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an insolvent debtor may settle with his creditors and become free from further legal obligation to pay the debts not settled in this manner. When no law of Congress exists in reference to bankruptcy State laws on the subject are in effect. Congress has passed and repealed three such laws, and a fourth is now in operation.
51. Coining Money.--Coin is money made of metal. The coining of money is done at mints. There are mints at Philadelphia, San Francisco, New Orleans, Carson City, and Denver. We have gold, silver, and copper coins in the United States. Copper is used as an alloy in the gold and silver coins, nickel with copper in the five-cent piece, and tin and zinc with copper in the cent. Anyone can have any amount of gold coined into money free of charge. This is free and unlimited coinage. Silver is not so treated, and has not been since 1873, because the market value of the silver in the dollar has been worth only about fifty cents for some years. The half-dollars and other subsidiary silver coins do not have so much silver proportionately as the dollar; while the metal in the two minor coins is worth still less in proportion to their face value. It follows that the Government, in making silver and minor coins, has a profit. This profit is known as seigniorage.
52. Legal Tender.—This is money that must be accepted by a creditor in payment of a debt. Some of the coins are legal tender for certain amounts only. The silver coins below the dollar are legal tender up to ten dollars; the minor coins up to twenty-five cents. All gold coins and silver dollars are legal tender to any amount.
53. The Value of Coin.-In 1900 the gold dollar was
made the standard of money in the United States. If the value of a silver dollar were regulated by the amount of silver it contains, the coin would have to be much larger than it is; for the silver in it is worth much less than the gold in a gold dollar. But the Government guarantees the silver dollar to be equal in value with the gold dollar. The value of foreign coins is determined by finding the amount of gold or silver in them and comparing it with the amount in our standard.
54. Weights and Measures.—Congress never exercised much authority over weights and measures. It adopted the English Troy pound and made the metric system legal if used. But outside of its scientific applications the metric system has never found great favor in the United States. In 1901 a National Standardizing Bureau was established in the Treasury Department, where standards used in all the applied sciences are kept. Scientific instruments need no longer be sent to Europe to have them standardized.
55. Counterfeiting Securities and Current Coin.--The securities of the United States are its paper money and bonds. There is a large variety of paper money in circulation. The "greenbacks” are simply promissory notes, without interest, passing as money. They were issued in the time of the Civil War to pay current expenses until money could be raised by taxation and the sale of bonds.
National bank notes, as the name indicates, are issued by national banks. These notes pass for money because every dollar of them is secured by United States bonds, bought by the banks and deposited with the Treasurer of the United States.
Gold and silver certificates are certificates of deposit; that is, the gold and silver which they represent are on deposit in the United States Treasury. The certificates are more convenient to handle—especially in large amounts—than gold and silver coins.
All these forms of paper money, as well as the silver money, by a law passed in 1900, must be kept at a parity of value with gold. The gold and silver certificates and the national bank notes are not legal tender; but as they are well secured and may be exchanged for legal tender money, they circulate readily.
As so much of the currency in daily use is paper money, the notes would be counterfeited extensively if Congress had not passed very stringent laws against counterfeiting and passing counterfeit money.
56. Post Offices and Post Roads.-Out of the power of Congress to establish post offices and post roads has grown the greatest business concern in the world. An ex-Postmaster-General said: “It handles more pieces, employs more men, spends more money, brings more revenue, uses more agencies, reaches more homes, involves more details, and touches more interests than any other human organization, public or private, governmental or corporate.” The receipts and expenses increase from year to year in large amounts. In 1904 they were about $150,000,000; in 1905, about $153,000,000. There are between 75,000 and 80,000 post offices in the country now, as against seventy-five in 1790, when the postal revenue was but $38,000. Letter-carrier routes in towns and cities, all railroads and canals, and all waters in the United States, while mail is carried thereon, are called post roads. The less important routes, over
which mail is not carried by railways or steamboats, are known as “star routes,” because designated in the books of the Postal Department by stars.
57. Copyrights and Patents.-Congress, for the public good, has secured authors and inventors for a limited time in their respective writings and discoveries. A copyright is good for twenty-eight years and may be renewed for another fourteen years. A patent is good for seventeen years, but may be extended by special act of Congress. During these years the author or inventor, or the person in whose name the patent or copyright is registered, has the sole right to make and sell what he has copyrighted or patented. Our copyright laws protect foreign publications, provided they come from countries which protect our publications; but such literary products must be printed from type set in the United States. The patent office is self-supporting.
58. Piracies and Felonies.- Piracy is robbing on the high sea or upon the coast by descent from the sea, committed by persons not holding a commission from any established state. Felonies are grave crimes. The “law of nations,” or international law, determines the conduct of the general body of civilized states in their dealings with one another. The jurisdiction of a State in the United States, having a seacoast, ends with the low-water mark. The United States has jurisdiction beyond that line and extending three miles into the ocean, including gulfs and bays. Beyond the three-mile limit jurisdiction is determined by the flag of the vessel —the United States having jurisdiction over crimes committed on vessels floating its flag.
59. The Military Powers. The military powers of
Congress include declaring war, granting letters of marque and reprisal, providing an army and a navy, providing for the calling out of the militia and making laws for its organization and training. While Congress declares war, the President, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, determines when it shall close; but Congress shall make no appropriation for more than two years for the use of the army and navy. .
60. Letters of Marque and Reprisal.—These are commissions granted to private persons and ships in time of war to seize the property of the enemy. Ships to which such letters are granted are called privateers. Privateering has been abandoned by our country as well as by most other civilized nations. Captures of the enemy's property are now made by the army and navy only.
61. The Army.-As now constituted the army consists of not less than 57,000 men and not more than 100,000. Its general oversight is entrusted to the General Staff, composed of the heads of several bureaus in the War Department (see p. 89). The Staff is auxiliary to the President as ex-officio commander-in-chief. The officers and non-commissioned officers of the army, from the highest to the lowest in rank, are lieutenant general, major general, brigadier general, colonel, major, captain, first and second lieutenant, first sergeant, sergeant, and corporal.
62. The Navy.—Since 1883 our navy has been enlarged so much that it is excelled in strength by but two or three European nations. It is claimed that our country needs a strong navy for the defense of its islands in the sea and the protection of its commerce. The general direction of naval affairs is under a General Board,