VERA Cruz, Marzo 27, 1847.
Approbad y acceptado:

JOSE JUAN DE LANDERO. A true copy of the original articles of capitulation.

E. P. SCAMMON,

1st Lieut. Topo. Eng's, Act'g Aid-de-camp. Note. The remainder of the Documents will be given in the next number of the Register.

THE MINT OF THE UNITED STATES.

We have been politely furnished by R. Patterson, Esq., * with connected tables and statements of the operations of the Mint from its commencement until the present time.

The subject of coinage, always an important one, is becoming more and more so every year. In the early days of the Republic, it attracted the attention, and enlisted the earnest efforts of such men as Washington, Jefferson and Morris. The mint was repeatedly noticed by General Washington in his messages to Congress, and while President it was his practice to visit it frequently.

We therefore present, as an acceptable introductory to our tables and statements, the following account of the coinage of the country and of the discussions and proceedings connected with the establishment and regulations of the mint, extracted from the valuable manual of the United States Assayers of the mint.

The territory which now bears the name of the United States, was in the possession of savage tribes until the seventeenth century. In 1607 the first company of emigrants arrived from Europe, and established the colony of Virginia. At intervals of a few years, new settlements were made in various other quarters; and before the close of that century, the foundations were laid for twelve of the thirteen colonies, which eventually became a union of free states.

The earliest metallic currency of each colony consisted chiefly of the coins of its mother country. In Massachusetts, however, and doubtless in all the settlements, specie was so scarce, that for many years it was common to pay taxes, and to carry on internal trade, by transferring, at certain rates, cattle, skins and the products of the soil. Various considerations, enhanced by the inconvenience and uncertainty of such a medium, induced the Massachusetts colony in 1652 to establish a mint. T

The law enacted for that purpose, provided for the coinage of shillings, sixpences, and threepences, to be of the fineness of sterling silver (925 thousandth), and by a reduction of weight to be "two-pence in the shilling of less valew than the English coyne.” The mint met with much opposition from the British crown, whose prerogative was invaded by its operations, but continued in existence more than thirty years, during which time a considerable amount of coin was issued. These coins are now extremely scarce, and, indeed, are not to be found except in the cabinets of the curious. Only the shilling has been

• Son of Dr. R. M. Patterson, Director of the Mints of the United States.
VOL. I.—MAY, 1848. 7

seen at this mint, the best specimens of which, at this day, weigh from 64 to 67 grains, and by a recent assay prove to be 926 thousandth fine: the intrinsic value, therefore, is about 163 cents. They are a rude coinage, very thin, and of various diameters; and there is some variety in the impressions; but the date of 1652 appears on all of them. The device of a pine tree on one side, has given to the series the common designation of the “pine tree coinage.They were taken in England at a discount of one-fourth of their home value.

The example of Massachusetts was followed by Maryland, where silver and copper coins were issued in 1662. These pieces were to be equivalent to the British, but in reality were not much heavier than the like denominations coined at Boston.

These were the only issues of silver coin previous to the independence of the states. There were, however, various pieces of copper struck at different periods; as, in 1694, the half-penny for the Carolinas, a two-penny piece and penny in 1723, another penny in 1733, and a half-penny for Virginia in 1773. After the revolutionary struggle of 1776—82, and before the establishment of the national mint, there were various emissions of silver and copper by states and individuals.

As the population and trades of the colonies increased, foreign gold and silver coins found their way into the country, and became a part of the circulating medium. These were chiefly the guinea, joe and its half, the doubloon and pistole in gold; the dollar and its parts, the pistareen and its parts, and the British shilling and sixpence in silver. French crowns were not known until the Revolution, when they became common. But of the specie currencies, no piece was as well known as the Spanish American dollar; insomuch that, about the epoch just referred to, it became the effective standard or unit of our moneys.

The pound of the colonies was at first the same as the pound sterling of England, being simply a money of account. This relation, in process of time, became greatly altered, in consequence of excessive issues of paper by the colonial authorities; but as these issues were greater in some of the colonies than in others, the proportion was very unequal and complicated. The following were the rates of the colonial pounds, in sterling pounds and Spanish dollars after the revolution.

[blocks in formation]

Peace was scarcely concluded, before the preliminary step was taken towards a national coinage. Congress directed the financier of the confederation, Robert Morris, to lay before them his views upon the subject of coins and currency. The report was presented early in 1782, and is stated by Mr. Jefferson to have been the work of the assistant financier, Gouverneur Morris. It will be interesting to trace the steps by which three grand benefits have been secured to this country; the establishment of a uniform currencythe rejection of mere moneys of account, or rather, making them the same with real moneys—and the adoption of a decimal notation.

All these objects were in the eye of the assistant financier. He first labored to harmonize the moneys of the states; and found that the ittoth part of a dollar (Spanish) was a common divisor for the various currencies. Starting with this fraction as his unit, he proposed the following table of moneys:

Ten units to be equal to one penny.
Ten pence one bill.
Ten bills one dollar, about two-thirds the Spanish dollar.
Ten dollars one crown.

The report contains this observation :-“Although it is not absolutely necessary, yet it is very desirable, that money should be increased in a decimal ratio; because by that means, all calculations of interest, exchange, insurance and the like, are rendered much more simple and accurate, and of course more within the

power

of the great mass of the people.”

The subject was discussed repeatedly in Congress, but no further step was taken until 1784, when Mr. Jefferson, on behalf of a committee appointed for the purpose, brought in a report, disagreeing with that of the financier, except as to the decimal system. The following remarks occur in this document: “The most easy ratio of multiplication and division is that of ten. Every one knows the facility of decimal arithmetic. Every one remembers, that when learning money arithmetic, he used to be puzzled with adding the farthings, taking out the fours, and carrying them on; adding the pence, taking out the twelves, and carrying them on; adding the shillings, taking out the twenties, and carrying them on; but when he came to the pound, where he had only tens to carry forward, it was easy and free from error. The bulk of mankind are schoolboys through life. Certainly, in all cases, where we are free to choose between easy and difficult modes of operation, it is most rational to choose the easy. The financier, therefore, in his report, well proposes that our coins should be in decimal proportions to one another.

He found fault with the unit of Mr. Morris, first, on account of

[ocr errors]

its diminutive size: “A horse or bullock of eighty dollars' value would require a notation of six figures, to wit, 115,200 units:” secondly, because of its want of correspondence in value with any known coins. In lieu of this the Spanish dollar was proposed, as being of convenient size, capable of easy actual division, and familiar to the minds of the people. It was added, that the course of our commerce would bring us more of this than any other foreign coin; and besides, the dollar was already as much referred to as a measure of value, as the respective provincial pounds. Upon this basis, it was proposed to strike four coins, viz:

A golden piece, of the value of ten dollars.
A dollar in silver.
A tenth of a dollar, also in silver.
A hundredth of a dollar, in copper.

The assistant financier conceded something to Mr. Jefferson's views, but adhered to the main principles of bis own scheme. It would be out of place to enter into the arguments offered on behalf of each proposition; it is sufficient to say, that Congress in 1785 adopted Mr. Jefferson's report, and in the following year made legal provision for a coinage on that basis.

All these proceedings were, of course, under the CONFEDERATION, which lasted from 1778 to 1787. An article in that compact provided as follows: “The United States, in Congress assembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective states."

Some of the states issued copper coins during that period. How long they continued current cannot be stated; but at this day, those that remain, are in custody of coin-collectors. The cent of Massachusetts varies in weight from 148 to 164 grains; the New Jersey piece, 128 to 154 grains. The Vermont cent of 1786, weighs about 110 grains; the Connecticut coin is the most irregular, varying from 96 to 144 grains. There are, also, other varieties, particularly the “Nova Constellatio,” of thirteen stars, and another piece with the same significant number of RINGS conjoined, both of which were coined in Massachusetts.

The constitution of 1787 arrested all these local issues, and vested the right of coinage solely in the general government. The establishment of a mint was, however, still delayed. In the well known report on moneys, weights and measures, made to Congress in 1790 by Mr. Jefferson, then Secretary of State, it was remarked: “The experiment made by Congress in 1786, by declaring that there should be one money of account and payment through the United States, and that its parts and multiples should be in a decimal ratio, has obtained such general approbation, both at home and abroad, that nothing seems wanting but the actual coinage to banish

« ForrigeFortsæt »