Read Chapter XXX - Mammon dominates the nations of Usury A Scriptural‚ Ethical and Economic View , free online book, by Calvin Elliott, on

The debt habit has been diligently cultivated and encouraged, until the nations are enslaved. Public bonds imply bondsmen, and the nations are no longer free. There is a mortgage upon the inventive genius, industry and productive energy of the world.

Usurers greatly prefer an organized government as a debtor. The individual may die, but a nation’s debts bind from age to age, are bequeathed by the fathers to the children, and thus descend from generation to generation. The bonds of no corporation, however great and rich, can be so secure. They embrace special industries, while national debts are a claim upon every industry and a mortgage upon every foot of soil, and every dollar of present personal property, and of all that may be produced in the whole realm.

If we express the world’s indebtedness, the national debts, in the terms of our currency, as nearly as we can reduce the currency of other nations to such an expression, we find the national debts as follows, in 1890:

Denmark                           $   33,004,722
Great Britain                      3,848,460,000
United States                        915,962,112
Germany                            1,956,217,017
Austria-Hungary                   $2,666,339,539
France                             4,446,793,398
Russia                             3,491,016,074
Italy                              2,324,826,329
Spain                              1,251,433,096
Netherlands                          430,539,653
Belgium                              360,504,099
Sweden                                64,220,807
Norway                                13,973,752
Portugal                             490,493,599
Greece                               107,306,518
Turkey                               821,000,000
Switzerland                           10,912,925
---------------------		----------------
These debts aggregate            $22,955,386,008

Hundreds of millions have been added to these national debts in the last ten years. Nearly every nation has increased its indebtedness, possibly no nation has decreased it, and others, like China, with its recent great loan, and little Korea, with its twelve millions, must be added to the list. The debts of the nations of Europe have been increased until they now amount in the aggregate to twenty-three billions. The debts of the nations of all the world have increased one-half since 1890, and now aggregate thirty-three billions.

These great national debts are practically perpetual, and though they may be at so low a rate of interest as three per cent., they absorb the energies of the people, and, like a glacier grinding over the earth, crush all beneath them.

Public debts are incurred to relieve the present wealth of the burden of present duty. Debts place the whole burden on producers of the future. They relieve those who hold the wealth now, but are a draft upon those who make the wealth that is to be.

An individual incurring debt places a mortgage upon his productions; by a pledge of future production he relieves himself of the strain of the present.

A family incurs debt; a part of the members of the house are strong and capable of productive labor, and a part are not; the whole burden of the payment comes upon the productive members of the home. The weak and helpless and the indolent, though strong, bear no part of the burden. This family has a home, and a mortgage is placed upon it to secure the present needs. The burden of paying the interest on this mortgage, and the final payment of the principal, is wholly on the capable and industrious members of the family.

National debts are incurred to relieve the present wealth of the burden of present government calls and obligations, and to roll it upon those who shall produce wealth in the future. So the debt of a city, state, or nation is a present relief to property holders, by placing the producers under future obligations.

A street in a city is to be paved; no additional tax is levied; but bonds are issued running twenty years.

This relieves the present wealth of the burden, placing it upon those who shall produce the wealth that shall be in twenty years.

The expenses of a great war must be met. Present taxes may be slightly increased, but to meet the burden consols or public bonds are issued to be paid at a distant date. This relieves the present wealth, but binds it upon those who shall be the producers of wealth in the generations to come. Hume says, “The practice of contracting debts will almost invariably be abused by every government. It would scarcely be more imprudent to give a prodigal son a credit with every banker, than to empower statesmen to draw bills in this manner on posterity.”

These public bonds are the golden opportunity of the usurers. Not only is their wealth relieved of all burden, but it affords an opportunity of profitable investment with the best possible debtor. They can pose as enterprising citizens, and urge great public improvements, and at the same time gain a most sure and profitable investment. They can pose as patriots in time of war, and urge that it be pressed with energy at whatever cost of treasure and blood. It is not their blood that is shed, nor their wealth that is wasted. It gives them the opportunity of binding their burdens on the nation for the producers of the coming generations to carry.

Usurers never wish public debts paid. They wish them issued for as long time as possible, and then reissued, or the time extended before they are due. This is done by the figment called refunding, as if it were a concession and favor to a poor debtor. It is but a device to keep the burden on the public back. It is not a financial feat and triumph for the chancellor of the exchequer to refund a public debt. He but yields himself as a tool to the usurers to continue their loans. They resist the payment when due, but when an officer is found willing to extend them before they are due all trouble is avoided and the accretions of interest are not interrupted for a day.

Those who hold the bonds of a nation direct its destinies. The nation borrowing is servant to the lender, just as an individual. The nation compromises its freedom and becomes the slave of its bond-holders. The usurers use their power for the advancement of their own material interests, and hold all other purposes of government as inferior to their own ends. This subordination of a people, to the creditors, is fatal to republican and constitutional governments; the form may be preserved for a time, but the substance of free government has departed.

The concentration of wealth carries with it the concentration of power, and is inimical to republican institutions. A proper distribution of wealth and power must be preserved or popular government is put in jeopardy.

The first bank of deposit and discount was the Bank of Venice, in the republic of Venetia. It continued its existence for six hundred years, until the government that gave it life itself perished. From its long continuous business, and its success as a bank, it has been spoken of in every work on banking as a model. It began its association with the republic in 1171, and dominated it, sapping its life, and assuming its functions, until the bank practically ruled the state, and when one fell both perished in 1797. The usurers received their hold on the state in a time of the greatest need. The republic had been impoverished by the crusades, and was in dire financial straits. Advantage was taken of this by the usurers to so bind the bank and state together that when one lived the other must, or both must die together. Stock in the bank was a loan to the state at four per cent. annual interest. The union seemed to promise great prosperity for a time, but really absorbed all the republic’s vitality during the last hundred years of their life.

Venetia was at the first a pure democracy. The Doge was elected by the people and administered the government, himself being the responsible head. He, later, chose advisers, or a cabinet, to be associated in the responsible duties. After this, and about the time of the association with the bank, a representative council was elected by the people, and the government was administered by the Doge and this council. This was gradually transformed from a government of the people to an oligarchy; and as the years passed there were no steps taken toward a return, but the authority and power was more and more centralized. The ruling class was, in a hundred years, limited to those families enrolled in the “Golden Book.” In another hundred years the government was in control of the “Council of Ten.” Later the secret tribunal of three was the terror of the people and the instrument of their oppression. The republic was only such in name, the people were deprived of all voice in the government, and the Doge became a puppet to obey the ruling cabal.

Shakespeare went to Venice to find his typical usurer in Shylock the Jew. He found there also his typical Christian, Antonio. Antonio was a benevolent great soul, who loved his friends, supported all benevolences, and hated the usurers. Shylock hated him because he would lend without interest, and was constantly reproving him for his usurious practice.

The contest between the usurers and the people of the Venetian republic was a struggle for the life, but the usurers never relaxed their hold. They dominated until the end.

Another great triumph of the usurers was in England at the time of great need. William and Mary had been placed upon the throne by the Protestants, but were in need of money to carry on the struggle for its complete establishment. This was the usurers’ opportunity. Former kings, in like straits, had confiscated the wealth of the usurious Jews, Lombards and Goldsmiths, and appropriated their property as a penalty for their unchristian practice, but William and Mary entered into a contract with them to gain their assistance, giving them special privileges to secure a permanent loan. They were to loan the crown 1,200,000 pounds sterling. This was never to be repaid, but interest at the rate of eight per cent. per annum was to be paid forever. This loan was a marvel of success. There was a great rush of usurers to place their money with the crown as a perpetual loan at that rate of increase. Their usuries, which had hitherto been counted dishonest gain, were henceforth to be honorable, and they esteemed as patriots.

Thus, the first Protestant power in the world was established in the hands of usurers, and bound to continue associated with them forever. The story, by Macauley, of the establishment of the Bank of England, is familiar to all students of English history.

This bank is a great corporation; the Board of Directors is composed of twenty-six members, who elect their own successors, and thus it is entirely independent. It makes laws for its own direction in the name of the people or defies their control. In 1797 it secured an order from the privy council ordering itself to suspend specie payment. It obeyed its own order promptly, and at the same time announced their strength and that the order would be temporary; but for one excuse and another it was continued for twenty-five years.

Sir Robert Peel, in 1844, having become convinced of the dangerous and disastrous influence, expanding and contracting its loans, secured the enactment of a law to regulate and limit its circulation. This law was distasteful to the bank, and was, upon its enactment, defied by open disobedience. It has not only dictated the laws for its own regulation, but directed both the domestic and the foreign policy of the government. It has subordinated the public weal to financial profit. This corporation of usurers manage all the finances of the kingdom, and has more influence than Crown and Parliament combined. As a great uncrowned king it dictates the diplomatic policies of the United Kingdom. Its influence has not been extended to promote Protestant Christian faith, Jews are not zealous for any Christian sect; nor for the purpose of lifting up the degraded and enlightening them; nor in the east has it exercised its power to relieve human suffering, but its diplomatic policy has been mercenary greed always.

It should be noted that the enlightened Christian people of the United Kingdom are not the English government. There has been, for two hundred years, a power behind the Throne, behind Parliament, behind the people, essentially selfish and commercial. This has controlled India for profit, while the benevolent people were anxious to christianize and uplift. It has befriended the Turk while England wept over the Turkish barbarities. It forced opium upon China while the Christian people sent missionaries. The people of England love freedom, yet the government has endeavored to crush it in the American colonies and everywhere throughout the world, when in conflict with a selfish commercial policy. The English people cry out against human slavery, yet in the struggle in the United States, when slavery was in the balance, the English government earnestly espoused the cause of those who upheld slavery. The English people rejoiced that the slave trade in Africa was abolished, yet the government enacted the hut tax, and compels now the service of the young and vigorous blacks in the mines, sending them back to their people when their strength declines.

In the establishment of the republic of the United States there was a strong resistance to any debt or subordination to usurers. The history of banks in the United States shows a struggle at the birth of the nation between the usurers, who demanded the management of the finances, and the people who resisted. This struggle continued for half a century, when the people triumphed, and for thirty years there was no hint of a purpose to overthrow what was regarded as the settled policy of the nation.

The first bank was incorporated in 1791. Its establishment was strongly resisted, but being urged by the Secretary of the Treasury, a charter was granted for twenty years. When that charter expired by limitation in 1811, there was a struggle by the usurers to secure its renewal, but they were defeated. They did not, however, abandon their effort. In 1816 they secured the charter of the second bank of the United States. This charter was also limited to twenty years, expiring in 1836. There was a tremendous struggle for its renewal, but the chief executive, backed by a strong political party, so completely defeated it that the usurers for the time yielded, and for thirty years the settled policy of the government forbade the alliance with usurers and the making of any public debt. Many of the leading statesmen of that period were very pronounced in their opposition.

“The banking system concentrates and places the power in the hands of those who control it.

“Never was an engine invented better calculated to place the destines of the many in the hands of the few, or less favorable to that equality and independence which lies at the bottom of our free institutions.” J.C. Calhoun.

“I object to the continuance of this bank because its tendencies are dangerous and pernicious to the government and the people. It tends to aggravate the inequality of fortunes; to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer; to multiply nabobs and paupers, and to deepen and widen the gulf that separates Dives from Lazarus.” Thomas H. Benton.

“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies. I am not among those who fear the people. They and not the rich are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debts.” Thomas Jefferson.

“Events have satisfied my mind, and I think the minds of the American people, that the mischief and dangers which flow from a national bank far overbalance all its advantages.” Andrew Jackson.

The usurers were compelled to remain under public condemnation during thirty years, as sentiment was strongly against them and conditions were not in their favor, but they did not relax their watchful effort nor abandon hope of ultimate success. When the nation was struggling to prevent its dissolution in 1861-5, and unusual war measures seemed necessary to meet the great emergency, the usurers saw their opportunity and came forward, as they did in Venice and England; they would loan the government the funds necessary to carry on the war, if the government would comply with their conditions and grant them the privileges demanded. They asked that their loan be perpetual, like the English loan; that they should be freed from the burdens of the government; that their loan should be free from taxation; that they should receive their interest semi-annually, and not in the common legal tender, but in coin; that they be permitted to issue their own notes as currency to be loaned to their customers; that the government discredit its own issues and endorse theirs; and that they be given a monopoly by taxing out of existence all opposition.

These were great demands, and were regarded as extortionate and oppressive. The struggle was severe, but the enemy in the field was threatening the life of the nation, while the usurers were urgent and posing as patriots, that they might accomplish their ends. True patriots, anxious to defeat the enemy in arms, regarded these usurers at home as equally the enemies of freedom. They were in a strait betwixt two foes.

Secretary McCullough said, “Hostility to the government has been as decidedly manifested in the efforts that have been made in the commercial metropolis of the nation to depreciate the currency as has been by the enemy.”

The opposition to the usurers was very strong and bitter, but the conditions were in their favor and they gained a decided advantage. In the Senate the vote stood twenty-three yeas to twenty-one nays. It was carried only as a war measure. There was an effort to limit the usurers’ privileges to the war and one year after its close. This was not successful, but their loan was confined to the war debt, and their time to its payment, limited to twenty years.

This action caused great distress and dark forebodings of evil to many of the thoughtful. It was setting aside the policy of the nation, which had been generally acquiesced in as wise and judicious and safe for many years. The old patriot Thadeus Stevens, in the opening of a speech in a preliminary skirmish between patriotism and usurers, said: “I approach the subject with more depression of spirits than I ever before approached any question. No personal motive or feeling influences me. I hope not, at least. I have a melancholy foreboding that we are about to consummate a cunningly devised scheme, which will carry great injury and great loss to all classes of people throughout the Union, except one.” Later he said, in excuse of the action, “We had to yield, we did not yield until we found that the country must be lost or the banks gratified, and we have sought to save the country in spite of the cupidity of its wealthier classes.”

The usurers have never relaxed the hold they secured by this victory, and have since been continually increasing their power. They obtained an extension or “refunding” of the war debt, and a renewal of their charters by the general laws, so their hold is indefinitely extended. Bonds are no longer limited to the covering of war expenses, but are issued freely in times of peace. The traditions of the fathers have been cast to the winds, and their fears derided and their policy changed. The usurers have been firmly in the saddle for many years, and have defeated every effort that has been made to unseat them.

The great debts of the nations have brought all mankind into subjection to the usurers. Those who hold the bonds have the destinies of the race in their hands. They pervert the ends of government; the protection of life, liberty and the highest good of all the people; they make governments their tools to gather and appropriate the earnings of the many.

They have exalted Mammon upon the throne of the world, and scoff at the God of heaven, who seeks the poor and needy, and who would in love lift up every son and daughter of the whole race.

Milton presents Mammon as one of the devils cast out of heaven with Satan, and as saying in the council of the demons, “What place can be found for us within heaven’s bound, unless heaven’s Lord we overpower?... How wearisome eternity so spent in worship paid, to one we hate.”

The reign of Mammon subordinates character and virtue and liberty and human life to sordid gain, yet he holds the scepter of power.

He elects legislators and senators. He elects governors or directs their arrest if they refuse to obey him. He elects presidents and dictates their policies. He places kings on their thrones and holds them there while they do his bidding. He strips a Khedive of power, and yet retains him as a collector of revenue. He steadies the Sultan’s tottering throne, and compels six great Christian powers to stand by in silence while humanity is outraged. The Armenian’s blood must be permitted to flow because the persecution is by a great servant, the Sultan, who pays interest on bonds, and his victims are only freemen. The murder of one hundred thousand Armenians meant nothing to Mammon. But when the Cretans were persecuted by the same Sultan, the suffering and bloodshed was soon ordered stopped by these same six powers, at Mammon’s command. The Cretans were servants of the common master; the Cretan bonds were endangered. The cry of suffering humanity came up to deaf ears, but the cry of endangered bonds was heard from afar by this reigning god of wealth.

The little republics of Africa were freemen, and therefore Mammon sees them strangled with indifference. Mammon gathers the civilized nations around China and demands that she shall be enslaved by all the bonds she can safely carry or submit to vivisection and distribution.

This enslavement of the race is not by the destroying of intelligence, nor by denying the first principles of civil liberty, nor by crushing the aspirations for freedom, but by producing conditions that make the application of these principles and the exercise of freedom impossible. Though the race may increase in intelligence and theoretically have correct views of personal freedom and civil liberty, yet the conditions produced necessarily by usury utterly prevent their realization. The intelligence and aspirations of the race never were higher than at present, their subjection and subordination to material wealth was never more complete.

The scepter wherein lies Mammon’s power to sway the nations is usury. When bonds bear no increase his sovereignty is gone. All motive to involve the nation in debt at once disappears, and the power to control is lost. Moses’ law was divinely wise that forbade interest, that his people could not be enslaved and might remain a free people forever.