Sources for Disunion Article, “Saving the Nation from Financial Disaster”

By Marc Egnal


This essay is based both on secondary works and primary sources. Those interested in the background of the financial legislation of early 1862, should consult:


Much of this essay reflects new primary research, chiefly in the  Congressional Globe, the official record of debates in the Senate and House of Representatives.   It’s available on line at


Here are the citations for the five quotations in the essay.


Elbridge Spaulding made clear that the next step–heavy taxation–must soon follow the emission of Treasury notes. “Direct taxation, excises, and internal duties are new features within the United States,” he remarked. “They will be heavy burdens on the people, but essential to sustain the circulation of demand Treasury notes.  The tax-gatherer will be an unwelcome visitor to most people, but his face must soon be familiar.”

Elbridge Spaulding, Jan. 28, 1862, Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, 524.


Sherman explained how the new currency would benefit the nation, as well as allowing the government to pay its debts. “When you issue these $150,000,000 of currency,” he stated, “it will permeate all over this country; it will be the blood of the whole system . . . It will enable men to carry on their business and make their exchanges all over the country.”

John Sherman, Feb. 13, 1862, Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, 791.


It will “subjugate the States and the people perpetually to the Federal Government,” one Ohio Democrat pronounced.

Clement Vallandigham, Feb. 3, 1862, Congressional Globe, Appendix, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, 45.


They predicted it would “ruin the business prosperity of the country.”

William Sheffield, Feb. 4, 1862, Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, 641.


 “A doleful sound came up from the caverns of bullion brokers, and from the saloons of the associated banks,” reported Thaddeus Stevens. “Their cashiers and agents were soon on the ground, and persuaded the Senate, with but little deliberation, to mangle and destroy what it had cost the House months to digest, consider and pass  . . . It makes two classes of money – one for the banks and brokers and another for the people.”

Thaddeus Stevens, Feb. 20, 1862, Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, 2nd Session, 900.