« PreviousContinue »
of our population at about two millions a year, scattered over our immense territory, calls for increasing exchanges, and thereby demands an increasing number of dollars in circulation. The increase in the number of dollars when dollars are confined to gold is not sufficiently rapid to meet the growth of our exchanges. The consequence is a growing value of dollars, or a diminishing value of everything else expressed in dollars; which is to say a tendency toward constantly declining prices.
The fountain head of our prosperity has run dry. Our farmers all over the country have endured the depression in prices, until they get about $8 or $9 an acre for an expenditure of $10 per acre, and the like. Their credit is exhausted at their country stores. The country store ceases to order from the city merchant, the city merchant reduces his demand upon the manufacturer. Manufactures are curtailed. The consequence is that employes and all elements of labor are being discharged, and wages are lowered to those who continue in employment. The sufferings of the farmers, who constitute nearly one-half our population, are thus enforced upon the city merchant, the manufacturer and all forms of labor. These combined elements constitute the overwhelming majority of voters. Their intelligent conclusion will be felt when expressed at the polls.
The banker also is without prosperity unless prosperity is general throughout the United States. He must learn to distinguish between cheap money and money commanding a low rate of interest. The dollar worth two bushels of wheat is a dear dollar, and yet it commands interest in Wall street at present of but two per cent. per annum on call. If the dollar can be cheapened by increasing the number of dollars, so that each dollar will buy less wheat, the increasing prices of wheat will increase the demand for dollars to invest in its production. Then the borrower of dollars to invest in the production of wheat, being reasonably sure of a profit from that employment of the money, can afford to pay interest for its use as a part of his profit. In other words, interest is a share of the profit on the employment of money. So that abundant money, money readily obtainable, which is to say really cheap money, is the money which commands a high rate of interest, as a share of the profit of the borrower in using it.
As we appeal to the country, in the justice of our cause, one or two points of common inquiry must be satisfied, as follows:
The experience of Mexico is held up for our alarm. We answer, first, that Mexico is conspicuously prosperous at home. Her increase in manufactures, railway earnings and the like in recent years is phenomenal. Second, Mexico is no criterion for the United States, for the reason that she has a foreign trade indebtedness of about $20,000,000 annually in excess of the value of her exports of cotton, sugar, coffee, hides and the like, which must be paid for in the surplus product of her mines. Her silver, therefore, goes abroad as merchandise and at a valuation fixed by the outside world. The United States, on the other hand, is a nation of seventy millions of people, scattered over a territory seventeen times the area of France. A single one of our railway systems, the Erie, exceeds the aggregate railway mileage of all Mexico. We spare silver will furnish us. Hence, our silver money, at home and abroad, will offer an employment for money to an aggregate greater than the world's be valued as the money of the United States.
The opposition threatens us with a flood of Europe's silver upon our reopened mints. We answer, Europe has no silver but her silver money. Her silver money values silver at from three cents to seven cents on the dollar higher than ours. Hence the European merchant or banker must sacrifice from three to seven per cent. of his full legal tender money in order to recoin it at our mints. Europe's silverware, like America's silverware, carries in it the additional value of labor and the manufacturer's profit.
They threaten us with a flood of silver from the far East. We answer that the course of silver is invariably eastward and never toward the west. British India is a perpetual sink of silver, absorbing it, never to return, by from thirty to sixty million dollars' worth every year. And India's absorption of silver will be enlarged by the steadiness of price for silver fixed by our reopened mints.
They threaten us with a "sudden retirement of $600,000,000 gold with the accompanying panic, causing contraction and commercial disaster unparalleled." We answer that our total stock of gold, other than about $10,000,000 or $15,000,000 circulating on the Pacific Coast, is already in retirement. Practically all our gold is in the United States Treasury or held by banks. The gold in the Treasury will remain there, if the Secretary avails of his option to redeem United States notes in silver. The gold in the banks constitutes the quiet and undisturbed portion of their reserves against their liabilities. It will continue to do money duty as such reserves after free coinage for silver is enacted. Hence a premium on it will not contract the currency. The utmost possible contraction of the currency will be the few millions circulating on the Pacific Coast, and this will be retired but slowly.
A similar threat of a flight of gold was made for the Bland Act of 1878. President Hayes was urged to veto it, but Congress passed it over the veto. Instead of a flight of gold as had been predicted, we gained by importation $4,000,000 the first year, $70,000,000 the next and $90,000,000 the third year. During the twelve years that the Act was on the statute book we gained $221,000,000 of foreign gold. Instead of the destruction of our credit abroad, as had been predicted, the United States four per cent. loan, which stood at 101 on the day of enactment, sold at 120 per cent. within three years, and at 130 per cent. subsequently. Instead of defeating the resumption of specie payments on January first of the following year, the 24,000,000 silver dollars which were coined in 1878 and circulated by means of the silver certificates, reduced the demand upon the Government for gold. Hence the threat of disaster now is without historic foundation.
This, then, is what will follow the reopening of our mints to silver: The gold already in the Treasury will remain there, if common sense dictates the Treasury management, that is if the Treasury exercises its option to redeem United States notes in silver. A premium on gold will not occasion a contraction of the currency, bank hoards of gold continuing to serve as a portion of bank reserves against their liabilities. A premium on gold will tend to increase our exports by causing a higher rate of foreign exchange, that is to say by yielding a larger net return in dollars on the sale of bills of exchange drawn against goods exported. Such premium will tend to diminish our imports by increasing the cost of bills of exchange with which to pay for goods imported.
The tendency of increasing our exports and decreasing our imports will be, first, to set our spindles running, swell the number of paid operatives, increase their wages, thereby adding to the number and paying capacity of consumers, and thus enlarge our home market for all home products and manufactures, with prosperity in general as the result assured.
The tendency of increasing our exports and decreasing our imports will be, second, to establish a credit balance of trade for the United States. A credit balance of trade means that Europe has become our debtor and must settle with us in money. Europe's silver money is overvalued in her gold, compared with ours, by from three to seven cents on the dollar. The European merchant or banker will therefore make his trade settlements with us in gold more profitably by from three to seven per cent. than in his silver. With the instant that European trade settlements with the United States are made in gold, parity for our gold and silver money is established in the markets of the world.
Therewith, the 371.25 grains of pure silver in our silver dollar and the 23.22 grains of gold in our gold dollar become of exactly equal worth, as bullion, in New York.
Free and unlimited coinage for silver in the United States together with the present free and unlimited coinage for gold, will, thus, provide us an increasing aggregate of money. The increasing number of dollars cheapening the dollar, along with the increasing quantity of commodities cheapening the commodities, will tend to maintain prices when the commodities are in fair abundance. Producers obtaining then more dollars the more abundant their products, will be remunerated in some fair proportion to their toil. Our producers will be thus assured their fair share of the real wealth which they produce. This will tend to the better distribution and dissemination of wealth as against the present pernicious tendency to aggregate wealth in a few hands.
After the permanent organization had been completed a committee. was appointed to confer with the Populist Convention, then in session in the same city.
On the second day of the convention little was done in the transaction of business, the convention being disposed to wait to consult further with the Populists. During the day a speech was delivered by Congressman Charles A. Towne, of Minnesota. Mr. Towne gained a national reputation through a speech which he delivered in the House of Representatives on the 8th day of February, 1896. The speech was very widely circulated immediately after its delivery and still more extensively during the campaign. It treated with great force and clearness the subject of falling prices. The contest for permanent chairman of the Silver Convention lay between him and Mr. St. John, and when the latter was chosen the former was made permanent vice-chairman. Mr. Towne was present at the Republican National Convention, though not a delegate, and constantly conferred with the
silver Republicans. Throughout the campaign his services were in constant demand and his time wholly devoted to the success of bimetallism.
In addition to the speech of Mr. Towne, addresses were made by Judge Joseph Sheldon of Connecticut, a pioneer in the silver cause; Mrs. Helen M. Gougar of Indiana, who rendered most efficient service during the entire campaign, and ex-Governor John P. St. John of Kansas, also an able champion of bimetallism.
At the afternoon session on Thursday a poll was taken to determine the former party affiliations of the delegates present, and the result showed 526 who had been Republicans, 146 who had been Democrats, 49 who had been Populists, 9 who had been Prohibitionists, 9 who had been Independent, I who had been a Nationalist, and I who had been a Greenbacker.
On Friday Senator Stewart, of Nevada, was called for and delivered a speech in which he described the Chicago Convention as he witnessed it. A poll was taken to ascertain how many had seen military service, and it was learned that 196 had served in the Union army during the late war, 49 in the Confederate army, and 4 in the Mexican war.
Senator John P. Jones, of Nevada, chairman of the committee on Resolutions, presented the following platform, which was adopted by unanimous vote.
Silver Party Platform.
The National Silver party, in convention assembled, hereby adopts the following declaration of principles:
The paramount issue at this time in the United States is indisputably the money question. It is between the gold standard, gold bonds and bank cur-. rency on the one side, and the bimetallic standard, no bonds and government currency on the other. On this issue we declare ourselves to be in favor of a distinctly American financial system. We are unalterably opposed to the single gold standard and demand the immediate return to the constitutional standard of gold and silver by the restoration by this Government, independently of any foreign power, of the unrestricted coinage of both gold and silver into standard money, at the ratio of 16 to 1, and upon terms of exact equality, as they existed prior to 1873; the silver coin to be a full legal tender equally with gold for all debts and dues, public and private, and we favor such legislation as will prevent for the future the demonetization of any kind of legal tender money by private contract.
We hold that the power to control and regulate a paper currency is inseparable from the power to coin money, and hence that all currency intended to circulate as money should be issued and its volume controlled by the general Government only, and should be legal tender.
We are unalterably opposed to the issue by the United States of interestbearing bonds in time of peace, and we denounce as a blunder worse than a crime the present Treasury policy, concurred in by a Republican house, of
plunging the country into debt by hundreds of millions in the vain attempt to maintain the gold standard by borrowing gold; and we demand the payment of all coin obligations of the United States, as provided by existing laws, in either gold or silver coin, at the option of the Government, and not at the option of the creditor.
The demonetization of silver in 1873 enormously increased the demand for gold, enhancing its purchasing power and lowering all prices measured by that standard, and since that unjust and indefensible act the prices of American products have fallen upon an average nearly fifty per cent., carrying down with them proportionately the money value of all other forms of property. Such fall of prices has destroyed the profits of legitimate industry, injuring the producer for the benefit of the non-producer, increasing the burden of the debtor, swelling the gains of the creditor, paralyzing the productive energies of the American people, relegating to idleness vast numbers of willing workers, sending the shadows of despair into the home of the honest toiler, filling the land with tramps and paupers and building up colossal fortunes at the money centers.
In the effort to maintain the gold standard the country has within the past two years, in a time of profound peace and plenty, been loaded down with $262,000,000 of additional interest bearing debt under such circumstances as to allow a syndicate of native and foreign bankers to realize a net profit of millions on a single deal. It stands confessed that the gold standard can only be upheld by so depleting our paper currency as to force the prices of our products below the European and even below the Asiatic level, to enable us to sell in foreign markets, thus aggravating the very evils of which our people so bitterly complain, degrading American labor and striking at the foundations of our civilization itself. The advocates of the gold standard persistently claim that the cause of our distress is overproduction-that we have produced so much that it has made us poor-which implies that the true remedy is to close the factory, abandon the farm and throw a multitude of people out of employment, a doctrine that leaves us unnerved and disheartened and absolutely without hope for the future. We affirm it to be unquestioned that there can be no such economic paradox as overproduction and at the same time tens of thousands of our fellow citizens remaining half clothed and half fed, and who are piteously clamoring for the common necessities of life.
Over and above all other questions of policy, we are in favor of restoring to the people of the United States the time-honored money of the Constitution-gold and silver; not one, but both-the money of Washington and Hamilton and Jefferson and Monroe and Jackson and Lincoln, to the end that the American people may receive honest pay for an honest product; that an American debtor may pay his just obligations in an honest standard and not in a standard that has appreciated one hundred per cent. above all the great staples of our country; and to the end, further, that silver standard countries may be deprived of the unjust advantage which they now enjoy in the difference in exchange between gold and silver-an advantage which tariff legislation alone
We therefore appeal to the people of the United States to leave in abeyance for the moment all other questions, however important and even mo.