Governor Glen
to the Board of Trade (1751)

Governor Glen replied to the Board's letter on July 13, 1751, defending his actions as Governor, and elaborating on his previous argument that paper money was beneficial to the colony of South Carolina. Source: Records in the British Public Records Office relating to South Carolina, XXIV, pp. 350-358.
I shall endeavour to give your Lordships entire satisfaction as to that part of your Letter with regard to the present state of our Paper Currency and Publick Orders. You are pleased to say that the Report which I formerly transmitted differs from an Account which you have had prepared for your use, and you desire that I may explain the reason of their differing. I have compared the two States and I cannot perceive the least difference, except that the Account sent from hence descends lower in point of time, and consequently comprehends more of the Publick Orders that have been cancelled than the account that has been prepared for Your Lordships in London neither does that account seem to take any notice of the Publick Orders issued in consequence of an Act passed on the 20th of August 1731 the Committee I presume thought it necessary to be particular as to the different Periods at which the several Sums of the legal Currency were issued, some part having been cancelled, that have only said in general that the Sum of 106,500 amounting to 15,214: 5: 8 Sterling in the Year 1731, and being of the same value at present, is still outstanding, and your Lordships take notice that your state of these Bills [p. 351] of Credit agrees exactly with that sent from hence, and that in the year 1739 there remained then outstanding without any funds for calling it is precisely the same Sum of 106,500 Currency. And the reason I presume that took notice of the Publick Orders issued in 1731 and the 63000 orders issued in 1742, in the body of the Account, was because that some small part of them was still uncancelled But your Lordships may perceive by the printed account then sent over, and which I now again transmit, that on the 5th of March 1736 there was issued the sum of 35,010, which agrees with the 1st Article in Your Lordships State of the Publick Orders, that on the 5th of April 1740 there was issued 25,000 which agrees with the second Article and by an Additional Act on the 19th of Sept the same year there was issued 11,508 agreeable to your third Article, the Sum of 63,000 issued in 1742, which makes the 4th Article of Your Lordships State, is contained above in the body of the Account, as some part of it is still uncancelled, and in May 1740 20,000 was issued, which is the 5th Article taken notice of by Your Lordships. Those several Sums in the Committees State (Exclusive of the Orders of 1731) make together the Sum of 150, 518, and Your Lordships may be assured [p. 352] that as much was then sunk as is set forth in that Report, and that since that Report was made there have also been cancelled above 1000 of the Publick Orders of 1731 and 12,600 of the 63,000 Orders for the Year 1749 and 1750, So that all the Publick Orders that have ever been issued from the beginning of the Government to this time, there remains uncancelled no more than 12,600 Currency, which is not 2000 Sterling, Except about 50 Sterling of the Orders of 1731, and a few of the Orders in 1740, which I presume have been lost or accidently destroyed, for I see none circulating, and for Exchanging of which should they appear, there is equal Sums of legal Currency lock'd up in the Publick Treasury, and except also 12,600 of the 63,000 Orders which will be sunk by the two succeeding Taxes.

Your Lordships are pleased to say that if we are a New and improving Province, and if our Exported Produce sufficiently pays for all our Importations from Great Britain, and leaves a Surplus in our favour of several thousand pounds Sterling Annually as I have asserted, it is the best proof that we want not a proper Currency, which is only necessary to a People who have not that Ballance in their favour. I would be highly indecent in me to enter into any dispute with [p. 353] your Lordships, and were there no indecency on it I should in prudence decline it. To set weakness in Competition with acknowledged abilities is to betray ones own Cause. But I hope your Lordships will permit me to explain my meaning in what I wrote last upon this Subject being as I apprehend misunderstood.

If the Goods that are imported into this Province from Great Britain be to the Amount of One hundred and twenty thousand pound Sterling yearly, and if our Exported Produce be of the value of 150,000 there will then remain a Ballance of 30,000 in our favour which no doubt we may drawn [sic.] from Great Britain in Gold or Silver, but those to whom this Ballance is due will consider what use this may be put to. Land is of little or no value, and consequently no man can increase his Estate by Purchases that way. if it is lent out upon Interest it yields but 8 p Cent, and considering the Risques and other accidents few see above six, whereas when the money is invested in Slaves, they may reasonably expect above 16 20, and 25 p Ct when Rice gives a tolerable Price, for the usual computation is that they pay for themselves with their labour in four or five Years. Now My Lords I shall suppose the Goods from Great Britain [p. 354] are all paid for with our Produce, and upon casting up the Account a Ballance is found due to us of 30,000 and at that Period of time Ships Arrive from the Coast of Guinea with 2,000 Negroes on board. This has been of the case, and sometimes 2000 have been Imported but these 2,000 Negroes at the prices they are commonly should for are worth 40,000. Your Lordships will easily perceive then while this continues to be the Case, there can no Gold or Silver ever remain with us, and yet we are not growing poorer but are every day adding to our Wealth, for these Slaves are real Riches, as much as the particular Species of gold or Silver. Your Lordships are pleased to say that you are at a loss to discover my meaning when I say it would be imprudent in the Province to buy Gold and Silver with our Ballance, I there talk of gold and Silver as a Commodity which we purchase with our Produce, as we do Goods from Great Britain, or Slaves from Guinea, and when Your Lordships have considered the above state of our Trade, I hope you will find no Impropriety in the expression, As for Trade or Barter with other Nations, which you mention, We have none, The triffling Traffick that we had at St Augustine being at an end.

Your Lordships are also pleased to express a [p. 355] very great surprize at an expression in my Letter that we have for many years kept the Publick Faith, because as you alledge, every Currency Bill from 1703 to this day, has a Clause for cancelling the money issued which has never once been performed according to Law. Your Lordships surely know that no paper Currency whatever has been issued in this Province for this nine and twenty or thirty Years past, at least such as could be legally tendered for Debt, and tho I am no stranger to what was done by others many years before my Arrival yet I am a stranger to their Guilt, and am no way answerable for it, and Your Lordships are to Just to involve me in it.

I arrived here in the year 1743 and there being no fund for sinking of what is called our Lawful paper money, I applyed my self with dilligence and steadiness to pay off and Cancel the Public Orders, and I found a very great Load of these, for which the Public Faith was engaged, but I found also a great reluctance against paying them off, and an incurable desire to have more issued. I shall state to Your Lordships what Sums have been cancelled in my time, it may differ from the Report of the Committee which was formed from the Laws imposing [p. 356] Taxes for that purpose, but it is sometimes a year or two after Laws pass before the Taxes are levied or paid into the Treasury, and the money sometimes lies longer before it is applyed, however in the Years 1745, 1748, & 1749 there was cancelled of the Publick Orders of 1731 the Sum of 20,260 and there has been above 1000 cancelled since of the Publick Orders of 1736, the 15th of May 1744 8192, the 12th of June 1747 8098..10. the 8th of June 1748 6068 the 29th of November 1749 2440 of the 63000 Orders of 1742 there have been paid eight years at the Rate of 6300 yearly, extending to 50,400 and the Orders of 1745 amounting to 20,000, these several Sums extending in the whole to 129,044..10 have been paid during my time.

I hope therefore your Lordships will permit me to say that the Public Faith has been punctually kept since my arrival, which was several years agoe, perhaps the Province is not much to be praised for it, and therefore I leave it to Your Lordships to give praise to whom it may be due, for I have been as much press'd as any Governour in America was, to conive at a temporary suspension of these Laws for sinking [p. 357] these Sums and to have issued more paper money; and the Situation of this Frontier Province left in the time of War without a single Ship to defend our Trade and extensive Coast from the neighbouring French and Spanish Settlements then our Enemies, and their Privateers, or from the Attempts of their Indians upon our backs and the low price of our Produce furnished but too plausible a pretence for issuing large Sums, but I stood singly against it, altho I was earnestly pressed by every Member of the Council and Assembly and I may say, by every individual Person in the Province and I am ashamed to let Your Lordships know some of the Arguments made use of by some of the Assembly to persuade me to these measures; some of their best Speakers came to me in the Name of the rest, and begged of me with great vehemence and with the offers of large Sums of money, to give way to their proposals. That the money offered me would be raised under Collour of Reimbursing me my Expences amongst the Indians, and other Expences that they said they had no other method of Repaying, but I not only rejected their Offers, with great Indignation, but refused to comply with desires even when they had afterwards moderated them to 40,000 for the payment of [p. 358] the Sloops. I begged of them for their own sakes to consider the distress that had been brought upon other Province by such measures. That it was an increasing Evil and the more it was used the more it would be wanted, that steadiness was the only Security against it for that admitting a little more and a little more would like the opening a Flood Gate, overwhelm us with an Inundation of paper money. These Arguments I used with them against any new Issue of paper money, and they raised the Sum without it, but it is my Duty to speak another Language to Your Lordships, while I am convinced that some sum in paper money under proper regulations, in the present Situation of our Trade, might be useful (for I will not say absolutely necessary) to us.

Return to Table of Contents