Page images

unhappy Ireland, whose alien owners drain it of its home created wealth; but we may reach a condition, if present tendencies continue, when her position at this time will be an object of envy, and some poet may write of our cities as Goldsmith did of the "Deserted Village:"

While scourged by famine from a smiling land,
The mournful peasant leads his humble band,
And, while he sinks without one hand to save,
The country blooms-a garden and a grave.

But, lest I may be accused of reasonless complaining, let me call unimpeachable witnesses who will testify to the truth of my premises and to the correctness of my conclusions.

Jevons says:

If all nations of the globe were suddenly and simultaneously to demonetize silver and require gold money a revolution in the value of gold would be inevitable.

Giffin, who is probably the most fanatical adherent of the gold standard, says, in his book entitled The Case Against Bimetallism:

The primary offender in the matter, perhaps, was Germany, which made a mistake, as I believe, in substituting gold for silver as the standard money of the country. • To some extent also Italy has been an offender in this matter, the resumption of specie payments in that country on a gold basis being entirely a work of superfluity; the resumption on a silver basis would have been preferable. ... No doubt the pressure on gold would have been more severe than it has been if the United States had not passed the Bland coinage law.

The gentleman from Maryland (Mr. Rayner) said in the opening speech of this debate:

In my opinion there is not a sufficient amount of gold in existence to supply the demands of commerce and the necessities of the world's circulation.

Mr. Balfour, member of Parliament, in a speech recently made, said:

Let Germany, India, and the United States try a gold currency and a tremor seizes every one of our commercial magnates. They look forward, in the immediate future, to catastrophe, and feel that the ultimate result may be a slow appreciation of the standard of value, which is perhaps the most deadening and benumbing influence that can touch the enterprise of a nation.

Mr. Goschen, delegate from Great Britain, said at the International Monetary Conference in 1878:

If, however, other States were to carry on a propaganda in favor of a gold standard and the demonetization of silver, the Indian government would be obliged to reconsider its position and might be forced by events to take measures similar to those taken elsewhere. In that case the scramble to get rid of silver might provoke one of the gravest crises ever undergone by commerce. One or two States might demonetize silver without serious results, but if all demonetize there would be no buyers, and silver would fall in alarming proportions. * * • If all States should resolve on the adoption of a gold standard, the question arose, would there be sufficient gold for the purpose without a tremendous crisis? There would be a fear on the one hand of a depreciation of silver, and one on the other of a rise in the value of gold, and a corresponding fall in the prices of all commodities.

Italy, Russia, and Austria, whenever they resume specie payments, would require metal, and if all other States went in the direction of a gold standard, these countries too would be forced to take gold. Resumption on their part would be facilitated by the maintenance of silver as a part of the legal tender of the world. The American proposal for a universal double standard seemed impossible of realization, a veritable Utopia; but the theory of a universal gold standard was Utopian, and indeed involved a false Utopia. It was better for the world at large that the two metals should continue in circulation than that one should be universally substituted for the other.

Thus does an eminent English monometallist denounce the idea of a universal gold standard and foretell its consequences. But we are not dependent for authority upon foreign advocates of a gold standard. Read the words of him who for many years was the guiding genius of the Republican party, Hon. James G. Blaine, and say whether he was a lunatic because he described in emphatic words the dangers attendant upon universal monometallism. He said upon the floor of the House, February 7, 1878:

On the much vexed and long mooted question as to a bimetallic or monometallic standard, my own views are sufficiently indicated in the remarks I have made. I believe the struggle now going on in this country and in other countries for a single gold standard would, if successful, produce widespread disaster in and throughout the commercial world. The destruction of silver as money and establishing gold as the sole unit of value must have a ruinous effect on all forms of property except those investments which yield a fixed return in money. These would be enormously enhanced in value, and would gain a disproportionate and unfair advantage over every other species of property. If, as the most reliable statistics affirm, there are nearly $7,000,000,000 of coin or bullion in the world, not very unequally divided between gold and silver, it is impossible to strike silver out of existence as money without results which will prove distressing to millions and utterly disastrous to tens of thousands.

Again, he said:

I believe gold and silver coin to be the money of the Constitution; indeed, the money of the American people, anterior to the Constitution which the great organic law recognized as quite independent of its own existence. No power was conferred on Congress to declare either metal should not be money. Congress has, therefore, in my judgment, no power to demonetize silver any more than to demonetize gold.

Senator Sherman said in 1869:

The contraction of the currency is a far more distressing operation than Senators suppose. Our own and other nations have gone through that operation before. It is not possible to take that voyage without the sorest distress. To every person except a capitalist out of debt, or a salaried officer or annuitant, it is a period of loss, danger, lassitude of trade, fall of wages, suspension of enterprise, bankruptcy, and disaster. It means ruin of all dealers whose debts are twice their business capital, though one-third less than their actual property. It means the fall of all agricultural production without any great reduction of taxes. What prudent man would dare to build a house, a railroad, a factory, or a barn with this certain fact before him?

Let me quote from an apostle of the Democratic faith, whose distinguished services in behalf of his party and his country have won for him the esteem of all. Mr. Carlisle, then a member of the House of Representatives, said, February 21, 1878:

I know that the world's stock of precious metals is none too large, and I see no reason to apprehend that it will ever be so. Mankind will be fortunate indeed if the annual production of gold and silver coin shall keep pace with the annual increase of population, and industry. According to my views of the subject the conspiracy which seems to have been formed here and in Europe to destroy by legislation and otherwise from three-sevenths to one-half the metallic money of the world is the most gigantic crime of this or any other age. The consummation of such a scheme would ultimately entail more misery upon the human race than all the wars, pestilences, and famines that ever occurred in the history of the world.

The absolute and instantaneous destruction of half the entire movable property of the world, including houses, ships, railroads, and other appliances for carrying on commerce, while it would be felt more sensibly at the moment, would not produce anything like the prolonged distress and disorganization of society that must inevitably result from the permanent annihilation of one-half the metallic money of the world.

The junior Senator from Texas (Mr. Mills) never did the party greater service than when, on the 3rd of February, 1886, on this floor he denounced, in

language, the force and earnestness of which can not be surpassed, the attempted crime against silver. Let his words be an inspiration now:

But in all the wild, reckless, and remorseless brutalities that have marked the footprints of resistless power there is some extenuating circumstance that mitigates the severity of the punishment due the crime. Some have been the product of the fierce passions of war, some have come from the antipathy that separates alien races, some from the superstitions of opposing religions.

But the crime that is now sought to be perpetrated on more than fifty millions of people comes neither from the camp of a conqueror, the hand of a foreigner, nor the altar of an idolator. But it comes from those in whose veins runs the blood of the common ancestry, who were born under the same skies, speak the same language, reared in the same institutions, and nurtured in the principles of the same religious faith. It comes from the cold, phlegmatic, marble heart of avarice-avarice that seeks to paralyze labor, increase the burden of debt, and fill the land with destitution and suffering to gratify the lust for gold-avarice surrounded by every comfort that wealth can command, and rich enough to satisfy every want save that which refuses to be satisfied without the suffocation and strangulation of all the labor of the land. With a forehead that refuses to be ashamed it demands of Congress an act that will paralyze all the forces of production, shut out labor from all employment, increase the burden of debts and taxation, and send desolation and suffering to all the homes of the poor.

Can language be stronger or conclusion more conclusive? What expression can be more forcible than the "most gigantic crime of this or any other age?" What picture more vivid than that painted in the words, "The consummation of such a scheme would ultimately entail more misery upon the human race than all the wars, pestilences, and famines that ever occurred in the history of the world?" What more scathing rebuke could be administered to avarice than that contained in the words of Mr. Mills?

It is from the awful horrors described by these distinguished men, differing in politics, but united in sentiment, that I beg you, sirs, to save your fellow-men.

On the base of the monument erected by a grateful people to the memory of the late Senator Hill, of Georgia, are inscribed these words:

Who saves his country saves himself, and all things saved do bless him. Who lets his country die lets all things die, dies himself ignobly, and all things dying, curse him.

If, sirs, in saving your country you save yourselves and earn the benedictions of all things saved, how much greater will be your reward if your efforts save not your country only but all mankind! If he who lets his country die, brings upon himself the curses of all things dying; in what language will an indignant people express their execration, if your action lead to the enslavement of the great majority of the people by the universal adoption of an appreciating standard!

Let me call your attention briefly to the advantages of bimetallism. It is not claimed that by the use of two metals at a fixed ratio absolute stability can be secured. We only contend that thus the monetary unit will become more stable in relation to other property than under a single standard. If a single standard were really more desirable than a double standard, we are not free to choose gold, and would be compelled to select silver. Gold and silver must remain component parts of the metallic money of the world-that must be accepted as an indisputable fact. Our abandonment of silver would in all probability drive it out of use as primary money; and silver as a promise to pay gold is little, if any, better than a paper promise to pay. If bimetallism is impossible, then we must make up our minds to a silver standard or to the abandonment of both gold and silver.

[ocr errors]

Let us suppose the worst that has been prophesied by our opponents, namely, that we would be upon a silver standard if we attempted the free coinage of both gold and silver at any ratio. Let us suppose that all our gold goes to Europe and we have only silver. Silver would not be inconvenient to use, because a silver certificate is just as convenient to handle as a gold certificate, and the silver itself need not be handled except where it is necessary for change. Gold is not handled among the people. No one desires to accept any large amount in gold. The fact that the Treasury has always on hand a large amount of gold coin deposited in exchange for gold certificates shows that the paper representative is more desirable than the metal itself. If, following out the supposition, our gold goes abroad, Europe will have more money with which to buy our exports-cotton and wheat, cattle and hogs.

If, on the other hand, we adopt gold, we must draw it from Europe, and thus lessen their money and reduce the price of our exports in foreign markets. This, too, would decrease the total value of our exports and increase the amount of products which it would be necessary to send abroad to pay the principal and interest which we owe to bondholders and stockholders residing in Europe. Some have suggested the advisability of issuing gold bonds in order to maintain a gold standard. Let them remember that those bonds sold in this country will draw money from circulation and increase the stringency, and sold abroad will affect injuriously the price of our products abroad, thus making a double tax upon the toilers of the United States, who must ultimately pay them.

Let them remember, too, that gold bonds held abroad must some time be paid in gold, and the exportation of that gold would probably raise a clamor for an extension of time in order to save this country from another stringency. A silver standard, too, would make us the trading center of all the silver-using countries of the world, and these countries contain far more than one-half of the world's population. What an impetus would be given to our Western and Southern seaports, such as San Francisco, Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, and Charleston! Then, again, we produce our silver, and produce it in quantities which would to some extent satisfy our monetary needs.

On motion of Mr. Hunter the time of Mr. Bryan was extended indefinitely. Mr. Bryan. I thank the gentleman from Illinois and the House.

Our annual product of gold is less than 50 cents per capita. Deduct from this sum the loss which would be occasioned to the gold supply by the closing of our silver mines, which produce gold in conjunction with silver; deduct, also, the amount consumed in the arts, and the amount left for coinage is really inconsiderable. Thus, with a gold standard, we would be left dependent upon foreign powers for our annual money supply. They say we must adopt a gold standard in order to trade with Europe. Why not reverse the proposition and say that Europe must resume the use of silver in order to trade with us? But why adopt either gold or silver alone? Why not adopt both and trade with both gold-using and silver-using countries? The principle of bimetallism is established upon a scientific basis.

The Government does not try to fix the purchasing power of the dollar, either gold or silver. It simply says, in the language of Thomas Jefferson, "The money unit shall stand upon the two metals," and then allows the ex

changeable value of that unit to rise or fall according as the total product of both metals decreases or increases in proportion to the demand for money. In attempting to maintain the parity between the two metals at a fixed ratio, the Government does not undertake the impossible. France for several years did maintain the parity approximately at 151⁄2 to I by offering unlimited coinage to both metals at that ratio. It is very common for some people to urge, "You cannot put value into anything by law," and I am sorry to see some proclaim this who know by rich experience how easy it is for the Government to legislate prices up or down.

We were called together to relieve financial distress by legislation. Some propose to relieve the present stringency of the money market by removing the tax on national bank circulation and allowing banks to issue 100 per cent. on their bonds instead of 90 per cent. This legislation would put value into bank stocks by law, because it would add to the profits of the bank, and such a law would probably raise the market price of bonds by increasing the demand for them. I will not discuss the merits of this proposition now. Let those who favor it prepare to justify themselves before their constituents. The New York World of August 3 contained an article encouraging the banks to issue more money under the present law. It showed the profits as follows:

These bonds are selling now at 109 to 110. At this latter period a $100,000 bond transaction would stand as follows: $100,000 U. S. 4's at 110, less 1-3 per cent. accrued interest, $109,666 net, would


Less circulation issued on this amount....

..$109,666 90,000



Making the actual cash investment only....

On which the bank would receive an income of over 12% per cent., as follows:
Interest on $100,000 4's per annum........
Less tax 1 per cent. on circulation.

Less sinking fund to retire premium to be improved at 6 per cent...




.... 464


1,464 $2,536

Net income...

Already a good portion of these bonds held in reserve are coming into the market and will soon find their way into the hands of national banks.

If the proposed law is adopted $900 will be taken from the expense column by the repeal of the tax on circulation and $10,000 will be taken from the cost of investment, so that the profits would amount to $3,436 on an investment of $9,666, or more than 33 per cent. If, however, the increased demand for bonds raised the premium to 15 per cent., we could only calculate a little less than $3,436 on an investment of $14,666, or nearly 25 per cent. This they would probably call a fair divide. The bondholder would receive an advantage in the increased premium of, say, $25,000,000, and the national bank would be able to make about double on its investment what it does now. If the premium should increase more than 5 per cent. the bondholder would make more and the bank less. If the premium should not increase that much the bondholder would make less and the bank more.

Let those, I repeat, who favor this plan, be prepared to defend it before a constituency composed of people who are not making 5 per cent. on an average on the money invested in farms or enterprises, and let those who will profit by the law cease to deny the ability of Government to increase the price of prop

« PreviousContinue »