James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
apathy in the public mind is fearful.1 It might well be doubted if men in sufficient number and money in sufficient amount would be forthcoming to complete the work of conquering the South. The deplorable financial condition of the country may be measured by the fluctuations of the price of gold. On January 2 gold sold in New York at 152 and, when in April it reached 175, the Secretary of the Treasury endeavored to depress the price by the sale of about eleven millions; but the effect was only temporary. It soon resumed its advance and by June 17 had passed 197. On this day the President approved an act of Congress which aimed to prevent speculative sales of gold and proved about as effectual as human efforts to stay the flood. After this enactment the speculation became wilder than before and, owing to the military failures and Chases resignation as Secretary of the Treasury, gold touched on the last day of June 250. On July 2 the act intended to prevent speculation in gold was repealed. On July 11, when Early was before Washington and communication with that city had been cut, gold fetched 285, its highest price during the war; next day, the day of the skirmish near Fort Stevens and of the rumor in Philadelphia that the capital had fallen, it sold at 282. Such prices meant that the paper money in circulation was worth less than forty cents on the dollar. As the Government bonds were sold for this money, the United States were paying, with gold at 250 (at which price or higher it sold during the greater part of July and August), fifteen per cent on their loans. Nevertheless money could be had. The continued issue of legal tender notes had inflated the currency. Business, though feverish, was good; and many fortunes of our day had their origin in these excited business years of 1863 and 1864; when sales