The first lecture in the course now being given under the auspices of the Finance Club, was delivered in Sever 11 last evening by the Hon, John Jay Knox, who, for many years, held the office of comptroller of the currency. His subject was, "The History of legal tender in the United States," and he was introduced by Mr. J. H. Gray as being virtually the founder of the national banking system.
Previous to the adoption of the constitution, paper money was issued by each colony on an independent basis. At first these notes circulated at their face value, but it was not long before they began to depreciate, and they were taken up by another issue and these later were in turn redeemed by still another issue of this paper money which by this time had fallen far below its face value. England was strongly opposed to the action of the colonies in putting this paper into circulation, and her opposition to it had more to do with the cause of the rebellion than is generally supposed. It was in 1811 that the first issue of treasury notes was made to meet the expenses of the coming war with England. They were mostly in sums of $100. and were never intended for general circulation; but this action of the treasury established a deplorable precedent, which those in favor of paper money in later years did not fail to make use of. Up to 1861, all attempts to make paper money a legal tender were indignantly rejected by congress. But the breaking out of the Civil War made such action both just and necessary.
In conclusion the lecturer gave a brief review of the silver question, ending by showing how foolish it is to endeavor to fix the relative value of gold and silver by law. The lecture was listened to by nearly three hundred people.