Hugh McCulloch

Hugh McCulloch, 27th Secretary of the Treasury, appointed by President Abraham Lincoln

“The present legal tender acts were war measures, and while the repeal of those provisions which made the United States notes lawful money is not now recommended, the Secretary is of the opinion that they ought not to remain in force one day longer than shall be necessary to enable the people to prepare for a return to the constitutional currency. It is not supposed that it was the intention of Congress, by these acts, to introduce a standard of value, in times of peace, lower than the coin standard, much less to perpetuate the discredit which must attach to a great nation which dishonors its own obligations by unnecessarily keeping in circulation an unredeemable paper currency. It has not in past times been regarded as the province of Congress to furnish the people directly with money in any form. Their authority is “to coin money and fix the value thereof;” and, inasmuch as a mixed currency, consisting of paper and specie, has been found to be a commercial necessity, it would seem, also, to be their duty to provide, as has been done by the National Currency Act, that this paper currency should be secured beyond any reasonable contingency. To go beyond this, however, and issue government obligations, making them by statute a legal tender for all debts, public and private, is not believed to be, under ordinary circumstances, within the scope of their duties or constitutional powers.” — From the “Annual Report of the Secretary of the Treasury,” Dec. 4, 1865