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"holders of investments which yield a fixed return in money" can regard the destruction of silver with complacency? May we not expect the holders of other forms of property to protest against giving to money a "disproportionate and unfair advantage over every other species of property ?" If the relatively few whose wealth consists largely in fixed investments have a right to use the ballot to enhance the value of their investments, have not the rest of the people the right to use the ballot to protect themselves from the disastrous consequences of a rising standard ?
The people who must purchase money with the products of toll stand in a position entirely different from the position of those who own money or receive a fixed income. The well-being of the nation-aye, of civilization itself-depends upon the prosperity of the masses. What shall it profit us to have a dollar which grows more valuable every day if such a dollar lowers the standard of civilization and brings distress to the people? What shall it profit us if, in trying to raise our credit by increasing the purchasing power of our dollar, we destroy our ability to pay the debts already contracted by lowering the purchasing power of the products with which those debts must be paid? If it is asserted, as it constantly is asserted, that the gold standard will enable us to borrow more money from abroad, I reply that the restoration of bimetallism will restore the parity between money and property, and thus permit an era of prosperity which will enable the American people to become loaners of money instead of perpetual borrowers. Even if we desire to borrow, how long can we continue borrowing under a system which, by lowering the value of property, weakens the foundation upon which credit rests?
Even the holders of fixed investments, though they gain an advantage from the appreciation of the dollar, certainly see the injustice of the legislation which gives them this advantage over those whose incomes depend upon the value of property and products. If the holders of fixed investments will not listen to arguments based upon justice and equity, I appeal to them to consider the interests of posterity. We do not live for ourselves alone; our labor, our self-denial and our anxious care-all these are for those who are to come after us, as much as for ourselves, but we can not protect our children beyond the period of our lives. Let those who are now reaping advantage from a vicious financial system remember that, in the years to come, their own children and their children's children may, through the operation of this same system, be made to pay tribute to the descendants of tbose who are wronged to-day.
As against the maintenance of a gold standard, either permanently or until other nations can be united for its overthrow, the Chicago platform presents a clear and emphatic demand for the immediate restoration of the free and *unlimited coinage of silver and gold at the present legal ratio of 16 to 1, without waiting for the aid or consent of any other nation. We are not asking that a new experiment be tried; we are insisting upon a return to a financial policy approved by the experience of history and supported by all the prominent statesmen of our nation from the days of the first President down to 1873. When we ask that our mints be opened to the free and unlimited coinage of silver into full legal-tender money,we are simply asking that the same mint privileges be accorded to silver that are now accorded
to gold. When we ask that this coinage be at the ratio of 16 to 1 we simply ask that our gold coins and the standard silver dollar-which, be it remenibered, contains the same amount of pure silver as the first silver dollar coined at our mints--retain their present weight and fineness.
The theoretical advantage of the bimetallic system is best stated by a European writer on political economy, who suggests the following illustration: A river fed from two sources is more uniform in volume than a river fed from one source—the reason being that when one of the feeders is swollen the other may be low; whereas, a river which has but one feeder must rise or fall with that feeder. So in the case of bimetallism; the volume of metallic money receives contributions from both the gold mines and the silver mines, and, therefore, varies less; and the dollar, resting upon two metals, is less changeable in its purchasing power than the dollar which rests upon one metal only.
If there are two kinds of money, the option must rest either with the debtor or with the creditor. Assuming that their rights are equal, we must look at the interests of society in general in order to determine to which side the option should be given. Under the bimetallic system, gold and silver are linked together by law at a fixed ratio, and any person or persons owning any quantity of either metal can have the same converted into full legal-tender money. If the creditor has the right to choose the metal in which payment shall be made, it is reasonable to suppose that he will require the debtor to pay in the dearer metal if there is any perceptible difference between the bullion values of the metals. This new demand created for the dearer metal will make that metal dearer still, while the decreased demand for the bettor metal will make that metal cheaper still. If. on the other hand, the debtor exercises the option, it is reasonable to suppose that he will pay in the cbeaper metal if one metal is perceptibly cheaper than the other, but the demand thus created for the cheaper metal will raise its price, while the lessened demand for the dearer metal will lower its price. In other words, when the creditor has the option, the metals are drawn apart; whereas, when the debtor has the option, the metals are beld together approximately at the ratio fixed by law; provided the demand created is sufficient to absorb all of both metals presented at the mint.
Society is, therefore, interested in kaving the option exercised by the debtor. Indeed, there can be no such thing as real bimetallism unless the option is exercised by the debtor. The exercise of the option by the debtor compels the creditor classes, whether domestic or foreign, to exert themselves to maintain the parity between gold and silver at the legal ratio, whereas they might find a profit in driving one of the metals to a premium if they could then demand the dearer metal. The right of the debtor to choose the coin in which payment shall be made extends to obligations due from the Gov. ernment as well as to contracts between individuals. A Government obligation is simply a debt due from all of the people to one of the people, and it is impossible to justify a policy which makes the interests of the one person who holds the obligation superior to the rights of tbe many who must be taxed to pay it. When, prior to 1873, silver was at a premium, it was never contended that national honor required the payment of Govern
ment obligations in silver, and the Matthews resolution, adopted by Congress in 1878, expressly asserted the right of the United States to redeem coin obligations in standard silver dollars as well as in gold coin.
Upon this subject the Chicago platform reads: “We are opposed to the policy and practice of surrendering to the holders of the obligations of the United States the option reserved by law to the Government of redeeming such obligations in either silver coin or gold coin.”
It is constantly assumed by some that the United States notes, commonly called greenbacks, and the Treasury notes, issued under the act of 1890, are responsible for the recent drain upon the gold reserve, but this assumption is entirely without foundation. Secretary Carlisle appeared before the House Committee on Appropriations on January 21, 1895, and I quote from the printed report of his testimony before the committee:
"Mr. Sibley: I would like to ask you (perhaps not entirely connected with the matter under discussion, what objection could there be to having the option of redeeming either in silver or gold lie with the Treasury instead of the pote-holder?
“Secretary Carlisle: If that policy had been adopted at the beginning of resumption-and I am not saying this for the purpose of criticising the action of any of my predecessors, or anybody else—but if the policy of reserving to the Government, at the beginning of resumption, the option of redeeming in gold or silver all its paper presented, I believe it would have worked beneficially, and there would have been no trouble growing out of it, but the Secretaries of the Treasury from the beginning of resumption have pursued a policy of redeeming in gold or, silver, at the option of the holder of the paper, and if any Secretary had afterwards attempted to change that. policy and force silver upon a man who wanted gold, or gold upon a man who wanted silver, and especially if he had made that attempt at such a critical period as we have had in the last two years, my judgment is it would have been very disastrous.”
. I do not agree with the Secretary that it was wise to follow a bad prececent, but from his answer it will be seen that the fault does not lie with thic greenbacks and Treasury notes, but rather with the executive officers who have seen fit to surrender a right which should have been exercised for the protection of the interests of the people. This executive action has already been made the excuse for the issue of more than $250,000,000 in bonds, and it is impossible to estimate the amount of bonds which may hereafter be issued if this policy is continued. We are told that any attempt upon the part of the Government at this time to redeem its obligations in silver would put a premium upon gold, but why should it? The Bank of France exercises the right to redeem all bank paper in either gold or silver, and yet France maintains the parity between gold and silver at the ratio of 1542 to 1, and retains in circulation more silver per capita than we do in the United States.
It may be further answered that our opponents have suggested no feasible plan for avoiding the dangers which they fear. The retirement of the greenbacks and Treasury notes would not protect the Treasury, because the same policy which now leads the Secretary of the Treasury to redeem all Govern ment paper in gold, when gold is demanded, will require the redemption
of all silver dollars and silver certificates in gold, if the greenbacks and Treasury notes are withdrawn from circulation. More than this, if the Government should retire its paper and throw upon the banks the necessity oť furnishing coin redemption, the banks would exercise the right to furnish either gold or silver. In other words, they would exercise the option, just as the Government ought to exercise it now. The Government must either exercise the right to redeem its obligations in silver when silver is more convenient, or it must retire all the silver and silver certificates from circulation and leave nothing but gold as legal-tender money. Are our opponents willing to outline a financial system which will carry out their policy to its legitimate conclusion, or will they continue to cloak their designs in ambig. uous phrases?
There is an actual necessity for bimetallism as well as a theoretical defense of it. During the last twenty-three years legislation has been creating an additional demand for gold, and this law-created demand has resulted in increasing the purchasing power of each ounce of gold. The restoration of bimetallism in the United States will take away from gold just so much of its purchasing power as was added to it by the demonetization of silver by the United States. The silver dollar is now held up to the gold dollar by legal-tender laws and not by redemption in gold, because the standard silver dollars are not now redeemable in gold either in law or by administrative policy.
We contend that free and unlimited coinage by the United States alone will raise the bullion value of silver to its coinage value, and thus make silver bullion worth $1.29 per ounce in gold throughout the world. This proposition is in keeping with natural laws, not in detiance of them. The best-known law of commerce is the law of supply and demand. We recognize this law and build our argument upon it. We apply this law to money when we say that a reduction in the volume of money will raise the purchasing power of the dollar; we also apply the law of supply and demand to silver when we say that a new demand for silver created by law will raise the price of silver bullion. Gold and silver are different from other commodities, in that they are limited in quantity. Corn, wheat, manufactured products, etc., can be produced almost without limit, provided they can be sold at a price sufficient to stimulate production, but gold and silver are called precious metals, because they are found, not produced. These metals have been the objects of anxious search as far back as history runs, yet, according to Mr. Harvey's calculation, all the gold coin of the world can be melted into a 22-foot cube, and all the silver coin in the world into a 66-foot cube. Because gold and silver are limited, both in the quantity now in hand, and in annual production, it follows that legislation can fix the ratio between them.
Any purchaser who stands ready to take the entire supply of any given article at a certain price can prevent that article from falling below that price. So the Government can fix a price for gold and silver by creating a demand greater than the supply. International bimetallists believe that several nations, by entering into an agreement to coin at a fixed ratio all the gold and silver presented, can maintain the bullion value of the metals at the mint ratio. When a mint price is thus established, it regulates the bullion price, because any person desiring coin may have the bullion don
verted into coin at that price, an. any person desiring bullion can secure it by melting the coin. The only questiou upon which international bimetallists and independent bimetallists differ is: Can the United States by the free and unlimited coinage of silver at the present legal ratio create a derpand for silver which, taken in connection with the demand already in existence, will be sufficient to utilize all the silver that will be presented at the mints? They agree in their defense of the bimetallic principle, and they agree in unalterable opposition to the gold standard. International bimetallists can not complain that free coinage gives a benefit to the mine owner, because international bimetallism gives to the owner of silver ail the advantages offered by independent bimetallism at the same ratio. International bimetallists can not accuse the advocates of free silver of bein's "bullion owners who desire to raise the value of their bullion;" or "debtors who desire to pay their debts in cheap dollars;" or "demagogues who desire to curry favor with the people.” They must rest their opposition upon one ground only, namely: That the supply of silver available for coinage is too large to be utilized by the United States.
In discussing this question we must consider the capacity of our people to use silver and the quantity of silver which can come to our mints. It must be remembered that we live in a country only partially developed, and that Our people far surpass any equal number of people in the world in their power to consume and produce. Our extensive railroad development and enormous internal commerce must also be taken into consideration. Now, how mucb silver can come here? Not the coined silver of the world, because almost all of it is more valuable at this time in other lands than it will be at our mints under free coinage. If our mints are opened to free and unlimited coinage at the present ratio, merchandise silver can not come here, be: cause the labor applied to it has made it worth more in the form of merchandise than it will be worth at our mints. We can not even expect all of the annual product of silver, because India, China, Japan, Mexico and all the other silver-using countries raust satisfy their annual needs from the annial product; the arts require a large amount, and the golci-standarci countries will need a considerable quantity for subsidiary coinage. We will be required to coin only that which is not needed elsewhere; but, if we stand ready to take and utilize all of it, other nations will be compelled to buy at the price which we fix. Many fear that the opening of our mints will be followed by an enormous increase in the annual production of silver. This is conjecture. Silver has been used as money for thousands of years, and during all of that time the world has never suffered from an over-production. If, for any reason, the supply of gold or silver in the future ever exceeds the requirements of the arts and the needs of commerce, we confidently hope that the intelligence of the people will be sufficient to devise and enact any legislation necessary for the protection of the public. It is fully to refuse to the people the money which they now need for fear they may hereafter have more than they need. I am firmly convinced that by opening our mints to free and unlimited coinage at the present ratio we can create a demand for silver which will keep the price of silver bullion at $1.29 per ounce, nieasured by gold.