16th Congress.
No. 591
1st Session.


Communicated to the Senate, April 17, 1820.

To the honorable the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress assembled: The General Assembly of the State of Louisiana respectfully represent:

That the law passed at the last session, providing that from and after the 1st day of November, 1819, foreign gold coin should cease to be current in the United States, has produced in this State the most pernicious consequences.

Your honorable body must be aware that the annual proceeds of the Mexican mines having greatly diminished, by reason of the revolution of that colony, the exportation of precious metals, which was formerly carried on from that country to Louisiana, has been necessarily affected by that reduction; and that, on the other hand, the perils attendant at all times on that kind of commerce have increased beyond all measure, in consequence of the enterprises of a lawless band of pirates, attracted by hopes of plunder in the Mexican Gulf. The General Assembly, without fearing the imputation of exaggeration, declare that the concurrence of these several causes has deprived the United States of more than four millions of dollars, which would have been brought to New Orleans during the last eight years, and which, flowing into circulation, would have prevented, or at least diminished, the general embarrassments under which our commerce labors.

Whatever may be the case as to that fact, and however small may be the amount of gold specie lately brought into this place from Mexico, it had, nevertheless, the effect of augmenting our facilities for exchange, and the sale of our goods, and enabling our merchants to be refunded of such sums as may be due from that part of Spanish America.

Those real advantages have disappeared, under the operation of the abovementioned law, inasmuch as doubloons having ceased to be current in the United States, no reasonable hopes can be entertained that traders will persist in bringing them here, when, in all the ports of the West Indies, they can easily, and at an advantageous rate, exchange them for every kind of commodities and necessary supplies.

If we inquire into the effects of the same law respecting the doubloons already in the country, we shall find that they have not been happier. In ordinary times, that specie remains generally in the hands of moneyed men, who rest satisfied that they can place out advantageously those funds, whenever willing to do so; but the great scarcity of specie, under which every part of the Union has labored for the last eighteen months, has caused a great quantity of that kind of specie to be put into circulation where it was received, without difficulty, at the rate of $16, a circumstance which facilitated payments, and the sale of the produce of the country, and of foreign merchandise, and from which there are but few persons in this country who have not derived some relief, which, under unfortunate circumstances, is always better appreciated. '

Was that law intended to place at the disposal of Government for coinage a sufficient quantity of gold for the actual wants of the Treasury? If such was its object, it appears improbable that it will be attained, inasmuch as gold specie, being received at a very high rate at Havana, and several other places, will be purchased here for exportation at a low price by the moneyed men.

It appears that Congress, when they fixed a term after which that money should cease to be current in the United States, had reason to believe that, before the time prescribed, a quantity of American eagles, nearly equal to the amount of foreign specie withdrawn, would be thrown into circulation. But the General Assembly do not perceive that that object has been fulfilled; and even had it been, they could not have viewed without regret the adoption of a measure which tends sensibly to affect the commercial relations which have always existed between Louisiana and Mexico, and which would flourish as formerly, if a more immediate protection was extended to our navigation in those quarters, and the abovementioned law repealed.

The General Assembly submit the foregoing observations to your honorable body, with full confidence in your superior wisdom and exalted patriotism; and they are respectfully persuaded that, amidst your arduous and multiplied labors, the prosperity of the United States and the welfare of your fellow-citizens will be the continual and primary objects of your solicitude.

Resolved, That copies of the foregoing memorial be forwarded to our Senators and Representative in Congress, and that the former be instructed, and the latter requested, to use their utmost exertions in order to obtain the end proposed in said memorial.

      DAVID C. KER, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
JULIEN POYDRAS, President of the Senate.

A true copy from the original deposited in the office of the Secretary of State.

JS. VILLERS, Governor of the State of Louisiana.

New Orleans, March 22, 1820.