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THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT.
WITH PORTRAIT OF SECRETARY MCCULLOCH.
So long as the country struggles under a vast National Debt, a depreciated Currency, and the Taxation which these involve, the department of government which has charge of its loans, currency, and revenues, and whose duty it is to adjust all these to the industry, commerce, and genius of our people, must be of chief importance. We had been accustomed before the rebellion to style the Secretary of State, Premier. Questions of international policy then chiefly engaged the attention of statesmen and the sympathies of the people. With the progress of the war the country leaned alternately on the Secretaries of War and of the Treasury. But with the return of peace, the disbandment of our armies, the adjustment of all foreign complications, and the accession of all the disaffected and rebellious portion of our people to such a share of political power as may enable them to affect and embarrass the levy of taxes, the payment of the debt, and the restoration of our currency to par, the questions growing out of our financial condition supersede all others, and make the Secretary of the Treasury, next to the President, the most responsible officer of the government. In England the First Lord of the Treasury is Premier. In France, Prussia, and the other European Governments, the duties of Minister of Finance, of Revenue, and of Commerce, which we concentrate upon our Head of the Treasury, are divided among various ministers, who in the aggregate exercise a commanding influence in their several cabinets. Yet nowhere have financial questions such urgency, and even danger, as in the United States. Whether compared, therefore, with other officers of our own government, or with any member of foreign administrations, the post of Secretary of the Treasury of the United
States involves the most important, delicate, unprecedented, and difficult functions. The practical difficulties are hardly less than during the war; for then patriotism silenced censure, and nearly all men, conscious of the appalling difficulties of the financial situation, shrank from administering, and almost feared to advise. But now every tyro has become a financier, and trance-mediums in every village offer for a small charge to reconcile wounded lovers, or to answer all difficult questions of finance. A politician who would not claim to be competent to make a shoe, not having learned the trade, will without hesitation and without study construct a new national banking system, or destroy the old. When so many accomplished free lances in finance are entering the field, men who have given their lives to the careful study and successful administration of monetary affairs naturally feel unwilling to risk the dangers of a competition in which success provokes as severe criticism as defeat.
The affairs of which the Secretary has charge employ the constant services of 15,993 officers, clerks, and employés, of whom 3,520 are in the Bureaus at Washington, 5,151 are in the Custom-Houses and Sub-Treasuries, and 7,322 are in the Internal Revenue service, including inspectors, collectors, assessors, etc., throughout the United States. Of the 41,000 officers of the government, about two fifths act under the orders of the Secretary of the Treasury. To give an outline of the organization of this vast force, through whose hands every dollar of the funds of the government has been collected and disbursed, would be more laborious than interesting. The inquiring mind learns, with a misty sense of undefined acquisition, that the Treasury Department is divided into eighteen Bu