Free Trade in Money, or Note-Shaving

Free Trade in Money, or Note-Shaving

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Excerpt from Free Trade in Money, or Note-Shaving: The Great Cause of Fraud, Poverty and Ruin

Those citizens who petition for the repeal of the usury laws may be divided into four classes, namely:

1st. Those who wish to increase their income by being permitted to tax the borrower what they please; 2d. Those who act as agents, or brokers, and desire to increase money negotiations for a commission; 3d. Those who are borrowers, and are made to play a subservient part to the lenders; and, 4th. Those who are made to believe - and this class is a very small one - that such an experiment would really tend to benefit the people, although they are at a loss to tell how or in what way such a result has ever been reached by such means.

We insert the following letter from the Hon. W. W. Wick, late member of Congress from Indiana, and formerly a judge in that state. It is brief and to the point, and may be viewed as a complete answer to all petitioners for experiments.

"Washington, D. C., March 7,1849.

"Sir: Your note of inquiry is before me. I propose leaving for home this evening, and my response must be brief.

"In Indiana, the usury laws were repealed twelve or fourteen years ago, - perhaps more, - and were not reinstated for three or four years. The frightful results of the repeal were not immediately developed. Many a 'stricken deer' retired to die in secret, too proud to make known his ruin, induced by his own imprudence and the absence of legal protection against it. Many were sold out of house and home, ere public attention was directed, to the subject; but no sooner had the effects of the repeal been developed and become the subject of public discussion and conversation, than an irresistible public opinion called for usury laws. The first step was to fix the rate of legal interest at six per cent., and to sanction contracts for ten per cent. In two or three years the taking of more than six per cent, was prohibited.

"If I had time, I would be glad to make a sketch of the desolations left in the track of the usurer, during his brief reign in 'Hoosier land.' I was judge of one of our circuits at the time, and was a shuddering witness to these desolations.

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